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ISSUE NO.69 September 2002

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Marlon Rawlins receives British Chevening Scholarship

A former student of the Antigua Grammar School, Marlon Rawlins, is the recipient of the 2002 prestigious British Chevening Scholarship for Antigua and Barbuda.

Marlon Rawlins who holds a BSc Degree in Economics and Accounting from the University of the West Indies, has been employed by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in St. Kitts as a Specialist Bank Examiner.

He will pursue studies for an MBA in International Banking and Finance at the University of Birmingham, England.

The British Chevening Scholarship Scheme provides awards covering one year’s postgraduate study in the United Kingdom to nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The awards cover fees, airfare to and from the Eastern Caribbean and a monthly stipend.

Successful candidates are expected to return to the region, to ensure their country benefits from their experience.

Marlon Rawlins is the son of Radcliffe and Generis Rawlins of St. Johnston’s Village.


Catholic school student receives V.C. Bird/Port Authority Award

Isola Browne, a student from St. John’s Catholic Primary School, is the third recipient of the V.C. Bird/Antigua Port Authority Scholarship Award.

The Award was established in honour of late Prime Minister, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird – Antigua and Barbuda’s first national hero – in recognition of his contribution towards the provision of secondary school education and the creation of the Antigua Port Authority.

This annual scholarship is awarded to primary school students who excel in the Common Entrance examination. It provides assistance towards their secondary education. Isola now attends the Antigua Girls’ High School.

The award is valued at $5,000 and will be paid in annual installments of a $1,000.


Scholarship award for SUN Newspaper carrier

Damien DeSilva of Baxter Street, Ottos, has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship from Sun Printing & Publishing Ltd.

He received the award for being the first student newspaper carrier to complete four years of unbroken service, delivering the Antigua Sun and Sun Weekend from house to house.

The 19-year-old started delivering the Sun when he was a student at the Antigua Grammar School, where he gained seven CXE passes in English, Geography, History, French, Spanish, English Literature and Biology.

He later attended the Antigua State College where he received “A” level results in Geography, Politics, Law and General Paper.

Damien, will pursue studies in Business Management and Public Relations at State University of New York.


UPP’s Redemption March

On 5th September, the opposition UPP organised a protest march, against the government through the streets of St John’s.

Government supporters also took to the streets in a show of solidarity for the present administration.

The attendance of the media and a helicopter added to the drama of the day. However a strong police presence ensured that the march remained peaceful.

In a speech to those gathered, Opposition Leader, Baldwin Spencer, called on the Prime Minister to indicate within 48 hours if he would be willing to demit office and call a general election.

Mr Spencer also said that he would “lock down” the country if he did not get a clear indication within 7 days that the Prime Minister would resign.

He called on the church, and all civic organisations to respond to the wishes of the people if not, it means that we will be in a stage of chaos and confusion.

Spencer also issued several other ultimatums to Prime Minister Bird: -

• “Lester Bird and his government within 48 hours must declare to the people of Antigua and Barbuda that they intend to go to Parliament and pass legislation with respect to the Prevention from Corruption and also Integrity Legislation.

• In addition he must declare his intention within 48 hours to immediately mount an international audit into all government statutory bodies.

• We must demand the immediate resignation from the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda of Hilroy Humphreys and Bernard Percival. They can no longer walk the halls of Parliament and claim to be honourable when the commission (into the operations of the Medical Benefits Scheme) clearly shows that they are dishonourable men.“

Spencer disclosed that he had forwarded a copy of the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the MBS to the CARICOM Heads, and has also written to the opposition leaders in Dominica, Jamaica and Guyana.

He demanded the installation of an interim administration as a caretaker government while arrangements are made for free and fair general elections to be held as soon as possible.


Caricom will not intervene - Murdoch

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colin Murdoch, ruled out any possibility that CARICOM Heads of Government would intervene in Antigua and Barbuda’s domestic affairs.

Murdoch’s comments came on the heels of a letter sent to each CARICOM member-state by Opposition leader Baldwin Spencer, asking for an immediate intervention by CARICOM “to prevent an imminent social disruption and economic collapse in Antigua and Barbuda.

Murdoch explained, “CARICOM has a tradition of not interfering in the internal affairs of member states. What is happening in Antigua and Barbuda is democracy at work.”

“There are different political activities going on in all the member states, unless there is an absolute crisis and a break down of the political process and of law and order it is very unlikely that CARICOM member-states will interfere in the internal political affairs of any of its member-states,” he said.


Robin Yearwood appointed as Deputy Prime Minister

Prime Minister Lester Bird has appointed Robin Yearwood as Deputy Prime Minister.

Fifty-six year old Yearwood has been a Member of Parliament for 26 years, having been elected as the Representative for St. Phillips North in 1976. He continues to hold this seat.

He was appointed as a Minister in 1980 and has seen unbroken service in the Cabinet. He has acted several times as Prime Minister when Mr. Bird has been out of the country.

The Prime Minister said, “I have appointed Robin Yearwood as Deputy Prime Minister because I am embarking on a reorganisation of the Antigua Labour Party and I am focussing greater attention on the performance of Ministers. In this connection, Deputy Prime Minister Yearwood will assist me in both these tasks.”

In addition to his duties as Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Yearwood will continue to hold his present portfolios as Minister responsible for the Antigua Public Utilities Authority, Housing, Transportation and Aviation.

Mr Bird explained, “The time has come to galvanize the Labour Party into the considerable political machinery for which it is well-known. We have sat back long enough allowing a campaign of abuse against us by an inept political opposition. That period is now over,” Mr. Bird declared.

The Prime Minister continued, “With regard to the Government, I am determined that there should be greater efficiency and accountability by all Ministers delivering quality service to the community in all areas domestic, regional and international. This will require heightened supervision of all activities in which the Government is involved. Deputy Prime Minister Yearwood will assist me in this supervision.”

“I expect better governance by the Cabinet and a greater presence by the Antigua Labour Party in the affairs of the country for the benefit of all the people of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Bird concluded.


Prime Minister Bird calls for the removal of Bruce Goodwin from the Electoral Commission

On 12th September 2002, Prime Minister Lester Bird wrote to Governor General Sir. James Carlisle asking him to remove Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Bruce Goodwin, from the Commission.

The Prime Minister called for the establishment of a Tribunal to investigate Mr. Goodwin’s actions, in accordance with the Electoral Commission Act, which requires members of the Commission to be impartial.

Mr. Goodwin has made numerous calls for the removal of the government.

In the 12 September edition of the Daily Observer Newspaper, Mr. Goodwin said it was his "duty to call upon the people to involve themselves in every aspect of civil disobedience" to force the removal of the Bird Administration.

In his letter to the Governor-General the Prime Minister stated, “Prior to and consistently after his appointment as a member and Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Goodwin has made it abundantly clear in public utterances that have been broadcast and published that he is devoted to the removal of my government from office and committed to forcing my resignation as Prime Minister without regard to the requirements of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda.”

The Prime Minister also wrote, “Persons serving on the Electoral Commission are required to be persons of integrity, which implies in democratic societies that they should be impartial and objective in order to ensure fairness to all parties contesting an Election. Mr. Goodwin's consistent pubic utterances demonstrate that he is incapable of such impartiality and objectivity in relation to my party and to me as its leader. It is tantamount to misbehaviour.

In the circumstances he will prejudice and compromise the requirements under subsection 6 (4) of the Act that "the Commission shall, in the exercise of its functions, act impartially and independently."

The Governor-General has responded to the Prime Minister’s request by initiating the formation of an investigative tribunal. In a letter to the Prime minister, on the 19th September, the Governor-General announced that, in accordance with the representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2001 “I have asked the Chief Justice to select three eligible persons to be appointed as members of the tribunal.”


Antigua represented at international dressage

Twenty–four year old equestrian, Emily Ward of Seatons, recently represented Antigua and Barbuda at an International Dressage Competition. The show was held in the world-famous Hickstead venue in southeast England.

Ward, who has been riding and racing horses in Antigua and regionally since the age of 4, competed against some of the world’s best riders and their horses.

“I was very proud and honoured to represent Antigua. On the day I was quite nervous because it was a very big show with lots of public spectators and it was the first time at the level. If it wasn’t for the hard work of the Antigua Horse Society and Norma Prudhon, I would not have had this opportunity,” she said.

Although Ward did not win any prizes she made a respectable appearance at the Prix St. George level on her Dutch-bred stallion, Milan. Ward and Milan have been training together for two years and Ward’s long-term goal is to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics.

“But, that will take a few more years of hard work and some serious sponsorship,” she said.

Ward has been living in Holland for the last 5 years. She manages a training and livery stable where she sells horses and trains them for competition. Her spare time is spent training and working with Milan.


CTATF conducts Evaluation of Antigua and Barbuda

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CTATF) has conducted an evaluation of Antigua and Barbuda’s anti-money laundering framework.

The decision to conduct the evaluation of Antigua and Barbuda at this time was taken three years ago by the Council of the CTATF. Antigua and Barbuda is one of the several Caribbean jurisdictions being evaluated this year.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Chief Foreign Affairs Representative, Sir Ronald Sanders, welcomed the CTATF team saying that “Antigua and Barbuda is very proud of the significant strides it has made since the last CTATF evaluation in 1998.”

Sir Ronald, who is the country’s lead negotiator on international financial services, pointed out that Antigua and Barbuda was found by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to be “fully cooperative in the fight against money laundering and never appeared on its blacklist.”

He said, “No system to fight money laundering is perfect.” “Evidence of this,” he said, “is the very large sums of money laundered every year in countries such as the US and the UK despite their sophisticated regulation. But, in Antigua and Barbuda’s case, there is no doubt about our resolve to curb money laundering and there is no gainsaying the fact that we have created the legislative framework and are implementing strong anti-money laundering measures.”

Sir Ronald welcomed the CTATF evaluation, saying, “It can only help to improve and strengthen the machinery Antigua and Barbuda already has in place.”

The CFATF Deputy Director, Mr Antonio Hyman-Bouchereau noted the open and transparent manner in which the government had welcomed the evaluation. He said his team was impressed by the considerable resource that the Antigua and Barbuda government has devoted to both regulation of the financial services sector and the enforcement of its money-launder regime.

While in Antigua, the team held lengthy meetings with a team from ONDCP led by its Director Mr Wrenford Ferrance and with representatives of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, including Attorney-General Mrs Getel Thom and Solicitor-General Lebrecht Hesse.

The CTATF group also talked with senior representatives of the Financial Sector Regulatory Commission, the Police, the Defence Force, Customs and the Finance Ministry.


Antigua and Barbuda elected to PAHO board

Antigua and Barbuda has been elected to serve as the Vice President of the Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) 26th Annual Sanitary Conference.

The position will be held by Senator Sam Aymer, who currently serves as a special advisor to the Minister of Health. He is a former chief of staff to the Prime Minister, a former Minister of Health, and a former country director of several member countries of PAHO.

Senator Aymer said that it was an honour to be selected for the post, which lasts for one year, until the next session.

Meanwhile, in an address to PAHO the US Secretary of Health, Dr. Tommy Thompson, said that HIV/AIDS threatened to undermine development in the Caribbean. He proposed an annual meeting of PAHO in the Caribbean on this question, and increased efforts, including more resources, to meet the AIDS challenge head-on.

Senator Aymer concurred that “It is clear that HIV/AIDS is our sub-region’s most challenging health concern today.” He also explained that he planned “to press PAHO to do even more for the Caribbean and my own country.”


Spencer to GG: Rescind tribunal decision

Opposition Leader Baldwin Spencer has said that his nominee on the Electoral Commission has done nothing wrong and need not be investigated by a tribunal.

In a letter to Sir James Carlisle, Spencer made known his strong objections, challenging the basis of the setting up of this investigatory tribunal.

Ignoring the sections of the Act that provides for a Tribunal to investigate whether a member should be removed for misbehaviour, he referred Sir James to Section 4 (1) of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2001 which provides that a member of the commission may be removed from office only for inability to exercise the functions of his office.

“Your Excellency, any misbehaviour has to relate to Goodwin’s exercise of the functions of his office as a commissioner. As everyone knows the commission has not started its substantive work. How then can Mr. Goodwin be accused of misbehaviour? When would he have had the opportunity to misbehave?” Spencer stated.

He noted that Goodwin has constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. “Like any citizen Mr. Goodwin has the right to comment or express his opinions on any issue affecting the governance of Antigua and Barbuda.

“For an investigation to be instituted, there must be prima facie evidence that Mr. Goodwin’s personal views has actually affected the performance of his function as a commissioner.

“Clearly there is no evidence. There is thus no proper basis for the setting up of this investigation. The “possibility” that Mr Goodwin’s views will affect the exercise of his office is insufficient under the aforesaid Act to set such an investigation in motion,” Spencer said.

“I, therefore, call upon you to reconsider this matter and rescind your decision to appoint this investigatory tribunal,” Spencer wrote.


China consults with Foreign Ministers of Caribbean countries

On 16th September 2002, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Tang Jiaxuan, and Foreign Ministers of eight (8) Caribbean countries including, Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Lester Bird, met in New York to exchange views. The Ministers reached a broad consensus on ways to further develop relations between China and the Caribbean countries. International and regional issues of mutual interest were also discussed.

As a result of this consultation China and the Caribbean countries have agreed to work for a lasting, stable and comprehensive development of their relations based on the principles of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.

They have agreed to strengthen their political dialogue at various levels.

With regard to increasing trade and economic co-operation between China and the Caribbean countries, both agreed to -

a. continue to encourage and support closer contact between their business communities.

b. Create favourable conditions for the promotion of two-way trade and investment.

In addition, China will continue to offer, to the extent possible, economic assistance to the Caribbean Countries.

China and the participating Caribbean countries expressed a willingness to further bilateral exchanges and co-operation in science, technology, culture, education, mass media, public health and other fields.


Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting

The 45th Annual Meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers took place in London from 24th - 26th September.

Senator Asot Michael led Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation to the Meeting.

Plenary sessions were chaired by a number of Finance Officials including Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown M.P., who facilitated discussions on: Delivering the Monterrey Consensus; Promoting Private Investment to the Developing Countries; Promoting the Economic Development of Small States; and Enhancing Commonwealth Development Cooperation.

The Heads of Delegations, attended a ceremony to mark the opening of the new U.K Treasury Building. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Allan Greenspan, Chairman of the United States Central Bank, the Federal Reserve.

Other members of the Antigua and Barbuda delegation included Mr. Whitfield Harris Jr., Financial Secretary, and Mr. David Matthias, Budget Director.


Junior Finance Minister addresses US Treasury Secretary and 32 Finance Ministers in Washington, D.C.

On Friday 27th September, Senator Asot Michael addressed a Meeting of Finance Ministers of the Western Hemisphere, at the US Treasury in Washington.

Minister Michael told US Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill and the other 32 Finance Ministers from the independent countries in the Americas and the Caribbean, that the USA must establish the Pre- and Post-Disaster Fund, and that the World Bank must be nudged into implementing the Catastrophic Insurance Fund for the Caribbean.

Senator Michael reminded the Treasury Secretary that last December 2001, Antigua and Barbuda signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the USA. “We believe it is necessary for the USA to pay close attention to its allies in the Western Hemisphere, especially states in the Caribbean, that have shown a ready willingness to battle terrorist financing by making significant sacrifices,” the Minister said.

He added that “I reminded the US Treasury Secretary that Antigua and Barbuda was among the first in late September 2001 to enact an organic law making terrorism a crime, and criminalizing any deliberate act which makes terrorism possible.”

The Caribbean Finance Ministers all addressed varying aspects of finance and development, including the challenge of natural disasters, trade liberalization and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, the fight against money laundering, and the problems of financial markets.

Minister Michael was accompanied at the meeting by Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the USA, Mr Lionel Hurst.


‘No retrenchment’ says Prime Minister Bird

Antigua and Barbuda’s public sector workers will not be retrenched.

Prime Minister Lester Bird made this announcement during a feature address at the Antigua Trades & Labour Union’s annual conference on Sunday 29th September.

While acknowledging that government might have to cut its workforce in the future, the Prime Minister that said now is not the right time. He suggested that consultation between the ALP government and the private sector should take place in order to attract more investment and businesses to the country.

Prime Minister Bird confirmed that his government had contemplated reducing its workforce last November but had to rethink its position after the atrocities of 11 September 2001 which adversely affected tourism, the country’s main economic activity.

“Instead of expanding hotels and other business, everything contracted, not only were no new jobs available, but existing jobs were lost. It would be an uncaring and unfeeling government that would have proceeded to dismiss public servants in such devastating conditions,” Mr. Bird said.

The Prime Minister explained that “If an estimated 3,000 were sent home this means that $32.4 million per annum will be lost to the local economy. If that money was to leave the private sector, even more businesses will contract or close creating even more unemployment. In very short time, the economy will spiral downwards and the country will face economic collapse.”

“The consequences will be a further increase in drug trafficking and drug related crimes and the creation of conditions that will make our streets unsafe and our homes and business susceptible to violation.”

According to the Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda has become a Mecca for Caribbean citizens. It is one of only four countries that has shown economic growth according to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.


UPP nominates Attorney for supervisor of elections

Opposition Leader, Baldwin Spencer, has written to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission confirming his recommendation of Attorney Hyacinth Richardson as a nominee for the position of Supervisor of Elections.

His letter noted that “we have examined the names of nominees put forward by the Free and Fair Election League and have concluded that from among the nominees, I would recommend the selection of Hyacinth Richardson – Attorney at Law – to the post of supervisor of elections.

We are satisfied that Richardson would meet with the overwhelming approval of the citizenry, consequently, we will support the submission of Richardson to parliament for ratification at the earliest opportunity.“

Attorney Richardson’s name is among six nominees put forward by the Free and Fair Election League. The others include resident tutor of the School of Continuing Studies (UWI Antigua) Dr. Ermina Osoba, Attorney Ralph Francis, Deputy Comptroller of Customs Winston Bailey, Agronomist George “Junie” Goodwin and former superintendent of Her Majesty’ s Prison Eric Henry.


Arson suspected in Government House fire

Arson is suspected in an early morning blaze, which gutted the interior of a building in the Government House Complex on the 25th September.

The blaze severely damaged the interior of the building, which serves as the Aide-de-camp’s quarters.

The building was under renovation. It contained no furniture in the building and no one was hurt in the blaze.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but police are continuing investigations into the incident.

They have ruled out the possibility of it being an electrical fire as there were no electricity wires attached to the building.

According to reports, the St John’s Fire Brigade was alerted at 4:40 a.m. by a taxi driver who came to the fire department to report the fire.

They responded with two fire vehicles and found the building engulfed in flames, which they quickly extinguished.

Meanwhile, in response to a spate of fires that have taken place recently, Commissioner of Police Truehart Smith issued a stern warning to those responsible for the “unexplained, but suspicious circumstances in which these fires have occurred.”

Indicating that there was strong evidence to suspect that the fires were the work of arsonists, he noted, “these activities have not only resulted in financial loss to victims, but could have catastrophic consequences for human life, if not curtailed. This type of behaviour is unlawful, reprehensible and intolerable”

He continued, “It is our resolve to ensure the protection of life and property of all citizens. For these reasons, the police will spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”


New Public Library progressing well

Antigua and Barbuda will soon have a new and modern public library.

The country’s original library was destroyed by an earthquake in 1974.

Work on the new building, located adjacent to the National Archives in the vicinity of the East Bus Station, is well advanced. It covers 25,000 sq. ft and will be much larger than originally planned.

Yvonne Maginley, Head of the Public Library Building Committee, said that more than half of the money needed to complete the facility has been raised but were in dire need of an additional $1 million.

When completed, the library will include a children’s area, adult room, conference centre, Internet service facilities and a lift to accommodate special needs individuals.


Two-day Tourism Summit at Royal Antigua Resort

A two-day Tourism Summit convened by Prime Minister Lester Bird with stakeholders in the Industry, designed to re-energize and re-organise the Tourism Industry in an effort to improve the country's competitive capacity and the overall benefits to Antigua and Barbuda concluded on the Wednesday 2nd October.

The Summit was a timely intervention to arrest the present downturn in the industry, which affects the national economy, and the participants agreed that the growing challenges of the tourism sector require a more dynamic management structure with a clearly defined set of goals and objectives.

One of the major outcomes of the Summit was the need for a Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) to be established with a Board consisting of representatives from all sectors of the industry. The Corporation should function under the following specific areas: Product Development, Finance, Marketing, Promotion and Public Relations, Research and Planning, Training and Quality Control and Cruise Tourism Marketing and Marine Tourism.

The other important issues that were keenly discussed over the two days included:

• Antigua and Barbuda should be positioned as a unique and distinctly appealing tourism destination targeting the middle and upper market segments of the industry.

• Short-term and long-term marketing strategies.

• There was consensus that the tourism product is a combination of experiences seen by the customer. Therefore, areas such as the superstructure, infrastructure, natural assets, the environment, the people and culture have scope for development. Issues high on the agenda were the diversification, upgrading, preservation and education needed to bring the product up to the level suitable for the target markets

• There is a need for a number of incentives to be considered by the government, and to encourage local investment.

• The ABCTA would be the representative body for participants in the cruise sector and would make representation to the TDC.

• Antigua and Barbuda is now uniquely positioned after major investment in the cruise infrastructure to go directly to specialist cruise travel agents in Miami to market Antigua and Barbuda as a marquee cruise destination.

• The Marine Trades Association would be the representative for the yachting sector, and should be the representative body to the TDC. This sector is a lucrative market segment contributing to the economic impact of the tourism industry.

• The importance of the transportation sector in getting tourists to destinations and tourist attractions was highlighted, and there is a need for functional cooperation between regional airlines serving the destination.

The Prime Minister formally closed the Summit saying “The excitement and enthusiasm exuded over these 2 days have shown that the implementation of the TDC and other associated actions will serve to put Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism back on a healthy path. The tone and response of the participants to this Summit has signalled a new beginning for tourism in Antigua and Barbuda.”

He also called for a mini-summit at the end of November to assess the progress of the work agreed upon by the industry.


Students learn about dolphins

In an effort to educate local students about marine mammals, conservation and preservation, Dolphin Fantaseas has developed a free educational programme called “Protect Your Paradise.”

“Protect Your Paradise” was introduced in February and to date has had over a thousand students participate. The experience incorporates a variety of games and activities that teach children about marine mammals of the world, the resident bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Fantaseas and the many environmental concerns facing marine life in our local waters.

Students are given a special tour of the grounds, where they meet and learn about Dolphin Fantaseas’ two enchanting Euclectus Parrots, visit the tortoises, hermit crabs, and the stingray pool that is filled with Black and Gray Rays, starfish, crabs, and many other surprises.

The highlight of the field trip is viewing a special presentation of the three spectacular bottlenose dolphins housed in the five and a half million gallon lagoon at Marina Bay.

During the programme students are encouraged to respect all animals and to take an active role in conservation.


High Commission for Antigua and Barbuda
2nd floor, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP

Tel: 020 7258 0070 Fax: 020 7258 7486

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