Category: News Briefs - Original Written by CNN News
(CNN) -- George Zimmerman is not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin, a Florida jury decided late Saturday.
The fact that Zimmerman fired the bullet that killed Martin was never in question, but the verdict means the six-person jury had reasonable doubt that the shooting amounted to a criminal act.
The verdict caps a case that has inflamed passions for well over a year, much of it focused on race and gun rights.
The six-person jury -- all women -- basically had three choices: to find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder; to find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter; or to find him not guilty.
The jurors deliberated for 16½ hours total, including 13 on Saturday alone, before delivering its verdict.
Zimmerman smiled and then shook his lawyer's hands when he learned his fate. His parents, Robert and Gladys Zimmerman, were seated nearby, but Martin's parents were not in the courtroom.
Earlier in the day, the jury had asked the court for clarification on its instructions regarding manslaughter. The jury couldn't have even posed such a query a few days ago: Judge Nelson ruled Thursday, over the defense's vehement objection, to include manslaughter as an option for jurors, in addition to a second-degree murder charge.
The question -- the jurors' first since late Friday afternoon, when they requested an inventory of evidence -- was read out in court shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday. After a brief discussion between lawyers and the judge, the court recessed for about 40 minutes.
When it reconvened, shortly before the judge announced the jury had ordered dinner, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to a response to the jury's question -- basically asking for more detail. "The court cannot engage in general discussions but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter," their response to the jury says. "If you have a specific question, please submit it."
Manslaughter, under Florida law, is "the killing of a human being by the act ... of another, without lawful justification ... and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder." It is a second-degree felony.
According to the jury instructions, Zimmerman could be convicted of manslaughter if jurors believe he "intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin."
"George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide," the instructions add. "Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence."
If convicted of manslaughter, Zimmerman could face up to 30 years in prison. The jury, however, hasn't been told of possible sentence lengths for any charge.
To convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, the jury would have to believe that "there was an unlawful killing of Trayvon Martin by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life."
Such a killing would have to be "done from ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent" and would be "of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life."
How long other juries deliberated for in other high-profile cases
The fateful night
The story starts the night of February 26, 2012, as Martin walked back to his father's fiancee's house through the rain from a Sanford convenience store, where he'd bought Skittles and a drink.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him and called police. A 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman that officers were on the way and not to follow the allegedly suspicious person.
Nonetheless, Zimmerman got out of his car, later telling police he just wanted to get a definitive address to relay to authorities.
Sometime after that, Zimmerman and Martin got into a physical altercation. Some neighbors took notice: On one 911 call, anguished cries for help can be heard.
Who was yelling? Martin's mother testified she's "absolutely" sure it was her son; Zimmerman's parents said, with as much conviction, that it was their own child.
There are also disputes about who was the aggressor, about whether or not Martin may have seen or reached for Zimmerman's gun, about whether Zimmerman should have had more injuries if he was pummeled, as he claims.
And some accused Zimmerman -- who identifies himself as Hispanic -- of racially profiling the black teenager, a claim the defense camp flatly denies.
About the only thing not in dispute is that the now 29-year-old Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.
Nelson acknowledged this week that jurors have a lot of evidence, and competing arguments, to consider. She told them that, even as they pay close attention to the law and the facts, they should also "use your common sense."
Police: Sanford 'a peaceful location' Zimmerman trial roils social media How a sequestered jury deliberates Zimmerman trial roils social media Witness: Zimmerman had no choice
"All of us are depending on you to make a wise and legal decision," she said.
Prosecution: 'He shot him because he wanted to'
In his closing argument, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda noted that -- for all the evidence presented -- the case boils down to two men. One of them, Martin, is dead and can't give his side of the story. The other, according to the prosecutor, cannot be trusted.
De la Rionda asked: Why would a scared man get out of his car and walk around after being told not to? Shouldn't Zimmerman have had more than a bloody nose and scratches on his head given the beating he allegedly took? And did he have an agenda -- to do whatever necessary to stop one of those "f***ing punks," as he's heard saying under his breath in his call to police, from getting away?
Get caught up: The Zimmerman trial in 3 minutes
Assistant State Attorney John Guy made the prosecution's final pitch, during the rebuttal phase of closing arguments Friday. He echoed many points de la Rionda had made earlier, portraying Zimmerman as a frustrated wannabe police officer who took the law into his own hands. He had decided Martin was one of the criminals who had been victimizing his neighborhood, he said, then trailed him against the advice of police dispatchers.
"The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to," Guy said. "He shot him because he wanted to. That's the bottom line."
Zimmerman, the prosecution said, had a powerful determination not to allow someone he had already decided was a criminal to escape.
"What is that when a grown man, frustrated, angry, with hate in his heart, gets out of his car with a loaded gun and follows a child? A stranger? In the dark? And shoots him through his heart? What is that?" Guy asked.
Defense: Zimmerman deserves benefit of the doubt
In the opinion of defense attorney Mark O'Mara, what George Zimmerman did was simple: he defended himself.
Zimmerman was looking out for those in his neighborhood when he saw someone he felt was suspicious and called police, O'Mara said in his closing argument. The defendant got out of his car, but briefly, and was walking back to it when things got physical.
Did investigators blow the Zimmerman case?
Martin jumped out of some bushes and pounced, the defense contends. And, O'Mara added, the teen didn't just hold Zimmerman down, but punched and slammed his head repeatedly into the sidewalk.
"That was somebody who used the availability of dangerous items, from his fist to the concrete, to cause great bodily injury against George Zimmerman," said O'Mara.
The lead defense attorney also criticized the prosecution's case, saying it was full of "coulda beens. How many 'what ifs' have you heard from the state in this case?" There's no merit, he claimed, to the depiction of Zimmerman as a frustrated, spiteful man seeking vengeance.
"Do not give anybody the benefit of the doubt except for George Zimmerman," O'Mara said.
Tensions high ahead of verdict
There was a buzz outside the Sanford courtroom Saturday, punctuated by occasional speeches, songs and impassioned words -- at times directed against those on the other side of the debate.
There were those calling for a guilty verdict who held up a large banner reading "End racial oppression" and who yelled in unison, "We want justice." On the other side, Zimmerman backers toted signs saying "Self-defense is a basic human right," "Not enough evidence," and plainly "Not guilty."
'Raise your voice, not your hands,' cops urge as Zimmerman verdict looms
Many of these themes have been echoing since the weeks after Martin's death, when tens of thousands attended rallies led by civil rights activists demanding Zimmerman's arrest and chastising authorities for their handling of the case.
Zimmerman surmised Martin was a criminal like those who'd struck in his neighborhood before -- at least one of whom was black -- a lawyer for the late teen's family said Friday. But Martin was not a criminal, which Daryl Parks said contributes to the racial tensions that still surround this case.
While he wouldn't call Zimmerman a racist, "this case in its totality has a racial undertone to it," Parks told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
The defense has strongly rejected accusations Zimmerman is racist, with O'Mara citing his client's work as a mentor to black children and his taking a black girl to his prom as evidence of his non-racist beliefs.
His defenders have been passionate as well, especially about a person's right to defend himself with a gun when attacked. Debate swirled over Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows those who believe they are in imminent danger to use deadly force to protect themselves.
In light of this ongoing fervor, authorities asked for calm while setting up contingency plans to respond to incidents tied to a verdict. The Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. was among those appealing for peace Friday, while Zimmerman's family urged people to "respect the rule of law, which begins with respecting the verdict."
"Freedom of expression is a constitutional right," said the sheriff's office in Broward County, in the Miami area. "While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not."
But O'Mara said that, whatever the outcome, his client will
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 July 2013 09:13
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President and CEO Benjamin Jealous signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the NAACP's 104th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The Agreement will expand outreach to traditionally underserved communities through the NAACP network of more than 200,000 members. Through the MOA, FEMA and the NAACP have joined forces to ensure the needs of underrepresented communities are more fully incorporated into disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation-related activities. The two agencies also will share information such as lessons learned, best practices and training resources, to improve community resilience.
"As a nation, our resiliency depends on our ability to work together to empower communities as part of the emergency management team before, during and after a disaster," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Today's agreement builds on a long-standing partnership between FEMA and the NAACP, and leverages both institutions' resources and networks to improve the 'Whole Community's' disaster preparedness, response and recovery."
"We are pleased to expand our partnership with FEMA to ensure all communities are prepared when confronted with an emergency," stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "This is a critical step toward providing underrepresented communities the tools and training they need to respond and recover after disasters."
"From the Deepwater Horizon Incident, to the 2011 Tornadoes in Alabama, to Superstorm Sandy, we have seen the worst and best of disproportionate impact of disaster on marginalized communities and inspiring community resilience. Communities have been devastated by loss of life, property, culture and more," said Jealous. "While at the same time there have been awesome examples of communities coming together to build stronger neighborhoods with cooperation between community members and equity and justice based allocation of resources. With this partnership we will work together to improve the ability of emergency management systems to serve people on the margins as well as strengthen community resilience," said Jealous.
The NAACP has been an active member of the emergency management team through collaborative efforts including: NAACP senior leadership participation on FEMA's National Advisory Council, hosting emergency preparedness engagement activities at the NAACP Annual Convention, and NAACP staff training on emergency management and community preparedness. The Agreement strengthens the "whole community" approach to emergency management and will greatly improve communities' access to information to help individuals, families and communities stay safe before, during and after an emergency or disaster.
More information and resources for helping communities prepare for a disaster are available at www.CitizenCorps.gov.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 July 2013 16:34
David Alexander Bullock and Change Agent Consortium (CAC) Denounce $1.4 Million Payment to Jones Day Amidst Detroit Financial Crisis
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Rev. David Bullock and Rev. Jesse Jackson enjoy the revelry at NAACP Freedom Fund Walk
Jones Day, the law firm hired to handle Detroit's financial restructuring, has billed the city for $1.4 million in fees for a mere six weeks of work. The fees were approved by emergency manager Kevyn Orr – who just resigned from Jones Day before taking the emergency manager position in March. Orr is expected to return to Jones Day once his contract with the state of Michigan is up.
"It is outrageous to think that a financially challenged city must contemplate busting union contracts, break work rules and change pension plans while it eagerly pays $1.4 million to the Jones Day law firm. It is insulting that the state appointed overseer wants us to join his crusade against pension recipients while he approves a $1.4 million payment to his former employer. The calls for financial responsibility are hallow and it seems the City of Detroit continues to pay for rap sheets when it needs recovery," said David Alexander Bullock, Change Agent Consortium national spokesperson.
Last month Orr met with over 100 of Detroit's creditors in an effort to get them to take pennies on the dollar. Today his restructuring team is meeting with the city employee pension and retiree groups. A bus tour of Detroit was scheduled for Wall Street creditors yesterday, but cancelled on Tuesday.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 July 2013 13:51
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by News One Staff
Married couple Lauren Hood and Andrew Jones of Detroit had their first baby Monday afternoon, but the little one was just one of many for the doctor who delivered him.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the couple's baby boy, Austin Brian Jones, was Dr. Richard Smith 8,000th delivery.
Richard Smith 8000th Baby
Brenda Hood sits next to her daughter, Lauren Hood, and her husband, Andrew Jones, after Dr. Richard Smith delivers her son. It was his 8,000 delivery. Dr. Smith delivered Lauren 24 years ago.
"Maybe I'll shoot for 10,000," Smith said while visiting his patients' bedside Wednesday, according to the Free Press. "Because it is one of the best things you can do to help new life come into the world and work with these wonderful families."
Twenty-four years ago, Dr. Smith delivered the boy's mother. Hood said the nurses teased her as they prepped her for delivery. "They were like, 'It's baby 8,000th. Do you know what your number was?' " Hood said. "I have no clue."
What she was sure of was who to call when it was time to deliver her child. "I thought how amazing if the guy who delivered me, delivered my child," said Hood, who just finished a stint as a third-grade teacher in Patterson, N.J., in the Teach for America program.
Hood's mother, Brenda Hood, said she was grateful that Smith was her doctor. "When I was having Lauren, I had complications," she said. "Just the care he gave, I knew I was in good hands, so I wanted to ensure that my child was, too."
Dr. Smith, 61, graduated from Howard University Medical School at 23-years-old. He began his career at a now-closed hospital, where women in labor were dropped off in taxis at the loading dock. Although Hood and her husband will move to Chicago in a few weeks, the new mother knows who she wants to deliver her next child.
"Of course, Dr. Smith can deliver my next child," said Hood. She wants a girl next time.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 14:09
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Doug Gross, CNN
T-Mobile is making a bid to become the wireless world's "un-carrier," rolling out a plan that will let users update their phones up to twice a year for a modest fee.
That's a sharp departure from the traditional model for wireless companies, which usually requires customers to complete a two-year contract before they can get a new smartphone at the discounted rate that makes them affordable.
"At some point, big wireless companies made a decision for you that you should have to wait two years to get a new phone for a fair price. That's 730 days of waiting," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile US, in a written announcement.
"(That's) 730 days of watching new phones come out that you can't have. Or having to live with a cracked screen or an outdated camera," he added. "We say two years is just too long to wait."
The company's new JUMP! plan will cost $10 a month per phone and includes insurance for phones that are damaged, lost or malfunctioning. Some wireless customers already pay for such protection.
Customers can upgrade after being enrolled in the JUMP! program for six months.
At a New York event, T-Mobile also announced an expansion of its 4G LTE network, which it says will reach 157 million people in 116 metro areas across the United States.
The announcement is part of T-Mobile's newly aggressive approach as the carrier tries to move up from fourth place in market share in the United States. It trails first-place Verizon, then AT&T and Sprint.
Research firm comScore says Verizon has about 31% of the market, followed by AT&T at 27%, Sprint at 16% and T-Mobile at about 13%.
In March, T-Mobile took another big leap, announcing that it would offer wireless plans with no contract. It also began selling the iPhone 5 for $99 in April.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 13:41
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by RJ Barnhill
The new Meijer, located at Eight Mile and Woodward, will open to customers at 6:00 A.M. on Thursday, July 25. Meijer leadership are eager to celebrate with the local community as the grocer becomes a neighbor in the new 350,000 square-foot shopping center.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 12:14
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
As lawmakers debate cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) today, a new report shows it has one of the highest accuracy records of any governmental program.
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that for the fiscal year of 2012, the SNAP payment accuracy rate was 96.58 percent – the best on record/highest in the history of the program. In fact, over the last nine years, the payment accuracy rate has continued to increase each year and remain above 94 percent.
USDA officials say that some changes in the program have helped lead to the higher accuracy rate. They include reviewing higher risk retailers more frequently, expanding the definition of fraud to attack newer methods of SNAP benefit abuse, and sharing data to help catch people trying to commit SNAP fraud.
"It is ironic that with all the complaints about fraud and abuse that Congress is threatening to cut one of the most carefully monitored and error-free programs in the entire government," says Terri Stangl, Executive Director of the Center for Civil Justice, which advocates for low-income people on hunger issues. "The program has grown because of the number of people who aren't making ends meet has increased, not because there is abuse or errors. SNAP is one of the government programs that is actually reaching the people it is intended to help while they are in desperate times. "
The Center for Civil Justice statewide food stamp helpline is continually ringing with people throughout Michigan asking how they can get food assistance. Many of them are working but still can't make ends meet, are newly unemployed or unable to find a job, are seniors on fixed incomes, or are people with disabilities or a caregiver for someone with disabilities. These callers are relieved to discover that help is available, especially if they are unable to buy food due to high childcare, housing, or medical costs.
Almost 47 million low-income Americans who can't afford a nutritionally adequate diet each month count on SNAP. About 92 percent of what the government spent on SNAP in 2012 ($81 billion), went directly to help people buy food. The rest went for state administrative costs, including eligibility determinations, employment, training and nutrition education for SNAP households and for anti-fraud activities. As of February of this year more than 1.7 million people in Michigan were on SNAP which means about one in five Michiganders rely on the program for food.
People who want to see if they can qualify for SNAP can call the Center's Helpline at 800-481-4989 or use a special benefits calculator at www.foodstamphelp.org
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 11:55
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
As Wayne County Prosecutor a decade ago, Mike Duggan received national attention for his crusade against graffiti vandals in Detroit. On Thursday, Duggan will continue that fight as he and his volunteers paints over more than a half dozen graffiti messages on vacant buildings meant to support his write in candidacy for Mayor.
This is a new commitment by the Mike Duggan campaign to paint over "Write In Mike Duggan" messages that have been spray painted on vacant buildings in several areas of Detroit. Duggan is a write-in candidate for Mayor in the August 6th Primary election. Duggan, and several campaign volunteers' first stop will be a vacant commercial building on the south side of W. Seven Mile (approx. address of 10534) at Pinehurst, west of Wyoming. Duggan's team will then proceed to other locations along Seven Mile and Wyoming roads.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 11:30
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber Bogins
Crabtree & Evelyn is excited to announce the Grand Opening of its newest location at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, MI. In celebration of the Grand Opening on Monday, July 15th, 2013, Crabtree & Evelyn is offering a free 25g Avocado, Olive & Basil Hand Therapy (2012 Allure Best of Beauty winner) to the first 100 customers ($8 retail value) (Offer valid while supplies last). In addition, 100g Hand Therapy will be specially marked at 3 for $40 ($20 value per item) (Offer valid through 9/15/13, while supplies last).
Crabtree Evelyn is renowned for their elegant assortment of simple luxuries for the body and home which transform ordinary rituals into extraordinary experiences; beauty remedies featuring eclectic blends of natural ingredients, luxurious bath and body care products, well-loved fragrances, hand care to treat hard-working hands, ingredient rich at home spa therapies, home fragrance, fine food, men's grooming essentials and elegant gifts.
When visiting, be sure to experience a complimentary hand treatment of your choice and sign up for the Platinum Rewards program to receive exclusive offers.
A pioneer in botanical formulations for 40 years, Crabtree & Evelyn is a brand that blends the very best of nature and science, tradition and innovation, and luxury and comfort to create benefit-rich bath, body, and home care. This heritage is reflected in its name: Crabtree, from the crabapple tree, the original species from which all cultivated apple trees have derived, and Evelyn, from John Evelyn, the 17th century renaissance Englishman who wrote one of the first important works on conservation and whose motto, 'explore everything, keep the best', inspires the brand to this day.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 09:54
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Donald James
Kenny Akinwale, entrepreneurial extraordinaire, has done it again. Akinwale, along with business partner Raven Lewis, recently held the grand opening for Holistic House. Located at 24681 Northwestern Hwy, Suite 201, in Southfield, Holistic House provides and promotes healthy living and lifestyle services.
“I’m very excited about our Holistic House,” said Akinwale. “Our goal is to create optimum health. We want to help people feel their very best by offering a complete holistic approach to health and wellness. We will offer alternative medical systems, mind-body intervention, biologically-based therapies, manipulative and body-based methods and energy therapies.”
“We will focus on fitness, therapy and nutrition,” said Lewis, a native Detroiter and nurse with an extensive background in alternative and preventive medicine. “Our approach to health and wellness is to work with the mind, body and spirit of our clientele.”
According to Akinwale and Lewis, Holistic House will specialize in complimentary and alternative therapies which allow the body to heal itself, devoid of prescription drugs, surgery and other conventional medical procedures that people are often subjected to when facing health and medical challenges. Other services and treatments offered will help with the relief of muscle tension, pain and inflammation. In addition, people can opt for body work, acupressure, aromatherapy, reflexology, massage therapy, hot stone massage, and ionic foot bath therapy.
Holistic House will also address depression and emotional issues, stomach and digestive problems, weight control, migraine headaches and PMS/hormonal imbalance. Personal trainers, nutritionists and lifestyle coaches will be available.
Holistic House also has the capacity to host spa parties for a wide range of occasions, including bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, wine tasting events, birthday and graduation celebrations, anniversary and retirement events, and other festive occasions. In addition, the establishment has an energy and juice bar that serves a wide selection of organic juices, smoothies, herbal elixirs and supplements.
Akinwale and Lewis are looking forward to building Holistic House’s clientele.
“There are a lot of day spas in the area from the beauty side,” said Akinwale, who believes that Holistic House is one of a few establishments of its kind in the region that is owned by Black entrepreneurs. “We, however, are trying to focus more on the alternative medicine and on treating the mind, body and spirit. We are confident that our clientele will grow as more people become aware of the many wonderful and beneficial holistic services and treatments that we offer at Holistic House.”
Lewis added that Holistic House has formed a partnership with several area career schools that teach and graduate students with various therapeutic and myomassology skills that are valuable to the upstart company.
“We are working with Everest Institute (Detroit), Baker College (Clinton Township) and Irene’s School of Myomassology (Southfield),” Lewis said. “We will have interns and hire as many certified graduates through our partnerships with these schools as possible. We feel such partnerships will be prosperous for Holistic House, students, graduates and area schools.”
Kenny Akinwale knows all about prosperous ventures. He is the owner and chief executive officer of the Detroit-based Q Group LLC, which provides professional food services and strategic business management consultation to businesses such as restaurants and hotels throughout the United States. He also owns and operates Fraiche Catering LLC, a progressive company that caters an array of private parties and events in the region. Most Detroiters and others who love great food know Akinwale as the owner of Detroit Seafood Market. The downtown Detroit restaurant is preparing to celebrate its third anniversary on July 27.
Since arriving in Detroit in 2001 to take the post of regional manager for ARAMARK, an international corporation that provides food services to school districts, universities and other businesses, Akinwale, a native of Ibadan, Nigeria, has been on a mission. Prior to coming to the Motor City, he worked many years in various management capacities for Pizza Hut, Inc. while based at the company’s corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. His vast scope of responsibilities while there impacted more than 1,200 Pizza Hut restaurants across the U.S. He started his management career with Pizza Hut in metropolitan Washington, D.C., where his responsibilities touched all Pizza Hut establishments in the nation’s capital.
While Akinwale has experienced a high-level of success with his business ventures, which now includes Holistic House, he remains humbled by what he has accomplished in a relatively short-period of time.
“For this African kid to have come to America with just a briefcase and the clothes on this back, and to be where I am today is only because of the grace of God,” said Akinwale.
For more information on Holistic House, log on to www.theholistichouse.com.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 03:40
- T-Mobile Announces Boldest Moves Yet as America’s Un-carrier
- United States Intervenes in Health Care Fraud Action and Obtains $4 Million in Settlement
- Real Times Media CEO Hiram E. Jackson Elected to Board of the National Newspaper Publisher Association
- Double Up Food Bucks program to expand fresh food access now underway across Michigan
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