Richmond Vale

Global Goal 5: Gender Equality

Progress has been made in the fight for gender equality —namely on the education front, as girls and boys now have equal access to primary education ( UN , 2015). However, discrimination and violence against women and girls still exist both in the developing and developed world. A few examples are the kidnapping of over 200 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014 , the global prostitution and human trafficking networks and that harmful —even potentially fatal— traditions such as female genital mutilation and marrying small girls to adult men are still in place. Moreover, women in developed and developing countries systematically face discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and other environments. [caption id="attachment_4509" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Female Farmers in Lodwar, Kenya - Photo Credit: Wikipedia The impact of gender inequality and discrimination on women is long-lasting and does not always encompass physical or sexual violence. There is an ongoing social phenomenon in which women and female-lead families represent a larger part of the poor population than men . This is a consequence of multiple factors, namely that, still today, women lack some of the opportunities and resources awarded to men, and are oftentimes ill-equipped to face life in the wake of an adverse event. Gender inequality is extremely harmful to the sustainability agenda and must be overcome in order to ensure lasting results...
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Global Goal 4: Quality Education For All

It is safe to say that universal access to quality education is a key factor in achieving a sustainable mid and long-term future. Several studies conducted over the years have linked lack of access to education with poverty and poverty traps . This is hardly a surprise —in current society, possession of specific practical skills may determine if a person does or doesn’t get a job, which can cause a direct impact on their economic stability. At its most basic level, education provides skills that are essential to life as we know it. Literacy and numeracy are needed for things as simple as grocery shopping or keeping the house finances. [caption id="attachment_4501" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Education gives individuals, families and communities the tools to create a better future for them - Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures Moreover, access to quality education generates a snowball effect. Education has been linked to parents who are more capable of providing quality care for their children and making better use of the health —and other social—services available to them ( UN Chronicle , 2007). Also, girls who have access to at least basic education are more likely to make sensible choices regarding reproduction and to send their children to school. For the world to achieve true sustainability by 2030 —as contemplated in the Agenda for Sustainable Development— quality education must be universally...
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How we keep our Home Clean - by Ammon

Here at Richmond Vale academy we have many beautiful and brilliant people constantly moving and working to make our community as lovely and productive as possible. This leads to a lot of dirt and debris getting swept all over the place. Bathrooms get mucky and spiders take up roost any place their web will stand. When unattended entropy reigns and it becomes very dirty very fast. This could either be a very stressful situation or a huge expense if we had to pay people to clean the entire school every day. Instead we work as a community to keep the school clean. Obvious things like not leaving dishes around and not letting trash make it's way into the surrounding environment are very important. [caption id="attachment_254" align="alignleft" width="528"] Kitchen Time! What is integral though is that every single person has an area that they are responsible for. Every morning we take time after breakfast and before we start the rest of the day to clean the school. Every one is an area to clean and to continuously watch over throughout the week to make sure it is maintained, and not disruptive to other work and the activities of the school. This works really well because we cut down on expenses, we all have to take responsibility, and everybody keeps each other accountable. This is the same with...
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Global Goal 3: Healthy Living and Well Being

Remarkable progress has been made in the field of health since the 1990s. According to the UN , “maternal mortality has fallen by almost 50% since 1990”, similarly, 83% of mothers in developing regions were receiving antenatal care in 2012 in comparison to 65% in 1990. Teenage pregnancies have decreased in developing regions, as preservatives are more widely used today than in the 1990s. Moreover, access to retroviral therapy is easier now than it was then and new HIV infections among children have declined by roughly 60% since 2001. A summary of other achievements is listed in this article by the United Nations , and while they are significant, there is still room for growth. [caption id="attachment_4471" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Global Goal 3 seeks to provide access to vaccinations to battle epidemics - Photo Credit: Wikipedia The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks a future where longevity is commonplace and children deaths are a rarity. It aims for the eradicating epidemics, neglected tropical diseases and improving people’s access to health-care, water sanitation and clean living spaces in order to tackle this issue at the root. These targets are contemplated in Global Goal 3, listed in the Agenda as follows: GLOBAL GOAL 3: HEALTHY LIVING AND WELL BEING Source: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [caption id="attachment_4470" align="alignright" width="287"] Photo Credit: GlobalGoals.org By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality...
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Global Goal 2: End Hunger —It's Possible

[caption id="attachment_4466" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Undernutrition accounts for 45% of global deaths in children under five years old. In the future, climate change and unsustainable agricultural practices will increase this amount if mankind does not do something now. - Photo Credit: Pixabay Today, 795 million people are undernourished . Most of them are concentrated in developing countries in Asia and Africa, with the former being home to two thirds of the total amount. The numbers for Sub-Saharan Africa are alarming as well, as “ projections for the 2014-2016 period indicate a rate of undernourishment of almost 23 percent” ( UN , 2015). This means that nearly one in four people living in the region are not meeting their daily nutrient requirements. As harmful as it can be on adults, once again this issue affects children on a deeper level . Poor nutrition is responsible for the death of 3.1 million children under the age of five every year, it also causes stunting in one in three kids living in developing countries and 65 million primary-school age children go to class hungry. This affects their ability to focus, as well as impairs their mental development and faculties, putting them at a disadvantage compared to their well-nourished peers. It is imperative to end hunger. Undernutrition compromises people’s immune system, which increases the risk for various illnesses, including ongoing epidemics...
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Global Goal 1: End Poverty In All Its Forms Everywhere

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes ending poverty as “the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development” ( UN , 2015). The validity of this statement is clear if one takes into account the 836 million people living in extreme poverty today and the many more who make just enough money to escape a critical situation but who have no quality of life to speak of. To end poverty is a tremendous task, indeed. [caption id="attachment_4458" align="aligncenter" width="460"] Poverty is a crippling illness for the global community and children suffer it most. Under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, nobody gets left behind - Photo Credit: Wikipedia The people living in extreme poverty lack any semblance of food security. They do not have access to basic services, to health-care and education, and oftentimes they lack even a roof over their heads. Children are the most affected by this situation. Undernourishment, as a consequence of poverty is a key factor in neonatal deaths, and deaths of children under the age of five. It also stunts growth and mental faculties, with 1 in 7 children under the age of five having inadequate height for their age. These children are being born and raised at a disadvantage, which is a tremendous loss of potentially brilliant minds. Mankind must end poverty because everyone has the right to...
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NEWS: Human Activity is a Major Factor in Wildfires

A new study on the wildfires in California found that humans are currently responsible for igniting over 90% of them. The findings suggest that current predictive models for wildfires in the area overstate the influence of climate change and that introducing anthropogenic factors as key drivers of wildfires allow for more accurate predictions on the amount of land at risk of burning in California through 2050. The estimated amount provided by the report is 7 million accress. Read the full article from the George Washington University here: [caption id="attachment_4412" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia IT'S NOT JUST CLIMATE CHANGE: STUDY FINDS HUMAN ACTIVITY IS A MAJOR FACTOR DRIVING WILDFIRES WASHINGTON (April 28, 2016) —A new study examining wildfires in California found that human activity explains as much about their frequency and location as climate influences.  The researchers systematically looked at human behaviors and climate change together, which is unique and rarely attempted on an area of land this large. The findings suggest many models of wildfire predictions do not accurately account for human factors and may therefore be misleading when identifying the main causes or drivers of wildfires. The newest model proportionately accounts for climate change and human behavioral threats and allows experts to more accurately predict how much land is at risk of burning in California through 2050, which is estimated at more than 7...
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NEWS: Denmark mulls taxing beef to fight climate change

[caption id="attachment_4408" align="alignleft" width="345"] Denmark is considering taxing beef and other red meats in an effort to fight climate change - Photo Credit: Flickr The Danish Council of Ethics, an independent advisor to the Danish government, annouced that Danes could fulfill their duty on battling climate change by reducing their meat consumption. This action would be encouraged by a new tax on beef and other red meats that is currently being mulled by the country. The tax, which is supported by the majority of the members of the Council would start on beef before moving onto other red meats and foods deemed harmful to the environment. Animal agriculture —or farming—, makes up for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle releasing 10% of all emissions. Moreover, 43,000 liters of freshwater are necessary to produce just 1kg of beef. It is safe to say that to truly make an impact and move closer to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, current practices in food production need to be tackled and the Danish Council of Ethics deems this new tax an effective way to send a clear signal on climate-change awareness. Read the full article from the Tech Times below: DENMARK MULLS TAXING BEEF, OTHER RED MEATS TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE The price of steaks might increase in Denmark because the country mulls about taxing beef and other...
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2016: The Year of Living Sustainably

[caption id="attachment_4404" align="alignleft" width="340"] Photo Credit: YouTube The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the agenda of the people. It is comprised of goals and targets to improve the lives of all of us and to secure the existence of an Earth we can live in centuries from now. Hence why it is not enough to sit back and watch politicians sign agreements and engage in strategic partnerships. You and I are people just like our representatives and it is our duty, to ourselves, future generations and every form of life who inhabits this Earth along us, to do something. To engage. 2016 is the Year of Living Sustainably . It marks the start of an era in which every human being starts living in a sustainable way, and while it may seem like a herculean task, it is not! First of all, we do not have to do it all at once, but it is important that we embark on this journey. If we —the civil society, business owners and our representatives— take conscious steps towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a positive change will start happening soon. Some of the things we, as citizens, must do to develop a sustainable lifestyle most likely are things we already do . And if not, adopting a healthier, cleaner and more efficient lifestyle will help ensure our happiness...
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NEWS: Climate Change Linked To Heat-induced Injuries

[caption id="attachment_4383" align="alignleft" width="164"] Death Valley, USA - Photo Credit: Pixabay A new report  by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Climate Vulnerable Forum, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), cites excessive workplace heat as  an " occupational health and productivity danger behind growing risks of heat exhaustion, heat stroke and, 'in extreme cases', death".  Rising temperatures product of climate change are jeopardizing the GDP of emerging economies such as India, Indonesia and Nigeria, as employers have been forced to reduce their working hours to prevent injuries and fatalities. In some cases, the reduction of total working time is of up to 10 hours thus taking an immense toll in the national economy. In one of the studied countires, the reduction amounted to 4% in comparison to the 1990s. This issue and its effects call for immediate attention and action. The solution offered by the ILO and the Climate Vulnerable Forum, as well as other contributing institutions, is for countries to strengthen current plans to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement, in order to prevent further warming and the health and economic impact it carries. For the full article, read below: MAJOR NEW CLIMATE THREAT: RISING HEAT IN THE WORKPLACE GENEVA – 28 April 2016: Emerging economies face as much as 10 per cent losses in working hours because of deteriorating thermal conditions in the...
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17 Sustainable Development Goals: Global Actions, Better Future

[caption id="attachment_4389" align="aligncenter" width="483"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia The UN Sustainable Development Summit, held from September 25 to September 27 in New York, marked the official launch of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  This Agenda —agreed upon by the 193 Member States of the United Nations after two years of negotiations— seeks to irreversibly and globally end poverty by 2030. In addition to this, the Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to “universally promote shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection” ( UN , 2015) . This is to be done by achieving a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets over the next 15 years. While the task is primarily a responsibility of all countries involved, its success significantly depends on international solidarity and strategic partnerships. Simply put, every country has a valuable contribution to make and a vested interest in achieving the sustainable development goals. To ensure that progress is being made, all countries involved will undertake frequent revisions involving “civil society, business and representatives in interest groups” (UN, 2015). It is also expected that countries in the same region assist each other in tackling common issues. Furthermore, the UN will schedule annual conferences at which the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will work with the countries on identifying emerging issues and gaps. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS Sources: 2030 Agenda for...
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What Happens if the World Warms Up by 2°C?

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference saw 147 countries agree to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global warming below 2°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. This pledge is the first move towards the development of plans and policies that seek to tilt the global economy towards cleaner, more sustainable ways of living and doing business. However, as climate experts point out, this effort might not be enough. In a previous article, it was mentioned that most countries that attended COP21, including major polluters like the United States, lack the capacity to start reducing their emissions immediately, as they do not have a set strategy for the near or long term regarding this matter. [caption id="attachment_3875" align="aligncenter" width="500"] A 2°C warming over pre-industrial levels would threaten food security for the world's population - Photo Credit: Wikipedia The issue is made more alarming when taking into account that the proposals submitted by attending countries were deemed insufficient by scientists. An article on the topic published on The Guardian ’s website, says that global emissions are currently rounding 50 billion tons a year and they are set to keep increasing, even if all the proposed measures are implemented. The increment is estimated to reach 55 to 60 billion tons by 2030. This significantly diverges from the 14 billion tons reduction required to attain a...
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The Challenges of Fundraising

The Fighting shoulder to shoulder with the poor program involves that the team has to fundraise $1200 US per person. In theory this should not be a problem, because the amount of team work and many ideas we had from my part I thought it would be a piece of cake. Like any other project there were many problems that we as poverty fighters had to turn into challenges and work as a team towards a common goal. One of the biggest challenges we came across was to fund raise in a poor country. St. Vincent is the third poorest country in the region, thus making money is sometimes a form of luxury. We have done actions in poor communities in St. Vincent and therefore we have seen the effects the lack of money have on a family. So we had to think of other ways than the local population to receive funds. Some of the ways we made our fundraising money was to have a snack shop at the Richmond Vale Academy. We sold chocolate, cigarets, chips and soft drinks, we tried to keep a good stock of locally or Caribbean products. Many of the ideas for fundraising were very creative and full off sparks in the first few months. We had a list about 20 things that we could do, from designing t-shits and selling them...
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NEWS: Climate Change Threatens Urmia Lake

[caption id="attachment_4270" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Urmia Lake, 2014 - Photo Credit: Wikipedia As published by the Science of Total Environment journal on April 15, "Climate change is likely to worsen the situation of the largely drought-stricken Urmia Lake in Iran. Even in the most optimistic climate change scenario and without any further human impact".  Urmia Lake used to be the second largest hypersaline lake in the world, but several factors including a high-irrigation demand from the arable land around it, as well as a decrease in precipitations and an increment in temperatures in the area have shrunk its surface area by 80%. This reduction has spiked the salinity of the lake's water, leading to potentially-catastrophic socio-environmental consequences in the area. The news about Urmia Lake came a few days before a post by The Guardian titled "Why the Paris climate change goals may already be slipping out of reach" . With a self-explanatory title, the author goes on to say that the goal of keeping global warming between 1.5 and 2ºC might be unrealistic. In fact, the UN's estimates have widened this threshold up to 2.7ºC, with severe consequences regarding sea level surface and natural disasters. Meanwhile, the lack of concrete plans —or any plans at all, in some countries— make near and long-term goals regarding global warming and climate change nearly unreachable. The Guardian goes on to say...
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NEWS: Earthquake Hits Ecuador After Weekend's Catastrophe

[caption id="attachment_4267" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Photo Credit: Youtube A magnitude 6 earthquake hit Ecuador on Thursday , April 21st, after a magnitude 7.8 one last saturday. The latest quake hit 100 km north-northwest of Portoviejo and at a depth of 10 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Portoviejo is a coastal town, very near to the most affected areas by saturday's seismic activity. These areas will be exempt of the tax hikes, among other drastic measures that Ecuador's president —Rafael Correa— announced as compulsory to start repairing damages estimated in 1 to 3 billion dollars. Correa also affirmed that the death toll would have been lower, had citizens abided by the construction regulations put in place after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which killed 300,000. These regulations might be even more necessary in the future, as new research by volcanologist and professor of geophysical hazards at University of College London, Bill McGuire indicates that ongoing global warming and climate change have an impact on geological disasters, such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Keep reading for more information on the 7.8 earthquake that hit Ecuador on saturday, as reported by Xinhuanet.com : ECUADOR CAMPAIGNS FOR REBUILDING FUNDS, AS QUAKE TOLL RISES TO 587 QUITO, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador is launching a campaign to gather relief funds urgently needed for its quake-devastated areas, as the official death toll has now reached 587....
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Causes of Malnutrition

[caption id="attachment_4262" align="alignleft" width="250"] The world's effort towards battling malnutrition are focused on under-nutrition. Portrayed here, a child suffering from chronic undernourishment - Photo Credit: Deviantart Malnutrition happens when the intake of essential macronutrients and micronutrients doesn’t cover, or exceeds, the body’s requirements for proper functioning. It is then a blanket term for under-nutrition, over-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.  The bulk of the efforts towards battling malnutrition are focused on under-nutrition, as roughly 795 million people (or 1 in 9) are undernourished and about 98% of those 795 million live in developing countries ( UN , 2014). Under-nutrition accounts for the stunting of 30 out of every 100 children in developing countries, as well as aiding in 35% of deaths caused by measles, pneumonia, and other illnesses in the same countries. This takes a massive toll on the population, as children who experience undernourishment early in life are at a disadvantage they most likely will not recover from, which leads to a loss of millions of potentially bright futures and the perpetuation of poverty. On the other hand, obesity (which is the most well-known face of over-nutrition) is becoming a pandemic. In 2013, 42 million children worldwide were obese and in 2014, 600 million of adults aged 18 and older were obese ( WHO , 2015). This is alarming, especially when taking into account that most of...
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NEWS: Houston Flooding Linked To Climate Change

[caption id="attachment_4251" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Bellaire, Texas. April 18th, 2016 - Photo Credit: Youtube Jake Crouch, a scientist at the U.S. government's National Centers for Environmental Information, said on an interview with Houston Public Media that " April 2016 will go down as the wettest April on record for the City of Houston" . This affirmation comes after this week's downpours in Houston, TX where 17 inches of rain fell between April 17th and April 18th, flooding several neighbors in Houston's Metropolitan Area and 21,000 square miles of Southeast Texas. Scientists are linking the downpours to climate change, as climate patterns in Houston mimick those in other parts of the world, where the rainfall total in 24 hours has exceeded the prospected rainfall for several weeks due to a warmer lower atmosphere caused by global warming. Read below for the full article from Slate.com: HISTORIC FLOODING ONGOING AS HOUSTON RECORDS ITS RAINIEST DAYS EVER Update, April 19:  The National Weather Service now reports that Monday's rainfall total at George Bush Airport was 9.92 inches, Houston's second rainiest day on record, next to 10.34 inches on June 26, 1989 during Tropical Storm Allison. Data from the NWS previously indicated a higher total, which would have been Houston's rainiest day on record. The discrepancy was due to an equipment malfunction at the airport where the measurements were taken, the NWS...
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How To Prevent Global Warming: Handy Tips

[caption id="attachment_4246" align="alignleft" width="352"] Photo Credit: Flickr Disney Pixar’s Wall-E, and more recently, Paramount’s Interstellar, show a future in which mankind no longer has an Earth to call home . Years ago, a prospect like this might have seemed far-fetched. However, scientific studies have shown that if the human race doesn’t curb its emissions of greenhouse gases, not too long from now we will find ourselves in a planet that doesn’t support life as we know it. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the global temperature is expected to at least double in the next century. This makes the need to take measures on how to prevent global warming very urgent. Also, predictions show an increase in temperature of 1.5ºC above today’s values if mankind drastically lowers its greenhouse emissions. This increment would be of 6ºC if we carry on with a business-as-usual mindset. A warming of this scale could potentially erase mankind and other lifeforms off the face of Earth, because of the warming itself or its aftermath. For example, if emissions continue on their current trend, sea levels could rise up to 6 meters in the future and 0.94 meters by the end of this century. This would place coastal cities worldwide under an emerging flooding crisis and at risk for storm damage ( Scientific American , 2015) It is worth noting...
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Lionfish Spread in the Caribbean: "A Looming Crisis”

Their numbers continue to expand. They are spreading throughout the Caribbean Sea. Eradication appears almost impossible. It is very difficult to control them and right now the best available plan is to capture and eat them. [caption id="attachment_4227" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Red Lionfish. Photo Credit: Wikipedia “This is a new and voracious predator on these coral reefs and it’s undergoing a population explosion,” said Mark Hixon, an OSU professor of zoology, expert on coral reef ecology and leader of the research effort. “The threats to coral reefs all over the world were already extreme, and they now have to deal with this alien predator in the Atlantic. Lionfish eat many other species and they seem to eat constantly.” “ Native fish literally don’t know what hit them .”  OSU research has already determined that within a short period after the entry of lionfish into an area, the survival of small reef fishes is slashed by about 80 percent. Lionfish have virtually no natural enemies in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Whatever is keeping them in check in the Pacific – and scientists are trying to find out what that is – is missing here. In the Caribbean, they are found at different depths, in various terrains. They are ignored by local predators and parasites and they eat very fast their way through entire ecosystems. A primary concern, according to local experts, is the...
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Developing our Organic Garden

At Richmond Vale Academy we have our organic garden about a minute walk form the kitchen. Here we use different organic gardening methods along with implementing permaculture techniques. The garden already starts by the fence. Whenever it rains you cannot avoid having precious water and nutrients being flushed away from garden, so by growing plants all along the fence we make sure it is not going to waste. We grow gloricida, sugar cane and banana trees a meter away from the fence. They will provide some light protection form the harsh sun, and after they have given bananas we can cut them up to use in the compost nearby. The gloricida is a nitrogen fixating plants that takes nitrogen from the air and fixates it in the leaves, stem and roots. We pick the leaves and put them on our beds in order to add nitrogen to the soil, as well as creating a protecting layer from the sun, to keep moisture and hold down weeds. Crawling up along the fence we have passion fruit. When you enter the garden the first thing you see will be a circle with papaya, banana, mooring, lemon grass and more things growing on it. In the middle of the circle is a big hole we fill up with organic matter like branches and leaves, tat will eventually decompose and...
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