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Zhang Yuhuan: Chinese court overturns man’s murder conviction after 27 years in prison


Zhang Yuhuan, 53, was freed on Tuesday after the Supreme People’s Court in eastern Jiangxi province found him “not guilty” on the basis of a lack of sufficient evidence, Chinese state media Global Times reported.

The result came after a long-running legal battle to overturn the conviction, and highlights ongoing issues within China’s legal system.

In 1993, two boys were found dead in the city of Nanchang, Jiangxi province, according to the report. Police suspected the boys’ neighbor Zhang of killing them.

In 1995, Zhang was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, meaning his death sentence would be commuted to a life sentence if he didn’t commit any other crimes within a two-year period, state-run China Daily reported.

But Zhang appealed to a higher court, arguing that he was not the killer and claimed that police had tortured him during interrogation, according to the report.

The higher court ordered a retrial, but that was not held until November 2001, China Daily reported. The intermediate court upheld the original judgment, and a later appeal was rejected.

Zhang and his family continued to insist that he was innocent — and finally in March last year, the Jiangxi Supreme People’s Court reopened the case, according to the report. On Tuesday, he was found not guilty.

“After we reviewed the materials, we have found there is no direct evidence that can prove Zhang’s conviction. So we accepted the prosecutors’ suggestion and have declared Zhang innocent,” judge Tian Ganlin was quoted as saying.

Zhang can now apply for state compensation, Global Times reported.

According to the China Daily report, Zhang said the wrongful conviction had cost him the best years of his life. His two sons are now married and have their own children.

“It’s hard for the compensation to make up for the damage of the wrongful conviction to me and my family, but I still hope to get compensated quickly to repair my house and care for my mother,” Zhang said.

Criminal justice

For years, human rights advocates have criticized China’s legal system, alleging that it allows unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

China has made attempts to reform its legal system. According to the Global Times report, China officially adopted the legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty” in 1996.

China's deadly secret: More executions than all other countries put together
In 2013, an influential Communist Party legal commission issued new guidelines asking for fairer due process in China’s much maligned court system.
However, problems with the country’s legal system remain. China’s judicial system has a conviction rate of around 99%, according to legal observers. It also remains beholden to the ruling Communist Party. Courts are seen first and foremost as a “political organ,” according to the country’s Chief Justice Zhou Qiang.

It remains uncommon for people to have convictions overturned — although Zhang is not the first.

In 2013, a man who served 17 years of a life sentence for murdering his wife was freed after a Higher People’s Court in Anhui province ruled that the “facts about the alleged homicide were unclear and the evidence inadequate.”
In 2016, China’s top court overruled a rape and murder conviction of Nie Shubin — more than two decades after he had been executed.

Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, said that the ruling in Zhang’s case showed the advancement of the rule of law, according to China Daily. But he also said judicial authorities could help prevent wrongful convictions by excluding evidence gained through torture.



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Meghan Markle’s five pals who gave explosive interview to People mag could be named TODAY in High Court battle


MEGHAN Markle’s five pals who gave an explosive interview to People magazine could be named TODAY in a High Court battle.

The Duchess of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, after a “private” letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle was revealed.

⚠️ Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple.

Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged father

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Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged fatherCredit: AFP or licensors

But the publisher has argued that the existence of the letter had been discussed in an anonymous interview given by five of the former actress’ pals to People Magazine.

Meghan’s lawyers last week applied for the duchess’ friends to remain anonymous as part of the proceedings – something the paper’s legal team has opposed.

The 39-year-old says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, and denies a claim made by ANL that she “caused or permitted” the People article to be published.

In the article published by People in February of last year, the friends spoke out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, and have only been identified in confidential court documents.

In a written submission to the court, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said it would be “cruel irony” for the friends to be identified in the privacy case.

However, Antony White QC, acting for ANL, said the unnamed friends are “important potential witnesses on a key issue”.

“Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it,” he said.

“No friend’s oral evidence could be fully and properly reported because full reporting might identify her, especially as there has already been media speculation as to their identities.”

Mr Justice Warby is due to deliver his ruling on the duchess’s application at 10.30am today.

Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her wedding

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Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her weddingCredit: Splash News
Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the couple

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Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the coupleCredit: PA:Press Association
The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle

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The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle

ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, won the first skirmish in the legal action on May 1, when Mr Justice Warby struck out parts of Meghan’s claim.

This included allegations that the publisher acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.

Court papers have since shown Meghan has agreed to pay ANL’s £67,888 costs for that hearing in full.

Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.

The headline on the article read: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”

The duchess is seeking damages from ANL for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

Meghan and Harry now live in the US

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Meghan and Harry now live in the USCredit: Getty Images
Meghan Markle turns 39: Her year in review





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Donald Trump news: President unleashes fury at “corrupt” New York after supreme court rule | World | News


The court’s decision follows demands issued by Manhattan lawyer Cy Vance Jr, who demanded Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA hand over the President’s financial documents.

The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday mean Mr Vance will be able to go back to court and have his demand enforced.

Mr Trump issued a series of ferocious tweets in response to the court’s decision.

He wrote: “Courts in the past have given “broad deference”. BUT NOT ME!

“This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!

Mr Trump’s ‘Mueller Witch Hunt’ statement references a past legal case brought against him involving Russian interference in his election.

READ: Trump attempt to scrap DACA immigration programme blocked by Supreme Court

However, reports have emerged claiming the court’s ruling could affect the President’s bid for re-election.

Despite the court ruling that New York investigators may be allowed to see Mr Trump’s financial records, judges decided other investigators were not.

CNBC reports the Supreme Court blocked similar demands by Democrats in the US House of Representatives.

Mr Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow claimed this was a victory for the president.

Mr Sekulow said he was pleased the Supreme Court had “temporarily blocked” the US Democrats’ demands.

All of the cases against Mr Trump discussed in the ruling involved subpoenas – demands for certain documents to be handed over.

According to reports, two such demands were issued by the US financial services and intelligence committees.

These demands attempted to get banks to hand over information on Mr Trump and his family.





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Michigan court rules to reopen part of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline


Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc can restart operations at the west leg of its Line 5 pipeline while the damaged east leg remains shut, a Michigan circuit court judge ruled on Wednesday.

The ruling comes after the judge granted the Michigan attorney general’s motion for a temporary restraining order last Thursday, requiring Enbridge to halt Line 5 operations.

The judge also ruled the company has to disclose details about recent damage to the oil pipeline.

The pipeline’s east leg will remain shut until the federal regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, completes its investigations about the damage or until ordered by the court.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has been attempting through the courts to permanently shut down the portion of the pipeline that passes through the Straits of Mackinac, fearing any leak would pollute the Great Lakes.

The 67-year-old Line 5, a part of the vast North American Mainline network, travels through the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Enbridge shut down the pipeline on June 18 following damage to the east leg, but resumed operations at the west leg after two days, until the court ordered its shutdown.

The court decision will help in getting information surrounding the incident that is needed to complete an analysis of the damage, Nessel said.

While the east leg remains shut, Wednesday’s ruling is a positive development for all Canadian oil companies such as Imperial Oil Ltd and Suncor Energy Inc, according to a note by Credit Suisse.

Both the companies have refineries that are dependent on the pipeline.

Enbridge previously estimated that if Line 5 was shut, refineries served by it in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec would get about 45 per cent less crude than their current demand.



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‘The ball is in the UK’s court,’ EU’s #Brexit negotiator says



Britain must send “clear signals” that it wants to seal a deal with the European Union on their relationship after Brexit, the bloc’s chief negotiator said ahead of more talks with London, adding a deal was still possible before the end of the year, write Gabriela Baczynska and Jan Strupczewski.

Michel Barnier (pictured) said Britain had so far not engaged with tentative openings floated by the EU side on state aid and fisheries in the previous negotiating rounds, which have mostly been held on video calls due to coronavirus safety restrictions.

“The ball is in the UK’s court,” Barnier told an online seminar on Wednesday. “I believe that the deal is still possible.”

He said he was “disappointed” with Britain’s refusal to negotiate on foreign policy and defence but that he was open to finding a “margin of flexibility” on thus-far conflicting EU and UK positions on fishing and the state aid fair play guarantees.

“As well as with fisheries and governance, we are ready to work on landing zones, respecting the mandate of the EU,” he said when asked how far the bloc could go towards Britain on the so-called level playing field provisions of fair competition.

They are among the chief obstacles to agreeing a new relationship between the world’s largest trading bloc and the world’s fifth-largest economy. Britain left the EU last January and its standstill transition period ends at the end of 2020.

Barnier said “the moment of truth” would come in October when the negotiating teams must finalize a draft deal if it is to be ratified by all the 27 EU member states in time for 2021.

Should talks fail, Barnier said the UK would be more severely affected than the EU if trade quotas and tariffs kick in, meaning that the bloc would not seal a deal at any cost.

“The level playing field is not for sale. It is a core part of the our trade model and we refuse to compromise to benefit the British economy,” he said.

Barnier added that, while Britain refused to sign up to the level playing field commitments in exchange for access to the single market, it was keen to retain very close ties on financial services and the electricity market.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a narrower trade deal with the EU, but the bloc is pushing for an alliance that would cover transport, fisheries, security and other areas.

Barnier named nuclear co-operation and internal security as areas where progress had been made but said agreeing a role for the bloc’s top court and sealing Britain’s commitments to the European Convention of Human Rights were still missing.

He pressed Britain to advance preparations for the sensitive Irish frontier as agreed under the EU-UK divorce deal last year.

London and the bloc have agreed to intensify negotiations, with contacts planned every week until the end of July and resuming on 17 August after a summer break.



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El Salvador Supreme Court orders state of emergency suspended | El Salvador News


El Salvador’s Supreme Court said on Monday that it had ordered the immediate suspension of the state of emergency declared by President Nayib Bukele over the coronavirus.

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele on Saturday night declared a state of emergency to extend coronavirus measures without approval by congress, touching off a torrent of criticism that the move had been unconstitutional.

More:

Salvadoran legislators and prosecutors said Bukele’s Saturday announcement had overstepped his powers.

Less than a year into his administration, Bukele, a brash 38-year-old leader, has repeatedly angered rights groups, who say he has shown authoritarian tendencies. In February, Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied congress. Last month, he released startling photos of hundreds of jailed gang members stripped to underwear and pressed together in formation, horrifying advocates.

El Salvador prison

Inmates lined up during a security operation under the watch of police at the Izalco prison in San Salvador, El Salvador [Handout/El Salvador President Press Office/AP Photo] 

Congress approved an emergency declaration in March to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but after an extension in April, the measure was due to expire on Sunday. Legislators planned to discuss an extension when they reconvened on Monday.

Shortly after Bukele issued his decree on Saturday, the Salvadoran attorney general said in a statement that it would file a suit alleging that the move was unconstitutional with the country’s top court. But Bukele, who swept to the presidency last year with an outsider candidacy, maintained he was well within his rights.

“All presidents in the democratic history of our country have had the power to declare a state of emergency and have exercised it, without legislative approval,” he wrote in a post on Twitter on Sunday. “Will a president be prevented for the first time from exercising that vital power?”

Bukele’s administration maintains that a civil protection law authorises the president to declare a state of emergency if congress cannot hold a session.

They contend that the risk of the coronavirus spreading further in El Salvador justifies the measures. The country has 1,413 confirmed cases of the virus and 30 deaths. Health experts say the country’s health system is not equipped to handle a surge in cases.

‘Serious setback’

Legislators and civil society groups urged an investigation to determine whether Bukele had exceeded his powers.

“What would an autocrat do if Congress did not pass a law on his behalf? I would issue a decree. This has just been done by the young Salvadoran leader (Nayib Bukele) with the state of emergency. Another serious setback,” Jose Vivanco, executive director for the Americas for US-based Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter.

In recent days, Salvadorans in the capital have protested measures taken during the quarantine, which they say have led to job losses and hunger. To avoid breaking social distancing rules, they voice their discontent by banging pots, honking the horns of their vehicles and playing loud music.

Fabricio Benitez, a 26-year-old musician who lives with his parents and sister on the outskirts of San Salvador, said that his father, a soil engineer, lost his job a month ago after his company’s operations were affected by the pandemic.

“We are subsisting on fairly scarce funds, and we have not benefitted in any way from government programmes,” Benitez said on Friday as he played the Salvadoran national anthem on his viola.


SOURCE:
Reuters news agency



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Brandon Judd: Border wall critics are ‘absolutely incorrect,’ calls court ruling ‘a great win’


Critics of President Trump’s border wall are “absolutely incorrect” and a drop in illegal immigration and drug smuggling proves it, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said Saturday.

Judd, appearing on “Fox & Friends,” said the administration has developed a system that allows authorities to have better control of the border, preventing illegal crossings.

“Al of this new wall that we’re building is a huge deterrent and, frankly, it stops illegal drugs and criminal aliens from coming into the country,” he said.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MARKS 100 MILES OF BORDER WALL, VOWS ‘MANY MORE’ TO COME

The administration Friday marked the 100th mile of wall construction along the southern border, describing it as a “milestone achievement.”

Building a border wall was a major Trump campaign promise in 2016. He is now pledging to build 450 miles of new wall by the end of this year.

Those efforts were boosted Wednesday by a decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which allows the administration to use $3.6 billion in military funds for border wall construction.

The court reversed a lower court order that had stopped Trump, who declared a national emergency along the southern border in February 2019, from diverting the Defense Department money.  Opponents argued that pulling money that was approved by Congress to pay for the border wall is an abuse of power.

“Breaking News: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just reversed a lower court decision & gave us the go ahead to build one of the largest sections of the desperately needed Southern Border Wall, Four Billion Dollars,” the president tweeted Thursday. “Entire Wall is under construction or getting ready to start!”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“It’s a great win.” Judd said Saturday. “But, what’s interesting is we knew this was going to happen. We know that the lower courts are full of judicial activism. We know that the lower courts are constantly trying to stymie President Trump and all of his directives.”

Judd said that since border wall construction began illegal immigration and drug smuggling has declined. He challenged critics to go down to the border and see the progress for themselves.

“President Trump refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer,” he said. “He continues to push forward with his agenda.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.



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Court writes down Laois woman’s mortgage by almost €175,000


The High Court has granted a Co Laois woman a debt write-down of almost €175,000 on her Bank of Ireland mortgage after her husband’s business collapsed and he was declared bankrupt.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald approved a personal insolvency arrangement for Rebecca Forde Egan, who has total debts of €639,000, that will see the mortgage on her four-bedroom home in Ballymorris, Portarlington – a property valued at €410,000 – written down to €451,000.

It is proposed that €40,651 would be paid to the bank during the six-year arrangement, leaving the bank facing a €133,000 write-off over the course of the financial rescue plan.

Ms Forde Egan, a mother of three daughters, told the court her husband Larry Egan filed for bankruptcy in 2009 after the failure of his business where she was employed.

She said her husband was out of regular employment for several years and she was unable to return to her job in the public service after taking a six-year career break to work for her husband.

She now works for the HSE in Dublin, while her husband works as a regional sales manager.

The judge rejected Bank of Ireland’s objection to the arrangement that it would be unfairly prejudiced by not being permitted to realise Mr Egan’s 50 per cent share in the family home.

Market value

Mr Justice McDonald pointed out that the bank would be paid €451,000 on its mortgage – a significant increase on the market value of the home – and that it would receive the dividend of €40,651 over the six-year arrangement, amounting to a return of 72 cent for every euro owed.

In contrast, it is estimated that the bank would receive €369,000 in the event of Ms Forde Egan being declared bankrupt, amounting to a lower return of 60 cent for every euro owed. “It is therefore impossible to see how the bank will be unfairly prejudiced,” the judge said.

Ms Forde Egan, who was represented by Keith Farry BL and personal insolvency practitioners McCambridge Duffy, disputed the bank’s claim that it had originally loaned money to the couple to buy a property in France.

She claimed the bank’s “own lending officer put forward the ‘story’ about the French property to ease the application process.”

The money was used solely for the purpose of renovating and improving the family home in Co Laois.

Mortgage write-downs through court-approved personal insolvency arrangements were introduced in legislation in 2012 to deal with the large amount of unpaid mortgage debt across the country in the wake of the property crash and economic crisis.

The legislation was changed in 2015 to create a court appeals mechanism to overrule the “bank veto” blocking the write-down of debt in the arrangement.

Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank appealed a Circuit Court ruling of December 2018 approving Ms Forde Egan’s arrangement.



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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case On Ban Against Homeless Sleeping In Public Spaces : NPR


San Francisco police officers wait while homeless people collect their belongings in San Francisco. Nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population lives in California.

Ben Margot/AP


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Ben Margot/AP

San Francisco police officers wait while homeless people collect their belongings in San Francisco. Nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population lives in California.

Ben Margot/AP

Updated at 1:40 p.m ET

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal in a case originating from Boise, Idaho, that would have made it a crime to camp and sleep in public spaces.

The decision to let a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stand is a setback for states and local governments in much of the West that are grappling with widespread homelessness by designing laws to regulate makeshift encampments on sidewalks and parks.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed nearly a decade ago. A handful of people sued the city of Boise for repeatedly ticketing them for violating an ordinance against sleeping outside. While Boise officials later amended it to prohibit citations when shelters are full, the 9th Circuit eventually determined the local law was unconstitutional.

In a decision last year, the court said it was “cruel and unusual punishment” to enforce rules that stop homeless people from camping in public places when they have no place else to go. That means states across the 9th Circuit can no longer enforce similar statutes if they don’t have enough shelter beds for homeless people sleeping outside.

Los Angeles attorney Theane Evangelis, who is representing Boise in the case, argued the decision ultimately harms the people it purports to protect because cities need the ability to control encampments that threaten public health and safety.

“Cities’ hands are tied now by the 9th Circuit Decision because it effectively creates a Constitutional right to camp,” Evangelis told NPR in an emailed statement.

In court documents, lawyers for Boise said, “Public encampments, now protected by the Constitution under the Ninth Circuit’s decision, have spawned crime and violence, incubated disease, and created environmental hazards that threaten the lives and well-being both of those living on the streets and the public at large.”

Major west coast cities and counties with soaring homeless populations had backed Boise in its petition, including Los Angeles County, where the number of people without a permanent place to live has jumped by 16% in the last year.

As NPR reported, California is where nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population live.

The homeless and their advocates say ticketing homeless people does nothing to solve the bigger housing crisis.

“Paying lawyers six figures to write briefs is not really going to build any more housing,” said Howard Belodoff, a Boise civil rights attorney.

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, added: “housing, not handcuffs, is what ends homelessness.”

The center, which was one of three groups to file the case in 2009, hailed the decision as being essential to encouraging cities to propose constructive alternatives to homelessness.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development found that more than 550,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2018. Of those, nearly 200,000 were unsheltered.

The case now returns to the 9th Circuit. The city of Boise says it’s evaluating its next steps.



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Supreme Court Lets Block On Federal Executions Remain



The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday against the Trump administration and upheld a lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking the Justice Department from carrying out federal executions.

The decision halts the pending executions of four men, which the Justice Department had scheduled for December and January. 

It’s been more than 16 years since the death penalty was last used at the federal level.

In July, Attorney General William Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to resume the federal death penalty so that he could schedule executions for five men: Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Purkey, Alfred Bourgeois, Dustin Lee Honken and Lezmond Mitchell. (In Mitchell’s case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in October to stay his execution pending resolution of his appeal.) 

In November, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in the District of Columbia imposed a preliminary injunction, placing a temporary hold on federal executions while the four inmates legally challenged the Justice Department. The death row inmates have alleged that the Justice Department’s new lethal injection protocol ― which uses one drug instead of a three-drug combination it previously used ― isunlawful. 

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously rejected Barr’s motion to lift the injunction, sending the case up to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying: “While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court. The Department of Justice is committed to upholding the rule of law and to carrying forward sentences imposed by our justice system.” 





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