Dr Daniel Penny

Room 433

F09 - Madsen Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone + 61 2 9351 6464

Website Google Scholar

Research interests

Dan is an Environmental Geoscientist with an interest in environmental change and its impact on society, and on the Earth System. Major research interests include the history of large-scale environmental processes in the Australasian region (monsoon, ENSO), and the impact of these processes on the terrestrial and near-shore/coastal ecosystems. Dan is currently producing high-resolution records of abrupt climate events in northeastern Cambodia and off the coast of Vietnam, and considering the interaction between social and natural resilience to climate change.

Current projects

Cambodian Crater Lakes Project

Chief Investigator; with Dr Brendan Buckley (Columbia University, USA); Dr Quan Hua (ANSTO, Australia), Dr Andy Maxwell (Independent Scholar, USA); Ministry of Environment (Cambodia). Funded by the Australian Research Council 2010-2013.

The response of tropical ecosystems to abrupt, decadal-scale climatic change is poorly understood. Yet the resilience or sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to climate change is a matter of consequence for the conservation of those ecosystems, for the millions of people that rely on the services they provide, and for the international community. Indeed, the effect of predicted climatic change on livelihoods and regional stability in the developing world has become a first-order strategic and security concern, and is of immediate strategic and economic interest to Australia. This project will provide a record of ecological response to abrupt change in the Asian summer monsoon that is of comparable resolution to regional and hemispheric climate dataseries. This research is significant in coupling high-resolution climatic and ecological records in one the Earth’s regions most exposed to the impact of predicated climatic change.

Paleoclimate Shocks: Environmental Variability, Human Vulnerability, and Societal Adaptation During the Last Millennium in the Greater Mekong Basin

Senior Researcher: with Brendan Buckley (Principal Investigator: Columbia University, USA); Tanya Heikkila (Columbia University, USA); Kevin Anchukaitis (Columbia University, USA); Ed Cook (Columbia University, USA); Upmanu Lall (Columbia University, USA); Marc Levy (Columbia University, USA); Ben Cook (NASA); Aroonrut Wichienkeeo (Chiangmai Rajabhat University, Thailand); Roland Fletcher (The University of Sydney, Australia), Li Feng (Columbia University, USA). Funded by the National Science Foundation 2009-2013.

We seek to develop quantitative, probabilistic models of the interaction between societies and hydroclimate variability over the last millennium based on data from mainland Southeast Asia and the Greater Mekong Basin. Bringing together long, annually resolved drought-sensitive paleoclimate proxies and a rich historical/archaeological record allows a quantitative comparison of the diversity and efficacy of societal responses to climatic change. We seek to identify the full range of possible interactions arising from hydroclimatic variability, including trade, resource management, technology, engineering strategies, acquisition, conflict, and demographic shifts, amongst others.

Greater Angkor Project

Co-Director; with Roland Fletcher (Chief Investigator, The University of Sydney); Jeff Riegel (The University of Sydney); Li Baoping (The University of Sydney); Christophe Pottier (EFEO); Miriam Stark (University of Hawaii, USA); John Miksic (National University of Singapore); Ang Choulean (Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodia). Funded by the Australian Research Council 2002-2014.

The Greater Angkor Project, a multi-disciplinary international research group co-ordinated by University of Sydney Department of Archaeology in collaboration with the APSARA Authority (Cambodia). More information on the Greater Angkor Project is available online.

Since 2001 Dan has been investigating the demise of Angkor, Cambodia, using micro-palaeontological techniques (pollen and spores from higher plants and ferns respectively, and algae, particularly diatoms). Angkor was capital to a sprawling medieval empire that encompassed much of the Indochinese peninsula between the 9th and sometime after the 15th C AD. His research seeks to explore the timing of and reasons for Angkor's decline and eventual collapse.

Selected grants

2014

  • Ephemral cities and the age of commerce; Penny D; DVC Research/Bridging Support Grant.

2011

  • How do abrupt changes in the Asian monsoon affect ecosystems and environmental processes?; Penny D; Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)/Awards.
  • Water Management at Mahendrapura, Cambodia, 7-14th c. C.E.; Penny D; Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)/Awards.
  • Industries of Angkor Project: Documenting the history, scale, and environmental impact of iron production during the Khmer Empire (11th to 15th c. CE), Cambodia; Hendrickson M, Cooke C, Penny D; Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)/Awards.

2010

  • High-resolution ITRAX XRF core scanning facility for global change research; Mather D, Penny D; Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
  • Thresholds and hysteresis: how do abrupt changes in the Asian monsoon affect ecosystems and environmental processes?; Penny D, Buckley B, Hua Q; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
  • Thresholds and hysteresis: how do abrupt changes in the Asian monsoon affect ecosystems and environmental processes?; Penny D; DVC Research/Bridging Support Fellowship.

2008

  • Integrated Vibrational Spectroscopic Mapping for Archeological, Biological, Geological Materials, and Medical Research; Bernard C, Marshall C, Wood B, Potts D, Penny D, Dutkiewicz A, Grau G, Sorrell T, Swain M, Yang W, Soon L, Lay P, McNaughton D, Maschmeyer T, Ramzan I, Beardall J, Traini D, Carter E; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
  • The Late Pleistocene Peopling of East Asia and Associated Climate-Environment History; Curnoe D, Tacon P, Mooney S, Penny D, Xueping J, Pan R, Fink D, Herries A; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
  • Integrated Vibrational Spectroscopic Mapping for Archeological, Biological, Geological, Materials and Medical Research; Lay P, McNaughton D, Maschmeyer T, Potts D, Swain M, Grau G, Sorrell T, Ramzan I, Beardall J, Bernard C, Marshall C, Dutkiewicz A, Penny D, Wood B, Yang W, Soon L, Traini D, Carter E; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).

2006

  • University of Sydney - Bridging Support Grant; Penny D; University of Sydney/Bridging Support.

2005

  • The use of sediment and palynological records to trace the decline of Angkor; Penny D; Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)/Awards.
  • Urban infrastructure, inertia and ecology: the growth and decline of angkor, cambodia (9th to 16th Century AD); Fletcher R, Penny D, Pottier C, Barbetti M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2004

  • Interactions between humans and the environment at the pre-Angkorian site of Angkor Borei in the lower Mekong River basin of S Cambodia; Penny D, Bishop P; British Academy/Visiting Fellow.

2003

  • The palaeo-environment of Angkor.; Penny D; Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)/Awards.

2002

  • An assessment of the rate and trajectory of environmental change since first European settlement in the Western Plains of Victoria; Penny D; Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)/Awards.
  • The historical environment of Angkor: an investigation of synergy between people and landscape.; Penny D; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
  • Not known; Penny D; DVC Research/Bridging Support Grant.

2001

  • The decline of Angkor; University of Sydney/Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Selected publications

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Edited Books

  • Kershaw, P., David, B., Tapper, N., Penny, D., Brown, J. (2002). Bridging Wallace's Line: The Environmental and Cultural History and Dynamics of the Southeast Asian – Australian Region. Reiskirchen, Germany: Catena Verlag GMBH.

Book Chapters

  • Penny, D. (2012). China and Southeast Asia. In S E Metcalfe and D J Nash (Eds.), Quaternary Environmental Change in the Tropics, (pp. 207-235). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Tibby, J., Penny, D., Leahy, P., Kershaw, A. (2012). Vegetation and water quality responses to Holocene climate variability in Lake Purrumbete, western Victoria. In SIMON G. HABERLE & BRUNO DAVID (Eds.), Peopled Landscapes: Archaeological and Biogeographic Approaches to Landscapes, (pp. 359-373). Canberra: ANU E Press.
  • Penny, D. (2010). The Mekong River System and the End of the Angkor Civilization: A Water Historical Perspective. In Terje Tvedt and Richard Coopey (Eds.), A History of Water, Series 2, Volume 2, Rivers and Society: From Early Civilizations to Modern Times, (pp. 129-143). London, United Kingdom: I.B. Tauris.
  • Lustig, T., Fletcher, R., Kummu, M., Pottier, C., Penny, D. (2008). Did Traditional Cultures Live in Harmony with Nature? Lessons from Angkor, Cambodia. In Matti Kummu, Marko Keskinen, Olli Varis (Eds.), Modern myths of the Mekong: a critical review of water and development concepts, principles and policies, (pp. 81-94). Helsinki: Water & Development Publications - Helsinki University of Technology.
  • Fletcher, R., Penny, D., Barbetti, M., Pottier, C., Than, H., Chan, K., Somaneath, T. (2006). The Greater Angkor Project 2005-2009: Issues and Program. In Elisabeth A Bacus, Ian C Glover and Vincent C Piggot (Eds.), Uncovering Southeast Asia's Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, (pp. 347-354). Singapore: National University of Singapore.
  • Kershaw, A., Penny, D., van der Kaars, S., Anshuri, G., Thamotherampillai, A. (2001). Vegetation and climate in lowland Southeast Asia at the Last Glacial Maximum. In Metcalfe, I., Smith, J.M.B., Morwood, M., Davidson, I. (Eds.), Faunal and floral migrations and evolution in Southeast Asia – Australasia. United States: CRC Press.

Journals

  • Hamilton, R., Penny, D. (2014). Ecological history of Lachlan Nature Reserve, Centennial Park, Sydney, Australia: a palaeoecological approach to conservation. Environmental Conservation.
  • Penny, D. (2014). Social upheaval in ancient Angkor resulting from fluvial response to land use and climate variability. Pages Magazine, 22(1).
  • Penny, D., Chevance, J., Tang, D., De Greef, S. (2014). The Environmental Impact of Cambodia’s Ancient City of Mahendraparvata (Phnom Kulen). PLoS One, 9(1), 1-9. [More Information]
  • Gale, S., Penny, D. (2012). Clastic spring sediments: a tool for palaeoflood reconstruction? Zeitschrift fuer Geomorphologie, 56(3), 387-400.
  • Pottier, C., Penny, D., Hendrickson, M., Carter, E. (2012). Unearthing an Atlantean myth in Angkor: geoarchaeological investigation of the 'underwater road' crossing on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(8), 2604-2611. [More Information]
  • Buckley, B., Anchukaitis, K., Penny, D., Fletcher, R., Cook, E., Masaki, S., Nam, L., Wichienkeeo, A., Minh, T., Truong, M. (2010). Climate as a contributing factor in the demise of Angkor, Cambodia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States of America, 107(15), 6748-6752.
  • Kummu, M., Penny, D., Sarkkula, J., Koponen, J. (2008). Sediment: Curse or Blessing for Tonle Sap Lake. Ambio: a journal of the human environment, 37(3), 158-163.
  • Penny, D. (2008). The Mekong at Climatic Crossroads: Lessons from the Geological Past. Ambio: a journal of the human environment, 37(3), 164-169.
  • Fletcher, R., Penny, D., Evans, D., Pottier, C., Barbetti, M., Kummu, M., Lustig, T., Authority for the Protection and Mgt of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap, A. (2008). The water management network of Angkor, Cambodia. Antiquity, 82(2008), 658-670.
  • Sanderson, D., Bishop, P., Stark, M., Alexander, S., Penny, D. (2007). Luminescence dating of canal sediments from Angkor Borei, Mekong Delta, Southern Cambodia. Quaternary Geochronology, 2(1-4), 322-329.
  • Luly, J., Grindrod, J., Penny, D. (2006). Holocene palaeoenvironments and change at Three-Quarter Mile Lake, Silver Plains Station, Cape York Peninsula, Australia. The Holocene: a major interdisciplinary journal focusing on recent environmental change, 16(8), 1085-1094. [More Information]
  • Penny, D. (2006). The Holocene history and development of the Tonle Sap, Cambodia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25(3-4), 310-322.
  • Penny, D., Pottier, C., Fletcher, R., Barbetti, M., Fink, D., Hua, Q. (2006). Vegetation and land-use at Angkor, Cambodia: a dated pollen sequence from the Bakong temple moat. Antiquity, 80(3), 599-614.
  • Penny, D., Pottier, C., Kummu, M., Fletcher, R., Zoppi, U., Barbetti, M., Somaneath, T. (2005). Hydrological history of the West Baray, Angkor, revealed through palynological analysis of sediments from the West Mebon. Bulletin de l'ecole Francaise d'extreme-Orient, 92(3), 497-521.
  • Penny, D., Cook, G., Sok, S. (2005). Long-term rates of sediment accumulation in the Tonle Sap, Cambodia: A threat to ecosystem health? Journal of Paleolimnology, 33(1), 95-103. [More Information]
  • Penny, D., Kealhofer, L. (2005). Microfossil evidence of land-use intensification in north Thailand. Journal of Archaeological Science, 32(1), 69-82. [More Information]
  • Kershaw, A., Tibby, J., Penny, D., Yezdani, H., Walkley, R., Cook, E., Johnston, R. (2004). Latest Pleistocene And Holocene Vegetation And Environmental History Of The Western Plains Of Victoria, Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 116(1), 139-161.
  • Pickett, E., Harrison, S., Hope, G., Harle, K., Dodson, J., Kershaw, A., Prentice, I., Backhouse, J., Colhoun, E., D'Costa, D., Penny, D., et al (2004). Pollen-based reconstructions of biome distributions for Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific (SEAPAC region) at 0, 6000 and 18,000 (14)C yr BP. Journal of Biogeography, 31(9), 1381-1444.
  • White, J., Penny, D., Kealhofer, L., Maloney, B. (2004). Vegetation Changes From The Late Pleistocene Through The Holocene From Three Areas Of Archaeological Significance In Thailand. Quaternary International, 113(1), 111-132.
  • Bishop, P., Penny, D., Stark, M., Marian, S. (2003). A 3.5 ka Record of Paleoenvironments and Human Occupation at Angkor Borei, Mekong Delta, Southern Cambodia. Geoarchaeology-an International Journal, 18(3), 359-393. [More Information]
  • Fletcher, R., Barbetti, M., Evans, D., Than, H., Sokrithy, I., Chan, D., Penny, D., Pottier, C., Somaneath, T. (2003). Redefining Angkor: Structure and environment in the largest, low density urban complex of the pre-industrial world. Udaya Journal of Khmer Studies, 4, 107-121.
  • Penny, D. (2001). A 40,000 year palynological record from north-east Thailand; implications for biogeography and palaeo-environmental reconstruction. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 171(3), 97-128.
  • van der Kaars, S., Penny, D., Tibby, J., Fluin, J., Dam, R., Suparan, P. (2001). Late Quaternary palaeoecology, palynology and palaeolimnology of a tropical lowland swamp: Rawa Danau, West-Java, Indonesia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 171(3), 185-212.

Conferences

  • Penny, D. (2007). Microfossil records of environmental change, land use and societal collapse at Angkor, Cambodia. XVII Inqua Congress. The Tropics: heat engine of the Quaternary, Quaternary International: Elsevier.

2014

  • Hamilton, R., Penny, D. (2014). Ecological history of Lachlan Nature Reserve, Centennial Park, Sydney, Australia: a palaeoecological approach to conservation. Environmental Conservation.
  • Penny, D. (2014). Social upheaval in ancient Angkor resulting from fluvial response to land use and climate variability. Pages Magazine, 22(1).
  • Penny, D., Chevance, J., Tang, D., De Greef, S. (2014). The Environmental Impact of Cambodia’s Ancient City of Mahendraparvata (Phnom Kulen). PLoS One, 9(1), 1-9. [More Information]

2012

  • Penny, D. (2012). China and Southeast Asia. In S E Metcalfe and D J Nash (Eds.), Quaternary Environmental Change in the Tropics, (pp. 207-235). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Gale, S., Penny, D. (2012). Clastic spring sediments: a tool for palaeoflood reconstruction? Zeitschrift fuer Geomorphologie, 56(3), 387-400.
  • Pottier, C., Penny, D., Hendrickson, M., Carter, E. (2012). Unearthing an Atlantean myth in Angkor: geoarchaeological investigation of the 'underwater road' crossing on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(8), 2604-2611. [More Information]
  • Tibby, J., Penny, D., Leahy, P., Kershaw, A. (2012). Vegetation and water quality responses to Holocene climate variability in Lake Purrumbete, western Victoria. In SIMON G. HABERLE & BRUNO DAVID (Eds.), Peopled Landscapes: Archaeological and Biogeographic Approaches to Landscapes, (pp. 359-373). Canberra: ANU E Press.

2010

  • Buckley, B., Anchukaitis, K., Penny, D., Fletcher, R., Cook, E., Masaki, S., Nam, L., Wichienkeeo, A., Minh, T., Truong, M. (2010). Climate as a contributing factor in the demise of Angkor, Cambodia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States of America, 107(15), 6748-6752.
  • Penny, D. (2010). The Mekong River System and the End of the Angkor Civilization: A Water Historical Perspective. In Terje Tvedt and Richard Coopey (Eds.), A History of Water, Series 2, Volume 2, Rivers and Society: From Early Civilizations to Modern Times, (pp. 129-143). London, United Kingdom: I.B. Tauris.

2008

  • Lustig, T., Fletcher, R., Kummu, M., Pottier, C., Penny, D. (2008). Did Traditional Cultures Live in Harmony with Nature? Lessons from Angkor, Cambodia. In Matti Kummu, Marko Keskinen, Olli Varis (Eds.), Modern myths of the Mekong: a critical review of water and development concepts, principles and policies, (pp. 81-94). Helsinki: Water & Development Publications - Helsinki University of Technology.
  • Kummu, M., Penny, D., Sarkkula, J., Koponen, J. (2008). Sediment: Curse or Blessing for Tonle Sap Lake. Ambio: a journal of the human environment, 37(3), 158-163.
  • Penny, D. (2008). The Mekong at Climatic Crossroads: Lessons from the Geological Past. Ambio: a journal of the human environment, 37(3), 164-169.
  • Fletcher, R., Penny, D., Evans, D., Pottier, C., Barbetti, M., Kummu, M., Lustig, T., Authority for the Protection and Mgt of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap, A. (2008). The water management network of Angkor, Cambodia. Antiquity, 82(2008), 658-670.

2007

  • Sanderson, D., Bishop, P., Stark, M., Alexander, S., Penny, D. (2007). Luminescence dating of canal sediments from Angkor Borei, Mekong Delta, Southern Cambodia. Quaternary Geochronology, 2(1-4), 322-329.
  • Penny, D. (2007). Microfossil records of environmental change, land use and societal collapse at Angkor, Cambodia. XVII Inqua Congress. The Tropics: heat engine of the Quaternary, Quaternary International: Elsevier.

2006

  • Luly, J., Grindrod, J., Penny, D. (2006). Holocene palaeoenvironments and change at Three-Quarter Mile Lake, Silver Plains Station, Cape York Peninsula, Australia. The Holocene: a major interdisciplinary journal focusing on recent environmental change, 16(8), 1085-1094. [More Information]
  • Fletcher, R., Penny, D., Barbetti, M., Pottier, C., Than, H., Chan, K., Somaneath, T. (2006). The Greater Angkor Project 2005-2009: Issues and Program. In Elisabeth A Bacus, Ian C Glover and Vincent C Piggot (Eds.), Uncovering Southeast Asia's Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, (pp. 347-354). Singapore: National University of Singapore.
  • Penny, D. (2006). The Holocene history and development of the Tonle Sap, Cambodia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25(3-4), 310-322.
  • Penny, D., Pottier, C., Fletcher, R., Barbetti, M., Fink, D., Hua, Q. (2006). Vegetation and land-use at Angkor, Cambodia: a dated pollen sequence from the Bakong temple moat. Antiquity, 80(3), 599-614.

2005

  • Penny, D., Pottier, C., Kummu, M., Fletcher, R., Zoppi, U., Barbetti, M., Somaneath, T. (2005). Hydrological history of the West Baray, Angkor, revealed through palynological analysis of sediments from the West Mebon. Bulletin de l'ecole Francaise d'extreme-Orient, 92(3), 497-521.
  • Penny, D., Cook, G., Sok, S. (2005). Long-term rates of sediment accumulation in the Tonle Sap, Cambodia: A threat to ecosystem health? Journal of Paleolimnology, 33(1), 95-103. [More Information]
  • Penny, D., Kealhofer, L. (2005). Microfossil evidence of land-use intensification in north Thailand. Journal of Archaeological Science, 32(1), 69-82. [More Information]

2004

  • Kershaw, A., Tibby, J., Penny, D., Yezdani, H., Walkley, R., Cook, E., Johnston, R. (2004). Latest Pleistocene And Holocene Vegetation And Environmental History Of The Western Plains Of Victoria, Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 116(1), 139-161.
  • Pickett, E., Harrison, S., Hope, G., Harle, K., Dodson, J., Kershaw, A., Prentice, I., Backhouse, J., Colhoun, E., D'Costa, D., Penny, D., et al (2004). Pollen-based reconstructions of biome distributions for Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific (SEAPAC region) at 0, 6000 and 18,000 (14)C yr BP. Journal of Biogeography, 31(9), 1381-1444.
  • White, J., Penny, D., Kealhofer, L., Maloney, B. (2004). Vegetation Changes From The Late Pleistocene Through The Holocene From Three Areas Of Archaeological Significance In Thailand. Quaternary International, 113(1), 111-132.

2003

  • Bishop, P., Penny, D., Stark, M., Marian, S. (2003). A 3.5 ka Record of Paleoenvironments and Human Occupation at Angkor Borei, Mekong Delta, Southern Cambodia. Geoarchaeology-an International Journal, 18(3), 359-393. [More Information]
  • Fletcher, R., Barbetti, M., Evans, D., Than, H., Sokrithy, I., Chan, D., Penny, D., Pottier, C., Somaneath, T. (2003). Redefining Angkor: Structure and environment in the largest, low density urban complex of the pre-industrial world. Udaya Journal of Khmer Studies, 4, 107-121.

2002

  • Kershaw, P., David, B., Tapper, N., Penny, D., Brown, J. (2002). Bridging Wallace's Line: The Environmental and Cultural History and Dynamics of the Southeast Asian – Australian Region. Reiskirchen, Germany: Catena Verlag GMBH.

2001

  • Penny, D. (2001). A 40,000 year palynological record from north-east Thailand; implications for biogeography and palaeo-environmental reconstruction. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 171(3), 97-128.
  • van der Kaars, S., Penny, D., Tibby, J., Fluin, J., Dam, R., Suparan, P. (2001). Late Quaternary palaeoecology, palynology and palaeolimnology of a tropical lowland swamp: Rawa Danau, West-Java, Indonesia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 171(3), 185-212.
  • Kershaw, A., Penny, D., van der Kaars, S., Anshuri, G., Thamotherampillai, A. (2001). Vegetation and climate in lowland Southeast Asia at the Last Glacial Maximum. In Metcalfe, I., Smith, J.M.B., Morwood, M., Davidson, I. (Eds.), Faunal and floral migrations and evolution in Southeast Asia – Australasia. United States: CRC Press.

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