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Soualiga Newsday Focus (1232)

360 unaccompanied child refugees vanished in NL last year

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Some 360 unaccompanied refugee children disappeared from asylum centres in the Netherlands last year, and there are fears that many may be the victims of human trafficking or forced into slavery and prostitution, the NRC reported on Thursday.

The figures come from the government’s human trafficking monitor which covers the period 2013 to 2017, the paper said.

The government has taken steps to stop refugee children disappearing by introducing smaller care units with better leadership and introducing more closed homes for youngsters who are felt to be at risk.

Nevertheless, the number of children who vanish from the system has more than doubled between 2015 and 2017, the NRC said. ‘We have no idea what has happened to these children,’ Herman Bolhaar, the government’s human trafficking chief said told the paper.

Most of the children who disappeared came from Afghanistan, Morocco, Algeria, Albania, Eritrea, Syria and Vietnam. More than half are under the age of 16.

Marijuana

The NRC says officials are particularly concerned about the fate of Vietnamese children, who have turned up working on marijuana plantations in the UK. And years ago, Nigerian girls were being trafficked to work as prostitutes in Italy, the paper points out.

Child rights organisation Defence for Children says that young refugees should ideally be looked after in a foster family. The organisation says it is high time that a single agency took responsibility for child refugees who have travelled to the Netherlands alone.

Currently, the police, immigration service, refugee settlement agency COA and youth social workers (Nidos) all blame each other for the situation, spokeswoman Iara de Witte told the paper.

Some 1,200 youngsters under the age of 18 claimed asylum in the Netherlands last year. (DutchNews)

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50 Additional Ladies Get a chance to PAINT PINK

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The ever-popular Makita PAINT IT PINK Workshop will take place this Saturday, October 20th at the Kooyman Megastore in Cay Hill. This DIY themed Breast Cancer Awareness Event, which caters to 250 ladies will now get even bigger thanks to Travel Planners, that has joined forced with the Positive Foundation and the Elektralytes Foundation to sponsor an additional 50 Ladies with a chance to participate in this fun filled event.

This year is the 3rd edition of the MAKITA PAINT IT PINK Workshop and it’s also the biggest tally of ladies to participate in the workshop thus far. “Hosting 300 ladies will be quite a task this year, said Evencia Carty-Seabrookes, Kooyman Commercial Officer. But we do have a great team including: staff, partners and fans who have supported this event from the very beginning. And every year the event gets even bigger and better”.

“The registrations for this event was filled very quickly due to the support of its fan base and growing popularity as one of the feature workshops on the Breast Cancer Awareness Calendar of events, said Elektralyets Foundation President, Mercedes “Elektra”van der Waals-Wyatt.  Thanks to Zaida Urvina- Franca and her team at Travel Planners we are now able to open up 50 more coveted spots to some lucky ladies who will now get to experience this interactive workshop and take part in an event which really relies on the sisterhood and support among women. When it comes to Breast Cancer many women need that support from their community, family, friends, loved ones and co-workers to help them go through this tough disease.  

This DO IT YOURSELF workshop will offer ladies the opportunity to build their very own table top vanity mirror which they will be tasked to “PAINT IT PINK”. After completing their work of arts, ladies will be treated to free cocktails courtesy of the team at CC1 beverages as well as Free Beauty Makeovers; Fashion & Jewelry exhibitions and Skin Care demonstrations. Fun Miles will also bring the Fun at this event with Games and prizes.

New to the event this year is the addition of Breast Cancer Screenings, which will be available to all ladies who have not gotten their Breast Examinations yet. A duo of physicians supported by the Positive Foundation will be on site offering breast examinations and critical information regarding breast awareness, about warning signs, self-examinations which ties into their Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign Feel it, Find it,Fight it!

The Elektralyets and Positive Foundation would like to thank Evencia Carty, the entire staff at Kooyman Makita and Zaida Urvina-Franca and her staff at Travel Planners for their continued support in our quest to continue to help save lives in our community. Through these creative events we can connect with  women in the community to be more open to receive Breast Cancer information and to be more Breast Aware.

Registration for these coveted 50 New spots courtesy of Travel Planners will be available as per Wednesday October 17th at 8:00am via www.Kooymanbv.com

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SMILE Program Details Announced: November 2-3

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), in conjunction with ORCO Bank, Global Resourcing, the Chamber of Commerce and 360° of Innovation, proudly presents the program for the upcoming innovative networking conference SMILE (Sint Maarten Innovation, Initiatives & Industries Linkup Event). 

The event will start off with a kick-off mixer held the evening of November 2nd, followed by a full day networking event taking place November 3rd at University of St. Martin’s Campus (USM). 

Amongst the events addresses will be: the internationally acclaimed “Future of Work” contribution by Aruban innovation agency 360° of Innovation, including a chapter on what the blockchain economy can and will mean for the Caribbean; The Heineken Regatta Foundation will present its brand-new vision as the renowned event’s 40th anniversary approaches in 2020; as well as the long-anticipated launch of Waste2Work, a collaboration between Netherlands Red Cross and Open-House Foundation.

Its Incubator SXM Innovation Hub —provides space for maximum 15 Sint Maarten Startups, establishing a collaborative industrial campus focused on reuse to reduce waste streams and other sustainable solutions.

Last but not least, the World Bank will provide workshops providing clarity on ongoing tenders and how Sint Maarten companies can take part.

Event tickets cost $ 75. As the organizers see it key that all Sint Maarten companies are informed well regarding the World Bank tenders, one additional World Bank workshop is available for companies not having the funds available to join SMILE right after the event ends at 5 o’ clock.

SMILE Workshops will focus on Doing business differently after Irma - both more innovative and sustainable. Within the workshop settings, Sint Maarten managers, NGO’s and entrepreneurs are offered expert workshops on how to further improve their operations in the post-Irma economy.

Workshops will be provided on Social Media Strategy, Customer Experience, SXM Tendering Law, Tax Compliance, Digital Business on Sint Maarten, CPR Training, making your operations more sustainable (Eco-Labels), International and Caribbean business networking, Hydroponic Agriculture and Applying for Qredits funding for Small and Medium Enterprises.

Amongst others, updates will be provided on the ORCO Housing Project for Professionals; the Harbor Group of Companies; the Maho Group and the new sustainability initiative: GreenBox. 

The SMILE event is open to private sector professionals, Government officials and USM students. Attendance is expected to be high, so reserve your space now!

Interested companies both domestic and foreign can take up contact with the SMILE project office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 542-0108.

More information and the full program can be found at shta.com/SMILE or visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/smilesintmaarten.

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Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise contributes to Teacher’s Appreciation Day

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise contributed to the St. Maarten Early Childhood Development Association World Teachers Day (SECDA) Celebration.

SECDA organized a retreat for the teachers of all registered pre-schools on the island, which consisted of over 100 teachers. President of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise, Valda Hazel stated in her address to the teachers, that one of the areas of focus of Rotary is supporting Education and Basic Literacy and therefore the club encourages Education Development.

We know the hard work and dedication you put in daily as teachers and we will forever be grateful, you are the ones who are molding our children in becoming exceptional adults. One should consider this contribution towards the event as a gesture of our appreciation.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise took this opportunity to gift two (2) Pre-Schools with learning tools. The selected schools suffered a great loss due to Hurricane Irma and even one year after the hurricane the owners and teachers are still struggling to rebuild the school.

These schools catered to highly developed communities and therefore there is a great demand for them. The recipients of the learning tools were Little Goslings and Discovery Kidz Pre-Schools.

The learning tools were provided by Ms. Deika Morrison, the founder of a program that supports early childhood education and development in Jamaica - Crayons Count. 

Through her foundation in the USA, Do Good International, Deika offered to provide packages to schools and/or children in countries affected by the recent hurricanes.

Crayons Count provides recommended learning tools for the early childhood age group, which is up to age 8. With the help of volunteers from Hands On Miami, FIU Caribbean Students Association, Florida Caribbean Students Association and The Children's Trust, they were able to package the boxes and have them shipped to the islands.

Each package contains balls, Blocks, Books, Crayons, Manipulatives, Musical Instruments, Paint, Puppets, Puzzles, Stationery, etc.

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Positive customer reaction to TelEm Group Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Breast cancer awareness campaigner and radio personality Elektra brought an important “Wellness” message to TelEm Group workers during a visit to the company’s Pond Island location Friday.

Elektra’s message was about the importance of breast cancer screening for women and men to catch the disease in its early stages when early treatment can be most effective.

The visit was part of TelEm Group’s observance of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month during which personnel, customers, family and friends of TelEm Group are encouraged to learn more about Breast Cancer awareness and the effects of the disease on women and men alike.

The visit was organized by the Human Resources & Development Department and also included health checks by medical professionals from the St. Maarten Medical Center and also by students of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) based in Cupecoy.

According to Human Resources and Development Intern, Shakima van Heyningen, two offices in the TelEm Group building were turned into make-shift screening rooms due to a delay in the arrival of the Mobile Medical Bus where screening was scheduled to be given.

“The rooms were first sterilized before use and made up for not having the bus due to circumstances beyond our control,” said Shakima.

She said, Friday’s screening sessions, along with the informative talk by Elektra, who also demonstrated how to do self-examinations turned out to be a successful event overall with 63 persons taking part.

“The participants were very grateful for the information and also for the initiative of the Human Resources Department and Management to arrange for this important event for family and staff,” continued Shakima. She said those who attended also received a “goodie bag” at the end of their session containing a cup cake and some Breast Cancer Awareness promotional items, including, pins, bracelets and pens.

Visitors to TelEm Group’s main office on Pond Island are encouraged to take a picture in the specially decorated corner and then to post their picture online to pass on the message of the importance of breast cancer screen to others in the community.

“We have seen several pictures online and encourage more customers to come in and help us send out even more messages before the Breast Cancer Awareness corner is pulled down at the end of the October month,” said Marketing Officer, Stephani Jong Loy, during one photo-taking session with a cooperative customer recently.

telem pix ins1

TelEm Group men also lent their support to the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, Friday, by wearing pink ribbons and posing with a giant ribbon to bring home their message.

telem ins2

Marketing Officer, Stephani Jong Loy (left) and a TelCell customer admire a decorate pink ribbon in the TelEm Group Breast Cancer Awareness Corner decorated by company colleagues.

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Buncampers not guilty of 7 of 8 charges against them. Only fined for incorrect tax filings

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - After eight years of criminal prosecution and being accused of a plethora of far-reaching, negative, criminal acts, Claudius and Maria Buncamper were acquitted of 7 of the 8 charges brought against them by the Court of Appeals on October 15th, 2018.

The Buncampers were only found responsible for the improper filing of tax return forms, by an expert who was contracted to undertake this task. In other words, the Buncampers, after 8 years, received a fine and community service for someone else’s work.

The Buncampers were accused of acts such as forming part of a criminal organization, money laundering, multiple counts of fraud and fencing.  “The Court of Appeals unequivocally acquitted the Buncampers of all these charges. Better said: The Buncampers were fully acquitted of seven (7) of the eight (8) criminal charges brought against them, in two different indictments,” their defense team stated.

The Court of Appeals however considered it legally and convincingly proven that Buncamper did not fill out the profit tax forms for the company Eco Green NV for the years 2009 and 2010 appropriately, at least that they were liable for the fact that these tax return forms were not properly filed. Since the Buncampers were, put briefly and short, closely involved with Eco Green NV, they can be legally held responsible for these inappropriate tax filings, according to the Court of Appeals.

However, instead of the - conditional – jail sentence imposed by the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeals sentenced Maria and Claudius Buncamper to a penalty of 25,000 guilders, each, and in addition to two hundred and forty (240) hours community service. This reversal, from a conditional jail sentence to a penalty with community service, is by itself a clear indication of the appreciation by the Court of Appeals of the severity and culpability in this specific case.

The verdict by the Court of Appeals shows that:

  • (i) Buncamper were perfectly in their right to transfer the economical ownership of the long lease right to a company, in this case: Eco Green NV;
  • (ii) Buncamper were perfectly in their right to assign their claim for unpaid lease before the incorporation of Eco Green NV, to this company. As such, this debt could have been vested in this company, upon its incorporation;
  • (iii) whether or not a so-called strawman’s construction was utilized, is, as the Court of Appeals also specifically said during the hearing, completely irrelevant in the underlying case. One and other boils down to the fact that if Buncamper wanted, they could have put someone else to front for them; this is namely by itself not an illegal act;
  • (iv) The Buncampers at no point in time forged any agreement and they certainly did not forge any notarial deed;
  • (v) The Buncampers at no point in time from part of any criminal organization;
  • (vi) The Buncampers did not launder any money, nor were they ever in possession of monies derived from a crime;
  • (vii) The Buncampers were entitled to sell the right of long lease.

As such, the Buncampers are grateful to the Court of Appeals, for their decision-making.

The verdict of the Court of Appeals shows that after eight (8) years of being accosted or better said vilified, specifically by one media outlet, and after eight (8) years and dozens of articles on illegal sale of economical rights, forgery, strawmen construction and more of that factually fully unsubstantiated and judicial nonsense, everyone can establish that the only thing that the Court of Appeals is reproaching the Buncampers for, is not properly filling out a profit tax report. Specifically, and simply, for wrongfully considering an equity payment as a deductible company cost.

The Buncampers were sentenced for incorrectly filling out profit tax forms for Eco Green N.V. because the profit tax forms, which were by the way filled out and signed by an independent third-party tax expert, whose services were retained by Eco Green NV, contain payments made by Eco Green NV to Buncamper as a cost-deduction. This, whilst it can be argued that these payments went to the equity of Eco Green NV and should as such not have been incorporated as a cost in the profit tax filings. By considering these payments as a cost, Eco Green NV showed a negative profit.

It is very much debatable that Buncamper, who as stated retained the services of an expert on taxes, nota bene a person who prided himself on working for years for the investigative branch of the Inspectorate of Taxes on Sint Maarten, could have realized that these were equity payments and not deductible costs. Moreover, since it is the tax expert who:

  • (i) Made the profit and loss statements for Eco Green NV;
  • (ii) filled out the profit tax forms for Eco Green Nv;
  • (iii) signed the profit tax forms for Eco Green Nv;
  • (iv) filed the profit tax forms for Eco Green NV.

One can in any case place serious question-marks on what, if anything, the Buncampers could have done to prevent this and as such specifically on their involvement and culpability.

The Buncampers are presently evaluating the verdict and specifically considering these questions in their decision-making on whether or not to file cassation with the Supreme Court against the one (1) count, for which they have been sentenced.

The general public should note that the considerations of the Court of Appeals about the involvement and specific knowledge of the Buncampers on the litigious profit tax filings, is largely based on the statement of the same tax expert. It appears that the Court of Appeals however regretfully did not consider the extensive email correspondence between Mrs. Maria Buncamper and this tax expert. This might be because, in the words of the Court of Appeals itself, the entire file of Maria Buncamper was lost by the Court Administration.

Whatever the case might be, proper consideration of this correspondence that is or should be part of the criminal files shows the elaborate exchange and discussion between Maria Buncamper and the tax expert on the contents of the lease agreements and what could or could not be presented as a deductible, according to the tax expert.

The question if the Buncampers should, within reason, ultimately also be held responsible therefore, is -regardless of the verdict of the Court of Appeals - a matter of interpretation/appreciation. Cassation is, as stated, being considered.

The witch-hunt against The Buncampers during the last eight years thus results in merely an interpretation of whether payments in excess of $200,000,- could have been included in the profit and loss statements of a company and as such in its profit tax filings, as a deductible cost. A simple letter or so-called coercion script of the Director of the Tax Inspectorate, could have resolved this issue a long time ago.

The general public should also know that the criminal prosecution against Buncamper was commenced:

  • - without a phone call or any notification of objection by the Tax Inspectorate on the presented deductibles;
  • - without the so-called coercion script (in Dutch: “dwangschrift”) or additional tax assessment from the Inspectorate of Taxes; and
  • - without any investigation into the financial statements of Eco Green or of Buncamper for that matter, by the Inspectorate of Taxes,

‘courtesies’ that are extended to 99% of all citizens.

It goes without saying that the simple opposition by the Inspectorate of Taxes back then, would’ve saved a lot of time and money. The Inspectorate of Taxes is however not to blame, according to the Buncampers.

The tax filings of the Buncampers was never subject of any contentious dispute. The simple fact of the matter is that the Public Prosecutor’s Office, faced with the court-imposed deadline to either put up by indicting Buncamper or shut up, fabricated -with the help of one media outlet, or one specific media reporter- the charges that the Court of Appeals now rejected.  In that process, Eco Green NV was regretfully never given the opportunity to have even one (1) discussion of the legal merits of the presented cost-deductible.

“The Buncampers understand that after years of almost systematic negative publicity against them, many in our society might not fully understand/care or value that the bottom line in this entire matter is, that the simple practical solution of having the Tax Inspectorate discuss the correctness of applying certain cost deductibles in profit tax filings, would logically not been as sensational and detrimental to the Buncamper as the ridiculous accusation levied against them, obviously for ulterior motives.

“These accusations incorrectly sustain the negative portrayal of corruption by political and governmental persons on Sint Maarten. Accusations, that are used to deploy much needed funds to witch-hunt and sustaining the apparatus and lifestyle of a small group within our society. Funds that could have been actually put to use for the best interests of Sint Maarten.”

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Investigation continues into shooting of business owner in the leg during high-day robbery

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Special Unit Robbery is presently investigating an armed robbery which took place on Friday October 12th at approximately 3.30 p.m. at an establishment located behind of the PDG building in Orange Grove known as the Drywall Building, police said in an official report on Sunday.

According to information a lone gunman walked into the building, pulled a firearm and threatened the manager that he would use his weapon. The gunman went on to demand the money from the manager.

After receiving the money, the gunman shot the manager in one of his legs. The robber then walked out of the establishment and jumped into a white SUV with a French license plate and drove away in the direction of Orange Grove road.

The victim was treated on the scene by paramedics and then transported to the medical Center for further treatment. More information in connection with this case is unavailable at this time.

The police department is however asking anyone who may have information that could help in solving this should contact the police department by calling 54-22222 ext. 213/214. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Motorworld Hosts Breast Aware and Car Care Workshop and Cocktail Event in Collaboration with Elektralyets and Positive Foundations

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Motorworld has collaborated with the Elektralyets and Positive Foundations to bring a new and creative workshop for the Breast Cancer Awareness month. Women and men are all invited to the “Pink Ribbon Breast Aware, Car Care” workshop and cocktail event scheduled for Friday October 19th from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Motorworld showroom in Cole bay.
 
Motorworld is proud to collaborate with the Elektralyets Foundation and Positive Foundation in the fight to raise awareness and, encourage prevention against breast cancer, the main killer of women in the region. We have been deeply touched by the impact of breast cancer with the loss of one of our beloved team members last year.

“Therefore, it has become even more important for us to get involved and do what we can to reach out to others throughout the community and, raise awareness. We would like to encourage women to take care of their health and their breasts, first and foremost!

“Though car care pales in comparison to the importance of our health, it is also a factor to ensure our vehicles run smoothly in order to have reliable transportation and handle our daily responsibilities with that overall peace of mind,” shared Rena Amjad, CEO Motorworld Group of Companies
 
With consideration of that the Pink Ribbon “Breast Aware & Car Care” event provides a forum to learn about prevention methods, and register to get checked in an engaging environment, while also, learning about essential car care. The event is free and open for the community to attend.

The Positive Foundation supported by students of the American School of Medicine (AUC) will do a presentation on knowing your risk factors for breast cancer. This presentation will include breast aware educational literature which will be distributed throughout the event.
 
Persons will also get hands on car care tips from the professional service staff of Motorworld. Tips include how to care for your car and check the needed elements so that your car can run smoothly.  
 
The Cocktail segment of the evening is sponsored by CC1 who is the major sponsor of beverages for events during this pink month with the Elektralyets and Positive Foundations is also. There will be cosmopolitans and strawberry mojito stations, together with Tequila Rose samplings and, Dasani Sparkling water tastings. Persons can enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres as well.
 
The audience will also be treated to live entertainment by King Rumer and King Kenyo, as well as Poetry recitals by Stephen “Stretch R” Rodney. In addition, an interactive guest speaker and, special reading from local author Latoya Lake will also be part of this unique event. Persons will have the chance to mingle and ask questions about ‘Breast & Car Care’ in order to raise awareness of these key elements of women’s lives, which are often overlooked.
 
The event was conceptualized to demonstrate the mirror effect between Car Care and Breast Care to persons in our community. “We drive our vehicles every day, but to ensure that our vehicles continue to perform optimally, they require regular service and maintenance.

“Similarly, our breasts also require maintenance and regular checks.” Elektra, President of the Elektralyets Foundation added.  “Through monthly breast exams and clinical breast screenings by your house doctors and your mammograms you also ensure that your breasts are healthy and that you are doing what is needed to continue to be breast aware.

“We know that there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but, it is our hope that through education, our women can take measures to get checked and, catch it early, if it has been detected, when it’s easiest to treat” says Shelly Alphonso, President of the Positive Foundation. 

The event will also feature free gifts and prizes; persons may win a free service at Motorworld for their car. We are asking the community to wear anything pink to this event and again, both men and women are welcomed. Breast Cancer does not only affect the diagnosed patient but their husbands, the coworkers and their family members. So, it’s best for all to be Breast Aware and enjoy a safe drive with the proper Car Care.

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53-year old Calvin James kills two wounding a third. Manhunt underway

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – A regional manhunt is underway for a Calvin JAMES (53) also known as ‘Burger’ who is considered armed and dangerous. James is alleged to have shot three persons, his niece T. Thomas, her sister-in-law S. Charles and his nephew L. James.

According to reports, Police have cautioned not to approach James should you come into contact with him and to contact the police.

Law enforcement authorities have been notified to be on the look out for James who is originally from Barbuda. Bulletins have been sent to the authorities in Guadeloupe, Dominica, Montserrat, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.

The shooting took place on October 5 in Antigua. Charles died at the scene while Thomas died in the hospital.

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Big data is boosting home insurance premiums, and sometimes it is wrong

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The use of big data is putting up home insurance premiums but often the information being used is wrong, according to consumers lobby group Consumentenbond.

Big data company Infofolio collects publicly-available information about residential property – such as type of home, construction year and building costs – and develops information about the likely home contents and the rebuilding costs on behalf of insurance companies, the Consumentenbond says.

This information has led insurance companies to up the premiums for some households by tens of percentage points. In one case, a home owner’s premiums rose 30% in one go because Infofolio said it would cost an additional €150,000 to rebuild the property.

The consumers lobby group says it has had a ‘notable’ number of complaints about rising insurance costs.

In some cases, Infofolio, which does not visit the property or communicate with home owners, has overestimated the size of the property or got its location wrong, the organisation said.

The body is urging home owners to check their home insurance policies carefully and alert their insurer if costs are rising well above the annual inflation increase. (DutchNews)

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