Zambia: Vodafone unveils ICT centre

Zambia: Vodafone unveils ICT centre

Hon. Given Lubinda and CEO Lars Stork pose with Vodafone Zambia Brand Ambassadors.

Justice Minister Hon. Given Lubinda toured the Vodafone Zambia head office and operational hub in Lusaka to familiarise himself with the telecommunications centre.

The use of information and communication technology (ICT) is considered one of the key elements to significantly improve the administration of justice. The rapid development of technology has opened up new opportunities that were unthinkable years ago. Around the world, several statutory reforms have been introduced to allow the use and the exchange of electronic data and documents within national judicial systems.

Speaking during the Minister’s visit, Vodafone Zambia CEO, Lars Stork said: “We launched in the Zambian market in June 2016 with 4G data services aimed at transforming the communication sector with an initial investment of US$ 40 million. We are confident that the developments currently taking place in Zambia’s ICT sector, with regards to innovation and regulation, will further transform and streamline the way people communicate and manage their affairs.”

Hon. Lubinda expressed his happiness and positive impressions by the ICT infrastructure and architecture Vodafone has put in place, which is supported by a youthful workforce accounting for 50 per cent of the company’s staff compliment.

“I am thoroughly impressed with the investment, the level of innovation, the technology and the pledge to drive change in the communication space. The confidence and the passion of the workers at Vodafone Zambia have, equally, amazed me. If others can emulate what is happening here, Zambia will move many steps ahead,” said the Justice Minister.

The honourable Minister visited Vodafone following an invitation from the next generation operator. In today’s increasingly digital world, ICT cuts across many spheres, from commerce to finance, governance, health, and the administration of justice.

“At Vodafone, we understand that ICTs are cross-cutting and impact on all segments of the society. Therefore, we are building relationships with stakeholders in the public and private sectors. The Ministry of Justice is among our key stakeholders. As such, we are pleased and humbled that the Honorable Minister took the time to visit us,” concluded Mr. Stork.

Staff Writer

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Rwanda: Airtel partners Kirusa to Launch SMS Trivia Contest

Rwanda: Airtel partners Kirusa to Launch SMS Trivia Contest

Increased customer engagement generated via Kirusa’s Contest Application Technology Platform.

Airtel Rwanda organized a consumer promotion contest titled ‘Tunga,’ in partnership with Kirusa. The promotion that ran from August 11, 2016, to November 17, 2016, recently concluded where Airtel handed over a brand new car Suzuki Alto to the lucky winner that participated in answering the trivia questions.

The 90-day promotion was a series of SMS trivia quizzes; wherein subscribers would SMS or call 155 to mark their answers. Subscribers earned 100 points for every correct answer and received 50 additional points for attempting. Weekly Tunga promotion winners won new motorbikes, for over 12 weeks, and the grand winner being awarded the New Suzuki Alto-800. The contest also brought forth daily winners as well, who got airtime transferred on their Airtel account balance.

Airtel Rwanda has received a remarkable response from its subscribers since launching the contest on Kirusa’s Contest Application (KCA) technology platform.

Airtel Rwanda Director, Moses Abindabizemu said, “Our Tunga promotion was organized as a gesture of appreciation towards our customers for investing their trust and loyalty in Airtel. Which is why we created an opportunity, wherein customers can stand to win a range of prizes. This year’s contest was a bigger version of the one that Airtel conducted last year and hence, we partnered with Kirusa to benefit from their Contest Application platform. I am delighted to announce that the results were marvelous.”

On a similar note, Barinderpal Mumick, Vice President of Operations, Kirusa said, “We are honored to have collaborated with Bharti Airtel in this effort to maximize customer engagement in Rwanda. We hope that this gesture goes a long way in making an active and positive imprint amongst Rwandans”.

Staff Writer

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The caves that prove Neanderthals were cannibals

The caves that prove Neanderthals were cannibals

Cave specialist Christian Casseyas gives a tour of the Goyet cave, where 96 bones and three teeth from five Neanderthal individuals were found, in Goyet, Belgium, on December 19, 2016. Deep in the caves of Goyet, in present-day Belgium, researchers have found the grisly evidence that the Neanderthals did not just feast on horses or reindeer, but also on each other.

Deep in the caves of Goyet in Belgium researchers have found the grisly evidence that the Neanderthals did not just feast on horses or reindeer, but also on each other.

Human bones from a newborn, a child and four adults or teenagers who lived around 40,000 years ago show clear signs of cutting and of fractures to extract the marrow within, they say.

“It is irrefutable, cannibalism was practised here,” says Belgian archaeologist Christian Casseyas as he looks inside a cave halfway up a valley in this site in the Ardennes forest.

The bones in Goyet date from when Neanderthals were nearing the end of their time on earth before being replaced by Homo sapiens, with whom they also interbred.

Once regarded as primitive cavemen driven to extinction by smarter modern humans, studies have found that Neanderthals were actually sophisticated beings who took care of the bodies of the deceased and held burial rituals.

But there is a growing body of proof that they also ate their dead.

– Neanderthal bone fragments –
Cases of Neanderthal cannibalism have been found until now only in Neanderthal populations in southern Europe in Spain, at El Sidron and Zafarraya, and in France, at Moula-Guercy and Les Pradelles.

The caves at Goyet have been occupied since the Paleolithic era. The 250-metre- (820-feet-) long galleries were dug into the limestone by the Samson, a small stream that still flows a few metres below.

They began to reveal their secrets in the middle of the 19th century thanks to one of the fathers of palaeontology, Edouard Dupont (1841-1911).

A geologist and director of the Royal Museum of Natural History of Belgium, he searched several caves, including that of Goyet in 1867, and collected an enormous quantity of bones and tools.

Just a few years after Charles Darwin first expounded his theory of evolution, Dupont published the results of his own research in his book “Man During the Stone Age”.

But his discoveries remained in the archives of the museum (now called the Brussels Institute of Natural Sciences) for more than a century.

That was until 2004, when the institute’s head of anthropology Patrick Semal discovered, hidden in amongst the drawers of what Dupont thought were human bones, a jaw tip that clearly belonged to a Neanderthal.

Scientists have since been painstakingly sorting through fragments that Dupont thought were animal bones to see if there are other traces of ancient man.

– ‘Extract the marrow’ –
Now an international team led by Helene Rougier, an anthropologist at California State University Northridge in the United States, has proved from the bones found at Goyet that the Neanderthals there were cannibals.

The bones show traces of cutting, “to disarticulate and remove the flesh,” said Christian Casseyas, who also leads tours for the public at the caves.

The Neanderthals “broke these bones in the same way that they broke those of the reindeer and horses found at the entrance of the cave, certainly to extract the marrow”, he adds.

Rougier, whose work on the Belgian cave was published last July by Scientific Reports, a journal of the Nature group, told AFP that “indeed, we can conclude that some Neanderthals died and were eaten here”, which is a first in Northern Europe.

“Some of these bones have also been used to make tools to touch up the edges of flints to re-sharpen them,” says Rougier.

But the reasons for the cannibalism remain a mystery, as to the extent to which the Neanderthals ate their dead.

“Was it systematic? Was it only at certain particular moments?” she asks. “I don’t know how to interpret the reason behind this cannibalism. It can be purely food, but it can also be symbolic … The reason remains open,” she says.

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US aims to draw line with Russia over hacking

US aims to draw line with Russia over hacking

With reprisals against Russia over what it says was meddling in the US presidential election, the Obama administration aims to draw a virtual line in the sand without sparking a war — cyber or otherwise.

With reprisals against Russia over what it says was meddling in the US presidential election, the Obama administration aims to draw a virtual line in the sand without sparking a war — cyber or otherwise.

The measures announced Thursday by President Barack Obama, who accused Moscow of “efforts to harm US interests,” include the expulsion of 35 intelligence agents and financial sanctions on Russia’s top intelligence agencies.

Obama also warned of additional, unspecified actions “at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized.”

Analysts say Washington is seeking to punish Russia and warn other nations against taking similar action.

“While the direct impact of the actions may be limited, it puts a marker in the sand (or silicon) that hostile cyber activity targeting the US has consequences,” said Frank Cilluffo, who heads the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University.

“In addition to responding to Russia’s activities, it also puts others on notice, signaling that one cannot turn to significant cyber attacks with impunity,” he said.

“It also serves as a starting point for articulating a set of strategies and policies we desperately need… a cyber deterrence strategy.”

– Avoiding escalation –
While US officials have boasted of their ability to use “cyber weapons” when appropriate, security analysts say such a course of action is unlikely because of the risk of escalation — from more dangerous cyberattacks into the possible use of traditional, deadly weapons, or “kinetic” warfare.

“I don’t think you’ll see the use of cyber weapons,” said James Lewis, a senior fellow specializing in cybersecurity at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

“There is a strong desire to avoid escalating this conflict.”

Lewis said Obama’s actions are appropriate “as a first step” and in light of Russia’s actions, and that any further measures — which Obama said may be forthcoming — could be restrained.

“The Russians didn’t attack us — they used coercion, espionage, politics — and we could do the same thing,” he said.

Susan Hennessey, a Brookings Institution fellow and editor of the national security blog Lawfare, said she expects a further “nonpublic” response, possibly in the cyber domain, to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House announcement “is a welcome and sufficient move, but only if it is paired with some additional nonpublic countermeasure,” Hennessey said.

She added that while Washington may want to demonstrate to Moscow its capacity for cyber actions, it also would want to avoid establishing a norm for cyber disruption that other nations could follow.

This would likely rule out a spectacular hack attack or release of embarrassing information.

But Hennessey said she expected a response “to be potentially scary to Kremlin officials to let them know we can reach places they didn’t think we could reach.”

Steve Grobman, chief technical officer at Intel Security, agreed that Obama’s measures are intended to send a message without sparking a crisis, and added that if any cyber measures are implemented, they should be carefully calibrated.

“The covert offensive cyber component must be well thought out and executed such that it is precise and does not inflict collateral damage on non-target systems,” he said.

“Escalation of offensive cyber activities by either party could lead to a kinetic conflict.”

– What happens now? –
It remains unclear what impact the actions will have as Obama prepares to leave office in three weeks, when Donald Trump takes the oath of office.

Claude Barfield, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argued that Obama’s “dawdling and agonizing for months over Russian cyber intrusions” could have “damaging consequences for cyber deterrence policy.”

“The Obama administration had claimed that it did not want to retaliate against the Russians before the election for fear of provoking further disruption of the campaigns,” Barfield said in a blog post.

“But it waited a full month after the election before the president finally ordered a full review of the Russian attack by the entire US intelligence apparatus.”

This suggests “that the president and his security advisers aim to make such a tight case that it will be impossible for the next administration to ignore the evidence or back away from the sanctions,” Barfield said.

But he noted that “it will be critical for the government to improve US cyber defenses moving forward if we are to prevent similar incidents from happening in the new year and beyond.”

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World's highest bridge opens in China

World's highest bridge opens in China

This picture taken on December 29, 2016 shows vehicles making their way through the Beipanjiang Bridge, near Bijie in southwest China’s Guizhou province. The world’s highest bridge has opened to traffic in China, connecting two southwestern provinces and reducing travel time by three quarters, local authorities said on December 30.

The world’s highest bridge has opened to traffic in China, connecting two provinces in the mountainous southwest and reducing travel times by as much as three-quarters, local authorities said Friday.

The Beipanjiang Bridge soars 565 metres (1,854 feet) above a river and connects the two mountainous provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, the Guizhou provincial transport department said in a statement on its official website.

The bridge cut travel times between Xuanwei in Yunnan to Shuicheng in Guizhou from more than four hours to around one, a truck driver surnamed Duan was quoted by the official news agency Xinhua as saying after the bridge opened Thursday.

It was “very convenient for people who want to travel between these two places”, he added.

The 1,341-metre span cost over 1 billion yuan ($144 million) to build, according to local newspaper Guizhou Daily.

It overtook the Si Du River Bridge in the central province of Hubei to become the world’s highest bridge, a separate statement by the provincial transport department said earlier.

Several of the world’s highest bridges are in China, although the world’s tallest bridge — measured in terms of the height of its own structure, rather than the distance to the ground — remains France’s Millau viaduct at 343 metres.

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NCS wants FG to reconsider proposed transfer of key ICT agencies

NCS wants FG to reconsider proposed transfer of key ICT agencies


The Federal Government should reconsider transferring its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) agencies from the control of the Federal Ministry of Communications to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

Prof. Adesola Aderunmu, the president of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), made the appeal on Friday in a statement.

He said that this was due to a recent move to transfer the control of the National Information and Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone and Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) from their present parent-ministry to another.

“ICT is central to the creation of the emerging global knowledge-based economy and it is a pivotal instrument in accelerating growth, promoting sustainable development and eradicating poverty in developing countries such as ours.

“`NCS, the umbrella body of all information technology professionals, stakeholders, and Interest groups in Nigeria with over 20,000 memberships, in 2011 worked with the Federal Government to establish the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology.

“NCS also agreed with the Federal Government in 2011 to retain: NIGCOMSAT, NITDA, and Galaxy backbone-as agencies under the control of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology for sustained development and actualisation of ICT objectives.

“This is toward diversifying Nigerian economy as communicated by the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF) upon the creation of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology in 2011.

“The missions of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), NITDA, Galaxy Backbone and NIGCOMSAT, are related and their focus is more on ICT.

“Presently, NITDA formulates policies and develops Information Technology initiatives, while, NIGCOMSAT and Galaxy Backbone are providers of ICT infrastructure and services to federal ministries, departments and agencies,’’ he said.

Aderunmu said that all over the world, ministries of information and communication technology were created to foster the development of an information society and stimulate the growth of a strong, competitive, vibrant, export-oriented ICT sector.

He said that the sector was a converged-sector for communications and information technology, thus the need to have a converged-supervision for the agencies operating in this sector.

He said that it would be counter-productive to separate operators (NIGCOMSAT and Galaxy Backbone Ltd) from their regulators (NCC and NITDA) in the supervisory/regulatory framework, and also contrary to best practices the world over.

The NCS president added that the need to streamline government’s expenditure and fight corruption would not be realised if the regulator of the communications sector were placed under the supervision of a different ministry.

He said that the concept of transferring the control of the three agencies to another ministry would set the nation more than 15-years behind its development plans.

The NCS president, however, recommended that given the importance of ICT to the nation’s economic revival and diversification, the agencies should remain under the Federal Ministry of Communications.

He said that this would engender better performance, networking, coordination, cooperation and collaboration in other to produce better output.

“The Federal Government should empower the Federal Ministry of Communications financially to improve on strategies to achieve gross earnings from the ICT sector, generate employment and wealth creation.

“The Federal Ministry of Communications should be renamed Federal Ministry of Communication Technology to capture the entire ICT sector,” he said.

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Provost advocates improvement in teaching of ICT

Provost advocates improvement in teaching of ICT

Information Communication Technology

Prof. Olu Akeusola, Provost, Micheal Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCOPED), has called for an improvement in the teaching of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the nation’s education system.

Akeusola made the call at the 10th anniversary of the Monument Future Schools, Lusada in Agbara, Ogun, on Friday.

He said that strengthening the teaching of ICT would improve the students’ learning and make them become ICT compliant.

The provost was represented by Dr Femi Keshinro, a lecturer at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos State.

He said that the introduction of ICT would enable students to compete with their peers globally.

“ICT is very critical to the present educational development.

“It will enable our children to compete favourably with their peers globally.

“The world is technologically inclined and it has become paramount to strengthen the teaching of ICT in our educational system.

“An average Nigeria child is intelligent and able to work on the ICT but strengthening its teaching will make such a child excel more,’’ he said.

The don commended the Monument Future Schools for updating the college in ICT and for encouraging parents to support the teaching of ICT in the schools.

He also advised parents and the school authorities to equip the students with adequate knowledge to make them ICT compliant.

Akeusola noted that schools should not wait for government to provide everything.

“School should encourage students to use ICT in carrying out their assignments in order to improve their learning output,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Adekunle Oladejo, the principal of the school, said that the roles of teachers and learners had become multifaceted in the new millennium.

Oladejo assured the parents that the school would provide structures that would enable it instill culture of clientele, ICT and autonomous learning in the students.

According to him, teachers strive to equip learners with appropriate knowledge, habits and values that prepare them for a lifelong-learning experience.

“This is what the school is striving to achieve,’’ Oladejo said.

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Onu urges Nigerians to embrace application of technology for national development

Onu urges Nigerians to embrace application of technology for national development

Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu

Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology has advised Nigerians to embrace application of science and technology in enhancing national development.

He said that national development would be difficult to achieve without the application of Science and Technology.

Onu made this known in a statement by Mr Sunny Onyeukwu, Special Assistant to the Minister on Friday in Abuja.

The minister said that the neglect of science and technology affected Nigeria’s economic growth and development.

Onu said this when he was performing the foundation laying ceremony of Assumpta Science Centre at Ofekata, Owerri in Imo.

The minister urged Nigerians to ensure sustainability of any project like Assumpta Science Centre to advance activities of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in the nation.

He said that the Assumpta Science Centre project was in line with the Federal Government’s commitment to the initiative of International Universities and Youth Cooperation with Africa in informal science learning activities.

According to the minister, this initiative will go a long way to promote sustainable development in the country.

Onu said that the centre would contribute to the development of the country and ensure Nigerians and other African countries to become self-sufficient in defending the available resources.

The minister said that the difference between Africa and developed nations was actualisation of STI.

He commended the people of Ofekata for their commitment and the donation of their land to ensure that the science centre became a reality.

According to him, the Federal Government will ensure the completion of the project in four months’ time.

He called on the state and local governments to join hands together to ensure the success of the laudable project.

Onu, however, expressed optimism that with the coming on board of the Assumpta science centre and other scientific innovations, Nigeria would at the centre stage of development.

He said the available resources Nigeria had was enough to make the nation at the centre stage for development

“There is need for all the African countries to change direction, focus and embrace science, technology and innovation as it has a vital role in assisting humanity in all aspects of life.

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is willing and determined to utilise science, technology and innovation as a tool to achieve diversification of the national economy.

“The Federal Government has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Vatican City on the Assumta Science Centre in Owerri.’’

Gov. Rochas Okorocha, thanked the Federal Government for the establishment of the centre and promised to collaborate and ensure speedy completion of the project.

Okorocha, represented at the event by the Chairman, Mbaitoli Local Government Area, Mr Chris Nwike, called on the people to see the project as an opportunity for them and the future generation.

The President General of Ofekata Autonomous Community, Chief Alexandra Iwuore, thanked the Federal Government for its commitment to ensuring that the project was realised.

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LG'S mass-tier smartphone to be unveiled at CES

LG'S mass-tier smartphone to be unveiled at CES

LG Electronics (LG) will unveil four new mass-tier K Series smartphones and a new Stylus 3 at CES® 2017 in Las Vegas, as the mid-range segment continues its growth as the market matures. The new mid-range devices are designed to bring technologies from LG’s flagship smartphones, such as the 120-degree wide angle front camera lens and the rear fingerprint scanner.

Four New K Series and Stylus 3 Get Early Debut as Mid-range Segment at the CES 2017 in Las Vegas.

LG’s updated K Series carries over the original philosophy that all customers do not want the same things in a smartphone. Rather than offering one main smartphone model and expecting customers to adapt, the K Series was designed with the diverse needs of consumers in mind.

The K10 delivers a 5.3-inch HD In-cell Touch Display. Its 5MP front camera with 120-degree wide angle selfie lens complements a 13MP rear camera that has been employed in LG flagship G series devices. Other features not usually available in smartphones in this category include a fingerprint scanner, a metallic U-frame for a sturdy but slim 7.9mm profile and 2.5D Arc Glass design.

The K8 features a 5-inch HD In-cell Touch display and camera performance with 5MP in the front and 13M on the rear enhanced by LG’s intelligent UX features such as Auto Shot and Gesture Shot for selfies. Auto Shot automatically triggers the front camera’s shutter when a face is detected and Gesture Shot takes a selfie in response to a hand signal, eliminating the need to press the shutter button and shaking the phone at the most critical moment.

The K4 is equipped with a sensitive 5-inch In-cell Touch display and 5MP front and rear cameras as well as the Auto Shot and Gesture Shot features found in the K8. The attractive K4 offers a slim 7.9mm profile and removable 2,500mAh battery as well as a microSD slot for additional storage.

The smallest in the series, the K3 comes with a 4.5-inch On-cell Touch display, a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP lens in the front supported by Gesture Shot. With a microSD slot and 2,100mAh removable battery, the K3 offers many features unavailable on other competing smartphones in this category.

LG will also debut the third generation Stylus 3, the latest version of its mid-range Stylus smartphone (Stylo in the United States). The Stylus 3 delivers writing experience with a 1.8mm diameter fiber-tip stylus to provide the feel and feedback of an actual pen when writing on the screen. The Stylus 3 also features a fingerprint scanner and enhanced UX with Pen Pop 2.0 as well as the popular Pen Keeper and Screen-off Memo. With Pen Pop 2.0, your memos are never out of sight and can be set to display on the screen whenever the stylus is removed. Pen Keeper displays a warning when the stylus strays too far from the phone, and Screen-off Memo enables note-taking directly on the screen even when the display is off.

“Our 2017 mass-tier, mid-range smartphones focus on giving our customers a wide variety of options and choices for their smartphone lifestyles,” said Juno Cho, president of the LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “What’s consistent in all our K Series and Stylus 3 devices is that they look and feel premium, offer replaceable batteries and all come with expandable memory slots, what customers consider key factors when buying smartphones in this category.”

Information regarding launch dates and markets will be announced locally in the weeks to come. Visitors to CES are encouraged to stop by LG’s stand to see the company’s newest mobile products for themselves (Las Vegas Convention Center, Booth #11100, Central Hall).

Staff Writer

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FG to create digital access fund from TV licence fees

FG to create digital access fund from TV licence fees

Malam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, director general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has said his agency will create a Digital Access Fund where N1000 annual TV licence fee paid by each TV owners will be deposited.

Kawu who spoke recently at the official launch of the Digital Switch Over in Abuja, said the fund would be used to help content developers in the industry.

According to him the Digital Switch Over would help deepen the democratic process in Nigeria and access freedom of information and feedback.

He also said the NBC would engage the Nigerian Governors Forum in the next phase of digitisation process.

After Abuja, he said, the next port of call of the DSO would be six states in each of the six geopolitical zones.

He said it had been projected that over one million direct and indirect jobs would be created after Nigeria completed its DSO in June, 2017.

With the official switch on digital broadcasting in Abuja, analogue TV owners who have not purchased the Set-Top-Boxes will still be able to watch TV till June 2017 when the analogue broadcasting would be switched off in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari who officially launched the Digital Switch Over in Abuja yesterday, said Nigeria now stood at the threshold of massive job creation with the launching of Digital Switch Over.

Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the digitalisation of the country’s broadcasting industry couldn’t have come at a better time when the country’s economy needed a lifeline.

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