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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 24, No. 03
January 21, 2005


* +FCC chairman says he's quitting
* +PRB-1 plus volunteers make the difference in getting tower permits
* +Astronaut talks via ham radio with his primary school alma mater
* +Nevada ARES volunteers report for flood duty
* +Consensus reported in Canada on Morse code requirement
* +League congratulates 100-year-old life member
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +Project OSCAR issues call for West Coast Symposium papers
    +Echo satellite reopens for normal FM repeater, digital use
     Alpha/Power again in new hands
     George S. Van Dyke Jr, W3HK, SK
     Francis Theodore Blatt, KH6KH, SK
     William Troetschel, W7LVO, SK

+Available on ARRL Audio News



FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell announced today that he'll step down,
effective "sometime in March." Powell's resignation comes just one day
after President George W. Bush's inauguration for a second term in the
White House. Nominated by former President Bill Clinton, Powell--whose
father is Secretary of State Colin Powell--joined the FCC in 1997. He
became its chairman two days after President Bush was sworn in for his
first term in 2001. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, called Powell's
performance "a deep disappointment" after some initial optimism. While the
League is not unhappy about Powell's departure--especially given his
unabashed cheerleading on behalf of the FCC's broadband over power line
(BPL) initiative--there's also concern about whom President Bush might
call upon to replace him.

"It's no secret that we thought Chairman Powell was going entirely in the
wrong direction on BPL and dragging the other commissioners and FCC staff
along--willing or not--because he was, after all, the chairman," Sumner
said. "A new chairman might be a chance for a fresh start."

Last October when the FCC adopted new Part 15 rules for BPL, Powell called
it "a banner day." While conceding that BPL will affect some spectrum
users, including "all those wonderful Amateur Radio operators out there,"
the chairman implied that the FCC must balance the benefits of BPL against
the relative value of other licensed services.

Powell listed the Commission's adoption of BPL rules among the "policy
highlights" of his tenure. "Broadband to power plugs would lower prices,
expand deployment," the chairman's list of accomplishments asserts.

Possibilities to replace Powell include the other Republican members of
the five-member FCC--Kathleen Q. Abernathy, a staunch BPL supporter, and
Kevin J. Martin. Speculation also has been raised about various candidates
outside the commissioners. "We look forward to the opportunity to work
with the new chairman, whoever that may be," Sumner said.

Powell, in his announcement, said it was "with a mixture of pride and
regret" that he informed the president of his decision to step down.

"Having completed a bold and aggressive agenda, it is time for me to
pursue other opportunities and let someone else take the reins of the
agency," he said. "During my tenure, we worked to get the law right in
order to stimulate innovative technology that puts more power in the hands
of the American people, giving them greater choices that enrich their

The chairman said the seeds of the Commission's policies under his
leadership "are taking firm root in the marketplace and are starting to
blossom." He cited the increased use of cell phones, digital TV and other
digital technology "increasingly connected anytime, anywhere by a wide
variety of broadband networks."

"Our children will inherit this exciting future," Powell proclaimed,
adding that he looks forward to spending some time with his wife and two
sons "before taking up my next challenge."

As FCC chairman, Powell also has been in the forefront of enforcing the
Commission's rules on indecency, largely through imposing huge fines on
violators. He also supported changes in media ownership rules that
permitted even greater concentration in the ownership of broadcasting

Powell's formal resignation announcement followed widespread reports in
the media that he would be leaving. Communications Daily said the
chairman's last day would be March 10.


Two Midwestern radio amateurs have succeeded in their efforts to be
allowed to erect antenna support structures on their residential
properties. Both cases hinged largely on the requirement of the limited
federal preemption known as PRB-1 that localities "reasonably accommodate"
Amateur Radio communication with "minimum practicable regulation." As a
result, city officials in Wheaton, Illinois, have granted John Siepmann,
N9NA, a permit to build a 42-foot tower in his back yard. And in Ohio,
Brian "Tim" McGraw, W8BTM, got the okay from the Colerain Township Board
of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to erect a 48-foot tower on his property.

"It all started with Hank Greeb, N8XX, who organized the ham radio
community, researched the applicable laws and fully utilized all ARRL
resources all toward achieving this victory," Ohio Section Manager Joe
Phillips, K8QOE, said of the W8BTM case. "More than anything else, it was
Hank's single commitment to see this through that made this a win for ham
radio." Greeb serves as an ARRL Volunteer Consulting Engineer in the Great
Lakes Division.

More than two dozen neighbors had signed a petition and presented their
opposition at the hearing in early December. Thirty radio amateurs showed
up for the session, and many spoke in support of McGraw's application,
however. In addition, ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE,
supplied applicable case law for the hearing, while Ohio Assistant SM Bob
Winston, W2THU, offered legal advice. Professional engineer Herb Nichols,
W8HRN, twice testified to the technical aspects of McGraw's plans,
Phillips said. The BZA's December 15 decision was unanimous.

Greeb said the township's lawyer advised that the BZA was not the proper
forum to consider McGraw's application and that guidance must come instead
from the trustees. He suggested that the trustees need to develop
guidelines regarding permissible structure heights for future
applications. None exist in the Rural Zoning Commission's regulations,
which provide the basis for Colerain Township's zoning regulations.

"While it is a bit unclear as to how the township will proceed," Greeb
commented, "we look forward to working with its elected officials and its
designees to set guidance in the new zoning regulations, which are
currently under consideration by the township."

In Illinois, Siepmann's application for a 65-foot free-standing structure
faced opposition from his neighbors, who apparently feared that the
presence of the antenna support structure would lower property values and
lead to TV and telephone interference.

"This permit was issued in spite of a 100-plus neighbor signature 12-point
petition to the city not to allow the tower, as well as the erection of
approximately 75 neighbor lawn signs with 'NO RADIO TOWER' emblazoned
across their faces," Siepmann told ARRL. "The signs were placed on lawns
as far away as one mile from our home, which is in a quiet, mature and
leafy subdivision in Wheaton." Representing Siepmann was ARRL Volunteer
Counsel and well-known Amateur Radio antenna advocate Jim O'Connell, W9WU.

News reports say City Attorney Jim Knippen told city council members
December 6 that because of PRB-1, Wheaton would lose any court case and
had no choice but to issue Siepmann a permit for a tower. The city
compromised on its height, however. O'Connell says the city came up with
42 feet by adding Wheaton's present 12-foot "Over the Air Television
Receiving Dish" (OTARD) antenna height limit to its 30-foot height limit
for a single-family dwelling. O'Connell says a number of short towers
already are in place in Wheaton, and the city even had a 65-foot antenna
tower ordinance until several years ago, when it "simply disappeared one


International Space Station Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao, KE5BRW,
visited via Amateur Radio January 13 with fourth and fifth graders at John
Baldwin Elementary School in Danville, California. That's the same school
Chiao attended more than 30 years ago when he was growing up.

"We just looked him up in the yearbook and found his picture, and there he
was, smiling away," said John Baldwin fourth-grade teacher Starr Dawson,
who coordinated the contact at the school. Dawson said 17 pupils who
proposed questions to ask the ISS commander were chosen to participate in
the event, which was arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station (ARISS) program. Chiao answered 11 of them. Responding to
one youngster's inquiry, he said the Apollo missions inspired him to
become an astronaut.

"I first really knew I wanted to become an astronaut when I was eight
years old attending John Baldwin School there and watching the first
Apollo moon landings," he recalled, "and from that point on, I knew that
that was what I wanted to do." Of all his space missions, his current tour
aboard the ISS has been his "most unforgettable."

Replying to another question, Chiao allowed for the possibility of life
forms other than human elsewhere in the universe.

"I believe, personally, that there is other life in the universe, and I
think that it's just that we haven't found it yet--or they haven't found
us," Chiao told the youngsters. "You know, we haven't had any confirmed
life on other planets, but some of the results coming back from the Mars
probes is showing some promise that there was water, and of course if it
looks like there was water on the surface of Mars in the past that opens
up the possibility that there may have been life there."

Chiao also said that he and crewmate Salizhan Sharipov were working on an
ultrasound "Telemed" experiment. It's aimed at coming up with a system
that would permit physicians on Earth to diagnose health problems space
travelers may experience during long-duration space flights, such as those
required to journey to Mars and beyond, he explained.

Handling Earth station duties for the event was ARISS veteran Tony
Hutchison, VK5ZAI, in Australia, who contacted NA1SS directly. An
MCI-donated teleconference link handled two-way audio between Australia
and the school. Audio of the contact also was distributed via EchoLink and
IRLP. The QSO with John Baldwin Elementary School marked the 160th ARISS
school group contact.

ARISS is an educational outreach program with US participation by ARRL,


The same weather system that caused flooding and mudslides in California
wreaked havoc elsewhere in the western US the week of January 10. Heavy
rainfall in the southeastern Nevada region bordering Utah and Arizona
combined with runoff from melting snow, causing rivers and streams to
overrun their banks. The resulting flooding damaged or destroyed dozens of
homes in the area northeast of Las Vegas. Early on in the emergency, the
National Weather Service (NWS) contacted Clark County, Nevada, Emergency
Coordinator Charlie Kunz, AA5QJ, to request help from his team.

"They had lost a level detector on the Muddy River near Glendale and asked
if someone could get them reports," said Vern Garman, K0EGA, the Clark
County ARES Assistant EC for Operations and Training. Starting January 10,
radio amateurs from the Logandale/Overton area provided information to the
NWS for the next three days.

In addition, Garman reports, the Clark County Office of Emergency
Management activated the emergency operations center (EOC) on January 11,
and ARES deployed a volunteer to the EOC for about one day. After flooding
displaced some area residents, the American Red Cross opened a shelter in
Overton, and Logandale/Overton-area ARES volunteers provided communication
support. At least five ARES members also aided the Red Cross in
preliminary damage assessment activities.

On January 15, the Red Cross requested ARES support in Mesquite, and six
amateurs from Las Vegas and one from Overton responded. "This group
assisted in setting up the Red Cross communications van and provided
communications for outreach teams searching for the people who needed Red
Cross assistance," Garman explained. The outreach activity was centered in
the northeastern corner of Arizona, near Littlefield and Beaver Dam, he
said. A road washout cut off access to Beaver Dam, and some two dozen
homes were damaged or destroyed.

Southern Nevada District Emergency Coordinator Glenn Hale, KB7REO, said
communications support to the Red Cross consisted of installing an antenna
on the mobile communications vehicle and programming the Icom IC-706MKIIG
transceiver aboard for area repeaters. Hale noted that the Red Cross
emergency response vehicles (ERVs) primarily use the 30-50 MHz Public
Safety band to communicate to their command post. Garman said one of the
responders, Jack Cook, N8RRL, had Red Cross communication support training
and had operated one in Florida after last year's hurricanes.

Two vehicles owned by Red Cross personnel served as secondary ERVs, Hale
said, and he and Dan Starr, AA7I, supported that effort in Littlefield by
shadowing the group with HF/VHF communication. Most activity was within
the Virgin River Gorge, and nearly all communication to the command post
was via the Utah Hill 146.820 repeater.

"Bridges to the community were completely washed out making access to the
community difficult," Hale reported. "The St George, Utah, American Red
Cross kitchen was supplying food to the ERVs. At one location in Beaver
Dam, 55 meals were served."

Hale said some homes in the region around Littlefield and just across the
border in Mesquite were damaged or destroyed by floodwaters and mud.
Conventional telephone and some cellular service in the area was out
completely, and the Red Cross used a satellite uplink to communicate with
its national headquarters from the communications van.

Garman says the support for the Red Cross wrapped up when the organization
completed its outreach program on January 16. In all, more than a dozen
ARES volunteers responded to the weather emergency.


Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) reports that an Industry Canada (IC)
analysis has found "overwhelming agreement" that Canada should move away
from retaining a Morse code requirement as "the sole means of gaining
access" to the HF amateur bands. IC has posted a summary of comments from
the amateur community to RAC's Recommendations from Radio Amateurs of
Canada to Industry Canada concerning Morse Code and Related Matters.

"Amateurs should note that while the responses heavily favored deletion of
the Morse Qualification as a requirement for access to the HF bands,
Industry Canada still has to make and announce a decision on Morse
retention or deletion," RAC emphasized. IC reported 123 comments in favor
of relaxing the code requirement in Canada and only 19 "clearly opposed."
Another six comments were inconclusive.

The regulatory agency also has attempted to gauge the level of support for
each of RAC's 12 license restructuring recommendations. IC said it would
formulate a plan to implement changes emerging from the consultation

RAC notes that until IC announces a decision to delete Morse, Canadian
amateurs not holding the Morse Qualification may not operate on the HF

The Industry Canada comment summary is on IC's Web site

Here in the US, the FCC has made no recommendation or decision regarding
the future of the current 5 WPM (Element 1) Morse requirement for HF
access. It's also reviewing several petitions, including one from the
ARRL, that propose further Amateur Radio license restructuring.


ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, has congratulated ARRL Life Member Zeke
Dorsey, W3DHL, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who turned 100 January 15.
Writing on behalf of the League's Board of Directors, officers and staff,
Haynie wished Dorsey "the very best on reaching this milestone." The ARRL
President also thanked W3DHL for his loyal support of the League as a Life
Member and Volunteer Examiner as well as for being an AMSAT supporter.

"We deeply appreciate your keen interest in radio electronics and your
service to welcoming new hams into Amateur Radio as a Volunteer Examiner,"
Haynie said. "You have seen decades of progress and change in our service
and added your personal achievements to the pride we all feel in our
service. Thank you for your years of dedication."

Friend Brian Roberts, K9VKY, alerted the League to Dorsey's 100th
birthday. He tells ARRL that Dorsey's life has been--and continues to
be--a full one. Dorsey got his start in Amateur Radio while still a
teenager attending Duquesne University in 1921, Roberts recounts. "Zeke
has seen a lot of things come and go over the years," he says. According
to Roberts, Dorsey--a Sewickley, Pennsylvania, native--cobbled together
his first spark gap transmitter from a Ford spark coil, powering it from
homemade glass jar batteries. A galena detector was his receiving set. He
subsequently upgraded to a 1 kW rotary spark transmitter and a
regenerative receiver, and, not incidentally, got his license, 8DHL, in
1922. Owing to regulatory changes, he later became W3DHL.

"Zeke's interest in Amateur Radio flourished along with radio development
in the 1920s," Roberts says. Dorsey also developed an interest in aviation
and got his pilot's license. When World War II broke out, he enlisted in
the US Army Air Corps "at the rather advanced age of 37," Roberts notes.

"Because of his specialized knowledge in aviation and radio, Uncle Sam
waived Zeke's basic training and immediately sent him overseas to India to
set up radio navigation aids and homing devices in the China-Burma-India
theater of operations," he says. "As the war progressed, Zeke later served
in the Pacific theater, setting up and servicing radio beacons for the air

Over time, Dorsey let his Amateur Radio license lapse. When he wanted to
return to his Amateur Radio roots, however, he discovered that his
original W8DHL and later W3DHL call signs had been reissued and no longer
were available. But when W3DHL became available again, he was able to
reclaim it, thanks to help from the Quarter Century Wireless Association
(QCWA) and a 1920s callbook.

Roberts says Dorsey remains quite energetic, still driving his own car,
mowing the lawn, shoveling snow and maintaining an electronics repair
shop. The Amateur Extra-class licensee also is still on the air.

"Zeke continues to enjoy Amateur Radio and keeps a weekly schedule with
longtime friend Bob Ross, KA3AVB," reports Roberts. "Zeke Dorsey is a true
gentleman, who passes a remarkable milestone in personal achievement as
well as 80-plus years in Amateur Radio."


Solar flash Tad "Tequila Sunrise" Cook,K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports:
This has been a very active week for solar flares and geomagnetic storms.
The average daily sunspot number rose more than 57 points this week to 89,
and the average daily solar flux was up nearly 43 points to 132.7, as
compared to the previous reporting week. The average daily planetary A
index more than doubled--from 17.9 to 36.6.

Huge sunspot 720 provided lots of excitement over the past week. Two large
flares (coronal mass ejections or CMEs) erupted from this sunspot on
January 15. Over the next few days the geomagnetic numbers bumped up
dramatically, with planetary A indices of 63, 72 and 62 for January 17-19.
The high-latitude collage A indices for the same three days were 114, 136
and 106.

On Monday, January 17, another big flare blasted in our direction. It
peaked around 0950 UTC. As sunspot 720 moves off the center of the visible
solar disk, more flares erupted, including a huge X7-class event on
Thursday, January 20. The energy could sweep past Earth today, January 21.

This flare was the largest of any during the past year, and it triggered
the largest radiation storm in the current 11-year solar cycle.

The current prediction is for a planetary A index of 25, 20 and 20 for
January 21-23, but these numbers could be higher depending on how direct
the radiation hits Earth. With sunspot 720 moving beyond view, daily solar
flux values are expected to dip below 100 around January 23-24.

Sunspot numbers for January 13 through 19 were 77, 65, 100, 99, 107, 109
and 66, with a mean of 89. The 10.7 cm flux was 115.6, 129.8, 144.9,
144.5, 137.5, 124.3 and 132.5, with a mean of 132.7. Estimated planetary A
indices were 13, 12, 22, 12, 63, 72 and 62 with a mean of 36.6. Estimated
mid-latitude A indices were 10, 11, 11, 10, 27, 35 and 31, with a mean of



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes and the
BARTG RTTY Sprint are the weekend of January 22-23. JUST AHEAD: The CQ
160-Meter Contest (CW), the REF Contest (CW), the UK DX Contest (RTTY) and
the UBA DX Contest (SSB) are the weekend of January 29-30. See the ARRL
Contest Branch page <> and the WA7BNM Contest
Calendar <> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL HF Digital Communication (EC-005) and ARRL
VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses remains open through Sunday,
January 23. Classes begin Friday February 4. Students participating in
VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater will enjoy exploring some of the lesser-used
and more intriguing aspects of VHF/UHF operation. HF Digital Communication
students will learn to use a variety of HF digital modes. To learn more,
visit the <> Web page or contact the ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Department <>;.

* Project OSCAR issues call for West Coast Symposium papers: Project OSCAR
has issued a call for papers for its 2005 West Coast Space Symposium. Held
in partnership with the College of San Mateo Electronics Department, the
symposium is devoted to a broad range of topics ranging from current
satellite construction projects to satellite operations and general
technical discussions. The symposium takes place Saturday, May 7, at the
College of San Mateo in San Mateo, California. Symposium registration,
with refreshments, starts at 8 AM. Presentations begin promptly at 9 AM
and run through 5:30 PM. Registration is $15 ($8 for students), which
includes lunch and parking. There will be room at the campus facility to
erect antennas for live demonstrations. For suggested presentation topics
and more information, visit the Symposium Web site

* Echo satellite reopens for normal FM repeater, digital use: The Echo
(AO-51) command team says that because no tsunami relief-related emergency
message traffic has been seen on the AO-51 Packsat Broadcast Protocol BBS
(PBBS), it's configured the satellite to permit normal FM repeater and 9k6
digital operation. "The plan is to run in this mode until the end of
January, unless word is received from the disaster area that a different
setup would be useful," said the AO-51 command team's Mike Kingery,
KE4AZN. Because the switch to solely digital store-and-forward operation
pre-empted the satellite's use in FM repeater mode for Kid's Day January
2, AMSAT now plans to reschedule its Kid's Day activity on the satellite
for an as-yet-unannounced Saturday in February. The AO-51 FM voice uplink
is 145.920 MHz (with 67 Hz CTCSS tone required); downlink is 435.300 MHz.
The 9k6 digital PBBS uplink is 145.860 MHz FM; downlink is 435.150 MHz
FM.--AMSAT News Service

* Alpha/Power again in new hands: Alpha Radio Products LLC has announced
an agreement with CrossLink Inc and Alpha/Power Inc to take over
production and support of the Alpha/Power line of linear amplifiers and
related products. A January 20 Alpha Radio Products press release says
Alpha/Power will return to its roots and dedicate itself solely to
providing high-power RF equipment "for the professional and serious
amateur markets." CrossLink acquired the linear amplifier manufacturer in
late 2000. Alpha Radio cited "declining business prospects for CrossLink"
for making the ownership change necessary. Alpha Radio President Molly
Hardman, W0MOM, assured all current Alpha amplifiers owners that their
warranty and service needs will be met. The company says it will continue
to employ "the same excellent technicians and assemblers" and manufacture
and service its products in the current Boulder, Colorado, location. Chief
Engineer Gordon Hardman, W0RUN, said Alpha Radio will focus on better
control, interface and support components for its amplifiers while leaving
primary tube-related components "unchanged and true to their heritage."
For more information, visit the Alpha Radio Products Web site
<> or call 303-473-9232.

* George S. Van Dyke Jr, W3HK, SK: George Van Dyke, W3HK, of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, died earlier this month. He was 89. A Life Member of ARRL,
Van Dyke served as ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Section Communications
Manager from 1967 until 1974 and again from 1975 until 1980. He still held
an appointment as an ARRL Official Relay Station and had been an ARRL
member for 68 years. A retired US Army lieutenant colonel, Van Dyke was a
member of the Quarter Century Wireless Association, US Army MARS, the
Holmesburg Amateur Radio Club and the National Association of Retired
Federal Employees. ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, N3KN, recalls Van Dyke
had a good sense of humor and was "always the gentleman in the way he
represented the ARRL and ham radio." Survivors include his wife, Alberta,
and three daughters. Memorial contributions are invited to the American
Diabetes Association, PO Box 1131, Fairfax, VA 22038-1131.--Bob Josuweit,

* Francis Theodore Blatt, KH6KH, SK: Francis Blatt, KH6KH, of Honolulu,
Hawaii, died January 13. He was 94. A former ARRL Hawaii Section
Communications Manager and former state director for the Army Military
Affiliate Radio Service (MARS) program, Blatt was a prominent figure in
the history of radiocommunication in Hawaii. First licensed as K6ETF while
in his teens, he remained an ARRL member for 76 years. As the chief radio
operator for McNeil & Libby, Blatt he installed the first inter-island
wireless communication system. He later went to work at the U.S Navy Yard
in Pearl Harbor from 1934 until 1945, when he became the Federal Aviation
Agency transmitter station chief for Hawaii from 1946 until his retirement
in 1970. He was a member and director of the Honolulu Amateur Radio Club.
The family invites donations to the Honolulu Assembly of God Francis and
Antonia Blatt Memorial Fund, 1007 Koko Head Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816.--Bob
Schneider, AH6J; Lee Wical, KH6BZF

* William Troetschel, W7LVO, SK: William O. "Bill" Troetschel, W7LVO
(ex-K6UQH), of Saratoga, California, died January 18. he was 82. An ARRL
Life Member, Troetschel was inducted last September into the Air Force
Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame and received the Air Force Space
and Missile Pioneers Award. Troetschel also contributed articles on VHF
and UHF topics to QST, a chapter to the ARRL UHF/Microwave Experimenters
Manual during the 1960s and 1970s, and more recently, papers to various
VHF/UHF conferences. A graduate of the Air Force Institute of Technology,
Troetschel was a member of the Air Force satellite team in the 1950s and
oversaw the development of communication, command and control, and
electronic reconnaissance satellite subsystems. After leaving the Air
Force, Troetschel went to work for Lockheed Corporation, focusing on
issues involving satellite tracking, communication, and command and
control.--some information contributed by Kevin Hague, N5XSA/6

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
<>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of
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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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