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Lecture: Diplomacy vs Propaganda

Associated Teacher of the Scholars of Vellichor Lisebet Ashford will host a lecture discussing the importance of both diplomacy and propaganda, and how they can compliment each other if used appropriately. There will be a discussion about the topic and a chance to practice one or the other skill. Or both if you are determined enough. Duchess-Consort Lisebet will be able to teach a couple students at that time, if there are any who are interested in such tutoring.

Props to Helena, cause I entirely stole the format for this announcement from her.


April 18, 2019, 8 p.m.

Hosted By



Evander Cerdensulathara Helena Pharamond Tabitha Peri Selene Carita




Arx - Ward of the Compact - Vellichorian Academy - Hall of Tutelage

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

(OOC)The scene set/room mood is now set to: The Hall has been set up with a semi-circle of chairs, an open area in the center, and a dais for the speaker to stand on. At the back there is tea, and small finger foods, but not an opulent display, just a little snack to encourage socializing. Well away from any books.

Laudine, a stern middle-aged maidservant, 2 Whitehawk Guards, Cabbit, a nub-tailed tabby cat arrive, following Tabitha.

Tabitha arrives, following Pharamond.

Lisebet is seated at the dais, so she might be entirely overlooked, given she's reading over notes, and muttering to herself. The duchess looks calm and composed, cool as a cucumber, and isn't even shaking at all, as she looks up to see if she's still all alone.

It's not that Evander's late so much that he's distracted, on the way in, by the rows and rows of books. His gaze flickers over them, slowing his progress as this or that glimpse of a title pulls him to a halt. At least by the time he reaches the center area he's no longer out of breath. His gaze flickers over the refreshments, without much interest, resting a hand on one of the desks as he comes in line with it, glancing around as if to try and get an indication of who might be running the event.

Eina, the Pearl's Own arrives, following Peri.

Cerdensulathara arrives just a few minutes early. She snaps her fingers and points to a spot by the door offhandedly, causing her guard dog to settle there on his haunches. She looks around quietly, then takes a seat near the end of the semi-circle. With prim and precise movements, she pulls a researcher's kit out of her backpack and sets up all her tool: Ink and pot, quill and notebook. Her gaze falls on Lisebet, focused and ready to learn.

Lisebet brightens as people begin to arrive. She squares her shoulders and stands up. Given she's five foot nothing, this doesn't mean much, but she does speak in a fashion to be heard, her voice projecting well enough. "Come in, come in. Please take a seat. Have some refreshments, but carefully or else I shall be in immense trouble with the Arch Scholar, and that is not the intent at all."

Peri has joined the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

Helena is next through the doors, a journal and quill set in hand. "Duchess," she says with a smile for Lisebet. "How are you today?" she asks, moving to one of the student desks and sliding into it. "Lord Kennex, good to see you again, and Mistress..." Helena thinks, trying to remember Cerdensulathara's name, since it's been quite some time since she has met the woman. "Good to see you as well," she says as she comes up short, but has the grace to look a little contrite about it. As usual -- at least in as usual in the past several months -- the Redrain princess looks just a little pale, a little fragile, though her smile is bright.

Pharamond is in on time, just barely, with Tabitha. The two look a little flushed (from the walking briskly in the wind you people! Clean minds!) He quickly moves to find a seat for them, giving a wave up to the dais. Not that Lisebet will necessarily see because, well, busy getting ready to teach! But still. Helena also receives a rather fond welcome as he enters, and is /just/ about to sit when the Duchess mentions that there are refreshments and he is right back up and turning on his heel to find that table and he gets a couple of teas for he and Tabitha before coming back to sit. "Learned knoweldge and food. I approve."

Peri has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

Peri has joined the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

Pharamond has joined the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.

Lisebet nods to Evander, though she doesn't recognize him. She waits a few minutes more for others to join, taking the time to greet those who enter with a smile and nod. Those who speak to her, she greets in kind. "Princess Helena, I am doing well, thank you. I trust you are as well?" And then an aha - as she looks back to Evander. "Lord Kennex, is it?" She chuckles at Pharamond's comment, shrugging slightly. Peri also gets a nod and a smile.

Tabitha is just following in Pharamind's wake for now, taking a seat as he does. She does wave, smile and curtsty to people she knows, though. Quiet and attentive, she places her hands folded upon her silk-clad lap and waits patiently.

Cerdensulathara has joined the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

Helena has joined the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

"Ah, thank you, my lady," Evander murmurs towards Lisebet, attention on her once she stands and speaks. "Duchess," he corrects himself hastily when he hears Helena address the woman, with a half bow. "Lord Evander Kennex, yes. A pleasure to meet you. I hope it's all right if I sit here and take some notes," he adds. "Your highness," is added with another tip of his body to Helena, the Kennex Lord taking the time to unwind his scarf before he slides into a seat. His thin stature probably isn't notable until he sheds his coat, laying it over the edge of the desk.

Evander has joined the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

Peri arrives shortly before the lecture is to begin. She has ditched her messenger ferret due to concern he might cause trouble while she is preoccupied with the lecture. She has quill and notebook ready. She bows a greeeting to the Duchess Lisabet and takes a seat.

Laudine, a stern middle-aged maidservant have been dismissed.

2 Whitehawk Guards have been dismissed.

Cabbit, a nub-tailed tabby cat have been dismissed.

Tabitha has joined the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.

Renault, the fluffiest Velenosan cat, Athenais, a dreamy apprentice Whisper arrive, following Selene.

Lisebet smiles, inclining her head. "Welcome everyone," she says first. "If you're here for an adventure in anything but words you may be at the wrong place. At least tonight. Tonight we're here to talk about diplomacy and propaganda." She gestures briefly, definitely not worried about speaking in public. Her pale blue eyes gleam with a touch of amusement, lips curved in a touch of a smile inviting everyone to join her. "So, I thought I would begin by asking all of you - what do you feel is the difference between the two?"

Pharamond answers quickly, "One is telling people what you want them to believe so they'll do what you want, the other is telling people what they want to hear...still so that they'll do what you want," he says with a little grin, deciding to be his true not-usually scholarly self but to still toss out a generally easy answer to Lisebet's question.

"Lady Peri," Evander murmurs quietly as he recognizes the lady enter. "It's good to see you again. Thank you for your message, it was thoughtful of you." Carefully, once Lisebet begins to speak, he lowers himself into a seat at the desk, taking his time to pull out writing implements. Cerdensulathara is given a curious, sidelong look, too, though soon enough he's turning his gaze back to Lisebet. Though she asks her question, doesn't seek to offer up an answer immediately, instead focusing on those that do with an even gaze.

Cerdensulathara lifts her hand, then states in a flat tone, "Diplomacy is an attempt at compromise, propaganda is an attempt at an upper-hand, bot utilizing communication skills an psychological manipulation." She lowers her hand, watching Lisebet carefully.

Selene's a late addition but then Whispers never truly are late. Such as mythical white-dressed wizards, they show up exactly when they intend to and not a beat before. Her piled-high chestnut hair floats around her shoulders and she knocks a curl from her face. Her arm is linked with her companion, a taller Lenosian blonde apprentice not terribly old. "Gladly we aren't too late," says the Radiant Emeritus to Athenais. She gives an appropriately deep dip in curtsy to others here, beginning with Lisebet and Helena. The neat trick doesn't allow for her gown to touch the ground for long. Her heading brings her towards the circle of chairs. "Good evening to you all." A merry sensibility dances among the words, her eyes bright.

"Helena," supplies the Redrain to Cerdensulathara with a smile and no sign of offense taken. "Well enough," she says to Lisebet, her smile just a little weary. She settles into place, taking out her quill and ink, opening her journal. As Lisebet begins, she tips her head thinking for a moment. She nods at the others' answers, before offering one of her own. "Diplomacy is about understanding other people's needs and motivations and dealing with them effectively and skillfully, I think. Understanding their point of view, mostly," she says, tapping a quill. "While propaganda is about using language or other communication skills to persuade people see things from your point of view."

Peri blinks at Pharamond's answer. "Displomacy is figuring out how to explain how you'd like things to work out among a group of people. It's likely no one will be happy with the outcome, but the outcome might be better than war." She considers for a moment, "Propaganda is how you explain things to people so that they understand what you mean and what you believe."

Tabitha has also opened a small velvet-bound book on her lap by now, and has a retrieved a blue-dyed quill from between the pages. It has a little silver ink cap on the end, which is placed somewhere safe aside after she pulls it from the end of the quill. She gets ready to write, ink-loaded nib hovering above the revealed paper. She smiles aside in amusement to Pharamond's answer, but doesn't speak yet, if indeed she intends to speak at all. She listens to what other people have to say instead, cobalt gaze attentive.

Although Evander appears to be making a few notes, he seems to largely have his attention on the other participants, expression little changing between each answer when his gaze touches them. He murmurs something quietly to Peri.

Evander mutters, "I ... as yet, ... afraid. ... should be ... to be escorted, my lady."

Pharamond mutters, "I'm ... to get ... ..."

Lisebet smiles at the arrival of Whisper Selene, inclining her head in welcome. She listens carefully to what everyone says. As each speaks, her attention is on them, and only them, and once everyone is done, for those brave enough to speak up, she takes a moment, noticeably, to organize her thoughts. "Thank you, all. I commend you on speaking up in a crowd," she says warmly. "It's a difficult thing to do, and some people are clearly not as comfortable as others. It takes a bit of bravery." Her gaze does not single out those who haven't spoken at all, leaving them to their quiet listening. "We have a range of answers, and I suspect that you will be not at all surprised to learn that really, one might say you are all correct, more or less." She takes a breath, raises one hand. "By definition, propaganda is the art of swaying many people, a crowd at a champion's challenge for instance. I am certain we can all recall watching a champion's battle and seeing one or both champions do something to sway the crowd." She pauses for a moment, glancing around, and then she adds, "Diplomacy on the other hand is the art of convincing others in much smaller groups that they can indeed get along. So, this includes a great deal of learning about different forces in one's duchy, Arvum, across the sea where possible. To understand the political goals and nuances of culture enough to be able to formulate some sort of treaty that is not all out war, for instance."

Lisebet pauses there, giving a glance around. "Does anyone have any questions?"

Peri's brow furrows in concentration. "If I command people, and lead them into battle. Is it skill at propaganda that will stir their hearts if I give a speech?" She adds quickly, "I mean, if the diplomacy failed."

With her feet swept a little beneath her, Selene perches at the very edge of her seat to pay the closest of attention to the matter. Perhaps unsurprising for a courtier of her ilk to be here. A nod given to Athenais and she turns her focus forward to Lisebet. She nods subtly, and gives a brighter smile as the silence tapers out at the end fo the comment. Then her focus slips to those around her, lingering a moment upon Evander and passing to Peri.

Cerdensulathara looks a bit out of place once the examples are given, but she glances around at those in attendance and gives a small nod of understanding. She copies everything said onto her notes.

Evander continues to write, though he stops abruptly, gray eyes flickering up at Lisebet's comments around bravery being needed to speak up. His expression doesn't change, though he seems to keep his gaze on her intently for a few moments after as if taking in her expression along with her words. "I find, your grace, that many who consider themselves diplomatic lack the empathy to fully comprehend the impact their words will have on their audience, where their audience might be a key decision maker or an important person. Whereas the nuance of propaganda tends to focus one's goals on swaying the most amount of people to your side, understanding that not everyone will be convinced."

Selene has joined the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

"A wonderful question, Lady Peri" Lisebet says. "I turn it to the room - what say you all?" She pauses a moment, and then she smiles at Evander. "Precisely so, my lord. You have both led perfectly into my next set of questions. So, along with the question posed by Lady Peri, perhaps a brief conversation on the tools of propaganda, and those of diplomacy? How does one sway a key decision maker by way of diplomacy, or a crowd by way of propaganda. There are tools, and some of these tools overlap."

Peri has filled a page with scribbles and starts a new one with Evander's comment. She leans in politely and says, "That was a comment, not a question." She nods at what Elisabet says and starts adding more scribbles to her page. "An anticipatory comment, mind." She smiles.

"The one thing they have in common I would say is knowing your audience. You have to know what's going to appeal to them - what they want. To Lady Peri's point, how do you convince people to fight against insurmountable odds? Or at diplomacy how do you get what you want from someone who has no specific reason to give it to you? It's about knowing your target, your audience and their triggers," he intones. "For propaganda I'd say it's misdirection, really - you give them something else to think about. You play the person, their passions, their feelings - there's something internalized. Diplomacy tends I think to be a bit more external - a tit for tat sort of exchange."

Pharamond claims that cause he sucks.

Selene's entrance earns her a smile from Helena, as the Redrain jots down words and phrases in quick, jaunty script. "Speeches to rouse an army definitely fall under propaganda in my regard," she says when Lisebet asks the room. "At that point you are no longer getting along, after all," she adds with a smile.

Cerdensulathara merely shakes her head, offering softly in her Western Shav accent, "I don't know. I feel the intent matters, to discern the difference."

"Why do you feel propoganda entails deceit, Lord Pharamond?" Peri asks.

5 Redoubt Buccaneers, Bengalo, the sneaky black cat, Luna, the sweet, studious assistant, Luca II, the laziest of the feline lot arrive, following Carita.

Having scratcched away at her page with the quill, Tabitha looks up when Pharamond speaks and adds,"Propaganda can take emotive speech as its foundation, I think. Finding a matter of importance to an audience, and then playing to it to influence a group opinion in that direction."

"Diplomacy is more often about seeking a compromise, a way forward. Propaganda is different -- the intent matters," Evander agrees softly with Cerdensulathara, giving a nod to the woman. "The latter doesn't necessarily require compromise or to work with specific people. It can be about spinning things in the best way to appeal to the most amount of people."

Carita's late, but she's quiet as she slips in and finds herself a seat. There's a quiet little wave to one or another before she turns her attention on those speaking.

Pharamond looks back to Peri, "I didn't say deceit, specifically, though it certainly can. I mean a King trying to convince his people to fight can spin all sorts of tales of victory and stories even though they can be flatly untrue. The truth of a situation matters not in an issue of propaganda. It simply matters that you appeal to those listening and that they fall under the sway of your words. In theory a true master of propaganda..." and he points to what Evander says. "Exactly that. Propaganda is literally 'blue is the greatest of all the colors' and if I say it swayingly and convincingly enough, my people will fight to their bitter end because they love me and believe what I have said is important. It's almost at times as much about the messenger than the message. Diplomacy...however, is a give and take. Propaganda is sitting at a table with a bunch of friends and each of us drawing from a mug whether you hae to tell a tale that's truth of fiction, and the winner is the most convincing. The message itself matters less then the telling of it and how I make it appeal to you for you to want it to be true. Diplomacy...not as easy."

"I feel both use understanding of their audience, with diplomacy using it to seek compromise or understanding or common ground," muses Helena thoughtfully. "Propaganda uses that information and understanding to push their agenda. It could be misleading but it doesn't have to be... but it definitely places one's own agenda ahead of the other. But," she lifts her quill, "a true master of propaganda will make you *think* they have your best interest in mind, not theirs, and you would probably believe they are being diplomatic -- even if they are not."

Lisebet lets the conversation go, because that's a good part of it. She inclines her head, and then she says, "Lord Evander, may I put you on the spot? It's totally fine if you would rather not," she reassures, at least she hopes to reassure. Her gaze goes over to each person and she listens to what they say. "I think it may be time to try a small activity," she adds, but her gaze returns to Evander, curiously.

"Very often propaganda speaks to a deliberately crafted message, one that focuses all attention in the aspect of an argument or position to the disregard of all else. The strategy behind diplomatic entreaties rather than propagandized approaches differs to a degree, not only in scale but in the application and the intent." Selene lightly touches her fingers to her cheek, head tilted a degree. She catches Helena's look with a delighted smile. "It can be said that propaganda is more underhanded in the way that this crafted argument sways opinions more directly, subtle shifts and nudges in a fashion that doesn't always appeal in the court of opinion and philosophy. After all, you are propagating their opinions by persuasion, the art to think or act in a certain fashion. It isn't a case of subterfuge necessarily. But it may be the way that I can insist that the newest of trends will be all in the realm of peach hues, seasoning the right words in the proper ears. Then suddenly, imagine, the trend shall be picked up and carried on. Next thing you know, whispers of shops having a run on peach garments and peach dresses being the rage everywhere spread like wildfire. Convincing someone is often playing on sentiments and ideas, cultivating a viewpoint, not always based on reason but often upon a likely proposition and compelling argument. Persuasive, as it were, for an end, a gain."

Peri dips her feather in the inkwell to scribble more notes but then Pharamond is answering her.... then a weatlh of conversation bursts forth. Peri looks from speaker to speaker, in rapt focus. The ink starts dripping on to her page.

After Pharamond points to him, Evander leans forward over his desk, expression serious: "My lord," he murmurs, "The sky is blue. It is clearly the greatest of colors." Lisebet's call towards him makes him straighten, though he seems at ease. He gestures with his fingers, "Of course, your grace. As long as it doesn't require undue physical activity," with a tiny, fleeting smile.

"No undue activity, my Lord," Lisebet says. "Just a question for you. At the beginning you were quite silent, and yet after a time you have joined in the discussion. Might I ask if there was something that led to your speaking up? If so what was that?"

Lisebet glances to Cerdensulathara as well, but does not put her on the spot. At least not yet.

Evander doesn't seem overly surprised by the question, though he does take the time to set down his writing implements first. "I wanted to hear other's opinions without coloring them with my own thoughts, your grace. Listening is an essential part of diplomacy -- of understanding how people view the world, what motivates them, and what they want. Propaganda too, but too a lesser degree."

Tabitha's listening very attentively and silently, but she's still here. She scritchy-scritches notes here and then, nodding at interesting points as they spoken. She turns her attention to Lisebet's current target, with just a little concern on her face like she's going to get picked next.

Lisebet nods to Evander with a smile. "Wonderful," she says. "In fact, one of the tools that both diplomacy and propaganda share is precisely that - Listening, as Lord Evander says. Given this example, can we come up with additional tools that can help with either diplomacy or propaganda? Neither of them work in a vacuum. There may be someone advocating for purple while Whisper Selene advocates for peach, for instance." She smiles and then adds, "A simple example, but in essence, there are skills we can learn, tools we can use, to improve our success at either diplomacy or propaganda. Many of these tools are very similar if not identical, which is one thing that blurs the line between the two."

Cerdensulathara listens intently to everyone, watching faces with a blank expression, before finally she cannot help but raise her hand for attention. She looks down at her notes, then back up at Lisebet, "I'm sorry, I am very confused. Why would someone say something that is not objectively true, claiming that it was? Colors are... just colors. There is no objective best." She glances at the others, brow furrowed slightly.

At this, Tabitha actually does speak up, though her voice is quiet. Her face is an awkward wince. "Bargaining, for diplomacy. Since it's about reaching a mutually beneficial -- or at least mutually tolerable -- agreement." Then she looks around nervously and asks, "Did someone already say that? I'm not sure if it's right anyway. Um."

"As people have said before, understanding the goals and needs of everyone involved. If I am trying to establish friendly trade with some kingdom, it would not do for them to attempt to ship pearls _to_ Pearlspire. Diplomats should do the research to know better."

Peri finishes saying.

Helena smiles over at Tabitha. "Very good example," she says to the softspoken artist.

"It is the best and I want it to be the best if I happen to control the market on a particular source of a dye," he intones. "Making it both the best and being the only one able to provide it puts me in a position of advantage. I think it's a fundamental flaw to assume that people would use propaganda only to spread truth and goodness, which may be why we're approaching this differently," says Pharamond. "Propaganda can be inherently selfish and full of my trying to convince a large crowd to believe something because if they believe it, -my- life is better. So the skill there is power, control, persuasion...propaganda isn't about what you get based on what I's about what I can get or have you do based on wanting to believe what I say and how it makes you feel."

"In my case," says Selene to Cerden, "the choice of a color for a given fashion trend might put silver into the pockets of merchants I favor. It gives a measure of social control to be seen as a person who influences others. Influence cannot be measured purely by coin but it has an impact transcending money."

Pharamond holds up a couple of fingers, and looks to Selene, pointing to himself then her then back to himself. They seem to be in sync on this idea.

"Did any here claiim that propoganda is only used to spread truth and goodness?" Peri asks Pharamond, "I did not. I asked in the interest of balance. You seemed focus on the other."

Lisebet nods to Tabitha and Peri. "Yes, both those are very good. Mistress Cerdensulathara, you have raised a very good question as well. It may be the example is not one that resonates with you, but to the points of both Lord Pharamond and Whisper Selene, one would do such a thing for a benefit, either to oneself or to someone favoured. Propaganda can also be a tool used in diplomatic endeavours. Can anyone think of a scenario in which this might happen?"

Carita smiles slightly, tilting her head down as she listens to the conversation as it swirls around her. She takes a few notes, and then tilts her head as she listens to Peri, brows furrowing just a smidge.

Silent for a long moment, listening, presumably, Evander regards Cerdensulathara as he murmurs quietly, "Things, even colors, have meaning and history behind them. If the colors of a Kingdom who had subjugated us were blue, there might be an inherent social negatively around the color blue as a result if we subsequently broke free of them. It's not about the color -- about the things it represents. That is one part of propaganda, using indirect methods of influence to achieve an outcome." He seems to talk softly by default, rather than any attempt to obfuscate his words.

Pharamond says, quietly, "I can't imagine say a distant kindgom putting up letters and handing out notes about one person of historical lore, while a second kingdom hands out letters and gives speeches about the first kingdom, while a whole Crownsworn kingdom has to decide what path of action to take. That mass appeal to the populace as they try to sew fear, strive, gain favor, or cause discontent while the High Lords who have to make the decision get peppered with calls from their sworn...nope, can't imagine a single case where propaganda would be a tool in diplomatic endeavors." Pharamond...dipping his toe into sarcasm pool.

Peri sits for a while enjoying the discussion and the exchange of ideas. By her face it is easy to see she is impressed with people here. She continues to scribble notes and waits to ehar what others may say before blurting anything out.

Cerdensulathara huffs out a breath of frustration, makimg quick nods as she nods to everyone speaking. She flashes a quick smile around, then she focuses her attention upon Evander, asking, "So, we should assume people will not always try to be objective and factor in their feelings about things into the matter, not just what they are informed about, or aware of. 'Blue reminds them of bad times', so if I want," She points her quill at Selene, "My favorite merchant to unload all of his blue goods, I would probably have to change the association through, say, a blue-toned event, or myriad blue-wrapped gifts. Am I far off?"

Selene nods in approval to Cerden, pointed quill given a thoughtful glance. "Exactly that. You could use such signatures and marks of your own. Things have a special connection. The color red is often associated with violence and war or anger. You could work those in for a robust meaning or connection if you wish. Much of propaganda can be unconscious. Diplomacy is often more directly active."

Cerdensulathara purposefully smoothes out her blue blouse, highlight of her blue and black outfit, "Thank you.'

As he turns his head to regard the other speakers, Evander notices Carita's joined them. He gives the Countess a nod and a murmured greeting that is largely inaudible, so as not to disturb the discussions in progress. Cerdensulathara's example in particular earn a focused regard and an agreeable nod at the end. "It is difficult to be conscious of one's owns feelings and biases. It is something I believe the Scholars in particular work towards, but we are all merely human," with a tiny smile. "That is an excellent example," he adds to her.

Lisebet's smile is warm and appreciative. "That is an excellent example, yes." Okay, it's been said, she's adding to that list. "I think we've really covered the highlights of what I wanted to cover. Does anyone have any questions on the discussion so far?" She pauses to see if anyone does, before continuing. Carita gets a nod, as do any other latecomers who Lisebet has not yet acknowledged.

Cerdensulathara is overheard praising Lisebet: She prompted a fascinating discussion between a cross-section of people, from which I have already learned much.

Pharamond is overheard praising Lisebet: For letting me all.

Evander is overheard praising Lisebet: Guided an excellent discussion.

Helena's quiet, caught in a reverie of thought, for a bit as the conversation's philanthropic volleys bounce around her. Lisebet's question pulls her attention back and she offers a smile. "Sorry, I got lost a bit in thought about something that was said -- which is a compliment, truly. Fascinating discussion. Thank you!"

Helena is overheard praising Lisebet.

Selene is overheard praising Lisebet.

Lisebet inclines her head. "Thank you all for coming, and I appreciate the most interesting discussion. Please let me know if you have questions, though it seems we've had a wonderful discussion."

Pharamond is overheard praising Helena.

Helena has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.

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