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robertogreco : racialprofiling   7

Physiognomy’s New Clothes – Blaise Aguera y Arcas – Medium
"In 1844, a laborer from a small town in southern Italy was put on trial for stealing “five ricottas, a hard cheese, two loaves of bread […] and two kid goats”. The laborer, Giuseppe Villella, was reportedly convicted of being a brigante (bandit), at a time when brigandage — banditry and state insurrection — was seen as endemic. Villella died in prison in Pavia, northern Italy, in 1864.

Villella’s death led to the birth of modern criminology. Nearby lived a scientist and surgeon named Cesare Lombroso, who believed that brigantes were a primitive type of people, prone to crime. Examining Villella’s remains, Lombroso found “evidence” confirming his belief: a depression on the occiput of the skull reminiscent of the skulls of “savages and apes”.

Using precise measurements, Lombroso recorded further physical traits he found indicative of derangement, including an “asymmetric face”. Criminals, Lombroso wrote, were “born criminals”. He held that criminality is inherited, and carries with it inherited physical characteristics that can be measured with instruments like calipers and craniographs [1]. This belief conveniently justified his a priori assumption that southern Italians were racially inferior to northern Italians.

The practice of using people’s outer appearance to infer inner character is called physiognomy. While today it is understood to be pseudoscience, the folk belief that there are inferior “types” of people, identifiable by their facial features and body measurements, has at various times been codified into country-wide law, providing a basis to acquire land, block immigration, justify slavery, and permit genocide. When put into practice, the pseudoscience of physiognomy becomes the pseudoscience of scientific racism.

Rapid developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning have enabled scientific racism to enter a new era, in which machine-learned models embed biases present in the human behavior used for model development. Whether intentional or not, this “laundering” of human prejudice through computer algorithms can make those biases appear to be justified objectively.

A recent case in point is Xiaolin Wu and Xi Zhang’s paper, “Automated Inference on Criminality Using Face Images”, submitted to arXiv (a popular online repository for physics and machine learning researchers) in November 2016. Wu and Zhang’s claim is that machine learning techniques can predict the likelihood that a person is a convicted criminal with nearly 90% accuracy using nothing but a driver’s license-style face photo. Although the paper was not peer-reviewed, its provocative findings generated a range of press coverage. [2]
Many of us in the research community found Wu and Zhang’s analysis deeply problematic, both ethically and scientifically. In one sense, it’s nothing new. However, the use of modern machine learning (which is both powerful and, to many, mysterious) can lend these old claims new credibility.

In an era of pervasive cameras and big data, machine-learned physiognomy can also be applied at unprecedented scale. Given society’s increasing reliance on machine learning for the automation of routine cognitive tasks, it is urgent that developers, critics, and users of artificial intelligence understand both the limits of the technology and the history of physiognomy, a set of practices and beliefs now being dressed in modern clothes. Hence, we are writing both in depth and for a wide audience: not only for researchers, engineers, journalists, and policymakers, but for anyone concerned about making sure AI technologies are a force for good.

We will begin by reviewing how the underlying machine learning technology works, then turn to a discussion of how machine learning can perpetuate human biases."



"Research shows that the photographer’s preconceptions and the context in which the photo is taken are as important as the faces themselves; different images of the same person can lead to widely different impressions. It is relatively easy to find a pair of images of two individuals matched with respect to age, race, and gender, such that one of them looks more trustworthy or more attractive, while in a different pair of images of the same people the other looks more trustworthy or more attractive."



"On a scientific level, machine learning can give us an unprecedented window into nature and human behavior, allowing us to introspect and systematically analyze patterns that used to be in the domain of intuition or folk wisdom. Seen through this lens, Wu and Zhang’s result is consistent with and extends a body of research that reveals some uncomfortable truths about how we tend to judge people.

On a practical level, machine learning technologies will increasingly become a part of all of our lives, and like many powerful tools they can and often will be used for good — including to make judgments based on data faster and fairer.

Machine learning can also be misused, often unintentionally. Such misuse tends to arise from an overly narrow focus on the technical problem, hence:

• Lack of insight into sources of bias in the training data;
• Lack of a careful review of existing research in the area, especially outside the field of machine learning;
• Not considering the various causal relationships that can produce a measured correlation;
• Not thinking through how the machine learning system might actually be used, and what societal effects that might have in practice.

Wu and Zhang’s paper illustrates all of the above traps. This is especially unfortunate given that the correlation they measure — assuming that it remains significant under more rigorous treatment — may actually be an important addition to the already significant body of research revealing pervasive bias in criminal judgment. Deep learning based on superficial features is decidedly not a tool that should be deployed to “accelerate” criminal justice; attempts to do so, like Faception’s, will instead perpetuate injustice."
blaiseaguerayarcas  physiognomy  2017  facerecognition  ai  artificialintelligence  machinelearning  racism  bias  xiaolinwu  xi  zhang  race  profiling  racialprofiling  giuseppevillella  cesarelombroso  pseudoscience  photography  chrononet  deeplearning  alexkrizhevsky  ilyasutskever  geoffreyhinton  gillevi  talhassner  alexnet  mugshots  objectivity  giambattistadellaporta  francisgalton  samuelnorton  josiahnott  georgegiddon  charlesdarwin  johnhoward  thomasclarkson  williamshakespeare  iscnewton  ernsthaeckel  scientificracism  jamesweidmann  faception  criminality  lawenforcement  faces  doothelange  mikeburton  trust  trustworthiness  stephenjaygould  philippafawcett  roberthughes  testosterone  gender  criminalclass  aggression  risk  riskassessment  judgement  brianholtz  shermanalexie  feedbackloops  identity  disability  ableism  disabilities 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Walking While Black | Literary Hub
"Within days I noticed that many people on the street seemed apprehensive of me: Some gave me a circumspect glance as they approached, and then crossed the street; others, ahead, would glance behind, register my presence, and then speed up; older white women clutched their bags; young white men nervously greeted me, as if exchanging a salutation for their safety: “What’s up, bro?” On one occasion, less than a month after my arrival, I tried to help a man whose wheelchair was stuck in the middle of a crosswalk; he threatened to shoot me in the face, then asked a white pedestrian for help.

I wasn’t prepared for any of this. I had come from a majority-black country in which no one was wary of me because of my skin color. Now I wasn’t sure who was afraid of me. I was especially unprepared for the cops. They regularly stopped and bullied me, asking questions that took my guilt for granted. I’d never received what many of my African-American friends call “The Talk”: No parents had told me how to behave when I was stopped by the police, how to be as polite and cooperative as possible, no matter what they said or did to me. So I had to cobble together my own rules of engagement. Thicken my Jamaican accent. Quickly mention my college. “Accidentally” pull out my college identification card when asked for my driver’s license.

My survival tactics began well before I left my dorm. I got out of the shower with the police in my head, assembling a cop-proof wardrobe. Light-colored oxford shirt. V-neck sweater. Khaki pants. Chukkas. Sweatshirt or T-shirt with my university insignia. When I walked I regularly had my identity challenged, but I also found ways to assert it. (So I’d dress Ivy League style, but would, later on, add my Jamaican pedigree by wearing Clarks Desert Boots, the footwear of choice of Jamaican street culture.) Yet the all-American sartorial choice of white T-shirt and jeans, which many police officers see as the uniform of black troublemakers, was off-limits to me—at least, if I wanted to have the freedom of movement I desired.

In this city of exuberant streets, walking became a complex and often oppressive negotiation. I would see a white woman walking towards me at night and cross the street to reassure her that she was safe. I would forget something at home but not immediately turn around if someone was behind me, because I discovered that a sudden backtrack could cause alarm. (I had a cardinal rule: Keep a wide perimeter from people who might consider me a danger. If not, danger might visit me.) New Orleans suddenly felt more dangerous than Jamaica. The sidewalk was a minefield, and every hesitation and self-censored compensation reduced my dignity. Despite my best efforts, the streets never felt comfortably safe. Even a simple salutation was suspect.

One night, returning to the house that, eight years after my arrival, I thought I’d earned the right to call my home, I waved to a cop driving by. Moments later, I was against his car in handcuffs. When I later asked him—sheepishly, of course; any other way would have asked for bruises—why he had detained me, he said my greeting had aroused his suspicion. “No one waves to the police,” he explained. When I told friends of his response, it was my behavior, not his, that they saw as absurd. “Now why would you do a dumb thing like that?” said one. “You know better than to make nice with police.”"



"Walking had returned to me a greater set of possibilities. And why walk, if not to create a new set of possibilities? Following serendipity, I added new routes to the mental maps I had made from constant walking in that city from childhood to young adulthood, traced variations on the old pathways. Serendipity, a mentor once told me, is a secular way of speaking of grace; it’s unearned favor. Seen theologically, then, walking is an act of faith. Walking is, after all, interrupted falling. We see, we listen, we speak, and we trust that each step we take won’t be our last, but will lead us into a richer understanding of the self and the world.

In Jamaica, I felt once again as if the only identity that mattered was my own, not the constricted one that others had constructed for me. I strolled into my better self. I said, along with Kierkegaard, “I have walked myself into my best thoughts.”"



"Walking while black restricts the experience of walking, renders inaccessible the classic Romantic experience of walking alone. It forces me to be in constant relationship with others, unable to join the New York flaneurs I had read about and hoped to join. Instead of meandering aimlessly in the footsteps of Whitman, Melville, Kazin, and Vivian Gornick, more often, I felt that I was tiptoeing in Baldwin’s—the Baldwin who wrote, way back in 1960, “Rare, indeed, is the Harlem citizen, from the most circumspect church member to the most shiftless adolescent, who does not have a long tale to tell of police incompetence, injustice, or brutality. I myself have witnessed and endured it more than once.”

Walking as a black man has made me feel simultaneously more removed from the city, in my awareness that I am perceived as suspect, and more closely connected to it, in the full attentiveness demanded by my vigilance. It has made me walk more purposefully in the city, becoming part of its flow, rather than observing, standing apart.

* * * *

But it also means that I’m still trying to arrive in a city that isn’t quite mine. One definition of home is that it’s somewhere we can most be ourselves. And when are we more ourselves but when walking, that natural state in which we repeat one of the first actions we learned? Walking—the simple, monotonous act of placing one foot before the other to prevent falling—turns out not to be so simple if you’re black. Walking alone has been anything but monotonous for me; monotony is a luxury.

A foot leaves, a foot lands, and our longing gives it momentum from rest to rest. We long to look, to think, to talk, to get away. But more than anything else, we long to be free. We want the freedom and pleasure of walking without fear—without others’ fear—wherever we choose. I’ve lived in New York City for almost a decade and have not stopped walking its fascinating streets. And I have not stopped longing to find the solace that I found as a kid on the streets of Kingston. Much as coming to know New York City’s streets has made it closer to home to me, the city also withholds itself from me via those very streets. I walk them, alternately invisible and too prominent. So I walk caught between memory and forgetting, between memory and forgiveness."
garnettecadogan  racism  blackness  race  walking  nyc  neworleans  nola  serendipity  anonymity  fear  judgement  fatswaller  waltwhitman  kingston  jamaica  us  via:ayjay  racialprofiling  police  lawenforcement  possibility  possibilities  grace  favor  faith  hermanmelville  alfredkazin  elizabethhardwick  janejacobs  memory  forgiveness  forgetting  freedom 
july 2016 by robertogreco
MIMI THI NGUYEN /// Epidermalization of the Public Body: Clothing and Politics « ARCHIPELAGO | The Podcast Platform of the Funambulist
[Now here: https://thefunambulist.net/podcast/mimi-thi-nguyen-fashion-design-01-clothing-and-politics-the-appearance-of-the-public-body ]

[On SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/the-archipelago/1005-mimi-thi-nguyen
via: http://www.husci.org/cal/2015/7/30/the-archipelago ]

"EPIDERMALIZATION OF THE PUBLIC BODY: CLOTHING AND POLITICS
Conversation recorded with Mimi Thi Nguyen in New York on October 5, 2013.

Nothing of what we wear is politically innocent. Our clothing constitutes the skin of our public body, what Mimi Thi Nguyen calls its “epidermalization.” This public body is read through a set of norms and expectations that crystallize society’s ostracism. Mimi and I talked about normative processes that unfold themselves through clothing (the hoody, the veil, the sweatpants), as well as neo-colonial politics implemented in the various American military operations in countries like Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Mimi Thi Nguyen is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of The Gift of Freedom (see below) and the coeditor of Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America (Duke University Press). She is the co-editor of the blog Threadbared (along with Minh-Ha T. Pham) that questions the relationships between fashion and politics.

WEBSITES:

- http://mimithinguyen.com/
http://threadandcircuits.wordpress.com/
http://iheartthreadbared.wordpress.com

ARTICLES QUOTED:

– “Teaching: Brief Notes on the Unreliable Stories Clothes Tell”
– “The Hoodie as a Sign, Screen, Expectation, and Force”
– “Clothes Epidermalized, as Republican Representative Targets “Illegals””
– “You Say You Want A Revolution (In a Loose Headscarf)”
– “Sartorial Classification as a Weapon of War”

REFERENCE BOOKS:

– Mimi Thi Nguyen, The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages, Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.
– Mimi Thi Nguyen and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu, Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America, Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.
– Leila Ahmed, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
– Minoo Moallem, Between Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Politics of Patriarchy in Iran, Berkeley: University of California, 2005.

SYNTHESIS ARTICLE ON THE FUNAMBULIST:

– “Epidermalization of the Public Body: Archipelago with Mimi Thi Nguyen”"
clothing  mimithinguyen  2015  clothes  uniformproject  hoodies  politics  epidermalization  vietnam  afghanistan  threadbared  minh-hatpham  sandiego  race  trayvonmartin  body  bodies  léopoldlambert  crime  criminology  racialprofiling 
august 2015 by robertogreco
'I am a citizen': when border patrol agents violate the rights of US residents | US news | The Guardian
"As one Arizona border community calls for closure of checkpoint, concerns grow over increased racial profiling and invasion of civil rights"



"‘If I had white skin and blue eyes’
Wray is originally from Mexico and believes that agents treat her with suspicion as a result. “I have a brown colour and I’m very proud of my colour,” she said. “A couple of times they have asked for an ID for me to prove that I am a US citizen and they don’t believe my words. That makes me feel bad because if I’m saying I’m a US citizen it’s because I am. But they don’t believe it.

“If I had white skin and blue eyes … other people who aren’t even US citizens, they could be from Argentina or other places, but they’re white and they don’t ask those questions,” she said. “They’re still treating me like I walked [in from] the desert yesterday.”

The 57-year-old part-time library worker worries that the checkpoint has a negative effect on the town’s economy and a psychological impact on locals. “They make it look like a war zone and I don’t like it. My grandson is 10 years old and I want him to grow up in a place where he doesn’t see all these men in uniform with guns. The children are growing and they see all this and they think it’s normal, they think it’s a normal way of life,” she said.

Activists also argue that the true purpose of the Arivaca checkpoint and others is not interception but to act as a deterrent. This, they say, forces migrants crossing the border to trek through dangerous, remote terrain to avoid detection, resulting in deaths. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2013 that migrant death rates in southern Arizona were at an all-time high.

Border Patrol has insisted that Arivaca and the dozens of other interior permanent or temporary checkpoints in Arizona and across the US are legal and play a vital role in reducing illegal activity, such as drug and people smuggling."
2015  arizona  border  borders  us  mexico  racialprofiling  profiling  race  borderpatrol 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Nextdoor, the social network for neighbors, is becoming a home for racial profiling | Fusion
"While Nextdoor’s ability to assist in crime-spotting has been celebrated as its “killer feature” by tech pundits, the app is also facilitating some of the same racial profiling we see playing out in cities across the country. Rather than bridging gaps between neighbors, Nextdoor can become a forum for paranoid racialism—the equivalent of the nosy Neighborhood Watch appointee in a gated community.

Ahlberg is an East Coast native who moved to Oakland three years ago; Ivy Hill, where she lives, is what real estate agents call a “transitioning” neighborhood. She appreciates the information-sharing benefits of Nextdoor, but is concerned about the racial profiling that happens there. Since signing up for the app in 2012, Ahlberg has repeatedly seen black people in the neighborhood described as “suspicious” characters. “The most agitated alert messages are, by far, in reference to young black men who are seen as dangerous or a possible threat,” she said.

The same week of Ahlberg’s party, the New York Times wrote about Nextdoor’s venture capital-fueled growth, and its attempts to get community leaders onto its platform. It recounted the usual company lore about Nextdoor’s explosive growth over the last four years, leading to the creation of 53,000 micro-communities in the U.S. with users now sending 5 million messages a day. Like most media coverage of Nextdoor, the Times story didn’t mention the tense racial conversations that often play out there, and sometimes spill outside the app’s walled garden onto the open Internet.

“Racism quietly flourishes in San Leandro,” wrote one blogger citing Nextdoor posts in another Oakland neighborhood. A woman in St. Louis blogged about Nextdoor becoming the leaping off point for a discussion of how black mothers raise their sons. “Nextdoor: In case your Facebook feed isn’t racist enough,” is how a woman in Wisconsin titled a Tumblr post about the discomforting posts she saw on the network."



"If Nextdoor’s racial profiling problems can’t be solved through heavier moderation, they’ll need to be addressed by the communities themselves, in meetings and community forums like the ones being organized by Mickiewicz and other concerned citizens. We don’t need Starbucks baristas to write #RaceTogether on coffee cups to stimulate conversations about race in our communities. Nextdoor is where it’s already happening. Let’s hope these semi-public, semi-private conversations lead to diverse communities better understanding each other rather than Nextdoor, and similar services, simply becoming yet another place to safely air long-held racial assumptions.

“There seems to be a culture of fear on Nextdoor, where anytime someone feels fear, they call the police,” Mickiewicz said. “This is a misplaced solution to feeling fear, because it can have really serious consequences.”"
pendarvisharshaw  racism  localnetworks  community  engagement  participation  2015  nextdoor  profiling  racialprofiling 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Hundreds of Kids Arrested on an Unproven Hunch | Voice of San Diego
"It was a typical curfew sweep in City Heights and part of a dramatic rise in curfew enforcement by the San Diego Police Department. Police began conducting regular sweeps in 2008 and have since expanded their use to much of the city’s urban core.

In these neighborhoods alone, police have more than tripled curfew arrests in the last five years, forcing hundreds of more children to pay fines, participate in weeks-long diversion courses or fight police in court. And all of it’s been done on an unproven hunch.

When pushed to justify the arrests, police and elected leaders have claimed the sweeps are responsible for a recent drop in crime. They cite isolated crime statistics or anecdotal stories, but never an analysis of whether the program has actually been effective. No analysis has ever been done.

Proponents have argued their program saves lives and prevents kids from becoming victims of violent crime. They’ve also argued it prevents kids from becoming perpetrators of crime by pulling them from a dangerous environment and educating them about the risks of staying out late.

But an analysis of juvenile crime statistics by voiceofsandiego.org challenges whether either of these claims are true. Neighborhoods without the sweeps have reported greater drops in crime in the last five years than those with them.

VOSD reached that surprising conclusion by examining the two metrics of juvenile crime often cited by the program’s proponents: the number of violent crime victims and the number of juvenile arrests police made during curfew hours.

Where regular curfew sweeps have happened for at least the past two years, police reported a 47 percent decline in victims in the last five years. Where they haven’t happened, police reported an additional 17 point decrease."

[more on San Diego, City Heights, and curfews:

A reader's guide:
http://voiceofsandiego.org/2012/05/07/san-diegos-major-curfew-push-a-readers-guide/

http://voiceofsandiego.org/2010/03/23/the-curfew-police-hit-the-streets-of-city-heights/
http://voiceofsandiego.org/2010/02/09/curfew-enforcement-focused-on-city-heights/

http://voiceofsandiego.org/2012/03/22/san-diegos-unique-curfew-push-graphic/
"The program’s proponents here argue the sweeps have reduced crime by removing kids from a dangerous environment. They say children are less likely to become victims or perpetrators of crime when they’re not out on the streets.

But our analysis of crime trends questioned whether that’s true. In the past five years, places without the sweeps have reported equal or greater drops in crime than those with them.

It’s still unclear why law enforcement agencies across the state have reduced curfew arrests, though several criminologists suggested it may be related to funding. Hit by the economic decline, agencies across the state have cut their budgets or shifted resources in recent years."

http://voiceofsandiego.org/2012/04/18/police-gathering-curfew-stats-but-not-the-key-ones/
"Some residents and advocates have also expressed concern that the sweeps overreach and unnecessarily introduce good kids to the criminal justice system. While police often highlight arresting gang members, the program has also prompted them to handcuff kids walking home, still wearing soccer cleats.

Police have collected stockpiles of documents on their arrests and how the kids have been punished over the years, but haven’t taken the next step to figure out if those kids re-offend.

The new effort, Brown said, is only meant to examine whether the program’s educational aspects could be more effective, not whether the sweeps themselves have been.

Most kids found violating curfew are arrested and then given a choice about how to resolve their tickets.

They can pay a maximum $250 fine, fight the ticket in court or enroll in the diversion classes. The classes aim to educate at-risk youth about the dangers of crime, drugs and gangs, and why police conduct the sweeps."

http://voiceofsandiego.org/2012/06/07/curfew-sweeps-push-san-diego-explained/

http://www.speakcityheights.org/2014/06/curfew-sweeps-bring-mixed-reactions-from-hoover-students/
http://www.speakcityheights.org/2012/05/better-to-be-safe-than-sorry-city-heights-youth-curfew-sweeps/
http://www.speakcityheights.org/2012/04/letter-are-curfew-sweeps-worth-dividing-the-community/

https://www.change.org/p/san-diego-city-council-stop-curfew-sweeps-in-san-diego-california ]
sandiego  cityheights  curfews  lawenforcement  discrimination  2012  2010  children  youth  teens  racism  racialprofiling  police  policy  data  keegankyle 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Life Without Police | The Marshall Project
"Among young black men in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the New York Police Department's two-weeks-and-counting "slowdown" in street-level policing isn't just the news – it's personal. Whereas white New Yorkers in Manhattan may not have enough interaction with the police to discern first-hand that drug arrests, low-level criminal summonses, and citations are on the decline, young black men in Bed-Stuy, a historically black Brooklyn neighborhood of high-rise public housing, low-rent row houses, and expanding pockets of gentrification, are highly attuned to every subtle shift in NYPD behavior.

They are students of policing, say the young men out in the streets on a seriously cold Wednesday morning, whether they like it or not. After all, the types of policing the slowdown has slowed are the types that affect them most.

Devaughn Rozier, 28, lives in the Marcy Houses, where Jay-Z grew up. He's heavily bundled in a hat, scarves, and multiple parkas, all to walk one block to the corner bodega, for a sandwich and a drink.

Rozier says the cops have stopped coming around since they began their undeclared protest against Mayor Bill de Blasio, and that’s cause for celebration.

“You normally see they’d be posted up on Marcy and Floyd, Marcy and Stockton, Marcy and Myrtle; they’d be posting up on all these corners,” he says, sizing up a nearby group of high school boys, the same way he says the police eye him and his friends. “They’d be up on the roofs of the projects, in groups of three. They’d be saying the probable cause for searching me and running my ID was I lived in a building with drug trafficking going on in it, even though that building has, like, 5,000 people staying there.”

“Now,” he says, smiling, “that’s free land.

"Charles Franklin, a 27-year-old student wearing a Shepard Fairey hat that reads “OBEY,” is also enjoying the latest trend in policing.

“This is how it’s supposed to be,” he says, referring to the “quiet” he’s been sensing, the “lower volume” of cops he’s been seeing on local corners. “I’m not talking about guys getting away with nothing, I’m talking about feeling safe. The police driving up on us, because of some hearsay, and jumping out, that don’t make us feel safe. The police smelling every drink I drink, looking in my bag every time I come out the store, that don’t make me feel safe.”

“This is how it’s supposed to be,” he reiterates. “We feel safe. And for once, we're not running late – usually we always be running late because of having been hassled.”"
race  language  education  police  lawenforcement  2015  nyc  nypd  stopandfrisk  racialprofiling  safety 
january 2015 by robertogreco

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