Monday, May 30, 2005

Intelligence Operative Shot Dead AGAIN!

An intelligence operative of the Sri Lanka Army was this morning at about 7.50 a.m. (SL Time) in Polhengoda, Colombo 05. Maj Nizam Muthalif, a senior military intelligence official sustained heavy injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital. Though police asked the media not to disclose the hospital to which to which the wounded person was taken, they later admitted that he was dead on admission.


Update: I corrected the name. The cop who spoke to me in the morning was a moron who couldn't spell.

Here's a link to the BBC story.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

We Are Family!

Look, I know this really shouldn't be a surprise.

But someone (thanks G) tells me that many of the contracts for reconstruction of permanent houses for Tsunami victims in the Hambantota district have been given to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's brother.

We do have someone out there at the end of next week and I will verify this. But this is really nothing to be surprised about. Come on, I'd be surprised if Mahinda's family were not profiting on the work going on in Hambantota.

Also we have someone going back to the Galabodawatta estate in a few days so you'll know what's going on there right now.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

JVP Hatton Office Raided

I didn't see this in the papers today so I don't think it's broken yet. Or maybe no one's interested in knowing what went down, but it seems the JVP's Hatton office was raided by the police sometime yesterday or the day before yesterday. I have been trying to contact someone over there for more information but have yet been unable to do so. Sorry.

It seems there was a protest in one of the estates about some labor related issue and the JVP head honcho for the area had been involved in it. But now it seems the JVP is trying to play it down and say it was just a routine search. According to what I heard the cops didn't even have a warrant!

I guess all those JVP buggers got used to cops jumping into their houses and offices in the late 80s :)

But right now they don't want to create a stir because they don't want to piss of H.E. (that's Her Excellency you asses!). They would generally put their foot down and say they are a part of the Government and they can't be treated like this blah blah. But now seems to be not-the-right-time for them.

You'll hear more about this (if there's anything more to say) when I do.


The Ampara STF Walmart

Someone who came in from Ampara yesterday told me about how the UN officers in the district had found a very large warehouse (about half the size of a football field as I was told) which contains dry rations that had been transported to the area for distribution to the Tsunami affected people.

Apparently the STF which is supposed to be providing security to the warehouse has been using it like their personal supermarket for the past few months! No they don't go around there with shopping carts, but you know what I mean.

Apparently, last week the UN officials in the District spoke to the District Secretary about this problem. They were quite pissed off that the STF was using aid that had been sent to the country to be distributed to the displaced people. It seems the Secretary admitted that there is a serious problem and has now agreed to let the WFP handle the warehouse and distribution of the goods.

According to what I heard the handover is supposed to happen on the coming monday.

Oh my, I guess those poor murdering bastards in the STF will just have to go back to their rations!


Cinnamon Gardens

You might be wondering why on earth I was looking for the number of the UDA office in Matara.

Well, here's a story that I was partly told and partly followed up.

Once upon a time there was a biut of land named Galabodawatta in the Hikkaduwa Division, in the Southern province. This land was owned by the Land Reclamation Authority. So it was Government land. But then it was given to Namunukula Plantations and they began to grow cinnamon and coconut there.

By 2005 it was a thriving plantation which employed 15 full time employees and also provided employment to some 85 people in the village who would cut the cinnamon and pluck the coconuts and do the processing of the goods. Also, the villagers depended on the plantation for coconut leaves for their thatched roof houses and would never had to buy coconut for food because they could walk to the plantation and pick one up. They never stole and the security guards at the plantation never had a problem.

The estate is 242 acres and 100 acres of this barren land which is not used for anything.

So then the Tsunami happens and the Government begins to look for land to resettle people.

The Galle District Tsunami Disaster Management Committee takes this land back from the Namunukula Plantations and sets about preparing it for housing. By last week they had uprooted 500 fertile coconut trees and cleared 52 acres of prime cinnamon plantation. They did this will bulldozers so the people of the village could do nothing. In February the Prime Minister himself laid the foundation stones for this scheme.

And what is surprising is that they did not touch the 100 acres of unused land. Some people say this is politically motivated because the village is known to be a UNP stronghold. But I think it's more bureaucratic stupidity than political motives.

So, now because of the Government's plans there are a 100 starving families in Galabodawatta who have lost their income. They have not been given any compensation because they were not direct employees of the estate. They were informal day wage labourers and it was easy and legal to say 'fuck off' when they asked for help.

The big man in the area who was responsible for acquiring land is Minister Piyasena Gamage. He's actually the Minister of Skills Development, Vocational and Technical Education, which has nothing to do with the story, but he's also the Chairman of the Galle District Tsunami Disaster Management Committee.

When I spoke to him this morning (getting his mobile phone number was a bitch, but easier than getting the UDA number) he claimed the land was not fertile and there was nothing growing on it and that it was OK to build houses there. He also did not hesitate to remind me that all us buggers in the media had been shouting for housing for the displaced people.

But the estate manager Daya Nimalasiri does not agree with the Minister. Nimalasiri's an experienced planter says the estate was very productive and now they have lost everything. He said about 5 million rupees worth of cinnamon plants had been razed to the ground already.

Ain't that a mindfuck?

If anyone in the mainstream media wants to follow up this story please send me and email and I'll send you all the contact numbers.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Phind the Phone Number

Here's a little game we'll play today. It's called phind the phone number.

The aim is to find the phone number of the Southern Province office of the UDA (Urban Development Authority). If anyone can do this faster than me they can have my job, which I assure you pays very well.

This is how you go.

Step 01
Get the directory. Look for the UDA listings. Find the listed number for the UDA's Southern Province office in Matara (+94 41 222 2920). When you call that there's a grumpy man who says it's not the UDA office anymore and asks you to bugger off. When you ask him if he has a number for the new UDA office then he says no and asks you to bugger off even more aggressively.

Step 02
Look for Galle sub-office, to see if someone there can give me a number. (+94 91 222 2935). No one answers.

Step 03
Look for Hambantota sub-office to see if someone there can give me a number. (+94 47 222 2069). No one answers.

Step 04
Call up UDA HQ in Sethsiripaya in Colombo. There are too many listed numbers for me to put them all here, but all of them are engaged all the time. But I did get through after about 15 minutes of hammering away. And then I spoke to some woman there.

Me: Can I have the number for the Southern Province office of the UDA?

She:'s 09 41370

Me: But those are the old numbers. The new ones have lots of 2s in them.

She: but this one works. There's another one 09 41370.

Me: But that's the same one you gave me earlier.

She: Oh yeah (giggles) You're right. Here's another one. 09 34830

Me: But this one doesn't have any 2s in it either.

She: Try it. It works.

Me: So what's the name of the guy in charge there?

She: I don't know.

Me: Thanks. Bye.

Step 05
Call the numbers she gives you. An annoying SLT voice tells you that the numbers have been changed. When you dial 09 41370 first a voice tells you to add 22 before the phone number. I do that and dial 09 2241370. Then another annoying SLT voice informs me that number too has been changed and asks me to add a 1 after the area code. So I do it and dial 091 2241370.

Step 06
A cranky old woman answers the phone.

Me: Is this the Southern Province UDA office?

She: ThisisnotthebloodyUDAofficeanymoreanddon'tcallagain.

Me: Do you have a number for their new office?


Play the game boys and girls! Phind the Phone number!

I did find it in the end but the game was much more fun. Met a lot of very interesting people on the way there. For a moment I was starting to think my name was Alice and the phone number was a white rabbit.


More MIA


Since I had problems with my stash allowing me space and since some Anon guy had problems with me sharing MIA's music I decided to upload short sample clips from 3 od her songs for people to get an idea of what she's about.

Sample of Sunshowers
Dur: 34 Sec
File Size: 169 KB

Sample of U.R.A.Q.T.
Dur: 33 Sec
File Size: 163 KB

Sample of Pull Up The People
Dur: 46 Sec
File Size: 228 KB

And for the Anon who said he'd not read about her 'EROS connection':

She is not connected to the EROS. EROS does not really exist anymore. DUH!

All I said was her father is Arul Pragasam a.k.a. Arular who was one of the early members of EROS. Her first album is named after him, Arular. EROS was one of the groups that threw in their lot with the LTTE in 1990, just in case you didn't know.

Here's a good interview with MIA on pitchformedia.


Monday, May 16, 2005


I had for download 2 MIA songs...Pull Up The People and U.R.A.Q.T., but as you can see they are not linked anymore because my Geocities stash was giving me problems and there was some Anon bugger who made a fuss about me sharing her music. He did have a point though, so check later posts to download samples.

I don't think it's entirely legal offering her music for download like this but no one I know in Sri Lanka has heard her and I thought it would be good to share a few songs. A friend of mine coming in from New York soon is trying to pick up a copy of her CD Arular for me. If I do get it I will hopefully grab and upload.

MIA at Amoeba Records in San Fran
(sometimes the image might not show because of the same problem with Geocities)

The image was sent to me by my cousin in SF who was there at the show.

For those of you who do not know, MIA is a artist of Sri Lankan origin who's been making quite a stir in the US.

Her name's Mathangi 'Maya' Arulapragasam and she's the daughter of former EROS member Arul Pragasam a.k.a. Arular. Here's a link to a page on that has some excerpts from Narayan Swami's book 'Tigers of Lanka: From Boys to Guerillas' which has a few lines about Arular. Yes, just in case you're wondering why some music is on Nittewa, this is why. It's just a matter of time before she becomes a much-talked-about-person in Colombo. Some people claim that her music is pro-LTTE and pro-terrorism and all kinds of shit like that. But from I have heard she seems perfectly alright. But then, people are bigots anyway. I think some funky pro-LTTE hip hop would be bloody good :)

Here's MIA's official site.

I assure you there will be more posts on this in the future.

If you want a lot more info and debate on her you can check out SepiaMutiny which has been following her all over the place.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Police Record

How many of y'all here know that cop Thangavelu?

How many of y'all here have heard that he gets his kicks from torturing people and from generally being a not nice person? Well, that's what I've heard as well. But here's a little bit of information about him that I don't think most people know.

It turns out that back when he was a wee lad, 17 or 18 or somewhere there, he was a misfit in school (I won't mention the school coz too many people will be offended) and was so upset that no one liked him that he popped some pills one day and tried to commit suicide. According to hospital records he was almost successful. He was in a coma and apparently brain dead for 2 hours, says one schoolmate who was there at the hospital.

But then, because some madass doctor refused to give up, he came back to life. Dude, maybe they expeimented on him and did all kinds of anal shit to him! Like in the X-Files!

And now he's our Deputy Inspector General of Police (or is he ex-DIG? After all I am an armchair gossip. You really can't expect me to check things like that).

So anyways, when I heard this story, I was thinking to myself, he's a known felon. Attempted suicide is a felony! and you can go to prison for it! So our DIG is a criminal! And he made his way up through the ranks of the Police being a criminal all the time. Don't they do background checks in that institution?

Oh my god!!! What else have our cops been upto? Any more rapists, paedos and the likes in there? How can we trust basket cases like Thangavelu to police the country?

So, next time a cop stops you and says 'Can I see some ID' say 'Can I see your police record?'


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Closing doors...

Dammit they're making life even more difficult for people like me.

TAFREN just manhandled the Ministry of Environment to give all their researchers a gag order. Everyone who's even kinda working for the Ministry of Environment, even the freelance environmental consultants who are working on the Post-Tsunami Environmental Impact Assessment (PTEIA) have been told that they cannot speak to the media about anything they do.

Just a few weeks ago I tapped a fairly big source in the Central Environmental Authority for some info on how TAFREN is disregarding their suggestions (read full tale here). Now it seems TAFREN's Mano has woken up to the fact that even though he can gag their people and stop them from talking to the media, he really can't stop people from other Ministries, Departments and Authorities from talking to the media. I don't know whose arm he had to twist to get the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to gag their people, but gagged they have been.

The freelancer I spoke to was very very pissed off that he couldn't give me anything 'on the record'. But he promised me a tell-all interview about the PTEIA the moment his contract with the Ministry is done.


Petty Theft...

I just heard from a friend that a very prominent civil society activist recently had their laptop stolen under rather suspicious circumstances.

Now let me yell conspiracy! and say that I think it might be certain elements within the JVP and/or the Patriotic National Movement who were responsible for it. I mention both groups here but there is really no distinction between them. I'll explain that later.

Why do I say this?

A) This person (from whom the laptop was stolen) was one of the people mentioned by the JVP's Wimal Weerawansa in the recent series of speeches seeking to expose the so-called imperialist agenda of the NGOs working in Sri Lanka.

B) The circumstances under which the laptop was stolen. Sorry, can't disclose. There's not much that I don't disclose but this is one of those things. You're just going to have to take my word for it.

C) It's not that easy to sell a laptop on the black market here. Actually, a laptop would be one of the hardest things to sell on the black market. So I don't think it was a random theft.

And of course, I might be completely wrong and it might have been some kudda (drug addict) who stole it for a fast buck. But this, along with certain other happenings in the past few weeks have made several of the bigger Colombo based NGOs step up their security significantly. Ironically, the ones that have stepped up security are the very NGO's that I think should be investigated. The ones that are actually doing good work continue to go about their work ignoring the ranting and raving of the JVP. If you don't have anything to hide I guess you don't need security, right?

Anyways as for the ones who have upped their security, are they justified in thinking the JVP would stoop so low as to resort to petty theft?

Wake up! It was petty theft that financed the founding of the movement! I watch my wallet when I'm with those weasels!


Monday, May 09, 2005

Lost in photocopying and faxing...

Here's a funny one...

This is how the financial aid to the displaced people is distributed:

The person goes to the Gramasevaka and puts their name down as a affected person. The name is written in Sinhala. Once he has this list for his whole village the Gramasevaka goes over to the Divisional Secretary and gives the list and says these are the people in my village who need the aid.

The Div Sec then makes a photocopy of the list and then sends it over to the District Secretary (along with the lists of all the other Gramasevaka lists from his division)

The Dist Sec then takes all the lists from the various Div Secs in his district and compiles a final list and faxes it to the Treasury in Colombo, and asks them to release aid for that many people.

Someone at the Treasury looks at the list (which by this time is a mangled jumble of letters) and signs it and releases the money to the People's Bank. They then fax the list of names over to the People's Bank.

Someone at the PB looks at the list and opens accounts for all the people using their 'new computer system' (which could mean anything). The names for these accounts are in English.

They open the accounts and then notify the people. The affacted are told they can walk over to the local PB with identification (or a letter from the Gramasevaka if they lost their ID) and collect their money from their account.

But what happens is that when a lot of people go to the PB branch to collect their money they find the name on the account and the name on the ID are very very different. All the passing from person to person and all the photocopying and faxing has fucked things up royally!

So then the affcted person makes a complaint to the manager of the PB and says, 'look here, that ass at the counter is refusing to give me my money because she says my name is different'. Then the manager says 'Oh, that's become quite a common problem. Make an official request to get the name changed on the account and we'll have your account, with the new name ready in a few weeks and you can have your money'. The affected person (justifiably) flips at this point.

I mean, really man, isn't this like the 21st century or something like that?


Scary thought...

Here's a scary thought,

Why didn't the JVP make a noise when the US marines came to Sri Lanka, supposedly for Tsunami aid work? I'd have expected them to fight it to the bitter end. And in their anti-NGO propaganda why isn't the JVP targeting anything remotely connected to USAID? Why don't they talk about the American Imperialists in their speeches? Doesn't everyone (including myself) love to bash the Americans for all the world's evil? And didn't the JVP openly bash the Americans in the past? Why this sudden change of heart? Why is the JVP putting up with USAID's involvement in SLBC (the State Radio Broadcaster?)

Is the CIA paying them something to destabilize the Government Sri Lanka? Gasp!

Am I kidding? No.

Isn't that what the CIA has been so good at doing in South America? They fund local groups to destablise Governments they don't like. Or they destabilize any Government which might become too strong and threaten their stranglehold.

Dude, is the JVP really just a front for the CIA now?

Scary scary thought. Nightmares tonight.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Buffer zone blues...

Random disorganized thoughts about the buffer zone...

Does anyone know what the buffer zone is really about? I didn't know much till a few days ago when I started digging and I still don't know as much as I would like to.

What legal framework is the Government banking on to implement their 100 meter buffer zone? As far as I know what they are using is the 1987 Coastal Conservation Act (CCA), which says nothing can be built upto 300 meters from the beach. For the past 18 years the Government and the people have disregarded this law, and have built whatever they wanted to build wherever they wanted to build along the beach.

If the Government wants to implement this law then implement the law properly and ask for a clearing of 300 meters. But this law was not made thinking about a Tsunami. Which is what makes the CCA a poor tool for Tsunami-damage-prevention.

Here are some practical problems with implementing the 100 meters.

The Galle road and the Colombo-Matara railway line, for much of their length run inside the 100 meter buffer zone. If the Government is concerned about the people living inside the 100 meters in the case of another Tsunami, then shouldn't they also be worried about the people on the trains and on the road who might be a lot closer to the sea than a 100 meters? Are they going to shift the entire Galle road and the train line inland? But then that would really take the fun out of taking a train to Galle wouldn't it? Raise your hands all those of you who have hopped onto a Galle-bound train in Fort Station and gasped as the train takes the curve in Colpetty and suddenly the sea is in front of you!

FYI, if they implement the 300 meters of the CCA, or even a 100 meters, then the President's House in Fort and the Araliya Gaha Mandiraya (PM's reseidence) have to go too, along with much of the heavily developed commercial zones all the way from Moratuwa to Negombo. Bummer. Methinks they are not going to implement it in the Western Province.

Last week at a hearing held at the GA's office in Galle a few of the displaced people who own land within the buffer zone raised some questions. 'Will we have ownership of the land even though we will be resettled elsewhere?, and can we have complete control over what the land is used for?'. The GA guaranteed them that the Government would not acquire the land. Let's see if they keep their word. The people also said that if they were given an early warning system, like a few basic sirens every few kilometers along the coast, they don't need a buffer zone. Have some respect for democracy for chrissake. The people don't want to be resettled elsewhere. They just want some help to rebuild their houses where they were.

Anyways, let's say the buffer zone is about saving people and preventing future damage, here's a new idea:

Why don't they do a flooding chart to see which places need more than a 100 meters buffer and which places don't need a buffer at all? We all know that in some places all along the Eastern and Southern coast the Tsunami affected different areas in different ways. For instance the village of Panama had only one death while all the areas around it suffered heavy damage. (The one death was a guy who was actually on his way back from another village). This is because of the dunes between the sea and Panama. In Tangalle the only place in town that was severely damaged was the market. Much of Tangalle town was saved because it lies fairly high. So in cases like Panama and Tangalle implementing a 100 meters buffer would make no sense because the don't need a buffer.

But in other places like Peraliya in Galle, and Akurala, Kalmunai, where the water came in upto 1.5 kilometers, a 100 meter buffer is clearly not enough. So why not do a bloody flood plan to see which places need a buffer zone and which places don't?

Or, is the buffer zone not about saving people at all?



Here are some things I picked up during a conversation last night...

I don't know how true they are, but I'm putting them up anyway. I will check with some people and confirm. But at the moment they are just two stories I heard...If there is someone who has heard these and can confirm please leave a comment and do so...

1) Two Gramasevaka's (Village officials, the bottom rung of the Government administration) have killed themselves in the Galle district alone because they don't want to have to deal with the problems of the people.

2) MoU's have been signed in Hambantota for more houses than needed. These are MoU's between the Government (who provides the land) and [I]NGOs who do the actual building. I don't know how many more houses, than needed have been signed for, but one source put it at about 2500. This needs some checking.


Soothsaying :)

Here's an interesting prediction from a friend today...

Chandrika is not going to have a referendum, she's not going to make a power grab by changing the constitution. She's just going to leave the Sri Lankan political scene and make a bid for the top UN job next year.

Same friend went on to predict...

The only candidate the PA will have the balls to put up for the presidency next year is Mahinda Rajapakse, the present Prime Minister.

Mahinda Rajapakse

His only serious opposition is going to be Ranil Wickramasinghe from the UNP

Ranil Wickramasinghe

The JVP might put up a candidate but they don't stand a chance at the Presidential election so they're going to have to back down and put their money on one of the runners...

And since they are not going to side with the UNP or with Ranil they're going to back Mahinda, and Mahinda's going to win and become our next President, and it's going to be good, because he's an OK guy.

That's just a prediction a friend made today. I hate to use a hacked-to-death-by-the-media line, but only time will tell...


Saturday, May 07, 2005


I spoke to someone at the Treasury last afternoon. I wanted to know why the 5000/2500 Rs compensation that was supposed to be handed out to displaced people each month had not been handed out for April (and for some people not even for March).

Now this is how the warped system works. If you're a displaced person who lost your whole family, if like you're the only person left you get 2500 Rs from the Government. If there's more than one person left then you get 5000 Rs for the whole family. I don't know how that makes sense for a family where no one died but they lost everything. Go figure...

But that's not the problem right now.

The problem is that a few weeks ago the Treasury said they can't give the people the money for April because they don't have any funds. But then, the Treasury was never releasing money for compensation directly from their coffers. They were always taking aid money directly from the WB and handing out to the people.

So why did the WB stop giving this money to the Treasury?

Well, this is all very very off the record boys and girls, like our friend at the Treasury told me, but it seems during the first 2 months of payments (January and February) the compensation has been paid out to 50% more people than were displaced!

What the fuck?

For instance in Galle, the overpayment figure is 150% the number of people who were affected. To be very honest I don't think that a lot of Government officials made a profit or lined their pockets or anything. What is most likely is that in the mad rush to give the money out (mile long queues at the People's Bank) they just gave a lot of money to every T D & H who came along with a sob story.

So at the end of February when the WB wants to see where their money went they Treasury gives them a proper audit. But the problem is someone at theWB takes a good hard look at the figures and says 'What the fuck? There aren't this many affecetd people. We're not going to the Treasury any more money till they sort out their distribution methods.'

So that's where it's at now. The Treasury and the People's Bank are trying to sort out the lists of the deserving. And to make matters significantly more complicated the guy at the Treasury who's in charge of all this compensation and has to sign a lot of the documents is not even in the country. I don't know if he's off on work or on holiday. But the fact is that he's not here, and the people in the camps have to go by another month without their compensation.


Kusal Perera

The bloody JVP has been bouncing on their asses saying Kusal Perera is one of the conspirators in the Sivaram murder. Their theory is based on the fact that Kusal Perera, who was one of the people who had dinner with Sivaram just before he was abducted, who was the first person to see Sivaram get dragged into a vehicle by some people, did not run across the road to the Bambalapitiya Police Station and make a complaint.

Really, Kusal Perera did behave like an ass when his friend was kidnapped, and had he not behaved this way and acted like a rational human being perhaps Sivaram's life may have been saved. That we will never know.

But I don't think Kusal Perera had anything to do with the abduction and murder. I don't think he even knew what was going on. This is why I believe he acted the way he did.

He's an ok guy. But he's one of the most undecided people on earth I know. His left hand literally does not know what his right hand is upto and he does not know at one moment what he is going to do the next. Kusal Perera is incable of making decisions. This weakness in the man has led to many many problems for him in the past. There were times when even for the simplest problem he'd leave town for weeks because he did not know how to deal with it and did not want to make the call.

So when his friend was kidnapped I can imagine Kusal freaking out and running for the nearest bus...and then sitting in the bus for a bit and the realising that you can't do nothing about your friend being abducted...and then hopping off at the next stop...and running back to see what was going on...and then running away again...

I am not the least bit surprised that Kusal Perera behaved like that.

He essentially behaved like a headless chicken. Anyone who has seen Kusal Perera in a crisis situation will tell you that this is how the man reacts. So his inability to call the police, to me is not a sign of his guilt, but an indication that even as an old man he is as indecisive as a infant.

And the JVP is just trying to shift the blame and make all these conspiracy theories because I hear that on the inside there's a lot of murmuring among the junior cadre. A lot of people think the JVP had a hand in Sivaram's murder and that's making the cadre very uncomfortable.


Here we go...

Well, from now on this is going to be the space that I use for my political commentry. If you want to see what else I'm upto you can always visit the main blog, but I can guarantee you that all the hot gossip is right here :)

Let's get things straight, Mahangu is a dedicated journalist, who tries to keep the same good work going on his blog. I may be a journalist in my 'real life' but Mörquendi is not a journalist. I tell tales. The tales I tell may seem to be real, may seem to be based on characters in the present Sri Lankan political arena. But I assure you they are all tales!

Now that the disclaimer is done...let's get down to telling tales about Colombo...

PS: I don't like this template but it's going to stay for a few days because I really don't have any time to work on it. Sorry. I just thought it would be a bad idea to use the same template as


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