TIME Ireland

Gays Wake Up to Changed Ireland, Let ‘New Normal’ Sink in

The unexpectedly strong willingness of Irish voters to change their constitution is expected to lead to a wave of gay weddings

(DUBLIN)—The gay couples of Ireland woke up Sunday in what felt like a nation reborn — some with dreams of wedding plans dancing in their heads.

Many weren’t rising too early, however, after celebrating the history-making outcome of Ireland’s referendum enshrining gay marriage in the constitution. The festivities began when the final result — 62 percent approval — was announced Saturday night, and ran until sunrise in some corners of Dublin, with tens of thousands of revelers of all sexual identities pouring onto the streets.

The unexpectedly strong willingness of Irish voters to change their conservative 1937 constitution is expected to lead to a wave of gay weddings in Ireland in the fall. The Justice Department confirmed Sunday it plans to publish a marriage bill this week, and with the support of all political parties, it should be passed by parliament and signed into law by June.

For Ireland’s most prominent gay couple, Sen. Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan, this victory is emotionally overwhelming. Since 2003 they have fought for legal recognition of their Canadian marriage. They took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, but suffered only setbacks and delays. Now, their day has come.

“For so long, I’ve been having to dig in my heels and say … Well, we ARE married. I’m a married woman!” said Zappone, a Seattle native who resettled with her Irish spouse in Dublin three decades ago. “Now that it has happened, at a personal level, it’s just going to take a long time to let that acceptance sink in.”

Zappone and Gilligan thrilled a crowd of thousands packed into the results center at Dublin Castle with a playful promise to renew their vows. Zappone dramatically broke off from a live TV interview, stared directly into the camera and asked Gilligan to marry her all over again. Gilligan declared to the rainbow flag-waving revelers: “I said yes to Katherine 12 years ago at our marriage in Canada. And now we are bringing the ‘yes’ back home to Ireland, our country of Ireland! Yes, yes, yes!”

In a more sober mood Sunday, the couple reflected on their long road to social acceptance, the unprecedented joy of the “yes” victory — and the legal work that remains to be done before they can get officially hitched in Ireland later this year.

“It took us hours to get a taxi (Saturday night) because so many people came up to us in tears, wanting to talk to us. They now felt so much freer, and proud,” said Zappone, who became Ireland’s first openly lesbian lawmaker when Prime Minister Enda Kenny appointed her to the Senate in 2011.

“There aren’t that many moments in life where you are surrounded with an exuberance of joy. These are rare moments. … We are now entering a new Ireland,” said Gilligan, a former Loreto nun who left the order in her mid-20s to pursue social justice projects as a lay Catholic. She wasn’t sure about her sexuality until Zappone walked into their first doctoral theology class together at Boston College in 1981.

“The door opened, and this gorgeous woman came in. I didn’t know I was lesbian. I’m a late learner,” Gilligan recalled with a laugh. “I fell in love with Katherine, and I went for it. I simply adored her, and I wanted to be with her forever and ever, and here we are!”

They married in Vancouver and sued Ireland in hopes of winning legal recognition, but in 2006 the High Court ruled that Irish law — while never explicit in defining marriage as solely between a man and woman — universally understood this to be the case. The Supreme Court sidestepped their appeal in 2012.

Months later Gilligan, who is in her late 60s, suffered a brain hemorrhage and was hospitalized. Zappone, yet again, faced bureaucratic presumptions when trying to see her wife, since hospital admissions didn’t recognize her as a spouse or family member. She could have lied and said they had an Irish-recognized civil partnership, a weaker form of marriage-style contract enacted into Irish law in 2010, but Zappone insisted on stating uncomfortable reality: “In those moments, I am married to her, and you have to recognize that,” she recalled.

The medical staff understood and, after Zappone had spent five weeks at Gilligan’s bedside, one of their Chinese doctors wrote them a long note of appreciation, wishing he had what they had.

What they won’t have, for many months to come, is an Irish-recognized marriage.

Article 41 of the family section of Ireland’s constitution now reads, “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

But Zappone and her parliamentary colleagues must pass a same-sex marriage bill. Unlike in many other countries, the change faces no significant parliamentary opposition. Potentially thorny issues such as divorce — narrowly legalized in a 1995 referendum — and adoption shouldn’t pose roadblocks. Parliament recently passed another bill permitting couples and single people to adopt regardless of gender, reflecting the reality that more than a third of Irish children are being raised out of wedlock.

“Technically and legally we’ll probably have to wait until towards the end of the year,” Zappone said. “Then we’ll head towards the big day.”

By then, several commentators have noted, a new generation of Irish people should already be accepting the sight of a gay couple holding hands in the street, or exchanging their vows and kissing in front of their families.

“We’ve made it clear to the world that there is a new normal — that ‘ordinary’ is a big, capacious word that embraces and rejoices in the natural diversity of humanity. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people are now a fully acknowledged part of the wonderful ordinariness of Irish life,” wrote Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole.

“LGBT people are us: our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. We were given the chance to say that. We were asked to replace tolerance with the equality of citizenship,” O’Toole wrote. “And we took it in both arms and hugged it close.”

TIME russia

Hundreds of Russian Women Are Posting Selfies With Wrinkled Faces

Bride, Chechen Kheda Goilabiyeva, and fiancé, Chechen police officer Nazhud Guchigov, second right, stand in a wedding registry office in Chechnya's provincial capital Grozny, Russia
AP Bride, Chechen Kheda Goilabiyeva, and fiancé, Chechen police officer Nazhud Guchigov, second right, stand in a wedding registry office in Chechnya's provincial capital Grozny, Russia, on May 16, 2015.

In protest of an official's remarks defending a 17-year-old girl's arranged marriage

Hundreds of Russian women are posting selfies with wrinkled faces in protest of an official who defended a 17-year-old girl’s arranged marriage to a 47-year-old man.

The Instagram campaign began Saturday after Russia’s children’s rights minister Pavel Astakhov defended the marriage, saying “there are places where women have wrinkles at age 27 and they look 50 by our standards,” BBC reports.

“Let’s not be prudish,” Astakhov said. “Emancipation and sexual maturity happen earlier in the Caucasus.”

The bride, Kheda Goilabiyeva, and her fiancé, police officer Nazhud Guchigov, were married in in Chechnya two weeks ago. The wedding drew controversy because the minimum age for marriage under Russian law is 18, though in Chechnya the age is 16. The bride has said she married Guchigov willfully.

“This hashtag is about the oppression of women. Women’s rights are violated in Russia, especially in Chechnya,” one female activist told BBC.

[BBC]

TIME North Korea

Activists Cross Demilitarized Zone Between North and South Korea

The group wants to promote peace and reconciliation between the two sides

A international group of female activists crossed the border between North and South Korea on Sunday to promote peace between the two countries, which have yet to sign a peace treaty 60 years after the Korean War ended.

The group of about 30 women, WomenCrossDMZ, was taken by bus across the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), CNN reports, which was created by a 1953 armistice that halted, but never ended, the Korean War. The crossing was sanctioned by both sides, and included feminist Gloria Steinem and Nobel laureates Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland.

Several groups have criticized the march, arguing that the women should have crossed the North Korea-China border, which is more dangerous than the DMZ. Others called the crossing “empty,” blasting the activists for allowing North Korea an opportunity to cover up its record of human rights abuses.

Read next: Gloria Steinem’s North Korea Peace Walk Draws Ire Despite Lack of Any Better Ideas

[CNN]

 

TIME Ireland

This Woman Proposed to Her Girlfriend Just Moments After Ireland’s Gay Marriage Vote

It's the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote

One Irish couple wasted no time after the country became the first in the world to legalize gay marriage through popular vote.

Billie, 41, proposed to her girlfriend of six years, Kate Stoica, 26, in Limerick, Western Ireland on Saturday, just minutes after the referendum was passed, Mashable reported. Watch the video of the proposal below:

Read next: 20 Other Countries Where Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal Nationwide

[Mashable]

TIME Foreign Policy

U.S. Defense Chief Questions Iraq’s ‘Will to Fight’ ISIS After City’s Fall

In this May 1, 2015 file photo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP In this May 1, 2015 file photo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington.

"The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said

(WASHINGTON)—The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria’s takeover of Ramadi is evidence that Iraqi forces do not have the “will to fight,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said, in the harshest assessment yet from a high-ranking Obama Administration official of Iraqi fighters and the loss of the provincial capital.

Iraqi forces outnumbered their opposition in the capital of Anbar province, but failed to fight and pulled back from the city in central Iraq, Carter said on CNN’s “State of the Union” which aired Sunday. The Iraqis left behind large numbers of U.S.-supplied vehicles, including several tanks.

“What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered,” Carter said of the Iraqi forces. “In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight [ISIS] and defend themselves.”

The fall of Ramadi last Sunday has sparked questions about the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s approach in Iraq, a blend of retraining and rebuilding the Iraqi army, prodding Baghdad to reconcile with the nation’s Sunnis and bombing ISIS group targets from the air without committing American ground combat troops.

Carter defended the use of U.S. airstrikes as an effective part of the fight against ISIS but said they are not a replacement for Iraqi forces willing to defend their country.

“We can participate in the defeat of ISIL,” he said, using another acronym for ISIS. “But we can’t makeIraq … a decent place for people to live — we can’t sustain the victory, only the Iraqis can do that and, in particular in this case, the Sunni tribes to the West.”

The Pentagon this past week estimated that when Iraqi troops abandoned Ramadi, they left behind a half-dozen tanks, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees.

Over the past year defeated Iraq security forces have repeatedly left behind U.S.-supplied military equipment, which the U.S. has targeted in subsequent airstrikes against ISIS forces.

Carter did not discuss any new U.S. tactics in the fight against ISIS.

TIME Ireland

Dublin Celebrates Through Tears as Same-Sex Marriage Vote Makes History

“This is the first time I’ve felt like an equal citizen"

Ireland made global history on Saturday by becoming the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage through popular vote—sending thousands of people out into the streets of Dublin to celebrate as a sea of emotion engulfed the city.

Bearing rainbow flags and smiling through tears, gay and straight Dubliners joined together to hail the news that an overwhelming 62.1 percent of voters had said “yes” to gay marriage, in a referendum that many in Ireland called a “test of equality” and the “test of a true republic.”

Robert Stevenson, 62, who is from Dublin but now lives in the U.K., spoke through a convulsion of tears as he recalled how he was “suicidal” as a teenager and lost several friends to suicide because they were “filled with self-loathing” because of their sexuality.

“This is the first time I’ve felt like an equal citizen; I just can’t talk,” Stevenson said.

The vote was all the more striking because Ireland is a predominantly Catholic country. Many citizens have rejected the church’s influence in recent years, following a spate of revelations about child sexual abuse as well as the church’s history of cold treatment of gay people and women who got pregnant out of wedlock. Some saw the “yes” vote as a dismantling of Catholic rule in the country.

“It was the Catholic Church that rejected me, I didn’t reject it,” Stevenson said. “My mother is still part of it but I can’t be.”

He added that he would never forget “living in fear” in the ’60s and ’70s.

“I remember in this country people being beaten to death for being gay back then,” he said, “and I think of people being beaten to death in other countries now. After this moment, I have the privilege of being an equal citizen in my own country…and that is just wonderful.”

For several months, the Irish have been debating whether to bestow full equality on all citizens regardless of sexual orientation by changing the constitution to allow couples of the same sex marry. The overwhelming sentiment and emphatic vote in favor—over 70 pecent in some Dublin constituencies—reflects how Ireland has come a very long way from the country it once was.

In the middle of the cheers and impromptu renditions of the Irish national anthem on Saturday, 28-year-old Edward Smith, fought back tears.

“It’s about equality—it’s not just about the LGBT community; this is a huge leap forward for a tiny country in becoming a secular state,” he said.

“I always wanted to get married, and thought I’d have to go away,” he continued. “I never thought this would happen for me. The church in this country had no right to interfere in this referendum and people realized this; their campaign was ludicrous and hypocritical.

“After all, the church was responsible for so much that went wrong here; priests in this country were allowed to rape children, the Catholic Church sold babies belonging to unmarried mothers. I think the revelations about the church helped the ‘Yes’ side.”

Smith’s partner, 24-year-old Muiris O’Connell from rural Limerick, was also deeply moved by the vote.

“I hated myself all through my teens,” O’Connell said. “I’m from the middle of the country where being gay was almost unheard of and I never felt comfortable being myself. This referendum brought back so many memories; I always tried to neglect the truth and when I did think about myself, I always said, ‘I’m never going to have a normal life.’

“Today just proves that I can,” O’Connell continued. “Today is the definition of what a republic is; it’s Irish men and Irish women right around the country saying, ‘we love you.'”

Many in the Dublin crowd on Saturday were straight supporters of the law change who were thrilled by the vote.

“I raised generation who made this happen; I’m so proud of them” said 64 year old Breda Griffin from Dublin, who was with her husband and their 25-year-old daughter. “For over 20 years I’ve always fought for equality and rights for people outside the fold—whether they were gay, unmarried mothers or illegitimate children—anyone that wasn’t seen as normal

“But it’s this generation that has delivered and I couldn’t be prouder; I just couldn’t be happier.”

As the vote tallies came in and a “yes” vote became a foregone conclusion, 24-year-old Conor Galvin was at work at his computer, “trying not to cry,” he said.

“It was incredible; I have three siblings and one of my sisters is also gay. My Mum tagged us all in her Facebook status, saying “now I get to wear four hats.”

“There are just no words,” he said.

TIME El Salvador

Salvadorans Celebrate Beatification of Slain Archbishop Romero

Pilgrims carry a portrait of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero to Romero's beatification ceremony in San Salvador, El Salvador
Moises Castillo—AP Pilgrims carry a portrait of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero to Romero's beatification ceremony in San Salvador, El Salvador, on May 23, 2015.

He was declared a martyr for his faith this year by Pope Francis

(SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador)—Huge crowds filled a square in the Salvadoran capital Saturday for a ceremony to beatify Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was cut down by an assassin’s bullet 35 years ago and declared a martyr for his faith this year by Pope Francis.

It is the first step toward possible canonization, although many of the 260,000-plus faithful expected at the Savior of the World Plaza already credit him with miracles and refer to him as “Saint Romero of the Americas.”

Delegations from parishes all over the nation, many of them bused in from the countryside, filed into the square carrying white and yellow flags of the Roman Catholic Church.

“They can kill the prophet, but not the voice of justice,” intoned pilgrims from Our Lady of the Assumption in a suburb outside San Salvador.

“His words will remain for eternity,” said Marlene Sanchez, 26.

In life, Romero was loved by the poor, whom he defended passionately, and loathed by conservatives who considered him too close to left-leaning movements in the tumultuous years ahead of El Salvador’s 1980-92 civil war.

Romero was celebrating Mass in a cancer hospital chapel on March 24, 1980, when he was shot through the heart by a sniper who apparently fired from a car outside. The day before, Romero had delivered a strongly worded admonition to the U.S.-backed military to stop repressing civilians.

The trigger man has never been identified, and no one has been prosecuted for the killing. Alleged paramilitary death squad leader Roberto d’Aubuisson, who was named by a U.N. truth commission after the war’s end as the mastermind of the assassination, died in 1992 having maintained his innocence to the end.

Romero’s beatification was held up for years by church politics until Pope Benedict XVI “unblocked” the case in late 2012, after it was determined he had not been an adherent of revolutionary liberation theology as many claimed.

Saturday’s ceremony constitutes official church approval of Romero’s legacy, even if some conservatives in the Vatican and Salvadoran society still view his memory with distaste.

“The beatification … is a cause for great joy for Salvadorans and for those of us who rejoice at the example of the greatest children of the church,” Francis said in a statement. “Monsignor Romero, who built peace from the strength of love, gave testimony of the faith with his life, committed to the very end.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, who visited Romero’s tomb in 2011, called him “an inspiration for people in El Salvador and across the Americas.”

“He was a wise pastor and a courageous man who persevered in the face of opposition from extremes on both sides,” Obama said. “He fearlessly confronted the evils he saw, guided by the needs of his beloved pueblo, the poor and oppressed people of El Salvador.”

Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Vatican’s saint-making office, began the ceremony in the late morning beneath a 60-foot-tall (18-meter-tall) monument depicting Christ atop a white pillar and blue globe. An urn held the shirt that Romero was wearing when he was shot.

Officials closed off about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) of streets nearby to accommodate the crush of pilgrims and the hundreds of vendors selling commemorative T-shirts, key chains, bags, bracelets and coffee cups for $2 to $5 as well as copies of documentaries and movies inspired by Romero’s life.

Authorities set up 27 giant screens for the benefit of those far from the stage and deployed 3,700 police and soldiers to provide security. Hotels in the capital were at capacity, and officials predicted the event would generate $31 million in economic activity.

Celebrations were planned in Los Angeles, which is home to about 360,000 people of Salvadoran origin. Many of them arrived in the 1980s fleeing the Central American nation’s civil war, in which at least 75,000 people died and 12,000 more disappeared.

Also Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered in the central Kenyan town of Nyeri to attend the beatification ceremony of Sister Irene Stefani, an Italian nun who worked for many years in the East African nation.

Stefani, who belonged to the Consolata Missionary Sisters, first came to Kenya in 1915 and died there in 1930 at the age of 39, according to a website dedicated to her beatification.

In her case, beatification comes after official verification of a 1989 miracle in Mozambique — a country Stefani never visited — that was attributed to her.

The miracle reportedly happened when a group of about 270 people in danger of death prayed to Sister Irene “and the little water in the baptismal font, measuring between four and six liters, was multiplied to enable them to drink and wash for four days, before help arrived from outside,” Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported, citing a priest in charge of Nairobi’s Consolata Shrine.

TIME Ireland

Chris O’Dowd Had No Doubt Ireland Would Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

He said a "yes" vote is a sign Ireland "is escaping the clutches of the Catholic Church, finally"

Before Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage on Friday, TIME asked the Irish actor Chris O’Dowd how he thought the country would vote in the historic referendum. “I think it’ll pass pretty easily, which is great,” he replied.

He also said that if same-sex marriage was approved, then “it’s a sign that Ireland is progressing with the rest of the world and is escaping the clutches of the Catholic Church, finally.”

Read the rest of the interview in the May 18, 2015 issue of TIME.

TIME Ireland

20 Other Countries Where Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal Nationwide

In light of Ireland voting to legalize same-sex marriage, here is a list of other countries where same-sex couples can marry

Ireland just became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by a national vote—rather than through legislation or the courts.

Here is a list of 20 other countries where same-sex marriage is legal nationwide and the year it was approved (Mexico and the United States are not included, since they only allow same-sex marriage in certain jurisdictions):

The Netherlands (2000)

Belgium (2003)

Canada (2005)

Spain (2005)

South Africa (2006)

Norway (2009)

Sweden (2009)

Argentina (2010)

Iceland (2010)

Portugal (2010)

Denmark (2012)

Brazil (2013)

England and Wales (2013)

France (2013)

New Zealand (2013)

Uruguay (2013)

Luxembourg (2014)

Scotland (2014)

Finland: (signed 2015, effective 2017)

TIME Ireland

Ireland Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage in Historic Referendum

"It's a very proud day to be Irish"

(DUBLIN)—Irish voters backed legalizing gay marriage by a landslide, according to electoral figures announced Saturday—a stunning result that illustrates the rapid social change taking place in this traditionally Catholic nation.

Figures from Friday’s referendum announced at Dublin Castle showed that 62.1 percent of Irish voters said “yes.” Outside, watching the results announcement live in the castle’s cobblestoned courtyard, thousands of gay rights activists cheered, hugged and cried.

The unexpectedly strong percentage of approval surprised both sides. Analysts and campaigners credited the “yes” side with adeptly using social media to mobilize first-time young voters and for a series of searing personal stories from Irish gay people to convince voters to back equal marriage rights.

Ireland is the first country to approve gay marriage in a popular national vote. Nineteen other countries have legalized the practice.

“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish,” said Leo Varadkar, a Cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of a government-led effort to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic constitution.

“People from the LGBT community in Ireland are a minority. But with our parents, our families, or friends and co-workers and colleagues, we’re a majority,” said Varadkar, who watched the votes being tabulated at the County Dublin ballot center.

“For me it wasn’t just a referendum. It was more like a social revolution,” he added.

Michael Barron and Jaime Nanci, a gay couple legally married in South Africa five years ago, celebrated with friends at the Dublin City counting center as the reality sank in that, once Ireland’s parliament passes the complementary legislation, their foreign marriage will be recognized in their homeland.

“Oh.My.God! We’re actually Married now!” Nanci tweeted to his spouse and the world, part of a cavalcade of tweets from Ireland tagged #LandslideOfLove.

Political analysts who have covered Irish referendums for decades agreed that Saturday’s emerging landslide marked a stunning generational shift from the 1980s, when voters still firmly backed Catholic Church teachings and overwhelmingly voted against abortion and divorce.

“We’re in a new country,” said political analyst Sean Donnelly, who called the result “a tidal wave” that has produced pro-gay marriage majorities in even the most traditionally conservative rural corners of Ireland.

“I’m of a different generation,” said the gray-haired Donnelly, who has covered Irish politics since the 1970s. “When I was reared up, the church was all powerful and the word ‘gay’ wasn’t even in use in those days. How things have moved from my childhood to now. It’s been a massive change for a conservative country.”

Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Labour Party leader Joan Burton, said Ireland was becoming “a rainbow nation with a huge amount of diversity.” She said while campaigning door to door, she met older gay people who described how society made them “live in a shadow and apart,” and younger voters who were keen to ensure that Irish homosexuals live “as free citizens in a free republic.”

The “yes” side ran a creative, compelling campaign that harnessed the power of social media to mobilize young voters, tens of thousands of whom voted for the first time Friday. The vote came five years after parliament approved marriage-style civil partnerships for gay couples.

Those seeking a “no” outcome described their defeat as almost inevitable, given that all of Ireland’s political parties and most politicians backed the legalization of homosexual unions.

David Quinn, leader of the Catholic think tank Iona Institute, said he was troubled by the fact that no political party backed the “no” cause.

“We helped to provide a voice to the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who did vote no. The fact that no political party supported them must be a concern from a democratic point of view,” he said.

Fianna Fail party leader Michael Martin, a Cork politician whose opposition party is traditionally closest to the Catholic Church, said he couldn’t in good conscience back the anti-gay marriage side because “it’s simply wrong in the 21st century to oppress people because of their sexuality.”

Some in Martin’s party — the perennial heavyweight in Irish politics but decimated since its ouster from power following Ireland’s 2010 international bailout — did privately oppose the amendment, but only one spoke out in favor of the “no” side.

John Lyons, one of just four openly gay lawmakers in the 166-member parliament, waved the rainbow flag of the Gay Pride movement in the Dublin City counting center and cried a few tears of joy. He paid special credit to the mobilization of younger voters, many of whom traveled home from work or studies abroad to vote.

“Most of the young people I canvassed with have never knocked on a door in their lives,” Lyons said. “This says something about modern Ireland. Let’s never underestimate the electorate or what they think.”

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