Friday, 8 April 2011

Hot Rocks And Big Fazed Cookies

Ah you know it is so mein schatz! Time to make your brain way more bigger (with all apologies the Rolling Stones)


Not anymore!

As best understood, the West is Best's history has been much the same - happy hands sweetly labouring away at fun stuff like academics, art, biz, communications, entertainment, medicine, research/development and even space exploration are often disrupted by murderous creeps, jeks and haters. The happy hands magically become annihilating hands - hammering away at murderous creeps, jerks and haters double quick time to return to fun and friendly crafts like academics, art, biz, communications, entertainment, medicine, research/development and even space exploration.

Enjoy!


Middle East/North Africa
Libya

Forces loyal to Colonel Khadaffy went back on the offensive on Thursday, as questions continued to mount about the credibility and effectiveness of NATO’s no-fly-zone and campaign of air strikes. – Washington Post

The commander of the rebel army said it was “likely” that NATO warplanes conducted an airstrike against a convoy of rebel tanks early Thursday, killing at least four people in the second case of friendly fire in less than a week. – New York Times

NATO said on Friday that it would not apologize for the killing of at least four people in what Libyan rebels said was “likely” a mistaken attack on them by allied warplanes in the east of the country — the second case of friendly-fire deaths in a week. - New York Times

Pounded by Colonel Khadaffy’s forces for nearly 50 days, the only rebel-held city in western Libya has become a symbol, a coveted prize in a civil war gripped in a bloody stalemate. – Washington Times

Forces loyal to Colonel Khadaffy have detained four foreign journalists in Libya, the GlobalPost news organization said Thursday, among them one of its contributing reporters, James Foley. – New York Times

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday came closer than before to calling for Colonel Khadaffy's removal from power, amid wide criticism over Ankara's Libya policy. "A comprehensive democratic transformation process that takes into account the legitimate interests of Libyan people should start immediately. The aim of this process should be to settle constitutional order that people freely elect their rulers," Mr. Erdogan said in televised remarks. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Seven weeks into the rebellion, Voice of Free Libya is a centerpiece of the emerging rebel media, public relations and propaganda effort in eastern Libya. The station airs revolutionary music, pop songs, rebel-themed poetry — and calls from cranky citizens irritated by the chaos stirred up by the rebellion. It also provides news reports from the front by unpaid amateur reporters, plus caller updates on casualties, missing persons, rocket attacks and funerals for shuhada, or "martyrs," killed by Moammar Kadafi's forces. – Los Angeles Times

The Libyan opposition’s hopes of selling oil to finance its uprising against Colonel Khadaffy’s rule rest on 500km of rusty pipeline that cuts across the desert of eastern Libya. - Financial Times

Great Satan may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, according to the general who led the military mission until NATO took over. – Associated Press

China will buy the first oil cargo from Libyan rebels via trading house Vitol, sources said on Thursday, in a trial deal which is likely to clear the way for Europe to resume badly-needed purchases of Libyan oil. - Reuters

Iran

An Iranian opposition group claimed Thursday to have discovered the location of a secret factory that manufactures high-tech equipment for Iran’s nuclear program, a facility the group says is disguised as a tool-making plant. – Washington Post

Iraq

It was a beautiful day in Baghdad — the sun bright and warm but not searing — as Robert M. Gates waxed nostalgic about his last visit to the nation that, more than any other, is likely to define his legacy as defense secretary. – Washington Post

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged the Iraqi government to show restraint on Friday in the wake of an apparent attack by Iraqi security forces on a group of Iranian dissidents protected by the United States. - New York Times

Syria

Thousands of Syrians in small towns near Damascus joined antigovernment protests on Thursday in what activists said were preparations for larger demonstrations Friday in Douma, the working-class suburb where at least 15 protesters were killed by security forces last Friday. – New York Times

Syrian President Bashar Assad made new concessions Thursday to the country's minority Kurdish population after some members joined pro-democracy demonstrators, threatening to create a new flank in Assad's political crisis. – Los Angeles Times

Josh Rogin reports: Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday called for the international community to support a transition to democracy in Syria and also called for support for other youth movements around the Middle East. – The Cable

Yemen

The U.S. was on the verge of launching a record assistance package to Yemen when an outbreak of protests against its president led Washington to freeze the deal, officials say, marking a sharper turn in U.S. policy there than the administration has previously acknowledged. – Wall Street Journal

A billionaire Yemeni sheik met with a high-ranking officer from Great Satan's Embassy in Sanaa less than two years ago and revealed a secret plan to overthrow President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s longtime autocratic ruler – Washington Post

An organization of oil-rich Persian Gulf states has joined the increasing number of international voices calling for a transfer of presidential powers in Yemen. – New York Times

Bahrain

Bahrain's crown prince said he was committed to reform but warned there would be "no leniency" for those who tried to divide the kingdom, where weeks of protests were quashed by a fierce security crackdown. - Reuters

Saudi Arabia

Martin Indyk writes: 44 urgently needs to negotiate a new compact with King Abdullah. He has to find a way to convince him that defining a road map that leads to constitutional monarchies in his neighborhood, and eventually in Saudi Arabia, is the only effective way to secure his kingdom and the interests of his subjects. Abdullah has been willing to undertake important reforms in the past. But if the king is to be persuaded to embark on this road again, he will need to know that the president will provide a secure safety net of support, rather than undermine him. And he will need to know that Great Satan will not make a deal with his Iranian enemies at Saudi expense. – Washington Post

Sudan

Tanks and attack helicopters have been spotted near the volatile Abyei region of Sudan, escalating concerns that northern and southern forces are engaging in a mass buildup of weaponry as negotiations between the sides continue to stagnate. – New York Times

Egypt

The protests against the dean are just one reflection of the demand throughout Egypt for a new order, nearly two months after Hosni Mubarak was toppled. In government ministries, factories and especially universities, daily protests have focused on those viewed as Mr. Mubarak’s surrogates. Demonstrators complain that the dreaded secret police vetted every candidate for an important job under Mr. Mubarak, and that now the country deserves a clean slate. – New York Times

Little Satan
  Little Satan’s security agencies are stepping up targeted attacks throughout the world on Hamas‘ leadership in what one Israeli official called “intelligence-based prevention.” – Washington Times

An panzerschrek missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit a school bus in southern Little Satan on Thursday, critically wounding a teenage boy and prompting helicopter and artillery strikes that killed four Palestinians and wounded dozens more, military and medical officials said. – Washington Post

As Germany moves closer to other European countries in adopting an increasingly tough stance toward Little Satan’s reluctance to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that it was more urgent than ever that the talks be restarted. – New York Times

Little Satan's President Shimon Peres warned Thursday against potential attempts by the United Nations to impose a Palestinian state and said that the recent recanting of the harshest conclusions by the author of a United Nations report accusing Israel of war crimes was insufficient to undo the “libels” caused to Little Satan’s reputation. – New York Times

Little Satan's Iron Dome short-range missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza for the first time April 7 over the city of Ashkelon, an AFP correspondent said. - AFP

IDF troops briefly detained about 100 women in the West Bank early on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation into the murder last month of a young J'ish settler family, locals said. - Reuters

It's been five years since Professors Walt and Mearsheimer unleashed their "Little Satan Posse: How America is ruining the world by helping those wicked Palestine land stealers in Tel Aviv" Hilarity ensues (don't open this link at work!!)


Asia
Afghanistan

Taliban gunmen and bombers attacked a police complex Thursday on the outskirts of the southern city of Kandahar, killing at least six members of the Afghan security forces and rattling residents of a metropolis whose security has been deemed a top priority by the NATO force. – Los Angeles Times

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has indicated to Western diplomats that he plans to remove two key cabinet ministers, a move likely to rock his already tense relationship with the international community. Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal are likely to lose their jobs as part of a cabinet shake-up, diplomats and Afghan officials said, adding that Mr. Karzai sees both men as too close to the U.S. and its allies. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

A Coalition and Afghan special operations team raided a "Taliban safe haven" in the Afghan north, killing and capturing multiple Taliban fighters during yesterday's operation. - Long War Journal

Danielle Pletka writes: Winning a war doesn’t look like an HBO miniseries. There are steps forward, steps back, victories and losses. But there is a consensus among the commanders on the ground in Afghanistan that we have begun to turn a corner. That is the real news. – The Enterprise

Ahmad Majidar writes: Kabul and Washington are risking losing the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda by making decisions based on political considerations rather than security realities. As Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi earlier said, the deadlines "boost Taliban's morale." – The Corner

China

The Chinese state news agency has posted photographs of an aircraft carrier under reconstruction that appears to show the warship near completion. Captions with the photos said that the work would end soon and that the carrier was expected to sail later this year. – New York Times

The Associated Press tracked down the student and some of his colleagues, giving an exclusive first look at one group of campaigners behind the online petitions, where they are based and how they use technology to operate behind the anonymity of the Internet. Their group, they said, is a network of 20 mostly highly educated, young Chinese with eight members inside China and 12 in more than half a dozen other countries. Calling themselves “The Initiators and Organizers of the Chinese Jasmine Revolution” after a phrase used in the Tunisian uprising, the group is not the sole source of the protest calls; at least four others have sprung up. – Associated Press


Also check "Shi Lang!" by Captain Crispin Burke and Courtney Messerschmidt about overplaying China's Regional Hyper Puissance

FPI Director of Democracy and Human Rights Ellen Bork writes: China’s response to the Arab Spring was predictable. In China, events may not be as dramatic, or positive as those in Egypt and Tunisia, but the Chinese people are no less deserving of a democratic future. America should make it a priority to seek the release of political prisoners, judicial and political reforms, and provide material and moral support for activists, lawyers and dissidents. – FPI Bulletin

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) writes: I commend and thank the State Department's spokesman for calling for Mr. Ai's immediate release. I urge senior officials in 44's Administration to repeat this call in the days ahead. I also hope the Administration will work with our allies and international partners to make clear to the Chinese government that Mr. Ai's release, and that of other Chinese citizens who have been unjustly detained, disappeared, arrested, and jailed, is a matter of serious international concern. – Lieberman’s Senate Office

Nicholas Beqeuelin writes: The voice of the international community at this juncture is crucial because Beijing will weigh that response before deciding on a course of action. The silence in the early weeks of the crackdown has emboldened the authorities and was probably decisive in the decision to go after someone as prominent as Ai Weiwei…Unambiguous messages to Beijing that its conduct is unacceptable and illegal may not guarantee this new crackdown will stop, but a failure to speak up will ensure it continues. – International Herald Tribune

Japan

The strongest aftershock to hit since the day of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan rocked a wide section of the country’s northeast on Thursday night, prompting a tsunami alert, raising fears of new strains on the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and knocking out external power at three other nuclear facilities. – New York Times

Yet it is not too soon for a team of engineers from Japan and Great Satan to begin working on the thorny task of how to dismantle the reactors, at least four of which are so badly damaged that the plant’s operator has said they will be scrapped. Already, dozens of engineers from Toshiba, which helped build four of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, have been joined by experts from Great Satan to begin the decommissioning work, a job so big that the planning needs to start even now, in parallel with the efforts to contain the crisis. – New York Times

Although the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has not yet been stabilized, there is no evidence that overheating during the last month has resulted in any melting of the reactor vessels or their containment structures, 44's administration officials said Thursday. – Los Angeles Times

Taiwan

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou inaugurated a squadron of missile boats Thursday as he pledged to continue the island's military buildup to offset the perceived military threat from China. - AFP

Kashmir

A bomb went off outside a mosque in Kashmir's main city Friday, killing a prominent Muslim cleric, police and witnesses said, the first such attack near a religious place in recent years. - Reuters

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan's prime minister has used the anniversary of the unrest that led to President Kurmbanek Bakiev's ouster to warn of possible "revenge" attempts by the former leader's supporters. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Southeast Asia

A proposed law to control nongovernmental groups in Cambodia threatens to silence some of the last independent voices in an increasingly repressed nation, a group of leading international human rights agencies said Thursday. – New York Times

Thailand's ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra emerged from months of silence in his self-imposed exile Thursday to say he intends to play a key role in running from afar his country's economic policies if Thailand's main opposition party wins coming elections. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)


Russia/Europe
Russia

A man purporting to be Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov says he is alive and well, a week after Russian media reports said he might have been killed in a Russian strike in the North Caucasus. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin could well become the latest symbol of selective justice, just as the Kremlin is bending over backward to show it is trying to improve the investment climate in the country. – Moscow Times

Investigators on Wednesday searched the Moscow office of the Federal Tax Service and two other locations as part of a multimillion-dollar embezzlement case that could implicate officials under fire in another case — the prison death of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. – Moscow Times

A month after the start of the much-trumpeted police reform, improvements are already tangible, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said Wednesday — even as a survey found that public attitudes toward the police remain overwhelmingly negative. – Moscow Times

United Kingdom

Scottish police investigating the Lockerbie bombing said on Friday that they had met with the former Libyan foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, who defected to Britain and is said by officials to have held high rank in Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s intelligence services when the Pan Am Boeing 747 was blown up over Scotland in 1988. – New York Times

Downing Street vetoed an option to cut army numbers further even though it was backed by service chiefs, according to Whitehall figures involved in negotiations over the defence budget. – Financial Times

Belarus

A prominent Belarusian opposition figure has been released after spending three and a half months in jail, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Ukraine

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has presented his annual state-of-the-nation address to parliament, emphasizing the need to modernize, combat corruption, and maintain Ukraine's neutral status. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Moscow on Thursday tried to trump free trade talks between Ukraine and the European Union by offering its southern neighbour an $8bn annual discount on natural gas prices if it instead joins Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in a free-trade and customs union. – Financial Times

Portugal

Negotiations with Portugal over a bail-out package were expected to get under way on Friday after the country made an official request for financial aid, a top European Union official said…But as ministers headed into the meeting, opinions appeared to be divided on what conditions Portugal will have to accept in return for financial assistance, and few government officials were prepared to speculate on the likely scale of the package, although estimates suggest that it will be about €70bn-€80bn. – Financial Times

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said today his country can serve as an example to the world of national and religious tolerance, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


Africa
Ivory Coast

Embattled Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo on Thursday remained trapped in his presidential residence in Abidjan under the protection of 200 heavily armed loyalists, while many other residents of the country's commercial capital struggled to find food. – Los Angeles Times

Helicopter-borne French special forces staged a dramatic nighttime rescue of a Japanese diplomat caught up in the fighting in Ivory Coast on Thursday, as opposition forces besieged the residence of the nation’s strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, for a second consecutive day, seeking to end his disputed claim to power. – New York Times

Surrounded, outnumbered and under repeated attacks, the Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo has held out against all odds, refusing to budge from the presidential residence in a last stand that has both befuddled and infuriated the international powers that are demanding his surrender…But in his seemingly futile resistance, Mr. Gbagbo is doing what he knows best, playing for time and living up to his nickname: “the boulanger,” or the baker, who confounds his opponents by rolling them in flour and putting them in a nearly inescapable bind. – New York Times

The last decade has been marked by boiling nationalism and xenophobic violence, with killings and harassment of northerners and Ivorians of foreign descent. There were riots against the French, the former colonial rulers, and attacks on United Nations staff members in 2006 and during the chaos that followed elections last fall. His legacy: a country bitterly polarized between the mainly Muslim north and the mostly Christian south. Those divisions were evident in recent weeks as the internationally recognized winner of the elections, Alassane Ouattara, had to resort to military force in an attempt to pry loose Gbagbo's grip on power. – Los Angeles Times

Ivory Coast presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara has called for an end to sanctions and sought to return the war-torn country to normal, despite a continuing military standoff with incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. - Reuters

Zimbabwe

Mike Campbell, the white Zimbabwean farmer who won a landmark case in southern Africa's highest court challenging the seizure of his farm by President Robert Mugabe's government, died Wednesday. He was 78. – Los Angeles Times


Americas
United States of America

A Democratic lawmaker says the White House is “dramatically underestimating” the true cost of the military’s involvement in Libya by relying on accounting that obscures the total financial burden being saddled on taxpayers. – Washington Times

A decrease in the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States from Mexico touted by federal officials is a fiction created by an unwritten policy to avoid arresting those crossing the border illegally and instead to use a variety of tactics to turn them back across the border, federal law enforcement agents said. – Washington Examiner

The CIA, FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies are planning potentially significant employee furloughs in the event of a federal government shutdown, agency officials said April 6. - Reuters

Cuba

Yoani Sanchez writes:  Never mind that Carter proclaimed the innocence of jailed American Alan Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years for sharing technology to provide Internet access to Jewish groups in Cuba, nor that he stated that Cubans should be able to freely leave and enter the country. Carter will not succeed in creating changes we ourselves have not set in motion. And on this island where objectivity finds no middle ground, it seems we must wait for an entire family to die before anything can happen. – Washington Post

Andres Martinez writes: Against this backdrop, it is easy to second-guess the wisdom or effectiveness of official U.S.-sponsored efforts to strengthen civil society groups in Cuba and introduce the rudimentary equipment needed to get them on the global grid. But we should cheer Gross’s larger cause, as we did Wael Ghonim’s cause, because they are one and the same. – Washington Post

Haiti

Editorial: There have been so many moments of hope in Haiti — hope that it will manage to overcome a legacy of terrible leadership, environmental catastrophe, natural calamity and crippling poverty. This is another of those moments. Mr. Martelly, however unlikely a figure he may seem to outsiders, must now render the performance of his life. – Washington Post

Ecuador

The U.S. said it will expel Ecuador's ambassador in Washington in a retaliatory move after the Andean country asked the U.S. envoy in Quito to leave this week over a leaked diplomatic cable, a State Department official said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Colombia

Colombia is offering international companies $200 million to make the Internet available to its businesses and consumers, which is good news for U.S. companies coming on the heels of the White House’s announcement that a free-trade agreement has been completed with the Latin American nation and will soon be sent to Congress for approval. – Washington Times

Phil Levy writes: The Obama administration will also need to decide whether, on trade issues, it has now cast its lot with a coalition of pro-trade Republicans and internationalist Democrats, or whether it has pushed its labor allies as far as it dares. Those are questions for another day, though. Today, Presidents Obama and Santos had cause to celebrate. – Shadow Government

Venezuela

[I]n late January…Chavez issued a decree authorizing the takeover of land and buildings to provide housing for thousands of people left homeless by devastating floods over the winter. The government then relocated them to entire floors of government buildings, including the Foreign Ministry, and forced several hotels, including the five-star Intercontinental in Caracas, to take in affected families. A tenet of Chavez's socialist "Bolivarian Revolution," the policy is meant to redistribute the nation's wealth and address what Chavez says are illegal accumulations by the wealthy of underused or idle land and buildings. But it has deeply polarized the nation, with Chavez supporters and beneficiaries on one side and those who believe in private property rights on the other. – Los Angeles Times

Blackouts hit most of Venezuela on Thursday, affecting oil output and the Caracas metro transit system in a major headache for President Hugo Chavez months after electricity rationing hurt his popularity. - Reuters

Central America

Rising violence from drug cartels and street gangs in Central America is costing the region up to 8 percent of gross domestic product and could hit future growth, the World Bank said on Thursday - Reuters


Security
Defense

Despite a near-consensus on Capitol Hill on the need to cut spending, about a fifth of the federal budget has been placed entirely off limits: the Defense Department, which is so awash in cash that even its auditors have a tough time telling where all the money is going…Some fiscal hawks say it is time for a change. – Washington Times

Preparations for repealing the military’s ban on openly homosexual service members have proceeded very well — even among Marines, who have not demonstrated any resistance, the Marine Corps commandant testified Thursday. – Washington Times

On what he described as probably his final visit to Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Thursday turned from eight years of war here to the fight raging at home. If the United States government shuts down this weekend and into next week, he told American troops, there would be a delay in their pay. – New York Times

The embattled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is facing the threat of $3 billion or more in higher costs related to taxes and tariffs on components and subassemblies traveling around its international supply network. – Aviation Week

The U.S. Navy is approaching its 60-month construction goal for its Virginia-class submarines, despite a recent redesign of the bow to accommodate larger and more versatile weapon tubes, according to Capt. Michael Jabaley, Virginia-class program manager – Aviation Week

It is no revelation that long-term U.S. Air Force and Navy planning is focused on China. But while some innovations are underway, like the unmanned combat aerial system (UCAS), U.S. options in response to Chinese threats largely do not include the rapid development and deployment of major new weapons, especially with limited research, development and procurement resources under increasing budget pressure. The emerging AirSea Battle concept, consequently, relies on the reorientation of current programs and the use of networking to ensure freedom of operation in anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environments – Aviation Week

U.S. Defense Department medical facilities, schools, and some financial management operations will stay open during a government shutdown, according to Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn. – Defense News

Military leaders vowed Thursday to ensure that the process of integrating gay and lesbian service members openly into the armed forces will work — even though some of the leaders still have reservations about it. - Politico

Josh Rogin reports: The Defense Department's three-year-old Africa Command (AFRICOM) has been looking for a permanent home ever since it began operating out of its current location in Stuttgart, Germany. Today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) revealed that the top contender to host AFRICOM is... Charleston, South Carolina! – The Cable

Foreign Aid

Kori Schake writes: The whiff of sanctimony pervades USAID still, which is part of why it is so unpopular on Capitol Hill, where elected representatives often find unpersuasive that the spending of their constituents money abroad should have no connection to our national interests. – Shadow Government


Obama Administration
President Obama had the constitutional power to lawfully launch military strikes in Libya without permission from Congress because he “could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest,” the Justice Department concluded in an internal memorandum released on Thursday. – New York Times’ The Caucus

Tom Donnelly writes: If he is not too weary—and who would not be?—the best service Petraeus can give is to institutionalize, across Great Satan's armed services, the characteristics of adaptive leadership that he has embodied. Leading the 101st Airborne Division into Iraq in 2003, Petraeus famously asked journalist Rick Atkinson to “tell me how this ends?” The general’s long time in uniform ought to end in the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman’s chair. – The Enterprise


Democracy and Human Rights
Michael Singh writes: With Great Satan engaged in military operations in support of an uprising in Libya, and facing uncertain outcomes in longtime allies Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain, it is no longer possible to claim that democracy promotion and political reform are not central to American interests in the Middle East, or that opportunities to advance political reform in the region are scant. Washington’s relative inattention to democratization in recent years put it in a disadvantageous position when crises broke out in these countries, and has left American officials playing catch-up as regional politics shift rapidly. Nevertheless, with a renewed and bipartisan emphasis on the promotion of democracy, and in concert with local and international partners, Great Satan can aid people in the Middle East in shaping not only more inclusive political regimes, but stronger relations with America and the West. – Washington Institute for Near East Policy
 

Submitted by those big cookie chicanery chefs at GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD

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