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Crypto hotspots continue to thrive despite FTX collapse

Crypto-friendly cities throughout the world report growth and innovation despite recent events.
The sudden failure of FTX has left…



Crypto-friendly cities throughout the world report growth and innovation despite recent events.

The sudden failure of FTX has left many people questioning the impact this will have on the cryptocurrency ecosystem. For instance, it remains questionable whether or not crypto hotspots will continue to flourish or if there will be a decline in innovation. 

While it may be too soon to fully understand the impact of the FTX collapse, industry leaders within crypto-friendly geographies believe that the FTX failure will not hamper innovation.

For example, Dubai — which has been dubbed as one of the most innovative regions for crypto and blockchain development — continues to see ecosystem activity. Most recently, The Algorand Foundation, the organization driving the growth of the Alogrand blockchain, hosted its second annual Decipher conference in Dubai. The event took place Nov. 29–30, just weeks after FTX former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried stepped down and announced bankruptcy.

While a number of discussions circulated around the collapse of FTX, Decipher still attracted more than 1,500 attendees from around the world. Staci Warden, CEO of Algorand Foundation, told Cointelegraph that the United Arab Emirates continues to be a burgeoning blockchain capital. “This is fueled by a strong talent base in the region, a deep culture of innovation, and a diverse, engaged community,” she said.

The main stage at Decipher in Dubai. Source: Algorand 

Even with Decipher’s impressive turnout, it’s been noted that the Crown Prince of Dubai has plans to invest $4 billion to help grow the region’s cryptocurrency ecosystem. This is expected to add 40,000 jobs to the UAE’s economy over the next five years, which is impressive given that the country is already home to more than 1,000 companies operating in the metaverse and blockchain sectors. 

Nilesh Khaitan, Founder of AcmeDAO — a Dubai-based platform that helps decentralized applications transact on-chain — further told Cointelegraph that rumors that the FTX collapse is impacting crypto hotspots globally may not necessarily apply to Dubai. He said:

“It’s possible that Dubai’s crypto community has been unaffected in particular, or has even seen growth, due to increased regulatory uncertainty in other regions. Dubai may continue to see growth in its crypto community moving forward, particularly if the city offers a more attractive regulatory environment compared to other regions.”

While Khaitan remains optimistic about Dubai’s potential, he pointed out that the region still needs to focus on regulatory clarity between the UAE’s central bank and UAE Free Zone regions issuing crypto-specific licenses.

“This includes the establishment of a regulatory sandbox for crypto startups and entrepreneurs from the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). These challenges could be overcome through unified, strategic efforts by the government to promote Dubai as a favorable destination for crypto businesses and innovation,” he said.

Other crypto hotspots within the Middle East have reported recent positive sentiment. For example, Tel Aviv, which is a known hub for startups, continues to focus heavily on developing the blockchain ecosystem as a whole.

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Or Dadosh, co-founder and CEO at Ironblocks — a Web3 threat detection and prevention platform — told Cointelegraph that in Israel, there tends to be more interest in blockchain technology itself and building products on top of these networks.

“The community here is less driven by crypto trading and speculations around token performance when it comes to Web3 and blockchain,” he said.

This seems to be the case, as a number of cyber security companies were present at the Israel Crypto Conference (ICC), which took place in Tel Aviv on Dec. 7. Ariel Shapira, organizer of ICC, told Cointelegraph that while the event was not as big as last year, it still attracted hundreds of attendees.

“While events like the FTX crash do have a temporary effect on crypto prices and projects’ abilities to raise funds, they never erase the optimism within the industry about blockchain as a technology. Crypto folks understand this technology is going to be transformative. They understand the bear market is temporary,” he said.

Attendees at the Israel Crypto Conference 2022. Source: Israel Crypto Conference 

Given this, Eylon Aviv, principle at Collider Ventures — a Tel Aviv-based venture capital firm focused on Web3 companies — told Cointelegraph that he believes the Tel Aviv crypto community will actually see an acceleration in growth. “Perhaps the phrase ‘no such thing as bad publicity’ is true, as founders are now specifically targeting problems that have arisen from the FTX fallout.” 

In addition to Dubai and Tel Aviv, crypto hotspots within the United States seem to be pushing forward. For example, Austin, Texas, continues to attract a number of Bitcoin (BTC) mining companies. This was apparent during the second annual Texas Blockchain Summit that took place in Austin on Nov. 17–18.

Main stage at the Texas Blockchain Summit 2022. Source: Texas Blockchain Summit

While turnout for the Texas Blockchain Summit was not as large as last year, optimism for the future of the crypto industry was evident. This may have been fueled by United States Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s friendly stance toward Bitcoin. During the summit, Cruz announced that he likes Bitcoin “because the government can’t control it,” further sharing that he makes weekly purchases of Bitcoin. 

Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council and summit organizer, told Cointelegraph that Austin is home to several companies that promote self-custody for their customers. As such, Bratcher believes that the proportion of crypto holders with their assets on a hardware wallet or hot wallet is likely higher in Austin.

“The number of people that are building great Bitcoin and digital asset companies in Austin insulates it a bit from the chaos in the centralized exchange ecosystem,” he remarked.

Miami — one of the fastest-growing crypto hubs in the world — is also making strides. Specifically speaking, Miami remains the main attraction for NFT artists throughout the world. For example, Art Basel recently took place in Miami, showcasing a number of NFT artworks.

While notable, spending behavior in Miami does appear to be impacted by the FTX collapse. Jumana Al Darwish, serial entrepreneur and Web3 investor, told Cointelegraph that while Art Basel Miami this year was a mixture of blue chip artists and emerging talent, galleries were playing it safe with the pieces that they had on display. She said:

“With post-pandemic economic recovery in place and crypto winter being in full swing coupled with the latest FTX scandal, one could sense that visitors were more conservative versus the impulse buying behavior that had taken place in previous years.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as a recent report from the Financial Times has also suggested that Miami nightclubs have taken financial hits following the failure of FTX.

It’s also interesting to point out that once-popular crypto cities like San Francisco have been gaining traction. Tegan Kline, co-founder and head of business at Edge and Node — a Web3 software development company — told Cointelegraph that Edge and Node recently opened a Web3 house in San Francisco to provide a coworking space for startups and entrepreneurs:

“Some U.S. hubs like Austin and Miami have taken away from San Francisco, but the startup ethos of San Francisco will never die. It is one of the few places in the world where you can talk about your crazy startup idea at dinner and they don’t kick you out, but rather offer to help — be it by financing, looking for talent, etc.”

In addition, regions like Singapore are reporting growth within the Web3 sector. Oliver Xie, founder and CEO of decentralized insurance platform InsurAce, told Cointelegraph that although Singapore’s crypto ecosystem has been affected by the FTX collapse, there is now a stronger focus on Web3. 

“Within the government, there are signs of a pivot away from crypto, the Deputy Prime Minister in a recent parliament hearing also said Singapore no longer seeks to become a global crypto trading hub, but rather will be focusing on real innovations with new Web3 technologies,” he said.

Crypto hotspots face ongoing challenges

While it’s notable that crypto-friendly cities continue to thrive despite recent events, there are still a number of challenges that may result in slow growth. For example, regulatory clarity is still very much needed in order for these ecosystems to advance. 

Yoav Tzucker, chief marketing officer at Collider Ventures, told Cointelegraph that regulation continues to be a pain point for the Israeli ecosystem. Although Israel’s chief economist recently developed a list of recommendations as to how policymakers should tackle digital asset laws, Tzucker still believes that regulation is lacking.

“I think that this is the main barrier for Israeli founders in the Web3 ecosystem.”

Even in regions such as Dubai — which has established laws on virtual asset regulation and has created authorities like the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) — regulatory clarity still needs to advance. Linda Adami, founder and CEO of Dubai-based Web3 platform, told Cointelegraph that while companies such as Binance and Kraken have received licenses in Dubai, more local companies need to be developed from the ground up. 

“Similarly to how Emirates Airlines established Dubai as a tourism and service hub, what will be the future Dubai-grown Web3 native success stories,” she said.

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While crypto regulations remain a hot topic of debate within the U.S, Bratcher shared that emerging crypto cities like Austin still lack the capital flow seen in cities like New York and San Francisco:

“Austin needs a continuation of the inflow of venture capitalists and capital from Silicon Valley in order to further establish itself as the epicenter for the Web3 digital asset ecosystem.”

Although this may be the case, Klein noted that the growing amount of crime and homelessness in San Francisco may be driving talent elsewhere. Yet, she believes that Edge and Node’s Web3 house may serve as a solution to this problem, stating, “We have many events and initiatives happening at the Edge and Node House of Web3 regarding how we can use Web3 tools to work toward solutions to help heal San Francisco.”

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New ways to protect food crops from climate change and other disruptions

“There’s no doubt we can produce enough food for the world’s population – humanity is strategic enough to achieve that. The question is whether…



“There’s no doubt we can produce enough food for the world’s population – humanity is strategic enough to achieve that. The question is whether – because of war and conflict and corruption and destabilization – we do,” said World Food Programme leader David Beasley in an interview with Time magazine earlier this year.    

Credit: NMBU

“There’s no doubt we can produce enough food for the world’s population – humanity is strategic enough to achieve that. The question is whether – because of war and conflict and corruption and destabilization – we do,” said World Food Programme leader David Beasley in an interview with Time magazine earlier this year.    

Indeed, projections show that we are not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger by 2030. As climate and security crises continue to destabilise our food sources, researchers are taking a critical look not just at how we produce food – but at the entire systems behind our food supplies. In this case, the systems behind the seeds that produce our food crops.    

“Whilst adapting crops to climate change and conserving their variation is essential for food security, these measures are meaningless if farmers do not have access to the seeds,” says crop scientist and food system expert Ola Westengen. Westengen leads the team of researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) who recently reviewed the state of seed systems for small-holder farmers in low/middle income countries. Their findings are now published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).   

What are seed systems?    

Seed systems are the provision, management and distribution of seeds. They cover the entire seed chain, from the conservation of their diversity and variety development, to their production and distribution, and the rules that govern these activities.  In short, they are the structures that make seeds available to farmers so that crops can be sown, harvested and end up on our plates.    

Whilst a well-functioning seed system will ensure seed security for all farmers, the researchers say that, in practice, it is rarely the case that seed systems function as well as they might. Seed systems can be disrupted by conflict and disasters, as well as by problems stemming from social inequality, lack of coordination or inappropriate policies.      

What does this study tell us that we don’t already know?   

“There are recent innovations and investments by governments and donors to improve farmers’ access to diverse crop varieties and quality seeds,” explains Teshome Hunduma, a seed governance researcher and co-author of the study. “For example, there are now more flexible policies and regulations that encourage diversity in the seed systems used by farmers, rather than pushing farmers to switch to commercial seed systems that focus on less diverse commodity crops – which is the norm.” Commodity crops are those grown in large volume and high intensity for the purpose of sale, as opposed to those grown by small-holder farmers for direct processing and consumption.   

“The study highlights emerging initiatives that are helping farmers to secure food supplies, such as participatory plant breeding,” says Teshome. Participatory plant breeding is the development and selection of new crop varieties where the farmers are in control. Farmers, who know the needs of their farms best, work with researchers and others to improve crops and develop plant varieties that are in line with their household needs and culture, and that are resilient to environmental and climate challenges.    

“Farmers prefer and need different types of seeds, based on diverse social, cultural and ecological conditions,” adds ethnobotanist and co-author Sarah Paule Dalle.       

The study discusses various disruptions to farmer’s access to seeds. Social inequality is one such disruption. How so?   

“A seed system that only serves a segment of a farming society contributes to seed insecurity,” replies Teshome. “For example, commercial seed systems deliver high-yielding varieties of quality hybrid seeds. Whilst wealthy farmers can afford such seeds, poor farmers can’t.”    

“Similarly, whilst commercial seed systems that focus on commodity crops may benefit men who might primarily be interested in market value, such systems have little to offer women who want crops that provide household nutrition and meet their cultural preferences.”   

“This means poor farmers and women do not have the same access to seeds that meet their needs. The result is seed, and thus food, insecurity due to social and economic inequality.”     

Political-economic factors have driven the globalization of food systems over the last decades, which also includes seed systems. “Seeds have become big business”, say the researchers. According to studies quoted in the article, the four largest multinational companies in seed trade today control about 60% of the ~50 billion USD global commercial seed market. The large private actors have the power not only to shape markets, but also to influence science and innovation agendas and policy frameworks.     

This can be problematic, say the researchers, when private sector research and development typically focuses on the most profitable crops, such as maize and soy. Crops grown and consumed by subsistence farmers are thus largely neglected, and the potential of crop diversity – the foundation of agriculture – remains largely untapped. Technology that could help develop more robust varieties remains hypothetical.   

How does the ownership of crop diversity threaten food supplies and what can be done?      

The term crop diversity refers both to different crops and different varieties of a crop. According to the Global Crop Diversity Trust (one of the world’s primary international organizations on crop diversity conservation), securing and making available the world’s crop diversity is essential for future food and nutrition security.      

“Plant breeders and scientists use crop diversity to develop new, more resilient and productive varieties that consumers want to eat, that are nutritious and tasty, and that are adapted to local preferences, environments and challenges,” explains Benjamin Kilian, a plant genetics expert at the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The Crop Trust, together with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, implements the major project from which this study emerged: Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD). Coordinated by Kilian, the project supports the conservation and use of crop diversity to strengthen food and nutrition security on a global scale. It builds on the Crop Wild Relatives project and is funded by the Norwegian government.   

“In the BOLD project, researchers work with genebanks, plant breeders and others in the seed value chain to co-develop seed systems that are both resilient to climate stresses and inclusive of small-holder farmers on the frontline of adaptation,” adds Westengen.     

Will access to seeds in the vulnerable areas that you are studying be improved in time to make a difference?   

“We hope so, if we make the right moves to include small-holder farmers in seed system development,” says Dalle. “A well-functioning seed system should also be resilient. That is, it should withstand shocks such as drought or pandemics and breakdowns or disruptions such as war and conflict.”    

“To do this, the system should promote a diversity of seeds, both local varieties and those improved to better adapt to stresses. It should also involve diverse groups of people such as farmer cooperatives/groups, and both public and private companies to increase the choice of seeds and seed sources. During lockdowns in the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, farmers’ own seed systems enabled access to seeds in developing countries when the activities of private companies and agro-dealers were restricted,” explains Dalle.   

Westengen summarizes: “Our study highlights links between the crucial work of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the farmers on the frontline of adapting our food systems to climate change. It is an argument for co-designing seed system development in full cooperation with farmers and other actors in the seed system. This way, efforts can meet the needs of various groups of farmers in different agroecological contexts. There is no one-size-fits-all; if there is one natural law in biology, it is that diversity is key to future evolution. That also goes for seed systems – and food system development.”   

Navigating towards resilient and inclusive seed systems by Ola T. Westengen, Sarah Paule Dalle and Teshome Hunduma Mulesa was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week. PNAS is widely considered one of the most prestigious and highly cited multidisciplinary research journals.   

About the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)  
NMBU’s research and education enables people all over the world to tackle the big, global challenges regarding the environment, sustainable development, how to improve human and animal health, renewable energy sources, food production, and land- and resource management. 

 About the Crop Trust 
The Crop Trust is an international organization working to conserve crop diversity and thus protect global food and nutrition security. At the core of Crop Trust is an endowment fund dedicated to providing guaranteed long-term financial support to key genebanks worldwide. The Crop Trust supports the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and coordinates large-scale projects worldwide to secure crop diversity and make it available for use. The Crop Trust is recognized as an essential element of the funding strategy of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.  

About the BOLD Project 
BOLD (Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development) is a major 10-year project to strengthen food and nutrition security worldwide by supporting the conservation and use of crop diversity. The project works with national genebanks, pre-breeding and seed system partners globally. Funded by the government of Norway, BOLD is led by the Crop Trust in partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the International Plant Treaty. 

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A Federal Reserve Pivot is not Bullish

An old saying cautions one to be careful of what one wishes for. Stock investors wishing for the Federal Reserve to pivot may want to rethink their logic…



An old saying cautions one to be careful of what one wishes for. Stock investors wishing for the Federal Reserve to pivot may want to rethink their logic and review the charts.

The second largest U.S. bank failure and the deeply discounted emergency sale of Credit Suisse have investors betting the Federal Reserve will pivot. They don’t seem to care that inflation is running hot and sticky, and the Fed remains determined to keep rates “higher for longer” despite the evolving crisis.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, investors buy when they hear the pivot bell ringing. Their conditioning may prove harmful if the past proves prescient.

The Bearish History of Rate Cuts

Since 1970, there have been nine instances in which the Fed significantly cut the Fed Funds rate. The average maximum drawdown from the start of each rate reduction period to the market trough was 27.25%.

The three most recent episodes saw larger-than-average drawdowns. Of the six other experiences, only one, 1974-1977, saw a drawdown worse than the average.  

So why are the most recent drawdowns worse than those before 1990? Before 1990, the Fed was more active. As such, they didn’t allow rates to get too far above or below the economy’s natural rate. Indeed, high inflation during the 1970s and early 1980s forced Fed vigilance. Regardless of the reason, higher interest rates helped keep speculative bubbles in check.

During the last 20 years, the Fed has presided over a low-interest rate environment. The graph below shows that real yields, yields less inflation expectations, have been trending lower for 40 years. From the pandemic until the Fed started raising rates in March 2022, the 10-year real yield was often negative.

real yields wicksell

Speculation often blossoms when interest rates are predictably low. As we are learning, such speculative behavior emanating from Fed policy in 2020 and 2021 led to conservative bankers and aggressive hedge funds taking outsized risks. While not coming to their side, what was their alternative? Accepting a negative real return is not good for profits.

We take a quick detour to appreciate how the level of interest rates drives speculation.

Wicksell’s Elegant Model

A few years ago, we shared the logic of famed Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. The nineteenth-century economist’s model states two interest rates help assess economic activity. Per Wicksell’s Elegant Model:

First, there is the “natural rate,” which reflects the structural growth rate of the economy (which is also reflective of the growth rate of corporate earnings). The natural rate is the combined growth of the working-age population and productivity growth. Second, Wicksell holds that there is the “market rate” or the cost of money in the economy as determined by supply and demand.

Wicksell viewed the divergences between the natural and market rates as the mechanism by which the economic cycle is determined. If a divergence between the natural and market rates is abnormally sustained, it causes a severe misallocation of capital.

The bottom line:

Per Wicksell, optimal policy should aim at keeping the natural and market rate as closely aligned as possible to prevent misallocation. But when short-term market rates are below the natural rate, intelligent investors respond appropriately. They borrow heavily at the low rate and buy existing assets with somewhat predictable returns and shorter time horizons. Financial assets skyrocket in value while long-term, cash-flow-driven investments with riskier prospects languish.

The second half of 2020 and 2021 provide evidence of Wicksell’s theory. Despite brisk economic activity and rising inflation, the Fed kept interest rates at zero and added more to its balance sheet (QE) than during the Financial Crisis. The speculation resulting from keeping rates well below the natural rate was palpable.

What Percentage Drawdown Should We Expect This Time?

Since the market experienced a decent drawdown during the rate hike cycle starting in March 2022, might a good chunk of the rate drawdown associated with a rate cut have already occurred?

The graph below shows the maximum drawdown from the beginning of rate hiking cycles. The average drawdown during rate hiking cycles is 11.50%. The S&P 500 experienced a nearly 25% drawdown during the current cycle.

rate hikes and drawdowns

There are two other considerations in formulating expectations for what the next Federal Reserve pivot has in store for stocks.

First, the graph below shows the maximum drawdowns during rate-cutting periods and the one-year returns following the final rate cut. From May 2020 to May 2021, the one-year period following the last rate cut, the S&P 500 rose over 50%. Such is three times the 16% average of the prior eight episodes. Therefore, it’s not surprising the maximum drawdown during the current rate hike cycle was larger than average.

rate cuts and drawdowns

Second, valuations help explain why recent drawdowns during Federal Reserve pivots are worse than those before the dot-com bubble crash. The graph below shows the last three rate cuts started when CAPE10 valuations were above the historical average. The prior instances all occurred at below-average valuations.

cape 10 valuations

The current CAPE valuation is not as extended as in late 2021 but is about 50% above average. While the market has already corrected some, the valuation may still return to average or below it, as it did in 2003 and 2009.

It’s tough to draw conclusions about the 2020 drawdown. Unprecedented fiscal and monetary policies played a prominent role in boosting animal spirits and elevating stocks. Given inflation and political discord, we don’t think Fed members or politicians will be likely to gun the fiscal and monetary engines in the event of a more significant market decline.


The Federal Reserve is outspoken about its desire to get inflation to its 2% target. If they were to pivot by as much and as soon as the market predicts, something has broken. Currently, it would take a severe negative turn to the banking crisis or a rapidly deteriorating economy to justify a pivot, the likes of which markets imply. Mind you, something breaking, be it a crisis or recession, does not bode well for corporate earnings and stock prices.

There is one more point worth considering regarding a Federal Reserve pivot. If the Fed cuts Fed Funds, the yield curve will likely un-invert and return to a normal positive slope. Historically yield curve inversions, as we have, are only recession warnings. The un-inversion of yield curves has traditionally signaled that a recession is imminent. 

The graph below shows two well-followed Treasury yield curves. The steepening of both curves, shown in all four cases and other instances before 1990, accompanied a recession.

Over the past two weeks, the two-year- ten-year UST yield curve has steepened by 60 bps!

yield curves rate cuts and recessions

The post A Federal Reserve Pivot is not Bullish appeared first on RIA.

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COVID-19 impacted smoking assessment rates in community health centers, necessitating a closer examination on how procedures can be adapted

COVID-19 Impacted  Smoking Assessment Rates in Community Health Centers, Necessitating a Closer Examination on How Procedures Can be Adapted Credit: Annals…



COVID-19 Impacted  Smoking Assessment Rates in Community Health Centers, Necessitating a Closer Examination on How Procedures Can be Adapted

Credit: Annals of Family Medicine

COVID-19 Impacted  Smoking Assessment Rates in Community Health Centers, Necessitating a Closer Examination on How Procedures Can be Adapted

Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and OCHIN,  a large nonprofit network of community health centers, extracted electronic health record data from 217 primary care clinics between January 2019 through the end of July 2021, which included telehealth and in-person visits for 759,138 adult patients aged 18 and older years to determine how monthly rates of tobacco assessment had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team calculated the rates per 1,000 patients. The team found that between March and May 2020, tobacco assessment monthly rates declined from 155.7 per 1,000 patients down to 77.7 per 1,000 patients, a 50% decline. There was a subsequent increase in tobacco assessment between June 2020 and May 2021. However, assessments remained 33.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels. These findings are significant given the fact that tobacco use can increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

What is Known on This Topic: While there is plentiful evidence on the impact that COVID-19 has had on primary health care seeking and delivery, little is known about how the pandemic affected tobacco use assessments and cessation programs.

What This Study Adds: The decline in the rate of tobacco assessments during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was substantial and rates have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Given that tobacco use can exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms, researchers recommend careful examination of procedural changes to adapt care delivery to support community health centers, specifically tobacco cessation efforts.

.Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Assessing Tobacco Status in Community Health Centers

Susan A. Flocke, PhD, et al,
Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
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