Abbott rejects ship sacking advice given

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rejected a claim that transport department officials told a cruise line company to move offshore if it wanted to remain competitive in the industry.

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However, North Star Cruises representative Bill Milby – a long-time member of the Liberal Party – insists he was given the advice at two meetings with department officials.

In a submission to a Senate inquiry into new shipping laws, Mr Milby said he was told in May and June to consider taking the ship True North off the Australian Shipping Register, re-register it in a suitable foreign country, lay off Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew.

Mr Abbott told reporters in the West Australian seat of Canning on Wednesday: “That is just not true.”

A transport department spokesman on Wednesday also told AAP bluntly: “The department did not provide this advice.”

However, immediately after Mr Abbott’s media conference Mr Milby went on ABC radio to defend his version of events.

Mr Milby said he had initially quizzed Transport Minister Warren Truss at a function in Sydney, who had told him he did not think there would be a problem for the WA company under the government’s new policy.

Mr Milby later sought out an official from the department, who had advised him that shipping was an international marketplace.

“She said, `Well maybe you should consider taking the ship off the Australian registry, reflagging it in a different country and then hiring a foreign crew’,” he said.

“I was gobsmacked.”

Mr Milby said he had asked to continue the conversation in Canberra and met with the same official and another manager from the department three weeks later.

“We virtually continued on from where we left off,” he said.

The legislation before parliament will no longer require foreign ships to pay Australian wages between domestic ports for their first 183 days operating in local waters.

Mr Milby said the government should take a fresh look at the legislation.

“They are taking a machete to something they should be doing with a scalpel,” he said.

Mr Abbott insisted his government was trying to restore the previous shipping regime, saying costs jumped after Labor changed rules for the industry.

“Labor were absolutely catastrophic for coastal shipping and for jobs in coastal shipping,” he said.

Opposition transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said it was “disgraceful and unacceptable” that the government openly advised businesses to sack workers.

Mr Albanese says there’s no way the Australian industry can survive.

“The bureaucrats in the department have responded pretty honestly by saying the only option you have is to get rid of the Australian flag, put a white flag (up) when it comes to Australian jobs and go offshore,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“No Australian industry can expect to compete with a foreign competitor if they’re allowed to pay foreign wages.”

In its submission to the inquiry, the department insists foreign ships that engage in more than 183 days of coastal trading will be required to employ an Australian master or chief mate and a chief engineer.

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Man City flex muscles as English clubs break spending record

 

With Europe’s other major countries closing for transfer business on Monday, the English top flight hogged the limelight for an extra day, with City’s rivals Manchester United completing the biggest and most eyebrow-raising late deal.

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The capture of Anthony Martial from Monaco for 36 million pounds ($55.12 million), labelled a panic-buy by sections of the British media, ensured Premier League clubs racked up a record spend of more than 860 million pounds.

That comfortably surpassed last season’s record by more than 25 million pounds and reinforced the competition’s status as the leading league in terms of transfer spending in the window.

City, who have won their first four league games this season, led the way with an outlay of 150 million pounds, including the 50 million-pound capture of midfielder Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg, and forward Raheem Sterling from Liverpool in a deal that could reach 49 million pounds.

City were followed in the spending stakes by United who took their outlay past 100 million with Tuesday’s deal for 19-year-old French striker Martial, who followed Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlinit’s and Bastian Schweinsteiger into Old Trafford.

Liverpool were not far behind in the spending stakes, splashing out almost 80 million pounds, mainly on Christian Benteke from Aston Villa for 32.5 million and Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino for 28.5, offset by Sterling’s move to City.

 

ENGLISH DOMINATION

Fuelled by the money from the Premier League’s increasingly lucrative broadcast deals, English clubs made six of the biggest seven signings in the window.

Only Qatari-backed Paris St Germain punctuated the list of the biggest deals with the 63 million euros ($71.26 million) signing of Argentina winger Angel Di Maria from Manchester United.

Some of Europe’s traditional powerhouses had quieter windows than many might have expected.

Arturo Vidal’s 37 million euros move to Bayern Munich from Juventus was the high point of the Bundesliga champions’ spending while there was no ‘galactico’ signing for Real Madrid, seeking to wrestle the La Liga crown back from Barcelona.

Madrid, under new coach Rafa Benitez, brought in Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan for 30 million euros in their biggest deal but failed to sign Manchester United’s Spain goalkeeper David De Gea before the window slammed shut.

That failure, with the two clubs blaming each other for the administrative snarl up, will have likely handed a psychological fillip to Real’s bitter rivals Barcelona.

The catalan club managed to pull off deals for attacking Turkey midfielder Arda Turan from Atletico Madrid and winger Spaniard Aleix Vidal from Sevilla despite being prevented from registering new players until January, meaning ths pair will have to kick their heels for some months.

In Italy, champions Juventus replaced the outgoing Carlos Tevez with another Argentine following the capture of forward Paulo Dybala from Palermo for 32 million euros.

 

SOME RESTRAINT

Yet as cash flowed freely between clubs there was also some restraint shown by some of Europe’s biggest teams.

Chelsea, traditionally among the game’s biggest spenders, tightened the purse strings with their biggest outlay being on Spanish forward Pedro from Barcelona for 30 million euros.

Having missed out on defensive target John Stones from Everton, the English champions recouped the vast majority of their transfer outlay through sales and loan fees.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is renowned for keeping his powder dry but, after spending big on Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the last two summer windows, his only spending was the 10 million pounds he paid for Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.

 

 

(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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US Open retirements hit record numbers

Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge has declared the US Open the most physically demanding grand slam, as brutal heat and humidity contributed to a record 12 first-round retirements at Flushing Meadows.

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Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis became one of 10 men and two women to retire during matches on Monday and Tuesday – the most in a single round at any major in the 45-year professional era.

The previous record of nine was reached at the 2011 US Open, the second round of 2013 Wimbledon and the opening round of last year’s Australian Open.

Players’ resolve were sorely tested as the mercury shot up past 32C in New York on Tuesday.

Though heat has not officially been blamed for any of the withdrawals, cramps and dehydration were clearly taking their toll on competitors and compounding injury woes.

Kokkinakis suffered severe cramps during his clash with Wimbledon semi-finalist Richard Gasquet on Tuesday.

Despite threatening a major upset the 19-year-old was reduced to under-arm serving before finally calling it quits after falling behind 2-0 in the deciding fifth set, when the chair umpire advise him to consider his health.

Woodbridge said he felt for the teenage ace, recalling how he had suffered his own crippling cramps at the same tournament in the past.

The former doubles champion described the conditions as worse than at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where temperatures regularly hover in the 30s and in 2014 exceeded an inhumane 40 degrees Celsius for four days.

“@usopen most physically demanding of slams due to combo of heat/humidity even more than the 43c days @AustralianOpen,” Woodbridge tweeted.

“Sympathise with @TKokkinakis I full body cramped 1 year @usopen thank heavens for the intravenous drip!”

US OPEN FIRST-ROUND RETIREMENTS:

Men:

Gael Monfils (FRA) retired to Illya Marchenko (UKR)

Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) retired to Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)

Florian Mayer (GER) retired to Martin Klizan (SVK)

Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) retired to Samuel Groth (AUS)

Radek Stepanek (CZE) retired to Marsel Ilhan (TUR)

Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) retired to Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)

Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) retired to Richard Gasquet (FRA)

Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) retired to Steve Darcis (BEL)

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) retired to Aljaz Bedene (GBR)

Pablo Andujar (ESP) retired to Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS)

Women:

Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) retired to Serena Williams (USA)

Marina Erakovic (NZL) retired to Simona Halep (ROU)

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Fund faces difficult times ahead: Costello

Future Fund chair Peter Costello says “prudent, patient” investing has seen the fund almost double in nine years, but warns more difficult times are ahead.

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The fund set up to meet commonwealth superannuation liabilities posted a return of 15.4 per cent for the 2014/15 financial year, generating $15.6 billion.

The result lifted the total value of the fund to a massive $117.2 billion, compared to the initial $60.5 billion cash injection made by the former Howard government.

The mandate of the fund, set up in 2006 by Mr Costello when he was Liberal treasurer, is to make returns of CPI plus 4.5 per cent.

“It’s in excess of that objective as of the moment, which is good because we are going into more difficult conditions,” Mr Costello told a briefing presenting the fund’s latest portfolio update on Wednesday.

The enormous stimulatory policy measures being pursued by central banks in recent years, which have helped to drive strong rises in asset prices, could not be sustained indefinitely.

“It seems likely that generally returns in the future will be lower than in recent years,” Mr Costello said.

The fund’s managing director David Neal said while the 2014/15 result was pleasing, he was conscious of a somewhat mixed global economic and market outlook.

The fund had taken the opportunity to moderately reduce its portfolio risk by cutting its equities exposure.

It also took a long term view of markets, rather than trying to predict short-term market moves.

Mr Neal conceded that in a somewhat fragile environment, any news could “spook” markets.

At the moment markets were worried about the slowdown in China, a month ago they were worried about structural issues in Europe, and at the same time being a bit nervous about when the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

But Mr Costello dismissed the suggestion Chinese authorities had “lost the plot” in trying to manage its economy.

The Chinese government was doing everything it thought was necessary to keep stability in its markets.

“We do see it as quite a concerted response from a government which has many instruments of intervention and very deep pockets,” Mr Costello said.

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No faking at Rugby World Cup: Hansen

The World Cup knockout phase is the only time you know you’re facing teams giving 100 per cent in Test rugby, says All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

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The four-yearly tournament has become such a central plank in the calendar that most teams spend much of the intervening years working on development, says Hansen, who doesn’t get such luxury with his side.

He says the pressure to win is always high for the world champions, which is why he finds the World Cup a pleasure to attend – because all cards are laid on the table.

“You know everyone you’re playing is up for it, whereas sometimes I wonder between World Cups how other nations are driving their bus,” Hansen said.

“Whether they’re mucking around or whether they’re really serious about what they’re doing at that time.

“For us, the pressure at a World Cup is no greater than it normally is. It’s just a bigger box of chocolates at the end of it.”

The tournament kicking off in England in just over two weeks will be Hansen’s fourth World Cup, having coached Wales to the quarter-finals in 2003 before New Zealand assistant roles under Graham Henry in 2007 (quarter-finals) and 2011 (champions).

He says the only series with comparable stature to the World Cup is a Lions tour, which New Zealand host once every 12 years.

Meanwhile, Hansen pronounced himself happy with the attitude of his players and progress made during a three-day camp in Wellington following Sunday’s squad announcement.

He says the anxiety that seemed to accompany the five weeks leading up to the selection has cleared and the players were focusing clearly on their opening game against Argentina on September 20.

The squad will fly out on Thursday next week but before that Hansen will meet the 12 wider squad members who missed selection to explain why.

He will also remind them of the need to stay fit in case of injuries to the squad.

“It’s important we can get them back playing really good rugby in the ITM Cup and that they can get over their disappointment.”

Hansen says none of the players will be flown specifically to the United Kingdom to be on standby as that is against tournament rules.

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Demon Cross calls time on AFL career

Melbourne veteran Daniel Cross will play his last AFL game when the Demons host Greater Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

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Cross has featured regularly at senior level in his two seasons at the rebuilding club but was informed this week that he would not be offered another contract.

He joined the Demons ahead of the 2014 season after finishing at the Western Bulldogs and will end his career with a tally of 249 games.

“Crossy has been an important person in our club’s rebuild and we hope this continues with a role he has been offered in the football department,” football manager Josh Mahoney told the club’s website.

“When we first spoke to Crossy, we saw his role at the club as two-fold. Firstly, he could play a role on field and just as important he could play a major role off field working with our players, showing them how to prepare as an AFL footballer.

“He has performed both roles extremely well over two years. His performance last weekend highlighted his character and competitiveness, where he only knows one way to play and that is by giving everything you have and never giving up.

“Right to the end, he wanted to keep playing.”

Cross, renowned for his impeccable work ethic, was rated the Demons’ best player after his 39-possession performance in their heavy loss to Fremantle last week.

In an emotional farewell speech, he urged his teammates to leave no stone unturned as they go about trying to climb back up the ladder.

“It is a privileged existence that we live as footballers and athletes and certainly not one I’ve taken for granted in my 15 years of playing,” Cross said, via the club’s website.

“I was never the most talented or fast player to have ever graced this wonderful game that we play but I wanted to make sure that every single day of every single week that I wasn’t satisfied until I improved myself as a player and was on the right path to help my team succeed.

“Unfortunately fairytales don’t happen that often in this game but I’m very proud of the story that I’ve written.”

Cross, a best and fairest winner at the Bulldogs in 2008, debuted in round 10 of the 2002 season and went on to play 210 games for the Dogs.

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Geelong Grammar ‘wanted to avoid scandal’

Geelong Grammar School wanted abuse complaints to vanish, and one boarder resorted to rigging up a warning system in an attempt to stop the sexual assaults, an inquiry has heard.

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The prestigious school was only interested in avoiding a scandal when former student BKO reported being abused during a hypnosis session with a chaplain, the child abuse royal commission heard.

BKO said the boys pretended to be hypnotised as they were scared of Rev John Davison, who fondled them during the sessions.

BKO told his maths teacher Jonathan Harvey – later convicted for abusing a student himself – and found the process very threatening.

“I know the school was only concerned about avoiding a scandal,” BKO said on Wednesday.

BKO said when he returned to school in 1972 after summer holidays he was told by a staff member: “We were going to expel you because we didn’t believe you but he confessed”.

BKO said he was upset with the way the school handled the incident, adding no one had acknowledged that what Mr Davison did was wrong or that they were sorry.

“I was made to feel that I was wrong.

“It was very clinical, it was very cold, and even though he went and I stayed, I always had a bit of a sense that it was partly my fault.

“I got the impression that the school simply wanted the issue to vanish. They were not comfortable dealing with it at all.”

Another former student BIZ said he awoke to find live-in boarding house assistant Philippe Trutmann – dubbed “filthy Phil” by some students – fondling him and pretended to be asleep as he was scared.

BIZ said he reported the 1985 or 1986 abuse to the matron Jenny Davis, the closest thing he had to a friend in the boarding house, but she dismissed it.

“I said: ‘Mr Trutmann has been coming into my room and playing with me in my bed’,” BIZ said in a statement read out by counsel assisting the commission David Lloyd.

“She said: ‘He must have been looking for the cat’.

“I am sure it was pretty clear to her what I meant when I said ‘playing with me in my bed’.”

BIZ said the abuse continued and he rigged up a warning system by tying knitting wool around his door handle, a towel rail on the wardrobe, a chair and to his toe, so he would wake up if his bedroom door opened.

“The system worked just as I hoped it would and it woke me up,” he said.

BIZ said he thought Trutmann had stopped but he then continued to abuse him.

Trutmann was later jailed for six and a half years for abusing 40 boys at Geelong Grammar between 1985 and 1995.

A woman who was part of the first group of girls to attend Geelong Grammar said her music teacher Max Guzelian abused her for three years, from when she was aged 10 until 13, in the 1970s.

BKL told the commission music department head Malcolm John told her the abuse was partly her fault.

“As a result, I was told that I was not permitted to play in the band of any orchestra. I was to be excluded from all concert activities.”

Mr John denies knowing about the abuse, having the conversation or excluding the girl from activities due to the abuse disclosure.

BKL said she was also repeatedly sexually abused by another teacher in year 12 in 1980.

“The only reason the abuse stopped was because I finished school and left it,” she said.

Mr Lloyd said Mr Guzelian, now deceased, was not charged.

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GGS victim has no memory of being abused

A former student has no memory of being sexually abused up to 40 times by a Geelong Grammar School staff member, who pointed out yearbook photos of his victims to police.

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Luke Benson said police told him in 2005 that Highton House live-in boarding house assistant Philippe Trutmann had admitted sexually abusing him 30 to 40 times over a two-year period.

“This news changed my life,” Mr Benson told the child abuse royal commission.

“I have no memory of this happening and I inquired whether it was a mistake.

“The police told me that Trutmann had reviewed school yearbooks and identified from photographs the boys he had abused.

“I think this was the worst day of my life.”

Some other boarders called Trutmann “filthy Phil”, as he often lingered around the shower area and regularly went into boys’ rooms as they slept and sexually abused them.

Mr Benson did not remember hearing anything like that.

He started at Geelong Grammar as an 11-year-old boarder in 1988 and recalled Trutmann being intimate by giving him back rubs but was not alarmed by that human contact.

“I saw Trutmann as a father figure,” he said.

Mr Benson now realises that Trutmann groomed him.

“But how I was abused is still a total mystery to me,” he said.

Mr Benson, who settled civil action against the school for $26,000, said he has received no support from Geelong Grammar.

“I want the opportunity to talk to someone at the school who I can trust.

“I need to know how the school can rationalise the abuse I experienced with the positive education environment that they now promote.”

The commission has heard Trutmann regularly abused boys during his time at Highton House from 1985 to 1996, despite the school being told as early as 1985 or 1986 and again in 1992.

He was jailed in 2005 for six and a half years for sexually abusing 40 students.

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McEnroe blasts ‘bonehead’ Kyrgios

John McEnroe lashed Nick Kyrgios’ “bonehead” behaviour as tennis’ most polarising personality made a tough first-round exit from the US Open in New York.

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McEnroe was left flabbergasted by Kyrgios’ audacious shot selection during his 7-5 6-3 4-6 6-1 loss to Scottish third seed Andy Murray at Flushing Meadows.

A huge admirer of Kyrgios, McEnroe had applauded the 20-year-old pre-match for his decision to turn to Lleyton Hewitt as a mentor.

McEnroe, though, said Hewitt ought to have walked out from his courtside box after Kyrgios fluffed a high-risk between-the-legs half-volley when pushing to break Murray’s serve midway through the second set.

“An absolute brain freeze. Absolute stupidity. He could have volleyed that away for another break-point chance,” McEnroe said on ESPN.

McEnroe lauded Kyrgios for his “top-five skills” but warned “time is slipping away” for the two-time quarter-finalist to capitalise on his “unbelievable opportunity” to challenge for grand slam crowns.

“I hope he learns from these bonehead moves. He should be a seed already, at least 20,” said tennis’ original superbrat.

“You don’t want to be remembered as a clown. You want to be remembered as a player.

“So he better step up. Otherwise he won’t be talked about too much.

“He thinks he’s a Vaudeville entertainer. I don’t know what’s going on here.”

All eyes were on Kyrgios in his first match since being placed on a four-week suspended ban last week for his sledging of French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

It didn’t take long for the young hot-head to set social media alight as tennis types took to Twitter to retweet his early blow-up in the opening set.

After breaking Murray for a 2-1 lead in the third game, Kyrgios was livid at dropping serve the very next game.

He protested to chair umpire Carlos Ramos after fans were allowed to file into Arthur Ashe Stadium during his service game, when it’s customary in tennis for spectators only to be admitted into matches during changeovers.

“What the hell were they doing letting people in in that game?” he protested.

Kyrgios continued his rant as he dropped serve again to concede the first set.

“Middle of the game. Unreal. Such bulls… F…ing bulls…,” he fumed.

Kyrgios’ expletive-laden tirade might have constituted verbal abuse, a no-no that would ordinarily trigger a ban.

But while he’s on probation with the ATP, the sanctions don’t apply at the grand slams, which are governed by the ITF.

An exasperated Kyrgios also received an audible obscenity after dropping his opening game of the fourth set.

Kyrgios’ antics overshadowed an otherwise decent performance from the world No.37.

It was the first time in four meetings that he’d won a set against Murray and he may well have won more – and even the match – had he been able to convert any more than three of his break-point chances.

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‘No distance’ between Hastie and PM

The Liberal candidate for Canning Andrew Hastie has responded sharply to suggestions a by-election loss could spell the end of Tony Abbott’s leadership, saying he doesn’t have time for the “east coast Twitterati”.

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The pair were full of mutual admiration as they stood side-by-side during a visit to the West Australian electorate on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek accused Mr Hastie of trying to distance himself from the prime minister.

She claimed the former SAS captain was “trying to make out that he’s running to be the president of the Republic of Canning, that he’s going to have nothing to do with Tony Abbott and his team in Canberra”.

But Mr Hastie showed loyalty to his Liberal leader while fighting off challenges to his suitability to represent Canning, previously held by the late Liberal MP Don Randall.

“I will be a thorn in the flesh to federal ministers and the state government when I represent the people of Canning,” he said.

“Mission failure is not an option.”

Mr Abbott said he looked forward to Mr Hastie, 32, offering “a lifetime of duty and service” in the federal parliament.

He believes the by-election campaign was going well, although he’s not taking anything for granted.

Mr Abbott described the dad, who recently moved from defence housing to a home in Canning, as “a bit of a mould-breaker” who “wasn’t a political staffer, wasn’t a union official … wasn’t someone who spent years and years beavering away in a party branch”.

“Just a fine Australian citizen.

“I’m very proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Andrew Hastie.”

When Mr Abbott was asked about the implications of the by-election result on his future as prime minister, he replied: “I’m not going to get into the entrails of gossip in Canberra”.

He was swiftly defended by the first-time candidate.

“I’m very busy on the ground – I don’t have time to take counsel from the east coast Twitterati,” Mr Hastie interjected.

“There’s a significant disconnect between what people are saying over east and what’s happening here in Canning.”

Mr Abbott said he was “very happy” to have Mr Hastie “chime in” and on what he described as “Canberra games”.

When Mr Hastie recounted a meeting with WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder to discuss road projects related to Canning, such as including extending the Tonkin Highway south and congestion on Armadale Road, he was interrupted.

A journalist who suggested Mr Hastie wasn’t “local” enough was sharply told: “Just let me finish”.

“I was a member of defence for 13 years and no one in defence is a local anywhere,” Mr Hastie said.

“I’ve gotten to know the electorate well over the past few weeks and I’m confident I’m across the issues that people of Canning are concerned about.”

The prime minister said he expected “an absolute blitz” from the Labor party and its candidate Matt Keogh as the campaign progressed.

The race for Canning looks tight, 16 days out from polling day on September 19.

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