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bulletSt. Vincent UN ambassador blasts G20
bulletCaribbean nationals live on less than US$2 per day
bulletJamaica lose over 30,000 jobs
bulletEditorial – US Racism has come roaring back
bulletFormer revolutionary Grenada Deputy PM Coard freed
bulletJamaican playwright Trevor Rhone is dead
bulletEnd of Privy Council
bulletGuyana gets US$15m from Trinidad to pay Clico debts
bulletJamaicans are getting fatter and unhealthier
bulletNew Obama policy on Cuba
bulletHumiliating UK immigration 4-hour grilling of 91-year-old Jamaican
bulletFree health care due for Dominica
bulletPrivate pharmacies to dispense free medications in Jamaica
bulletJamaican schools plagued by overcrowding.
bullet1st ‘magnet’ high school opens in Jamaica
bulletOverdue recognition of Jamaican cricket great George Headley
bulletMontserrat elects new government
bulletYouth clubs to the rescue in Jamaica
bulletGuyana has 2nd international airport
bulletPeace concert in Havana draws huge crowds


Boycott Money and Save Your Soul - Launching the Goodwill Revolution
by Michael I Phillips

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Not just a book but an invitation to join the Goodwill Revolution against an unfair, unjust and deceptive system that keeps the world poor and without hope. Find out how you can join, quit the rat race, and achieve a happier more meaningful life for yourself and others through goodwill to all.  
For more book info see

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cover River Woman by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
  The Rio Minho in Jamaica provides much more than a setting for this potent, accomplished debut by Jamaican-born Donna Hemans.


cover  For the Life of Laetitia by Trinidad -born Merle Hodge  Price: $10.54
a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.



October 2009

St. Vincent UN ambassador blasts G20

St. Vincent Ambassador Camillo M. Gonsalves blasted the efforts of major and industrialized economies to crack down on so-called tax havens as just an excuse to spread the blame for the global financial crisis on small nations` legitimate attempts at development. Gonsalves made the critical assessment before the United Nations` General Assembly recently Wednesday.

Gonsalves has represented his country at the UN since 2007. Prior to his current appointment, he served as Senior Crown Counsel in the Attorney Generals Chambers, beginning in August 2005.

Ambassador Gonsalves, also the son of the Prime Minister, told the UN General Assembly that his country faces `being stigmatized out of our transition into financial services" by the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and what he called "other non-inclusive bodies.`

He really told it like it is as he went on to say:

"….the crackdown on tax havens was actually a pathetic effort to cast a wide and indiscriminate net of blame across a swath of legitimate and well-regulated countries development efforts. We note the irony of these paternalistic prescriptions from the same countries that are unable to stem corruption and mismanagement within their own borders, where corporations recklessly squander trillions of dollars and a single buccaneer investor can make $50 billion disappear into thin air – an amount greater than the combined annual budget expenditures of the entire CARICOM [Caribbean Community] sub-region.

….Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is not a member of the G20, nor were we consulted on its ascension to the ranks of arbiters of our economic fate… The G20 faces a serious legitimacy problem: aside from being non-inclusive and unofficial, many of the countries at that table represent the champions of the financial and economic orthodoxies that led the world down the rabbit-hole to its current economic malaise.

`…..The invisible hand of the market is still clasped firmly around the throats of poor people and the developing countries of the world. We see none of the so-called `green shoots` that populate the fantasies of discredited economic cheerleaders. Indeed, the seeds sown by this crisis may produce the strange and bitter fruit of increased poverty, suffering and social and political upheaval. The crisis itself, with its disproportionate impact on the poor, will only widen and deepen the yawning gap between developed and developing countries."

Editors Comment: Amen! A Daniel come to judgment!

Meanwhile at G20 meet in Pittsburgh

The most blatant show of military and police force left protesters in Pittsburgh tear-gassed, subject to piercing sound, shot with rubber bullets, and not allowed to assemble, while the population of Pittsburgh was kept off the streets and rounded up along with people there to deliver messages of opposition to the G-20 ministers. See for yourself below:

I bet you did not see this on the news, but this is what is happening in the home of the brave and land of the free.

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Caribbean nationals live on less than US$2 per day

The Population Reference Bureau's 2009 World Population Data Sheet released recently shows a significant number of nationals in five Caribbean countries live on less than US$2 a day.  The study shows these countries with the highest percentage living on less than $2 per day to be: 

bullet72 per cent for Haiti
bullet 41 percent for St. Lucia
bullet27 per cent for Suriname 
bullet17 per cent for Guyana
bullet15 per cent for the Dominican Republic
bullet14 per cent for oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago 

The Bureau report has also indicated that 97 per cent of global population growth over the next 40 years will occur in the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Currently, the world population stands at 6.8 billion, up about by 83 million from last year's figure. The Caribbean accounts for over 41 million people.

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Jamaica lose over 30,000 jobs

It is estimated that up to 30,000 Jamaicans have lost their jobs since the global crisis unleashed its effects over a year ago. The figure could be far in excess of this amount because of the size of the informal economy, which was difficult to measure and not included in the estimate.

The continued fallout in the bauxite sector and the scaling down of businesses in the tourist resorts, along with smaller companies throughout the island, have had a ripple effect on employment.

There is yet to be any fallout from the island's largest employer, the Government, but the prospects for the next financial year look grim. Public-sector workers are protected by the latest memorandum of understanding between the Government and the trade-union movement. However, the Government is under pressure to reduce the $125-billion wage bill it is required to fork out. The wage bill, which has increased from $84 billion since the JLP administration came to office two years ago, represents 10.8 per cent of GDP.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said it is desirable that the figure be reduced and the International Monetary Fund has reportedly recommended that the figure should stand no higher than 9.5 per cent of GDP. Golding has indicated that public-sector workers would be protected until the end of the 2009-2010 financial year.

Puerto Rico too
The government of Puerto Rico will add to the unemployment rate of the Caribbean region by laying off more than 16,000 public workers. Some 16,970 employees will be given the pink slip in an effort to prevent the government from shutting down and sinking the island`s credit, Carlos Garcia, president of the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico, said.

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Editorial Racism in US has come roaring back

"I think that an overwhelming proportion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he's African-American. I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way.
But that racism inclination still exists, and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but across the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. "It is an abominable circumstance, and grieves me and concerns me deeply".
former President Jimmy Carter
There is a concerted vicious and systematic attack on President Obama, because he is black.  Jimmy Carter is absolutely right, but instead of the racists being reprimanded, Jimmy Carter is.  This has emboldened the racists, and they are coming out of their closets in numbers.  They already have free reign to spread their poison as hosts on hate radio, but now they are welcome guests on TV shows.  That is why Rush Limbaugh is a guest on the Jay Leno show.  That is why insulting the president has given formerly unknown South Carolina Senator Joe Wilson celebrity status.  The message is, "racism is fine, but complaining about it is not".  What a victory for the racists!
Obviously, being president of the United States is no protection from racism.  I,.  personally, like many others, felt a deep sense of pride in America,  when we elected Obama.  Now the racists are striking back, and too many of us have failed to recognize the threat they pose.  The Republicans are beneficiaries of this racism and hope to ride it back to popularity. The mess Obama inherited from George Bush makes him especially vulnerable. We had better wake up!  Now is not the time to air our differences with Obama.  Now is the time to defend Obama from these racists, as we would defend any victim of racism.  Obama’s hands are tied on this subject, but ours are not. So, lets fight back and defeat that ugly racism again.

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Former revolutionary Grenada Deputy PM Coard freed

Bernard Coard is free. The former deputy prime minister of the short-lived People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) in Grenada, who was imprisoned for 26 years for the murder of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in 1983 intends to join his wife Phyllis in Jamaica. His wife, Phyllis, has been in Jamaica, since March 2000, where she has been receiving treatment for a severe medical condition. Both Coard and his wife were part of the 'Grenada 17' who were convicted of murdering Bishop and members of his Cabinet in 1983.

After the governor general accepted advice to remit the remainder of his sentence, he was freed along with 13 other prisoners from the Richmond Hill prison, some of whom are former members of the now-defunct People's Revolutionary Army (PRA), which carried out the assassinations.

The PRG came to power in 1979 after it ousted then Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy in the first successful coup in the English-speaking Caribbean.

The new court sentencing followed a ruling by the London-based Privy Council, the island's highest court, that overturned the death sentences that had originally been imposed on the former government and military officers. The Privy Council had ruled that the death sentences were unconstitutional and, as a result, this also invalidated the process by which those sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment.

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Jamaican playwright Trevor Rhone is dead

Noted Jamaican playwright and screenwriter Trevor Rhone, Rhone is dead. He co-wrote the Jamaican cult classic film, The Harder They Come. He will also be remembered for his theatre productions Smile Orange and Milk and Honey, which were both made into feature films, as well as for his stage production Old Story Time. The 60-year old Rhone died of a heart attack in Kingston Hospital.

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End of Privy Council

Time is running out for the Privy Council being the last court of appeal in the Caribbean. A British judge has reportedly called on Caribbean countries to establish their own final court of appeal and questioned whether some Privy Council cases, including Jamaica's death-row appeals, needed to be heard by a panel of five of Britain's most senior judges, who have to spend disproportionate time on these matters.

The report out of the London media said many independent observers, presumably British taxpayers, say the privilege of continued pro bono (free) use of the appellate body is both an ideological stain and a financial drain on the newly created Supreme Court.

Declaring that he shares in the shame of the nation overstaying its welcome in the Privy Council, former justice minister in the PNP Government A J Nicholson declared, "It is unflattering for us as a people of an independent country to have placed ourselves in a situation to be told in quite measured but certainly unambiguous terms that surely the time has come for the imperial apron strings to be finally cut".

Nicholson was justice minister and attorney general in the P.J. Patterson administration which had spearheaded the thrust for the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the country's final court of appeal. Nicholsonmade an impassioned appeal to the Bruce Golding administration to set the machinery in motion to embark on the judicial course to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ.

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Guyana gets US$15m from Trinidad to pay Clico debts

Guyana has received US$15 million from a regional emergency fund to help prop up a failed insurance company. The money from the emergency fund managed by energy-rich Trinidad and Tobago will help pay the roughly 15,000 policyholders of Colonial Life Insurance Co, commonly known as Clico, in Guyana. The failed insurance company's liabilities of more than US$60 million far exceed its assets.

Regulators ordered Clico to be liquidated after it was unable to pay claims following a January 30 bailout of its troubled parent company, CL Financial Ltd, by Trinidad's central bank. Earlier this year, Trinidad earmarked US$50 million from the emergency fund, dubbed the CARICOM Petroleum Fund, to assist anxious policyholders of Clico across the region.

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Jamaicans are getting fatter and unhealthier

Jamaicans are getting fatter. This is creating problems. Health officials are concerned because the increase in weight of Jamaicans is causing the incidence of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, to rise, placing severe pressure on the island's health  system.

Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in Jamaicans, being responsible for three in every five deaths or 60 per cent. Most of that occurs because too many Jamaicans consume too few fruits and vegetables and too much fatty and salty foods and practice very little exercise, the health officials say.

More than 90 per cent of people eat less than three servings of vegetables or fruits per day and 90 per cent are engaged in very little physical activity during their leisure time.

Children and young adults, it seems, are especially becoming more vulnerable to lifestyle diseases because of the poor habits among this group. Eighty-three per cent of 10- to 15-year-olds are physically inactive and 31 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds participate in very little physical activity. They are feasting on fatty foods and sweet beverages, the medical professionals point out. Ninety-eight per cent of those same 10- to 15-year-olds drink sodas in a regular week and more than half of 15- to 19-year-olds eat fried meat.

"The total economic burden (of lifestyle diseases) is in the region of $J1.6 billion for diabetes and from hypertension $J1.2 billion," Campbell-Forrester underscored.

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New Obama policy on Cuba

The US Treasury Thursday eased restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba, five months after President Barack Obama announced the measures in a bid to improve ties with the island. The changes to Treasury rules, which took effect immediately, focus on visits by Cubans living in the United States to the island, remittances by Cuban-Americans to their relatives, and telecommunications. An estimated 1.5 million US residents have relatives in Cuba.

However, the 47-year-old US economic embargo on Cuba however remains, even though the IN General Assembly condemned the embargo for the 16th consecutive year. In the 192-member body, the only countries to side with the US were Israel, Pelau and the Marshall Islands.

The changes include:

bulletTravelers may visit 'close relatives' (including, for example, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins) who are nationals of Cuba, with no limit on the duration or frequency of the visits.
bulletThere is also no limit on the amount of remittances Cuban-Americans can send to their "close relatives" on the island, though restrictions remain on sending money to "prohibited" officials in the Cuban government and members of the Communist Party.
bulletUS-based travelers however are limited to spending 179 dollars a day on their visit to Cuban relatives.
bulletPermission for  US telecommunications network providers to link to Cuba with fiber-optic cables and satellite technology.
bulletPermission for US wireless telephone providers to enter roaming service agreements with Cuban firms, and allows US satellite broadcasts to the island.
bulletPermission for a new general license that authorizes "travel-related transactions incident to agricultural and medical sales." US law permits states to sell agricultural, medical and information technology products on a cash basis to Cuba. Since 2000, such sales have totaled more than three billion dollars.

In late August New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson traveled to Cuba on a trade mission aimed at developing agricultural and cultural ties with the Caribbean island. Other US governors have traveled to the island on similar missions.

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Humiliating UK immigration 4-hour grilling of 91-year-old Jamaican

A 91-year-old Jamaican woman was detained for four hours and subjected to "patronising" interrogation by immigration officers at Britain's Gatwick Airport in August. She was kept in custody by immigration officers for interrogation after once seeing her on a buggy, suspected that she had somehow illegally tampered with the National Health Service system on a previous visit.

"It's just disgraceful that they can detain a 91-year-old woman for four hours having come from Jamaica, not have her family be able to represent her in anyway and ask very patronising and scary questions for a 91-year-old. She has had five previous trips to England and had never come under scrutiny before. She flew to Gatwick first class to be at her grandson's wedding in Coventry. She arrived at Gatwick at 10:20 a.m. and was detained until 2:20 p.m.

She was disoriented because she had been on an eight-hour flight from Jamaica. All she accepted from them was a cup of tea. They were very abrupt with her. She felt very angry, humiliated, distressed and frightened. So much so that when released to her grandson, she wet herself, which added to her humiliation.

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Free health care due for Dominica

Ironically, as US President struggles to get affordable health care for all here, all Dominicans may have free access to healthcare by 2011. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made the pronouncement at the second in a new round of town hall meetings by cabinet in Dublanc.

Skerrit noted that several projects developed, including an intensive care unit at the Princess Margaret Hospital, and a diagnostic centre at Portsmouth, are part of government’s goal to provide health care access to all Dominicans. 

"We have set ourselves a goal in the government, that by 2011, we will have what you call universal access to health care in Dominica, which means that every one of us in Dominica, would have some form of free access to healthcare," Skerrit said, adding "what is happening today… our Dominican citizens who are living in other parts of the world, especially in the Caribbean, when they have to do a surgery, they come back to Dominica to do the surgery, because its cheaper inside Dominica than outside of Dominica where they live and work."

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 Private pharmacies to dispense free medications in Jamaica

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has announced an arrangement between government and a number of private pharmacies to provide free prescriptions to the public. This move, he says, will make filling prescriptions easier for patients and reduce the load on public dispensaries. Formerly these drugs had to be obtained at hospitals.

Golding explained that to benefit from the system patients will need to be registered.

"You're going to have a special health card that has some information on you embedded in the card. We started that registration process last week and I'm encouraging everyone to register. The health card and the registration process will also be free."

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Jamaican schools, plagued by overcrowding.

Jamaican schools opened this September to serious overcrowding problems. Because of this, some children in the parish of Portland found themselves assigned to schools as far as 40 miles away. This presents a colossal problem, as some parents can barely feed their children, much less pay for Transportation to schools 40 miles away. There is no organized bus system, so schoolchildren must take group taxis. These hustling taxes are reluctant to pickup schoolchildren, because they pay half fare. So it can take these kids hours to just get to school.

School enrollment has swelled way beyond the capacity of many schools and so they are forced to split students into shifts. For instance, Port Antonio High School, which was originally built to accommodate 600 students, is operating a shift system to cope with a ballooning student population of 1,700. For some schools even the shift system is not enough and remain desperate for more classroom space.

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1stmagnet’ high school opens in Jamaica

The Government has launched the Belmont Academy in Westmoreland, the first public secondary school under the Centre of Excellence Scheme. Schools designated under the Centre of Excellence Scheme are required to establish and maintain particularly high standards in all aspects of their academic, administrative and operational programmes. This is equivalent to whats called a magnet school here in the US.

The 200 students were placed at Belmont based on their performance in the Grade Six and the Grade Nine Achievement tests. They will be entering grades seven and nine, respectively, and will be promoted to higher grades next year, thereby facilitating the gradual population of the new school. Belmont Academy will be able to accommodate 900 students at full capacity.

Belmont Academy, built at a cost of $304 million, will focus on the sciences and services. The academy will also place emphasis on the visual and performing arts, character development, civic awareness, community service, volunteerism, critical thinking, pedagogy, technology and leadership.

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Letter to the Editor on

Overdue recognition of Jamaican cricket great George Headley

By Derryck Penso

This article is about the very long time which it has taken for George Headley to be inducted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame. Why? Have the responsible officials been just "dropping the ball" or had they never heard of George Headley until recently? Perhaps they just didn't think it was all that important. However, they had long ago inducted other cricket greats, Don Bradman and Graeme Pollock behind whom George ranked third in terms of batting average among all players in cricket's recorded history. From 1930-1954, when he retired from cricket, George had scored 2,190 runs in 22 test matches an average of 60.83 runs per match... He had the distinction of being the first black man to captain the West Indies cricket team.

So tell me, why am I having such a hard time driving around Jamaica trying to find a George Headley  Memorial? You know, a pretty little spot with a few flowers growing around a giant sized statue of a man who was truly a giant in the world of cricket and served to help make us all aware that we Jamaicans are a special people. Yes, we are a special people but, most unfortunately, most of us aren't aware of how very special we are.

George, having retired fifty-five years ago in 1954, deserved much earlier recognition for his exploits. I am grateful for his induction into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame, but cannot help the feeling that it was an afterthought nor can I help the resentment of the insult which the 55 years lapse represents to me.

But hold on there, the lapse was a matter which occurred in the UK... What have we got to say for ourselves down here in Jamaica? Have we paid tribute to this great man who put us in the forefront of the world of cricket? Where is that giant statue for which  I have been searching ? Maybe his memory can only be insulted by foreigners but we can be as ungrateful as we wish? Something is amiss in all of this. 

Editor’s Note: Since the letter was written, a friend of Mr. Penso informed him that there is a statue of George Headley in Sabina Park, but not prominently displayed as it deserves to be. Since then also, the Jamaica government has fallen into line and announced a stamp to honor him.

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Montserrat elects new government

Ruben Meade who served as chief minister between 1991 and 1996 was sworn in on Thursday, September 10th, 2009, as Montserrat’s eighth chief minister by Governor Peter Waterworth. Meade's party, Movement for Change and Prosperity, won six of the nine seats. Former Chief Minister Lewis will join two independent members, Donaldson Romeo and Victor James, to sit on the opposition bench. Meade becomes the eighth chief minister in the volcano-ravished island’s history.

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Youth clubs to the rescue in Jamaica

In Jamaica, as well as much of the Caribbean and even worldwide it seems that boys are at risk of falling by the wayside. In Jamaica boys may be most at risk of becoming involved in gangs, dropping out of school, ending up in prison and of being killed by the gun. But not all of them are going down the gutter, thanks to police youth clubs which, with little resources, make a change in the lives of their community members.

Not many Jamaicans know, but well-known persons, such as former National Security Minister Dr Peter Phillips, former Police Commissioner Francis Forbes, the executive director of the Broadcasting Commission, Cordel Green, and even Olympic champion Donald Quarrie are products of vibrant police youth clubs.

There are 500 of these clubs islandwide, totalling some 12,000 members. Unfortunately, not all are as active as they ought to be. In fact, only 230 are seriously active, island supervisor for police youth clubs, Sheryl Brown, says. But the police are hoping to change that very soon.

"Since the start of the year, we have launched a Police Youth Club Council in which the young people will play a leading role," says Brown. This council will act as a melting pot, bringing together youth clubs from the across various communities into central parish youth councils where they can exchange ideas, build networks and camaraderie.

The police youth clubs have been the source of nourishment for healthy symbiotic relationships between communities and the police, Brown says. They have helped the police in their fight against crime in at-risk and volatile communities by helping to soften some of these tense communities.

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Guyana has 2nd international airport

The Ogle Airport, located six miles east of Guyana's capital, Georgetown, and not far from the CARICOM Secretariat, was certified this week as international airport - a project which began in 2003. This becomes Guyana’s second international airport.

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 Peace concert in Havana draws huge crowds

Hundreds of thousands of people filled Havana's Revolution Square for a "peace" concert recently in which Colombian singer Juanes and other musicians sought to bridge the political divide that has separated Cubans for 50 years. The concert was shown live on international television, including to viewers in Miami, the heart of the Cuban exile community and center of opposition to Cuba's government.

Juanes, who organized his "Peace Without Borders" concert in conjunction with the Cuban government, sang "it's time to change" in a song and told the audience "the important thing is to swap hate for love."  The 17-time Latin Grammy winner who lives in Miami, was joined on stage by 14 artists from six countries, among them Olga Tanon of the U.S. territory Puerto Rico, Miguel Bose of Spain and Jovanotti of Italy. Cuban salsa kings Los Van Van closed it out.

The huge crowd in attendance, which Juanes said numbered more than 1 million, danced and swayed under a blistering sun that caused many to faint during the five-hour event


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