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Archive for August, 2011

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

New Book Tuesday (Wednesday Edition)

The Truth About Boys and GirlsThe following books are now available:

The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children
Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett

Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth, and Culture
Edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

James Millward on Being Blacklisted by the Chinese Government

James MillwardAs reported in Bloomberg and The Washington Post, James Millward, author of Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang, was among the “Xin­jiang 13.” The Xinjiang 13 are a group of scholars of China who were denied visas by the Chinese government after contributing to Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland, a volume edited by Frederick Starr and published by M.E. Sharpe in 2004.

In Being Blacklisted by China, And What Can Be Learned from It, a recent post on The China Beat, James Millward discusses the circumstances behind the controversy around the book, which focused on controversial subject for the Chinese government but in a manner that was not unfamiliar to Chinese officials. Millward explains that the context surrounding the volume and how it came to publication was far more objectionable to the Communist government than its content.

Millward also describes his efforts to get his visa reinstated and the support or in some cases lack of support that he and his fellow scholars received from their U.S. institutions. Millward criticizes U.S. universities for not being more active in trying to get scholars’ visas reinstated. He writes:

If institutions don’t support their own faculty, but allow visa refusals to occur and go on unchallenged for years, American academics may well gradually be placed in a situation akin to that of our Chinese colleagues: facing the Chinese state on our own, forced to consider the possible personal repercussions of everything we write.

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Monday, August 29th, 2011

Logics of Disintegration: Contemporary Cultural Theory and the Riots in Britain

Graham MacPhee, Postwar British Literature and Postcolonial StudiesGraham MacPhee is the author of Postwar British Literature and Postcolonial Studies and associate professor of English at West Chester University.

The basic facts, still less the complex causes and conditions of possibility, of the widespread civil unrest across England that followed the shooting of Mark Duggan earlier this month remain to be established. While it is wiser than ever in this case to avoid snap judgments and catch-all explanations, what is clear by now is that despite the initial community-based anger directed at police actions and inaction, the subsequent spontaneous and disarticulated spread of violence distinguishes this event from the social unrest of 1981 and 1985. To the extent that, as activist and writer A. Sivanandan puts it, this “rebellion … is neither community-based nor politically orientated,” then it reveals a serious and structural erosion of the space of politics in Britain.. This erosion, I would argue, poses a significant challenge to many of the long-held and deeply embedded assumptions that organize contemporary cultural theory in the Anglophone world.

As I argue at greater length in Postwar British Literature and Postcolonial Studies, while contemporary theory’s commitment to the linguistic turn of poststructuralism has been illuminating in terms of textual interpretation, it has provided much more limited and uneven gains for cultural and social theory. Poststructuralist textuality functions to undermine the claim of any text to absolute coherence, but when transferred to historical experience, this approach renders all situations in terms of the same binary opposition of coherence/incoherence or power/resistance, since it must first ascribe a totalizing identity that can then be undone, disrupted, or subverted. Thus cultural theory over the last two decades has tended to focus on absolutizing claims or identities—such as “whiteness,” or “blackness,” or class, or Englishness—which are then shown to suppress contingent differences and to have been all along “constructed,” or socially mediated, rather than being “natural,” or prior to social experience.

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Friday, August 26th, 2011

Erica Chenoweth on Nonviolence and the Libyan Uprising

Erica Chenoweth, Why Civil Resistance WorksRecent events in the Arab world have given Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan’s Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict an important timeliness.

Erica Chenoweth recently wrote Think Again: Nonviolent Resistance, published in Foreign Policy, which we will feature next week. She also just published an article on the web site Waging Nonviolence in which she examines the question of whether nonviolence resistance could have worked succeeded in Libya.

Chenoweth admits that “the success of the Libyan uprising will, no doubt, be remembered as a successful case of violent insurgency.” However, as she argues, a nonviolent resistance never had time to take hold. Qaddafi’s crackdown on peaceful protest turned violent very quickly which led rebels to adopt violence. Nonviolent campaigns, Chenoweth points out, need time to organize and to develop other methods of resistance such as boycotts, work slowdowns, etc. The turn to violence by Libyan rebels put them in a precarious position and gave Qaddafi a pretext for adopting extremely harsh measures. While Chenoweth admits that Qaddafi would have undoubtedly repressed a nonviolent protest movement, she suggests that “adopting violence put the rebels at a major force disadvantage, and it’s unlikely that they would have succeeded without NATO’s air support.”

Erica Chenoweth concludes by citing reports of the role civil resistance did play in the success of the Libyan uprising. She writes:

Khaled Darwish’s op-ed in the New York Times today seems to corroborate this account, describing how women and children rushed into the streets of Tripoli before the rebel advance, how civilians blocked apartment rooftops from snipers, and how they sang and chanted over loudspeakers in unity against Qaddafi’s regime. If these descriptions are true, then civil resistance had a pretty important part in the “endgame” of the Libyan revolution, and as such, deserves at least some credit for the opposition’s victory.

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Romain Hayes on Subhas Chandra Bose and Nazi Germany

Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose, one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century was an Indian nationalist allied himself with the Nazis during World War II in the hopes of toppling British rule in India. Bose is considered on par with Gandhi as one of the key figures of India’s struggle against the British. He is also the subject of Romain Hayes’s new book Subhas Chandra Bose In Nazi Germany: Politics, Intelligence, and Propaganda 1941-43.

On the website of Random House India, the book’s Indian publisher, Romain Hayes discusses his interest in Bose and his decision to write the book. Hayes first learned of Bose while reading Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet and was struck how Bose’s path challenged the view of Indian passive resistance to British rule.

Hayes describes his rationale for writing Subhas Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany:

I eventually concluded that Bose was a subject deserving of more research particularly in regard to his interactions with the Germans during the Second World War. The questions that intrigued me were centred around the nature of these interactions. Were they sincere or purely opportunistic? Were the two sides able to achieve their aims? Were the Nazis forced to compromise their racial ideology or was this merely political posturing? What of the moral implications of such an alliance? It cannot be denied that it was one of the more controversial associations of the Second World War.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Michael Mann, The Hockey Stick, and the Vindication of Climate Science

Michael MannMichael Mann, author of the forthcoming The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (due out in Spring 2012), has become a target of anti-science activists and global warming deniers.

As reported by Joe Romm’s Climate Progress, Mann’s work has been vindicated by yet another organization — the National Science Foundation (NSF). Doubters of Michael Mann’s research cited research misconduct but the NSF concluded in its report: “Finding no research misconduct or other matter raised by the various regulations and laws discussed above, this case is closed.”

The NSF report was in part a response to an earlier report by Penn State University, which also supported Mann’s “hockey stick” thesis. Romm cites some of the key findings from Penn State’s report including their praise for Mann, “His work clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field…. Dr. Mann’s work, from the beginning of his career, has been recognized as outstanding.”

Romm concludes by writing:

So Mann isn’t merely a competent researcher. He is one of the leading climate scientists in this country, which of course is precisely why the anti-science crowd has gone after him, much as they have with other leading climate scientists, including Hansen and Santer.

And that’s one more reason why the major media outlets who smeared and defamed him owe him an apology and a retraction — loud ones!

For more on “climate-gate” and science’s battle against deniers of global warming there is James Powell’s The Inquisition of Climate Science.

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

New Book Tuesday: Literary studies of Critical Children and Uncreative Writing

The following books are now available:

Critical Children: The Use of Childhood in Ten Great Novels
Richard Locke

The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand
Justin Thomas McDaniel

The Teachings of Master Wuzhu: Zen and Religion of No-Religion
Wendi L. Adamek

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age
Kenneth Goldsmith

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

New video series from NYHS answers questions about New York City history

The New-York Historical Society and NYC Media, the official network of the City of New York, have partnered to produce a special series of one minute videos that feature the staff of the New York Historical Society as they answer some of the most captivating questions ever posed to them about the City’s fascinating and unique history. All the questions are pulled from the book When Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green?: And 101 Other Questions About New York City.

The question answered in this video is:
When Was Air Conditioning Introduced on the Subway?

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Last chance for free books! Scottish studies book giveaway ends Monday

Thanks to everyone who has already entered our contest to win sets of our Scottish studies titles. We’ve had a terrific response so far. If you haven’t entered the contest yet, it’s your last chance before the contest closes at 5:00 pm EST on Monday. Here are the rules again in case you missed them the first time:

On August 8th 1503 King James IV, the King of Scotland, married Margaret Tudor; the marriage was known as the Union of the Thistle and the Rose. This marriage set the stage for the union of England and Scotland under one crown nearly 100 years later.

In honor of the 508th anniversary of this historic event today we are giving away books on Scottish studies published by Edinburgh University Press!

6 lucky winners will be selected at random:

One winner will receive a set of 5 books that are in the series The New Edinburgh History of Scotland.

One winner will win a set of 2 books from A History of Everyday Life in Scotland (1600- 20th Century) along with Scotland and the Union .

One winner will receive a set of 3 books: Discover Your Scottish Ancestry, Enlightenment and Change, and Darwin in the Archives.

Three winners will receive a set of 2 books Literature, Cinema and Politics 1930-1945 and Britain, Ireland and the Second World War.

To enter please submit by email, your name and mailing address by 5 pm eastern time on Monday, August 22nd to: cup.publicityintern@gmail.com.

You will be alerted via email if you are a winner.

(more…)

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

The debate over Political Theology continues at The Immanent Frame

Today we check in with the debate on Political Theology by Paul Kahn going on over at The Immanent Frame. Since we last updated you on the discussion on sovereignty and American political theology six new posts have gone up.

We begin with:
Paul Kahn’s roots posted by Nancy Levene“[Kahn] is offering us a Schmitt whose meditations on decision bring us solutions to the four classic problems noted above: of freedom, of origin and practice, of reason, and of modernity.”

The politics of the atonement posted by J. Kameron Carter“From my perspective as a theologian and critical theorist of religion, one of the great gifts of Kahn’s book, as a constructive interaction with Schmitt on the notion of the exception, are the possibilities that it opens up for understanding what’s at stake in the discourse of theology as a mode of humanistic inquiry into the current political machinations of our world, and of America as a state of exception/alism.”

The political theology of freedom and unfreedom posted by Mateo Taussig-Rubbo“Throughout his examination of American political theology, he rightly insists that we are not committed to law or to life in quite the way we think.”

The integrity of theory posted by Paul W. Kahn“Some will say that I have so far missed the point of the examples of both the Arab Spring and the politics of marginalized groups. The point is not about diversity or its absence, but about political possibilities. These events and groups show us the potential for an alternative politics. This is a normative claim about what our political life should be. I insist that my work is not normative—a claim about which many are skeptical.”

Political theology or political hierophany posted by Miguel Vatter“Kahn appears to conflate what in the history of religions is called the phenomenon of hierophany—namely, the appearance of the divine in a particular shape or form and in a moment in time and space—with “theology,” which is a rational account of divine beings that ‘always are.’”

Is sovereignty necessarily theological? posted by Jason Stevens“Kahn thus distinguishes himself from Schmitt by shifting the register of sovereignty from timeless substance to collective imagining, yet he seems to maintain nonetheless Schmitt’s claim that sovereignty as such is theological, and hence authentic, as opposed to the mendacious secularism and rationalism of modern, liberal politics.”

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Paul R. Pillar on the true costs of the Iraq war

In a post today at The National Interest Paul R. Pillar, author of the new book Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform, discusses the true cost of the Iraq war for the United States. In his post Pillar argues that:

The single largest contributor to the ballooning of the national debt over the past decade has not been handled with such honesty. The Iraq War, besides also representing the single biggest self-inflicted wound to U.S. national security during the same period, was also the biggest act of fiscal recklessness—reckless in the sense both of the sheer cost of the enterprise and of the failure to make any provision to pay for it, other than going deeper into debt. The George W. Bush administration was the only one in U.S. history to launch a war while cutting taxes. The direct costs of the Iraq War so far are approaching $800 billion. That alone would be over half of what the super committee is charged with finding in savings. Significant additional direct costs, such as long-term care for wounded veterans, will continue even if U.S. troops are out of Iraq at the end of this year, not to mention interest payments on the money borrowed to fund the war. If one figures in all the indirect economic and financial costs of the war, such as the impact on the price of oil, the total cost of the Iraq War to the United States is likely far higher. The dishonest approach to funding was compounded by the repeated use of supplemental war appropriations separate from the rest of the Defense Department budget, as if somehow the war costs did not count in determining how much the United States is spending on its military.

and goes on to discuss the concept of a war tax.

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

New Book Tuesday: Apoha and New Literary Studies Titles Now in Paper

ApohaThe following books are now available:

Apoha: Buddhist Nominalism and Human Cognition
Edited by Mark Siderits, Tom Tillemans, and Arindam Chakrabarti

Change Research: A Case Study on Collaborative Methods for Social Workers and Advocates
Corey S. Shdaimah, Roland W. Stahl, and Sanford F. Schram

French Global: A New Approach to Literary History (Now available in paper)
Edited by Christie McDonald and Susan Rubin Suleiman

Modern Korean Drama: An Anthology (Now available in paper)
Edited by Richard Nichols

Rivalry: A Geisha’s Tale (Now available in paper)
Nagai Kafu; Translated by Stephen Snyder

Framing Pictures: Film and the Visual Arts
Steven Jacobs

Monday, August 15th, 2011

James Powell: How We Know Global Warning Is True

James L. Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate Science, prepared a video of showing how scientists know that global warming is true. The video demonstrates and explains the evidence. Powell also offers a series of slides that explains the sources for his evidence.

In The Inquisition of Climate Science takes on the climate science denial movement and the deniers themselves, exposing their lack of credentials, their extensive industry funding, and their failure to provide any alternative theory to explain the observed evidence of warming.

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Interview with Arshin Adib-Moghaddam

Arshin Adib-MoghaddamThe Public Record recently interviewed Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, author of A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them Beyond Orientalism. In the interview Adib-Moghaddam, who was born to Iranian parents in Turkey, discussed the continuing controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, the Western media’s depiction of Iran, the future of Iran-West relations, and the prospect of Iran’s Green Movement.

Adib-Moghaddam argues that no one has proven the existence of Iran’s nuclear program and it is used to punish Iran for having an independent foreign policy. More specifically, the West legitimizes sanctions in Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons when what it really wants is to contain Iran’s growing power in the region. Adib-Moghaddam contrasts this with Israel, a nation which in fact does have a nuclear program but one that does not receive the same type of scrutiny as Iran’s. He contextualizes this in light of his book:

I have argued in “A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations” that justice in world politics is the surface effect of a series of constellations that can be manipulated towards particular ends. So justice is a product of politics and diplomacy rather than an objective value that is universally applicable. At the same time I reject the notion that world politics has to be anarchic, that the Hobbesian idea of a war of all against all is inevitable. It was Europe and then the United States that constructed and supervised this unjust order. It is not due to some kind of natural law. So it can be changed. The Israeli nuclear programme must be seen within this larger context of an unjust world order that continues to produce hypocrisies on major issues facing human kind…. The reform of the international institutions must do away with the hierarchy inscribed in them. One way of dealing with this would be to turn the United Nations Security Council into a rather more representative body that would reflect the emerging non-western world order.

(more…)

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Uncreative Writing in American Book Review

Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative WritingAmerican Book Review devoted a recent issue to uncreative writing, which they are offering for free on Project Muse. In his article, Uncreative Writing: What Are You Calling Art, Doug Nufer introduces the issue and defines uncreative writing as a subset of conceptual writing. Nufer writes:

Conceptual writing has been thought of as an afterthought to conceptual art. And yet, writers deployed strategies of appropriation and recontextualization long before Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal as sculpture. Centos made up of fragments of other works, poems built on the pure meaninglessness of sight or sound, and procedure-riddled texts where language play trumps sense anticipated and developed this tradition…. I would also like to concentrate on a subset of the genre that is sometimes used interchangeably with the term for the whole: uncreative writing. Uncreative writing is the appropriation of previously produced material, taking something out of its original context and putting it forth as art by reproducing it in another context.

The issue includes a review of Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age by Kenneth Goldsmith, a leading figure in the field. In her review of the book, Andrea Quaid writes,

One of the book’s main strengths is the way it elaborates on [uncreative writing] strategies through a series of compelling close readings. Goldsmith historicizes his survey by locating traditions of appropriation on firm modernist ground. Ezra Pound’s found and assembled language into verse in The Cantos and Walter Benjamin’s catalog of notes in The Arcades Project provide antecedents for the cut, copy, and paste work done today. What becomes of interest here is where Goldsmith clips the then-and-now comparison to differentiate modernism’s appropriated and compiled fragments from uncreative writing’s plagiarized wholes. Today’s books tend to import information in total. Goldsmith’s own Day is a 836-page retyping of a single day’s entire The New York Times

The issue also includes reviews of Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, edited by Kenneth Goldsmith and Craig Dworkin and Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century, by Marjorie Perloff. There is also an excellent article by Jen Graves looking at the relationship between conceptual art and conceptual writing.

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Should Egyptians Use Violence? Erica Chenoweth Debates the Efficacy of Non-Violence

Erica ChenowethOver the past couple of weeks there has been a very spirited and thoughtful back-and-forth between Erica Chenoweth, author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, and the author Thanassis Cambanis. The debate began with Cambanis’s article in the Boston Globe examining the slow pace of change in Egypt after the overthrow of Mubarak and the frustration felt by many protestors. As the military tightens its power in Egypt, Cambanis points to the fact that many Egyptians are asking, “What if nonviolence isn’t the solution? What if it’s the problem?” Cambanis argues that the situation in Egypt suggests that violence is necessary for violence to succeed. He writes:

These gentle revolutions, it turns out, might be exceptions rather than the rule. There’s a backlash among some historians and political scientists that echoes the gut feeling of Egypt’s frustrated revolutionaries. They suggest, sometimes reluctantly, that regimes that insist on ruling by the gun, so to speak, might only be pushed aside by the gun.

On her excellent blog Rational Insurgent, Erica Chenoweth responds to Cambanis’s article, which cites her own work as well as those of other scholars. Chenoweth points to the some of Cambanis’s misreadings of other studies, which in many cases do not compare violent with non-violent campaigns. She concludes by writing:

Contrary to Cambanis’s argument, the historical record reveals rather dramatically that nonviolent resistance is strategically superior, and, in the end, often leads to much more democratic and stable societies than violent insurgency. Although Egyptians may be rightly frustrated with the pace and direction of the transition, they need only look to other recent cases—such as Libya or Yemen—to see the risks of using violence to attempt to improve their strategic positions. Our research indicates that if Egyptians resort to violence, their chances of success will drop by about half, the risk of civil war will steeply rise, and the chances for democracy in the foreseeable future will be considerably reduced.

Chenoweth’s piece inspired a response from Cambanis and a counter-response from Chenoweth. Despite their differences, the conversation opens up new ways of thinking about the power of non-violence and the ways in which protestors come against repressive regimes.

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

New Book Tuesday: The Failures of Intelligence and the Legacies of 9/11

The following books are now available

Until the Fires Stopped Burning

Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform
Paul R. Pillar

Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses
Charles Strozier

Subhas Chandra Bose In Nazi Germany: Politics, Intelligence, and Propaganda 1941-43
Romain Hayes

Inglorious Disarray: Europe, Israel, and the Palestinians Since 1967
Rory Miller

The Art of Coercion: The Primitive Accumulation and Management of Coercive Power
Antonio Giustozzi

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons: The Role of Missile Defence
Tom Sauer

Cosmopolitans and Heretics: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam
Carool Kersten

Red Star Over Iraq: Iraqi Communism Before Saddam
Johan Franzén

Many Reasons to Intervene: French and British Approaches to Humanitarian Action
Edited by Karl Blanchet and Boris Martin

Religion and Development: Ways of Transforming the World
Edited by Gerrie Ter Haar

The Aborigines’ Protection Society: Humanitarian Imperialism in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, South Africa, and the Congo, 1837-1909
John Heartfield

Conceptualising Modern War
Edited by Karl Erik Haug and Ole Jørgen Maaø

(more…)

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Free Books! Scottish Studies Book Giveaway

On August 8th 1503 King James IV, the King of Scotland, married Margaret Tudor; the marriage was known as the Union of the Thistle and the Rose. This marriage set the stage for the union of England and Scotland under one crown nearly 100 years later.

In honor of the 508th anniversary of this historic event today we are giving away books on Scottish studies published by Edinburgh University Press!

6 lucky winners will be selected at random:

One winner will receive a set of 5 books that are in the series The New Edinburgh History of Scotland.

One winner will win a set of 2 books from A History of Everyday Life in Scotland (1600- 20th Century) along with Scotland and the Union .

One winner will receive a set of 3 books: Discover Your Scottish Ancestry, Enlightenment and Change, and Darwin in the Archives.

Three winners will receive a set of 2 books Literature, Cinema and Politics 1930-1945 and Britain, Ireland and the Second World War.

To enter please submit by email, your name and mailing address by 5 pm eastern time on Monday, August 22nd to: cup.publicityintern@gmail.com.

You will be alerted via email if you are a winner.

(more…)

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Herve This: Father of Molecular Gastronomy

The Film Forum, one of the best movie theaters in New York City, is currently showing the documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress. The film focuses on the renowned El Bulli restaurant in Barcelona and its famous creator Ferran Adrià, who is referred to in advertisements for the movies as “the father of molecular gastronomy.”

However, such an appellation is not without debate. Also, laying claim is Herve This, a physical chemist on the staff of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris and the author of several books that have helped to define molecular gastronomy.

With the paperback of Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism now available, we offer a special video of This in the lab discussing the book and his ideas about cooking.

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Ludger Viefhues-Bailey on Anders Breivik and the Attacks in Norway

“After the horrid day in Oslo, it is undeniable: political religion has taken hold, even in allegedly secular Europe.”—Ludger Viefhues-Bailey

In an essay for Religion Dispatches, Ludger Viefhues-Bailey, author of Between a Man and a Woman?: Why Conservatives Oppose Same-Sex Marriage, examines the current political context through which the recent attacks in Norway should be understood.

Viefhues-Bailey suggests that while thinking the actions of Anders Breivik are the actions of an insane person offers some comfort, in fact:

what should really concern us is the political agenda that underlies the massacre. This is not about Breivik, the person, but about the political world from which he comes and to which he speaks; a world in which the defense of Christendom is so urgent that it must lead to violence. Breivik forces us to recognize what kind of politics of religion is taking hold in Europe.

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