Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #299 Update on German Corporate Control Over American Media

MP3 One Seg­ment
NB: This RealAu­dio stream con­tains FTRs 299 and 300 in sequence. Each is a 30-minute broad­cast.

1. Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of an issue with enor­mous impli­ca­tions for inter­net free­dom, the pro­gram details a pro­pos­al by the Ger­man inte­ri­or min­is­ter to con­duct DOS attacks on Amer­i­can inter­net providers that offer Nazi pro­pa­gan­da that can be accessed by Ger­man Nazi groups. The odi­ous nature of the infor­ma­tion offered on these sites notwith­stand­ing, this pro­pos­al could trig­ger a seri­ous cri­sis over inter­net free­dom, if the pro­pos­al could be real­ized. “The Ger­mans are plan­ning an attack. At least, that’s the threat that inte­ri­or min­is­ter Otto Schi­ly has made, vow­ing the Ger­man gov­ern­ment may resort to denial-of-ser­vice attacks as a way to shut down U.S. and oth­er for­eign web­sites that help Ger­man neo-Nazis. Con­dem­na­tion of the plan was imme­di­ate. But as of Mon­day after­noon in Ger­many, Schi­ly’s office had report­ed no back­track­ing from his state­ment, which has been the focus of recent media atten­tion in Ger­many. ‘If I said some­thing like this in pub­lic as a speak­er of the Chaos com­put­er club, I could count the min­utes before I had an inves­ti­ga­tion against me,’ said Andy Mueller-Maguhn, a leader of Berlin’s famed CCC hack­er group—and also Europe’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the ICANN board. ‘It might be that Mr. Schi­ly does not know any­thing about infowar, but I know a lot of coun­tries see attacks com­ing at their com­put­ers from oth­er coun­tries as an act of war. If even one coun­try in the world were to start act­ing like this, it could lead to an open infowar that no one could win. Schi­ly reg­u­lar­ly makes head­lines in Ger­many with his denun­ci­a­tions of far-right groups, who have grown not only more numer­ous over the last year, but also more vio­lent. In fact, the gov­ern­ment announced last month that in 2000, the num­ber of far-right crimes reached its high­est lev­el since World War II. Schi­ly believes right-wing web­sites, increas­ing­ly based in the Unit­ed States, foment this vio­lence. Last Decem­ber, Ger­many’s Supreme Court ruled that Ger­man law could be applied to mate­r­i­al placed on the Inter­net and avail­able in Ger­many, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Ger­man legal action against Amer­i­cans spon­sor­ing such sites . . . . But in delv­ing into such sen­si­tive ter­ri­to­ry as gov­ern­ment spon­sored DOS attacks, Schi­ly may stir up more con­tro­ver­sy than he real­izes. ‘I don’t think he knows what a Pan­do­ra’s box he’s open­ing,’ said Frank Rieger, a long­time mem­ber of Berlin’s hack­ing scene who last year co-found­ed a Berlin start­up. ‘If even one Amer­i­can ISP decides to say, ‘We are being attacked by a for­eign gov­ern­ment, and we are going to counter-attack,’ they have much big­ger resources, so that could be real­ly dev­as­tat­ing. There would­n’t be much band­width left, because there is not as much band­width here in Ger­many as there is in the Unit­ed States.’ If it all sounds far-fetched, maybe it should. But that does not mean Schi­ly float­ed the idea with­out being seri­ous about it. His office did not return repeat­ed calls ask­ing for com­ment, but Mueller-Maguhn has estab­lished the exis­tence of a recent letter—signed by Schi­ly himself—outlining the DOS plan in detail. ‘The let­ter says that such an attack would not vio­late the law,’ Mueller-Maguhn said.” (“Ger­man threat Rais­es Infowar Fear” by Steve Kettmann; Wired News; 4/9/2001; p. 1.)

2. This pro­pos­al is sig­nif­i­cant in a cou­ple of respects. It could be used as a prece­dent for attack­ing U.S. anti-fas­cist web­sites and it deflects the blame for Nazi vio­lence on Ger­many away from Ger­many. “If Mr. Schi­ly wants to say what is hap­pen­ing here (with right-wing vio­lence) is caused by Amer­i­can com­put­ers, that’s bull­shit,’ he said.” (Idem.)

3. Next, the pro­gram takes up an issue that is crit­i­cal and has broad impli­ca­tions for the future of Amer­i­can media. (The fol­low­ing arti­cle is repro­duced lat­er on in the For The Record series, because of its impor­tance.) In a sweep­ing rul­ing, the FCC gave the go ahead to Deutsche Telekom (con­trolled by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment) to pur­chase Amer­i­can mobile tele­phone com­pa­nies. (The head of the FCC is Michael Pow­ell, Col­in Pow­ell’s son.)

4. More impor­tant­ly, the rul­ing gives the go-ahead to the future pur­chase of Amer­i­can telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies by com­pa­nies that are con­trolled by for­eign gov­ern­ments. The gov­ern­ing pro­to­col to deter­mine whether such pur­chas­es are accept­able will be the WTO’s stan­dard of being “in the pub­lic inter­est.” “. . . . Although extend­ed reg­u­la­to­ry debates can fre­quent­ly lead to doc­u­ments full of mealy-mouthed bureau­cratese, the 97-page order issued by the FCC is as sweep­ing and prece­dent-set­ting as Mr. Pow­ell had want­ed. It goes fur­ther than any pre­vi­ous rul­ing in the agen­cy’s 66-year his­to­ry to open up the U.S. telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket to for­eign com­peti­tors. ‘This is the green light. This is the paved road. This is the auto­bahn,” said Rudy Baca, an ana­lyst of inter­na­tion­al tele­coms reg­u­la­tion with the Pre­cur­sor Group. ‘It’s more defin­i­tive than most peo­ple expect­ed.’ At the heart of the debate over the deal was a dis­creet sec­tion of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions act that con­tains seem­ing­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry guid­ance on how to deal with for­eign tele­coms owned by their gov­ern­ments. One part of the law states flat­ly that no U.S. phone licens­es can be held ‘by any for­eign gov­ern­ment or rep­re­sen­ta­tive there­of.’ But anoth­er sec­tion allows a com­pa­ny to buy the license if the FCC rules it in the pub­lic inter­est. The inter­pre­ta­tion of the lan­guage is cru­cial, since out­side the UK, most big over­seas com­pa­nies remain at least par­tial­ly in the hands of gov­ern­ments. After the Voic­eS­tream deal clos­es, for instance, Telekom will still be 45 per cent-owned by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. The same is the case for impor­tant inter­na­tion­al play­ers such as France Tele­com and Japan’s NTT. In its Telekom-Voic­eS­tream rul­ing, the FCC found the word­ing call­ing for an out­right ban applies only if a for­eign gov­ern­ment itself tries to acquire a license—a high­ly unlike­ly sce­nario that, for all intents and pur­pos­es, makes the clause moot. Instead, all com­pa­nies where a gov­ern­ment owns a stake will be gov­erned by the pub­lic inter­est waiv­er. In addi­tion, the FCC went even fur­ther, say­ing that due trade com­mit­ments, any pur­chase by a com­pa­ny from a WTO coun­try will be assumed to be in the pub­lic inter­est, a clear sign that the agency has opened the flood gates. ‘The FCC has con­firmed that it will be apply­ing U.S. law to U.S. WTO com­mit­ments, said Scott Blake Har­ris, for­mer head of the FCC’s inter­na­tion­al bureau who worked for Voic­eS­tream in the deal. Ana­lysts pre­dict that the order could lead to a new wave of for­eign invest­ment, which could tar­get even the largest U.S. car­ri­ers. The FCC’s sweep­ing rul­ing, how­ev­er, has incensed the deal’s oppo­nents, includ­ing Sen­a­tor Ernest Hollings, who came with­in a hair’s breadth of block­ing the merg­er through leg­is­la­tion last year. He has vowed to rein­tro­duce the bill this ses­sion and include a pro­vi­sion that would force the Ger­man gov­ern­ment to sell most of its stake in Telekom if it want­ed to retain Voic­eS­tream. ‘They basi­cal­ly rewrote the law,’ said one crit­ic. “They just changed 65 years of jurispru­dence.’ ” (“US Rul­ing on Telekom Could Lead to Wave of Invest­ment” by Peter Spiegel in Wash­ing­ton; Finan­cial Times; 5/2/2001; p. 8.)

5. The rul­ing by Bush’s FCC is an enor­mous step. The pub­lic’s pas­siv­i­ty in this regard is also note­wor­thy — if com­pa­nies con­trolled by the U.S. gov­ern­ment were buy­ing Amer­i­can telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firms, there would be wide­spread protest. In con­tem­plat­ing the Deutsche Telekom pur­chase of Voic­eS­tream and poten­tial future pur­chas­es of Amer­i­can telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies by Ger­man firms, one should not lose sight of the fact that all major Ger­man com­pa­nies (and many com­pa­nies in oth­er coun­tries) are con­trolled by the Bor­mann orga­ni­za­tion. The eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal com­po­nent of a Third Reich gone under­ground, the Bor­mann orga­ni­za­tion con­trols cor­po­rate Ger­many and much of the rest of the world.

6. The FCC’s rul­ing in the DT/VoiceStream deal applied to “telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firms.” This would include radio and tele­vi­sion sta­tions as well. The Ber­tels­mann fir­m’s equi­ty pur­chase of Europe’s largest broad­cast­er RTL is seen as mov­ing into the Amer­i­can TV mar­ket. (Ber­tels­mann is a major focal point of this series and appears to be a Bor­mann com­pa­ny.) This broad­cast returns to the RTL pur­chase by Ber­tels­mann and the com­pli­cat­ed equi­ty deal it worked out with GBL (which may very well be a Bor­mann firm as well.) The com­plex and inter­lock­ing own­er­ship of GBL are sug­ges­tive of the type of clan­des­tine cor­po­rate con­trol effect­ed by the Bor­mann group.

7. First of all, it should be not­ed that GBL is a hold­ing com­pa­ny and that hold­ing com­pa­nies are one of the devices used by the Bor­mann orga­ni­za­tion to help mask cor­po­rate con­trol of its prop­er­ties. “A hold­ing com­pa­ny may not trade in any form. It may only hold stock in oth­er com­pa­nies, but through this device the exist­ing Ger­man firms, and the 750 new cor­po­ra­tions estab­lished under the Bor­mann pro­gram, gave them­selves absolute con­trol over a post­war eco­nom­ic net­work of viable, pros­per­ous com­pa­nies that stretched from the Ruhr to the ‘neu­trals’ of Europe and to the coun­tries of South Amer­i­ca; a con­trol that con­tin­ues today and is eas­i­ly main­tained through the bear­er bonds or shares issued by these cor­po­ra­tions to cloak real own­er­ship. Bear­er shares require no reg­is­tra­tion of iden­ti­ty, for such shares are exact­ly what they mean; the bear­er of the major­i­ty shares con­trols the com­pa­ny with­out need­ing a ves­tige of proof as to how he acquired them. Thus the Ger­mans who par­tic­i­pat­ed as a silent force in Bor­man­n’s post­war com­mer­cial campaign–which is some­times referred to by aging Nazis as ‘Oper­a­tion Eagle’s Flight’ or ‘Aktion Adlerflug’–insured their com­mand over the indus­tri­al and finan­cial insti­tu­tions that were to move the new Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many back into the fore­front of world eco­nom­ic lead­er­ship.” (Mar­tin Bor­mann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Man­ning; Copy­right 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stu­art Inc.; ISBN 0–8184-0309–8; pp. 134–135.)

8. Audio­fi­na, one of the firms prin­ci­pal­ly involved in the RTL/GBL/Bertelsmann com­plex is a Lux­em­bourg-based hold­ing com­pa­ny. Lux­em­bourg is an epi­cen­ter of Bor­mann activ­i­ty. “Grand Duchess Char­lotte of Lux­em­bourg had her own ideas, and they did­n’t jibe with those of the U.S. inves­tiga­tive team dis­patched to her tiny coun­try to set things right. Upon her return from exile in Lon­don and Mon­tre­al, she prompt­ly dis­missed the U.S. inves­tiga­tive mis­sion, which had been attempt­ing to uncov­er secrets of the Ger­man-Lux­em­bourg steel car­tel. Elbert D. Thomas of Utah, when he was chair­man of the U.S. Sen­ate sub­com­mit­tee on mil­i­tary affairs, com­ment­ed in Wash­ing­ton on June 26, 1945: ‘We had a mis­sion in Lux­em­bourg which was obtain­ing quite a bit of infor­ma­tion on the steel car­tel until the Grand Duchess returned. Infor­ma­tion was then blocked off from us and the mis­sion had to retire with what infor­ma­tion they had already col­lect­ed. There was much to learn about the way in which small states like Lux­em­bourg had been used by the car­tels. The episode sug­gests that some rulers, whom we have befriend­ed, may be expect­ed to assist the cartelists in their post­war efforts to regain dom­i­nance.” What the grand duchess learned from her finance min­is­ter on her return to Lux­em­bourg was sim­ple: ‘Don’t tam­per with the mon­ey machine. We made record prof­its dur­ing the Ger­man era, and there is every indi­ca­tion we will be going into an even greater peri­od of pros­per­i­ty, once Ger­many recov­ers. They will then con­tin­ue to be our biggest cus­tomer. All that is required now is a read­just­ment in stock own­er­ship to please Bel­gian, French, British, and Amer­i­can share­hold­ers, which will be done.” Open Ger­man stock own­er­ship to please Bel­gian, French, British, and Amer­i­can share­hold­ers, which will be done.’ Open Ger­man stock own­er­ship was reduced to its for­mer posi­tion of about 20 per­cent in Lux­em­bourg indus­try and the Ger­man trustee was elim­i­nat­ed. But at board meet­ings, Bel­gian and French banks, vot­ed as blocs on behalf of stock­hold­ers in Ger­many. The Ger­man voice in the wings was still there, and as time went on in Lux­em­bourg, increas­ing­ly the voice could be heard loud and clear—the cus­tomer speak­ing to the sell­er, the equal­iz­er of the mar­ket­place. Grand Duchess Char­lotte, who was to retire dur­ing the six­ties to be suc­ceed­ed by her son, Grand Duke Jean, always believed that the new pros­per­i­ty of Lux­em­bourg after the war was tes­ti­mo­ny to her deci­sion in 1945 not to per­mit inter­fer­ence with the Ger­man finan­cial and indus­tri­al appa­ra­tus. The Ger­man banks, Deutsche and Dres­d­ner, remained in posi­tion and the Lux­em­bourg finan­cial com­mu­ni­ty con­tin­ued to look to Frank­furt rather than to Zurich, Lon­don, and New York for finan­cial guid­ance.” (Ibid.; pp. 154–155.)

9. Group Brux­elles Lam­bert’s own­er­ship struc­ture is com­plex. ” . . .GBL share­hold­er don’t have much of a say in how the com­pa­ny is run, since con­trol is square­ly in the hands of Messrs. Frere and Des­marais, who became friends and busi­ness part­ners in the ear­ly 1980’s when both held seats on the board of French invest­ment bank Paribas. The moguls each con­trol 50% of a Dutch com­pa­ny named Par­joint­co, which owns 55% of Parge­sa, a com­pa­ny list­ed on the Zurich and Gene­va stock exchanges. Parge­sa, in turn, owns 54.6% of GBL and 62% of GBL’s vot­ing rights.” (“Investors Now Have a Back­door to Ber­tels­mann” by John Car­rey­rou and Ken Brown; Wall Street Jour­nal; 3/28/2001; p. C4.)

10. A recent turn of events involv­ing Ger­man financ­ing of a sci­ence fic­tion TV pro­gram is inter­est­ing to eval­u­ate in light of RTL’s pro­posed entry into the Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion mar­ket. “Nev­er make Nazi sol­diers the vil­lains of a TV series if you’re seek­ing Ger­man financ­ing. That’s the les­son learned—the hard way—by Jeff Johns, a pro­duc­er of the action-adven­ture series ‘Matthew Black­heart: Mon­ster Smash­er,’ which has gone down inflames before the first episode made its way to the Sci Fi Chan­nel. Johns said the first four episodes of 22 com­mis­sioned by Sci Fi chan­nel had already been writ­ten when one of the show’s finan­cial part­ners, the Telescene Film Group of Mon­tre­al, declared bank­rupt­cy two months ago. ‘We scram­bled like crazy to find a replace­ment,’ said Johns, focus­ing on Ger­man firm Tele Munchen Group. In the two-hour pilot for ‘Mon­ster Smash­er,’ Black­heart wipes out Nazis like some G.I. Joe super­hero. Even though the series itself is set in present-day Amer­i­ca, no Ger­man TV com­pa­ny would touch it, says Johns. A spokes­woman for Tele Munchen denies that Nazi sol­diers in the pilot had any­thing to do with its deci­sion to pass on ‘Mon­ster Smash­er.’ ” (“Ger­mans Tune Out Nazis” by John Dempsey [Reuters]; Vari­ety; 2/14/2001.) The reac­tion to “Mon­ster Smash­er” by the Tele Munchen com­pa­ny is rem­i­nis­cent of a pas­sage in the Nazi tract Ser­pen­t’s Walk.

11. Like The Turn­er Diaries (also pub­lished by Nation­al Van­guard Books), the book seems rather a blue­print for what is going to take place. It is a nov­el about a Nazi takeover of the Unit­ed States in the mid­dle of the 21st cen­tu­ry. The book describes the Third Reich going under­ground, buy­ing into the Amer­i­can media, and tak­ing over the coun­try. “It assumes that Hitler’s war­rior elite—the SS—didn’t give up their strug­gle for a White world when they lost the Sec­ond World War. Instead their sur­vivors went under­ground and adopt­ed some of their tac­tics of their ene­mies: they began build­ing their eco­nom­ic mus­cle and buy­ing into the opin­ion-form­ing media. A cen­tu­ry after the war they are ready to chal­lenge the democ­rats and Jews for the hearts and minds of White Amer­i­cans, who have begun to have their fill of gov­ern­ment-enforced mul­ti-cul­tur­al­ism and ‘equal­i­ty.’ ” (From the back cov­er of Ser­pen­t’s Walk by “Ran­dolph D. Calver­hall;” Copy­right 1991 [SC]; Nation­al Van­guard Books; 0–937944-05‑X.)

12. This process is described in more detail in a pas­sage of text, con­sist­ing of a dis­cus­sion between Wrench (a mem­ber of this Under­ground Reich) and a mer­ce­nary named Less­ing. “The SS . . . what was left of it . . . had busi­ness objec­tives before and dur­ing World War II. When the war was lost they just kept on, but from oth­er places: Bogo­ta, Asun­cion, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Mex­i­co City, Colom­bo, Dam­as­cus, Dac­ca . . . you name it. They real­ized that the world is head­ing towards a ‘cor­po­racra­cy;’ five or ten inter­na­tion­al super-com­pa­nies that will run every­thing worth run­ning by the year 2100. Those super-cor­po­ra­tions exist now, and they’re already divid­ing up the pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing of food, trans­port, steel and heavy indus­try, oil, the media, and oth­er com­modi­ties. They’re most­ly con­glom­er­ates, with fin­gers in more than one pie . . . .We, the SS, have the say in four or five. We’ve been com­pet­ing for the past six­ty years or so, and we’re slow­ly gain­ing . . . . About ten years ago, we swung a merg­er, a takeover, and got vot­ing con­trol of a super­corp that runs a small but sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the Amer­i­can media. Not open­ly, not with bands and trum­pets or swastikas fly­ing, but qui­et­ly: one huge cor­po­ra­tion cud­dling up to anoth­er one and gen­tly munch­ing it up, like a great, gub­bing amoe­ba. Since then we’ve been replac­ing exec­u­tives, push­ing some­body out here, bring­ing some­body else in there. We’ve swing pro­gram con­tent around, too. Not much, but a lit­tle, so it won’t show. We’ve cut down on ‘nasty-Nazi’ movies . . . good guys in white hats and bad guys in black SS hats . . . lov­able Jews ver­sus fiendish Ger­mans . . . and we have media psy­chol­o­gists, ad agen­cies, and behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion spe­cial­ists work­ing on image changes.” (Ibid.; p. 42.)

13. One of the top­ics of dis­cus­sion set forth in oth­er pro­grams in this series on Ger­man cor­po­rate con­trol over the Amer­i­can media is the Ber­tels­mann par­tic­i­pa­tion in Barnesandnoble.com on-line book­seller. A recent report gave Barnesandnoble.com a sig­nif­i­cant increase in sales over its chief rival Amazon.com. “The online retail­er Barnesandnoble.com said yes­ter­day that it expect­ed to report that its first-quar­ter sales rose 23 per­cent from the peri­od a year ear­li­er, sug­gest­ing that it is gain­ing mar­ket share on its much larg­er com­peti­tor, Amazon.com . . . . Last year’s sales of those prod­ucts were about four times the lev­el at barnesandnoble.com, the sec­ond-largest online book­seller . . . Shares of Barnesandnoble.com rose 7 per­cent yes­ter­day gain­ing 9 cents, to $1.33. Stephen Rig­gio, act­ing chief exec­u­tive of Barnesandnoble.com, attrib­uted the ris­ing sales to con­sol­i­da­tion of the book-sell­ing busi­ness, online and off, and to the strength of the Barnes & Noble brand name. Barnes & Noble and the media com­pa­ny Ber­tels­mann each own 40 per­cent of Barnesandnoble.com.” (“Online Sell­er’s Book Busi­ness is Up in Quar­ter” by David D. Kirk­patrick; New York Times; 4/18/2001; p. C2.)

14. Past analy­sis of the Barnesandnoble.com/Amazon.com rival­ry for dom­i­nance of Amer­i­can online book sales has under­scored the belief on the part of indus­try observers that the con­nec­tion of Barnesandnoble.com to Barnes & Noble and Ber­tels­mann would great­ly ben­e­fit that com­pa­ny’s for­tunes. Dom­i­nance by Barnesandnoble.com in online book sales would, of course, increase Ber­tels­man­n’s influ­ence in deter­min­ing what Amer­i­cans read.

15. An inter­est­ing side­light to the Barnes & Noble/Bertelsmann alliance con­cerns the res­o­lu­tion of recent lit­i­ga­tion against B & N and Bor­ders. “Inde­pen­dent book stores were dealt a crush­ing blow yes­ter­day when their trade group set­tled an antitrust law­suit with an accord wide­ly con­sid­ered a vic­to­ry for two of Amer­i­ca’s biggest book chains. The Amer­i­can Book­sellers Asso­ci­a­tion gave up the fight dur­ing the sec­ond week of a San Fran­cis­co fed­er­al court tri­al in which it had argued that Barnes & Noble Inc. and Bor­ders Group Inc. use their weight to force pub­lish­ers to offer dis­counts and ben­e­fits unavail­able to mom-and-pop shops.” (“Chap­ter Ends for Book­sellers” by Bob Egelko and Michael McCabe; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 4/20/2001; p. A1.)

16. Barnes & Noble was rep­re­sent­ed by Daniel Petro­cel­li, the civ­il attor­ney who rep­re­sent­ed the Brown and Gold­man fam­i­lies in their suit against O.J. Simp­son. “Daniel Petro­cel­li, rep­re­sent­ing Barnes & Noble, said the inde­pen­dent book­sellers’ claims of unfair or ille­gal dis­counts for the chains are inflat­ed and inac­cu­rate.” (“Indie Book­sellers Open Case Against Big Chains” [AP]; Palo Alto Dai­ly News; 4/10/2001; p. 10.)


One comment for “FTR #299 Update on German Corporate Control Over American Media”

  1. I guess it will be get­ting eas­i­er and more com­mon to get your edu­ca­tion from Ber­tels­mann. Trust them espe­cial­ly for his­to­ry?


    “(Reuters) — Ger­man media giant Ber­tels­mann is mov­ing its grow­ing edu­ca­tion activ­i­ties into a new busi­ness unit with a medi­um-term rev­enue tar­get of 1 bil­lion euros ($1.1 bil­lion), up from $200 mil­lion this year.”

    Posted by GK | September 15, 2015, 2:43 pm

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