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Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the silent-spring dept.

Science 577

Dan East writes "In a fashion worthy of a King or Hitchcock novel, blackbirds began to fall from the sky dead in Arkansas yesterday. Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 birds rained down on the small town of Beeb, Arkansas, with no visible trauma. Officials are making wild guesses as to what happened — lightning strike, high-altitude hail, or perhaps trauma from the sound of New Year's fireworks killed them."

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577 comments

flash forward series parallels anyone? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741454)

same thing happened with crows in flashforward television series

Or they flew over a CAFO (3, Funny)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741458)

More likely they died of shock when they flew over a CAFO.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_Animal_Feeding_Operations [wikipedia.org]

Re:Or they flew over a CAFO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741748)

First thing I thought when I read this was 'What agenda driven thing are people going to blame this one on?' Maybe it would be wifi, a radio tower, or the nearest nuclear power plant. Maybe it would be chemtrails, GMO pollen, or communist fluoride. But CAFOs, did not see that one coming.

Some CAFOs are pretty dubious operations indeed. But without any evidence, blaming them for this, especially when there are a number of more probable reasons, is kinda stretching it, don't you think? Kneejerk blaming doesn't do any good for anyone... except perhaps the CAFO operators themselves, when legitimate opposition to unsanitary & inhumane conditions gets lumped in with the kneejerk.

Re:Or they flew over a CAFO (0, Flamebait)

blue trane (110704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741754)

Another reason to stop eating meat.

Re:Or they flew over a CAFO (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741906)

You dumb fucking vegetarian. That's not a reason to stop eating meat, it's a reason to start supporting meat producers that treat their animals well. Stop looking for any place and any time to push your fucking agenda. I've got news for you, we've all had "the conversation" and you haven't changed our minds and you WON'T change our minds now go get your protein by sucking your own dick.

fools (4, Interesting)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741460)

Hail, lightning, fireworks would have caused said unfound trauma.

Theory: caught in a hellacious wild updraft. Lifted into highest levels of the atmosphere where they suffered insufficient oxygen and/or insufficient pressure -- vessels and or lungs burst.

Re:fools (4, Informative)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741592)

Doubt that, turns out the same day 100,000 Drum Fish [cnn.com] died the same day. Only Drum fish not any of the other fish that are in the same waters. Unless of course the tornado selectively took only black birds and only drum fish up into the air....

Re:fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741656)

Not entirely out of the ordinary. I know of fish in Minnesota that do not fare well with sudden changes in atmospheric pressure. After a strong weather front moves through, adult 'suckers' will start to wash ashore. Not in the numbers seen in AK, but a tornado bearing storm would have significantly larger pressure shift than a typical storm.

Lead Dust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741808)

In Australia, a few trucks with loose lead dust made birds fall out of the sky.
I'll go for heavy metal pollution.

Re:fools (4, Insightful)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741714)

I live close to the area where the Drum Fish were found (Fort Smith) and these two events seem to be rare coincidences and nothing more. Weather definitely isn't on the list as the recent tornado, also relatively close by by car, occurred a half a week ago. Unless the tornado (which occurred no where near the Arkansas river) swept up some diseased Drum fish, threw them in the river 50 40 miles away, which spread the disease to the other fish, that the birds ate and died of food poisoning while in mid-flight, weather is not likely to be the cause. We're in a cold front now with no real warm air around, and we normally don't see snow until February, so lightning, hail and other precipitation can be ruled out too.

This past week has just been wonky for Arkansas. Our weather is on the fritz and can't decide to be warm or cold yet. We've got a crap load of dead fish along an already smelly river bank that other states dump in, and now the left over dead birds from Angry Birds are being dumped here too. What sucks about the whole thing is that media outlets, with nothing better to do but create conspiracy theories, will be broadcasting the most redneck, hick, uneducated person they can find to provide a take as to what they "think" is happening to represent the entire state and populous, instead of sticking to scientific conclusions.

Or the same thing that causes these: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741464)

Chemtrails [chemtrailcentral.com]

Or maybe it's pollution (and you are an idiot) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741688)

Deluded right wing nutcases like yourself only believe in conspiracies while you ignore the real outrages that happen every day. The retarded website you linked to dismisses idea that companies recklessly pollute and claims that global warming is itself a conspiracy by the government against business. Chemtrails on the other hand are a weird government conspiracy in the eyes of these right wing idiots.

The website you linked to is against the Environmental Protection Agency!?!

You retards have it all figured out...

Re:Or maybe it's pollution (and you are an idiot) (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741708)

Actually, most people that dabble with those websites are under the age of 20. At least in my experiences. Older folks have better things to do. (like post on slashdot?)

Nearby, massive fish kill (4, Informative)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741468)

on CNN [cnn.com]

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741556)

Gee, and they're saying no relation between the incidents. Hm.

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741584)

And unrelated to the mysterious death of a game and fisheries warden in November. Nothing to see move along.

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741588)

It seems obvious to me.

The fish, sick of living under bird oppression, poisoned themselves in a mass suicide so that when the birds ate them they would all die as well...

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741762)

It seems obvious to me.

The fish, sick of living under bird oppression, poisoned themselves in a mass suicide so that when the birds ate them they would all die as well...

Don't breathe the kool-aid!

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741764)

Oh, that's just great. Pisci-terrorism. I hear a new court-circumventing law marching toward us. Won't somebody think of the minnows?

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741666)

Bubbas all stocked up with fish and fowl till the summer comes.

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741712)

All at the tail end of the New Madrid fault line, which has received massive amounts of small quakes over the last couple of months.

Personally, I would say one of these things is not a big deal. Two of them is a coincident. All 3 occurring together, is VERY interesting.

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741734)

Clearly, global warming is to blame...or file sharing...or Assange *duck*

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741766)

So what, earthquake lights zapped the birds' magnet sensors and made them think "south" was "down" (or up)?

Re:Nearby, massive fish kill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741864)

All at the tail end of the New Madrid fault line, which has received massive amounts of small quakes over the last couple of months.

Personally, I would say one of these things is not a big deal. Two of them is a coincident. All 3 occurring together, is VERY interesting.

*waves hands furiously* Blah blah blah, here, let me tell you the TRUTH the liberal media wants to cover up. See, our researchers discovered that a few years ago, there was a LIBERAL DEMOCRAT ACTIVIST LIBERAL politician in Arkansas that wanted to bring the EVIL SOCIALISM of wind power to the state. So CLEARLY, that's what did it. The wind power generators, which as we all know is a giant liberal plot to kill birds (they kill birds, dontchaknow, our research says so!), which will obviously make our fnord American values fnord drop from the sky, too fnord fnord.

EVERYTHING ELSE YOU MENTIONED IS COINCIDENCE. Or more liberal plots. We haven't decided yet.

Flashforward? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741476)

Are the events from the show Flashforward coming true?!

Re:Flashforward? (2)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741498)

No, because the crows (not blackbirds) are supposed to die during the flash forward, which never happened.

Re:Flashforward? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741788)

Except that during the series they found there had been earlier tests that had killed just the birds, before the global flash forward. Not that I'd try applying logic to that series, the time flash is one thing but basic things like a any form of wave that acts exactly the same at ground zero as it does halfway around the earth? The science was at a Doctor Who level, just with less comedy and more thriller.

Re:Flashforward? (4, Funny)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741678)

Too bad it was canceled, we'll just never know! Either that or this is the strangest grassroots effort to renew a show I've heard about.

Under the Dome (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741482)

In a fashion worthy of a King or Hitchcock novel, blackbirds began to fall from the sky dead

Ooh! Ooh! I read that one! It's Stephen King's Under the Dome [wikipedia.org] .
(Quick summary: Some kind of force field is dropped over the town of Chester's Mill, Maine. Lord of the Flies-type microcosm ensues. Good book, I recommend it.)

Re:Under the Dome (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741614)

Good book, I recommend it.

Good premise, though far from original. Horrible book. I don't recommend it. WAY too big, too. YMMV.

Horrid ending (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741654)

It was a decent King book, good characters, some interesting mishaps (Suspension of disbelief, but it's a king book). But then the ending was a WTF moment. It was like King had no idea where to end it so he pulled something like BSG did to end their series. Had no idea where it was going so just wrapped it up quick. He made this big deal throughout the book about the dome hitting exactly on the border of the town, a border that is a manmade construct on a map, but then well... he never went anywhere with THAT or why it happened to hit there.

The simpsons movie was better, the simpsons episode where they mock the King book and their own movie was funny too.

Quarantine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741490)

I say we quarantine all the residents of Arkansas, just to be safe. And ready the nukes also.

What the TSA is REALLY up to... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741494)

People, did anyone think to look up in the sky? Contrails, people? Contrails?

It's only after the fact that folks recall strange looking jets and black helicopters.

New World Order, folks, the TSA is just the start.

Re:What the TSA is REALLY up to... (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741522)

I never know what to think when people spew on about contrails. There's plausibility to be upheld behind such claims, you know. It's as irresponsible to blame contrails and "the gubmint" as it is to blame poor Satan and the meek who aid his truth for women having warts giving puritan men the heebejeebes, or for the murderously pyromaniacal urges those men developed as a result of not being tucked in right and getting buggered off by their mommas when they were still eating frosted flakes. I'm just saying that besides all that, you apparently stand proud and, uh, "represent".

Re:What the TSA is REALLY up to... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741810)

I never know what to think when people spew on about contrails.

Is it just some cosmic coincidence that when the U.S. didn't have any contrails nine years ago, people across the world were gripped with strong emotion, either cheering or sad? Contrails are psychic pacifiers, man. When the settings sun hits them and makes them all orange and pink against a blue backdrop, it messes with your junk, makes you less manly. Ray-bans nullify the effect due to polarized crystal prism power in the lenses.

Crazies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741506)

Wow... the crazies are out tonight.

Re:Crazies (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741586)

I can't agree with you more. Everybody can see this was caused by Flying Under the Influence, which kills more drunken birds than Dick Cheney with a shotgun. Yes, I say FUI. Their flying licenses ought to be suspended.

Re:Crazies (0)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741636)

This topic should be relocated to paranormal (new category?) or at the very least, ALT and not science since there's no science relating to the article. IMO it should be moved to idle haha

I'm guessing hypothermia (3, Interesting)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741512)

through being trapped in storm-associated updrafts. These can rapidly reach high altitudes and cold temperatures (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/594363/thunderstorm/49573/Updrafts-and-downdrafts).

Comment from the article... ? (1)

el_tedward (1612093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741516)

Yeah, so.. does this make sense? I'm not a tornado kind of guy..

"Given the reports of tornadoes and lack of physical evidence of trauma, the most likely scenario is that the birds were asphyxiated inside the low pressure area within a very small tight tornado vortex. Because of the high energy (and thus oxygen consumption) during flight, a flying bird can aspyhixiate in a much shorter time and at much higher pressures than would be required to kill a resting human being."

Re:Comment from the article... ? (5, Interesting)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741552)

My friend descended from a Siberian tribe. His grandmother died in Siberia because she happened to go out wearing just two or three layers less than you "should". See, it's cold enough over there in my friend's ancestral village that the windows are plastic. Glass would shatter. And despite this, sometimes you want convenience. Like if you're American and you want to get milk, you're tempted to use the SUV to drive two blocks away and save five minutes of walking. Well, she saved five minutes changing out of two or three layers of clothing and suffered from it, due to a tragic weather event. OVer there, the Siberians get these tiny tornadoes that only last a few seconds. They're invisible. But inside of them, the temperature isn't just eighteen below zero, it's like thirty-eight below zero. And the wind is reintroducing that temperature of air at a rate of sometimes around a hundred miles an hour, but confined in a very tight vortex of only three or four feet across due to the nature of convecting currents and their abilities to maintain micro systems, something not very well understood. Being in that tiny cold whirlwind for even a few seconds can cause really horrible physical traumas. She was struck dead by hypothermia by an invisible weather phenomenon, struck dead by a tornado as big around as her sucking down temperatures from the upper atmosphere that were cold enough to lower her core temperature down below dead in only seconds. This sort of thing is a reality, and we can assume that there is plenty under the sun that science doesn't quite comprehend. If this doesn't turn out to be a low-pressure or mega-updraft incident of some kind, then I think we can all safely assume it is a pathogenic or local effect. A bacteria or virus. A radioactive or electromagnetic pulse. At any rate it's anomalous and anybody studying it with interest is probably more intelligent than the average scientists who, based largely on risk assessed values of research grant award futures versus college loan payment rates, side squarely with what is pre-established and therefore never learn anything new and fail to ever address the slightest anomaly whether it challenges their worldview or not.

Re:Comment from the article... ? (4, Insightful)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741686)

Quantum mechanics is proof beyond any reasonable criterion that science can be brought around to a good idea no matter how weird it is. It just takes time and evidence, and so it should be.

Re:Comment from the article... ? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741846)

Why would someone ever *choose* to live in such an environment? *shivers*

Re:Comment from the article... ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741888)

I don't know. Think about how high you could OC your computer! From your mother's igloo basement no less!

Re:Comment from the article... ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741898)

Yeah, you and I sure picked our parents well, didn't we?

Re:Comment from the article... ? (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741858)

It can't be a pathogen - there's no way that it would kill such a large amount of birds at exactly the same time. Instead it would have acted over hours/days following a normal distribution, and the area of dead birds would be far greater and not fairly evenly spread over a narrow area.

While my medical degree makes me an expert in humans, not birds, it's reasonable to assume that this bird population is suffering due to 1) the bird overpopulation mentioned by local residents in the news reports and 2) the colder than normal weather. I cannot speculate as to the cause other than ruling out silly things (pathogens, aliens, etc), but I think the birds were on the limit of survival, and some localized event happened that pushed a small group in a certain area a little too hard, causing them to die suddenly.

Re:Comment from the article... ? (4, Insightful)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741916)

I'm not saying you're wrong, but a link or some further evidence of micro-tornadoes would surely be in order.

I imagine someone coming across the frozen tundra and the corpse on it could easily reach a similar conclusion, even though the person may have died from some type of sudden onset failure like a brain aneurysm. Having been in northern climates, I'm having a bit of trouble swallowing these invisible micro tornadoes because much of the surface is covered with loose material like powder snow, dust, and exposed dry, decayed vegetation.

Re:Comment from the article... ? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741946)

Being localized to a particular breed of bird already rules out an updraft, but thanks for the generalization that 300 million people drive SUV's.

Re:Comment from the article... ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741560)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canary_in_a_coal_mine

I'd guess as much.

It's Arkansas (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741534)

Maybe the birds realized they were in Arkansas and figured suicide was really the only way out.

Re:It's Arkansas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741786)

the thousands of blackbirds were probably eating the thousands of drum as 5 billion years of nature would suggest. the toxin is probably the product of some bubba in arkansas makin' god knows what they make in arkansas and dumped it into a creek. The substance traveled as a huge blob into a school of drum near its initial source before it was diluted by water and time. Moral of the story? Don't go to Arkansas.

"Blackbirds Fall from Sky Dead"? (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741536)

Call me Captain Pedantic, but I'd say it pays to punctuate. But then again, I've never had to write headlines under a deadline (I presume), so perhaps I can never know the pressures under which such compromises are made.

Re:"Blackbirds Fall from Sky Dead"? (1)

Viperpete (1261530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741590)

I would have suggested: "Thousands of Dead Blackbirds Fall From Sky."

I see no good reason for the adjective to follow the indirect object vs. prefixing the direct object, such as the other adjective in the statement (quantity.)

Or you could do a Yoda: "From Sky Fall Blackbirds, Thousands Dead There Are"

Re:"Blackbirds Fall from Sky Dead"? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741648)

The original headline, keeps the reader in suspense until the last word. Your first suggestion is anti-climactic. The Yoda one ( while funny), is too complex of a sentence structure which confuses people too much. You want a little complexity to build the suspense as the original did, but not so much that the reader (average 5th grad level) has to re parse the sentence. They may interpret it as a non native phrasing and associate it with spam.

Writing a headline is an art. Especially, now a days on th internet. If you create enough interest in a few words, boom, another click on your site greater potential for ad revenue.

Re:"Blackbirds Fall from Sky Dead"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741936)

"Thousands of Dead Blackbirds Fall From Sky." = Dead birds falling from the sky.
"Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead" = Birds falling from the sky, now dead.

We don't know if they were dead while falling or if they died after they "landed".

Lightning strike unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741546)

It sounds like the whole town was covered with birds and it seems to be mostly one species. It's doubtful that a lightning strike could affect birds over that wide an area. Curious what the final finding is on the deaths. Definitely possible that it was still atmospheric. Odd that no one reported seeing them because they seem to fall from the sky and appear to have done so quickly but birds as a rule don't fly at night especially red wing black birds. Still possible they got poisoned.

Re:Lightning strike unlikely (2)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741570)

The fish that died around there in the same time period were only one species, too.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741576)

Maybe they all died of separate, but natural causes. I know its unlikely, but why not?

Fireworks? (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741602)

or perhaps trauma from the sound of New Year's fireworks killed them.

Oh don't say something like that without proof. Just the fact that such a wild guess was even thrown about is more than enough reason for the animal welfare dickheads to want to ban fireworks outright.

Re:Fireworks? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741804)

How about poison? Leave out some bird feed but contaminate it with something which will kill them over the next few hours. Many poisons intended for pests are designed to work slowly so the carcass isn't found right beside the poison.

Re:Fireworks? (1)

harlequinn (909271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741968)

Actually you're probably spot on. My father-in-law told me of a massive overnight bird die-off in the south-eastern portion of Australia. The shire council decided to eradicate the rabbit plague by laying millions of poisoned carrots. Of course the local flocks of budgerigars (parakeets in America) were all killed overnight since they fed on the carrots. I asked how many died and he said that up until that day, every morning and evening the sky was almost blocked out by the millions of budgerigars that flocked in the sky together.

Oh, (2)

norppalaho (878422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741624)

religious folks gonna love this one. :|

Re:Oh, (2)

Sirfrummel (873953) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741696)

This is the same thing I was thinking.... I'm just waiting for someone on my facebook or something else to start saying it's a sign of jesus's return.

Re:Oh, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741752)

That would be great! Get those guys out of here so the rest of us can live in peace.

My suggestions (5, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741638)

Given the fanciful explanations being put forward, I thought I'd add these possibilities which are just as likely:

- Blackbird mob war (explains the trauma too!) ....Variation: A new super race of pigeon decided to whack the competition

- Suicide protest over the abandonment of puppies and kittens over Christmas

- Someone below was constipated for a week after eating some curry and after going off to die on his own in the wilderness managed to pass wind just in time to prevent death from toxic shock. Unfortunately the birds copped the brunt of it.

- Terrorist Blackbird not caught at the Blackbird airport in time because those pesky Blackbirds loved their freedom too much and refused to be irradiated and groped before they travel

- Y2K11 didn't just hit iPads and iPhones. Those poor Blackbirds shouldn't have bought their pacemakers from Apple and believed the "It just works" hype

- An alien witch temporarily transformed them from Blackbirds into Lemmings. When they hit the ground they changed back

Quoth the raven... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741670)

Nevermore.

Insult? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741816)

Perhaps someone was insulted, and when responding they misunderstood what "giving someone the bird" meant.

Improbability Drive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741818)

It was a spaceship that used the Improbability Drive as it left our planet! The Improbability Drive transformed the blackbirds into the fish, and the fish into blackbirds. The fish fell out of the sky to their death, and the birds drowned. When the spaceship was far enough, they were all transformed back!

Fall dead? (3, Interesting)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741822)

How do we know the fall didn't kill them.

Perhaps they all fell from the sky alive, but it was impact with the earth that got them? You people too quick to jump to conclusions - all of you!

Andromeda? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34741844)

Wildfire anyone?

The Problem Is Solved... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741856)

The birds were hit by emanations from the Arkansas school system, and promptly forgot how to fly.

It's not fireworks. (2)

Israfels (730298) | more than 3 years ago | (#34741984)

if it was fireworks, the birds would be dying in other locations around the US and at other times, such as 4th of July.

This incident took place in a one square mile near the city.

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