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Archives - March 2007
March 28, 2007
Quote of the day: “We want housing and schooling for 145 kids in a daycare center." – part of the demands written by Jun Ducat after taking a bus full of preschool children hostage in Manila, Philippines
Elephant's tusks stolen for black market
Thieves in Cambodia poisoned a 62-year-old domesticated elephant and sawed off its tusks to sell on the black market, officials said Tuesday.
HIV Prevalence in Cambodia Decreases Since 1997
HIV prevalence in Cambodia has decreased from 3.2% in 1997 to 1.6% currently, according to figures from UNAIDS, VOA News reports. In addition, UNAIDS data indicate that HIV prevalence among commercial sex workers in the country has decreased from 40% in 1997 to 20% currently.
Federal Court adjourns application by Cambodia's ex-police chief
The Federal Court has adjourned an application by Cambodia’s deported ex-police chief Heng Pov to cite three senior Government officers for contempt, to allow them time to reply to an application served to them on Monday.
Indebted farmers threaten to go to Laos
More than 300 debt-ridden farmers dispersed Wednesday after a week of failed attempt in getting assistance from the government in settling their debts. The group representatives said they would migrate to Laos and set up an immigration centre there.
Vietnam repeals detention practice
Vietnam has abolished a measure used to hold dissidents without trial, a government official said Wednesday. However, analysts said the move could prove to be largely symbolic.
Gunman seizes school bus in Manila, agrees to surrender
A day care operator agreed to surrender at 7 p.m. (1100 GMT) Wednesday after taking a busload of more than 30 of his preschool children and their teachers hostage, authorities said.
Five facts on kidnapping cases in Philippines
A man who started a day care centre in the Philippine capital Manila seized a bus full of school children and teachers on Wednesday, in the latest dramatic kidnapping to hit the Southeast Asian nation. Here are five fast facts about kidnapping in the Philippines.
March 26, 2007
Quote of the day: "Singapore has a great quality of life, not to mention the taxes." - Millionaire entrepreneur Robert V. Chandran on why he chose to move to Singapore.
Government mulls over restricting access to Angkor Wat
Cambodian officials are reportedly mulling over measures to restrict tourist access to Angkor Wat Temple, in an effort to prevent its further deterioration.
Dancers carry Khmer culture abroad
Cambodia’s rich dance heritage was almost destroyed in Pol Pot’s killing fields, but the survivors have staged a remarkable recovery.
Thailand's former first lady faces charges
The wife of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra entered a Bangkok courthouse Monday to be charged with evading millions of dollars in taxes, in a corruption case that could land Thailand's former first lady behind bars.
5,000 estimated cases of dengue fever in Vietnam
So far there have been in the region of 5,000 cases of dengue fever in Vietnam, mainly in southern provinces, according to Assistant Professor Pham Ngoc Dinh, Vice Director of the Central Institute of Epidemiology.
Catholic Philippines teaches Islam in state schools
The government and some members of the Muslim community are trying to sideline the influence of militants by offering Islamic education to Muslim youth at state schools and setting a moderate Islamic curriculum for private madrasas to follow.
China's gamblers are prize in Macau's casino war
Stanley Ho, the strong-willed and secretive billionaire who for 40 years held Macau's only gambling license, is in the fight of his life with the ambitious Las Vegas casino giants who have invaded his territory.
Immigrants wooed to boost population
Singapore's government is so worried about the low birth rate and greying population that it is turning to immigrants to add another two million people to the island of 4.5 million over the next 40 to 50 years.
March 24, 2007
Quote of the day: "At present, we still lack people." – Mao Zedong in 1958 calling for the Chinese people to go forth and multiply.
Media-spurned jungle girl sings in strange tongue
The naked, emaciated woman captured in a Ratanakkiri jungle on January 13 and believed to be Rochom P'nhieng, a member of the Phnong tribe who vanished in 1989, has ended months of silence in an unexpected way, her presumed father, Sal Lou, told the Post on March 19.
Singer recovers after bizarre shooting
She’s been in a Ho Chi Minh City hospital for one month, and Cambodian pop star and TV host Pov Panha Pich can speak and move her arms and legs, after a shooting nearly took her life. She was shot inexplicably as she arrived at an English school in Phnom Penh. Authorities say the motive for the shooting is not known, and the attack is under investigation.
Japan urged to push for halt to 'attacks' on Hmong
Japan should press Laos to end its alleged attacks on an ethnic minority group, Amnesty International said Friday. The comments came as the rights group released a report claiming the Lao army mounts attacks on people from the Hmong ethnic grouping which lives in the country's mountainous jungle area.
King Power to file for protection
King Power International Group will petition the Administrative Court for emergency protection after the board of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) decided to terminate its contracts on Thursday. King Power's chief executive officer Vichai Raksriaksorn said on the Manager Online website yesterday that the company had fully complied with the duty-free and commercial contracts reached with the previous AoT board.
Bounty for sniffer dogs
Lucky and Flo, the two Labradors who helped sniff out nearly 1 million illegal discs last week within days of joining Malaysia's anti-piracy effort, have been moved to a safe house, a news report said Thursday.
‘Spider-man’ attempt to scale Petronas Towers foiled
A French daredevil climber who has scaled skyscrapers around the world without ropes was arrested in Malaysia on Tuesday as he tried to clamber up the world's tallest twin towers.
Safety alert for Indonesian airlines
Six Indonesian airlines have been given a three-month deadline to improve safety standards or face closure. Among the airlines listed in the government order is budget carrier Adam Air, which lost one of its aircraft with 102 passengers and crew onboard on January 1 off the island of Sulawesi.
Letter from China: China can teach Africa about population zeal
Terrified by the prospect of a world where one third or more of its people are elderly, Chinese intellectuals have issued the first murmurings of a broad reappraisal of one of the most sweeping government measures of modern times, this country's "one-child policy."
March 21, 2007
Quote of the day: "We are getting a lot of weird retirees here, they can't survive in [their own] country so they come here." – Vongthip Chumpani, adviser and former vice president of Bangkok Bank
Mekong countries complete landmark transport agreement
Road linking China, Laos, Thailand nears completion
The countries of the Mekong region completed an agreement on Tuesday to allow easier movement of people and goods across borders.
Final work on construction of a road linking Laos, Thailand and China is undergone for opening to traffic in June. The road from China’s Kunming to Thailand’s Bangkok via two provinces of Laos is being built with jointly investment by the three countries at a total of 28.6 million USD.
Letter from Cambodia: Village homestay opens eyes
This is the first time we've been to a developing country, and we've still got about five months more in Cambodia and another four countries. This blog is my reflections as we go along, not a "definitive" account of the situation in Cambodia…
Rock opera is a post-Khmer Rouge 'Rent'-inspired musical
Inspired by the Broadway musical “Rent,” Cambodian composer Him Sophy has written the country’s first rock opera. "Where Elephants Weep" features a 10-person band that fuses the sounds of an electric guitar, electronic drums and keyboards with traditional Cambodian instruments like buffalo horns, bamboo flutes, gongs and the chapei, a long-neck lute with two nylon strings.
Former PM may face lese-majeste charges
Thai police have recommended former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra be charged with three counts of lese-majeste, police chief Sereepisut Taemeeyaves said yesterday.
Soldier killed as PM travels to restive south
Thailand's prime minister traveled to Pattani province in the country's restive south Wednesday on a mission to explore how to quell an expanding Muslim insurgency in the region, an official said.
Report: Security forces responsible for ‘disappearances’
Thai security forces should stop using enforced disappearance as a tool against suspected Malay Muslim separatists in Thailand's southern border provinces, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
Famed Thai hospitality showing signs of strain
Long one of the most open and accommodating destinations for tourists and businesspeople in Asia, the well-advertised "land of smiles" is showing signs of a subtle frown directed toward foreigners.
Jolie departs for US with adopted son
Angelina Jolie and her newly adopted 3-year-old son left Vietnam in a private jet on Wednesday, en route to the boy's new home in the United States. The superstar adopted Pax Thien Jolie in Ho Chi Minh City last week, but they later came to the capital city of Hanoi to pick up a visa allowing him to enter the United States.
On Iwo Jima’s beach, war dead remembered
A breeze carried the scent of salt off sun-speckled waves, and a pod of whales spouted playfully near shore, but it was a prayer of mourning that Yoshitaka Shindo directed toward the sand and surf that stretched before him.
March 16, 2007
Quote of the day:
"We will eliminate corruption in order to bring justice to society and to make all Cambodians live together in prosperity." – opposition leader Sam Rainsy
Thousands kick off campaign
Thousands of Cambodians jammed the capital's streets Friday as campaigning began for next month's local polls, with raucous marches and motorscooters adorned with political party flags.
Chiang Mai may celebrate Songkran early to reduce haze
The mayor of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand on Thursday proposed bringing the city's Songkran festivities forward to help reduce the choking haze from forest fires that has enveloped the north of the country.
Editorial: A bridge too soon?
The second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, which connects Mukdahan province with Laos's Savannakhet province, was opened for traffic in January amid high hopes that it would promote regional trade, boost tourism and encourage economic and social integration of Asean in a significant way. Instead, it did all this in a decidedly non-dramatic fashion, just like the first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge did, and continues to do, since it was inaugurated in 1994 to link Nong Khai province with the Lao capital of Vientiane.
US Air Force pilot’s remains returning home after 38 years
A sliver of shoulder bone has shed some light on the mystery surrounding the death decades ago of Capt. Benjamin F. Danielson, a US Air Force pilot shot down on a mission over Laos on Dec. 5, 1969.
Singapore and neighbors just can’t get along
Singapore government is being forced to tap its emergency supplies of imported sand after its usual supplier Indonesian abruptly banned exports in February. The ban touched off the latest in a string of disputes between Singapore and its neighbors over water, land reclamation, satellite concessions, corporate takeovers and the flight patterns of the Singaporean Air Force — just to name a few.
Oil from sunken tanker siphoned off
An Italian marine engineering company has begun to siphon fuel from a tanker that sank in the Philippines seven months ago causing a devastating oil spill, officials said Thursday.
Beijing approves private property law
After more than a quarter-century of market-oriented economic policies and record-setting growth, China on Friday approved its first law to protect private property explicitly.
March 14, 2007
Quote of the day:
"One, spitting. Two, not queueing up. Three, smoking anywhere and everywhere -- something even senior officials do. Four, swearing in Beijing dialect." – Zip Huayun on the four main bad habits of Chinese people.
Monk who rebuilt Buddhism post-KR dies
Maha Ghosananda, a monk who played a key role in rebuilding Buddhism in Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, has died.
Gov’t moves to ban alcohol ads, raise dirnking age
Thailand's army-backed government on Tuesday approved a ban on alcohol ads and raised the drinking age to 20 in its latest move to curb youth drinking.
Thailand May Declare Emergency in Haze-Hit Northern Provinces
Thailand may declare a state of emergency in northern provinces such as Chiang Mai as dust and smoke from forest fires creates a choking haze, Natural Resource and Environment Minister Kasem Sanitwong said.
9 killed in shuttle bus attack
Southern extremists opened fire on a shuttle van loaded with passengers in Yala's Yaha district Wednesday morning, killing nine Buddhist civilians including two teenage girls.
Vientiane uses law in battle against bird flu outbreak
Vientiane authorities announced yesterday that they would be taking legal measures against poultry owners who do not cooperate with officials in culling their chickens.
USA Hmong say Patriot Act labels them as ‘terrorists’
Leaders of Wisconsin’s Hmong community say that the most serious insult against the hundreds of families here is not the words of a University of Wisconsin law professor, but the language of the Patriot Act.
Fake, banned drugs rampant admits government
A slew of fake and unlicensed medicines were found at hospitals and health centers nationwide last year, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health admitted at a conference last week. In a report at the meeting held in Hanoi, it said dozens of categories of drugs had been faked, mostly in the northern provinces.
Government to keep tight rein on aid
Burma’s ruling junta plans to tighten its control of international humanitarian assistance through the creation of government-run “coordination committees,” according to Rangoon-based NGO sources.
Police shoot ex-marine, end Taguig courtroom hostage drama
An elite Philippines police team on Wednesday stormed Manila's Hall of Justice, killing an ex-marine to end a 24-hour hostage drama caught live on national television.
Beijing faces challenge to ‘civilize’ population
Spitting, pollution, dirty toilets, text messages advertising weapons and a nationalistic sports media -- Beijing officials admitted on Wednesday they had many problems to face some 500 days before the Olympics open.
March 13, 2007
Quote of the day:
"Every time I step out of my house, I always have this feeling that it might be the last." - Auret Colsuegra, an opposition worker on military harassment in the Philippines
UN rights envoy cancels Cambodia visit after scathing report
The United Nations rights envoy to Cambodia has cancelled a visit to the country, officials said Monday, just days after the release of his scathing report on the government's rights record.
Cambodia arrests senior officer in war against land grabbers
A major colonel from the border unit of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (CRAF) has been arrested, becoming the first senior officer arrested during the government's high-profile campaign against land grabbers.
As pollution grows in the north, rain is needed
Aerial surveys conducted over Chiang Mai, including the downtown area, showed it was necessary to begin the artificial rain process as smoke from brushfires was increasing air pollution.
Jail possible for insult to King
A Swiss man accused of insulting this nation's monarchy by spray-painting over several portraits of the revered king pleaded guilty Monday and faces a maximum 75-year prison sentence.
Alse see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6442331.stm
Champagne corks pop in Manila in echo of Marcos era
Across the Philippines' sprawling capital city, the small ranks of the wealthy are increasing as record remittances from nearly 9 million Filipinos -- driven abroad by poverty and a lack of opportunity -- fuel consumer demand and a property boom. "It's a return to yuppiedom," Tim Yap told Reuters. "Right now, the young generation is a generation that works really hard and wants to reward itself."
Philippine opposition accuses military of harassment
In several poor neighborhoods in the capital region, the military has moved in, sometimes supplementing the activities of the police, but also, human rights advocates say, targeting leftist agitators and government opponents for harassment.
Laos, Thailand reach agreement on Hmong refugees
The Lao and Thai governments will work together to resolve the issue of illegal Lao Hmong migrants in Thailand. This was according to a joint statement by the Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Thongloun Sisoulith, and the Thai Foreign Minister, Mr Nitya Pibulsonggram, following discussions held on March 8 in Vientiane.
Students donate computers to schools in Laos
Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) has contributed 100 laptops and desktops to 10 primary schools there, to help make the learning of English a more enjoyable experience for the children.
Vietnam’s first cable car system over sea inaugurated
Vietnam’s first cable car system over the sea opened in Nha Trang Saturday. The system links the resort town with Hon Tre island over three kilometers away.
7 Indonesian students die hiking
Seven Indonesian hikers died in bad weather as they attempted to climb a towering volcano in the far east of the country, police said Monday.
Thousands riot in China, attack police, smash cars
Thousands of Chinese farmers and laid off workers rioted in central China, attacking police and smashing squad cars, a local official said on Monday, the latest in a string of violent demonstrations.
March 9, 2007
Quote of the day:
"Not 'smile' like people smile. But they can do a smiling face, a laughing face, and a sad face, too. Put in a serious score and we can have a really emotional scene." Filmmaker Pantham Thongsang when asked if dogs smile.
China transforms Cambodia’s electricity
Chinese companies are bringing a huge change to Cambodia's electricity supply, transforming it from dependence on local generators to a nationwide grid of hydroelectricity. Three power stations are being built now, and another three are planned.
ABLE targets western pedophiles
The hunt for child-sex offenders begins in front of the Royal Palace, leads to the lawn of Hun Sen Park, and winds up under the lights of Phnom Penh's riverside carnival.
Thailand’s first all canine movie highlights plight of soi dogs
While various governors of Bangkok Metropolitan Authority have failed to round up stray dogs for good, a new movie can claim a minor achievement for making a pack of miserable strays new stars. Ma Mar See Kha Krub (Mid-road Gang) is the first Thai film to feature an all-dog cast (with some human extras) in a dramatic storyline that somewhat reflects the wretched fate of Bangkok street dogs and the social hierarchy of the canine world.
Elephants carry hopes of eco-tourism
Environmentalists in Laos are trying to reverse the shrinking elephant population trend before it is too late, pinning their hopes on eco-tourism and revitalizing the elephant's ancient sacred role in Lao culture.
‘Embarassed’ Indonesia to replace transport officials
Indonesia's government will replace its top transport officials and tighten aviation regulations after three airline disasters in as many months ``embarrassed'' the nation, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said.
Island home to endangered turtle up for sail
For sale: a plain little island, overgrown by shrubs, offering a scrap of beach and sitting in one of the world's busiest sea lanes. It would be a tough sell for any property agent, but Upeh island in the Strait of Malacca off Malaysia has one precious feature -- a nesting site for a rare and endangered turtle.
Monk’s return tests religious tolerance
How Vietnam's rulers handle the visit by Thich Nhat Hanh, a scholar and bestselling author who teaches "socially engaged" Zen Buddhism, will offer an insight into the space for religious expression here. It could also show Vietnam's abiding adoration for an octogenarian monk who rose to fame in the turbulent 1960s and is trying to engage with a new generation of Vietnamese youths
Letter from China: In Asia, the past divides and alienates
The New York Times Shanghai Bureau chief Howard French on the recent uproar over Japanese denials of ‘comfort women’.
Dragonair pilots protest over guns on China flights
Dragonair pilots have lodged a formal complaint about the deployment of armed guards on flights within China, the South China Morning Post reports Friday. The crew have queried the need for guards armed with regular military-issue semi-automatic pistols and knives on Air China planes leased through the Hong Kong airline.
Japan’s 1993 apology to WWII ‘comfort women’
Japan has come under diplomatic fire for appearing to sidestep responsibility for forcing women to act as sex slaves for its soldiers in World War Two. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he stands by a 1993 apology, known as the "Kono Statement" after then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, in whose name it was issued.
March 8, 2007
Quote of the day:
“I have always realized the importance of the media. But, it’s necessary to stick to what is legally correct.” —Surayud Chulanont, prime minister of Thailand
Rare dolphin making a comeback
Cambodia's rare Mekong dolphin is making a tentative comeback from the edge of extinction after net fishing was banned in its main habitat, Cambodian and World Wildlife Fund officials said on Wednesday.
UNICEF donates 140,000 USD for demining in Cambodia
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has donated more than 140,000 U.S. dollars for demining and landmine education in the western provinces of Cambodia for this year, an official said on Thursday.
Thailand's King Approves New Cabinet Lineup
Thailand's military-installed government named a new finance minister and three deputy ministers on Wednesday in an effort to address mounting doubts about the country's economic and political stability.
Thailand’s first artificially inseminated elephant gives birth
Scientists on Thursday announced the birth of Thailand's first artificially inseminated elephant, a healthy 100 kilogram male. The baby pachyderm was born at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lamphang, said the center's chief veterinarian Sittidej Mahasawangkul.
Bird flu kills 15-year-old girl in Laos
A 15-year-old Lao girl has died from bird flu, the country's first confirmed death from the H5N1 virus, the Health Ministry said on Thursday as it stepped up surveillance and public awareness efforts.
More grants from Japan to Laos
The Japanese government agreed on Tuesday to grant about US$2.4 million via the Asia Development Bank (ADB) to implement two projects in Laos.
Communists training snipers to kill Arroyo, warns security chief
Communist insurgents have trained a special group of snipers to assassinate Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and other officials, the country's national security adviser said Thursday.
Recent airline accidents in Indonesia
A compiled list of airline accidents in Indonesia dating back to 1992:
China introduces landmark property law
Chinese lawmakers formally introduced a hotly debated law to protect private property Thursday, saying that personal wealth in an increasingly prosperous China requires legal safeguards.
March 7, 2007
Film captures a Cambodian family’s road to reconciliation
Stanley Harper took 18 years to complete his documentary film about a divided Cambodian family because, he says, "that's how long it took." Beginning in a refugee camp on the border with Thailand, he followed the family's story with delicate minimalism as it reunited, reconciled and recovered the treasure of a hard life in the rice fields of Cambodia.
ADB has offered US$10m for fishery development on the Tonle Sap Lake
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided some 10 million U.S. dollars of loan in the past years to empower the fishery communities in the Tonle Sap Lake area, officials said here Monday. "We got about 2 million U.S. dollars (in revenues) from fresh water fish products each year from the lake," partially as result of the help from ADB, said Nao Thouk, director of fisheries department of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
‘Extinct’ bird found in Gulf of Thailand
A bird presumed to have been extinct for well over 100 years has been rediscovered in a pristine coastal wetland in Petchaburi, on the Gulf of Thailand. The large-billed reed warbler (Acrocephalus orinus) had not been seen since 1867, when a single bird of the species was reported in the northwest of India, a prominent ornithologist said yesterday.
Man beheaded, two shot dead in restive south
Suspected Islamic separatists have killed three people in Thailand's restive south, including one man they beheaded and set alight, police said Wednesday. The 53-year-old rubber tapper was beheaded Wednesday in Yala, police said, one of three Muslim-majority provinces along the Malaysian border hit by a worsening insurgency that has killed about 2,000 people in three years.
Laos opens wartime ‘cave city’ of communists guerillas to tourism
More than three decades after the war ended, Laos has opened up to tourism a complex of caves which once sheltered communist guerrilla leaders from the most intense bombing campaign ever unleashed by the United States, an official statement said Tuesday.
Arroyo approves new anti-terror law
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed an anti-terrorism bill into law on Tuesday, saying that the legislation would bring the Philippines' campaign against terrorists to a "higher level." The law, the Human Security Act of 2007, is expected to bolster U.S.-supported efforts against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian terror network.
Indonesian jet burst into flames on landing killing 21
A packed jetliner burst into flames Wednesday as it landed on Java island, killing 21 people, but more than 110 other people escaped the burning wreckage, many with severe burns, the airline and witnesses said. Garuda Airlines said in a statement that 21 people had died and that the other 119 passengers and crew survived and were being treated in hospital. It did not give their nationalities.
Pirate DVD shop ordered to pay 25,000 yuan
A ShanghaiI court yesterday sentenced an illegal DVD shop to compensate 25,000 yuan (US$3,230) in total to three international film producers for infringing upon their interests and rights, local newspapers reported today.
March 5, 2007
A second financial crises in Asia?
Could this be the global financial meltdown? Less than a week ago, it might have seemed preposterous to suggest that a 9 percent fall in the Shanghai stock exchange could jolt markets across the world, triggering declines in everything from European stocks to American corporate bonds.
Ho Chi Minh Trail safe for wildlife
KEO SEIMA, Cambodia - Four decades after U.S. warplanes plastered it with bombs, a remote corner of the old Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia is making a comeback as a treasure trove of endangered wildlife.
Satellites of love: the sell-off of Shin Corp
Despite the many irregularities surrounding Shin Satellite dealings, most of the documents and events of record actually put the company in the clear legally, if not ethically.
Woman dies from bird flu in Laos
42-year-old Laos woman believed to have contracted the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus died in hospital in the capital Vientiane on Sunday, the World Health Organization said.
WHO: Second suspected human case of bird flu in Laos
A second case of human bird flu is suspected in Laos, only a week after confirmation of the Southeast Asian country's first case, according to the World Health Organization and government authorities.
Poppy cultivation declines 50%, Meth production increases
A US report on Thursday credited Burma with a 50 percent decline in poppy cultivation last year, but production of illegal synthetic drugs remains high.
NPC: Chinese prime minister focuses on pollution and poor
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao conceded Monday at the opening speech of the National People’s congress that China was failing on important energy and pollution goals and declared that the country must become more energy-efficient and quickly improve environmental protection to safeguard the long-term health of its booming economy.
China increases military spending
China announced its biggest increase in defense spending in five years on Sunday, a development that quickly prompted the United States to renew its calls for more transparency from the Chinese military about the scope and intent of its continuing, rapid arms buildup.
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