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Sir Everton Weekes dies aged 95: Cricket mourns the loss of a ‘legend, hero and icon’

Legendary West Indian batsman Sir Everton Weekes has died at the age of 95.

The Barbados-born star was feted as one of ‘the three Ws’ alongside Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell, with the trio representing one of the game’s most formidable batting units for more than a decade after each made their Test debuts weeks apart in 1948.

Weekes continues to hold the record for consecutive Test centuries, making five in a row in his first year of international cricket – four against India and one against Sir Gubby Allen’s England.

His famous streak might have been extended to six had he not been run out somewhat controversially for 90 in Madras.

He played a total of 48 Tests, scoring 4,455 runs with an average of 58.61, hitting 15 hundreds.

Worrell and Walcott, who died in 1967 and 2006 respectively, are both buried at the 3Ws Stadium just outside Bridgetown and a plot has long been left vacant for their long-time teammate should his family choose to accept it.

Announcing the news, Cricket West Indies (CWI) tweeted: “Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of an icon. A legend, our hero, Sir Everton Weekes.

“Our condolences go out to his family, friends and many fans around the world. May he rest in peace.”

The West Indian Players’ Association added its voice to a chorus of condolences, tweeting: “We salute a great West Indies icon; Sir Everton made an invaluable contribution to the sport, his country and the region, we were blessed to have him among us, may his soul rest in peace.”

England, who are currently playing host to the West Indies Test squad, posted: “A true great of the game. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Sir Everton Weekes’ family and friends.”

Weekes was awarded his knighthood in 1995, following his two friends in earning the honour, and the Caribbean’s four-day tournament is played for the Headley/Weekes Trophy – honouring him alongside another master batsman, George Headley.

Among his four children, one – David Murray – followed his lead by turning out for the West Indies and earned 19 Test caps as a wicketkeeper between 1978 and 1982.

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Black Lives Matter groups planning convention in August

The 2020 Black National Convention, originally an in-person event, will take place on August 28 via a live broadcast.

Spurred by broad public support for the Black Lives Matter movement, thousands of Black activists from across the US will hold a virtual convention in August to produce a new political agenda that seeks to build on the success of the protests that followed George Floyd’s death.

The 2020 Black National Convention will take place on August 28 via a live broadcast. It will feature conversations, performances and other events designed to develop a set of demands ahead of the November general election.

The Associated Press news agency (AP) reported the plan on Wednesday.

The convention is being organised by the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 150 organisations. In 2016, the coalition released its “Vision for Black Lives” platform, which called for public divestment from mass incarceration and for the adoption of policies that can improve conditions in Black America.

“What this convention will do is create a Black liberation agenda that is not a duplication of the Vision for Black Lives, but really is rooted as a set of demands for progress,” said Jessica Byrd, who leads the Electoral Justice Project.

Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, which organises in 15 states, confirmed to Al Jazeera that the 2020 Black National Convention was being planned and said an official annoucement will be posted on the group’s website later on Wednesday.

“We’re in this stage now where we’re getting more specific about how all of this is connected to our local organising,” Albright said. “The hope is that, when people leave the convention, they leave with greater clarity, more resources, connectivity and energy.”

Platform, demands

At the end of the convention, participants will ratify a revised platform that will serve as a set of demands for the first 100 days of a new presidential administration, Byrd said. Participants also will have access to model state and local legislation.

“What we have the opportunity to do now, as this 50-state rebellion has provided the conditions for change, is to say, ‘You need to take action right this minute,'” Byrd said. “We’re going to set the benchmarks for what we believe progress is and make those known locally and federally.”

The convention was originally planned to happen in person, in Detroit, the nation’s Blackest major city. But as the coronavirus pandemic exploded in March, organisers quickly shifted to a virtual event, Byrd said. The first Black Lives Matter convention was held in Cleveland in 2015.

Recent AP analysis of COVID-19 data shows Black people have made up a third of reported virus deaths.
Initial work to shape the new platform will take place on August 6 and 7, during a smaller so-called People’s Convention that will virtually convene hundreds of delegates from Black-led advocacy groups. The process will be similar to one that produced the first platform, which included early iterations of the demand to defund police that now drives many demonstrations.

Other platform demands, such as ending cash bail, reducing pretrial detention and scrapping discriminatory risk-assessment tools used in criminal courts, have become official policy in a handful of local criminal justice systems around the US.

The coalition behind the convention includes Color of Change, BYP100, Dream Defenders and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which has 16 official chapters nationwide.

Long history

Convention organisers said this year’s event will pay tribute to the historic 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, which concluded with the introduction of a national Black agenda. The Gary gathering included prominent Black leaders such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the Reverend Al Sharpton, Representative Shirley Chisholm, who ran for president, as well as Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz.

That convention came after several tumultuous years that included the assassinations of Malcolm X and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and outbreaks of civil unrest, all of which were seen as blows to the civil rights movement.

The upcoming convention builds on more than century of Black political organising.

In 1905, civil rights activist and scholar WEB Du Bois formed the Niagara Movement after a national conference of Black leaders near Buffalo, New York. In a written address to the country, Du Bois and others decried the rise of institutionalised racial inequality in voting, criminal justice systems and public education.

In the 1950s, William Patterson, founder of the now-defunct Civil Rights Congress, led the effort to charge the US with genocide of African Americans using legal standards set by the United Nation. The resulting petition, “We Charge Genocide,” is an oft-cited document in conversations about fatal shootings of Black people by police in the US.

And in 1998, organisers of the Black Radical Congress in Chicago met to strategise ways to beat back attacks on affirmative action policies that helped to diversify higher education and other facets of American life.

Like any large political gathering, consensus is not guaranteed. The National Black Political Convention caused divisions between participating organisations over the Black agenda’s position on busing to integrate public schools and statements on global affairs that some viewed as anti-Israel. Ultimately, the agenda prompted a leader of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organisation, to sever ties with the convention.

Somewhat similarly, the Vision for Black Lives platform and its characterisation of Israel as an “apartheid state” committing mass murder against Palestinian people drew allegations of anti-Semitism from a handful of Jewish groups, which had otherwise been supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Black Lives Matter movement’s coalition has more than doubled in size in the years since the first platform, largely because of organisers’ laser focus on issues central to Black freedom, Byrd said.

“That actually is the Black self determination that our politics require,” Byrd said, “that we don’t just respond to the Democratic Party. That we don’t just respond to the Republican Party. We don’t just say ‘Black lives matter’ and beg people to care. We build an alternative container for all of us to connect, outside of the white gaze, to say this is what we want for our communities.”

The August convention will happen on the same day as a commemorative, in-person march on Washington that is being organised by Sharpton, who announced the march during a memorial service for Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

The Black National Convention will be broadcast after the march, Byrd said.

August “is going to be a huge month of Black engagement,” she said.

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‘Stop the talks, Boris!’ Britons FURIOUS as ‘panicking’ Angela Merkel issues warning to PM

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Mrs Merkel is urging EU negotiator Michel Barnier to play hardball by demanding “more realism” from the UK. Speaking today, Mrs Merkel’s ambassador in Brussels, Michael Clauss, said the German Chancellor was pushing for concessions from Mr Johnson to make it easier for her to convince fellow European Union leaders to back a compromise.

However, Facebook users posting on Express.co.uk’s page were unconvinced.

Bob Crowley commented: “The economy is pants at the moment.

“Now is the time to walk away, as it will only get better from there, WTO is the only way, ditch this corrupt bunch.”

Ian Howard agreed, posting: “Stop the talks Boris! The EU wishes to hobble the UK to prevent further implosion.

“Whole idea of getting out is so we are NOT covered by EU rulings!”

Terry Good said: “Who is this Angela Merkel that she thinks she is in charge?

“Boris, tell her to go and look after the people she is supposed to be helping, not to interfere in something that does not concern her, okay???”

Pat Patrick added: “I think we all remember when Cameron went cap in hand, before the referendum, to ask her for concessions.

“He was sent packing and the rest is history. Now she is asking for the UK to give a little.

“Well her words are too little, too late.”

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Meanwhile Charlie Port suggested Mrs Merkel was motivated by self-interest.

He explained: “She is running scared! 

“As it’s clear that Germany will have to pick-up the bill in future.”

“Also if she can’t get a deal then there are going to be other countries that will leave and her dream of a German Dominated Europe will be over.”

Similarly, Graham Everett urged: “Boris don’t give in. Germany is now panicking because of their car industry and other company’s that sell into the UK.

“They are in a massive recession. We have them on the run.

“The French need our fish so sell it to them at market rates.”

Speaking about the talks today, Mrs Merkel told the German Parliament: “Progress in talks is, to put it cautiously, very limited.

“We have agreed with Britain to speed up the talks in order to seal a deal in the autumn that must be ratified by the end of the year.”

However, she admitted Germany and the EU “must be prepared for the possibility that a deal doesn’t materialise”.

The UK negotiators have been in crunch meetings with their EU counterparts all week, after both sides agreed to intensify discussions.

They met this week face to face for the first time in months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Mexico's first lady stirs Twitter storm with comment on kids with cancer

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican first lady Beatriz Gutierrez sparked an uproar on social media on Wednesday with a Twitter comment widely viewed as insensitive when she swatted away a question about what she was doing to help parents of children with cancer.

Gutierrez published a celebratory post on the two-year anniversary of the election victory of her husband President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in July 2018.

Responding to her post, Twitter user Jose David Guerra asked: “When will you personally attend to the parents of children with cancer? Thank you for your kind response.”

Gutierrez responded, “I’m not a doctor, maybe you are. On you go, you help them,” in a tweet that has since been deleted but was seen by Reuters and widely retweeted.

Gutierrez, who was trending on Twitter, then made her own account private, according to Mexican media reports.

The office of the president declined to comment on the row, which threatened to take some of the shine off Lopez Obrador’s celebration of his landslide win’s anniversary. A representative for Gutierrez could not immediately be reached for comment.

A shortage of medicines to treat cancer in children drew negative headlines for Lopez Obrador earlier this year as his government tried to overhaul the health system.

Images of sick children and distraught parents criticizing the government from crowded hospital wards damaged his reputation and ate into his popularity.

Gutierrez has been a strong defender of her husband, and has come under fire frequently from critics on social media.

The row sparked a trending hashtag #LaBrujaDelPalacio (The Witch of the Palace), referring to the National Palace, site of the president’s offices and residence. Supporters of the first lady denounced the attacks, saying she deserved respect.

Lopez Obrador himself rarely shies away from conflict with adversaries. His critics and defenders have attacked each other vigorously on Twitter since he took office in December 2018.

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Priti Patel warns ‘furious’ China to ‘reflect on actions’ as nations watch with ‘horror’

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Up to three million residents in Hong Kong could be eligible to live, work or study in the UK following the implementation of a new law from China. The controversial legislation has sparked fury among the international community, and the UK in particular, as it appears to violate the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. Home Secretary Priti Patel stuck by the Government’s decision to green light the policy to offer UK citizenship, when Times Radio’s John Pienaar pointed out that it would make Beijing “furious”.

Ms Patel told him: “We’ve been clear and we’ve said this quite publicly over a period of time.

“To be quite frank, I think the real issue will be very much with Beijing.

“They themselves will have to reflect on their own actions and conduct.

“It won’t just be the United Kingdom responding.”

She continued: “As I’ve said, other nations are watching what is going on with a degree of horror, I think it’s fair to say.

“Other countries will feel equally the same and very strongly too.”

The Times Radio host also grilled the Home Secretary over how this new policy “squared” with her long-term ambition of bringing down the levels of immigration in the UK.

Ms Patel insisted it was all about the controls present around borders and the Government’s long-term immigration policy.

She said: “This isn’t about targets at all.

“First and foremost, we are going to end free movement and the bill we just passed through Parliament does that.

“We’re making fundamental changes, and we’re speaking very clearly about the quality of the people we allow into our country.”

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The ultimate interpretation of China’s national security law is decided by the political party in Beijing.

Beijing and the Hong Kong Government have said that Hong Kong’s traditional freedoms (of speech, of assembly, of protest) will be protected.

However, today already saw police arresting protesters under the broad applications of the law.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused China of a “clear and serious breach” of the joint declaration signed with the UK.

He pledged the UK Government would “honour” its commitment to the citizens of the former British colony.

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PM Johnson makes UK citizenship offer to Hong Kong residents

As many as three million people eligible for the UK’s offer, which excludes those born after the end of British rule.

Britain said it was extending Hong Kong residents a broader path to citizenship in response to China’s sweeping new security law for the former UK territory.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement represents the most direct international response to Beijing’s legislation that has been roundly condemned by Western allies.

“We stand for rules and obligations,” Johnson told parliament just hours after China made its first arrest in Hong Kong under the new law.

“And we think that is the scientific basis for our international relations and the enactment and deposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

About 300,000 Hong Kong citizens have British National Overseas (BNO) passports and another 2.6 million are eligible to apply.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain’s offer also extended to dependents of those with BNO status, but refused to be drawn in about how many would apply.

Eligible individuals from Hong Kong currently visit the UK for six months without a visa. Under the new policy, they will have the right to live and work in the country for five years. After that, they will be allowed to apply for settled status and then again for citizenship.

Hong Kongers who were born after the end of British rule in 1997 are not eligible, meaning in effect, many of the city’s young student activists who are most at risk of arrest under the new law cannot take advantage of the British offer. 

‘Orwellian stuff’

Hong Kong was under UK jurisdiction until Britain handed it to China in 1997 with a guarantee that Beijing would preserve the city’s judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years.

But critics say the new law – passed by Beijing’s rubber-stamp legislature this week without its text being released to the public – tests the limits of the “one country, two systems” principle that formally entered international law in 1984.

Britain’s last Hong Kong governor, Chris Patten, called details of the legislation unveiled overnight “even worse than I expected”.

“It is Orwellian stuff,” Patten told the BBC. “It does go wider and further than anybody had feared.”

Hong Kong police arrested nine people under the law on Wednesday, the first day it came into effect. They included a man with a Hong Kong independence flag and a woman holding a sign displaying the British flag and calling for Hong Kong’s independence.

Others were detained for possessing items advocating independence. 

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Months later, U.N. Security Council backs call for coronavirus truce

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday finally backed U.N. chief Antonio Guterres’ March 23 call for a global truce amid the coronavirus pandemic, adopting a resolution after months of talks to win a compromise between the United States and China.

The resolution, drafted by France and Tunisia, calls for “all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days” to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Negotiations on the resolution were stymied by a standoff between China and the United States over whether to urge support for the World Health Organization. The United States did not want a reference to the global health body, while China did.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in May that Washington would quit the Geneva-based U.N. agency over its handling of the pandemic, accusing it of being “China-centric” and promoting China’s “disinformation,” assertions the WHO denies.

The adopted Security Council resolution does not mention the WHO but references a U.N. General Assembly resolution that does.

“We have really seen the body at its worst,” Richard Gowan, International Crisis Group U.N. director, said of the council. “This is a dysfunctional Security Council.”

The United States and China both took veiled swipes at each other after the resolution was adopted.

The United States said in a statement that while it supported the resolution “it does not include crucial language to emphasize transparency and data-sharing as critical aspects in fighting this virus.”

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun acknowledged the body “should have responded immediately” to Guterres’ call, adding: “We were very frustrated that some countries politicized this process.”

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The Russian ‘bounty’ story – a simple explainer

President Donald Trump’s latest controversy is a complicated story, involving both the Kremlin and the Taliban. Here are the basics you need to know.

In summary

The controversy centres on allegations that Russia was offering money to the Taliban for killing US troops last year, and that the White House was informed about this intelligence but took no action.

Who says what?

US media outlets say there is evidence a Russian military intelligence unit put out the alleged bounties on US soldiers last year – and the president was briefed about the matter. The New York Times also reports that militants are believed to have collected money from Russia as a result of successful attacks, but it’s not clear which troop deaths are under suspicion.

President Trump says he was never briefed and it’s all a hoax.

Russia denies the claims and calls the reports fake news.

The Taliban rejects the allegation it took Russian cash to attack US soldiers.

Should Trump have known about this?

The White House has said there is still debate over how credible these reports are in the intelligence community, but it appears some senior officials knew about these allegations.

Intelligence reports can make it to the president even if they’re unconfirmed – which they often are – and this one was also reportedly shared with allies, including the UK.

Why does it matter now?

It’s destabilising as the US and Taliban are in the midst of negotiating a peace deal to end the 19-year war in Afghanistan.

This episode could also worsen US-Russia relations.

Why would Russia do this?

Experts say the tactic fits with Russia’s goal of weakening America’s global influence. It also wants to back the Taliban as it sees it as a possible bulwark against Islamist fundamentalism.

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Coronavirus slump threatens Mexican president's crusade on poverty

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – When President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won office with the biggest popular mandate since Mexico’s transition to democracy, he pledged to transform the country from the bottom up, putting the poor first.

Two years on, recession, rows with business and the coronavirus pandemic have jeopardized that ambition. Millions of people have lost their jobs and his response to the crisis has drawn criticism.

Lopez Obrador was elected in July 2018 with 53% of the vote, a far bigger share than the three other men to have run Mexico since one-party rule ended in 2000. He registered approval ratings of 80% after he took office that December.

But that optimism has faded in the face of political polarization, dismay over surging crime and frustration with the leftist’s tendency to pick fights with business.

Now, with fears growing about the economic impact of the pandemic, both critics and some well-wishers warn that without a more pragmatic approach, the 66-year-old Lopez Obrador will struggle to revive investment and tackle chronic poverty.

“And the president, with the best intentions of helping the poor, will end up impoverishing more people,” said Fernando Turner, a businessman and supporter who was Lopez Obrador’s pick for economy minister in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Once coronavirus was factored in, said Turner, it looked increasingly likely Mexico’s economy would be smaller when Lopez Obrador’s term ends in late 2024 than when it started.

“If the cake is smaller, there will be less for the people he wants to help,” he said. “I would ask him to change tack before it’s too late to save his political project.”

Lopez Obrador says his welfare schemes mean that wealth is more fairly distributed now. But Mexico’s overall pool of wealth has fast diminished in the crisis.

The economy shrank by nearly a fifth in April from 2019, and 12 million people have lost their jobs. The International Monetary Fund forecasts Mexico’s economy will contract 10.5% this year.

Lopez Obrador’s political capital is also shriveling. A daily tracking poll of his popularity by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky last week hit 46.0%, its lowest reading yet.

His management of the pandemic, which critics say he downplayed by initially urging people to hug each other and to keep going out, has also upset some erstwhile supporters.

Too often, his attitude has been unbecoming of a president and an affront to families of nearly 28,000 people who have died with coronavirus, said Francisco Verde, a 55-year-old insurance broker who voted for Lopez Obrador with high hopes.

“He started well,” said Verde. “But now he’s awful.”

BEDROCK OF SUPPORT

Lopez Obrador still commands solid support among many voters for his commitment to the poor.

“I think he’s the closest there is to anyone talking about the most unprotected people in society,” said Yolanda Fauvet, a U.S.-Mexican artist in Mexico City who voted for him as the nearest thing Mexico had to Bernie Sanders in the United States.

Lopez Obrador has focused on supporting the 60 million Mexicans – nearly one in two – who live below the poverty line with welfare programs, pensions and public works schemes.

Luis Pioquinto, 43, a security guard from the central state of Tlaxcala, said welfare payments were helping his family. “But that help isn’t enough to cover food and rent,” he added.

Pioquinto also praised Lopez Obrador for, as he saw it, trying to reduce the influence of foreign companies, some of which the president has accused of trying to undermine his government.

Lopez Obrador says he wants businesses to invest and has cast a trip next week to Washington to meet his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, as a matter of economic necessity.

Still, arguing that corruption benefited companies, he has gotten bogged down in disputes over infrastructure contracts agreed under the last administration, casting doubt over billions of dollars worth of investment.

That does not augur well for a recovery, said Turner, a former economy minister for the state of Nuevo Leon.

Lopez Obrador took office pledging to lift growth to 4% per year and reduce violence. Instead, Mexico entered recession in 2019 and homicides hit record levels. This year they are higher still.

Time and again, the president has cast Mexico’s problems as the legacy of past governments. Some have heard it too often.

“It’s time he showed us what he can do,” said Carmen Maya, 41, a Mexico City supermarket supervisor who voted for Lopez Obrador. “We wouldn’t have given him the chance if everything was going to be about what happened in the past.”

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Human remains found in search for missing soldier

Unidentified human remains have been discovered in the search for a soldier who disappeared from her Texas base in April, according to the US Army.

Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, 20, was last seen on 22 April in a car park where she worked in Fort Hood.

Army spokesman Chris Grey said the partial remains were found in an “area of interest” agents had returned to in the search for Ms Guillen.

Her disappearance prompted rallies in Fort Hood and her native Houston.

An attorney for Ms Guillen’s family told CBS News that investigators informed them the remains may belong to the soldier, but forensic experts have not yet confirmed it.

“No confirmation as to the identity of the remains has been made at this point and we ask for the media and public’s understanding that the identification process can take time,” Mr Grey said.

Agents from the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, Texas Rangers, FBI and local police revisited the site, near the Leon River about 30 miles (48km) from Fort Hood due to a tip.

“After receiving additional information, agents have discovered what has been described as partial human remains after analysis from a forensic anthropologist.”

The remains were found in a shallow grave.

Ms Guillen, a small-arms repairer with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, is originally from Houston, Texas – about 200 miles (320km) from Fort Hood.

After her disappearance around noon on 22 April, Ms Guillen’s car and barracks keys, ID card and wallet were found in the armoury room where she had been earlier that day.

A Texas state lawmaker who has been working with Ms Guillen’s family told reporters last week Army officials suspected “foul play” in the case.

“The question is who, what and when,” congresswoman Sylvia Garcia said. “And we’ve been reassured that they’re going to do everything they can, they will leave no stone unturned until they find Vanessa.”

The Army Criminal Investigation Command had increased the reward for information concerning her disappearance to $25,000 (£20,000) earlier this month.

Ms Guillen’s family has alleged that she had been harassed by someone within her unit, but officials have said they have no information to indicate she was sexually assaulted. The 3rd Cavalry Regiment has launched a separate investigation regarding those claims.

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