Raphael Golb re-sentenced to 2 months in prison, 3 years probation

Go_To_JailAccording to the AP:

A man convicted of using digital-age tools to impersonate and malign his father’s academic rivals on the ancient subject of the Dead Sea Scrolls was sentenced Monday to two months in jail after the state’s highest court tossed out some of his convictions — and with them, a state aggravated-harassment law.

The sentencing of Raphael Golb, who also got three years’ probation, came after the Court of Appeals upheld convictions on other charges, including criminal impersonation and forgery. Golb had been sentenced earlier to six months’ jail but free on bail during his appeal.

Golb was given a surrender date of July 22, but could ask the courts to hold off the jail term while appealing the case further.

So once again, the courts have decided that Dr. Golb is a convicted criminal. Dr. Golb was sentenced yet again to two months in prison and three years probation.

Raphael Golb, son of Ludwig Rosenberger Professor in Jewish History and Civilization at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago Dr. Norman Golb, committed multiple crimes, was caught, lied about it to police, then claimed he was just joking, was convicted, was sentenced, appealed his conviction, was still found to be guilty on multiple counts, and now has been re-sentenced.

Dr. Golb is still guilty. Dr. Golb is still a criminal. Dr. Golb has been sentenced to do time.

(And of course, Dr. Golb will appeal yet again…)


For a history of this case, click here.

 

NY Court of Appeals Upholds 19 Convictions Against Raphael Golb in Dead Sea Scrolls Case

Raphael Golb had multiple convictions upheld by the NY Court of Appeals. He had appealed the 29 counts on which he was convicted and which the Appellate Division had upheld.

Raphael Golb had multiple convictions upheld by the NY Court of Appeals. He had appealed the 29 counts on which he was initially convicted and which the NY Appellate Division had upheld. The NY Court of Appeals upheld 19 convictions.

The NY Court of Appeals today affirmed and upheld a total of 19 convictions of Raphael Golb, son of Dr. Norman Golb, Ludwig Rosenberger Professor in Jewish History and Civilization at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, in a bizarre internet cybercrime case stemming from crimes committed beginning in 2007.

The NY Court of Appeals upheld 9 convictions of criminal impersonation and all 10 forgery convictions in the case of the People of NY v. Raphael Golb, in which the defendant created an army of pseudonymous online sock puppets to criticize, harass, and ultimately impersonate various scholars who disagreed with the academic findings of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The court vacated the top charge of identity theft (felony), 5 criminal impersonation convictions, all aggravated harassment convictions, as well as the conviction on the count of unauthorized use of a computer.

For the reasons that follow, we affirm the convictions for nine counts of criminal impersonation in the second degree and all of the convictions for forgery. We vacate the conviction for identity theft in the second degree; five of the convictions for criminal impersonation in the second degree; all of the convictions for aggravated harassment in the second degree, and the conviction for unauthorized use of a computer.

(For more, visit the NY Court of Appeals “Decisions” page.)

The vacating of the lone felony charge may mean reduced or no jail time for Dr. Golb, but that will be for the NY Supreme Court to decide, as the case has been remitted to them for resentencing:

Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be modified by vacating the convictions for Counts 2, 3, 5, 23, 29, 40, 42, 44, 48, and 51, dismissing those counts of the indictment, and remitting to Supreme Court for resentencing, and, as so modified, affirmed. [emphasis mine]

Keep in mind, however, that while the now vacated felony count carried a sentence of six months and 5 years probation, the misdemeanor counts also carried three month prison sentences and three years probation of their own. So there is a chance that Dr. Golb’s prison sentence may be reduced, but as 19 misdemeanor counts were affirmed, he could still serve time.

(For a list of convictions that were earlier upheld by the Appellate Division, see my earlier post from Jan. 29, 2013 here.)

Reaction

I offered an initial response when Dr. Golb was initially sentenced. I’ll add only the following:

For all those involved, this has been a grueling time. At the end of the day, Dr. Golb has been found guilty on 19 counts in a truly groundbreaking cybercrime case, which I’m sure many future cases will reference.

Raphael Golb is not only an internet troll, but he’s also a criminal and now a convict. A jury of his peers, the NY Appellate Division, and now the NY Court of Appeals have all said so.

And while one might argue that sending pseudonymous letters to multiple supervisors containing speech that is intended to harass and “destroy the career prospects of a really nice guy” is not criminal harassment, it is difficult to argue that forgery and criminal impersonation are “protected” speech. That is where Dr. Golb’s actions became criminal, and that is what the court has upheld.

Throughout this ordeal, we also learned that Raphael Golb’s father, Dr. Norman Golb, not only knew about some of the activities of his son, but participated in informing them.

This is simply a sad case of academic pride run amok, and an example of the lengths to which some scholars will go to defame and injure those scholars who happen to disagree with their theories, including knowledgeably working with one’s children, who have created an army of internet sockpuppets to commit crimes against others.

While I don’t feel any better now that the NY Court of Appeals has determined that I wasn’t harassed (at least not “criminally”), I am satisfied that Dr. Golb was found guilty on multiple counts, and that both the Appellate Division and the NY Court of Appeals have affirmed these convictions.

I should like to think that this will be the end of this mess, but I’m certain that this saga will continue. Dr. Golb has already vowed further appeals all the way to the US Supreme Court if allowed. For now, I take satisfaction in knowing that the wheels of justice, however slow, have once again arrived at a correct decision, and will continue to do so.

DEVELOPING…

Audio of my interview on Iowa Public Radio’s “River to River” with Ben Kieffer

Dr. Robert Cargill in Qumran Cave 4. Photo by Yuval Peleg.

Dr. Robert Cargill in Qumran Cave 4. Photo by Yuval Peleg.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Ben Kieffer on Iowa Public Radio‘s “River to River” show. Many thanks to Ben Kieffer for a great experience, and to Producer Emily Woodbury for setting it up and making me feel at home.

Description:

“On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with University of Iowa archeologist and religious scholar, Robert Cargill. They discuss Cargill’s trip to Israel with UI students for an excavation of Tel Azekah, as well as his latest project – a six-part documentary called “Bible Secrets Revealed.” It begins airing this week on the History Channel, starting Wednesday November 13 at 9 p.m.”

Give the interview a listen.

And tune in to “Bible Secrets Revealed” on History tonight, Nov 13, 2013 at 10/9c. The series airs every Wednesday for the next six weeks.

Live tweet your comments and feedback with the hashtag #BibleSecretsRevealed.

For more, visit the official “Bible Secrets Revealed” website.

Hurt Puppy is Actually a Jedi

Hurt Puppy uses Jedi mind tricks to manipulate the criminal justice system. "These aren't the verdicts you're looking for."

via.

hurt puppy

lol.

hurt_puppy_meme

NY Court of Appeals Upholds Raphael Golb’s Conviction on 29 of 30 Counts

Still Guilty - Raphael Golb

Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was found guilty on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer in the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court, September 30, 2010. On January 29, 2013, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department upheld the convictions on 29 of 30 counts for which Golb was convicted.

Word from the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department this evening is that a three-judge panel ruled unanimously to uphold the convictions on 29 of 30 felony and misdemeanor counts for which Raphael Golb was convicted in 2010.

In November of 2010, the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court found Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, guilty of 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.

Prior to the trial, Golb turned down a plea bargain agreement in which he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, paid a fine, served 80 hours of community service, and been placed on three years probation.

Instead, Golb was convicted of 2 felony counts and 28 misdemeanors, and was sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation, in addition to incurring the cost of a jury trial defense and an appeal.

The Court of Appeals issued this decision:

People v Golb
2013 NY Slip Op 00436
Decided on January 29, 2013
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided on January 29, 2013
Mazzarelli, J.P., Renwick, Richter, Gische, Clark, JJ.
9101 2721/09

[*1]The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
v
Raphael Golb, Defendant-Appellant.

Ronald L. Kuby, New York, for appellant.
Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York (Vincent
Rivellese of counsel), for respondent.

Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Carol Berkman, J.), rendered November 18, 2010, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of identity theft in the second degree (2 counts), criminal impersonation in the second degree (14 counts), forgery in the third degree (10 counts), aggravated harassment in the second degree (3 counts), and unauthorized use of a computer, and sentencing him to an aggregate term of six months, unanimously modified, on the law and facts, to the extent of vacating the identity theft conviction under the first count of the indictment and dismissing that count, and otherwise affirmed. The matter is remitted to Supreme Court, New York County, for further proceedings pursuant to CPL 460.50(5).

One of the two felony counts was vacated and dismissed, but the Appellate Division unanimously denied Golb’s appeal and reaffirmed the guilty verdict on the other 29 counts, including one felony.

The chart below (updated from the who-is-charles-gadda.com website) lists each charge, conviction, and appellate decision of the convicted felon Raphael Golb.

CHARGE
DATE
CHARGE
SUMMARY
VERDICT (Sept. 30, 2010)
APPEAL DECISION (Jan. 29, 2013)
1. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 190.79(3). Identity theft in the second degree
(E-CLASS FELONY) (1 of 2 counts)
Assumed identity of Lawrence Schiffman and committed/attempted to commit felony of Scheme to Defraud 1st Degree.
GUILTY
Vacated and Dismissed
2. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 190.79(3). Identity theft in the second degree
(E-CLASS FELONY) (2 of 2 counts)
Assumed identity of Lawrence Schiffman and committed/attempted to commit felony of Falsifying Business Records 1st Degree
GUILTY
UPHELD
3. 8/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(1 of 3 counts)
Aggravated harassment of Dr. Lawrence Schiffman
GUILTY
UPHELD
4. 8/3/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(1 of 14 counts)
Created larry.schiffman@gmail.com email account
GUILTY
UPHELD
5. 8/4/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(2 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffrnan@gmail.com to Dr. Schiffman’s students
GUILTY
UPHELD
6. 8/4/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(1 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffrnan@gmail.com to Dr. Schiffman’s students
GUILTY
UPHELD
7. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(3 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to multiple NYU email addresses
GUILTY
UPHELD
8. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(2 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to multiple NYU email addresses
GUILTY
UPHELD
9. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(4 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU Dean Stimpson
GUILTY
UPHELD
10. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(3 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU Dean Stimpson
GUILTY
UPHELD
11. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(5 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU provost
GUILTY
UPHELD
12. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(4 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU provost
GUILTY
UPHELD
13. 8/6/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(6 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYUNews.com, forwarding email from Provost office.
GUILTY
UPHELD
14. 8/6/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(5 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYUNews.com, forwarding email from Provost office.
GUILTY
UPHELD
15. 11/22/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(7 of 14 counts)
Created email account seidel.jonathan@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
16. 11/22/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(8 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
GUILTY
UPHELD
17. 11/22/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(6 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
GUILTY
UPHELD
18. 11/24/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(9 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Risa Kohn (ROM’s curator for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit)
GUILTY
UPHELD
19. 11/24/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(7 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Risa Kohn (ROM’s curator for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit)
GUILTY
UPHELD
20. 11/24/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(10 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Norman Golb
GUILTY
UPHELD
21. 11/24/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(8 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Norman Golb
GUILTY
UPHELD
22. 12/6/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(11 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Stephen Goranson internet post
GUILTY
UPHELD
23. 12/6/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(9 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Stephen Goranson internet post
GUILTY
UPHELD
24. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(2 of 3 counts)
Aggravated Harassment of Stephen Goranson
GUILTY
UPHELD
25. 8/7/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(12 of 14 counts)
Created email account steve.goranson@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
26. 7/20/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(13 of 14 counts)
Created email account frank.cross2@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
27. 7/20/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(14 of 14 counts)
Sent email from frank.cross2@gmail.com regarding Bart Ehrman and the Jewish Museum
GUILTY
UPHELD
28. 7/20/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(10 of 10 counts)
Sent email from frank.cross2@gmail.com regarding Bart Ehrman and the Jewish Museum
GUILTY
UPHELD
29. 6/1/2007 – 3/1/2009 PL 240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(3 of 3 counts)
Aggravated harassment of Robert Cargill
GUILTY
UPHELD
30. 7/1/2008 – 3/1/2009 PL 156.05 Unauthorized use of a Computer
(1 count)
Unauthorized use of NYU computers to commit criminal offenses and otherwise in violation of NYU computer use policy
GUILTY
UPHELD

The rest of the appellate court’s decision reads as follows:

Defendant’s convictions arise out of his use of emails to impersonate actual persons. Nothing in this prosecution, or in the court’s jury charge, violated defendant’s First Amendment or other constitutional rights.

Defendant is the son of an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Defendant set up email accounts in which he pretended to be other scholars who disagreed with defendant’s father’s opinion on the origin of the Scrolls. Among other things, defendant sent emails in which one of his father’s rivals purportedly admitted to acts of plagiarism.

Defendant’s principal defense was that these emails were only intended to be satiric hoaxes or pranks. However, as it has been observed in the context of trademark law, “[a] parody must convey two simultaneous – and contradictory – messages: that it is the original, but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody” (Cliffs Notes, Inc. v Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, Inc., 886 F2d 490, 494 [2d Cir 1989]). Here, the evidence clearly established that defendant never intended any kind of parody. Instead, he only intended to convey the first message to the readers of the emails, that is, that the purported authors were the actual authors. It was equally clear that defendant intended that the recipients’ reliance on this deception would cause harm to the purported authors and benefits to defendant or his father.

The court’s charge, which incorporated many of defendant’s requests, fully protected his constitutional rights, and the court was not required to grant defendant’s requests for additional instructions. The court carefully informed the jury that academic discussion, parody, satire and the use of pseudonyms were protected by the First Amendment.

The court also ensured that the jury understood the terms “fraud” and “defraud” by [*2]expanding their definition and advised the jury that “without the intent to deceive or defraud as to the source of the speech with the intent to reap a benefit from that deceit, there is no crime.” The court was under no obligation to limit the definitions of “injure” or “defraud” – terms used in the forgery and criminal impersonation statutes – to tangible harms such as financial harm (see People v Kase, 76 AD2d 532, 537-538 [1st Dept 1980], affd 53 NY2d 989 [1981]). The court also properly employed the statutory definition of “benefit” as “any gain or advantage” to defendant or to another person (Penal Law § 10.00[17]).

Defendant argues that it is constitutionally impermissible to include an intent to influence a constitutionally-protected academic debate within the concept of fraud, injury or benefit, that allowing injury to reputation to satisfy the injury element would effectively revive the long-abandoned offense of criminal libel, and that, in any event, the alleged truth of the content of the emails should have been permitted as a defense. However, the evidence established that defendant intended harm that fell within the plain meaning of the term “injure,” and that was not protected by the First Amendment, including damage to the careers and livelihoods of the scholars he impersonated. Defendant also intended to create specific benefits for his father’s career. The fact that the underlying dispute between defendant and his father’s rivals was a constitutionally-protected debate does not provide any First Amendment protection for acts that were otherwise unlawful.

Defendant was not prosecuted for the content of any of the emails, but only for giving the false impression that his victims were the actual authors of the emails. The First Amendment protects the right to criticize another person, but it does not permit anyone to give an intentionally false impression that the source of the message is that other person (see SMJ Group, Inc. v 417 Lafayette Restaurant LLC, 439 F Supp 2d 281 (SD NY 2006]).

We have considered and rejected defendant’s remaining arguments concerning the court’s charge. We similarly reject his claims that the statutes under which he was convicted were unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. None of these statutes was vague or overbroad on its face or as applied (see People v Shack, 86 NY2d 529, 538 [1995]; Broadrick v Oklahoma, 413 US 601, 611-616 [1973]). The People were required to prove that defendant had the specific fraudulent intent to deceive email recipients about his identity, and to obtain benefits or cause injuries as a result of the recipients’ reliance on that deception. The statutes criminalized the act of impersonation and its unlawful intent, not the content of speech falsely imputed to the victims.

The verdict was based on legally sufficient evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence, with the exception of the identity theft conviction under the first count. The theory of that count was that in the commission of identity theft in the second degree (Penal Law § 190.79[3]), defendant attempted to commit the felony of scheme to defraud in the first degree [*3](Penal Law § 190.65[1][b]). However, there was no evidence that defendant intended to defraud one or more persons of property in excess of $1,000 or that he attempted to do so (see id.). The People’s assertions in this regard rest on speculation.

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER
OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: JANUARY 29, 2013

CLERK

(emphases mine)

If Dr. Golb stays true to form, he will almost certainly appeal this again, perhaps in some other jurisdiction. If nothing else, this case has demonstrated that certain people have tremendous difficulty putting down the shovel after digging themselves into a hole.

Still, I am pleased with the court’s decision. While the wheels of justice turn slowly, and afford the guilty every possible avenue of defense, the process has demonstrated that it works in the end.

no, no the dead sea scrolls do not ‘confirm’ the discoveries of the hubble telescope

Contrary to the claims of the above author, the Dead Sea Scrolls have nothing to do with the Hubble Telescope.

Dilly Award Nominee!

In what is nothing more than cheap, sensationalistic, and deliberately misleading press designed to promote a ridiculous, pseudoscientific, Intelligent Design theory about the relationship between the Hubble Telescope and the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Christian Newswire (“the nation’s leading distributor of religious press releases”) released this tripe.

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 14, 2012 – An amazing passage concerning the universe recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls has been confirmed by the Hubble Telescope, according to a new book being released at New York City’s BookExpo America this summer.

My head is about to explode.

First, amateur wannabe stargazer theologian archaeologist “entrepreneur” J. Paul Hutchins has written a book in which he claims, “Hubble Reveals Creation by an Awe-Inspiring Power.” No, no it doesn’t. The Hubble telescope reveals to us how incredibly old the universe actually is. But that doesn’t stop Hutchins from asking deep, probing questions like, “How did Isaiah know about this unimaginable power without the aid of a space telescope thousands of years before Hubble revealed it?”

You see how this works? Hubble must confirm Isaiah because Hutchins asked the question! Case closed.

Of course, this kind of ‘discovery’ cannot remain unannounced to the world, for there is money to be made. Thus, Hutchins makes statements like:

After researching the images and data from the Hubble and Spritzer space telescopes, collected since their launch, Hutchins was compelled to write about the universe as a product of intelligent design, fueled by superior imagination.

And what are his theological, archaeological, palaeographical, or astronomy credentials you might ask?

A patented inventor and amateur astronomer, he began to notice the role imagination played in every major discovery in man’s history…Hutchins has been a businessman and entrepreneur for more than three decades, and has owned five companies. He is a recipient of the Lee County Community Development Award and has been a disaster relief volunteer. The parents of three adult daughters, Hutchins and his wife currently reside in Orlando, FL.

Then, to compound the stupidity and add to the ‘scientific credibility’ of his ‘discovery,’ Hutchins invokes the Dead Sea Scrolls. How does he do this you ask? Here‘s how:

An amazing passage concerning the universe recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls has been confirmed by the Hubble Telescope.

And the verse is question?

“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” – Isaiah 40:25, 26

That’s right. Why simply claim that the Hubble telescope ‘confirms’ a biblical verse of prophecy in Isaiah when you can invoke that same text of Isaiah 40:25-26 found in 1QIsaa and 4Q56 f26:4 (4QIsab) among the Dead Sea Scrolls? See, now it’s not the Bible that ‘confirms’ Hutchins’ theory, it’s the Scrolls.

This is how to abuse science for the sake of selling a pseudoscientific book. (And it reminds me of someone. I can’t quite place it, but it reminds me of someone…)

This is nothing more than yet another example of a guy with a stupid idea, who writes it on paper in an attempt to sell it to someone, and surrounds it with talk about unrelated scientific discoveries (the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hubble Telescope) in the desperate hope that people will not realize the non sequitur and think that his idea has been ‘confirmed’ by science.

I shake my head…

Dr. Robert Cargill will be the guest on the Ray Appleton Show on KMJ 580, Friday, May 20, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Ray Appleton Show KMJ 580 Fresno

Ray Appleton Show, KMJ 580 Fresno

I shall be the guest on the Ray Appleton Show on KMJ 580 at 1:00 PM on Friday, May 20, 2011 here in the northwest Fresno studio. Topics will include the Bible, religion, Christianity and Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Middle East politics, education, Fresno City College, and I’m guessing anything else Mr. Appleton wishes to discuss.

I am in town to give the commencement address at Fresno City College commencement ceremony this evening at 6:30 PM.

You can listen live at the KMJ Website.

the role of archaeology in biblical history (edición español)

Archaeologist Dr. Shimon Gibson lectures

The Chilean La Tercera recently published an article entitled “Historias bíblicas: lo que la ciencia ya decifró y las preguntas pendientes,” or, “Bible Histories: What Science has Deciphered (and the remaining questions).” La Tercera offers a link to a digital paper copy here.

The Mexican Jewish website Enlace Judio also ran the story, as did Terrae Antiqvae (complete with pictures).

The article discusses the role of archaeology as a science in relation to the Bible and biblical history. The article surveys many of the recent claims and recounts various archaeologists’ interpretations of these discoveries.

Below is an English translation of the story by Marcelo Cordova and Jennifer Abate.


Bible Histories: What Science has Deciphered (and questions pending)

In recent years, a string of findings has been an unprecedented boost to archeology studying characters and events depicted in sacred texts, from the existence of King David to the tomb of Herod the Great.

by MARCELO CORDOVA / JENNIFER ABATE

After a backbreaking day of work under the Israel sun, the team of archaeologists from Union College in Jerusalem was preparing for a break amongst the ruins of Tel Dan, an ancient northern city. But before resting, Gila Cook, one of those in charge of the team, noticed an unusual shadow on a wall that had been exposed after digging what had been the main entrance.

It was July 21, 1993 and, as the explorer relates the story, approaching the spot, she discovered a piece of basalt protruding from the floor and on it was a text written in ancient Aramaic. Excited, she called loudly to Avraham Biran, chief researcher of the group. His surprise was immediate: it was an inscription about a military victory of the king of Damascus from the ninth century BC which mentioned the “King of Israel” and “house of David.”

This news was a historic and scientific success. It was the first time that a non-biblical reference was found that proved the existence of the monarch, the central figure of the Christian scriptures and recognized not only for his great artistic and warrior skills, but also for being an ancestor of Jesus. After centuries of exploration and speculation, which even talked about David having been invented by Hebrew scribes, a text was discovered that had been written by an enemy of the monarch.

That was the starting point for a string of discoveries which in recent years has launched an unprecedented boost to biblical archeology. A discipline that emerged after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947), when scientists stopped considering religious texts as a history that could only be demystified, and started using the Bible as a written compass to guide their excavations.

Recent efforts to search the sacred texts have paid off, achieving the illustration of episodes like the battle of David and Goliath and events related to the life of Jesus, which have been enriched with details that remained lost in time (see graphic). However, in the process scientists have also unearthed and brought to light relics that pose questions to some biblical passages, such as the Gospel of Judas, which seems to show how Jesus asked his apostle to turn him into the authorities. The role of testing and proving and, sometimes of rebuttal, is one of the major challenges of biblical archeology, Robert Cargill, an archaeologist at the University California, told La Tercera.

“Archaeology helps us improve our understanding of the Bible. In the same way that a site visit helps to understand its historical legacy. Sometimes it provides evidence that contradicts it. For example, there is no evidence of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt or of the Flood. But there are many findings in Jerusalem and other places that do support these texts,” says Cargill. He adds: “The idea is not to completely discard the Bible altogether just because some passages can not be verified. This book is an ancient piece of literature that should be examined for what it is: an ancient collection of documents that do not necessarily give us information about what happened then, but about the beliefs of the people from that ancient world.”

Verifying the Scriptures

If one asks the experts what are the most salient findings of recent years, the names of some places and characters tend to be repeated. One of them is one that stunned the world in 2007 when the explorers, led by archaeologist Ehud Netzer, announced the discovery of the tomb of King Herod the Great, in the Herodium, south of Jerusalem. The monarch, who was appointed by the Romans to govern Judea from 37 BC and 4 BC, is described in the Bible as the instigator of the “slaughter of the innocents” (at the knowledge of the birth of Jesus, he ordered the deaths of children under two years old in Bethlehem).

But apart from this notoriously sad reputation, he was known for his grand architectural vision; he ordered the construction of the walls around the Old City of Jerusalem and the almost mythical fortress of Masada, the last bastion of the Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 73 AD.  Most archaeologists assumed that he had been buried at the Herodium, but it was the finding of some monumental steps 6.5 m wide, which were built for Herod’s funeral procession, described in detail by the historian Josephus, which eventually led Netzer to a large broken sarcophagus 2.5 meters long. While inside it no human remains were found, the detailed ornamentation and the surrounding buildings of that place causes the experts to claim that the body of the monarch did lie there.

Netzer explained in 2007 that this discovery put an end to 30 years of research and gave support to the legendary ambition of Herod. Herodium is the only site that carries his name and was chosen by the king to immortalize himself, integrating a huge palace located in the desert hilltop. “This finding is significant because it puts into perspective Herod, a key figure in Christianity,” he told The Guardian.

Illustrating how a king produced a majestic tomb helps – Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist at the U. Tel Aviv, told La Tercera – the specialists to delve into the economic, social, political and demographic contexts that marked this era in which these texts were written. A view shared by Michael Coogan, a professor of religious studies at Stonehill College (USA), who told La Tercera: “If we take the example of an opera, the Bible is the script and archeology is the setting in which it takes place.”

While in recent years there have discoveries made in various parts of Israel – including a synagogue in the town of Migdal where Jesus would have prayed regularly, and 2,000 year-old houses in Nazareth that reveal a village of just 50 homes of humble lifestyle. The vast majority is concentrated in Jerusalem. Remains of pottery and other objects show that the city was inhabited from 4000 BC, although it was King David who established it as the capital of the united kingdom in 1000 BC.

And it was his son who built the first temple of the city. The Book of Kings recounts how Solomon brought his Egyptian wife to the city of David, where he built his home and a large wall. In 2010, archaeologists found a big wall in Jerusalem from the tenth century BC providing support to the existence of a royal palace and a fortified capital under the control of a king. In addition to an outdoor structure, which is 10 m high and 70 m long, a monumental tower and a large entrance were found.

“This is the first time we’ve run into a structure that conforms to the descriptions of the works of Solomon. This fits into the biblical story and it enhances our ability to establish a link with the wall of Jerusalem. It is very probable that the Bible, as the stories of many dynasties, preserves a core of truth,” said archaeologist Eilat Mazar to Haaretz news group.

The Chapter on Jesus

The evidence found that is tied to the most recent Scripture passages – especially to that of the life of Jesus, his family and apostles – is also coming to light in the form of objects and texts. In 1968 explorers found the remains of a man in his twenties in a cave northeast of Jerusalem. The find was considered unique because although the Romans were known to have crucified thousands of rebels, thieves, and deserters, a victim of this technique had never been found. And his remains corroborated the biblical description of such execution: the man’s left ankle had a nail that went through 11 cm and a small wooden box between the bone and the nail head to prevent release of the cross leg.

This evidence not only corresponds to a similar period as that of the crucifixion of Jesus mentioned in the Bible, but, according to experts, it verifies the description of his funeral. For decades it was believed that the Romans were limited to throwing the corpses into mass graves to be devoured by animals and thus impose fear.  But, this body showed that, on occasion, funeral proceedings were permitted similar to those mentioned in the Scriptures.

Recent explorations in and around Jerusalem have uncovered not only references linked to the death of Christ, but also to the image that his miracles propagated and to the characters that surrounded him, such as John the Baptist.  Seven years ago, works in the neighborhood of Silwan gave the location of a pool where, according to the Bible, Jesus gave sight to a blind man and in 2008; while underwater archaeologists recovered from the Bay of Alexandria (Egypt) a vessel of the late 1st century AD that says Dia chrstou o goistais (“Christ the magician”).

According to Franck Goddio of the Oxford Center of Maritime Archaeology, it would be the earliest known reference to Jesus outside the Bible. The words in this inscription further illustrate how Christianity and paganism were intertwined during the first years after the crucifixion. The investigator told Discovery News that it is very likely that some magician had inscribed “Christ” in the bowl to legitimize his own powers by invoking his name: “It is very probable that in Alexandria, where one also found one of Cleopatra’s palaces, the existence of Jesus and his legendary miracles were known.”

In 2004, archaeologists found a clue to the legacy of John the Baptist, when they located a cave in Jerusalem that may have been used by him for some of his ceremonies. The site, 21 meters long, was excavated between 800 and 500 BC and includes a series of carvings from the 5th century A.D. depicting the image of a man with a staff. There is no direct evidence of the link between this place and John, but the British archaeologist Shimon Gibson told Fox News that the carvings, combined with a stone used for foot washing and the proximity to the place where John lived, suggests that the cave was used by him.

“Apparently, this site was adopted by John the Baptist, who wanted a place to bring people to perform his rituals and propagate his ideas about baptism,” added Gibson. Amihai Mazar, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told La Tercera that despite the lack of confirmation of the link, such findings illustrate the customs and rituals of that time: “Now we can reconstruct how people lived, how they viewed their settlements and what their economic and social structures were.”

Subject for Dispute

It is clear that these findings have not been without controversy, and they are almost always preceded by sensationalistic media. One of the most iconic episodes in this regard came last year when it was announced that Noah’s Ark had been discovered atop Mount Ararat (Turkey). After a series of criticisms for its inconsistencies in terms of dating, this finding was branded false.

Something similar could be taking place with the announcement a few days ago of the alleged discovery of two nails used to crucify Jesus. The documentary, guided by Simcha Jacobovici (who years ago said he had found the tomb of Jesus), mixed evidence with a series of assumptions to announce the discovery of these objects in a tomb explored in 1990 and which, for some unknown reason, ended up at an anthropologist’s laboratory in Tel Aviv, where they remained forgotten.

The main argument of the filmmaker is that an ossuary was also found in the tomb that has scientific backing and a connection with the death of Jesus: an receptacle with human remains and the inscription “Caiaphas,” the name of the High Priest who organized the capture of Jesus. Robert Cargill, who is part of a committee of U.S. archaeologists that refutes baseless claims, tells La Tercera: “These type of assumptions are made by amateurs, not professional archaeologists. Usually, they are scams to earn money or convince people of a certain faith claim.”

The subject about which scientists have not yet achieved consensus is the Gospel of Judas. The full text, which is 1,700 years old and written in Egyptian Coptic Christian, continues to cause controversy, not because they doubt its authenticity, but for its meaning. While the Bible portrays Judas as a traitor, the initial translation shows the apostle as the closest friend and disciple of Christ, who sacrifices his teacher at his request; this involves a reinterpretation of biblical texts. Another analysis, however, postulates that the text does not say this, but rather that Judas was a “demon” and that he, in fact, betrayed Jesus.

Researchers are divided in their analysis of what remains to be discovered. Some speak of cities or more details of King Solomon, but the same Robert Cargill says the key requirement, such as it has been until now, is discovering more about the daily life of the society in which the writings were produced: “A dream find would be something like the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of documents that opens a new window to understanding how these people thought and interacted thousands of years ago. I’d love to find something written in a new language and decipher it, or find a palace or a temple, because no serious explorer ever says he has found the Ark of the Covenant, the cross of Christ, or the Holy Grail.”

“The world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies” (and other highlights from Raphael Golb’s appeal)

After his arrest, Raphael Golb lied about sending emails he later claimed were "parody." Now, in the appeal of his conviction on 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer, Dr. Golb is making more false statements. One must ask, at what point will he begin to resemble the main character in the famed tale of a boy who couldn't stop lying?

After his arrest, Raphael Golb lied about sending emails he later claimed were "parody." Now, in the appeal of his conviction on 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer, Dr. Golb is making more false statements. One must ask, at what point will he begin to resemble the main character in the famed tale of a boy who couldn't stop lying?

As I was perusing Dr. Raphael Golb’s appeal of the 31 guilty verdicts against him in the case of the People of New York v. Raphael Golb (in case you missed it, Dr. Golb was found guilty of 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer), I stumbled across this interesting claim on pages 69-70:

‘”And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that “the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he
dies.”‘ (Appeal of guilty verdict in the case of the People of New York v. Raphael Golb, § Argument, IV, A)

I chuckled. I did so because I specifically remember this very issue coming up during my testimony when Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby, cross-examined me. Before we examine whether or not the above statement is true, here is the transcript of the exchange from pages 763-768 of the corrected court transcripts of my cross-examination by Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby:

Q (from Golb Defense Attorney Ron Kuby to Dr. Robert Cargill):  Earlier on cross-examination, Dr. Cargill, I made reference to a paper that you had prepared related to this case and your experiences. Do you recall this?
A (Dr. Robert Cargill to Golb Defense Attorney Ron Kuby):  This is the paper to which you referred in November?
Q.  Yes.
A.  Yes, I think you mentioned that paper earlier.
Q. Is it fair to say that that was entitled “Scholars Behaving Badly?” It’s got a longer title to it but that’s part of it?
A.  That’s the principle portion before the colon title, yes.
Q.  And this was an exclusive to Archaeology magazine?
A.  I’ve never published in Archaeology magazine.
Q.  I’m sorry? Dr. Cargill, just take a look at the document marked page one, scan it silently to yourself if you please, and after you’ve satisfied yourself and you know what it is.
A.  (The witness complied.)
Q. What do you recognize that to be, sir?
A.  This is a document that I wrote for consideration of publication for Archaeology magazine?
Q.  So you sent it to Archaeology magazine for publication; is that correct?
A.  I was working with an editor there.
Q.  And did they publish it?
A.  No, sir.
Q.  Could you hand it back, please?
COURT CLERK:  And that is marked as?
MR. KUBY:  H-1.
Q.  And with respect to this article, you’ve delivered variations of this article in the form of a lecture; is that correct?
A.  I have not delivered variations. I’ve delivered one redacted variation of that article, the one that we’ve already described at SBL.
Q.  And this article, you wrote this article, right?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Did you end the article by saying, “Unfortunately the words of Shrine of the Book Curator, Magen Broshi, still appear to echo true today.” Quote “When will be we free of Golb? When he dies.” Close quote. You wrote that?
A.  I’m sorry?
Q.  You wrote that?
A.  Magen Broshi wrote that.
Q.  You were quoting Magen Broshi?
A.  In the initial draft, in the first draft of this article, I had a lot of things, and things that we ended up redacting out of the article thinking the article is too long.
Q.  But in the Society for Biblical Literature lecture that you gave on November 23rd, you included that portion in the speech that you gave, did you not?
A.  I do not recall.
Q.  You do not recall?
A.  Including that portion.
Q.  Well, we’ll hold that for now. Magen Broshi – you identified him in this article as the Shrine of the Book Curator, correct?
A.  I believe so.
Q.  And what is the Shrine of the Book?
A.  The Shrine of the Book is a building that contains many of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s a part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Q.  So it’s an important institution in your area of work?
A.  In my area of work, yes, it’s an important place.
Q.  And you were aware, were you not, that in an interview with the newspaper Ha’aretz, Magen Broshi said, “When will we be free of Golb? When he dies.”?
A.  I read that quote in Dr. Golb’s book. That’s when I learned of that quote.
Q.  And you saw fit to quote it in your papers, correct?
A.  No, I did not. I saw fit to include it in the original draft of the paper, which was later redacted from the paper. No one every publicly saw that.
Q.  Pardon me?
A.  No one ever publicly saw that.
Q.  I’m not asking you that question, you wrote those words, correct?
A.  I quoted Dr. Broshi in the early draft of a document that I wrote.
Q.  And when you say you included it in your paper, that is the portion that you had said, simply to quote, “Unfortunately Broshi’s words are still true,” you mean by that it’s unfortunate that you wouldn’t be rid Norman Golb sooner than his death?
A.  No, sir, that’s not what I meant.
Q.  Do you know how old Norman Golb is?
A.  I do not.
Q.  Do you have any idea?
A.  I would have to speculate.
Q.  Any notion of how long you have to wait to be free of him?
(District Attorney) MR. BANDLER: Objection.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q.  You also wrote, did you not, that Norman Golb will, quote, “fight his litigious losing battle until the bitter end?”
A.  I’m sorry, are you quoting from a draft of a manuscript I wrote?
Q.  I am asking you if you wrote the following words?
A.  I don’t recall. I mean, we would have to see if it’s in a draft of a manuscript that was never published.
Q. Did you ever deliver those words to the Society of Biblical Literature on November 23rd?
A.  I don’t recall.
Q.  You don’t recall. Is this the kind of thing you would remember if you had done it?
A.  No.
Q. Because it’s so commonplace to attack Norman Golb, it just doesn’t ring a bell anymore?
THE COURT: That’s an extraordinarily large…  I will direct the jury to disregard it and the witness not to answer it.

In the above exchange, we find Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby, doing his job: attempting to impugn my credibility to the jury. But it quickly became obvious to the judge and the jury that Mr. Kuby (or Dr. Golb, who many suspect did much of the “research” for his own defense) made a mistake. The defense mistakenly thought that I had read the draft article I had submitted to Archaeology as my 2009 SBL paper. They obviously had not attended the lecture or heard it, but simply assumed that I had read the draft article to the SBL session. At one point, they even bluffed and asked me if I wanted to hear a CD audio recording of the paper:

Q.  Now you lecture from time to time as well, is that correct?
A.  I do.
Q.  And one of the lectures that you gave was on November 23rd of last year, correct?
A.  Yes, sir.
Q.  The Society Biblical Literature is that where it took place?
A.  It was either ASOR or SBL, they meet together.
Q.  And you have sort of turned your experience with this case into a academic paper, haven’t you, if that’s an unfair characterization, please correct me.
A.  Yes, I wrote about, I think it’s safe to say I wrote about the proceedings of this matter, yes.
Q.  And you did it in what I’ll call a formal paper?
A.  I did it in a paper presented, I believe – and I’d have to check if I’m wrong – at the Society of Biblical Literature. It may have been ASOR but it might have been SBL.
Q.  And you published a review of this as well in the Archaeology Review as well?
A.  Of this paper? Not to my knowledge.
Q.  At the November 23rd lecture? And this lecture was before whom again?
A.  It was again to my recollection the Society of Biblical Literature, it was a session on online research. There are different sessions within the Society of Biblical Literature. You can give a lecture on the Books of Samuel, a lecture on the prophets, and they have one on technology and the use of research.
Q.  And in that lecture did you say the following, quote, “Despite Norman and Raphael’s many criticisms, the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits were experiencing tremendous success and Norman Golb was still not being invited to speak at the museums lectures. Our patient vigilance had begun to payoff and the Golbs were experience increasing difficulty in getting out their message,” end quote?
A.  If it’s not word for word, that’s consistent with something that I said in the lecture.
Q.  Well, would you like to listen to a CD of that?
A.  Sure. No, but I guess you’re going to play it anyway.
Q.  No, I’m not.
(Court transcripts of the cross-examination of Robert Cargill, p. 759-760)

Golb’s defense attorney, Mr. Kuby, didn’t want to play the CD of my SBL paper because he didn’t have it. Had he actually been in possession of the conclusion of my 2009 SBL paper entitled, “Scholars Behaving Badly: ‘Charles Gadda,’ Raphael Golb, and the Campaign of Anonymity on the Internet to Promote Norman Golb and Smear His Rivals,” he’d have heard the following conclusion:

Finally, scholars should be reminded that they cannot force their legacies upon history; rather, our legacies are the product of a lifetime of research, instruction, publication, and collegiality. Today, scholars must collaborate and work together—within the parameters of peer review and professional conferences—and must not attempt to substitute these established practices with self-published articles and campaigns of online intimidation. The days of the old scholarly model of ripping your opponent’s position (and them personally) are over. Today, it is important for scholars to work cooperatively, with colleagues to bring about responsible scholarship. Because you must never forget: the island is always watching.

Thank you for your time.

Obviously, the conclusion of my SBL paper was different from the unpublished draft article that I had submitted to Archaeology. But that reality didn’t fit what Dr. Golb’s defense wanted to argue. So, he attempted to mislead the jury into thinking that I read the draft Archaeology article as my SBL paper, which was simply not the case. But, we see again that Dr. Golb’s defense team was not interested in the truth, or even the facts, but rather in continuing their attempt to smear me (and Dr. Schiffman) by simply making things up.

So, back to Dr. Golb’s appeal. There are ultimately two problems with the statement, “And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that ‘the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies’,” in Dr. Golb’s appeal. First, Dr. Golb’s defense again intentionally misleads those unfortunate few interested enough in reading through the 111 pages of rehashed red herrings and irrelevant excuses presented in the appeal by failing to inform the reader that this statement is actually a quote from Shrine of the Book Curator, Dr. Magen Broshi, which he made to the newspaper, Ha’aretz, on October 4, 1991.

In fact, the defense counsel knew this, because they had not only asked me about it during my cross-examination, but had quoted it and properly attributed it to Dr. Broshi in their earlier Motion to Dismiss the charges against Dr. Golb, pages 4-5:

This suggestion was accompanied by widely reported defamatory statements, including the assertion by Magen Broshi, director of the Shrine of the Book museum in Jerusalem, that Norman Golb was a “revolting polemist, an opinionated trouble-maker” who had “filled the world with his filth,” and of whom “we will be free … when he dies.” (Haaretz, October 4, 1991.)

The defense counsel contradicts reality (and its own court filing!) by claiming in their appeal that *I* made the statement they themselves correctly attributed to Dr. Broshi earlier in their motion to dismiss.

Go figure.

Of course, what’s ironic about Dr. Broshi’s quote is that I would have never known about it had Dr. Golb not published it on page 230 of his own book, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

So Dr. Broshi said it. Dr. Golb repeated it on page 230 of his book. Dr. Golb’s defense team repeated the quote in their motion to dismiss, and specifically asked me about it during cross-examination. But according to Dr. Golb’s appeal, *I* made the quote.

I shake my head.

But, there’s another problem with the statement, “And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that ‘the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies’,” in Dr. Golb’s appeal: I NEVER QUOTED THE QUOTE!

The defense mistakenly assumed that I had read from the draft of an article that I had written and sent to Archaeology for publication. However, we decided not to publish the article, which means no one ever read the draft of the article except me and the Archaeology editor, and apparently Mr. Kuby (who somehow managed to obtain a copy of the draft of the article). The defense was attempting to make me look bad by trying to argue that I read Dr. Broshi’s quote to a session at SBL. The only problem is, I didn’t use the line in my SBL paper! I told Dr. Golb’s defense counsel that I couldn’t recall using that line during cross-examination. Unfortunately for Dr. Golb’s defense counsel, I did not. But that didn’t stop the defense from attempting to tell the jury that I quoted the quote in my paper. And when the jury saw through Dr. Golb’s lies and found him guilty thirty-one times, it didn’t stop Dr. Golb’s defense from stating the flat out lie that I concluded my SBL paper with the words, “The world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies.” It never happened, and yet, there it is in Dr. Golb’s appeal, presented as if it were fact. Simply amazing!

The defense is not only misleading the court (and the public by posting the appeal online anonymously), but it is also flat out lying when it claims in their appeal that I said something in a lecture that I did not.

Of course, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Dr. Golb can make up whatever he wants in his appeal because it is “protected speech.” But the NY DA will simply point out that the appeal is full of lies and misstatements, and the appellate court will make the appropriate judgment.

But this just shows once again what we’ve come to expect from Dr. Golb and his defense team: the demonstrated, repeated willingness to mislead any who will listen, misrepresent facts, and flat out lie in a desperate attempt to blame someone – anyone! – for Dr. Golb’s own crimes.

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