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Understanding the Minsinformation Machine



george monbiot

 Yes, Donald Trump’s politics are incoherent. But those who surround him know just what they want, and his lack of clarity enhances their power. To understand what is coming, we need to understand who they are. I know all too well, because I have spent the past 15 years fighting them.

Over this time, I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine, composed of think tanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.

I first encountered the machine when writing about climate change. The fury and loathing directed at climate scientists and campaigners seemed incomprehensible until I realised they were fake: the hatred had been paid for. The bloggers and institutes whipping up this anger were funded by oil and coal companies.

Among those with whom I clashed was Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The CEI calls itself a think tank, but looks to me like a corporate lobbying group. It is not transparent about its funding, but we now know it has received $2 million from ExxonMobil, $5 million from a group called the Donors Trust (which represents various corporations and billionaires), $800,000 from groups set up by the tycoons Charles and David Koch, and substantial sums from coal, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.

For years, Ebell and the CEI have attacked efforts to limit climate change, through lobbying, lawsuits and campaigns. An advertisement released by the institute had the punchline “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.”

It has sought to eliminate funding for environmental education, lobbied against the Endangered Species Act, harried climate scientists and campaigned in favour of mountaintop removal by coal companies. In 2004, Ebell sent a memo to one of George W Bush’s staffers, calling for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to be sacked. Where is Mr Ebell now? Oh. Leading Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Charles and David Koch – who for years have funded extreme pro-corporate politics – might not have been enthusiasts for Trump’s candidacy, but their people were all over his campaign. Until June, Trump’s campaign manager was Corey Lewandowski who, like other members of Trump’s team, came from a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

This purports to be a grassroots campaign, but it was founded and funded by the Koch brothers. It set up the first Tea Party Facebook page and organised the first Tea Party events. With a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, AFP has campaigned ferociously on issues that coincide with the Koch brothers’ commercial interests in oil, gas, minerals, timber and chemicals.

In Michigan, it helped force through the “right to work bill”, in pursuit of what AFP’s local director called “taking the unions out at the knees”. It has campaigned nationwide against action on climate change. It has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into unseating the politicians who won’t do its bidding and replacing them with those who will.

I could fill this newspaper with the names of Trump staffers who have emerged from such groups; people such as Doug Domenech, from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, funded among others by the Koch brothers, Exxon and the Donors Trust; Barry Bennett, whose Alliance for America’s Future refused to disclose its donors when challenged; and Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, funded by Exxon and others. This is to say nothing of Donald Trump’s own crashing conflicts of interest. Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of the lobbyists and corporate stooges working in Washington. But it looks as if the only swamps he’ll drain will be real ones, as his team launches its war on the natural world.

Understandably, there has been plenty of coverage of the racists and white supremacists empowered by Trump’s victory. But, gruesome as they are, they’re peripheral to the policies his team will develop. It’s almost comforting, though, to focus on them, for at least we know who they are and what they stand for.

By contrast, to penetrate the corporate misinformation machine is to enter a world of mirrors. Spend too long trying to understand it, and the hyporeality vortex will inflict serious damage on your state of mind.

Don’t imagine that other parts of the world are immune. Corporate-funded think tanks and fake grassroots groups are now everywhere. The fake news we should be worried about is not stories invented by Macedonian teenagers about Hillary Clinton selling arms to Isis, but the constant feed of confected scares about unions, tax and regulation drummed up by groups that won’t reveal their interests.

The less transparent they are, the more airtime they receive. The organisation Transparify runs an annual survey of think tanks. This year’s survey reveals that in the UK only four think tanks – the Adam Smith Institute, Centre for Policy Studies, Institute of Economic Affairs and Policy Exchange – “still consider it acceptable to take money from hidden hands behind closed doors.” And these are the ones all over the media. When the Institute of Economic Affairs, as it so often does, appears on the BBC to argue against regulating tobacco, shouldn’t we be told that it has been funded by tobacco companies since 1963? There’s a similar pattern in the US: the most vocal groups tend to be the most opaque.

As usual, the left and centre (myself included) are beating ourselves up about where we went wrong. There are plenty of answers, but one of them is that we have simply been outspent. Not by a little, but by orders of magnitude. A few billion dollars spent on persuasion buys you all the politics you want. Genuine campaigners, working in their free time, simply cannot match a professional network staffed by thousands of well-paid, unscrupulous people.

You cannot confront a power until you know what it is. Our first task in this struggle is to understand what we face. Only then can we work out what to do.


About George Monbiot: Here are some of the things I try to fight: undemocratic power, corruption, deception of the public, environmental destruction, injustice, inequality and the misallocation of resources, waste, denial, the libertarianism which grants freedom to the powerful at the expense of the powerless, undisclosed interests, complacency. Here is what I fear: other people’s cowardice. My new book How Did We Get into This Mess? is published by Verso.

Source: Monbiot

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An Empowered World

If Democracy is in Peril, How do we Reverse Course to fix it?



The Global State of Democracy Report 2021 –  Building Resilience in a Pandemic Era

International IDEA’s “The Global State of Democracy: Building resilience in a pandemic era” report aims to influence the global debate and analyses current trends and challenges to democracy, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. It offers specific policy recommendations to spark new and innovative thinking for policymakers, governments and civil society organizations supporting democracy.

Visit the GSoD website to read and download the 2021 report.



International IDEA will host a series of global and regional events in November and December about The Global State of Democracy (global and regional) reports. Join the Global Launch beginning 22 November 2021, 15:00-17:00 CET.  Browse this events page for more details about all event agendas involving notable speakers and supporters of democracy.

Please register to join events online or plan to watch live.

Follow us and engage with us on social media: #GSoD2021, #RenewDemocracy, #GlobalStateofDemocracy

This page is being updated on a daily basis. Please check back often for more information. 

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In 2016, International IDEA launched the Global State of Democracy Initiative, to analyze democratic trends and challenges and opportunities impacting on the global democracy landscape. The Global State of Democracy Initiative provides evidence-based and balanced analysis and data on the state and quality of democracy across most countires and all regions of the world. It aims to contribute to the public debate on democracy and inform policy interventions to strengthen democracy.

The Global State of Democracy Initiative is led by the Democracy Assessment team. For contact or queries on the GSoD Initiative or the GSoD Indices, please contact the DA team and GSoD Helpdesk.


Event notices: 

  • Individuals noted on any UN sanctions list (United Nations Security Council Consolidated List) or European Union sanctions list are not allowed to participate in any International IDEA events.
  • All events will be recorded.

Event Listing





The global State of Democracy report – global Launch

Date: 22 November 2021, 15:00-17:00 CET

Location: Brussels and online


  • H.E. Michael Clauss, Permanent Representative of Germany to the European Union
  •  Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA


  •  Ms Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships  (pre-recorded message)
  •  Dr Jürgen Zattler, Director-General for  International Development Policy, 2030 Agenda, Climate, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Presentation of the Global State of Democracy Report  

  • Dr Seema Shah, Head of Democracy Assessment Unit, International IDEA
  •  Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA

Panel Discussion

  • Mr Christophe Deloire, Secretary General,  Reporters Without Borders
  • Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Yiaga Africa
  • Ms Mu Sochua, Democracy activist and former Vice-President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party

Moderator: Massimo Tommasoli, Director of Global Programmes, International IDEA


State of Democracy in Asia and the Pacific report Launch

Date: 24 November 2021, 16:00-17:30 AEDT,  6:00-7:30 CET

Location: Canberra (Museum of Australian Democracy (MoADand online

Welcome Message and Opening 

  • Daryl Karp AM, Museum Director at Museum of Australian Democracy
  • Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA

Special Messages (pre-recorded)

  • Hon. Audrey Tang, Digital Minister of Taiwan

Presentation of the State of Democracy in Asia and the Pacific Report  

  • Leena Rikkila Tamang, Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific, International IDEA

Panel Discussion

  • Edward Aspinall, PhD , Professor, Coral Bell School of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University
  • Imelda Deinla, PhD , Associate Professor, Ateneo School of Government, Philippines
  • Nematullah Bizhan, PhD, Lecturer in Public Policy, Australian National University, former government official of Afghanistan


Mark Evans, PhD ,Professor, Center for Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra

Host: Adhy Aman, Senior Programme Manager, Asia and the Pacific, International IDEA


The Global State of Democracy report – stockholm Presentation

Date: 25 November 2021, 15:00-17:00 CET

Location: Stockholm and online


  • Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA


  •  H.E. Ann Linde, Foreign Affairs Minister, Sweden

Presentation of the Global State of Democracy Report

  • Dr Seema Shah, Head of Democracy Assessment, International IDEA

Panel Discussion

  • Ms Benedicte Berner, Civil Rights Defenders
  • Mr Erik Halkjaer, Reporters Without Borders
  • Ms Birgitta Ohlsson, National Democratic Institute

Moderator:  Dr Miguel Angel Lara Otaola, Senior Democracy Assessment Specialist, International IDEA


State of Democracy report in Asia and the Pacific – melanesia

Date: 7 December 2021

Location: Papua New Guinea

More details to come. 


Presentation of the Global State of Democracy Report

  • Leena Rikkila Tamang, Director for Asia and the Pacific, International IDEA


State of Democracy report in Europe – Brussels

Date: 7 December 2021

Location: Bussels

More details to come. 


Presentation of the State of Democracy in Europe Report



The Global State of Democracy report  – Washington, dc presentation

Date: 7 December 2021, 9:00-10:30 EST, 15:00-16:30 CET

Location: Washington, DC

More details to come. 


Presentation of the Global State of Democracy Report


State of Democracy report in Africa Launch

Date: 10 December 2021, 11:30-13:30 EAT, 09:30-11:30 CET

Location: Ethiopia and online

Welcome and Opening Remarks  

  • Dr Roba Sharamo, Regional Director International IDEA Africa and West Asia
  • Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General, International IDEA

Keynote Speech

  • Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security- African Union Commission

“Continental perspective on the state of democracy and the role of the AU and regional economic bodies”  

Presentations of the State of Democracy Reports 

  • Presentation of the Global Findings: Dr Seema Shah, Head of Democracy Assessments, International IDEA
  • Presentation of Africa Findings, Dr Roba Sharamo, Regional Director International IDEA Africa and West Asia

Panel Discussion

Moderator:  Ms Njeri Kabeberi, Chair, International IDEA Board of Advisors

  • Democratic Recession Amidst a Global Health Pandemic – Re-Emergence of Coups, Extended Presidential Tenures and Infringements of Fundamental Rights –  Dr Andrews Atta Samoah, Programme Head, African Peace and Security Governance – Institute for Security Studies
  • Africa’s youth- Channelling the Opportunities to Address the Challenge of Exclusion –  (TBC)
  • Key Considerations for Addressing Democratic Regression in Africa –   Dr. Khabele Matlosa, Former Director of Department of Political Affairs, African Union Commission


The Global State of Democracy report  – New York (UN) presentation

Date: 13 December 2021, 13:30-15:00 EST, 19:30-21:00 CET

Location: New York

More details to come. 


Presentation of the Global State of Democracy Report

  • Massimo Tommasoli, Director of Global Programmes, International IDEA




State of Democracy report in the americaS launch

Date: 15 December 2021, 10:00-11:30

Location: Panama City, Panama

More details to come. 


Presentation of the Global State of Democracy in the Americas Report

  • Daniel Zovatto, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, International IDEA



State of Democracy report in THE americaS – santiago presentation

Date: 17 December 2021, 15:00-17:00 CET

Location: Santiago, Chile

More details to come. 




State of Democracy report in europe – the hague presentation

Date: Early 2022

Location: The Hague, Netherlands

More details to come. 




State of Democracy report in THe  americaS – LiMA presentation

Date: Early 2022

Location: Lima, Peru

More details to come. 


Source: IDEA International




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Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act



Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

Michael Sani is a fervent believer in people casting transformative power with their votes. As chief executive of Bite the Ballot, a program supporting the U.K. Cabinet Office to increase voter registration, he partnered with Starbucks to create “DeCafe” debates, re-invigorating the spirit of the 17th Century coffee shop to inspire participation in elections.


The social entrepreneur later took this initiative to France and Colombia to support political engagement in elections and saw its methodology inspire the African Prisons Project, which held events in prisons with key social justice stakeholders.


Now CEO of Play Verto, which he says takes a “holistic approach” to accelerating and magnifying social impact through data-led decision-making, Sani’s new target is nothing less than generating the people power to help change the world.


The British-born, Egypt-based former business studies teacher recently unveiled The People’s Report, a global poll enabling 17,000 people speaking 43 different languages on the front lines of climate change to submit de-facto annual returns on how it is affecting their daily lives. The aim is for this exercise to act as a flash scorecard on progress toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.


Emanating from discussions in 2019 with Catalyst 2030, a social entrepreneurship policy initiative, and run on a shoestring with a tiny staff reliant on volunteers and funded by friends and supporters, The People’s Report also wants its data to be used to formulate future policies.


“Social entrepreneurs want to collaborate in order to achieve the SDGs” says Sani, “but there are many different social entrepreneurs working towards the SDGs in silos across the different thematic areas.


“They have the same goals, but collaboration is hard to come by and what often happens is that there’s not enough funding or resources and you end up competing against those you should be working with because of the way the ecosystem has been put together.


“A lot of social entrepreneurs are therefore just surviving, rather than thriving, and that’s the piece of the jigsaw that most fascinates me: how do we shift the sector from survive mode and thrive.”


A collaboration between Catalyst 2030, the Social Progress Imperative and Play Verto, The People’s Report’s aim is to measure the reality of peoples’ lives in relation to the SDGs. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the partners’ networks. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the networks of Catalyst 2030 and other initiatives including the Social Progress Index.





They were answered by people on the world’s front lines: from the townships of South Africa, sex workers in India, Syrians in refugee camps, truck drivers in Australia, rose growers in Bogota, and office workers in Japan.


The inaugural survey found nearly two-thirds of respondents stating that they are experiencing the direct effects of climate change in their daily lives. Some 50% said they cannot trust their governmental leaders to address the issue. Asked whether they would choose to raise children in their communities in the current worsening environment, 34% of respondents replied in the negative.


The poll found that 34% of respondents under the age of 51 reported worsening mental health since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread evidence that they are living in the climate emergency, with 79% of respondents in the Indian subcontinent and 63% overall saying they had personally witnessed biodiversity loss.


The reality of hunger was also evident, with Africa (32%) and the Indian subcontinent (24%) reporting the highest levels, but 15% of North Americans and 14% of Europeans also saying they go to bed hungry. The impact of COVID-19 was clearly seen as 43% of respondents saying they had lost their income.


Lack of trust in governments emerged as a real problem, with 57% citing this in the Middle East and North Africa and one-third of all respondents stating that different views were not respected in their communities.


Finally, the survey identified a genuine fear for the future, with 42% of people in the Middle East and North Africa expressing little confidence in the future.


Sani and his partners are now planning much bigger Peoples Reports over the remaining eight years until the UN’s deadline. “The call to arms was ‘What’s your story?’” he says.


“We wanted to get the realities of as many people as possible at a particular point in time, with the goal of taking that back to the UN. It’s not about pointing out where their data is wrong and our data is right, but just to offer up our ideas so we can all work together with fresh and vivid information.


“We’ve got nine years to achieve the SDGs and this is the state of our realities according to the people facing them. We hope it can help form a unified voice to help better shape strategies based on need and a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not.


“If we’re going to set forth such an ambitious plan as achieving the SDGs, we really need to have our finger on the pulse. Now we have the data to take this forward.”

Source: Driving Change

Andrew Cave

Andrew Cave is a British business journalist who has written for The Daily Telegraph for 24 years in London and New York, rising to be Associate City Editor before switching to freelance writing in 2005. He also penned columns for Forbes Magazine for six years and has written five books on leadership and management.

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Lies Kill



YouTube has decided to take down video channels associated with some of the key anti-vaccine activists on the Internet, people like Joseph Mercola, Robert F. Kennedy Jr and Erin Elizabeth Finn.

This pits two core American values against each other. It pits freedom of speech against saving human lives.

By Howard Bloom

YouTube has decided to take down video channels associated with some of the key anti-vaccine activists on the Internet, people like Joseph Mercola, Robert F. Kennedy Jr and Erin Elizabeth Finn.

This pits two core American values against each other. It pits freedom of speech against saving human lives.

Why the YouTube censorship? Just 12 people generate 65% of the anti-vaccine shares on YouTube. And anti-vaccine beliefs can kill you.

As of October 2, 701,000 Americans have died of covid. That’s more than the total number of Americans who died in all the wars of the 20th century combined. Almost all of those who died were unvaccinated.

Meanwhile Joseph Mercola, according to the New York Times, “has published over 600 articles on Facebook that cast doubt on Covid-19 vaccines.” But Mercola is not an unbiased source of information. He has earned over $100 million selling natural health remedies he says can allow you to “take control of your health”.

Actually YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook started to police covid disinformation at the beginning of the pandemic a year and a half ago. At the end of September YouTube went beyond censorship of misinformation on covid vaccines to shut down misinformation on all vaccines. Including the claim that childhood vaccines cause autism.

At bottom this is something bigger than it seems. It is a battle of our entire society against the big lie. The idea of the big lie was invented by Adolph Hitler in the 1920s and developed as a tool by Hitler’s propaganda tsar Joseph Goebbels. The doctrine of the big lie says that if you invent a lie outlandish enough it will overwhelm your audience’s critical faculties and will trigger belief. Especially if you repeat it over and over again.

An example of the big lie is the original social media posting over a year ago claiming that Anthony Fauci was Bill Gates’ roommate at Cornell. Then, said the posting, Fauci became the first CEO of Moderna, one of the drug companies making a covid vaccine. The posting implied that Fauci stands to make millions from the vaccines.

But that’s not all. Said the posting, “It was at Cornell that Bill Gates designed the RFID (Radio-frequency identification) [chip] and patented it under US2006257852.” And, the posting claimed, Bill Gates is using the covid vaccine to implant his RFID microchips in you.

There was only one problem. None of these facts were true. Not a single one of them.

Bill Gates did not go to Cornell, he went to Harvard. Bill Gates could not have been a roommate of Anthony Fauci. Anthony Fauci left undergraduate school in 1962. Gates dropped out of Harvard in 1975. The two men were 333 miles and over thirteen years apart.

What’s more, Anthony Fauci never worked at Moderna. Moderna was not founded until 2010. By then Dr. Fauci had been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 24 years.

Topping it all off, the patent number the posting gave for Bili Gates’ alleged RFID chip is not for RFID chips. It’s a chemical patent that “relates to nucleic acids and proteins from the SARS coronavirus.” And the patent was not issued to Bill Gates, it was issued to Jens P. Gregersen and David Chien.

In other words, this critical posting on which a massive conspiracy movement has been based was brilliantly written. Persuasively written. But every claim it made was a lie.

But, hey, freedom of speech means freedom to lie, doesn’t it? No, it means an obligation to give the closest approximation to truth you can muster.

Freedom of speech is central to democracy. It’s one of our checks and balances. One of our self-corrective mechanisms. One of the things that has allowed western civilization to produce material miracles like doubling the human lifetime in a mere 150 years, upping the average iq by 35 points in 100 years, and increasing peace in the world by a factor of ten in 350 years.

But the daily use of big lies in our politics can destroy freedom of speech. And it can poison our entire system of democracy.

What’s more, lies can kill. 3,418 Americans died of covid on September 16. That’s far more than died in our 20-year-long war in Afghanistan. Dying of covid in a single day.

A huge proportion of those who died believed that vaccines are filled with microchips. In other words, because of their beliefs, almost all of those who died were unvaccinated.

So which virus really killed them, the microbe or the virus of the big lie?


Howard Bloom, The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism, Prometheus Books, 2009,


Howard Bloom has been called the Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV. One of his seven books-Global Brain—was the subject of a symposium thrown by the Office of the Secretary of Defense including representatives from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Psychology Today, and the Scientific American. He does news commentary at 1:06 am et every Wednesday night on 545 radio stations on Coast to Coast AM. For more, see

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Mobilized TV

Mobilized TV on Free Speech TV  takes a deep look at our world, the consequences of human activity on our planet, and how we can reverse and prevent existing and future crises from occurring. Mobilized reveals life on our planet as a system of systems which all work together for the optimal health of the whole. The show delves into deep conversations with change-makers so people can clearly take concerted actions.

Produced by Steven Jay and hosted by Jeff Van Treese.

Mobilized’s TV series Mobilized TV  premieres on Free Speech TV on Friday, October 15, 2021. All episodes appear:

Fridays 9:30 PM Eastern (USA/Canada)

Saturdays; 6:30 PM (Eastern USA/Canada)

Sundays: 8:30 AM Eastern (USA/Canada)

Nov 26,27,28: Imagination will take you Everywhere: Howard Bloom
Howard Bloom has worn many hats. As an Author, he’s known for “The Global Brain” and “The Lucifer Principle” and many others.  As the head of the Howard Bloom Organization, for many years, he empowered a team of publicists to connect his stable of artists with media, creating successful campaigns for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Amnesty International, The Jacksons Victory Tour, Billy Joel and John Mellencamp. But his real passion is science and discovery, and empowering human soul into the creation of optimal systems that serve all.  Howard claims that “We need a vision for the future that we could reach towards by looking up, the same way JFK encourage us to look into the sky and go to the Moon.”  It is this type of vision that great societies try to attain.”

December 3,4,5: How can we eliminate heart disease featuring Dr. Michael Ozner

How a better understanding of whole system health can bring about more health and well-being. We spend a little quality time with celebrated preventative cardiologist and Author of The Complete Mediterranean Diet, Dr. Michael Ozner.

December 10, 11, 12 Dr. Julie Peller: Plastics Everywhere: What can we do about it?

Dr. Julie Peller is a professor of chemistry at Valparaiso University, where she studies microplastic solution. On today’s show, Dr. Peller discusses the extent of microplastic pollution in our environment and the risks they pose to human health.

December 17,18, 18: Population Matters with Dave Gardner of Growthbusters

Scientists have stated that unlimited growth on a finite planet with finite resources is an impossibility? So if growth is unsustainable, what does that mean for a growing population?

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