Girls to design Africa’s first private space satellite

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Africa will launch its first private satellite into space

It’s been built by schoolgirls


They may be teenagers, but 17-year-old Brittany Bull and 16-year-old Sesam Mngqengqiswa have grand ambitions – to launch Africa’s first private satellite into space in 2019.

They are part of a team of high school girls from Cape Town, South Africa, who have designed and built payloads for a satellite that will orbit over the earth’s poles scanning Africa’s surface.

Once in space, the satellite will collect information on agriculture, and food security within the continent.

Using the data transmitted, “we can try to determine and predict the problems Africa will be facing in the future”, explains Bull, a student at Pelican Park High School.

South Africa's program aims to encourage girls into STEM, particularly astronomy. Less than 10% of young women are interested in STEM subjects.

“Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation and also how we can monitor remote areas,” she says. “We have a lot of forest fires and floods but we don’t always get out there in time.”

Information received twice a day will go towards disaster prevention.

It’s part of a project by South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) working with Morehead State University in the US.

The girls (14 in total) are being trained by satellite engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in a bid to encourage more African women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

If the launch is successful, it will make MEDO the first private company in Africa to build a satellite and send it into orbit.

“We expect to receive a good signal, which will allow us to receive reliable data,” declares an enthusiastic Mngqengqiswa, of Philippi High School. “In South Africa we have experienced some of the worst floods and droughts and it has really affected the farmers very badly.”

By 2020 80% of jobs will be related to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), MEDO predicts, but currently only 14% of  the STEM workforce globally are women.

Drought and environmental effects from climate change have continued to plague the country in recent years. An El Niño induced drought led to a shortfall of 9.3 million tons in southern Africa’s April 2016 maize production, according to a UN report.

“It has caused our economy to drop … This is a way of looking at how we can boost our economy,” says the young Mngqengqiswa.

The girls' satellite will have a detailed vantage point of South Africa's drought crisis which led to a shortfall of 9.3 million tons in southern Africa's April 2016 maize production.

Initial trials involved the girls programming and launching small CricketSat satellites using high-altitude weather balloons, before eventually helping to configure the satellite payloads.

Small format satellites are low cost ways of gathering data on the planet quickly. Tests so far have involved collecting thermal imaging data which is then interpreted for early flood or drought detection.

“It’s a new field for us [in Africa] but I think with it we would be able to make positive changes to our economy,” says Mngqengqiswa.

Ultimately, it is hoped the project will include girls from Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda.

Mngqengqiswa comes from a single parent household. Her mother is a domestic worker. By becoming a space engineer or astronaut, the teenager hopes to make her mother proud.

“Discovering space and seeing the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s not something many black Africans have been able to do, or do not get the opportunity to look at,” says Mngqengqiswa.

The schoolgirl is right; in half a century of space travel, no black African has journeyed to outer space. “I want to see these things for myself,” says Mngqengqiswa, “I want to be able to experience these things.”

Her team mate, Bull agrees: “I want to show to fellow girls that we don’t need to sit around or limit ourselves. Any career is possible – even aerospace.”

What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

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Virtual reality headsets range from inexpensive Cardboard to pricey PlayStation

Here are your options if you want to dip your toe in or really swim with the VR big fish

Thinking about treating your family to a little virtual reality this holiday? Have no idea where to start? Don’t worry.

From Google’s inexpensive Cardboard VR viewer to Sony’s new PlayStation VR, this guide will help you figure out what makes sense for your family’s interests, needs, and budget. Here are your options if you want to dip your toe in the water, wade knee-deep, or really swim with the VR big fish.

Keep in mind, virtual reality is a quickly changing technology, so always check out the companies’ websites, professional reviews on sites like CNET, and user reviews before you take the leap.

Virtual reality viewers are inexpensive, handheld devices that offer three-dimensional views and the feeling of being in a different place. The viewers’ lenses work by extending the depth of static images or animation but do not allow you to interact with your environment. To use them, download any app labeled “VR” in either iTunes or Google Play, launch the app, and insert your smartphone into the viewer. Most viewers use your phone’s button or another basic input to control the action.

Key features

• Inexpensive

• Compatible with most smartphones and iOS or Android apps labeled “VR” (except for the View-Master, which uses specially designed apps)

• More like a 3D movie than true VR

• Best for educational content and games

• Selection of high-quality apps is currently fairly limited. Try the New York Times’ VR Virtual Reality Stories and these recommendations.

Products in this category

Google Cardboard ($14.99)

Literally made of cardboard, this handheld device that you put together yourself is a fun, novel way of experiencing virtual reality. Use with any smartphone and iOS or Android VR apps. Google offers lots of different viewers, including the steampunk-looking Google Tech C-1 Glass VR Viewer ($14.99).

SmartTheater Virtual Reality Headset ($19.99)

This is a comfortable viewer with adjustable lenses, a head strap, and an easy-to-use trigger input. Comes with a cardboard, handheld motion-controller that adds some oomph to games. Works with most smartphones and any iOS or Android VR apps.

View-Master Virtual Reality ($29.99)

Geared for learning rather than gaming, the View-Master is available in a range of packages that let you explore dinosaurs, space, wildlife, and more. Each pack includes insertable picture reels (your phone provides the horsepower). Works with most smartphones and specially designed View-Master iOS or Android apps.

Digital tools to turn game-obsessed kids into genuine game designers

Moving up in price and features are VR headsets. They’re similar to viewers in that you download VR apps from the app store and insert your phone in them. Headsets work with the exact same apps as the viewers (except for the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream Viewbut give you a more immersive experience.

The advantages of headsets are that they’re more comfortable to wear for a longer time, they fit better (preventing light leaks), they have better lenses, and they often have earphone ports. That’s why some people like to use them to view videos. They don’t make the videos three-dimensional, but they provide a personal-movie-theater-type experience. They also typically have built-in game controllers on the headset itself or work with handheld controllers, giving you more options in apps than you would have with a simple viewer.

Key features

• Pricier than viewers

• Compatible with most smartphones (except the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View) and iOS or Android apps labeled “VR”

• More believable, you-are-there experience, but limited ability to interact with your environment

• Good for games, educational content, and movie viewing

• Selection of high-quality apps is currently fairly limited. Try the New York Times’ VR Virtual Reality Stories and these recommendations.

• Headsets have minimum age requirements set by the manufacturers; check the age before you buy.

Products in this category

Merge VR Goggles ($79)

This big purple headset is made of flexible foam and has audio ports and dual input buttons for easy game control. Works with most iOS and Android VR apps.

Google Daydream View ($79; shipping November 2016)

Made of fabric, this lightweight plush headset is designed specifically for Google’s brand-new Daydream VR platform. The platform includes Daydream-compatible phones (such as the company’s Pixel phone), apps, and controllers. Daydream View comes with a controller and the company says there will be 50 apps at launch, including games, educational content, and streaming services.

Samsung Gear VR ($99)

Designed exclusively for Samsung phones, the Gear VR includes an input pad on the side of the headset and works with bluetooth controllers, both of which let you navigate games easily. Works with Gear VR-compatible games (including Minecraft Gear VR Edition).

VR Kix Virtual Reality Headset ($49.99)

Individually adjustable lenses, a snug fit, and a smartphone tray you can customize to your phone make the Kix a good option for quality VR on any smartphone. Works with most iOS and Android VR apps.

5 ways video games can help kids with special needs

Right now, the only VR gaming console is offered by Sony. The company’s just-in-time-for-the-holidays PlayStation VR headset works with the PlayStation 4. If you don’t have a PS4 already, you could buy the PlayStation 4 Slim or a PlayStation 4 Pro (also brand-new for the holidays) and the PSVR. The headset plus the horsepower provided by the console provides an immersive, interactive VR experience.

Key features

• Expensive

• Limited to Sony PlayStation

• Totally immersive and interactive; potential for motion sickness

• Games tend to be mature but plentiful, including Batman Arkham VR, 100ft Robot Golf, Final Fantasy XV VR, Battlezone, and Resident Evil 7.

• Sony’s recommended age minimum is 12.

Products in this category

PlayStation VR Launch Bundle ($499.99)

Includes everything you need to turn your PS4 into a VR machine, including a headset, a camera, two motion controllers, a game, and cables.

PlayStation 4 Slim ($299.99); PSVR sold separately

A newly redesigned, slimmer version of the PS4, this one has improved graphics, a lighted controller, and runs quieter.

PlayStation 4 Pro ($399.99); PSVR sold separately

Better graphics, faster action, and optimized to work better with specific “Pro-Enhanced” games

What parents need to know about technology addiction

You may have heard of the ominous-sounding Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. These are the ultra-powerful VR headsets that provide a fully immersive experience; some call it “the Holodeck” in reference to the alternate reality from Star Trek. Both require high-end, powerful PCs (which cost upwards of $500).

Key features

• Super expensive

• Require compatible games (for example, Everest VR is a Vive exclusive) and high-powered computers

• Full interactivity with your environment

• Games tend to be mature, including The Assembly and Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

• Best for families with teens; Oculus Rift’s manufacturer age minimum is 13; Valve states the Vive is “not for children.”

Products in this category

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  • HTC Vive ($799)

    Offers a “room-scale experience.” If your kids play on the Steam gaming network, they’ve certainly seen ads for the HTC Vive, as it’s made by the same company, Valve, that owns Steam. Steam is offering some Vive-only games designed to take advantage of this headsets’ unique capabilities.

    Oculus Rift ($599)

    Comes with everything to make VR a reality – except the computer: a headset, a sensor, a remote, cables, an Xbox controller, and a game.

    Indianapolis shooting suspect Shamar Duncan arrested, police say

    Shamar Duncan, 22, was taken into custody by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Tuesday afternoon, the department said in a news release.

    The three Royal Netherlands Army soldiers were shot outside a Hampton Inn early Saturday and were taken to the hospital, authorities said at the time. One of the victims, later identified as Simmie Poetsema, was in critical condition and died Sunday, Dutch officials said.

    The other two soldiers sustained non-life-threatening injuries, police said. They have not been identified by authorities.

    The soldiers, members of the Commando Corps, were staying at the hotel while in Indiana as part of a training exercise, according to the Dutch Ministry of Defense.

    Duncan was arrested for murder, but the police department said it will decide his final charges after reviewing the case, noting that additional charges are possible. Police did not specify where the suspect was apprehended or a possible motive, but previously attributed Saturday’s shooting to a “disturbance” between the victims and the suspect.

    3 Dutch soldiers were wounded in a shooting outside an Indianapolis hotel, authorities say

    During the investigation, Indianapolis detectives spoke with multiple people and obtained video connected to the investigation, the department said.

    “IMPD has been in communication with various agencies within the United States and the Netherlands to coordinate family members coming to Indianapolis and returning the victims to the Netherlands,” police said in a statement Monday.

    The soldiers had been training at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, a 1,000-acre complex southeast of Indianapolis that is being used for training by the Department of Defense “as well as other allies,” the Indiana National Guard told CNN affiliate WISH in a statement.

    Pakistan pleads for international help as parts of country ‘resemble a small ocean’

    Climate change minister Sherry Rehman said Sunday the unprecedented rain had created a “climate catastrophe” with floodwaters submerging homes, destroying farmland and displacing millions of people.

    “We’ve had to deploy the navy for the first time to operate in Indo-Pakistan, because much of it resembles a small ocean,” she told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

    Flooding and severe rains has killed at least 1,136 people, including 386 children, and left 1,634 more injured since mid-June, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said Monday, as the unrelenting rain raised fears of more fatalities to come.

    “By the time this is over, we could well have one quarter or one third of Pakistan under water,” Rehman told Turkish news outlet TRT World on Thursday.

    On Monday, new satellite images from Maxar Technologies showed the scale of the disaster — homes and fields completely submerged along the Indus River, as well as the cities of Rajanpur and Rojhan in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

    Video released by the Pakistan Army showed troops staging treacherous rescues by helicopter of people stranded in floodwaters — including one boy trapped on rocks in the middle of a raging river in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

    Rapid flash floods have destroyed more than 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of road, 130 bridges and 495,000 homes have been damaged, according to NDMA’s latest situation report, making access to flooded areas even more difficult.

    Foreign Minister Bilawal Butto-Zardari said Sunday this year’s monsoon season had been “absolutely devastating.”

    “I haven’t seen any destruction or devastation of this scale,” said Butto-Zardari. “I find it very difficult to put into words the phraseologies that we are used to, whether it’s monsoon rains or flooding, doesn’t quite seem to encapsulate the ongoing devastation and disaster that we are still witnessing.”

    A family wades through a flood-hit area following heavy monsoon rains in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on August 29, 2022.

    A national calamity

    Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif joined in relief efforts over the weekend, dropping off supplies from a helicopter in areas difficult to reach by boat or land, according to videos from his office.
    “Visiting flood affected areas and meeting people. The magnitude of the calamity is bigger than estimated,” Sharif said in a tweet on Saturday. “Times demand that we come together as one nation in support of our people facing this calamity. Let us rise above our differences and stand by our people who need us today.”

    After meeting with ambassadors and diplomats in Islamabad on Friday, he called for help from the international community.

    Residents gather beside a road damaged by flood waters following heavy monsoon rains in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on August 29, 2022.

    On Monday, Peter Ophoff, the IFRC head delegate in Pakistan said the aid network had appealed for more than $25 million to provide urgent relief for an estimated 324,000 people in the country.

    “Looking at the incredible damage the floods have caused, it slowly becoming clear to us that relief efforts are going to take a very long time. It is going to be a long-waterlogged road ahead when the people of Pakistan began their journey back to what is remaining of their homes,” Ophoff said.

    More than 3.1 million people had been displaced by the “sea-like” flood waters that have damaged more than half a million homes in multiple districts across the country, according to a statement Saturday from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

    Abrar ul Haq, chairman of the aid network in Pakistan, said Friday that water wasn’t the only challenge for humanitarian workers in the region.

    “These torrential floods have severely restricted transportation and mobility. The threat of Covid-19 and damage to vehicles, infrastructure and connectivity are further making our emergency relief works almost impossible. Most of those affected are also immobile or marooned making us hard to reach them,” he said.

    Displaced people prepare for breakfast in their tents at a makeshift camp after fleeing from their flood-hit homes following heavy monsoon rains in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on August 29, 2022.

    ‘Monster monsoon of the decade’

    Pakistan is already battling through its eighth cycle of monsoon rains, Rehman said Thursday, an anomaly in a country that typically sees three or four such rainy periods per year.

    “Pakistan is living through one of the most serious climate catastrophes of the world,” Rehman said in a video statement.

    “We are at this point ground zero of the front line of extreme weather events, which we have seen from early this year from an unrelenting cascade of heat waves, forest fires, flash floods, multiple glacier lake outburst events and now the monster monsoon of the decade.”

    In his comments Sunday, Butto-Zardari said Pakistan was bearing the brunt of climate change as other countries with bigger carbon footprints do little to reduce their emissions.

    “Pakistan contributes negligible amounts to the overall carbon footprint, but we are devastated by climate disasters such as these time and time again, and we have to adapt within our limited resources,” he said.

    Ukrainian troops took back 4 villages in the south from Russian occupation, military source tells CNN

    Ukrainian gunners prepare to fire with a self-propelled multiple rocket launcher at a position near a frontline in Donetsk region on August 27.
    Ukrainian gunners prepare to fire with a self-propelled multiple rocket launcher at a position near a frontline in Donetsk region on August 27. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

    The White House says it has seen reports that Ukraine has begun a counteroffensive against Russian forces in southern Ukraine but does not want to comment further on specific Ukrainian military operations, John Kirby, the communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said.

    Kirby did note, however, that regardless of the size, scale and scope of the latest counteroffensive, the Ukrainians “have already had an impact on Russian military capabilities.”

    “Because the Russians have had to pull resources from the east simply because of reports that the Ukrainians might be going more on the offense in the south,” Kirby said. “And so they’ve had to deplete certain units …in certain areas in the East in the Donbass, to respond to what they clearly believed was a looming threat of a counter offensive.”

    Kirby also said that Russia “continues to have manpower problems” in Ukraine, and is trying to expand its recruitment of fighters inside Russia as well as “entice” some of their conscripts and contract soldiers to serve beyond their time frames.  

    That is “because they are experiencing manpower challenges—manpower challenges that are not made any easier by the way they’ve had to respond to reports of a potential counteroffensive by the Ukrainians,” Kirby said.

    Kirby also said that “the idea of going on the offense is not new to the Ukrainians.”

    “Now I recognize that what we’re talking about here is the potential for a major counteroffensive, which is different than going on the offense in a more localized way,” Kirby said. But he said Ukrainian forces “have been taking the fight to the Russians inside” Ukraine for quite some time now, including in the early months of the war around the capital Kyiv.        

    “So, it’s not a new development for them to do this,” Kirby said.

    What Russia is saying: Moscow on Monday acknowledged Kyiv’s counteroffensive in Ukraine’s south, but said the Ukrainian troops “suffered heavy losses” and “failed miserably” in their “attempted” offensive. 

    Ukrainian forces on Monday “attempted an offensive in the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions from three directions,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement, adding, “as a result of the active defense of the grouping of Russian troops, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine suffered heavy losses.”

    The ministry said that during the fighting, 26 Ukrainian tanks, 23 infantry fighting vehicles, nine other armored fighting vehicles were destroyed and two Su-25 attack aircraft were shot down.

    “Another attempt at offensive actions by the enemy failed miserably,” it concluded.

    Winners of the ‘Oscars of watches’ on show at Dubai

    The winners of this year’s “Oscars of watchmaking” have been chosen, with a wide range of time pieces recognized for their engineering perfection and eye-catching design.

    An industry jury chose the world’s best watches in fifteen different categories including sports, jewellery and travel time watch, with the awards presented by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in Geneva earlier this month.

    The grand prize for the world’s best watch, the Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix, was awarded to the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1 from Ferdinand Berthoud.

    This limited-edition white gold and titanium time piece, which retails for more than $200,000, has a leather strap and is powered by a hand-wound movement comprised of more than 1,120 components.

    The Public Prize, chosen by votes submitted internationally online and at select international watch exhibitions, was awarded to the 33 bis Quai des Bergues by Czapek Genève.

    The winning watches were shown in Seoul, Rome and Geneva before they arrived in Dubai on November 15 for their final hurrah at Dubai Watch Week.

    Watches from Audemars Piguet, Montblanc, MB&F, Piaget, TAG Heuer and Tudor brands, along with Chanel, Eberhard & Co, Fabergé and Grönefeld, were also honored by this year’s 27-person international jury.

    Check out the gallery above to see the full list of this years winners.

    ‘Roborace’ car makes street track debut in Marrakech

    Story highlights

    Driverless electric racer completes successful track test in Marrakech, Morocco

    Planned Roborace series will see autonomous cars compete at Formula E ePrix weekends


    It is a car kitted out with technology its developers boldly predict will transform our cities and change the way we live.

    The autonomous “DevBot #1” took a giant leap forward in Morocco recently, making its debut on a street track at the Formula E Marrakech ePrix.

    The battery-powered prototype is being tested for Roborace – a proposed race series where driverless cars will compete on temporary city circuits.

    “It’s the first time we’ve run the Devbot in driverless mode on a Formula E track in the middle of a city street,” Roborace’s Justin Cooke told CNN.

    “It’s so exciting for the team who put hours and hours of work in. These guys were up to 1-2 a.m. in the morning developing a technology that no one else in the world is able to do at this speed and in these complicated environments.”

    Read: Electric race car showcases driverless future

    Using a variety of sensors – including GPS, radar and ultrasonics – allied to sophisticated computer programs, the car learns how to navigate a track at speed avoiding all obstacles.

    “What we are doing is at the forefront of technology right now,” says Cooke, who is also CMO of Kinetik – an investment company founded by Russian businessman Denis Sverdlov which is providing financial backing for the project.

    “There are two or three kinds of space races, if you will – some people are going to Mars, we’re developing robotic cars and I think it’s probably one of the most, if not the most exciting space in the world right now.”

    After the successful 30-minute test in Marrakech – this year’s host city for the United Nations climate change conference (COP22) – Cooke say the company will next try racing two cars together on track with the eventual aim of having up to 10 cars competing at every Formula E ePrix weekend.

    “To be here at COP22 when we are celebrating an electric future, a driverless future – it’s the perfect time for Roborace,” Cooke enthuses.

    Visit for more Formula E news and features

    “More than anything we want people to be excited about the technology because it’s going to change our lives, it’s going to transform our cities.”

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    Criminal Justice Season 3 Series Download

    Criminal Justice Season 3 Series Download Series Review: Criminal Justice, the British superhit series has been remade in Hindi and released on the Hotstar OTT platform. The success of season 1 boosted the confidence of the makers and released season 2. Now the makers have released season 3 which is available for streaming on Hotstar from August 26. Without wasting our time let’s jump straight into the in-depth review and find out if this is a series worth watching or not.

    Criminal Justice Season 3 Series Review

    Avantika Ahuja visits Madhav Mishra’s doorstep to solve the mystery of the murder of his daughter Zara Ahuja, a child actress. The main accused in this murder is none other than Zara’s brother Mukul Ahuja. Madhav Mishra agrees to Avantika Ahuja’s request and starts digging the truth behind Zara Ahuja’s murder mystery to help Mukula Ahuja get out of this case.
    Criminal Justice Season 3 Cast

    The cast of Criminal Justice Season 3 includes Pankaj Tripathi, Shweta Basu Prasad, Aditya Gupta, Purab Kohli, Swastika Mukherjee and Gaurav Gera. Directed by Rohan Sippy and produced by Sameer Nair, Deepak Segal, this courtroom crime drama series. This season 3 is screenplay and written by Bijesh Jayarajan.
    The series is called Criminal Justice Season 3
    Director Rohan Sippy
    Starring Pankaj Tripathi, Shweta Basu Prasad, Aditya Gupta, Purab Kohli, Swastika Mukherjee and Gaurav Gera
    Producers are Sameer Nair and Deepak Segal
    Music NA
    Author Bijesh Jayarajan
    OTT release date not confirmed
    OTT platform not verified
    How is the Criminal Justice Season 3 series?

    Season 1 of this courtroom crime drama is an official remake of the original series from the British, and they have made some changes to connect with the Indian audience. Season 2 also entertained the audience due to Pankaj Tripathi’s amazing performance. Season 3 now has the required thrill to keep the audience engaged in the series and the makers have once again succeeded in giving us yet another interesting crime drama, revealing details one after the other in each episode.

    Coming to the acting performance, Pankaj Tripathi once again does very well and we all fall in love with his character. He is very natural when it comes to acting. Hindi film industry ignores such an actor for big projects and continues to produce some meaningless films. Aditya Gupta, another actor in this series, will definitely grab your attention. Shweta Basu Prasad acted well as a lawyer. Swastika Mukherjee and other actors have done their role well.

    Technically all seasons of Criminal Justice don’t matter. The background music of this series is suitable for the scenes and seems neutral in some scenes. Cinematography is good even though most of the scenes are shot in closed locations. Production values ​​don’t matter.

    Rohan Sippy succeeds with the way he presents this crime drama and Pankaj Tripathi’s performance adds more uniqueness to his making.

    Overall, Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach is a watchable series. This can certainly be attributed to Pankaj Tripathi’s excellent performance as an actor.
    Movie Rating: 3.25/5

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