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WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the like-minds dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes "The text of a 19-page, international trade agreement being drafted in secret was published by WikiLeaks as the transparency group's editor commemorated his two-year anniversary confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Fifty countries around the globe have already signed on to the Trade in Service Agreement, or TISA, including the United States, Australia and the European Union. Despite vast international ties, however, details about the deal have been negotiated behind closed-doors and largely ignored by the press. In a statement published by the group alongside the leaked draft this week, WikiLeaks said "proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets," and have participated in "a significant anti-transparency maneuver" by working secretly on a deal that covers more than 68 percent of world trade in services, according to the Swiss National Center for Competence in Research.
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WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:05PM (#47293915)

    we can fix this.

    Anybody with me???

    Hello?

    Is this thing on?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sadly, even when Sony commits illegal acts such as infecting their customers' computers with rootkits and stealing functionality which was used as a selling point from their consoles, people still worship them and defend their disgusting acts.

    • What are you talking about? I have been boycotting Disney for years. I do not like what the company has become. I have no doubt that Walt would shoot the ppl in charge there now.
      • by HiThere (15173)

        Don't bet too hard. Disney may have had a good eye for a plot for children's stories, and for what shapes would sell, but he had no morals. In fact he was sort of like a less competent Steve Jobs, except more of his employees hated him.

  • Man-in-the-Middle? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anna Merikin (529843) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:08PM (#47293931) Journal

    |(T)he US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.|

    Perhaps the traffic between nodes will give the NSA some useful information about people's transactions to "Keep us safe." Or the US IRS about offshore deposits?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:09PM (#47293937)

    The events of the last five or six years have proven that financial markets and institutions have been over regulated.

    • Yep. If we didn't regulate them, they would never try a stunt like that again.

      Oh, did I say "regulate"? I meant "bailout".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The events of the last five or six years have proven that financial markets and institutions have been over regulated.

      Absolute BS. They haven't been over-regulated, they've been mis-regulated.

      The Federal government has been blatantly ignoring antitrust laws, for example, while illegally regulating things it has no business or authority to regulate. It has been a combination of under-regulating and over-regulating... adding up to mis-regulation (and often illegal regulation, for that matter... they don't have authority to ignore laws any more than they have to enforce nonexistent laws).

      For example, nobody disputes tha

      • by gtall (79522)

        So, your snark detector is broken, yes?

        • So, your snark detector is broken, yes?

          No, because even if snark, it was still wrong. A sarcastic comment would suggest that there was under-regulation. But that's clearly wrong, too. There is more regulation now than ever before.

          • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:37PM (#47294905)
            They are under-regulated with more regulations. It's only a contradiction if you choose to be an idiot. The "new" regulations are written by the biggest institutions. They are "self regulating" in a manner that's anti-competitive, not regulatory. They call the anti-competition rules written by the incumbents "regulations" to confuse the idiots.

            The restriction on what they can do (in relation to what they would do in the absence of regulation) has decreased. That the total number of rules has increased is irrelevant. They are now, and always have been, under-regulated.

            They could choose to be unregulated. Investment houses and PayPal are not regulated as banks. But they choose to be regulated because it benefits them. If they were truly over-regulated, they'd opt out of the regulation. For all PayPal's faults, they don't lend money against deposits or borrow from the fed, so they stay out of "banking" territory. There's no reason any other bank couldn't follow the same rules. Other than they deliberately choose not to because the "regulations" they operate under are a beneficial shield, not a web of tight regulations.
            • They are under-regulated with more regulations. It's only a contradiction if you choose to be an idiot.

              And you'd only think I said it was a "contradiction" if you didn't read what I wrote.

              I wrote that BOTH were going on. Under-regulation, and over-regulation. Adding up to MIS-regulation.

          • Jane, it was CLEARLY sarcasm.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Sarcasm detector failure. Whoosh.

    • By "over regulated", you mean given them bailouts rather than allowed them to go bankrupt when they get into financial problems?

  • keeping the heat on (Score:4, Informative)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:12PM (#47293943) Journal

    This thing is bad. It completely bypasses all the traditional controls of democracy. The people will have no say in it even tho its their money and lives. We need to keep the heat on this kind of thing just like SOPA only much, much more.... some good analysis and commentary over at Naked Capitalism [nakedcapitalism.com] these guys tell it like it is. Basically its looking like a global corporatocracy.

    • We need to keep the heat on this kind of thing just like SOPA only much, much more....

      True. The thing that concernes me is the number of such initiatives that are flying under our radar. It may be the case, (and IMHO probably is), that there is a huge amount of this kind of crap going on that we only find out about when it's way too late, or never find out about at all.

      The real solution here is NOT to fight these fires as we see them crop up. The real solution is to stop the corporations and governments from lighting the damned fires in the first place, before they burn our collective home t

      • by dryeo (100693)

        We need to find a way to restore the accountability they once had to us, their customers and citizens, their meal ticket - otherwise we'll continue to become more and more like animals in factory farms, and less and less like the autonomous geings we were born as.

        When were they actually accountable to the people?

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      As these in secret negotiations involve elected under oath officials and multi-national corporations, how close to treason are they becoming. Surely a public audit is required of those negotiation to ensure those government officials have not crossed the line into treason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:15PM (#47293951)

    So, this agreement is about "Financial Services". In the section called "Transparency", it says:

    "The Parties recognize that transparent regulations and policies governing the activities of financial service suppliers are important in facilitating their ability to gain access to and operate in each other’s market. Each Party commits to promote regulatory transparency in trade in financial services."

    But then the whole agreement is secret. Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So, this agreement is about "Financial Services". In the section called "Transparency", it says:

      But then the whole agreement is secret. Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously.

      When they refer "transparency", they don't mean transparency to people like you and me. They mean transparency for government three letter agencies.

      • You sure they don't mean transparency OF governments FOR corporations? I mean, where's the sense in the pimp being transparent for its whore?

        • by Aighearach (97333)

          Agreed, actually that sounds like the most literal reading. Not sure why people can't read... oh, this is slashdot. I gotta find some kind of nerd site or something.

          The Parties recognize that transparent regulations and policies governing the activities of financial service suppliers are important in facilitating their ability to gain access to and operate in each other’s market. Each Party commits to promote regulatory transparency in trade in financial services.

          Seems to me like they come right out a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jklovanc (1603149)

      But then the whole agreement is secret.

      The whole agreement is secret right now because it is not even close to a final draft. When it get closer to final draft there may be more official releases. When it gets to final draft it will definitely be released so it can be voted on by the member countries. Keeping drafts a secret is not a big deal and is necessary in every complex agreement. Do you really think it would be effective for every draft to be gone over and commented on by every "expert" in the world? The group would spend all it's time fi

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re " Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously."
      What a multinational corporation wants to know is if they buy a natural monopoly or own a cartel like structure in a country is:
      Can they set prices every year and never face gov regulation, standards or questions.
      Are their international staff safe from any court action before, during or after any event no mater the cause or fault.
      Can any one nation break up their monopoly or expose their cartel over time?
      Can a multinatio
  • by schnell (163007) <meNO@SPAMschnell.net> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:19PM (#47293967) Homepage

    All treaties are negotiated in secret. Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

    It's great that Wikileaks is giving the world a heads-up view into what is being negotiated, but I don't understand why every Slashdot story about international treaties harps on "negotiated in secret" like that's unusual, or that a treaty can somehow take effect silently and invisibly.

    • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:26PM (#47293995)
      Just because treaties often are negotiated in secret doesn't mean that they should be.
      • by ericloewe (2129490) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:57PM (#47294113)

        Why not? It would only create additional, unnecessary public anxiety about stuff that might never even see the paper.

        As long as the final version (release candidate would be a better expression here) is properly publically analysed (and, if needed, rewritten), there's no problem.

        • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:22PM (#47294203) Journal

          If the agents involved in the negotiations are private individuals, fine. They are entitled to their privacy. If government agents are involved, they are engaged in the People's Business and we are all entitled to oversee what they're up to.

          • In this particular case the treaty is for defining the amount of interference the government will be allowed to inflict on both private and public companies. And the "Peoples Business" is whatever the loudest subgroup of blowhards believe it is at the time. And as the number of people involved in any decision making increases the collective IQ of the group decreases exponentially.

        • by whoever57 (658626)

          As long as the final version (release candidate would be a better expression here) is properly publically analysed (and, if needed, rewritten), there's no problem.

          But that's the point. There is no rewriting (which would imply re-negotiation) of the final version -- it becomes a take-it-or-leave-it option. That's one of the goals of the secrecy during negotiation.

          • Depends on how final the final draft is.

            Ideally, you open up the proceedings once the fundamentals are in place and everyone's basic demands have been met. From there, it's much easier to filter out the noise and actually improve the treaty.

            In practice, if it's felt that the current version won't hold up, it probably won't be the final "take-it-or-leave-it" version.

    • by Magnus Pym (237274) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:30PM (#47294007)

      You say that as if this is a good thing. Care to elaborate why it is a great idea why trade treaties (as opposed to defense & military) should be negotiated in secret? Seems to me (and many others who are experts on this subject matter) is that secrecy is a wonderful thing for the lobbyists and other corrupt bureaucrats and sucks for the people whom it would ultimately affect (i.e., all of us).

      As for it being debated on the senate floor... what a joke. By the time it gets to the senate, the issue has already been framed, and the range of acceptable options narrowly defined. The fact is that many of the ideas should never be allowed to even get that level of legitimacy.

      • by iplayfast (166447)

        Off the top of my head, if any agreement is negotiated in secret, it has a much higher chance of agreement then if it is negotiated in public or by commitee. So the idea is that people you elect to represent you do it, and do it in secret in order to get things accoplished.

        • by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:46PM (#47294073) Homepage
          "getting something accomplished" is not the job of the federal government. the role of the federal government is to enforce the rules of the constitution. Somewhere in the last 100 years the role of the government changed from uphold the constitution to bribe as many people as possible to bring as much federal money back to ones home district, and keep getting re-elected.
          • by westlake (615356)

            Somewhere in the last 100 years the role of the government changed from uphold the constitution to bribe as many people as possible to bring as much federal money back to ones home district.

            The federal government has been in the business of building a national infrastructure since 1806. The National Road [wikipedia.org]

            The infant Republican party of the 1850s was built on two principles --- "internal improvements" and opposition to the expansion of slavery into the new American territories.

            The language and the beneficiaries changed over the years, but the nineteenth century politician understood perfectly well that he was expected to bring home the bacon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Secret negotiation provides an easy way to have a candid discussion, without worrying about vague implications of precise wording that one's political opponents will quote out of context and turn into the next hot election issue.

        For example, in a negotiation, a diplomat can say "we don't need the unions to have disproportionate control over production costs", in reference to potentially giving unions control over tariffs. In public, that diplomat can then be quoted as saying "we don't need the unions", and

        • by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:26PM (#47294427) Journal

          For example, in a negotiation, a diplomat can say "we don't need the unions to have disproportionate control over production costs", in reference to potentially giving unions control over tariffs

          But there is a huge difference between reporting the content of discussions between the parties and publishing early drafts of the proposed treaty.

        • by Uberbah (647458)

          Secret negotiation provides an easy way to have a candid discussion, without worrying about vague implications of precise wording that one's political opponents will quote out of context and turn into the next hot election issue.

          Have you always hated democracy and wanted to return to some form of monarchy/dictatorship, or just when you get to work in some whining about unions?

    • , at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

      unless the treaty is subject to the fast track negotiating authority [wikipedia.org]. Furthermore, it is is quite difficult to negotiate a treaty if if it is known that that ratifying bodies plan to make substantive changes after the conclusion of negotiations.

      Better to debate before the treaty is signed-- and that cannot happen unless the negotiations are transparent.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:46PM (#47294069)

      Heavily debated? Where have you been hiding in the last couple years? Such things are introduced into the house/senate at the most inappropriate time (at least if the plan is that someone reads the shit, like, say, just before the members go on vacation), are composed of 1000+ pages that nobody WANTS to read and are rushed through because "delay could be very disadvantageous for our country, and trying to delay it is harming the US interests" (or similar bull).

      Now add that the politician's owner informs him that he should better say "ay" should he get asked and it should be obvious how "public" the whole shit ever gets.

    • Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

      Not if the treaty specifically states that the documents will be kept secret afterwards:

      Additionally, the current draft also includes language inferring that, upon the finishing of negotiations, the document will be kept classified for five full years.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        It infers that the draft will be kept secret not the final document. There is a big difference.

    • All treaties are negotiated in secret.

      Secret from the general populace: yes. Secret from large corporations and lobby groups: hell no.

      Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

      It's great that Wikileaks is giving the world a heads-up view into what is being negotiated, but I don't understand why every Slashdot story about international treaties harps on "negotiated in secret" like that's unusual, or that a treaty can somehow take effect silently and invisibly.

      I'm not sure whether you've ever tried influencing a non-binding agreement that was reached in diplomatic circles and which supposedly still needs to be ratified by politicians in public. I can tell you that by the time a completely negotiated deal ends up in a parliament, senate or council of ministers, there is an enormous amount of political pressure to approve it because of all of the efforts that went into negotiating that text. At that point, the negotiating parties have basically all said "yes, we agree with this and are willing to defend this text before our national politicians", and a very much used argument (that also carries a lot of weight) is then "we don't want to seem unreliable to our negotiation partners".

      Sure, they may sometimes make a little bit of fuss about small details to "demonstrate" they're not just rubberstamping it, but actually completely changing positions on a matter of substance almost never happens (unless there is a huge public outcry, or a very big business interest). And even if that happens, it means all those negotiations were largely for nothing, which could have been solved by having more transparency in the first place.

    • by mbone (558574)

      This is not a treaty, it is an "agreement," which would rely on "Fast Track Authority" to get through Congress, as a simple bill requiring a 50% majority, non-filibusterable and not subject to amendment. The FTA rules are structured to not allow any meaningful debate in Congress.

      As it happens, FTA has expired, and a simple way to kill this BS would be to kill the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 now in Congress to revive it.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      No, not all. The discussions are closed-door, but the daily decisions can be made "public", and the reasoning was usually made public. Some back-room deals are made. Trading one thing for another. But the general terms are not "always" hidden, as you implied.
  • Signed On? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:45PM (#47294063)

    This is yet another salacious post to garner attention. Here are a few things wrong with the post.
    1. It is impossible to sign on to an agreement that is still in negotiation.
    2. It is not a secret agreement as it's existence is posted in many places [international.gc.ca] and some governments are asking for public consultation [international.gc.ca]. The final text will be made available a debated when, and if, the countries involved vote on it.
    3. No international treaty is ever made public till the the final draft. Negotiators need to be free to negotiate.
    4. Many of these agreements never get to final draft as agreement sometimes is never reached,
    4. The agreement will not come into effect unless ratified by the duly elected governments of the countries involved. Until then no one has "signed on".

    Perhaps the reason behind this post is that WikiLeaks is not trending enough.

    • Things can be agreed upon before the official formal agreement happens. This is not unusual. Business meetings do this all the time before the lawyers get into the details of writing up the formal agreement which can literally take months to get a final deal.

      This this means is that officials and governments have signed on to the basics the financial industry bribed them to do. It is more likely they will follow thru officially later one because of the power of the banksters over the world.

      Also, I do not cl

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Until it is official any possible "signing on" is meaningless as it has no effect of current laws.

        • by erroneus (253617)

          And once it's official? What then? "Too late?!"

          This is the point of all this. As these things are happening, they need to be stopped not after they are enacted. Do you prefer to prevent disease or cure it after it happens?

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Once it is official it still has to be voted on by the countries that might agree to it. The only think important to see is the final draft and not all the documents before it.

            As these things are happening, they need to be stopped not after they are enacted.

            So not knowing the contents of the document or what it's effect will be you are sure it is bad. That is not an informed decision. Wait till the documents are published, and they will be, then make a decision.

            Do you prefer to prevent disease or cure it after it happens?

            Do you prefer to pass judgement on an inaccurate, incomplete document or the final document.

            • by erroneus (253617)

              What they are trying to do is pretty obvious. The final will not differ greatly from the drafts. We have seen all of this before. Your wait and see attitude is what enables the creep to go forward. It's time to be done with that. It just doesn't work.

              • by jklovanc (1603149)

                . The final will not differ greatly from the drafts.

                You know that how?

                Your wait and see attitude is what enables the creep to go forward. It's time to be done with that. It just doesn't work.

                Since there have been few leaks and no final documents you know very little about the agreement yet you want to stop it now. What is your decision based on?

          • Your post demonstrates the problem here, you are convinced "they need to be stopped" but you have no idea what it is "they" are doing. It's the government snoop's "if you have nothing to hide" accusation in reverse.

            And once it's official? What then? "Too late?!"

            In a democracy it's never too late, that's why the constitution has amendments. Really, just relax and wait until they get their shit together and tell you what they want, they're not getting it until they do so, so what's the problem?

            • by erroneus (253617)

              Regulation they are seeking to remove was not an arbitrary measure. In fact, the regulation of government which is the constitution was not an arbitrary measure. For many hundreds, if not thousands of years, people have known well and understood human nature and the nature of currencies. We keep having to re-learn many of these things as if they are new or our arrogance makes us believe old measures are no longer applicable.

              A simple truth is this. The only way for man to be more than he is, is to live w

              • by jklovanc (1603149)

                That is a lot of insight for someone who has never seen the text of a document that has not been completed yet. Your rant is complete conjecture.

            • by Uberbah (647458)

              Your post demonstrates the problem here, you are convinced "they need to be stopped" but you have no idea what it is "they" are doing. It's the government snoop's "if you have nothing to hide" accusation in reverse.

              The treaty could stipulate that everyone gets free blow jobs and puppies, but it wouldn't change the fact that secret laws are anti-ethical to democracy and the consent of the governed.

              In a democracy it's never too late, that's why the constitution has amendments.

              Snort. Right, just like how NAF

    • by WoOS (28173)

      The final text will be made available a debated when, and if, the countries involved vote on it.

      Care to explain how much "debating" will go on on the - as you point out - final text? After all, the standard argument will be that "this has already been negatioated and cannot be changed".

      And one of the main difference of these trade agreements nowadays to other treaties is that they try to change a huge set of existing laws along the way. Without discussion. And add extra-judical avenues for corporations to sue for compensation against existing laws, which basically annuls the whole legislative and judi

  • Fifty countries around the globe have already signed [...] including [...] the European Union.

    Who cares about a secret trade agreement? Of course there are secret agreements... But that the EU finally shows its true colours - this is the news!

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Was that a mistake are creative editing? No country as "signed" considering the negotiations are not even complete yet. Calling it "signed on" was bad enough. Calling it "signed" is even worse.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:08PM (#47294145)

    I love this quote from the article [nakedcapitalism.com];

    Additionally, the current draft also includes language inferring that, upon the finishing of negotiations, the document will be kept classified for five full years.

    It makes it sound like the annex will not be seen for 5 years after it is in effect.
    Here is the reason from the actual document [wikileaks.org];

    This document must be protected from unauthorized disclosure, but may be mailed or transmitted over unclassified e-mail or fax, discussed over unsecured phone lines, and stored on unclassified computer systems. It must be stored in a locked or secured building, room, or container.

    It refers to the current document as it is a draft. The final document will not have this clause as it will need to be debated before it can be passed by each country. WikiLeaks is again playing on the general lack of understanding of how complex treaties are and need to be negotiated.

    • by mbone (558574)

      This would not be a treaty - it should be, but it wouldn't. It would be an Act, nominally sent through Congress by Fast Track Authority (which has thankfully expired, although a bill to renew it is now in Congress). The entire point of FTA is to eliminate any meaningful debate in Congress.

      Let's be blunt - these "agreements" invariably represent efforts by corporate interests to obtain in secret what they could never get through Congress or by the ballot box in public. They are bad for the world, bad for th

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Even with FTA [wikipedia.org] Congress can still say no to the bill.

        The fast track negotiating authority (also called trade promotion authority or TPA, since 2002) for trade agreements is the authority of the President of the United States to negotiate international agreements that the Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster.

        It is funny that if FTA was so bad then why did congress vote for it?

    • by Uberbah (647458)

      WikiLeaks is again playing on the general lack of understanding of how complex treaties are and need to be negotiated.

      Your spin is lame, doctor.

  • The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 [govtrack.us] is now in Congress to revive the expired "Fast Track Authority," and should be opposed by anyone against TPP, TISA, etc. I was originally supportive of Fast Track, but I think it has been badly abused and is dangerous to the constitutional separation of powers. It has expired; like Frankenstein's monster, it would be best if were not resurrected.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @04:35PM (#47294677) Homepage

    1. Negotiate secret deals to deregulate
    2. Watch the collapse
    3. Create one-world-currency-system
    4. Profit! (for them) Enslavement! (for the rest of us)

    Meanwhile, the people they hire to use guns and other enforcement measures are "just doing their jobs."

  • by sandbagger (654585) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:29PM (#47295065)

    Canada was openly ridiculed by the US for not deregulating its financial industry right up until the financial disaster. By an large, Canada escaped disaster that plagued the other G8 countries in the banking meltdown.

    So, we have recent proof that strict financial regulation works and yet they want to keep doubling down on deregulation?

  • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @10:23PM (#47295843)

    Any treaty binding the businesses of two or more countries would have to be known to all concerned, surely.

  • Sick Treaty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @10:33PM (#47295875)
    Considering that the US and Europe were slammed to the dirt by lack of business regulation and enforcement it seems reasonable to me that we insist on far tight regulation and enforcement and more severe penalties for breaches as well. In essence the government encourages crime by issuing penalties that are far less than the money gained by criminal, business, behaviors. GM is a huge example of that right now with the ignition switch murders. That is serious enough to seize the assets and sell of everything GM owns and put executives under the prison.

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