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Maybe Karl Marx was right after all

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, October 22nd, 2016 - 44 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war - Tags: , , , ,

It has been many decades since I have read anything about Karl Marx but a recent Guardian article made me think about his writing again. The article by John Harris was about the failure of British political leadership and suggested, perhaps unfairly in the case of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, that both major parties had lost their way and were not even thinking of the inevitable societal change being caused by new technologies.

The article starts off reviewing a conversation between Barack Obama and Joi Ito who is the director of the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology’s Media Lab. The article then sets out how Obama thinks a universal basic income may become a necessity:

Obama’s contributions are all about an acute, worldly kind of cleverness being tentatively applied to things he probably regrets not having enough time to think about. And when he turns his attention to the mess of stuff usually subsumed under the increasingly cliched heading of “automation”, he gets interesting. “As AI gets further incorporated, and the society potentially gets wealthier, the link between production and distribution, how much you work and how much you make, gets further and further attenuated – the computers are doing a lot of the work,” says Obama. “As a consequence, we have to make some tougher decisions.” One is whether it is time to consider a universal basic income, “a debate that we’ll be having over the next 10 or 20 years”.

Harris then sets out demographic change that may mean that the UK society is less able to achieve radical change which may be required.  He also hints at reasons why social media may not be heralding in a new participatory democracy despite our wishes to the contrary.

The electorate is growing older, and politics is clearly being reoriented accordingly. And in any case, Britain – or, rather, England – has long had an ingrained conservatism, there in everything from our eternal fondness for the idea of some lost Arcadian age, to the clarion call of the great English radical William Cobbett, which suits the time of Brexit as well as it fitted the late 18th and early 19th centuries: “We want great alteration, but we want nothing new.” But something more insidious is also going on. Increasingly, the orthodoxies of government and politics are so marginal to the way advanced economies work that if politicians fail to keep up, they simply get pushed aside. Obviously, the corporations concerned are global. The amazing interactions many of them facilitate between people are now direct – with no role for any intermediate organisations, whether they be traditional retailers or the regulatory state.

The result is a kind of anarchy, overseen by unaccountable monarchs: we engage with each other via eBay, Facebook and the rest, while the turbo-philanthropy of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates superficially fills the moral vacuum that would once have pointed to oversight and regulation by the state.

He then sets out starkly the level of change that is occurring and why urgent radical decisions are needed now.

I wonder whether May, Corbyn and others – including, it has to be said, most of the media – grasp that the realities of what Obama talks about are already here. When it comes to automation, do they understand the incredible symbolism of the new Rolls-Royce factory near Rotherham, which covers 150,000 square feet and produces some parts for jet engines in a quarter of the time the processes used to take, but needs a mere 150 people on site?

Do they get the bracing view of the future contained in the same company’s claim about a plant in Tyne and Wear, where the machines run for “between 12 and 45 hours without any [human] intervention, compared to every half-hour before”?

With every turn of those machines and each bleep of a self-service checkout, we get nearer the future in which the Bank of England’s chief economist has said that technology might take 15 million jobs. If that sounds too abstract, try the projections of the Israeli sage Yuval Noah Harari: “Billions of people are likely to have no military or economic function. Providing food and shelter should be possible but how to give meaning to their lives will be the huge political question.”

The article feeds neatly into Labour’s future of work project and shows why the work is so important.

So what did Karl Marx think about technology?  He was not against technology per se, he foresaw a future where everyone would own the means of production and share in the wealth generated so any machine that lessened the need for work was a good thing.  But concentrating the advantages of technology in the hands of the few he thought was retrograde and a continuation of the problem that pure capitalism poses.

From a paper by Mokyr, Vickers, and Ziebarth:

Karl Marx, from a rather different perspective, also argued that technological unemployment was a serious problem in the short run, in the broader context of the immiseration of workers under a capitalist system. But for Marx as well, technological improvement was part of a social and political process that would lead eventually to widespread prosperity. (Of course, the Marxist vision of progress also eventually required a wholesale over- throw of the existing capitalist economic system.)

Before anyone writes me off as a card carrying member of the Communist Party can they say how providing universal basic income is so different to the state owning a larger part of the economy.  It is possible that we can achieve one by increasing taxation but multinational corporations have proved themselves to be very adept at avoiding paying their fair share.

Maybe Marx was right after all.

44 comments on “Maybe Karl Marx was right after all ”

  1. Siobhan 1

    The Americans can’t even manage Universal Health Coverage, and Obama has done next to nothing to reign in the Financial Markets and the Tax ‘minimising’ Corporations. In fact he has reneged on a number of his core promises for the benefit of Corporations, the GMO bill, anti whistle blower legislation etc etc.

    So if they can’t get those issues sorted there is no chance of a UBI.

    Unless of course it serves the purposes of our politicians real masters. In which case we need to figure out what they are really up to, because, let’s face it, they are not our friends.

  2. Gristle 2

    By having billions of people with “no military or economic function,” does that make them expendable?

    By the way doesn’t the phrase “military or economic function” strike you as odd?

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    If that sounds too abstract, try the projections of the Israeli sage Yuval Noah Harari: “Billions of people are likely to have no military or economic function. Providing food and shelter should be possible but how to give meaning to their lives will be the huge political question.”

    Isn’t amazing just how limited some people’s view of life is? You’re either in the military or have a job else your life is worthless.

    The job of the government is to ensure that everyone that lives in a nation has all that they need to live at a reasonable standard of living that is also sustainable. It is not to give those people’s lives meaning.

    Unfortunately, the government has come to the conclusion that their job is to make a few people rich and to ignore everyone else.

    (Of course, the Marxist vision of progress also eventually required a wholesale over- throw of the existing capitalist economic system.)

    They say as if that’s a bad thing but history shows us that capitalism simply doesn’t work and always results in the collapse of the society that becomes capitalist.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    the politics that dare not speak its name eh Micky…

    Marx and subsequent practitioners of dialectical and historical materialism could not foresee the particulars of say finance capitalists using virtually instantaneous digital transfers across the globe

    but they did get right the basic class analysis of how minority capitalist ownership of the means of production leads to global monopolies maintained by the 1%ers (in modern parlance) by armed force and institutions enforcing the capitalist model-media, schools, banks, the bourgeois parliament etc.

  5. Peter 5

    I am sorry to say this but I believe in the future 5 billion people will have to go.

    • Tiger Mountain 5.1

      and you will be leading by example?

    • mickysavage 5.2

      Doesn’t have to happen. We just need to learn to share and look after the planet.

      • jcuknz 5.2.1

        and engage with birth control instead of irresponsible procreation.
        and stupid games like Maori having lots of kids to preserve their % in the population as one Green leader is reputed to advocate.

      • AmaKiwi 5.2.2

        “We just need to learn to share and look after the planet.”

        By virtue of disability (and to some degree age), I am effectively “retired.”

        I have never been busier. It is unpaid, but it is important work for my family, my community, and the environment.

        The UBI does NOTHING to rebuild communities. I recently stayed in one of our hundreds economically abandoned provincial towns. It does NOT need bigger welfare checks (UBI). It needs a focus and purpose so small businesses can return to Main St.

        • AmaKiwi 5.2.2.1

          P.S. The epidemic of emotional depression, youth suicide, and drug dependency is about the breakdown of social relationships. UBI will do nothing to solve that. But destroying neo-liberalism will.

        • jcuknz 5.2.2.2

          UBI is NOT a welfare cheque but rather a compensation for the work place being largely deestroyed because of automation and over population.
          If everybody is to receive the benefits of western development then there have to be fewer around for the sharing.
          As I mentioned at one group I associate with ‘Trouble these days is everybody knows their rights but not their responsibilities”
          Sadly we cannot have a responsible society without a similar population.

          • Draco T Bastard 5.2.2.2.1

            UBI is NOT a welfare cheque but rather a compensation for the work place being largely deestroyed because of automation and over population.

            You’re correct in that a UBI isn’t a welfare check but it’s not compensation for work being destroyed by automation either.

            It is recognition that the economy is there to provide a reasonable living standard for everyone.

            • Rae 5.2.2.2.1.1

              A UBI done right is all citizens being shareholders in the technology/machinery that is doing the work.
              What will germinate from a UBI will be small boutique businesses that no machine can replace and creativity.
              BRING IT ON!

  6. greg 6

    there will be civil unrest and civil wars no society can function or survive that future what is work has to be redefined the current economic monetary system will need to be redesigned . when there millions of young people with no future you get gangs, isis Syria i honestly hope we don’t head down that path .the rich better learn to share or the pitch forks will come out.

  7. Conal 7

    Marx wrote some very interesting (and literally prescient) stuff about the evolution of industrial automation and what it would mean for capitalism and for wage-workers. There were some notebooks of Marx’s which contained rough notes which he never intended for publication but which were eventually published in the 20th C under the title “Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy”, AKA “Grundrisse”. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/

    The part that’s particularly relevant to this topic is a part sometimes called “The Fragment on Machines”. http://thenewobjectivity.com/pdf/marx.pdf

    It discusses how relatively independent workers using tools (the “means of labour”) are gradually replaced by workers whose role is reduced to supervising automated systems of machinery.

    But, once adopted into the production process of capital, the means of labour passes through different metamorphoses, whose culmination is the machine, or rather, an automatic system of machinery (system of machinery: the automatic one is merely its most complete, most adequate form, and alone transforms machinery into a system), set in motion by an automaton, a moving power that moves itself; this automaton consisting of numerous mechanical and intellectual organs, so that the workers themselves are cast merely as its conscious linkages

    This means the contribution of labourers in production is massively reduced while the contribution of machines grows; that production levels reflect more and more the general level of science and technology in society, and depend less and less on the efforts of labourers, and that this reduction in the need for labour would be a necessary condition for workers to win their freedom from wage-slavery:

    Through this process, the amount of labour necessary for the production of a given object is indeed reduced to a minimum, but only in order to realize a maximum of labour in the maximum number of such objects. The first aspect is important, because capital here — quite unintentionally — reduces human labour, expenditure of energy, to a minimum. This will redound to the benefit of emancipated labour, and is the condition of its emancipation.

    Maybe not even Obama would disagree with that. But I think where Marx went further was in arguing that the replacement of “direct labour” with automation would necessarily undermine the commercial relationship of wage-slavery that exists between bosses and workers, and that this would break capitalism as a system.

    As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and hence exchange value [must cease to be the measure] of use value. The surplus labour of the mass has ceased to be the condition for the development of general wealth, just as the non-labour of the few, for the development of the general powers of the human head. With that, production based on exchange value breaks down, and the direct, material production process is stripped of the form of penury and antithesis. The free development of individualities, and hence not the reduction of necessary labour time so as to posit surplus labour, but rather the general reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, which then corresponds to the artistic, scientific etc. development of the individuals in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them.

    • Incognito 7.1

      It is obvious that production is the source of wealth.

      How did Marx envision paying for production & consumption once labour ceased to exist as the source of wealth (income)? How are we supposed to support our artistic and scientific endeavours? How are we supposed to disseminate & share these endeavours and ‘products’ thereof without proper infrastructure and who’s to pay for it?

      • weka 7.1.1

        “It is obvious that production is the source of wealth.”

        What is meant by wealth there? Because it’s not obvious to me that production is the source of wealth.

        • Incognito 7.1.1.1

          I don’t know what Marx meant by “wealth” but I second-guess that it is anything surplus to individual and social-collective need. Or perhaps it is held in reserve to be used for public (and/or individual?) good if/when the situation requires it.

          I also suppose that Marx also envisioned that society would own the production rather than a few wealthy capitalists that hold all power.

          I get the impression that Marx was thinking of AI but I am not familiar with his works or his thinking.

      • Conal Tuohy 7.1.2

        By ‘proper infrastructure’ (for distribution) I take it you’re referring to markets? But Marx’s point would be that the labour market (whose role is to compensate workers for hours worked) would no longer be ‘proper’ when the wealth produced is not in fact dependent on those hours worked, but on a socially shared infrastructure of scientific and technological knowledge.

        In the last quote above, where ‘exchange value’ must cease to be the measure of ‘use value’, you can essentially read ‘exchange value’ to mean ‘money’ or ‘price’, and ‘use value’ as ‘wealth’ (it means the practical value that goods and services have to their consumers).

        Obviously there needs to be accounting, but his insight there (remember this was written a century and a half ago) is that the wages system would cease to reflect what was really going on in production.

        A UBI is one gradual step towards the abolition of the wages system; even though it’s a step that can be achieved within a capitalist economy.

        • Incognito 7.1.2.1

          Thank you for your reply; it is much appreciated.

          No, I was not referring to “markets” but to the physical reality of getting things (and people) moved from one to another point; not everything can be transported via fibre. (NB I consider myself relatively naive & ignorant when it comes to political, economic, and social theories & practices)

          I like to think some more about exchange vs. use vs. practical value; somewhere there also has to be creative or aesthetic value, which is (entirely?) subjective. Similarly, something that is rare and ‘valued’ by many, by definition, has a higher value. These kinds of discussions will have to go beyond mere practical need (for survival & existence).

          FWIIW, I tend to be strongly supportive of the UBI concept and am, at the same time, a little disappointed that NZLP has gone very quiet on this after the initial flurry of activity & fanfare with its Future of Work Commission. With an election year coming up I can only hope the UBI will reappear firmly (back) on the agenda.

          PS I missed the last sentence:

          … in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them.

          • Conal 7.1.2.1.1

            Cheers, Incognito. FYI in Marx’s economic analysis the concept of “use value” does include purely subjective and aesthetic value; anything which satisfies a person’s desire has a “use value”. Wikipedia has a good article on Use value that contrasts it with “exchange value”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_value

            • Incognito 7.1.2.1.1.1

              Thank you but I have to say that I found that very heavy going.

              The following sentence stood out most:

              In the case of information or communication as use-values, transforming them into commodities may be a complex and problem-fraught process.

              One could add to this “experience” as use-value, e.g. a (special) holiday or enjoying a superb live concert.

              The outputs of scientific research that add/contribute to our collective scientific knowledge are tricky to commodify; the value goes up the more it is shared and “consumed”. Unfortunately, publishers of scientific literature and journals have found a very effective way of commodifying scientific knowledge even though most of it is funded by public good money.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.3

        Get rid of money. It’s no longer needed.

    • Rae 7.2

      Nail/head. What Marx wrote about was not a political system but just how he saw what our future progress would be and how it might play out.

  8. Philj 8

    Thanks Conal
    Would you be able to provide a translation of this for public consumption? This is nigh unintelligible.

    • Sacha 8.1

      ‘Machines will set the workers free’ seems to be about it.

      • weka 8.1.1

        And it’s an inevitability that this will happen under capitalism. I don’t quite follow that, because if that’s true by bother overthrowing capitalism?

        • Sacha 8.1.1.1

          Seems our leveraged, financialised economy was beyond his imagining, understandably.

        • Conal Tuohy 8.1.1.2

          The ‘inevitability’ is that capitalist automation will continue to improve productivity and reduce the length of the necessary working week, and that this is inevitably a growing problem for capitalism as a system based on wage labour.

          That ‘growing problem’ is not an alternative to replacing capitalism; it’s actually a precondition for being able to do so.

          • Tiger Mountain 8.1.1.2.1

            true collective ownership of all the world’s productive activity (the definition would have to be changed to include caring, research/science, culture, personal development, homelife etc.!) would see many concerns about managing a transition to a post capitalist future covered

            but, the question asked since Marx’s time will no doubt be asked again-is a peaceful transition to a new way of organising society possible?-will the 1%ers and their armed force, control of finance capital’s digital money transfers, control of mass media, control of the bourgeois parliament etc. hand over their ill gotten gains voluntarily by the ballot box or negotiation?

  9. Bill 9

    Two quick thought s for the day….

    Yuval Noah Harari: “Billions of people are likely to have no military or economic function. Providing food and shelter should be possible but how to give meaning to their lives will be the huge political question.”

    It’s not too unreasonable to suggest that people all across Africa were viewed as having no military or economic function. And we could have provided food and shelter to all of them, but we didn’t. So why will we suddenly change our ways and provide food and shelter to billions in the future if those billions have no military or economic function?

    Second thought.

    ….can they say how providing universal basic income is so different to the state owning a larger part of the economy.

    A UBI is predicated on notions around equality of opportunity. State welfare is predicated on notions around equality of access/outcome. Under a UBI, there is a very real possibility that many, many people get ‘thrown under the bus’ of (for example) profit driven private health care provisions that they can’t afford, while the fitter and healthier shake their heads at those people having an apparent inability to utilise their equal opportunity. There was a very good reason why UBI was very much ‘flavour of the day’ among some of the most rancid and rabid right wing economists….the welfare state ‘dies’ and everything falls back to personal responsibility and the decisions individuals make in a supposed environment of equal opportunity.

    • Olwyn 9.1

      That is my concern about the UBI Bill – that under the current ethos it might be used to kill off what remains of the welfare state, and then let wither to the point where it cannot fulfill the function we are being assured it will. While capitalism does not have much interest in supporting those with no “military or economic function”, it does not want them to be free either – free people are not forced to be compliant. So under current conditions it seems unlikely that a UBI will turn out to be quite what we hope it will.

      It is perhaps worth remembering that the sub-prime mortgage disaster began its life with Bill Clinton being sold the appealing idea of a “property-owning democracy” by the banking industry. We know how that turned out. I will only be happy when I see neoliberal capitalism either losing or conceding ground. I am not much reassured by the solutions that it believes it can afford.

  10. jcuknz 10

    There has to be a change from the welfare state which breeds mental state of “whatever I do the state will look after me” to a combination of capitalism and welfare softening the hard edges off capitalism.
    Without consumers to use capitalism is doomed.
    Likewise without consumers having sufficient money to pay.

    • aerobubble 10.1

      Whatever they do the state will look after them… …what!

      Doctor visits cost money. Cas cost money. Homes are cold damp. Food sucks, fast food abounds.

      What exactly is govt looking after them, giving a paltry amount of cash to keep them from living in ghettos, from eating poorly,fromental and other problems.

      Who the frack believes the state will look afer them. Facts are that what passes for welfare nowadays is designed to keep a underclass lethargic, keep disease down, citizens avaliable to new drugs etc that make wealthy people live longer. Every aspect of welfare has a greater payoff for the wealthest.

      Take our roading network, those who profit the most are the wealthiest, yet we all pay the same. Take diplomatic services, wealthy people us them more, yet we all pay the same for a passport. Progressive taxes have been dropping, the giant tax switch, gave wealthy people more financial freedom and no compareable benefit to the other 90%.

      So you want to talk about welfare, tlk about the free ride monied people have thanks to the majorities taxes paying for them. Using our colectively paid resources far more than anyone with less cost thanks to Key. Its as if they think the govt will look after their rich smug behinds.

  11. Rae 11

    Maybe we would get further if we ditched the term “welfare state” and used another, perhaps something like “interdependent state”.

  12. trendy leftie 12

    A UBI is not necessarily based around notions of equality of opportunity. As much as anything, conservatives propose it as a way to put money in the hands of displaced workers to ensure they continue to consume, thus propping up a market economy, which cannot be sustained if no-one has money to buy anything.

    Famous non-Marxists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman were proponents of the UBI.

    • Chris 12.1

      “Famous non-Marxists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman were proponents of the UBI.”

      Yeah, but paid at a pittance. Enough to see people eating 4 and a half days out of 7. Just like what benefits do now, but better because no admin costs. Very rational.

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    Highlighted article: Carbon pricing and planetary boundaries  Engström et al take what might be called a systems approach to evaluating carbon pricing, taking into a account various economic sectors affected by and affecting paying for emissions. The conclusions are overall a rare pleasant surprise— a feature predicated on cooperation.  Abstract: ...
    3 days ago
  • Humans ignite almost every wildfire that threatens homes
    Nathan Mietkiewicz, National Ecological Observatory Network and Jennifer Balch, University of Colorado Boulder CC BY-ND Summer and fall are wildfire season across the western U.S. In recent years, wildfires have destroyed thousands of homes, forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate and exposed tens of millions to harmful ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: China steps up
    China has increased its climate change ambition, and set a target to be carbon-neutral by 2060: China will reach carbon neutrality before 2060 and ensure its greenhouse gas emissions peak in the next decade, Xi Jinping has told the UN general assembly. “China will scale up its intended nationally ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Humans have dealt with plenty of climate variability
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz How much climate variability have humans dealt with since we ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 days ago
  • Indigenous perspectives on unrestricted access to genomic data
    By Genomics Aotearoa researcher Maui Hudson, University of Waikato It is vital that genomics research respects genomic data and genetic heritage from indigenous communities. Genomics research is a rapidly growing field of study, and there is a strong push to make the huge amount of data being produced open ...
    SciBlogsBy Genomics Aotearoa
    3 days ago
  • Terrible luck: lockdowns on learning and youth job prospects
    What is bad luck? Bad luck is spilling spaghetti sauce down your shirt right before an important meeting. When the person in front of you gets the last seat on the bus, that’s bad luck. Bad luck is when it’s sunny outside, so you leave the house without a coat, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 days ago
  • Ian Powell: Does private healthcare threaten public healthcare in New Zealand?
    Is the private health system impacting negatively on the public health system? Health commentator Ian Powell evaluates a recent NZ Herald article by Natalie Akoorie (“Public v private healthcare: Moonlighting, skimming, duplication – should NZ do better”), and looks at how the dual system works, and concludes that the answer ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    3 days ago
  • A rabbit-hole election debate: So do you want more avocado orchards?
    We live in strange and unusual times. It’s been a century since we’ve endured a global pandemic like this, more than half a century since we’ve had economic woes like this. So maybe we got an opening election debate for the times - because that was a strange and unusual ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    4 days ago
  • LIVE: Jacinda Ardern vs. Judith Collins, First Debate
    Tonight, The Civilian will be live-blogging the first of too many debates between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and National Party leader Judith Collins, and also the last fifteen minutes of the news. Be sure to tune in from 6:45pm for regular updates, which can be accessed by refreshing this page ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • Hundreds of Aucklanders arrested after illegal mass gathering on Harbour Bridge
    An enormous drive-in party, shown here, was held this morning on Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, where police were forced to intervene. Hundreds of Aucklanders were arrested this morning on public health grounds, after an apparent illegal mass gathering on the city’s Harbour Bridge. Police say hundreds of Aucklanders gathered in their ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • The Looming Fight.
    Social Distancing Be Damned - It's Jacinda! Shortly after ascending to Labour’s leadership, Jacinda described herself as a “pragmatic idealist”. It was an inspired oxymoron – packing into just two words the essence of the social-democrat’s dilemma. It was good to know that she knew what lay ahead of her. ...
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Moving faster
    Back in 2017, the UK announced that it would ban the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2040. Its a basic climate change measure, aimed at reducing emissions by shifting the vehicle fleet to cleaner technologies. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, they're planning to bring it forward ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • The Australian courts have had enough of refugee detention
    For the past decade, Australia has had a racist, anti-refugee policy. Those claiming refugee status are imprisoned without trial and left to rot in the hope they would "voluntarily" return to be tortured and murdered. When the courts have granted them visas, the government has immediately revoked them on racial ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Friction and the Anti-lock Braking System
    Yesterday afternoon I had to call on my car’s anti-lock braking system (ABS). For reasons best known to its driver, a car pulled out of a side road right in front of me while I was driving home after work, and I needed to stop in a hurry. I rather ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    4 days ago
  • The Inside Word: New Zealand Quarantine
    There are a fair few misconceptions about conditions within New Zealand’s Quarantine Hotels. Madeline Grant’s misplaced accusations being one prominent example, though she is not alone. Today, I thought I’d share the inside word, so to speak. A friend of mine has recently returned to New Zealand from overseas, and ...
    4 days ago
  • Hard News: ASA: Let’s not talk about this
    Last week, major newspapers carried a full-page ad as part of the campaign for a "No" vote to the referendum question about supporting the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. The ad was authorised by the SAM NZ Coalition, which takes its name from a controversial American anti-cannabis group and includes ...
    4 days ago
  • This is not kind
    New Zealand has a serious homelessness problem, due to skyrocketing rents and a lack of state houses. One of the ways we stick a band-aid on it is to put people up in motels. Previously, they were charged full commercial rates, saddled with odious debt due to the government's failure ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Wokies are the establishment
    by Ani O’Brien In the absence of a better word with which to refer to the rabid activists who claim progressivism while demanding adherence to an increasingly prescriptive set of political beliefs, I call them “woke”. With its roots in Black American slang, the term originally denoted a person or ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • How to strengthen the post-isolation Covid rules
    Over the weekend, the Ministry of Health reported a case of Covid-19 in Auckland that is not related to the current Auckland cluster. Before we start to panic, here’s how I think the case happened and how we can strengthen our current border controls. The new Covid-19 case is someone ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    5 days ago
  • Neuralink and You: A Human-AI Symbiosis
    Becky Casale Elon Musk reckons his Neuralink brain implant is much more than a medical device–that one day it will drive a symbiosis between humans and artificial intelligence. “Good morning! I’m Dr Benedict Egg and I’ll be supervising your Neuralink insertion today. Do you have any questions?” “Yes, Doc. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    5 days ago
  • Liam Hehir: Our obsession with American politics
    Many New Zealanders take a strong interest in US politics, with the death of Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg being the latest example. Liam Hehir wonders if it very wise for New Zealanders to get so worked about it.   Many politically engaged New Zealanders are now furiously ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    5 days ago
  • COVID: Back to Level 1
    After stamping the Coronavirus out via strict lockdown between March and May, New Zealand went through a good three months without any community cases. Then a local outbreak in Auckland rather buggered things up last month. Auckland’s been in level 3 and level 2.5 for the past six weeks. ...
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Climate injustice
    Who's causing our skyrocketing emissions? As with most of our other problems, It's the rich: The wealthiest 1% of the world’s population were responsible for the emission of more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorer half of the world from 1990 to 2015, according to new ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Good riddance
    The border closure and resulting lack of foreign slave-workers is driving the fishing industry out of business: One fishing company is effectively out of business while others are bracing for large financial hits as the deepwater New Zealand industry, unable to get skilled foreign workers into the country, have ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #38
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... The tipping points at the heart of the climate crisis Many parts of the Earth’s climate system have been destabilised by ...
    5 days ago
  • Anyone for Collins?
    In the absence of national public opinion polls, we have had to make do in recent weeks with other guides to voter intentions. Those guides, such as the Auckland Central poll, the incidence of google enquiries and the responses to Vote Compass questions, have suggested, not unexpectedly, that Labour is ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    5 days ago
  • Crusher’s fiscal malfunction
    Crusher Collins - National Party leaderWe all know that the National Party is desperate to gain some traction during this election campaign and have been throwing pretty much everything at the Labour Party in order to try and undermine Jacinda Ardern and what the Coalition Government has achieved. But unfortunately ...
    5 days ago
  • Much of the commentariat’s reporting of the most recent GDP figure was misleading and unhelpful. The prize for the stupidest remark about the GDP figure for second quarter 2020 (2020Q2) released on Thursday (17 Sept) goes to Judith Collins, whose response to Grant Robertson’s comments indicated she did not ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    6 days ago
  • Love and Hate as Complementary Revolutionary Acts
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh goloing@gmail.com (19/09/2020) Che Guevara said that a true revolutionary is motivated by love i.e. love of the oppressed, the poor, the children dying from preventable illnesses. This phrase of his is true but has been used by reformists and their more hippy wing have taken advantage ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #38
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Sep 13, 2020 through Sat, Sep 19, 2020 Editor's Choice Get to Net-Zero by Mid-Century? Even Some Global Oil and Gas Giants Think it Can Be Done A report by a ...
    6 days ago
  • Tax cuts for all!!! (except you, you, and you)
    With the National Party this week announcing a new policy of tax cuts to spice up the election campagin. MyThinks went along to the launch and afterwards we spoke to the party’s finance spokesperson Paul “Golden Touch” Goldsmith. MT: Thanks for speaking to us Mr Goldsmith. PG: No. Thank you. ...
    My ThinksBy boonman
    1 week ago
  • Great Waves Washing Over New Zealand
    Always to islanders danger Is what comes over the seas ‘Landfall in Unknown Seas’ (Allen Curnow)Six economic issues external to New Zealand, which will greatly impact upon us. 1.         The Diminishing Global Dominance of the US. Since 1941 America has dominated the world economically and politically. Probably it could ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand has role to play in resolving crisis on ‘geopolitical fault line’, Helen Clark says
    By Geoffrey Miller New Zealand should continue to champion human rights in Belarus amidst an ongoing crackdown on protests by the country’s regime, former Prime Minister Helen Clark says. Protests in the country often referred to as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ erupted after the country’s disputed presidential elections on August 9 ...
    Democracy ProjectBy Geoffrey Miller
    1 week ago
  • Euthanasia referendum: How to cut through the emotions
    Jacqui Maguire, registered clinical psychologist This podcast episode highlights how difficult it is to have effective conversations about euthanasia due to how polarised people’s views are. I’m a clinical psychologist, with a passion for science communication. In early 2020 I founded the podcast Mind Brew, with an aim to make psychological ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Why we need cameras on boats
    In case anyone needed further convincing, there's another example today of why we need cameras on fishing boats: reported seabird bycatch doubled during a camera trial: Commercial fishers operating off Auckland's coast around vulnerable seabirds are twice as likely to report accidentally capturing them when cameras are on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Graham Adams: The religious right’s campaign to spike the euthanasia referendum
    In the leadup to the euthanasia referendum, an array of conservative Christian political organisations is running an expensive campaign to sow doubt about the safety of assisted dying. Graham Adams argues that these religious forces know that Christian arguments aren’t convincing the public, but that it is in the public ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • Opportunistic looting
    The National Party has spent the last six months acting horrified at the cost of supporting people through the pandemic and banging on about how the debt must be repaid. So what was their economic policy released today? Massive tax-cuts for the rich, of course! National has walked back ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Uncomfortable Choices.
    Dangerous Times: This will be the choice confronting those coming of age in the 2020s. Embrace Neoliberalism’s belief in racial and sexual equality; adopt its secular and scientific world view; and cultivate the technocratic, multicultural, global outlook required of those who keep the machinery of hyper-capitalism humming. Or, throw your ...
    1 week ago
  • Tony Burton: Covid and benefit payments
    It would be a great time to reform the benefit system, according to former Deputy Chief Economic Advisor at the Treasury, Tony Burton. He argues the complexity of benefit system means that it’s failing to achieve its difficult three core objectives, which form an “iron triangle”.   New Zealand’s benefit ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • Talking tax: How to win support for taxing wealth
    Tax Justice UK, September 2020 Serious tax reform is on the political agenda for the first time in decades due to the coronavirus crisis. As this debate hots up it is important to understand what people think about public spending, wealth and tax. Tax Justice UK, along with Survation and ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    1 week ago
  • Getting Tough.
    Not Mucking Around: With upwards of 800 dead from the virus’s resurgence in the Australian state of Victoria, leniency is not on Premier Daniel Andrews’ agenda. The Victorian Police are cracking down hard on the protesters the Australian press has labelled "Covidiots".IMAGES OF POLICE, some in riot gear, others on ...
    1 week ago
  • Media Link: Nuclear strategy, then and now.
    Although I had the fortune of being a graduate student of some of the foremost US nuclear strategists of the day (1970s) and later rubbed shoulders with Air Force and Naval officers who were entrusted with parts of the US nuclear arsenal, I seldom get to write or speak about ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • The Chinese List.
    News that Zhenhua Data, an arm of China Zhenhua Electronics Group, a subsidiary of the military-connected China Electronic Information Industry Group (CETC), maintains a list of 800 New Zealanders on a “Overseas Key Information Database” that contains personal information on more than 2.4 million foreign individuals, has caused some consternation ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Things that grow fast, and things that surprise us
    Marie Becdelievre January 2020. The number of news article mentioning coronavirus exploded and anxious voices whispered about a global pandemic. Whisper? To me, it was only a whisper. I tend to learn about the world through non-fiction books, conferences, and academic research rather than news and social media, so ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #37, 2020
    2,082,476,000,000,000 Viability of greenhouse gas removal via the artificial addition of volcanic ash to the ocean  (not open access, unfortunately) walks us through the numbers on a particular means of CO2 removal, addition of volcanic tephra to the ocean. The mechanism is straight chemistry and the cost is fully an order of ...
    1 week ago
  • Barbados to become a republic
    Barbados is planning to remove the queen as head of state and become a republic in time for the 55th anniversary of its independence in 2021: Barbados has announced its intention to remove the Queen as its head of state and become a republic by November 2021. [...] Reading ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Party Like It’s 1989: Bait and Switch is a Bad Look, Mr Hipkins
    At the 2017 election, the New Zealand Labour Party promised a Fees Free Policy for tertiary students. Basically, it would make the first year of university education free in 2018, with a second year in 2021, and a third in 2024. It also promised to restore Post-Graduate access to the ...
    1 week ago
  • Will the tropics eventually become uninhabitable?
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz What is the impact of temperature increases in the tropics? ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • A first-hand look: What it’s like to live in a 2020 California wildfire evacuation zone
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Daisy Simmons It felt like 100 degrees in my in-laws’ Grass Valley, California, kitchen, but at least the lights were on and for the moment we were safely “distanced” from the Jones Fire. We’d just finished dessert, after pizza and a movie ...
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 is not the only infectious disease New Zealand wants to eliminate, and genome sequencing is...
    Nigel French, Massey University Genome sequencing — the mapping of the genetic sequences of an organism — has helped track the spread of COVID-19 cases in Auckland, but it also plays an important role in the control of other infectious diseases in New Zealand. One example is Mycoplasma bovis, a ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • A flaw in our electoral transparency regime
    A key part of our electoral funding regime is a requirement for some transparency around donations, on the basis that if we can find out who has bought our politicians (typically after we have voted for them) then everything is alright. There are a lot of problems with that regime ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Don’t Steal This Book
    On “In Defense of Looting” Matt Taibibi takes an entertaining look at this generation of woke activists and how they compare with Abbie Hoffman the iconic anti-Vietnam war counter-culture figure of the 1960s On Thursday, August 27th, the same day Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination, National Public Radio ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago

  • Hokitika Landmark earmarked for $22m restoration
    Seddon House in Hokitika, once a hub for government on the West Coast, has been earmarked for government use once again. “Today we’re announcing a $22 million investment from the Government’s $3 billion infrastructure fund for shovel ready projects for the purchase and restoration of Seddon House in the heart of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs makes two diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced two new diplomatic appointments: •         Michael Appleton as New Zealand’s first resident High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. •        Tredene Dobson as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Viet Nam.  Sri Lanka “New Zealand is opening a post in Colombo in 2021 because we are ready ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • NZ’s most prestigious conservation award – Loder Cup presented to Graeme Atkins
    The Minister of Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage, today presented Aotearoa New Zealand’s most prestigious conservation award, the Loder Cup, to the 2020 winner Graeme Atkins while in Gisborne/Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa. “Graeme Atkins of Ngāti Porou is a Department of Conservation ranger whose contribution to conservation goes well above and beyond his employment,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Parliament to install solar and cut carbon
    Parliament is leading by example by taking action to cut its carbon footprint by installing solar and improving energy efficiency, the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw said today. The Minister confirmed that Parliamentary Services will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to install solar PV and LED ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Tuvalu Language Week theme promotes community resilience in the face of COVID-19
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the 2020 Tuvalu Language Week theme of “Fakatili Te Kiloga Fou” which means “Navigating the changing environment” is a call on all Pacific peoples to be strong and resilient in the face of COVID-19. “This theme is a reminder to us ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • International sport back up and running in New Zealand
    The Government is welcoming today’s announcement that the West Indies and Pakistan cricket teams will tour New Zealand this summer.  “A lot of hard work has been undertaken by sports officials including New Zealand Cricket, Netball New Zealand and government officials to ensure that international sport can return safely to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • 1BT funds for Northland forest taonga
    Northland’s indigenous tree canopy is set to grow for the benefit of mana whenua and the wider community thanks to nearly $2 million in One Billion Trees funding, Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced today. Te Komanga Marae Trust has received more than $1.54 million to restore and enhance the native ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Better health care for West Coasters as Te Nikau Hospital officially opened
    The Government has delivered a new hospital for Greymouth and is starting work on a much needed new health centre in Westport, ensuring local communities will benefit from better access to high quality integrated health services. Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare officially open Te ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government backing local with PGF loan
    A West Coast distillery will benefit from a Provincial Growth Fund investment that will enable it to expand its operations and create jobs in the town of Reefton, Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced. The Reefton Distilling Co will receive a $928,000 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Primary sector exports and jobs up again
    Primary sector exports and jobs are up again, demonstrating the sector’s underlying strength amid the COVID-19 global pandemic and US-China trade war, and supporting New Zealand’s economic recovery. Stats NZ today reported New Zealand’s merchandise exports in August were up 8.6% on a year ago, driven by an increase in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Clean energy future for more schools
    Schools across Aotearoa New Zealand will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. The Minister has allocated $50 million from the Clean Powered Public Service Fund to replace, or convert, coal boilers in schools with clean ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Building business strength with digital tools
    New training and tools for digital commerce will give small businesses, especially in the tourism sector, the support they need to adapt and innovate in a COVID world. Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced details of how $20 million digital capability funding set aside ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New pest lures to protect nature
    The Department of Conservation (DOC) is investing $1.4 million to develop new predator lures that would be game-changers for trapping and surveillance towards a predator-free Aotearoa, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage, announced in Christchurch today. The proposal is to develop long-life lures attractive to a range of predators—rats, mustelids ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Support for innovative Pacific education responses to COVID-19 needs
    Supporting new and creative Pacific education practices as part of our COVID-19 response and recovery is the focus of a new $28.5 million Pacific Education Innovation Fund announced today by Associate Minister of Education Jenny Salesa.  “There is already an incredible amount of innovative and creative work going on in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Eligibility expanded for COVID-19 leave support
    The expanded scheme will cover: People who have COVID-19 like symptoms and meet the Ministry of Health’s criteria, and need to self-isolate while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. People who are directed to self-isolate by a Medical Officer of Health or their delegate or on advice of their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Seasonal work visa available to more people
    The Government is putting in place a range of immigration policy changes to help fill labour shortages in key industries while ensuring New Zealanders, who have lost jobs due to COVID-19, have the chance to find new employment. “Two key sectors we are moving to help are horticulture and wine ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • More border exceptions for critical roles
    The Government has established class exceptions for border entry for a limited number of veterinarians, deep sea fishing crew, as well as agricultural and horticultural machinery operators. “Tight border restrictions remain the backbone of the Government’s border strategy to protect New Zealand against COVID-19 and ensure New Zealand citizens and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Crown will not appeal Dodds v Southern Response decision
    The Crown will not appeal the Court of Appeal decision in the Dodds v Southern Response case, Grant Robertson announced today. “Southern Response will be paying the damages awarded by the Court to Mr and Mrs Dodds shortly. The Crown was already meeting their legal costs for this appeal. “The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Crucial PGF investments for Northland
    The Provincial Growth Fund is investing nearly $30 million in a diverse range of projects that will create immediate and long-term jobs and lift economic and social outcomes for Northland and its people. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement today in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • $27million investment in global vaccine facility
    The Coalition Government has committed to invest $27 million in COVID-19 vaccine development through the global COVAX Facility, Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today. “The COVAX Facility is a key part of our COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy to obtain safe and effective vaccines. It allows us to invest in a high-quality, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government backing Māori landowners
    The Government will provide up to $1.69 million through the One Billion Trees programme to Māori landowners to make their whenua more productive through the planting of forests, both native and exotic, and improve economic and environmental outcomes, Forestry Minister Shane Jones has announced. “Around 1.5 million ha of land ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New tools to make nature more accessible
    People planning to head outdoors now have a resource that lets them know how accessible an area is for people with varying levels of mobility, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. The Halberg Foundation, Sensibel, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have launched Accessibel, a new tool which helps ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PGF makes Māori history more accessible
    One of the most significant battle sites of the 1860s Land Wars will receive $2.96 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to improve the site and help tell the New Zealand story to visitors, Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced. Nanaia Mahuta ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Making it official: The journey of te reo Māori | Kia whakapūmautia: Ngā piki me ngā heke o te r...
    The journey towards recognising Māori as an official language and taonga has been captured as a web series and launched today during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, announced Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “Te reo Māori is a living language, and understanding its significance, and pathways to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Better-than-forecast GDP reflects decision to protect New Zealand
    Today’s better-than-forecast GDP figures show the expected impact of the decision to act quickly to protect New Zealanders from the global COVID-19 pandemic. GDP fell 12.2% in the June quarter from March, reflecting decisions to close New Zealand’s borders and enter Alert Level 4. “This result was better than the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Boost for COVID-19 related Pacific education needs
    The Government is investing $39.7 Million over four years to support the educational needs of Pacific learners and families in the regions hardest hit by COVID-19, with Auckland getting an immediate boost, Associate Minister of Education Jenny Salesa says.   “Like all New Zealanders Pacific families want learners to do well ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More resources for kiwi conservation
    New Zealand’s goal of 100,000 kiwi by 2030 is being helped by an extra $19.7 million in funding to accelerate iwi and community efforts to protect kiwi, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced. “$19.7 million of Jobs for Nature funding is being invested in kiwi conservation activities including increased predator ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Improving access to affordable electricity
    Ensuring New Zealanders can get the best deal on their electricity takes a step in the right direction today with the South Island launch of the EnergyMate pilot run by the Electricity Retailers’ Association, says Minister of Energy and Resources, Dr Megan Woods. EnergyMate is an industry-led programme providing coaching ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government achieves 50 percent women on state boards
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter announced today that the Government has reached its target of 50 percent on women on state sector board and committees – setting a new record level of women on state sector boards. “This Government is committed to having more women in leadership roles - ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Record transport investment to help economic recovery and save lives
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford released today the final Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS) 2021 which outlines the planned $48 billion investment in services and infrastructure over the next decade. “The final GPS supports our Government’s five-point plan for economic recovery by confirming our record investments in transport infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Advancing clean energy technology
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