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How LEGO helps BAe train future drone designers

category national | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Sunday November 14, 2010 15:00author by linksman Report this post to the editors

A link to an indymedia uk article about the educational toy maker LEGO and its connection to the British Aerospace arms giant .
BAe , which is the world’s largest arms manufacturing company , sponsors the international FIRST LEGO leagues where kids compete to make fully-functioning model drones and motorised robots . The Irish LEGO League finals are taking place at the Galway Science Festival at the moment .

On the FIRST LEGO website, Mike Heffron, President of Information Warfare, Electronics and Integrated Solutions at BAe, explains why the world’s biggest arms manufacturer is interested in sponsoring the play activity and education of thousands of children throughout the world:

“Our involvement in FIRST LEGO League is an essential piece of the company’s commitment to the community and education. I believe it is BAE Systems’ role to help develop a passion for science, mathematics, research, and teamwork within students. They are tomorrow’s leaders, scientists, and engineers.”
– Mike Heffron, President, Information Warfare, Electronics and Integrated Solutions, BAe


author by linksmanpublication date Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:14Report this post to the editors

Writing earlier this year in the BAe company newspaper , BAe Systems News, company President and CEO Walt Havenstein urged BAe employees to become mentors for the LEGO teams whose members he referred to as “future employees” of the arms company :

“This could be our chance to develop the young minds that represent the future of our company. I encourage you, no matter your area of expertise, to get involved with FIRSTand begin mentoring these future employees.”

In 2008, more than 37,500 high school student on more than 1,500 teams from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, the UK [and Ireland ] and every state in the US, took part in the competitions organized by LEGO and BAe . According to BAe Systems News :
."BAE Systems employees volunteer to mentor the teams and work at the various competitions ……… BAE Systems is particularly proud to sponsor FIRST because it reflects many Company values: people, performance, partnering, and innovation. Just as a business’s long-term success is a journey of continuous improvement, learning and growing, FIRST seeks to instill those same traits in its participants.

BAe is fond of using the word "growing" to describe their approach to training children for future company recruitment. . Like they are farmers growing a crop : it's really very sick . I have contacted the Irish Anti War Movement and Fred from GAAW about the Galway Science Festival .

see http://www.baesystems.com/BAEProd/groups/public/documen...9.pdf

author by Joe McIvorpublication date Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:27Report this post to the editors

"Whenever we were doing something, whether it was building Legos, or playing video games, he was really focused on it. It was like he was in his own world."

Ryan Kraft former babysitter for Adam Lanza , the Newton Connecticut gunman who killed 26 people last Friday , as quoted on CBS today.

author by Elricpublication date Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:59Report this post to the editors

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has reiterated his stance against the legalization of keeping and bearing arms in Russia, following the US school shooting which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.

“It’s a horrible tragedy, immeasurable pain. I totally agree with those who are against free arms circulation. This is my principled position,” Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page. The Russian Prime Minister expressed his condolences on the Friday tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, adding that “this monstrous crime cannot be justified.”

“Our thoughts are with the families of the killed children,” Medvedev said.

In 2010, as Russia’s President, Medvedev tightened control over the use of non-lethal arms. He signed a law that increased liability for the illegal use, and trafficking of civilian firearms and other offensive weapons. The move followed a sharp rise in crime using shotguns where many people got wounded or even killed.

Related Link: http://rt.com/politics/medvedev-guns-legalization-weapo...-175/
author by JoeMcIvorpublication date Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:48Report this post to the editors

Was the 20 year old gunman himself ever a member of First Lego League ? The corruption of children and education systems across the world by the arms giant BAe need to be fully investigated .

While the mass media repeats the "inexplicable tragedy" mantra , Lego's Connecticut FIRST® website boasts that its programs are for students from Kindergarten through middle and high school.

"As part of Connecticut FIRST®’s continuum of programs and events for children and teens K-12, the FIRST LEGO® League introduces elementary and middle school students to real-world engineering challenges and helps them learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills."
• FIRST ® Junior LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3 (ages 6-8)
• FIRST ® LEGO® League (FLL®) for Grades 4-8 (ages 9-14)
• FIRST ® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for Grades 7-12 (ages 13-18)
• FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) for Grades 9-12 (ages 15-18)

"Students can join at any level based on their grade. Involvement and intensity increases as students progress through the various programs."

The Guardian blog on Friday's massacre reports a small crowd forming at Newton's Christmas tree to pay their respects.

"I'm a mother, a parent of three," said Keisha Ruffin, 38. "So it affects me a lot. It's sad, these children and adults were brutally murdered for no apparent reason."

Ruffin placed flowers at the base of the town's Christmas tree. The area beneath was full of emotional tributes. People have left soft toys, cards and even Lego models."

author by fredpublication date Mon Dec 17, 2012 20:16Report this post to the editors

I think since he shot his mother first, it might be that he was somewhat disturbed and there were some serious problems at home between him and his mother and by association with the school where she taught. Something pushed him over the edge.

It is a tragedy, but it also brings home that 28 white american lives are so much more important than an equal number of lives of the children of brown people which US foreign policy is responsible for killing every single week in other countries. Some of whom are no doubt killed with BAE weaponry.

author by Contrarianpublication date Mon Dec 17, 2012 23:49Report this post to the editors

A) they weren't all white.
B) What difference does it make?

As far as i'm concerned, victims are victims and their "colour" is irrelevant. YOU seem to think "brown"victims are to be regretted more than "white" ones. Which is racist.

author by fredpublication date Tue Dec 18, 2012 00:08Report this post to the editors

You're wrong!!

My point is the WESTERN MEDIA seem to think 26 white american children are far more important than any number of middle eastern, Pakistani, Afghani, Iraqi, Libyan, Syrian, Yemeni or Palestinian brown children.

THEY are the racists for ignoring umpteen childrens deaths caused by american sanctions and military campaigns as unimportant while solemly covering these deaths disproportionately. It's like 9/11 all over again.

Everyone has a life, feels pain, suffers the same. Their families suffer and grieve the same for their children. Why are US children any more important than anyone else's? They aren't.

So why do the media act as if somehow american lives are more important?

author by Beal Bochtpublication date Tue Dec 18, 2012 00:52Report this post to the editors

I am now suspicious of Medvedev. Video at url.

"President Dmitry Medvedev visited one of the most cutting-edge education centers in Moscow, where he talked to students. The kids told the president about their plans for the Victory Day, to be celebrated on May 9, showed him a computer animation project and shared their Lego experience."

Related Link: http://en.rian.ru/video/20100426/158750608.html
author by JoeMcpublication date Tue Dec 18, 2012 13:19author email joemcivor at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

As I said above, I don't know whether or not the Newtown school or Lanza himself ever participated in the Lego FIRST League . Even if that had been the case though ,the pumped-up environments at drone design competitions do not in themselves "make" mass murderers - any more than hatred of Muslims, in itself , « made » the  Islamophobe Anders  Brevik  kill 69 people, in Norway last year . The Sandy Hook killer's mother may have been part of the American right-wing « survivalist » movement according to a report on wsws this morning . But the offsprings of the overwhelming majority of extreme right-wing gun freaks in the USA do not commit murders of this sort ,do they? From this line of argument it can be reasoned that there is no connection between a « somewhat disturbed » individual's social environment and his actions .

Fred is right to say that Bae ,which sponsors the toy makers should be held responsible for the murders of people in Afghanistan , Pakistan,  Yemen and other countries that are being targeted by the drones it designs and manufactures. The arms giant is also the perpetrator of crimes against children in those countries - that includes Ireland- where it has infiltrated the education system :

“Our involvement in FIRST LEGO League is an essential piece of the company’s commitment to the community and education. I believe it is BAE Systems’ role to help develop a passion for science, mathematics, research, and teamwork within students. They are tomorrow’s leaders, scientists, and engineers.”
– Mike Heffron, President, Information Warfare, Electronics and Integrated Solutions, BAe

The mass media uses words like « evil »and « mad » to describe Lanza , while the likes of Mike Hefferon are promoted by the same media as respectable business leaders .Beal Bocht mentions Russia's President Megedev visiting a school where students share their LEGO experiences . Here's an article about US President Obama's visit to a LEGO  FIRST Robotics Competition:

"President Visits High School Robotics Team
– Under normal circumstances, a presidential visit to a rural, Southside Virginia high school would be an enormously improbable event.
But thanks to President Barack Obama’s bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia and his commitment to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, members of the FIRST Robotics Competition team at Bluestone High School in Mecklenburg County experienced a once-in-a-lifetime encounter on October 18, 2011.
“We only received a few days’ notice that the president might visit,” said Betsy West, one of the mentors of “Skrappy’s Crew” the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team at Bluestone H.S.  “And we were told to keep the matter confidential for security reasons.”
Secret Service agents spent several days inspecting every nook and cranny of Bluestone High before the president arrived for his 30-minute visit.  Members of the robotics team learned of the visit only an hour beforehand.
“We were very excited to meet the president,” said West. “We’re in a very rural area and not a lot happens around here, so I was happy the students got this opportunity.”
“When he walked in, I felt ‘wow, I cannot believe that this is happening and I’m actually going to meet the president,’” said Tyler Wilkerson, a Bluestone H.S. senior and robotics team member. “It’s something I’ll tell my grandkids about!”
“He was very interested in our program. He loved the robot demonstration and asked lots of questions about the robot and about what sparked our interest in the program,” Wilkerson added.
“The president was particularly pleased that we have a lot of girls on our team,” said West.  “He said that, as a father of two daughters, he’s committed to extending science and technology educational opportunities to girls.”
The FIRST Robotics team at Bluestone High was formed in 2004 and has enriched educational opportunities for students in Mecklenburg County ever since.  FIRST Robotics is a program that combines the rigors of technology with the excitement of varsity sports to inspire young people to pursue education and careers in science in technology.
The team’s first robot was built from scrap lumber, road signs and metal and was aptly named “Skrappy.”  The name stuck and the team adopted “Skrappy’s Crew” as its moniker.  The team is grateful for sponsorship support from a large number of local businesses, organizations and individuals, including Verizon, Clarksville Ruritan Club, Mecklenburg Co-Operative, Mecklenburg County Business Educational Partnership and Mecklenburg County Public Schools.
To learn more about FIRST, visit www.virginiafirst.org.
Article by Jim Babb, VirginiaFIRST Robotics
Also, listen to this WCVE Public Raio Science Matters report from John Ogle:"

author by JoeMcpublication date Tue Dec 18, 2012 13:54Report this post to the editors

According to news reports, "Adam Lanza used a semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 rifle during his rampage through Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, firing dozens of high-velocity rounds as he killed 20 children and six adults, authorities said Sunday."

This Youtube link shows a young boy with a LEGO model of the Bushmaster .

author by @ Contrarianpublication date Wed Dec 19, 2012 13:10Report this post to the editors

As far as i'm concerned, victims are victims and their "colour" is irrelevant. YOU seem to think "brown"victims are to be regretted more than "white" ones. Which is racist.

And yet, as evidenced by virtually ALL your comments in ANY thread related to the frequent massacres of Palestinians carried out by the ZIo-Nazi state of Israel, you have absolutely no concern whatsoever for Palestinian victims, adult or child, of Zio-Nazi brutality.

Clearly your own racism is an issue.

author by Joe McIvorpublication date Thu Dec 20, 2012 22:28Report this post to the editors

Since last week's massacre in Newtown, there have been many media reports saying that Adam Lanza, was autistic or had Asperger's syndrome .The US Autism Society issued a statement in the wake of the killings saying that there was no evidence or any reliable research to suggest a linkage between autism and planned violence and refuting suggestions that the killer's autism was responisble for the massacre

In recent years, autism societies around the world have begun to advance " LEGO therapy" as a treatment for those suffering from autistic disorders . Daniel B. Legoff and Michael Sherman in a 2006 study for the US Autism Society entitled "Long-term outcome of social skills intervention based on interactive LEGO© play", found that LEGO was beneficial to those suffering from autism and Asperger's syndrome . The report concluded :

"The potential for use of LEGO© therapy within the school system is
evident. Initial studies of the educational benefits of LEGO© materials have
been promising (e.g. Noble, 2001), and certainly it would be beneficial to
generalize the use of these materials for the purposes of social as well as
educational skill development. Utilization of the school system where
children spend most of their days during the critical years of development
makes the most sense in terms of efficacy overall, as well as cost-effectiveness.
Social skills interventions based on LEGO© therapy could be easily
adapted to school settings where currently social skills interventions are
not always optimal – or available."

The UK National Autistic Society has likewise published research indicating that LEGO toys may be able to help children who have autism (including Asperger syndrome) overcome social interaction difficulties.For the past four years, the UK National Autistic Society (NAS) has been a charity partner with LEGO UK .Fiona Wright, former Marketing Director of LEGO UK, writes on the NAS website :
"The NAS is a fantastic charity and one which LEGO has a natural affinity with, as many children with autism benefit from playing with LEGO toys. We’ve had tremendous support from staff and customers over the last two years and we’re looking forward to helping fund some of the charity’s other activities in the future."

On DECEMBER 14, 2012 ,the day that Adam Lanza shot twenty children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary , the arms giant-funded FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE issued the following article on its blog crowing the benefits of LEGO therapy for those suffering from disorders suffered by the likes of Adam Lanza :

"Students on Autism Spectrum Learn Concept of Teamwork Through FLL"

"For most children, being part of a team – whether sports, cheerleading, or even a band or Scout troop – is a normal part of growing up. For children with autism spectrum disorder, however, teamwork is a foreign concept – except when it comes to the universal love of robots, as some FIRST® LEGO® League teams are proving.

“I look like a regular person, I have friends like normal people, I have favorite things, but I’m different,” writes 10-year-old J.P. Tasto in an article about life with autism for his San Diego school newspaper. “My way of thinking of teamwork is I want to have a certain idea and only that idea. It’s a bit hard for me to give up an idea.”

His mom, Traci, co-coaches J.P.’s team, the Masterminds, which in early November qualified for the FLL® Southern California regional competition at LEGOLAND®. “J.P. struggles with not always having his way because he’s so smart,” his mom observes. “FLL has been great for him in that respect. It really helps him focus, and it helps him to work in a team environment.”

Through his team, J.P. has come to find common ground with other kids. “Being in this group of three wonderful girls and five boys, he’s come to realize he has a lot in common with some of these other boys. They love Minecraft. They love video games. They like programming. They love robots,” Traci says.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.” Asperger’s Disorder is a common variant of autism characterized by impaired social interaction and non-verbal communication.

Thirteen-year-old David of Utah is, in the words of his mom, Ann, “an Asperger’s kid.” Though her son is gifted academically, “he doesn’t pick up on emotion or double entendres. He doesn’t understand euphemisms, sarcasm, or humor. He can offend people because they think he should know better,” she shares.

His tunnel vision can be a challenge when faced with ideas he views as unimportant because “he doesn’t logically see the value,” Ann says. Therefore, teamwork poses a challenge to him, though it was the programming and the building that drew David into FLL and his mom into coaching their rookie team. “He likes the subject matter,” Ann says.

David is not the only Asperger’s kid on his team, though he and his teammate share little more than a diagnosis. “One likes programming more. The other is more mechanical. One has a hard time sitting through the project sessions, and the other one really gets into the social justice part of the project – thinking about how people sometimes stereotype older folks,” Ann observes.

“All of the things we teach are good for all the kids. We may hit on the difficulties for Asperger’s kids, but all the kids learn good teamwork and social skills,” Ann continues. Recently, she was working on listening skills with her six-member team when one of the parents pointed out, “‘Okay, five of you are not looking at the coach when she’s talking to you,’” Ann recounts. “It wasn’t just the Asperger’s kids who weren’t giving me feedback. All kids need work.”

In his third year with FLL, Twelve-year-old Travis of Michigan has high-functioning autism coupled with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). His dad and coach, Matt, is quick to recognize his son isn’t the only team member with challenges. “It’s been helpful that we’ve had a couple of other kids who have struggled with communication and ADD issues,” Matt says. “Travis isn’t the only one who struggles with these sorts of things.”

Like J.P. and David, Travis has trouble making eye contact and reading social cues. He wanders as he talks with people. He prefers working alone rather than on a team. Sometimes he’ll have a great idea but cannot get the words out. “Because of his social skills, Travis really needs someone to guide him and be a social interpreter in some situations,” his dad says.

As someone who enjoys “the robot side of things,” according to Matt, Travis is learning his place on the team. “I’ve seen him make a transition from just being there in his first year to offering suggestions. It’s been a chance for him to use his visual-spatial skills and his planning skills.”

During FLL season, Travis seems more focused, Matt has observed, as he has to budget his time. His schoolwork reflects his improved focus. When FLL season is done, “the end of the year is not quite as exciting and focused for him,” his dad says.

With FLL, Travis has found a place where he belongs. “The Core Values set the stage where Travis could be accepted, even if he has struggles,” Matt says. “Because of Gracious Professionalism®, people are expected to be nice to each other. There are written rules that say you respect people for who they are.”

Ann in Utah has also found that the very culture of FLL creates a safe environment for her son David. “One of the things that’s so great about FLL is how it’s set up. Empathy comes naturally. It’s built in,” she says. Share this!"

author by JoeMcpublication date Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:14Report this post to the editors

This article appeared in the ENFIELD courant.co (Connecticut) on Dec 11.

Enfield Agrees To Educational Partnership With LEGO

From the article:
LEGO is launching a new education program, and Enfield has agreed to be the first school system to take advantage of it.

"No one else will be offered this extensive of a program," said Cori Rolland, manager of strategic planning for LEGO Systems Inc., the international company's U.S. branch. She said the company wants to work with Enfield because many of its employees live there.

"The school board's decision Tuesday to partner with LEGO means that the school district is committed to using LEGO education in the classroom for at least three years. The decision also means that Enfield will dedicate space in school buildings for LEGO technology programs."(Connecticut) on Dec 11.

author by JoeMcpublication date Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:14Report this post to the editors

This article appeared in the UK Life in the Mix website earlier this year

BAE Systems, LEGO, and the Froebel education method

Nazi education, a Nazi programme
The Froebel education method is being utilised by BAE Systems[1] to help our school children make better killing machines for any future wars or invasions the banking cartel deems necessary in its push to incorporate the globe.

BAE Systems is encouraging schoolchildren to play with LEGO, specifically to develop the skills it requires for developing high-tech weapons platforms. Like a knight in shinning armour LEGO’s programmable robot kits called Mindstorms, is the Tavistock tweaked Froebel method in its entirety, which in its last European outing programmed the Hitler Youth and the Third Reich extremely well.[2]

BAE Systems runs LEGO Mindstorms sessions in British classrooms, and last year the company enlisted the help of Grange Hill and Eastenders star Todd Carty, to front a school roadshow in which children worked to create a robotic LEGO vehicle.

The same agenda is also to be found in the US with BAE being a major sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League, in which children compete to build the best LEGO robot.

With the privatisation of British education under the Academy agenda well under way, we find the whole ethos constructed by the military, funded by the military and it is the military that aims to profit from students coming out of the seemingly never ending career prospect for the children they call education. In researching Absolute return for Kids (ARK)[3] we found military giants AECOM, Raytheon, and a plethora of weapons manufacturing and even private security pushing to takeover the command of our entire youth. BAE, say the Mindstorm agenda is part of a wider involvement in schools aimed at steering the best and brightest pupils into a career making military machines. BAE also sponsors school equipment, provides lesson plans to teachers, and even places representatives on school Governing Bodies.

In an investigation into a clear Contingency Drill held in Accrington Lancashire October 2009, we glimpsed the mechanics of how the school governors are mere pawns of Lancashire County Council’s legal department. To allow BAE operatives onto the board of governors of any school would make such events as the 2009 contingency drill a lot smoother as it relates to the command structure in such events.[4]

BAE claims that this is part of their “commitment to the community and education”, but this is disingenuous, what it does achieve is the Military Industrial Complex having the highest authority within our schools under the corporate Contingency system being implemented under the giant Serco[5] and its own private civil government.

In universities across the country, students are taking action against BAE’s attempts to recruit graduates, but we need to be aware that BAE’s recruitment strategy is also aimed at much younger minds.

The Education Programme offered by BAE is aimed at children from five years up. The website draws them in with animation, games, and videos of BAE’s “awesome submarines, ships and planes” and BAE engineers “talking about their cool jobs.” But this is only the tip of the iceberg, our entire curriculum is being dictated by private corporations such as Andrell Education which dictates the way teachers mark and thus judge, our primary school children, not based on knowledge, but on conformity and to create better consumers.[6]

There is also the issue of forced Academies[7] as hard cash-strapped schools try to resist expensive educational gifts from corporate and military donors. One teacher at a junior school in Kent remarked that the BAE roadshow gave pupils “a chance to use LEGO Mindstorms which we do not have in school.”

CAAT[8] has launched a campaign to kick BAE out of British universities, with the claim, BAE’s influence in schools can be resisted, and it is vulnerable. Chairman Dick Olver is already concerned about there being fewer candidates for technical positions in his company.

author by Joe McIvorpublication date Mon Dec 31, 2012 14:01Report this post to the editors

Professor Peter Gawthrop from the Centre for Systems and Control and Department of
Mechanical Engineering, University of Glasgow, explains in the PDF below the mechanics by which university departments utilize LEGO and mindstorm technology to teach students how to make drones :

Peter J Gawthrop  Euan McGookin 
 Centre for Systems and Control and Department of
Mechanical Engineering, University of Glasgow, GLASGOW.
G12 8QQ Scotland.
 Centre for Systems and Control and Department of Electrical
and Electronic Engineering, University of Glasgow, GLASGOW.
G12 8QQ Scotland.
Abstract: Experiences at Glasgow University in using LEGO Mindstorms for Control
Education are described and implementation details given. Copyright c 2006 IFAC.
Keywords: Control education; LEGO; real-time control.
The LEGO Mindstorms Robotic Invention System
combines simple yet unconstrained construction, servo
motors, sensors and embedded programmable microprocessor
(the RCX component) with infra-red communications.
Although it is marketed as an educational
toy for children aged 12 years and over, it has attracted
wide interest from adult enthusiasts who have
extended both hardware and software (Baum, 2000;
Baum et al., 2000). In particular, the Brickos(brickOS,
2004) real-time kernel has been developed.
The RCX component was initially developed as an educational
tool through the collaboration of LEGO and
MIT (Resnick et al., 1996; Papert, 2000). In particular
the education potential of a self-powered mobile system
combining easy construction, easy software development
built in sensor and actuator interfaces was
stressed by Martin (1994). Although the Lego Mindstorms
kit provides an easily obtainable integrated
system, there are other possibilities as discussed by
Martin (2001).
The control community has taken up Lego Mindstorms
for engineering education (Heck et al., 2004;
Rieber et al., 2004; Gawthrop and McGookin, 2004;
Casini et al., 2005). This paper does not provide a
survey, but rather concentrates on work at Glasgow
University on using Lego Mindstorms for engineering
education. The discussion is divided into four parts:
bench-top demonstrations, laboratories, projects and
postgraduate research.
Bench-top demonstrations Because the LEGOMindstorms
kit allows the construction of a preprogrammed
autonomous vehicle (no wires) it is particularly
suited to creating bench-top demonstrations
for motivating lectures. Section 2 provides a detailed
account of a simple cart and pendulum system
which uses feedback control to move the cart whilst
reducing the swing of the pendulum.
Laboratories and Projects The undergraduate teaching
programme at Glasgow includes formal laboratory
work for robotics teaching and final year
projects. These activities utilise the fast development
capabilities of the LEGO technical framework
coupled with imagination and fun to provide the
desired pedagogical outcomes. Section 3 discusses
the laboratory component and Section 4 discusses
Postgraduate research LEGO Mindstorms is used
at Glasgow for postgraduate robotics research focussing
on the design of prototype mobile robots
and associated systems. This illustrates the power of

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