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Posts Tagged ‘tobacco’

Letter to the Editor: When Key and Collins can’t get their stories straight

30 April 2014 10 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879.

It seems that the Nats can’t get their official party line straight…

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Alcohol tobacco pricing

 

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Which elicited this response from me…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:53:28 +1200
TO:     "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz>

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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National Minister, Judith Collins, recently stated that "the
Government will not be introducing minimum pricing on
alcohol as this would hit moderate drinkers in the pocket
when there is no compelling evidence that increasing the
price of alcohol is the correct approach" (24 April).

This breath-taking piece of sophistry  flies in the face of
policies set by successive governments to reduce tobacco-use
by gradually increasing price. 

The gradual fall in tobacco use has been directly attributed
to increased pricing, as John Key himself stated on 2
February 2010, on TV3;

"The academic evidence shows that the most effective way to
stop people smoking is [to] raise the price and that's
because  as it gets more expensive, particularly young
people can't afford it, [and] eventually people actually
stop." 

The only conclusion that one can draw from this blatant
contradiction is that the liquor industry has had it's way
with National with secret lobbying, and public health
interests have been side-lined.

More than one person has made the point that National will
be banning "synthetic highs" - which has killed no one -
whilst alcohol, responsible for many deaths, injuries, 
community harm,  and billions in ACC claims and lost
productivity - is being ignored.

People may reflect on National's double standards on
election day on 20 September.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number provided]

 

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Hypocrisy. Sophistry. Double standards. Call it what you will – but it is breath-taking nevertheless.

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References

Judith Collins: Government not introducing minimum pricing on alcohol

TV3: Key – Most smokers want proposed price hikes


 

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National out

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill…

19 February 2014 7 comments

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Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

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The good news: Tariana Turia’s Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill has passed the first Reading in Parliament and is headed to a Select Committee where the public can make submissions.

Fantastic news!

This is another step in the elimination of this ghastly, toxic product from our society.

The not-so-good news: our spineless Prime Minister wants to put the Bill “on hold”, until a court case between the Australian government and tobacco giant,  Philip Morris, is settled in an Australian court. He said,

“I don’t really see the point in us finally passing the legislation until we see exactly what happens in the Australian court case. We have a slightly different system, but there might just be some learnings and if there are learnings out of that, it would be sensible to potentially incorporate those in either our legislation or avoid some significant costs.”

Aside from the question whether or not “Learnings” is a real word, one hopes that our corporate-cultured, money-trading, deal-broking, multi-millionaire Prime Minister is not getting ‘cold feet’ on this issue.

Too many people are dying for John Key to succumb to pressure from  big tobacco.

The bad news is that only one man voted against this Bill – John “Nothing-to-fear-nothing-to-hide” Banks”.  In explanation, he said,

“No one dislikes smoking more than me”. But he was against the state seizing property rights without compensation.

Banks added.

“It’s an interesting exercise in futility. If the government was serious it would double the price of tobacco over the next five years… all we’re doing is introducing a bill so we feel good.”

So saving peoples’ lives by doing everything possible to slowly eliminate this destructive product … is an “exercise in futility”?

Funny thing…

He was only too happy to front on the steps of Parliament on 30 July 2013, supporting the banning of testing synthetic “highs” on animals;

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https://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

“I say no to farming animals in China and India for the purposes of drug testing. I say no to putting animals at the alter of drug dealers and importing for the purpose of recreational drugs…”
…I say to my Parliament colleagues testing fun drugs on animals is obscene.It is obscene in a country that prides itself on animal welfare and animal ethics. Britain banned testing; Britain banned testing of fun drugs on animals in 1997. The EU has banned the testing of cosmetrics of on that beautiful rabbit down there some years ago.
… If we want to be leaders; if we want to be leaders in the safety of fun drugs in this country, if it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take them, because there’s hundreds that want to do it. There are hundreds and hundreds of idiots up and and down the country that will willingly take fun drugs to test their toxicity.
…And I say to my Parliamentary colleagues, don’t test them on animals at all!”

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What a strange, twisted mind that opposes a simple plain packaging on a product that kills 4,300 to 4,600 people per year – whilst demanding at the same time that animals are saved from the horrors of drug-testing.

When did the lives of people become less important than the lives of animals, or the “rights” of multi-national corporations to market   addictive, toxic  products?

It’s a shame John Banks doesn’t care for his fellow human beings as much as he does for bunnies, puppies, and Big Tobacco.

As for John Key – grow a spine, mate.

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References

Daily Mail Online: Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

Radio NZ: Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

NZ Herald:  Most MPs set to back plain-package smokes

Smokefree Coalition: The health effects of smoking

Previous related blogpost

Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 February 2014.

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Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlooks

9 January 2013 3 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlook for 2013

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What are we manufacturing today

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We need businesses producing high-value products for overseas markets and businesses using R&D to develop those products which drives other benefits, like better production processes and marketing.  Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy.

We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. Our world-leading dairy industry also owes much of its success to innovation.” – Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

See: EDANZ National Economic Development Forum – Speech Notes

It’s a funny old world we live in…

Sunrise Industries…

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Central Auckland super brothel approved

Full story

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tobacco-deal-creates-50-jobs-in-petone

Full story

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skycity-deal-puts-laws-up-for-sale

Full story

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Another liquor outlet set to open

Full story

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Sex, gambling, tobacco, alcohol – the new profitable industries of the 1st century? We seem to have left out other “growth” industries, the modern sex-slave trade in women and children, and arms manufacturing.

Oh. Wait. Maybe not,

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Govt funds still invested in cluster bomb makers

Full story

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Oh well, National and it’s  free-market fellow-travellers will be delirious with joy. If there’s a buck to be made from vices and weapons, they’ll be happy as a pig in mud.

Now if only they can find the price of a soul, and a market for it…

And the Sun sets on…

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Sounds silenced by $20m debt

Full story

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Borders, Whitcoulls under administration

Full story

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Real Groovy Wellington to close

Full story

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Closing chapter for fine arts bookshop

Full story

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Bookstore another victim of public sector cuts

Full story

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Marbecks music shop closes down

Full story

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Meanwhile…

Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy. We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

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Rakon cuts full-year profit guidance

Source

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F&P confirms job losses

Full story

Warning as Haier wins all

Full story

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Oh well, one (Tait) out of three still seems a ‘goer’. How long for, I wonder?

Meanwhile, how are our export and related sectors doing?

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Job losses blamed on high NZ dollar - more forecast

Full story

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And the stats back up the ODT story above,

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New Zealand in Profile_2012_economy

Source: New Zealand in Profile: 2012 – Economy

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Not too good it seems.  The red-highlighted sectors all declined from 2006 to 2011.

National’s “hands off” doctrine, in deference of the ‘Invisible Hand of the Market’, is certainly achieving one result; giving advantage to our exporting competitors from other nations. The Nats seem resigned (hellbent?) to more job losses; more exporters going under; more skilled tradespeople leaving for Australia; and a further decline ineconomic growth,

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Job losses inevitable in declining industries, say ministers

Full story

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What the hell!? The export sector is a “declining industry“?!?!

When even National’s allies – the Manufacturers and Exporters Association – are calling for government intervention about the high New Zealand dollar, it really drives home the seriousness of the crisis. An economic crisis that this time had it’s origins on Molesworth Street – not Wall Street.

For National to persist in it’s “hands off”  and obedience to Free Market dogma will have nasty consequences for our economy.

For 2013, expect,

  • unemployment to rise
  • the export sector to worsen
  • growth to remain low, under 1%
  • an early election this coming year, as Dunne and the Maori Party desert the National-led coalition.

It’s easy to predict – we’ve seen it all before.

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries – Drugs, Gambling, & Prostitution

Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries?

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outlook for 2013

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Tobacco Corporations are interested only in our “intulecktualul property rights” – agree/disagree?

28 August 2012 13 comments

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Some (most?) folk will have seen an advert currently running on television, featuring the above image.

It is part of a campaign by tobacco companies to oppose plain packaging here in New Zealand. In Australia, recently, a million-dollar law suit brought by tobacco companies against the Australian government was fought on this specific issue.

The tobacco companies lost.

See:  Tobacco packaging: cigarette companies lose Australian court case

This trans-Tasman conflict was viewed closely by National and it’s coalition-partner, the Maori Party. Especially by Associate Health Minister, Tariana Turia.

See: Tariana Turia welcomes Australian plain packaging decision

Plans for a similar law are being mooted here in New Zealand; to replace the glamourous, brightly-coloured cigarette packets with plain packages featuring mostly the usual ghastly images of cancer victims.

In response, British American Tobacco New Zealand, the biggest tobacco company in the country  launched a counter-campaign on 23 August, called Agree-Disagree.

Part of that campaign is a short, animated advertisement running at prime time on several (?) television networks. The campaign pushes the proposition that if a business creates “intellectual property” then it should be free to use it.

This blogger has seen the ad.

It’s rubbish.

If the aim of the campaign is to mobilise public opinion to log on to the Agree-Disagree website, then they pushing poo uphill with a garden fork. Ain’t gonna happen, sunshine.

This is the New Zealand public we’re talking about here. A million of my fellow Kiwi brothers and sisters couldn’t be stuffed voting at the next election. If  apathy had been a political party, it might’ve beaten National comfortably.

At the same time, we have pressing issues such as chronic alcohol abuse (which most of the country is in denial about); child abuse (except for a small group prone to moral panic attacks); child poverty; growing unemployment; a stagnant economy; blah, blah, f*****g  blah.

Unless it’s a stranded penguin or some big white letters on a cliff-face overlooking a Wellington suburb or some silly bint making unwise comments on a Facebook page about dead soldiers – the public is too ‘busy’ to care.  Hey, the latest episode of “The Block”, “The Voice”, “The Latest Really Exciting Cooking Show”, etc, etc, is on – and people are positively mesmerised by 21st century junk-TV.

By the time their particular favourite  Reality-show porn is over, folk will have forgotten that ad, plus fifty others that might’ve flashed across our screens during that time.

Thank you, Television, for turning our minds into short-term attention spanners.

Sorry… um, what was I writing about?

Either tobacco companies have wasted their hard-earned cash (derived from customers just dying to enjoy their products) on a disastrously mis-judged campaign – or this blogger is missing something.  If the public are not going to rear up on their collective hind legs in moral outrage that innocent drug peddlers tobacco giants are being treated unfairly – then what is the point of these adverts?

On another excellent blog – Tumeke – well-known left-wing commentator, Chris Trotter made this interesting comment,

The ads aren’t aimed at us, Bomber, they’re aimed at the newspaper publishers and broadcasting networks.

Add up the amount of money being spent – then look at the response from editors and columnists.

See how it works?

See: Dear Big Tobacco – why I refuse to agree to disagree

Well, that’s as valid as any interpretation, I guess.

Because otherwise, BAT has just wasted several hundreds of thousands (millions?)  of dollars on a campaign  that is futile and doomed  to be forgotten.

One final question to tobacco companies…

They make the point,

If I create it, I should own it.”

Can that same statement be applied to everything else that tobacco companies created?

Like the millions of cancer sufferers who are dying from use of their product?

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Cigarettes – now THIS takes political courage!

22 August 2012 7 comments

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In a radical move that can only be described as extraordinarily bold, Tasmania has begun to address the problem of tobacco addiction, head-on. No faffing about; no tip-toeing around,

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Full story

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One of the constant whinges from some cigarette smokers; mis-guided libertarians, and their supporters, is that tobacco is a legal product and therefore it is unjust to target it with restrictions, higher taxes, control of advertising, availability, etc.

However, if the product is banned for people born after a certain time-period, then that product is illegal.

Problem solved?

I believe so.

Of course, there will be those rugged individualists who think it is unjust to discriminate between those who are born before and after 2000.

Nonsense.

We already discriminate on legal grounds.

For example, certain medicines are only available to certain individuals, for those  in-need.  Potentially addictive medicines are not available to everyone irrespective of medical circumstances.

Same for firearms; not all people can have automatic access to guns.

Emergency services are allowed to exceed government-imposed speed limits – the rest of us are not.

Sexual predators/paedophiles are permanently banned from working with children, even long after their court-imposed sentences have expired.

And tobacco is already a highly controlled substance.

So there is precedent for  laws in our society which impose controls and conditions, based on circumstances.

If we can stop our children from taking up a habit that will end up killing many of them in horrible, painful circumstances – then our elected representatives should be mandated and supported to do so.

In this respect, every single politician who voted in favour of this proposal should be given a medal for service to their community.  This is courage I would never have dreamed possible for politicians – people whom we often deride for evading difficult issues and avoiding making hard calls.

Outstanding!

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Acknowledgement

Matthew

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Meanwhile, back in New Zealand,

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Source

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Mr Ryall – stand your ground!

And let no one in the Opposition deride National’s resoluteness as “nanny statism”. This is too important to play childish political games with.

Quite literally, the lives of our young people and future generations are at stake here.

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Cigarette plain-package – “unintended consequences”?

22 August 2012 10 comments

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com

 

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British American Tobacco Australia spokesman Scott McIntyre said the industry was “extremely disappointed” by a decision upholding a bad piece of law that would have serious unintended consequences.”

See: Cigarette ruling to light way for others

Yeah, “unintended consequences”.

Like cutting down tobacco use and saving lives?

I can see how tobacco companies are up in arms on this issue. They are so concerned for our welfare that they are fighting to save their branding.

It’s critically important that when a 14 year old looks at a packet of cigarettes, that they can choose between Brand ‘X’ and Brand ‘Y’ to kill themselves.

Pretty pictures on cigarette packets help kids make that all-important decision.

Tobacco companies.

Here to help us.

 

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Product testing on workers?!

12 August 2012 14 comments

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This is a new one; a corporation treating it’s workers as… guinea pigs?!

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Full Story

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It’s a pretty bizarre situation when a corporation offers free products to it’s staff, knowing full well that they are toxic, and will probably eventually kill half it’s employees.

Imperial Tobacco must’ve run out of guinea pigs?  (The cute little four-legged variety.)

Oh well, I guess with 162,000 unemployed in this country (take a bow, National), there is no shortage of replacement workers for companies like Imperial Tobacco, as their current staff begin to drop like flies.

See: Unemployment rises: 6.8pc

Imperial Tobacco’s  boss, Brendan Walker, says,

It is purely for research. The fact of the matter is we are keen to receive the feedback and comments on those particular manufacturing runs.”

If this is truly, really, seriously “research” (and not just a freebie for staff to continue their addiction, nor to take free cigarettes home, to give away to others and perpetuate this habit), then no doubt Imperial Tobacco will have kept documentation on “feedback”?

Hutt Valley Regional Public Health smokefree officer, Kristen Foley, should ask to view all documentation regarding this “research” and supposed “feedback”.

If said documentation does not exist,  then one has to question what kind of “research” doesn’t record results.

Mind you, what would records show?

Research Outcome #1: 50% of staff dead from cancer.

Research Outcome #2: Brand 342/B  was most popular.

Note to Personnel: Contact WINZ – Hire more staff.”

What next? Will manufacturers of guns and ammunition test their products on their staff?

Of course, I can hear the response from certain libertarian/Individualist quarters, that smoking is a personal choice.

Considering that most smokers begin their addiction at around age 14, I don’t believe there is much informed choice to be had, at that young age.

See: ASH Smoking Statistics

Somehow, this practice of feeding an addiction jars with Imperial Tobacco’s  mission statement,

We have a loyal and highly motivated workforce and place a strong emphasis on maintaining high ethical standards in all of our business activities.

See: Imperial Tobacco – Culture

That statement invites the biggest bloody “Tui” response of all time.

This practice does not meet any definition of corporate responsibility that I am aware of.  Feeding a toxic, addictive product to already-addicted people is like inviting Mexican cocaine cartels to hand out “samples”  in your community.

Just for “research” and “feedback” of course.

Tobacco companies have been carrying out similar practices in Third World countries; giving away free cigarettes in an effort to “hook” more people onto their products. With developed nations taking a hard line stance on this destructive product, tobacco corporations are looking at nations with weak (or non-existant) laws regarding tobacco products,

A new study of schoolchildren 13 to 15 in 68 countries, conducted by the W.H.O. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that about 11 percent of the children in Latin America and the Caribbean were offered free cigarettes by a tobacco company representative in 1999 and 2000. In Russia, nearly 17 percent said they had been given free cigarettes. In Jordan, it was 25 percent.

”Can you imagine if that happened here?” asked Armando Peruga, tobacco coordinator for the Pan American Health Organization, the Washington-based office of the W.H.O. ”There would be a big uproar”.”

See: Enticing Third World Youth; Big Tobacco Is Accused Of Crossing an Age Line

Now a tobacco giant is offering free ciggies to their workers here, in New Zealand?

Do these corporations view New Zealand as… a Third World nation?

As mentioned above, I hope Imperial Tobacco are invited to hand over all documentation regarding this so-called “research”. Failure to do so would (or should!) have dire consequences for this company.

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Addendum

No animals or workers were harmed in the production of this blogpost. (My cat, however, was shooed off my keyboard when he plonked himself on it, halfway through.)

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