The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov

The Story of Stalin's Persecution of One of the Great Scientists of the Twentieth Century

Author: Peter Pringle

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 9781416566021

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 416

View: 5542

In The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov, acclaimed journalist and author Peter Pringle recreates the extraordinary life and tragic end of one of the great scientists of the twentieth century. In a drama of love, revolution, and war that rivals Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago, Pringle tells the story of a young Russian scientist, Nikolai Vavilov, who had a dream of ending hunger and famine in the world. Vavilov's plan would use the emerging science of genetics to breed super plants that could grow anywhere, in any climate, in sandy deserts and freezing tundra, in drought and flood. He would launch botanical expeditions to find these vanishing genes, overlooked by early farmers ignorant of Mendel's laws of heredity. He called it a "mission for all humanity." To the leaders of the young Soviet state, Vavilov's dream fitted perfectly into their larger scheme for a socialist utopia. Lenin supported the adventurous Vavilov, a handsome and seductive young professor, as he became an Indiana Jones, hunting lost botanical treasures on five continents. In a former tsarist palace in what is now St. Petersburg, Vavilov built the world's first seed bank, a quarter of a million specimens, a magnificent living museum of plant diversity that was the envy of scientists everywhere and remains so today. But when Lenin died in 1924 and Stalin took over, Vavilov's dream turned into a nightmare. This son of science was from a bourgeois background, the class of society most despised and distrusted by the Bolsheviks. The new cadres of comrade scientists taunted and insulted him, and Stalin's dreaded secret police built up false charges of sabotage and espionage. Stalin's collectivization of farmland caused chaos in Soviet food production, and millions died in widespread famine. Vavilov's master plan for improving Soviet crops was designed to work over decades, not a few years, and he could not meet Stalin's impossible demands for immediate results. In Stalin's Terror of the 1930s, Russian geneticists were systematically repressed in favor of the peasant horticulturalist Trofim Lysenko, with his fraudulent claims and speculative theories. Vavilov was the most famous victim of this purge, which set back Russian biology by a generation and caused the country untold harm. He was sentenced to death, but unlike Galileo, he refused to recant his beliefs and, in the most cruel twist, this humanitarian pioneer scientist was starved to death in the gulag. Pringle uses newly opened Soviet archives, including Vavilov's secret police file, official correspondence, vivid expedition reports, previously unpublished family letters and diaries, and the reminiscences of eyewitnesses to bring us this intensely human story of a brilliant life cut short by anti-science demagogues, ideology, censorship, and political expedience.
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The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov

The Story of Stalin's Persecution of One of the Great Scientists of the Twentieth Century

Author: Peter Pringle

Publisher: Aurum

ISBN: 9781906217914

Category: Plant breeders

Page: 370

View: 797

In a drama of love, revolution and war that rivals Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, author and journalist, Pringle, tells the true story of a young Russian scientist, who travelled the world to collect seeds and plants unavailable in Russia in order to transform Soviet, and even world, agriculture and ensure the survival of humanity through adequate food supply. To the leaders of the Soviet state, including Lenin, Vavilov’s dream fitted perfectly into their larger scheme for a socialist utopia. But when Lenin died in 1924 and Stalin took over, the handsome and seductive young professor’s dream turned into a nightmare. Stalin chose collectivization of farmland, causing chaos and famine, and it soon became impossible for Vavilov to implement his plan. Worse, Stalin’s secret police began to build up a file against him, as they systematically suppressed geneticists, which would eventually include false charges of sabotage and espionage, leading to imprisonment, torture and death. This is the intensely human story of a brilliant life cut short by anti-science demagogues, ideology, censorship and political expedience. Pringle’s sources include newly opened Soviet archive material, family letters and diaries, official correspondence and eyewitness statements, as this book follows the life, loves and trials of one of the leading geneticists, during the birth of modern genetics. Peter Pringle has been foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times and the Observer and was former Moscow bureau chief for the Independent. He has written The New York Times and The Washington Post amongst others and is the author or co-author of nine previous books. ‘A well researched and well-written study’ Publishers Weekly
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Where Our Food Comes From

Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine

Author: Gary Paul Nabhan

Publisher: Island Press

ISBN: 1597265179

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 256

View: 8802

The future of our food depends on tiny seeds in orchards and fields the world over. In 1943, one of the first to recognize this fact, the great botanist Nikolay Vavilov, lay dying of starvation in a Soviet prison. But in the years before Stalin jailed him as a scapegoat for the country’s famines, Vavilov had traveled over five continents, collecting hundreds of thousands of seeds in an effort to outline the ancient centers of agricultural diversity and guard against widespread hunger. Now, another remarkable scientist—and vivid storyteller—has retraced his footsteps. In Where Our Food Comes From, Gary Paul Nabhan weaves together Vavilov’s extraordinary story with his own expeditions to Earth’s richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them. Retracing Vavilov’s path from Mexico and the Colombian Amazon to the glaciers of the Pamirs in Tajikistan, he draws a vibrant portrait of changes that have occurred since Vavilov’s time and why they matter. In his travels, Nabhan shows how climate change, free trade policies, genetic engineering, and loss of traditional knowledge are threatening our food supply. Through discussions with local farmers, visits to local outdoor markets, and comparison of his own observations in eleven countries to those recorded in Vavilov’s journals and photos, Nabhan reveals just how much diversity has already been lost. But he also shows what resilient farmers and scientists in many regions are doing to save the remaining living riches of our world. It is a cruel irony that Vavilov, a man who spent his life working to foster nutrition, ultimately died from lack of it. In telling his story, Where Our Food Comes From brings to life the intricate relationships among culture, politics, the land, and the future of the world’s food.
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Stalin and the Scientists

A History of Triumph and Tragedy, 1905–1953

Author: Simon Ings

Publisher: Open Road + Grove/Atlantic

ISBN: 0802189865

Category: Science

Page: 528

View: 3742

Scientists throughout history, from Galileo to today’s experts on climate change, have often had to contend with politics in their pursuit of knowledge. But in the Soviet Union, where the ruling elites embraced, patronized, and even fetishized science like never before, scientists lived their lives on a knife edge. The Soviet Union had the best-funded scientific establishment in history. Scientists were elevated as popular heroes and lavished with awards and privileges. But if their ideas or their field of study lost favor with the elites, they could be exiled, imprisoned, or murdered. And yet they persisted, making major contributions to 20th century science. Stalin and the Scientists tells the story of the many gifted scientists who worked in Russia from the years leading up to the Revolution through the death of the “Great Scientist” himself, Joseph Stalin. It weaves together the stories of scientists, politicians, and ideologues into an intimate and sometimes horrifying portrait of a state determined to remake the world. They often wreaked great harm. Stalin was himself an amateur botanist, and by falling under the sway of dangerous charlatans like Trofim Lysenko (who denied the existence of genes), and by relying on antiquated ideas of biology, he not only destroyed the lives of hundreds of brilliant scientists, he caused the death of millions through famine. But from atomic physics to management theory, and from radiation biology to neuroscience and psychology, these Soviet experts also made breakthroughs that forever changed agriculture, education, and medicine. A masterful book that deepens our understanding of Russian history, Stalin and the Scientists is a great achievement of research and storytelling, and a gripping look at what happens when science falls prey to politics.
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Food, Inc.

Mendel to Monsanto--The Promises and Perils of the

Author: Peter Pringle

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 9781439103845

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 2473

For most people, the global war over genetically modified foods is a distant and confusing one. The battles are conducted in the mystifying language of genetics. A handful of corporate "life science" giants, such as Monsanto, are pitted against a worldwide network of anticorporate ecowarriors like Greenpeace. And yet the possible benefits of biotech agriculture to our food supply are too vital to be left to either partisan. The companies claim to be leading a new agricultural revolution that will save the world with crops modified to survive frost, drought, pests, and plague. The greens warn that "playing God" with plant genes is dangerous. It could create new allergies, upset ecosystems, destroy biodiversity, and produce uncontrollable mutations. Worst of all, the antibiotech forces say, a single food conglomerate could end up telling us what to eat. In Food, Inc., acclaimed journalist Peter Pringle shows how both sides in this overheated conflict have made false promises, engaged in propaganda science, and indulged in fear-mongering. In this urgent dispatch, he suggests that a fertile partnership between consumers, corporations, scientists, and farmers could still allow the biotech harvest to reach its full potential in helping to overcome the problem of world hunger, providing nutritious food and keeping the environment healthy.
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Lysenko's Ghost

Epigenetics and Russia

Author: Loren Graham

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 0674969049

Category: Science

Page: N.A

View: 338

Lysenko became one of the most notorious figures in twentieth-century science after his genetic theories were discredited decades ago. Yet some scientists now claim that discoveries in epigenetics prove that he was right after all. Loren Graham reopens the case, to determine whether new developments in molecular biology validate Lysenko’s claims.
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Critical Encounters

Reference and Responsibility in Deconstructive Writing

Author: Cathy Caruth,Deborah Esch

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: N.A

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 305

View: 7993

Critical Encounters addresses a central and long-standing concern in literary criticism and theory: What is the relation between literature and reality, or language and experience? The questions raised by poststructuralist criticism, and particularly deconstruction, concerning the establishment of reference, appear to many readers to involve a dangerous denial of any link between texts and reality: the possibility that reference is indirect seems to mean that we have no reliable access to experience or to history and, therefore, no basis for political action or ethical decision. Drawing on contemporary theories of literature, history, and feminism, the essays in this volume interrogate the assumptions underlying this critique of deconstruction by asking what it would mean to conceive of an experience that is constituted by the very way it escapes or resists comprehension. Taking as their starting point the attempt to rethink fundamental questions of reality and reference, the contributors ultimately ask how we might learn to recognize and to respond to the realities of a history, a politics, and an ethics not based on straightforward understanding.
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In the Line of Fire

Author: Pervez Musharraf

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1847395961

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 368

View: 5584

It is almost unprecedented for a head of state to publish a memoir while still in office. But Pervez Musharraf is no ordinary head of state. As President of Pakistan since 1999, his is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and he continues to play a crucial role in the global war on terror. A one-time supporter of the Taliban, a general who fought in several wars, President Musharraf took a decisive turn against militant Islam in 2001. Since then he has survived two assassination attempts; rooted out militants in his own government; helped direct countless raids against al-Qaeda both in his cities and in the mountains; and tracked Osama bin Laden with technical and human intelligence. IN THE LINE OF FIRE is astonishingly revealing and honest about dozens of topics of intense interest to the world. Among its many revelations: exactly how Pakistani authorities tracked down and smashed three major al-Qaeda control centres in the mountains; how al-Qaeda's many-layered structure was revealed after the assassination attempts; Bin Laden's current position within the al-Qaeda hierarchy; what it has been like to deal with Bush and Blair; how Pakistan and India have avoided nuclear confrontation; and much more. The terrible earthquake of 2005, killing nearly 40,000 Pakistanis, is just one chapter in a life and career that has been filled with danger and drama. The worldwide launch of President Musharraf's memoir promises to be a sensation.
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Les graines du monde

L'Institut Vavilov

Author: Mario del Curto

Publisher: Actes Sud Editions

ISBN: 9782330079055

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 320

View: 9725

His knowledge, tenacity and eloquence still resound in the corridors of the Saint Petersburg institute that bears his name, and his spirit continues to inspire the hundreds of researchers pursuing his work. Nikolai Vavilov anticipated the disappearance of plant diversity and within the space of a few decades through study and travel all over the world he found the means of saving it. For political and ideological reasons, Vavilov was condemned to death and left to starve in the dungeon of a Soviet prison. Gradually, on both sides of the iron curtain, his memory began to fade. One hundred years after Vavilov's first expedition, the photographer Mario Del Curto retraced his footsteps. For four years he met with those who, despite overwhelming obstacles, perpetuate Vavilov's seed prospecting, selection and conservation work in order to save the planet's staple food crops. This book is the unprecedented story of his journey to the heart of the Vavilov Institute and its twelve research stations. International specialists bring light the huge scope of the work undertaken by Vavilov and his successors.
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Those Are Real Bullets

Bloody Sunday, Derry, 1972

Author: Peter Pringle,Philip Jacobson

Publisher: Grove Press

ISBN: 9780802138798

Category: History

Page: 320

View: 8731

The 1972 "Bloody Sunday" massacre in Derry, Ireland, is chronicled in detail, using interviews, period photographs, and recently declassified information to tell the entire story of the event in which British paratroopers opened fire on unarmed Irish Catholic demonstrators. Reprint.
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The Great Terror

A Reassessment

Author: Robert Conquest

Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand

ISBN: 9780195316995

Category: History

Page: 574

View: 9114

The definitive work on Stalin's purges, the author's The Great Terror was universally acclaimed when it first appeared in 1968. It was "hailed as the only scrupulous, nonpartisan, and adequate book on the subject". And in recent years it has received equally high praise in the Soviet Union, where it is now considered the authority on the period, and has been serialized in Neva, one of their leading periodicals. Of course, when the author wrote the original volume two decades ago, he relied heavily on unofficial sources. Now, with the advent of glasnost, an avalanche of new material is available, and he has mined this enormous cache to write a substantially new edition of his classic work. It is remarkable how many of the most disturbing conclusions have born up under the light of fresh evidence. But the author has added enormously to the detail, including hitherto secret information on the three great "Moscow Trials," on the fate of the executed generals, on the methods of obtaining confessions, on the purge of writers and other members of the intelligentsia, on life in the labor camps, and many other key matters. Both a leading Sovietologist and a highly respected poet, the author blends research with prose, providing not only an authoritative account of Stalin's purges, but also a compelling chronicle of one of this century's most tragic events. A timely revision of a book long out of print, this is the updated version of the author's original work.
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Strange Brains and Genius

The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen

Author: Clifford A. Pickover

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: N.A

Category: Psychology

Page: 332

View: 9687

Presents portraits of eccentric geniuses who have made contributions to science and philosophy, focusing on bizarre behavior, strange beliefs, and obsessive personalities
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Dinner with Darwin

Food, Drink, and Evolution

Author: Jonathan Silvertown

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022624539X

Category: Cooking

Page: 240

View: 6517

What do eggs, flour, and milk have in common? They form the basis of crepes of course, but they also each have an evolutionary purpose. Eggs, seeds (from which flour is derived by grinding) and milk are each designed by evolution to nourish offspring. Everything we eat has an evolutionary history. Grocery shelves and restaurant menus are bounteous evidence of evolution at work, though the label on the poultry will not remind us of this with a Jurassic sell-by date, nor will the signs in the produce aisle betray the fact that corn has a 5,000 year history of artificial selection by pre-Colombian Americans. Any shopping list, each recipe, every menu and all ingredients can be used to create culinary and gastronomic magic, but can also each tell a story about natural selection, and its influence on our plates--and palates. Join in for multiple courses, for a tour of evolutionary gastronomy that helps us understand the shape of our diets, and the trajectories of the foods that have been central to them over centuries--from spirits to spices. This literary repast also looks at the science of our interaction with foods and cooking--the sights, the smells, the tastes. The menu has its eclectic components, just as any chef is entitled. But while it is not a comprehensive work which might risk gluttony, this is more than an amuse bouche, and will leave every reader hungry for more.
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Moscow Stories

Author: Loren R. Graham

Publisher: Indiana University Press

ISBN: 9780253000743

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 320

View: 4691

"Graham has brilliantly encapsulated and interwoven the major features of Soviet and post-Soviet history in his riveting stories.... a splendid and extraordinary work." -- Edward Grant, author of God and Reason in the Middle Ages "A very lively read, indeed a real page turner... Graham's discussion of pressing ethical dilemmas displays a sureness of hand and a refreshing candor about his own struggles with the issues." -- Susan Solomon, University of Toronto The distinguished American historian of Russian and Soviet science Loren R. Graham recounts with warmth and wit his experiences during 45 years of traveling and researching in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, from 1960 to 2005. Present for many historic events during this period, Graham writes not as a political correspondent or an analyst, but as an ordinary American living through these years alongside Russian friends and critics. Graham befriended some of the leading scientists and politicians in Russia, but his most touching stories concern average Russians with whom he lived, worked, suffered, and exchanged views. Graham also writes of the ethical questions he confronted, such as the tension between independence of thought and political loyalty. Finally, he depicts the ways in which Russia has changed -- visually, politically, and ideologically -- during the last 15 years. These gripping, sometimes humorous, always deeply personal stories will engage and inform all readers with an interest in Russia during this tumultuous period of history.
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The Greatest Battle

Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II

Author: Andrew Nagorski

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1416545735

Category: History

Page: 368

View: 8376

The battle for Moscow was the biggest battle of World War II -- the biggest battle of all time. And yet it is far less known than Stalingrad, which involved about half the number of troops. From the time Hitler launched his assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, seven million troops were engaged in this titanic struggle. The combined losses of both sides -- those killed, taken prisoner or severely wounded -- were 2.5 million, of which nearly 2 million were on the Soviet side. But the Soviet capital narrowly survived, and for the first time the German Blitzkrieg ended in failure. This shattered Hitler's dream of a swift victory over the Soviet Union and radically changed the course of the war. The full story of this epic battle has never been told because it undermines the sanitized Soviet accounts of the war, which portray Stalin as a military genius and his people as heroically united against the German invader. Stalin's blunders, incompetence and brutality made it possible for German troops to approach the outskirts of Moscow. This triggered panic in the city -- with looting, strikes and outbreaks of previously unimaginable violence. About half the city's population fled. But Hitler's blunders would soon loom even larger: sending his troops to attack the Soviet Union without winter uniforms, insisting on an immediate German reign of terror and refusing to heed his generals' pleas that he allow them to attack Moscow as quickly as possible. In the end, Hitler's mistakes trumped Stalin's mistakes. Drawing on recently declassified documents from Soviet archives, including files of the dreaded NKVD; on accounts of survivors and of children of top Soviet military and government officials; and on reports of Western diplomats and correspondents, The Greatest Battle finally illuminates the full story of a clash between two systems based on sheer terror and relentless slaughter. Even as Moscow's fate hung in the balance, the United States and Britain were discovering how wily a partner Stalin would turn out to be in the fight against Hitler -- and how eager he was to push his demands for a postwar empire in Eastern Europe. In addition to chronicling the bloodshed, Andrew Nagorski takes the reader behind the scenes of the early negotiations between Hitler and Stalin, and then between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. This is a remarkable addition to the history of World War II.
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Experiment Eleven

Deceit and Betrayal in the Discovery of the Cure for Tuberculosis

Author: Peter Pringle

Publisher: A&C Black

ISBN: 1408826062

Category: History

Page: 288

View: 970

In 1943, Albert Schatz, a young Rutgers College Ph.D. student, worked on a wartime project in microbiology professor Selman Waksman's lab, searching for an antibiotic to fight infections on the front lines and at home. On his eleventh experiment on a common bacterium found in farmyard soil, Schatz discovered streptomycin, the first effective cure for tuberculosis, at that time the world's leading killer disease. As director of Schatz's research, Waksman took credit for the discovery, belittled Schatz's work, and secretly enriched himself with royalties from the streptomycin patent filed by Merck, the pharmaceutical company. In an unprecedented lawsuit, young Schatz sued Waksman, was awarded the title of "co-discoverer" and a share of the royalties. But two years later, Professor Waksman alone was awarded the Nobel Prize. Schatz disappeared into academic obscurity. For the first time, acclaimed author and journalist Peter Pringle reveals the scandals behind one of the most important discoveries in the history of medicine. The story unfolds on a tiny college campus in New Jersey, but its repercussions spread worldwide. The streptomycin patent was a breakthrough for the drug companies, overturning patent limits on products of nature and paving the way for today's biotech world. As dozens more antibiotics were found, many from the same family as streptomycin, the drug companies created oligopolies and reaped big profits. Pringle uses first-hand accounts and archives in the U.S. and Europe to unravel the intensely human story behind the discovery that started a revolution in the treatment of infectious diseases and shaped the future of Big Pharma
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Stalinist Science

Author: Nikolai Krementsov

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9781400822140

Category: Science

Page: 368

View: 4517

Some scholars have viewed the Soviet state and science as two monolithic entities--with bureaucrats as oppressors, and scientists as defenders of intellectual autonomy. Based on previously unknown documents from the archives of state and Communist Party agencies and of numerous scientific institutions, Stalinist Science shows that this picture is oversimplified. Even the reinstated Science Department within the Central Committee was staffed by a leading geneticist and others sympathetic to conventional science. In fact, a symbiosis of state bureaucrats and scientists established a much more terrifying system of control over the scientific community than any critic of Soviet totalitarianism had feared. Some scientists, on the other hand, developed more elaborate devices to avoid and exploit this control system than any advocate of academic freedom could have reasonably hoped. Nikolai Krementsov argues that the model of Stalinist science, already taking hold during the thirties, was reversed by the need for inter-Allied cooperation during World War II. Science, as a tool for winning the war and as a diplomatic and propaganda instrument, began to enjoy higher status, better funding, and relative autonomy. Even the reinstated Science Department within the Central Committee was staffed by a leading geneticist and others sympathetic to conventional science. However, the onset of the Cold War led to a campaign for eliminating such servility to the West. Then the Western links that had benefited genetics and other sciences during the war and through 1946 became a liability, and were used by Lysenko and others to turn back to the repressive past and to delegitimate whole research directions.
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S.i.o.p

The Secret U.s. Plan for Nuclear War

Author: Peter Pringle,William Arkin

Publisher: W W Norton & Company Incorporated

ISBN: 9780393335163

Category: History

Page: 292

View: 8074

This is the first comprehensive look at the plan (Single Integrated Operating Plan, or S.I.O.P.) the United States has had since 1960 to wage nuclear war on Russia.
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In Pursuit of the Gene

Author: James Schwartz

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 0674043332

Category: Science

Page: 384

View: 5016

Schwartz presents the history of genetics through the eyes of a dozen or so central players, beginning with Charles Darwin and ending with Nobel laureate Hermann J. Muller. This book offers readers the background they need to understand the latest findings in genetics and those still to come in the search for the genetic basis of complex diseases and traits.
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