TIME food and drink

World Faces Olive Oil Shortage

Spain olive oil
Getty Images Olive groves seen in Andalusia, Spain.

The price of Spanish olive oil reached its highest point since 2006

Prices for Spanish olive oil are approaching an all-time high as hot weather and disease harm the country’s harvest.

Last week the cost of Spanish extra-virgin olive oil rose 5 percent to $4,272 per metric ton—the highest since April 2006 and “critically low levels,” according to industry analysts Oil World. A bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa and fruit-fly infestations have also contributed to a 50 percent decline in Spanish and Italian olive oil output for the 2014-2015 season, Bloomberg reports. Spain and Italy account for 70% of the world’s olive oil.

“It’s quite a concerning acceleration in the price of olive oil,” Lamine Lahouasnia, the head of packaged-food research at market intelligence firm Euromonitor International, told Bloomberg. “The supply shortages as a result of the drought, and particularly under-production in Spain, have filtered through to the marketplace.”

Olive oil prices around the world have risen an average of around 10 percent in the past year, outpacing the global inflation rate for packaged foods according to Euromonitor.

[Bloomberg]

 

 

TIME Zimbabwe

Authorities Hunting for Spaniard Who Paid 50,000 Euros to Kill Famous Lion

Cecil, one of Africa's most famous lions, was brutally murdered and beheaded in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park earlier this month

Authorities are chasing a Spaniard who allegedly paid a park ranger 50,000 Euros to viciously kill and skin a lion at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

Cecil, one of Africa’s most famous lions, was murdered in an especially brutal manner, The Guardian reports. The 13-year-old had a GPS collar for an Oxford University research project, allowing authorities to track its movements.

Hunters lured the lion into leaving the park, a technique used by poachers to “legally” kill protected animals. The lion was shot with a bow and arrow. Authorities then tracked the injured animal for 40 hours before hunters shot Cecil to death with a rifle, then skinned and beheaded him.

Cecil’s headless body was found outside the town of Hwange.

“Cecil’s death is a tragedy, not only because he was a symbol of Zimbabwe but because now we have to give up for dead his six cubs, as a new male won’t allow them to live so as to encourage Cecil’s three females to mate,” Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said. “The two people who accompanied the hunter have been arrested but we haven’t yet tracked down the hunter, who is Spanish.”

Spain has a long history of importing lion heads as trophies from Africa. “From 2007 to 2012 Spain was the country that imported the most lion trophies from South Africa,” said Luis Muñoz, a spokesman for the Spanish anti-lion poaching and conservation group, Chelui4lions. “During this period it imported 450 heads, compared to 100 in Germany. Europe needs to ban these lion hunting trophies altogether.”

The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association has acknowledged the involvement of its members, but claims the lion was shot on a private safari and outside park borders. The country’s government has repeatedly rebuked this claim, noting Cecil lived within reserve borders and was protected.

Read next: Only 100 Tigers Remain in Bangladesh’s Sundarban Forests, Survey Shows

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TIME Spain

Spain Has Finally Made It Illegal for 14-Year-Olds to Get Married

The move is largely symbolic, as few Spaniards have wed younger than 16 in recent years

Spain’s legal marriage age increased from 14 to 16 on Thursday, bringing the country’s policies in line with the majority of Europe. The law also raises the legal age of sexual consent to 14 years old from 13.

The previous policy allowed some of the earliest marriages on the continent. Now, the only exceptions are Andorra and the Ukraine (age 14) and Estonia (age 15), El País reports.

Marriage at such early ages has declined significantly in recent years. Of the more than 28,000 people under 16 to get married in the country since 1975, only 365 of those did so after 2000 and less than ten in the last year, according to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics. With these trends in mind, politicians and activists alike say the new law is a mostly symbolic move against pedophilia and forced marriage. Even so, unions at 16 will require special permission from a judge; otherwise, the minimum will be 18.

The country’s sizable Gypsy population, known for its tradition of early marriage, has expressed support for the new measure. “It’s the 21st century and it’s normal for young people to take longer to get married,” Mariano González, manager of the Roma Union of Madrid, told El País. “In past decades, it was normal for any couple, Gypsy or not [to get married early]. Although our tradition is what it is, now we get married later. This law is a step forward.”

[El País]

TIME Innovation

Lessons From a Town That Runs on Social Media

Digital networks have made it possible to build much faster, more efficient feedback loops

We recently visited a small Spanish town that is using social media in a new way. Our research lab is studying the town to learn how these technologies might help communities around the world become more responsive to their citizens. This is a brief report on what we know so far.

For the last four years, a town in southern Spain has been conducting a remarkable experiment in civic life. Jun (pronounced “hoon”) has been using Twitter as its principal medium for citizen-government communication. Leading the effort is Jun’s Mayor, José Antonio Rodríguez Salas, a passionate believer in the power of technology to solve problems and move society forward.

Since launching the initiative in 2011, Rodríguez Salas has been recruiting his 3,500 townspeople to not only join the social network but have their Twitter accounts locally verified at town hall. This extra step isn’t necessary to participate in the conversation — Twitter is open to anyone — but it helps town employees know they’re dealing with actual residents.

In the most basic scenario, a citizen who has a question, request or complaint tweets it to the mayor or one of his staff, who work to resolve the matter. For instance, in the sequence of tweets shown below (which we pulled from the 2014 Twitter data and translated into English), at 10:48 pm a citizen tells the mayor that a street lamp is out on Maestro Antonio Linares Street. Nine minutes later, the mayor replies that he’ll have the town electrician fix it the next day. The mayor’s tweet includes the Twitter handle of the electrician, who is automatically notified that he’s been mentioned and sees the exchange. That tweet is a public promise that the town will indeed take action, and to underline this it ends with the hashtag#JunGetsMoving. The next day, the electrician tweets a photo of the repaired fixture, thanking the citizen for his help and repeating the hashtag:

spanish-town-tweets
William Powers and Deb RoyA citizen alerts the mayor to a broken street lamp. Two tweets later, it’s fixed.

Governments have been responding to citizens for centuries. But digital networks have made it possible to build much faster, more efficient feedback loops. Each of the participants in the above transaction wrote a single text of less than 140 characters, and in less than 24 hours the problem was solved.

There are numerous cases of public officials responding to tweets. U.S. Senator Cory Booker made headlines several times for doing so when he was mayor of Newark, New Jersey. For a big city U.S. mayor, this was considered unusual behavior and therefore newsworthy. In Jun, however, it has been systematically adopted as the way things get done every day. If Rodriguez Salasdidn’t respond to an urgent citizen tweet, it would make headlines.

Because these communications occur on a public social platform, they can be seen by everyone in the community. This “mutual visibility” (sometimes called “mutual transparency”) serves as both a carrot and a stick. On one hand, the government’s performance comes under greater public scrutiny. If a broken streetlight isn’t fixed, everyone knows it and the slacking employee is more likely to be disciplined or, if it becomes a pattern, fired. That’s the stick.

But the good work done by public servants is also now visible to all and thus more likely to be recognized and rewarded. The carrots can be as small as a message being favorited or retweeted (the electrician received both), or as great as winning the esteem of one’s neighbors and new status in the community. The operator of the town’s street-sweeping machine, whose entertaining tweets have made him a local celebrity, told us that having his daily work seen and appreciated on the social platform has changed his life.

According to the mayor, this system is saving the town time and money. Tweeting is quicker than fielding and returning phone calls, which used to consume his day. He says these efficiencies have allowed him to reduce the police force from four employees to just one. Jun’s sole police officer told us he now receives 40 to 60 citizen tweets per day, ranging from the serious (there’s been a bad car accident) to the trivial (my neighbor is singing at all hours, please make him stop). He noted that being accessible to the public on a 24/7 social network has its downsides; to protect his family time, on arriving home in the evening he turns off his phone. But what if there’s an emergency, we asked. Answer: It’s a small town and everyone knows where he lives.

Jun citizens also use Twitter to voice their views on local issues. At town council meetings, which are streamed live on the web, those not physically present may participate by tweeting questions and comments, which appear on a screen in the council chamber.

Beyond government, the social network is broadly integrated into the town’s everyday life, used for a wide variety of tasks such as publicizing social and cultural events, booking medical appointments, following youth sports teams, and just keeping up with neighbors. The town employee who tweets the school lunch menu each weekday told us on that on weekends she enjoys sharing some of her family’s home life via tweets. One retiree who learned to use Twitter at a technology education center run by the town said the network has become his principal news source. “It’s just like a newspaper!” he enthused, noting that the mayor tweets so often about national and global events, he’s a one-man media outlet.

Jun essentially runs on Twitter, a groundbreaking use of social technology that, as far as we know, is unique. All over the world, digital technologies play a growing role in community management. In their book, The Responsive City, Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford write about “the emerging cadre of officials and civic activists who are using the new data tools to transform city government” in Boston, Chicago, New York and elsewhere. The New York City police department recently started using Twitter to connect with citizens. But Jun is the first community to use a social medium comprehensively for all civic communication. And it happened in an entirely home-grown way. For the first couple of years, Twitter the company was not even aware of the experiment.

Our academic research group at the MIT Media Lab, the Laboratory for Social Machines, was founded last fall with a generous grant from Twitter, and one of us has a work relationship with Twitter. But the company doesn’t select or shape our research projects, and our interest in Jun is ultimately not about one platform: It’s about the future of all social media and their potential to reshape how communities large and small work. For studying these questions, Jun is an ideal laboratory, small enough that you can get a holistic feel for the place in a couple of days, and large enough that over time, through data analysis and on-the-ground research, meaningful lessons can be extracted. That’s our hope, anyway.

Many of the Jun citizens we interviewed told us that the initiative has had a net positive effect on the town. “Twitter is a plus, it makes the town better,” one said. Another noted that “it’s an easy and fast way to connect” and that “people can build on each others’ comments.”

But it is not without its critics. One resident said he dislikes the way the mayor uses Twitter for self-promotion, and how town employees tend to parrot everything the boss says. The same person feels public servants shouldn’t use their accounts to tweet about personal matters (“I don’t care that they had paella for dinner.”) Last time Rodríguez Salas ran for reelection, his opponent urged citizens to vote “for a real mayor, not a virtual one.”

The mayor himself has a few problems with the system. He jokingly calls Twitter “the Society of the Minute” and says it has a way of making citizens more impatient with government. “In the real world, one in every 43 people has a problem with everything. On Twitter, it is one in 27” — and they always expect an immediate response.

He notes that complicated public issues are difficult to discuss on Twitter because of its format. He also acknowledges that his ad hoc method for managing the incoming — checking his phone often and responding right away — could probably be improved. Somewhat miraculously, he’s been governing the town with Twitter and virtual duct-tape, and perhaps could use a data-driven dashboard that organizes it all.

For a clearer perspective, we have begun analyzing Jun’s Twitter data, along with other town records, from the beginning of the initiative to the present. Among the questions we’re seeking to answer: Is public engagement on the rise as result of the experiment, and is the demographic composition of the conversation changing? Do citizens vote and attend town meetings more than they did in the past? Are public issues solved more efficiently? Has the use of this tool simply amplified old ways of governing Jun, or has mutual visibility shifted it in some fundamental way, perhaps towards decentralization?

We don’t yet have the answers, but an initial mapping of the Twitter data has begun opening a new window on the town. In the screen shots below of a data explorer being developed by Martin Saveski, a graduate student at the Laboratory for Social Machines, each circle represents a Jun citizen or organization. The lines between the circles represent Twitter follower relationships. The larger the circle, the more “important” the position occupied by that person in the network (for this measure of Twitter importance — by no means the only meaningful kind of importance in the community — we used PageRank, Google’s original algorithm for ranking web pages). The four colors denote different sub-networks of people within Jun who are closely tied to each other by their Twitter activity. In each figure, the personal connections of one particular citizen (the white circle) are highlighted, and further details about that person are shown in the box to the right. The first shot focuses on the mayor, the second on the electrician.

mayor-connection-community
Martin SaveskiA visualization of the mayor’s connections to the community (he’s the white circle). To the right, more details about his public Twitter activity.
electrician-connection
Martin SaveskiFor electrician Miguel Espigares (the white circle), the picture is different, reflecting his work and unique role in the town.

Through such analyses, we hope to gain insights that will help Jun make its system more effective. Our longer-term goal is to determine if it can be replicated at scale in larger communities, perhaps even major cities.

One key question is the leading role played by the mayor, who has held office for the last eleven years and before that was deputy to his father. Throughout those years, Jun was a trailblazer in applying digital tools to democracy, including electronic voting and live-streamed town meetings.

Rodríguez Salas, with his relentless belief in innovation, spearheaded all these efforts. Even before the Twitter experiment, a Spanish newspaper called him “El Alcalde Digital” (The Digital Mayor) while a national TV report dubbed the town “El Increíble Jun” (The Incredible Jun). He convinced Junians to adopt a new flag with the town motto — “Love” — spelled out in binary code. Between his personal and official mayoral accounts, he has about 350,000 Twitter followers — that’s 100 times the population of Jun, and about 100,000 more followers than New York CityMayor Bill De Blasio has in his two verified accounts. This is not just any small-town mayor. He also has a warm personality and a common touch. As he walks down the street, a bunch of middle-school-aged boys run up to him shouting, “Mayor! Mayor!” and the first thing he does is make sure they’re on Twitter and he’s following them.

In short, the mayor has an unusual combination of tech sophistication and personal charisma. Is such a leader required for bringing government into the social age? Could the Jun system work in a metropolis with millions of citizens and a different kind of mayor? Rodríguez Salas thinks so and he has ideas about how.

For now, in conversation he returns often to his primary goal: making democracy more transparent and participatory. In his office, where the blue Twitter bird adorns the wall behind his desk (in the spot where a portrait of the Spanish king used to hang), he recently installed glass ceiling panels open to the sky to symbolize the new transparency. The citizens will soon have a chance to pass judgment on his work: In elections next month, they will decide whether to give him another term.

Meanwhile, we’ll be digging deeper into the data and sharing what we learn from one town’s surprising leap into the socio-political future. Stay tuned.

Deb Roy is associate professor at the MIT Media Lab where he directs the Laboratory for Social Machines, as well as Chief Media Scientist of Twitter.William Powers is a research scientist at the Laboratory for Social Machines and author of the New York Times bestseller Hamlet’s BlackBerry.

This article originally appeared on Medium

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Spain

23-Year-Old Dies in Bungee Jumping Accident

tablate bridge
Google Street View

"We don’t want something like this to happen again," her father said

A 23-year-old British woman died Tuesday during a bungee jumping accident in southern Spain, where she was traveling.

Kleyo De Abreu suffered fatal injuries when she hit the wall of a small bridge beneath the one she jumped from, the Guardian reports. She had already jumped from the bridge once before with a licensed adventure-sports company in Lanjarón, about 20 miles south of Granada. De Abreu was visiting an aunt, who witnessed the accident.

“My daughter is gone and nothing is going to bring her back, but I have spoken to the family and we are all on the same page—we don’t want something like this to happen again,” her father, Bernard Atwell, said. “Every father will say this but she was very special, she was a very beautiful young woman who had all her life ahead of her. She was 23 years old but to me she will always be my little baby and I would very much like to make sure this doesn’t happen again to anybody else.”

[Guardian]

 

TIME Syria

3 Spanish Journalists Reported Missing in Syria

Aleppo
Khaled Khateb —AFP/Getty Images People walk past a damaged building in the al-Kalasa neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 19, 2015.

The three men disappeared while working in the northern city of Aleppo

(MADRID)—Three Spanish freelance journalists who traveled to Syria to report amid the country’s long-running civil war have gone missing around the embattled northern city of Aleppo, a Spanish journalism association said Tuesday, the latest ensnared in the world’s most dangerous assignment for reporters.

The disappearance of Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre, presumed to be working together, comes as most media organizations have pulled out of Syria, especially with the rise of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) group. At least 84 journalists have been killed since 2011 in Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, while others remain missing or have been released for ransom.

Elsa Gonzalez, the president of the association, told Spanish National Television in a telephone interview that the three disappeared while working in the Aleppo area. She said they entered Syria from Turkey on July 10 and were last heard of two days later.

Sastre, a television journalist, last posted on Twitter July 10, when he wrote “courage” in Arabic, English and Spanish. Pampliega worked as a freelance reporter, whose most recent work featured a story about Spaniard fighting with Kurds in Kobani against the Islamic State group. Spanish media identified Lopez as a photojournalist.

It was not clear where exactly the men went missing. Once Syria’s commercial center, the city of Aleppo been carved up between government- and rebel-held neighborhoods since 2012, with government forces controlling much of western Aleppo and rebel groups in control of the east.

The Islamic State group, which has kidnapped Western journalists in Syria and later killed them, is outside the city and controls parts of the northern and eastern Aleppo countryside. The extremists are responsible for most kidnappings in Syria since the summer of 2013, but government-backed militias, criminal gangs and rebels affiliated with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army also have been involved with various motives.

An unprecedented spate of kidnappings by Islamic State militants starting in summer 2013 has kept most journalists away, particularly since the group began killing foreign journalists and aid workers it holds, starting with American journalist James Foley in August last year. Foley’s taped beheading was followed by the killing of American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, American aid worker Peter Kassig, as well as Japanese nationals Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.

The group also has generated cash from ransoming European journalists.

Often media don’t report abduction cases at the request of the families or employers. It’s not clear how many foreign and local journalists remain held in Syria, though the number likely is in the dozens.

A Spanish Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with policy regulations said the ministry is aware of the situation and is working on it, declining to elaborate. Gonzalez did not say whether the journalists were on assignment for specific media organizations.

Aleppo is the scene of daily fighting. Government helicopters also regularly drop explosive barrels on rebel-held parts of the city.

A missile attack on a rebel-held neighborhood in Aleppo killed at least 10 people and wounded many others Tuesday, two activist groups said.

The Local Coordination Committees said the attack on the Maghayer neighborhood killed 10 people, including women and children.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack killed 18 people and wounded more than 50. It said the surface-to-surface missile destroyed several houses in the area.

It is not uncommon to have different death tolls in the aftermath of attacks in Syria, where the four-year conflict has killed more than 220,000 people.

Meanwhile near the border with Lebanon, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah fighters captured several neighborhoods in the mountain resort of Zabadani that has been under attack for nearly three weeks.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station said troops and Lebanese militants have besieged rebels inside Zabadani from all sides, adding that they inflicted heavy casualties among them. It said dozens of fighters were wounded in the fighting.

The Observatory, which has a network of activists around Syria, said the Syrian government air force has dropped 36 barrel bombs on Zabadani since Tuesday morning. The Observatory reported that dozens of airstrikes have targeted Zabadani since the offensive began on July, 3.

The capture of Zabadani would tighten Hezbollah’s grip on Syrian territories bordering Lebanon and strengthen the Syrian government’s control over of the Beirut-Damascus highway.

___

Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Jon Gambrell in Cairo contributed to this report.

TIME photography

Celebrate the Festival of San Fermín From Afar With Vintage Bullfighting Photos

As bullfights get underway in Spain, a look back at early photos of the gory spectacle

The odds of obtaining a ticket to see the famous bullfights at the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain, are about the same as the bulls’ odds for survival: not good. The centuries-old tradition, which begins every year on July 7, unfolds at Pamplona’s Plaza de Toros, the nearly 20,000 seats of which will undoubtedly be occupied in full.

For those who can’t make the trip, a look back at the bullfights held in 1947 provide a glimpse into the violent spectacle. One of the matadors photographed for LIFE, Manolete, was a Spanish bullfighter considered by many to be the best of all time. Though the bulls pictured here surely met a gruesome fate, so, too, did Manolete. The month after these photos were taken, he died after being gored by a bull in the town of Linares. Critics of bullfighting might call it justice. Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator, called it a tragedy, ordering three days of national mourning to remember a Spanish hero.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

TIME Spain

Two Americans and a Brit Gored in Spanish Bull Running Festival

Spain San Fermin pamplona running bulls
Andres Kudacki—AP A steer and a Jandilla fighting bull run after revelers during the running of the bulls, at the San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, Spain on July 7, 2015.

Pamplona's nine day festival was made famous in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" and attracts thousands of foreign tourists

PAMPLONA, Spain — Two Americans and a Briton were gored and eight others injured Tuesday as thousands of daredevils dashed alongside fighting bulls through the streets of this northern Spanish city on the first bull run of the San Fermin festival, organizers said.

The San Fermin press office said a 38-year-old American identified only by his initials, M.W.O., was gored in the armpit and a 27-year-old Californian identified by the initials D.M.O. was also gored. A 30-year-old Briton with the initials A.B.O. was gored in the groin area. None of the three was said to be in serious condition.

Three other Americans were among the eight others injured, most with bruises sustained in falls and crowd crushes during the nationally-televised run that lasted just over two minutes.

In its first report after the run, the Spanish Red Cross only had details of one person being gored and six people injured.

The daily run sees people dashing with six bulls along a narrow, 930-yard (850-meter) course from a holding pen to the city’s bull ring. The bulls are then killed by professional matadors in bullfights each afternoon. The nine-day fiesta in Pamplona, which features 24-hour street partying, was made famous in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” and attracts thousands of foreign tourists.

Bull runs are a traditional part of summer festivals across Spain. Dozens of people are injured each year in the runs, most in falls.

Two men have died recently after being gored by bulls in Spanish festivals — one Saturday in the eastern town of Grao de Castellon and another June 24 in the southwestern town of Coria.

In all, 15 people have died from gorings in San Fermin since record-keeping began in 1924.

TIME Spain

Spain’s New Security Law Meets Fierce Criticism From Rights Groups

Demonstrators with their mouths taped sit outside the Spanish parliament during a protest against Spanish government's new security law in central Madrid
Juan Medina—Reuters Demonstrators with their mouths taped sit outside the Spanish parliament during a protest against the government's new security law in central Madrid, Spain, early July 1, 2015

The new law prohibits everything from insulting a police officer to protesting outside the country's legislature

A new law that went into effect in Spain on July 1 has much of the country, as well as many human rights organizations, in an uproar. While proponents say the new public security law will reinforce civil liberties, opponents call it the “gag law,” saying it will do just the opposite and take the country a step backward toward dictatorship.

The law covers everything from internet surfing to drug trafficking, but opponents point specifically to portions targeting illegal downloading, habitual access of websites that allegedly promote terrorism, and violent protest, as problematic, saying they include too-loose language that could be abused for political purposes and will limit freedom of speech or even prevent reports of police brutality.

Under the law, citizens can be fined the equivalent of almost $700 for insulting an officer, over $33,000 for recording and disseminating images of police officers, and more than $664,000 for participating in an unauthorized protest outside government buildings, the New York Times reports.

El Pais adds that the law puts an “expiry date” on passive protest, by “granting the police the power to fine anyone who refuses to dissolve meetings and protests in public places.”

Judith Sunderland of Human Rights Watch told the Times the law presents “a direct threat to the rights to meet peacefully and freedom of speech in Spain.” But Ministers of the Interior and of Justice Jorge Fernández Díaz and Rafael Catalá told El Pais the new laws do not limit citizens’ rights and in fact are meant to reinforce them. Prohibitions on protest outside parliament will make sure “there isn’t excessive pressure on the legislative powers,” they explained.

Spaniards reacted fittingly—by staging a protest in front of parliament. Some held signs that referenced the country’s past, still a sensitive topic 40 years after dictator Francisco Franco’s death. “Fascism wants to gag the people,” one sign read. Other protesters simply sat in silence, their mouths covered in gags or tape.

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