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Security Agencies Probe Atiku’s Alleged Move To Stop Buhari’s Inauguration

Security agencies are probing alleged plot by the defeated presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to prevail on the United States to recognise him as the ‘authentic President’ of Nigeria.

The agencies are already on the trail of members of the Atiku Deservation Group behind the printing and distribution of the defeated candidate’s posters in some parts of the country.

The posters bore the inscription PUKKA, which in Hindi and Urda figuratively means ”fully formed”, “solid”, “permanent”, “for real” or “sure, authentic, genuine, solid and excellent”.

It was learnt that the security agencies are working on a theory that some groups loyal to Atiku were out for subversive activities against Buhari administration.

A part of the plot was to lobby members of the inner circle of President Donald Trump and the US Congress to delay its recognition of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The agenda was said to be an attempt to stop the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29.

Despite denial by Atiku and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), The Cable, an online news medium, yesterday claimed to have confirmed the payment of $30,000 by Atiku to a lobbying firm to “defeat” what it called “flagrant violence and irregularities orchestrated” by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Buhari to compromise the presidential election.”

According to a top source, the government does not treat the intelligence at its disposal on the engagement of the US firm, Fein & DelValle PLLC, with levity.

The source said: “The whole script is about subversive plot against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Security agencies picked up some intelligence and they are already investigating individuals and groups connected with it.

“It is not a case of crying wolf or an attempt to intimidate Atiku. Some clues were presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday. In fact, about eight ministers contributed to the issue to underscore the gravity of the case at hand.

“It was a resolution of FEC that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, should alert the nation through a media briefing.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “What we have at hand points to a semblance of treasonable felony, but security agencies are probing it.

“They are also on the trail of groups and individuals connected with this fresh plot against the government.”

When asked of the nature of the intelligence at the disposal of the government, Mohammed said: “You do not expect me to disclose this.”

Meanwhile, The Cable claimed yesterday to have confirmed that Atiku paid $30,000 to Fein & DelValle PLLC, a US firm.

It said the PDP presidential candidate “sought the services of the company in his bid to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari.”

The newspaper said: “The Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP) had reported how Atiku hired Bruce Fein, a former official of the US justice department, and his firm Fein & DelValle PLLC, in March.

“In its terms and conditions for representation, Fein & DelValle PLLC had said it would establish and operate a situation room located in its Capitol Hill offices in the US and enlist the services of Lloyd Ukwu, a Nigerian barrister and trusted confidant of Atiku, to assist in the operation of the situation room.

“The firm also proposed to execute strategies to secure the US endorsement of Atiku’s efforts to defeat what it called “flagrant violence and irregularities orchestrated” by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Buhari to compromise the presidential election.

“Twenty-four hours after the report was published, Atiku denied paying money to US consultants in his bid to dislodge Buhari, his main rival in the February 23 election.

“But documents seen by The cable showed that Atiku paid the money to the firm two days after signing a 90-day contract (April 1, 2019 to July 1, 2019). He signed the contract on March 24 and paid the money on March 26.

“The amount was budgeted for costs and expenses for the 90-day period. In addition, the agreement was for Atiku to separately pay all pre-approved international travels, business class.

“According to a document received by the United States’ department of justice foreign agents’ registration act (FARA), with registration number 6654, on April 2, Fein & DelValle, PLLC, registered as a foreign agent for Atiku and the PDP on March 20.

“FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.

“The firm said it received $30,000 from Atiku on March 26, which was confirmed in item 9(a) under the financial information clause of the registration statement.

“In item 9(b), the firm made it clear that it did not receive any other thing of value other than money from Atiku.

“The lobbyist firm, a registered and active corporate law firm in the US, stated that the agreement with Atiku is in a formal written document.”

In an interview with NAN, the Executive Director of the Deservation group, Dr. Sani Adamu, justified the theme of PUKKA.

He claimed that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the PDP in the just concluded presidential election is Nigeria’s authentic president.

Reminded that Atiku already has a case before the presidential election petition tribunal, Adamu expressed confidence that Abubakar would get justice at the tribunal.

NAN said a search on the web address (www.deservation.org) shows Atiku Deservation Movement (Project 774 for Atiku 2019) with RC 1167591 with the contact Magaji/Sanda Ward Yola South Adamawa State as well as phone number and a mail address. (The Nation)

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Trump Blames US ‘Foolishness, Stupidity’ Heading Into Summit With Putin |RN

By AFP

President Donald Trump headed into his first summit with Vladimir Putin on Monday determined to forge a personal bond with the Kremlin chief, saying only “stupidity” by prior administrations had brought US-Russian ties to their present low.Hours before the Helsinki summit, Trump was asked if he would press Putin over Russia’s alleged manipulation of the 2016 election that brought the mercurial property tycoon to power. He said only: “We’ll do just fine.”

Democrats had called for the summit’s cancellation after new revelations surrounding the alleged election meddling.

But Trump has insisted it is “a good thing to meet”, as he attempts to replicate with Putin the sort of personal rapport he proclaims with the autocratic leaders of China and North Korea.

If the pair does find common ground, then the summit may take the heat out of some of the world’s most dangerous conflicts, including Syria.

But there are many points of friction that could yet spoil Trump’s hoped-for friendship with the wily former KGB spymaster.

Trump began the day’s talks by meeting Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto, who has loaned his harbour-front palace for the occasion.

But first, he fired a Twitter broadside at his domestic opponents, blaming the diplomatic chill on the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted.

After a stormy NATO summit in Brussels last week, Trump was accused by critics of cosying up to Putin while undermining the transatlantic alliance.

But over breakfast with Niinisto, he insisted NATO “has never been stronger” and “never been more together” thanks to his insistence on all allies paying their fair share.

With Washington and Moscow at loggerheads over Ukraine, Iran and trade tariffs as well as Syria, even Trump has cautioned that he is not approaching the Putin summit “with high expectations”.

The brash 72-year-old billionaire has been president for 18 months while Putin, 65, has run Russia for the past 18 years.

In a weekend interview with CBS News, Trump admitted that Russia remains a foe, but he put Moscow on a par with China and the European Union as economic and diplomatic rivals.

The Kremlin has also played down hopes that the odd couple will emerge from their first formal one-on-one summit with a breakthrough.

Putin, who arrived in Helsinki Monday after playing host at the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday, has remained tense in the run-up to the summit.

On Friday his adviser Yuri Ushakov played down expectations, saying: “The state of bilateral relations is very bad…. We have to start to set them right.”

Giving up ground?

Indeed, after the bad-tempered NATO summit and a contentious trip by Trump to Britain, anxious European leaders may be relieved if not much comes out of the Helsinki meeting.

Those leaders are already fuming over Trump’s imposition of trade tariffs on various countries, including Russia.

Turning the tables, European Union President Donald Tusk said Trump was guilty of “spreading fake news” with his remark about foes, and warned that the trade tensions could spiral into violent “conflict and chaos”.

“Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it,” he tweeted.

“I hope this message reaches Helsinki.”

Protesters have been on the streets of Helsinki to denounce the policies of both Trump and Putin. Greenpeace draped a giant banner down a church tower urging: “Warm our hearts, not our planet.”

Trump is also under pressure from Britain to press Putin over the nerve agent poisoning of four people in southern England.

One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, has died and her 19-year-old son Ewan Hope told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: “We need to get justice for my mum.”

Extradition demand?
Many fear that Trump — in his eagerness to prove that he was right to seek the summit with Putin despite US political opposition — may give up too much ground.

Trump has refused to personally commit to the US refusal to recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea, leaving open the possibility of a climbdown linked to a promise by Putin to somehow rein in Iranian influence in Syria.

If Washington were to acquiesce in Russia’s 2014 land-grab, this would break with decades of US policy and send tremors through NATO’s exposed eastern flank.

And there will be outrage at home if Trump does not confront Putin over the election scandal.

But the US leader would not say whether he would demand the extradition of 12 Russian intelligence officers who were indicted last week by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller.   (The Guardian)

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China Hits Back At Trump Tariffs As Trade War Finally Arrives ( Video) |RN

 China said it doesn’t fear a trade war with the U.S. and announced plans for reciprocal tariffs on $3 billion of imports from the U.S. in the first response to President Donald Trump’s ordering of levies on Chinese metal exports.China plans tariffs on imports of U.S. pork imports, recycled aluminium, steel pipes, fruit and wine, according to a Commerce Ministry statement on Friday. China will also pursue legal action against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization in response to the U.S. planned tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, the statement said and called for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

The announcement came hours after Trump instructed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to slap tariffs on at least $50 billion in Chinese imports. That was in addition to the metals duties ordered earlier this month on China and other countries. The news sent U.S. equities tumbling, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 724 points, almost 3 percent, its biggest drop in six weeks. All major indexes in Asia also fell on Friday.

“The U.S. declared a trade war, but China is acting quite restrained. The list that China has announced appears to be a retaliation, but still, it is very measured,” said Li Yong, senior fellow of China Association of International Trade. “The move sends a message that China is able to fight back, but we still want a trade peace instead of a trade war.”

The U.S. will impose 25 percent duties on targeted Chinese products to compensate for the harm caused to the American economy from China’s policies, according to a fact sheet released by USTR. The proposed product list will include items in aerospace, information and communication technology and machinery. The USTR will announce the proposed list in the next “several days,” according to the fact sheet.

Long in Making

“This has been long in the making,” Trump said, adding that the tariffs could affect as much as $60 billion in goods. “We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on” with China affecting hundreds of billions of dollars in trade each year, he said.

As he signed the tariffs order, Trump told reporters, “This is the first of many.”

“This is an opening gambit by China, signalling that the imposition of tariffs by the U.S. will elicit what Beijing views as a proportionate retaliatory response,” said Eswar Prasad, a former chief of the International Monetary Fund’s China division and now a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “China has the ability to inflict significant economic harm on U.S. exporters of certain goods and can also use other overt as well as covert actions such as supply chain disruptions to hurt U.S. manufacturers.”

Brookings Institution’s Eswar Prasad discusses President Trump’s tariffs against China and the expected retaliation.

a close up of a black background: Chinese Goods Coming to America         © Provided by Bloomberg LP Chinese Goods Coming to America

Policymakers across the world are warning of a brewing trade war that could undermine the broadest global recovery in years. Meanwhile, business groups representing companies ranging from Walmart Inc. to Amazon.com Inc. are warning U.S. tariffs could raise prices for consumers and sideswipe stock prices.

Fed Warnings

Even central banks, which normally stay above the fray of trade spats, are weighing in. “A number of participants reported about their conversations with business leaders around the country and reported that trade policy has become a concern,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said this week while cautioning that trade issues haven’t changed the Fed’s outlook. The Bank of England warned Thursday that increased protectionism could have a “significant negative impact” on global growth.

Trump also directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to propose new investment restrictions on Chinese companies within 60 days to safeguard technologies the U.S. views as strategic, said senior White House economic adviser Everett Eissenstat.

Chinese President Xi Jinping                          © Getty Chinese President Xi Jinping

The Trump administration is framing the move as a major turning point in U.S.-China relations. It followed a seven-month investigation by USTR into allegations China violates U.S. intellectual property, under the seldom-used section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act. The U.S. concluded China engages in a range of violations, including policies that force American companies to transfer technology and the accessing of trade secrets through hacking, said Eissenstat.

The initial Chinese response may not be as severe as many fear but the conflict could easily escalate, said Robert Manning, an expert on U.S.-China relations at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

“What you’re probably going to get from the Chinese is a low-key response to try to negotiate their way out of it,” Manning said. “I just worry if it gets really ugly, they may go for the nuclear option.”

He says nuclear option would be to sell a “couple hundred billion” in U.S. Treasuries, which would tank markets and raise U.S. interest rates.

Trump tried to make it clear he wasn’t trying to provoke China or its leader, President Xi Jinping.

“I view them as a friend. I have tremendous respect for President Xi,” Trump said. But, the U.S.’s trade deficit with China is “the largest deficit in the history of our world,” he said.

Trump’s actions represent a “seismic shift from an era dating back to Nixon and Kissinger, where we had as a government viewed China in terms of economic engagement,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told reporters on Thursday. “That process has failed.”

“The problem is that with the Chinese in this case, talk is not cheap. It has been very expensive for America,” said Navarro. “Finally the president decided that we needed to move forward.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross predicted a strong stand on trade would bring concessions without escalating into a broader conflict. ‘We will end up negotiating these things rather than fighting over them, in my view,” Ross said.

Before the tariffs become final, there will be a 30-day comment period, the White House said. Trump also directed his officials to pursue a World Trade Organization complaint against China for discriminatory licensing practices.    (Bloomberg)

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2019 Election: Nigeria Attracts United States Attention |The Republican News

Trump-and-Buhari

The US speaks on Nigeria’s 2019 Election

As Nigeria prepares for the 2019 general election, the United States says it’s major priority now is to see a peaceful transition, as the country occupies a strategic position in Africa.

The US Department of State said this during a background briefing on the first trip of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Africa, monitored by NAN, in New York.

Tillerson would meet with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government functionaries, and also leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya during his travels from Tuesday, March 6 to 13.

The department said over two decades ago, the number of countries in Africa with the really democratically elected government were really very few – only three or four.

It said, however, now we had over two dozen African countries with democratically elected governments and which are hopefully not going to have transitions in government through coup d’etats and other illegal methods.

“As we look at the 20 elections, obviously Nigeria, though it’s not this year – it’s going to be next year – that really is a major priority focus, because that’s going to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050.

“It was really very complex political issues and ethnic and tribal issues and security issues,

“And that’s an area that we really are focusing on how to do a peaceful transition, a democratic transition, but more important is how to hold governments accountable to the people,” the state department said.

The department explained that obviously, a lot of those African countries were still fragile democracies and the U.S. was trying to strengthen them.

The US commended the most recent elections in Liberia, saying it was the first open, fair, and peaceful transition of governments in over 75 years, saying that it is a good thing.

It regretted what it called the “horrendous rule of Charles Taylor and the degradation of the institutions there, but now we’ll be going back and they’re building, and I think with the election of George Weah, there is going to be a positive thing”.

The US also noted the election of Nana Akufo-Addo in Ghana, Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire and Macky Sall in Senegal, describing them as positive developments.

It said, however, that Ethiopia remained a challenge for the U.S. and a focus for it as well and an opportunity.

The US explained that it was looking at trying to build institutions and strengthen them, and also have peaceful transitions and hold governments accountable to the people in Ethiopia.

It said it was also looking at how it could have reconciliation and dialogues between all of the different groups – the Oromos, the Amharas, the Tigrays, and also in Kenya with the opposition and with the ruling government.

Accordingly, the department said building strong institutions and holding governments accountable are some of the things that are certainly going to be the subjects of discussion during Tillerson trip.

“How do we advance political and economic reform that will help in the transition process? Those are issues too that we’re working in Zimbabwe with the transition between Robert Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“And also we’re looking hopefully at South Africa with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa from Jacob Zuma and seeing how that is going to transform the country,” the state department said.   (NAN)

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UFC Legend, Ronda Rousey Trains For Wrestling Career With WWE Star Natalya

Neil Docking
                  © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited 

UFC legend Ronda Rousey has released a new video showing her training for a future wrestling career with WWE superstar Natalya.

The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion has long been rumoured to be preparing to compete at WrestleMania 34 next year.

Rousey has previously dabbled in ring work at the Santino Bros. Wrestling Academy in California, run by Joey Kaos and Mongol Santino.

a person wearing a costume: Credits: © WWE             © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: © WWE  

Current WWE superstar The Brian Kendrick’s school is now featured in a new trailer for the launch of Ronda Rousey’s upcoming website.

The video shows the 30-year-old mixed martial arts icon practising in the ring with former WWE Smackdown Live Women’s Champion Natalya.

Natalya Neidhart, 35, from Calgary, Canada, is the world’s first third-generation female wrestler and a member of the famous Hart family.

Related: Ronda Rousey Is Stopped 48 Seconds Into Comeback At UFC 207 |The Republican News

Training with Natalya, the daughter of wrestler Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart and Ellie Hart – the daughter of Stu Hart – shows Rousey is stepping things up a gear.

Natalya is a two-time WWE world champion and was the first woman to train in the legendary Hart family ‘Dungeon’ with her uncles Bret and Ross Hart.

There is also a clip featuring Rousey working out in what appears to be WWE’s acclaimed Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

More footage shows the Olympic bronze medallist in judo backstage and ringside at WWE’s Mae Young Classic tournament in July. Last month Rousey attended an NXT show in her home city of Riverside, California, hugging Japanese star Kairi Sane on her way to the ring.

Related: Ronda Rousey’s Mum Wants Her To Retire Following Loss At UFC 207 |The Republican News

There is speculation the Four Horsewomen of MMA will face the Four Horsewomen of NXT at WrestleMania 34 on April 8, 2018.

The Four Horsewomen of MMA are Rousey, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler – the latter now signed to WWE.

The Four Horsewomen of NXT are SmackDown Live members Charlotte and Becky Lynch, plus Raw’s Sasha Banks and Bayley.

Both groups take their self-adopted nickname from arguably the greatest stable in professional wrestling history – The Four Horsemen.

The original dominant faction, led by Charlotte’s dad Ric Flair, also included Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Ole Anderson.

The women had a face-off at the Mae Young Classic in July – when Baszler reached the final before losing to Sane – hinting at a future feud.

Rousey was also part of an in-ring segment with The Rock, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at WrestleMania 31 back in 2015.

person standing in front of a store: Credits: © WWE          © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: © WWE  

After a confrontation she got physical with both Stephanie and Triple H and has since been training for a professional wrestling debut.

In October, Triple H, WWE’s executive vice president of talent, live events and creative, said the interest between the parties was mutual.

“Ronda has made no secret her whole career that she has been a huge fan of WWE growing up,” The Game said.

Credits: Zuffa LLC via Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Zuffa LLC via Getty  

“She has been on record saying WWE is probably some of the most fun that she has ever had in her entire career.”

HHH, aka Paul Levesque, added: “I have been out there publicly saying that if she wants the opportunity, I am happy to give it to her.

“She is looking for the opportunity, so it seems like a perfect match-up. I am excited to have the conversation with her and see where it goes.”

A clash involving all eight women at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana next year would certainly be a marquee attraction. (Mirror)

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Donald Trump Hits Out At Republicans Telling Them: ‘You Don’t Have My Back!’

James Tennent
                   © Getty  

US President Donald Trump has criticised his Republican colleagues by saying that they were not doing enough to “protect” him.

“It’s very said that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” Trump tweeted after another post calling investigations into Russian interference in the last election “phoney”.

“As the phoney Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In the last few days, Trump has been active on social media, as he dismisses the crises still unfolding in only his sixth month of presidency. On Saturday (22 July), he once again attacked Hillary Clinton, eight months after his election victory.

Donald Trump walking towards Air Force One© JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images Donald Trump walking towards Air Force One  

Also, there was another Twitter dig at his own party came on Saturday when the president wrote: “The Republican Senators must step up to the plate and, after 7 years, vote for Repeal and Replace. Next, Tax Reform and Infrastructure. WIN!”

Trump’s overhauling agenda has been slowed by the realities of Washington politics. After a tight push to get the bill through the House of Representatives, efforts to pass a bill replacing Obama’s signature health care policy fell apart.

Republicans on the right of the party argued that the bill did too little to scrap the Affordable Care Act while more moderate senators in the party wanted a less drastic change. The Congressional Budget Office has produced a series of scores for the evolving Republican health care bill that continually shows millions of Americans losing health coverage under the plans.

Trump promises to reform the tax system and create a huge infrastructure bill have been stymied by the continuing failures to progress with health care. (IBT)

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Russia Demands Return Of Diplomatic Property From U.S |The Republican News

 Russia is demanding the immediate return of diplomatic properties seized by the Obama administration after claims Moscow hacked the US election.
The Kremlin has accused the United States of setting conditions on the return of the compounds in New York and Maryland.

Former president Barack Obama ordered their seizure in December as well as the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.

Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in election hacking.

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov will meet US undersecretary of state Thomas Shannon to try to thrash out a solution on Monday.

His boss, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, was also reported as saying on a visit to Belarus that “anti-Russian feeling” in the United States meant it was not certain that Moscow and Washington could agree on key global issues.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We consider it absolutely unacceptable to place conditions on the return of diplomatic property, we consider that it must be returned without any conditions and talking.”

President Putin and President Trump met at a summit in Hamburg last week© Reuters President Putin and President Trump met at a summit in Hamburg last week

President Vladimir Putin raised the issue with Donald Trump when they met for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg this month.

Mr Obama said he was ordering the ban due to US intelligence reports of Russian hacking and an alleged influence campaign to sway the US presidential election in Mr Trump’s favour.

He said Moscow was using the compounds for “intelligence-related purposes”.

The Russian President held off from retaliating at the time and said he would wait to see how Mr Trump reacted after he came into the White House.

However, hopes that Mr Trump will soon act on his campaign pledges to boost relations have faded as any ties to Moscow have become toxic.

The White House has faced a maelstrom of US investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Russia is intensifying its threats that it could now retaliate by blocking a country house and a storage facility used by the US Embassy in Moscow.

Mr Lavrov said last week: “If Washington decides not to solve this issue, we will have to take counter actions.”

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova complained that the US was also refusing to issue visas for Russian diplomats to replace those expelled. (Sky News)

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