Friday Offcuts – 3 February 2017

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This week we touch on a raft of exciting technology developments for the industry that we think you’ll find useful or interesting. In New Zealand, the Government is welcoming the start of the first testing of an autonomous or driverless electric shuttle. It’s going to be seen in and around Christchurch airport over the next two years as it’s being put through its paces. The trial is a collaboration between the airport and HMI Technologies, with support coming from the Christchurch City Council, the University of Canterbury, the NZ Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport. Because of the potential impact on the forestry transport and logistics, we’ll be providing updates on this trial and other developments in intelligent transport systems as they become available.

It appears that the devastating Chilean fires from the last few weeks are thankfully finally being brought under control. In addition to the lives, homes and businesses that have been tragically lost in the fires, some 379,000 hectares have also been burnt. Chile's forestry industry estimates that it has incurred around US$350 million in losses. The investigations as to the cause are now being mounted amidst some pretty unusual claims being made in social media. Earlier in the fight, fire brigade chiefs were pointing the figure at climate change and the large monoculture plantations (highly combustible eucalyptus and pine) as contributing to the country’s worst ever forest fires.

In the technology transfer space, discounted registrations FINISH today for the very popular Forest Industry Safety Summit ( series. We’ve included an update in a story below of some speaker additions to the programmes including the inclusion of Rob Moonen, CEO of the BC Forest Safety Council, who’s been directly involved in running the BC forest industry’s SAFE certification system for most of the past decade. Already over 400 have registered for the programmes that are running in one month’s time.

Expressions of interest are now also being sought for this region’s sawmilling tech update, WoodTECH 2017 ( It’s going to run in both countries in late September. From a record turnout of major sawmilling companies two years ago, this series will again provide a platform for Australasian companies to better evaluate the very latest wood scanning, sawmilling equipment, mill optimisation tools and mill maintenance practices from around the globe. Interest in securing speaking slots is already very high so if keen on participating this year, please get in touch.

Finally, to finish on, check out the last story this week that profiles the good intentions of a Victorian lad who late last year thought that using a drone to pick up a banger from the local Bunnings store was a pretty good idea. The authorities apparently weren’t quite so enthusiastic. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Chilean fires being mopped up

As Chilean authorities battle the historic blazes that have taken 11 lives, burned over 1,000 homes and wiped an entire town off the map, the theories about who may be to blame have spread as quickly as the wildfires themselves. The fires have consumed over 379,000 hectares (937,000 acres) in recent days, and cost Chile's forestry industry $350 million in losses.

Forest fires are a regular feature of Chile's hot, arid summers, but a nearly decade-long drought combined with historically high temperatures have created tinder-dry conditions. Reuters were reporting earlier this week that Authorities were saying the worst was over, but firefighters, aided by helicopters and airplanes, were still battling 61 fires as of Monday.

Amid signs not all the fires were accidental, conspiracy theories have abounded as to their origin, amplified by social media. Ten people were in jail awaiting trial on suspicion they lit some of the fires, although the possible motives were unclear. President Michelle Bachelet said the Justice Department was investigating to determine "who has been causing the fires in our nation, in those cases where there is malice and those cases where there is negligence."

Chile's forestry industry asked for calmer heads to prevail as it also found itself on the defensive. "We have seen many videos and photos on Twitter of things that are two to three years old and are shown as if they were happening now ... you also hear things like (forestry) companies are causing the fires themselves to collect insurance. That is absurd," industry group CORMA said. For further coverage, click here.

Source: Reuters

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Australian hardwood operation discusses mill options

On Monday evening, ASH board member, Group CEO Clinton Tilley, along with the CFMEU and staff from Australian Sustainable Hardwoods mill, met with government representatives - including the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.

This was the first time that the company had had an opportunity to meet with the Minister. The meeting came in the context of the mill having to announce its closure due to substantially lower levels of supply than are required for the mill to be feasible.

Mr Tilley said “ASH took to the meeting a proposal that would enable a move to even less sensitive areas of the ‘commercial’ forest area in around 5 years and then a complete transition into plantation in around 25 years.”

“For this to occur though, the mill needs to have supply from the 1939 regrowth areas for 5 to 7 years while a transition occurs to the smaller sized trees. This supply also needs to remain close to the 150,000 cubic metres we currently receive from VicForests,” Mr Tilley said in a statement.

“Moving so quickly to the smaller trees will also require massive re-tooling of the business and if the government wants this industry to survive, if it wants to keep the jobs and the thousands of downstream jobs, it will have to assist in the transition costs. No business of our size can afford to make this change on their own.”

“Moving out of the mature 1939 regrowth timber to smaller diameter logs (in less sensitive areas) and then through to total plantation supply in around 25 years is not our first choice, however, this business needs certainty and long term certainty of supply if it is to remain viable.”

“The board has agreed to delay implementation of the forced closure plans for four weeks, so as to give the government time to find a way to keep the industry alive. “I think the meeting was a good start and one where the players around the table all understood the challenge and the consequences of not meeting that challenge”.

A meeting with the local community has also been held this week. Understandably the issue has become heated and is of concern as evidenced by the more than 1,000 turning up. Coverage of the meeting can be read here.

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Carbon market moves early in 2017

The carbon market in New Zealand has started the 2017 year similar to where 2016 finished. Even though the market doubled in 2016 – the final quarter of last year was soft and subdued. This could be put down to two main factors. The first one being changes implemented by the government in May 2016 to strengthen the ETS by removing the “buy one – get one free” setting over the next three years starting this year. This will see demand increase from 20 million tonnes in 2016 to 40 million tonnes in 2019. This caused emitters to rush in to secure as much volume as they could and we believe many bought enough for the 2016 year and even some of the 2017 year. Hence the final quarter didn’t see the usual demand we have historically seen.

The second factor was the election of President Trump - a person who thinks man-made climate change is a hoax. He threatened to rip up the Paris Agreement but since his election – he has mellowed in the position. We are not so convinced that he can or will follow through - it would be deemed an extreme isolationist move. The USA is only 15% of global emissions and 127 countries of 197 have already ratified Paris. We still have four years of Kyoto left. Trump could be thrown out before Paris even begins. Risk management applies here – buy NZUs.

Source: Nigel Brunel, Director - Financial Markets, OMF

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Safety Summit series adds new speakers

Loggers and forest managers have been quick to capitalise on the latest Forest Industry Safety Summit set to run next month in Rotorua, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia. Registrations have exceeded expectations and the gathering is set to be the second largest forest safety conference ever held in New Zealand.

“We have had some really positive news in our speaker’s line-up as well,” says conference organiser, John Stulen. “While we lost Cos Bruyn as a keynote speaker, we are really pleased to announce that we have two new keynote speakers who more than compensate for his unforeseen departure.”

Rob Moonen, CEO of the BC Forest Safety Council will be the keynote speaker on day one of the conference,” says Stulen, “and he has been directly involved with running the BC forest industry’s SAFE certification system for most of the past decade.”

Rob’s involvement is very timely, with the work on New Zealand’s safe certification program now in its final stages with our own Forest Industry Safety Council,” added Stulen. "The loggers and their safety teams in BC have learned a lot from experience in 10 years and Rob will bring their story to share with our industry safety leaders – which really is everyone on the forest floor.”

FIEA has also been lucky to gain the services of Steve Carden, CEO of Landcorp. Carden is leading the large farming company to a new phase in safety and is keen to compare notes with people in forestry. So, it should be the basis for some great conversations and information sharing, says Stulen.

Looking to the event itself, the conference room is going to be a busy place.

“All of our exhibitor stand spaces are sold out in Rotorua, even though we extended the capacity with a marquee in the hotel courtyard”, says FIEA’s Sponsorship Manager, Gordon Thomson, ”and there are only small number of conference seats available. Now is the time to register to make sure you don't miss out."

Special offers are now being made available to members of other industry associations across the forestry sector. To take advantage of this offer, go to

“For the first time, FIEA has also teamed up with the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) for the New Zealand leg of the series to organise a workshop as part of the Safety Summit,” says Thomson. “Working with Fiona Ewing of FISC has led us to include a series of workshops and panel sessions for people to interact – from the forest floor to CEOs.”

The summit runs 1st & 2nd March 2017 in Rotorua at the Distinction Hotel.

The following week it moves to the Bayview Eden Hotel in Melbourne running on 7th & 8th March.

For full details on the Safety Summit’s, visit:

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Expressions of interest – WoodTECH 2017 series

The WoodTECH technology series has provided a unique independent platform for Australasian companies to evaluate the very latest wood scanning, sawmilling equipment and mill maintenance tools from around the globe.

What’s being planned for September 2017?

WoodTECH 2017 ( is planned for 20-21 September in Melbourne, Australia and then again, on 26-27 September in Rotorua, New Zealand. Over two weeks in mid-September 2015, FIEA’s WoodTECH conference series and exhibitions achieved a record turnout of sawmillers from throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Over 350 delegates from all major sawmilling companies in the region in addition to leading technology providers from throughout Australasia, North America and Europe converged on Melbourne, Australia and Rotorua, New Zealand.

Two years later, the WoodTECH 2017 series again will be attracting scanning and sawing technology leaders, innovators and practitioners from around the world. The objective is to showcase the very latest in wood scanning, sawmilling, and mill optimisation technologies best suited to local sawmilling companies. Already, interest from international companies in this 2017 sawing series is strong. Numerous companies have already approached FIEA to be involved in this year’s series.

Interested in presenting this year?

At this early stage, if interested in presenting (local sawmilling companies, tech or service providers to the sawmilling industry, researchers or distributors representing overseas suppliers), please make contact with BEFORE Friday 17 February.

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Softwood lumber imports to China reach record high

Softwood lumber imports to China increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2016, reaching a new all-time high of 21 million m3, 21% higher than in 2015, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly. Russian import volumes rose the most during 2016, while Finland and Sweden increased their market share more than the other major supplying regions.

Strong demand for wood in China in the second half of 2016 resulted in both record high imports of softwood lumber and logs, and increased import prices, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

China imported record-high volumes of softwood lumber in 2016 and softwood log imports reached their second highest level on record. Despite relatively pessimistic forecasts for wood demand early in 2016, China’s need for imported wood picked up during the summer and fall with import volumes of both logs and lumber being up about 20% in the 4Q/16 as compared to the 4Q/15. Total importation of logs and lumber (in roundwood equivalents) reached almost 76 million m3 in 2016, which was up 17% from 2015, and almost 38% higher than five years ago, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ).

Over the past decade, the importation of softwood lumber has grown much faster than that of softwood logs. From 2006 to 2016, lumber imports were up from just over two million m3 to over 21 million m3, while log import volumes were up from 20 million m3 to 34 million m3 during the same period.

From 2015 to 2016, Russia has increased its shipments of lumber to China by over three million to a total of 11.6 million m3 (this includes logs that have been canted to avoid log export taxes). With lumber markets in the Middle East and Northern Africa (the MENA countries) and Europe having been relatively weak the past few years, many sawmills in the Nordic countries have increased their presence in the Chinese market with shipments being up over 35% in 2016 from the previous year. Although lumber supply from Finland and Sweden still account for only six percent of the total lumber imports, the share can be expected to increase in the coming years because of more intense marketing of predominantly higher-quality spruce lumber for the Chinese furniture, millwork and construction industries.

Import values for lumber to China rose during most of 2016 with average prices in December 2016 being about six percent higher than in December 2015. The increases during 2016 came after two years of sharply declining prices, as reported in the latest WRQ ( The lower-cost lumber has consistently been from Russia and Canada, while the cost for lumber from Europe and Chile has been higher than the average prices, which have ranged between US$160-180/m3 in 2016.

Source: Wood Resources International LLC,

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Driverless shuttle launch welcomed in NZ

NZ Transport Minister Simon Bridges has welcomed the launch of New Zealand’s first trial of an autonomous electric shuttle at Christchurch International Airport. The trial got underway last Thursday. Last year HMI Technologies and Christchurch International Airport Limited announced they would be conducting a two-year research trial of a French-built Navya shuttle.

“Autonomous vehicles are an important part of the future of transport, offering potential safety, efficiency and environmental benefits. To fully realise these benefits we need to work with the private sector to test how new technologies will work in our different environments”, Mr Bridges says.

“It’s exciting to see a New Zealand-initiated trial where the skills and knowledge about managing and deploying the technology will transfer to New Zealanders. New Zealand offers a fantastic environment for testing and operating new transport technologies,” Mr Bridges says.

“Our supportive regulation around testing autonomous vehicles – which enables new technology to be tested while protecting public safety and encouraging innovation – have helped make this trial possible. This trial is an important step for New Zealand, as we continue our strong tradition of embracing new technologies and market ourselves as a test bed for new technologies.”

HMI Technologies and Christchurch International Airport will be working closely with the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport as the trial progresses. The information gathered during the research trial will be used to help make sure vehicles operating in public spaces in the future are safe.

Source: Scoop.

Further coverage on the trial can be found here.

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Lumber company’s ‘controversial’ Super Bowl ad axed

Nearly every year, some brands goes too far with their Super Bowl commercial, crafting a 30-second spot that's deemed too sexy, provocative or offensive to air. In some cases, companies do this intentionally to garner more attention than a spot would’ve otherwise received.

But in the case of first-time Super Bowl advertiser 84 Lumber, it was a political message that was rejected for being “too controversial.” The 90-second spot, created by the Pittsburgh-based agency Brunner, includes images of immigrants unable to cross the border due to a wall, according to a story in Campaign, a trade publication that covers the communications industry.

"Fox rejected our original commercial because they determined that some of the imagery, including 'the wall' would be too controversial," CEO Michael Brunner said in a statement (this was before the announcement last week by Trump on the wall along the US-Mexico border). "So, we went back and revised the spot to make it acceptable to them."

Fox Sports did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to Brunner, Fox approved the new version, which is set to air just before halftime at an estimated cost of US$15 million. 84 Lumber, based in Eighty Four, Pa., said the campaign will kick off a national recruiting campaign to help its current workforce of 5,100 employees grow.

“For 60 years, this has been a company defined by its people, entrepreneurs who see opportunity where others don’t,” said Maggie Hardy Magerko, 84 Lumber owner and president. “We want the world to know 84 Lumber is the place for people who don’t always fit nicely into a box.”

84 Lumber said it will post the full, uncensored ad online on Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl. “While the full story will no longer be told on TV at the Super Bowl, we all believe too strongly in that message to leave it on the editing room floor," said Brunner.

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First major commercial wood demonstration project in India

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has announced that the largest shipment of mass timber from British Columbia to India is en route. The shipment also includes lumber and will be used in the first major commercial wood demonstration project to showcase B.C. forest products in India.

As India’s economy grows, traditional wood supply cannot meet increasing demand. As a leading supplier of sustainable forest products, British Columbia is seen as an attractive long-term supplier. Support for the project is being provided by the Government of B.C.’s market development agency for forest products, Forestry Innovation Investment (FII), through its India office.

The wood products will be used to construct a facility housing several design workshops at India’s Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University located in Ahmedabad, Gujurat State and will serve as a showcase to help grow awareness and demand in India for B.C. wood products.

Incorporating wood, concrete and steel, the project will not only inspire the school’s students who work and design with wood, but will also be a model of sustainable architecture and environmental responsibility for the Indian design community. By introducing Canadian wood species through special projects and course curriculum, the university sees the project as providing a long-term opportunity for collaboration with British Columbia and Canada.


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Major export challenges for B.C. forest industry

New U.S. duties on lumber imports will leave Canada with excess production that could be difficult to sell. Russ Taylor, president of International Wood Markets Group Inc., said lumber shipments to the U.S. will likely drop by 15% next year. The new duties will come into effect on 4 May following the expiration of the softwood lumber agreement on 12 October 2015, and the termination of a subsequent yearlong grace period.

At the same time that the new tariffs create another barrier to U.S. market access, B.C. lumber production is expected to fall by 20% as a result of the years of mountain pine beetle devastation in B.C.’s Interior. Meanwhile, “the U.S. is the only market that is growing and growing steadily,” Taylor said.

The American market rose 4% in 2016 and is expected to expand by 6% in 2017. Taylor attributed the rising lumber demand to increased housing construction as well as repair and remodeling projects. But while lumber demand in the U.S. is increasing, the expected associated increase in demand for Canadian lumber will likely be muted because of its higher price.

“In the B.C. Interior we’ve had 26 mills close since 2007 because of market conditions and available timber supply,” Taylor said. “We still have another four, five to close over the next six years.” While the tariff percentage is still unknown, Taylor said it will likely be somewhere around 27%, if previous duties are any indication.

The new duties will likely hit coastal mills with high-value lumber hardest. Taylor said higher-priced woods were previously protected from high duties because of a cap that froze the tariff rate for products selling for $500 or more per 1,000 board feet. But even with these additional duties, the U.S. market shows some promise for Canadian log and softwood lumber producers because U.S. consumption is expected to exceed the country’s domestic supply. The annual growth rate of U.S. lumber consumption parallels growth during the industry’s boom from 1991 to 2006.

“The U.S. cannot produce enough lumber for its own market, and that’s why Canada has had traditionally about a 32% to 34% market share. The U.S. is going to have to keep its imports at a steady level, if not increasing them, if there’s a stronger demand.


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Japanese worker shortage leads to more forestry colleges

Japan is suffering a severe shortage of forestry workers at a time when many trees planted after World War II have grown enough and now need to be cut down. Demand for domestic timber is expected to grow partly for use in facilities related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

With Japan facing an urgent need to train industry-ready workers, the number of forestry colleges is increasing across the country. Until fiscal 2011, there were only six forestry colleges, run by prefectural governments. But the number now stands at 14. In fiscal 2017, which starts in April, new colleges will open in Iwate, Hyogo and Wakayama prefectures.

In April 2012, Kyoto Prefectural College of Forestry was established in the town of Kyotanba in Kyoto Prefecture as the first forestry college in western Japan. The college offers a two-year program for up to 20 students. It includes the country’s first course for students to learn how to use advanced forestry machinery. Students will also be given the opportunity to obtain qualifications.

Fifty-eight students have so far graduated from the college, and about 90 percent of them are working in the forestry industry. “Graduates of the Kyoto forestry college are actively sought in the industry,” an official of the Forestry Agency said.

Tomonaga Nakashima, a Forestry Agency official, said many forestry companies have weak management bases and face difficulties developing human resources. “This is why these companies want to hire people who have basic skills,” he added, projecting that the need for forestry colleges will grow further.

Source: Japan Times

Paper bike helmet bags James Dyson prize

Proof that innovation does not have to be expensive, this year's Dyson Prize goes to American designer Isis Shiffer for her invention of the EcoHelmet, a foldable paper helmet that aims to reduce the risk of cyclists getting head injuries for just $5.

While wearing a bicycle helmet is not a silver bullet against accidents, it can reduce the risk of incurring fatal head injuries in the event of one, as various statistics have shown over the years. Shiffer was inspired to come up with the EcoHelmet when she noticed a problem with bike-sharing programs – namely that rental bicycles didn't come with helmets. Tired of lugging her own around and certain that she wasn't the only one, she decided to come up with a solution that would make it easier and safer for more people to ride a bike.

While there have been earlier attempts to come up with a cardboard helmet, they have for the most part been a niche idea. If all goes to plan, the EcoHelmet has the potential to reach a far larger audience. Made from cardstock paper, Shiffer's invention is designed to be affordable, recyclable and safe. Its radial honeycomb cell structure enables it to withstand impact from all directions, protecting the user's head just as well as a regular polystyrene helmet, she says. In a test using a crash-testing rig, it was able to withstand the impact caused by a 10-pound object dropped from a height of three feet.

Shiffer spent a year and a half perfecting the design while still a student at New York's Pratt Institute of Design (she has since graduated) and tested the prototype at Imperial College in London while on an exchange program in the UK. "They had a European standard helmet crash setup that allowed me to gather enough data on Ecohelmet's proprietary honeycomb configuration to know it was viable and worth developing," she said.

Apart from bragging rights, Shiffer also receives £30,000 to further develop her invention as international winner of the James Dyson Award. For a start, further testing needs to be done before it can be sold in the US as federal safety standards require bike helmets to be able to withstand impact from the equivalent of a six-and-a-half feet drop. She has since joined forces with a team of LA-based branding, retail and marketing veterans to realize her goal of bringing the EcoHelmet to market. It is expected to sell for around $5 and its foldable design means we could see it being dispensed from vending machines at bike-share stations.

The James Dyson Award is an international competition that challenges design and engineering students and recent graduates to come up with innovative solutions to the world's problems.

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Buy and Sell

...and one to end the week on .... bangers by air

Taking drone deliveries to new heights. Delivery of a Bunnings sausage to the boys in the hot tub. Classic. The team behind the stunt insist it was safe - but they were facing a $9,000 fine. Many of our Australian readers will have picked this up at the end of last year. Kiwi readers though I’m sure will find it interesting.

The story goes something like this. Tim was envious about a nearby BBQ so used a drone to pick up a sausage. The man put a note and $10 in a zip lock bag and attached it by a string. The drone delivers the bag to a Bunnings store, an accomplice then collects the bag and note and pays for the sausage. The drone then flies back and delivers it to him while he sits in a hot tub. The Civil Aviation Authority weren't so happy with the stunt. The man apparently breached three rules of drone use.

Read more on this story here.

Finally, with the Australian Tennis Open now over there has been a bit of press lately on some of the quirky habits of this years mens singles finalist, Rafael Nadal. As you're watching, ever picked up the habits he has between every shot? Touching his nose, tucking his hair behind his headband, how his water bottles are aligned on the court .... That's just the tip of the iceberg. Read more.

Apparently, Nadal's world collapses unless he performs a checklist designed to provide "the order I seek in my head". So, just what is "that order"?

He must have a cold shower 45 minutes before a match.

He must carry one racquet on to the court.

He must have five other racquets in his bag.

He must have wrapped his own white grip on his racquets in the locker room.

His bag must be placed next to his chair, on a towel, never on the chair.

He must sprint to the baseline after the spin of the coin. A split-step and then a jog around the back court.

He must towel down between every point. It can be ace or double fault - he must towel down as if he is covered in sweat.

He must run his hair behind both ears.

He must touch his nose.

He must pick at his underpants.

He must drink from two water bottles at changeovers. One bottle has cold water, one is warm.

He must face the labels of his drink bottles to the end he is about to play from.

He must never rise from his seat before his opponent.

He must wait at the net post so his opponent can reach his seat first.

He must never walk on the sidelines as if he is avoiding cracks in the pavement.

On clay, he must run his foot along the plastic baseline on the side of the court he is about to play from.

At the Australian Open, when going from one side of the court to the other, he must walk across the MELBOURNE sign.

He must have his socks at the exact same height.

He must fold his towels after every changeover.

He cannot step on any lines on the court.

More >>. I think that's about it!!!!!!

And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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