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Anti-prohibition news from over the world

Collected live from our allies' blogs.
Note: All opinions expressed below are those of the authors only, not necessarily TICAP's.

It's a sin

Published on 2021-11-25 11:38:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


In my column for City AM, I wrote about a shocking statistic about sin taxes...

According to an economic study published last month, 90 per cent of all “sin taxes” on tobacco, alcohol and soft drinks in the US are paid by just 20 per cent of households. Eighty per cent of the taxes are paid by just ten per cent of households. This tax burden tends to fall disproportionately on low income households.


Do have a read.

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Boris Johnson's corona victory?

Published on 2021-11-23 09:10:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Another article from me for the Telegraph about the Covid situation which is worsening at a bad time in Europe. France and Germany (to name but two) are making a mockery of the idea that face masks and vaccine passports can keep the virus under control and Boris Johnson's decision to 'let it rip' in summer is looking increasingly sound.

We shouldn’t count our chickens yet, but as restrictions come back into force across Europe, it is becoming increasingly obvious that delaying “freedom day” would have made a winter lockdown more likely, not less. While many countries are facing their first major wave of the delta variant against a backdrop of waning immunity and cold weather, England built up a wall of resistance to Covid in the mild summer and autumn months, which has now been fortified by twelve million booster shots.

This was always the plan, a fact some Government critics conveniently seem to have forgotten. Back in July, the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said: "There is quite a strong view by many people, including myself actually, that going in the summer has some advantages, all other things being equal, to opening up into the autumn when schools are going back and when we’re heading into the winter period when the NHS tends to be under greatest pressure."

In the first year of the pandemic, those who favoured more restrictions could usually rely on Whitty and most epidemiologists to support them. But not any more. “We are not behind Europe in this wave, they are behind us,” Professor Paul Hunter told the Guardian earlier this month. “We are not currently seeing a surge of the same magnitude as Europe at present largely because of the high case numbers over recent months, which most of Europe missed out on.”

The “slight gamble” of opening up in July – as Professor Neil Ferguson put it – seems to be paying off. Although the number of Covid cases has been rising for the last two weeks, rates have continued to fall among the over-60s, and the number of people in hospital with Covid has dropped by a fifth since the start of November. In France and Germany, the number of cases reported each day has doubled in a fortnight. In England, cases have fluctuated at a relatively high level but have not doubled since early July, and there have been periods of sustained decline.

In short, the virus is finding it harder and harder to find susceptible individuals to infect. Those who have had their booster shot have strong immunity against symptomatic infection, while those who are unvaccinated have mostly been infected by now and have a similar level of protection.

What’s more, anyone who wants to enjoy a normal life has been able to do so for the last four months. This was a major benefit of “freedom day” that is rarely acknowledged by critics of the Government.


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A swift half with Henry Dimbleby

Published on 2021-11-18 17:10:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


A new episode of The Swift Half has dropped. This week's guest is Henry Dimbleby, founder of the Leon restaurant chain and author of the National Food Strategy. Regular readers will know that we don't agree on everything.





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Corona-centrism is the only game in town

Published on 2021-11-12 13:47:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


AstraZeneca has said it will start making a profit on its Covid vaccine. The company said that they would sell it as cost during the pandemic but that the pandemic is now over. I quite agree, as I say in Spiked today... 

In the six months between October 2020 and March 2021, there were 3.8million recorded cases of Covid in the UK and 85,000 deaths. In the following six months, during which restrictions were reduced to nothing, there were 4.8million recorded cases and 14,000 deaths. Based on these figures, the case fatality rate fell from 2.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent. Since around half of all infections are not recorded, the infection fatality rate is now around 0.15 per cent, not much different to seasonal influenza. And remember that these statistics include a large number of deaths among the unvaccinated. For fully vaccinated people, the risk of dying if you catch Covid is lower still.

A glance at the Covid mortality figures shows us that we are more or less where we expected to be. After two surges of the epidemic – in spring 2020 and winter 2020-21 – we have reached endemicity. A graph of hospital occupancy looks very similar. The numbers go up a little, they go down a little, but it is nothing a half-decent healthcare system couldn’t handle. Covid will remain a health issue for many years – possibly forever – but it is no longer a civil-liberties issue. Arguably, it should only be a minor news story from now on.


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NHS England's ignoble lie

Published on 2021-11-10 10:00:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The head of the NHS claimed that there are 14 times as many people in hospital with Covid than there were this time last year. Many people on social media knew immediately that this was not true but several news outlets apparently did not realise.

The health lobby is not averse to the 'noble lie', as regular readers know, but this was in a different league. I wrote about it for Cap-X and spoke to Tom Harwood about it yesterday. 

'Some media organisations will report anything - no matter how absurd - so long as it makes the UK look like it's in a bad situation.'

Christopher Snowdon criticises the media for how they use Covid-19 numbers. pic.twitter.com/PssTHvv2hw

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The Bloomberg Health Organisation

Published on 2021-11-09 15:18:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


 

The International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) has published an excellent document about the WHO, vaping and the malign influence of evil billionaire Mike Bloomberg. It gives a good overview of how the WHO and its COP meetings on tobacco are subverted by anti-nicotine prohibitionists and looks at the dodgy dealings of Bloomberg's myriad front groups. It also collects a lot of handy quotes and sources in one place.

Full article

The secret tobacco conference starts today

Published on 2021-11-08 07:00:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The WHO's secretive international tobacco conference COP9 starts today, online only and with the public barred from watching, let alone participating. COPWATCH will be doing its utmost to find out what's going on. Keep an eye on it.

In the meantime, I'd like to share an excellent article I recently came across in the Fordham International Law Journal called Administering the Mark of Cain: Secrecy and Exclusion in the FCTC Implementation Process. The author, Gregory F. Jacob, looks at the issue from the perspective of democratic accountability and fair representation. I recommend reading the whole thing, but here are some of the more important passages.

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A swift half with Madeline Grant

Published on 2021-11-05 16:06:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I recorded a new episode of the Swift Half with Snowdon this week. My guest was the fantastic Madeline Grant, sketch writer at the Telegraph. We talked about the COP26 snoozefest, James Bond, Mastermind and more. Check it out.


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COVID statistics and the incompetent media

Published on 2021-11-04 14:21:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I was on GB News this morning with Tom Harwood to discuss some particularly useless TV coverage of the COVID-19 statistics. Have at it.

 


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The UK's alcohol tax shake up

Published on 2021-11-04 09:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Rishi Sunak announced plans to shake up the alcohol duty system in his budget last week. I've written for CapX about what he wants to do, where it falls short and what it means for you, the hard-drinking British worker.
It was a pleasant surprise to be quoted by the Chancellor when he presented his Budget last week. In 2017, I wrote a short paper for the IEA titled A Rational Approach to Alcohol Taxation in which I said that the way we tax booze in Britain ‘defies common sense’. Rishi Sunak quoted these words, along with the view of the Institute of Fiscal Studies that the alcohol tax system is ‘a mess’.

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Covid Horseshoe Theory

Published on 2021-11-03 13:03:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I've written a piece for the New Statesman about the people threatening us with lockdown if we don't accept 'modest' restrictions. These restrictions are, in fact, more draconian than anything enforced since the war with the sole exceptions of lockdowns themselves. Moreover, a scenario in which another lockdown is necessary is highly unlikely. 

Devi Sridhar, the doyenne of Zero Covid, told the New Statesman last October: “The longer we delay the decision to go into lockdown, the longer it is going to last.” Now she is saying that if the government doesn’t introduce vaccine passports and mandatory mask-wearing, “we will be pushed into a Plan C this winter that will look a lot like lockdown.” To be clear, Sridhar says in her most recent New Statesman interview that “lockdown happens when the NHS is basically collapsing”, so it looks like she believes the NHS is going to collapse despite all the vaccinations and booster shots. “Waiting and watching just doesn’t work with Covid,” she says, “as we have learned repeatedly over the past 22 months.” But are the last ten months really comparable with the 12 before them? Cases are falling in England and this is the fifth time they have been on a downward trajectory since “Freedom Day” in July. This didn’t happen without lockdowns last year. Moreover, the number of new cases is lower than it was on Freedom Day. If the government didn’t go to Plan B in July, why should it go there now?

One answer is hospital capacity, but while the number of people with Covid in English hospitals has risen from around 5,000 at the end of July to 7,000 today, it is a far cry from the 14,000 last November, let alone the peak of 34,000 recorded in January. A quarter of these people are not even being primarily treated for Covid-19 and there are fewer people with Covid in mechanical ventilation beds than there were at the end of August. It is almost certain that the NHS will be in crisis this winter, as it is every year, but it will not be the public’s fault. We cannot make a habit of staying home to protect the NHS.

It is true that if the recent rise in hospitalisations continues throughout the winter, Covid will put the NHS under intolerable pressure. But there is no reason to think it will. Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, is fond of saying that epidemics are either doubling or halving. Since July, Covid in the UK has done neither. Rates have gone up and down in defiance of Sage’s projections, for reasons that nobody fully understands. The logical conclusion to be drawn from Whitty’s motto is that we no longer have an epidemic – rather, we have an endemic virus that everybody will catch sooner or later, possibly more than once. If the summer and autumn surges help to “flatten the curve” over winter, we may look back on them as a blessing in disguise.


Full article

The other COP

Published on 2021-11-02 12:50:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist





I'll be speaking at this tonight at 7pm (UK time)...
COP9 and the Future of Harm Reduction

When: November 2, 2021

Time: 2 pm (EDT) / 7 pm (London time)

Please register with the RSVP link:

https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eiqhq71s503031db&oseq=&c=&ch=

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Last Orders with Charlie Peters

Published on 2021-11-01 13:32:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


There's a new episode of Last Orders and it's another cracker. Our guest is journalist Charlie Peters. So good to be recording these in person again.

Listen here or subscribe.


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Contemptible misinformation about vaping in the Daily Mail

Published on 2021-10-31 15:23:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


After the government announced the possibility of e-cigarettes being available on prescription (which has always been an option anyway), journalists went looking for anti-vaping voices to give an alternative viewpoint. As usual, the 'public health' dinosaurs Martin McKee and Simon Capewell were invited to spout their nonsense. Both feature heavily in this Sunday Times article

Full article

The medicine isn't working. More medicine!

Published on 2021-10-28 11:05:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Another study in the official minimum pricing evaluation was published this week. Once again, it was bad news for advocates of the policy, although you have to read it properly to find that out. According to a note at the top the study (too brief to be called an abstract), it says...
This study found that implementation of minimum unit pricing at 50p per unit was unproblematic with no evidence of beneficial or harmful impacts on the outcomes evaluated.
But as the results section shows, there was, in fact, some evidence of a harmful impact...
The odds ratio for an alcohol-related emergency department attendance following minimum unit pricing was 1.14 (95% confidence interval 0.90 to 1.44; p = 0.272). In absolute terms, we estimated that minimum unit pricing was associated with 258 more alcohol-related emergency department visits (95% confidence interval –191 to 707) across Scotland than would have been the case had minimum unit pricing not been implemented.
To be fair, this association was not statistically significant, but we know that minimum pricing costs Scottish drinkers tens of millions of pounds a year. That is a harmful impact and it can only be justified - at a push - if it produces positive health outcomes. This is just the latest study showing that it has not done so. 
The study is a substantial piece of work, running to over 200 pages. It is the most thorough piece of research conducted on the real world impact of minimum pricing to date. The authors compared outcomes in Scottish emergency departments with those in the North of England. They also compared outcomes in sexual health clinics and interviewed various 'stakeholders'.
At best, they found no improvement north of the border. Indeed, things may have got comparatively worse since minimum pricing was introduced.
On average, Scotland had a higher proportion of alcohol-related attendance than England. Scotland had a stable trend, whereas there was a decreasing trend in England.

.. The proportion of ‘current alcohol drinkers’ was higher in Scotland than in England, with this difference significant across all three waves. 
...For drinkers’ consumption, there were slight increases for the odds of alcohol misuse (FAST score ≥ 3; OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.42) and alcohol purchase from on-licensed premises (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.55)... For the availability, purchasing and consumption of alcohol, stakeholders expected to see reductions after MUP, notably for young people because they had limited disposable income. Such reductions were not generally observed. 
This is in addition to the study published last week which found no impact on crime from the introduction of minimum pricing.
Not going very well, is it? The study was produced by people like Colin Drummond and Niamh Fitzgerald who have been agitating for minimum pricing for years and are not going to allow the total failure of the policy to derail them now. 

Sign the e-petition to urge government to support alcohol minimum pricing. http://t.co/qdBSfNKXaZ

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The government's obesity app

Published on 2021-10-25 13:35:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The government is going to start trialling a new obesity app in January. Taxpayers are going to be forced to pay people to eat vegetables and go for a walk. I'm against this, as I explain in the Spectator...

There is a good chance that the HeadsUp app will be another government IT disaster and will never be heard of again after the trial ends next summer, but it should never have been given the green light in the first place. Not only is it Orwellian for the state to track your footsteps and monitor your shopping and eating habits, it will create a two-tier society in which those who follow the often dubious advice from public health authorities will be subsidised by those who do not (or indeed cannot). Ludicrously, Health Secretary Sajid Javid is portraying this scheme as part of the ‘levelling up agenda’.

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What most people think

Published on 2021-10-22 10:31:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I really enjoyed talking to the comedian Geoff Norcott on Wednesday about Covid centrism, First Defence, cigarettes and more. Have a listen to the podcast here.


Full article

Child obesity experiment fails spectacularly

Published on 2021-10-21 09:55:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist




The 'public health' lobby is keen on the 'whole systems approach' to obesity. This is not to be confused with the equally useless 'whole population approach'. The latter involves using blunt policy tools to get everybody to reduce their consumption of salt, alcohol, sugar or whatever whereas the whole systems approach has never been properly defined but involves the whole of society working to reduce obesity in some way.
As I have said before...
The strategy of throwing any old policy into the mix in the hope that some of them will work is known euphemistically in 'public health' as the 'whole systems approach'. It is often illustrated with meaningless graphics and is anti-scientific, illiberal nonsense. Essentially, it gives activists a licence to do whatever they want regardless of the consequences.

At best, this scatter-gun approach can involve various teachers, social workers, charities and 'public health' professionals working face-to-face with people to help them have a healthy diet and control their weight. The one and only success story is Amsterdam where child obesity supposedly fell (a bit) after a whole systems approach was introduced. In practice, it's all too expensive and time-consuming for most governments and 'public health' groups to get behind, but it putatively shows that the government can do something about obesity.

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The public health lobby wants to introduce a ‘meat tax’. Don’t bet against it

Published on 2021-10-19 13:03:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Marco Springmann is in the pages of the Guardian again calling for a meat tax so here's what I wrote about him and his ideas the first time around.

First published by Spectator Health in November 2018

Once you accept that the modern ‘public health’ movement is just the latest incarnation of the puritanism that waxes and wanes throughout history, it is easy to predict its next target. If you further assume – and who can now deny it? – that nanny state campaigners follow a blueprint laid down by the anti-smoking lobby, it becomes easy to guess not only their future targets but also their methods.

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Minimum pricing isn't working

Published on 2021-10-18 15:20:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Promises, promises

More evidence from the minimum pricing evaluation has been published and it seems that the policy has failed to achieve one of its main aims. The infamous Sheffield model predicted that a 50p minimum price would lead to 3,500 fewer crimes in the first year. 

Charlie Peters has the details...


Full article

Denominators

Published on 2021-10-15 09:27:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


In my City AM column today, I start with Richard Doll's research into smoking before discussing vaccine efficacy and our current obsession with the number of Covid deaths. The common denominator is denominators.

In the late 1940s, Austin Bradford Hill and Richard Doll began interviewing hundreds of hospital patients, half of whom had lung cancer while the other half had various other diseases. Their research, published in 1950, showed that 99.7 per cent of the male lung cancer patients had a history of smoking. Out of 649 patients, only two were nonsmokers. In retrospect, it seems amazing that no one had spotted the link between smoking and lung cancer before, but it is less surprising when you consider that 94.8 per cent of the men who were not in hospital with lung cancer also had a history of smoking. 

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A swift half with Tim Stanley

Published on 2021-10-14 10:32:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


My guest in the latest episode of The Swift Half is the author and columnist Tim Stanley. He has a new book out about tradition and we discussed the principles of conservatism.



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Alcohol-related deaths fall by 23% (sort of)

Published on 2021-10-07 10:29:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The Office for Health Promotion has got off to a flying start by announcing a 23% fall in alcohol-related deaths in England. This was achieved by changing the methodology behind the estimate and it was a piece of work carried out by Public Health England, but I'll take it. 

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Living in an overregulated, overtaxed, brainwashed prison camp

Published on 2021-10-05 14:59:12.
Website: Frank Davis


Delingpole: Oh the contrast with the overregulated, overtaxed, brainwashed prison camp of mostly compliant sheep and grim apparatchiks to which I am now unhappily returned. Boris Johnson’s United Kingdom is much, much closer politically, socially and economically to Tito’s Yugoslavia … Continue reading →

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Anti-alcohol cranks call for academic censorship

Published on 2021-10-04 07:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The psychologist Mark Petticrew has got it into his head that the rather dull health information charity DrinkAware is covertly promoting binge-drinking and drinking while pregnant while also downplaying the risks of alcohol. He has been banging this drum for four years now, producing several studies based on cherry-picking and misrepresentation. Most recently, he resorted to trawling through DrinkAware's Twitter feed crying 'bias' whenever a tweet wasn't as overtly anti-alcohol as those sent by temperance groups. 

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Good Riddance

Published on 2021-10-03 15:38:07.
Website: Frank Davis


Good news. Goodbye and good riddance to Public Health England. All these public health organisations are essentially coercive, for the simple reason that they intrude upon individual autonomy. My health is no longer my concern alone, but the concern of … Continue reading →

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Goodbye Public Health England, hello Office for Health Promotion and Disparities

Published on 2021-10-02 12:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist




Public Health England is no more. I had to give it one kicking for Spiked...

A whole book could be written about the bottomless incompetence and quixotic delusions of an organisation that swallowed £4 billion a year. This is an agency that decided not to bother testing people for Covid at airports during a pandemic because PHE higher-ups’ limited cognitive abilities led them to believe it wasn’t worth it. It paid academics to fiddle with its computer model to justify lowering the ‘safe’ level for alcohol consumption. It claimed that smokers were 14 times more likely to suffer a bad case of Covid just as evidence was emerging to show that smokers were significantly less likely to catch the virus. Even in the gambling report that turned out to be PHE’s swansong, you can sense the disappointment when it found no link between problem gambling and smoking or obesity.

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Bushcraft Bear

Published on 2021-10-01 15:30:46.
Website: Frank Davis


I’ve been following the volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.  The best reports come from somebody called Bushcraft Bear. Bushcraft Bear is just a guy with a webcam standing on a hill in La … Continue reading →

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Social Isolation Tyranny

Published on 2021-09-30 14:03:42.
Website: Frank Davis


https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/09/28/australia-official-warns-sydney-residents-unvaccinated-will-face-social-isolation-difficult-life/ Unvaccinated residents of Sydney, Australia, will face social isolation and a difficult life should they continue to resist vaccination, says New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Just like smokers. Australia went from a free country to a police state … Continue reading →

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The Absolute Tyranny of Public Health

Published on 2021-09-27 16:32:46.
Website: Frank Davis


Via Clicky: Australia has fallen.. a man is arrested 200mtrs from his house.. his crime.? Having a cigarette ???? pic.twitter.com/c3l0K28X0b — Pelham (@Resist_05) September 26, 2021 Four or five policemen tackle an Aussie smoker, quite likely injuring him in the … Continue reading →

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The WHO Doubles Down On Its Incompetence

Published on 2020-05-29 17:13:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


You'd think, wouldn't you, that after the damning political and media criticism the World Health Organisation has rightly been subjected to over fucking up the health of every nation on Earth - with their pitiful and incompetent response to the Coronavirus - that they would have learned a lesson on getting their priorities right.

Well, it seems not. This week, they were celebrating the "defeat" of e-cigarettes in Finland, as if this is in any way a good thing.

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It's That Man Again!

Published on 2020-05-21 19:57:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


So, the menthol tobacco ban - mandated by the EU's Tobacco Products Directive from 2014 - came in this week and many smokers will have been completely unaware of it until Wednesday when they found that their usual smokes are never to be seen again.

However, one thing we did see again was the British tobacco control industry's only supporter amongst retail tobacconists. Not surprising since just about every anti-smoking initiative could have the potential - even if it is not designed, which is arguable - to put corner shops and newsagents out of business.

Meet - once again - John McClurey, an anti-smoking newsagent who has had years to stop selling cigarettes in his shop but seemingly without success.

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