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Archive for June, 2008

News Update:

It’s feeding time today (Tues 1st July) and whatever remains of the young man when this frenzy is over, I do hope that we will get to know what really is the truth to all this. In the flurry of counter-attacks and justifying some very odd reactions to this current fiasco, I pray that rational heads will prevail for ultimately, it is only Allah’s judgement that matters.         

Okay TV3 just splashed the accusers’ photo on Bulletin Utama tonight that just about declared open season folks, so take your potshots at the guy. How come I am getting visions of a feeding frenzy???

While a “trial by new media” is ongoing in blogosphere against the young man who lodged the “suicidal” police report alleging sodomy by his employer, there is an Associated Press report on a civil suit filed by the accused against his accuser. Please note that the AP report never mentions the name of the accuser (who afterall is a possible victim) but refers to him only as a “male aide”. A more recent report by the IHTBBC and AFP also leaves the accuser unnamed. It makes me wonder what journalistic ethics does the local media practice? What ethics do bloggers practice? As Muslims where is our humanity? Must we justify blatant violations of a person’s right to be presumed innocent in the name of political conspiracy? What lessons are we teaching the public now – that if you are a nobody you do not have the right to report any crime committed against you by your superior? If this young man made a false report, he stands to lose his anonymity and be vilified by the whole world. What I would like to know is the truth of his allegations. With innocence comes courage and faith in Allah dispels all fear. Allah knows best!                 

I heard the news last night about a police report lodged against a senior opposition politician on an alleged sodomy of a male aide. Like many people, I was curious as to who the accuser and the accused were but thought that possibly the media was being cautious in not revealing their identities. But from the seriousness of the report on TV3, I could guess this was no small fry and that whoever it was must be a very prominent person. By morning the identity of the accused was all over the newspapers and splashed across the internet and, fortunately, the news media had the sense not to reveal the identity of the accuser.

But, much to my horror and disappointment, bloggers were at it in full force posting the name and photos of the young man in some prominent and famous blogsites. Worse still, the photos and name of the young man’s fiancee was also put up all over the internet. The young man and his fiancee are now objects of ridicule with venomous comments posted in blogsphere, to jackup the hit meter no doubt! For the so called champions of justice, bloggers did not hesitate to take the law into their own hands to be the judge, jury and executioner for this yet unproven case. Now I just saw Datin Seri Wan Azizah on RTM2 Dateline holding up a handphone showing a photo of the young man posing with some official connected to the DPM to prove political complicity. With all due respects to the good doctor, was it right to do that?

Much as this is going to affect DSAI’s political career, as far as I am concerned there is always a presumption of innocence. To me it does not matter about the courts and the judiciary, what matters is before Allah. If he is innocent, Allah will protect him. But what of the crime being perpetrated against the accuser and the violation of his fiancee’s right to privacy? Does the accuser not have the right to presumption of innocence? What crime did the fiancee commit that she be found guilty by association? My doa went out to DSAI’s family the first time he was accused. This time my doa is for this young man’s fiancee. May Allah give her strength in the days ahead.   

For those unfamiliar with Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a person has the right to be presumed innocent until his or her guilt is proven:

Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

For the moment, nothing has been proven as the matter is still under police investigation. Therefore, all the more reason to exercise caution. In the cause of justice, let’s not perpetrate a further injustice. Wiki says it nicely here:

The phrase that a person is innocent until proven guilty refers to legal as opposed to factual guilt. In every case, the defendant either committed the offense or he did not. The phrase means simply that a person is not legally guilty until a jury returns a verdict of guilty – which is little more than a tautology.

Strictly speaking the presumption of innocence applies only to the trier of fact – normally the jury. For example, members of the public are not required to presume a defendant to be innocent. They may express any opinion on a defendant’s guilt they wish subject to being sued for defamation if their expressed opinion is wrong. The presumption attaches upon the inception of the trial. Thus, a person may be stopped by the police upon reasonable suspicion and a person may be arrested upon probable cause. The presumption ends when the trial is over. For example, a person who has been convicted and placed on probation can have his probation revoked and be sent to prison if the judge is satisfied by the preponderance of the evidence that the person had willfully and without lawful excuse violated a condition of his probation.

In most cases, the media does not reveal the identity of the accuser who, to all intents and purposes, is potentially a victim of rape. I don’t intend to launch into a defence of either accuser or accused but to draw attention to the fact that the “victim” has the right to have his or her identity protected from public knowledge for the simple reason that no person in their right mind would ever come forward to report such crimes. This issue was discussed In the case of rape accused Kobe Bryant in this CNN report:  

Many states, as a measure to encourage victims to come forward, have rape confidentiality statutes that prevent law enforcement and court personnel from revealing the identity of sex assault victims. In Colorado, where Bryant is on trial, it’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $100 fine and 90 days in jail. Those confidentiality laws are often confused with rape shield laws.

Rape shield laws generally govern the admissibility of evidence and testimony of an alleged victim’s sexual history during trial, based on the theory that evidence of past behavior is irrelevant to the current case. They do not address revealing the identity of victims.

The media, legal experts say, are free to print those names. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the press that right. Media outlets choose not to exercise it. And legal, psychological and journalism experts say the media have made the right choice.

“The big question is …’Do you want to see your daughter’s name in 28-point type on the front of The New York Times as a rape victim?’ … It isn’t a feminist issue when a lot of sexual assault victims are men,” says Victoria L. Lutz, of the Pace Women’s Justice Center, an organization that works to eradicate violence toward women.

“A better question,” Lutz continued, ” is ‘Do you want to see your brother’s or your son’s name as a victim of sodomy on the front page of The New York Times?'” 

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Encouraged by the Malay Mail article by Najiah Najib and efforts by the European Union, I did a quick search on what’s been happening with the AMBER Alert program in the United States. In Malaysia, nothing happens without political will and as Datuk Seri Shahrizat got swept away in the political tsunami, it stalled efforts to establish an AMBER Alert system in Malaysia in memory of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin – the NURIN Alert. Frankly I am quite fed up with all this political bickering and grandstanding that have distracted from important issues such as improving ways we handle missing children. What is it about this nation that we are not more pro-active in finding strategies for prevention? While we are preoccupied with finger-pointing and blaming, what is being done to ensure that children do not fall victim to predatory abductors in these times of economic hardships. Already we read in the tabloids of baby for sale rackets operating in Malaysia but nothing about what is being done to find those babies. We read about young girls running off with wayward boyfriends yet nothing about how we are going to find them before they fall victim to the unscrupulous? Aside from a public service announcement (PSA) on TV featuring a shrill little girl anime warning children not to speak to strangers, there hasn’t really been much else done to create awareness on preventing child abductions and what to do should your child go missing. We seem to still be on this “It won’t happen to your child unless you are bad parents” mentality. Let’s not fool ourselves because with economic hardships comes rise in crime rates. Will our children be exposed to even greater danger in these trying times? I fear the worst, that our children have already fallen victim to politicking.

In the United States where a child goes missing every 40 seconds, they are not waiting around for tragedy to happen. On February 15, 2008 they launched the first AMBER Alert Safety Center to get parents AMBER Ready.

In August of 2004, AMBER Alert Safety Centers was formed, to create child safety tools to provide the fastest means of recovering missing children.  Our mission is to provide Free Security for Today’s Youth and to Expand the Capabilities of the AMBER Alert System. 

Through years of research, we have created the AMBER Ready Program that enables parents to store their children’s alert profiles in their wireless phone.  The program enables law enforcement agencies to transmit a missing child’s profile from a parent’s wireless phone to police headquarters.  The missing children’s profiles consists of  Videos, Identity Information, Pictures, and Optional Fingerprints to aid in their recovery.
 
The AMBER Plan was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. The tragedy shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents contacted radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special “alerts” over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents.

The legislation’s centerpiece would expand nationwide a voluntary rapid-response network to help find kidnapped children. President Bush said in a statement, “No family should ever have to endure the nightmare of losing a child,”.   Dateline: April 30th, 2003,  Video of Conference on Missing Children
 
Our primary goal is to create technology and establish sponsorship programs to enable parents to receive our child safety tools at no cost.  In addition to the Wireless Safety Program, we provide additional child safety tools to address the following areas:

  • Internet Safety
  • School Absent Notification and Attendance Tracking
  • Home Security
  • Sexual Predator Identification

Our Goals Are Also To:

  •  Provide Parents with State-of-the-Art Child Safety Tool to Aid in their Children’s Recovery if they are Ever Missing
  • Increase the Number of Missing Child Alerts with Pictures and Video
  • Implement Programs that Provide Free Equipment to Law Enforcement Agencies to Recover Missing Children
  • Create a Deterrent Against Child Abduction
  • Create Missing Child Resistant Community by Exposing the Public to the Problem of Missing Children in America                 

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I received a call from Malay Mail’s Najiah Najib a couple of days ago about an article she was planning to write. If not for fellow blogger Jibeng who alerted me on the news article “Bloggers keep up the search” in his comment on my previous post, I would have missed it. Thanks Jibeng!

Actually I was not sure if the media really cared about the NURIN Alert anymore and I am glad she wrote about it. In my chat with her, I expressed my disappointment that no politician had taken up the issue of missing children after we lost a strong champion in Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. The Child Protection Policy (CPP) that was to have been tabled in Parliament before the General Elections has since been shelved until further notice. What happened to the CPP I wonder? 

It’s been a long while since I blogged about the issue of missing children. I remember how hopeful we bloggers were that Sharlinie would be found when, after the heartbreaking lessons learnt from Nurin Jazlin Jazimin,  all effort was put in place to find her. Never before had such publicity been given to a missing child. Yet she still remains missing. My heart still aches whenever I see those huge black billboards put up in the Chow Kit area and when I spot her poster on toll booths, head tilted affectionately waiting for us to find her. Where could she be?

Frankly, I believe that of the three components that makes for an effective NURIN Alert, the media stepped up to the plate to create that immediate sense of awareness, and the community played their part in coming forward to help in the search for Sharlinie. But the part still wanting is the effectiveness of police response in the search for her. There is so much more they need to learn from the AMBER Alert system put in place in the United States but I wonder if they are even looking into this?

As for awareness and training, the police need to learn about how the AMBER Alert and the EAS (Emergency Alert System) that is used as a signal in times of weather emergencies or even in instances of terrorist attacks. Obviously, the US authorities did not want to be caught as unprepared as they were in the 9/11 tragedy. Indeed, the numerous weather related calamities like tornadoes, blizzards, typhoons, tsunamis and cyclones around the world have proved there is need for such an immediate response system. We now know that the Aceh Tsunami and Cyclone Nargis would have meant fewer lives lost had such an alert been in place. Again, wisdom in retrospect. But in safe, calm and peaceful Malaysia I am not sure how prepared we are in this post El Nino/global warming confounding weather patterns?

In the case of a missing child, I told Najiah that in cases of very young missing childen aged below 10, time is off the essence. indeed, it is a matter of life and death! Have the police done a post-mortem on their procedures I wonder? I was editing this entry and lost a chunk of my earlier post. Oh well. I suppose I was being sarcastic about bickering politicians who don’t really care. Instead of being cynical, I will just post this article on “Experts Say New Alert System Needed in EU Child Searches“.

Experts Say New Alert System Needed in EU Child Searches

The EU has a lot of experience in dealing with cross-border problems. So it should come as no surprise that its efforts to solve child abduction cases should focus on cooperation and standardized search procedures.

There have probably been as many column inches written about the efforts of Kate and Gerry McCann to find their missing daughter Madeleine as the investigation into the alleged abduction itself.

The campaign by the missing four-year-old’s family and friends to keep Maddy’s face in the media has drawn both praise and criticism since it swung into action in the days after her disappearance from the McCanns’ apartment at the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal on May 3.

Whether one admires or criticizes the McCanns’ use of the media in the search for their daughter, one thing cannot be ignored: The media strategy has resulted in an unprecedented level of coverage regarding a child’s abduction.

But should a family have to create its own rolling news channel to keep the world informed of the efforts to find a missing child? Could the creation of the “Find Madeleine” campaign also be a reaction to inadequate international search procedures?

Incompatibilities obvious

One of the most debated aspects of the McCann investigation has been the extensive criticism of the Portuguese police. Critics of the Policia Judiciaria have highlighted the differences between Portuguese methods and those employed in the search for a child in Madeleine’s native Britain and other EU countries.

In particular, the police have been accused of failing to distribute information for hours after Maddy vanished, for delays in passing a description to border or marine police and for refusing offers of help from international experts for almost three months.

The Portuguese have defended themselves by saying that under Article 86 of the country’s penal code information must not be released, apart from in exceptional circumstances, while the criminal investigation is still taking place.

While similar types of secrecy laws regarding ongoing police investigations exist in most European countries, information covered by these laws tends to apply to evidence and situations that need to be kept under wraps in the search for a suspect. Few prevent the broadcast or distribution of information regarding a missing child.

EU-wide alert system?

The McCann case has raised new calls for a Europe-wide response procedure in the case of abducted children. While the European Commission is already trying to increase cooperation in cross-border investigations, there are currently no plans to standardize the response in the case of a missing child.

“We have been told that there are no plans at the moment for an EU-wide alert system,” said Carolyn Bouchard from independent child protection agency SafeHands. “The level of police cooperation is slowly improving and most current systems work well on a national level, but we continue to push for an efficient network across the continent.”

Delphine Moralis, the acting secretary general for the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children, was more specific.

“Based on the experience of its members (21 non-governmental organizations in 14 EU countries) when dealing with missing children cases across the EU, Missing Children Europe advocates the need to develop alert support systems for cases of child abductions or life threatening disappearances of children in countries where no system exists,” she said. “We also recommend the development of co-ordination procedures and interconnection schemes between existing systems, such as the ones in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and the UK.”

The closest thing Europe currently has to a standardized response is the AMBER Alert, a procedure imported from the United States, although not all countries in the EU use it.

AMBER alerts a tried and tested response

AMBER alerts are issued by police when four main criteria of a child abduction case are satisfied: when a child under 16 goes missing; when the child is believed kidnapped, when a senior police officer fears that death or serious harm may come about, and when the case has sufficient descriptive details, such as photographs of the child or suspected abductor.

The alerts are then broadcast to the public via radio and television stations, immediately interrupting scheduled broadcasting to report the missing child. The alerts are also shown on electronic motorway signs and sent to email accounts, mobile phones and wireless devices of registered search volunteers.

“A coordinated AMBER Alert system in Europe would be hugely beneficial because one of the most critical parts of an abduction investigation is informing the public,” said Robert Hoever, from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). “It would require each country to have a designated AMBER facilitator and for all the facilitators to meet and plan together a memorandum of understanding as to how they would work together.”

Cross-border structures needed for success

Hoever believes that having a similar system and a coordinator in every EU member state would greatly improve cross-border child abduction investigations in the bloc.

“Contact person ‘A’ would be responsible for putting the alert out in his or her own country and if information suggested the child had crossed the border, then ‘A’ calls ‘B’ and the same system kicks in,” he said.

However, according to Hoever, bringing in a standardized AMBER alert-type system in Europe would only work if other investigative strategies were already in place.

“Before you have a standardized alert system, you have to address the cross-border problems. You can’t try and solve differences in police procedure during a case; you waste time and endanger the child further. These strategies between countries should be in place first.”

Delphine Moralis agreed.

“Any system developed at EU level will have to start by looking at what already exists at the national level,” she said. “Many questions remain to be analyzed, both regarding the procedures and regarding technical implementation of a system.”

A painful lesson

So did the inadequacy of existing structures hinder the search for Madeleine McCann in the first hours of her disappearance?

“In Portugal, Missing Children Europe has an NGO member called Instituto de Apoio à Criança I.A.C., Lisbon, which launched a hotline for missing children on May 25, 2004,” Moralis said. “However, due to a lack of financial means and political support, no fully developed ‘child alert’ or ‘amber alert system’ has been launched in Portugal yet.”

She said a good communication and coordination among existing systems as well as child search programs in countries which don’t currently have them could well have made a difference in the case of Madeleine McCann.

Nick Amies 

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I just paid the same amount of money for petrol that I usually do and it hardly filled my tank. Suddenly the fuel crisis has hit home and, eternal optimist and pacifist that I am, instead of suddenly being consumed with a need to take the streets in protest, it had me wondering how bad the real oil situation is in the rest of the world. The media, of course, is filled with news of protests all over which, apparently in India and Malaysia, have been championed by opposition party politicians. Surely, to my mind, this fuel crisis is beyond politics. It does not matter which political party or politician is holding power, the world is headed for an oil crash! I’d say the politicians are doing Malaysians a great injustice by not telling us the real truth and turning everything into a political circus. Instigating riots among the populace already agitated with the snowballing effect of fuel price hikes will not make it easier and the never ending politicking smacks of unscrupulous people taking advantage of a crisis situation. Instead of plugging their own party interests, opportunistic politicians should be working together with policymakers to make life better for the people. Would they be that big hearted enough, and I mean politicians past, present and future, to set aside their ideologies and personal grudges to find effective solutions that matter to the citizens of this blessed nation? In case you still don’t realise it, this fuel crisis will only get worse. Please watch the YouTube videoclip, an excerpt of a 90 minute documentary “A Crude Awakening – The Oil Crash”, to wake up from this politician-induced delusion. You can download more information about this movie from the website www.oilcrashmovie.com and also read the synopsis below: 

OilCrash, produced and directed by award-winning European journalists and filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack, tells the story of how our civilization’s addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with geology. Compelling, intelligent, and highly entertaining, the film visits with the world’s top experts and comes to a startling, but logical conclusion – our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil, must be completely re-imagined and overhauled.

The idea that the world’s oil supplies have peaked, or will soon, is gaining mainstream currency.  Robert B. Semple, Jr., associate editor of the New York Times editorial board, writes in the paper’s March 1, 2006, online edition:

 “The Age of Oil — 100-plus years of astonishing economic growth made possible by cheap, abundant oil — could be ending without our really being aware of it. Oil is a finite commodity. At some point even the vast reservoirs of Saudi Arabia will run dry. But before that happens there will come a day when oil production ‘peaks,’ when demand overtakes supply (and never looks back), resulting in large and possibly catastrophic price increases that could make today’s $60-a-barrel oil look like chump change. Unless, of course, we begin to develop substitutes for oil. Or begin to live more abstemiously. Or both. The concept of peak oil has not been widely written about. But people are talking about it now. It deserves a careful look — largely because it is almost certainly correct.”

You needn’t be a conspiracy theorist to see a connection between America’s current obsessions with the Middle East and national security, and the world’s looming oil crisis.  The frenzied search for alternative sources of energy now being pursued by the largest multinational energy corporations makes it clear they also believe a crisis is fast approaching. Each day’s headlines, whether the subject is Iraq or South America, sheds new light on the issue.

Producer Basil Gelpke explains: “Suddenly, seemingly unconnected news about Katrina and Rita hitting the Gulf Coast’s oil refineries; the ongoing war in Iraq; the nuclear ambitions of Iran; the populist politics of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela; the appalling corruption in most oil producing countries; the de facto nationalization of Yukos in Russia; the steep rise in costs of everything oil-related; and even increasing share prices of companies involved in solar, wind and nuclear energy all pointed in the same direction.  Oil is running out, and nobody is ready for the cataclysm that is bound to follow.”

The film includes in-depth, thought-provoking interviews with Colin Campbell, Matt Simmons, Roscoe Bartlett, David Goodstein, Matt Savinar, Terry Lynn Karl, Fadhil Chalabi, Robert Ebel and many others.  Shot on location at oil fields in Azerbaijan, Venezuela, the Middle East and Texas, with original music by Daniel Schnyder and Philip Glass, the film provides not only questions, but possible solutions to the most perplexing and important economic, environmental and public policy issue of our time.

One year ago, in a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, Robert L. Hirsch challenged the notion that the free market can solve the onrushing emergency:

“The world has never faced a problem like Peak Oil. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary.” 

PS: Also visit this intriguing website that might become reality in the very near future. Are we prepared?: http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ 

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Munira’s comment on my previous blog brought me back from the brink of flinging myself off the edge of hopeless despairing darkness into Sim Land where fuel is forever free. In fact, in Sim Land I don’t even have to fill any petrol in my new hot rod! Well folks, my Utopia is called the Sims 2 Double Deluxe game pack and I am having a ball playing God from my dream house where my slaves live and love freely in bisexual permissiveness. If you think I’ve gone bonkers, you are right because I am nuts about this amazingly real, best selling computer game in the world. I first started playing the earlier version of The Sims when my daughter bought the game in her early teens and since then we kept adding extension packs till we got stumped in our tracks with the need for a 3D card for Sims 2. Until now that is!!!

Hey, the way gamers mimic reality is so spooky that it gets me thinking this IS real life! As my Sims go through their life changes, if they don’t workout they will even get middle-age spread as they age. Shucks, I can’t even escape being Tembam in my unreal world?  If in the real world you get warped women sending love letters to monster dungeon dad Josef Fritzl, the failed bid by Hillary Clinton to be the first woman President in the White House because of sex, and now fuel price increases that will snowball into increase of everything else down the line, I have no wish to live in Boleh Land! Who cares that fuel prices are increasing in all parts of the world because of a predicted short supply that we knew was coming but what the hell, let’s just go ahead and buy our hot rods anyway. I bought my really hot ride in Sim Land, after I cheated without fear of being caught and hoarded a bunch of simeloens (Sim currency) that is! I also leave all my electrical gadgets on round the clock without fear of environmental degradation and global warming. I also live in the lap of luxury and wine and dine like a queen. Hey, who wants to work hard for a measely salary just to live, man? Nothing is free in this world and not in Sim Land either! We have to buy food, pay bills and fork our the simeleons for all our luxuries like my snazzily-equipped Disneylandish gadget-filled abode and, of course, to pay the salaries for my maid, gardener, exterminator, and even the pizza delivery boy. The only thing free is petrol!!!

Considering there have been protests and even riots in India, UK, Brussels, Paris, Chile, Dublin, Indonesia and many other parts of the world as reported here, Malaysians will have to brace themselves as we will not be spared from further social unrest fueled by, what else, fuel!!. There already are minor skirmishes and according to highly popular alternative media sources there is a massive rally being planned soon. I have to hand it to our protestors these post-Mahathir times, they sure are getting a lot of practice at protest organizing without fear of being nabbed under the ISA. Maybe we can offer protest organizing services to other developing countries that need massive traffic jams, social turmoil and general chaos. Although I am not hopeful how this will make much difference to the fuel situation, I do hope the authorities will not take a high-handed approach in crowd control as the people are already facing economic hardships. Having just returned from a trip to Alor Star where I feasted on pacifying visions of placidly growing beautifully lush green rice fields as far as the eye could see, I said a prayer of thanksgiving to Allah that this blessed land, Malaysia, will pull through whatever crisis as long as we have food, water, blue skies and national unity.

As for those planned riots and demonstrations? Maybe they should all migrate to Sim Land where petrol is free!!!  In the meantime, please watch this fantastic YouTube videoclip that explains the reason why the world is in such chaos and there is no peace in the land today – all because men have such poor Male Restroom Etiquette!!!                

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