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Singapore to shut schools as coronavirus cases rise From “International: Top News And Analysis”



People walk on their lunch break at the Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on May 5, 2021.Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty ImagesSingapore will shut most schools from Wednesday after the city-state reported the highest number of local COVID-19 infections in months, including several that were unlinked, according to authorities on Sunday.All primary, secondary and junior colleges will shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday until the end of the school term on May 28.”Some of these (virus) mutations are much more virulent, and they seem to attack the younger children,” said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.On Sunday, Singapore confirmed 38 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the highest daily number since mid-September, of which 18 are currently unlinked.Singapore has reported more than 61,000 virus cases, with the bulk linked to outbreaks last year in foreign worker dormitories, and 31 deaths. Sunday’s new cases were the highest number of local infections outside of the dormitories in a year.”The sharp rise in the number of community cases today requires us to significantly reduce our movements and interactions in the coming days,” Chan added.The Asian trade and financial hub of 5.7 million people had until recently been reporting almost zero or single-digit daily infections locally for months.Though Singapore’s daily cases are still only a fraction of the numbers being reported among its Southeast Asian neighbors, infections have been increasing in recent weeks. From Sunday, the government implemented its strictest curbs on gatherings and public activities since a lockdown last year.Over a fifth of the country’s population has completed the two-dose vaccination regimen with vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Authorities will invite people under 45 years of age to receive shots from the second half of May.The speed of Singapore’s inoculation program is being limited by the pace of vaccine supply arrivals. Experts are studying whether to give one dose of the vaccine and extend the interval between shots, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.The government is also working on plans to vaccinate children below 16 years once regulatory approval is granted.







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Biden aides defend controversial Covid mask guidance change | Biden administration From “World news | The Guardian”



This week’s surprise reversal of mask-wearing guidance for those vaccinated against Covid-19 was a “foundational first step” towards returning the US to normal, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) insisted on Sunday, as the agency continued to draw criticism for the sudden and confusing advice.Dr Rochelle Walensky appeared on several Sunday talk shows to stress it was up to individuals whether to follow the guidance issued on Thursday.“This was not permission to shed masks for everybody, everywhere. This was really [a] science-driven individual assessment of your risk,” Walensky told NBC’s Meet the Press.“We are asking people to be honest with themselves. If they are vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are not safe.”A growing number of groups and health experts have questioned the new guidance, which reversed the CDC position that even those fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors. As many as 20 states and several large businesses, including Walmart and Starbucks, immediately dropped mask mandates.The nation’s largest nurses union suggested on Saturday the advice was not based on science and said any relaxation of protective measures threatened the health of patients and caregivers.Others were critical of the timing of the new guidance given that emergency approval was given only this week for those aged 12 to 15 to receive the Pzifer-BioNTech vaccine. Children aged 11 and under will likely not be able to receive a vaccine for months.“We knew that there was going to be a time where we had the majority of Americans who wanted to be vaccinated and yet the children were not going to be eligible,” Walensky told CNN’s State of the Union.“This week we got news that we can vaccinate our 12 to 15 year olds. We hope by the fall, by the end of this year, we’ll have vaccine eligible at even younger ranges. We recognize the challenge of parents who can’t leave their kids at home to go shopping, those kids should continue to wear masks in those settings and to the best of their ability to keep a distance. Those recommendations have not changed.”She repeated her assertion that it was “individual guidance”.“I want to convey that we are not saying that everybody has to take off their mask if they’re vaccinated,” she said. “It’s been 16 months that we’ve been telling people to mask and this is going to be a slow process.“The other thing is that every community is not the same, not all communities have vaccination rates that are high. These decisions have to be made at the community level”.Dr Anthony Fauci, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CBS’s Face the Nation the changed guidance was underpinned by “an accumulation of data”, including that the vaccines’ effectiveness had proved “even better than in the clinical trials”.Also, he said, “a number of papers have come out showing the vaccine protects even against the variants that are circulating, and we’re seeing that it is very unlikely that a vaccinated person, even if there’s a breakthrough infection, would transmit to someone else.”Fauci was referring to eight vaccinated members of the New York Yankees baseball team who tested positive but exhibited no symptoms.He did, however, appear to acknowledge the sudden switch of advice had been confusing. The CDC, Fauci said, will be “coming out very quickly with individual types of guidances, so people will say, ‘Well, what about the workplace? What about this, what about that?’“That’s going to be clarified pretty quickly I would imagine. Within just a couple of weeks you’re gonna start to see significant clarification of some of the actually understandable and reasonable questions that people are asking.”







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AP president details evacuating staff from Gaza building : worldnews From “World News”



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10 things you need to know today: May 16, 2021 From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



1.An Israeli airstrike killed at least 33 people in Gaza early Sunday, local health officials said, marking the deadliest individual attack since the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas began last week. Since the onset of the fighting, at least 181 people have reportedly been killed in Gaza, including 52 children, while more than 1,200 people have been injured. In Israel, 10 people, including two children, have reportedly been killed by Hamas rocket attacks, which continued Sunday. The Israeli military on Sunday also said it bombed the home of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ political leader, but did not say whether he was killed in the strike. [BBC, Agence France Presse]2.The United Nations Security is scheduled to meet and discuss the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas on Sunday for the first time, while the United States stepped up its diplomatic efforts this weekend. President Biden spoke on the phone Saturday with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, about a possible cease-fire, while his envoy, Hady Amr, traveled to Israel and met with senior officials, including Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Meanwhile, the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation held an emergency meeting about the fighting on Sunday. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki reportedly opened the discussion by vowing that Palestine will “resist” Israel “to the last day.” Netanyahu similarly said Saturday that Israel will continue to strike Gaza “until we reach our targets,” so it remains to be seen what affect the seemingly increasing international pressure will have on the situation. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]3.Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and the late Kobe Bryant were inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday. The trio makeup what may be one of the great Hall of Fame classes of all time. The night was particularly emotional because of Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash along with his teenage daughter, Gianna, and seven others last year. His wife Vanessa, accompanied on stage by his hero Michael Jordan, gave a speech on his behalf, which ended with the audience chanting her husband’s first name. “There will never be anyone like Kobe,” Vanessa Bryant said of the longtime Los Angeles Lakers star. Aside from the NBA legends, all-time WNBA great Tamika Catchings, two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton (who died last year), and Barbara Stevens, who won more than 1,000 games coaching women’s college basketball, were enshrined. [The Associated Press, NBA]Story continues4.Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was ousted last week from her position as the chair of the House Republican Conference, told Jon Karl in an interview that will air Sunday on ABC News’ This Week that she regrets voting for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, although she clarified that “I was never going to support” President Biden. Karl asked Cheney if she would remain in the Republican Party if Trump became the nominee again in 2024. She didn’t address that question, specifically, but said she “will do everything i can to make sure he’s not the nominee. And, you know, everything necessary to make sure that he never gets anywhere close to the Oval Office again.” [ABC News, The Guardian]5.Myanmar’s military junta battled the Chinland Defense Force, a militia made up of residents from the town of Mindat in Myanmar’s western state of Chin, this weekend, forcing the CDF to retreat from the town, a spokesman for the group said. The CDF opposes the February military coup which sparked daily, sometimes-deadly pro-democracy protests across the country. The CDF spokesman told Agence France-Presse that at least five members were killed and more than 10 others were wounded in the fierce fighting with the Junta. The Chin Human Rights Organization said “Mindat is now under siege and is bracing for an all-out assault by the junta troops from air and by land.” The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar said it was aware of reports of the military shooting civilians in Mindat and called for evidence of atrocities to be sent to U.N. investigators. [The Associated Press, France24]6.Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who leads the Arizona county’s election department, on Saturday called the latest statement about the 2020 presidential election from former President Donald Trump “unhinged.” Trump claimed Saturday that “the entire database of Maricopa County … has been DELETED! This is illegal and the Arizona State Senate, who is leading the forensic audit, is up in arms.” Richer called Trump’s statement a “plain-as-day lie” and urged his fellow Republicans to help him call that out. “We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer,” he tweeted. “As a party. As a state. As a country.” The Arizona Senate took possession of more than 2 million Maricopa County ballots and election equipment last month for a much-criticized, slow-moving hand recount of the presidential race, which President Biden won. [Politico, Stephen Richer]7.A brushfire in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades and Topanga Canyon grew to nearly 800 acres on Saturday, forcing some area residents to evacuate their homes. Authorities believe the fire was set by an arsonist, and they’ve begun a search for a suspect. As of Saturday night the blaze, aided by wind gusts, reportedly grew out of hand and was zero percent contained, as firefighters attempted to battle it with water-dropping helicopters since the steep terrain in the area makes it difficult to attack from the ground. The Los Angeles Fire Department said the area the fire is burning has received very little rain over the last decade, creating very dry vegetation. There’s hope that an expected drizzle Sunday morning will help firefighters put out the flames. [ABC7, NBC News]8.Damon Weaver, who was just 11-years-old when he interviewed former President Barack Obama in the White House in 2009, died earlier this month, multiple outlets reported Saturday. He was 23. No cause of death was provided. Weaver’s sister, Candace Hardy, confirmed the news. Weaver is one of the youngest people to interview a sitting president; Obama had high praise for his skills at the time, and he went on to interview celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and NBA star Dwyane Wade. Before sitting down with Obama, Weaver covered his inauguration, and earlier interviewed President Biden, who at the time was Obama’s running mate. []9.A Tiger that had been seen wandering the streets of a Houston neighborhood in viral videos last week has been found unharmed and will be transferred to an animal sanctuary Sunday, Houston police said. Houston Police Commander Ron Borza identified Gia Cuevas and her husband, Victor Hugo Cuevas, as the tiger’s owners, and that Gia Cuevas turned the tame animal over to the authorities after a friend tipped police off about its location. Gia Cuevas is not facing any charges at this time, though Borza said an investigation is ongoing and “in no way shape or form should you have an animal like that in your household.” Victor Cuevas, who was allegedly seen with the tiger in the videos, was taken into custody, however, after a judge revoked his bond on a pending, unrelated murder charge from 2017. It is illegal to own a tiger in Houston. [CBS News, CNN]10.Rombauer upset Kentucky Derby-winner Medina Spirit to win the Preakness on Saturday, spoiling the latter’s chances of capturing horse racing’s Triple Crown. Rombauer’s odds were 11-1. Medina Spirit, aside from winning the first leg of the Triple Crown and entering the Preakness as the favorite, was the center of attention Saturday because he failed a post-Derby drug test. While the horse was cleared to run at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course after passing multiple pre-race drug tests, skepticism surrounded the situation. Ultimately, Medina Spirit finished in third behind Rombauer and Midnight Bourbon, who had 3-1 odds. [ESPN]More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Liz Cheney’s ousterThere’s growing speculation that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will name their daughter ‘Philippa’The Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis deserves relentless investigating







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Iran unveils its strongest domestic supercomputer | Middle East News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



The Simorgh supercomputer, named after a mythical Persian bird, was developed by Iranian engineers.Tehran, Iran – Iran has unveiled a supercomputer – its strongest till date – developed domestically by Tehran’s Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT), according to the state-run news website IRNA.
The supercomputer – named Simorgh after a mythical Persian bird – has a performance capacity of 0.56 petaflops at the moment and will reach one petaflops in two months.
The supercomputer is said to be wholly designed and built by a team of Iranian engineers, who developed the country’s first supercomputer a decade ago, but some of its hardware has been imported.
The supercomputer will offer large-scale data analysis services for a variety of state-run and private scientific research, according to its developers. Among other things, it will be used in analysing artificial intelligence, crunching traffic and weather data, and image processing.
Amirkabir President Ahmad Motamedi said in addition to servicing the government, the supercomputer aims to provide a reliable infrastructure to companies with a focus on private firms.
“At the moment, knowledge-based companies have offered good platforms but they don’t have good infrastructures inside the country, which leads them to use infrastructures outside the country,” he said during a press conference in the capital Tehran on Sunday.
 
The Simorgh has a capacity of 0.56 petaflops [Courtesy: Mehr news agency]The supercomputer is said to comprise 42 racks in an area of approximately 250sq metres (2,690 sq feet) based on the TIA-942 standard and is projected to be upgraded to 84 racks laid out in an area of 400sq metres (4,305 square feet).
According to the IRNA, the infrastructure put in place at Tehran’s AUT will allow the supercomputer to reach a capacity of 10 petaflops in its next stages of development, which will put it in the ranks of some of the strongest international peers.
The university worked in cooperation with the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), which provided half of its 1 trillion rial ($4.5m) budget, and the scientific division of the presidential office and the ministry of science bore the rest of the cost.
The supercomputer is reported to be wholly designed and built by a team of Iranian engineers [Courtesy: Mehr news agency]ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said that work on the next supercomputer has already started, and it will have 100 times the capacity of Simorgh.
He said in a tweet the supercomputer will be named Maryam, after the late world-class Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, to “thank the efforts of our Iran’s girls in the ICT field”.
A Stanford University professor, Mirzakhani passed away in 2017 from breast cancer at the age of 40. In 2014, she was honoured with the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, becoming the first woman and the first Iranian to receive it.







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Covid: Taiwan orders toughest curbs amid infections spike From “BBC News – World”



Cinemas and entertainment venues are shutting down, and limits on public gatherings are tightened.







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At least 6 killed as ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ heads to coronavirus-hit India — RT World News From “RT World News”



Evacuations are planned and anti-coronavirus measures are being postponed as the virus-hit country braces for its first major tropical storm of the season. Bad weather is already causing deaths and destruction.

Cyclone Tauktae is currently heading northwards along India’s western coast, bringing torrential rains, thunderstorms and strong winds to several states.Heavy rains and winds have caused the deaths of at least four people in the Karnataka state on Saturday. The disaster heavily battered 73 villages in the area, with flooding and damage of property reported.In neighboring Kerala, two people have died, while a boat with 15 fishermen aboard has gone missing amid deteriorating weather.Tauktae – which, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), has intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” – is expected to make landfall early on Tuesday in the western state of Gujarat.  When it happens, the winds will reach speeds of between 150 and 160km/h, the IMD head said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Also on rt.com
India administers first dose of Russian-made Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V as country battles with more than 300,000 daily new cases

Vaccination rollout will be suspended in Gujarat on Monday and Tuesday, with some 75,000 people expected to be evacuated from the high-risk areas, local officials told AFP.Hundreds of coronavirus patients will be moved to field hospitals, Varunkumar Baranwal, a local district development officer, told the agency, vowing that the supply of oxygen, which is now scarce in India, and power to medical facilities will remain uninterrupted. In recent weeks, the Covid-19 situation across India has worsened drastically amid the emergency of a local, more transmissible variant of the virus.

Also on rt.com
Smearing yourself in cow dung won’t cure Covid, Indian doctors warn, as country’s seven-day case rate hits new high

The country, which now ranks second in the world for the number of cases – only trailing behind the US – has registered 311,170 new infections over the past 24 hours, with the overall tally almost reaching 24.7 million. The death toll surpassed 270,000 after 4,077 more deaths were reported on Sunday.Like this story? Share it with a friend!







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Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians, rockets fired from Gaza From “International: Top News And Analysis”



A Palestinian man mourns over the bodies of member of the Kawlak family, who were killed in an Israeli airstrike overnight on Gaza City’s Rimal residential district, during preparations for their burial outside the Al-Shifa Hospital on May 16, 2021.Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty ImagesIsraeli air strikes killed 33 Palestinians, including 13 children, in Gaza early on Sunday, Gaza health officials said, and militants fired rockets into Israel as hostilities stretched into a seventh day.The pre-dawn attacks were on houses in the center of Gaza City, health officials said. A spokesman for the Israeli military said he would look into these reports.The death toll in Gaza jumped to 181, including 52 children, since the fighting erupted last Monday. In Israel, 10 people including two children have been killed in rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups.With no sign of an end to the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years, the United Nations Security Council was due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the situation.Both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the enclave, said they would continue their cross-border fire after Israel destroyed a 12-storey building in Gaza City on Saturday that housed the U.S. Associated Press and Qatar-based Al Jazeera media operations.The Israel military said the al-Jala building was a legitimate military target, containing Hamas military offices, and that it had given advance warnings to civilians to get out of the building.The AP condemned the attack, and asked Israel to put forward evidence. “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” it said in a statement.In what Hamas called a reprisal for Israel’s destruction of the al-Jala building, Hamas fired 120 rockets overnight, the Israeli military said, with many intercepted and around a dozen falling short and landing in Gaza.Israelis dashed for bomb shelters as sirens warning of incoming rocket fire blared in Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba. Around 10 people were injured while running for shelters, medics said.In a burst of air strikes early on Sunday, the Israeli military said it struck the home of Yehya Al-Sinwar in the southern Gaza City of Khan Younis. Sinwar, who was released from an Israeli prison in 2011, heads the political and military wings of Hamas in Gaza.Palestinians working to clear rubble from a building wrecked in Sunday’s air strikes recovered the bodies of a woman and man.”These are moments of horror that no one can describe. Like an earthquake hit the area,” said Mahmoud Hmaid, a father of seven who was helping with the rescue efforts.Across the border in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Zvi Daphna, a physician, whose neighborhood has been struck by several rockets, described a feeling of “fear and horror”.Israel’s security cabinet was due to meet later Sunday to discuss the hostilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address late on Saturday that Israel was “still in the midst of this operation, it is still not over and this operation will continue as long as necessary”.Truce effortsHamas began its rocket assault on Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, a status not generally recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem – captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war – as the capital of a future state.Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups have fired more than 2,000 rockets from Gaza since Monday, the Israeli military said on Saturday.Israel has launched more than 1,000 air and artillery strikes into the densely populated coastal strip, saying they were aimed at Hamas and other militant targets.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded all sides on Saturday that “that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.There has been a flurry of U.S. diplomacy in recent days to try to quell the violence.President Joe Biden’s envoy, Hady Amr, arrived in Israel on Friday for talks. Biden spoke with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on Saturday, the White House said.But any mediation is complicated by the fact that the United States and most Western powers do not talk to Hamas, which they regard as a terrorist organization.In Israel, the conflict has been accompanied by violence among the country’s mixed communities of Jews and Arabs, with synagogues attacked and Arab-owned shops vandalized.There has also been an upsurge in deadly clashes in the occupied West Bank. At least 15 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank since Friday, most of them during clashes.







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Trouble brews between Trappist monks and Belgian mineral empire | Belgium From “World news | The Guardian”



For a decade the monks of Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, in Rochefort, south Belgium – one of only 14 abbeys in the world producing Trappist beer – have been fighting with a quarry owner over the purity of the local spring water.The monks have doggedly claimed that plans by Lhoist, an international company run by one of Belgium’s richest families, to deepen its chalk quarry and redirect the Tridaine spring risked altering the unique taste of their celebrated drink.Now, thanks to a deed dating back to 1833, it appears that makers and drinkers alike need no longer worry. A court of appeal in Liège has confirmed that while the quarry owner also owns the spring, it does not have the right to “remove or divert all or part of the water which supply the abbey”.A spokesperson for Lhoist, Jean Marbehant, said the company would study the ruling before deciding whether to make a final appeal to the court of cassation, which only hears cases on procedural grounds. The company has also drawn up a plan B, to excavate in a different direction in order to prolong the life of the quarry to 2040.The saga began a decade ago when Lhoist announced its plan to deepen the Boverie quarry in Rochefort to extend its life from 2022 to 2046. The site employs about 150 local people.Such an operation would involve pumping underground water beneath the quarry. The monks, whose abbey bears the motto Curvata resurgo (Bent over, I stand up), said this would impact on the quality of the groundwater that is a crucial ingredient of their beer.The quarry owner had conducted repeated tests to show that this was not true. But the monks of Rochefort were unconvinced and a David and Goliath battle ensued.Lhoist is the world’s largest lime, mineral and dolomite producer, with 100 branches in more than 25 countries and 6,400 employees, generating a turnover of more than €1bn.In contrast, life in the Trappist abbey – which boasts a brewing halls described as the most beautiful in Belgium, akin to a “beer cathedral” – is characterised by prayer, reading and manual labour. The earliest mention of a brewery at the monastery was in 1595, but the current site dates to 1899. The water for the beer is drawn from a well inside the monastery walls.The renowned quality of the monks’ beer has, however, earned the abbey a significant income. The NV Brasserie des Trappistes de Rochefort has an annual turnover of around €14m. Last year it announced plans for its first new beer in 65 years.Only beers made by an abbey under the supervision of monks who live in near silence under the rule of Saint Benedict are allowed to be described as Trappist. The Trappist monks face a demographic a threat, however. The Belgian brewery Achel lost its Authentic Trappist Product label this year after the last remaining pair of beer-brewing monks at St Benedict’s Abbey retired without being replaced.







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Italian port workers refuse arms shipment to Israel : worldnews From “World News”



That exact website says it’s heading to Illinois not Naples so you’re wrong or lying.EDIT : holy shit that comment history. 99% of it is nothing but Pro-Israel astroturfing. 8 years of only spouting propoganda. I found my first government shill account, guys, I’m so excited 😀







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