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Huan Huan, a giant panda on loan to France, gave birth to twin cubs very early Monday, according to the Beauval zoo.  The twins, born around 1 a.m., are Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi’s second and third cubs, after the first panda ever born in France, Yuan Meng, in 2017. “The two babies are pink. They are perfectly healthy. They look big enough. They are magnificent,” said Rodolphe Delord, president of ZooParc de Beauval in Saint-Aignan, central France. WATCH: Using Pandas for DiplomacySorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 16 MB480p | 23 MB540p | 33 MB720p | 74 MB1080p | 134 MBOriginal | 725 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioPanda reproduction, in captivity or in the wild, is notoriously difficult. Experts say few pandas get in the mood or even know what to do when they do.  Further complicating matters, the window for conception is small since female pandas are in heat only once a year for about 24-48 hours. Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi — the star attractions at Beauval — thrilled zoo officials in March when they managed to make “contact,” as they put it, eight times in a weekend. Veterinarians also carried out an artificial insemination, just to be sure. Huan Huan’s first cub, Yuan Meng, now weighs more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and is to be sent this year to China, where there are an estimated 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild and another 500 in captivity. Huan Huan’s newborns will not be named for 100 days, with Peng Liyuan — the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping — set to choose what they will be called, the zoo said.  
 

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A surfer jumping in to translate for the rival who’d just beaten him. High-jumping friends agreeing to share a gold medal rather than move to a tiebreaker. Two runners falling in a tangle of legs, then helping each other to the finish line.In an extraordinary Olympic Games where mental health has been front and center, acts of kindness are everywhere. The world’s most competitive athletes have been captured showing gentleness and warmth to one another — celebrating, pep-talking, wiping away one another’s tears of disappointment.Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in their sport’s Olympic debut.Not only did he blow his shot at gold on the beach he grew up surfing, he was also being taunted online by racist Brazilian trolls.The Japanese-American surfer could have stewed in silence, but he instead deployed his knowledge of Portuguese, helping to translate a press conference question for Ferreira on the world stage.The crowd giggled hearing the cross-rival translation and an official thanked the silver medalist for the assist.”Yes, thank you, Kanoa,” said a beaming Ferreira, who is learning English.Days later, at the Olympic Stadium, Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar found themselves in a situation they’d talked about but never experienced — they were tied.Both high jumpers were perfect until the bar was set to the Olympic-record height of 2.39 meters (7 feet, 10 inches). Each missed three times.They could have gone to a jump-off, but instead decided to share the gold.”I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that gold. He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that gold,” Barshim said. “This is beyond sport. This is the message we deliver to the young generation.”After they decided, Tamberi slapped Barshim’s hand and jumped into his arms.”Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful,” Tamberi said. “It was just magical.”Isaiah Jewett, of the United States, and Nijel Amos, right, of Botswana, shake hands after falling in the men’s 800-meter semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo.Earlier, on the same track, runners Isaiah Jewett of the U.S. and Nijel Amos of Botswana got tangled and fell during the 800-meter semifinals. Rather than get angry, they helped each other to their feet, put their arms around each other and finished together.Many top athletes come to know each other personally from their time on the road, which can feel long, concentrated, and intense — marked by career moments that may be the best or worst of their lives.Those feelings have often been amplified at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games, where there is an unmistakable yearning for normalcy and, perhaps, a newfound appreciation for seeing familiar faces.Restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have meant Olympians can’t mingle the way they normally do.After a hard-fought, three-set victory in the beach volleyball round-robin final on Saturday at Shiokaze Park, Brazilian Rebecca Cavalcanti playfully poured a bottle of water on American Kelly Claes’ back as she did postgame interviews.The U.S. team had just defeated Brazil but the winners laughed it off, explaining that they’re friends.”I’m excited when quarantine’s done so we can sit at the same table and go to dinner with them. But it’s kind of hard in a bubble because we have to be away,” said Sarah Sponcil, Claes’ teammate.For fellow American Carissa Moore, the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions brought her closer with the other surfers.The reigning world champion said she typically travels to surfing competitions with her husband and father. But all fans were banned this year, and Moore admitted she struggled without their reassuring presence in the initial days of the Games.Moore had flown to Japan with the U.S. team 10 days before the first heat, and soon adjusted to living in a home with the other surfers, including Caroline Marks, whom Moore considered the woman to beat.Moore said she didn’t know Marks well before the Tokyo Games but on the night she was crowned the winner and Marks came in fourth, her rival was the first to greet her.”Having the USA Surf team with me, it’s been such a beautiful experience to bond with them,” Moore said. “I feel like I have a whole another family after the last two weeks.”Claire Michel of Belgium is assisted by Lotte Miller of Norway after the finish of the women’s individual triathlon competition, July 27, 2021, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Japan.After the punishing women’s triathlon last week in Tokyo, Norwegian Lotte Miller, who placed 24th, took a moment to give a pep talk to Belgium’s Claire Michel, who was inconsolable and slumped on the ground, sobbing.Michel had come in last, 15 minutes behind winner Flora Duffy of Bermuda — but at least she finished. Fifty-four athletes started the race but 20 were either lapped or dropped out.”You’re a (expletive) fighter,” Miller told Michel. “This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100%.”

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Italian Stuns in 100-Meter Sprint

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Usain Bolt once tightly held on to the mantle of World’s Fastest Man in his lightening quick sprints at multiple Olympic Games.  That mantle now, however, has passed on to a Texas-born Italian — 26-year-old Lamont Marcell Jacobs who finished the 100-meter race in 9.8 seconds, clinching Italy’s first medal in the event.  “I mean, 9.8 from the Italian guy?” Canada’s Andre DeGrasse said. “I didn’t expect that. I thought my main competition would be the Americans.” DeGrasse won a bronze in the sprint with a time of 9.89. American Fred Kerley who finished second for the silver in 9.84 seconds, said of Jacobs: “I really don’t know anything about him.” They know now that Jacobs roundly beat them and took home the gold.Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, of Puerto Rico celebrates after winning the gold in the women’s 100-meters hurdles final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the gold for the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Camacho-Quinn was born in the U.S. and attended college in Kentucky. She decided, however, to compete under Puerto Rico’s flag since her mother is Puerto Rican. Two men tied to win the men’s high jump, after each failed three times to conquer the Olympic-record height of 2.39 meters (7 feet, 10 inches). An official told Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar that they could share the gold medal and that is what the two athletes decided to do. In another dramatic turn of events at the Tokyo Games, one of the women in a 1,500-meter heat, fell over a runner who had fallen.  Sifan Hassan, the Ethiopian-born Dutch runner tried unsuccessfully to jump over Kenya’s Edinah Jebitok who had fallen in a mishap. But Hassan never took her eyes off the prize, recovering quickly. She got up and ran past one runner after another to win the heat in 4 minutes, 5.17 seconds to move onto the semi-finals.  Some information in this report comes from the Associated Press. 

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Miles Robinson scored on a header in the 117th minute, and a United States junior varsity lineup upset a mostly front-line Mexico team 1-0 on Sunday night to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Kellyn Acosta, the only player in the U.S. starting lineup who gets playing time when the first-choice roster is together, took a free kick, and Robinson out-jumped Edson Alvarez and headed the ball in on one hop to the right of goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. Robinson, a 24-year-old defender in his fourth Major League Soccer season with Atlanta, got his third international goal in nine international appearances, his second goal of the tournament.     Matt Turner got his fifth shutout in six matches of the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. The Americans won all three knockout matches by 1-0 scores. The U.S. won its seventh Gold Cup title, its first since 2017, matching Mexico for the most in the 15 tournaments. Canada won in 2000. It was just the second victory for the Americans in seven finals against El Tri. The U.S. has won nine consecutive games overall and 14 home games in a row. Top players, who are with their clubs for European preseasons, will return when the U.S. opens World Cup qualifying at El Salvador on Sept. 2. Mexico starts at home that day against Jamaica.    Before an overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd, El Tri started seven of the 11 players who began the Nations League final that the U.S. won in extra time in June on Christian Pulisic’s 114th-minute penalty kick: defenders Luis Rodriguez, Nestor Araujo, Hector Moreno and Jesus Gallardo plus midfielders Alvarez, Jesus Corona and Hector Herrera. The newcomers were Talavera, midfielders Jonathan dos Santos and Orbelin Pineda, and forward Rogelio Funes Mori, starting in place of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa plus Carlos Rodriguez, Uriel Antuna and Hirving Lozano. The U.S. lineup included nine players from Major League Soccer. The field CONCACAF chose was 69 yards wide, narrower than the recommended 75 yards. U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes from the lineup in the semifinal win over Qatar, inserting Cannon for Shaq Moore, Bello for Sam Vine, Williamson for Gianluca Busio and Zardes for Daryl Dike.     Defender Henry Kessler made his debut for the U.S. in extra time stoppage time. 

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The Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign broke into the email accounts of some of the most prominent federal prosecutors’ offices around the country last year, the Justice Department said.The department said 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees in the four U.S. attorney offices in New York were breached. All told, the Justice Department said, in 27 U.S. attorney offices at least one employee’s email account was compromised during the hacking campaign.The Justice Department said in a statement Friday that it believes the accounts were compromised from May 7 to Dec. 27, 2020. Such a timeframe is notable because the SolarWinds campaign, which infiltrated dozens of private-sector companies and think tanks as well as at least nine U.S. government agencies, was first discovered and publicized in mid-December.The Biden administration in April announced sanctions, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats, in response to the SolarWinds hack and Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied wrongdoing.Jennifer Rodgers, a lecturer at Columbia Law School, said office emails frequently contained all sorts of sensitive information, including case strategy discussions and names of confidential informants, when she was a federal prosecutor in New York.”I don’t remember ever having someone bring me a document instead of emailing it to me because of security concerns,” she said, noting exceptions for classified materials.The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts confirmed in January that it was also breached, giving the SolarWinds hackers another entry point to steal confidential information like trade secrets, espionage targets, whistleblower reports and arrest warrants.The list of affected offices includes several large and high-profile ones like those in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and the Eastern District of Virginia.The Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, where large numbers of staff were hit, handle some of the most prominent prosecutions in the country.”New York is the financial center of the world and those districts are particularly well known for investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes and other cases, including investigating people close to the former president,” said Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham Law School and a former prosecutor in the Southern District.The department said all victims had been notified and it is working to mitigate “operational, security and privacy risks” caused by the hack. The Justice Department said in January that it had no indication that any classified systems were affected.The Justice Department did not provide additional detail about what kind of information was taken and what impact such a hack may have on ongoing cases. Members of Congress have expressed frustration with the Biden administration for not sharing more information about the impact of the SolarWinds campaign.The Associated Press previously reported that SolarWinds hackers had gained access to email accounts belonging to the then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries. 

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The last VHS player was produced five years ago by Funai Electric in Japan. But for many, the era of VHS tapes never ended. Karina Bafradzhian and Angelina Bagdasaryan have the story.Camera: David Gogokhia, Vazgen Varzhabitian.

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Fake videos generated by artificial intelligence — also known as deep fakes — are becoming more common and harder to detect. But some deep fakes are being used for a good cause. Karina Bafradzhian has the story.

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This year’s 1455 Summer Literary Festival — an annual free 3-day virtual program sponsored by a group of universities in Virginia — featured over 200 authors, poets, and creative artists sharing their insights into the art of storytelling. Maxim Moskalkov has the story. Camera: Mike Maisuradze   
 

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Usain Bolt might be long gone from the sprint scene. It doesn’t mean Jamaica has slowed down one bit.Nobody has, at least not on the women’s side of the sport.An opening day at the Olympics that’s supposed to produce little more than a brisk jog for the world’s best at 100 meters turned into something very different Friday.Reigning world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran her heat in the nearly empty Olympic Stadium in 10.84 seconds. Her Jamaican rival, defending Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, finished in 10.82. And Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the Ivory Coast sprinter who finished an excruciating fourth in Rio de Janeiro, kept saying “Wow! Wow!” after she crossed the finish line in a blistering personal best of 10.78.“I’m in shock, actually,” Ta Lou said. “But I know I’m ready.”They were the fifth, sixth and seventh-fastest times of the year, produced on a day when seven of 54 sprinters hit a personal best — all in an opening round that’s supposed to be designed more for shaking out cobwebs than watching the clock.All that even though the field was missing this season’s third-fastest runner, Sha’Carri Richardson, who is back home in the United States following a doping ban.By comparison, only one runner, Fraser-Pryce, cracked 11 seconds in the opening round five years ago in Rio de Janeiro. She went on to win the bronze, behind Thompson (who has since gotten married) and American sprinter Tori Bowie.“I mean, a lot of sprinters are dominating,” Thompson-Herah said.Fraser-Pryce came in as the favorite for Saturday’s final, which is already showing signs of living up to the hype. She ran a 10.63 back in June that has some thinking even Florence Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old world record of 10.49 seconds could finally be at risk this year.“Honestly, I have no idea,” Fraser-Pryce said when asked about the mark. “It’s super, super competitive. You want to make sure you focus on each round and the things you’re supposed to do.”There were so many unknowns coming into the Olympics – namely if the year-long delay, the empty stadium or the stress of being cooped up in a hotel room in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games would hurt the athletes. At least one group — the women’s sprinters — answered all those questions with an emphatic “No.”Another unknown: Would this be a fast track?“Clearly,” said Daryll Neita of Britain, who ran a personal best 10.96. “It’s going to be a very fast championship, let’s put it that way. It feels amazing.”The first of 48 gold medals on the line over the nine-day meet was up for grabs later Friday in the men’s 10,000. Favorites include Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda and Selemon Barega of Ethiopia.Other morning action on Day 1 went to form. Rai Benjamin of the United States and world-record holder Karsten Warholm of Norway cruised easily through their heats in the 400-meter hurdles, keeping a gold-medal showdown in the cards. Will it take another world record to win?“Maybe someone else will do it,” Warholm joked. “I’ve done my job.”Athing Mu, a contender in the women’s 800, moved through the first round of her race and didn’t seem too bothered that the track announcer mispronounced her name. (For the record, it’s pronounced “uh-THING moh”).“I’m sure everyone saw my face,” the American said. “I don’t even know what he said. It was terrible.”Ju’Vaughn Harrison made it to the high jump final, keeping alive the American’s quest for a high jump-long jump double. Also advancing in high jump was world champion Mutaz Barshim, who wowed his home crowd two years ago when he won the world title in Doha.With thousands of empty green, white and burgundy seats staring back at them, all the “oohs” and “ahhs” for this one came from the athletes themselves. After Round 1 of that women’s 100, there was plenty to get excited about.“It’s whoever gets to the line first wins,” said another contender, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, whose 11.05 felt ordinary on this day. “Sometimes it’s not about the time, but about the position.”But sometimes, maybe this time, it could be about both.

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Amazon.com Inc has been hit with a record $886.6 million (746 million euros) European Union fine for processing personal data in violation of the bloc’s GDPR rules, as privacy regulators take a more aggressive position on enforcement.The Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) imposed the fine on Amazon in a July 16 decision, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing on Friday.Amazon will appeal the fine, according to a company spokesperson. The e-commerce giant said in the filing it believed CNPD’s decision was without merit.CNPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, requires companies to seek people’s consent before using their personal data or face steep fines.Globally, regulatory scrutiny of tech giants has been increasing following a string of scandals over privacy and misinformation, as well as complaints from some businesses that they abuse their market power.Alphabet’s Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp have drawn heightened scrutiny in Europe.In December, France’s data privacy watchdog handed out its biggest ever fine of 100 million euros ($118.82 million) to Google for breaching the nation’s rules on online advertising trackers.

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There is growing international criticism of Israel following allegations that software from the private security company NSO was used to spy on journalists, dissidents, and even political leaders around the world. A group of American lawmakers is urging the U.S. government to take punitive action against the company, which denies any wrongdoing. In Israel, some experts are calling for better regulation of cyber exports. Linda Gradstein reports for VOA from Jerusalem.

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Big tech companies are making it mandatory for employees in the United States to get COVID-19 vaccinations before entering campuses, as the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus drives a resurgence in cases.Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. said on Wednesday all U.S. employees must get vaccinated to step into offices. Google is also planning to expand its vaccination drive to other countries in the coming months.According to a Deadline report, streaming giant Netflix Inc. has also implemented a policy mandating vaccinations for the cast and crew on all its U.S. productions.Apple Inc. plans to restore its mask requirement policy at most of its U.S. retail stores, both for customers and staff, even if they are vaccinated, Bloomberg News reported.Apple and Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comments.Many tech companies, including Microsoft Corp. and Uber, have said they expect employees to return to their offices, months after pandemic-induced lockdowns forced them to shift to working from home.In April, Salesforce said it would allow vaccinated employees to return to some of its offices.Google also said on Wednesday it would extend its global work-from-home policy through Oct. 18 due to a recent rise in cases caused by the delta variant across different regions.”We’ll continue watching the data carefully and let you know at least 30 days in advance before transitioning into our full return-to-office plans,” the company said.   

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Los Angeles has bid farewell to Jivan Gasparyan, an Armenian musician and composer who was known as the master of the duduk, an Armenian woodwind instrument. Angelina Bagdasaryan has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.Camera: Vazgen Varzhabetian. 

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U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Samantha Power will visit Ethiopia next week to press for humanitarian access into conflict-battered Tigray as fears of famine grow, it was announced Thursday.
 
Power will meet officials in Addis Ababa to “press for unimpeded humanitarian access to prevent famine in Tigray and meet urgent needs in other conflict-affected regions of the country,” USAID said in a statement.
 
Power will also travel to Sudan on her trip starting Saturday as Western powers seek to support the civilian-backed transitional government after decades of authoritarian rule, USAID said.
 
The United Nations has warned that food rations in the Tigrayan capital Mekele could run out this month if more aid is not allowed in.
 
All available routes into Tigray are impeded by restrictions or insecurity following an attack on a World Food Program convoy earlier this month.
 
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, in November launched an offensive in Tigray in response to attacks by the region’s then ruling party against federal army camps.

The war took a stunning turn last month when the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front took back Mekele, with rebels then launching a new offensive.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described some of the violence in Tigray as “ethnic cleansing” and repeatedly pressed Abiy by telephone, voicing alarm despite the long, warm U.S. relationship with Ethiopia.
 
Power, a former journalist who held senior positions under former President Barack Obama, is known for her advocacy of humanitarian concerns and often reflects on the failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
 
Power will also meet in Sudan with Ethiopian refugees who have fled the conflict and travel to Darfur — the parched western region where a 2003 campaign against the African ethnic minority was described as genocide by Washington.  
 
Sudan’s civilian prime minister, Abdulla Hamdok, has sought to end the vast nation’s myriad conflicts including in Darfur although renewed clashes have killed hundreds of people in recent months.  
 
Power will meet Hamdok as well as the military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who remains leader of Sudan’s transitional ruling body as Sudan prepares for elections in 2022.
 
Power will “explore how to expand USAID’s support for Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led democracy” and deliver a speech in Khartoum about the transition, the agency said.

 

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Former U.S. president Barack Obama has acquired a minority share of NBA Africa, the National Basketball Association announced Tuesday.NBA Africa was established this year to oversee the league’s business activities on the continent.The NBA said in a statement that Obama is a strategic partner and would use any profits from the new entity to “fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa.”  The financial terms of the partnership were not released.NBA Africa was created in May as a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation. The Basketball Africa League, the continent’s first professional basketball league featuring top teams from 12 countries, is part of the entity.  The league began play for the first time in May after being delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic.African NBA Scout Eyes Talent in BAL TourneySarah Chan, manager of Africa scouting for the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors team, says the BAL tournament will be a breeding ground for the next generation of African athletesThe NBA has had a presence in Africa for decades. It opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010 and has since promoted basketball through the NBA Africa Games, the launch of the BAL, social responsibility initiatives, corporate partnerships and player development.”I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities,” Obama said in the NBA’s press release.”That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”Voice of America radio simulcast the BAL’s 26 games in English and French and provided play-by-play coverage in Bambara, Kinyarwanda, Wolof, and Portuguese for the games involving teams from Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Angola, and Mozambique.The broadcasts were aired on more than 30 VOA-owned and operated FM radio stations in 16 African countries and were available to VOA’s network of commercial and public radio stations across the continent.Information from Reuters and AP was used in this report.Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that former president Obama acquired a minority stake in NBA Africa, but the financial terms of the partnership have not been released.

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