By Robert Mbaraga
A Rwandan court has sentenced Bernard Munyagishari to life imprisonment over the role he played in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
The special chamber of the High Court trying international crimes found Munyagishari guilty of genocide and murder as a crime against humanity. He was, however, acquitted of charges of rape charges.
According to the High Court, the prosecution failed to provide incriminating evidence proving that Munyagishari, planned, ordered, or individually committed rape.
“The court established Munyagishari’s individual criminal responsibility and criminal responsibility as superior through recruiting, training and leading the Interahamwe in killing Tutsis in Gisenyi and elsewhere” the judge said.
Munyagishari is a former secretary to the local chapter of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development – a political party linked to the ex-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana – in Gisenyi.
He was transferred to Rwanda by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in July 2013 following his arrest in the Democratic Republic Congo in 2011.
According to the verdict, the former leader of the Interahamwe militias in Gisenyi established roadblocks in the lakeside city and its environs and personally supervised those located in the central areas of the city.
At the roadblocks that he supervised, the judge said, Munyagishari selected Tutsis and ordered his interahamwe to take them to be killed and buried at the “Commune Rouge.” The “Commune Rouge” was an infamous cemetery in Gisenyi and the adjective “rouge” (red) signifies the blood of those who were killed and dumped there.
The prosecution maintained that the accused “willfully and knowingly” ordered a special corps of young interahamwe called the Ntarumikwa, to rape Tutsi women and girls before killing them.
He was also accused of instigating his wife and a female group that she headed, to sexually torture female Tutsis before killing them.
Munyagishari’s lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.
Munyagishari, 58, becomes the second individual sent to Rwanda by ICTR to be convicted, after Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, who was also sentenced by the same court to life imprisonment in December 2015.
The third transferred case of the former mayor, Ladislas Ntaganzwa is still pending in the High Court.
Eight cases were transferred to Rwanda by the ICTR but five of the accused, Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ryandikayo, and Charles Sikubwabo are still at large.
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Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Rwanda
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By Sharon Gaudin
With reports of Russia using social media and bots to push fake news to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, questions are arising over how these same tactics could be used against an enterprise.
“Twitter bots could absolutely be used against a company,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with OrionX. “Someone using bots could manufacture a fake groundswell of opinion against a company or a product.”
The subject of Twitter bots has made headlines since federal investigations into Russia’s interference with the presidential election unearthed evidence that the Kremlin used chatbots, particularly on Twitter, to seed fake news stories in order to confuse discussions and taint certain candidates, especially Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
A bot is a simple software program that uses artificial intelligence to perform automated tasks, such as sending out messages or reposting other messages.
During the presidential election, Twitter bots were used to pick up on tweets that included certain topics or hashtags, such as #HillaryClinton.
Once the bots detected those tweets, they would respond, often flooding the Twitter user or the hashtag with Twitter rants or even phony stories, such as promoting the falsehood that Clinton was in jail or about to go to jail.
A University of Southern California study last November showed that this tactic wasn’t simply a few rogue bots at work.
Between Sept. 16 and Oct. 21, 2016, researchers at USC’s Information Sciences Institute found that Twitter bots produced 3.8 million tweets, or 19% of all election tweets during that period.
The USC report also showed that social bots accounted for 400,000 of the 2.8 million individual users tweeting about the election, or nearly 15% of the population under study.
Researchers at Oxford University also reported last fall that bots were part of a concerted effort to influence what people were learning about the candidates, particularly Clinton, on social media.
There were, of course, Twitter bots working for both Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but the Oxford study shows that the bot tide was heavily in Trump’s favor.
During the first presidential debate, for instance, pro-Trump bots generated seven tweets for every one pro-Clinton bot posted during the three presidential debates, according to the Oxford study. The study also found that 23% of the tweets on the first debate were from bots, while 27% were from bots during the third debate.
“Political actors and governments worldwide have begun using bots to manipulate public opinion, choke off debate, and muddy political issues,” the report said.
Now federal investigators are looking into whether Russia was behind the pro-Trump Twitter bots.
“Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as ‘bots,’ to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton,” the McClatchy news service reported, citing anonymous sources last month.
Last week, in testimony at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s meddling in the U.S. elections, Clinton Watts, a former FBI special agent and senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, said influencing debate on social media isn’t a role simply for bots.
Watts said the practice is a combination of automated bots and “humans that work in their psychological warfare groups” and command less-automated bots.
“That amplifies your appearance,” Watts testified. “It games the social media system, such that such a high volume of content being pushed at the same time raises that into the Trends … The goal is to get that in the top of Twitter stream so mainstream media has to respond to that story. When mainstream media responds to it or looks at it without commenting on it, it takes over organically and you’ll see it move over the internet like a virus.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said at the hearing that the disinformation being spread by Internet trolls and bots was designed to disparage Clinton and appeared to target key swing states in the weeks leading up to the November election.
Twitter bots are not new.
Sam Woolley, one of the researchers on the Oxford study, noted that bots are an important part of Twitter that have been used on the site since it was launched.
Normally, bots are used to send spam or tweets about a news story or event at a particular time of the day. They also can be used to be humorous. For instance, @Betelgeuse_3 sends automatic replies in response to tweets that include the phrase, “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice,” in reference to the movie Beetlejuice.
The difference is that bots are increasingly being used to flood discussions and sway opinion by appearing to represent massive groups of real-life users.
How bots could hurt a company
While bots were used to influence a presidential campaign, they also could be easily used to taint the image of a company or to plant phony news items about a corporate executive or enterprise.
“Malicious social media bots could feasibly be launched against any entity that has an online presence,” Woolley told Computerworld. “They have long been used as a marketing tool for spreading information on companies’ products … But there is no reason that social media bots couldn’t be used to launch a campaign of disinformation or slander at a company.”
Jenny Sussin, an analyst with market research firm Gartner, said she hasn’t seen bots used with any strength in favor of or against a particular company, but she has seen them used in online enterprise discussions.
“You can look at any trending topic associated with a particular event or organization and you’ll see bots slide in there with typically inappropriate comments,” she said. “Those bots work off volume prompts. If something is increasing in frequency of mention, tweet “xyz.” Again, because these are all rules-based, they could be used for or against to extend the reach of a message that may or may not be truthful.”
It would be easy to set up bots to try to harm a company’s reputation by making it appear that real people are complaining about a company’s product or making false claims about something a company has done.
Because of that risk, executives need to watch out for bots.
“All you can do is pay attention to the popularity of specific messages,” Sussin said. “What messages about your company are being retweeted the most? Where did they originate? All companies can do is try to disprove any false story that would come out about them.”
While Olds said he hasn’t yet seen any companies using Twitter bots against their competitors, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
“I think companies should take some time to consider exactly what might happen if they had a social media, particularly a Twitter, campaign mounted against them,” Olds said. “They need to be ready to investigate the social media claim, then respond as quickly and thoroughly as possible. A negative campaign could pick up traction very quickly with today’s social media, and the company in the crosshairs of such a campaign had better be ready to deal with it.”
Apr 4 2017 | Posted in Technology
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By Njeri Kimani & Simon Allison
Kenya has ordered $418-million worth of border patrol planes from a US company. It’s the biggest arms deal in Kenyan history, but something doesn’t smell right, according to critics. By NJERI KIMANI and SIMON ALLISON.
On his very last day in office, in January 2017, former US President Barack Obama approved a $418-million sale of border patrol planes to Kenya. This is the biggest arms deal in Kenyan history. The 14 planes, effectively weaponised crop-dusters, are supposed to help Kenya in its fight against Somali militant group al-Shabaab. But before the deal can be finalised, US congressional approval is required. And at least one congressman is not happy.
“My office has received credible allegations of faulty contracting practices, fraud and unfair treatment surrounding this sale,” said Ted Budd, Republican representative for North Carolina’s 13th district. Budd went on to claim that Kenya was paying way over the odds, and that he knew a company that could provide the same planes for just $237-million – around 43% less, or a saving of a staggering $181-million.
Budd is not an entirely impartial observer. Situated in his congressional district is a company called IOMAX, which just happens to make exactly the type of…
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Mar 10 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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By Paul Redfern
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office amended its travel advisory to Kenya, saying tourists from the UK should now be able to travel safely to Lamu and Manda Island.
The news will be very welcome to Lamu hoteliers and tour operators who have suffered from a decline in arrivals since the advisory took place.
The FCO said it “no longer advised against travel to Lamu Island and Manda Island”.
However, the FCO told UK residents that if they did want to travel to Lamu Island or Manda Island, they should do so by air to Manda airport and not by road.
Tourism officials in Kenya have quickly moved to reassure tourists after the murder of former British army officer Tristan Voorspuy in Laikipia that all is well.
Mr Voorspuy was murdered on his Sosian ranch on Monday as he went to investigate damage caused by invaders.
The agency’s statement stopped short of advising tourists not to visit the area.
READ: Sosian ranch boss Tristan Voorspuy shot dead.
The KTB said in a statement: “We extend our condolences and sympathy to the family of Mr Voorspuy and to the other Kenyan farmers and ranch employees who have been caught up in the conflict over pasture in the affected area in recent weeks.
“The present unrest and insecurity are restricted to a few localities and a small number of ranches and that the well-known wildlife conservancies and tourism facilities in the rest of Laikipia are not affected and remain calm and peaceful. Tourism activity continues as normal.”
American Congressmen Defend Controversial Kenya-US Arms Deal
Three Republican members of the US House of Representatives are pushing back against suggestions by a few of their… Read more »
Mar 10 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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By Kevin J. Kelley
Three Republican members of the US House of Representatives are pushing back against suggestions by a few of their colleagues that Kenya’s pending Sh43 billion weapons deal should be reconsidered.
The trio say they “have seen no evidence to support allegations” that the proposed purchase may have been handled improperly or unfairly by the US Air Force and potential suppliers of the aircraft and related items Kenya is seeking.
Anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo charged at a Washington press briefing on Wednesday that Kenya’s move to make the purchase “fails the smell test.”
A US company that was not invited to bid on the deal has said it can supply Kenya with a superior version of the equipment it seeks at a price about Sh20 billion lower than the proposed Sh43 billion purchase.
Mr Githongo suggested that corruption on the part of Kenyan officials could account for the government’s apparent willingness to pay what he described as an unnecessarily large sum for the planes. Mr Githongo acknowledged, however, that he has no evidence to support that suspicion.
Mr Githongo was joined at Wednesday’s press session by Republican Congressman Ted Budd, an organiser of opposition to the deal. Mr Budd represents a district in the state of North Carolina that is home to weapons maker IOMAX, the company that claims it can provide Kenya with combat-proven versions of the aircraft for less than Sh29 million.
The three congressmen — Bill Flores, Jodey Arrington and John Ratcliffe — who on Tuesday expressed support for the Sh43 billion deal did so in a joint letter to Vice Admiral Joseph Rixey, director of the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency.
That unit of the Pentagon had notified Congress in January of the possible sale.
The US State Department has approved the pending agreement, as has the US Congress.
The three congressmen noted that the US House committee that reviewed the deal did not take action on a resolution of disapproval that Mr Budd had introduced.
Under the terms of the envisioned agreement, Kenya would contract with two US companies — L3 Technologies and Air Tractor — for purchase of a dozen AT-802L Longsword aircraft and related components and services.
Kenya plans to use the missile-firing and intelligence-gathering planes in its campaign in Somalia against Al-Shabaab.
Congressmen Flores, Arrington and Ratcliffe all represent districts in Texas, the state where L3 operates a plant that manufactures these types of planes in partnership with Air Tractor.
Mr Flores’ district includes the city of Waco, the specific site of the L3 division that builds the planes and employs some 1400 workers.
A finalised agreement with Kenya “will help to sustain existing jobs,” L3 spokeswoman Jennifer Barton said in an e-mail on Thursday.
Ms Barton noted that L3’s “Waco facility is where we have successfully manufactured and delivered multiple AT-802L Longsword aircraft.”
In their letter to Vice Adm Rixey, the three Texas congressmen urged his agency “to continue to follow appropriate processes and procedures with respect to this pending [arms sale to Kenya].”
“It is our hope,” the three lawmakers added, “that this acquisition will further enable Kenya’s efforts to advance security and prosperity in eastern Africa and the greater Middle East.”
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Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office amended its travel advisory to Kenya, saying tourists from the UK should now… Read more »
Mar 10 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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Photo: Rachel Mabala /Daily Monitor
By Owen Khamula
Fired Agriculture minister George Chaponda is not reporting for duties at parliament since he lost his job on Wednesday.
Chaponda has not been allocated any seat as a back bencher.as has not been going to parliament since President Peter Mutharika fired him following a series of allegations of corrupt practices in te procurement of maize from Zambia.
He vehemently denies the allegation.
Parliament officials say Chaponda can only report at parliament when the government allocates him a seat.
Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa said the government leadership in the House is working on it.
This comes amid calls from some sections of the society to have him arrested following the discovery of stashes of money in his residence.
However, some law experts point to the fact that the Republican Constitution forbids arrests of parliamentarians when the House is meeting except on treason charges.
But law professor Edge Kanyongolo said the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the police have enough case to arrest the embattled Mulanje South West MP.
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Feb 23 2017 | Posted in Agriculture
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Khartoum — The High Committee for Sudan -China-Russia and India Relations held its regular meeting in the Republican Palace, Wednesday which was chaired by its Deputy Chairman, Dr Awad Al-Jaz.
Dr. Al-Jaz revealed in press statements that delegations are in their way to Russia for discussing development of commercial relations between the two countries in addition to another delegation comprising specialists in fields of agriculture and veterinary.
He expected that the Joint Sudanese-Indian Ministerial Committee to hold meeting to set arrangements for the pending issues and to propound investments projects.
He indicated that the work at new Khartoum International Airport would begin soon after completion of discussion of agreements signed with China.
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Feb 16 2017 | Posted in Construction
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Khartoum — Vice-President of the Republic, Hassabo Mohamed Abdul-Rahman, has stressed necessity of the participation of companies operating in the telecommunication field to in supporting the infrastructures at remote areas.
This came when he received in the Republican Palace Monday the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Dr Tahani Abdalla.
Dr. Tahani said in a press statement after the meeting that she briefed the Vice – President of the Republic on the plans and programs being implemented by the ministry in the past period, besides development of comprehensive service in the states.
The minister said that she also informed the Vice – President on outcome of the Arab Regioanl Forum which took place in Khartoum as well as the ministry’s efforts to set measures for the effects of lifting of US sanctions imposed on Sudan.
The Minister of Communications, meanwhile, revealed that Sudan would partake in Mobile International Conference which will be held in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of current February.
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Feb 14 2017 | Posted in Technology
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By Isaac Ongiri and Bernard Namunane
The Opposition on Monday inched closer to unity under the National Super Alliance (Nasa) after the leaders of the four big parties met in Nairobi to plan a joint ticket.
The parties want to stitch together a coalition to face Jubilee’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at the ballot on August 8.
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper Democratic Movement), Mr Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula agreed to form a joint management committee to run the new coalition, sources said.
The four are understood to have agreed to adopt Nasa as the uniting factor for all political entities represented by opposition leaders supporting a joint presidential candidate.
This would, in effect, spell the end of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord), under which the parties went to the polls in 2013.
Then, Cord lost to Jubilee, which brought together President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) and Deputy President William Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP).
The two outfits have since been dissolved and absorbed by Jubilee Party.
Details of the committee and its membership will be unveiled today at a press conference to be attended by the four leaders.
Yesterday’s meeting, described as the first formal engagement on opposition unity through Nasa, was held at the Cold Springs Hotel in Nairobi’s upmarket Karen Estate.
Kiminini Member of Parliament Chris Wamalwa confirmed that the four held talks on opposition unity but declined to divulge the details, describing the meeting as “top secret”.
Said Mr Wamalwa: “This is the beginning of a new huge movement.
“It will carry so many leaders other than the four. We are going to have Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Charity Ngilu on board, just to name two.”
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandai said Nasa has been rendered necessary by the prevailing circumstances in the country and the urgency to save Kenya from being “auctioned” by what he termed a corrupt regime.
“We have lost every war, including the war on corruption,” said Mr Wandai.
“The country is pregnant for a regime change and the people are yawning for a successful opposition unity that can kick out the Jubilee regime from power.”
He said the four principals know that they had no option but to make compromises and unite for the sake of 40 million Kenyans whose economy, he claimed, was being squeezed by corrupt elements in the government.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula said the meeting was meant to set up a team that will work on the method of coming up with a presidential candidate for the opposition alliance.
“We encouraged them to meet and agree on each party nominating two representatives, who will work on the method of picking the presidential candidate,” Mr Savula said by phone.
An MP who declined to be named said: “It is good to note that a deal has been struck, at least insofar as unity is concerned.
“Even those who have been hesitant to join Nasa have now agreed to join.”
There has been suspicion in the Opposition after it emerged that two presidential candidates in their midst were in talks with Jubilee with a view to abandoning the opposition ranks in exchange for plum positions after the General Election and other immediate benefits.
Senator Moi, whose name has featured in the opposition talks, however remained tight-lipped on the matter.
Yesterday, the party he chairs, Kanu, surprised many when it advertised for a presidential candidate.
Some see this as an indication that Mr Moi could be interested in the presidency.
The party’s election board chairman, Mr Eddy Kivuvani, said it will field candidates for all positions while Secretary-General Nick Salat said the advert was precautionary in that, should Kanu decide to join the presidential race, it will not be open to legal challenges.
Jan 31 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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By Justus Ochieng’
Former TNA secretary-general Onyango Oloo on Wednesday said he would spill all the tricks that the Jubilee Coalition used in 2013, including inflating the number of votes in its strongholds to help President Uhuru Kenyatta win the elections.
Mr Oloo, who ditched the Jubilee Party for Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, said the “files of secrets” he carried away from the President’s party would help the opposition alliance to defeat Mr Kenyatta in the elections set for August this year.
He claimed Mr Odinga, who ran on a Cord ticket, won the last elections, adding: “I know what happened. Raila was to be sworn in as the President and I have a lot of secrets to that effect which I cannot share publicly.”
“It is not a laughing matter. I have come with a lot of secrets in several files that I will share with Raila as we prepare to take over the next government.” Mr Oloo said during a rally at Kisumu’s Jomo Kenyatta Grounds in a dramatic about-turn by one of the foremost staunch defenders of the Jubilee administration for the past four years.
Mr Oloo’s former colleagues in Jubilee, however, laughed off his claims, saying he had no access to any secrets.
Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja, who was the TNA chairman, said Mr Oloo was not privy to any secrets that he could sell to ODM.
“He has nothing. All he dealt with was administration. There is nothing that we have to hide. We did our job and won the elections. There will be no such thing as rigging, unless he decides to make up stories,” he said by telephone.
Mr Sakaja and National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said Mr Oloo defected to ODM to save his political career and should stop lying to the former Prime Minister.
“I think his move is just for his own political survival and to chart his political path. Beyond that, anything that is malicious is totally uncalled for. Political realignments are normal in this season but first of all, to say you have moved with the infrastructure of TNA is false. The merger was never about any individual positioning but what we all believe in. The entire infrastructure understood that and moved to Jubilee,” said Mr Sakaja.
Mr Duale played down Mr Oloo’s defection, saying: “He has joined many other politicians who have defected from their parties to others. Nothing new in him going back to a party from his region.”
Speaking in Nyeri during the burial of Archbishop John Baptista Mugecha on Wednesday, Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu accused Mr Oloo of being a traitor and said Jubilee was content with his defection.
The Jubilee Party was borne out of a merger between President Kenyatta’s TNA, Mr Ruto’s United Republican Party, and other small parties.
Announcing his defection, Mr Oloo, who was received at the rally by Mr Odinga, accused the Jubilee administration of presiding over corruption, saying he would not allow his people to be in a “political outfit that didn’t have the interest of Kenyans at heart”.
“The Luo people have a saying that you can do business with a thief and a witch and remain clean but when you marry them you also become a thief and a witch,” said Mr Oloo.
Mr Odinga and other Cord principals Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi have joined forces in the National Super Alliance (Nasa) that they are hoping to use to kick out Jubilee in the elections.
Mr Odinga said he expected more defections and put the Jubilee administration on notice that it was living on borrowed time.
In what appeared to be a change of heart on the electoral laws, the Cord leader said even with the changes, the opposition would beat Jubilee emphatically.
He said Nasa was the way to go, adding that even in Ghana, President Nana Akuffo-Addo won with 54 per cent against his rivals 43 per cent even as the country adopted a manual backup system in the polls. The former Prime minister is on a tour of Busia, Siaya and Kisumu to rally residents to register as voters.
“They (Jubilee) are full of insults and their master of affronts is Deputy President William Ruto. We have persevered for long and cannot continue any more. We are approaching this election as a matter of life and death. We know their tricks of rigging and have sealed all the loopholes,” declared Mr Odinga.
He added: “Oloo is our lost son who has since left the enemies and returned home. We welcome him. We know he has a lot of secrets from our opponents to share with us. We will make use of them.”
Mr Oloo charged that forces allied to URP had hijacked the new Jubilee Party and claimed that politicians who had not played any role in bringing Jubilee to power had benefited and elbowed out the founders.
“TNA was neutral and was founded on ideologies we believed would take Kenya to the next level and unite them. However, little did we know we were being led into a vile and vicious political conmanship,” he said, adding that Jubilee was run by an amorphous secretariat led by a man whose party was not part of the Jubilee pact.
The secretariat is led by former Cabinet minister Raphael Tuju.
Additional reporting by Rushdie Oudia, Nelcon Odhiambo and Grace Gitau
Jan 19 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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