Emails

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When I first heard Adrian speak in January 2013, I asked him if he would be willing to debate me on the theme of his book. I followed that up with an email just over a week later and I admit I was slightly surprised for two reasons when Adrian replied saying that he was prepared to do so. First, most evolutionists avoid debating creationists, claiming that it could legitimise or give publicity to our views. Secondly, having heard Adrian’s talk I felt he was not a confident speaker, and therefore thought he would find the prospect of a debate somewhat daunting.

Over the following months we exchanged emails, though making arrangements for a debate proved slow mainly because Adrian often took weeks rather than days to reply. Eventually a date in July 2013 was agreed, but that had to be put off because practical decisions on the venue and publicity had not been made in time. Later in the year was suggested as an alternative, then on July 1st I received an email from Adrian withdrawing from the debate, justifying this decision by stating “In your emails I see only rage, impatience, petulance and a desire to control which I find slightly sinister.”

In his January presentation I remember Adrian highlighting claims that he had been attacked (presumably verbally or in writing) by some who disagreed with him, though he gave no evidence of these criticisms. Then in April the same year in Spotlight, the newspaper for the Anglican Diocese of Lichfield, he said in a short article about his book, “Some Christian groups in Shropshire branded me a heretic for writing this book,” but again did not say who or when. However, these two pieces of evidence convinced me that this website has a high possibility of adding to what seems to be Adrian’s persecution complex, or at the least him repeating his claim about my character quoted above. Whilst I do not deny that at times I can be assertive, I consider myself to have shown a lot of patience in response to Adrian dragging his heels over the practical arrangements for a debate.

It is not my intention to defend myself here, but simply to make the evidence available for any who care to look at it. Below is a catalogue of the emails between Adrian and myself between January and July 2013. I quote my own in full, except for two things. It is my habit when replying to emails to insert my comments at relevant points into the message to which I am responding. Because I have not asked Adrian for permission to publish his emails, I have not quoted his in full, and have in my own messages marked places where I have deleted parts of his with “AB excerpt”. The other change I have made to my emails is that where I mentioned a third party or a place, I have replaced their names with initials or similar.

You will see below that at one point I told Adrian I was surprised that he was avoiding debating his book, because in the above-mentioned Spotlight article he stated, “I am now hoping that it will start a debate in the USA”. I remain puzzled that whilst he hopes to be the catalyst of a debate in the States, he has avoided participating in one here in Shropshire. Of course, should he have a change of mind I remain happy to debate him, provided he can agree the practical details in time. If he wishes you to be able to read the full text of his emails to me, I will happily include them below if he writes to me giving permission for them to be published.

The emails:

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Possible debate
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2013 14:04:52 -0000

Dear Adrian,

We met at your recent talk in Bishops Castle and afterwards I asked if you would be interested in debating your belief that the church needs to accept Darwin if it is to survive. I gave you my card and you said you would think about it. Knowing that ministers are very busy people (I am secretary of the local Churches Together) I thought I would drop you a quick note before we both allow the suggestion to get buried by other things.

Of course we would need to give some thought to such an event – things such as a venue, an good chair person, etc. – but these can worked through if you were willing in principle to put forward your convictions in this way. As you know from my card I live near Market Drayton and would be happy to travel over to the Gobowen area if you were prepared to do a debate with me. Let me know if you are willing to do so.

BTW – whether or not you are prepared to do a debate (and I hope you are) my offer to give you a glimpse of the violence in the geology of the N Wales mountains, I would be happy to take you on a day’s field trip to the area.

I look forward to hearing from you.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 19 Jan 2013 10:10:35 +0000

In his reply Adrian said he would be willing to debate me, adding that some thought would need to be given to the title and “depending on this others may be more qualified than me to be the speaker.” He added that because of existing commitments he would prefer the second half of 2013. He also suggested Shrewsbury as a more central venue.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2013 17:40:00 -0000

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for your reply. I am glad that you are willing to consider a debate. As I am sure you were aware before your visit to Bishop Castle, this is a topic which brings out people’s feelings! Even in that very mixed audience your presentations provoked some strong reactions.

Please see below…

AB excerpt

Yes, I agree that getting a good title is vital, so perhaps we can start working on that soon. Given the title of your book it would seem to me that it should be about the relationship between Christianity and Darwinism. I would be happy to discuss options in that area in the hope that you would feel able to speak to your own views without having to look for an alternative speaker.

AB excerpt

That will be fine, but again let us begin to think about suitable ones. The second half of the year could be early July (holidays distract people after that) or mid-September onwards (again holidays make early September not good for special events). I would prefer not too late in the year so can we look at your available dates in July, Sept & Oct?

AB excerpt

I know a few people in the Oswestry area so some of them would probably come along if it was in Gobowen. They would add to your local contacts. However, we might also attract others from further afield (like B from YouCaxton) if it was in Shrewsbury. I am easy where in Shropshire. Do you have access to a suitable venue in Shrewsbury? Again, if you could suggest somewhere we could ask if it would be available once we have a date.

Perhaps we can work on these options in the next few weeks and then when they are settled think about things like a chairman, timetable, etc.

Thanks again for the reply. I look forward to hearing from you.

In Christ

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 30 Jan 2013 20:53:56 +0000

This was an acknowledgement in which Adrian said he would try and respond as soon as he could.

I did not hear from him at all in February so in the middle of March I emailed him again.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 15:59:40 -0000

Hi Adrian,

It has been a while since your last message below which was dated 30 Jan.

I was hoping that we would have been able to get subject, date and venue agreed before you got busy with Easter. I would like to think that this might still just be possible if we move quickly.

Hopefully you will have had enough time by now to think through how you want to approach the debate.

I look forward to hearing from you in the next few days.

In Christ

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 24 Mar 2013 18:49:24 +0000

Adrian explained that he had been in London. He said he was trying finalise other dates later in the year, but thought July would suit him best.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2013 12:12:16 -0000

Hi Adrian,

Many thanks for your reply.

July will be fine, but on the first weekend (5-7th) our eldest daughter is getting married so that week before would not be good for me either. I am not sure when the school holidays begin, but I think it would be best to try for the second week of July as first choice. Given I may need a couple of days to sort things out after the wedding – and perhaps entertain her hew in-laws who are coming over from [the USA] – I would prefer either the Thur, Fri, or Sat, but Wed might be possible as well. That is 10-13th inclusive. Would you have a preference from those?

Have you had any further thoughts on a title for the debate? You thought Shrewsbury might be better than the Oswestry area – where would you suggest as a venue?

I look forward to hearing from you.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 31 Mar 2013 17:34:49 +0100

Adrian said that Saturday evening 13th July would suit him best. He also suggested the title “Is Christian belief compatible with a contemporary scientific account of the universe?”

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 2013 15:45:23 +0100

Hi Adrian,

Many thanks for the reply. Sat July 13th is in my diary – I assume you are suggesting the evening not day-time. Saturday should be a good day for attracting an audience.

Thanks for the suggestion about a title but I think it has several problems.

First, it’s too long – needs to be punchier for publicity purposes.

Second, it’s too vague – but on the good side it tips it’s hat to the fact that science often changes it’s mind about things. As it stands it reads as a debate on cosmology and I am not sure if you intended that to be the case. It certainly was not part of your presentation at B[ishop] Castle. “Science” is a very wide term covering all aspects of human knowledge including IT, medicine, anthropological climate change, plastics, silicone chips and so on. For clarity it needs a good title should include more specific words like: evolution, Darwin(ism), and perhaps biological / cosmic [evolution] if we want to be extra clear.

Finally, it makes evolution the test of Christianity – it must be the other way around.

My original offer was to debate what I understood to be the emphasis of your book. One page which features it on the You-Caxton site asks, “Can Christianity survive Darwin?” whilst on another it almost says, “Christianity must adapt in order to accommodate evolution.” I think something along these lines would be more concise and much clearer about the topic.

Deciding the title is probably the most difficult part, but hopefully we will get there in the not too distant future.

Once we have done that we need to find a venue and a chairman. You suggested Shrewsbury, do you have any contacts there who would host the debate in a church/hall? There is someone I could ask about being a chairman – he is an Anglican vicar who probably is much nearer your views than mine, but if he would take the chair I am sure he would be impartial. However, I won’t ask him until you have had time to comment.

I hope this is of help and look forward to hearing from you.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 14 Apr 2013 22:12:54 +0100

Again Adrian apologised for not replying sooner. He then said that he felt it was important to decide who we thought the audience would be and what we hoped the debate would achieve. He said that he hoped it would be “an honest discussion around the theological problems that modern science creates”. He also hoped that the audience would include people on the fringes of Christianity and that the debate would make this more accessible to them.

He then added that he did not think “a debate of ‘creationism’ verses ‘non-creationism’ would be productive at all.” Instead he suggested we follow the lead of Karen Armstrong’s book “The battle for God” and debate whether “the roots of fundamentalism are often a reaction against modernity and are refined by a religious group’s particular history.” Adrian said he thought that looking at the psychology and sociology involved in this question would be more productive.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2013 10:24:55 +0100

Dear Adrian,

Thank you for your reply, but it has left me somewhat confused.

When, after your Bishop Castle talk, I offered to debate you it was specifically on the thesis of your book ‘Why Darwin matters to Christians’. However, you seem to be putting a lot of effort into avoiding that topic, suggesting below that such a debate would not be “productive at all.”

This is a very strange thing to say in the light of your comments about your book in April’s Spotlight, “I am now hoping that it will start a debate in the USA…” If you want it to start a debate in America, why are you trying to avoid debating its arguments here in Shropshire?

If you want to debate a subject like “Is liberal Christianity honest to God?” I will gladly do so once we have addressed the arguments in your book. Here then is a further list of titles which stick to the issue rather than try to avoid it:

“Was Darwin right about Genesis?”
“Darwin’s theory was sent by God.”
“Darwin knew better than Moses”
“Christianity needs to embrace evolution.”
“Biblical creation is destroying the church.”
“Christians must believe Darwin.”

or my previous offers:

“Can Christianity survive Darwin?”
“Christianity must adapt in order to accommodate evolution.”

It is unwise for you to make statements like those quoted in Spotlight unless you are prepared to stand up and be counted in person. Right now I think there is good evidence that you are the one who is wanting to push these “important questions” under the carpet and out of sight. I am not willing for that to be the case.

It would be helpful if in your reply you would grasp the nettle and agree to one of the titles above or suggested a similar one. It would also be helpful if you could reply in the next few days.

I look forward to hearing from you.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate

Date: 19 Apr 2013 15:11:44 +0100

Adrian replied with a short email insisting he was not trying to be evasive or awkward, but trying to get to the heart of the issues. He repeated his questions about the audience and the effect of the debate.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2013 15:40:02 +0100

Dear Adrian,

Thank you for your quick reply.

Please see below…

AB excerpt about the potential audience

I have no idea. I will publicise it widely to the people I know wherever they stand on the Christian spectrum. How many of those will turn up I don’t know. Hopefully, you will also make it known amongst your contacts. It can be also advertised in the press locally, including the Spotlight. Perhaps it might be included in church notices across the county. However, I would not like to prophesy who (or how many) will turn up on the night. Sorry not to be more specific.

AB excerpt about what the debate might achieve

As I have already said my hope is that it will test the thesis of your book ‘Why Darwin matters to Christians’. This includes addressing the important questions which you have said should not be swept under the carpet. Once the title is agreed, I will probably purchase a copy of your book from you.

I do not think that any of this adds to what I have said previously, but I hope it helps you settle on a title.

In Him

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 01 May 2013 21:21:01 +0100

Once more he apologised for the delay in replying, saying he had been abroad. He put forward the title “Can Christianity survive Darwin?” and asked me who I was thinking of asking to chair the debate.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Thu, 02 May 2013 11:10:38 +0100

Hi Adrian,

See below…

AB excerpt

Thank for the email – much appreciated. Yesterday I was beginning to wonder if I should drop you a further message as I was concerned that I had not heard from you.

Yes, I agree to the title ‘Can Christianity survive Darwin?’ We will both want to answer “Yes” to that question, but follow it up with very different analysis of what Christians need to do in order to survive his arguments.

Could I ask that we give priority over the next couple of weeks to getting some practical arrangements in place so we can begin to publicise the event. These are the items I can think of at the moment:

Date & Time – You suggested Sat. 13 May, but I don’t think we mentioned a time. So far I have assumed it will be in the evening but am not sure if that is what you intended. Would 7:30pm be a suitable start time.

Venue – you have suggested Shrewsbury, I have no contacts there, do you have any suggestions? I am not sure how big it needs to be as previously mentioned, but think somewhere which will hold between 50 and 150 people would be wise. Otherwise I am flexible, but would like to see the room before the event just to familiarise myself with its dynamics.

Chairman – the person I am thinking of is MT of [church] in [town]. I have not asked him yet but, if you agree to me doing so, I would like to ask him in person. MT is someone who believes evolution and Christianity can accommodate each other, but I think his background is such that he will be able to chair the event in a neutral way (unlike most BBC presenters!).

Timetable for the debate – This is not as urgent as the above, apart from you confirming that you are happy for our presentations to be followed by a question time.

Publicity – We would both need to agree to the wording of this, but would you want to print your own or to share the cost of any printing? I will put something on my website about the event, will you be doing something similar on your church’s site or elsewhere? Would you prefer an independent site like a free WordPress blog?

PowerPoint – I have a data projector with two inputs and could also bring a screen if necessary. I think it will be better if we both use our own laptops.

Have you any other practical matters you think we should discuss?

Finally, as previously mentioned now we have agreed a title I would like to obtain a copy of your book. Do you want me to send you the payment first?

Thanks again for the email, hopefully getting these practical items agreed will prove much quicker than settling on a title. I look forward to hearing from you.

In Christ

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: TYPO
Date: Thu, 02 May 2013 17:43:37 +0100

Hi Adrian,

My wife has just pointed out that there is an example of brain fade in my previous email. I meant to type 13 July, but for some reason ended up typing 13 May!!!!!!

I don’t think either us could be ready that soon.

My apologies.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 04 May 2013 16:00:40 +0100

Adrian replied to say that he was happy with the suggested start time and with my suggestion for a chairman. He said he would ask around about a venue and ask his literary agent to suggest publicity. He said that his literary agent would also probably organise a press release for the Shropshire Star, etc. He also suggested the Lichfield Diocese and Churches Together as ways of publicising the event. Adrian thought posters may be better than leaflets. He also suggested I could obtain an electronic copy of his book via Amazon, but also offered to organise a hard copy. He said he would get back to me.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Tue, 07 May 2013 14:49:10 +0100

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for the reply. Please see below…

AB excerpt about starting time

OK that is agreed

AB excerpt about chairman

I was in [Town] this morning so I called in to see MT. The date is available in his diary but it is his wedding anniversary that week. He is not sure if his wife was planning anything on the Saturday evening so needs to speak to her. He will give it some thought and let me know one way or the other in the next 7-10 days.

AB excerpt finding a venue

Please keep me posted.

AB excerpt about publicity

Is your literary agent from the diocese or YouCaxton? I would be happy for him to organise a press release – also suggest Radio Shrops Sunday Breakfast and other local radio stations. I am in touch with GC (CTog), but you may be as well as I think he lives in the Oswestry area.

Leaflets will be useful for the Christian bookshops in Shropshire – I think there are two – Shrewsbury and Oswestry. Also to make both posters and leaflets available on the web would enable churches and individuals to print off what they wanted for their own use. Once we know what we want them to say, I could design artwork which could be used for both.

AB excerpt about obtaining his book

Sorry, I have not invested in any electronic alternatives to books other than my computer. I don’t think Amazon’s Kindle options include a PDF version. If it does I could download that, but otherwise I will need a hard copy. Did wonder this morning if MT would lend me his copy, but I thought asking him might be slightly cheeky, so I didn’t.

Have you had any thoughts about the timetable for the evening yet or would you like me to suggest an outline one?

Look forward to hearing from you.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 16 May 2013 16:08:44 +0100

Adrian reported on a conversation with his literary agent [MW] who had no connection with the diocese. MW had commented on Saturday evening not being a good option; suggested a venue in Shrewsbury where he knew the minister and which held regular anti-Darwin talks and so could contribute to audience numbers; suggested as an alternative a church hall or the Severn Theatre; said he was happy to organise publicity. Adrian said he would prefer the first of the above possible venues and that he had posted me a copy of his book.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Thu, 16 May 2013 17:56:44 +0100

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for the email. I was hoping to find the time to email you today. Last night I bumped into MT and he said that since I had talked to him they had been told by a family friend from [country] she was planning to come and see them. Guess when she is arriving? Sat 13th July, so MT did not feel he could absent himself that evening. Whether we need to look for someone else will depend on where we go with your comments below.

See below…

AB excerpt identifying his literary agent MW

OK that is helpful to know the context you are involving him from.

AB excerpt about Saturday evenings

Not sure that it is that bad an evening, but I have no problem with a change to a midweek date. You suggested 13th. I would not want to bring it forward though with our daughter’s wedding the previous weekend. I also think that much later in July will take us into school holidays which are not a good time.

AB excerpt about possible venue 1

I know where [venue 1] is but little more. their website [deleted] says nothing about their programme, etc. As long as it is big enough and of a suitable layout for a debate (using PowerPoint) I have no objection to almost anywhere in Shrewsbury.

If they have regular slots and we want to fit in with that then it may mean a delay until the autumn. I can cope with that as I am beginning to become concerned that there are still things to agree before we can advertise it and very early June is the latest we should be doing that if it is around 13th July.

AB excerpt about possible venue 2

[Venue 2] fine with above criteria. The only DC I know is for shopping – the web suggests the one you are talking about is in the [suburb] area. Have you been there? Severn Theatre – I presume you mean the Walker Theatre – as you say expensive so last resort in my mind.

AB excerpt about publicity

Happy for that provided we can both comment before it is produced.

AB excerpt expressing preference for Venue 1

I am happy to explore the [venue 1] option. Perhaps MW should contact them to see their initial reaction and if they have a regular series running. Perhaps you can make sure that he has my web site details in case they want to know more about me when he does contact me [them].

My main concern as stated above is the lack of time between now and mid-July. If July is going ahead then we need to get several things in place a.s.a.p. I think email is proving to slow so can I suggest we do one or both of the following.

A) Try to arrange a time next week when we can speak on the phone and discuss outstanding issues – and then repeat as necessary;

B) If you want MW involved, find a time before the end of May when all three of us can meet (his office would be no problem for me). If we decide to move the date back after August, then it would be possible to meet with MW in early June.

Let me know what you think and when would be a good time to phone you. I would be happy to call you on a land-line at any time of day.

AB excerpt about sending me his book

Many thanks. I will let you know when it arrives and discuss how to get the payment to you depending on if we decide to meet with MW

Look forward to hearing from you.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 19 May 2013 20:53:37 +0100

Adrian said he had asked MW to look into venue 1. He also accepted that the debate may not take place in mid-July, but thought it was worth delaying it if an audience could be guaranteed. Suggested waiting until MW got a reply from the possible venue before deciding who needs to meet with who.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: Tue, 21 May 2013 09:42:02 +0100

Hi Adrian,

First thanks for the book which arrived on Saturday morning.

Sorry for not replying sooner, but I was not in the office yesterday.

One thing we need to be aware of is that midweek evenings have a downside. This is that many churches still have Bible studies and prayer meetings during the week so there will be some people who cannot come on particular evenings in the week. A Saturday evening avoids such clashes.

However I am happy for either Saturday or Tue, Wed or Thur. (I cannot do Mondays and Fridays are in many ways less attractive than Saturdays.)

Concerning planning if the debate is to take place this side of the summer (school) holidays then we have to act fast. Publicity needs to begin to circulate early June. This means that several things have to be decided this week or next. If that is the case then we need to agree a time to meet a.s.a.p. – I have a busy diary in the next fortnight.

If we decide to postpone until Sept/Oct then there is less pressure, but I would still value agreeing some things sooner than later. However, we could discuss things like the timetable for the evening on the phone at this stage and meet up a little later to discuss publicity, etc.

I hope this is of help. Please let me know as soon as you hear from MW.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: Possible debate
Date: 29 May 2013 20:59:55 +0100

Adrian said he had reminded MW about venue 1. If it turned out to be possible he said we would have to work with them on the date, but said that sometime in the autumn was now more probable than July. He added that his last free afternoon in June had just been filled.

From: Randall Hardy
To: Adrian Bailey
Subject: (Fwd) Re: Possible debate
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:26:44 +0100

Dear Adrian,

It is now two weeks since I last emailed you (see below) and I have not had a reply. As I have previously stated your repeated inability to respond in a reasonable period to emails is increasingly giving me the impression that you are seeking to avoid debating the arguments put forward in your book.

In my last email I asked to you to suggest possible dates between 9th and 19th July for us to meet and discuss arrangements for a debate. If we do not agree a date soon, I suspect you will be telling me that you are fully booked up in those two weeks! If you are waiting to hear from MW about his contact with [venue 1] and he has not got back to you, then I suggest that I take over that task. Would you be happy for me to do so?

I really do not think that you are so busy that you are unable to reply to emails much quicker than you do. As I have mentioned before you are on the record as saying that you hope your book will start a debate in the USA, but for the six months you have shown persistent reluctance to get your act together to debate it here in Shropshire. If you do not want to debate me then say so and I will find another way to publicly examine your arguments. I offered a debate so that you had the opportunity of answering my criticism of your arguments – if you have confidence in what you have written then that should not be difficult for you to do.

I think it is time for me to press you to get a move on with agreeing arrangements for a debate. If it is to take place in late September/early October then we need to make firm arrangements by mid-July, so a date to meet within the next month is vital. Once again my phone number is [deleted] should you find it easier to phone than type.

I very much hope that it will not take you a further fortnight to reply to this message.

In Christ

I received a reply from Adrian a further two weeks later.

From: Adrian Bailey
To: Randall Hardy
Subject: Re: (Fwd) Re: Possible debate
Date: 01 Jul 2013 10:32:52 +0100

Adrian explained he had been on holiday from 14-28 June and was still in the process of catching up. It was in this email that he announced that having read my last email he had decided to call off the idea of a debate. As stated above, his reason was that “In your emails I see only rage, impatience, petulance and a desire to control which I find slightly sinister.” He added that he had not ruled out debating others, but was not sure if that would be best in a traditional manner before an audience or on the internet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I did not reply to this email as it was clear that doing so would not accomplish anything constructive. However, since then I have been working on this website as I have had the opportunity. On the day I published it, I wrote to Adrian to send him its address and to enclose payment for the copy of his book which he sent me.

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