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The pirates of Palnackie
A tale of freedom-loving men fighting the modern corporate state plunderers
I want you to meet Tim. Tim is a pirate. Of sorts.
A benevolent kind of pirate, if you will, who independently stands and fights for what is right and good.
Every self-respecting pirate needs a pirate ship with big sails and hearty shipmates. Pirate Tim has a good friend, Captain Roy, who owns and sails a beautiful boat, La Mouline, a former military training vessel.
La Mouline is the only working tall ship in Scotland. Its home is Palnackie, a coastal village in Dumfries and Galloway, which lies on the River Urr. This waterway opens into the Solway Firth, and the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland are only a short sail away. From the hills above you can easily see the mountains of the Lake District over in England. It is a most enchanting and magical place.
Let’s go on a land and sea adventure with Pirate Tim, Captain Roy, and their many playful “good pirate” friends from the harbour community. Along the way we will meet some dangerous “bad pirate” foes, committing high crimes.
Welcome to the port of Palnackie
There is a port at Palnackie, albeit a very small one, being a silted-up inlet. Several small ships are moored there, and you can float in and out at high tide. This port is more important than you know: its legal and cultural significance is far beyond its physical size. Palnackie is the testing ground for whether “we the people” can retain access to our own country, its common law rights of passage, and our collective infrastructure inheritance — or have them stolen from us by foreign privateers and corporate raiders.
The port has a long history, and the inlet has been used for moving people and goods since ancient times. It was part of the Orchardton Estate from around 1650 to 1901, according to the data held at the Dalbeattie Museum. The boundary of the port’s land is the high water mark, below which is the tidal area owned by the Crown (more on that later), then the open sea, to which we all have a right of access. Let’s quickly get our bearings so we can make sense of the story to come.
This picture is from the top of the inlet, and the River Urr is at the far end. You will see a more substantial harbour wall on the left (north side) with vehicle access and caravans, and a crumbling one on the right (south side). These innocuous old walls are key parts of the narrative, as we shall soon find out. There is a temporary wire fence alongside the moored sailing ship, behind which is a small water treatment plant owned by Scottish Water, who also own the land on that side.
The Urr Navigation Trust is the harbour authority
The port’s land ownership was vested at the start of the 20th century into the Urr Navigation Trust (UNT), in order to preserve access to the sea for the local community. The UNT encompasses an area far larger than just the port of Palnackie, running all the way from the sea approach Almorness Point near Hestan Island, where you initially drop anchor, up the river. It ends at Dub o’ Hass, north of Dalbeattie harbour, where Buittle Castle sits above the Urr.
The UNT was set up for perpetuity: there is no facility for the trust to sell the port onwards, nor the ability to sell beneficiary rights. The port is managed by a board of trustees drawn from the local harbour stakeholders. As trade and fishing declined, so did interest in the trust, and as of 1961 there were no trustees left. That still leaves the land owned by the trust, nonetheless, and nobody else has legitimate title to it.
Tim went to the local government, MPs, and other civic bodies to see if anyone claimed to be a trustee, or knew of any. There being none, a new board was elected for the UNT, and Tim is one of the present and lawful trustees. Tim also established a chain of custody for the land. Some assumptions had to be made when filling in the historical record, but everything was based upon strong evidence.
You need a harbour authority to deal with matters like maintenance and access. There is also a right in statute law for the community to direct the management of the harbour. Although there have been some technical issues with running the trust, the bottom line is that there is no meaningful challenge to the UNT being the lawful harbour authority for the port of Palnackie. The current trustees are the custodians of the harbour plus its land — and nobody else is, which again is important here.
As the harbour authority for Palnackie, the UNT has a right to bill port users to get income, and that income is in turn needed to get loans to make repairs and improvements to the harbour. This is being blocked by the matters of ownership on north side, dredging, and south side access. All of these activities are impeded by selfish or corrupt parties — the “bad pirates” — doing their best to prevent the UNT from performing its duties.
Palnackie is a den of modern-day piracy
Now, when I say that Tim is a pirate, you have to understand that there is some British humour going on here. Tim emphatically is not a proper pirate, because he does not go around robbing and killing people: quite the opposite, as Tim is an honourable man, who respects the sovereignty of others. Being the most non-piratical free man, acting under common law, with peaceful intent, is what gets him the ironic moniker of “Pirate Tim”.
Yet Tim is surrounded by people who are engaged in genuine acts of land piracy, stealing the innocent of their wealth and freedom. As a trustee, Tim is fighting back on behalf of all of us — the beneficiaries — along with a team of volunteer associates. This valiant and altruistic story deserves to be told, so I will shortly introduce to you the real pirates of Palnackie, one by one. But before I do, let me give you the punchline, so you don’t have to wait until the end.
There is a collusion of apathetic locals, an unscrupulous state, a rigged court, biased council, lazy police, greedy landowners, a lax corporation, a self-righteous asset stripper, fraudulent charity, a complicit press, and amoral solicitors. They all work together, against the public interest, to steal public assets. Unless they fear the most severe punishment for crimes like treason and perjury, this behaviour will persist until nothing remains. We then have to rent our birthright back from them — forever.
Pirate #1 — Scottish Water plc
The easiest target to pick on is Scottish Water — being the obvious brigands — who are unlawfully trying to take away the title from the trustees of the port, and also remove the common law prescriptive rights from the port users. They want the upside of owning the adjacent land, but without the associated liabilities. In a modern echo of the land enclosures of the past, they are busy appropriating public rights for private gain, locking gates and closing off land where they have no right to do so.
Scottish Water has removed the harbour’s retaining wall ties and chains, causing their side of the harbour to collapse. As a result, it is in a poor state of repair and fenced-off, with pedestrian access only. A technical report — that they themselves commissioned — says they are fully responsible for harbour wall, and it needs to be strengthened or replaced, regardless of past silt removal or future dredging work, as they caused the damage. Yet they have not acted: their profits are without honour.
Scottish Water are claiming to have harbour land ownership rights due to their waterworks, but there has been no transfer to value, so there can be no such thing. It is a legal fantasy from its inception, and they know it. They are using the land adjacent to the harbour for their own access, and there is a duty to maintain this for everyone under the Harbour, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847 section 33. This is long-established law.
This open port duty includes a right to ship goods, and embark or disembark passengers (whether commercial or not), from both banks of the inlet. There are other rights too, such stevedores’ rights to conduct their trade, or tugs to operate. There is also a vehicle car park on their side of the harbour, which has been marked on Ordnance Survey maps since 1996, which implies a public right to drive down that side of the harbour. This is currently blocked off, ostensibly for safety reasons following the collapse of the harbour wall. This public access right of way is also shown on the official Dumfries and Galloway public roads map (in blue below).
When Scottish Water locked the gate to their side of the harbour, they denied that the UNT was performing the lawful job of harbour authority. The UNT trustees removed the lock, to maintain public access, as it was in breach of the harbour user trust agreement. Scottish Water then accused Tim of vandalising their assets, but they are not allowed to restrict access to the harbour, and it is also a tort against him as a port user.
Scottish Water are also blocking the public highway, since we all have a right of access (as the official map shows), and anyone can lawfully remove such an obstruction. They also withheld documents that damned them, a part of a pattern of unethical and unsavoury behaviour. But they are not the only baddie in the story, you see, and not even the worst one. These events set up a broader legal fight over the future of the port, which is where we get to expose the longer litany of pirates.
Pirate #2 — The disgruntled villagers
The bullying started with ex-fishermen, disliking a newcomer who exposed their idleness and tribalism. They dumped old trawlers in the inlet to prevent Tim and company from making proper use of the port, as well as engaging in physical assaults at against Tim. Three people were taken to court as a result, and Tim won, so it stopped. As more people got involved and became aware of what was happening, the intimidation went from being physical to legal in nature.
Pirate #3 — The local landowners on the south side
The land that Scottish Water now occupies was previously owned by a Mr McQueen, who occupied Port House, adjacent to the harbour. He annexed land, putting in false claims to title, encroaching on the public’s right of access. Boundary changes were silently made on paper, knowing they cannot be enforced, with the hope of using it fraudulently later on to gain ownership. For instance, when the land was digitally registered he moved the boundary to the high water mark, rather than having a proper survey done.
This leads us to the next villain in our story, Mr Shipway, the current inhabitant of Port House. His name belies his nature: he doesn’t care about boats, and wants to fill the harbour in. He too claims to possess land beside the port, but the UNT is the lawful owner, and has been since its establishment. He is the one who sold the end of his garden to Scottish Water for the treatment plant, and (we believe) has even set up video cameras in his house overlooking the access to “collect evidence” against the UNT, working with the corporation against the harbour user community.
So Scottish Water, with the help of dishonest landowners, has taken a local beauty spot popular for picnics, and turned it into a sewage plant — when they themselves have a questionable title to the land they have acquired. Then they have excluded the public not only from that land, but also created a danger to the public by damaging the shared asset, which has been an excuse for yet more enclosures. These people are the nightmare squatters from hell! You couldn’t make it up if you tried.
Pirate #4 — The fraudulent charity
It turns out that there has been more skulduggery going on, with other acts of land piracy. We have focused on the south side of the harbour so far, where Scottish Water have been “trying it on” with the help of the landowners. But there’s a story about the north side, too. For decades, encroachment has been occurring, resulting in the theft of land from the UNT, done with the assistance of solicitors of questionable character!
Mr Shipway was involved in the creation of a registered and regulated charity, Buittle Quest, whose stated purpose includes holding property where the community council cannot. This is in competition to the UNT, but misses a subtlety. The relevant community for the harbour is not the village, but the harbour users. If you don’t use the harbour, you are not a beneficiary, so have no legitimate say in its management. Therefore, this is a fraudulent misrepresentation, allowing the landlubbers to hijack the marine rights.
In 2022 there was a £1 transfer of the land on the north side to the charity, notionally from the UNT. This means someone tried to transfer ownership of land without having that right, since they don’t have the permission of the trust, which cannot sell it anyway due to how it was set up. This constitutes a serious crime, warranting imprisonment for the responsible party.
Thankfully, this land disposition has not been officially registered by the Land Registry (more below). The charity only has £3k in assets, so they claim they cannot afford to go to court to deal with the matter. However, this is irrelevant since port users possess rights regardless. The charity is merely a front, being utilised to conceal the land theft.
What is really happening is money laundering: no proper price was paid, and the sale is an opaque one from a trust to a charity. They are cheating with their claim of being a community interest charity; they function as a disguised private entity. What typically happens is that the people running a fake charity lend it money, and then let it go bankrupt. As creditors, they then corruptly take the assets into private hands via shell companies.
Buittle Quest is engaged in plain old theft — in full sight of everyone who cares to see.
Pirate #5 — The asset stripper
As part of the charity scam, a spiv called Anthony Walker MBE suddenly claimed to become a trustee, and assumed authority to act. (For my overseas readers, being a Member of the British Empire is an honorary title that makes you a “respected” part of the crooked power orthodoxy.) So now you have two different lots of people who think they own the harbour’s land, although you can only own the banks, as the Crown owns everything below the 18ft tide mark. No matter who owns the land, they still have to provide common law access rights — which in Scotland applies to the whole of the countryside.
Furthermore, Scottish Water would rather believe dodgy Mr Walker, and work with him, despite his claim to office being manifestly illegitimate. In order to be a proper and lawful UNT trustee, you have to be nominated and voted in by warehouse owners and lessees, organise two meetings a year, and send accounts. If you don’t do this, you cannot be a trustee. Mr Walker is not a trustee, and never has been: he is an unlawful interloper. As further evidence of him being only a self-anointed actor, there also has to be a reelection every 3 years, which has not happened under his “oversight”.
But where this gets interesting is that Mr Walker has committed a criminal offence that has not (yet) been prosecuted.
Under penalty of perjury, Mr Walker signed a marine license application to set up a moorings association, ignoring the UNT’s land ownership and harbour authority rights, and making other false representations. This would split the asset’s beneficiary rights up, as part of the process of stripping assets from the UNT. Specifically, in making this signed application, he stated that he had handed over the harbour authority to the community. But this means it was given to the fake charity, Buittle Quest, not the actual port users, so it is a misrepresentation. He also held secret talks to bypass the UNT.
Mr Walker wants a rental income from mooring that he is not due, and now this grows into a wider criminal conspiracy, as it’s the cover-up that always shows you up for who you really are. In order to make sense of the story you need to realise there is a local cabal who work together, and mutate roles between councillor, entrepreneur, lawyer, etc. — but still have the same shared goal. It is a bit like how Common Purpose have infiltrated institutions across the UK in order to push a woke radical political agenda, looking like progress, while actually being treacherous criminals.
When the harbour user group exposed this fraud online, Buittle Quest (via the solicitor’s Brodies who we will get to later) sent a letter demanding that they take down their signage and documents. Yet the users have a right to free speech, and the UNT has no objection to the sign on land they control. Mr Walker is (so far) getting away with it because (so far) the power elite has closed ranks, and (so far) protected him. Few people — until now — have known. Conmen are cunning at pretending to be legitimate when they are not.
Pirate #6 — The local community council
One might assume that the local council would seek to resolve this situation and act in the best interest of the village and its current and future residents. I think you can already tell where this is going. Instead, the council want to fill the harbour in, for as long as it is a working port they cannot own or control land. In its present format they have no means to acquire the land around the harbour, since it is all in trust. The council serves the local landed interests, not the public.
In this case, the council is equivalent to Buittle Quest, being the same people, only wearing different hats. This is an effort to do an end-run around laws that prevent the council from being a landowner or investor. You don’t have to be an investigative genius to impute that there may be personal interest involved for the councillors, whether in terms of direct pecuniary gain, or indirect support for their in-group club. It is all very dirty — and makes the silt of the port look pure and transparent in comparison.
One also might expect the council to condemn the obstruction of local highways in its jurisdiction. In England there is a definitive map of public rights of ways, but it is different in Scotland. There is a local authority map which shows all the roads in their area, and which ones are maintained at private vs public expense. Scottish Water are blocking a valid highway, albeit one that is privately maintained. The council do not care — in our world of money worship, they support the corporation over the people.
Pirate #7 — the police and coastguard
What we are seeing here is serious misfeasance in public office, which ought to get police attention. Section 234 of the Merchant Shipping Act also says you cannot hinder or impede any activity related to the safety of shipping. The law even says that in an emergency you can pass and repass over land, with or without vehicles, in order to assist ships and their crew in difficulty. Hence proper access to the port is a safety issue, and we have exactly that kind of problem here.
This is not a hypothetical matter: La Mouline recently suffered engine failure on its return from a trip up the Scottish coast, and was in difficulty. There have been crew heart attacks, both on and off the boat. Fuel tankers have needed access, via the locked gate, which meant cutting the lock — in front of Scottish Water’s health and safety legal team. (They don’t even supply fresh water to the harbour — very mean.)
When the police have been contacted, they refer the matter to the coastguard. When the coastguard have been contacted, they have referred the matter back to the police. None of the authorities want to be seen to act against anyone else “in the officialdom club”. Yet their ultimate purpose is to protect the public, not institutions and the moneyed interests. Accountability is always for others, never themselves.
Pirate #8 — The local courts
The case of the UNT and its land ownership rights is making its way through the courts. This includes rectification of the land title register, as well as the prescriptive rights attached for the port users. In principle this is an easy case to win, but the local lower courts are in collusion with the criminals, and are actively enabling the land piracy. The local sheriff court, the local councillors, the local landowners, the local police — they all know each other and are mutually supportive.
As the saying goes, it’s one big club, and you (and I) aren’t in it.
The facts are not in dispute:
Trust beneficiaries (like the port users) never get ownership (so cannot sell the land), and trustees only have rights as beneficiaries. Buittle Quest cannot be owners of anything, and those enabling this charity fraud (including the local council and Scottish Water) are involved in serious organised crime.
In terms of the highway access, you don’t even need photographic evidence of the land being used as a car park and having a right of way; it’s on the official maps, and the council say it is a roadway too. This is no different to a public park, where someone has blocked it off, and the beneficiaries (like dog walkers) wish to maintain their right to use it. The law simply needs enforcing.
There is no equity law in Scotland, and it is more contract based, so it is very clear that Scottish Water have overreached and failed to meet their obligations. They need to step up, allow proper access, do the the repairs for which they are obligated to perform. How can you dare to be called “Scottish Water”, while blocking public access to natural Scottish water?
Thankfully, the case is not complex in terms of law, athough a judge has had to adjudicate whether we are operating under trust law, law of the land, international maritime law, or commercial admiralty law, when resolving these matters. Who has the right to administer the port, enforce the trust agreement, and ensure that every party meets its obligations?
Justice is meant to be blind, yet those holding the “bad pirates” of Palnackie to account are finding it to be anything except that. As many barriers to justice are being erected as possible, such as:
Wealthy entities like Scottish Water can initiate actions, and in Scotland you have to pay to lodge a defence, which is an barrier to justice when those living on subsistence incomes are fighting this piracy.
Legalese is used against litigants in person: if they make the slightest error — “agreed” instead of “admitted” — they get punished. Legal power is asymmetric.
Court procedure guidance is applied laxly in one direction for one party — “it’s just opinion", and ruthlessly in the other — “we must follow the rules to the letter”.
Pirate #9 — The lawyers
In the course of exposing the ruse of land theft, some of the biggest name lawyers in Scotland were turning up and trying to get into the UNT meetings, despite having no standing to do so. Clearly, there is something going on with the murky waters of Palnackie harbour that has significance to landowners elsewhere. In particular, Brodies Solicitiors, a big law firm, have represented both sides in their unlawful encroachment, as well as Buittle Quest. Make of that what you will about their business ethics.
Maybe Palnackie isn’t the only place in Scotland where “land pirates” are getting nervous about exposure? Will the public ever challenge the power of legal professionals with vested interests who are protecting their legalised rackets? Will a line ever be drawn, beyond which no more injustice and illegality will be allowed? History has witnessed civil wars and revolutions in response to similar issues!
Pirate #10 — The Crown
If you live in Britain, you will be aware of entities that have special privileges, like the Duchy of Cornwall. One of these is The Crown corporation, which is aligned with the City of London. In turn, the City of London is de facto a foreign state inside England, much as the Vatican is in Italy, and the District of Columbia inside America. As part of the deal to set up the Scottish Parliament, The Crown agreed to engage in the management of marine rights in Scotland to this foreign entity, where previously it had no jurisdiction or remit. Elsewhere on the Urr, as part of the yachting fraternity, Mr Walker is remitting money to The Crown.
What is really happening is that a permanent rentier class is being created, who take our innate rights of access to land and sea, and sell them back to us. Ultimately at stake here are fundamental rights, like the ability to freely put a boat to sea and catch fish [non-commercially] to feed our family. We have seen on land where this ends up with “fifteen minute cities”, clean-air zones (i.e. pay to travel), and ULEZ in London. The “greater good” is always offered as an excuse for the (foreign and treasonous) encroachment on our native inalienable rights.
Pirate #11 — The local media
The last of the pirates in Palnackie is the local newspaper, the Galloway News. Under the Daily Records section journalist Stephen Norris has consistently reported inaccuracies. When Tim has emailed him with corrections, he has only had disrespectful responses. The press are part of the same mafia that supports the modern money changers, and maintain the status of the corporate legal fictions and their land of make believe.
The honourable exceptions
One institution has so far “held the line”, and done its job, is the Land Registry. Selling public land, that has only just been registered, for £1, from a trust, to a charity — every part is an issue. When Buittle Quest tried to register their title, the undervalued sum raised a red flag as a suspicious transaction, and it has not yet been given the official go-ahead.
So while the Land Registry has been offered prima facie evidence of title by Buittle Quest, they have not given it their seal of approval, since it is subject to judicial review. Obviously, the rich and powerful do not want their land stolen off them, and this part of the system protects them. In this case, it also happens to have protected the “little guy” by being blind to the relative power of the participants.
The other institution that has done its job, at least on occasion, is Transport Scotland. Transport Scotland is the public body that has a duty to maintain access to all ports and highways for all users. Their lawyers can see that there is a genuine matter to resolve, and shown interest. It may not be a priority, but at least it is on their radar.
So not everything is broken, although it does highlight the importance of public record keeping, and how those records need to be non-repudiable, non-alterable, and non-erasable.
A story of (inter)national interest
What we have here is public asset theft, with shell companies being used to hide assets. Palnackie harbour is a “muddy hole worth fighting for”, because if we concede this fight, then we will find our public rights being stolen from us (and leased back to us forever) all over. It is a battle for control, where every authority is against you, even though truth is on your side. We used to have physical bullies: now we have a big commercialised collective that suits everyone — except the actual users and public.
This tale of land piracy is about fundamental principles of the rule of law and the rights of the public. It is not a selfish legal manoeuvre by the trustees, but rather a more selfless one on behalf of us all. Corporations are only interested in assets, not liabilities. In capitalism, everything is for sale, and people want the capital gain profits and rental income, but without the long-term maintenance costs or public obligations.
Who are the real pirates of Palnackie?
It would be easy to mistake who the “good pirates” and “bad pirates” are. Tim and his community of “hippie harbour users” are the “non-compliant” people, challenging those who appear to have authority. Meanwhile, the unlawful cabal stealing the land and its rights are respectable, powerful, well-connected, wealthy, and seem official. Yet they are the ones acting without authority, and outside the law — “genteel fascism”.
Some are little more than pretenders and squatters, yet by looking legitimate and dressing the part, they hope you will go along with their scam. Just because someone self-describes themselves as honest, and their self-image is acting in good faith, doesn’t mean they are. There seems to be a kind of “honour among the institutional thieves”, who all know they are “playing the game”, but protect one another. Deep down, they must know what they are doing is wrong, and will have consequences.
Piracy is a problem with multiple layers
Will the village lose its public access to its own harbour, or will Pirate Tim be able to remove the rats like Mr Anthony Walker MBE from their midst? Can the corporate privateers like Scottish Water be forced to keep their side of the land ownership deal? Or will these pirates be permitted to asset strip us all, and get away with their slow and stealthy crimes?
This needs to be addressed at different levels:
As a local transport issue, since the port (water and land) is genuinely a public right of passage.
As a public assets issue, since stable ownership of property held in common is important to a civilised society.
As a wider truth in commerce issue, since there will always be pirates who make false claims for personal gain.
Finally, it is a question of criminal accountability, especially for those in authority who act as enablers for crime. There is no private prosecution in Scotland, and you have to petition the procurator fiscal. This leaves the state in charge of holding itself to account, and there is no fallback or safeguard — before you get to military law. The public need to be able to initiate criminal actions against those who abuse their office, and do so at a very low cost, or even for free.
Criminal pirates need punishment!
What we are dealing here is not a minor and local case of corruption. The theft of a country from its rightful inhabitants is literally a hanging offence: treason. It is a crime that still has capital punishment — as do grave robbing, and piracy on naval vessel. Mr Walker and his associates are playing with fire, given everything else that is going on in our treacherous world, full of betrayal by those we trusted to have our best interests at heart.
“Land piracy” is one of the most serious crimes, since it permanently denies the public their birthright. You are killing off a people’s culture, not murdering a person. We used to send people to penal colonies for less than this. The elephant in the room in the case of Palnackie is the “funny handshake club”, and whose loyalty is divided, and many are going against their oath of office. It’s easy to “sling harbour silt”, but in this case these machinations need to be exposed.
We need to stop these traitors from dismantling our country, one piece at a time. The reason that the death penalty for treason is necessary is that it gives the most powerful in society pause for thought. They too easily bring all their corporate and institutional resources to bear against the poorest and weakest, including future generations who cannot represent themselves. For instance, when rigged courts knowingly endorse land piracy, the gallows are an appropriate—if gruesome—response when they get caught.
Spread the word about the pirates of Palnackie!
It is the passivity of us ordinary people, and our tacit consent to the piracy going on around us, that enables it. It has taken 60 years of malfeasance for Palnackie to get to this sad place of nearly losing its inheritance. That it takes me, as a solo citizen journalist, to bring this story to light shows you that only a grassroots revolt will change the status quo. We are all the beneficiaries of the public realm and the rule of law, so we are the ones who have to act to preserve it.
To keep the benefits, we must insist that the laws we already have are enforced, and make our civic institutions do their job. This is important, because the harbour user community sees a future for the “micro port” at Palnackie — restarting the trade in timber, future small “drone ships” bypassing large ports, tourism and leisure users bringing in new life and fresh purpose. Preserving Palnackie’s lawful heritage is part of the honest localism and environmentalist movement, one we all ought to endorse.
Your part is to spread the word, by sharing this story of the pirates of Palnackie!
Help me to expose the “bad pirates” of Palnackie as conmen and crooks.
Help “good pirates” Tim, Roy, and the community get justice by making a big noise.
Help future generations by preserving a Scottish gem, so their vision can be realised.
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