Pastors prepare to take on IRS over political endorsement ban

When Ron Johnson takes take his pulpit on Sunday, he will willfully break the law. After presenting his views on President Barack Obama’s handling of religious issues –- like abortion, gay marriage, and religious freedom - Johnson will ask his congregation a question.

“In light of what I have presented,” Johnson says he will say, “How can you go into that election booth and vote for Barack Obama as president of the United States?”

What Johnson plans to do is in violation of the IRS’ so-called Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that has made it illegal for churches that receive tax exempt status from the federal government to intervene in “any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

Why is Johnson so brazenly violating that law this Sunday? Strength in numbers: He will be joined by at least 1,400 others pastors across the United States.

Johnson’s sermon is part of a wider effort by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal organization that since 2008 has organized Pulpit Freedom Sunday, when they encourage and pledge to help pastors who willfully violate the Johnson Amendment by endorsing from the pulpit.

The movement is growing – and quickly. Pulpit Freedom Sunday had 33 churches participating in 2008, and 539 last year.

Today's Jobs Report Boosts Obama, So Right-wingers Claim 'Conspiracy'

With today's positive jobs report, and unemployment down to 7.8% (cracking the 8% barrier featured in GOP ads), cue the right-wing conspiracy theorists--it's all a plot by Obama to help his re-election bid. They over-sampled the employed?

Jack Welch, former GE and NBC chief, tweeted: "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change number." David Frum replied: "Isn't Jack Welch about the last person on earth who shd talk about organizations manipulating numbers to impress markets?"

Still, Joe Scarborough quoted Welch, saying numbers don't add up. And from Conn Carroll at rightwingWashington Examiner: "I don't think BLS cooked numbers. I think a bunch of Dems lied about getting jobs. That would have same effect."

Mark Levin: "Pre-election farce." Stuart Varney on Fox: "Oh how convenient...five weeks before the election..." John Brabender, former Santorum aide, on CNN says they are "gaming the numbers." A collection of tweets already here.

Ezra Klein at the Washington Post wrote a conspiracy debunking piece and then tweeted that it was "depressing" that such a piece was needed.

Mitt Romney in release claims "this is not what a real recovery looks like." He notes fewer jobs created in September than in August--though those numbers could be revised upward. In general, GOPers mad that unemployment down. Fox pushing Romney camp claim that report shows unemployment actually 11.1.

Here are the new numbers: 114K jobs created in September--and August payrolls revised upward to 142,000 from 96,000. Also, July revised up to 181,000. And September showed first public jobs sector gain in a long time.

Ron Fournier of the National Journal claims that with jobs report Obama "wins week" despite his debate flop. I'm not so sure, as pundits have long hyped impact of these reports--almost never proven in polls.

David Corn on past jobs number revised upward: "I assume Romney campaign will retract all those press releases it sent out a month ago."

More good news for Obama: Today's Rasmussen daily tracking poll shows NO bump so far for Romney from debate. At least one-third of his sample comes from post-debate calls. Obama maintains same 2% lead.
Source - The Nation

Google-owned Motorola withdraws patent lawsuit against Apple

WASHINGTON: Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility has dropped a complaint of patent infringement against Apple without explanation.

In a brief filing with the International Trade Commission on Monday, Motorola Mobility said it was dropping without prejudice a complaint that Apple had infringed on seven Motorola patents.

Apple did not return telephone calls seeking comment and Google said only: "As we have said many times before, we will continue to vigorously defend our partners".

Google and Apple have been locked in an international patent war since 2010, as Apple has sought to limit the growth of Google's Android system. The fight has embroiled Samsung , HTC and others that use Android.

Reuters reported in August that the two companies were in settlement talks. Google said in its filing, however, that "there are no agreements between Motorola and Apple, written or oral, express or implied, concerning the subject matter of this investigation."

The complaint can be re-submitted. Florian Mueller, who was first to report the withdrawal on his blog, said he believed that Google withdrew the complaint to prevent it from being consolidated with an earlier case, thus slowing that case down.

In that case, an ITC judge had said in a preliminary ruling that Apple infringed on a patent for eliminating noise and other interference during voice and data transmissions. A final decision is due next April.

"Maybe they ... wanted to maintain their chances of at least getting some win against Apple in the US in 2013," Muller said in an email interview.

The biggest victory in the smartphone patent war so far belongs to Apple. On August 24, a jury in a California federal court ordered Samsung to pay $1.05 billion in damages after finding that Samsung had copied critical features of the iPhone and iPad.

Samsung was the top-selling mobile-phone maker in the second quarter of 2012, with Apple in third place, according to data from Gartner.

Source - timesofindia

Cutts: Google Launched Another Update During The EMD Update

Friday afternoon, Google launched a major algorithm update coined as being "minor" that targeted low quality exact match domains - the EMD update.

The number of complaints and comments about this update is pretty up there. The levels of concern and those reporting ranking declines is huge. So it seems to have hit the SEO industry pretty hard. As hard as Panda or Penguin? Doubt it but time will tell.

That being said, to make things even more confusing,@GregrySmith was able to get Google's Matt Cutts to confirm that the EMD update was not the only update happening at that time. Matt confirmed on Twitter that at least one other update was released around the same time.

What exactly did that "other" update impact? Smith asked "As an Authority Local SEO Company all sites we reviewed that was hit by EMD update was not EMD's at all.Can you explain this?" Matt Cutts responded, "yes. 500+ algo launches/year mean 1-2 a day. I know of at least one other algo rolling out over same timeframe for example."

Here is the embed:

@gregrysmith yes. 500+ algo launches/year mean 1-2 a day. I know of at least one other algo rolling out over same timeframe for example.

— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 30, 2012

What was this other update? I am not sure, but I will try to find out.

Clearly, Matt Cutts felt it wasn't major enough to tweet about initially. But for webmasters and SEOs to figure out what algorithm hit them, they need to understand the var
Source - seroundtable

Google building itself a powerful, largely invisible fortress as it battles with national governments

We use its technology dozens of times a day with scarcely a thought. But what is Google? Is it just a search engine? Is it a publisher, or merely a platform, an intermediary?

A content kleptomaniac and parasite – in Rupert Murdoch's famous characterisation – or simply a stunning, hydra-headed incarnation of the zeitgeist? Google is a stunningly resourceful and ingenious servant – but is it on the way to becoming our master?

It was 14 years ago last month that Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded the company, and they show no signs of slowing down. At the headquarters in Mountain View, California last week, State Governor Jerry Brown signed a law allowing the company's driverless cars on to California's roads, following Nevada and Florida. "Today we're looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality," Mr Brown gushed. "This is the place where new ideas, risk and imagination come together to really build the future."

But this was also the month that saw the first US Ambassador killed in living memory, as a direct result of the furious reaction to the crude video The Innocence of Muslims, a trailer for which was posted on YouTube, which is wholly owned by Google. Efforts by Islamic groups around the world to force the company to take the video down saw the head of Google's Brazilian operations, Fabio Jose Siva Coelho, arrested this week after the company lost a final appeal. He was released soon afterwards but must appear in court again.

Brazil has been a particularly turbulent market for Google, with more demands for content to be removed from the website than in any other country. This week Jose Guilherme Zagalio, the head of a commission set up by the Brazilian Bar Association to investigate information technology, said: "Our laws trying to govern the internet are outdated. It's not clear who is responsible for content, and that creates uncertainty."

Google invites Indian children for 2012 'Doodle 4 Google' competition

MUMBAI: Google is inviting Indian children to doodle their ideas on diversity.

The company on Wednesday announced the 2012Doodle 4 Google competition where children between the ages of 5 and 16, will be invited to create a doodle (using the Google logo) around the theme of 'Unity in Diversity'.

The winning doodle will be featured on Google India's home page on November 14, Children's Day.

Over the years, the Google doodle has become a popular and innovative way for the company to commemorate important events, like the independence days of various countries (Including India's, which was depicted with a peacock doodle), special days and events like the Olympics, and celebrate the birthdays of well-known people, among other things.

Now Indian children will get a chance to have their work of art put online.

Announcing this year's competition, Nikhil Rungta, country marketing head at Google India, says:"Doodle 4 Google is a great opportunity for students to explore the intersection of art and technology, while sharing their talents and creativity on a national scale. Through this programme, we hope participants will have fun, think creatively and learn something new all at the same time."

According to Rungta, last year's winning doodle by Varsha Gupta, from Delhi NCR, showcased in vivid detail the land of different cultures that is India. "This year we expect the children of India to showcase to the world how India is united in diversity," he added.
Source - economictimes

Facebook denies leak of users' private messages

Some Facebook users say that old private messages are now appearing on their timelines.AA Facebook spokesperson is denying reports that private messages sent by users on the social networking site have become public.

The purported glitch began generating attention Monday after French newspaper Metro reported that private messages dating from 2007 to 2009 had become accessible to friends and acquaintances on their profile pages. Other newspapers across the country began reporting similar incidences, citing reports from the site's users.

Ghana to host international security lecture series and awards

Ghana is to host the 8th Security Watch Africa Lecture series and 9th Security Watch Africa Awards on the October 18th and 19th 2012 at the La Palm Royal Beach hotel in Accra.

The lecture is in response to the challenges posed by insecurity and emerging insecurity to governments and people, arising from urban development and disturbing levels of poverty in the rural areas.

In a joint statement issued in Accra on Tuesday and copied to the GNA and signed by Dr Theresa Oppong Beeko, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Awards, Mr. Patrick Agbambu, the International Coordinator of Security Watch Africa, said the idea behind both events was borne out of “our desire to see a safe and secured Africa that we dream of”.

“More worrisome is the high degree of insecurity of lives and property of our peoples in the continent.”

The statement said the Lecture and Award would bring together renowned African leaders, international speakers, opinion leaders and the mass media to proffer solutions to the emerging threat of insecurity confronting the African continent.

The lecture that is under the theme: “Developing Regional Strategies and Best Practices in the Fight Against Crimes and Conflicts in Africa”, is expected to draw high profile security chiefs and their officers from across Africa, particularly, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, The Gambia, Ethiopia and Zambia.

The awards ceremony will be chaired by the former Gambian President, Sir Dawda Jawara.

Security Watch Africa Awards started in 2004 and the Lecture series in 2005. The Awards aims at recognizing, appreciating, encouraging and celebrating individuals, groups, agencies as well as organizations, which have excelled in security administration, operations, practice and governance in Africa.

The lecture series also seek to identify security problems affecting Africa and her people and proffer actionable solutions, drawing from the wealth of experience of security decision makers and professionals, both within and outside the continent.

Past award winners from Ghana include Business mogul Alhaji Asuma Banda, Former Vice president Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, former President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Felix Anya, Chief Executive Officer of the Holy Trinity Spa and Health Farm, the Manet Group, Ghana Airports Company and Exim Guaranty Ltd among others.

Security Watch Africa is a media NGO based in Nigeria but covers issues and events across Africa. The Security Watch Africa Lecture and Awards have been hosted in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and the Gambia.

The SWA Initiatives also include a television programme running for the past 15 years on Africa Independent television, AIT beamed worldwide via satellite and DSTV and equally publish a security magazine circulated all over Africa. GNA
Source - vibe ghana

Cash prizes at Jaipur International Film Festival

Hanu roj, festival director, Jaipur International Film festival (JIFF) said that cash prizes for films in special categories will be given to support filmmakers.

"To support the talented filmmakers from Rajasthan, we have announced three cash prizes in the special category 'U-turn Rajasthan panorama'. The best film will be selected by a panel of three jury members. Films securing the first, second and third prize will be awarded with the cash prize of 21,000, 11,000 and 5,000 respectively. This announcement will be made during the festival," said Hanu.

The five-day film festival from January 27 to 31 will be presenting documentary, fiction, short and feature films from all across the world.
Source - timesofindia

Steven Pienaar retires from international football

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa captain and Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar has quit international football because his "body is tired", the national football association said Tuesday.

Pienaar, who succeeded Aaron Mokoena as skipper after the 2010 World Cup and had limited success in the role, revealed his decision in a letter to the body, which was read out ahead of a national squad announcement.

The slightly built 30-year-old -- the only South African footballer featuring regularly in a major European league -- said he could no longer cope with the physical demands of playing for his club and country.

"I am very disappointed as Steven was set to play a huge role going forward," recently appointed South Africa coach Gordon Igesund told a Johannesburg media conference.

"Steven says his body is tired and we must respect that decision -- he has contributed a lot to the national team over the past 10 years and we will miss him."

Igesund stressed that the door had not been slammed shut on Pienaar, who made a successful returned to the "Toffees" this season after an unhappy spell at Tottenham Hotspur.

"If he has a change of mind and is fitter, stronger and better than his rivals for a squad place, he will be considered," said the coach, who won the South African Premiershsip title with a record four clubs.

"However, no footballer is guaranteed a place in the South African squad -- not even (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo, if they were available to play for this country."

Caring For The Aged : International Day of Older Persons, 2012

Aged persons enjoying a local sports meet in the outskirts of Imphal
Aged persons enjoying a local sports meet in the outskirts of Imphal :: Pix - Hueiyen Lanpao

Aged people are always seen braving the sun in long queues in front of Imphal Banks for hours. This is gross injustice to the pension payees on the part of the pension payers.
And most politicians of the state resort to favouritism and discrimination in enlisting for old-age pensions in various assembly constituencies. The same opportunistic politicians even engage in scuffles in distributing the old-age pensions.
It is really embarrassing to manipulate the due rights of older peoples for reaping electoral benefits.

Radhamani, an octogenarian woman somewhere in Imphal was fighting against her age and reluctant to die, as there was none to feed her three parentless siblings already affected by HIV.

Her sad story so impressed me that I scripted a radio feature on it entitled 'Eikhoina Soidana Ngamlani' which earned the Akashvani Awards 2007. How much responsibility is shared by the elders for their wards in Manipur society is clearly witnessed in the markets, where very aged women are seen selling vegetables to feed their families.

The agreement between the past and the present brings forth a bright future. When the present generation neglects the old, the next generation will completely discard us all. We must study and follow the past. The ideal of remembering Jananeta Hijam Irabat, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Radhakrishnan and a host of other leaders of the past lies in nurturing a good future. Thus observances and memorials have become big events to the conscious people of the present generation.

Everyone is going to be aged some day. When one has the energy and resource, one needs to pave a smooth path for the future by way of respecting and serving one's elders. If someone neglects his elders, he will be neglected by his youngsters when he becomes weak and old. This is the theory of karma. Elder persons are a treasure for the present generation. Here lies the importance of observing International Day of Older Persons on October first every year.

Do we need a rashtra bhasha?

Last week, on my way to work, I saw an Air India hoarding proclaiming 14 September as Hindi Diwas. It was the only reminder of the fact that India still has a rashtra bhasha. I wonder how many young Indians know this.

There was a time when the Government made a big deal out of Hindi Diwas. It was an occasion to assert that we must reject English and switch over to Hindi, the language that promised to bring us all together under one flag. English, it was argued, was a colonial relic and since we had removed the statues and renamed the roads, it was time to stop using the language of the British. To make this happen, the Government set up a huge department and gave it hundreds of crores.

Today, decades later, English has not only grown in India, it has dug deep roots. Even the poorest Indian wants his children to study in English medium. No, it is not because we are any less nationalistic today. It is because, despite the enormous reach of Bollywood, people still want their children to speak their mother tongue at home (Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, whatever) and use English to reach out to the world. In fact, south of the Vindhyas, English is the actual unifying language, not Hindi. People there have made it amply clear they will continue to use it even if Delhi disapproves.

In short, we have realised that English is not about bondage. It’s about freedom. The freedom to converse with the world as equals, to reach out to new markets, discover new things. Even the French speak English today. So do the Chinese. The Japanese held out for a while. But even they are now convinced it makes good sense to do business in English. National pride, wonderful as it may be, has nothing to do with the language of work and learning. One can be proficient in English and yet retain one’s culture, one’s heritage. If you ask people anywhere in the world to list their ten favourite authors in English today, most will name at least three of Indian origin. Instead of spurning English, we own it today.

The world’s most widely read English newspaper is Indian. The second most widely read financial paper in English is also Indian. As the Government remains paralysed by its paranoia of social media, more and more young Indians are using English apps for news, business, healthcare, markets. Governance will soon become language agnostic. Our cell phones, computers, tablets are making young Indians in the remotest corners of this country into world citizens. In the North East, English is the only language that can see you through the entire region.

The moral of the story is: A young nation must make its own choices. Try as hard as it wants, no Government can force its will on its citizens. The time for the Papa State is over. Young India wants to take its own calls and this is one example where the Government has shown wisdom and quietly backed off. If we can do this with something as sensitive as language, I am sure we can show the same wisdom in issues relating to caste, region and religion. Instead of using a heavy hand, if the State occasionally steps back and allows the will of the people to prevail, I am sure many of our conflicts will disappear. Do we really need to call VT station by another name? Will a Hill Council in Darjeeling change the lives of people? Will carving Telengana out of Andhra really make a difference to the lives of people there? Instead of all these reservations, why not let young Indians learn the importance of merit? Let’s chuck the tired clichés about social engineering. Let’s discover a new political lexicon.

This could be the best reforms. To finally build an India that leaves behind its old animosities, its old prejudices to seek a new future. We cannot right every historical wrong but we can certainly forget them and move on.
Source - Times Of India

Dear Supreme Court, criminals too come in big cars

This is something that has been bothering me for quite a while, in fact, since May this year. The nation’s apex court on May 2, 2012 ordered that dark films from car windows need to be taken off even if they are within the permissible limits of transparency. However, car windows that come factory fitted with tinted glasses are allowed.

The court’s directive was clear: We prohibit the use of black films of any visual light transmission (VLT) percentage or any other material upon the safety glasses, windscreens (front and rear) and side glasses of all vehicles throughout the country.

One can understand the apex court’s move. It is to prevent criminals who often misuse the dark windows to commit rapes and other crimes. These dark windows are often also used to evade police interception. These criminals need no mercy and need to be shot where it hurts. No two ways about it. And the apex court needs to be complemented. It has constantly proven itself to be a saving grace in a nation where all others, especially the political class, are hell bent on milking us dry, shamelessly and brazenly.

I don’t want to run foul of the nation’s apex court, which, as I said, has been a shining beacon amid anarchy all around, but this move, despite the best intentions, is flawed. As long as transparency of the film is within legal limits, where is the problem? It is a well-known fact that only the cheaper cars do not have factory fitted tinted glasses. And it is the owners of these small cars who go for the cheaper alternative to beat the heat in a nation that experiences hot weather for most parts of the year. This is all they can afford to provide a dignified transport for themselves and their families. Just because he cannot afford an expensive car with factory fitted dark glasses, does it mean he has no right to make his ride/drive comfortable?

Sure, this move followed a spate of rapes in moving cars with darkened glasses, but do those in expensive cars not commit crimes, like rape? As I said, as long as the window is transparent enough to allow a security person to look inside, how does it matter whether it is factory fitted tinted glass or tinted with a film with permissible travel transparency? Why hurt everyone in smaller, inexpensive cars with such a harsh measure? Those who use smaller cars are not necessarily criminals just as not all who drive expensive cars saints.

I know this is the nation’s apex court’s directive, so I should be very careful, but let me relate an incident involving a Supreme Court decision. Over a decade ago, in November 1997, a school bus tragically fell in the Yamuna at Wazirabad barrage. The apex court took note of the tragedy and once it was made to realise that the bus driver’s attention was perhaps diverted by the hoardings by the side of the road and certain other obstacles, it banned all hoardings in Delhi, along with a slew of other measures that Delhi administration was supposed to immediately put in place. It seemed odd, for similar accidents could happen elsewhere too but the order was Delhi specific.

A few years later, I was at an interaction with Justice JS Verma, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. He had earlier served as the Chief Justice of India. Since this is one gripe I had against the court, I narrated this incident to him and said the Supreme Court of India sometimes behaves like the Supreme Court of Delhi. The genial justice immediately smiled and acknowledged that I had a point, before adding, he was the Chief Justice of India then and headed the bench that issued that order. My heart missed more than a beat and my instincts berated me for speaking out of turn. But Justice Verma smiled widely and acknowledged I was right.

I am sure the current court would be as accommodating this time too.
Source - Times of india

IND won the match by 8 wickets.

COLOMBO: Ravichandran Ashwin andYuvraj Singh set it up with a superb display of spin bowling before Virat Kohli took centrestage with an unbeaten 78 as an inspired India thrashed arch-rivals Pakistanby eight wickets to keep their title hopes alive in the ICC World Twenty20 on Sunday.

Scorecard | Match in Pics

Ashwin (2/16) and Yuvraj (2/16) snapped up four wickets between themselves as Pakistan were shot out for a meagre 128 in 19.4 overs. Lakshmipathy Balaji also complemented the 'spin twins' with impressive figures of 3/22 in 3.4 overs.

Kohli, who has been Pakistan's nemesis in the past, hit a scintillating unbeaten 78 off 61 balls as India won with three overs to spare. The Delhi lad hit nine boundaries and two sixes to take the team home in the high-voltage contest watched by a capacity crowd.

However, Pakistan are still ahead in terms of net run rate of -0.426 which is shade better than India's -0.452. Had India won with 20 balls to spare, they would have been No. 2 in the group.

India will now have to defeat South Africa in their last group-2 match on Tuesday to make it to the semifinals.

India's unbeaten record against Pakistan in ICC World Cups has thus been kept intact having beaten them five times in the 50-over version and thrice in the T20 format.

Kohli started with a thickish outside edge off Raza Hasan for a boundary but then played some lovely strokes. A backfoot cover drive off Saeed Ajmal and lovely cover drive off Yasir Arafat were glorious strokes.

He also lofted Shahid Afridi over long-off for a six. Whether driving on the up or playing off his hips, Kohli was a treat to watch.

Virender Sehwag, on the other hand, was happy to play the second fiddle during the 74-run partnership for the second wicket but did play a lovely lofted shot off Umar Gul's bowling.

Pakistan captain Mohammed Hafeez's decision to bat first on a slow Premadasa track failed to produce the desired result as Ashwin and Yuvraj frustrated the opposition batsmen by maintaining superb line and length.

Ashwin, who operated from round the wicket, had superb figures of two for 16 from four overs while Yuvraj also had identical figures but from three overs.

The duo snapped four Pakistan wickets for only 32 runs in seven overs and it was the reason why Hafeez and Co could not reach a respectable total. Lakshmipathy Balaji also complemented the 'spin twins' with impressive figures of 3/22 in 3.4 overs.

The only notable partnership was of 47 runs between Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal. Malik was the top scorer with 28 before he gave an easy catch to Rohit Sharma. Last match's heroUmar Akmal played a pull shot off an Ashwin delivery but couldn't clear Suresh Raina in the deep.

India versus Pakistan matches are never short of drama and this match was also not an exception. Zaheer Khan's first over saw him bowl three wide deliveries and then being square driven by Imran Nazir for a boundary before Virender Sehwag dropped the opener at first slip.

Irfan Pathan started off the collapse by removing Nazir who had shuffled a long way but the umpire thought that left-arm seamer's incoming delivery would have hit the stumps. Nazir stood his ground for a while before leaving.

To everyone's disbelief, Shahid Afridi walked in at No 3 and smashed the first delivery from Pathan over his head and then another boundary off the bowler through the cover region.

However, with the former Pakistan captain, opposition teams always fancy a chance and Balaji bowled a short one which Afridi tried to pull it over mid-wicket boundary but was caught by Suresh Raina at the boundary ropes. Afridi made only 14.

Yuvraj then got into the act as he removed left-hander Nasir Jamshed and wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal in quick succession to reduce Pakistan to 49 for four. Both hurried onto their shots.

Jamshed tried to play a slog-sweep which was smartly taken by Dhoni while Kamran tried an expansive cover drive of an arm ball only to give the Indian captain his second catch.

Pakistan captain Hafeez scratched around for 28 balls for his 15 before he dragged one onto his stumps off part-timer Virat Kohli's bowling.

Umar and Malik then got together to conjure a partnership but Ashwin dismissed both of them in quick succession to end Pakistan's chances of a big score.
Source -  Times Of india

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