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Thread: 12th case of mad cow confirmed in Japan

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    12th case of mad cow confirmed in Japan

    Japan Times : 12th case of mad cow confirmed

    Japan has confirmed its 12th case of mad cow disease, an official said Monday.
    It is the third case of the brain-wasting illness this year.

    The 5-year-old dairy cow tested positive for the disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, on Friday at a slaughterhouse in Shisui, Kumamoto Prefecture, prefectural spokesman Toshinori Takano said.

    The animal's meat and organs had not been released on the market, and its carcass will be incinerated, he said.

    Japan's first case of mad cow disease, in September 2001, was the first case outside of Europe, where the disease devastated cattle farms.
    ...
    Japan finds it difficult to accept a U.S. demand for excluding cattle aged 24 months or younger from testing for mad cow disease, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Monday.
    The U.S. demand is less stringent than a recommendation made by Japan's Food Safety Commission that calls on the government to end the current blanket testing and exempt beef cattle aged 20 months or younger.

    The top government spokesman told a news conference that Japan should take into account that the brain-wasting disease was detected in cows aged 21 months and 23 months in Japan.
    I saw a TV programme on NHK that explained that cows infected by BSE cannot be detected by tests during the virus' incubation period. That period is from about 2 to 6 years for cows (for humans 5 to 20 years, I think). As a result, all young cows or calves tested cannot be diagnosed as having BSE, making all claim of safety derisory.

    This cow was 5 years old, which explains the virus could be found. But the majority of the beef we eat is from younger cows. As soon as the calves turns adult (6 months, 1 year ?), they are put down to eat. Older cows are usually those kept for milk, and once they get too old to be productive, they also end up in our plates.

    But not being able to detect the disease does not mean it isn't there and can't be transmitted to humans. BSE is the bovine form of the virus known as Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease for humans. The virus is slightly different but can change inside the body of somebody eating contaminated beef, in the same way as Africans eating apes first got HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which mutated from the chimpanzee's virus, known as SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus).

    Although the chances of the BSE virus mutating to the human form are low (maybe 1%), there is always a risk. The more beef products we consume (especially offals) and the higher the risk of transmission.

    I also presume that any country having BSE cases, especially in such various locations as was the case in Japan (Hokkaido, Chiba, Kyushu...), have very high probabilities of widespread contamination. This is because BSE originates from animal flours given to the cows as food, and they are usually the same nationwide (maybe not in all farms, but in about every regions). As it is extremely difficult to detect BSE during the incumbation period, even with blood tests and the highest technologies (the same way as HIV doesn't show up in bloodtests for the first 6 months after contamination),

    I seriously oubt the validity of the tests themselves, and wouldn't trust any (financially motivated) government on this. It is very possible that governments worldwide are trying to protect their cattle owners by lying to the public about the real danger of BSE. Or people with the real authority just can't understand what scientists tell them, or like in Japan, people just don't want to stop eating beef, even if they know there is a high risk of dying from it in 10 or 20 years from now.

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    I Heard A Rumor....

    a former member from N.Y. caught mad cow disease from just posting to JREF! The first symptom to show was his 2 balls turned red. Soon his posts became erratic and the problem progressed to the point we thought he had rabies. He even became confused about his name and used aliases. We locked him out to prevent the problem from spreading to others, but sadly , it was too late for a few. We hope the danger is out of control, but for your own safety, we recomend checking your balls for redness for the next few weeks to be sure you're safe!

    Uncle Frank

    TAKE WHAT I SAY WITH A GRAIN OF SUGAR !!
    I USED TO BE FUNNY, BUT MY WIFE HAD ME NEUTERED!

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    It doesn't sound like you have any idea what you're talking about ..

    By the way, it isn't a "virus".

    Mad Cow Disease aka Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease are all a type of disease called "prion disease". The infectious agent in prion disease is actually a type of molecule from a family of proteins known as PrP (PRion Protein).

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    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gakami
    It doesn't sound like you have any idea what you're talking about ..
    Certainly it doesn't make sense unless you specify which testing methods are being talked about. An informative (but with horrible font) post can be found here.

    http://www.vegsource.com/talk/madcow...ges/92946.html

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    It's not really a matter of "which" testing method, it's more about testing requirements. At the moment the standard practice is to test those animals that begin to show symptoms only. Which means any animals who may harbour the disease which haven't had onset of symptoms aren't tested and are still probably passing through the system.

  6. #6
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gakami
    At the moment the standard practice is to test those animals that begin to show symptoms only.
    http://www.rr-asia.oie.int/topics/detail011_02.html

    "The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has innovated on the then BSE testing of all carcasses of cattle slaughtered on or after 18 October 2001. "

    From the same page Until 774,733 samples were tested by 8 June 2002.

    That doesn't seem like 'animals that begin to show symptoms only'. Nor does the reporting of 3,159,408 animals tested as of May 8, 2004 [presumably mostly/all since 18 October 2001.]

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, Gakami and Paul.

    I admit not being a neuroscientist or doctor, so I searched a bit the web to learn more about this dreadful disease. Here is what I found about prion protein :

    The Prion protein (PrP) has become famous because recent research has confirmed an earlier hypothesis that conformationally abnormal forms of this membrane protein (named PrPsc), which is normally found on the surface of neurons (as PrPc), are the infectious particles in a disease group found in humans and animals called spongiform encephalopathies (the name of this disease group is due to the post mortem appearance of the brain with large vacuoles in the cortex and cerebellum). The mutations found in the PrP gene in the familial forms of these diseases also strongly suggest that the encoded protein plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of these disorders. The discovery that proteins alone can transmit an infectious disease has come as a considerable surprise to the scientific community, and the mechanisms underlying the propagation of the infectious proteins and their pathogenic effects remain a matter of hot debate.
    And here is more about the disease itself :

    In humans: Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease, CJD; Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome, GSS; Fatal familial Insomnia, FFI; Kuru, and Alpers syndrome (collectively called prion diseases or spongiform encephalopathies). All familial inherited prion diseases are caused by mutations in the PRNP gene. According to the protein-only hypothesis of spongiform encephalopathies, PrPSc (the abnormal one) induces PrPC (the normal counterpart) to change into PrPSc, which could then itself act as the transmissible agent causing further conversion of PrPC to PrPSc. Prions thus multiply in an incredible way; they convert normal protein molecules into dangerous ones simply by inducing the benign molecules to change their shape! Accumulation of PrPSc may then somehow lead to the observed pathology (neuronal loss, astrocytic gliosis and spongiform change), although the details of these effects remain to be established. PrP fragments accumulate as plaques in the brains of some patients that look similar to the plaques of Alzheimer's disease, although their composition is different. The PrP plaques are a useful sign of prion infection, but they seem not to be a major cause of impairment. In many people and animals with prion disease, the plaques do not arise at all.
    => Sources

    -----

    It is interesting to see that amomg the cases of BSE found in Japan (first 4 listed in Paul's link), the cows were all over 5 years old. That seems to confirm that it is difficult to detect the disease among younger cows, during the incubation period. This is what scares me the most when I hear the authorities saying that "it is safe because the test were negative" (obvious nonsense).

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    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It is interesting to see that amomg the cases of BSE found in Japan (first 4 listed in Paul's link), the cows were all over 5 years old.
    All 12 or the first 4 listed in my link?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That seems to confirm that it is difficult to detect the disease among younger cows,
    Not really. You could equally take it that cows were more likely to have been exposed further back. It is correct that tests can be are less reliable when the cows haven't had time for the disease to progress for long but just exactly how much that is true depends on which tests are being talked about.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    during the incubation period. This is what scares me the most when I hear the authorities saying that "it is safe because the test were negative" (obvious nonsense).
    It's 'safe' (on a purely statistical basis) because vCJD turned out to be far less easy to get than feared. The long (and unknown) period before it takes effect made it a great scare target but it now seems fairly clearly to have peaked in the country where the problem first surfaced.

    http://www.cjd.ed.ac.uk/figures.htm

    A country where Mad Cow disease was, and is, much more rampant that it is now in Japan - however poor the tests.

    http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bse/.../overview.html

    Oh and this link
    http://ije.oupjournals.org/cgi/conte...tract/32/5/784
    suggests that the best fit for incubation period is 11 years. With the peak BSE cases in the UK occurring at 1992/1993
    http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bse/...aphs/repts.pdf
    this would be consistent with peak vCJD cases in 2003/2004.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulTB
    http://www.rr-asia.oie.int/topics/detail011_02.html

    "The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has innovated on the then BSE testing of all carcasses of cattle slaughtered on or after 18 October 2001. "

    From the same page Until 774,733 samples were tested by 8 June 2002.

    That doesn't seem like 'animals that begin to show symptoms only'. Nor does the reporting of 3,159,408 animals tested as of May 8, 2004 [presumably mostly/all since 18 October 2001.]
    When you test a cow suspected of BSE, the brain is taken and neuropathological examination is carried out. It's the one sure way of confirming BSE (or not). Other methods are basically a hit and miss, particularly the methods used to examination carcasses en masse. They just don't have time or the resources to extract every brain from every cow, retrieve histological sections from every part of the brain, stain them, and examine them under a microscope.

    Search for "BASE" on google, along with the search terms "bse", and "prion". They're finding out that their testing methods haven't been exactly catching all cases...

    By the way what's your background in this Paul? You seem to have a special interest in BSE and CJD.

  10. #10
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gakami
    When you test a cow suspected of BSE, the brain is taken and neuropathological examination is carried out. It's the one sure way of confirming BSE (or not). Other methods are basically a hit and miss, particularly the methods used to examination carcasses en masse. They just don't have time or the resources to extract every brain from every cow, retrieve histological sections from every part of the brain, stain them, and examine them under a microscope.
    Which is exactly why it's important to be specific about which testing methods you're talking about.
    Quote Originally Posted by gakami
    By the way what's your background in this Paul? You seem to have a special interest in BSE and CJD.
    No special interest and my 'background' is that I read the New Scientist and know how to use Google.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulTB
    Which is exactly why it's important to be specific about which testing methods you're talking about.

    No special interest and my 'background' is that I read the New Scientist and know how to use Google.
    No you're missing my point. There's only one sure way to catch a case of BSE, and that is with a post mortem neuropathological examination of the brain.

    You may not even find this on a google search but other testing methods are now being re-evaluated due to new discoveries on the aetiology of the disease. It's not a matter of "which" test that matters now, it is the testing requirements that need to be reviewed. The "BASE" google search I recommended is a good start.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gakami
    No you're missing my point. There's only one sure way to catch a case of BSE, and that is with a post mortem neuropathological examination of the brain.

    You may not even find this on a google search but other testing methods are now being re-evaluated due to new discoveries on the aetiology of the disease. It's not a matter of "which" test that matters now, it is the testing requirements that need to be reviewed. The "BASE" google search I recommended is a good start.
    I admit my ignorance regarding the testing methods, but do you know which countries which countries are using the "post mortem neuropathological examination of the brain" and how frequently if they use various testing methods ?

    I suppose that the UK should have better testing methods as it has a longer experience of BSE than any other country. But countries also exchange such information. The problem is, where are the authorities more concerned about doing a proper job.

    How comes that someone from Australia (where there has been officially no BSE cases so far, if I remember well) knows so well about this subject. You visibly seem to be working in this field. So it is my turn to ask you about your background, if you don't mind.

  13. #13
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gakami
    No you're missing my point. There's only one sure way to catch a case of BSE, and that is with a post mortem neuropathological examination of the brain.
    And you've been using sloppy language and reasoning from the start.

    In your first post here you said
    At the moment the standard practice is to test those animals that begin to show symptoms only.
    The US does so, but this thread started about Japan and I've seen nothing to suggest they do.

    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/BSEOIGFAQ.pdf

    And later you said this
    When you test a cow suspected of BSE, the brain is taken and neuropathological examination is carried out.
    See that word 'test' there? When I said 'important to be specific about which testing methods you're talking about' that includes post mortem examinations of all types as well. It's not as if anybody is going to eat a cow premortem after all. Also I highly doubt they take the whole brain - just sample(s) of brain tissue.
    You may not even find this on a google search but other testing methods are now being re-evaluated due to new discoveries on the aetiology of the disease. It's not a matter of "which" test that matters now, it is the testing requirements that need to be reviewed. The "BASE" google search I recommended is a good start.
    If this second form of BSE is not being picked up by the current BSE tests (which it is far from clear to be the case) then it is again a matter of WHICH test should be used - namely tests that do pick it up should be used. I really don't see what the problem is you've got with the phrase 'which tests'

    http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994689
    The two cows with BASE were detected by a BSE test made by the Swiss company Prionics. Markus Moser, at Prionics, says that even if BASE is a distinct form of BSE, it is not likely to escape being detected by the tests used in European abattoirs.
    The Italian study was based on '1,638,275 tested brain samples'
    http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/apr04/040415h.asp
    in which 2 of 103 samples had the newly found variant. I say newly found because there's every chance that this version had always occurred spontaneously at that level on in the cow population - which what I've read so far there's no way to tell one way or another.

    ===================================

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Australia (where there has been officially no BSE cases so far, if I remember well)
    Well that's a bad sign. How carefully have they been looking?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I suppose that the UK should have better testing methods as it has a longer experience of BSE than any other country.
    Actually it appears to be the other way around. The UK doesn't need as good testing methods because we _know_ some of our cows have BSE and we're tracking the decline of BSE in the population. The USA doesn't 'know' and so needs more sensitive tests to confirm that it doesn't. (At least that's what the first link I posted said - Frankly the US is demonstrating the "It's not just a river in Egypt" concept).
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    But countries also exchange such information. The problem is, where are the authorities more concerned about doing a proper job.
    It appears that Japan is doing a much more proper job than the US. The US system is
    - mainly voluntary
    - has reluctantly expanded the 'at risk' target group over the years
    (1990 - 'classic BSE symptoms', 1993 - 'downers', 2001 - 'died of unknown cause')
    - is starting from the assumption that the US doesn't 'have' BSE and is attempting to show that is true.
    Last edited by PaulTB; Sep 18, 2004 at 17:26.

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    1. I'll say it again - there is only one surefire way to definitively determine BSE, and that is by a post-mortem neuropathological brain examination. That standard practice I mentioned was in relation to this. I acknowledge the utility of other methods of testing but they are not foolproof. The relevant governing bodies have known about this for a while now. PS - do not believe everything you read in the media, the bulk of BSE-related news have involved damage control so you're hearing a lot of skewed (or biased) information.

    2. You said "..that includes post mortem examinations of all types as well. It's not as if anybody is going to eat a cow premortem after all. Also I highly doubt they take the whole brain - just sample(s) of brain tissue."

    Well I wasn't talking about post mortem examination of "all types". The post mortem examination of any note involves, as I said, neuropathological brain examination. Why waste time using non-conclusive tests when you've got one definitive method right there? The only time a post mortem brain examination is NOT definitive is when only a PART of the brain is extracted (as in a brain biopsy), and again the disadvantages of doing so is proving more obvious since it's been shown that signs of BSE can be present in several locations so it's a hit-n-miss UNLESS you take out the whole brain, perform serial sections, and examination each section of the brain. So again, you say you doubt they take the whole brain? That's my point, previous testing protocol did not require whole brain extraction. It's not the TYPE of test since it's all "neuropathological brain examination". The test type is the same whether you take the whole brain, or just a part of it. I repeat, it's NOT the test type, it's the testing protocol/requirements.

    3. You also quoted "The two cows with BASE were detected by a BSE test made by the Swiss company Prionics. Markus Moser, at Prionics, says that even if BASE is a distinct form of BSE, it is not likely to escape being detected by the tests used in European abattoirs."

    I would like to bring your attention to this part "it is not likely to escape being detected by the tests used in European abattoirs.". The keywords here are "not likely". All I have to say about that is "great!" just because that is the official choice of words that the authorities are using. Read between the lines. Did they say how long this particular testing method has been implemented? How long have they spent, over how many cows, over how many geographical regions, over how many regions has this test been implemented to conclude "not likely" for this relatively new discovery? Again it brings me back to THE definitive test for BSE (see above).

    4. I do agree with you on this: "I say newly found because there's every chance that this version had always occurred spontaneously at that level on in the cow population - which what I've read so far there's no way to tell one way or another.".

    You are reading between the lines and are forming your own ideas, as opposed to gobbling up whatever the "official" word is implying, and besides there is truth in your statement.

    5. As for Australia, well Australia does work with the European surveillance authorities and there is adequate exchange, Paul is correct in that although there has been no official case of BSE in Australia (both Australia and New Zealand are probably the final frontier in terms of BSE-free cattle) it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There is open communication and collaboration in the area of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) research and surveillance though. One of the world's foremost prion disease researcher lives and works out of Australia after all. To date there have been no cases of vCJD (human variant of CJD acquired through consumption of contaminated meat) in Australia and NZ BUT there are about 30 cases of sporadic CJD in Australia every year. Sporadic CJD has no identifiable cause, and has a 1 per million per population incidence (which is a statistic applicable worlwide). Most people confuse sporadic CJD with vCJD, what people don't know is that they consist of two very different aetiologies.

    6. About Japan - the biggest problem right now is actually iatrogenic CJD (CJD acquired via surgical means, in particular tissue transplant). Don't believe me? Do a google search. Numbers are increasing every year. The Japanese government have since ceased these transplants, they were warned by the relevent authorities to cease these medical methods but they did not take it too seriously, until recently.

    7. As for how frequently they're using the neuropathological testing methods, all I can say is "not often enough and not widely enough" and that comes down to fear and paranoia. Again it's about testing requirements because if you do enough testing on a big enough population group, you WILL find something, guaranteed. Sayonara cattle industry..

    Why do you guys have a particular interest in BSE? By the way Maciamo sorry if I sounded rude in my first post (if I had a dime for everytime I hear the prion protein referred to as a virus..).

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Little update. It's funny that all the Japanese I know are saying that Japanese beef is safe and that the BSE issue has been tackled by the government since 2001 and that there is no problem anymore. How does that explain this :
    Yomiuri : 15th case of BSE confirmed in Hokkaido

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    And they banned Canadian beef in the process. I think beef all together is to dangerous to consume. Humans were just not meant to ingest this stuff at all.
    Cinema From Around the World....Especially Japan!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Little update. It's funny that all the Japanese I know are saying that Japanese beef is safe and that the BSE issue has been tackled by the government since 2001 and that there is no problem anymore. How does that explain this :
    Yomiuri : 15th case of BSE confirmed in Hokkaido
    I don't think that a 15th case as such (or the public perception) is really worrying. What is kind of worrying is that the involved farmer waited until the cow couldn't stand up anymore before he did anything (if he informed the authorities at all). Usually the signs of BSE are visible much earlier & he should have noticed before that something's wrong. Either the government didn't educate the farmers properly or this guy wanted to hide the disease.

    BTW, BigBossIchi:
    Humans are not really made for going upright, either. Should we ban walking erect from now on?

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    I don't think that a 15th case as such (or the public perception) is really worrying. What is kind of worrying is that the involved farmer waited until the cow couldn't stand up anymore before he did anything (if he informed the authorities at all). Usually the signs of BSE are visible much earlier & he should have noticed before that something's wrong. Either the government didn't educate the farmers properly or this guy wanted to hide the disease.
    That's a very good point. Considering that I have seen Tv programmes (on NHK) explaining in detail about BSE, the blame is probably more on the farmer's side here. What worries me is that if 99% of the Japanese population doesn't really care about BSE and even laugh at people who think twice about eating beef (as I have experienced). They are basically irresponsible by trying to conceal the reality from themselves and naively belive that "Japanese beef is safe - because it's Japanese, and Japanese do not get such diseases". The same happens with AIDS. Amost all Japanese still think it's a foreign disease and that it is safe to have unprotected sex with 5 partners at the same time (see Promiscous youth and AIDS ).

    In such circumstances, how could a farmer, with strong financial interests in not having his cow killed, even consider reporting a BSE case. Either the guy was not concerned enough to pay attention to early BSE signs, or worse, rejected the responsibility of reporting it to the authorities (which would amount to a criminal act - but fits very well in the naive and non-responsible attitude of the Japanese).

    I don't trust American beef either, but in that case it is clearly because the government is trying to protect its farmers' interests.

    All in all, I just avoid eating beef, as there could be BSE in any country, even when the government or the farmers do all they can to avoid it (not all people are perfect, and some will always put their own business interests first, whatever the country). Even if Australian beef was safe, I can't trust the labelling, after some Japanese companies intentionally mislabeled Japanese beef (nationwide) as Australian beef just after the first few BSE cases in Japan. These people should go to jail. But in Japan, nothing happens. They are free and will probably try even more subversive things the next time. I really can't think Japanese beef is safe when people are irresponsible enough to cheat people on the origin of the meet.

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    That is sounding really great basically its about how things are and especially when it comes to bothering this all it has a different value mate.
    I am pretty sure that it is gonna do well.

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