The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:17 am

astrophotographer wrote:Did I miss something? Was there radar data associated with any of these events? BTW, from my astronomy program, Venus was in the west after sunset in March of 1967. At the beginning of the month, it was setting around 8PM. Towards the end of the month it was setting around 8-9PM. That being said, I don't think it was astronomical simply because, if it were, the USAF probably would have made that as the likely explanation. I am not that familiar with the details of the belt sighting (i.e. pertinent information related to azimuth and elevation) to suggest any potential explanation.

Between 3 and 4 in the morning, an FAA radar scope picked up something, assumed by newspapers and everybody else to be a UFO, since a number of reports came in afterwards of a UFO sighted near Malmstrom AFB that was described as "bright with orange lights on the bottom". Most reports indicate the object was flying low for a time, made zig-zag movements or “jerky movements” not typical of aircraft, but it was also traveling slowly, at about 7-8 miles per hour when it disappeared from the FAA radar. All of these reports, including the eyewitness reports that were collated afterwards, also fit the description of the February 18-19 sightings in Michigan that were reported nationwide, and those sightings were believed by everybody to be the result of some teenager sending up balloons with flares attached to the bottom. The descriptions of the Malmstrom AFB objects reported in area newspapers are also very similar to a number of hoax UFOs also reported nationwide for the previous six weeks that consisted basically of dry-cleaning bags powered by candles rigged beneath -- small white or orange lights zig-zagging above, not very high and not very fast until the lights just go out. That's pretty much what was seen over Malmstrom AFB. The Belt sighting was associated by the time frame, and elements of the descriptions given. I see no reason why radar would not pick up on such homemade UFOs, but I'm not actually certain of that, hence the questions.
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby astrophotographer » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:01 am

I don't think an FAA radar will pick up small targets. Most of them run filters for this sort of thing to prevent tracking AP returns and thinks like large birds. IMO, one can not use "reports" of radar contacts as confirmation of anything since one can not verify that there is a match between the UFO visually reported and the contacts. This is Klass principle #9:

Whenever a light is sighted in the night skies that is believed to be a UFO and this is reported to a radar operator, who is asked to search his scope for an unknown target, almost invariably an "unknown" target will be found. Conversely, if an unusual target is spotted on a radarscope at night that is suspected of being a UFO, an observer is dispatched or asked to search for a light in the night sky, almost invariably a visual sighting will be made.
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby Access Denied » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:57 am

James, where are you getting your information about the FAA picking something up on radar? The reason I ask is because I don't see anything about this is the Bluebook file on the 24 MAR 67 Belt Montana incident...

http://www.footnote.com/image/#7471789 (8 pages)
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:41 am

Access Denied wrote:James, where are you getting your information about the FAA picking something up on radar? The reason I ask is because I don't see anything about this is the Bluebook file on the 24 MAR 67 Belt Montana incident...

http://www.footnote.com/image/#7471789 (8 pages)

I got it from newspaper reports written after the fact. The Belt UFO that was investigated by Lt. Col. Chase for Blue Book was associated as a result of the location and time-frame, but the only UFO he investigated was the one that supposedly dropped into the ravine. I'm sure I have copies of the articles -- I'll dig them up and post them. They aren't the most reliable reports and they really didn't amount to much. I'll find them and put them up.
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:14 am

I'm still looking for the articles about the March 24-25 sightings reported, but I found another couple that indicate there were some misidentifications going on at the time, and at least one confirmed hoax in Billings, MT, which is about 200 miles (I think -- might want to check a map on that) from Malmstrom AFB.

1967-03-28 - Billings, Montana - You're Just Seeing Stars.jpg
This article points to stars.
1967-03-28 - Billings, Montana - You're Just Seeing Stars.jpg (47.76 KiB) Viewed 2032 times


1967-03-29 - Farrell, Rich - Billings Gazette, The - UFOs Identified -- Well, One of 'Em.jpg
This one details another hoax.
1967-03-29 - Farrell, Rich - Billings Gazette, The - UFOs Identified -- Well, One of 'Em.jpg (70.58 KiB) Viewed 2032 times


Anyway, I'll keep looking for the ones that mention the radar track.

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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:18 am

Okay -- found it. It isn't the best copy in the world, and it's a little hard to read. I transcribed it once months ago, and I was looking for that, but I couldn't find it, so I'm sorry. I'll have to do it again sometime, 'cause this print really looks like crap, but if you have some patience, it's still readable.

UFO Directly Over Malmstrom AFB - Great Falls Leader 3-25-1967.jpg
I had to go to Warren's site to find it, and I hate having to deal with his processing, so I hope you like it. When is that site ever going to do something to make casusal surfing a quick and painless job? Christ, if you don't mind investing the time and you don't find the insufferable headline links all over the place a conceit most people can't afford, than you might not mind it so much, but if that sort of thing bugs you, and you find the petty little upstaging on both sides of the page a pain in the tookus, forget it -- stabbing yourself in the leg with a pencil 40 or 50 times is a lot more fun.
UFO Directly Over Malmstrom AFB - Great Falls Leader 3-25-1967.jpg (175.29 KiB) Viewed 2029 times
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby astrophotographer » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:38 pm

Like I said previously, these radar discussions are almost meaningless without some hard data. However, if you look at the sighting, the witness states it was to the northeast but the radar report says to the northwest (at least that is what it looks like it says). Not much of a radar confirmation there but I am sure UFO proponents will say it is confirmation.

I would not be surpised that Vega (overhead) and Capella (low in the north) were the cause of these reports.
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby Access Denied » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:24 pm

Thanks James, here’s the originals that are a little easier to read…

Great Falls Leader 3-25-1967 Column 1
Great Falls Leader 3-25-1967 Column 2
Great Falls Leader 3-25-1967 Column 3

I agree with Tim, there doesn’t appear to be any correlation between the Airmen’s sightings to the northeast and over the base and the (very) slow moving object tracked on radar by the FAA to the northwest and traveling to the southeast for 45 minutes. Whatever it was (a wayward weather balloon? lol) it doesn’t appear anybody reported it.

At any rate, these sighting correlate to the “numerous sightings reported” between 0230 and 0340 as noted by Chase his in report however it appears these “light in the sky” type sightings didn’t meet the criteria for investigation. Perhaps these sightings are the result of increased attention to the sky triggered by the sighting 4 hours earlier at 2130 in Belt?

Also, looking at the maps, it appears none of these sightings had anything to do with Echo, November, or Oscar Flights. According to Google Maps, Belt, which is close to some Alpha sites, is about 20 miles driving distance to the southeast of Malmstrom AFB and Lewistown, which is close to some November sites, is about 100. The Echo sites are about the same distance (as the crow flies) from Malmstrom as November and the Oscar sites are a little further still…

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/facil ... s/mal2.gif

Are we to believe Airmen were freely reporting sightings at Malmstrom to the press and Chase was actively investigating a reported landing near Alpha Flight in Belt but covered-up any sightings (and a shutdown) at any other missile sites?

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I call BS on Salas’ et. al. claims…

[as if we didn't know that already]
Last edited by Access Denied on Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: correct spelling of Lewistown
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby astrophotographer » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:53 am

Agreed. How can something that happened at Belt have anything to do with Oscar flight over 50 miles away?
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:59 am

Thanks -- I do appreciate it; I know next to nothing about radar aside from its importance during the Battle of Britain and defense capabilities throughout WWII, but we're talking about tracking a wave of 20-30 Luftwaffe bombers and escorts there, not balloons, so the difference is substantial.

For me, I think the mention of radar tracking is most important, because it enables us to link the UFO rumors that Raymond Fowler was hearing from the Sylvania folks he worked with to the March 24-25, 1967 incidents, as opposed to the Echo Flight incident that he was linking them to, and fortunately recorded as well. Similarly, the rumors he heard about "a nearly identical" event prior to Echo Flight on March 16, 1967 that involved Alpha Flight can pretty defintively be associated with the Alpha Flight missile failures on December 16, 1966, as opposed to a previously unknown event that many other analysts (Timothy Good, Robert Hastings, Robert Salas, and pretty much all of NICAP) have either tried to link with a hypothetical "missile failures caused by UFOs" event at Oscar Flight after the fact, or with a new "missile failures caused by UFOs" event entirely, and have done so without the benefit of any kind of UFO sighting report whatsoever -- only rumors, the development of which Raymond Fowler thankfully recorded (although I don't think he agrees very much with that assessment).

In any case, one element of the rumors Fowler was the ultimate recipient of was clearly (because he actually wrote it down as soon as he heard it) radar detection of the UFO. Radar was completely negaive at Echo Flight, so the rumors can't be related to that event, although that was where he put them. The only other incident we're aware of that can be associated with radar contact is the March 24-25 sightings discussed in the newspaper above. The rumors discussed with Fowler by Ivor Dahlof link the UFOs with E-Flight, and it's clear no such thing occurred. It's true that the rumors also mentioned jet fighters being scrambled, so we can't rule out entirely the possibility that there was another UFO incident with missile failures, but I thnk it's a long shot in the dark. Keep in mind that these rumors were linked to E-Flight by Dahlof, and that in 1996 Dahlof insisted he had no idea what Salas was talking about when he was asked about it. He denied any UFO involvement whatsoever at that time. Fowler also believes that because Gene Whittington tried to get more information regarding Echo Flight, and was told to drop it, that it was "a hot potato", this indicates something suspicious occurred, and he links that suspicion to UFOs. I think we can safely dismiss that assumption entirely, because the highly classified aspect of the matter alone would account for this response. Why the Hell would anybody tell Whittington anything at all? He didn't have any of the need-to-know that was required, and was told to "drop it" as a result. Nothing suspicious there.

Fowler also relates how between April 1-4, 1967, lvor Dahlof, Jim Pompelli and Sid Wartel (Sylvania On-Site Employees) also told him that they had listened to "radio chatter" between different sites that mentioned how the missile failures at Echo Flight corresponded with UFO sightings that were simultaneously tracked on radar. Again, we know that wasn't the case at Echo Flight, but we do know UFOs were tracked on radar on March 24-25, 1967. Is this alone definitive proof that the rumors weren't the result of an actual UFO at Echo Flight? Of course not -- not if that's the only thing you're looking at, which was the only thing that Fowler could look at, because he didn't have access to any of the information we have today; it was classified. But it does explain how April 1-4 rumors regarding UFOs on radar may have been mistakenly associated with the Echo Flight event. It's also telling that ALL of the rumors were associated with Echo Flight. Nothing at all was ever discussed involving any other flight of missiles failing except Alpha Flight, which was only associated as being "nearly identical" to Echo Flight; this characteristic is, in fact, discussed in the command histories, so it seems pretty evident that once again "rumors" linked with a real event have been expanded to include UFOs. Only one problem: all of the evidence seems to indicate that UFOs weren't reported and tracked on radar until March 24-25. It's also interesting to note that these rumors, as reported in Fowler's notes, seem to have started on "April Fool's Day." In fact, the "Great Falls Tribune" featured a UFO photograph on their front page for April 1, 1967 with the following caption: "SAUCER SIGHTED - What may have been the same "flying saucer" which has been sighted by numerous Great Falls area residents in the past week or so finally put in an appearance in the downtown area Friday. Unfortunately, before the Tribune photographer could get his camera and get to the Cascade County courthouse parking lot to take the picture, the machine swished quickly aloft, leaving the frustrated photog time only for the above shot. April fool! Would you believe it was a plastic wash basin tossed aloft?" Yes. Yes I would.

More rumors: Russ Lawson (Boeing On-Site employee) called Fowler on April 12 and told him that "base personnel had seen a bright round white object circling over the missile sites with an up & down motion. The Base Commander reportedly explained it as a highly secret government testing project. He also said that a local commercial radio station was told not to publicize the sighting." This particular rumor is plainly nonsense, and I believe it's the result of a practical joke directed at Fowler more than anything else. There's absolutely nothing in it to suggest that such an event actually occurred. Fowler's notes insist that the USAF "issued a memo stating it is a highly secret govt. testing project not to be publicized." Has such a memo ever turned up? Hell, no! Has the USAF ever issued a memo like this in its entire history that Russ Lawson might have gotten a look at? You tell me -- I think it's outrageous. In any case, this rumor was apparently not associated with missile failures -- only missiles. And this is important, because it was due to these rumors that FTD requested clarification from Lt. Col. Lewis D. Chase regarding his investigation of the UFO sightings on March 24-25: “Our office has been informed that during the sightings there were equipment malfunctions and abnormalities in the equipment. One individual stated that the USAF instructed both military and civilian personnel not to discuss what they had seen, as it was a classified government experiment. Request information on the validity of such statements. If some type of experiment did occur on or about 24 March 1967, please advise.” I have proposed that this "One individual" referred to is Raymond Fowler, who has notably refused to deny the charge. It seems obvious to me that once again, UFO rumors (in this case initiated or continued by Russ Lawson on April 12, who associated them only with missiles, not missile failures) were associated with the Echo Flight missile failures once again, this time by Raymond Fowler. Upon hearing these rumors, FTD either associated them with the March 24-25 UFO sightings investigated by Chase, or (more likely) they were associated by Fowler, who we already know thought the Echo Flight failures had taken place on March 24-25, 1967. In my opinion, the elements common to both the statement addressed by Lawson to Fowler and the query authored by FTD as addressed to Chase are far too similar not to associate them. The fact that FTD attributes it to "One individual" who mentioned it in association with missile failures, also points to Fowler. After all, according to Fowler's notes, Lawson didn't connect this incident to missile failures at all. And Fowler's the only person we know of who believed the Echo Flight missile failures were coincident to the March 24-25 UFO sightings. FTD's query regarding "equipment failures" in conjunction with the March 24-25, 1967 UFO event that involved some kind of USAF project or experiment about which civilian personnel were instructed not to discuss (and since when does the USAF "instruct" civilians such as Lawson's local radio station rep., to do anything?) points pretty definitively at Raymond Fowler. Is it reason enough to suppose 100% confidence in this scenario? Of course not, but I'm willing to bet it's pretty damn close.

Could there be another sighing that would qualify? I don't think so. According to the "Great Falls Tribune", a UFO was reported at about 9 pm on March 26, 1967, but they also insist that "Officials at Malmstrom Air Force Base said no unusual activity was observed on radar and that no object other than aircraft was tracked." The only sighting I can find anywhere that may have been tracked by radar is this March 24-25 incident, which is why I'm interested. In any case, the fact that radar contact was mentioned in the newspaper is probably far more important than whether or not the radar contact was valid. I'm trying to define in some way the development of the UFO rumors, and whether or not they could have arisen from some other connection to a real event other than Echo Flight. The fact that Echo Flight seems to be the only feature common to all of the rumors, however, suggests to me that Echo Flight is being confused with the March 24-25, 1967 UFO sightings (and we know this is true from Fowler's point of view, at least), which in turn indicates that there were no other missile flights involved. Chase's response to FTD's query proves that there were no equipment failures on March 24-25, which also supports this hypothesis.

The point is, the more information we have of what actually occurred over the course of that week-and-a-half, the more obvious it seems that Salas and Hastings are trying to capitalize on it in a dishonest way -- although to a great extent, I believe Hastings is just plain stupid. The whole November Flight brouhaha that Salas clung to so tenaciously proves, as far as I'm concerned, that he was consciously inventing an incident to fit in with what he knew, even at the cost of dumping his own confirmative witness, Frederick Meiwald. The fact that he never even mentioned Meiwald's name until he was certain of the extent of Meiwald's own memory also points to this, in my opinion, as does his refusal to discuss anything regarding Dr. Craig's conclusions until Craig, Chase, and Robert Low had all died. And all of this information we're discussing, including Craig's and Chase's version of the events, were available to Salas and Fowler in 1995 -- but nobody else. He didn't mention any of it, so no attention would be drawn to any of it, but he was well aware of it as his email communications to Fowler indicate. The recklessness with which Hastings has invested his opinions into the discussion has done more than anything else to destroy this myth they've created; Salas is much more circumspect -- he didn't mention anything at all until someone called him on it; and then, he didn't respond directly -- he just wrote another article mentioning all of it at once, and accusing everybody who's now dead of either lying, or conducting a careless investigation, and then associating it all with Condon's study so the UFO groupies world-wide would condemn it all out of hand without even bothering to examine it! Very cagey, I think. I'm almost completely certain that Fowler would never associate himself with a hoax of any sort -- I don't think he's been very bright about some things, just my opinion, but I am convinced of his honesty. But the more I learn about the actual discussions and rumors and events that took place in 1967, the more hardened my opinion regarding the two Bobs' dishonest approach to this thing becomes. And I hate saying it, but I can't just dismiss James Klotz's and Dale Goudie's role in it either. I think they've been very dishonest, and I think they did it originally to try to force the USAF to make a statement of some kind reflecting upon the assertions that UFOs have never affected national security. Now, of course, they're just going along to keep that aspect of it an unspoken and hidden clause, but I don't see how they could have gone along with it originally without knowing it was false.
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:11 am

astrophotographer wrote:Agreed. How can something that happened at Belt have anything to do with Oscar flight over 50 miles away?

And Chase's interview with the sheriff at Belt makes it plain that there were a whole lot of people all over the place actively looking for UFOs as a result of the radio reports regarding the Belt sighting. And nobody saw anything going east toward the missile flights! In my opinion, that just doesn't happen if there were enough UFOs taking out missile flights to motivate Jamison's chain of command to prevent any attempts to bring those missiles back online until no more UFOs were being reported! Nothing about this scenario they've presented doesn't stink to high heaven. For God's sake, supposedly Salas changed his DTG for Oscar on the basis of Jamison's testimony! It's laughable that anybody has invested it with any level of trust whatsoever.
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby Access Denied » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:55 am

astrophotographer wrote:Agreed. How can something that happened at Belt have anything to do with Oscar flight over 50 miles away?

Minor detail but using a different tool (Google Earth is probably better but I don't have that installed on this machine) I get as the crow flies…

Google Maps Distance Calculator
http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-googl ... ulator.htm

Malmstrom to Belt: 14.7 miles
Malmstrom to Lewsitown: 87.3 miles
Malmstrom to Christina: 87.6 miles
Belt to Lewistown: 73.1 miles
Belt to Christina: 75.0 miles

Christina, pretty much exactly due east of Belt and closet to Echo, was the closet marked town I could find to Oscar. O-1 is about 15 miles from there so about 90 miles total from Belt as the crow flies.

Now wonder it took Tim H. 2 hours on a good day to get from Malmstrom to E-1 to pull an alert.

James Carlson wrote:Thanks -- I do appreciate it; I know next to nothing about radar aside from its importance during the Battle of Britain and defense capabilities throughout WWII, but we're talking about tracking a wave of 20-30 Luftwaffe bombers and escorts there, not balloons, so the difference is substantial.

Well, my understanding is this is a fairly complex topic that depends on a number of factors but I believe it’s safe to say an FAA radar could easily track something as small as a bird within it’s coverage area (which of course varies with distance and altitude) but this results in a lot of clutter so it’s tuned out.

James Carlson wrote:And this is important, because it was due to these rumors that FTD requested clarification from Lt. Col. Lewis D. Chase regarding his investigation of the UFO sightings on March 24-25: “Our office has been informed that during the sightings there were equipment malfunctions and abnormalities in the equipment. One individual stated that the USAF instructed both military and civilian personnel not to discuss what they had seen, as it was a classified government experiment. Request information on the validity of such statements. If some type of experiment did occur on or about 24 March 1967, please advise.”

For those that may be curious, here’s Chase’s response to FTD…

http://www.footnote.com/image/#7471846

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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:24 am

Access Denied wrote:Well, my understanding is this is a fairly complex topic that depends on a number of factors but I believe it’s safe to say an FAA radar could easily track something as small as a bird within it’s coverage area (which of course varies with distance and altitude) but this results in a lot of clutter so it’s tuned out.

So they would have the radar set to only hit on larger targtets, thereby discounting any hits on birds, etc. Okay, that makes sense. So whether or not the radar would hit on hoax balloons would depend on the size of the balloon in comparison to whatever the radar was "tuned" to notify on. That makes sense, if I understand it correctly. What bugged me about the contact they supposedly hit on was its speed, but that speed wouldn't be abnormal for a ballon or dry-cleaner bag powered with candles -- it would make sense. I guess I need to research what the FAA used for specs in 1967. Oh, boy -- research is fun!
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby astrophotographer » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:35 am

I am not sure they would not have the radar set only to pick up certain targets. If they were "looking for UFOs", all the filters would be removed so they could see everything the radar was capable of detecting. Reading the book "UFOs: A scientific debate", they describe actually seeing insects on some radar so birds, balloons, bats, kites, etc might have been detectable. It would depend on the unit's sensitivity, power of the transmitting pulses, resolution of the antenna system, etc. The type of radar being used might be informative in this case as it would explain the capabilities of the unit. A wonderful primer about radar is the Navy's training module on it. If you have a basic understanding of electronics, it can help you get an idea about the theory of radar.

http://www.tpub.com/content/neets/14190/
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Re: The Belt, Montana UFO Incident Re-Appears

Postby James Carlson » Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:19 am

astrophotographer wrote:I am not sure they would not have the radar set only to pick up certain targets. If they were "looking for UFOs", all the filters would be removed so they could see everything the radar was capable of detecting. Reading the book "UFOs: A scientific debate", they describe actually seeing insects on some radar so birds, balloons, bats, kites, etc might have been detectable. It would depend on the unit's sensitivity, power of the transmitting pulses, resolution of the antenna system, etc. The type of radar being used might be informative in this case as it would explain the capabilities of the unit. A wonderful primer about radar is the Navy's training module on it. If you have a basic understanding of electronics, it can help you get an idea about the theory of radar.

http://www.tpub.com/content/neets/14190/

Thanks! This will be a big help. Of course, as Robert Hastings is so fond of pointing out, I'm not an engineer. At the same time, however, my not being an engineer hasn't had much effect on my understanding of any other issues relevant to this discussion, so I'll give it a shot. Thanks!
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