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Impedance Matching

I rarely watch Internet videos; I usually consider them to be a waste of my time.  But the following video gave me the best 75 minutes of my life!  —Then, I died of despair at how hopeless security is.

It is a technical presentation.  For those who are unfamiliar with this field, I should explain:  The speaker is an American-born Chinese who moved to Singapore, because according to his own experience, Singapore has more freedom than America (a reality which, with all due respect to Singapore, proves in practice how little freedom Americans actually have).  He has a Ph.D. from MIT.  Among other things, he develops open hardware—the topic of this video.  He has spent plenty of time in China to get his stuff manufactured.  And without knowing or caring whatever his opinions may be on other matters, when we discuss this subject matter, scientifically-minded people will recognize that he has a consummate mastery of this field of technology.  That is another type of impedance matching—one which the Silly-Con Valley world has lost, but I have not.[1]Cf. Professor Oliver’s remarks the discovery of facts of nature in Liberty Bell, July 1984, p. 12.  If the priests of political correctness were even half as objective about the sciences, then the modern sciences would today be more—scientific; and if the open-source world of today were even a thousandth as fair-minded, it would be a better and more productive place.

No one has a right to comment on chip-level hw sec here, who does watch that from start to finish and grok it.  I do not necessarily mean having bunnie’s level of expertise, which I most assuredly lack.  I am not a hardware hacker, let alone a chip designer.  I am not on the cutting edge with these types of devices, either.  But I basically understand what he says—and more importantly, on a deep level, I get why he says it.  If you don’t, then stop annoying me with uninformed screeds about the problem of obtaining uncompromised chips.  There is nothing wrong with lack of expertise—but it is wrong to try to show off by trolling me with nonsense about making chips with 3D printers (!).  The very notion shows unscientific thinking, and n00b-level ignorance of the physical requirements for fabbing a chip.

Enpurf vf Ovmneeb kxpq!

Approximately as I have remarked before, Proems is just like xkcd but with better artwork, less BLM, and more Hitler.[2]Also:  Less evangelical chanting about the salvation of the Covid vaccines.  The hysterical, quasi-religious pro-vaxxery in science and technology communities, including xkcd, was one of the things that quite frankly freaked me out about the vaccines.  It shows a manifest lack of dispassionate, objective scientific thinking, and suggests to me that I should remain unvaccinated.  I consign this to a footnote because I intend to blog about it in the future, and it is off-topic here.  Therefore, in reply to the several readers who missed my primary threat model, this is obligatory for addressing the threat model of state-level actors, and some other types of entities.  For those who have any nontrivial amounts of Bitcoin, it it also a realistic threat from garden-variety criminals.

xkcd 538: security

Image credit:  “Security”, xkcd 538.  (CC-BY-NC)

It is important to know one’s threat model.  Thinking in terms of threat models is one of the factors that makes the difference between serious-minded security analysis, and Internet paranoia.

As I have said, my primary concern is Big Data surveillance-capitalists.  No sane person suggests that data-sucking corporations can break the cryptography used in PGP; and of course, it should go without saying, I would literally rather be sold as a sex slave at a Roman auction than use Gmail.  All of the commentators who fussed over potential threats from state-level actors have failed to consider Big Data vampires, and the strong protection that I attain against them.

The same protection also tends to suffice against dragnet mass-surveillance by intelligence agencies.  When large numbers of people use encryption, intelligence agencies and also, police agencies are forced to focus on targets worth targeted attacks.  Ideally, that would mean focusing on truly bad people who do truly bad things, without forcing innocent people to live in an invisible panopticon.  It’s the right thing to do—and it tends to result in more effective enforcement actions against real criminals.  In practice, I know that this is of little comfort to honorable political dissidents who may be improperly targeted by corrupt states, even if they do nothing wrong; but any improvement is better than none.

When I look beyond my primary concern to the rest of my threat model, I am a tiny bit worried that the NSA may have secret cryptanalytic attacks.  I am significantly worried that TAO could get in and exfiltrate my keys.  I am not unaware of—other things, too:  Proverbial rubber hoses and \$5 wrenches and ryrpgevsvrq avccyr pynzcf,[3]I just made up that last threat model.  It seems appropriately inappropriate.  As a figure of speech, it’s more likely than \$5 wrenches to captivate the imagination—and therefore, to bring people’s attention to threats that may be more realistic for them.  Plus, I feel terribly mean towards Alice today.  Bob already got bludgeoned with a \$5 wrench, so this is for Alice.  Poor, oppressed Alice and Bob:  Their painful lives and ill-starred love are a cryptic allegory for the cruelty of numbers. which are just metaphors for speaking of more realistic scenarios involving physical coercion.

State-level actors may use physical coercion—ranging from mundane use (or abuse) of the legal system and its coercive apparatus, to the types of torture that sometimes leak into headlines.  Sometimes, they may consider assassinating high-profile targets.  But I think for most people, a targeted attack by a state-level actor is just the type of unrealistic scenario that only causes needless, self-defeating paranoia.  For people who have more or less ordinary lives, the most realistic “\$5 wrench attack” is, as aforesaid, from armed robbers seeking digital assets.

This is one of several reasons why I focus first on Big Data threat model:  Paranoia is bad for everybody, some threats are unrealistic for most people, and everyone with even a shred of human dignity should be worried about surveillance capitalists, who turn their “customers” into the product.  The same principles then extend to dragnet mass-surveillance.

A ridiculous non-threat:  I am highly confident that no one will ever use supercomputers to bruteforce my crypto.  Because.  MATHS!!! and SCIENCE!!!  If you mention a “brute force super computer decrypter” in the context of a security level requiring \({2}^{\geq 128}\) (on the order of \(\approx {10}^{\geq 38}\)) computations to break by bruteforce, and often \({2}^{256}\) (order of \({10}^{77}\))—and if you fail to realize that no cryptographer would ever use dumb bruteforce against a typical real-world encryption protocol that relies on public-key cryptography, if the public key is available—then you not whereof you speak.  —Or perhaps you are trying to provoke me, like a low-grade Slashdot troll casually chatting about protected-mode VMM on the 80286.  Cue 100 replies by autistic idiots-savants, correcting you in excruciating detailYou have no life, either.

A Tease

At least this commentator got one thing semi-right:

Whispering sweet nothings between each other over encrypted channels might make you feel like you have a big dong, but in reality it’s just a grown up version of what girls used to do in grade school with their “secret code language”.

Hey, I love “secret code language” of the grown-up kind.  But set that aside.  I will consider the matter objectively.

It is true that women love to keep secrets—and this is a great way to get women into securing their communications.  I speak from activist experience:  If you tell a stereotypical non-nerd woman some abstract crypto-nerd argument about this, her eyes will glaze over—not from stupidity, but from boredom and apathy.  If you explain this in terms that she cares about, then she will definitely pay attention—and at least, she will consider switching from Gmail to Protonmail.  That is not ideal, but it is an improvement.

And besides helping people one by one, which is important, this has a greater purpose.  Instead of being a cowardly part of the problem like several commentators here, who essentially say that you don’t want to attract attention by being one of the few people who encrypt, be a part of the solution:  Normalize it.  Encrypt, and make everyone you know encrypt!  I spoke of this in one of my earliest comments about PGP, August 31, 2021:

The Snowden story, and Mr. Greenwald’s coverage thereof, was even the key (so to speak) to creating an environment in which privacy activism can succeed on a grassroots level..  I cut people out of my personal life (even family members) if they refuse my urging even to use free, simple, easy solutions for at least moderate security, such as Protonmail.

It works!  It gets people using secure communications, which they sometimes then start to use with other people.  By such means, we can each help to make a difference one step at a time.

Of course, this will only work if you know people who want to talk to you more than you want to talk to them.  It works for me.  YMMV.

Whereas besides the feminine propensity for secret code language, secret diaries, and secret whispers, women are actually the most eager to encrypt—once you inform them that the NSA has degenerated into a giant Pinkmeth full of creepy Peeping Toms.  Let’s face it:  Everyone has “something to hide”—

—This thought is to be continued.  I have a blog post about this in the pipeline; it is one of the several posts that are delayed because Bitchute blocks my anonymous Internet from uploading.  I have been too lazy to work around that, and this needs a video custom-cut to my exact specifications.  (A video of Snowden.)  I should set video as a priority, for various reasons.


A warning to trolls: You are DOOMED.

Normal human beings can stop reading right here, with the assurance that I treat people as they deserve.  If you are honorable, courteous, and intelligent, then you will be treated accordingly.  If you viciously insult me in gutter terms, then show up in my comments section babbling tech-jargon like a House fan uses medical jargon, then I may find it mildly amusing to hold you up as a laughingstock as I discuss serious issues.  Hey, I need lulz too, sometimes.

<!--more-->

You missed me by a mile.  I am the BOFH.  You are the PFY.  Please be advised that if you fail to meet Proems standards for both substance and style, I may borrow a pair of avccyr pynzc from my very best sockpuppet, and then subtly troll you like a gourmet psychiatrist until you use them to hook yourself up to 240V mains.  You are a nihilist:  Embrace Max Pain!

On your first attempt to troll me, I whipped up some funny meme graphics that would humiliate you on your own level.  Then, I realized the problem:  Your level is hello.jpg, which makes you a pfassive maggot.  I decided to take the high road—well, mostly.  I can always publish the pics later.

This is a classy place:  Usually, I will not deign to take the bait. ®


Notes

[1] Cf. Professor Oliver’s remarks the discovery of facts of nature in Liberty Bell, July 1984, p. 12.  If the priests of political correctness were even half as objective about the sciences, then the modern sciences would today be more—scientific; and if the open-source world of today were even a thousandth as fair-minded, it would be a better and more productive place.

[2] Also:  Less evangelical chanting about the salvation of the Covid vaccines.  The hysterical, quasi-religious pro-vaxxery in science and technology communities, including xkcd, was one of the things that quite frankly freaked me out about the vaccines.  It shows a manifest lack of dispassionate, objective scientific thinking, and suggests to me that I should remain unvaccinated.  I consign this to a footnote because I intend to blog about it in the future, and it is off-topic here.

[3] I just made up that last threat model.  It seems appropriately inappropriate.  As a figure of speech, it’s more likely than \$5 wrenches to captivate the imagination—and therefore, to bring people’s attention to threats that may be more realistic for them.  Plus, I feel terribly mean towards Alice today.  Bob already got bludgeoned with a \$5 wrench, so this is for Alice.  Poor, oppressed Alice and Bob:  Their painful lives and ill-starred love are a cryptic allegory for the cruelty of numbers.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Applied Cryptography, Information Security, Kxpq 
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  1. Raches says: • Website

    Some people have an itch to ruin jokes by explaining them.  This post is laced with in-jokes, nerdbait, things intended to make disgusting people feel bad about themselves for their shameful behavior, little ironies, and trivial funniness designed to divide the wheat from the chaff at the threshold.  Comments ruining the jokes will only be allowed if they improve on them (according to my sense of humor), or else if they have such serious didactic quality as is better spent on serious issues. ®

  2. Surprisingly, this time the author is actually quite right.

  3. Not going to take 75 minutes of of my life to watch something I fundamentally agree with and I’m sure on lots of the low level details, but did want to mention that if it’s by bunnie then you can take it to the bank. Your discussion of threat models I skimmed is also good.

    • Thanks: Raches
  4. peterAUS says:

    It is important to know one’s threat model.

    Yep.
    In the Clown World.

    When large numbers of people use encryption, intelligence agencies and also, police agencies are forced to focus on targets worth targeted attacks.

    Yep.
    We here had a pregnant woman arrested in her home because she was wanting to organize a protest against lockdown. That’s for “worth targeted attack”.

    Ideally, that would mean focusing on truly bad people who do truly bad things, without forcing innocent people to live in an invisible panopticon.

    One should define “truly bad people who do truly bad things” for the TPTBs and their stooges. When he/she does that it goes back to the first sentence of this post.
    And that woman; among many similar cases in this part of the world.

    … honorable political dissidents who may be improperly targeted by corrupt states…

    Glad you mentioned “corrupt states”. USA? NSW qualifies hands down, I think.

    I am a tiny bit worried that the NSA may have secret cryptanalytic attacks. I am significantly worried that TAO could get in and exfiltrate my keys.

    I believe one should be more worried about getting Trojans/backdoors/keyloggers into his/her machine.

    I am not unaware of—other things, too: Proverbial rubber hoses and \$5 wrenches and ryrpgevsvrq avccyr pynzcf,[3] which are just metaphors for speaking of more realistic scenarios involving physical coercion.

    Well, there are some things before that. Building a “target package”. Surveillance, static and mobile. Chats with friends/relatives/coworkers/ neighbors. Literal bugging of the premises (audio/visual). If that all works as expected, simple civilized arrest can follow. Did I say “civilized”? . End result could be a long prison time. Or, at least, a financial ruin by spending fortune on lawyers.

    … some threats are unrealistic for most people….

    Correct. Keyword “most”. Most people OBEY. You know the type: wear mask while walking outside, in sunny day with breeze coming from sea; already got their “wax”. Stuff like that. They don’t challenge the narrative. They “go along to get along”.
    A lot of people who visit this site, comment on it, don’t belong to that group. They/we are a minority.
    Not most.

    Encrypt, and make everyone you know encrypt!

    By all means. Just be aware of its shortcomings.

    …It works! It gets people using secure communications….

    “Secure communications” is much more that having encryption.
    THAT is the topic I’d like discussed here, if possible.

    Scenario: One wishes to exchange information with somebody online. IF that information becomes accessible to TPTBs he/she could get into COSTLY legal battle. He/she’ll win it, most likely; He/she’ll lose their house to pay the lawyers. Other’s people experience, I know about; nothing academic there.

    Part of that PROBLEM is:

    …this will only work if you know people who want to talk to you more than you want to talk to them….

    The other side of the communication channel. Still, that’s the part of the (realistic) scenario.

    I guess my angle is simple:
    The MOST important element in all this is a REALISTIC threat assessment.

    Let’s assume, for a (possible) discussion, that person is an activist wishing to organize a mass protest against lockdown/mandatory vax/digital certificates/similar shit.

    What would be his/her “threat assessment”?

    And, based on that, anyone here willing to advise as to how to secure (pun intended) communications within the leadership group?
    A little practical exercise, if you will.

  5. Max Payne says:

    To Ronald Unz:

    You traded Karlin for this guy?

    To Raches:

    Your novel bores me son. Long story short you’re not qualified to talk about hardware. Got it.

    Here, so you don’t go off tricking your “readers” (if any):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_ANT_catalog
    https://www.eff.org/document/20131230-appelbaum-nsa-ant-catalog

    The RageMaster (the final page) is my favorite, a radar paintable VGA cable. Gotta love it.

    If you can’t talk about hardware, you can’t talk about anything.

    Now continue to tell me how you’re super secure supply chain (in Eastern Europe of all places) furbishes you with uncompromised hardware.

    • Troll: Raches
    • Replies: @peterAUS
    , @Raches
  6. peterAUS says:
    @Max Payne

    Interesting material from some time ago.
    Probably, but not necessarily, got better. Could’ve gone worse, actually.
    Even formerly serious outfits could’ve lost their edge in the Clown World. Restructuring, outsourcing, “human resource” management, stuff like that.

    And, all those have weak points that could be used to diminish, even neutralize, their effectiveness.

    I’d like to focus on a personal computer, only. Not even a laptop.
    As I said before, a scenario where two activists wish to communicate, each using his/her personal computer. Keeps …discussion…..simple enough for people interested in the topic on this site.
    PRACTICAL approach, if you will. Just me.

    I believe (and could be definitely proven wrong; that’s why we try to talk here) that the key is some sort of IDS (not even IPS) within the (small) local network. Say, personal computer, switch, IDS box, router. Cabling, of course.

    Assumption: the key logger (or similar functionality) WILL be installed on the personal computer of an activist.
    Any way you cut it, that functionality WILL need to communicate with its base. The communication WILL need to use OSI stack. Ethernet frame WILL have to be created, properly formatted and sent to the switch and then to the router.
    My take: knowing what is probably in that frame is what this topic is all about, I think.
    For an end user: system RECOGNIZES a bad frame—>execute a SOP. Nothing fancy here: just know that something is wrong with a frame—>reformat/reinstall from the scratch.

    So..an IDS.
    Simple Ethernet frame monitoring. Just recognize that something is not QUITE right with ONE frame only.
    Err on the safe side, if you will. Better 10 false positives than workable intrusion.

    Or, on a practical level, the activists would need a competent tech team which can deploy the solution. I mean, we are aware that activism we are talking about here and being a very competent IT guy simply don’t go together. Different types of human beings. But, then, that’s what a movement is all about. Division of labor and such.
    IDS rules and monitoring are the key. Rules in particular. Well made and CONSTANTLY updated.

    And that’s just on a pure tech level.

    Smart activists should be good at some other things as well: deception, among them.
    But that’s for another conversation.

    Well, my 2 cents abut this topic.
    I do hope to hear some feedback. Keyword “hope”.

  7. Raches says: • Website
    @Max Payne

    To Ronald Unz:

    You traded Karlin for this guy?

    That is a ridiculous troll.  Not to mention hello.jpg-tier butthurt, since I showed that you are a fool.

    Anyone who imagines that I am somehow supposed to replace Mr. Karlin must be both blind and moronic idiotic imbecilic mentally retarded a person with an “intellectual disability”.

    Mr. Karlin seemed to have some very smart readers.  Unfortunately, he also had some dumb ones (and some who seem to have read many books without much comprehension).  I will therefore need to address this in an appropriate place—not in this thread, where it is off-topic.

    https://www.eff.org/document/20131230-appelbaum-nsa-ant-catalog

    You may have noticed that I explicitly mentioned TAO in the above article.  Thus, again, you did one thing right:  Here, you cited evidence from Jacon Appelbaum’s investigative journalism on the Snowden archive, which received wide coverage at the time.

    Relevant video from 2013—and one of the few videos that I would suggest that @Ron Unz should consider:

    Appelbaum doesn’t get to TAO until the second half, and the ANT till near the end as a sort of a finale, because there is a huge amount of context that must first be understood.  Incidentally, he well answers some of @Yevardian’s non-arguments about these dragnet mass-surveillance programs.

    Nowadays, post June of 2016, Appelbaum is almost universally blacklisted, and even memory-holed.  In another thread, where someone who seems smart had trouble with Cloudflare, my reply has been delayed by trying to figure out how to explain why I think that a bisexual male Jew anarchist who admires Emma Goldman and makes BDSM porn, who unluckily expatriated to Germany after spookland America became too “interesting” for his personal security, would be an excellent alt-media author on surveillance and security topics.  He has been studying cryptography as a Ph.D. candidate under Bernstein and Lange, who were some of the only people who didn’t cancel him (although I don’t know his current status).  (Yes, as Professor Oliver once remarked in Liberty Bell, the Jews do have a racial talent for cryptography.)  Before that, Appelbaum (hacker name “ioerror”) was one of the few Tor Project insiders who stood on principle against Cloudflare.  I suspect that that, and his investigative journalism, were why he essentially got me-tooed with what, despite my own biases, I think seem most probably to be some wild tales designed to get rid of someone inconvenient.  Maybe I should ask Camille for her opinion of the Appelbaum scandal.

    Cf. the line of attack that was first used to get Assange into trouble.  Also, in seemingly quite different contexts (and in 2015, before the Appelbaum scandal in a different part of the open-source world), this was alleged to be a systematic problem, according to a famous open-source leader:

    From kafkatrap to honeytrap

    I received a disturbing warning today from a source I trust.

    The short version is: if you are any kind of open-source leader or senior figure who is male, do not be alone with any female, ever, at a technical conference. Try to avoid even being alone, ever, because there is a chance that a “women in tech” advocacy group is going to try to collect your scalp.

    I obviously have no problem with women who actually do tech; to the contrary, I actively encourage it, and some of this is indirectly reflected in the above article.  I have a big problem with the far-left “women in tech” types of “STEM feminists”, some of the worst of whom are anyway trannies and not real women.

    Anyway, yes, I am recommending Appelbaum as a source on this particular topic.  There now exists the infrastructure for enforcing total tyranny:  Global, inescapable, unopposable.  It must be opposed, while we are still allowed even to talk about it—or even to think about it.  In another thread, I recently began to write an unpublished comment about “abolishing humanity, and replacing human beings with talking meat managed by robots under the programming of” central global rulership.  And relative to the magnitude of the problem, almost no one even cares about it.  Opposing that can make for some strange political alignments; I am willing to work them diagonally, with ruthless efficiency, lest there be nothing else to fight about.

    ——————————

    Aside, a moderation note:  Covid discussions are off-topic here, even if attempts are made to relate it to the topic.  I will try to provide peterAUS some general advice later. ®

    • Replies: @Yevardian
  8. Thrallman says:

    Encryption is both impossible and counterproductive. First, consider if it is possible.
    Isn’t it odd that Ed Snowden, who has been forced to flee the United States, has a book for sale on Amazon? Is he a whistleblower, or a disinformation agent? When he writes that encryption would thwart the NSA, consider the opposite.
    Few people can tell if an encryption algorithm is correct. This is a question of finite math; it is a rare and exclusive knowledge, not part of the curriculum for state college undergraduates. A man of ordinary ability must rely the advice of experts. Why trust them? According to Phil Zimmermann, the US Government sold German enigma machines to third-world governments after WWII.
    http://philzimmermann.com/EN/essays/SnakeOil.html
    Why believe that any encryption works? The government lied about the Enigma cipher. There is no reason to believe them about any other cipher. It is also hopeless for anyone but an expert to decide if computer hardware is trustworthy.
    RSA can be broken by factoring integers. In 2001, an IBM quantum computer factored 3 x 5 = 15.
    http://cs-exhibitions.uni-klu.ac.at/index.php?id=257
    Is it reasonable to suppose that progress in quantum computing has continued over the past 20 years?

    Second, is encryption productive? It makes communication more burdensome; it limits the audience. Critically, it renders the dissident silent to the public he seeks to influence. Encryption pushes the marginalized further into the corner of irrelevance. If you have a message, paint it on the subway walls. Post it to the telephone poles. Shout it on a street corner. The dissident should not be afraid of the government knowing about him. He must fear nobody knowing about him.

    The government has a motive to pretend that encryption is reliable and useful. It draws its enemies into the open to be destroyed. Better to go there unbidden.

    My college fraternity had a rule that our secrets (which are quaint) were never to be put on a computer at all. This still seems like a good rule for anything which is actually secret.

    Finally, remember J.R.R. Tolkien’s moral: it is futile to try to turn a device against the purpose of its maker. Electronics were created by the globalists; they will always serve their purpose.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  9. Yevardian says:
    @Raches

    Unfortunately, he also had some dumb ones (and some who seem to have read many books without much comprehension).

    Nice dig, though perhaps you could not be a COWARD and try making a direct, substantive attack on my treasured online credibility?

    You more or less ignored or sidestepped my entire comment attempting to reassure you that the Bible simply has its origins as one semitic cult amongst many, rather than some supernatural evil. Not to mention that Christianity in its origins is essentially Hellenistic (i.e., ‘Aryan’).

  10. @Thrallman

    “Electronics were created by the globalists; they will always serve their purpose.”

    Nerds in garages and school labs created much of the hardware and software; some in programs funded by the fascists that are now called globalists. And, as you point out, the system they financed certainly serves them well.

  11. peterAUS says:

    ..I will try to provide peterAUS some general advice later…

    Too long to respond. Not how I treat serious topics. To each his/her own.

    Then, 10 comments so far, not of great quality with a lot of attitude and bickering.

    This topic deserves, requires, better.

    I am out.

    • Troll: Raches
    • Replies: @Raches
  12. Dr. Rock says:

    So…
    You’re saying that me still trying to Rick_Roll people is played out?

    • LOL: Raches
    • Replies: @Raches
  13. Raches says: • Website
    @Dr. Rock

    Instead of rickrolling people, I suggest getting them to watch a salutary video of Snowden.

    https://www.unz.com/proems/intimate-violation/
    https://www.bitchute.com/video/FZlD94R3TKww/
    https://gab.com/Raches/posts/107187666587249475

    It seems that unlike Bitchute, Gab serves up the original, unmodified HD video—which can be downloaded and re-uploaded elsewhere, such as to Twitter:
    https://media.gab.com/system/media_attachments/files/089/103/044/original/8ffdc8ca69297d0e.mp4

    SHA-256:
    c89beaddba350381c6f7b046f7707179bb07c538a9bac1fe71bbd7959abedd18

    Better than a rickroll:  Be constructive, and troll @NSAGov!  On a serious note, I would appreciate if someone who does tweety-things would put this in front of @Snowden and @ggreenwald. ®

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