Saturday, December 5, 2009
Researchers from the University of Illinois found that one in five rural counties in the United States is prosperous and they do better than cities on all the measures like unemployment rates, poverty rates, high school drop-out rates, and housing conditions.
"Growth and income are the conventional measures of community success," said lead author Andrew Isserman.
"But in talking with farm groups, elected leaders and rural development professionals from across the country, I realised how few were happy. Some worried about growing too much and the others fretted about growing too little," he wrote in the International Regional Science Review.
Isserman added, "When we started our research, people wondered whether we would find any prosperous rural communities at all using those criteria. But more than 300 of the nation's rural counties did better than the nation".
Bunning to Bernanke: You are 'the definition of moral hazard'
Update: A fourth senator has joined three other senators in placing a hold on the Fed Chairman's nomination. Louisiana Republican David Vitter will also move to keep the chairman's nomination from coming to the floor.
“Over the past year or so, the Fed has doled out several trillion dollars to any number of troubled institutions through a series of programs that were supposed to turn our economy around,” Vitter said in a statement. “These programs have worsened our economic crisis by making ‘too big to fail’ a permanent government policy and created further debt that will now be the burden of our children and grandchildren. His endorsement of these unsound fiscal policies gives me great pause.”
A bipartisan effort to block the confirmation of Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve means the White House will face tougher obstacles reappointing the man it says is the right person to lead the country's central bank.
Since last year's financial collapse, Bernanke has been severely criticized by some as playing an instrumental role in allowing the creation of the asset bubbles that caused investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to disappear, and forced a $700-billion bank bailout on taxpayers.
On Wednesday evening, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), an independent democratic socialist who caucuses with the Democrats, declared that he would place a hold on Bernanke's confirmation.
“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few,” Sanders said. “What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.”
And today The Hill reported that Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) also placed a hold on the confirmation. The hold prevents Bernanke's nomination from going to a vote on the floor unless a 60-vote margin overrides it.
Reuters reported Thursday that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has joined Sanders and Bunning in opposing the nomination.
The Financial Times reports that "most Hill-watchers think that in the end -- after a lot of griping about the Fed -- there will easily be the 60 votes required to overcome the hold and reconfirm Bernanke on a bipartisan basis."
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, gave Bernanke his support during the hearing.
But, as David Dayen -- the FireDogLake blogger who first reported that Bunning would join the hold -- stated on his blog, this does not mean that the senators' holds will have no effect.
"At the very least, this delay and the publicity surrounding bipartisan opposition to Bernanke would bring attention to the issue of the Federal Reserve and the desire for transparency, like the movement to audit the Fed," Dayen writes.
Bernanke faced a tough hearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee Thursday, where he defended his record as Fed chairman and argued against greater congressional oversight of the quasi-independent central bank.
"You are the definition of moral hazard," Bunning said to Bernanke, in a pre-prepared statement posted by the Huffington Post. ("Moral hazard is the term used to describe banks taking unnecessary risks because they believe they will be bailed out by the government if anything goes wrong.) "Instead of taking that money and lending to consumers and cleaning up their balance sheets, the banks started to pocket record profits and pay out billions of dollars in bonuses.
"Because you bowed to pressure from the banks and refused to resolve them or force them to clean up their balance sheets and clean out the management, you have created zombie banks that are only enriching their traders and executives."
"There were mistakes made all around," Bernanke said when asked if he would change what the Fed had done.
For bank regulations, he said, "We should have done more. We should have required more capital, more liquidity. We should have required tougher risk management controls."
"I did not anticipate a crisis of this magnitude and severity," Bernanke told the panel. "But given that it happened, many of the banks... were not adequately prepared in terms of their reserves, in terms of their liquidity. That is a mistake we won't make again."
Bernanke warned senators about placing too much political oversight on the Fed, particularly on its role in setting monetary policy.
"Monetary policy, by its very nature, has to look ahead over a longer period of time," he said.
"There is a very, very strong finding... which shows that countries that have independent central banks, that make monetary policy without political intervention, have lower inflation, lower interest rates and better performance than those in which the central bank is subject to considerable political control."
Bernanke also heard praise from the committee chairman, Senator Chris Dodd.
"Under your leadership, Mr. Chairman, the Federal Reserve has taken extraordinary actions to right the economy," Dodd said in his opening statement.
-- With Agence France-Presse
A fresh row over City bonuses is set to engulf ministers after it emerged last night that 200 executives at Lloyds, the partly state-owned bank, are set to receive one-off payments worth up to 80 per cent of their annual salaries.
They will receive the money for integrating Lloyds with HBOS, which has led to more than 11,000 job losses at the combined bank since January.
It comes amid signs that the Government will not stop Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 70 per cent owned by the State, from paying massive bonuses to 20,000 investment bankers.
The Treasury had indicated earlier this week that it would veto a £1.5 billion payout to executives, a 50 per cent rise on last year.
But Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson stepped back from confrontation after the RBS board threatened to resign.
The Government faces further embarrassment today with the publication of a report from the National Audit Office that sheds fresh light on the chaos as the banking crisis unfolded last year. The report reveals that:
— the Treasury privately judged RBS to be “reasonably strong” less than a week before it needed a secret £37billion loan from the Bank of England;
— at the height of the crisis the Government considered closing down HBOS, which owns Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, Halifax;
— the total exposure of the Government to banks through capital injections, loans and guarantees is now £846 billion, or £40,000 for each family in Britain, and the total cash outlay has reached £131 billion, or £6,208 per family;
— City firms have earned £107 million so far for advising the Treasury on the financial crisis;
— RBS and Lloyds are unlikely to meet their promise to increase lending to small businesses — part of the commitment they gave in return for the publicly funded rescue package.
The bonuses of up to 80 per cent of salary would equate to £2.4 million for the Lloyds board, including £828,000 for Eric Daniels, its chief executive.
This will inflame tensions between the bank and many of its shareholders, who feel that Lloyds did not make clear at the time of the merger the dire state HBOS was in owing to its exposure to the property sector. This later led to billions of pounds worth of losses.
The news will also anger longer-serving staff whose pension benefits Lloyds is planning to water down.
Barclays is set give its investment bankers 150 per cent pay rises. It and other investment banks in the City are boosting base pay because of the Government’s clampdown on bonuses.
Barclays is preparing to hand 150 per cent pay rises to staff at its 'casino' banking division.
In a pre-Christmas give-away, some 20,000 workers at the Barclays Capital investment bank will see their salaries jump sharply, sources said.
High-flyers could enjoy massive hikes of 150 per cent or more, pushing their basic pay up to as much as £300,000.
Adding in bonuses, scores of Barclays Capital bankers regularly take home between £1million and £2million a year.
The pay rises at Barclays, which will be backdated to June, are an attempt to circumvent a stringent new pay regime due to come into force early next year.
Like many other investment banks in the City, Barclays is raising basic salary levels ahead of the clampdown on fat-cat pay.
The authorities plan to rein in cash bonuses and will force banks to stagger pay-outs over a number of years.
But the new rules don't affect basic salaries, which is why more banks are handing out big pay rises.
Bob Diamond enjoyed a £27m windfall
On top of the salary hikes, Barclays Capital is also expected to increase the size of its bonus pool this year after enjoying bumper profits.
Yesterday it was revealed that Barclays president Bob Diamond made an eye-watering £27million from the sale of his stake in Barclays Global Investors.
The 58-year-old multi-millionaire made himself another fortune following the sale of the investment firm to the American giant BlackRock for £9.1billion.
In fact, he has made nearly £1million a month extra from the deal since the summer due to the rise in BlackRock shares since the announcement in June and completion of the deal this week.
Barclays said Mr Diamond had bought his shares in Barclays Global Investors with his own money, and would pay tax on the profit.
The spokesman added that the company's clients expected that the management should show its commitment by putting their own money into the business.
Democrats in the House and Senate yesterday proposed a transaction tax to raise $150 billion per year to help close the federal budget deficit and fund infrastructure projects. H.R. 4191, the Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act, would impose a 0.25% tax on stock transactions and a 0.02% tax on futures contracts, credit default swaps, and securities swaps.
Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke left a Senate confirmation hearing with support for a second term heading a central bank that may be shorn of its powers to supervise financial firms.
Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd of Connecticut backed Bernanke yesterday and said he’s likely to be confirmed by the full Senate. Dodd credited Bernanke with preventing a financial meltdown, even though the Fed’s oversight of banks leading up to the crisis was an “abysmal failure.”
Bernanke told the committee that the Fed’s ability to maintain a stable financial system and conduct monetary policy is “critically dependent” on its supervision powers. He got no assurances that the Fed’s authority would remain intact as Congress considers an overhaul of financial regulations in a bid to prevent a repeat of the worst crisis since the 1930s.
“The Fed chairman will have won the battle but lost the war if Congress strips the Fed of its authority to regulate banks,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York.
Dodd’s bill would consolidate oversight of banks, now shared between the Fed and three other regulators, into a single new agency. He would also deprive the Fed of consumer-protection powers and curtail its ability to make emergency loans to troubled firms.
“We shouldn’t have had to go through what we did for the last two years, had there been cops on the street doing their job, telling us what was going on, and allowing us to avoid the problem in the first place,” said Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat.
Dodd’s proposal differs from plans offered by the Obama administration and House Financial Services Committee, which would maintain the Fed’s supervisory powers.
The current system of shared supervision of financial firms has left regulatory gaps that “contributed to the depth of the crisis,” Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said yesterday in New York at a press conference by the Group of Thirty, an assembly of senior financial officials and economists.
“The concern we have is that as the crisis passes, the reforms are not going to be undertaken and we will find ourselves dealing with a system more or less as it is now,” said Fischer, a former International Monetary Fund first deputy managing director who advised Bernanke on his doctoral thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dodd faulted the Fed for failing to protect consumers from predatory lending and for tolerating excessive risk-taking by banks. Some of the lenders, including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., had to be bailed out with taxpayer funds.
Richard Shelby of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican, said the Fed “has done a horrible job” as a supervisor and “will have to give up some of the regulatory authority.” He didn’t say whether he would support Bernanke.
‘Not Adequately Prepared’
Bernanke, a 55-year-old former Princeton University economics professor, said he didn’t anticipate the depth of the crisis and many banks “were not adequately prepared in terms of their reserves, in terms of their liquidity.”
“That is a mistake we won’t make again,” he said. Still, the Fed bank supervisors provided information needed to monitor the financial system, Bernanke said.
“Our ability to respond to the crisis, to address problems in the banking system, to help stabilize key markets was critically dependent on our ability to see what was going on in the banking system,” he said.
Some of the harshest criticism came from Senator Jim Bunning, the Kentucky Republican who was the lone lawmaker to oppose Bernanke’s 2005 nomination. Bunning told Bernanke that the bailout of American International Group Inc. in 2008 was “reason enough to send you back to Princeton.”
Bunning said he would do “everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out the process as long as possible.” Two other Republicans, Jim DeMint and David Vitter, said they may try to delay confirmation until Congress votes on increased powers to audit the Fed.
Dodd said he didn’t know when the committee would vote to recommend Bernanke’s nomination to the Senate. He said an effort by Senator Bernard Sanders to delay or derail confirmation would probably fail. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said a vote on the Senate floor may be one or two months away.
The Fed under Bernanke has cut interest rates almost to zero and pumped more than $1 trillion into the financial system to battle the recession.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has jumped almost 63 percent from its 2009 low on March 9 as the economy showed signs of revival. The S&P 500 retreated 0.8 percent yesterday to 1,099.92 after a report showed U.S. services industries unexpectedly contracted in November.
Public anger over bailouts of financial firms has been amplified as Wall Street banks report rising profits while average Americans cope with the loss of 7.3 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said Oct. 15 that third-quarter profit more than tripled to $3.19 billion from a year earlier.
“The Fed is a convenient whipping boy,” said Dean Croushore, a former Philadelphia Fed economist who is now chair of the economics department at the University of Richmond in Virginia. “Members of Congress want to show they’re tough.”
The Fed is already beefing up regulation with system-wide reviews of commercial real-estate risk and compensation practices.
“The criticisms are well placed,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina and former economist for the banking committee. “If you want to keep your powers, why weren’t you using them?”
On November 17, an incident took place aboard AirTran Flight 297 scheduled to fly from Atlanta Hartsfield Airport to Houston that the media does not want to cover and everyone from the airline to the TSA and other government agencies want to keep very quiet.
The reasons, I have been told, is fear of predatory lawsuits, negative publicity from accusations of religious profiling, and the obligatory subjugation to mindless mandatory Muslim sensitivity training that make a mockery of our American system of values. Interestingly, one airline official told me “we don’t want to become another flight 300,” which is a reference to a very similar scenario that took place aboard US Airways Flight 300 exactly three years ago.
I was first contacted about this incident two days after it happened by a passenger who was aboard AirTran Flight 297. Based on the allegations made by this passenger, we conducted additional research, interviews and investigation, all of which takes time to insure accuracy, and are now able to release our report of the incident that took place aboard that aircraft. Be prepared to be shocked, angered, and perhaps saddened by our national and corporate acquiescence to mafia-type tactics by Islamists who are engaged in a full frontal assault, and laughing about it.
Unsurprisingly, the facts we developed during the course of our investigation are inconsistent with those being reported in the media, despite the media having the responsibility to report the truth.
A group of thirteen men dressed in traditional Muslim attire were among 73 passengers who boarded AirTran Flight 297 on Tuesday, 17 November 2009, a routine flight scheduled to depart Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, gate C-16 at 4:43 PM ET to Houston Hobby Airport. Reports developed by this investigator found two witnesses who observed direct interaction among all of these Muslim men at the terminal.
As the passengers boarded the aircraft, two of the Muslim men took seats in first class, while the remaining eleven were seated throughout the remaining rows of the aircraft. Most had carrying-on bags that they stowed in the overhead compartments above their seats.
As the aircraft began to taxi to the runway, a female flight attendant was beginning to issue the normal passenger advisories over the PA system. Almost on cue at the time passengers were told to turn off all electronic devices, one of the Muslim men seated in the front of the plane began to use his cell phone in a manner that was described by a flight attendant and passenger “as deliberate and obvious.” He was talking loudly in Arabic, nearly at the level of the flight attendant. Some reports suggest that this man actually called another Muslim passenger, although this has not been immediately confirmed. It is possible, however, as another passenger reported that a Muslim man seated toward the rear of the plane answered his cellular phone at the same time the man in the front began using his.
At this point, the flight attendant in the front of the plane approached the Muslim man using his telephone and instructed him to immediately turn it off. A second female flight attendant did the same at the rear of the aircraft. Concurrent with this cellular activity, two other Muslim men seated adjacent near the middle of the aircraft began operating what one passenger described as a palm type camcorder, ostensibly to view previously taken footage. It is possible, according to one flight attendant interviewed by this investigator, however, that the camcorder was being used for recording purposes. Whatever its use, a third flight attendant, aware of the incidents taking place in the front and rear of the aircraft, approached the two men for the purpose of securing the camcorder. At least two passengers reported that the men became abusive to the flight attendant and initially refused to comply with her request.
It was at this time that most of the passengers began to notice the multiple incidents involving over a dozen men dressed in Islamic attire. Next, as if previously rehearsed, at least ten of the 13 Muslim men aboard the aircraft began to leave their seats at the same time. At least one passenger stated she observed one of the Muslim passengers using his cell phone to take photos of other passengers on the aircraft, while one other Muslim passenger sang loudly in Arabic. According to information provided to this investigator from one of the flight crew who was alerted to an onboard emergency, the aircraft was now being taxied back to the terminal. The TSA, FAA and FBI were notified.
At the terminal
Once back at the terminal, the thirteen men were escorted from the aircraft by TSA and security officials. According to a report from an airline security official, their baggage was also removed and searched, the search finding nothing of apparent danger. According to a law enforcement official interviewed by telephone by this investigator on Monday, investigation revealed that all of the Muslim passengers are acquainted with each other and are associated with (or have ties to) a large Islamic center that has been the subject of investigative interest.
According to one aircraft passenger I interviewed, what happened next was “unbelievable” and caused a great deal of upset among the aircraft passengers and flight crew (some who opted off the flight in anger, fear, or admittedly, a mixture of both emotions).
After a lengthy delay while officials dealt with these Muslim passengers, ten (one uncorroborated report suggests 11) of the Muslim passengers were permitted to re-board the same aircraft to complete their flight. Some passengers and flight crew, traumatized by the blatant actions of the Muslim passengers, refused to travel with the Muslims who caused this orchestrated disturbance.
The flight continues
According to flight logs and information from one of the flight crew who continued with the flight, AirTran 297 ultimately departed Atlanta and arrived in Houston later that evening. The flight, however, was not without its curious incidents by the very same Muslim men who caused the initial delay and disturbance.
During the flight, one passenger interviewed by this investigator described the behavior of two of the Muslim passengers as less overt but still suspicious in nature. Without apparent legitimate purpose, one Muslim passenger moved a stowed bag from one part of the aircraft to another, well away from his seated position. Another spoke loudly in Arabic, with all appearing to interact in one form or another.
Ultimately, the flight landed safely and despite the early incidents in Atlanta, the Muslim passengers appeared able to leave freely from the terminal.
Comments from flight crew and airline personnel
As initially stated, proper and accurate investigation takes time to corroborate eyewitness accounts, which are often unreliable, contradictive and in cases like this, colored by emotion. Having interviewed a total of seven-(7) individuals directly involved in this incident over the last several days, including two law enforcement officers who handled the after action reports, the situation pertaining to the initial 13 and remaining 10 or 11 Muslim men allowed to continue their travels was far greater than an incident involving the unauthorized use of a cell phone that resulted in a minor flight delay, as reported by the mainstream media.
According to one airline security official, “This was a deliberate, well planned attempt to disrupt a domestic flight that was organized in advance of the boarding of these [Muslim] passengers. The purpose of their actions appeared to be multi-faceted, not the least of which was an attempt to change their status from passengers to victims of religious profiling. The situation was handled in a manner that we believe might have avoided an incident like USAir had in 2006, where everyone from the passengers who reported suspicious behavior to the airline was subjected to legal action by the Muslim passengers.”
While litigation might have been avoided, passengers and flight crew remain traumatized, and our air travel system was unnecessarily disrupted during one of the busiest air travel weeks in the U.S. The agenda of the Islamists behind this incident is clear, yet no one in the media seems to have the desire to expose these ideological cretins for what they are.
Additional information about this incident is forthcoming.
Al Gore is the only Nobel Prize winner, whose work was ruled politically biased and containing nine major scientific errors by a court (UK) a week before it was awarded. The Nobel Committee should have known. They could argue they’d already made their decision. Problem is there was considerable evidence about the errors easily available long before. Clearly they didn’t do their homework, so their decision was purely political. The Prize should be revoked.
Gore shared his prize with the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He used their research, but went further. He misused it to achieve the falsehoods that permeate his movie An Inconvenient Truth. Now we know through the files obtained from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia (Climategate), that all the information put in the global arena was falsified, manipulated and deliberately made wrong. Silence of those involved in climategate about Gore’s misuse of their false data tells several stories. They couldn’t point out the error and risk exposure. Like everything they did the end justified the means. Gore was useful. He distracted the mainstream media and kept the global warming pot boiling while they had access to power behind the scenes through the IPCC. He was the buffoon who distracted the audience from the real villains. Again the Nobel committee didn’t do their homework and made a political decision. This Prize should also be revoked.
Nothing Nobel: Time To Terminate The IPCC.
The IPCC Nobel Prize was questionable in the first place. There are serious questions about giving a Nobel Prize to government employees. Why didn’t the prize money go back to the taxpayer who funded the work? How did they divide the money? Did the CRU gang receive more because they controlled most of the process? Regardless, all the money should come back, just like Olympic Gold medals are withdrawn from members of a team if one member has cheated. IPCC members were eager to be on board the ship and should have known about the corruption. Several prominent members with integrity resigned including Richard Lindzen and Chris Landsea; they should receive the Prize taken from those who participated. If outsiders like myself could see the problems then there is no excuse for those inside.
The IPCC has completely lost all credibility and should be terminated immediately. The current Chairman R.K.Pachauri received the Nobel Prize on behalf of the IPCC. As Chair he is also a recipient. As a railway engineer he went off the tracks in his apparent craving for power. He is also cc’d on many of the emails obtained by climategate so he clearly knew what was going on. That is completely unacceptable.
Politics Makes a Mockery of Reward
The Nobel Committee have made a mockery of what constitutes Peace and the entire concept of the Peace Prize. That award, though noble, should also be terminated because it will always be political and politics ultimately taints everything it touches. We need to blow it up with some of that material used to provide the funding in the first place because at least Alfred Nobel had a conscience about his actions.
As Lord Acton said power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those in power will now use it to whitewash and absolve those responsible. We know this already because the University of East Anglia spokesperson Professor Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Enterprise and Engagement has already made a biased comment. He said, “It is worth reiterating that our conclusions correlate well to those of other scientists based on the separate data sets held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.” This incorrect comment shows how little he knows about climate science and the degree of corruption. It’s a comment apparently provided by the CRU gang. These people who have perpetrated the greatest scandal in history, because it is global in its impact, will silently glide away under the cloak of political power.
In other words, all the public's money has been spent on the banks and the wars.
“We're talking about folks who've lost their livelihood and don't know what will take its place. Parents who've lost their health care and lie awake nights praying the kids don't get sick. Families who've lost the home that was their corner of the American dream. Young people who put that college acceptance letter back in the envelope because they just can't afford it.
“That's what those numbers and statistics mean. That is the true measure of this economic crisis. Those are the stories I heard when I came here to Elkhart six months ago and that I have carried with me every day since. I promised you back then that if were elected President, I would do everything I could to help this community recover. And that's why I've come back today – to tell you how I intend to keep that promise.”
What's the story in Elkhart nine months after President Obama reaffirms his promise? “Long-term unemployed face dwindling options.”
Lawrie Covey, 58, has been out of work for two years. “I can't even get a job cleaning rooms at a local motel.” Her son, who was night shift foreman for a local manufacturer and who lost his job after eight years, was splitting the rent. Winter is upon them, and the heating bill is rising. Their transportation is 20 years old and needs a new radiator. Both her and her son's unemployment benefits have run out. Lawrie Covey has fallen back on her experience growing up on a firm. She is raising chickens and picking wild mushrooms and has a garden. If she makes it through the winter, she hopes to get a couple of baby pigs to raise to see them through the next year.
Lawrie Covey, to whom President Obama made a promise could just as well be an Afghan peasant. She doesn't count any more than the thousands of Afghans who have been murdered in their sleep by US air strikes on “terrorists.”
She voted for a president who spent all the money on wars based in lies and deceptions and on Gold Sacks, the richest institution in the world.
The maniacal left-wing hates Ronald Reagan because “he cut taxes for the rich,” but Obama is loading up the poor with enormous debts that imply hyperinflation in order to make Gold Sacks too heavy to lift and in order to reward the munitions industry for its service to world peace and American hegemony.By Paul Craig Roberts (about the author)
Sceptics in the UK and the US have moved to capitalise on a series of hacked emails from climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia, claiming they show attempts to hide information that does not support the case for human activity causing rising temperatures.
On the eve of the Copenhagen summit, Saudi Arabia and Republican members of the US Congress have used the emails to claim the need for urgent action to cut carbon emissions has been undermined.
But tonight the prime minister, his environment secretary, Ed Miliband, and Ed Markey, the man who co-authored the US climate change bill, joined forces to condemn the sceptics.
"With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn't be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics," Brown told the Guardian. "We know the science. We know what we must do. We must now act and close the 5bn-tonne gap. That will seal the deal."
According to the government adviser Sir Nicholas Stern, 10bn tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions must be taken out of the atmosphere by 2020. So far agreement is in place for only half of that amount.
Ed Miliband gave his most damning assessment of the sceptics yet, describing them as "dangerous and deceitful".
He said: "The approach of the climate saboteurs is to misuse data and mislead people. The sceptics are playing politics with science in a dangerous and deceitful manner. There is no easy way out of tackling climate change despite what they would have us believe. The evidence is clear and the time we have to act is short. To abandon this process now would lead to misery and catastrophe for millions."
Markey warned against allowing America's political agenda to be hijacked by the email affair. "We can no longer allow our climate and energy policy to be hijacked by the government of Saudi Arabia, ExxonMobil, and the defenders of the fossil fuel status quo," he said.
Even if an investigation into the university emails were to show evidence of wrongdoing, scientists and politicians say there is an overwhelming body of evidence that humans are causing climate change. However, the hacking affair is putting new obstacles in the way of getting a bill past Congress – seen as a crucial precondition for a binding climate change treaty.
The summit, which begins on Monday, aims to seal a global deal to control greenhouse gas emissions, but all of the significant issues remain to be resolved. There is still no agreement between developing nations and the richer countries over the carbon cuts required and the funding which must be given to poorer countries to help them cope with global warming.
China and India, whose economies are growing rapidly, must still agree a deal on curbing their emissions while being able to lift billions of people out of poverty.
The concern for some of those attempting to drive through a global deal is that the sceptics will delay critical decisions by casting doubt over the science at a time when momentum has been gathering towards a historic agreement. "The sceptics have clearly seized upon this as an incident that they can use to their own ends in trying to disrupt the Copenhagen agreements," said Bob Watson, Defra chief scientist and former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "If this slows down an international agreement to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, it will mean we're committed to an even larger temperature change … with adverse consequences on agriculture, water, human security, human health and biodiversity."
Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, said it would be disastrous for the planet if sceptics were able to undermine support for a climate change deal. "Ideological dinosaurs, whether in Saudi Arabia or in the Conservative party, who deny climate change must not be allowed to hide behind some leaked correspondence to support their outdated theories," Clegg said.
A number of prominent Conservatives, including former chancellor Lord Lawson and former Cameron frontbencher David Davis, have pounced on the email furore. But tonight the shadow climate change secretary, Greg Clark, made clear the party line remains that climate change is a serious man-made threat. "Research into climate change has involved thousands of different scientists, pursuing many separate lines of independent inquiry over many years. The case for a global deal is still strong and in many aspects, such as the daily destruction of the Earth's rainforests, desperately urgent," he said.
Additional reporting by Alok Jha and Andrew Sparrow
UPI International Correspondent
A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing
serious doubts about the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9-11. Former
chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W.
Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the
collapse of the WTC is "bogus" and that it is more likely that a controlled
demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7. Reynolds,
who also served as director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National
Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and is now professor emeritus at Texas
A&M University said, "If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the
World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a
government attack on America would be compelling." Reynolds commented from
his Texas A&M office, "It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a
scientific debate over the cause of the collapse of the twin towers and
building 7. If the official wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe
it is, then policy based on such erroneous engineering analysis is not
likely to be correct either. The government's collapse theory is highly
vulnerable on its own terms. Only professional demolition appears to account
for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three
Why Did the
by Morgan Reynolds
by Morgan Reynolds
"It didn't seem real. There are thousands of these steel beams that just
fell like pickup sticks."
~ John Albanese, volunteer firefighter and amateur photographer
"What struck us - guys like Warren Jennings and myself, who have spent
basically all our lives in the scrap business - we'd never seen steel this
heavy, this huge, this massive. It was just unbelievable."
~ Michael Henderson (p. 93),
General Manager, Marine Terminals, Metal Management NE
To explain the unanticipated free-fall collapses of the twin towers at the
World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, mainstream experts (also see The
American Professional Constructor, October 2004, pp. 12-18) offer a
three-stage argument: 1) an airplane impact weakened each structure, 2) an
intense fire thermally weakened structural components that may have suffered
damage to fireproofing materials, causing buckling failures, which, in turn,
3) allowed the upper floors to pancake onto the floors below.
Many will nod their head, OK, that does it and go back to watching the NBA
finals or whatever, but I find this theory just about as satisfying as the
fantastic conspiracy theory that "19 young Arabs acting at the behest of
Islamist extremists headquartered in distant
government's collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms, but its
blinkered narrowness and lack of breadth is the paramount defect unshared by
its principal scientific rival - controlled demolition. Only professional
demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with
the collapses of WTC 1 (
much-overlooked collapse of the 47-story WTC building 7 at 5:21 pm on that
The scientific controversy over the initial structural weakening has two
parts: what caused the original tower damage and did that damage "severely"
weaken the structures? Photos show a stable, motionless
after the damage suffered at 8:46 am and the
impact. If we focus on the
arguably "minor" rather than "severe" damage in the
As many as 45 exterior columns between floors 94 and 98 on the northeast
(impact) side of the
- yet there is no direct evidence of "severe" structural weakening. None of
the upper sections of the broken perimeter columns visibly sags or buckles
toward its counterpart column below. We can infer this because of the
aluminum covers on the columns: each seam uniformly aligns properly across
the Tower, forming a horizontal "dashed line" in the façade from beveled end
to end. Despite an impact hole, gaps in perimeter columns, and missing parts
of floors 95-98 at the opening, the aluminum façade shows no evidence of
vertical displacement in the columns, suggestive of little or no wider floor
buckling at the perimeter.
The aluminum covers attached to the columns also aligned vertically after
impact, that is, separated columns continued to visually remain "plumb"
(true vertical), lining up top to bottom around the aperture, implying no
perceptible horizontal displacement of the columns. Photographic evidence
for the northeast side of the North Tower showed no wider secondary
structural impact beyond the opening itself. Of course, there was smoke
pouring out of the upper floors.
The fact that perimeter columns were not displaced suggests that the floors
did not buckle or sag. Despite missing parts of floors 95-98, photos show no
buckling or sag on other floors. If so, that boosts the likelihood that
there was little damage to the core. Photos do not document what happened
within the interior/core and no one was allowed to inspect and preserve
relevant rubble before government authorities - primarily FEMA - had it
quickly removed. Eyewitness testimony by those who escaped from inside the
Photos do not allow us to peer far into the interior of the building; in
fact the hole is black, with no flames visible. We know that the structural
core and its steel was incredibly strong (claimed 600% redundancy) making it
unlikely that the core was "severely" damaged at impact. There were 47 core
columns connected to each other by steel beams within an overall rectangular
core floor area of approximately 87 feet x 137 feet (26.5 m x 41.8 m). Each
column had a rectangular cross section of approximately 36" x 14" at the
base (90 cm x 36 cm) with steel 4" thick all around (100 mm), tapering to ?"
(6 mm) thickness at the top. Each floor was also extremely strong (p. 26), a
grid of steel, contrary to claims of a lightweight "truss" system.
Those who support the official account like Thomas Eagar (p. 14), professor
of materials engineering and engineering systems at MIT, usually argue that
the collapse must be explained by the heat from the fires because the loss
of loading-bearing capacity from the holes in the Towers was too small. The
transfer of load would have been within the capacity of the towers. Since
steel used in buildings must be able to bear five times its normal load,
Eagar points out, the steel in the towers could have collapsed only if
heated to the point where it "lost 80 percent of its strength, " around
1,300oF. Eagar believes that this is what happened, though the fires did not
appear to be extensive and intense enough, quickly billowing black smoke and
relatively few flames.
While some experts claim that airliner impact severely weakened the entire
structural system, evidence is lacking. The perimeters of floors 94-98 did
not appear severely weakened, much less the entire structural system. The
criminal code requires that crime scene evidence be saved for forensic
analysis but FEMA had it destroyed before anyone could seriously investigate
it. FEMA was in position to take command because it had arrived the day
before the attacks at
"Tripod II," quite a coincidence. The authorities apparently considered the
rubble quite valuable:
on GPS and had one truck driver who took an unauthorized 1 ? hour lunch
The preliminary NIST Response claims that "the wall section above the impact
zone moved downward" (pdf, p. 36) on WTC 1 but offers no evidence. It offers
photographic evidence, however, for a "hanging floor slab" on the 82d floor
sag on adjacent floors and the integrity of the structure looks very much
intact. The fire looks weak too, yet the
minutes later. This would be quite a puzzle without a demolition theory.
About a dozen of the fragmented ends of exterior columns in the North Tower
hole were bent but the bends faced the "wrong way" because they pointed
toward the outside of the Tower. This fact is troublesome for the official
theory that a plane crash created the hole and subsequent explosion between
floors 94 and 98. The laws of physics imply that a high-speed airplane with
fuel-filled wings breaking through thin perimeter columns would deflect the
shattered ends of the columns inward, if deflected in any direction,
certainly not bend them outward toward the exterior.
A possible response would be that, well, yes, an airliner crash would bend a
column inward rather than outward, if bent at all, but the subsequent force
of a jet fuel blast would act in the opposite direction: any inward bends
caused by plane impact would straighten toward vertical or even reverse the
bent steel columns toward the exterior under blast pressure. However, such a
proposed steel "reversal theory" (first bend inward by collision, then bend
outward by explosion) suffers two major handicaps:
1 No "inward-bending columns" were observed and it would be unlikely
that each and every one would be reversed by subsequent explosion, and
2 the hypothesis is ad hoc and lacks simplicity, both scientific
Occam's razor would suggest that the outward bends in the perimeter columns
were caused by explosions from inside the tower rather than bends caused by
airliner impact from outside. Also supporting this theory is the fact that
the uniformly neat ends of the blown perimeter columns are consistent with
the linear shaped charges demolition experts use to slice steel as thick as
10 inches. The hypothesis of linear shaped charges also explains the
perfectly formed crosses found in the rubble (crucifix-shaped fragments of
core column structures), as well as the rather-neatly shorn steel everywhere.
The engineering establishment's theory has further difficulties. It is
well-known that the hole in the west wing of the Pentagon, less than 18-foot
diameter, was too small to accommodate a Boeing 757, but the North Tower's
hole wasn't big enough for a Boeing 767 either, the alleged widebody
airliner used on AA Flight 11 (officially tail number N334AA, FAA-listed as
"destroyed"). A Boeing 767 has a wingspan of 155' 1" (47.6 m) yet the
maximum distance across the hole in the
m), a hole undersized by some 40 feet or 26 percent. "The last few feet at
the tips of the wings did not even break through the exterior columns,"
comments Hufschmid (p. 27). But 20 feet on each wing? I'd call that a
substantial difference, not "the last few feet," especially since aircraft
impact holes tend to be three times the size of the aircraft, reflecting the
fact that fuel-laden airliners flying into buildings send things smashing
about in a big way. The small size of the holes in both towers casts doubt
on the airliner-impact hypothesis and favors professional demolition again.
There were no reports of plane parts, especially wings, shorn off in the
collision and bounced to the ground on the northeast side of the tower, to
my knowledge, though FEMA reported a few small pieces to the south at
Adding to the suspicious nature of the small aperture in WTC 1 is that some
vertical gaps in the columns on the left side of the northeast hole were so
short, probably less than three feet (p. 105) high (p. 27). Not much of a
jumbo jet could pass through such an opening, especially since a fuel-laden
plane would not minimize its frontal area. The engines are a special problem
because each engine is enormous and dense, consisting mainly of tempered
steel and weighing 24 to 28.5 tons, depending upon model. No engine was
recovered in the rubble yet no hydrocarbon fire could possibly vaporize it.
The hole in the North Tower also is suspicious because it did not even have
a continuous opening at the perimeter, but instead contained substantial WTC
material (p. 27) just left of center (pp. 62, 105). This material appears
integral to that area, so it did not move much, suggesting minimal
displacement and no clean penetration by a jumbo jet. These huge airliners
weigh 82 tons empty and have a maximum takeoff weight of up to 193 tons.
In the case of the
N612UA and FAA-registered as still valid!) has not been recovered despite
the fact that the flight trajectory of the video plane implied that the
right engine would miss the
on the ground are unconvincing, to put it mildly. Perhaps independent jet
engine experts (retired?) can testify to the contrary. Further contradicting
the official account, the beveled edge of the southeast side of the south
tower was completely intact upon initial impact. The government never
produced a jet engine yet claimed it recovered the passport of alleged
hijacker Satam al Suqami unharmed by a fiery crash and catastrophic collapse
of the North Tower. The government has not produced voice (CVR) or flight
data recorders (FDR) in the
fact unprecedented in the aviation history of major domestic crashes.
Adding to the problems of the official theory is the fact that photos of
recognizable wreckage or plane parts at the immediate crash site. While the
issue probably takes us too far afield, the landing wheel assembly that
allegedly flew out of the
could easily have been planted by FEMA or other government agents. I've
never seen any objective analysis of this wheel assembly though it would be
welcome. In fact, the government has failed to produce significant wreckage
from any of the four alleged airliners that fateful day. The familiar photo
of the Flight 93 crash site in
9) shows no fuselage, engine or anything recognizable as a plane, just a
smoking hole in the ground. Photographers reportedly were not allowed near
the hole. Neither the FBI nor the National Transportation Safety Board have
investigated or produced any report on the alleged airliner crashes.
The WTC 1 and Pentagon holes were not alone in being too small. Photos show
that the hole in WTC 2 also was too small to have been caused by the crash
of a Boeing 767. In fact, the
The next question is whether the fires were hot enough to cause the WTC
buildings to collapse. In defending the official account and its clones that
try to explain the unprecedented collapses of three steel-framed skyscrapers
without demolition, heat arguably is more important than structural impact.
That's obviously true for building WTC 7 because there was no alleged
First, no steel-framed skyscraper, even engulfed in flames hour after hour,
had ever collapsed before. Suddenly, three stunning collapses occur within a
few city blocks on the same day, two allegedly hit by aircraft, the third
not. These extraordinary collapses after short-duration minor fires made it
all the more important to preserve the evidence, mostly steel girders, to
study what had happened. On fire intensity, consider this benchmark: A 1991
FEMA report on
energetic that "[b]eams and girders sagged and twisted," but "despite this
extraordinary exposure, the columns continued to support their loads without
obvious damage" (quoted by
consequent sagging and twisting steel beams bears no resemblance to what we
observed at the WTC.
Second, severe structural damage to the WTC towers would have required
fires that were not only large but growing throughout the buildings and
burning for a considerable period of time. None of these conditions was
present. "The lack of flames is an indication that the fires were small, and
the dark smoke is an indication that the fires were suffocating," points out
Hufschmid (p. 35). Eyewitnesses in the towers, as well as police and
firefighters, reported (pp. 199-200) the same thing.
Third, the impact opening was 15 floors lower in the South Tower than in the
North Tower, where core columns were thicker, so the South Tower fire had to
produce more heat to raise the steel temperatures to soften up (thermally
weaken) the steel columns. Yet its fires were considerably smaller and 30
minutes shorter in duration. The Tower collapsed after burning only 56
minutes. A prime candidate to explain why "the wrong tower fell first" is
that the small dying fire in the
murderers who decided to trigger demolition earlier than planned in order to
sustain the lie that fire caused the collapse. The
another 29 minutes and its core steel was thinner at its upper stories. The
that flames came from dozens of windows on many floors. It did not collapse.
Fourth, implicitly trying to explain away these difficulties, the current
NIST investigation, conducted by "an extended investigation team of 236
people," makes "dislodged fireproofing" the key variable to explain the
collapses. Supposedly, "the probable collapse sequence for the WTC towers
are (sic) based on the behavior of thermally weakened structural components
that had extensive damage to fireproofing or gypsum board fire protection
induced by the debris field generated by aircraft impact" (p. 111). "Had
fireproofing not been dislodged by debris field," this team of
government-paid experts claims, "temperature rise of structural components
would likely have been insufficient to induce global collapse" (p. 108).
Perhaps acknowledging the lack of direct evidence for its conjectures, the
NIST admits that "a full collapse of the WTC floor system would not occur
even with a number of failed trusses or connections" and it "recognizes
inherent uncertainties" (pp. 110 and 112). The NIST will have to boost its
creativity to plausibly explain the WTC 7 collapse because it won't have the
benefit of tales of aircraft and debris fields.
Aside from specific defects in the fire collapse theory, a wide variety of
facts undermine it:
* Photos show people walking around in the hole in the
"where 10,000 gallons of jet fuel were supposedly burning. The women (p. 27)
seem to (sic) looking down to the ground" (the NIST "Response" pdf, p. 62,
also shows a similar photo of the same blond woman with light-colored slacks
looking over the edge of the 94th floor).
* By the time the
flames had already vanished, burning for only 16 minutes.
* The fire did not grow over time, probably because it quickly ran
out of fuel and was suffocating rather than the sprinkler system dousing the
* FDNY fire fighters remain under a gag order
(Rodriguezvs-1.Bush.pdf, p. 10) to not discuss the explosions they heard,
felt and saw. FAA personnel are also under a 9/11 gag order.
* Even the 9/11 Commission (Kean-Zelikow) Report acknowledges that
"none of the [fire] chiefs present believed that a total collapse of either
tower was possible" (Ch. 9, p. 302). It shocked everyone that day, amateur
and professional alike, although some firefighters realized that so-called
secondary explosive devices were a risk.
account of the WTC collapses, and its sister theories. These problems were
entirely ignored by The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), so the government
appointees must have found it difficult to account for the following facts:
1 Fire had never before caused steel-frame buildings to collapse
except for the three buildings on 9/11, nor has fire collapsed any steel
high rise since 9/11.
2 The fires, especially in the
3 WTC-7 was unharmed by an airplane and had only minor fires on the
seventh and twelfth floors of this 47-story steel building yet it collapsed
in less than 10 seconds.
4 WTC-5 and WTC-6 had raging fires but did not collapse despite much
thinner steel beams (pp. 68-9).
5 In a PBS documentary, Larry Silverstein, the WTC lease-holder,
recalled talking to the fire department commander on 9/11 about WTC-7 and
said, "maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it," slang for demolish it.
6 FEMA, given the uninviting task of explaining the collapse of
Building 7 with mention of demolition verboten admitted that the best it
could come up with had "only a low probability of occurrence."
7 It's difficult if not impossible for hydrocarbon fires like those
fed by jet fuel (kerosene) to raise the temperature of steel close to
Professional demolition, by contrast, can explain all of these facts and
more. Demolition means placing explosives throughout a building, and
detonating them in sequence to weaken "the structure so it collapses or
folds in upon itself" (p. 44). In conventional demolitions gravity does most
of the work, although it probably did a minority on 9/11, so heavily were
the towers honeycombed with explosives.
1 Each WTC building collapse occurred at virtually free-fall speed
(approximately 10 seconds or less).
2 Each building collapsed, for the most part, into its own
3 Virtually all the concrete (an estimated 100,000 tons in each
tower) on every floor was pulverized into a very fine dust, a phenomenon
that requires enormous energy and could not be caused by gravity alone
("workers can't even find concrete. 'It's all dust,' [the official] said").
4 Dust exploded horizontally for a couple hundred feet, as did
debris, at the beginning of each tower's collapse.
5 Collapses were total, leaving none of the massive core columns
sticking up hundreds of feet into the air.
6 Salvage experts were amazed at how small the debris stacks were.
7 The steel beams and columns came down in sections under 30 feet
long and had no signs of "softening"; there was little left but shorn
sections of steel and a few bits of concrete.
8 Photos and videos of the collapses all show "demolition waves,"
meaning "confluent rows of small explosions" along floors (blast sequences).
9 According to many witnesses, explosions occurred within the
10 Each collapse had detectable seismic vibrations suggestive of
underground explosions, similar to the 2.3 earthquake magnitude from a
demolition like the Seattle Kingdome (p. 108).
11 Each collapse produced molten steel identical to that generated
by explosives, resulting in "hot spots" that persisted for months (the two
hottest spots at WTC-2 and WTC-7 were approximately 1,350o F five days after
being continuously flooded with water, a temperature high enough to melt
aluminum (p. 70).
Controlled demolition would have required unimpeded access to the WTC,
access to explosives, avoiding detection, and the expertise to orchestrate
the deadly destruction from a nearby secure location. Such access before
9/11 likely depended on complicity by one or more WTC security companies.
These companies focus on "access control" and as security specialist Wayne
Black says, "When you have a security contract, you know the inner workings
of everything." Stratesec, a now-defunct company that had security contracts
at the World Trade Center and Dulles International Airport, should be
investigated, among others, because of the strange coincidence that
President Bush's brother, Marvin P. Bush, and his cousin, Wirt D. Walker
III, were principals in the company, with Walker acting as CEO from 1999
until January 2002 and Marvin reportedly in New York on 9/11. At least one
report claims that a "power down" condition prevailed on September 8-9 (pdf,
p. 45) at WTC to complete a "cabling upgrade," presenting an opportunity to
plant explosives with low risk of detection.
A related point is that demolition companies go to considerable expense to
wire steel-framed skyscrapers with explosives to produce safe implosions,
and they would love to do it more cheaply by simply setting two small fires
like those that (allegedly) caved in building 7. Apparently, the
terrorist-inventors have kept this new technology secret.
Why would the killers destroy WTC-7, especially since a collapse would
arouse suspicion in some quarters? A logical if unproven theory is that the
perpetrators used Mayor Giuliani's sealed OEM "bunker" on the 23d story of
WTC-7 to conduct the twin tower implosions and then destroyed the building
and evidence to cover up their crimes, just as a murderer might set his
victim's dwelling ablaze to cover up the crime (one in four fires is arson).
Giuliani's "undisclosed secret location" was perfect because it had been
evacuated by 9:45 a.m. on 9/11, it enabled unmolested work, provided a
ringside seat, was bullet- and bomb-resistant, had its own secure air and
water supply, and could withstand winds of 160 mph, necessary protection
from the wind blasts generated by collapsing skyscrapers.
There is special import in the fact of free-fall collapse (item one in the
list immediately above), if only because everyone agrees that the towers
fell at free-fall speed. This makes pancake collapse with one floor
progressively falling onto the floor below an unattractive explanation.
Progressive pancaking cannot happen at free-fall speed ("g" or 9.8 m/s2).
Free-fall would require "pulling" or removing obstacles below before they
could impede (slow) the acceleration of falling objects from above.
Sequenced explosions, on the other hand, explain why the lower floors did
not interfere with the progress of the falling objects above. The pancake
theory fails this test.
If we put the murder of 2,749 innocent victims momentarily aside, the only
unusual technical feature of the collapses of the twin towers was that the
explosions began at the top, immediately followed by explosions from below.
WTC-7, by contrast, was entirely conventional, imploding from bottom up.
It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a scientific debate over the
cause(s) of the collapse of the twin towers and building 7. If the official
wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe it is, then policy based on
such erroneous engineering analysis is not likely prove to be sound. Revised
engineering and construction practices, for example, based on the belief
that the twin towers collapsed through airplane damage and subsequent fires
is premature, to say the least.
More importantly, momentous political and social consequences would follow
if impartial observers concluded that professionals imploded the WTC. If
demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the
9/11, then the case for an "inside job" and a government attack on
would be compelling. Meanwhile, the job of scientists, engineers and
impartial researchers everywhere is to get the scientific and engineering
analysis of 9/11 right, "though heaven should fall." Unfortunately, getting
it right in today's "security state" demands daring because explosives and
structural experts have been intimidated in their analyses of the collapses
June 9, 2005
Morgan Reynolds, Ph.D. [send him mail], is professor emeritus at Texas A&M
University and former director of the Criminal Justice Center at the
National Center for Policy Analysis headquartered in Dallas, TX. He served
as chief economist for the US Department of Labor during 2001-2, George W.
Bush's first term.
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