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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Weekly Post, NO PEBBLE MINE: Pictures from Ground Zero by Robert Glenn Ketchum

NO PEBBLE MINE Pictures from Ground Zero
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

 
Since 1998, I have been working to protect the spectacular resources of southwest Alaska and the fishery of Bristol Bay. Two Aperture books, a national traveling exhibition, a massive coalition of concerned users, and a lot of personal lobbying, had it looking like we were almost there. Then Donald Trump took office claiming he would always put America, and American jobs first. SO WHY destroy a BILLION-dollar-a-year, RENEWABLE salmon fishery and over 100,000 jobs for a group of international mineral speculators that will leave us with a Superfund site to clean up, and NO fishery left edible? And yet, he did,..so please, keep saying NO TO THE PEBBLE MINE!
~Robert Glenn Ketchum






Tuesday, May 21, 2019 

NO PEBBLE MINE #349, Pictures from Ground Zero
NO PEBBLE MINE #349:  The ADF&G cabin that my ranger/hosts reside in, is by Alaskan standards, very “skookum,” - well made, and well appointed. There is a stunning stash of food goods, much weaponry, maps are everywhere, and the stove makes it all quite toasty. As on the Goodnews, not far from their cabin is a lichen-covered meadow, where they suggest I pitch my tent, so I set up immediately, while they prepare an evening meal. The difference between this camp, and the one on the Goodnews is scale. Here I have a lot more room to wander, and so I do. I can walk all over the place, and it affords me some great vantage points on the river. Just before I am called back to the cabin for our evening meal, the sun begins to set, and the sky goes off. These river camps have truly given me some incredible evening displays, and I take this one as a good sign of the days to come. In the morning we will start towards the headwaters, but for now, some food and sleep will do just fine.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Weekly Post: THE TONGASS: Stop the Cut, There are Salmon in the Trees by Robert Glenn Ketchum

THE TONGASS:  Stop the Cut, There are Salmon in the Trees
by Robert Glenn Ketchum
In 1985, I began a 2-year commission to explore the Tongass rainforest, the largest forest in the United States Forest Service (USFS) system AND the largest temperate rainforest in the world. It was a unique, old-growth environment under siege from industrial logging. The resulting investigative book I published helped to pass the Tongass Timber Reform Bill, protect 1,000,000 acres of old-growth, and create 11 new wilderness areas. This is the story of how that was achieved.




Tuesday, May 21, 2019

THE TONGASS:  Stop the Cut, There are Salmon in the Trees, #143:
THE TONGASS, #143:   We linger with Stan (Price) the Bear Man at Pack Creek awhile longer, but we have miles to go (paddle) before we sleep, so our group must get on with the rest of our day. The rain has stopped, and the sky actually seems to be clearing, so we return to our canoes and launch ourselves once again, heading south, down the Seymour Canal. Within an hour or so, the sun breaks out of the clouds, and it appears we are going to have a really nice day. Thus, we paddle, and paddle on! It actually gets HOT because of the effort we are exerting. The Tongass is a temperate rainforest, but it is also the northern-most forests in the world to claim this, so “temperate” means most days are in the 60’s, at best. However, when the sun comes out, the “real” Alaskans come out as well, and our guide, Jeff Sloss, is the first to strip off his shirt and paddle “topless.” The other significant factor (as far as I am concerned) of this Alaskan rainforest in the summer months, is the astounding, predatory insect population, ONSHORE. Most visitors spend much of their time wearing full clothing, and mosquito head nets for protection. One of the delightful advantages of being offshore, paddling in the canoes, is that there are VERY FEW insects once you get away from the shoreline, Hence, when our party stops for a rest, we always do so at islands and rock outcrops, in the middle of the canal, where we can snack and rest without an insect assault. After a long morning paddle, that is exactly what we do, when we stop for lunch. Philip also decides to go “topless” now, and for more than 1hr., we are all eating, fishing, and clamming. I want to point out the gentleman (upper, right) looking at the camera with his hand extended. He is old-school, part of the Sierra Club group, and from the first night in camp, he has made it clear he believes Philip, Carey, and I are “suspect,” because we are wearing “weird” (Patagonia) clothing, and he thinks, that without wool, etc., we are at risk. Funny he says things like that and then dons a cotton flannel shirt, which when wet in cold weather, is like wearing a hypothermic jacket. His choice of clothing also adds about eight extra pounds to his pack. He will have more to whine about shortly, when he views our Mole Harbor Royal Catacanoe Club Regatta.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Weekly Post, High and Wild: Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers

High and Wild: Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

After receiving my MFA from CalArts, I was invited by Bill Lund, Sharon Disney’s husband, to come stay at the families' Diamond-D Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming. Bill thought I might like to photograph in the nearby Wind River Mountains, which I did, backpacking through them extensively over the next three summers. Welcome to a world of big granite walls and huge alpine lakes!





Monday, May 20, 2019

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #91:
Wind River, #91:  Having established an excellent location for our campsite at the head of the 11,000ft. Titcomb Lakes basin, Vicki Golden, our companion, Michael Knowlin, and I, have a great dinner, a star-filled sky, and a restful, weather-free night of sleep to help us recover from our long, all-day, uphill backpack. When we wake, the day is once again, COOL and with little evidence of incoming weather. Normally, after such a long hike in yesterday, this would be a day of relaxing in camp to recover, but we are so excited by the good conditions and this amazing place, we are just the opposite - we are pumped-up to go out on a long ramble around the basin. Having been here the previous summer, Vicki and I know what a spectacular walk-around this will be, and Michael is on board to explore, so with daypacks full of gear and food, we have an early morning launch, and begin to traverse the basin. As the day wears on, a breeze picks up, but it remains sunny, and the basin full of lakes is sparkling like a jewel. Knowlin is blown away! About midday, we near the end of the last big lake in the basin, where we plan to stop for lunch. As we descend to lakeshore for that meal, I take this shot of Vicki, the skyline crowned with the ragged spires of Mt. Sacagawea, behind her. What a place! What a day! A great lunch is had by all, and my black lab, Belle Star, takes a long swim in the lake, apparently exploring it.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Weekly Post: The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get by Robert Glenn Ketchum

by Robert Glenn Ketchum


Growing up my parents had a home near Sun Valley, Idaho. It was there that I learned to ski. Over many years I befriended members of the Decker Flats Climbing and Frisbee Club, with whom I had both life, and art-forming outdoor experiences. I had my camera, and these are my adventures.  Enjoy!!  ~Robert Glenn Ketchum



Monday, May 20, 2019

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #159: DFCFC, #159:  Gordon Williams has opted for an afternoon solo ski to a high point, to have look at the summits around us, and an overview of our entire Hyndman-Cobb basin. Most of us are still in our encampment, finishing lunch and getting gear together for an afternoon tour, but it is hard to keep our eyes off of his dramatic ascent across the base slopes of Hyndman. His traverse line soon carries him well above the tracks left from Chris Dupont’s previous ascent/descent of these slopes (previous post, and #151). Even though Gordon is now in some very extreme territory, he is relatively safe from danger of avalanche. Following his climb, Jennifer finally asks the inevitable question, “Where is Gordy going?” Pondering that question, it is clear to me what he intends. From where he is, he can look back and upwards to see Hyndman, and that is Cobb Peak in front of him in this image, but from his POV, Old Hyndman is still out-of-view, and Gordon wants to see it all. Knowing that, I determine he is headed for the rocks, in hopes he can navigate around the corner which will give him the full, 360˙ reveal. I also realize that from where I am, I will loose site of him, so I strap on my skis, grab my camera and big lenses, and take a little ski out on my own into the basin, so that I can keep him in site, even if he does go around the corner of the rocky ridge.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

The 40th Anniversary of Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction

The 40th Anniversary of Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction will be held on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at Google Los Angeles.


"Say No To The Pebble Mine"
by Robert Glenn Ketchum
26” x 36”
photograph, LexJet Metallic photographic print, face-mounted on 1/4” plexiglass to hang as is, 2019


This annual event brings thousands of artists, art enthusiasts and collectors together to help raise over $850,000 to help provide high-quality comprehensive health care to 27,000 low-income, homeless, undocumented, and otherwise uninsured people. Nearly fifty years ago, we started with one clinic in Venice. Thanks to our dedicated artists and patrons, the clinic has now expanded to 12 sites in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Inglewood, and Culver City – as well as street outreach to homeless populations from the Westside of Los Angeles to Downtown LA.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Weekly Post, "The Daze of My Life: Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography"

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography


Biographies are studies of someone's life based on cumulative research. Good ones may reveal something, but probably barely scratch the surface of what actually went on. The internet is allowing me to do something VERY different. 
~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Friday, May 17, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #148: Daze, #148:  Having never been through a New England spring, I do not expect it to be as colorful as the fall, but it is, perhaps even moreso. The image above is not a fall shot, but rather the vibrancy of spring. While working on the Lila Acheson Wallace Funds commission in the Hudson Valley, I have made some unexpected, and significant friends. One of those who has purchased prints from me is Laurance Rockefeller, and he and other family members live in an expansive compound of houses and gardens in Pocantico Hills. The historic home Kykuit is there as well, and none of this is open to the public, as yet. Through I series of contacts and persuasive letters, Laurance allows me to photograph the grounds, gardens, golf course, and Kykuit, but asks that I not make images of the private homes or their locations. Happy to be invited, I frequently visit and shoot. Nearby Tarrytown is also historic, and has lovely homes and neighborhoods, so I often pass through it when I visit Kykuit. On this especially rainy day, I decide to drive through the spectacular Tarrytown Cemetery, which is in an explosion of spring bloom. Again, from the roof of my van, with my 4x5 camera, I shoot this, “A Sympathy of Things,” another new image that would eventually be included in my forthcoming portfolio, and also in my first Aperture book, The Hudson River and The Highlands.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
@RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Weekly Post, "Fish Farms: Forming My World View Through Aquaculture in 1977" by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Fish Farms:  Forming My World View through Aquaculture in 1977
by Robert Glenn Ketchum



In 1977, I was commissioned by Elisabeth Mann Borgese to help do research, interviews, and take photographs for a book she was writing about worldwide aquaculture. It would be published by Harry N. Abrams, one of the world’s premier publishing houses, famous for their beautiful books. It would also involve around-the-world travel to 8 countries, and some of the most remarkable places I would ever visit. SEAFARM: The Story of Aquaculture was a very successful publication featuring over 100 of my images, and an exhibit I assembled with support from Nikon, became a Smithsonian traveling exhibition for 6-yrs., viewed by over 6-million people.  ~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Friday, May 17, 2019

FISHFARMS:  Forming My World View through Aquaculture in 1977, #56:
Fish Farms #56:  Still some miles from Madras, Elisabeth and I have stopped to view a community involved in commercial agriculture and fish farming. They are a community of boat people that live entirely on their boats, and although there are grains sheds here and there, there are very few houses in this landscape. These people are noticeably poor, but work hard to raise and harvest agricultural crops off of the land, which they then take to market in their boats. In between the agricultural fields are a few fish ponds that hosts carp, and these ponds and their fish, provide the community with their principle protein. The sun is hot, the soil is hard, and the work is even harder. There is NO mechanical support to be seen anywhere. Everything is done by hand, and hard labor. In the image above, two boys convey water from a canal to their field without using any pumps. Under the supervision of the older man, these two have a continuous, rhythmic, dip-and-swing action, that scoops water from the canal, and flings it into the irrigation channel in the field. The more perfectly they perform the task, the less water is spilled. These two are very good at this method, but imagine doing this for hours on end, under a BLAZING sun. Until this visit to India, I have never seen such a physically, labor-intensive society. My trip has barely begun, and already I have seen things I could never have imagined. This is going to be a very informative journey for me, and soon we head for Thailand.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, May 6, 2019

NRDC to World Bank: “Location, Community, and Climate-Smart”

May 06, 2019

by Joel Reynolds,
Western Director, Senior Attorney, Marine Mammals, Oceans Division, Nature Program

At last week’s launch of World Bank’s Climate-Smart Mining Facility, NRDC elevates importance of place and community, citing reckless Pebble Mine as poster child for “wrong mine, wrong place.” Last Wednesday in Washington, D.C., I was pleased to attend a gathering at the World Bank accompanying the launch of its climate-smart mining initiative—a public-private initiative based on the imperative that the realities of climate change and the accelerating transition to a green energy economy must become a central focus of present and future decision-making in the global mining sector.

Monday, April 22, 2019

HELP WANTED: Hypothetical Partner for the Pebble Mine by Joel Reynolds, NRDC

HELP WANTED: Hypothetical Partner for the Pebble Mine


April 22, 2019

Joel Reynolds, Natural Resources Defense Council

Canadian owner of widely condemned Bristol Bay mine desperately seeks new partner with a few billion to spare. Financial, social, and environmental indifference required. No need to apply if you’re fazed by economic infeasibility, relentless local opposition, pervasive risk, and potentially catastrophic social and environmental impacts.

It’s no secret that Northern Dynasty Minerals (aka the Pebble Partnership)—the sole remaining partner in the embattled Pebble Mine proposed for the headwaters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay—is in urgent need of a new financial partner. To be sure, after four of the world’s major mining companies (Mitsubishi Corporation, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, and First Quantum Minerals) have walked away from the project since 2011, it’s a tough sell.

At last year’s general meeting of shareholders, Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen expressed confidence they can make a deal. The only question, he told me, is “what deal”—that is, what terms will be required to entice a buy-out or at least a new major partner. With the company’s history of failed partnerships in mind, I began to speculate about what the profile of such a partner, if indeed there is one to be found, might look like.

Here, in no particular order, are some essential characteristics:

(1) Unconcerned by financial risk
Contrary to industry practice—and despite repeated requests—Pebble has refused to release an economic feasibility analysis for its latest mine plan, now under permit review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When asked by the Army Corps’ consultant AECOM to produce information on Pebble’s “cost/feasibility,” the company refused, citing a Canadian securities regulation whose purpose is to prevent securities fraud relating to mining properties. When pressed by the Bristol Bay Native Corporation (“BBNC”) last December, Pebble’s CEO Tom Collier, too, declined, explaining that such an analysis “remains on our to-do list.” Just this month, pressed by E&E News, he demurred once again because “an economic analysis is not a required piece of the permitting puzzle.”

But there is a more likely, more compelling explanation:

Based on publicly available information and Northern Dynasty’s own assumptions in a 2011 feasibility analysis of potential mine scenarios, a former longtime Rio Tinto mining expert submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers his own analysis of the project’s economics, concluding that the project is “almost certainly not economically feasible,” with a strongly negative net present value of -$3 billion.

(2) Unconcerned by relentless opposition in Alaska
As each of the major mining companies that abandoned the project learned the hard way, the people who live in the region don’t want the Pebble Mine. There is overwhelming local opposition, registered for years, by Yup’ik, Dena’ina , Alutiiq and other indigenous peoples, and a survey released by BBNC found that 81 percent of its native shareholders strongly oppose the mine. In addition, more than 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents and 85 percent of commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay oppose the mine.

In addition to tribal governments, the list of regional organizations actively opposing the mine includes BBNC (a multi-billion dollar native-owned development corporation representing more than 10,000 native shareholders), the Bristol Bay Native Association (representing all 31 tribes in Bristol Bay), the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Salmon State, Katmai Service Providers, and many more.

The latest state-wide poll, undertaken by the Alaska State Senate, found continuing state opposition at 61 percent, following closely the 65 percent statewide opposition reflected by support for the 2014 Bristol Bay Forever Initiative.

(3) Unconcerned by harm to the greatest wild salmon fishery on Earth and the region’s economic engine
After three years of twice peer-reviewed scientific study, as well as public comment that supported EPA’s process by a staggering 98 percent (and 84 percent from Alaskans state-wide), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) concluded in 2014 that the proposed mine would result in “significant and unacceptable adverse effects” to important fishery areas in the Bristol Bay watershed, that the Pebble Mine would have "significant" impacts on fish populations and streams surrounding the mine site, and that a tailings dam failure would have "catastrophic" effects on the region.

Against this scientific record and all common sense, Pebble disagrees, suggesting to its captured investors and credulous federal regulator that gouging a massive open pit mine into the tundra at the top of Bristol Bay’s watershed may be good for the fishery (from Pebble’s Collier to BBNC in December—citing “our sophisticated models”—the project will have a “potentially positive impact on fish habitat . . .”; and from Northern Dynasty’s Thiessen at last year’s Annual General Meeting of shareholders, the value of the Bristol Bay fishery will “actually be enhanced” by development of the Pebble Mine).

(4) Unconcerned by political risk that Trump Administration approval would be reversed by a future Administration
It is undeniable that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt threw the Pebble Mine a life-line when, in May 2017, after a one hour meeting with the project’s CEO, he announced, in disregard of the multi-year scientific process described above, that the agency would abandon its efforts to limit the size, scope, and risk associated with the Pebble Mine. Science and advice from agency technical staff had nothing to do with his decision, since he apparently consulted neither.

By contrast, in December 2017, former EPA Administrators for Presidents Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush joined with former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in condemning the Pebble Mine as “fundamentally flawed” and the “wrong mine in the wrong place.”

The previous year, in September 2016, the World Conservation Congress, including representatives from over 120 nations, virtually unanimously urged the U.S. government to deny a permit for the Pebble Mine.

(5) Unconcerned by partnering with a company that has a long history of failed partnerships
Northern Dynasty was created to develop the Pebble Mine, and it has no other assets. In 2010, it had a formidable list of partners and major mining company investors. All have left the project—Mitsubishi in 2011, Anglo American in 2013, Rio Tinto in 2014, and First Quantum Minerals in 2018. Since 2011, Northern Dynasty has itself been trying unsuccessfully to sell its own interest in the project.

(6) Unconcerned by generous compensation levels of Pebble’s corporate leadership despite consistently poor corporate performance
While Northern Dynasty’s stock has declined steadily in value from over $21.00 per share in 2011 to less than $0.60 per share today, Pebble’s corporate leadership continues to be very well compensated, especially Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier. In 2017, for example, Collier received total compensation of CAN $2,357,744 and stands to gain a US $12.5 million bonus upon early completion of the Army Corps permitting process. That same year, Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen received total compensation of CAN $2,118,486, and the company’s Chairman of the Board Robert Dickinson was compensated CAN $339,570.

(7) Unconcerned by a wide range of significant reputational and other risks, including the risk of protracted litigation
For over a decade, the Pebble Mine has been the focus of relentless opposition led by the people of Bristol Bay, supported by a wide range of state-wide, national, and even international stakeholders that includes the commercial and sport fishing industries, conservation groups, sportsmen, hunters, and businesses.

This diverse opposition has steadily increased public awareness and state, national, and international condemnation of Pebble, and it has committed to pursue all administrative and legal challenges for as long as it takes to defeat this uniquely reckless and irresponsible mining project.

(8) Unconcerned by operational risks and remediation costs
The multi-billion-dollar cost to construct the massive open pit and operate the mine – still undefined by Pebble for its current mine plan – has almost certainly been underestimated. But without question the technical challenges of construction and operation in the remote, hydrologically complex, and seismically active upper Bristol Bay watershed would be enormous.

In addition, to transport gold and copper from the mine site to market, Pebble will have to construct and operate massive infrastructure, including a marine terminal in Cook Inlet, roads, pipelines and even infrastructure in Lake Iliamna to support a preposterous southern all-season ferry route across the lake through pristine wilderness to Amakdedori Beach on Kamishak Bay in Cook Inlet. To construct roads, Northern Dynasty Minerals must acquire access rights from area landowners—access rights that some of these very landowners have vowed to oppose, including BBNC.

The list could go on. But the range of significant obstacles to, and risks of association with, the Pebble Mine is unprecedented – financial, social, environmental, political, reputational, regulatory, legal, and operational.

And while, as Northern Dynasty’s Thiessen has said, there may indeed be a financial “deal” to be made to perpetuate this international pariah of a mining project, there can be no doubt that any new partner or major investor will inevitably and deservedly be tarred with the global condemnation that, more than any other mining project anywhere, has justifiably been focused on the Pebble Mine.

We will never relent in our support for the people of Bristol Bay in defense of their way of life, their children, and their future.

Take action now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Weekly Post, "Adventuring on the Yakutat Forelands: Bowing before St. Elias" by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Adventuring on the Yakutat Forelands - Bowing before St. Elias
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

The Yakutat Forelands are where the Tongass rainforest and the Chugach forest to the north meet. It is also home to many large glaciers, a stunning coastline, the huge Alsek-Tatshenshini river, and Icy Bay, which sits at the foot of Mount St. Elias, the greatest vertical rise from sea level in the world. There is a lot of powerful energy out here.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Adventuring on the Yakutat Forelands - Bowing before St. Elias, #94:
The Yakutat Forelands, #94:  The spectacle of the exaggerated, and very visible, changes in the parts of Icy Bay we actually explored, is quite sobering to all of us. As the plane climbs and heads for the coast, we fall silent as each of us ponders the numerous times we have encountered life-threatening circumstances in just these past 10-days. This was NOT a casual Alaskan kayaking adventure. Our pilot suggests we have been in the middle “of an epic weather event,” and he acknowledges that he wondered what he would find in flying in to pick us up. He also notes that all flights in and out of Yakutat have been grounded for the better part of the last week, so he was not even sure if he would be allowed to come for us. As our flight path hits the coast, where we will turn south, the large river pouring out of the bay has flushed so much mud and silt into the Pacific, that it is actually changing the color of the ocean water for many square miles. Well, it IS Alaska! Go big, or go home. We have done one, and now we are going to do the other. I want to sleep on a mattress. We have all come to bow before St. Elias, and now suitably humbled, we retreat to play another day.

photograph(s) © copyright, Robert Glenn Ketchum, 2018, @RbtGlennKetchum, @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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