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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Thursday, March 22, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 59                            Email us
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Registro still mum on how to pay new corporate tax
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats who are impatient to pay the new corporate tax have to wait a little longer.

The Registro Nacional has yet to outline the steps to take to make payment.

A popup window on the Registro Web site tells Internet visitors that the new tax takes effect April 1 but that a directive on how to pay will be published soon.

The popup window also contains a link to the text of the law, No. 9024 Impuesto a las Personas Jurídicas. The measure covers all corporate entities, including subsidiaries of foreign corporations and limited liability companies.

Corporations only pay 75 percent of the tax this year because that is the proportion of the year that remains. Next year, the tax is due in January.  The amount to be paid is tied to what the government calls a base salary, the monthly pay for an auxiliar administrativo 1 in the judiciary. That amount changes each year as judicial workers get pay raises.

This year the base salary is 360,600 colons, and a working corporation is assessed 135,225 or 37.5
percent for 2012. For subsequent years the working corporation will be assessed 50 percent of the base salary. Owners of inactive corporations pay half that amount or 25 percent of a base salary.

Corporate owners have three months to dissolve the entity to avoid the tax, and persons named as responsible for a corporation can renounce their position during the next 24 months.

Some expats plan to fold a corporation that may contain a hoe or a car, but that would expose them to expensive probate if they die while still owning the property.

Several firms are offering seminars on the tax. At least one is offering instructions on how the operators of a corporation can submit the paperwork to obtain status as a small- or medium-sized corporation with the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio. Such entities are exempt from the tax, according to the law.

To do so requires that the corporation has been engaged in commerce and there are limits on income and size. Ministry workers said they expected a flood of applications.

The income from the tax is dedicated to law enforcement purposes.


Limón container port project takes another step ahead
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new, $1 billion container port on the Caribbean coast moved another step closer to reality Wednesday when the Contraloría General de la República approved the contract.

The new terminal is supposed to reduce the unloading and loading time for container ships from as much as five days to a single day.

The contract is between the central government and its Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica and APM Terminals, a Dutch company. The proposal is a concession. Eventually the country will gain ownership of the investment.

Officials expressed their happiness and optimism at an afternoon press conference and said the new terminal will raise the country's ranking in port services. It now ranks 132 out of 142 ports, they noted.

Between 75 and 80 percent of the nation's goods move through the port of Moín, which now is staffed by more than 1,000 government employees. The dock workers union is rambunctious and stages frequent work slowdowns or stoppages.

“The three fundamental reasons to celebrate this big advance are the improvement of the competitivity of the country because it means breaking the bottleneck that limits Costa Rica from reaching its potential, it reduces the paperwork and the third reason is to celebrate the boost to the province of Limón,” said President Laura Chinchilla Miranda.

The new terminal will have six docks, 13 cranes
new terminalk
APM Terminals graphic
Rendering of proposed dock facilities

and the capacity to handle boats with up to 12,000 containers.

The action by the Contraloría basically says that the contract is legal and the government has followed all the appropriate steps so far.

The Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A. and the China National Petroleum Corp have a joint venture to construct a $96 million facility to handle tankers nearby.

APM runs terminals all over the world. Still ahead for the new terminal is approval of its design and its environmental viability. The government also has to provide a highway to the site and also dredge the harbor. There also may be more legal challenges. Some banana growers already tried to derail the project because of the anticipated cost to ship their product. The new terminal will charge about $46 more per container than the current public docks, according to a government estimate.

The current cost per container is $190.96 while the anticipated cost at the new facility would be $237, according to the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 22, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 59
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Costa Rica Expertise

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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Our readers' opinions
Freedom House is not
an independent watchdog

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Concerning your article of March 21 entitled "Freedom House condemns dissident detentions in Cuba," you really should get your facts straight about the organization you describe as "an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights."

In fact, the London-based Financial Times has reported that Freedom House is one of several organizations selected by the U.S. State Department to receive funding for clandestine activities inside Iran.  Some of its members were recently held by the Egyptian government for illegally transferring money received from the U.S. government to research the economy and the military of the country and send the information back to the U.S. 

In 2004, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul charged that Freedom House had used U.S. government money in the Ukraine to support the candidacy of a particular presidential candidate favored by the U.S. There have been allegations that Freedom House is a U.S. foreign policy instrument linked to the CIA.  MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky has charged that Freedom House "has long served as a virtual propaganda arm of the (U.S) government and international right wing." 

In 1979 Freedom House declared fair the election of apartheid president Ian Smith in Rhodesia and did the same during the 1980s for the elections of the right wing government in El Salvador that at the time was using death squads to murder its own citizens and to intimidate voters.

The list of undemocratic Freedom House activities in supposed support of democracy goes on and on.  The point is that you have misrepresented the organization in your last paragraph by using what reads like its own public relations press release.
Steven A. Roman
San Antonio de Belén


Bad bikers need tickets
to improve road safety


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am writing in support of your reader who commented regarding the standard of motorcycle riding and the idea that raising insurance would reduce the problems.

I am a lifelong biker and am appalled by the antics, mainly of small bikes, in San José: Riding on sidewalks (which I have seen police motorcyclists doing), jumping red lights, riding with no lights and even crossing the central reservation of the pista to ride the wrong way along the carriageway.

What are the police doing in the meantime?

They are sitting at the rotundas ignoring idiots, to deal out tickets for restricted placas inside the San José zone, sometimes four or five police vehicles on a single intersection, contributing nothing to safety or education of drivers. Pulling the idiots and taking their vehicles and licenses for offenses likely to cause accidents would help a lot more with the safety on the roads. Use the cameras from the pistas on intersections to film the red light jumpers, for me far more dangerous than exceeding the speed limit by 10 kph.
Norm Collins
Chiriqui, Panama

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary











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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 22, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 59
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Tributes planned here to honor murdered Archbishop Romero
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Universidad Teológica de América Central Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero celebrates their university week with a tribute to the controversial Central American hero, that ends Friday.

Saturday marks the 32nd anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Romero. The week-long celebration will have different activities until Friday.

An intercultural fair will take place today at the university in San Pedro at 3 p.m.. Representatives from nine countries will participate in the event. The countries that will be represented are Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti and Togo. And the fair will include representatives from Costa Rica.

The homage will end on Friday with two events. The first of the day is a church service at 4:30 p.m. for the deceased archbishop. The service will be followed by the school's first soccer tournament, Torneo Rélampago, at 6 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

According to a spokesperson for the Salvadoran Embassy in Costa Rica, the embassy will have their own function next Thursday to commemorate Romero. There will be an event with two guest speakers at the Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos in San Pedro. The commemoration starts at 6 p.m.

The archbishop was famous in El Salvador for his work and devotion to the poor of the country. After a friend and fellow priest, Rutilio Grande, was murdered, the archbishop began to denounce the violence, and violation of human rights that was happening in the rural parts of El Salvador. The violence wasn't limited to the poor, but men and women of religion were also targeted.

The archbishops' once conservative ways changed after he lost his friend, Grande. He soon followed the teachings of liberation theology. This is when Christianity becomes politically involved with the liberation of the poor. Romero began to preach politics during his radio sermon. His last broadcasted sermon on March 23 is rumored to have been his fighting words that instilled the need of the opposition to get rid of him. In his last sermon he pleaded to the military to stop the violence.






Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero


Office for the Canonization Cause of Óscar Arnulfo Romero of the San Salvador Archdiocese photo
Archbishop Romera

“Brother, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasants... No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is
contrary to the will of God” said Romero during his last broadcasted sermon in El Salvador. “In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people, I ask you —  I implore you — I command you in the name of God: stop the repression!”

He was killed the following evening while saying Mass. He was shot in the heart with a rifle by an unidentified man. A video of the killing is on YouTube.

During his funeral services more than 200,000 mourners showed up. Chaos broke out in the plaza as gunmen opened fire at the mourners. More than thirty people died.

His brutal murder is said to have been the final push to the guerilla groups to join forces and fight against the government. This was the start of a 12-year civil war in El Salvador. Suspected to have ordered Romero's killing was Roberto D’Aubuisson.

A year later D’Aubuisson founded the political party, Alianza Republicana Nacionalista, or nationalist republican alliance. It wasn't until the 2009 presidential election that this political party lost. They had been in power since 1989.

Opposition president Mauricio Funes, from the political party Farabundo Marti Liberaciona Nacional, won the election. Funes, on behalf of the Salvadoran state, apologized to the family of the archbishop and the people of El Salvador in 2010 for the murder of Monseñor Romero.


confused
Santa Rosa fire continues
to frustrate fire fighters


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A fire in the Santa Elena section of the Parque Nacional Santa Rosa has burned 400 hectares and is spreading in three directions, said the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, which controls the protected area. That area is nearly 1,000 acres.

The bulk of the area is second growth that has been there for about 10 years, said the Área de Conservación Guanacaste. The terrain is uneven and fire crews have been unable to bring in heavy equipment.

As is the usual method of attack, crews are building fire breaks around the blaze, but they are forced to use hand tools, like machetes and shovels, as well as chain saws. Some 80 persons are on the fire line, including volunteers. Some 30 more persons were expected to join the fight this morning. Crews are from San Dimas, Las Brisas, Santa Cecilia and La Garita.

Officials said they still do not know the cause of the blaze, although they said they suspect that the blaze was set intentionally. There have been a series of fires in national parks and preserves. Sometimes the cause is an unattended campfire by poachers.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fourth News page
renes law firm
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 22, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 59
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Scientists are using their quake sensors to estimate damage, too
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The newest of three sensing networks in Costa Rica is not just for locating the epicenter of earthquakes. The system is designed for prediction, too.

That was the report from the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica of the Universidad de Costa Rica in a brief summary released Wednesday.

The Laboratorio was following up on its report of the quake Monday in the upper gulf of Nicoya. The Laboratorio had pointed out that damage would have been worse if the quake had happened closer to the surface. The estimated depth was 40 kilometers or about 25 miles.  There was little damage.

Both the Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica and Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico at Universidad Nacional in Heredia have sensing networks.

But the 70 devices distributed all over the country by the Laboratorio are much more than simple sensors. They measure the earth movement during an earthquake and chart it using the standard term in physics of centimeters per second squared. Basically the constant is the force of gravity so there is a common measurement unit.

The Laboratorio said that it plans to install 10 more units this year in high buildings.

The units are accelerometers made by the Plano, Texas, firm of  Refraction Technology, Inc. Said the company on its Web site:

sensor devices
Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica graphic
This is a closeup of the interior of an accelerometer
monitor map
Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica graphic
Map shows location of accelerometers

Accelerometers are devices that measure the acceleration of motion of structures as well as subsurface monitoring of the ground . . . . Because no coils or magnets are used, the accelerometer is inherently stable over temperature, with excellent reliability, linearity, hysteresis, and noise levels.

Because the measurement is standardized, the Laboratorio can engage in speculation. For example, technicians and scientists created a simulation of a 6.0 earthquake in the mountains south of San José near Tobosi where a flurry of smaller quakes have taken place. The scientists can then estimate in standard units the impact on surrounding areas to estimate probably damage.

The simulation allows the Laboratorio to identify areas that would sustain the most damage, it said. The differences in the value of the motion during real quakes gives an indication of the soil composition. The Laboratorio said that San José Centro would be affected slightly less than Cartago, except for a portion of La Sabana, based on the data from the simulation.

The sensors are connected via the Internet to a central computer where the Laboratorio scientists can make estimates of the location of earthquakes but in a way that is different than the two other networks. The Laboratorio scientists have gained a reputation of pinpointing and estimating the magnitude of an earthquake quicker than their colleagues in other agencies.

The data was available just 10 minutes after the Monday quake.


Concern voiced at apparent decline in monarch butterflies
By the Texas A&M University 
News & Information Services

Unlike their colorful wings, the future of monarch butterflies may not be too bright and their numbers are expected to be alarmingly down again this year, says a Texas A&M University researcher, Craig Wilson.

Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a long-time butterfly enthusiast, says reports by the World Wildlife Fund, private donors and Mexico’s Michoacan state show that monarch numbers will be down almost 30 percent in 2012 as they make their annual trek from their breeding grounds in Mexico.

The figures show an alarming decades-long decline in their numbers, Wilson says, adding that it is best “that we take the long view rather than yearly cycles.

“The latest information shows that monarchs will be down from 25 to 30 percent this year, and that has been part of a disturbing trend the last few years,” Wilson notes.

“Last year’s severe drought and fires in the region no doubt played a part, resulting in less nectar for the monarchs as they migrated south. But estimates show that each year, millions of acres of land are being lost that would support monarchs, either by farmers converting dormant land for crop use – mainly to herbicide tolerant corn and soybeans – or the overuse of herbicides and mowing. Milkweed is the key plant because it’s the only plant where the female will lay her eggs.”

The loss of such lands is a critical factor in the monarchs’ survival, Wilson explains.

“Chip Taylor, who is the director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas, estimates that 100 million acres of land have already been lost that previously supported monarchs,” Wilson notes.

Most of the monarch reserves are in the Mexican state of Michoacan. It’s an area where monarchs spend the winter and mate before heading north, Wilson points out.

In the spring, the butterflies leave México, and Wilson has noticed both eggs and young monarch caterpillars feeding on milkweed in the Monarch Waystation, a butterfly garden outside his office. The adults will fly various routes through Texas, with the fourth generation eventually arriving in Canada.

This year, according to the Texas Monarch Watch, monarchs covered about 7.14 acres of forest in their Mexican breeding
Monarchs
Texas A&M photo
Nest of Monarch butterflies in México.


grounds compared to 9.9 acres last year, and it shows a continued long-term downward trend in Monarch population since official surveys began in 1994.

Wilson says there has to be a national effort to save monarchs or their declining numbers will reach the critical stage.

“We need a national priority of planting milkweed to assure there will be monarchs in the future,” he says. “If we could get several states to collaborate, we might be able to promote a program where the north-south interstates were planted with milkweed, such as Lady Bird Johnson’s program to plant native seeds along Texas highways 35-40 years ago. This would provide a ‘feeding’ corridor right up to Canada for the monarchs.”

Wilson says there are several websites to monitor Monarchs. They include http://www.texasento.net/dplex.htm, also http://www.learner.org/jnorth, and http://www.monarchwatch.org.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 22, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 59
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Cuban blogger makes
time and money count


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As Pope Benedict prepares to visit Cuba next week, a dissident blogger says the trip is a good time to showcase the real situation in the island nation.

Even though Yoani Sánchez believes the visit will not have a major political impact, she says it will be a good opportunity because of the increased international attention that comes with a visit by the pope.

In an exclusive interview, the Cuban blogger said Internet access is still a major problem on the island and explains how she manages to update her blog Generation Y and tweets current events, which has made her famous in the social media world.

REPORTER: How is the country preparing for Pope Benedict’s visit after several members of the Ladies in White (an opposition movement consisting of wives and female relatives of jailed dissidents) were detained?

MS. SÁNCHEZ: For the backyard Catholics, the ones on the island, it will be a good moment for them as they meet their pastor, a kind of jubilee for the community as the 400th anniversary of “Our Lady of Charity” approaches. But politically and socially it will not transcend beyond what happened during Pope John Paul’s visit in 1998, which only had an impact on the public awareness. I think Benedict’s trip is more spiritual-focused.”

However, the island will experience days of international scrutiny, where many journalists, pilgrims and people from outside will come for the event. It’s a good opportunity to show them the real Cuba; to report what is actually happening.  We will become a showcase, where activists, bloggers and Twitter users have the responsibility to show the real side of the country and not official one.

REPORTER: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will hold an event in Washington to show how the Internet and social networks operate in Cuba. Many believe it is difficult for Cubans to freely access unmonitored Web pages. What can you tell us about that?

MS. SÁNCHEZ: From my experience, having access to information and technology are fundamental for a free country.  A person who holds a flash memory and has access to at least a minute of Internet can change his or her life. That makes that citizen more empowered, more aware of his rights, perhaps more likely to speak up because he doesn’t like what is happening. I think in order to help Cubans is necessary to empower them technologically, so that they can become 21-century internet users. Because without it, we will not become more democratic; we will not be free.

REPORTER: How do you do your work without economic resources?

MS. SÁNCHEZ: I started an online blog five years ago called “Generación Y”  and one of the biggest problems I encounter every week is free Internet access to update texts and pictures. It’s my little virtual space. The Cuban government does not allow average citizens to obtain a household Internet connection and interact online. That is a privilege destined for foreign residents in our national territory, and for politically reliable people.

In my case, if I want to connect from a hotel the prices are astronomical, a click here and there have to be done fast because every minute that passes harms me economically. I do that once a week or every 10 days.

I write several articles from my house and when I manage to get connected, I scheduled the posts to give the impression my blog is alive, although I'm not connected at that moment.

But other Cubans get online access in the early morning hours through accounts they buy in the black market, but that has many risks.

REPORTER: Reports say the Cuban minimum-wage is very low and you have said it’s expensive to have Internet access. How do you do it? Do you receive any funding? What are the medium costs for the average Cuban to get Internet access in a hotel and browse for few minutes each week?

MS. SÁNCHEZ: In my case, I try to take advantage of all the time I'm not online to arrange texts and photos correctly, so when I finally get access to look around the Web, I do it as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, many tourists who visit Cuba know our situation, mine and that of other bloggers. After spending a week or two in this country, they usually give us prepaid phone cards to use in a hotel. Our technological poverty doesn’t allow us to sustain those costs.

But thanks to the solidarity of many people in the world, we are able to have Internet access. And also people who read our posts in other parts of the world, recharge our phones, which allow us to tweet. This is quite an interesting period on how Cubans have access to social networks.


Dutch official to study
castration of children


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Dutch parliament has called for an investigation into reports that Catholic clerics ordered castrations of boys in the 1950s in an attempt to cure their homosexuality.

Dutch lawmakers discussed the issue Tuesday after a report in the local newspaper NRC Handelsblad said more than 10 boys from a Catholic boarding school had been castrated.

The report focused on a man named Henk Hethuis who allegedly was castrated in 1956 on the instruction of Catholic clergy, after telling police he was being sexually abused by priests.

A report by the Deetman Commission, released in mid-December said tens of thousands of children were sexually abused between 1945 and 2010 in Catholic schools, orphanages and other institutions in the Netherlands. But the commission did not investigate the alleged castrations, citing insufficient evidence.

The Catholic Church worldwide has been rocked by sexual scandals that surfaced in recent years.



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Latin America news
Trio in drug plane case
given prison sentences


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The copilot of a light plane that crashed and revealed a shipment of drugs has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. The two persons designated at leaders of the smuggling operation receive stiffer sentences.

The copilot  Otto Monzón del Cid, was serious injured in the crash Oct. 10, 2010. That happened just after takeoff from Tobias Bolaños airport.  The aircraft broke up on the bank of the Río Torres and revealed 177 kilos of cocaine in the right wing.  Monzón spent nearly the entire time between the crash and the trial in Hospital México.

The other two men are  Rubén Martínez Trujillo and  Elvis Mendoza Rivera. The Poder Judicial said that  Martínez received 16 years in prison on an international drug smuggling charge. Mendoza received 12 years, 11 on the smuggling charge and a year for trying to bribe a Fuerza Pública officer as he tried to flee over the border with Nicaragua.
 
The pilot of the aircraft died of injuries two days after the crash.

The caseas in the  Tribunal de Juicio de Pavas-Hatillo.


Weekend dance festival
at Cartago university


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The XX Festival Nacional de Folclor Tierra y Cosecha will take place this weekend at the Cartago campus for the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica.

The three-day festival will be filled with Costa Rican folklore dance, music, and custom. Most of the country's traditions, religious beliefs, legends, human interaction, importance to farmers, and customs are represented through folklore dance, according to a press release sent by the university.

The activities are free and open to the public.

The dance festival frolics onto the stage Friday at 7 p.m. with the inaugural performance, “Los hijos del maiz.” Saturday the first performance is at 2 p.m. The same is true for Sunday.

There are 12 different groups from all over the country participating in the festival. Some are from Limón and San Ramón. Everyday there will be different performances. There won't be repeat dances.

The festival is dedicated to Costa Rican artists and institute professor, César Fallas.


Four bus firms awarded
increases in their fares

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The price regulating agency says it has rejected seven of 11 requests for increases, from bus companies. The San José – Barrio Escalante, Santa Ana – San Antonio de Belén, San José-Paraíso-Cartago-Paraíso and Cartago – Llano Grande received increases of from 11 and 38 percent, said the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos.

The agency said that many applications were incomplete. The agency also said it told one company to bring the number of buses with ramps for the disabled up to the required number.

The  TUASA bus company that services San José did not receive an increase.













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