950 replies [Last post]

Its easy to put too rest any worries about the world’s perception of AA being in trouble. I reviewed the results of a Google search of “AA fails”. The first source that I recognized was Scientific American which discussed the limited appeal we have always had and quoted from a VA study that gave us good marks. The Washington Post had something about “AA fails to support young Addicts”. I guess they could follow up with how we fail to provide the Olympic team with pole vaulters or don’t offer car repairs. There are many things we don’t do or claim to.

After that there were those selling their own books or treatment programs. Then the expected number of sore heads complaining that the spiritual program of recovery offered by AA should leave out that God business.

In any other area, if its there, an internet search will find it. AA failing is not to be found except in the minds of a few who seen to use their overloaded imaginations for a reference library.

RE: failures

Thanks for the referral to "AA fails". It reassures me
that I am not the only one who sees what a disaster we
have become. Sometimes I wonder if I am "viewing with
alarm for the good of AA". (I really no longer have any
doubt that as a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM Fellowship we do
more harm than good).
I have seen the mistakes we have made over the past
three decades. I watched silently as they were being made.
I did not have the information, knowledge or the experience
to question distortions being made. I greatly participated in one of them. I insisted that we use the 24 hour book
as accepted as AA material. I know today, after much study,
that using this material at our meetings was and is a
tragic mistake.
Contributors to "AA fails" only add to the evidence that
today's AA has lost most of its effectiveness. But none
of them were around when Alcoholics Anonymous was saving
lives by the hundreds of thousands every year. We can
return to that rate of success. Remove the 24 hour book
from our AA rooms. Stop reading How It Works at meetings.
Return HIW to chapter five where it belongs. Stop all
chanting: Hi Joe, spoken as a group is chanting. Remove
the title Sponsor. Today's concept of sponsorship makes
AA a cult. Sure, cults work for a few. Stop making a spectacle of the newcomer. Stop encouraging, or allowing
the newcomer to make a spectacle of himself/herself. Stop
sharing by "show of hands". Stop the "hold hands and pray"
These are some of the reversals of changes made at the
meeting level over the past three decades. All of these
blunders have been covered in this forum; some many times
especially "How It Works". That was our most tragic mistake.

the IDEA

You complainers are the only ones I come across that have a low opinion of AA. Doctors, judges, social workers, personnel directors, psychologists and ministers all refer to AA regularly.

The IDEA was how to make a twelfth step call not to throw the program that works away. Before anyone buys this guy's opinion, read it for yourself.

RE: the IDEA

The IDEA is how to present the solution to other
alcoholics whether in the context of a twelve step
call or at an AA meeting. We lay the tools at their
feet. Don't even tell them they have to pick them up.
They are offered as suggestions. If they see what we
have and like what they see, maybe they will pick
them up. Attraction, absolutely no promotion. In
the final analysis I see this as the IDEA offered to
Bill W. by Dr. Silkworth. I don't say to throw the program
that works away. Just leave it at the prospect's feet.
Do not try to force it on anyone else. Don't even say
"Well, if you want what I have, do what I did. Let the
prospect decide all by him/herself what they want to
do. Just share experience, strength and most important, HOPE. Give the prospect nothing to rebel against. ANONYMOUS Yes, alcoholic patients are still being
referred to AA. We tell them right up front "That One
is God! May you find Him now! The minister could have
given that sermon.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: Tradition Three

"The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Says nothing about alcoholism."
A wise person once said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
It's true, the short form of Tradition Three 'says nothing about alcoholism' but the long form certainly does.
So does Tradition Five. Not to mention Steps One and Twelve, the AA Preamble and the pamphlet "Problems Other Than Alcohol. There are two reasons for addicts to insist on attending AA meetings. First, there are no NA meetings in the area, in which case he may attend open AA meetings as a guest.Second, to prove to himself and everyone else that he's special, that he's different from the rest.
The excuse that NA meetings don't focus on recovery like AA doesn't hold water. If that were true, he would find other clean addicts and start a meeting that does focus on recovery.
While it sound very high minded and noble to say you want to give everyone a chance to recover, you intentionally leave out the alcoholic who didn't use other drugs. And like it or not, there are many alcoholics who didn't use them.

RE: bbraman

I have a friend who is a member of Overeaters Anonymous.
He often says that years ago he was told to go to open
AA meetings. He is not an alcoholic or a drug addict.
His only addiction is food. OA meetings are not that
plentiful, so he goes to open AA meetings. He says that
he does not share at AA meetings; only listens.
My strong opinion is that this person ought not be
made welcome at AA meetings, open or closed. Open meetings
are open to the public; yes, but ought to be limited to
individuals interested in alcoholism. They may be there
to "check us out", before even admitting that they may
be an alcoholic.
I think this is the purpose of "open meetings" although
we have strayed from that purpose. ANONYMOUS

Open is open

Open meetings are for anyone interested, including non-alcoholics/addicts, i.e., those not addicted to anything. They are also open to gamblers, sex-addicts, over-eaters, etc. Our open meetings attract medical students interested in learning more about addiction and AA as a resource for their future patients. Many of our closed meetings start with a brief statement regarding the nature of the meeting, that those who think they have a problem with alcohol are welcome to stay, also reminding folks to restrict their comments to those that pertain to alcoholism (as opposed to any cross-addictions).
I have read material when monitoring an AA meeting from a book of daily readings for Overeaters Anonymous (Hazelden), those more general and addressing the struggle to live life on life's terms a day at a time as opposed to anything specific to that affliction. I have done so in part because I was moved by the reading, and in part because I feel it is important to demonstrate to others that the message I need to hear may come from a variety of sources, not just from fellow alcoholics or AA published literature. In case you are wondering, I am ectomorphic.

Open is open?

The time may have come for all meetings of Alcoholics
Anonymous to become closed meetings. Maybe even a
Secret Society of recovered and recovering alcoholics.
Information about AA is available at so many sources,
there is little reason to have meetings open to anyone
who wants to investigate.
Almost everyone in the world today has heard of A.A.
I believe that anyone who is in need of us has heard
of us. Rose

Joined: 2013-11-25
So Not Accurate

There is always a new crop of Alcoholics every year. Many of those who have heard of us, do not have an accurate picture of who we are. I vote to keep the doors open to the still sick and suffering alcoholic who has no self knowledge of their dilemma yet.

RE: ectomorphic

No, I was not wondering. I could care less if you have a
slim body. It is the rest of your message, or mess, that
disturbs me. Individuals who are not interested in
stopping the use of alcohol or helping someone else quit
ought not be welcomed at AA meetings, open or closed.
If you are using material not approved by our General
Service Conference, you are violating our singleness of
purpose. It is this type of thinking that has ruined
our effectiveness. You can read whatever you choose on
your own time. You
are at complete liberty. But you cannot choose what is to
be read at meetings. That is what the group conscience
is for. Manny Q.

Re: non-approved lit violating singleness of purpose

Respectfully, I think you are getting your concepts confused. Each group has the right to choose whether it wants readings restricted to AA published literature or not. Thus, one group I attend, per the group conscience (trust me, this issue came up), I can read from the 24 Hr a Day book, Sermon on the Mount, the Bhagavad Gita, or from an Al-Anon or NA text. With another group I attend, I would be restricted to those materials conference approved for publication. Singleness of purpose is an unrelated issue. As for "effectiveness," please cite the studies on which your statement is based, as my own experience suggests to me a different conclusion, that the intolerant big book thumping god fearing proselytizers drive more people away than the tolerant open-minded folks who don't preach.

RE: non approved lit.

Use of the Twenty Four Book at an AA meeting is in
violation of Tradition Four. This practice has greatly affected
AA as a whole. Even if the entire group votes to us it,
it is still a violation. The use of this book has steered
Alcoholics Anonymous to becoming a religion. Bill wrote
that nothing could be so dangerous to the future of AA.
Why do you think Bill and his friends rejected this
book when it was offered to AA. It would have been a
real source of money. The General Service Conference
rejected it again in the early 1970s. Today I am convinced
that it would (and probably will be) approved by a great
majority. It has already been approved by our
membership. This book and the reading of "How It Works"
aloud at meetings has been the cause of our loss
of effectiveness over the past three decades.
My concerns are based on the information that our
membership doubled about every ten years for the
first 57 years until 1992, reaching almost two and
a half million members. We have fewer members than
that, TWO DECADES LATER. But you will be unable to find this
information anywhere. "They" have hidden that information
in the vault, along with GSO employee's salaries. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2013-11-25
OMG You Again

You are everywhere on these forums! Chillax! Nobody wants, needs, or is helped by your conspiracy theories or your accusations. Try living in the solution instead of the problem.

Joined: 2012-01-22
strange comments

In reading some of the posts here, I noted that there seems to be a lot of people taking "issue" with things they see in the meetings. I also saw a few where people said they go to 12 meetings a year but still carry "the message". I can't help but wonder "what message"? I need to be around my own kind (alcoholics) and hear the message of AA. If that message isn't present then I need to go to God (as I understand him, not as you think I understand Him!) and bring forth that message. Talking about God isn't religious; talking about my religious practice is. Praying together isn't religious; praying together under a religious banner is. People want to hold hands and pray? It isn't wrong because YOU don't like it. When I was new I did everything I was told unless I was certain it was illegal! I tend to think that membership has dropped because people allow the whining and sniveling to drown out the message: Without God (that you design, build, and ultimately trust completely) and the 12 steps, which ARE the program, you will die an alcoholic death! No thanks!

Re strange comments

Right on and no one can say it better. I think it's rather funny to see, hear, or read about people whining about prayer and talk of God. Obvisiously these people are missing something and I mean a higher power that we can rely on without any doubts. Lack of trust means we are insecure, and insecurity is a result of not working program. My message is, STOP USING EXCUSES, STOP BEING EGOTISTICAL, AND STOP BEING SELFISH. ACCEPTANCE IS THE ANSWER; >


re: strange

Your comment reflects what I would describe as terminal intolerance (aka, ignorance): "Without God (that you design, build, and ultimately trust completely) and the 12 steps, which ARE the program, you will die an alcoholic death! No thanks!" I am glad you have found what works for you, but do not suggest to me or anyone else, particularly a newcomer, what we need to do to get and stay sober. I know quite a lot of happily sober drunks who attend AA who do not share your opinion of what AA is, or what AA requires, in particular your view that belief in a god is required.

Joined: 2013-11-25
Anonymous Stranger with chip on shoulder

You comments reflect what I would describe as intolerant. Calling others ignorant is not a good conversation starter. You are acting like an AA forum troll with a very narrow agenda. You seem like a product of some questionable A.A. and seem very resentful about it. Well how about stop pouncing on your fellow AA brothers and sisters. Short and helpful suggestions or short and helpful stories about your experience would be greatly appreciated. I thought that we were trying to help each other here.


Belief in a power greater than yourself is required whatever that power is as long as it is not me. The book sugest the group could be your higher power for a begining. Open mindidness and willinfygness are the keys to open the door. I thought the program is the 12 steps and traditons that are sugested as your program for recovery, jails institutions or death may be the result for failing to follow them, unless your disease is not progresive.


Belief in a power greater than yourself is required whatever that power is as long as it is not me. The book sugest the group could be your higher power for a begining. Open mindidness and willingness are the keys to open the door. I thought the program is the 12 steps and traditons that are sugested as your program for recovery, jails institutions or death may be the result for failing to follow them, unless your disease is not progresive.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: re: strange

How can you claim to be sober using the AA program when you refuse to follow any part of the 'basic text' of AA, namely, the Big Book, "Alcoholics Anonymous"?
I have yet to find in AA literature the suggestion that we work our own program and call it AA.
The twelfth step clearly states that we have a spiritual awakening AS THE RESULT OF THESE STEPS (steps one through eleven), and that is the message we try to carry to alcoholics.
"Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention." (pages 20, 21) These problem drinkers have no trouble staying sober on the 'just don't drink and go to meetings' program. They don't need what Dr. Silkworth called "An entire psychic change". (page xxix)

Strange turns weird

I am curious. You comment: "I have yet to find in AA literature the suggestion that we work our own program and call it AA." Where exactly does it say what I have to do in order to get or stay sober? Where does it say I have to read the Big Book or follow any certain steps to be a part of AA? As I recall, the steps are merely suggestions. I know several people who have been sober for decades who regularly attend AA as they have throughout sobriety, and have not worked the steps. They would be the first to admit that they would not recommend their program to anyone. Similarly, the person who has worked the steps, meaning her understanding of what working the steps means (including what "thoroughly" means), if she has acquired basic humility through that process, would also not recommend her program to anyone. There is not one AA program, one way to work the steps, one way to stay sober in AA. To suggest otherwise is just silly. What exactly about "open-minded" are you struggling with? Thankfully, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. So like it or not, we must accept one another as fellow AA members. I am an atheist, but I will pray for you.

Who is the "keeper of the Concepts?"

If the sponsor can be considered the "keeper of the steps," and the GSR is the "keeper of the traditions," than who is the keeper of the Concepts? Would it be the Delegate or Past Delegates? Thanks!

RE: Keeper?

I have never heard of a sponsor as being "keeper of the
steps", or the GSR being "keeper of the traditions". I do
know that the guardianship of our Traditions lies in the hands of our 21 Trustees. And they continue to violate our
seventh tradition by spending more money than we send them.
Spend what we send! Not a penny more. Sell books and literature at the exact cost of printing. Let the Grapevine
be supported by those who want it. The Past delegate is
designated as a Grapevine salesman.
The responsibility for the welfare and future is in
the hands of A.A. members, our fellowship. But they are
unaware of that fact. They do not accept that responsibility, and it seems that our members, leaders
and Trustees have their heads in the sand. "Nothing
wrong here!". ANONYMOUS

re keper

Whoever's face we see in the mirror.

District buying cases of Big Books to give to treatment facility

Is a district regularly buying cases of Big Books to give to treatment facilities or individuals in treatment facilities during an H&I commitment - a violation of any of AA's traditions?

Joined: 2013-11-25
Big Books

Short answer is no.

But each District has its own financial policy that may have something to say about this. If you want more info, contact District 8, Area 36, Treatment Committee. Our area has hashed this issue over a few times in the last two years.

By getting Big Books into the hands of the sick and suffering alcoholic, I believe that we are using all of A.A.'s three legacies of Recovery, Unity, and Service.

Tradition 6 violation?

A home group member who sells Avon brings in her wares in a big tote and sets up in the back of the room every week. Money and product change hands, orders are placed. Is this a violation of Tradition 6? It is an "outside enterprise," and potentially diverts the group from it's primary purpose. Thanks

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: Tradition 6 violation?

Does she conduct her business during the meeting?
Does she advertise during the meeting?
Does the chairperson or anyone else announce that her products are for sale as part of the meeting?
At every conference or convention I have ever attended there is a special table set up near the speaker's platform for the purpose of recording the speaker, and CDs are sold immediately after the meeting. The people doing the recording and selling the CDs do it as a business. How is selling Avon products before or after a meeting any different from selling CDs?

Using AA to promote a business

Avon Products will not keep an Alcoholic sober.

Our primary purpose is to help the alcoholic who is still suffering.

There are many businesses that would try to make a profit out of AA. We need to guard against that.

We need to be vigilant to make sure our focus is on helping the alcoholic who suffers.
We sell books, and CD's that are AA Conference approved at meetings. At Conventions and Roundups where there are non meeting activities, we allow the sale of recordings of AA speakers at other Conventions and Round Ups.

Anything outside our primary purpose endangers our Unity.

IMO, it is as disrespectful and selfish to sell Avon in a meeting as it would be to set up in the back of a classroom or church to sell it.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: Using AA to promote a business

"At Conventions and Roundups where there are non meeting activities, we allow the sale of recordings of AA speakers at other Conventions and Round Ups."
The people making and selling those recordings do it as a business, the same as the person selling Avon or any other product. The ones announced and promoted by the meeting chairperson are the ones in violation of Tradition Six.

Joined: 2012-01-22
Sure sounds like it. Her

Sure sounds like it. Her sponsor needs to have a "sit-down" with her, and soon!

re Tradition 6


Twelve Traditions and The Group

I am a firm believer that AA groups that follow the traditions make it and those that don't - don't (make it). But can it be an AA Group and not to follow the traditions - or take the traditions "cafeteria style" as many members do with the steps? Are the steps "suggested" to the group? While there are no AA police or enforcers; does the lack of following the traditions automatically terminate it as an AA Group? Please send source(AA conference approved book/page) with comment. Thank you

Twelve Traditions and the Group

re "automatic termination as an AA Group"
The only human authority over an AA meeting that does not follow our traditions is the Area decision not to list it in the regional meeting schedule.

What usually happens when groups do not follow the traditions is a lot of disagreement and chaos at meetings that causes step working folks to go to another meeting.
Eventually, the meeting will fade away or explode. I have seen both.
I have seen AA groups led by active street drug users, running a recovery house, who kicked out and banned anyone who spoke of the traditions. Finally, the funding source shut them and the "meetings" down. It was quite an explosion of emotions.
It is best to get out of the way and pray and start another meeting when something like that is coming.

re Traditions and the group

Bill once explained how traditions are enforced. He said "Alcohol handles our enforcement for us".

Don't have the source handy but if I can find it anyone can and learn a lot while looking.

AA services outside of the US / Canada

Is there anyone who understands and could explain how AA services are provided outside the US / Canada? It’s my impression that the AA Grapevine serves all members of the Fellowship in all countries as the International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. But it’s not clear to me if AA World Services also provides AA services across the world or if its focus is on providing services to members of the Fellowship who reside in the US / Canada.

A post on this forum mentioned the Irish General Service Conference and its Service Handbook for Ireland, published by Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Conference of Ireland. Do these non-US / Canada Conferences ask AAWS to provide services, such as publishing their service manuals and pamphlets, or answering letters and questions from members of the Fellowship who reside in their countries? Do these non-US / Canada Conferences make recommendations to AAWS, similar to how the US / Canada General Service Conference advises AAWS?

How does the AA Board fit into this? It seems like all the Trustees who serve on the AA Board are located in the US / Canada. Do other countries have AA Boards with Trustees who are located in their country?

Joined: 2012-03-04
Re: Moderators removal of post

I'm disappointed that a recent post was removed from this Traditions section. I was going to reply to the poster's question regarding the problems in his/her group, with suggestions relating to relevant Traditions, Concepts and General Warranties of Conference. This could possibly have helped them to resolve the situation. Can the removed post be re-instated please?

Joined: 2011-04-20
No postings have been removed

No postings have been removed by moderators.
-Grapevine Editorial

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: No postings have been removed

Oh? What happened to the recent post criticizing the cover on the October issue?

Joined: 2013-10-04
Covers of Grapevines -

Covers of Grapevines - October 2013 cover came up at Area meeting last weekend. Whether "good" or "bad" it brings up discussion of how we as individual and groups carry the message. We all learn and grow through discussion.

Joined: 2012-03-04
Re: Covers of Grapevines and critics

I think the October 2013 Grapevine cover is “good.” Well done to whoever designed it.

Joined: 2013-06-22
AA Speakers on Youtube

Seeing alot of AA speakers on youtube with advertisements attached before the talk begins. IN particular I am seeing this with alot of AA celebrities ( Circuit speakers etc...) Obviously there is no AA police, but as sponsors, do we discuss with folks we sponsor about affiliation? There is one individual who lists all his speakers as AA speakers on a public forum with an advertisement. Is it just me that sees this as wrong?

Joined: 2012-03-04
Re: AA Speakers on Youtube

No, it is not just you that sees this as wrong, I do too. I think there are many others who see this as well. AA speakers on Youtube, AA celebrities and circuit speakers represent the very antithesis of Tradition Twelve. They are destroying the foundation of our unity and good public relations.

In 2010 the General Service Conference (Great Britain) gave the following advisory action: “The Committee would like to draw attention to Conference recommendation of 1995 which reads: “that the practice of inviting speakers from overseas and paying their expenses is in breach of Traditions 4 & 12.” (AA Service News 143 Summer 2010, p 24, Committee 4, Question 3)

The Irish General Service Conference has advised that the “Big Book Study Movement is outside the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous in Ireland.” (A Service Handbook for Ireland, published by Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Conference of Ireland, page 12, THE GROUP: What is an AA Group?)

Hold Hands

Where did the "tradition" of hold hands at the end of the meeting come from and when did we start this practice. Thank You........David A

Joined: 2013-01-08
Holding Hands

Has anyone on this thread introduced a motion at a home group business meeting or group conscience to eliminate or make optional the hand holding lords prayer closing? If so, what was the group reaction?

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: Holding Hands

A lot of posts on these forums sound like the old alcoholic mantra, "I like/dislike it, therefore everyone else likes/dislikes it."
To be honest, I don't remember whether my first few meetings closed with hand holding, prayers, or hugs and kisses. All I remember is the hope I got from the sober AAs, hope that I could also recover from my 'hopeless state of mind and body'.
I regret to say that in all my years in AA I haven't achieved the wisdom to know what will keep the newcomer coming back or what will drive him away. I do know, though, that I wouldn't want to have much to do with an association whose members can see only what's wrong with it.

Joined: 2013-11-25

Thank you for your comment. I was too scared to notice what was read at the beginning of my first AA meetings or how we ended the meetings. I was glad to be doing something about my problem other that drinking myself into oblivion! I was grateful to be around others who professed they had the same problem as me. I didn't see the God stuff as being a deal breaker. I was too busy trying to stay sober at the age of 17. I was sick of being alone, feeling alone, feeling hopeless.

RE: Holding Hands

Lunchbunc1: Yes, at our Sunday step meeting I introduced a
motion that we stop holding hands at the end of the meeting.
I see nothing wrong in the use of(citing) the lords prayer, just the coercion for everyone to join in what I call the "ring around the rosy circle". Everyone had a chance to
voice his/her view. Although I used the feeble excuse of
"spreading germs", the vote was 11 to 1 to keep holding
hands. This ritual brings comfort to some members; never
mind those who find holding hands with strangers uncomfortable. So they still close the meeting holding
hands in the circle. I either stand outside the circle
or just leave after every member has had the chance to
share. I have observed that it only takes one or two
members to start the circle. No one wants to make a
spectacle of themselves by standing aside. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2012-03-04
Re: Hold Hands

The ritual of holding hands came to my area in Great Britain about 2005, about the same time as reading “The Promises” and chanting “It works if you work it!” were introduced. This was a few years after speaker CDs began being passed around. Prior to that virtually all AA meetings that I have attended over the past 23 years have ended with a reading of the Traditions (short form) followed by the serenity prayer. I was quite shocked when I first saw how religious AA appears to be in US/Canada. I have not yet been to, or heard of, a meeting ending the Lord’s prayer in my intergroup. Around 2005 was also the time when the local convention committee decided it was a novel idea to get a few musical alcoholics to twang guitars and sing “Amazing Grace” at a “spiritual” meeting. The convention didn’t have a “spiritual” meeting before this. Standing in a circle holding hands, chanting “It works if you work it!” and singing religious hymns, aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor is a game of cricket.

AA membership doesn’t appear to have grown since 2001. It may have fallen, see membership estimates Box-4-5-9 summer issues 2001-2013. The estimated worldwide AA membership in 2001 was about 2,160,013. It is now estimated to be about 2,131,549 in 2013. I don’t think it’s too difficult to work out the reason why. Oxford Group style religion didn’t work with the majority of alcoholics 1935-1939. I don’t think its re-introduction is working for the majority of alcoholics in 2013.

RE: Re: hold hands

There is nothing wrong with closing an A.A. meeting
with The Lord's Prayer. Bill W. explains this view in a
letter to his friend Russ. It is known as the Dear Russ
Letter and is easily accessible. It is the coercion for
everyone to join in which I see as harmful to A.A. as
a whole..
What we lack today is the Group Conscience. God cannot
express Himself in our group conscience if we have no
group conscience meeting.
We have fewer members in Alcoholics Anonymous today
than we had twenty years ago. Something is horribly
wrong. What ever happened to the slogan "each one reach one?.
We have lost our effectiveness in helping suffering
alcoholics and their families. The reason can be explained
in two words: "dogma and distortion". ANONYMOUS

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