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Naples musters its best and brightest to pull off the America’s Cup

Anthony M. Quattrone

America's Cup World Series catamarans in the Bay of Naples (photo from facebook site: Napoli poesia d'Italia...divine napoletane!)

Naples has mustered its best and brightest in getting the city ready to host the World Series of the America’s Cup from 11 through 15 April 2012.  Evening photographs of the bay of Naples with catamarans lit up and a full moon over Mount Vesuvius have been flooding the Internet, in magnificent opposition to the images that circulated worldwide only ten months ago which showed a city submerged under mountains of garbage.

Since the election of mayor Luigi de Magistris on 31 May 2011, Naples has undergone rapid change, which includes rigorous limitations on private vehicle circulation downtown, higher levels of waste recycling and an overall sense of regained civic participation in the administration of the city, with numerous bottom-up events empowering citizens.  During the past ten months, citizen groups like “CleaNap”, “Friarielli Ribelli”, “VANTO”, and “Orange Revolution”, to mention a few, have literally taken over cleaning and maintenance of squares and gardens, trying to complement the work that the over-stretched city sanitation and grounds maintenance service could not accomplish, and have brought to the attention of city officials numerous monuments and places of interest that needed their immediate attention.

Bay of Naples with lit America's Cup catamarams in the water (photo from Facebook: Napoli poesia d'Italia...divine napoletane!)

Mayor de Magistris has also been able to develop the necessary synergy with other local officials to ensure that the America’s Cup events could take place with the maximum positive effect for the city.  He put aside political differences with Region President, Stefano Caldoro, and with Provincial President, Luigi Cesaro, to ensure that the three levels of government would facilitate holding the World Series in the Bay of Naples.  The three officials, together with Paolo Graziano, president of the Industrial Employers Association of Naples and CEO of the America’s Cup Naples organization, pulled off the event which officially started on Sunday 8 April 2012 with an evening show in Piazza del Plebiscito (the former Largo di Palazzo) opposite the Royal Palace, with thousands of people in attendance in spite of a persistent rain.  During the opening ceremony, the seven teams were introduced to the crowd.

There will be nine boats in the water, with two teams, Oracle and Luna Rossa, competing with two boats each.  The other catamarans will be competing for China Team, Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand, Energy Team , and Team Korea.

According to a strategic plan reviewed by the press, the America’s Cup will cost approximately 20 million Euro while the income should be three times that amount.  Supporters and critics of the event are battling on the Web arguing about the cost and the real effect on the city.  For critics, the operation is only a façade covering up real problems relating to waste management in the province of Naples.  For supporters, the event will be a success on its own merit and it will be a catalyst for further improvement in the city.

Bikers enjoy the waterfront closed to traffic on 2 April 2012. (Photo by Antonella Maiorano)

Mayor de Magistris sees the America’s Cup as an enabler for implementing changes that his administration had already planned.  For example, Via Caracciolo, the scenic waterfront hosting the America’s Cup Village, which is currently closed to traffic due to the World Series, will remain a pedestrian walkway even after the races.  The mayor proudly announced on Easter Sunday that the waterfront will now be a pedestrian walkway connecting the port to the foot of the Posillipo hill.

Click for more information from the AC World Series web site

Click for the schedule of events

Information on Naples and sorrounding areas

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Scrambling for the America’s Cup

Anthony M. Quattrone

Plymouth (UK) 14/09/2011 - - 34th America's Cup - AC World Series - Plymouth 2011 - Naples venue announcement - Paolo Graziano, President Industrial Union; Gennaro Ferrara, Vicepresident of Naples Province; Stefano Caldoro, President of Region Campania; Luigi de Magistris, Mayor of Naples; Richard Worth, President ACEA; Tommaso Sodano, Vicemayor Naples; Riccardo Marone-President of Bagnolifutura. Photo: © ©2011 ACEA/Ricardo Pinto

One of the primary objectives of the municipal government led by the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, has been to bring to Naples some major international events which may act as a catalyst for urban renewal and may provide an economic boost for the tourism industry. Three international events that are scheduled to take place during the next three years may help the Mayor meet his objective. The World Urban Forum, a high-level United Nations conference on cities, will take place in September 2012. The event, which will focus on sustainable urban development, rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies, is expected to draw some 20,000 attendees, including world leaders, statesmen, businessmen and academics.

The Universal Forum of Cultures, which was set by the previous Mayor of Naples, Rosa Russo Iervolino, will take place from 21 April through 10 July 2013. Last month, Mayor de Magistris changed the leadership of the committee responsible for organizing the event, by replacing Nicola Oddati, a member of the Democratic Party and a former alderman for culture of the previous city government, with Roberto Vecchioni, a nationally-known singer and song writer of Neapolitan origins. The forum, which is sponsored by UNESCO, seeks to bring together citizens from a varied range of cultures, languages, and religions to promote inter-cultural dialogue and to encourage global civil society empowerment.

Naples will be hosting two races of the America’s Cup World Series in April 2012 and May 2013. Mayor de Magistris, together with Luigi Cesaro, President of the Province of Naples, Stefano Caldoro, Governor of the Campania Region, and with Paolo Graziano, president of the Naples Association of the Industry Leaders, and chairman of the America’s Cup Napoli (CAN), confirmed on 14 September 2011 that an agreement had been reached with America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), which is responsible for the commercial side of the 34th America’s Cup, to hold the event in Naples. Read the whole article

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Mayor: Foreign country to take Naples waste

Aerial view of the port of Naples - waste may soon be leaving Naples by sea (photo by Antonio Retaggio)

Anthony M. Quattrone

The transfer of garbage from Naples and other cities in Campania to other regions in Italy is encountering a myriad of administrative, political, and technical obstacles, and the streets of the city are once again covered with about 2,400 tons of garbage.

The first obstacle encountered by the new administration headed by mayor Luigi de Magistris was the decision taken by the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio on 31 May 2011, the day that the new mayor was elected, that the procedure adopted by the Campania Region in transferring garbage to a commercial firm, Italcave, in Puglia violated the agreements between the governments of Campania and Puglia.  In particular, authorities complained that trucks from Campania were not sealed and that they were dispersing leachate on the road and bad odor in the areas that they drove through.  The arrangements with Puglia were to take care of 45,000 tons of garbage, but due to the decision by the tribunal only 1,131 tons were delivered to the commercial firm.

In the meantime, the President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, had asked the central government, headed by his political ally Silvio Berlusconi, to issue a special legislative decree slightly changing the laws in force to allow Campania to transfer to firms in other Italian regions waste that was properly shredded and screened.  On 12 July 2011, forty-two days after that the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio had decided to block transfers from Campania to Puglia, the Berlusconi government enacted a decree partially allowing the transfer of waste.  The decree, which requires the approval of Parliament within sixty days, is heavily opposed by the Northern League, who will fight it during the upcoming discussions in the House and the Senate.

Finally, there is some good news for the administration, because today the Council of State, which is a higher administrative tribunal, suspended the decision taken on 31 May 2011 by the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio which had blocked the transfer of waste from Campania to Puglia, thus allowing the transfer of all properly shredded and screened waste currently sitting in temporary depots in Naples to firms in other regions.  It is now expected that trucks will soon be leaving Naples and other cities in Campania to export waste that will be processed for a fee by commercial companies throughout Italy.  Current legislation, however, places on the governors of each Region the responsibility for authorizing commercial firms to import and process waste.

Mayor Luigi de Magistris has learned the hard way that technical solutions which appear to be within reach are hard to implement when there are interest groups putting up roadblocks at every corner.  Garbage separation and recycling is working in every area of the city where it has been implemented using the “door-to-door” model.  Prior to implementing separation and recycling city-wide, it is necessary to remove from the streets the garbage sitting there and to free up the temporary depots.  The Mayor has issued a fourth city order which provides for the opening of a new temporary depot which will provide the city with necessary relief.

De Magistris has also announced that by the end of this week the city will sign an agreement with a foreign country willing to take Neapolitan waste.  He expressed concern that there is constant sabotage against every action that the city is taking to rid the streets of garbage because special interests want to force him and his administration to agree to the construction of a new incineration plant in the eastern side of Naples and to digging additional dumps.  De Magistris stated that he would not publicize yet the terms of the agreement and the country involved because “as we go along with our plan to make Naples autonomous in terms of waste management, we have noted that processing plants come to a full stop, transfer of waste is reduced, and there is an attempt to create dissent among sanitation workers”.

Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Porto_di_Napoli_2005_0602.jpg?uselang=it#metadata

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Waste crisis: Naples snubbed by Northern League

Reaction by Naples Mayor engenders pride in citizenry to fight off racism from Northern League.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is flanked on his right by Stefano Calderoli, the outspoken Northern League minister who would like to use a flamethrower in Naples to resolve the garbage crisis, and on his left by the equally outspoken Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League and also a minister in the government. Both Calderoli and Bossi regularly make statements against the people of the south of Italy. (Photo from “Il Mattino” online, 3 July 2011).

Anthony M. Quattrone

The mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, is aiming at making Naples totally autonomous from the central government in terms of waste collection and management after that the Berlusconi government failed to come to the city’s help with an emergency decree which would have allowed Naples to export garbage to other regions.  In Italy, only special waste can be moved from one region to another, with the permission of the governor of each region, to be processed in specialized plants.  Ordinary waste cannot be transferred unless a special temporary decree is issued by the central government.  Naples needs a place to dump or process its garbage until the end of the year, when the door-to-door waste collection system and new compost sites are scheduled to be in place.

On 30 June 2011, the Berlusconi government issued a decree with numerous caveats which make the transfer of ordinary waste from Campania to other regions slow and difficult.  The decree also emphasized that all Neapolitan waste should be kept in southern Italian regions. The Berlusconi government was unable to approve a better decree because of the opposition of the Northern League ministers who hold the prime minister under check because their votes are needed to keep his government alive.

The Neapolitan daily, “Il Mattino” reported on 1 July 2011, criticism expressed by the Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and by the Cardinal of Naples, Crescenzio Sepe.  The President noted that the decree basically fails to provide the city with tools to climb out of the trash emergency.  Cardinal Sepe stated that the decree offends the dignity of Naples and does not respect the rights of its citizens.  In an interview, Berlusconi defended himself stating that he does not hold the 51% of the seats in Parliament, so he must make compromises with the Northern League.  Racist comments from Northern League politicians and some journalists have abounded during the past days.  Stefano Calderoli, a Northern League minister, announced that he is willing to work on the problems in Naples by using a flamethrower, while journalist Oscar Giannino looks forward to an explosion on the part of Mount Vesuvius for Naples to become a civilized society.

Resentment in Naples against the Northern League has now reached its all-time peak, with several restaurants and stores placing notices that they refuse to serve members of the Northern League.  Several consumer groups sprung up over the Internet requesting followers to boycott northern Italian products and to “buy south”.  Even the moderate Stefano Caldoro, the President of the Campania Region and member of Berlusconi’s center right coalition, is looking for retaliatory measures against the north.  Caldoro is now seeking to conduct a special inventory regarding all toxic waste that Campania imports from the north of Italy.  The Party of the South, a small formation which is part of the original coalition that has supported Luigi de Magistris’ bid for mayor, concerned about the de facto alliance created between the Northern League and organized crime, has called for a “democratic presidium” to be formed, to include the national unions and the associations representing entrepreneurs to assist the Mayor in informing citizens on the way ahead and in getting their participation in resolving the crisis, bottom-up.  The Party has also called on the Mayor to seek the assistance of Cardinal Sepe to inform citizens through the Catholic Church’s parish system regarding what City Hall is asking all citizens to do.

In the 15 days since Luigi de Magistris has appointed his city government, Naples is well on the way to collecting remaining garbage on the streets, placing garbage in temporary transition sites. As of this morning, Naples has reduced garbage sitting on the ground from 2,500 tons to approximately 1,300, with the center of the city basically clean, while several neighborhoods in the periphery are still in critical condition and should be tackled over the next couple of days. Naples produces approximately 1250 tons per day.  The independent suburban towns of Pozzuoli, Quarto, and Giugliano are still submerged with garbage, and they were hoping that the governmental decree would also provide them with relief.  They are now looking for help from the Provincial Government president, Luigi Cesaro, who is a member of Belursconi’s political party, and from the governor of the Campania Region, Caldoro.

In Naples, the city-owned garbage collection company, Asia, is playing a major role in turning the situation around.  The mayor hired on 16 June 2011 a new president for the company, Raphael Rossi, a 35 year old expert in waste collection, processing, and recycling, who earned notoriety last year for refusing a very high bribe in Turin when he had opposed the purchase of useless waste processing equipment with tax payer’s money.  Rossi’s exemplary behavior led to the arrest of those involved in the scam.  The mayor has also has placed all garbage collection workers on 24-hour shifts and he has decided to recapitalize Asia with 43 million euro.  The influx of capital will be essential for ensuring that suppliers are paid and that the new door-to-door collection system will be in place in September for an additional 200 thousand citizens.  Currently, 146 thousand Neapolitans are served with door-to-door waste collection, and their neighborhoods have not suffered during the current garbage crises.

Mayor de Magistris, deputy mayor, Tommaso Sodano, Asia president Rossi, and Raffaele del Giudice, a very well known ecologist who currently serves as counselor with Asia, are constantly in the streets speaking with citizens and encouraging Asia workers in meeting objectives.  The mayor’s personal visit to one of the garbage truck dispatch centers at 6 a.m. on 28 June 2011 paid off with a renewed sense of direction and commitment on the part of the workers.  Del Giudice noted that the waste collection employees are working beyond the call of duty.  In several neighborhoods, citizens who are appreciating the new spirit displayed by the Asia workers have independently formed groups to assist the garbage collection workers with loading trucks with large size items.  In several parts of town, long lines have formed to dump recyclable items in the mobile ecological centers that have been dispatched throughout the city in those neighborhoods that are not yet covered by the door-to-door garbage collection system.

Mayor de Magistris and Governor Caldoro are in touch with six Regions that have expressed an interest in importing garbage from the Campania Region.  If agreements are made quickly, Naples and Campania will be able to implement garbage separation processes without needing to be concerned about mountains of garbage sitting on the streets in the heat of the summer.  If the agreements fail, or if the Northern League and organized crime are able to put up additional roadblocks, Naples and Campania will spend one of the worst summers in their history.

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Garbage crisis: Mayor fights uphill battle against Northern League and Organized Crime

Citizens protest placing Italian flag on garbage in Naples (Ansa photo, "Il Mattino", 21 June 2011)

Anthony M. Quattrone

The Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, is continuing his uphill battle to rid the city of thousands of tons of garbage sitting on the streets and producing an unbearable smell.  There are two major obstacles on his path.  The first is the opposition by the Northern League members of the Italian central government headed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to allow Naples and the Campania Region to transfer garbage to waste processing plants in other Regions willing to receive the trash.  The second obstacle, which is less visible but equally disruptive, is the apparent hold that organized crime appears to have on waste removal and processing operations in Campania.

Berlusconi’s government was expected to issue an executive order on 1 June 2011 providing relief to Naples and the Campania Region on the garbage front.  Opposition by four Northern League ministers, Umberto Bossi, Roberto Maroni, Roberto Calderoli, and Luca Zaia, has blocked the government from taking any action to face the emergency in Naples. This has caused significant backlash within Berlusconi’s party, where southern deputies and senators are distancing themselves from the government in Rome.  On 20 June 2011, the governor of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, who was elected with the decisive support of Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition last year, told “La Repubblica” that he was tired of the constant blackmail put up by the Northern League.  Other center-right coalition members were forced to take a stand condemning the anti-southern rhetoric coming from the North.

During the weekend, when the Northern League held its annual meet in Pontida (Bergamo), party leaders and ministers currently serving in Berlusconi’s government shouted slogans, such as “Free Padania” and “Independent Padania”, and in several cases chanted “secession” with the crowd.  The Northern League is also pressing to move several ministries from Rome to cities in the north, in an attempt to break the “Rome-centric” state, possibly triggering a quicker move towards the type of federalism that the Northern League has been hoping for.  The existence and viability of Silvio Berlusconi government is hinged on the vital support provided by the Northern League in Parliament.

While Berlusconi attempts to resolve conflict within his own government, the mayor of Naples is facing the internal battle with what seems to be a strong grip that organized crime appears to have on the waste collection and processing system.  Over the past couple of days, every time that the mayor appeared to be in control of the waste collection system, a new roadblock would come into play, ranging from someone instigating crowds to burn garbage or to dup trash in the middle of the street, to contracted companies keeping their trucks idle in garages.  When the president of the Province of Naples, Luigi Cesaro, also a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s political party, finally identified waste collection sites for temporary layover, the mayors of the towns hosting them issued ordinances blocking garbage trucks from hauling waste, while demonstrators, in the time being, put several garbage trucks on fire.

On 20 June 2011, the mayor of Naples, the president of the Region, the president of the Province met with the Prefect of Naples, who represents the central government, to work out a solution, albeit another temporary one. Today, a local agreement, brokered by the president of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, has allowed that five Campania provinces (Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Naples, and Salerno) make their temporary layover sites available for garbage sitting on the streets of Naples and its suburbs.  This should provide immediate relief to Naples, while the new mayor gets on with his plan to increase garbage separation and modernizing the waste collection system.  As this new attempt to resolve the crisis moves along, Mayor de Magistris has warned that it is imperative to keep watch on organized crime and on all of those who wish to stop the winds of change from sweeping Naples clean.

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New Mayor and Campania Region President to Brussels to unfreeze funds

Mayor calls for ridding city of garbage in five days with help of all

Anthony M. Quattrone

Via Speranzella in downtown Naples loaded with garbage (photo Siano, "La Repubblica")

The new mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, and the President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, will be going to Brussels on 22 June 2011 to discuss the Campania waste management issue with the European Union, hoping to unfreeze 150 million euro that Europe had earmarked for investments in Naples and Campania.  The funds, which, according to news reports, were blocked by European officials mainly due to lack of trust and confidence in local administrators from Naples and Campania, are desperately needed to fund stalled projects aiming at re-launching the economy in the city and the Region.  Caldoro, who was elected last year, and de Magistris, who was elected only three weeks ago, are hoping that European officials will provide them with a chance to prove that they deserve the trust and confidence of the European Union.

Luigi de Magistris appointed the new Naples city government on 13 June 2011. He nominated twelve officials to form the executive branch of the Naples city government.  Each official is responsible for several departments apiece.  One of the twelve officials, Tommaso Sodano, will also serve as deputy mayor, in addition to occupying the critical seat in charge of waste management.   The mayor can count on a solid majority of 34 of the 48 members of the City Council, the legislative body.  Twenty nine councilpersons come from the parties and groups forming his initial coalition in the two-round election system, while an additional five belong to formations that have supported him in the run-off election on 30 and 31 May 2011.

The president of the new City Council is professor Raimondo Pasquino, the Chancellor of the University of Salerno, who was elected with 38 votes coming from the parties supporting the new Mayor and from centrist formations that supported the chancellor’s bid to become mayor of Naples in the recently held elections.  Professor Pasquino lost in the first round of the mayoral elections, gaining almost ten percent of the vote.  Mayor de Magistris, who admires Pasquino very much, asked him to lead City Council, hoping to forge a strong alliance between the city government and the Council, in the interest of the Naples.  This is the first time since 1993 that the coalition winning the elections does not take over the leadership of the City Council.

The first decision by the new city government has been to tackle the failed waste management system that has brought Naples to the center of world attention on many occasions since the mid-1990s with pictures of high rising mounds of trash on the streets and news regarding collusion between oranized crime, politicians, and public officials.  While the city’s priority is to immediately remove the 2,000 metric tons of garbage piled up in many parts of the city, the first executive order targets a permanent solution, in line with campaign promises.  The city is immediately increasing the door-to-door waste collection system adding five areas to the eight currently served, raising the participating population from 146 to 325 thousand by the end of September. The areas served by the door-to-door waste collections system are not experiencing the problems seen in other parts of the city, where high mounds of garbage bags are piling up to record levels.

Removing 2,000 tons of garbage will take approximately five days according to the Mayor, if a place to dump the collected waste is found.  He and the president of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, were counting on an urgent decree by Silvio Berlusconi’s government allowing Naples and the Campania Region to export trash to other Italian Regions willing to help.  Regrettably, internal strife between Berlusconi’s party, the People of Liberty (PdL) and the Northern League stalled the decision until sometime next week, with the former attempting to throw roadblocks of all types to avoid that waste from Campania be exported to other regions.  The inaction on the part of Berlusconi’s government has caused serious embarrassment to the party’s local leadership, to include President Caldoro.

The waste management system in Italy is shared between four levels of government.  City hall is responsible only for collecting and transporting waste.  The Provincial government is responsible for the processing, recycling, and disposal of waste.  The Regional government is responsible for medical waste disposal, for the movement of waste across its borders, and for ensuring that there is an integrated waste management system within its jurisdiction.  The national government is to ensure general oversight over Regional management plans, and to intervene to guarantee cooperation among local institutions, thus ensuring maximum integration of services in line with European Union standards and guidelines.

The mayor of Naples is tackling the waste management problem at source.  Without properly differentiating between the types of waste produced, thus separating recyclables from other types of waste, and enforcing a door-to-door system, Naples will continue to lag behind all other major cities in the world.  The Provincial government and the Campania Region have done almost nothing in the past year in terms of identifying new landfills or building processing plants, but they blame the former Mayor, Rosa Russo Iervolino, for having done too little to implement a modern trash separation system to raise the level of recycling.  The former mayor, on the other hand, blamed the central and regional governments for not having provided necessary funds and assistance for improving recycling in Naples.  The new mayor, Luigi de Magistris, is fighting hard to obtain 8.25 million euro from the Campania Region for funding the door-to-door collection system, and, according to news reports, it appears that the president of the Region, Stefano Caldoro, might release the funds next week.

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Where has all the garbage gone?

Anthony M. Quattrone

Ferrandelle landfill (photo "La Repubblica" 13 May 2009, Naples Edition)

Where has all the garbage gone? This is the question that many in Naples are asking.

The crisis that overtook the city and many parts of the Campania Region between the summers of 2006 and 2008 seems to have been miraculously resolved with the change in government in May 2008, when the center-right coalition headed by Silvio Berlusconi replaced Romano Prodi’s ailing center-left administration. Berlusconi had promised the electorate that, if elected, he would have resolved the region’s waste disposal crisis as a matter of national emergency, linking the worldwide negative press, with front page photos of Naples submerged in garbage, to potential economic repercussions on the whole of the “Italy system”, ranging from tourism to products “made in Italy”.

There is no doubt that Berlusconi has successfully freed the streets of Naples from mountains of garbage, which up to now, with very few exceptions, have not returned. There is also no doubt that his success in removing garbage from the sights of the citizenry has been instrumental in leading the center-right coalition to win three major elections held over the past year in Naples and Campania. In May 2008, Berlusconi’s coalition won a majority of seats in Campania for the European Parliament, and placed Luigi Cesaro to head the provincial government of Naples. Last March, Berlusconi’s coalition, supported by the Union of Democrats of the Center, successfully won the elections, leading Stefano Caldoro to replace Antonio Bassolino as governor of the Campania Region. Bassolino has been blamed by the media as the principal politician responsible for the garbage crisis in Campania.

Has Berlusconi solved the problem? If yes, is it solved on a permanent basis? If yes, is it solved in a legally sustainable basis? These questions are surfacing in a series of investigate reports by local and national journalists. Read the whole article

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