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Wednesday, October 30

NY Times Don't Blame Columbus for All the Indians' Ills "In recent examinations of 1,000-year-old Peruvian mummies, for example, paleopathologists discovered clear traces of tuberculosis in their lungs, more evidence that native Americans might already have been infected with some of the diseases that were thought to have been brought to the New World by European explorers. Tuberculosis bears another message: as an opportunistic disease, it strikes when times are tough, often overwhelming the bodies of people already weakened by malnutrition, poor sanitation in urban centers and debilitated immune systems." This article looks at the health trends in the Americas before and after the first contacts with the Europeans. It cites new research that indicates life wasn't that rosy for pre-Columbian natives and urbanization had just as big an impact as new diseases coming from Europe.

Forbes / Reuters Moody's issues annual report on Peru: "Peru is expected to maintain a strong external liquidity position, said the Moody's report. Even though modest declines are anticipated for the external debt-to-exports and external debt service ratios next year, both ratios will remain in the upper range of the Ba3 rating category at an estimated 270% and 33%, respectively." Outlook is a mixed bag.

Saturday, October 26

US Department of Agriculture U.S., Peru Establish Consultative Committee on Agriculture: "Last year, the United States exported $212 million in agricultural products to Peru, including wheat, cotton, corn, soybean oil and meal, and processed grocery products. U.S. imports of agricultural products from Peru totaled $206 million, including fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, coffee and sugar." Peru should be shipping "off-season" produce to the States by the ton. It's just like Chile, but it needs to get farming off the floor.

Forbes / Reuters Peru Oct sales tax seen up 16 pct, sign of rebound: "'If GDP is expected to grow 3.7 percent (this year), sales tax is up 16.2 percent in October, the total tax take is growing more than 4.5 percent and private investment in August rose 4.1 percent, well that means we're growing, that's all there is to it, although a lot of people won't want to hear that,' he added." Too bad Peru is starting from so deep in an economic hole.

Oil and Gas Journal Peru ratifies 30% cut in royalties: "Cueto wants to encourage new exploration because the last major discovery in Peru was in the mid-1980s with the finding of Camisea natural gas fields (OGJ Online, July 11, 2002). Operators of the $1.3 billion Camisea project, 500 km east of Lima, expect to begin producing and transporting natural gas and liquids to Lima by early August 2004." Peru cannot afford to be a net importer of petroleum.

MSNBC / Reuters Peru 'worried' by Venezuela military revolt call: "Peru, along with other Andean nations, has called for Organization of American States (OAS) mediation to stave off a collapse of democracy as political tensions mount six months after Chavez was briefly ousted in a short-lived military coup in April."

Forbes / Retuers Peru banks among most solid in Latam - watchdog: "According to Marthans, Peru's banking system is one of the most liquid in Latin America, with the ratio between liquid assets and short-term obligations around 40 percent. In Chile, that ratio is 23.8 percent compared to 8 percent in Colombia and 5.6 percent in the region's No. 1 economy Brazil." Only the strong survive.

Forbes / Reuters Top Peru supermarket chain sees sales leap: "Wong has 70 percent of the market for Peruvian supermarket shopping and believes there is great potential here since only 22 percent of the population in Lima use supermarkets. The rest buy food and goods at local markets. Wong, which grew out of a family run store, also owns the low-frills Metro outlet." Wong is an institution in Lima. It started out as a Chino de la esquina - mom and pop grocer store. It nows a huge chain that serve Peru's meatgrinder economic downturn.

Forbes / Reuters 'Sky's the limit' for TIM in Peru: "Peru's mobile market is dominated by the mobile unit of local telecoms leader Telefonica del Peru , which has a 59-percent market share. Telefonica is a unit of the Spanish telecoms giant of the same name."

Monday, October 21 New general consul of Peru settles in, and Hartford is glad to have him: "Census numbers say there are about 1,200 [Peruvians] in Hartford, 6,000 in Connecticut, but Canal and others says the numbers are easily triple that. Not everyone who arrives comes forward right away, they say. Their estimate: about 5,000 in Hartford, 20,000 in Connecticut." Hartford gets a consul. I may have taught Josť Benzaquen when I was at the Diplomatic Academy.

Boston Globe / AP Peru's leader, admitting paternity, alleges invasion of privacy: "Orozco told the Radioprogramas radio station earlier Friday that she and Toledo had reached a deal that included an 'economic contribution' for her. She said the amount was 'not large.' Orozco said she would use the monetary settlement to create a foundation for children fighting paternity suits."

Forbes / Reuters Peru says debt deal on after cancellation reports: "The debt deal is seen as crucial for Peru, which is seeking to cobble together funds to cover state spending as well as avoid a hefty fiscal deficit. The government of President Alejandro Toledo has been facing a cash shortage since its unpopular plan to raise at least $700 million by privatizing state assets ran aground earlier this year."

CNN / AP Toledo's approval up after admission: "Apoyo polling firm said a survey taken Friday, before Toledo's speech, showed that 14 percent supported the president and 78 percent disapproved. A second poll Saturday had 20 percent approving of the president and 69 percent in disapproval, Apoyo said." Amazing what a little honesty will do for a presidential image.

Sunday, October 20

MSNBC / Reuters Peru's Montesinos wants trial judges changed: "The source, who declined to be named, said Montesinos' lawyer, Estela Valdivia, had filed a motion against the three judges arguing that the ''system to try him violates his rights.'' Montesinos wants new judges named. Montesinos, himself a trained lawyer, has complained in the past that he can only communicate with his lawyers in a special room, in which the two parties are divided by a screen."

ABC News / Reuters Peru, in Purple, Venerates 'Lord of the Miracles': "For more than 350 years, an oil painting of the so-called Lord of the Miracles -- also known as the Lord of the Earthquakes -- has been paraded through the streets of Lima in October, clogging the choked capital's traffic for hours, in one of the biggest religious processions in Latin America. Lima began its veneration in the 17th century after a wall painted with an image of Christ survived huge earthquakes that killed thousands of people. Peruvians attribute miraculous powers to the image, revered as the protector of the city."

EPN World Reporter Top Blogs: "Interested in Peru, poetry or computing? GCI 275 delivers it all. Peruvian Graffiti provides a comprehensive introduction to the political and economic climate of Peru, as well as an insight into influences that have shaped Peruís history. Confessions of a Stringer is Michael L. Smithís experimental exercise in reviving work that never was completed, but should have been. GCI 275 is an exhaustive resource on Peru and all things related." Wow! Somebody noticed my site. I am flatter. The article gives an overview of the blogging as it relates to the news business, but is pretty far-ranging in the selection of blogs.

ABC News / Reuters Peru Teen 'Satisfied' as Toledo's Official Child: "Toledo said in a televised address late on Friday he would protect and provide for the girl he insisted for years was not his, putting a dramatic end to a paternity case that has hurt him politically and made headlines following the involvement of a Supreme Court judge in the affair."

Three New Poems

I have added some poems to the translation page: a short poem by Marco Martos and two poems by Javier Heraud, a new addition to the selection of poets in my work. I'd like to work more on translations but schoolwork is limiting my free time.

Friday, October 18

MSNBC / Reuters Peru teen newest member of presidential family: "The Zarai camp's staunch refusal to back down prompted thousands of women across this poor nation to clamor for Toledo to own up to fatherhood, wondering aloud if a man who could not be counted on as a father could be counted on as a president." Zarai is a tremendously popular figure in Peru -- more than her dad.

West Allis Star (Milwaukee, WI) Circle of friends Rotary members among those to embrace Peruvian town: "What Americans might consider necessities, however, are rare for the majority of people in Arequipa. When he first arrived, the need for a child care was one of the most glaring, Busuttil said. In Arequipa, both mothers and fathers must often work to earn enough money just to put food on the table, he explained. But because many parents cannot afford child care, they were leaving young children alone in their simple huts, sometimes padlocking the children inside in an attempt to keep them safe. Without proper supervision of those children, the results were tragic." A different kind of trip to Arequipa (refering to the story below).

Telegraph (UK) Awed by the realm of the ice princess: "With a sizeable crowd of other visitors, I arrived at Cruz del Condor at about eight, just as the sun was warming the cliffs and crags deeper inside the canyon. Over the next two hours I glimpsed condors gearing up for another day's carrion hunting. First came a few tentative flights along the crag; then, as the thermals grew steadier and stronger, the birds took to gliding back and forth along the valley, climbing with each turn." A visit to Arequipa and its surrounding natural wonders.

Retuers AlertNet ADRA Peruís Income Generation Projects and High-Yield Crops Benefit Thousands: "To increase food security through agricultural production, ADRA Peru has provided farmers in the economic corridors of Ayacucho, Cajamarca, and Huanuco-Pucallpa with a rapidly growing, high yield barley seed known as UNA-96. This type of seed was developed by the national agricultural university in Peru to produce three times the amount of yield of the traditional barley grain. In addition, some program participants are trying a new type of garlic that is more frost-resistant."

BBC Peru's president admits illegitimate daughter: "Reports from Peru say Mr Toledo - the first Peruvian president of native Indian origin - has agreed to pay around $100,000 to his daughter and her mother, who arrived in Lima on Thursday apparently for negotiations." Alejandro Toledo finally owns up to his paternity.

Thursday, October 17

Washington Post / AP Peruvian Author Wins Lucrative Prize: "Bryce Echenique received the Planeta publishing house prize for his novel 'El Huerto de mi Amada,' or 'My Beloved's Garden,' a story of love between a 30-year woman and a teenage boy." Well deserved.

Wednesday, October 16

NY Times Prohibition's Nectar (A Manhattan With a Twist of Peru): "It looks like a Manhattan, but in place of the whiskey that's usually mixed with the vermouth, this version calls for Pisco, the Peruvian brandy." You must registers with the NYTimes, but it's free. This is a short item.

Monday, October 14

Herald Tribune (Florida) / AP Leaders from Ecuador, Peru to discuss Latin American economies: "Ecuadorean President Gustavo Noboa and President Alejandro Toledo of Peru were to speak on the first day of the annual conference sponsored by The Miami Herald. President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were scheduled to speak Tuesday."

Reflecting on where I am

Over the days in Lima, I began to think about my career and my new profession and how it fits into where I am coming from, as a journalist and someone interested in Latin America. I have added a page that explains Why I work at the OAS. It explains some of my motivation and why I find work at the Organization of American States so stimulating and rewarding. It's kind of in the line of A Life Tale, which explains why I spent so much time in Peru.

Sunday, October 13

Catching up

I have spent time this afternoon mining Google News for news stories about Peru. The stories below are in chronological order so the bomb blast story immediately below is dated September 24. I have not included my usual pithy comments because there are just too many stories to take time to add comments.

Another point that I wanted to make is that with the news search engines getting better, they are picking up a lot of stories about Perus that have nothing to do with the Andean country. They are local stories from the many towns and countries in the United States that carry the name of Peru. Recently, the sidebar from Moreover has been clogged with that type of story recently. I have tried to refine the search inquiry, but it's not possible to eliminate the extraneous finds.

Reuters Stockholm blast sends political leaflets flying: "An explosive device in a box outside the government's information office detonated at 2:20 a.m. (0020 GMT) and damaged the door of the building, Stockholm criminal police superintendent Johan Lindborg told Reuters."

Boston Magazine "I Am Not a Terrorist.": "That's a surreal comment, delivered as it is in the yard of the Santa Monica Prison in Chorillos, a district of Lima, Peru. Conditions here are luxurious compared to the Andean prisons where Berenson has served most of her time, but they are far from pleasant. Concrete walls hem in a bleak yard. The other prisoners, all Peruvian women, sit on rows of chairs and talk to their husbands and children while Latin music plays beneath a rectangle of overcast sky." This is a long story on Lori Berenson, the American convicted of collaborating with MRTA guerrillas.

MiamiToday Peruvian bank moves corporate business operations to Coral Gables, plans securities trading expansion: "With both corporate and private operations based in the Gables beginning this month, Banco de Credito plans to further expand local operations by opening a broker-dealer division for securities trading in the fourth quarter."

Guardian Peru Revamps Anti-Drug Programs: "The U.S. and Peruvian governments signed an agreement Sept. 12 to revamp the alternative development program that builds roads and schools in coca-growing areas and helps farmers switch to other crops, Ericsson said."

Reuters Armed men rob players' wages at Peru champions Alianza: "Peruvian clubs are in serious financial difficulties and players at Alianza's local rivals Universitario are threatening to go on strike if they are not paid one-and-a-half months worth of outstanding wages by the end of the week."

Reuters Afghans look to Peru to unlock power of poor: "The Swiss-educated Peruvian, whose initial consulting fees can run to $10 million, met Karzai in the United States this month. He is due to go to Kabul at year's end, along with a team from his Lima think-tank, Institute for Liberty and Democracy, to begin drafting a proposal for Afghan approval."

Forbes / Reuters Energy investors bemoan Peru's lost competitiveness: "[Energy executive Mile] Cacic told reporters he missed the 1990s, when Peru promoted itself with a stable regulatory framework and solid economy that attracted some $4.8 billion in investment into the energy sector, and giving Peru an energy surplus. Some business leaders here expressed concerns as Peru struggles to drum up cash to plug its fiscal deficit through higher taxes and moves to revise tax stability pacts which offered some businesses exemptions."

Planet Ark Peru jungle farmers raise cups to fair trade coffee: "But villagers might be raising cups of steaming coffee since this dirt-poor settlement of around 80 Ashaninka Indians in central Peru is betting its future on its fair trade coffee crop, which they hope will end up in the foamy cappuccinos of well-heeled and environmentally-minded consumers across the world."

Miami Herald Peruvians seek discovery and profit in UFOs: "As head of the Office to Investigate Aerial Phenomena, Chamorro directs a seven-member team in charge of studying what he calls 'anomalies that could cause problems with aviation.' Ostensibly, the office investigates planes that veer off course and hang gliders that steer too close to military bases, but that's not the crux of the work. Of the hundreds of calls received each month by the office, Chamorro says at least half are to report UFO sightings."

Washington Times Coca snuffs out Peru forest: "Analysts estimate that nearly 6 million acres of Peruvian rain forest have been hacked down in the past three decades to grow coca, a shrub leaf that is the primary source of cocaine. More than 14,800 tons of toxic chemicals are dumped into the Amazon jungle every year as traffickers turn coca into raw cocaine paste."

Japan Times Salsa is Japanese-Peruvian's salvation: "[Elsa Hatakeda Sanchez] called at Toyohashi City Hall in southern Aichi and asked for help with her plan to teach salsa. She had only three students initially, but now more than 100 take lessons from her in Nagoya and Gifu.Many students are young women, but she has also helped police officers and firefighters learn the moves."

Reuters Shining Path on prowl but a shadow of former self: "Officials say that while today's Shining Path, which is still on Washington's official list of terror groups, is a shadow of its former self, they warn that die-hard insurgents could be regrouping and updating tactics. They put the number of militants at around 450, mostly in poor mountain and jungle areas where drug trafficking is rife."

Forbes / Reuters Peru hopes 6th time lucky with Bayovar auction: "The sale of Bayovar, a world-class phosphate deposit located 630 miles (1,050 km) north of Lima, which boasts reserves of 800 million tonnes and is seen requiring investment of $600 million, has stalled as bidders have repeatedly failed to turn up to tenders."

Christian Science Monitor Peru casts light on a dark chapter from the past: "Swept like thousands of other Peruvians into the vortex of political violence here in the 1980s and 1990s, the high school teacher was arrested on suspicion of terrorism, thrown into jail after he refused to confess, and absolved after eight years in prison that left him partially paralyzed."

BBC Peruvians help Afghan airline: "The engineers were asked to work in Afghanistan when Ariana hired an international broker to find experts to perform tests on its aeroplanes, and teach the procedure to Afghan staff."

National Geographic News Ancient, Giant Images Found Carved Into Peru Desert: "The geoglyphs in the Palpa valley provide evidence that a new culture emerged in the region near the start of the Christian era, bringing with it new methods of building settlements and a new ideology. The etchings in the desert make up a sacred landscape honoring water and fertility."

Environment New Network Way of life and even ceviche at center of Peru mine debate: "In the process, Tambogrande has become a case study in globalization, one in which powerful financial interests seeking high returns have collided with the will of a town determined to maintain its way of life. The tale includes an unsolved murder, riots and looting, propaganda battles, a referendum, and continual finger-pointing. The Catholic Church has weighed in, and the debate has even touched ceviche, Peru's national seafood dish."

Latinamerica Press For Peruís indigenous people, participating in politics is both an individual and a collective right: "Under electoral laws passed in March and May, 15 percent of the slots on candidate slates for the November municipal and regional elections are set aside for representatives of the 1,274 native communities in the Peruvian Amazon. The laws apply to 101 districts in 29 provinces, spread throughout 11 departments located entirely or partly in the Amazon basin." Latin America Press is based in Lima so it's a good source to follow for trends in Peru.

Forbes / Reuters Peru's Edegel lines sale to help ease debt crunch: "Enersis S.A., which controls Endesa Chile, said earlier this week it was mulling selling some of Edegel's transmission lines to help ease debts of $10.8 billion. That sum includes a $1.4 billion loan payment to Enersis' parent, Spain's largest power group, Endesa." A lot of foreign companies that bought into the Peruvian privatization of state enterprises now have to offload debt to weather the downturn of the regional economy.

Forbes / Reuters Peru shears August fiscal deficit to 38 mln sls: "The government of President Alejandro Toledo is aiming for a 2002 budget deficit of 1.9 percent to 2.2 percent of gross domestic product, but some economists say that goal will be hard to meet as officials struggle to juggle fiscal discipline with the spending needs of this desperately poor country." Increasing tax revenue means looking at the many tax breaks for business and that steps on lots of toes.

Forbes / Reuters Peru manufacturing seen growing 3-3.5 pct in 2002: "The economy, which leans heavily on the mining and fishing sectors, grew 3.8 percent in August, fueled by increased construction, mining, and manufacturing activity. Manufacturing grew 4.1 percent while construction grew 7.8 percent in August. Rey said that the production of intermediary goods like textiles, paper, rubber and chemical products had also increased starting in July." When I was in Lima, you could see that the economy was improving, but it still has a heavy burden of 50% of its workforce being inadequately employed.

Chunsunilbo (South Korea) A Pervian's Dream in Seoul: "Christian (29) is a stall keeper from Peru, but she usually disguises her identification as a traveler from Brazil. Police siren always makes her nervous, as it is reported that the total number of illegal foreign stall keepers around Insa-dong and Shincheon dropped by fifty percent due to intensified patrols, however, Korean stall keepers give them more fear than the police do." Peruvians are going all over the world to try to make a living.

Reuters Peru Finds Inca Burial Site at Machu Picchu: "He [site administrator Fernando Astete] said other excavations in recent years at the atmospheric gray stone site, perched at an altitude of 8,200 feet on top of a mountain near the edge of Peru's southern jungle, had yielded some bone fragments but not Inca graves." I saw that Machu Pichu was listed among the top 10 sites to visit in the world by a travel expert.

BBC Peru sacks two Montesinos prosecutors: "The dismissals of Alejandro Espino and Richard Saavedra come two weeks before Mr Montesinos is due to face trial on numerous charges, including drug trafficking and human rights abuses." Peru alwasy manages to add strange twists to any story. This may be a setback for a speedy trial of Montesinos.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel / Reuters Ghastly discovery turns up 200 sacrificed fishermen "Archaeologists say the fishermen were knifed through the collarbone -- straight into the heart -- in a giant human sacrifice ceremony by members of the powerful Chimu people as a sign of gratitude to their revered sea god Ni after they conquered the fishermen's fertile seaside valley in 1350 A.D. The remains of the 107 intact bodies were found lying on their stomachs, their heads toward the water and their hands tied behind their backs." The dark side of pre-Columbian cultures.

Saturday, October 12


I have been doing some long-delayed maintenance on my site and found a lot of pictures that were not loading as they should, mainly in the Peru section. Because I converted from a Windows web server to Apache a few months ago, I missed a lot of graphic files that had capital letters in the file name and my links had all lower case, as should be the practice with Unix. I should have caught them when I converted the site, but it was a lot of work and I did not have the time to be thorough. Too much school work on top of my 9-to-5 job. I have taken the evening to go through all my web pages and check them so this should not happen again. My apologies.

Friday, October 11

Back in Action, but Wounded

I am typing these few words from my office during a break from all the work accumulated over the past 10 days. I have also added a few of the Peru stories that have appeared over the past 24 hours. I am also recovering by a bad stomach ailment, which I acquired not while I was in Peru, but from the cooking on American Airlines. By the way, AA is packing in the passengers so its financial problems cannot be the result of their international flights. There could not have been more than a handful of empty seats on both my flights with them.

Edmonton Journal Grimness of 9/11 inspires songs that celebrate life: Baca's soul shines through, even if you don't speak Spanish: "The album Espiritu Vivo (Spirit of Life) just won the Latin Grammy for Best Traditional Album as it continues to win her fans at home and abroad. Two previous discs for Luaka Bop, her eponymous 1997 debut and Eco de Sombras (2000) already established that she has an impressive range of expression, but Espiritu Vivo is the best showcase yet. Whether you know Spanish is almost irrelevant when it comes to drinking in her fabulous soul." Susana wins more fans.

Forbes / Retuers Italians seen struggling to sell Peru Banco Wiese: "Peru's banking system was hard hit by more than three years of economic stagnation, and market conditions are still tough: return on equity remains low for most banks. In Wiese's case, it is -2.34 percent, a far cry from Credito's 12.12 percent, according to data from Peru's banking regulator."

Forbes / Reuters France's TotalFinaElf in talks on Peru Camisea: "A report in business newspaper Gestion said TotalFinaElf was interested in buying up all of Pluspetrol's 36 percent stake in the project, but [local rep Miguel] Raffo said the report was 'a bit exaggerated.' Pluspetrol, Argentina's third-biggest oil producer, is leading a consortium to extract the gas."

Forbes / Reuters Peru's Montesinos denies Spanish bank graft-lawyer: "Montesinos was grilled by Spanish High Court judge Baltasar Garzon about alleged payments of millions of dollars that Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria's forerunner, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, may have made from secret accounts to the Peruvian government to win control of Banco Continental in 1995." This is a big story in Lima and stands to challenge all the big-name companies privitized in the past decade if it is proven that Montesinos had his finger in the pie.

Wednesday, October 9

Direct from Jorge Chavez International Airport

A few quick words from an Internet booth at Lima's airport, on my way back to Washington. I have two hours for my flight and want to take a fling at this type of remote filing.

One political trend struck me while I was here. The municipal and regional (really departmental) elections are two months away, but the campaign is in full swing with voter survey appearing every few days and the streets full of banners, posters, "pintas" and billboards shouting the virtues of the mayoral candidates. Over the weekend, I saw street marches of candidates trying to drum up support -- with eight weeks yet to go! There's even TV ads. From my early experience with municipal elections, this seems highly unusual this early in the campaign, especially given the sad plight of political parties in Peru.

It looks as if Toledo is not going to get the first year bounce that allowed the ruling party to win a lot of races in the first municipal elections of the term. This was the case of Fernando Belaunde and Accion Popular, Alan Garcia and APRA and Fujimori and his shifting alliances. The one exception might have been Fujimori's first term because he slammed the citizenry with price increases when he came in and was cornered by the traditional poltical parties. Most candidates from Peru Posible will have to run on their own merits.

Enough for the time being. I need to head for my gate. More news coming in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, October 8

A Quick Postcard

I've spent a lot of time with my wife's family this past week. I am returning to Washington tomorrow in the evening, arriving at noon on Thursday. Lima has changed a lot since I left back in early 1996. It's a mixed bag -- some good and some bad. I walked around Miraflores today and saw that, for the most part, the neighborhood has gone downhill, except for the new commercial development at LarcoMar, overlooking the Bay of Lima. It's turned Miraflores on its head because it's a new axis for business and commerce. At the other end, near the juncture of Arequipa, Benavides, Ricardo Palma and Larco avenues, it looks rundown. That spot used to be the heart of Miraflores.

More and more of the "gente decente" are moving out into the La Molina, Surco area where huge apartment complexes are springing up.

Street crime is up and it means tourists and others have to keep on the alert. A full 5-6 years of economic stagnation has stiffened the fight for survival. Lima used to be relatively safde. Not any more.

I have to get off the line because my mother-in-law gets charged by the minute for Internet and phone access so I don't want to run up her bill. More coming later once I get back home and have broadband access.

Tuesday, October 1

Out of office

I am in Peru for the next week so there will be few additions to this blog, but much more to come in the future as I refresh my acquaintance with Peru after being away for seven years.

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