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Report: Tokyo Suspects North Korea of Abducting 883 Japanese Nationals

North-Korea-exter

TOKYO, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – The number of Japanese nationals, who may have been abducted in North Korea, has risen to 883, Kyodo News Agency reported Tuesday, citing a high-profile security official.

“We are saying that there could be as many as 860 abductees. The government’s policy is to retrieve every single abductee.”

Japan cannot exclude the possibility of the abduction of a further 23 Japanese nationals by Pyongyang, making the total number 883, the country’s National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya was quoted as saying.

Earlier, Furuya said there have been 860 Japanese citizens, missing and possibly kidnapped and taken to North Korea over the last few decades. Read the rest of this entry »

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China’s Museum Boom


Journalists Ordered to Learn ‘Marxist News Values’, Uphold Principles of Communist Party

mao-propaganda

Journalists, Teachers and Students Told to Back Party obamao-vert

No, no, it’s not about the Obama administration, or White House reporters and network news divisions, though it’s understandable to think so.

This is about China and Hong Kong.

For China Digital Times posts this:

As part of the Xi administration’s ongoing restriction of press freedom in mainland China and Hong Kong, the All China Journalists’ Association has ordered journalists to learn “Marxist news values” and uphold the principles of the ruling Communist Party. Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee reports:

All-china-journalists-association

The guidelines by the All China Journalists’ Association, published by state news agency Xinhua, are aimed at both traditional and online media and are another sign of Xi’s politically conservative agenda.Marx-TV

The association said journalists “must learn to master Marxist news values”.

“Let us hold high the banner of socialist core values,” the report said, using the party’s term for orthodox beliefs.

[...] Early this year, Chinese journalists also had to pass a new ideology exam to keep their press cards. They were required to do a minimum 18 hours of training on topics including Marxist news values and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. [Source]

The appointment of Lin Zhibo, an editor at the People’s Daily, as dean of Lanzhou University’s journalism school reflects the increasingly active role that the Party is playing in the training of journalists. Damon Yi and Amy Qin at The New York Times report:

Mr. Lin’s appointment has thrown the spotlight on recent efforts by local offices of the Communist Party Propaganda Department to use personnel appointments as a way to forge partnerships with journalism schools and to assert greater ideological control over the training of future opinion shapers.

[...] An earlier iteration of the Propaganda Department and journalism school joint model, or buxiao gongjian in Chinese, is the “Fudan Model,” which dates back to 2001 when Fudan University in Shanghai restructured its journalism school in close cooperation with the local propaganda authorities. Read the rest of this entry »


Pro-Democracy Update: Back to the Drawing Board for Hong Kong Election Reform?

Pro-democracy lawmakers display placards against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, during a briefing session in Hong Kong Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.  Associated Press

Pro-democracy lawmakers display placards against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, during a briefing session in Hong Kong, Sept. 1, 2014. Associated Press

WSJ’s Jeffrey Ng reports:  Beijing’s plans to allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader—albeit only from among prescreened candidates and effectively denying an open vote—will need approval of two-thirds of the city’s 70-member strong legislature.

What happens if the reform package gets voted down?

By constituting a bloc of more than a third, the city’s 27 pro-democratic legislators hold the veto on any such plans. On Monday, these legislators voiced their disapproval by interrupting a speech by a senior Chinese official, chanting slogans while holding up banners condemning China’s decision as “shameful,” before storming out of a briefing session on political reform. Read the rest of this entry »


Global Panic of August 2014’s Hong Kong Pepper Spray Extravaganza

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Pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung is dragged away by security guards as he protests against Li Fei, deputy general secretary of the National People’s Congress standing committee. Reuters

“The police started using pepper spray on us without any warning. We are here to protest in a peaceful manner.”

– Kit, a social worker and activist

HONG KONG—Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong Monday said police used pepper spray against demonstrators outside a news conference given by a top Chinese official on Beijing‘s decision on how the city should elect its leader.

“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner.”

– From Beijing’s ruling Sunday

Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, gave a briefing at the AsiaWorld-Expo, near Hong Kong’s airport, to explain the decision to chaotic scenes of protests both inside and outside the venue.

Outside, a 21-year-old social worker identifying himself only as Kit said he and four others in his group of activist were pepper-sprayed by police. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s Hopes Crushed

Protesters wave their mobile phones during a rally, after China's legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong's leader, on Aug. 31. Associated Press

Protesters wave their mobile phones during a rally, after China’s legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s leader, on Aug. 31.    –  Associated Press

From this weekend’s WSJ opinion pages:

The people of Hong Kong can plead or protest for democracy all they want, but they can only hold a sham election for Chief Executive in 2017. That was the ruling of 20140831 HK 05China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress on Sunday.

“The threat to Hong Kong’s capitalism comes not from democracy, but from the cronyism and erosion of the rule of law that are infiltrating from the mainland.”

Moderates on both sides of the political spectrum in Hong Kong had urged compromise. They proposed nomination procedures that would satisfy Beijing’s concerns while still allowing the free election that China promised in 1997 when it made the city a self-governing special administrative region for 50 years.

“The tragedy for both Hong Kong and China is that the conflict is unnecessary.”

Beijing not only rejected these ideas, it seems they were never seriously considered. The Communist Party insists on absolute veto power over the choice of candidates. The result will be more frustration in Hong Kong.

“The city is manifestly ready for democracy, which would give Beijing fewer headaches rather than more.”

Since the handover from British rule, the city has suffered under mediocre leaders weakened by their lack of a popular mandate. This has angered parts of the population, particularly the young, and some are promising acts of civil disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Fong Flashback: Extra-Golden, Puckered, Crunchy-Topped Paradise

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…Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside…(read more)


A Sea of Phones Illuminating Tamar Park, Connecting the Executive and Legislative Hearts of Hong Kong


Beijing: China Legislature Rules No Open Nominations for Hong Kong Leader

Civil Human Rights Front Gather For July 1st Marches

Occupy Central has threatened to shut down the city’s financial district with a massive sit-in if Beijing doesn’t allow completely open elections for chief executive

Jimmy Lai, Chairman and Founder of Next Media (Reuters)

BEIJING (AP) — China’s legislature on Sunday ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub.

Left: Jimmy Lai, Chairman and Founder of Next Media (Reuters)

The legislature’s powerful Standing Committee ruled that all candidates for chief executive must receive more than half

of votes from a special nominating body before going before voters. Hong Kong democracy activists have held massive protests demanding that Chinese leaders let the city’s voters choose their chief executive from an open list of candidates.

Activists have also decried the nominating committee held up by Beijing as beholden to Chinese leaders and were mobilizing to stage massive protests against the decision.

“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner,” the Standing Committee said in their decision. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan’s Defense Ministry Asks for Record Budget Increase in Response to China’s Heightened Military Aggression

A Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force Type 90 armored tank fires during an annual training session near Mount Fuji in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2014. Reuters
A Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force Type 90 armored tank fires during an annual training session near Mount Fuji in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2014.  – Reuters

TOKYO—Took Sekiguchi reports: Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested a budget of ¥4.899 trillion ($47.1 billion) for the coming fiscal year starting April 1, a 2.4% increase over the amount for the current year. If granted, it would be the third year in a row Japan has expanded its military spending following a decade of cuts.

“We have an immediate neighbor whose military expenditures are at least twice as large as Japan’s and second only to the U.S. defense budget.”

– Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The figure, requested by ministry Friday, doesn’t include spending related to U.S. bases in Japan, or for the purchase of a new government airplane for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. If these items are included, the total budget request would be ¥5.054 trillion, the largest ever for the ministry. It would also come as Mr. Abe continues his program to beef up the country’s defense capabilities.

“So call me a right-wing militarist if you want..”

Citing the continuing need for ocean surveillance amid tensions with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, the ministry is requesting 20 patrol planes and five patrol helicopters. It is also looking into acquiring an early-warning radar system and aerial drones. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Showdown: China Warns Against ‘Foreign Meddling’

Hong Kong Democracy Showdown

Protesters are taken away by police officers after hundreds of protesters staged a peaceful sit-ins overnight on a street in the financial district in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s simmering summer of discontent gets even hotter on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014 when Beijing is expected to recommend restricting the first direct elections for the Chinese-controlled financial hub’s leader, stepping up chances of a showdown with democracy groups. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

BEIJING (AP) — China warned against foreign meddling in Hong Kong’s politics Saturday ahead of an expected announcement to recommend highly contentious restrictions on the first direct elections for the leader of the Chinese-controlled financial hub.hk-protest

An article in the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily said that some in the former British colony were colluding with outside forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s governance.

“Not only are they undermining Hong Kong’s stability and development, but they’re also attempting to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating the Chinese mainland,” said the article.

[Also see - Hong Kong Tensions Rise as Beijing Critic's Home Raided - WSJ]

“This can absolutely not be permitted,” it said, citing an unidentified official in the Foreign Ministry‘s department for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan affairs. Read the rest of this entry »


The Most Secretive Place on Earth: Inside North Korea with Will Ripley

This is the oldest theater in Pyongyang built after the Korean war, a time of rapid growth for North Korea.

This is the oldest theater in Pyongyang built after the Korean war, a time of rapid growth for North Korea.

“I asked our government minders if they’d be willing to show us what life is really like for regular people in North Korea.”

Pyongyang (CNN) – Will Ripley: It is exceedingly rare for Western journalists to be allowed inside the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) — commonly known as North Korea. It is even less common for an American reporter to visit this reclusive nation, home to nearly 25 million people who are essentially isolated from the rest of the world.

“They said they’d ask their superiors and get back to us.”

Yet here I am, an American member of a CNN crew, reporting from Pyongyang about the latest high profile sporting event to sweep this city since a bizarre basketball tournament earlier this year.

Our hotel, the Yanggakdo, is on its own little island inside Pyongyang but still apart from it. Water separates us from everyone else.

Our hotel, the Yanggakdo, is on its own little island inside Pyongyang but still apart from it. Water separates us from everyone else.

Even though decades of isolation and crippling sanctions have left North Korea struggling economically and lagging far behind much of the developed world in terms of technology and infrastructure — the nation is nearly unrivaled in its ability to mobilize tens of thousands of citizens to put on a spectacular show.

You probably remember when American NBA star Dennis Rodman organized a basketball tournament in Pyongyang.

rodman-kim

Rodman was widely criticized in the United States for befriending the DPRK’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, whose authoritarian regime has been accused by a United Nations panel of widespread human rights abuses, charges that North Korea strongly denies.

Haircuts are chosen by number, here 1--15. We're told the most popular is 7.

Haircuts are chosen by number, here 1–15. We’re told the most popular is 7.

‘Sports diplomacy’

Outside press were not invited to cover Rodman’s trip. This time, CNN is among a handful of news organizations granted rare access to Pyongyang to cover the International Pro Wrestling Festival.

[Also see: Japan Lawmaker Kanji ‘Antonio’ Inoki Takes Sport Diplomacy to North Korea]

Don’t miss this Pundit Planet Exclusive: Mashup: Dennis Rodman and Marylin Monroe sing Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-Un]

Retired Japanese wrestling star turned politician Kanji “Antonio” Inoki is organizing the event. In his professional heyday, Inoki fought in a memorable and bizarre 1976 match in Tokyo with boxing great Muhammad Ali. Today, as an aging member of the Japanese parliament, he is once again in the headlines for his latest attempt at what he calls “sports diplomacy” between Japan and North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing Gets Ugly in Hong Kong

Agents Raid a Prominent Supporter of Local Democracy

The people of Hong Kong want China to honor the democratic promises it made when the city became a special administrative region in 1997, and this fight for freedom deserves more world attention—especially as Beijing‘s counterattack is getting ugly.

Agents from Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) searched the homes of media tycoon Jimmy Lai, his employee Mark Simon and legislator Lee Cheuk-yan on Thursday. The search warrants covered records of Mr. Lai’s donations to Mr. Lee and other pro-democracy politicians. The raid is especially ominous because it suggests that Jimmy-LaiBeijing is compromising the independence of Hong Kong law enforcement.

“Lai’s computers had already been hacked and the details of his gifts splashed across the city’s pro-Beijing media.”

Donations to politicians aren’t regulated in Hong Kong, and Mr. Lai’s computers had already been hacked and the details of his gifts splashed across the city’s pro-Beijing media. Several pro-Beijing figures have publicly complained to the ICAC that the donations should be investigated. But the grounds for following these up are hard to imagine, and the timing is suspicious.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai in 2011. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The leaked donation records show that Mr. Lai is the main source of funding for the pro-democracy camp. His publications are also critical of Beijing and drum up support for protests. He and Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen support the Occupy Central movement, which is pressuring Beijing to allow pro-democracy candidates to run for Chief Executive in 2017. So no surprise that he is government enemy No. 1.

It’s likely that the Occupy Central movement is the real reason for the raids. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA Photograph of Distant Planet? Lab Photo of Microorganism? Or Chinese Dessert?

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See more here…

[THE FONG REPORT: pundit from another planet]


‘Insufficiency of Mutual Trust': Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters to Get Pro Bono Aid

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Protesters stage a sit in on a street in Hong Kong’s financial district on July 2. Reuters

About 30 Hong Kong Lawyers Plan to Offer Free Legal Aid in Case of Arrests

Background: In June, hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers joined a march after China’s cabinet, the State Council, issued a white paper declaring that “loving the country” was a basic political requirement for all Hong Kong administrators, including judges and judicial personnel.

CHESTER YUNG, ISABELLA STEGER and EDWARD NGAI reporting: HONG KONG—Dozens of Hong Kong lawyers are lining up to offer pro bono assistance to pro-democracy protesters, in a move that highlights the legal community’s growing concern over potential infringement on the city’s judicial independence by Beijing.

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A large pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong in July. Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse, Getty Images

“Hong Kong is part of a sovereign country.…There is a constitutional obligation for all institutions in Hong Kong…to safeguard national security.”

–  Wang Zhenmin, dean of the Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing

Also see:

Activist group Occupy Central has threatened protests to paralyze Hong Kong’s main business district if Beijing, in a decision expected to be announced on Sunday, moves to effectively bar any pro-democracy candidates from running for chief executive, the city’s top post, in 2017 elections.

Mr. Wang Zhenmin blamed the uproar over the white paper on “insufficiency of mutual trust” between Hong Kong and China.

A group made up of about 30 mostly local lawyers is prepared to offer free legal assistance to Occupy Central demonstrators in case they are arrested, said Alvin Yeung, organizer of the lawyers’ group. “We want to make sure the protesters’ civil rights are protected,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


THE FONG REPORT: Calling All Dessert Fanatics – Dig Into Hong Kong’s Sweet Spot!!

Does this sound familiar? You’re wrapping up a great meal at some fantastic restaurant – stuffed, maybe even overstuffed. Feeling the food coma creep in, you sense your brain struggling to maintain consciousness as your body desperately attempts digestion. Seeing you slump slightly in your chair, the waiter walks by with the dessert menu but passes you by, assuming you’re down for the count. IMG_4807

“Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example…Best when freshly baked and still  a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach.”

Mere moments before he’s out of reach, you eagerly snatch the menu from his confused fingers. There’s ALWAYS room (and energy) for dessert! As my friends (and dentist) can attest, my sweet tooth is relentless.

“Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.”

You know how cows have 4-chamber stomachs? I must have bovine tendencies, since no matter how full I may be, I appear to magically grow a separate stomach chamber just in time for dessert! Are you with me?

Much to my surprise, Hong Kong is brimming with bakeries, pâtisseries, cafés, and cha chaan tengs (Chinese tea restaurants). Sometimes, these are more local shops, serving local desserts. Despite the somewhat negative stereotype that clouds western perceptions about Asian desserts, some of the local sweets here really do hold their own. And there is a fun element of novelty, at least to Chinese-dessert-virgins (you get what I mean).

Justly famous (and incredibly delicious) HK egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery - absolutely craveable!

Justifiably famous, mouthwatering Hong Kong egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery in Wan Chai

Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example – all creamy, custardy, buttery/flaky crust goodness. Best when freshly baked and still  a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach. Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.

Hong Kong residents are hard-core egg lovers – as proven by yet another famous egg-y sweet, the egg waffle. Humble in appearance, when prepared properly, they are slightly crispy on the outside, tender and airy on the inside – sort of the ‘bubble wrap’ of desserts, with the flavor of vanilla cake. The fun, bulbous shapes make tearing off a golden sphere (or 5, or 10) almost impossible to resist!

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Preparing to chow down on an egg waffle – puffy, crispy, tender sweetness!

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The perennially-busy Lee Keung Kee stall outside the Wan Chai MTR station, serving up some of Hong Kong’s finest egg waffles

IMG_4834

Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside. Try this WAY before your next visit to the cardiologist! Read the rest of this entry »


Japan AIDS Prevention Squeeze-A-Thon Charity Event: ‘I Never Thought My Boobs Could Contribute to Society’

BOOB-AID

 Japanese porn stars to have boobs squeezed for AIDS research

A Group of Japanese porn actresses are preparing to have their breasts squeezed by fans for 24 hours this weekend for a charity event loosely translated as “Boob Aid”

tetas

“But I would be very happy if you would please be delicate.”

The nine adult movie stars told local media on Monday they could barely contain their excitement about the “Stop! AIDS” campaign event — which will be televised live — but asked, perhaps somewhat optimistically: please be gentle.

.Screen-Shot-boobaid

“I’m really looking forward to lots of people fondling my boobs,” Rina Serina told Tokyo Sports.

The event, the 12th since its launch in 2003, will be broadcast on adult cable television, with punters donating to the anti-AIDS campaign in exchange for a feel.

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It comes after sexist heckling of a Tokyo assemblywoman hit the headlines, highlighting old-fashioned views towards women that still permeate Japanese societyDonate-AIDS.

Fellow porn actress Iku Sakuragi had no qualms about being groped by hundreds of pairs of hands.

“It’s for charity.”

“I never thought my boobs could contribute to society,” added the ponytailed Serina, apparently unaware of any contradiction.

“Squeeze them, donate money — let’s be happy.”

Lawmakers from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party sparked a public outcry in June when they subjected Tokyo assemblywoman Ayaka Shiomura to sexist taunts, shouting “Why don’t you get married?” at her during a debate on motherhood. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Supersonic Submarine? Not Gonna Happen

Originally posted on TIME:

There are a whole lot of things that won’t be happening anytime soon. Pigs flying, for instance; that won’t happen. All of the raindrops becoming lemon drops and gumdrops; that won’t happen either. And despite what you have been reading practically everywhere today, no, China won’t be deploying a submarine capable of moving at 6,100 mph (9,800 k/h) and covering the distance from Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes—at least not in anything remotely like the near future.

Let’s begin with the source of the story: engineer Li Fengchen, of the Harbin Institute of Technology, the project’s lead researcher. Mr. Li is surely an impeccably honest man and a very good engineer, but the Chinese government has not always covered itself in glory when it comes to candor and there’s no reason to believe they’d start with a program as sensitive as this.

“The idea that any Chinese research…

View original 431 more words


Occupational Hazard: Chinese Chef Dies after being Bitten by the Severed Head of a Cobra

More bad food news from ChinaRocketNews24 reports:

Snakes are a delicacy in many parts of the world and among them the Indochinese spitting cobra is held in high regard for both is scarcity and the alleged health benefits it holds to those who consume it… (read more)

All 403 words of snake cuisine horror…


[VIDEO] Hong Kong: Photographer Daniel Lau’s Cuckoo Bananas Skyscraper Selfie

It starts as a video of smiling friends eating bananas but within seconds it becomes a contender for the world’s scariest selfie.

Photographer Daniel Lau pulled out his “selfie stick” to take dizzying footage of a rooftopping adventure 346m (1135 feet) above the streets of Hong Kong.

Lau, fellow photographer Andrew Tso and A.S. are seen in the video snacking while perched dangerously on the spire of The Centre skyscraper, Hong Kong’s fifth-tallest skyscraper.

The video is made all the more sickening thanks to a wide-angle lens mounted on a stick, with each pan of the camera sure to turn the stomach of those scared of heights.

攝影師 Daniel Lau 在中環中心避雷針頂端,與朋友 Andrew Tso 和 A.S. 「吃香蕉自拍」360度天台危攝片段,維港景色一覽無遺,中環「密密麻麻」的高樓大廈­也頓變渺小,成為拍攝者的背景。

 


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