May 25, 2012

Farming With Nature - Permaculture with Sepp Holzer

Article on Permaculturalist Sepp Holzer

Earth in Mind | SuperConsciousness Magazine

The normal temperature range for growing lemon trees is seventy to fifty-five degrees. Below fiftyfour degrees Fahrenheit they go into dormancy, which is why much of the world's citrus is grown in sun belts like Florida and California...

Cuatro Caminos Collective

*Meaningful Work,
*Wholesome Local Food,
*Appropriate Technology,
*Intergenerational/Cross-Cultural Dialogue and 

The Cornucopia Institute: The Organic Watergate

May 23, 2012

Depression-Era Angelenos and the Self-Help Cooperative Movement

The Great Depression arrived as Los Angeles was booming.  Oil was big business.  Automobiles had begun to transform the landscape.  The movie studios had come to Hollywood.  Industry was increasing throughout the Southland.  And Los Angeles County was the most productive farming county in the US. 

Garden Startup Guide

Startup Guide

May 21, 2012

Rig Veda Americanus: Sacred Songs of Ancient Mexicans, With a Glossary in Nahuatl

Rig Veda Americanus

How Big Should a Small Farm Be?

How Big Should A Small Farm Be?[1]

John Ikerd[2]

Back in the 1960s, I had an opportunity to work with a genuine “giant.”  His name was Henry Hite.  I worked with merchandizing and sales promotion for Wilson & Co., meat packers, and Henry was one of the “gimmicks” we used to lure people to supermarkets to buy our bacon and hams.  Henry billed himself as being eight feet, two inches tall – although the Guinness Book of World Records lists him at something like seven feet, nine-and-a-half inches.  Henry admitted to me that he wasn’t actually eight-foot-two, but he said he was at least two inches taller than some other fellow who claimed to be eight-foot-even.  Regardless, Henry Hite was a tall fellow – a genuine “giant.”

May 17, 2012

Sanger Garden Pics, May 17 2012

Photos of the progress of garden in Sanger.  Hot day today.  For next year, Cabbage should be seeded 2nd week of February.  Great Success using plastic soda bottles to start seedlings, may have to set up a small greenhouse next year.  The sheet mulch is working amazingly well, the soil has a nice darkness to it wherever we sheet mulched

Grassroots Economic Organizing

You all might be interested in this group:


Card weaving:

"When the prison doors are opened, the real dragon will fly out."  --Ho Chi Minh


"la accion es la madre de la esperanza."

-Pablo Neruda

May 15, 2012

Monsanto's Minions In California - How Monsanto is Fighting GMO Food Labeling

Monsanto's Minions in California
Friday, 11 May 2012 09:09 By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association | Report

Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman with the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition, says requiring labels on genetically engineered food would increase food prices. What she doesn't say is that she's being paid by the trade association that represents both the biotech behemoths like Monsanto that engineer the GMO crops and the food industry giants like PepsiCo. that use ingredients made from these crops in their products. PepsiCo., Kraft, Kellogg's and other top food processors market so-called "natural" protects at a premium that rivals what consumers pay for non-GMO and organic foods - even though these so-called "natural" foods contain unlabeled GMOs. The money these companies swindle from us as they trick us into paying top-dollar for GMO foods disguised as "natural" dwarfs the miniscule 0.01% of food costs attributable to GMO labels. Would it surprise you to learn that anti-right-to-know spokesperson Fairbanks has spent most of her career helping corrupt insurance companies increase premiums on vulnerable customers?

May 08, 2012

Money Bombing Monsanto: The Food Fight of Our Lives.

May 8, 2012
Dear Friend,
We thought it was a remarkable show of solidarity when so many different groups came together to raise money together for a single campaign: "Let's drop the Money Bomb on Monsanto."
And then something extraordinary happened., the largest alternative health website in the world, along with a group of leading organic companies including Nature's Path, Lundberg Family Farms, and Eden Foods, pledged another one million dollars to the campaign - but only if we reach our goal of $1 million by May 26.
Please help us raise $1 million by May 26 for the California Right to Know GMO Labeling Campaign so we don't miss out on this $1 million matching gift! You can donate online, by phone, or by mail.
In less than one week, we've already raised nearly $250,000. We still have a long way to go. If you've already donated to this critical campaign, thank you! If you haven't, or if you missed our letter last week, here's the scoop.
Between May 1 and May 26, a broad coalition of food, farm, health, public interest, and environmental groups across the country, joined by leading organic food companies, will attempt to raise one million dollars, to support the campaign behind the grassroots-powered citizens' ballot initiative in California to require GMO labeling.
Many groups. Reaching out to millions of people. To raise millions of dollars. To take back our food supply.
This battle in California - initiated and powered by the 99% - will largely determine the future of what we eat and what we grow. Once we force GMO labeling in California - the eighth largest economy in the world - consumers will stop buying foods containing GMOs. Food manufacturers will be forced to stop contaminating our food with GMOs.
It happened in Europe. It can happen here.
Monsanto is one of the most powerful, arrogant and destructive companies in the world. For decades, they've controlled the world's food supply by buying off politicians and regulatory agencies, intimidating small farmers, manipulating the outcome of scientific studies, lying to consumers - and threatening to sue states like Vermont if they dare to pass a GMO labeling law. It's time to take back our food. Our farms. Our power. It's time to show Monsanto the extraordinary things we can do when we all pull together.
None of us working alone can win this battle. But millions of us making small donations - $10, $15, $25 - can help the coalition behind this initiative run a dynamic, effective campaign to bring down Monsanto and the rest of the Biotech Bullies.
This is grassroots fundraising at its best - and most powerful.
Please donate today - online, by phone, or drop a check in the mail. Every dollar you contribute will go directly into the California Right to Know ballot initiative and other state GMO labeling campaigns, including a legal defense fund to defend states that pass GMO labeling laws from Monsanto lawsuits.
For an Organic Future,

Ronnie Cummins
Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

P.S. All money raised for this campaign will go through the Organic Consumers Fund, a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic ConsumersAssociation, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action. Donations are not tax-deductible.
Please forward this publication to family and friends, place it on web sites,
print it, duplicate it and post it freely. Knowledge is power!
6771 South Silver Hill Drive - Finland, MN 55603 - Phone: 218-226-4164 - Fax: 218-353-7652
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Azusa, CA
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Cuatro Caminos Collective

*Meaningful Work,
*Wholesome Local Food,
*Appropriate Technology,
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Anyone want Fig trees? (Whittier, CA)

I have 6 fig trees growing in a pot on the front porch.   Come by and pick them up and lets share them around.

They're going to need to be pulled apart but I don't think it's possible to hurt them.  

Know any one who can use them?    You can just take them if I'm not here.



"la accion es la madre de la esperanza."

-Pablo Neruda

May 01, 2012

SFGate: Genetically modified crops' results raise concern

This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate.
The original article can be found on here:
Monday, April 30, 2012 (SF Chronicle)
Genetically modified crops' results raise concern
<a class="email fn" href="">Carolyn Lochhead</a>

  Washington -- Biotechnology's promise to feed the world did not anticipate
"Trojan corn," "super weeds" and the disappearance of monarch butterflies.
  But in the Midwest and South - blanketed by more than 170 million acres of
genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton - an experiment begun in
1996 with approval of the first commercial genetically modified organisms
is producing questionable results.
  Those results include vast increases in herbicide use that have created
impervious weeds now infesting millions of acres of cropland, while
decimating other plants, such as milkweeds that sustain the monarch
butterflies. Food manufacturers are worried that a new corn made for
ethanol could damage an array of packaged food on supermarket shelves.
  Some farm groups have joined environmentalists in an attempt to slow down
approvals of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, as a newly
engineered corn, resistant to another potent herbicide, stands on the
brink of approval. Vote on labels
  In November, Californians are likely to vote on a ballot initiative to
require labeling of genetically engineered foods, which backers of the
measure say would give consumers a voice over the technology that they
lack now.
  The initiative is part of a nationwide drive to thwart the Obama
administration's expected clearance of a new genetically modified corn
that could flood the nation's cornfields with 2,4-D, a 1940s-era herbicide
used mainly on lawns and golf courses to kill broadleaf weeds.
  More than a million people have signed a petition to the Food and Drug
Administration to require labeling of genetically engineered food. That is
"more than twice the number who have ever commented on any food petition
in the history of the FDA," said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of organic
yogurt maker Stonyfield and a leader of the "Just Label It" campaign.
  The stakes on labeling such foods are huge. The crops are so widespread
that an estimated 70 percent of U.S. processed foods contain engineered
genes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved more than 80
genetically engineered crops while denying none. Mushy corn feared
  Organic farmers have long fought the spread of such crops, fearing pollen
contamination of their fields. Environmentalists have warned of long-term
health and environmental effects.
  Now, even biotech supporters fear collateral damage. Vegetable growers
warn of plant-killing fogs that they say will accompany the new
genetically modified corn. Snack and cereal makers fear that a new corn
engineered for ethanol may escape its fields and turn their corn chips and
breakfast cereals to mush.
  Midwest fruit and vegetable growers this month petitioned the Department
of Agriculture to block approval of the 2,4-D-tolerant corn, called Enlist
and made by Dow AgroSciences. Similar crops, including a soybean
engineered by Monsanto to tolerate dicamba, a similar herbicide, wait in
the regulatory pipeline.
  Current forms of the herbicides are prone to vaporization and can travel
miles from their target, falling back to Earth with rain or fog. Vegetable
growers predict the new corn will unleash rampant use of 2,4-D and
dicamba, potentially damaging every broadleaf plant in their path other
than those engineered to tolerate them.
  "Suddenly we are looking at a very dangerous system, because more
dangerous herbicides in America are going to be far more extensively
used," said John Bode, executive director of the Save Our Crops Coalition,
a group working to protect nontargeted plants from herbicides. It has
asked the USDA to conduct a full environmental impact analysis.
Preliminary OK
  The USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, which has chief
regulatory authority over genetically engineered crops, has given a
preliminary recommendation that the new corn be fully commercialized
without restriction.
  Michael Gregoire, who heads the agency, said any genetically modified crop
that does not meet the definition of a "plant pest," which attacks other
plants, falls outside the agency's authority.
  "Once we determine that a genetically engineered plant is not a plant pest
based on a risk assessment, our jurisdiction and our authority to continue
to regulate that ends," Gregoire said.
  The Environmental Protection Agency has found that 2,4-D poses "a
reasonable certainty of no harm," but will evaluate the effects of using
it with genetically modified crops later in the growing season after
plants have leafed out and temperatures are higher.
  If approved, the new corn could be planted as early as next spring.
Charles Benbrook - a former head of the agriculture board of the National
Academy of Sciences who is chief scientist of the Organic Center, a
Colorado group that researches the environmental benefits of organic
farming - projects a 1,435 percent increase in the amount of 2,4-D
applied, or 283 million pounds, within seven years. Hardier weeds evolve
  Corn and soybean farmers are clamoring for the new genetically engineered
crops because those now in use have spawned an infestation of "super
weeds" now covering at least 13 million acres in 26 states. The crops are
engineered to tolerate glyphosate, commonly known by its Monsanto
trademark Roundup. They greatly simplified weed control by allowing
farmers to apply the herbicide to their fields yet leave their corn and
soybeans unharmed.
  The crops led to a 400-million-pound net increase in herbicide
applications throughout corn, soybean and cotton growing regions,
according to Benbrook.
  The resulting overexposure to glyphosate encouraged the evolution of
hardier weeds that can tolerate it. Dave Mortensen, a weed ecologist at
Pennsylvania State University, said the number of "super weed" species
grew from one in 1996, when genetically modified crops were introduced, to
22 today.
  Scientists warn that the next generation of genetically modified crops
will likewise encourage overuse of 2,4-D and dicamba, creating still
hardier weeds that can tolerate virtually every herbicide on the market.
  "It's like pouring gasoline on a fire," Benbrook said.
  "We're talking about a lot of pesticide," Mortensen said. "Whether it
moves as a vapor or physical drift or surface water runoff or comes down
in rainwater, the more of something you use, the greater the likelihood
you will see it appearing in places where you did not apply it."
  Mortensen worries that 2,4-D and dicamba will damage not just fruit and
vegetable crops, but also wild plants on field edges that harbor
pollinators. In the Midwest, where there is little plant diversity, "those
field edges become critically important reservoirs for hosting beneficial
insects," Mortensen said. Butterflies in decline
  Last month, scientists definitively tied heavy use of glyphosate to an 81
percent decline in the monarch butterfly population. It turns out that the
herbicide has obliterated the milkweeds on Midwest corn farms where the
monarchs lay their eggs after migrating from Mexico.
  Iowa State University ecologist John Pleasants, one of the study's
authors, said the catastrophic decline in monarchs is a consequence of the
genetically engineered crops that no one foresaw.
  Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a
nonprofit group that has waged a litigation battle against biotechnology
companies, said the new crops are part of "a chemical arms race, where
biotechnology met Charles Darwin."
  Dow AgroSciences spokesman Garry Hamlin said the company has created new
formulas for 2,4-D that reduce vaporization by 92 percent and that farmers
using the new corn will be obligated to use the new formulation. Dow will
also train farmers to make sure they correctly use the new seed and
herbicide package, which Hamlin said is needed.
  "Farmers haven't been able to control certain difficult weeds because of
resistance," Hamlin said. "That resistance issue is going to get worse if
the new technology doesn't come into play to intercept it." Food makers
  Food manufacturers and grain millers lost a three-year battle at the USDA
against a new genetically modified corn approved last year for ethanol.
Hailed by ethanol backers as "Trojan corn," it turns its own starch to
sugar and so speeds the process of making ethanol to fuel cars. Food
manufacturers worry that even a tiny contamination of food corn by the new
crop could turn their corn chips and cereals soggy.
  Made by Swiss-based Syngenta under the trademark Enogen, the corn was
approved over the objections of the biggest names in the U.S. snack and
cereals industry. Syngenta tests show that one kernel in 10,000 can
liquefy grits.
  Jack Bernens, head of marketing for Syngenta, said products like corn
puffs can have as much as 14 percent contamination before the foods would
show any change in consistency. He said strict contracts with farmers and
a sophisticated set of controls will keep the corn contained.
Contamination is unlikely, he said, because of the wide geographical
separation between ethanol and food-corn regions.
  Still, food manufacturers and grain millers remain worried that the corn
will spread through pollen or inadvertent mixing. Genetically modified
crops have escaped at least six times in the past, according to a 2008
General Accounting Office report, in one case leading to produce recalls
and more than $1 billion in losses to rice farmers. The agency said that
"the ease with which genetic material from crops can be spread makes
future releases likely."
  For food manufacturers, the ethanol corn that dissolves starches is "a
disaster about to happen," said Lynn Clarkson, president of Clarkson
Grain, a grain dealer in Cerro Gordo, Ill.
  "We are face to face with a corn that won't process the way it's processed
for the last 150 years," Clarkson said. "We have a corn that ruins food
for starch uses. If it goes into shipments to Japan, if you were the
Japanese, would you want to be buying from an area that grew this corn,
that approved this corn?" Carolyn Lochhead is the San Francisco
Chronicle's Washington correspondent. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 2012 SF Chronicle

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May Day

The Brief Origins of May Day

By Eric Chase - 1993.

Most people living in the United States know little about the International Workers' Day of May Day. For many others there is an assumption that it is a holiday celebrated in state communist countries like Cuba or the former Soviet Union. Most Americans don't realize that May Day has its origins here in this country and is as "American" as baseball and apple pie, and stemmed from the pre-Christian holiday of Beltane, a celebration of rebirth and fertility.

In the late nineteenth century, the working class was in constant struggle to gain the 8-hour work day. Working conditions were severe and it was quite common to work 10 to 16 hour days in unsafe conditions. Death and injury were commonplace at many work places and inspired such books as Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Jack London's The Iron Heel. As early as the 1860's, working people agitated to shorten the workday without a cut in pay, but it wasn't until the late 1880's that organized labor was able to garner enough strength to declare the 8-hour workday. This proclamation was without consent of employers, yet demanded by many of the working class.

At this time, socialism was a new and attractive idea to working people, many of whom were drawn to its ideology of working class control over the production and distribution of all goods and services. Workers had seen first-hand that Capitalism benefited only their bosses, trading workers' lives for profit. Thousands of men, women and children were dying needlessly every year in the workplace, with life expectancy as low as their early twenties in some industries, and little hope but death of rising out of their destitution. Socialism offered another option.

A variety of socialist organizations sprung up throughout the later half of the 19th century, ranging from political parties to choir groups. In fact, many socialists were elected into governmental office by their constituency. But again, many of these socialists were ham-strung by the political process which was so evidently controlled by big business and the bi-partisan political machine. Tens of thousands of socialists broke ranks from their parties, rebuffed the entire political process, which was seen as nothing more than protection for the wealthy, and created anarchist groups throughout the country. Literally thousands of working people embraced the ideals of anarchism, which sought to put an end to all hierarchical structures (including government), emphasized worker controlled industry, and valued direct action over the bureaucratic political process. It is inaccurate to say that labor unions were "taken over" by anarchists and socialists, but rather anarchists and socialist made up the labor unions.

At its national convention in Chicago, held in 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which later became the American Federation of Labor), proclaimed that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886." The following year, the FOTLU, backed by many Knights of Labor locals, reiterated their proclamation stating that it would be supported by strikes and demonstrations. At first, most radicals and anarchists regarded this demand as too reformist, failing to strike "at the root of the evil." A year before the Haymarket Massacre, Samuel Fielden pointed out in the anarchist newspaper, The Alarm, that "whether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave."

Despite the misgivings of many of the anarchists, an estimated quarter million workers in the Chicago area became directly involved in the crusade to implement the eight hour work day, including the Trades and Labor Assembly, the Socialistic Labor Party and local Knights of Labor. As more and more of the workforce mobilized against the employers, these radicals conceded to fight for the 8-hour day, realizing that "the tide of opinion and determination of most wage-workers was set in this direction." With the involvement of the anarchists, there seemed to be an infusion of greater issues than the 8-hour day. There grew a sense of a greater social revolution beyond the more immediate gains of shortened hours, but a drastic change in the economic structure of capitalism.

In a proclamation printed just before May 1, 1886, one publisher appealed to working people with this plea:

  • Workingmen to Arms!
  • War to the Palace, Peace to the Cottage, and Death to LUXURIOUS IDLENESS.
  • The wage system is the only cause of the World's misery. It is supported by the rich classes, and to destroy it, they must be either made to work or DIE.
  • One pound of DYNAMITE is better than a bushel of BALLOTS!
  • MAKE YOUR DEMAND FOR EIGHT HOURS with weapons in your hands to meet the capitalistic bloodhounds, police, and militia in proper manner.

Not surprisingly the entire city was prepared for mass bloodshed, reminiscent of the railroad strike a decade earlier when police and soldiers gunned down hundreds of striking workers. On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the epicenter for the 8-hour day agitators, 40,000 went out on strike with the anarchists in the forefront of the public's eye. With their fiery speeches and revolutionary ideology of direct action, anarchists and anarchism became respected and embraced by the working people and despised by the capitalists.

The names of many - Albert Parsons, Johann Most, August Spies and Louis Lingg - became household words in Chicago and throughout the country. Parades, bands and tens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets exemplified the workers' strength and unity, yet didn't become violent as the newspapers and authorities predicted.

More and more workers continued to walk off their jobs until the numbers swelled to nearly 100,000, yet peace prevailed. It was not until two days later, May 3, 1886, that violence broke out at the McCormick Reaper Works between police and strikers.

For six months, armed Pinkerton agents and the police harassed and beat locked-out steelworkers as they picketed. Most of these workers belonged to the "anarchist-dominated" Metal Workers' Union. During a speech near the McCormick plant, some two hundred demonstrators joined the steelworkers on the picket line. Beatings with police clubs escalated into rock throwing by the strikers which the police responded to with gunfire. At least two strikers were killed and an unknown number were wounded.

Full of rage, a public meeting was called by some of the anarchists for the following day in Haymarket Square to discuss the police brutality. Due to bad weather and short notice, only about 3000 of the tens of thousands of people showed up from the day before. This affair included families with children and the mayor of Chicago himself. Later, the mayor would testify that the crowd remained calm and orderly and that speaker August Spies made "no suggestion... for immediate use of force or violence toward any person..."

As the speech wound down, two detectives rushed to the main body of police, reporting that a speaker was using inflammatory language, inciting the police to march on the speakers' wagon. As the police began to disperse the already thinning crowd, a bomb was thrown into the police ranks. No one knows who threw the bomb, but speculations varied from blaming any one of the anarchists, to an agent provocateur working for the police.

Enraged, the police fired into the crowd. The exact number of civilians killed or wounded was never determined, but an estimated seven or eight civilians died, and up to forty were wounded. One officer died immediately and another seven died in the following weeks. Later evidence indicated that only one of the police deaths could be attributed to the bomb and that all the other police fatalities had or could have had been due to their own indiscriminate gun fire. Aside from the bomb thrower, who was never identified, it was the police, not the anarchists, who perpetrated the violence.

Eight anarchists - Albert Parsons, August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe, Michael Schwab, George Engel, Adolph Fischer and Louis Lingg - were arrested and convicted of murder, though only three were even present at Haymarket and those three were in full view of all when the bombing occurred. The jury in their trial was comprised of business leaders in a gross mockery of justice similar to the Sacco-Vanzetti case thirty years later, or the trials of AIM and Black Panther members in the seventies. The entire world watched as these eight organizers were convicted, not for their actions, of which all of were innocent, but for their political and social beliefs. On November 11, 1887, after many failed appeals, Parsons, Spies, Engel and Fisher were hung to death. Louis Lingg, in his final protest of the state's claim of authority and punishment, took his own life the night before with an explosive device in his mouth.

The remaining organizers, Fielden, Neebe and Schwab, were pardoned six years later by Governor Altgeld, who publicly lambasted the judge on a travesty of justice. Immediately after the Haymarket Massacre, big business and government conducted what some say was the very first "Red Scare" in this country. Spun by mainstream media, anarchism became synonymous with bomb throwing and socialism became un-American. The common image of an anarchist became a bearded, eastern European immigrant with a bomb in one hand and a dagger in the other.

Today we see tens of thousands of activists embracing the ideals of the Haymarket Martyrs and those who established May Day as an International Workers' Day. Ironically, May Day is an official holiday in 66 countries and unofficially celebrated in many more, but rarely is it recognized in this country where it began.

Over one hundred years have passed since that first May Day. In the earlier part of the 20th century, the US government tried to curb the celebration and further wipe it from the public's memory by establishing "Law and Order Day" on May 1. We can draw many parallels between the events of 1886 and today. We still have locked out steelworkers struggling for justice. We still have voices of freedom behind bars as in the cases of Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier. We still had the ability to mobilize tens of thousands of people in the streets of a major city to proclaim "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" at the WTO and FTAA demonstrations.

Words stronger than any I could write are engraved on the Haymarket Monument:


Truly, history has a lot to teach us about the roots of our radicalism. When we remember that people were shot so we could have the 8-hour day; if we acknowledge that homes with families in them were burned to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend; when we recall 8-year old victims of industrial accidents who marched in the streets protesting working conditions and child labor only to be beat down by the police and company thugs, we understand that our current condition cannot be taken for granted - people fought for the rights and dignities we enjoy today, and there is still a lot more to fight for. The sacrifices of so many people can not be forgotten or we'll end up fighting for those same gains all over again. This is why we celebrate May Day.


"la accion es la madre de la esperanza."

-Pablo Neruda

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