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YouTube king, chiropractor Eric Berg, sued for forcing Scientology on employee

[Eric Berg]

Chiropractor and OT 8 Scientologist Eric Berg, who has a YouTube following 5 million strong, was scheduled to be deposed this week in a lawsuit filed by a former employee who says that working for Berg meant being subjected to constant pressure to take Scientology courses.

Then, we got involved and apparently it caused everything to change. Let us explain.

The litigation had actually been going on for some time, but we were unaware of it because the former employee, Brenda Valentine, had sued The Health & Wellness Center, Inc [H&WC]. We only recently became aware that the litigation involves the center’s owners, Eric Berg and his wife Karen. (And thank you, reader, for giving us that tip.)

The complaint filed by Valentine is filled with juicy details, which we’ll get to in a minute, but the first thing we did after reading it was reach out to Ian Rafalko, Berg’s son who made such a huge impact with a TikTok video and then appeared on Leah Remini’s podcast, discussing his estrangement from his Scientologist father.

 

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[Ian Rafalko]

Rafalko had also worked for his father and so he knew Valentine, but he didn’t know the litigation had reached such an advanced state. (It’s already had multiple complaints, a dismissal, and was now in discovery.) After we brought the litigation to his attention, Rafalko reached out to Valentine’s attorney, and he told us he was helping out with the lawsuit.

“I am simply helping to shed light on perhaps a more personal side of my parents, I suppose. But essentially just being honest about who they are as people, what they value, etc. But I think there will be perhaps more I can help with in the future as it all develops,” Ian said.

Valentine initially filed an EEOC complaint in 2017, and the EEOC issued her a right-to-sue letter on August 20, 2020. She then filed her lawsuit initially on November 12, 2020. She filed an amended complaint on October 15, 2021.

In the amended complaint, Valentine explains that she is a Christian who lives in Washington DC. She had grown up a Catholic, but now considers herself a “non-denominational Evangelist” and attends a Protestant church.

She started working for Berg’s outfit, H&WC, in 2010 and rose to “Director of Marketing Assistance/New Client Scheduler” as the firm relocated from Annandale to Alexendria, Virginia. She did not know when she started there that Scientology would be thrust on the employees.

“Dr. Berg and Mrs. Berg require the employees of [H&WC] to be active members of the Church of Scientology and require them to participate in programs which are designed to recruit and indoctrinate their employees into membership within the Church of Scientology,” the complaint states.

The complaint also cites Scientology’s original “OT 8” materials with its infamous language by founder L. Ron Hubbard in which he describes himself as the Antichrist and describes Jesus as “a lover of young boys” to explain how antithetical Scientologist ideas are for a Christian.

Valentine had first met Berg as a patient, and she described the stress she was experiencing working for her (Protestant) church. “She also complained about being unable to find meaningful full-time work. After this meeting, Dr. Berg suggested that she come work for him.”

But then Valentine found out what was required of Berg’s workers. Valentine was unaware of what the Church of Scientology was when she was hired.

Employees are required to read, understand, and apply the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard and their performance is evaluated pursuant to the standards of the Church of Scientology. Attendance at these programs, at all time relevant, was mandatory and was paid for by Dr. Berg, Mrs. Berg, and/or [H&WC]. Employees were promised to be paid (a half rate of pay) for the attendance at the programs sponsored by the Church of Scientology at the Church of Scientology. Failure to attend programs led to discipline and termination. Frequent attendance was tied to advancement. Internally, at the Defendant, this is called “the policy.”

Like a Scientology church, Berg’s office had “ethics” officers and, people snitched on each other with “Knowledge Reports.”

Three days into her job, Valentine was presented with a contract that had language about applying Scientology. “Ms. Valentine knew nothing about L. Ron Hubbard or the Church of Scientology and was desperate for a full-time job and signed the agreement.”

She was then required to read Basic Staff Hat, and was subjected to Scientology discipline.

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And initially she found success, getting promoted three separate times. As long as she was participating in the Scientology setup, she was promoted, But when she began to rebel against it, she was demoted and fired, the complaint says.

Classes at the office were taught on Thursdays, usually involving Dianetics, the 1950 book written by Hubbard.

“During these classes the employees, including Ms. Valentine, were directed to watch videos and receive instruction about ‘Dianetics,’ which focused on topics about supreme alien beings, cosmology, and past lives,” the complaint says.

She was also required to take courses at the local org, at 1424 16th St NW. But she began missing classes, and flat-out refused to go on a trip to Scientology’s cruise ship, the Freewinds, in the Caribbean.

The complaint offers this description of what happened when she was interrogated using the Scientology “E-meter.”

During a class at the Church of Scientology in Washington DC, an instructor presented Ms. Valentine, in a private meeting, with an old, brown suitcase. The instructor opened the suitcase and inside was a brown and pewter-colored machine. The instructor told Ms. Valentine he could tell whether or not Ms. Valentine was telling the truth by using this machine. He asked her questions about where she lives, her age, whether she’s ever had a felony, whether she’s ever taken drugs, and other intrusive, personal questions. After the session, the instructor told Ms. Valentine that she had answered the questions correctly and well. Ms. Valentine, in response, told the instructor that she had in fact deliberately lied in response to some of the questions to show him that the device did not work and could not detect whether she was telling the truth. He got upset and after that, her relationship with the Church of Scientology on 16th Street soured.

Late in 2014 or early 2015, Valentine stopped attending classes at the org and at the office too, and she was demoted.

Except for her, Valentine believed that all of the other employees were Scientologists or open to be recruited into it. And her interactions with Berg himself are fascinating:

Throughout her time working for [H&WC], Ms. Valentine would be subjected to “auditing-type” meetings with Dr. Berg at the workplace and during working hours. In a typical meeting, Dr. Berg would invite Ms. Valentine into his office and begin asking a series of spiritual and personal questions. These meetings were face-to-face, held in private, were mandatory and occurred during working time. During these meetings with Dr. Berg, Dr. Berg would complain about how he was raised a Christian and how his Christian mother was a hypocrite. He would tell Ms. Valentine about his past lives and how his participation in the Church of Scientology gave him greater knowledge and how everyone has had a past life. During these meetings, Ms. Valentine would explain that her beliefs were Christian, and that she did not believe she had a past life. Dr. Berg would respond by claiming to have superior knowledge which could not be explained based on his own experience, but which could only be explained by the experiences he had in his past lives. He claimed to have had past lives as a famous author and a military officer. These meetings would take place approximately two to four times a month and were mandatory. The meetings sometimes would last somewhere between twenty and forty-five minutes. During these meetings, Ms. Valentine was on the clock. These meetings occurred with greater frequency when others were not present. During these meetings Dr. Berg did most of the talking.

And…

There was little or no discussion about Ms. Valentine’s sales, hours of work, commissions or performance; the focus of the meetings was on “Dianetics” the cosmological, alien beings and reincarnation. Dr. Berg would press Ms. Valentine about whether she could remember her past lives and encourage her to undertake greater commitments to the Church of Scientology. He would press her to attend Scientology classes in Washington D.C. and would read passages from Scientology books to her.

Then, Berg got his hands on the new brand of E-meter:

Then, later that year, in the late summer or fall of 2016 (approximately), Dr. Berg had returned from a Sea Org program. He was excited and seemed full of energy. He summoned Ms. Valentine to his office for a session. He told Ms. Valentine that he had something to show her. During the private meeting, he presented a shiny, metal briefcase. Inside of it was a silver object made out of aluminum or stainless steel. He said this was “the newest one” and an “upgrade of previous versions.” He said this “new one” “does a lot more.” He opened the case and there were two objects, each the size of a soup can connected by a wire connected to a electrical device. The device was similar to the device that had been used upon Ms. Valentine during while she was inside the Church of Scientology on 16th Street attending a class in 2014.

Valentine stopped taking part in any Scientology activities, and as a result more Knowledge Reports were written about her. Also, she was prohibited from submitting KRs about others.

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“By June of 2016, Ms. Valentine’s pay had been steadily decreasing, having been demoted twice, each time for failing to attend Church of Scientology classes.”

The office then set up video surveillance of her because she was not submitting to the Scientology regimen, the complaint claims. A KR was then submitted based on what was seen on the camera.

Finally, she was terminated on April 12, 2017, and given no reason.

Valentine was suing for 1. Wrongful termination on the basis of religion, 2: Denial of religious accommodation, 3: Wrongful termination on the basis of retaliation. And she was asking for an injunction to prevent the company from discriminating against others.

Ian Rafalko grew up in Scientology in Washington DC, but later was on the Atlanta staff before he left Scientology. He burst onto the scene with a viral TikTok video last May…

So after I make this video and it goes public my life will be over. That uh… my life’s been over for a while, so. I thought I might at least go out with a bang.

Some of you might know this guy. He has a few thousand videos on YouTube. He’s pretty popular at this point. He gives a lot of health advice. He’s a chiropractor, as you can see, so…

Not only is this man a Scientologist but he donates copious amounts. His profit margins are insane, they’re through the roof. So he’s donated probably around 7 plus million dollars to Scientology?

And every product of his that you buy, you donate to Scientology as well, because he has a separate savings account just for that.

He’s an incredibly selfish and void-of-empathy human being. And the reason I know is because he’s my fucking father.

The video was seen millions of times, and then Rafalko put out a longer video at YouTube to explain his situation in more depth. He followed that with his appearance on Leah Remini’s podcast.

After reaching out to Brenda Valentine’s lawyer, Rafalko said he learned that his father would be deposed this week. We asked him what kind of questions might be difficult for Berg to answer.

“I’d say his use of objective processing with the direct intent to convert his employees into active Scientologists, as a start,” he says. “But apparently the big tire iron of the case is attempting to show that WISE policy is not secular.”

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After speaking with Valentine’s lawyer, Matthew Sutter, Rafalko learned that the strategy of the defense was to claim that the use of Scientology terminology and involvement with WISE — the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises — was strictly secular material used for business consulting, and not related to the Church of Scientology itself.

“But lucky for Matthew I was a class V auditor and it’s a matter of fact that I read the same exact references while training that my dad‘s employees do for their jobs,” he says.

In other words, Rafalko was prepared to testify that his father is using Church of Scientology practices, exactly as they are used in the church itself, and not merely “secular” business concepts.

We reached out to attorneys on both sides to let them know we were working on a story, and had this piece prepared for this morning.

Then, last night, we heard from someone involved in the litigation that the lawsuit had reached a settlement, saving Berg from having to testify.

We are still waiting to get details, but it’s usually customary that we will never know the terms of the deal.

But we have to believe that Ian Rafalko’s participation, and the publicity we were about to give the case, were factors in Brenda Valentine getting a deal out of her former boss.

And Berg, no doubt, is counting on his huge YouTube following never hearing a word about it.

 
Here’s the amended complaint. There are some amazing nuggets in it…

Valentine v H&WC, Amend… by Tony Ortega

 
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Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.

 
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Source Code

“I think California has laws that nobody can cure cancer. And they’ve just disobeyed that law in England because a doctor up there, who is a Dianetic Auditor, has just cured somebody of totally proven cancer. Has taken him over to the medical association and a big conference and so on, and displayed him complete with the X-rays and so forth. So, gee it’s a good thing he didn’t do that in California. We had an auditor, in 1950s, who was actually arrested for the fact of — proven conclusively, because he’d audited somebody and they had gotten well and it was against the law to cure that disease. He got off, there wasn’t anything happened to him at all, somebody was just making a push on it locally. Pretty crazy, huh? Proved it conclusively. Against the law to heal it and he’d done it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 7, 1972

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“COMMENDED: Quentin Hubbard is assigned a Condition of Affluence and commended for a long time performance of high volume and high quality sessions. He is a very popular auditor and I am sure his many pcs will agree.” — The Commodore, April 7, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“Nothing substitutes the action of people in the field writing knowledge reports on dangerous auditors. The problem is that those knowledge reports written by people in the field have been not-ised (deleted) by Facebook group owners. That only protects and enboldens the dangerous auditors being reported. The problem is at the level of group owners. The ones that protect offending auditors. Look at the WHY Finding post in this group. It describes the problem.”

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Past is Prologue

1997: Lars Westergren posted a transcript of a show on Scientology from BBC World. “Buildings like this aren’t cheap. Scientology founds itself by a doctrine of exchange. Members can pay thousands of dollars to complete all their courses, in payments that are called donations, but are in fact obligatory. Few churches prompt more antagonism than this one. A Greek judge has called scientology dangerous. The German government says that its financial demands can read to ruin and even suicide. But here in America, critics are more concerned with the Church of Scientology’s relentless bid, for public recognition. David Rodier is a professor of religion at American University. ‘They feel if you attack they attack in kind, and perhaps even more violently. And I think many people find this very threatening. New religions are by their very nature strange and odd, and we feel uncomfortable around them. And then when they, in addition to that, don’t behave according to our stereotypes the way religions should behave, then we _do_ get very uncomfortable.’ Sylvia Stanard: ‘The church has dealt with criticism, because we feel that people need to know what scientology is. And its also just – sociologically it is a very interesting phenomena that all new religions go through this. I mean, we’ve researched and gone through what they said about the Catholics in the 1700s, and all sorts of _wild_ accusations. I mean, the Mormons were killed. And that was a hundred years ago.'”

 
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Random Howdy

“‘Revolt in the Stars’ should be a new reality show where Scientology celebs are put into the Sea Org and the viewers watch as one by one they quit in anguish and leave stupid Scientology.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference May 31. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.

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Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for April 8.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Valerie’s motion for reconsideration denied on March 15.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Scientology has said it will file an anti-SLAPP motion.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Leaked audio: Proof that government officials know about Scientology’s crimes
[TWO years ago] In the pandemic epicenter, Scientology’s New York Org puts on a fab virtual ‘Sunday Service’
[THREE years ago] Foreign ‘expansion,’ thanks to US Scientologists forking over the millions
[FOUR years ago] On Day One, 2018’s Writers of the Future party betrays its connection to Scientology’s abuses
[FIVE years ago] XENU VICTORIOUS: Scientology bamboozles USA Today to help it fight the ‘evil psychs’
[SIX years ago] Phil Jones reflects on the media frenzy at the dedication of his anti-Scientology billboard
[SEVEN years ago] 25 of the biggest lies told by L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology
[EIGHT years ago] Hideouts for Scientologists on the lam: Another book from Ron Miscavige
[NINE years ago] Narconon Tackles NFL Legend Jim Brown, Anne Archer Snags a Kennedy

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,627 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,132 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,652 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,672 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,563 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,870 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,738 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,512 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,843 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,316 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,632 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,198 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,117 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,285 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,865 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,127 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,163 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,878 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,403 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 758 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,933 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,484 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,633 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,953 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,808 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,927 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,283 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,586 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,692 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,090 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,966 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,549 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,044 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,298 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,407 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on April 7, 2022 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast

 

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