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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Millions of taxpayer dollars later . . .

Tap water at a remote Northern Ontario native community in the grips of an emergency evacuation is good enough to drink, according to the technician sent in to take over management of the Kashechewan water treatment plant.

Chris LeBlanc, a process expert with Northern Waterworks Inc., said he is drinking and showering in the troubled community's water.

What was the problem then? It may be that the folks hired by Ottawa to run the water treatment plant were unqualified to do so—as are 61 per cent of water treatment managers across the country.

All the diseases that have been blamed on the water—from crabs to impetigo—are more likely the result of cramped living conditions and high rates of diabetes (which increases infection risk).

But hand it to the federal Liberals, they're prepared to see this centrally-planned reserve system through, no matter how long it takes or how much it costs, until they get it right.

Posted by Kevin Libin on October 29, 2005 | Permalink


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$10 billion annually towards the aboriginal welfare state, most of which goes directly to bands, and this is the result? What a sick joke. Is it possible that the bands will ever be able/willing to solve their own problems?

Posted by: JR | 2005-10-29 2:16:09 PM

"All the diseases that have been blamed on the water—from crabs to impetigo—are more likely the result of cramped living conditions and high rates of diabetes (which increases infection risk)."

Seems to me that "cleanliness" MAY have something to do with the infections as well. But then can you see the chief screaming"hey, we've got disease in our village because we don't wash. Send us more money"

Horny Toad

Posted by: Horny Toad | 2005-10-29 2:17:32 PM

Just a microcosm of Canada's future on the current path, a veritable beacon for the welfare state. No property rights, disincentives to leave, integrated governance and commerce, individuals reduced to federal chattel, summarized in Mark Steyn's words, a "government funded human landfill".

Posted by: John Chittick | 2005-10-29 3:59:09 PM

This is a true sickening situation. I know of some reserves here. People tear down pieces of government built houses and burn that as fuel.

Who is going to believe that on a budget of $10 billions used for less than 1 million Indians, that they are poor and miserable? It is really quite simple. Go and live on one of those reservations. Most likely you will see people dragging their feet and not wanting to take care of themselves.

I suggest no money should be allowed unless they work for it. If they want to return to 400 years back, fine. They did not use any money at all at that time. As far as I am concerned, I invite them to go back to tribe life but they should not expect any money from us.

Now if they want to live like our civilization, then they have to work for a living, just like anybody else.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2005-10-29 4:21:25 PM

Toad: cleanliness is clearly an issue, but remember, the water was indeed rendered unusable—but only because the water treatment managers were unqualified. Apparently they were uncomfortable putting chlorine in the water. Showering under those circumstances doesn't sound particularly pleasant.

As for the comments about how Indians are lazy who prefer to live this way, they reveal a gross misunderstanding of the situation. Since when do natives get a choice about how they live? That's the problem exactly. That $10 billion? You won't find most of it on the reserve, but in the million-dollar homes and bank accounts of the chiefs and their cronies. Those Indians that want to work off-reserve are incentivized by government tax laws not to. Why do natives burn down government-built houses? The question answers itself. Because they're not their houses. It's the same reason the rest of us litter in public parks but not in our own homes. The Canadian Indian reserve is a life-sized model of the principle of the Tragedy of the Commons.

Granting basic property rights, an end to tax policies that encourage dependency and ending the totalitarian rule of chiefs would put Indians on the same playing field as the rest of us. Then, I'm certain they would behave no different than the rest of us do.

For some powerful insights on the tragedy of what Ottawa has done to the natives of this country, I recommend Ric Dolphin's column "Children of the Juggernaut" (http://tinyurl.com/755gg) and Mark Steyn's "Preserving their way of life" (http://tinyurl.com/df2xj)

Posted by: Kevin Libin | 2005-10-29 9:10:01 PM

"Just a microcosm of Canada's future on the current path..."

My thoughts exactly. This is where we're headed folks, and it's not a pretty sight.

Posted by: John | 2005-10-29 9:26:03 PM

Don't know if it's true, but someone told me, and it makes sense to me, that South Africa sent representatives to Canada in the what, 40's, or 50's to see how our reserve system worked and went back and came up with their Apartheid system. So good old Canada was instumental in helping them with that great plan...

Posted by: MarkAlta | 2005-10-30 10:10:40 AM

Remember also that on many of the northern reserves, there are no roads; you have to use water or air planes. Expensive. Can you imagine a white community living this way - with no roads? Therefore, there can't be any economy, for the cost of shipping in supplies and shipping out products is too expensive.

Then, the reserves are ' public'; they are crown lands. The natives don't own any property. So, they can't get mortgages, which would enable them to set up a business. And they can't operate a business because, in the reserve, there aren't enough consumers. And they can't export from the reserve because there are no roads. They can't get mortgages; they can't sell property; they don't own their homes!

What has Canada done?? It's set up a communist system in Canada - only on the reserves - and the result is - the people are unable to do anything. No jobs, no activities. Nothing.

The bureaucracy of Indian Affairs, in Ottawa, eats up the major portion of the money. It keeps a LOT of Liberal bureaucrats in jobs. Not native people. Non-natives. In Ottawa. Then, corruption rapidly sets in- the chiefs and cronies rip off the money.

Remi- They can't return to their old economic mode of hunting-gathering. The reason is- that hunting and gathering is an economic mode which requires a very, very, very large land base. If you confine a people with a hunting/gathering economy to a reserve, then - the economy collapses. It's finished. A hunting/gathering economy is mobile and migratory. The people 'eat their way out of an area'..and move on. They can travel hundreds and hundreds of miles on an annual migratory route. BUT - all of that land has to be left unsettled for them to use. The land regenerates when they move on..and in a year, they will return.

So- since we have taken this massive land base from them - then, they can no longer function in a hunting/gathering economy. But- we don't allow them to function in an industrial economy either!!

No roads, no bank loans for establishing businesses. No private property. Sometimes, no electricity, no water. Inadequate schooling. So- they can't function in a hunting/gathering economy. They can't function in an industrial economy. What's left? Nothing.

Why shouldn't they become engineers and scientists?? We don't provide them with the means to even set up a business and earn enough to hope for such a future!
Education is inadequate. No jobs, no industries. Nothing. What are they supposed to do - watch CBC all day?

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-30 11:44:27 AM

ET: “we don’t provide them with the means to even set up a business...education is inadequate, No jobs, no industries. Nothing.”

First of all this is all a load of hooey! Indians have exactly the same rights (including property rights) and opportunities as every other Canadian - AND THEN SOME. It’s the “and then some” where the trouble lies - the reserves, the $10B, the ‘free’ education, the ‘free’ medicare, the ‘free’ housing. There is nothing ... N-O-T-H-I-N-G .... compelling Indians to live on reserves in welfare poverty. No one is forcing them to do so. There are only INCENTIVES to do so.

The ONLY solution is to change the incentives. Otherwise a hundred years from now things will only be worse for Indians.

As for Indians pursuing a traditional life as stone age hunter gatherers, this is pure fantasy, if not insanity. What would be the objective... a living aboriginal museum. It’s one thing to want preserve a record of one’s cultural past but it’s a different thing entirely to want live it (even if it were possible - and it isn’t).

Posted by: JR | 2005-10-30 1:26:17 PM

JR- No, it's not a 'lot of 'hooey'.

My point remains - the reserves are 'public land'. There is no private ownership permitted on those reserves. So, you can't develop an industrial economy on the reserves - it's a socialist or communist economy. The most disastrous part is that the economic input into these communist enclaves - rather than being created within the reserve - it's an external input. You thereby create a totally dependent society of 'nothing'. No work, no jobs, nothing..Remember, there is no capital on the reserve. You can't sell the land, you can't sell a house, you can't even sell a tree. So - all you can do- is wait for the welfare cheque.

'Free medicare' - is something that we all get, both taxpayers and those on welfare. Free housing is also given to welfare recipients. And, on the reserves - remember, these houses are 'free' because there is NO PRIVATE ownership of land or housing in the reserve. So, what's so great about free housing? Can you mortgage it to get a loan to start a business? No. Can you sell it to finance yourself to a move to the city? No.
And you don't get 'free housing' in the city.

I am NOT advocating something as silly as returning to a hunting/gathering economy. I was answering Remi - who obviously doesn't know anything about these different economies and thinks they are a matter of choice. They aren't. Even if the natives wanted to return to such an economy (and why should they?) - they can't. It's over; the land base is gone.

I'm advocating that they move into an industrial economy. BUT - the reserve system, which we set up, won't permit it. There's no capital investment possible. And, many of the reserves are so far out that there are no roads, or, so far that the costs of production and shipping are exorbitant. There's a very good reason why most Canadians live within 160 km of the US border. Shipping costs. Canada has set itself up as a piggyback economy to the US. It exports 85% of its production to ONE country. The US. So, it has to be near the border. The majority of reserves are in the north.

Moving to the cities - yes, sure. But, for such a move, you need capital. How can you get it? Can you sell your house, your land? No. How do you get an apartment?

What about a job? Just check out the racism against them in many cities. That's a major factor. You are right - the incentives to stay on the reserve are enormous. These incentives are effectively financial incentives. You can't get together enough money to get off the reserve. By the way - it used to be the case that if you left the reserve, you lost your rights to assistance. And if a native woman married a non-native, she lost her native status.
There's been a tremendous pressure on them, to get them to stay on the reserves, and to reject assimilation.

So, my suggestion is that the enormous bureaucracy of Indian Affairs has to be scrapped. The Indian Act also has to be scrapped. They have to integrate. They can't continue to live in isolate 'ghetto-like' communities. There's many in favour of the Indian Act - and there are many who are against it. We've set up a caste system, where the natives live at the bottom of the scale.

Free education is a nice term, but, to get it, you have to leave the reserves. That's not easy - financially and emotionally. Very few do it.

So- there have to be a lot of changes...and the changes can't come just from the native, but from us, from Ottawa - and the native communities.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-30 2:48:13 PM

ET, the reserves around Calgary are on prime farming and ranch lands. In the yard around a former chiefs house on the Gleichen-Cluny reserve sit the rusting hulks of never used farming equiptment, bought new.

The Indians on all these reserves love their large headed mustang Indian ponies but refuse to ranch cattle or even breed quality horses for the surrounding Quarter Horse/Apaloosa/Arabian market.

Some income for these reserves is derived from leasing portions of the reserve for grazing by the cattle of white ranchers.

They have more opportunity for schooling then other Canadians. Goverment prepaid seats in University/College just waiting for them to fill are left empty because they have no cultural basis for proper family units. Affirmative action ensures jobs for them if only they can even appear to be qualified. Eye glasses and dentistry are free for Indians, paid by your tax money. Most bands even receive 'Indian Cards' which allow them to buy anything anywhere, including gas at the pumps, tax free!

I have been in study groups with Indians who kept missing sessions or would always be late with these individuals explaining with a chuckle that they were 'On Indian Time'.

One Blackfoot Indian woman that my wife and I socialized with had a good paying office job with Nova Energy. She disappeared, without notice, on a 2 1/2 week drunk. When she returned to society her job was waiting for her. Being functionaly illiterate she wasn't even qualified for her job.

One fellow, for years a friend of mine and a member of the Peace Blood band up north, was always amused to meet new half siblings because of his mother's and father's many 'Blanket Marriages'.

I don't know about the reserves in Ontario but the reserves here in Alberta are hundreds of square miles in size.

Nothing except a complete lack of structure in the societies on these reserves, including the one in northern Ontario, prevent them from ranching cattle.

The problem with Indians is their dysfunctional 'culture'.
There is nothing we can do that hasn't been done.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-10-30 5:33:03 PM


You wrote: “WE don’t provide THEM with the means.....What are they supposed to do - watch CBC all day?”; and, “So - all you can do- is wait for the welfare cheque”

Where does anyone get the capital to make a decent life for themselves? Where did you get yours, assuming you have any? Where does any new immigrant get theirs? You/they earn/create/invest/save. You do NOT sit around waiting for the gubmnt to cough up pogey. Well you could but then you’d be no better off than the average reserve Indian.

What you say about the communistic reserves is true. The incentives/pressure to stay on the reserves are indeed enormous. But they are also the cause of ALL of the problems. So it seems clear that the Indians’ first order of business is to get out from under the reserve system. Various governments have attempted to change things and have met with nothing but intransigence and hostility from the entrenched Indian ‘leadership’ who are loathe to see the end of a very lucrative, for them, arrangement. So it isn’t easy.

I disagree that WE (I presume you mean we non-Indians, we new Asian/African immigrants, we mere 5th generation white/brown/black Canadians) can or should do anything. In my opinion ONLY the Indians themselves can do it - first by rejecting the present stifling, soul destroying socialist reserve regime, then by taking full responsibility for their own lives - starting with booting their existing so-called ‘leadership’. Saying that WE have to do something for THEM just further cements the racist notion that THEY are incapable of solving their own problems - that THEY are OUR dependants.

“I’m advocating they move into an industrial economy.”
I’d say they’re already in one. It’s the same one you and I are in. The sooner they start participating in it the sooner they’ll dig themselves out of the hole they’re in. If they don’t participate they’ll never dig out.

“Just check out the racism against them...” “Native status...” “Native woman...”
Yup there are problems, obstacles to overcome. No doubt about it. But none are insurmountable and most are met and overcome by every newcomer to the country.

Posted by: JR | 2005-10-30 6:47:36 PM

In reply to JT and Speller - I essentially agree with your both.

Yes, the Reserve System should be ended. It's a tremendous block to integration; it's a welfare trap. AND - the federal dept of Indian Affairs, DIA, the biggest bureaucracy of them all, should be ended. But ending that Ottawa bureaucracy, which provides thousands of jobs-for-Liberal bureaucrats - is a major stumbling block.
So- there are two major stumbling blocks. The reserve system, which keeps natives in non-capitalist ghettoes. And the DIA...which governs the reserves and is a capitalist industry all by itself.

Speller - there's no private capital on a reserve. So, you can have a cattle grazing lease, but the money goes to the communal bank. Not to any individual. It's spread out amongst ALL the people who live on the reserve. That prevents the accumulation of wealth. Imagine yourself in a community, a small town - and if you ran a business from your home, or rented out your garage - the money would go to all your neighbours.

You have to get off the reserve. And, as you say, JT, start from scratch. There's a tremendous pressure from within the reserve (the chiefs who get to control all the money) and from the federal gov't (who live off the money)..to maintain the reserves and the population in them. That's the source of wealth; the number of people on the reserve.

I think it's up to both the native population AND the non-natives to do something. The 'something' means to end the DIA and the reserve system. Since it's our taxes, then, we non-natives ought to have a right to say something. Yes - the major impetus has to come from the native people themselves.

Affirmative action is a nice word, not an actuality. No-one should be employed who is not qualified.

In many parts of Canada, the climate is not suitable for grazing (it's not grassland). A reserve of even hundreds of square miles is not suitable for hunting and gathering.

JT- they aren't in an industrial economy on the reserves because of the problem with capital. You can't accumulate capital on a reserve. Individuals can't accumulate capital; it's distributed to everyone on the reserve. And, you can't, for instance, catch and sell fish in a market, but only for use on the reserve. The reserves are set up to NOT function within a capitalist economy. The only way for you, an individual, to participate in the industrial economy - is to get off the reserve.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-31 7:05:13 AM

ET, I agree with you that the reserve system should be ended.

"And, you can't, for instance, catch and sell fish in a market, but only for use on the reserve." This is just wrong, ET, get your facts straight.

Indians are permitted to harvest fish, deer, elk, bison, moose ect. to sell on the open market and they do. I regularly purchase bison at my local Calgary COOP store. It's a very lean and flavourful meat that literaly needs no seasoning.

Cattle range freely through the non-grassland valleys on the Stoney Indian reserve in the Kananaskis. These cattle seem to do nicely without the 'grasslands' you imagine they need. Cattle graze anywhere deer or elk do.

The Indians also harvest timber on reserves and some on our Alberta reserves producing quite a lot of oil and gas.

You are right about them being unable to use their reserve land as collateral for loans, ET, but they can easily get loan garantees from Ottawa for almost any enterprise if they ask as a band and produce a business plan.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-10-31 11:41:52 AM

Speller- you are right about the marketing. In season. Off season, they can't market, eg. fish, for that would be unfair competition with non-natives who aren't allowed to fish in the off-season.
Cattle are not as hardy as deer and elk! They wouldn't survive in northern Ontario on their own; they need barns and hay, ie, capital input.

My point is that they can only do whatever they do, as a band. So, you can't get individual capitalists. If two men wanted to set up a business, just by themselves, they couldn't get collateral and if they did set it up anyway, the profits would go to the whole reserve. Why do it when you don't receive the profits and when it is all shared even with those who sit back and do nothing all day?

The whole reserve system has to be scrapped and the whole 'separate native' identity has to be ended. I think that assimilation is the only fair answer. We have set up a caste system and the natives are at the bottom of the scale. We actually pay them to stay there!

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-31 12:23:56 PM

"The whole reserve system has to be scrapped and the whole 'separate native' identity has to be ended. I think that assimilation is the only fair answer. We have set up a caste system and the natives are at the bottom of the scale. We actually pay them to stay there!" ET, I completely agree with you here.

ET, the Indians fish and hunt for profit all year round, some even do it in the provincial and National Parks! Including logging crown land off the reserves!

Do you have block heaters in your cars in Ontario? I've met many easterns who didn't know what one was until they came to Alberta. It gets that cold here.

The beef cattle weather just fine, even in the Rockies, right through the winter delivering their calves in the spring. Then it's roundup time. Calgary is 3438 feet above sea level as is most of the surrounding area. The Kananaskis is a lot higher.

Only Dairy cattle live in barns, ET.
Beef cattle calve in the spring and living in huge herds, which NOBODY could house in barns, wintering outdoors. The spring calves are range fed through the spring and summer and slaughtered in the fall after being feadout in feedlots with grain. The result is nice juicy approx nine month old beef, no excess connective tissue, no loss of profit by grain feeding through the winter. Only the breed cattle are kept over the winter.

Here in Alberta plenty of Indians live on the reserves and work off reserve in the oil patch and in logging. They don't have to share their income with anyone.

Some Alberta Indians bands have golf courses, casinos, and bingo halls.

I started out with nothing and now own my own home mortgage free. Any Indian could do the same.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-10-31 1:13:54 PM

Speller - you can own your own home OFF the reserve. You can't - on the reserve. Answer - which we both agree on - Get rid of the Reserves and the whole communist system that runs the reserve.

I doubt if the reserve lands in Ontario/Quebec would support beef cattle; as you know, it's all dairy. What about in the north - above the tree line?

Sure- you get to keep your money ifyou work off the reserve. There has to be work off the reserve. And roads. In many northern reserves, there's no work anywhere around. You have to fly in and out.

I'll tell you, someday, of my own experience with block heaters (I have one in my car due only to having to be in Quebec from time to time)..but..it shows how dumb some of us easterners can be about such things - including me. I thought that - when they told me to get my car 'wired up'...and bring a long cord...I was dumbfounded. I was silent...and then, envisaging some new mode of car travel - like a streetcar, an electric bus...with your car attached to a wire overhead...I told them "But, But..my car uses gasoline". Shows how we don't know what it's like elsewhere in the world.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-31 3:42:47 PM

The issue on this particular reserve is money.
One big gambit played to leverage for money to replace money and resources already provided and misused.

The band has not used the funds provided for maintenance and care on the reserve appropriately. Neither did they manage the operation of the water and waste facilities as they were supposed to. Pretty much the same thing as the Koebles in Walkerton. Except that the citizens of Walkerton fired those responsible and ponied up for a new water plant. Oh yeah and the culptits went to jail( well they nearly did anyway ).

There are no bogieman scapegoats to blame for the results. As ET indicated much of the graphic decrepitude shown in the media was not the direct result of water conditions but of general lack of care or sense of responsibility. The band was provided with adequate infrastructure, funding and training to keep things running. What happened?
Individuals who are supposed to be responsible for that care and maintenance choose not to take those responsibilities seriously.

The reason this story splashed in the media is because the band leadership wanted to make it splash. They called the news team to come and film
an orchestrated display of their deplorable conditions and the media circus was there to play the game. As usual there was no discussion of what happened to the money and resources already in play. True to form our PM and the liberal cadre have responded with knee jerk pledges of more money.
Money won't fix the lack of will or sense of responsibility that led to the current situation.

Posted by: PGP | 2005-10-31 5:43:08 PM

In the whole reserve of Kashechewan there is one/one business. And 1,700 people.

And the Liberal answer: "Ottawa to announce $3 billion for aboriginals"


'Ottawa will commit between $3 billion and $4 billion when Prime Minister Paul Martin meets with the premiers and aboriginal leaders in Kelowna, The Canadian Press has learned. The money will be promised over five years when the first ministers meet in British Columbia on Nov. 24. Sources say it will be used to improve education, housing, health and economic development programs.'

Billions and billions over some period of time. Will be as effective as the $41 billion over ten years for "health care" (deliberate quotation marks).



Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-31 5:49:03 PM

Just to clear up..It was Kevin L who noted the issue of general; health care an cleanlines. But its good to see ET and others POV comments.

By the way....MAlta. The bit about the South African delegation of the 40's or 50's is sort misconstrued.
What happened was that in the 80's just prior to Mandela's successful social revolution in SA, a SAfrican minister ( can't remember if it was their Minister of State or Foreign Affairs came to Manitoba at the request of Chief Louis Stephenson ( can't recall name of his reserve but I think it is Peguis First Nation). Anyway what happened was an orchestrated photo op for CBC and others who gladly broadcast the whole show without any fact checking or analysis of what was really going on leading up to the spactacle. They made their way past unkempt yards strewn with garbage, past uncounted derilect vehicles of all types, broken windows, pieces of plywood swinging on cheap hinges where proper doors had once been, any number of kids in diapers and dirty clothes either milling around or crowded into messy looking houses. The crowning shot was captioned as the Chief's own house that was shown with filthy peeled floors and walls, dilapidated furniture and a lone oil heater in the living room. Pretty depressing and embarassing!
However, the house in question may have been provided for Louis' family but he sure did not live there. Chief Louis, has a million dollar house in an upscale Winnipeg neighbourhood. I don't know where the rest of his family is but I really doubt that they lived on the reserve either.
Well this SOB from SA was only too happy to go along and was taped making nicely rehearsed comments about how the conditions were worse than any he had seen in the "Townships". Really!
Never mind that even if it were true..who would be responsible for the condidions in those SA Townships. So having made this ludicrous comparison to South African work camps our friend Chief Louis went on to denounce the Canadian government, White Canadians in general and just about anyone or anything he could think of to blame for the reserve's state of disrepair.
In any case the whole point of that excercise was to created enough of a stir and embarassment to prompt the Feds or Province or whoever to open up the purse strings that had been closed for reasons having to do first of all with (alleged) mismanagement of funds and resources.

So thanks to all of our national media organisations we can expect the same every time one of these jerks needs to extort more government money. And thanks to inept and spineless politicians like our PM we can expect the situation to continue.

Posted by: PGP | 2005-10-31 6:38:21 PM

Just as an aside about South Africa, the only people who were indigenous to the country of South Africa were called Hottentots. The last Hottentot died in 1904. The Afrikaans were therefore the only people who could lay legitimate claim to the country.

I learned of this in an original leather bound 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica in the Central Calgary Public Library in 1982.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-10-31 11:05:12 PM

ET wrote: "My point is that they can only do whatever they do, as a band. So, you can't get individual capitalists. If two men wanted to set up a business, just by themselves, they couldn't get collateral and if they did set it up anyway, the profits would go to the whole reserve. Why do it when you don't receive the profits and when it is all shared even with those who sit back and do nothing all day?"

Why do you think it is bad for the whole band to benefit? Perhaps because you were brought up differently than they. Look at how they handled the white pines golf course incident -- as a community. Everything is done as a community. At white pines, near the end the natives would not fire at the troops even though some of them wanted to shoot. There was no single authority figure to give them the order to fire.

Everything is done after deliberation. That is their culture -- at least of that band in Quebec. If they were raised such that everything is always for the band, then perhaps those that yearn to keep their culture has more to do with how they govern themselves instead of how they nomadically collected food. Too bad the two are intrinsically linked. That begs the question then as to why the bands invest so little and so infrequently. Many seem to be urging the bands to joint the rest of Canada's economy by becoming capital investors.

Posted by: jmrsudbury | 2005-11-01 8:21:05 AM

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