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Airline pilots’ union “aghast” and “furious” at £2bn cycling and walking spend

Online backlash as BALPA asks government where cash is for the aviation industry – though active travel spend was committed before pandemic

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) says its members will be “aghast and frankly furious” at the government for having “found” £2 billion for cycling and walking at a time when, it says, the country’s airline sector is “in a death spiral.” The money for active, in fact, is not new and had already been set aside by the government in February.

The tirade was made in response to Saturday’s announcement by transport secretary Grant Shapps, that the government was making £250 million available for emergency funding for pop-up infrastructure for cycling and walking in England, outside London.

> Government announces £250m emergency active travel fund as part of £2bn investment

That cash is part of £2 billion funding set aside for cycling and walking over the next five years which the government had committed prior to the coronavirus pandemic – a BALPA, which described the cash for active travel as having been “found” seems to have missed.

BALPA General Secretary Brian Sutton said: “The aviation sector is already facing 23,000 job cuts, with the potential for many more in the weeks and months to come.

“The government’s proposed 14 day quarantine proposal for incoming international travellers will put even more pressure on the industry for the foreseeable future, and dispute repeated promises, we’ve seen not a single penny in dedicated, bespoke support for airlines.
 
“Given all this, British pilots will be absolutely aghast and frankly furious at £2bn being found for ‘walking and cycling’ [his inverted commas, not ours – Ed] when the airline industry, which is so vital to the UK economy, is dying before our eyes,” he added.
 
“When will the government recognise that the British airline business is in a death spiral and intervene to support this vital industry and stop the jobs cull?”

BALPA acts as the professional association and registered trade union for all UK pilots, with more than 10,000 pilots recognised by 23 different companies.

But replies to its tweet linking to that statement show that not all members share that view.

One, Peter Smith – Twitter name,  @Pinarello_ Pete –  posted: “I am going to stick my head above the parapet. I am an airline pilot, a BALPA member, a BC [British Cycling] coach and married to the Cycling & Walking Champion on our county council.

“I am ‘aghast and frankly furious’ by this ill thought out rant by my association. I have told them as much too.”

Another pilot who has been a member of BALPA for more than 30 years said he was in support of investment in active travel – and was told by the organisation that they supported it too, although that is far from the impression one might get from their original tweet and statement.

Other replies to BALPA’s tweet highlighted the heavy subsidies the aviation industry already receives from the government, the environmental damage that the sector causes, and questioned why it had chosen to base its attack on the money set aside for active travel rather the much greater amounts the government plans to spend on roads over the next five years.

In the House of Commons this afternoon, the transport secretary confirmed that the government is in discussions with airlines, airport operators and ground support operations, but was unable to reveal any details as yet for reasons of confidentiality.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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31 comments

Avatar
pauldmorgan | 3 years ago
2 likes

The irony here is that the £2bn, like most government announcements, is actually not new money. https://bicycleben.co.uk/2020-05-09/2bn-funding-promise-for-cycling-and-...

Avatar
Richard_pics | 3 years ago
6 likes

Would possibly have some sympathy for airlines, if they didnt have people like Michael Kevin O'Leary running them.

What a hideous human bag of piss he is....

Avatar
Nick T | 3 years ago
4 likes

Better start flying to work from now on folks

Avatar
brooksby replied to Nick T | 3 years ago
3 likes
Nick T wrote:

Better start flying to work from now on folks

You mean you don't?  Pleb...  3

Avatar
ktache | 3 years ago
2 likes

The passenger airlines may survive, I'm guessing it's only going to really get back to anywhere near normality until there is a vaccine.  They will do better than the cruise lines.

If there is the demand then some form of the industy will get back to it.

The pilots are at least getting some of their wages paid, not flying, while they are on the furlough scheme.  The bicycle shops are working their arses off at the moment, cycling has not been this popular in decades.

Cycle lanes and cyclists were not the ones who spread  this virus around the world, no matter how much 'locals' would have us believe.

I don't know whether Boing can manage to get through this, not without the US bailing it out heavily, the 737 Max hadn't been sorted, and then the need for new planes will be massively down.

I doubt if clamour for the 3rd runway for Heathrow will be as loud and urgent.

If we can get a handle on transmission, and bring it down, through public health measures then British resorts might do alright as the summer continues.

Avatar
brooksby replied to ktache | 3 years ago
2 likes
ktache wrote:

They will do better than the cruise lines.

I wish I had shares in a "breaking unwanted cruise liners down into recyclable parts" company...  

Avatar
joeegg replied to ktache | 3 years ago
2 likes

I hope when this situation gets back to some sort of normality then people do rethink about the journeys they make. When we are encouraged to turn our backs on fossil fuels but still get a subsidy on air travel seems totally inappropriate.I think we can all agree that pollution and congestion from vehicles is a major issue but will we change our habits voluntarily or will it need stronger Government intervention to reduce the contamination. Would any Government actually have balls to take on the airline industry or vehicle manufacturers. I think not. Should we expect the freedom to travel,cheaply,whenever and where we like. It is going to be very hard to turn back this tide of entitlement of vehicle ownership.

Avatar
MTB Refugee | 3 years ago
6 likes

These would be the same airlines that have spent (thrown away) billions of pounds on vanity finance of share buy-backs in order to:

  1. Ensure C-Level exec bonus schemes are maximised
  2. Temporarily boost share price to appease investors

I've got zero sympathy for the airlines or the execs, it's just a shame that the workers will be the ones that will suffer for a cronic lack of foresight. The airlines should be allowed to go bankrupt, otherwise capitalism is terminally broken.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 3 years ago
1 like

Bear in mind BALPA is close to the complete opposite of normal unions.  Instead of defending their members against low pay, poor conditions, and evil employers they pretty much exist to allow a load of overpaid plane drivers maintain their 5-6 figure salaries, short working hours and gold plated working conditions.

Compared to most of the rest of the Airline and travel industry in general they are in clover.

BALPA has a history of gobby denials of their privileged status - this is no different.

They can FOAD.

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 years ago
2 likes
Secret_squirrel wrote:

Bear in mind BALPA is close to the complete opposite of normal unions.  Instead of defending their members against low pay, poor conditions, and evil employers they pretty much exist to allow a load of overpaid plane drivers maintain their 5-6 figure salaries, short working hours and gold plated working conditions.

Compared to most of the rest of the Airline and travel industry in general they are in clover.

BALPA has a history of gobby denials of their privileged status - this is no different.

They can FOAD.

You've just reminded me that Norman Tebbit was a BALPA rep, which explains a lot.

Avatar
sammutd88 replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 years ago
0 likes
Secret_squirrel wrote:

Bear in mind BALPA is close to the complete opposite of normal unions.  Instead of defending their members against low pay, poor conditions, and evil employers they pretty much exist to allow a load of overpaid plane drivers maintain their 5-6 figure salaries, short working hours and gold plated working conditions.

Compared to most of the rest of the Airline and travel industry in general they are in clover.

BALPA has a history of gobby denials of their privileged status - this is no different.

They can FOAD.

Being on the other side of the world, I'll refrain from commenting on the actual situation, as I don't know enough to make comment. However I find your comment about salary irrational, ignorant and offensive. Pay is generally commensurate with responsibility. I have no issues justifying my salary as pilot. It's no doctor or surgeons salary and nor should it be. But I know when I go to work for an 11 hour night flight across an ocean riddled with thunderstorms, that the people behind me are putting their trust in the flight crew to get them safely to the destination. We can't press backspace when we make an error. 
 

All the best to everyone affected by this unprecedented virus. Enjoy riding bikes, that's what we are here for. Quit the hate. 

Avatar
TheBillder | 3 years ago
9 likes

I do so hope that BALPA are right, and not just about the UK airline industry. Cheap air travel is ruinous to the atmosphere and in no way pays for the damage that is done. Fuel is tax free and emissions at altitude are almost uniquely damaging.

Given that we need to encourage people away from destructive behaviour, and that only taxation seems to work in doing this, I don't understand why air travel prices do not rise at the same rate as tobacco.

BALPA, you represent a dinosaur industry and our money should not be used to fund it.

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... | 3 years ago
13 likes

If a few airlines go bust, so what? It may sound harsh, but hear me out. For years, the aviation industry has gone mad. People fly to another country....for a meeting? You could get a return flight to Geneva for 30 quid? Everyone can see how clear the skies have been recently, and I don't think that it is merely coincidence that the weather has been settled since lockdown began. No, the fact that around 2 million planes fly around each day must be doing some considerable damage to the skies. Everyone reading this forum is a cyclist, right? So you have all noticed how clean and fresh the air has been recently? Yeah, I know, there's less traffic on the road, but almost just as much heavy traffic moving around, as most industries have continued to work. I don't believe that the clean air is just from the lack of cars on the road, as almost every car bar a small amount, are fairly new, and very clean regarding emissions. A smaller air industry has to be better than flights going up all day long, throughout the world. And let us not forget, if we didn't have flights covering the globe many times a day, and millions of people moving unchecked across continents, the Coronavirus wouldn't have spread like it did.
The only negatives I can see, are some redundancies, and more expensive air travel and holidays. But a foreign holiday should be something we save up for, look forward to, and enjoy as a fantastic treat. Not something we should be going on 3 or 4 times a year, and just booking on a whim. We are all in charge of our own destiny, and if the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it must be to change our ways, stop moving all across the globe willy nilly and think of the environment. Nature is amazing, just look how it has repaired some of the damage we have inflicted on our world over the years, in just a few weeks.
Here endeth my sermon.
Amen.

Avatar
Xena replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 years ago
0 likes
biker phil wrote:

If a few airlines go bust, so what? It may sound harsh, but hear me out. For years, the aviation industry has gone mad. People fly to another country....for a meeting? You could get a return flight to Geneva for 30 quid? Everyone can see how clear the skies have been recently, and I don't think that it is merely coincidence that the weather has been settled since lockdown began. No, the fact that around 2 million planes fly around each day must be doing some considerable damage to the skies. Everyone reading this forum is a cyclist, right? So you have all noticed how clean and fresh the air has been recently? Yeah, I know, there's less traffic on the road, but almost just as much heavy traffic moving around, as most industries have continued to work. I don't believe that the clean air is just from the lack of cars on the road, as almost every car bar a small amount, are fairly new, and very clean regarding emissions. A smaller air industry has to be better than flights going up all day long, throughout the world. And let us not forget, if we didn't have flights covering the globe many times a day, and millions of people moving unchecked across continents, the Coronavirus wouldn't have spread like it did. The only negatives I can see, are some redundancies, and more expensive air travel and holidays. But a foreign holiday should be something we save up for, look forward to, and enjoy as a fantastic treat. Not something we should be going on 3 or 4 times a year, and just booking on a whim. We are all in charge of our own destiny, and if the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it must be to change our ways, stop moving all across the globe willy nilly and think of the environment. Nature is amazing, just look how it has repaired some of the damage we have inflicted on our world over the years, in just a few weeks. Here endeth my sermon. Amen.

what a load of BS. I live in London the air is no different . Planes tend to fly very high . I have not noticed them spewing  a load of black soot etc etc . Infact when the are flying around 37000 feet they don't use much fuel .

The Sky is clear because it's nice and bright and sunny . Only the  other day it was very cloudy and grey .  It called the weather  changing . I'd grant you that in some city's like Naples for instance they have a lot of environmental pollution and I am all for cleaning up the air and getting the chemicals out of the rivers and sea that  get dumped by the same companies who are telling you they want you to pay carbon tax .  They pay the tax and carry on polluting . Sorry we will,pay the tax they will have to charge us .  If we didn't have  flights the no one would ever get ill . Flu for instance has killed 33.000 people in the UK this year . I blame flying  ha ha .. My dad passed away from cancer I blame flying . So lets stay locked down so we can all enjoy that lovely weather looking out of our window 😃Why shouldn't me or anyone else be able to fly as  many times as we want . So the rich we still be able to fly but some poor nurse or hospital porter can only fly once a year.  Corona virus has taught you nothing . It's been a scaremongering  agenda from day 1 . Go look at the data if your under 65 years old you have more chance getting killed in a car crash . People are dying with the virus not because of the virus and they are trying to get those numbers up look at this https://week.com/2020/04/20/idph-director-explains-how-covid-deaths-are-...

so,,if you looked at the link you can see how they are trying,to get the numbers up. Even in the uk they a recording covid deaths with out any test being done just assumptions. In the states it's now become a joke, die in a car crash test for covid and it's a covid death. The BBC seem to be emitting this news . 
I have been to,Nice ,Barcelona ,lucca , Seville, trieste, in the last 2 years and it's been fantastic . It's a big world and it should be accessible to all of us . You want to expand your mind , travel  is the best way. People are great and I want to meet more of them from all,over the world.  Climate change ,. Funny how bill gates just bought a house right on the sea front .....it's all BS.

 

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... replied to Xena | 3 years ago
13 likes

Well you're an angry individual aren't you? The air in london is no different because its a shithole. Once a shithole, always a shithole. Up here in Lancashire, ( You know, where we put flat caps on whippets and dance round the chimneys), the air has been a refreshing change. You can taste the fresh air, ask anyone up here. We are fairly rural too, not gridlocked like your beloved London. I can cycle up to the West Pennine moors after work, it is so clear I can see the Welsh mountains, the whole of the Lake District and the Isle of Man, crystal clear, why? Because there's no pollution.

Climate change bullshit. Really? 

How much fuel does a plane use to climb to 37000ft? Or do they float up?

The sky is clear because it's nice and sunny? Jesus, are you thick? Why do you think it is nice and sunny? Nothing to do with the huge decrease in pollution? What damage do you think we are doing to the atmosphere firing jet engines up all day? Look into the sky here and it isn't criss-crossed with vapour trails. You carry on living the dream in smoky London sonny, with planes fucking the sky up. Meanwhile people with brains prefer it this way.

You shouldn't be allowed to fly as much as you want, because it is fucking selfish. So are you a typical Leftie luvvie Londoner? Fuck everyone else, I'm alright. So you've flown many times. Big deal. What about the damage your flights have done to the world? You won't give a fuck about that, would you?

People like you are the reason this planet is so fucked up. Self, self, self.

Avatar
BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 years ago
7 likes

London is not a 'shithole'. Otherwise I agree with you. Unfortunately the only way you can effect change is to make personal choices at the moment. Like cycling to the shops instead of driving or walking with the kids to school.  The places Xena mentions in his / her reply; Nice, Barcelona, Lucca . . . .  Can all be reached from London by train for example. 

I fly very rarely because it pollutes and because it is grim. Last year I managed to get to Sofia, Rome, Stuttgart, Lake Constance, Geneva, the Italian Alps without using a plane. It takes a little longer but it beats the herding that is the airport experience. The budget airlines especially have a stranglehold over travel as they make alternatives seem expensive and inefficient. 

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 3 years ago
0 likes

Maybe I may have been a little harsh, apologies if I have offended you. I have only been to London a handful of times, a few times on business, I couldn't wait to get back on the train home, and the tube was a bloody nightmare. The only other time was to attend a concert at Wembley arena, now the roads leading to the arena were a shithole, but that was around 1994. I have never been as a visitor, maybe I should. 

We fly very rarely, usually once every two to three years to Switzerland with Swiss Air. The flight is usually OK but I hate the thought of what we are contributing to climate change and we also hate going through the cattle gates at the airports so much that we have been talking about making the trip by rail next time.

Avatar
HarryTrauts replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 years ago
1 like
biker phil wrote:

 

 

You shouldn't be allowed to fly as much as you want, because it is fucking selfish. So are you a typical Leftie luvvie Londoner? Fuck everyone else, I'm alright. So you've flown many times.

Phil, I'm not sure you understand what Leftie luvvie Londoners stand for as you have described the complete opposite.  I'd say they are probably more right-wing than the typical Daily Mail reader.   Other than that, I'm 100% in agreement with you.

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... replied to HarryTrauts | 3 years ago
0 likes

It was tongue in cheek Harragan, I always refer to the people who plough on regardless with a fuck everyone else attitude, those who tell people what to do but don't do it themselves, as leftie luvvies.

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to Xena | 3 years ago
5 likes

Flu killed 33000 this year? Would love to know where you got these figures from as that is what America pretty much reported last year. Yes America which currently has 82000 reported deaths from CV, but of course, most of those died in a car crash or were shot or something. And Public health England don't publish annual Mortality from Flu deaths but it was actually estimated 17000 anually for the last 6 years with an all time low in 2019 of 1700 or so. (highest was back in 2014/15 with 28K)

But let us take your 33k as actually being right for the UK. Officially CV has killed upto that figure already in 2-3 months. However if you look at ONS deaths over the time period it has been around and compare to any other year for the same period, the difference in deaths is actually massivley higher so most must be attributed to the impact of CV (Although I'm guessing the suicide rate might also be higher although not many reports of these yet, I don't think it would still be a small amount). You are blithering that the figures are artificially high when actually most people believe the UK is lowballing. 

Maybe read this and then tell Rory Kinnear that is sisters death is because she died of something else.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/12/rory-kinnearsister...

Avatar
brokenorange replied to Xena | 3 years ago
5 likes

So you basically denying that air travel is incredibly damaging for the environment! Your "I'm all right jack" attitude is wanted over on the Daily Mail forums. Trump fanboy!

Avatar
Gus T replied to Xena | 3 years ago
3 likes
Xena wrote:
biker phil wrote:

If a few airlines go bust, so what? It may sound harsh, but hear me out. For years, the aviation industry has gone mad. People fly to another country....for a meeting? You could get a return flight to Geneva for 30 quid? Everyone can see how clear the skies have been recently, and I don't think that it is merely coincidence that the weather has been settled since lockdown began. No, the fact that around 2 million planes fly around each day must be doing some considerable damage to the skies. Everyone reading this forum is a cyclist, right? So you have all noticed how clean and fresh the air has been recently? Yeah, I know, there's less traffic on the road, but almost just as much heavy traffic moving around, as most industries have continued to work. I don't believe that the clean air is just from the lack of cars on the road, as almost every car bar a small amount, are fairly new, and very clean regarding emissions. A smaller air industry has to be better than flights going up all day long, throughout the world. And let us not forget, if we didn't have flights covering the globe many times a day, and millions of people moving unchecked across continents, the Coronavirus wouldn't have spread like it did. The only negatives I can see, are some redundancies, and more expensive air travel and holidays. But a foreign holiday should be something we save up for, look forward to, and enjoy as a fantastic treat. Not something we should be going on 3 or 4 times a year, and just booking on a whim. We are all in charge of our own destiny, and if the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it must be to change our ways, stop moving all across the globe willy nilly and think of the environment. Nature is amazing, just look how it has repaired some of the damage we have inflicted on our world over the years, in just a few weeks. Here endeth my sermon. Amen.

what a load of BS. I live in London the air is no different . Planes tend to fly very high . I have not noticed them spewing  a load of black soot etc etc . Infact when the are flying around 37000 feet they don't use much fuel .

The Sky is clear because it's nice and bright and sunny . Only the  other day it was very cloudy and grey .  It called the weather  changing . I'd grant you that in some city's like Naples for instance they have a lot of environmental pollution and I am all for cleaning up the air and getting the chemicals out of the rivers and sea that  get dumped by the same companies who are telling you they want you to pay carbon tax .  They pay the tax and carry on polluting . Sorry we will,pay the tax they will have to charge us .  If we didn't have  flights the no one would ever get ill . Flu for instance has killed 33.000 people in the UK this year . I blame flying  ha ha .. My dad passed away from cancer I blame flying . So lets stay locked down so we can all enjoy that lovely weather looking out of our window 😃Why shouldn't me or anyone else be able to fly as  many times as we want . So the rich we still be able to fly but some poor nurse or hospital porter can only fly once a year.  Corona virus has taught you nothing . It's been a scaremongering  agenda from day 1 . Go look at the data if your under 65 years old you have more chance getting killed in a car crash . People are dying with the virus not because of the virus and they are trying to get those numbers up look at this https://week.com/2020/04/20/idph-director-explains-how-covid-deaths-are-...

so,,if you looked at the link you can see how they are trying,to get the numbers up. Even in the uk they a recording covid deaths with out any test being done just assumptions. In the states it's now become a joke, die in a car crash test for covid and it's a covid death. The BBC seem to be emitting this news . 
I have been to,Nice ,Barcelona ,lucca , Seville, trieste, in the last 2 years and it's been fantastic . It's a big world and it should be accessible to all of us . You want to expand your mind , travel  is the best way. People are great and I want to meet more of them from all,over the world.  Climate change ,. Funny how bill gates just bought a house right on the sea front .....it's all BS.

 

Xena, I live in the countryside approximately 800 yards from an aircraft Radio Direction Beacon and directly under the flightpath of a regional airport, the change in night time sky since airlines were grounded is incredible.Please remember that London is a city not a country.

PS Do a bit of research and you will find that London air pollution was on the increase to near pre Air Pollution Act levels because of all the hipsters buying woodburners.

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... replied to Gus T | 3 years ago
0 likes

Gus, you're right. The clarity of the stars is incredible without the smog of pollution.

Avatar
MattieKempy replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 years ago
5 likes

Best comment on this website that I've read in weeks, biker phil. The sooner more people wake up and realise that the COVID-19 crisis represents the best chance for us to hit a massive reset button and get our lives, habits, political choices and planet back on track for some form of better future in which we all live, the better the world will become. How we get them to see this is another matter altogether.

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... replied to MattieKempy | 3 years ago
1 like

Thanks. This is the best chance in everyone's lifetime to as you say, push the reset button. I was talking to someone the other day who's take on it is that someone up above has watched us kill and maim millions in wars, overpopulate the planet, devastate nature, and pollute the planet to the point of almost killing it, and decided to teach us a lesson, and force us to stop, think what we are doing and change our ways before it is too late. Whether you believe in the Almighty is neither here nor there, but it makes you think?

Evolution always finds a way.

Avatar
brooksby replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 years ago
1 like
biker phil wrote:

Evolution always finds a way.

I liked that film  3

Avatar
psychle replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 years ago
0 likes

Great 'sermon'.  Couldn't agree more!

Avatar
Xena | 3 years ago
0 likes

Being the government and MSM have scared the crap out of everyone ( nearly everyone ).  There are going to be a lot of cars back on the road . I even see people in cars with masks on . I do laugh even though it's so sad that the world has come to  this .  People need isolation masks gloves .,don't even breathe or you could die ( well only if your over 65 and have pre conditions  " don't mention that" )  people will be complaining soon how bikes are stopping them ( in cars) getting to work on time .     We have a lot of fat overweight take away food  and crisp eaters who have will not be seen dead on a bike and who can just about walk to their cars .   The only bike revolution will be a imaginary one .

.

 

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to Xena | 3 years ago
3 likes
Xena wrote:

People need isolation masks gloves .,don't even breathe or you could die ( well only if your over 65 and have pre conditions  " don't mention that" ) 

The below table was created for the HSJ after analysing NHS worker COVID deaths upto mid April. So average age was 54, youngest was 21 and the most affected were aged between 48 and 63. I;m assuming they all must have had underlying conditions, or your right wing conspiracy sites will have some other reason for this? After all they don't seem to meet your conditions you aren't mentioning in your post.

Age

Median (IQR, [range])      54 (48-63 [21-84])      

<30                                            7

31-50                                        23

51-60                                        34

61-70                                        17

>70                                            8

Unknown                                 17

 

 

Avatar
brokenorange replied to Xena | 3 years ago
3 likes

What is going on with your punctuation BTW? I'm imagining you angrily banging your keyboard with your forehead and this shit is getting spewed out.

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