• China launches first commercial rocket to space

    09/Jan/2017 // 182 Viewers

                                 Chinese newly launched commercial rocket

    A Chinese rocket successfully sent three satellites into space in the country’s first commercial mission, a media report said on Monday.
    The rocket Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) blasted off from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in central Gansu province at 12:11 pm (0411 GMT) with three satellites.

    The media report stressed that one of the satellites is expected to be used for land resource and forestry surveying, environmental protection, disaster prevention and relief purposes.

    It added that the other two satellites would test technologies of low-orbit narrow-band communication and data exchange.

    Report says a rocket technology company under the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation is responsible for the mission.

    Experts say the successes of Chinese space programmes are significant for China’s one-party rulers to garner support from the population and to boost international prestige.

    In 2011, the U.S. Congress ruled that Chinese astronauts would not be allowed on the International Space Station because of national security concerns.

    The China National Space Programme aims to launch the core module of China’s own manned space station in 2018 with a goal of completing the station by 2022,’’ it noted.


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  • BUHARI tongue-tied as CHINA humiliates NIGERIA, throws out $2.9bn loan request

    09/Jan/2017 // 1177 Viewers

     

    The Chinese government, has withheld the $20 billion concession loan earlier promised to Nigeria, until after due verification, a Presidency source confirmed, on Monday morning.
     
    A top Presidency source, who is privy to the development, disclosed in a report, that the Federal has expressed disappointment that the money was withheld.
     
    Chinese Analysts, have however predicted that the current economic downturn in Nigeria, would dent the country’s credit worthiness.
    Recall, that in 2015, China had at a Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, pledged $60 billion assistance to countries on the continent, including Nigeria, to develop and grow their infrastructure, and human development capacities.
     
    According to the Presidential source, government immediately swung into action, after President Muhammadu Buhari’s return from a visit to China, as well as, the follow-up visit of the Budget and National Planning Minister, Udo Udoma, to immediately fulfill the conditions for accessing the loan.
     
    Reacting to the loan rejection, the source said: “The Chinese government was advised by its Economic Experts who visited Nigeria for physical assessments, to exercise caution, citing the shrinking economy, and falling value of the naira as reasons.
     
    “They also alluded to high risks in diverting the loan to projects not specified in the agreement, and requested a direct monitoring of the projects, in addition to the need for full compilation of all current trade agreements between the two countries, till date.
     
    “A team of Experts from China Exim Bank, had also expressed fear of possible mismanagement of the funds, and requested an overhaul of some of the priority areas presented by the Federal Government, for closer study on their viability and sustainability.’’
     
    The Chinese Financial Experts, it was further learnt, expressed reservations about some areas the Federal Government was keen on investing the loan, saying they did not fall in line with the FOCAC vision.

    Credit: Original post appeared first on Post Nigeria


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  • Breaking: Pakistani teen burnt alive by her mother for choosing own husband

    09/Jun/2016 // 127 Viewers

     

    A Pakistani mother on Wednesday burnt her 16-year-old daughter alive for marrying a man of her own choice, before shouting on the street to neighbours that she had killed the teen for bringing shame on her family.

    It was the third so-called "honour killing" in the South Asian country in as many months, and a rare example of the crime being carried out by a woman.

    Zeenat Bibi, 16, was set on fire by her mother Perveen Bibi in the eastern city of Lahore a little more than a week after the couple had acquired their marriage licence, police said.

    "Perveen Bibi killed her daughter Zeenat Bibi by burning her alive around 9:00 am on Wednesday," Haidar Ashraf, a senior police official told AFP, adding the teen had married a man named Hasan Khan on May 29.

    Khan's ethnicity -- he is an ethnic Pashtun, while Zeenat was a Punjabi -- was the main cause of the family's disapproval, according to the woman's family.

    Zeenat's husband Khan told local TV station Geo News that the pair had eloped, but he had reluctantly allowed her to return to her family home after they promised they would hold a celebration and not harm her.

    He said: "After living with me for four days following our marriage, her family contacted us and promised they would throw us a proper wedding party after eight days. Then we would be able live together.

    "Zeenat was unwilling to go back to her home and told me that she would be killed by her family, but later agreed when one of her uncles guaranteed her safety.

    "After two days, she called me and said that her family had gone back on their word and asked me to come to get her, but I told her to wait for the promised eight days. Then, she was killed."

    Ashraf, the police official, said Perveen and other family members had confessed to the crime and that police had seized kerosene oil from the scene.

    - Family defiant -

    At the victim's two-bedroom family home in a low-income southern neighbourhood of the city, Perveen's family remained defiant.

    Naseem Bibi, Perveen's younger sister, told AFP: "After killing her daughter, Perveen went out on the street, took off her shawl and started beating herself on her chest, shouting: 'People! I have killed my daughter for misbehaving and giving our family a bad name.'"

    "My sister declared a long time ago she would not allow her daughter to marry a Pashtun," she said.

    The victim's sister Shazia also blamed Zeenat for defying her mother, but said she had urged her mother to cut ties with her instead of killing her.

    Perveen's husband died several years ago and her relationship with her daughters had deteriorated, according to Shazia.

    "Our mother became distressed because of her daughter's disobedience and because she felt there was no man in the house to rein her in."

    Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year on the pretext of defending what is seen as family honour.

    "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness" -- a film telling the story of a rare survivor of an attempted honour killing -- won an Oscar for best documentary short in February.

    Amid publicity for the film, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to eradicate the "evil" of honour killings but no fresh legislation has been tabled since then.


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  • North Korea party congress pushes nuclear weapons expansion

    09/May/2016 // 236 Viewers

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) has said the country will only use nuclear weapons if attacked (AFP Photo/)


    North Korea's first ruling party congress for nearly 40 years formally endorsed leader Kim Jong-Un's policy of expanding the country's nuclear arsenal, as South Korea on Monday dismissed his proposals for military talks and improved ties.

    The congress, which opened on Friday, has largely been seen as an elaborate coronation for the 33-year-old Kim, securing his status as supreme leader and confirming his legacy "byungjin" doctrine of twin economic and nuclear development.

    On Sunday, the thousands of delegates to what is technically North Korea's top decision-making body, adopted a report submitted by Kim the day before to simultaneously push forward economic construction and "boost self-defensive nuclear force both in quality and quantity."

    It also enshrined a policy of not using nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is threatened by another nuclear power, and of working towards the eventual reunification of the divided Korean peninsula.

    "But if the south Korean authorities opt for a war... we will turn out in the just war to mercilessly wipe out the anti-reunification forces," said the document published by the North's official KCNA news agency.

    Reiterating the North's long-held argument that its push for a nuclear deterrent was forced by US hostility, the congress said the nuclear weapons programme would move forward "as long as the imperialists persist in their nuclear threat."

    Presenting his report to the congress in a marathon three-hour speech on Saturday, Kim said Pyongyang wanted better relations with previously "hostile" nations and proposed military talks with South Korea to ease tensions on their heavily fortified border.

    - 'Propaganda' -

    The government in Seoul dismissed his remarks, including a vow to pursue global denuclearisation, as meaningless propaganda.

    "There is absolutely no sincerity in talking about the necessity of military talks ... while calling oneself a nuclear weapons state and launching nuclear and missile provocations," defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Gyun said.

    Moon said the party congress had only served to reaffirm North Korea's intention to develop its nuclear arsenal, and added that Seoul would continue to counter those ambitions with sanctions and pressure.

    The South Korean Unification Ministry was equally dismissive, describing Kim's remarks on improving North-South ties as a "propaganda act with no sincerity."

    North Korea has carried out four nuclear tests -- two of them under Kim's leadership.

    The North said its most recent test in January was of a powerful hydrogen bomb, although experts questioned the claim given the relatively low yield.

    There is growing concern that Pyongyang may be on the verge of conducting a fifth test, with satellite imagery showing activity at the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

    - Securing power -

    Kim was not even born when the last party congress was held in 1980 to crown his father, Kim Jong-Il, as the heir apparent to founding leader Kim Il-Sung.

    When his own turn came, following the death of Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, the new young leader quickly set about cementing his power base and securing his legitimacy as the inheritor of Kim family's ruling dynasty.

    One of his earliest moves was to adjust his father's "songun", or military first policy, to the "byungjin" policy of economic-nuclear development.

    The nuclear half of that strategy had dominated the run-up to the party congress, starting with a fourth nuclear test in January that was followed by a long-range rocket launch and a flurry of other missile and weapons tests.

    Some observers had predicted that the congress might switch the focus to the economic side of the equation, and Kim did unveil a five-year economic plan -- the first of its kind for decades.

    But his report to the congress offered few details of the plan's policies or targets beyond general ambitions to boost production across all economic sectors, with a particular focus on energy production.

     

     


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  • Nigerian bags World Scrabble title, in first for Africa

    09/Nov/2015 // 231 Viewers

    AFP/File | Wellington Jighere cruised to victory in the World Scrabble Championship with a series of high-scoring words such as "fahlores", "avouched" and "mentored"

     

    SYDNEY (AFP) - 

    Cowboy-hat wearing Wellington Jighere from Nigeria crushed his English opponent 4 - 0 at the World Scrabble Championship in Australia to become first African to bag the word game's global title.

    Jighere was among more than 120 competitors who travelled to Perth for the World English-language Scrabble Players' Association Championship, which culminated in Sunday's best-of-seven final against England's Lewis Mackay.

    "He had to battle for four days to emerge on top but once he got there -- maybe he was a little fresher, or got a bit of luck -- everything fell into place for him and he won four-nil," Adam Kretschmer, one of the organisers of the event, told AFP of Jighere's effort.

    The Nigerian used such high-scoring words as "fahlores", "avouched" and "mentored" as he puzzled his way to victory.

    "It is the first time that an African has won in these world championships," Jighere told The Guardian after the win.

    But he conceded that: "Nigel is still the master. It just happens that today was my day."

    It was a reference to New Zealander Nigel Richards who dominates English-language Scrabble, with three world championships, five North American titles and 11 wins at the prestigious King's Cup in Thailand, sponsored by the Thai royal family.

    Richards stunned the francophone world in July when he also won the game's French version even though he doesn't speak the language and only spent nine weeks studying the official Scrabble dictionary.

    A trained engineer, Richards reportedly began playing Scrabble at 28 at the request of his mother, who was frustrated that his photographic memory was making their card games too one-sided.

    But he proved dazzling at the word game, even though he favoured mathematics at school and was never much of an English student.

    A rival New Zealand Scrabbler once said Richards was "like a computer with a big ginger beard", while Malaysian tournament organiser Michael Tang has called him "the Tiger Woods of Scrabble".

    On Facebook, Jighere admitted that the Perth tournament -- in which each player had played 32 games over four days before the finalists were decided -- had been exhausting.

    "I really must endeavour to rest now," he posted late Sunday.

    "I've not slept well in about a week. The fact that I was able to perform in spite of the sleeplessness still baffles me. It only goes to prove that God was deeply involved in this matter."

    © 2015 AFP


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  • North Korea executes army chief of staff - South Korean media

    10/Feb/2016 // 346 Viewers

     

    Reuters: North Korea has executed its army chief of staff, Ri Yong Gil, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, which, if true, would be the latest in a series of executions, purges and disappearances under its young leader.
    The news comes amid heightened tension surrounding isolated North Korea after its Sunday launch of a long-range rocket, which came about a month after it drew international condemnation for conducting its fourth nuclear test.
    A source familiar with North Korean affairs also told Reuters that Ri had been executed. The source declined to be identified, given the sensitivity of the matter.
    Ri, who was chief of the Korean People's Army (KPA) General Staff, was executed this month for corruption and factional conspiracy, Yonhap and other South Korean media reported.
    Yonhap did not identify its sources. The source who told Reuters the news declined to comment on how the information about the execution had been obtained.
    South Korea's National Intelligence Service declined to comment and it was not possible to independently verify the report.
    The North rarely issues public announcement related to purges or executions of high-level officials.
    A rare official confirmation of a high-profile execution came after Jang Song Thaek, leader Kim Jong Un's uncle and the man who was once considered the second most powerful figure in the country, was executed for corruption in 2013.
    In May last year, the North executed its defence chief by anti-aircraft gun at a firing range, the South's spy agency said in a report to members of parliament.
    The North's military leadership has been in a state of perpetual reshuffle since Kim Jong Un took power after the death of his father in 2011. He has changed his armed forces chief several times since then.
    Some other high-ranking officials in the North have been absent from public view for extended periods, fuelling speculation they may have been purged or removed, only to resurface.


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  • Singapore 'still world's most expensive city'

    10/Mar/2016 // 203 Viewers

     

    Singapore has again been judged as the world's most expensive city but costs across the world have been highly volatile, according to researchers.
    The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Singapore as the priciest ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Geneva and Paris.
    London was sixth and New York seventh on the list that compares the cost of a basket of goods across 133 cities.
    The cheapest were Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, followed by Bangalore and Mumbai in India, the EIU said.
    Volatility
     
    The EIU charts the expense of cities by comparing them to the cost of living in New York.
    Although Singapore was the most expensive, the cost of living there was 10% cheaper when compared to New York than was the case in the EIU survey a year ago.
     
    Researchers said they saw considerable movement in the rankings as cities coped with economic factors ranging from the strength of the US dollar and currency devaluations to falling oil and commodity prices and geopolitical uncertainty.
     
    "In nearly 17 years of working on this survey I can't recall a year as volatile as 2015," said Jon Copestake, an editor of the survey,
    "Falling commodity prices have created deflationary pressures in some countries, but in others currency weakness caused by these falls has led to spiralling inflation."
     
    The EIU said India and Pakistan accounted for five of the 10 least expensive cities in the world. - BBC


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  • Japan 'cannot do without' nuclear power - Abe

    10/Mar/2016 // 171 Viewers

     

    Tokyo (AFP) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said Japan "cannot do without" nuclear power, speaking on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the devastating Fukushima disaster.

     

    On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off Japan's northeastern coast sparked a massive tsunami that swept ashore leaving about 18,500 people dead or missing.

    The wall of water also caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl when reactors melted down at the overwhelmed Fukushima power plant.

    "Our resource-poor country cannot do without nuclear power to secure the stability of energy supply while considering what makes economic sense and the issue of climate change," Abe told a press conference.

    Japan's entire stable of reactors was shuttered in the aftermath of the disaster but Abe and utility companies have been pushing to get reactors back in operation.

    The disaster had forced resource-poor Japan to turn to expensive fossil fuels to plug the energy gap left by the shutdowns.

    His comments came a day after a Japanese court ordered the shutdown of two nuclear reactors previously declared safe under post-disaster safety rules.

    But Abe said the government would "not change its policy" in which reactors that meet the new standards can be restarted.

    The court ruling was the first to force the shutdown of reactors switched on under the stricter safety rules adopted after the 2011 disaster, a blow to Abe's bid to bring back nuclear power.

    It ordered the shuttering of Kansai Electric's No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant, some 350 kilometres (215 miles) west of Tokyo.

    The No. 4 reactor was taken offline last month due to an unexpected technical glitch days after it restarted, while the No. 3 reactor is currently operating.

    Abe has argued that resuming nuclear power is key to Japan's energy policy, but memories of Fukushima are still fresh for many. Anti-nuclear sentiment still runs high and there was widespread opposition to restarts.

    Japan has since the disaster set up an independent atomic watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, replacing the previous arrangement where the industry ministry both oversaw the regulator and promoted nuclear power.

    Abe insisted at the press conference that safety was the government's "top priority."

    "And it's important to recover public trust more than anything," he said.

    Abe, however, also said that the government was "going to reduce dependence" on nuclear energy.

    Two reactors in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, restarted last year, ending a two-year hiatus in nuclear power generation.

    Japan will hold a national ceremony on Friday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the disaster to be attended by Abe, the emperor and empress and other dignitaries.

    Late last month three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the Fukushima plant, were indicted on criminal negligence charges over the meltdowns.


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  • U.S. sails warship near Chinese-claimed reef in South China Sea

    10/May/2016 // 195 Viewers

     

    BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - A U.S. navy warship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea on Tuesday, a U.S. Department of Defense official said, prompting anger in Beijing which denounced the patrol as illegal and a threat to peace and stability.

    Guided missile destroyer the USS William P. Lawrence traveled within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef, Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban said. The so-called freedom of navigation operation was undertaken to "challenge excessive maritime claims" by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam which were seeking to restrict navigation rights in the South China Sea, he said.

    "These excessive maritime claims are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention in that they purport to restrict the navigation rights that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise," Urban said in an emailed statement.

    Beijing and Washington have traded accusations that the other is militarizing the South China Sea as China undertakes large-scale land reclamations and construction on disputed features while the United States has increased its patrols and exercises in the region.

    Facilities on Fiery Cross Reef include a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway and Washington is concerned China will use it to press its extensive territorial claims at the expense of weaker rivals.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the U.S. ship illegally entered Chinese waters and was tracked and warned.

    "This action by the U.S. side threatened China's sovereignty and security interests, endangered the staff and facilities on the reef, and damaged regional peace and stability," he told a daily news briefing.

    SENSITIVE AREA

    China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

    The Pentagon last month called on China to reaffirm it has no plans to deploy military aircraft in the disputed Spratly Islands after Beijing used a military plane to evacuate sick workers from Fiery Cross.

    "Fiery Cross is sensitive because it is presumed to be the future hub of Chinese military operations in the South China Sea, given its already extensive infrastructure, including its large and deep port and 3000-metre runway," said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

    "The timing is interesting, too. It is a show of U.S. determination ahead of President Obama's trip to Vietnam later this month," Storey added.

    Speaking in Hanoi ahead of Obama's visit, Daniel Russel, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, said freedom of navigation operations were important for smaller nations.

    "If the world's most powerful navy cannot sail where international law permits, then what happens to the ships of navy of smaller countries?," Russel told reporters before news of the operation was made public.

    "If our warships can't exercise its legitimate rights under international law at sea, then what about the fishermen, what about the cargo ships? How will they prevent themselves from being blocked by stronger nations?"

    China has reacted with anger to previous U.S. freedom of navigation operations, including the overflight of fighter planes near the disputed Scarborough Shoal last month, and when long-range U.S. bombers flew near Chinese facilities under construction on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratlys last November.

    U.S. naval officials believe China has plans to start reclamation and construction activities on Scarborough Shoal, which sits further north of the Spratlys within the Philippines claimed 200 nautical mile (370 km) exclusive economic zone.

    The move also comes as tough-talking city mayor Rodrigo Duterte looks set to take the Philippines' presidency. He has proposed multilateral talks on the South China Sea.

    Criticism of China over the South China Sea will rebound like a coiled spring, a Chinese diplomat said on Friday, as a U.S. warship visited Shanghai against a backdrop of rising tension in the region.


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  • US, Asian allies hit N. Korea with new sanctions after rocket launch

    11/Feb/2016 // 147 Viewers

     

    The United States and its Asian allies tightened the economic screws on North Korea Thursday, with the US Senate adopting fresh sanctions and South Korean firms abandoning a joint industrial park.
     
    The unilateral moves, which included Japanese sanctions, came with UN Security Council members still stalled on how far to go in punishing the North for its latest nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
     
    Following Seoul's surprise decision to shut down the Kaesong industrial zone in North Korea, hundreds of South Korean trucks crossed the border Thursday morning to retrieve finished goods and equipment from the factories there.
     
    Defending what it called an "unavoidable" decision to close the jointly run park, Seoul said North Korea had been using the hundreds of millions of dollars in hard-currency that it earned from Kaesong to fund its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
     
    The move was slammed as "utterly incomprehensible" by owners of the 124 South Korean companies operating factories in the estate, who said their businesses were being destroyed by politics.
     
    "I'm speechless at what has happened," said Jang Ik-Ho, a manager with an engineering company in the complex.
     
    "The companies have all done our best to make things work, and now this happens. What did we do to deserve this?" Jang said, as he prepared to cross into the North.
     
    Seoul has called on Pyongyang to ensure the "safe return of our citizens" amid concerns that the North Korean authorities might refuse to let everyone leave the park, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles) over the border.
     
    In September 2014, Pyongyang drafted a new operational regulation -- rejected by Seoul -- that would have allowed the North to detain South Korean businessmen in Kaesong in the event of an unresolved business dispute.
     
    Safety concerns
     
    "It would be a lie to say I'm not worried about my personal safety," said one textile company operative, Yoon Sang-Young.
     
    Several people who crossed back into the South on Thursday said they had noticed an increased military presence in Kaesong, including armed soldiers carrying backpacks and sleeping bags.
     
    Born out of the "sunshine" reconciliation policy of the late 1990s, Kaesong opened in 2004 and proved remarkably resilient, riding out repeated crises that ended every other facet of inter-Korean cooperation.
     
    The only exception was in 2013 during a period of heightened cross-border tensions when Pyongyang effectively shut down the zone for five months by withdrawing its 53,000 workers.
     
    There has so far been no official reaction from Pyongyang to the shutdown.
     
    US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel welcomed Seoul's initiative.
     
    "More steps are needed to convince the (North Korean) leadership that it is not going to be possible to have access to the international economic system let alone economic or financial aid as long as North Korea continues to pursue nuclear and missile programmes," Russel said.
     
    New US sanctions
     
    The US Senate later voted unanimously to adopt a bill expanding sanctions.
     
    The measure, which must be reconciled with a similar House version that passed last month, would punish any person or entity importing goods, technology or training related to weapons of mass destruction, or engaging in human rights abuses.
     
    Penalties would include the seizure of assets, visa bans and denial of government contracts.
     
    It also aims to cut down on money laundering and narcotics trafficking -- two major illicit activities believed to be funnelling millions of dollars into leader Kim Jong-Un's inner circle.
     
    "This dictatorial regime must learn that its actions have consequences," said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
     
    Japan also unveiled unilateral measures on Wednesday, including prohibiting North Korean ships from entering Japanese ports and a total entry ban on North Korean nationals into Japan.
     
    North Korea's main diplomatic protector, China, has been resisting the US-led push for tougher UN sanctions.
     
    Although fiercely critical of Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, Beijing is more concerned at the prospect of Kim's regime being pushed to collapse -- triggering chaos on China's border.
     
    (AFP)


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