September 18, 2018

‘Davos man’ versus ‘Camp Igloo’; 42nd World Economic Forum convenes in Swiss alps

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel gave yesterday’s opening address to the 42nd meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is facing a distinctly different geo-political landscape from twelve months ago. Outside the WEF security cordon, in the sub-zero temperatures of Davos’ train station car park, the local incarnation of the Occupy movement are setting up ‘Camp Igloo’; but, with little hope of the archetypes of the 1%, ‘Davos Man’, arriving by public transport and seeing their sub-zero protest.

David Roth, heading the Swiss centre-left’s youth wing — and an organiser of ‘Camp Igloo’, echoes much of the sentiment from ‘Occupy’ protests around the world; “[a]t meetings the rest of society is excluded from, this powerful ‘1 percent’ negotiates and decides about the fate of the other 99 percent of this world, […] economic and financial concentration of power in a small, privileged minority leads to a dictatorship over the rest of us. The motto ‘one person, one vote’ is no longer valid, but ‘one dollar, one vote’.”

Roth’s characterisation of ‘Davos Man’, a term coined by the Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard University, is more emotive than that of the late professor who saw ‘Davos man’ as “[having…] little need for national loyalty, view[ing] national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see[ing] national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations”.

As Reuters highlights, many attendees will opt to make their way from Zurich to Davos by private jet, or helicopter, and the WEF itself provides handouts indicating the cost of such is 5,100 Swiss francs (approx. 5,500 USD, 3,500 GBP, 4,200 EUR). In contrast: travelling by rail, even when opting for first class — without an advance booking, is 145 Swiss francs (approx. 155 USD, 100 GBP).

Shifting fortunes see several past attendees missing this year’s exclusive get-together in the alpine resort; for a second year running — and now caught up in the UK phone hacking scandal being scrutinised by Lord Leveson’s inquiry — media mogul Rupert Murdoch will not be attending. Nor will the former head of financial services company UBS Oswald Gruebel, who resigned in the wake of US$2.3 billion losses incurred through unauthorised trading; likewise, Philipp Hildebrand, the ex-head of the Swiss National Bank, is absent following scandal associated with his wife’s currency trading activities; and, although the sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn were dropped, having stepped down as managing director of the International Monetary Fund Strauss-Kahn will also be absent.

As the #OccupyWEF protesters were building igloos last weekend, an anti-WEF protest in the Swiss capital Berne was broken up by police, who stated their intent to prosecute participants in the illegal protest. Allegations of calls for violent protest action led to a high number of officers being involved. In the aftermath, charges of breach of the peace are to be brought against 153 people, with some targeted for more serious offences. At least one group involved in the protest described the police response as “disproportionate”.

At ‘Camp Igloo’ Roth says he is seeking discussions with the WEF’s expected 2,000 attendees; but his voice, and that of others in the worldwide ‘Occupy’ movement, is unlikely to be given a platform in the opening debate, “Is 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society?” He, and others taking part in this Swiss incarnation of the ‘Occupy’ movement, are still considering an invite to a side-session issued by the World Economic Forum’s founder, Klaus Schwab; commenting on the invite Roth told the Associated Press they would prefer a debate at a more neutral venue.

As has been the case for several years now, the annual Forum meeting in Davos was preceded with the release of a special report by the World Economic Forum into risks seen as likely to have an impact the in the coming decade. The 2012 Global Risks Report is a hefty document; the 64-page report is backed with a variety of visualisation tools designed to allow the interrelations between risks to be viewed, how risks interact modelled, and their potential impacts considered — as assessed by the WEF’s panel of nearly 500 experts.

As one would expect, economic risks top both the 2012 impact and likelihood charts. Climate change is pushed somewhat further down the list of concerns likely to drive discussions in Davos. “Major systemic financial failure” — the collapse of a globally important financial institution, or world currency, is selected as the risk which carries the most potential impact.

However, “Chronic fiscal imbalances” — failing to address excessive government debt, and “Severe income disparity” — a widening of the the gulf between rich and poor, top the list of most likely risks.

At the other end of the tables, disagreeing respectively with the weight last year’s Wikinews report gave to orbital debris, and the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) fight with the Internet over copyright legislation, the 2012 Global Risks Report places “Proliferation of Orbital Debris” and “Failure of intellectual property regime” bottom of the league in terms of potential impact.

In 2011, with the current global economic crisis well under-way, “Fiscal crises” topped the WEF risks with the largest potential impact in the next ten years. However, perceived as most likely a year ago, “Storms and cyclones”, “Flooding”, and “Biodiversity loss” — all climate-change related points — were placed ahead of “Economic disparity” and “Fiscal crises”.

More mundane risks overtake the spectre of terrorism when contrasting this year’s report with the 2011 one; volatility in the prices of commodities, consumer goods, and energy, and the security of water supplies are all now ranked as more likely risks than terrorism — though the 2011 report did rank some of these concerns as having a higher potential impact. A significant shift in perception sees the 2012 report highlight food shortages almost as likely a risk the world will face over the next decade; and, one with a far more significant impact.

Attending the World Economic Forum at Davos is more than just an opportunity to discuss the current state of the global economy, and review the risks which face countries around the world. With such a high number of political and business leaders in attendance, it is an ideal opportunity to pursue new trade deals.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is, in addition to being a keynote speaker, expected to pursue improved relations with European and Asian trade partners at private meetings on the Forum sidelines. The Toronto Star reports Harper is likely to push forward an under-negotiation Canadian-European free-trade agreement, and hold closed-door discussions prior to next month’s planned trip to China.

Similarly, Canadian trade minister Ed Fast is expected to meet South Korean counterparts to discuss an equivalent deal to the preferential ones between the Asian nation and the US and Europe. Fast’s deal does, however, face opposition at home; the Canadian Auto Workers union asserts that such a deal would put 33,0000 jobs at-risk.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne are expected to discuss a possible increase of UK funding to the International Monetary Fund (IMF); however, with the UK responsible for 4.5% of the US$400 billion in the IMF’s lending fund, backbench MPs have warned that committing any additional funds could provoke a Conservative revolt in parliament. Tuesday’s IMF cut of predicted global growth from 4% to 3.3%, warnings of a likely Eurozone recession in 2012, and ongoing problems with Greek financial restructuring, are likely discussion topics at Davos — as well as amongst UK backbench MPs who see adding to the IMF war-chest as bailing out failed European economies.

South Africa, less centre-stage during the 2011 Forum, will be looking to improve relationships and take advantage of their higher profile. President Jacob Zuma and several cabinet members are attending sessions and discussions; whilst former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to moderate a session, “Africa — From Transition to Transformation“, with Nigeria, Guinea, and South Sudan’s presidents on the panel. Wal-mart’s CEO Doug McMillon is to lead a dinner session, “Shared Opportunities for Africa’s Future” — highlighting larger multinationals looking towards the continent for new opportunities.

Davos may also serve as a place to progress disputes out of the public eye; a high-profile dispute between Chile’s state-owned copper mining business, Codelco, and Anglo American plc over the 5.39 billion USD sale of a near-quarter stake in their Chilean operations to Japan’s Mitsubishi, prompted the Financial Times to speculate that, as the respective company chiefs — Diego Hernández and Cynthia Carroll — are expected to attend, they could privately discuss the spat during the Forum.

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New edition of Canada’s Food Guide released

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A new version of Canada’s Food Guide was announced by Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement on Feb. 5, 2007. The guide has helped Canadians with healthy eating habits since 1942 but was last updated in 1992. It is the Canadian government’s most-requested publication after income tax forms.

Changes to the Food Guide include:

  • a first-time recommendation to include a small amount of unsaturated fat in regular diets;
  • physical activity to complement healthy eating;
  • advice for some people to take vitamin supplements;
  • an advisory to limit foods with excess salt, sugar, fat and calories, which is considered an unprecedented caution regarding junk food.
Examples of the Food Guide’s four groups (clockwise from top left): vegetables and fruit, grain products, meat and its alternatives, milk and its alternatives
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September 17, 2018

Category:Science and technology

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  • 25 August 2018: Fossil genome shows hybrid of two extinct species of human
  • 31 July 2018: Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018
  • 21 July 2018: Cretaceous baby snake fossil found in Myanmar
  • 19 July 2018: US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites
  • 10 June 2018: New study of endangered whale shark youth shows vital habitat similarities
  • 6 June 2018: Microsoft announces plan to acquire GitHub for US$7.5 billion
  • 7 May 2018: NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars
  • 21 April 2018: NASA launches exoplanet-hunting satellite TESS
  • 9 April 2018: US Republicans query Linux Foundation about open-source security
  • 3 April 2018: China’s Tiangong-1 space station crashes into Pacific
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Google planning PayPal rival

Monday, June 20, 2005

Financial analysts say Google is planning an e-wallet service that could eventually compete with eBay’s payment service PayPal. Google has not confirmed the development.

The rumor is a first sign of Google’s expected expansion of revenue sources to capitalize on its advertising customer base and search-engine traffic. What form that expansion will take has been a hotly debated subject for the company whose stock valuation momentarily made it the world’s biggest media company on June 7, 2005. Even Microsoft has been mentioned as a possible future competitor.

Ebay’s stock valuation dipped more than 2% on the news. Paypal currently accounts for one-fifth of the company’s revenues. But one business analyst saw potential benefit for Paypal[1], depending on exactly how the “Google Wallet” takes shape. The uncertainty underlined the lack of substantive information behind the rumor.

According to the New York Times, the CEO of a major online merchant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was approached by Google to take part in this service. Steve Langdon, a Google spokesperson, declined to comment.

  • Spoken version of the article
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Gunman commits suicide at University of Texas

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A man wearing a ski mask and carrying an assault rifle apparently killed himself in the library of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas earlier today.

The university was placed under lockdown and all classes were canceled as a result of the incident. Nobody else was hurt, but police are still looking for a possible second gunman. Art Acevedo, the chief of Austin police, said that officials are also considering the possibility of explosives left by the suspect. Armored vehicles were seen moving around the campus in response to the event, as well as {{w|SWAT team|SWAT teams}, bomb-sniffing dogs, and police helicopters. An ambulance was seen around 9:00 a.m. CDT (1400 UTC) at the University of Texas’ Perry-Castaneda library.

The school’s website included a notice this morning, which read: “The person involved in this morning’s shooting on campus has been confirmed dead on the sixth floor of the Perry-Castaneda Library from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Law enforcement are searching for a second suspect. If you are off campus, STAY AWAY. If you are on campus, lock doors, do not leave your building.” The gunman was reportedly killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and no shots had been fired by law enforcement officials.

The shooter has not yet been identified, and the reason behind the incident is not yet known. Witnesses described the man as wearing a dark suit and ski mask, and carrying an assault rifle. Randall Wilhite, a professor at the university, said that he heard gunshots while going to class and saw the suspect heading toward the library just after 8:00 a.m. CDT (1300 UTC). The gunman appeared to be firing shots randomly. “When I pulled up in my car, he stood right in front of me and didn’t stop running but turned in my direction, fired three shots into the ground to the left of my car and kept running,” said Wilhite. The gunman had the chance to shoot students, added Wilhite, but he did not appear to be targeting them.

The school, which has around 50,000 students, sent out an alert around that time warning students to stay where they were. Robby Reeb, a senior at the school, said that “a guy sprinted past me screaming, ‘There’s a guy with a gun.’ I looked up and saw a man in a ski mask, wearing a suit, and carrying an assault rifle. And I called 911.”

Police said that the gun used in the shooting was an AK-47, and that they were examining two different crime scenes: where the shots were fired outside, and where the gunman was found dead in the library. Police would not say whether he was attending the university. Chief Acevado said that there were “reports of a second suspect that was wearing a beanie with a long rifle, wearing blue jeans and a black top” that “may or may not be a white male.”

Several hours after the lockdown began, police allowed students to leave the university’s campus, although nobody is still allowed to enter.

The school was also the site of a shooting spree on August 1, 1966, in which university student Charles Whitman fatally shot fourteen to sixteen people and wounded another 32 before being himself killed by law enforcement authorities; reports of the exact death toll are inconsistent. Whitman, a former U.S. Marine, shot students from the observation platform of the school’s tower. That event was the deadliest school shooting in the United States until the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

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Step By Step Kitchen Renovation

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By Brian Jenkins

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and a kitchen remodeling project is one of the most dramatic, as well as most expensive, projects that you can undertake in your home. Before you begin a kitchen remodeling job, it is important to plan the project from beginning to end. If you neglect this step, it is easy to experience price overruns as well as unexpected structural problems.

Establish a Budget and Design the Space

The most important part of the entire project is to establish a budget. Too often, people decide what they want first, and establish a budget around that. By establishing a budget first, you can choose what you must have, what you would like and what you would settle with in your new kitchen. Everyone’s priorities are different, as is their budget, and there is no right or wrong answer. For some, a natural stone counter top is a priority, while others want to extend the size of the room. Establishing a firm budget and discussing it honestly with your contractor keeps you both on the same page for the duration of the project.

Once you have established a budget, take out some paper and sketch your ideas. Depending on your budget, your contractor, an architect, or the salesman at the local lumber store can give you computer generated plans, but prior to that, sketch your ideas, moving things around, until you are generally happy with your plan.

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Empty the Area

Once you have settled on a design, empty everything out of the kitchen. This is a good time to reorganize, getting rid of the small appliances and serving dishes that you never use, as well as cleaning out those drawers and cabinets that inevitably become catch-alls for things without a home.

Complete any Structural Changes

The actual construction starts with any significant structural changes. These may include anything from moving walls, to adding or moving windows or doors. Even if you plan on doing much of the remodeling work on your own, you may consider using a professional contractor for this portion of the job.

Make Necessary Plumbing and Electrical Changes

This is another part of the job that should be completed by a licensed professional. In fact, depending on where you live, you may be required by law to have a professional make any changes to the electrical or plumbing systems in your home. Some changes, such as adding can lights or running an instant hot water tap are relatively straightforward, while others, such as adding wiring for a dishwasher, or running a gas line for a stove, can affect the entire home if not done properly.

This is the time to order cabinets, flooring and your counter top as well as any new appliances you will be purchasing. This ensures that you will have all of your finishing materials ready for installation when the major remodeling work is completed.

Install Flooring and Cabinets

Once you are finished with the major changes, it is time to begin the more exciting finish work. Your new floor and cabinets are ready to be installed. Cabinet installation is best left to professionals, but a do-it-yourselfer can easily install many types of flooring, including hardwood, laminate and tile, on their own. This is a good way to save a little money on your remodel.

Complete Finish Plumbing Work and Paint

The final step in a kitchen renovation is the finish plumbing work and painting. The finish plumbing includes installing the dishwasher as well as the sink and any additional water lines, such as hooking up the refrigerator water line and a hot water tap. Painting is the last step in the kitchen remodeling project. It is much easier to select paint for your new kitchen after the new cabinets, counter top and flooring is in. The look of your kitchen can change so much, even during a minor remodel, that you may not be happy with your paint if you make the selection too early.

Moderation is Okay

While this article explains all of the details that are included in a complete kitchen remodel, it is possible to update your kitchen by completing a less extensive remodeling project. A fresh coat of paint, new appliances or even an updated counter top can increase the appeal of your kitchen and make it a more pleasant place to congregate.

About the Author: Brian Jenkins is a freelance writer who writes about topics pertaining to home, garden and property maintenance, similar to what consumers read in House Beautiful at

magazines.com/ncom/mag?mid=2210

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isnare.com

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Serbia and Montenegro: Red Star advances to cup finals

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Red Star (Crvena Zvezda) Belgrade advanced to the Serbia and Montenegro football cup finals, after defeating Partizan Belgrade with a score of 2:0 yesterday. The first goal was scored by Nikola Žigi? in the tenth minute (10′). Krivokapi? scored the other goal in the final moments of the match – 90′.

The game between city rivals was attended by only about 8,000 fans. Aside from heavy rain, many fans of both Red Star and Partizan decided to boycott the game.

Red Star’s fans were forbidden from performing their traditional choreography at the beginning of the match, probably due to riots that took place the last time Red Star and Partizan played a regular league game. Partizan’s fans displayed a large sign reading “Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro = mafia.”

Red Star has a chance to win the cup against Železnik, while Partizan is on its way to win the league with a 7 point lead.

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September 14, 2018

GM, Chrysler offer buyouts and early retirement to workers

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

General Motors NYSEGM (GM) and Chrysler have both begun to offer layoff packages to their workforces.

The automobile manufacturers have been hard hit in the recent economic downturn and have been forced to seek federal aid from the U.S. government. Reports say that GM’s package includes a $20,000 cash payment and a $25,000 new vehicle voucher. Chrysler will offer a $25,000 vehicle voucher and $50,000 with healthcare and $75,000 without. Both will offer the deal to most United Auto Workers (UAW) union members – 62,000 at GM, which is seeking to cut 31,500 jobs by 2012.

The two companies have received $13.4 billion in federal loans to keep them operating, but Congress required them to produce viability plans to demonstrate they were making significant cost cuts and labor concessions in return for the money. UAW workers in Detroit earn $28 an hour; their replacements will earn about half that. The UAW’s “jobs bank”, a system where workers without duties are still paid, has stopped at both companies.

GM is also attempting to engineer a debt-for-equity swap, reducing its liabilities from $27.5 billion in unsecured debt to $9.2 billion. It is also seeking to sell a truck manufacturer, the Delco Electronics parts group and the Hummer and Saab Automobile vehicle brands.

The entire motor manufacturing sector has suffered under the economic downturn, with the Ford Motor Company NYSEF announcing a $14.6 billion annual loss, although it has not sought federal aid. GM and Chrysler both ran out of operating funds in December, leading to the federal bailout.

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Marine jet crash into San Diego house attributed to string of errors

Thursday, March 5, 2009

An internal investigation by the United States Marine Corps into the crash of an F/A-18 jet into a San Diego house has blamed errors on the part of the pilot, his superiors and maintenance personnel for the accident which killed four people.

The report found that mechanics had noticed the aircraft had a faulty fuel transfer system in June 2008 but repairs were never made, with the defective jet performing 146 more sorties in this state before the December accident.

“While we did not find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the responsible parties are being held accountable for their part in this tragic accident,” said Maj. Gen. Randolph Alles of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Four Marine squadron officers have been relieved of duty, as well as Navy officers. Eight enlisted Marines and one Navy sailor have been reprimanded. The pilot has been grounded.

On the day of the accident the pilot, Lt. Dan Neubauer, had just taken off from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln when he reported that the aircraft’s right engine had low oil pressure.

Neubauer, who was still in training, shut the engine down as a precaution, leaving the plane operating on the left engine. The Abraham Lincoln’s captain and the ‘air boss’ suggested an emergency landing at the North Island military base, which was about 100 miles from the carrier. This would have given an approach from over the ocean.

Neubauer contacted his squadron bosses and instead opted to try to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which was 11 more miles away and involved a flight path over San Diego. Neubauer also failed to read his own emergency checklists, instead having sections read to him by his squadron representatives on the ground. The squadron representatives at Miramar were unaware of all the details of the situation on board and did not read out all the relevant sections.

Officers at Miramar were informed of the fact that a warning light indicated the remaining engine was running low on fuel. However, they did not take heed in what was described by the report as a “critical mistake”. In fact, the plane’s tanks had plenty of fuel, but the engine trouble was caused by the faulty fuel flow system, which fed the left engine. Officers also failed to watch the plane’s location properly.

Upon final approach to Miramar, Neubauer thought, incorrectly, that he could not turn right, towards his inoperative engine. Instead, he conducted a long leftwards loop to line up. The maneuver took around ninety seconds to complete and starved the left engine of fuel, causing it to flameout. At this point the jet fell towards the ground and the pilot attempted to aim the aircraft for a canyon, where it could crash safely. However, the plane did not stay airborne and struck a house at an estimated 150 mph. It is thought that two more seconds would have been enough for the plane to reach the canyon.

While we did not find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the responsible parties are being held accountable for their part in this tragic accident.

Instead, the crash killed four people inside the house; a grandmother, her daughter and her two granddaughters. The children’s father, Dong Yun Yoon, was among those briefed on the publication of the report, alongside politicians in Washington and San Diego. The pilot safely ejected after holding on as long as possible, the report stating that a second or two more would have likely resulted in his death.

The investigation has a number of implications. The fuel problem was not followed up on as it was not on a list of faults requiring immediate repair, but nonetheless 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing operations officer Col. John Rupp said keeping it in the air “was collectively poor judgment on the part of the squadron’s maintenance department.” The commanding officer, operations officer, aviation maintenance officer and operations duty officer have all been relieved of duty, while eight other marines and a sailor were reprimanded.

Maintenance standards have been upgraded and emergency training enhanced as a result. Flight simulators are set to include a scenario based on the accident. Lt. Dan Neubauer has been grounded and it is up to the deputy commandant for aviation whether he will be allowed to return to the air. Immediately after the accident, all F/A-18s were grounded and inspected. The Marines issued a bulletin to all other operators of the aircraft worldwide to warn them of the circumstances.

So far, the Marines and the United States Navy have identified 40 F/A-18 Hornets with the same problem. None of these have crashed.

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Bolivian troops told to seize natural gas fields

Monday, May 1, 2006

Bolivian President Evo Morales has ordered that all foreign-owned natural gas fields be turned over to the national government of Bolivia.

President Morales signed a decree that orders troops to seize the fields “immediately” to ensure gas production. The decree also says that companies have 180 days to sign over their fields or leave the country.

The fields are owned by such companies as the United States‘ Exxon-Mobil Corporation, Brazil‘s Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Spanish-Argentine Repsol YPF SA, and Great Britain‘s BG Group PLC and BP PLC.

“The looting by the foreign companies has ended. We are not a government of mere promises, we follow through on what we propose and what the people demand. We want to ask (the Armed Forces) that starting now, they occupy all the energy fields in Bolivia along with battalions of engineers,” said Mr Morales after signing the decree.

“The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources,” added President Morales.

One of Morales’ vows in his presidential campaign was to “recover” the country’s natural resources by renationalizing them. President Morales explained, on a visit to Brazil in January, that renationalising the industry would not mean expelling foreign companies or expropriating foreign property. “Foreign companies have every right to recover investments and make profits, but profits should be balanced”.

Bolivia has the second largest supply of natural gas in South America after Venezuela.

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