US automakers GM and Chrysler seek more government aid

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The United States auto manufacturer Chrysler, which has been badly affected by the ongoing recession, has asked the US government for an additional US$5 billion in aid on top of the four billion it has already received, saying that it plans to fire three thousand employees. At the end of last year, the auto maker had just over 54,000 employees, meaning that the layoffs will equal about six percent of its total workforce.

In addition, Chrysler will cut the Chrysler Aspen, PT Cruiser, and Durango from production.

Another automaker, General Motors (GM), announced that it seeks $16.6 billion in loans from the government, in addition to the $13.4 billion that it has already received. GM plans to lay off 47,000 employees and close five factories. GM says that it might need as much as $30 billion from the US Treasury Department, an increase over their previous estimate of $18 billion. The company has warned that it might run out of money by March if more aid was not given.

Rick Wagoner, GM’s chief executive, described the firm’s plan as “comprehensive, responsive, achievable, and flexible”. “We have a lot of work in front of us, but I am confident it will result in a profitable General Motors,” he said, adding that “today’s plan is significantly more aggressive because it has to be.” GM says that it could be profitable in two years’ time, and might be able to repay all its loans by 2017.

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A third US car manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, has said that it can make it through this year without any government aid.

The US Treasury Department will review the car makers’ survival plans for several weeks before a decision is made on whether or not to extend the loans. That decision is due by the end of next month.

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Airbnb announces intent to remove Israeli West Bank settlement property listings

Thursday, November 22, 2018

On Monday, online rental firm Airbnb announced its intent to remove housing listings in Israeli West Bank settlements. The decision would likely affect about 200 properties within the coming days.

Airbnb said they made the decision because of the controversy surrounding the settlements, describing them as “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

The company stated: “US law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in these territories. At the same time, many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced”.

Various human rights activists and Palestinian officials, critics of Airbnb’s West Bank listings for several years, lauded the announcement. Israeli leaders criticized the company and supported bringing legal action against it in US courts.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism said they would act to limit Airbnb’s activity within the country. The office’s minister Yariv Levin also ordered the creation of a program aimed at boosting West Bank settlement tourism and accommodations.

Under international law, disputed by Israel, Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal. The settlements have been a major obstacle in peace negotiations for the region. About 600 thousand Israeli settlers populate West Bank and East Jerusalem Israeli settlements.

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Warrant For Arrest How To Check For Arrest Warrants

By Steve Gee

Did you know that you could have outstanding arrest warrants? Find out about them right now

The police only have to think that you’ve committed a crime before applying for an arrest warrant from a Judge. Most people think that you have to actually do something wrong before you can get an arrest warrant but that’s not true. The police could come and get you at any time whether you’re a criminal or not. See below for an easy way to check if you have any active arrest warrants.

If you’ve forgotten to appear in court when you should have done or you didn’t get proof of that community service that you did then the court may have issued a bench warrant for you. If you have any kind of active warrant outstanding then sooner or later the police will come after you and arrest you.

You can’t afford to ignore an arrest warrant

If the cops come knocking at your door to arrest you then it will show on your record that the police had to hunt you down to serve the warrant on you. When you get to court this isn’t going to look good for you. The judge will be influenced by the fact that you had to be dragged in to court. You can’t afford to ignore an arrest warrant even if you are unaware that you have one.

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It’s not as uncommon as you might think to have warrants that you don’t know about. It happens all of the time. Perhaps you failed to pay a fine or ran through a speed trap without realising it. You might have had your identity stolen and someone has been committing crimes on your behalf and giving your name to the police. Think about that for a moment, you can get arrested for something someone else did while they were using your name.

It’s much better to give yourself up than wait for the cops to drag you in

Try to put yourself into the judges shoes. Do you think that he or she might be inclined to treat you more sympathetically if your record shows that you handed yourself in to the court as soon as you discovered that you had an arrest warrant? I’m betting that this would be the case no matter how hard the judge tried to be impartial. It’s just human nature.

So find out whether you have active arrest warrants and take steps to engage a lawyer and give yourself up as soon as possible.

Check yourself out for warrants of arrest in the next few minutes

If you have an idea that you might have a warrant active and you know where it might have been issued then you can go and ask at the courthouse. This is easy enough but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the right courthouse.

Whatever you do don’t ask a police officer because they most likely will arrest you on the spot as soon as they find out that there is an arrest warrant out for you.

There is a better way to check for warrants. You can use an online website that specialises in collecting public records from all over. You can do one search that will cover a multitude of courthouses and find additional information from all kinds of sources.

Check for arrest warrants now and do it regularly to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.

About the Author: Check for arrest warrants in less than 5 minutes How do I check for arrest warrants. Find out how to do a background checks on someone howdo-i.com/backgroundcheck

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Manitoba’s flood creating hazardous conditions

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Red River at Winnipeg is almost clear of ice blocks and ice jamming, however there are still dangers from the Red River flood.

Ice blocks which were as high as two storey buildings were ripping out trees, fences and railway ties. “You’ll see huge pans of ice standing vertical, up to 20 feet (6.1 m) high,” said Steve Topping, an official with the provincial Water Stewardship Department. “Ice was shoved up on the shore and took out trees with a very devastating effect. It has changed people’s view of the river.”

“It is incredible, the force. One piece of ice pushed out of the river about 20 feet. You watch the force push this up right in front of your eyes,” said Dean North, of the Selkirk Golf and Country Club.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police are ticketing sight seers who are driving through road closure signs and approaching excavators, cranes and crews breaking up the ice. Vehicles, people, boats, and kayaks are getting in the way.

An eight year old boy is in critical condition after slipping on a culvert Thursday. He was pulled underwater by the speed of the flowing water and remained under for about five to ten minutes until adults could rescue him. The air ambulance supplied by Alberta’s STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) remains in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“This is not a spectator sport. It’s not about getting the best pictures for the family albums. I know floods are seen as a bit of an event, but some of the instances I’m hearing about, people should give their head a shake, they really should,” said Steve Ashton Manitoba Emergency Measures Minister, “Those who fall into the river or get into trouble in another way would be not only endangering themselves but the emergency response crews trying to rescue them. I don’t want to see a situation … where we’re trying our darndest to prevent flooding and save lives and somebody [who] decides to go have a white-water experience ends up killing themselves.”

Early Easter Sunday morning floodwater reached the rural municipalities of St. Andrews and St. Clements north of Winnipeg. Residents were sent an evacuation advisory Good Friday, however some residents remained. Rescue efforts commenced Saturday night to find those stranded and unable to leave as their vehicles cannot travel in the swollen overland floodwaters. Some people were rescued from roof tops as entire houses were swept off of their foundations by the large ice blocks hurtling down the river.

Highways in the area remain closed. Neil Gobelle, of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation said to “definitely continue to watch the Red River Valley and north of the city up in the Selkirk area. Things are changing quite a bit, quite quickly, so we’ll keep an eye on those areas.”

As of Easter Sunday, Winnipeg is expected to be ice free on the Red River. The River rose 4 feet (1.2 m) in the course of 24 hours. Rain is in the forecast and the higher temperatures of 17 °C (62.6 °F) will cause melting of snow and ice.

A weather system caused by La Niña is being watched by the United States National Weather Service and its potential effects between April 16-18 for residents along the Red River Valley. “We want people to be aware there is a very real possibility of the river going higher than what is out there,” said Mark Ewens, data manager at the NWS, “To have spring floods like this back-to-back is just an unfortunate series of events that have come along to plague us this spring. We’re wanting people to understand that this is a potentially serious problem.”

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California teen becomes youngest to conquer Everest

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jordan Romero, a thirteen-year-old alpinist from Big Bear Lake, California, is the youngest person to have summited Mount Everest, according to reports circulated by the Associated Press quoting a spokesman based in the United States. The expedition included the boy’s father, stepmother, and three Sherpa guides.

Romero ascended 8,850 metres (29,035 feet) breaking the record for the youngest climber on Everest previously set by 16 year old Temba Tsheri from Nepal. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do before I die — I just happen to be doing it at this age. I happen to be going for a world record. But I just want to climb it,” Jordan told AFP reporters before embarking on the trek. On the same day, mountaineer Apa Sherpa, from Nepal, scaled Everest for the 20th time breaking a personal record.

It is anticipated that additional information will become available once the summit team returns to camp on the Tibet side of the mountain.

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US to sell precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Bush administration officially notified Congress Monday of its intention to sell sophisticated precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia. The action, coinciding with President Bush’s visit to Saudi Arabia, is part of a broader U.S. effort to bolster Gulf allies in the face of a more assertive Iran. VOA’s David Gollust reports from the State Department.

The Bush administration has already briefed Congress on its arms sales plans for Saudi Arabia. Monday’s announcement sets in motion a 30-day period in which the House and Senate can block the plan with a joint resolution – an action that appears highly unlikely.

Under the proposed deal, worth more than $120 million, the United States would provide Saudi Arabia with 900 kits and associated equipment to convert conventional gravity bombs into GPS-guided smart-bombs, known as JDAMs.

The weapons are a mainstay of the U.S. military arsenal and their accuracy would vastly enhance the capability of the Saudi Air Force, which has top-of-the-line U.S.-made fighter-bomber aircraft.

The sale is part of a broader $20-billion arms package for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates last August on a mission to the Gulf, aimed at shoring up U.S. allies concerned about Iranian influence in the region.

Several elements of the broader package including sales of Patriot anti-missile systems to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and upgrades for Saudi Arabia’s AWACS airborne command and control planes, have already gotten congressional assent. Officials here say they also expect the Saudi J-DAMS sale to proceed despite concerns expressed by some congressional supporters of Israel.

At the time the Gulf weapons sales package was announced last year, the Bush administration also committed to a 10-year, $30-billion arms package for Israel, representing a 25 per cent increase in annual U.S. arms aid to that country.

Briefing reporters, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the administration has assured Congress it would do nothing to upset Israel’s military edge over potential enemies in the region.

“We’ve spent a lot of time assuring that we abide by our commitments to a qualitative military edge for Israel,” said Sean McCormack. “This is something that President Reagan first talked about and it’s been reiterated and reconfirmed by each successive president after that. We’re committed to maintaining that qualitative military edge for Israel.”

Israel itself has not protested the pending sale. Israeli officials have said they anticipate being provided with a new-generation U.S. smart bomb more capable than J-DAMS, which have been in service for more than a decade.

A spokesman for House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, a prominent advocate for Israel in Congress, said he does not intend to push a resolution of disapproval.

However one House member, New York Democrat Anthony Weiner, said he would introduce such a measure and already has more than 30 co-sponsors.

Critics of the package have faulted Saudi Arabia’s record in combating terrorism and advancing political reform. Under questioning here, Spokesman McCormack said the Saudi government has made “quantum leaps” in action against terrorist cells and financing in recent years and has begun the process of reform, though not necessarily at a pace that would please some critics.

Two-thirds majorities of the members in both houses would be required to block the sale and officials here say chances for that appear nil.

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Coll New Puzzles

Submitted by: Lorenkg Russo

Here are a few tips for those wishing to buy puzzles for the classroom or home.

Kids jigsaw puzzles offer many benefits of helping kids to grow and develop their skills and talents. Here are a few of the ways they help kids:

o A great way to introduce teamwork and collaborative efforts as they work on the puzzles with other kids or family members

o Builds critical thinking skills as they match the colors and analyze the shapes.

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o Manipulating the pieces helps to develop hand coordination, especially for younger kids

o Helps develop patience, especially for younger kids under age 6

o Strengthens relationships with others

o Increased attention to detail, ability to focus and concentration skills

o Develop social and communication skills

So with all of these great reasons to get a puzzle for your kids, the next question is how do you buy puzzles that will both entertain and challenge young minds? Here are some key things to consider when shopping for jigsaw puzzles.

o The level of difficulty must be appropriate for the child’s age. The younger the child the fewer the number of pieces in the puzzle. Anything too challenging will cause him to give up because of its difficulty and any puzzles you purchase that are too easy will cause him to quickly lose interest. For little ones under the age of 6, the bigger the jigsaw pieces, the easier it is for them to manipulate the pieces as they put them in place. After age six, kids have increased coordination skills and should be able to work with the smaller pieces that provide more of a challenge for both their dexterity and thinking skills.

o The puzzle theme should be a good fit for your child. Find a topic that your child loves then get puzzles which use the same theme. Is your eight year old fascinated with horses? There are literally thousands of jigsaw puzzles with images of horses. There are lots of themes available so finding one that works for your child should not be too hard. Their interest in the favorite topic will rub off on the puzzle activity, making it something they enjoy doing and want to do again and again.

o The puzzle material must be appropriate for the child’s age. Wooden jigsaw puzzles are available for toddlers and young preschool kids who need something that can take a beating and keep on working.

You can also get creative with kids jigsaw puzzles, using them as an event for the whole family or make it into a fun contest just for the kids. Here is an idea to make it interesting. Remove the puzzle pieces from the box that reveals the finished puzzle. Tell your children the first one to guess what it is after they’ve begun putting it together wins a prize. It’s a great incentive for them to work together as they eagerly anticipate the puzzle’s final look. But even better than any reward is for Mom or Dad to sit down with them, spend some time and provide a bit of help as they move forward with completing their jigsaw puzzles.

The benefits of jigsaw puzzles will stay with your family for a lifetime and the tradition can be passed down.

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India: Maharashtra plastic ban comes into force

Monday, June 25, 2018

On Saturday, the plastic ban in the Indian state of Maharashtra came into force. In an attempt to minimise pollution, the state government has introduced a ban on single-use plastics.

The leader of the Yuya Sena political party, Aaditya Thackeray, said on Twitter, “The ban on single use disposable plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic plates and cutlery, styrofoam cutlery and non woven bags”. He added, “these are global issues now and we have taken a step to combat it”.

Plastic pollution has led to the choking of drains, marine pollution and a risk of animals consuming plastics. This year, India’s motto for World Environment Day — June 5 — was “Beat Plastic Pollution”. People violating the plastic ban are to face a fine of 5,000 Indian Rupees (INR) for the first offence. For the second offence, the fine is INR 10,000 and the third time offence is INR 25,000 and a three-month prison term. Deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhary said, “To weed out corruption, we plan to give inspectors payment gadgets for electronic receipts of the fines”.

The Maharashtra government has given a 90-day period for manufacturers to dispose of existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE) plastic spoons and plates, while shopkeepers and citizens in general have six months to dispose of plastics. However, the ban does not prohibit plastic usage for wrapping medicines or milk cartons thicker than 50 microns.

The state government had announced the decision for the plastic ban on March 23. According to NDTV’s report, Maharashtra is the eighteenth Indian state to enforce a state-wide plastic ban. Aaditya Thackeray also said, “I congratulate the citizens for making this into a movement, even before the ban was enforceable, giving up single use disposable plastic.”

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Fourth U.S. state governor orders net neutrality in government contracts

Sunday, February 18, 2018

On Thursday, Phil Scott of Vermont became the fourth governor in the United States to sign an executive order requiring all companies providing Internet access to state agencies to abide by net neutrality for all customers in his state. He said he did this because Vermonters rely on Internet access without blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, threatened by the December 14 decision of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the matter of “Restoring Internet freedom”. The first state governor to challenge the FCC in this way was Steve Bulllock of Montana, who did so on January 22. Andrew Cuomo of New York followed two days later. Philip Murphy of New Jersey signed a similar executive order on February 5. These four executive orders differ in details, but all require that state agencies purchase Internet access services only from companies with an enforceable commitment to net neutrality for all customers in their state.

This is part of a flurry of state-level net neutrality actions. The New York State Assembly introduced bill A01958 on January 17, 2017, three days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States, anticipating action by him to overturn the 2015 “Title II Order” that made net neutrality enforceable in the US. Two other bills were introduced into the Washington House of Representatives in the ten days before the official decision of Trump’s FCC on this issue. In addition to these, 63 other state-level responses by net neutrality supporters were documented by Fight for the Future (FFTF) by February 16, 2018, including at least 27 bills introduced into the legislatures of 17 states with others reportedly under consideration.

These bills are in addition to the lawsuit filed on January 16 by the Attorney General of New York on behalf of 21 states and the District of Columbia claiming this FCC decision was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act” (APA) of 1946 and other grounds. These states were New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington state. New Jersey reportedly later committed to join the suit.

These four executive orders are the only actions on FFTF’s list of actions by net neutrality supporters that seem immediately enforceable. All others require approval by democratic bodies. The four executive orders might be challenged in courts as conflicting with “Preemption authority” claimed by the US Federal Communications Commission’s “Declaratory ruling, report and order” adopted December 14 and released January 4. The FCC order was described by dissenting Commissioner Clyburn as “Destroying Internet Freedom” rather than “Restoring Internet Freedom” as the order is titled. She wrote that this order “will put profits and shareholder returns above what is best for” consumers.

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Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

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