Thursday, November 24, 2022

Taking Dangers Appropriately Seriously

We are all reeling in shock after yesterday's bombing in Jerusalem. The grief at the passing of an innocent teenager is heart-rending (as is the appalling kidnap and murder of a Druze boy). And it brings back memories of those terrible years of the Second Intifada. 

But I was bothered by a comment that someone made, that now they have to be afraid again to take a bus in Jerusalem. Such an attitude helps the terrorists in their mission to spread terror. But it's also just not rational.

Statistically speaking, the chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are absolutely minimal. Even during the worst years of the Intifada, there were less Israelis killed in terrorist attacks than in traffic accidents. Several dozen people are murdered in terrorist attacks every year - several hundred are killed in traffic accidents. Put bluntly, you're more likely to be hit by a bus than to be blown up in one.

Perhaps I am particularly sensitive to this, having lost a family member in a traffic accident. But the facts and the numbers are undeniable. If we felt as much communal grief and rage over traffic accidents as we do over terrorist attacks, then there would be less of them. Speeding, using phones while driving, and reckless driving are all things that are within our power to reduce.

And then there's less headline-capturing forms of death such as heart disease and diabetes, which are among the leading killers. We could reduce those with less sugary and unhealthy foods (full confession - I am very far from being a healthy eater), but how much pressure is created around that? The government's tax on sugary drinks reduced their consumption by 31% and is probably instrumental in saving thousands of lives - but now, against the protests of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, Bibi plans to cancel it due to demands by charedi parties who saw it as an anti-charedi measure! 

We should indeed be grief-stricken at yesterday's tragedy, and the government should take the necessary measures to prevent future such things. But we should respond correctly, to this and to other tragedies, in terms of how we lead our lives.

74 comments:

  1. My wife was very upset by the bombing. I used the same line as you - that way more people die in car accidents than terror attacks. In fact I use this line frequently, in comparison with all sorts of dangers, and it frustrated her this time even more than it usually does. I tried to get her to explain and she more or less said that it feels different when a person is out there constantly scheming to kill you, as opposed to some impersonal force. At some level, I suspect the rationalist calculation of what kills more has to be balanced with the fact that we are humans and not robots and human feelings are valid even if not based on rationalist calculations.

    I do think that deaths due to obesity are different in that the victims usually have a relatively full lifespan before dying prematurely, it's not shocking in the way that a child's death is.

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    1. Hi guys! I've been pretty busy, and truth be told FED UP with the one tract minded obsessive whining by this blog host and his sycophants about Chareidim. However, over the past week I've been home with the flu and have been visiting a little more frequently. What I've seen has inspired the following little song:

      TTTO: ברוך הוא אלוקינו... והבדילנו מן התועים

      (LOW)
      Boruch Hu
      It's those Chareidi Jews
      That are the source of everything bad
      They ban books
      And drink soda gook
      And like to use disposable plastic bags

      (BRIDGE)
      They don't learn
      Bible criticism
      And don't serve in the army
      Like Israeli citizens
      They don't obtain
      A higher education
      And crowd airplanes with their kids
      When going on vacation

      (HIGH)
      And what's especially infuriating
      Is that they are all so cocky
      Living happy fulfilled lives
      Despite being poor and stocky


      (LOW)
      The rationalist way
      Is to embrace the gay,
      The woke and the perverted
      And to endanger our progeny
      By sending them to the army
      Where their Judaism is all but deserted

      (BRIDGE)
      Co-ed settings
      Are supremely important
      All obvious pitfalls pale
      To a kasha from your girlfriend
      Bare bones Jewish education is all that is needed
      And even what we do learn
      Doesn't really need to be heeded

      (HIGH)
      We believe in sacrificing our continuity
      On the altar, for the GDP
      A 40% attrition rate is something we don't eschew
      Better our children should be Enlightened, than to remain as Jews!

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    2. Wait, I'm not sure which melody you used for your lyrics. Is it this?
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC49lydTZHU

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    3. Yup! Nice rendition. 'Bare bones...' and 'Is all that is needed' should have been in two separate stanzas. Also, you have to kinda squish more and more words into each stanza as the song goes on, but it's the message that's important!

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    4. Looking over again now, I have a lot of other things that would have been nice to get into the song, but I just wrote what came to the top of my head as I went along!

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  2. Statistically speaking, the chances of being killed by Covid were no worse than being killed by the flu, but you went to the opposite extreme there, didn't you.......

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    1. What statistics are you looking at?

      I don't know the numbers in Israel, but in the US 300-400 people are dying of covid every day, and this number used to be much higher. Around 40000 people die of the flu each year, which comes to an average of 100 a day.

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    2. "were no worse"
      This is nonsense. You can check the numbers, and it's clear that Covid was much worse than flu. That was then.
      However, less dangerous variants combined with acquired immunity from vaccination and infection has reduced the severity of covid.
      Currently, covid is killing about three people a day in Israel.

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    3. In 2020:
      22,000 flu deaths in the US
      385,666 Covid deaths in the US

      So they are almost the same, provided that you don't understand how numbers work

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    4. I'm not going to let this comment thread be hijacked by Covid conspiracy theorists.

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    5. Simply impossible. I personally know many people killed by covid in a short period of time; I don’t personally know a single person killed by the flu ever.

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    6. Anonymous, "I don't know anyone killed by the flu" is just as fallacious an argument. You've never heard of the great flu epidemics?

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    7. R' Slifkin, it pays to be precise as to language, as Sherlock Holmes once said. There are many "conspiracy theories" about corona, some ridiculous and some- yes- increasingly borne out by responsible reporters, but this is an assertion of fact, not a conspiracy. It's a *false* assertion of fact, but it is what it is.

      (On the other hand, I think we should certainly be allowed to discuss the response- lockdowns and so on- but just not here.)

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  3. A friend- granted, very left wing- pointed out that even in terms of murder, the average Israeli Jew is far more likely to be killed by another Jew (a family member, in fact) than by an Arab.

    But terror is called terror for a reason.

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  4. The main (rationalistic) reason that there are not so many casualties due to terror attacks is that there's border police, the army, and a tremendous intelligence network preventing 99% of terror attacks. I think the Shabak says that they foil over 400 terror attacks a year!

    It's still very dangerous to go into Area A, and even Area B and East Jerusalem have their dangers. Much of Israel simply has very limited contact with Palestinian Arabs who are liable to perform an act of terror.

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  5. I agree with your message, but winced at your use of "less" instead of "fewer" no fewer than three times in your post.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. At least once it's completely correct, and the others colloquially so.

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  6. No shock at terror attacks. So long as our enemies remain in Israel, there will be no end to the attacks.

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  7. "Statistically speaking, the chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are absolutely minimal. Even during the worst years of the Intifada, there were less Israelis killed in terrorist attacks than in traffic accidents. Several dozen people are murdered in terrorist attacks every year - several hundred are killed in traffic accidents. Put bluntly, you're more likely to be hit by a bus than to be blown up in one."

    I'm not sure that this is entirely accurate. Many fatal traffic accidents occur with people driving motorcycles or driving recklessly. If someone only uses public transportation, then during the Intifada he was probably more likely to be killed in a terrorist attack than in an accident. Especially if he lives in Jerusalem and uses lines such as the 1 and the (now defunct) 2 which stop in Arab neighborhoods and were blown up multiple times!

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    1. People get killed in traffic accidents just crossing the street.

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  8. Forget the statistics! If the news articles are correct, the murderer left 2 bags (or cases) by the bus stops, and dozens of people evidently ignored them just lying there. Have people stopped caring about a "chafetz chashud" any more??

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    1. Some sources have reported that the bombs were concealed.

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    2. Yes we have. And that's normal human behavior.

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  9. If you want to eat healthy, you are welcome to do so, it's not the government's job to coerce people to eat a certain way.

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    1. If the government can force kashrus ibservance, why can't it ban ciggarets or carbonated drinks? It's in so iety's interest to have a healthy population.

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    2. Agreed. Please ban government enforced kashrus oversight and the theocratic marriage laws.

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    3. @Meir Moses
      The evolutionary fit will prevail.

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    4. Then feel free to pay your own medical bills when you inevitably develop heart disease and diabetes….

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    5. Why should anybody be forced to pay someone else’s medical bills in the first place? I am not in favor of stealing either, even when it’s “legal.”

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    6. Why should the govt force anything at all, period? Let the build roads and have an army, and maybe maybe run the post office, that's it. No environmental laws, no labor laws, no securities law, no fair trade law, no safety law, no electrical code, no fire regulations, no nothing. And along with that no sabbath laws, no kosher laws, no religious marriage, no nothing.

      Unless you get both sides to agree to that, which will never happen for many reasons, you are always going to have a tug of war on every issue. כפייה דתית and Nanny State Govt are nice slogans, but at the end of the day, everyone manages to look the other way when their own agenda is being pushed. That's life.

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  10. I see. So NOW people are overreacting, but for Covid, which there was never more than a statistically non-existent risk for normal healthy people under the age of 75, for THAT you were comfortable shutting down all of society. Got it.

    And what about "crowding"? The tragedy in Meron, while terrible, was maybe only the second or third time death resulted from overcrowding. Yet you could obsess about nothing else for a month straight, believing it a useful club with which to attack charedim. But terrorism attacks, which לצערינו we don't have to say how common they've become thanks to Rabin and Co - for that you think people are overreacting?

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    1. Do you see the problem here? It's not that you're opinions are any more wrong or right than others. But that's all they are - opinions. What is rational to you is irrational to me , and vice versa. That's why you went off the rails when you transitioned from a Torah-based website to a political one. In the former also one can quibble over nomenclature, but the basic division of rational v. mystical is well-established. With your political blogging, by contrast, everyone has his own POV, and go try convincing the next guy that yours is more "rational" than his.

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    2. I'm not going to argue with the rest, but...second or third time? Crushes happen *all the time*. They happen in Mecca almost every *year*.

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    3. Lawrence, I find your comment sickening. People who are over 75 are just expendable? And Meron is just "one of those things"?! It WASN'T. It's only in third-world places like Mecca where such things happen. First-world countries have safety protocols and rules to prevent such things. But they weren't followed in Meron.

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    4. "It's only in third-world places like Mecca where such things happen"- do you ever do the slightest bit of checking before you post such ignorant comments

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seoul_Halloween_crowd_crush

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_disaster

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_E2_nightclub_stampede

      I can believe England is a third- world country. But South Korea????

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    5. South Korea isn't a third world country.

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    6. 2 milloon people come to Mecca. Big difference.

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    7. Older people could easily have taken precautions while everybody else continued to function as normal. Or did everybody else simply not matter? As for deaths from crowding, I obviously meant in Israel, not the entire world. And its equally obvious you're trying to hide from the central point through (unconvincing and irrelevant) argument. Which is that you're opinions are wildly inconsistent and totally irrational. And that's OK - because they're just opinions. Don't confuse your opinions with empirical fact.

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    8. happygoluckypersonage's comment about England wins the internet today:)

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    9. There's something special about Israel that protects it from crushes? Jews aren't human brings?

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    10. Nachum, when looking at statistical occurrences you have to circumscribe the area of inquiry, you can't possibly gather all data for the entire world.

      Anyway, I just picked two examples of inconsistency and irrationalism from our blog host, I can cite many more, and he himself admits that his belief in what he sees as divine validation of his position isn't rational. That's the point. An opinion blog is fine and dandy, but has zero connection to "rationalist Judaism."

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    11. Besides European Football (Soccer) events (how come never or rarely at US football and baseball, or any US sports?) Israeli crushes are concentrated in the charedi sector. (Yes, one incident at a Maccabiah event. but the injuries there were due to polluted Yarkon River)

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    12. They aren't "concentrated" in the מגזר חרדי or in any other sector, they simply rarely happen, period.

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    13. They rarely happen because usually there are laws and safety protocols to protect against this sort of thing.

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    14. No_name, the Maccabiah event was because a bridge collapsed, not because of crushing.

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    15. Nu, and there's laws and safety protocols to protect against car accidents, and they still happen. It's irrelevant. The point is, if you want to go by statistics like you do here, you had no business hacking about crowding or Covid. It illustrates what we all know anyway, that your thought process isn't motivated by logic or rationality, but by whatever you think gives you the best chance to sling mud against Charedi Jews. And we haven't even mentioned swimming with sharks or fooling around with wild animals.

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    16. What utter nonsense. Traffic laws cut down traffic deaths enormously when they are followed. I find it completely bizarre that.you are claiming that safety laws are irrelevant. Is this the charedi mindset?

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    17. RDNS - are you familiar with the legal term "obfuscating"? It's when one raises all sorts of irrelevancies in an attempt to throw focus off the central point. That's what you're doing, and its quite obvious. Safety isn't the issue, no one's discussing that now. YOUR issue, that YOU posted, is statistical frequency. You think people shouldn't take the threat of terrorism so seriously because you say the statistical likelihood of an attack is slim. If so, you shouldn't have spent to much time on Covid and Crowding, in which the statistical likelihood of harm is even slimmer. But you did anyway, because in your mind it was a good way to attack charedim. That's the only point. Not complicated.

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    18. No_name, as I said, the Entire Europe, is a big third world country. We don't have football hooligans in America. Better to be a dog than to be European.

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    19. Happy:

      We don't have football hooligans, but we have random mass shootings. Almost weekly.

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    20. Nachum The macabbiah deaths and injuries were due to the polluted Yarkon.

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  11. By the way, I've said before that I'm opposed to behavior taxes, but the soft drink thing really stumps me. I mean, I get why charedim think the disposables tax affects them more, probably because it really does. (I don't see the logic of why they *must* use it, but I see the point.) But soft drinks? Why is that a particularly charedi thing? Maybe they *do* consume more than most Israelis, but by *definition*? It's weird.

    And it's also weird that they somehow think it was all *aimed* at them. Lots of countries in the world with no charedim have high taxes on both, for exactly the reasons Israel does.

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    Replies
    1. Was the 'idea' not that Haredim use disposable products (plastic plates etc.) at higher rates for convenience purposes? I have no idea why but pop drinks are always extremely prevalent on shabbos and holiday tables in my experience - perhaps it's considered an affordable treat or even that people are inherently unaware of its unhealthiness?

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    2. If I had a dollar for every chareidi I treated with Diabetes….

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    3. For disposables, sure, that was the idea: They have bigger families and so need them. Right or wrong, its an argument. Soft drinks, I have no idea. Maybe I'm biased because we *never* had them on Shabbat.

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    4. Dont complain about כפייה דתית, and then tell me what kind of straw to use or soda to drink.

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  12. If terrorism wasn't effective in "terrorizing" people, then they wouldn't do it. My daughter goes to school near where the bombing was. She got on the bus after the bombing. I didn't know about the bombing until I was on the way to work. I coudn't get through to her for over an hour. Then I thought of her standing at Givat HaTachmoshet near Sheikh Jarrah, or taking the bus and had 9/11 flashbacks of not knowing if another bombing would come. If one could "rationalize" the fear away, then terrorism wouldn't be effective. I cried when I heard her voice on the phone calling from school. I was shaken up.

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  13. This is why we need Ben Gevir, not why people have to stop worrying of being killed by a terrorist. You are encouraging appeasement and capitulation to terrorists.
    Really don't get why a good religious Zionist like yourself refuses to the support the party most likely to bring security and peace to the country. Gotta learn from the most recent incident with the Druze. Palestinians only understand the stick - nothing else. Natan I hate putting it this way, but you've become a liberal apologist while in the same breath a chareidi hater.

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    1. It seems that for many (but hardly most) religion dropouts the two go hand-in-hand: "I'm dropping religion, so I need to become a leftist." Except R' Slifkin has done neither.

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    2. This is why we DON'T need BG. Creatures like BG and the terrorists feed off of each other. Terrorism gives BG a reason to exist and an excuse to propagate his fascist ideology, which of course only encourages more terrorism.

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  14. Rabbi Slifkin: You are absolutely correct that statistically speaking, one shouldn’t be afraid to ride a bus in Jerusalem. I just wish that you had recognized that the same argument could be made for Covid precautions. Many could be cited, but one obvious one is that statistically speaking, healthy youngsters should not have feared dying from Covid. Therefore, pressuring/forcing them to take unproven vaccines was a terrible public policy choice.

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    1. Statistically speaking, healthy youngsters should not fear the vaccines.

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    2. Statistically speaking, people should have much less feared HCQ, but R' Slifkin came out against that anyway. It's okay to admit that this blog pushes an agenda, instead of embracing rational, free, and critical thinking.

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  15. Well, this is why messaging matters. If you want chareidim to accept your health policy, you need to show them that you're genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Saying "Chareidim need to be sent to the trashbin of history" will make chareidim, rightly or wrongly, take a reactionary position against any move you make. Ditto for using a tragic terrorist attack which has nothing to with any of this to shoehorn in a dig in at them.

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    1. I like this cause of its corollary. If close to 2 decades ago you wanted RDS to accept your Cherem policy, you should have shown him you're genuinely interested in his well being, instead of ganging up on him and his Maskimim. But trying to send him to the trashbin of chareidism would make him, rightly or wrongly, take a reactionary position against any move you make. Sadly delicious.

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  16. I think you mean “special messaging”. Health policies are and were interested in the wellbeing of all people. Some hareidim (and others, for sure) think the secular based rules don’t apply to them because they are above the rest and live by a different rule system. But they can’t blame the normal, law abiding population or authorities not getting special invitations. They are subjected to the same laws and common sense rules as everyone else. As humans.

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  17. Happy Go Lucky at Nov.24,22 at. 9:38 PM. Your consistent! Nasty, Nasty,Nasty.... You can't say your mistaken or wrong.Always with a nasty comment. Your trademark.What happened to you? Why are you so bitter,frustrated! When dogs bark no one listens!

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    1. Sorry Yehudah, I had you until the "when dogs bark no one listens" line. Maybe you need to visit an audiologist?

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  18. Happy Go Lucky ...When dogs bark no one listens. That is; a lot of noise,just noise. Perhaps one day you'll wise up and be a "mentch".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry, you still don't make any sense????

      If you are not interested in truth and are only worried about so-called "nastiness", read this
      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2022/11/new-ban-pshat.html?showComment=1669214268664#c3581017068917932410

      Delete

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