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August 31, 2006
Behavioral Profiling Nabs Warren Jeffs
This is interesting:
A paper license tag, a salad and stories that didn't make sense pricked the suspicions of a state trooper who stopped the car of a wanted fugitive polygamist in Las Vegas.
But it was the pumping carotid artery in the neck of Warren Steed Jeffs that convinced Nevada Highway Patrolman Eddie Dutchover that he had cornered someone big.
This is behavioral profiling done right, and it reminds me of the Diana Dean story. (Here's another example of behavioral profiling done right, and here is an article by Malcolm Gladwell on profiling and generalizations.)
Behavioral profiling is tough to do well. It requires intelligent and well-trained officers. Done badly, it quickly defaults to racial profiling. But done well, it'll do far more to keep us safe than object profiling (e.g., banning liquids on aircraft).
Posted on August 31, 2006 at 1:11 PM
• 53 Comments
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You forgot to add HTML addresses to your "Here"s above.
The Secret Service uses the t-shirt technique. To protect the president hey bust only people with anti Bush or anti war signs or shirts, because anyone with a pro Bush shirt poses no threat to the president.
Jayh, you are an enemy of the state for revealing our security measures. Expect a visit from men in black... now.
What it comes down to is that some people can read other people well and some can't. It is a matter of getting those with these desired features out there doing this stuff. Right now we just have a mixed bag.
It appears that it is time to profile for profilers.
"It appears that it is time to profile for profilers."
Who profiles the profilers?
Someone needs to translate that into Latin.
The trouble with behavioral profiling is that it requires intelligent, well-trained agents, and there will never be enough of those to go around. I suspect that there is a real airline security system out there, spread thinly behind the Keystone Kops operation that has passengers dreaming bloody daydreams as they empty their pockets and take off their shoes. Indeed, all that security theater might be primarily a smoke screen for the real effort. The alternative is to believe that our government is as stupid as it looks, and that's more terrifying than the low probability of being killed by an Islamofacist.
quisnam visum illud ut visum
"who views those that view" - can't find a Latin word for "profiler" this afternoon.
...most average people would be (... and are) 'nervous' when suddenly pulled over by a police car with flashing red lights.
So exactly how does noticing a typically nervous driver & passengers constitute 'good police work' ?
What do think the 'false-alarm rate' might be in calculating 'motorists-pulled-over-who-are-visibly-nervous/flustered' ... versus
'motorists-pulled-over-who-are-visibly-nervous/flustered + are FBI wanted fugitives' ??
The cop's story sounds a bit fishy. He pulled over Jeff's cadillac 'only' because it did not have a regular metal license plate -- just a temporary cardboard tag ??
The cop then called in two more troopers (..on what basis?) ... and the cadillac's occupants were separately interrogated by the side of the road -- and somehow eagerly 'consented' to let the cops thoroughly search their vehicle.
This guy Jeff's sounds like a creep, but he's hardly John Dillinger -- looks like the cop may have taken a few shortcuts around the 4th & 5th Amendments to collar this guy ?
"quisnam visum illud ut visum"
So Bruce gets t-shirts made up that say this, and people start wearing them. Does that wearing them then qualify as the type of subversive behavior which warrants being profiled?
@ Benford: Personally, I'm suspicious in general of Escalade drivers, a strong indicator of more money than brains. And did you see the list of vehicle contents? Wigs, boucoup cash and electronics. Sounds like a casino con gang [there were three people in the vehicle].
@ Lizard: nice latin! You can bet airport security checkpoints have cameras and profilers working behind the scenes. It seemed to me more than a couple times that the 'random' additional security checks I and others nearby were subjected to, were not so random. When I shaved my beard for a goatee, it seemed I somehow became far more trustworthy. You've aptly scripted what a new, uber-TSA uniform logo insignia should say, assuming your latin grammar is correct.
Naturally - in fact don't try and wear that t-shirt on a plane. (especially if there are snakes on it!)
@Wile_E - "The trouble with behavioral profiling is that it requires intelligent, well-trained agents, and there will never be enough of those to go around."
Can we say the same about computer security experts, like our host? "You can't find enough good ones, so why do we want any?"
We need all the qualified ones we can get. Then we need to get them to train more.
Kinda like computrer security experts...
Their vehicle was pulled over for having paper tags. Isn't that object profiling? Or do you classify the appearance/tags of your vehicle as behavioral?
@Wyle_E: "The alternative is to believe that our government is as stupid as it looks."
You give them more credit than they deserve. They don't hire all that PR to make them look dumb you know.
They* are stupider than they look.
You can't just sit back and expect someone else to make the world go 'round for you. And you shouldn't give these people money**, it only encourages them.
* Mostly. Some smart ones take advantage of this and "blend in" to fleece you even harder.
** OK, you should or there would be even worse public education and healthcare .. this is called 'gun to the head' .. but, you should at least lobby actively to have your money spent on stuff that matters (ie, not more guns to hold to more heads).
Benford: Cops pull people over all the time, same for customs agents. They get to know standard nervous from really nervous.
The trick is to train them to react to it properly.
"The trouble with behavioral profiling is that it requires intelligent, well-trained agents, and there will never be enough of those to go around."
The real problem is the learning curve. Lifes "real" as oposed to "theoretical" leasons usualy involve pain (think not touching flames, unfaithful lover, not steping into roads etc all have 20-20 hindsight as their major training factor).
In the case of street smarts the pain can be deadly so you don't get the chance to say "I should have seen it". So you either have to be smarter than the oposition or have chance on your side. Neither is a commodity in large supply, and I don't think it would be possible to have a realistic enough training course to get us average mortals over the learning hump where we would otherwise fail in real life.
The other problem is that not all the lessons are universal. The street smarts needed by a Texas Boarder gaurd are not the same as those needed by a LAPD highway cop.
El Al airlines does a wonderfull job of profiling the person. Mind you they are in a controled environment and can enforce the very tough 3 stage process that you go through before you even get a sniff of the plane.
The story said he had:
15 cell phones
A police scanner
At least $54,000 in cash
All in a flashy Cadillac Escalade.
He sounds like somebody with more money than brains. Anybody with more than ten cellphones fits the profile for something. It sounds like a technology cult. Don't go on the lam without your cellphones, laptops and credit cards.
Agreed. Eating a salad and looking around for predators = nervous. Eating a salad in the back of a brand new Escalade and trying to avoid eye contact with a trooper = really nervous.
But I still think this is a case where object profiling is the cause célèbre (in addition to the behavior profiling). Everything I've read so far says the trooper pulled them over because of their paper license plate.
Compare this to airport screening where a suspicious item is found in your luggage. If you were taken aside for questioning and you nervously munched on a salad and refused to make eye contact...
So while the behavior profiling might have been done exceptionally well, I hope we don't lose sight of the fact that this is a case where object profiling started the process.
Now, would anyone please explain why exactly polygamy is a crime?
It is not like he actually forced anyone to marry him. All his alleged "rapes" are _statutory_, meaning that they were consensual.
Why a non-violent person who didn't do anything wrong to anyone but has lifestyle not approved by the almighty State is nervous when approached by the State's enforcer is quite understandable.
This prosecution of victimless "crimes" is indeed the shining example of how profiling works in the real world. Duh.
While polygamy itself being a crime is something of debatable value, the big issue with the breakaway Mormon sects is that the status quo is to force unwilling girls to marry older men. The girls fear speaking out, because if they speak out, call the cops, etc. the churchmembers/family will expel them from the community (and therefore, in their beliefs, deny them the chance to enter Heaven). Folks like Jeffs aren't just preachers, they're *prophets*.
Yet, despite all that pressure, many girls do end up running away, going to the cops, etc., even though it condemns them to Hell in their religion. It's not simply "statutory" rape.
Just because coercion is more subtle than violence doesn't mean it isn't force.
There is an even bigger issue here than "statutory" rape.
The group in question that he leads has been in-breeding, and this has lead to many physical and specifically genetic issues. Some members are physically ill with serious physical and mental ailments.
This is a much more serious issue, and yes that makes him quite dangerous IMHO.
I'ld rather see the discussion whether the alleged crimes of Jeff should be punishable go to another place. That has little to do with the actual security issue.
From the eyes of the policeman: he started a routine investigation of a car, found someone behaving suspect (called for assistence) and ended up arresting the fugiative.
Looks like it's time for another Bruce Schneier fact: Bruce Schneier reads DNA basepairs from recessive genes with his fingertips and reencrypts and recombines lethal mutant alleles from inbreeding with Blowfish - blindfolded - with his toes!
@Frank McGowan: "We need all the qualified ones we can get. Then we need to get them to train more."
Just capture one, interrogate him, and have the new one train the rest. ;-) (Play Evil Genius!)
@Gary: "Bruce Schneier reads DNA basepairs from recessive genes with his fingertips..."
Wrong! He does not need direct contact.
What Chronos and David did not mention about the "marriages" is the timing of them. Usually the young girls menstrual cycle is known and the marage is arranged for her fertile period. The husband will spend a minimum of time with her to ensure she is pregnant. Once she is, she is pretty much deserted by her husband, untill she can concieve again.
There are three issues with this,
The first and obvious one is that the girl may be physically to young to have a safe pregnancy. There are also "narrow birth cannal" issues, that can also carry forward geneticaly. The U.S. does not have a good reputation when it comes to fatalities during child birth, in some areas it is worse than most third world countries and some reports indicate that it is worse than several hundred years ago.
The second is the psychological one put yourself in the girls possition, you are very young. Those around you are in awe of the *prophet*, in essence he is like a "Rock Star" is to any other pubescent girl, but every body around her loves him as well. Then he tells you God has told him to marry you. It's like a fairy tale come true. This alone raises your families social status, elder women in the community you have been taught to look up to pay you respect as a "chosen one". Now tell me you are going to say no to him or your families wishes. Then the fairy tale honeymoon ends you are pregnant and your husband has effectivly deserted you on church business / finding the next "chosen wife" / impregnating another wife.
She is therefore very dependant on her two families and her (closed) community. Not only has she been taught that breaking the marrage is a mortal sin, if she then losses the child (for whatever reason) she is regarded as having commited murder. Her families and community will reinforce this. She has no money of her own she is in a closed society and is often geographicaly issolated. From her point of view she is in a position where her life, emotions and loves are controled, she is emotionaly imature and very very vulnerable.
Effectivly she is in a mental prison where just thinking about escape will bring eternal condemnation on her and her loved ones. Also in reality there is no escape without assistance, or a degree of mental strength that few mature adults pocess let alone an adolescent with little or no life skills outside of her community.
Then there is the third issue and it is the morals of the situation,
Do you as an individual belive that women should be treated as breading cattle, specifficaly to raise calf's for religeous reasons?
How do you regard incest? As the society is closed, there is a very real chance that the girl is sufficiently related to the husband that in some societies it would be considered an incestual relationship.
How do you regard child abuse? what is being practiced in these closed communities are regarded by many with White Anglo Saxon Protestent (WASP) views as child abuse.
Likewise how about your views of people traffiking and child sex slavery?
Further how do you regard closed societies? in many ways these closed communities are cults, the fact that they are subsets of a main stream religion does not alter this. Infact those inside these the main stream religion tend to condem these breakaway sects more harshly than those outside it.
All of the above questions are regularly raised at seminars on polygamy, funded by scientific, medical, religeous, charity and political organisations.
You will notice that I do not mention which main stream religion it is, the reason is that there are many religions some main stream some not that regard polygamy favourably. Perhaps the largest religion that alows polygamy is those of the Muslim faith. In fact at one time or another most religions practiced polygamy for the simple reason of survival, most older religions have however effectivly outlawed it as the populations grew and the genetic and social implications became apparent.
IF you want to know more you can see the UNICEF and PubMed sites as well as a lot of main stream religeous websites. Or just google [polygamy psychological adolescent religion] and read the links of the major scietific medical and carity organisations oh and the UN sites as well
Are there any studies regarding the efficacy of profiling in law enforcement? Even if it catches few targets and many innocent people (who are subsequently released, I suppose), we will hear of a few success stories now and then.
I'm reminded of a comment made by my cousin's ex-husband, who worked for Canada Customs and Immigration, and did his stint as a border guard.
He said that you expect people to be nervous in front of a border guard. What you look for are the people who are really nervous and acting as if they have something to hide, or the people who are acting absolutely certain that you'll never catch them. The ones in the middle are normal.
the problem is, behavourial profiling needs smart and trained officers - and people cost more money than machines (because of that, machines got to do all the work in the first place).
it's the mcdonalds syndrome: a fixed set of rules for untrained parttime workers (mcd) for cheap lunch vs. the magic of an expensive gourmet restaurant.
neither mcd nor the restaurant is THE choice - because you can't live on one of the two exclusivley (if you aren't rich, that is).
joel spolsky (the guy from joel on software) made a better metaphor by comparing the business models of ben&jerrys ice cream with ebay. b&j by doing quality work vs. ebay by doing quantitive work.
when reading this article, one's got to think your'e thinking: trained officers ARE BETTER than computers, but in the end it's still the golden path of the right mix.
(on the other hand, i'm totally drunk at the moment, so i already don't know what my opinion was when i started typing that comment or what i'm writing right now.)
>> "The girls fear speaking out, because if they speak out, call the cops, etc. the churchmembers/family will expel them from the community"
More than that, it seems. If a girl resists a forced marriage then Jeffs' men worked in concert to condemn her to an insane asylum:
"'I have a corner of my state that is worse than [under] the Taliban,' Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff acknowledged. [...] Sworn affidavits of FLDS women have accused law enforcement here of illegally transporting them to mental facilities without due process. The affidavits were submitted as part of an Arizona state inquiry into local police practices."
I suspect the group calculated that it would be easy to condemn women who tried to escape since they would have a hard time demonstrating mental stability after they had in fact been raped and/or held against their will for years.
>> "The group in question that he leads has been in-breeding, and this has lead to many physical and specifically genetic issues."
Sorry, I don't believe this. I mean it sounds like science, but where's the actual science? Any references to specific genetic issues?
Here's a book that says the opposition to cousin marriage by groups in the US is based on fear, but not the kind you suggest:
"Forbidden Relatives challenges the belief--widely held in the United States--that legislation against marriage between first cousins is based on a biological risk to offspring. In fact, its author maintains, the U.S. prohibition against such unions originated largely because of the belief that it would promote more rapid assimilation of immigrants."
@Devi, are you skeptical that inbreeding increases (genetic) health issues in children?
Or that, when a man's number of wives reflect his stature (godliness) in a community, and that community is isolated (no new women coming in), the men will have fewer and fewer unrelated girls from which to choose, and the community will suffer from inbreeding (not to mention, forced marriages of undereducated girls to the older, powerful men in those communities)?
A couple of cousins in a sea of less closely-related people marrying and having children may not have a lot of genetic issues to worry about. As more and more people in a limited community have children with close relatives, and their children have children amongst each other likewise, though, the genetic risks soar.
sorry, that was to Davi (not Devi) Ottenheimer
Now, if I understand that correctly no physical coercion was used and all it was done with the consent of the parents.
While this is, indeed, something abhorrent to the WASP culture (neglecting the fact that the incest was quite common in European elite not so long ago), what exactly right do others have to dictate to these parents how they must be upbring their children?
I consider instilling a religion in a kid's mind a serious abuse. More serious than a violent rape - it tends to do irrepairable damage to the person's ability to reason. Does that give me the right to demand that all Christians (and don't forget Scientologists) should be put in jails for child abuse?
In any case, if what they practice is deleterious to their health, the problem is self-correcting. But "correcting" the abhorrent (but non-violent) situation with direct violence (even when sanctioned by a democratic majority) is, well, highly unethical.
If anybody really cared for these girls (rather than about removing something which offends the sensibilities of the moral majority), they'd establish the organization which would help the victims to defect and helped them to start an independent life - and saturated the area where the sect lives with ads explaining how to contact the organization. Catching non-violent offenders for the crimes of being offensive and lacking the majority's sensitivities towards their own children is, well, a display of hypocrisy.
Fruit fly experiments have shown inbreeding does cause dormant/recessive genetic defects to become active.
However, by repeated itereations, the defects become more and more lethal until, finanally, the survivors are defect free, because all those which carried defects died before breeding (or were sterile to start with).
As applied to humans, after a few hundred years of in-breeding, and many generations of freaks, the surviving community would be defect-free and able to continue reproduction of healthy individuals with their own relatives.
This assumes, of course, a large enough initial population to ensure a large enough surviving healthy population to be self-sustaining, a willingness to 'cull' the defects from the population as soon as they're discovered, and no outside genes introduced either during or after the culling period (as that resets everything back to zero).
In other words, it's not going to happen with people, so inbreeding is bad.
But eugenics based on genetics could be a boon for humanity by eliminating genetic diseases. Too bad it got associated with the Nazis. Bad PR killed a good idea.
As for religion, christianity and islam and buddhism, and all the rest were 'cults' in their time. It's only because they stayed popular for a long time with a large enough following that they became 'Real' religions and not 'cults'.
If a cult that worshipped empty toilet paper rolls had millions of followers for thousands of years, it too would be a 'Real' religion, and not some whack-o cult.
Hell, at least the toilet does something for you. More than can be said about pretty much any other religion. :p
Averros said something I'm in full agreement with...religion is an abuse of the mind.
"Hell, at least the toilet does something for you."
"Hell, at least toilet paper does something for you."
@nbk2000, genetic traits are more complicated than that. Sickle-cell anemia, for instance, is associated with resistance to malaria. Culling populations for defects can actually make those populations less adaptive to whatever comes in the future. Breeding programs for people is a bad idea, not a "good idea" killed by bad PR.
Similarly, the distinction between cults v. religions is also more complicated than you say. It's not just a matter of time and popularity. Modern cults use textbook brainwashing techniques (sleep deprivation, lack of food/nutrition, sometimes drugs, etc.) to break down their victims so they can imprint their patterns on them (quite different from a person deciding to fast in solitude, e.g.). To lump all religions in with cults is to trivialize the damage cults do to individuals and blind oneself to the real security risks they pose (especially when they move to take over LEO and other government offices).
You and averros are free to believe religion is abuse of the mind, but thinking (as he states) that it tends to do irrepairable damage to the person's ability to reason argues a small sample size or worse. Religion needn't interfere with one's rationality any more than believing someone really loves you (one can't prove "love" isn't just a behavior a bunch of DNA has evolved to model, after all).
@averros, there are several groups working to offer those girls options to enforced marital rape other than starvation, being locked in their rooms (or closets) for weeks or longer, beatings, and involuntary condemnation to asylums (all of which have happened in different splinter groups). But it's difficult to "saturate the area" when a sect has established itself miles away from anywhere else -- they didn't move there by accident, they don't have hotels and restaurants to welcome visitors -- and it's not like the kids there go hang out at malls. Furthermore, sometimes local LEOs, even if they're not actually members of the community, harass the people trying to do outreach, on the pretext that they're causing trouble, preying on children, interfering with parental choice, etc.
@ Christopher Culver
Interesting point. It seems the fumarase deficiency increase has only just happened and so there is a good deal of speculation afoot:
"Experts say the number of children afflicted in the FLDS community is expected to steadily increase"
I'm always interested to hear the latest scientific evidence, but this seems awfully vague. Expected to increase? Here's another example:
"There is no doubt in the mind of any expert interviewed by New Times that the practice of polygamy combined with inbreeding has fostered the spread of fumarase deficiency."
Scant evidence, future risk, and yet no doubt in the mind of *any* expert? The one doctor repeatedly cited in this case could be right, but if that's the best example we can come up with in all of history...
The wikipedia references the same story, which leaves me even more in need of a second or third opinion here. Perhaps someone outside the region? A quick search for the disease found a case that seems to be from uniparental disomy (gene in one parent, not both). So maybe there is something else causing the sudden increase? Environmental factors? Diet or medicines? Better diagnostics?
Yes, even if this turns out to be unquestionably the result of in-breeding my point was that the opposition to in-breeding (the fear and loathing, if you will) in America was never really based on science.
There are two problems with interbreeding,
The first of it magnifying defects is something that has long been known about (without scientific fact), it is one of the reasons that religion has in general comedown against close fillial relationships (ie the number of "village idiots" that where the progeny of brother sister interbreading).
The second is it reduces hybrid vigour. The more alike people are the more likley they are to sucumb to the same maladies.
In either case the "breading stock" is weekened which means that it reduces the chance that the species will survive.
The problem with "Scentific proof" is that scientific method has only realy been around for a little over 150years and normaly requires the use of controled experimentation. Therefore there has not been sufficient time to conduct experiments on humans (and it's unlikley that you would be allowed to due to free will etc).
Therefore science uses inductive reasoning on issolated societies and comparisons to experiments caried out on short lived species
Some of the investigations are based on things like The Royal Disease (hemophilia) and closed populations with high incidence of other genetic diseases or disorders that are late or adult onset (ie they alow the person to bread befor sucumbing).
Also it is known that in domestic live stock and other creatures where their breading is controled, over very few generations the size of the brain shrinks by around a quater.
But to be brutaly honest, no there is not yet absolut proof that interbreading in humans is harmful but there sure are an awfal lot of smoking guns.
I wonder how many times this officer thought he had 'someone big' before he actually got lucky? I suspect the answer would be: how many people has he pulled over.
Fair enough, but what about the converse?
"But to be brutaly honest, no there is not yet absolut proof that interbreading in humans is harmful but there sure are an awfal lot of smoking guns."
If you put people to the test, and it is purely about genetic pre-disposition to certain ailments, then will people who are related (and pass the test) be allowed to marry/breed while those unrelated (yet fail the test) will not? Perhaps more scientific research will actually put in-breeding in perspective and beg the question of whether it is any worse than other risky (but legal) behavior like living near refineries or power plants, etc.. Plenty of smoking guns there too, no?
I do not know the case, but if his 'crime' is being a polygamist then the "behavioral profiling done right" becomes sour:
The polygamist himself is sure he is not doing any crime by have multiple wifes, but he is criminalised. The "pumping carotid artery" is thus not a sign of arousal due to wrong doing and fear of arrest, but just of the arrest.
Religion has one key problem in the world:
It does NOT encourage the ability to compromise, much less empathize, with those who do not believe as "you" do.
Anyone who doesn't agree with the dogma (or "party line") of a religion is, in effect, either a heretic (assuming they started out as a member) or, to use a word we hear more of these days, an infidel.
Realize also that religious fervor isn't just about God, you know-- look at come of the more aggressive communists that are still around, or the more aggressive environmentalist.
Religion seems to be a memetically established "herd"-- we humans still suffer from conflicts between wanting to be individuals but still having some "herd" instincts as left-overs.
(Looks around) Darn it, I was supposed to avoid wearing my "Stand Up Philosopher" uniform of a Toga.)
(giggles, imagining how the TSA would react if I was _wearing_ a Toga at an airport...)
If there isn't any limitation on brainpower caused by genetics (and I tend to think there is), there is always the fact that the Jeffs people had their own private school system so they were in control of what was taught to the students AND there was no high school as the girls were pulled out to marry and have babies and the boys were pulled out to work to contribute to the organization. Besides, until the current problems, retarded children were not looked on as a minus...i.e. a retarded child was income on a continuing basis from welfare. Mothers being a child's first school, how can one reasonably expect that the modeling done pre-school age and the limits imposed by a FLDS theological based school would produce other than what we see now????
>The polygamist himself is sure he is not doing any crime by have multiple wifes
People who believe their innocent don't usually hideout in the middle of the desert.
@ Jack C Lipton:
Depends on the religion. The point of the Good Samaritan parable is (arguably) to help all those who need help, no matter what they believe. Christianity doesn't have a monopoly in compassion among religious faiths, either. Also, religious belief does not have to be dogmatic. Someone who's religious could believe that it's *impious* for a person to assume s/he has all the answers.
Being a professional in the software industry, I am familiar with non-religious "religious" fervor, yes (OS wars, etc.).
Since someone was arrested at a science fiction con in NJ a couple of years ago for wearing a kilt (in the historically accurate way), I can't recommend togas at airports, even for Stand Up Philosophers. :-7
>>The polygamist himself is sure he is not
>>doing any crime by have multiple wifes
>People who believe their innocent don't
>usually hideout in the middle of the desert.
So you suggest everybody not living in a city is a suspect?
>>The polygamist himself is sure he is not
>>doing any crime by have multiple wifes
>People who believe their innocent don't
>usually hideout in the middle of the desert.
That is your 'behavioral profiling'?
Please take a class.
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I have a question, first there are over 5,000 members, why would you assume there is inbreeding? with that number of members this should not be a problem.
in any community if the media would print anything any one told them with out any proof, what makes you think any of these facts are true?
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