Day: July 27, 2017


Fitness blogger reveals truth

Sara Puhto, a 20-year-old Finnish body blogger, is aiming to empower women everywhere with a series of flattering and unflattering Instagram images. The Facebook-owned photo posting site has been slammed as “the most harmful social network for your mental health” by Quartz and constantly called out for its deceptive images of perfection.

Puhto is ready to end that. The Instagram celeb with over 110K followers considers it her mission to promote body positivity and self-love. She is doing so by posting split images to her social media page. On one side she has the typical Instagram-worthy perfect portrait – abs sculpted, booty round, mouth wide open and smiling. In the other, aptly titled “Real Life,” she keeps the same grin, but adopts a more natural stance – sitting, walking, standing normally. The difference is startling, which was Puhto’s point.

In the caption of one of her posts, Puhto discusses her feelings about the two photos and what their differences mean to her.

“If I saw the photo on the left a year ago I would’ve instantly thought so negatively about my body, that all my hard work from working out was non-existent, that if someone looked at me they would’ve never thought I’ve been working out for 2 years and think I wasn’t trying hard enough. But the thing is is that all bodies look different. Nobody’s booty looks round and peachy from all angles. Nobody’s body looks the same from all angles.”

Puhto’s message of self-love and appreciation is trending all around the world, earning the portmanteau BoPo for body positivity. Celebrities have even joined in on the movement, posting make-up free selfies to dispel the Instagram perfection myth.


Even businesses have started to get onboard with the BoPo movement in the last couple of years, accepting more shapes and sizes into advertisements and runways. Just yesterday at SWIMMIAMI — an exclusive fashion show for swimwear — Sports Illustrated moved the crowd to cheers with their release of a plus-size swimsuit line.

So far, fans are loving all of it. 

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Uber will charge you $15 if you leave something in the car

If you’ve ever taken an Uber, chances are you may have left something behind.

Now, in order to get it back, Uber will charge you $15.

As part of recent update to its terms of service, the company will let drivers charge a $15 fee if a rider has left their phone, purse or other item behind in the car.


For now, the policy only applies to Boston and Chicago riders. On its website, the company added that if you live in another city, “and would like to pay your driver for their time, you may do so by adding a tip to your trip within the app.”

Technology website Engadget reported that Uber will roll out the policy nationwide by the end of August.

Uber has come under pressure for underpaying its drivers and has worked to rectify that fact.

Los Angles Uber drivers sued the company claiming it calculated different fares for drivers and riders and pocketed the difference, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In May, it admitted it accidentally underpaid New York City drivers for nearly three years, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The error, which was the result of taking its commission before taxes as opposed to after taxes, could cost the company up to $45 million in refunds or an average of $900 per Uber driver.

After years of not offering the ability to tip drivers in-app, Uber announced in June it would offer the feature in the app.

Lyft, its main competitor in the U.S., has always allowed riders to tip inside the app.

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House GOP passes $788B bill for Pentagon, border wall – Eboni Williams: Sanctuary cities endanger the immigrant community – Men charged with ICE agent's 2011 killing found guilty

The House passed a $788 billion spending bill Thursday that combines a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall with Mexico with a whopping budget increase for the Pentagon.

The 235-192 vote both eases a large backlog of unfinished spending bills and gives Trump and his House GOP allies political wins heading into the August recess. Challenging hurdles remain in front of the measure, however, which will meet with more powerful Democratic opposition in the Senate.

The 326-page measure would make good on longtime GOP promises to reverse an erosion in military readiness. It would give veterans programs a 5 percent increase and fund a 2.4 percent military pay raise.

GOP leaders used the popularity of the Pentagon and veterans programs to power through Trump’s border wall.

“Every single dime the President requested to start building a wall on our southern border he’s going to get,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “Most importantly, we’re sending more to the VA to fix veterans’ health care and reform outdated VA systems.”

Still, a potential government shutdown battle over the U.S.-Mexico wall looms with Senate Democrats this fall. The generous defense spending increases also run afoul of strict spending limits set by an earlier budget law, and there’s been no progress on a bipartisan budget deal that would be a prerequisite for the higher spending to take full effect.

The House added Trump’s wall funding by a 230-196 procedural vote that denied angry Democrats an up-or-down vote. The wall gets low marks in public opinion polls and is opposed by many of the GOP’s more moderate lawmakers.

Trump promised at nearly every rally and campaign event that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico said no, and U.S. taxpayers will have to provide the money.

“The president has promised this funding, the American people want this funding, and today the House is making good on that promise,” said Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.

Critics say that existing fencing is more than enough and that the portions of the border without it are too remote for crossings and that tribal law, environmental requirements, and personal property rights have blocked fencing for most of the rest.

“Nobody would know it from the President’s hysterical rhetoric, but there are already 700 miles of fence down there on the border — vehicular fencing, pedestrian fencing,” said Rep. David Price, D-N.C. “I know about it because most of that fencing was built when I was chairman of the homeland security appropriations subcommittee.”

At issue are the spending bills passed by Congress each year to fund the day-to-day operations of federal agencies. Trump is pushing for a sweeping increase for the Pentagon and commensurate cuts of more than $50 billion, or 10 percent, from domestic agencies and foreign aid. House Republicans are responding by adding even more for defense but have significantly scaled back Trump’s cuts to domestic programs like community development grants and medical research.

GOP leaders had hoped to advance a broader “omnibus” package that would have included each of the 12 measures. But the GOP rank and file balked, so Republicans devised a smaller bill anchored by the Pentagon budget, funding for veterans programs, and money for the wall.

But most of the sweeping Pentagon increases — which total about $60 billion above current levels and almost $30 billion higher than Trump’s budget — would evaporate next year unless there’s a bipartisan agreement to raise budget “caps” set by a 2011 budget pact. A two-year agreement that eased those “sequestration” spending limits expires in September.

Both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate want additional funding for domestic programs. Democrats have lots of leverage because their votes are needed to pass the funding measures. For now, the Senate is working in a bipartisan fashion on a sharply different set of bills that, on average, are frozen at current levels.

Earlier this year, Congress and Trump came together of spending bills for the current budget year that largely stuck to work done last year under former President Barack Obama. Trump reluctantly signed a $1.2 trillion catchall spending bill in May after his demand for border wall money looked like it would stall the measure.

The current bill, however, reflects the changed balance of power in GOP-controlled Washington. Weapons procurement is a top priority, including two additional littoral combat ships above Trump’s request and 14 unrequested next-generation F-35 fighters.

Democrats said the big gains for now are illusory since automatic budget cuts known as sequestration remain in place.

“We do not give certainty to our defense or confidence to our troops when we legislate with phony numbers, when we refuse to make honest choices about our Defense budget,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“Instead of giving certainty to our heroes in uniform, this bill would breach the sequester spending limit by more than $70 billion, forcing a mandatory 13 percent cut to all defense accounts.”

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‘Sandlot' guy sued for beating

A graduate student has sued five men, including child actor-turned-firefighter Michael Anthony Vitar, who starred in “Sandlot” and the “Mighty Ducks,” over a Halloween 2015 attack that left him with permanent brain damage.

A video of the incident shows victim Samuel Chang, then 23, struggling with the men as he was being held in a choke hold with his hands chained behind his back. Chang can be heard struggling to breathe before going silent when his heart stops beating. He appears lifeless as Vitar and co-defendant Eric Carpenter roll him onto his back and begin chest compressions.

Several seconds later Chang starts breathing again as one of the men says, “There you go, keep breathing!”

Carpenter would later tell paramedics that Chang was pulseless, not breathing and had dilated pupils. Chang was hospitalized for two weeks suffering from traumatic brain injury and kidney failure, according to a press release. 

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges assault, battery and false imprisonment against Vitar and four of his friends, including Carpenter. Both Vitar and Carpenter work for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

“Samuel was doing something millions of people do every year – [handing] out candy to children on Halloween. But the defendants chased him down the street and beat him until he was actually dead,” said Chang’s attorney, David Ring, in a statement. “It’s a miracle I didn’t file a wrongful death case today. This is one of the most horrific events I have seen in my long career representing victims.”

Vitar and two others were charged with felony assault in December 2016, but were all allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and did not spend any time in jail, according to Ring’s office. The other defendants were not charged. Vitar and Carpenter were suspended for six months by Los Angeles Fire Department and returned to work last month.

The events unfolded when Chang decided to hand out Halloween candy at his grandmother’s house – a neighborhood where he grew up — in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth. After a while, Chang decided to walk around the neighborhood to pass out more candy and take photos, the lawsuit said.

Chang walked by a house where the defendants were attending a party. The men, wearing costumes, approached Chang and demanded to know what he was doing in the neighborhood. Chang started to videotape the defendants as they became increasingly hostile, following him down the street accusing him of passing out drug-laced candy and carrying a weapon.

 “I don’t know what’s in your pocket? Do you have a weapon? What’s under your hat? Have a weapon?” Carpenter can be heard saying. “I don’t need free candy, I pay for my candy.”

Chang repeatedly asked the group to stop following him, but the group chased him and Chang yelled out for help from neighbors as he was tackled and his camera went dark. At this point, a third-party began taping the incident as Carpenter held him in a chokehold while the others tied his hands behind his back with a chain and sat on him, the video shows.

They continued to interrogate him as Vitar, along with another man, called 911, saying they were restraining a person who was combative and passing out drug-laced candy, the video shows.

“There’s weapons, tell them there’s weapons,” the third-party filming the incident chimed in.

The video ended with paramedics arriving and giving Chang oxygen before placing him on a gurney and into an ambulance.

Police later tested Chang’s candy and found no evidence of drugs and Chang was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Ring said.

The events left Chang with cognitive problems, debilitating headaches and recurring nightmares.  Before the assault, he had graduated from college with honors and was interning at a physical rehabilitation facility. It is now a struggle for Chang to continue in his graduate work to be a physical therapist, Ring’s office said.

Vitar, who is married and has three children, started acting when he was 12 after a casting agent spotted him at a school carnival, his IMDB profile states. During the 1990s he appeared in “Sandlot,” “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” and “D3: The Mighty Ducks.” His last acting job was “Chicago Hope” in 1997 before becoming a firefighter in 2002.

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Kendra: Sex fixes everything

What’s the secret to Kendra Wilkinson’s marriage? Lots of sex.

The former Playmate opened up to E! about how she and husband Hank Baskett are keeping their love life alive while living long-distance.

“We’re dealing with a long-distance relationship right now. We have to communicate a lot,” Wilkinson told E! News.

The mom-of-two temporarily moved to Las Vegas to star in the Off-Broadway show “Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man.” She flies back every week to see her husband and kids until the show ends January 2.

“To be honest with you, it was weak at first. It was really weak. I was starting to really miss home, he was starting to miss me. It was almost like a detox we were both going through because we’re so used to being together every minute of the day,” she admitted.

“Now we’re starting to find our way and get down a really good system to be a healthy couple,” she said.

To keep the flame alive, the married couple of eight years make sure to make sex a priority.

“The other day…Hank and I were getting into a little bit of a fight. And I knew I had to go — I had to catch my flight back. I’m like, ‘Hank, can we just have sex please?’ Like in the middle of a fight. I’m like,’ I just need it! As much as I want to fight with you right now, I think I need sex more.'”

She concluded, “Sex makes everything better.”

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How sharks can help the US Military in the future

Could something in shark blood help American soldiers detect invisible, dangerous weapons and defeat them?

With advanced senses, sharks can hunt their prey by detecting even the tiniest of traces. Just one drop of blood in an Olympic-sized swimming pool would get the attention of a shark.


Now the U.S. military is investigating whether a protein in shark blood can help hunt for chemical and biological weapons and reveal them before they harm military personnel.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists are using these shark antibodies to create new ways to protect American warfighters against these horrific threats. Funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Joint Science and Technology Office, the research could lead to new detection and treatment tools.

Early detection is vital because it helps ensure early and correct treatment which can be the difference between life and death. It can also be critical to ensuring soldiers who are not yet exposed can be given protective medications in some instances.

But detection is difficult because these weapons can be far too small to be seen by the naked eye. Many of them are also odorless, presenting another problem for detection. These tiny threats can travel invisibly through the air to attack U.S. warriors and cause agonizing suffering – and in many cases, death. 

Chemical weapons can cause horrible varied symptoms from blistering on the skin, suffocating sensations, lungs filling with fluid through to convulsions, coma and with some, death within minutes of exposure. Depending on the agent, biological warfare also causes a range of cruel symptoms from nausea and rash through to boils, hemorrhaging, paralysis and slow, painful death.


Is the key in shark blood?

US forces deserve the best solution possible to detect these threats. Sharks have ancient antibodies and these special antibodies have great potential.

Shark antibodies could be integrated into sensors the military can use to identify and warn of a chemical or biological threat. They could also be used in devices to figure out if a warfighter has been exposed to a chemical or biological agent.

Antibodies are protective proteins that the immune system makes in response to antigens, which can be a wide range of foreign substances, including toxic materials.

Eventually, this component in shark blood could help to warn U.S. service members they are under threat and at risk from biological and chemical weapons on the battlefield.


What is the threat of chemical and biological weapons?

Chemical and biological weapons have the potential to kill vast amounts of people, military and civilian alike.

Although the use of chemical weapons has been banned since the Geneva Protocol of 1925, they continue to be developed and used.

Syria, for example, is believed to have mustard gas, sarin and chlorine. It is also believed they are working on toxic nerve agents like VX gas. They could also unleash these threats U.S. forces, using artillery rockets, ballistic missiles and aircraft.

The United Nations confirmed sarin gas was used in the Syrian capital Damascus in 2013. Under pressure that year, Syria agreed to destroy their chemical weapons in an agreement negotiated between Russia and the United States.

And yet in 2015, the UN Security Council believes a third chemical weapon attack occurred using chlorine gas. And this year, there was another suspected attack.

The shark advantage?

Many detection and treatment approaches tend to use mammal antibodies. Using shark antibodies instead provide advantages like the fact they are smaller and are also more stable. They could prove a lot more suitable for the field.

Chemical and biological threat detection tools can come at a hefty price tag.

This shark project is a great example of out of the box thinking that may improve the safety of US warfighters at a lower cost.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.


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NOT SO FAST Pentagon: Trump trans ban not in effect until Mattis gives order

The Department of Defense declared Thursday there will be “no modifications to the current policy” on transgender service members for now, a day after President Trump issued a surprise three-tweet directive banning those troops from the military. 

In a memo to service chiefs and commanders, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. declared no changes to the policy until “the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance” — which has not yet happened. 

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford said in the memo obtained by Fox News.  “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”

Dunford’s statement suggests Defense Secretary James Mattis wasn’t given any significant heads up on the policy change. Mattis was on vacation when Trump tweeted. Mattis has also been publicly silent amid questions about Trump’s announced ban, though the White House said Wednesday that Mattis was “immediately informed” of Trump’s decision. 

Dunford himself was not aware that Trump was going to announce the ban, a U.S. official said.

Trump’s Wednesday morning tweets reversed an Obama-era policy of allowing transgender troops to serve. Trump wrote: 

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”


Trump did not mention Mattis, the retired Marine general who recently told the service chiefs to spend another six months weighing the costs and benefits of allowing transgender individuals to enlist.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed unable to provide basic details on the rollout of the change on Wednesday, saying the implementation would be worked out “lawfully.”  

Civil liberty and LGBTQ groups quickly condemned Trump’s decision but were left in limbo trying to decipher the tweets. Was Trump enacting new policy or simply saying what he’d like to see happen?

“If you’re a transgender service member anywhere in the world, you are very nervous about what you’re hearing,” former Army Chief Eric Fanning, the first openly gay head of a U.S. military service, told NBC’s “Today” show. “Now you’re probably very confused and very frightened about what the future holds for you, when your commander in chief tweets a message like this.”

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said the president is “calling for a witch hunt & purge of 15,000 trans military Americans.” 

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the prior ban. Some lawmakers including Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., backed the president’s move.

Sanders said Trump made “a military decision.” She said it was his judgment that allowing transgender service “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion.”


But experts told Fox News that from a legal standpoint, Trump’s tweets for now have all the merit of a public service announcement.

In the short term, nothing changes until a policy is drafted or some type of formal modification is made to military regulations. Lawsuits cannot be filed, and transgender troops cannot be yanked out of service or denied health care benefits.

“Until formal guidance is issued, nothing is going to change,” one U.S. defense official told Fox News, adding that tweets don’t count as “formal guidance.”

Separately, the Navy announced it would continue to provide transgender individuals medical treatment.

The Pentagon has not released data on the number of transgender people currently serving. A Rand Corp. study has estimated the number at between 1,320 and 6,630 out of 1.3 million active-duty troops.

Former President Bill Clinton in 1993 began the push to allow gays to serve, only under the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In December 2015, former President Barack Obama’s Pentagon chief, Carter, announced that all military positions would be open to women.

Liberalizing policy on transgender troops was the next step. Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to join the military if they meet normal standards and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months.

On June 30, Mattis extended the July 1 deadline to next Jan. 1, saying the services should study the impact on the “readiness and lethality of our forces.”

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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'SHOULD BE ASHAMED' Rights groups slam Nic Cage over Kazakhstan trip

Recent photos of Nicolas Cage posing in traditional nomadic garb while visiting Kazakhstan transformed him into a hilarious meme that has gone viral, but the Human Rights Foundation isn’t laughing.


The Hollywood Reporter revealed Wednesday that despite reported violations of human rights in the country, the 53-year-old Hollywood actor attended the Eurasia Film Festival as a VIP guest.

He told journalists, “I would be pleased to participate in some film project on the territory of Kazakhstan. I enjoyed the architecture of your capital. What I saw reminded me of an old black-and-white film that depicted the future.”

HRF president Thor Halvorssen was outraged by the statement.

“His glowing review gave Kazakhstan’s dictatorship much-needed PR, and his photos boosted the regime’s visibility on the international stage,” he told the magazine. “Cage should be mortified that he participated in a whitewashing stunt for a murderous tyrant.”

HRF Chief Strategy Officer Alex Gladstein added: “Cage and his publicity team could have determined from a quick online search that Kazakhstan is ruled by a brutal dictator.

“Celebrities could be playing a key role in the struggle for human rights, especially in places like Kazakhstan where artistic freedom is most under threat. To see role models like Nicolas Cage instead take the side of dictators is profoundly disappointing and a sign that human rights aren’t a consideration for Hollywood stars.”

According to the nonprofit, which aims to promote human rights globally, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev shut down independent news outlets and arrested critics during his 26-year rule. They also revealed government forces killed more than a dozen peaceful protestors during the Zhanaozen massacre in 2011.

Cage’s reps did not immediately respond to the publication’s request for comment.

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Coke Zero change angers fans

Coca-Cola Co. announced this week that Coke Zero will get a makeover and be revamped as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar — but not everyone is happy about the changes.

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar’s taste has been improved “by optimizing the unique blend of flavors that gave Coke Zero its real Coca-Cola taste,” the soda giant said in a Wednesday post on its website.


It said the drink’s name change was “to be as clear and descriptive as possible about the product and the promise that it delivers great Coca-Cola taste without sugar.”

“We’ve used our in-house innovation capabilities to make the great taste of Coke Zero even better and a lot like a Coke,” Stuart Kronauge, the senior vice president for marketing of Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement.

Next month, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is going to be available throughout the U.S., according to the soda maker. It’s already available in other countries like Mexico.

Though Coca-Cola said that it was “confident that loyal Coke Zero fans will love the new-and-improved recipe,” Twitter users have expressed their displeasure online.

As seen in the example above, the company has also been busy replying to tweets critical of the announcement. 

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Jony Ive transforms Apple

On a sunny day in May, Jonathan Ive —Jony to anyone who knows him—first encounters a completed section of Apple Park, the giant campus in Cupertino, California, that has turned into one of his longest projects as Apple’s chief designer. A section of workspace in the circular, Norman Foster–designed building is finally move-in-ready: sliding-glass doors on the soundproof offices, a giant European white oak collaboration table, adjustable-height desks, and floors with aluminum-covered hinged panels, hiding cables and wires, and brushed-steel grating for air diffusion.

Ive’s characteristically understated reaction—“It’s nice, though, isn’t it?”—masks the anxiety he feels each time a product he’s designed is about to be introduced to the world. “There’s the same rather strange process you go through when you finish a product and you prepare to release it—it’s the same set of feelings,” says Ive, who turned 50 in February. “That feels, I don’t know, encouragingly healthy, because I would be concerned if we lost that sense of anxiety. I think that would suggest that we were not as self-critical, not as curious, not as inquisitive as we have to be to be able to be effective and do good work.”

Apple Park is unlike any other product Ive has worked on. There will be only one campus—in contrast to the ubiquity of Apple’s phones and computers—and it doesn’t fit in a pocket or a hand. Yet Ive applied the same design process he brings to technological devices: prototyping to minimize any issues with the end result and to narrow what he calls the delta between the vision and the reality of a project. Apple Park is also the last major project Ive worked on with Steve Jobs, making it more personal for the man Jobs once called his “spiritual partner.”

“After Steve died, he was the one who carried it forward with the same intent,” says Laurene Powell Jobs, who was married to Jobs for 20 years until his death in 2011. Ive describes small elements of the new headquarters of the world’s most valuable company—with a market cap of $750 billion and a $257 billion cash stockpile—that connect directly to Jobs’s past, such as cherry and apricot trees, recalling the orchards of Jobs’s youth in Silicon Valley. At the same time, he promises it will be the birthplace of new toys and tools the rest of us haven’t imagined yet. Ive and Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, talk about the campus as something for the next generation of Apple employees—like parents doing estate planning.

This story originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

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