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BirdsCaribbean Celebrates Local Birds with Online Learning and Activity Program “From the Nest”

SINT MAARTEN/SAINT-MARTIN - Looking for fun ways to learn at home? BirdsCaribbean has launched “From the Nest” with new activities every day. It is this year’s online version of the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival (CEBF).

The festival is an annual event organized each spring by BirdsCaribbean. It brings people of all ages together, right across the region. Normally, partners host activities like birding walks, presentations, and art contests. The goal is to raise awareness about the 171 unique birds that live only in the Caribbean and threats to their survival. The festival begins on April 22 and is celebrated through May.

“The goal of CEBF is exactly the same, but this year we are celebrating in a completely different way – from our homes,” explained Executive Director of BirdsCaribbean Lisa Sorenson. “Due to the challenges of COVID-19 and restrictions on citizens’ movements across the islands, our partners are unable to organize their usual wonderful, vibrant events. At BirdsCaribbean we have created a “virtual festival” with online discussions and activities that are both fun and educational. Our partners have been playing their part!”

Colouring pages from the recently published Endemic Birds of the West Indies Colouring Book are making their debut online. A new bird is presented each day on BirdsCaribbean’s website, with details, puzzles, eBooks, and activities to keep children, teens, and adults busy! The artist who made the fine bird drawings, Christine Elder, recently streamed a live hands-on workshop on sketching hummingbirds, which attracted budding artists of all ages.

BirdsCaribbean partners are doing their own CEBF projects on their social media pages. Cuban groups and the University of Havana have joined to present an Endemic Cuban Bird of the Day on social media. Antigua’s Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) has a weekly theme under the hashtag #NatureStillOpen. They invite followers to share photos online. The group is also hosting a six-part webinar on “Birding for Beginners,’ which started on May 1.

BirdLife Jamaica is posting its endemic birds on its Facebook page and joined an online meet-up on the arts and environment organized by Kingston Creative. Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources reached out to a 7th Grade Students for a talk about the island’s endemic birds and ornithologist, Dr. Adrianne Tossas gave a webinar, “Getting to Know the Endemic Birds of Puerto Rico.” The Bahamas National Trust’s Scott Johnson explored the mysteries of the legendary Chickcharney, an owl-like creature from folklore, in a fascinating webinar.

CEBF celebrations online will continue into June. Visit the BirdsCaribbean.org to find From the Nest activities, or follow BirdsCaribbean and your local nature groups on social media.

birds Bridled Quail Dove Puzzle

Online puzzles of gorgeous Caribbean endemic birds, like this Bridled Quail-Dove, are available for kids and adults to enjoy at home.
 birds CEBF From the Nest
 
 
 Artwork created for the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival 2020 Virtual Edition, called “From the Nest.”.
 
 

 

 

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Ti Koko and Kush Kush, it’s also a storybook for many of us held up at home by COVID-19, by Shasa Lake

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Ti Koko and Kush Kush by Patricia G. Turnbull is a storybook for boys and girls, ages 4 to 9, set on the lush bayside of Garden Bay on a tropical island paradise. Sounds familiar? If you have grown up on or near a beach, or wish that you did, this is sooo your story. If you’re from the countryside or city it’s also off to a magical place for your children, and you too. 

Ti Koko and Kush Kush is about “a happy little coconut tree and a friendly, wise yam” in a small community, reviews Nicole Phillip-Dowe on the book’s cover.

What happens on the bayside is not all happy, however. The little coconut tree is soon physically crushed by “Brogudoosh!,” a big new development thing that bullies its way onto the beach. The coconut starts to bawl, “I’ll never grow tall to stir the breeze and brush the sky.”

The breadfruit doesn’t know what to do, the calabash is crying. It’s Kush Kush yam to the rescue of Ti Koko and rallies the neighborhood: “Remember your roots,” she said, “or you will fall! You must stand on your roots to reach that high.”

Turnbull’s choice of the yam as a culture-bearer is brilliant. The yam has a royal origins legacy deep in the psyche of Caribbean people. It’s also a staple to “nyam” in our cuisine (yes, I’m a foodie), and a main survival food for over 300 years.

As for the coconut, respect to one of the oldest living natives of the region.

I’m always collecting children’s books for the beauty of the story and of the book’s design, which helps to make reading exciting in the home.

But I’m also thrilled that the book’s plants and trees bear fruits and vegetables that we can “culture” in our yard. They stay connected and care for each other in very difficult times. A storybook that may also be perfect for people held up at home by the COVID-19 pandemic—affecting island communities and countries on continents.

When I bought Ti Koko and Kush Kush for my girls, Amisha, and the youngest, Sanaa, it was because I loved its message in words and pictures. Strong roots define who you are, what you will become and keeps you grounded, literally.

Amisha was the first to say that she loves the book. The easy reading means that she can also be the proud big sister, acting as a storyteller to Sanaa anytime.

The colorful art by Reuben Vanterpool, exclusive for Ti Koko and Kush Kush, illustrates the poem-story’s talking plants and fruits, fishermen with their boat on the beach, farmers by moonlight, and children going home after school (hurricane Irma destroyed the original oil paintings).

This is the second oversize, hardcover book from House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) that I’ve bought for children and fell in love with to my own amazement. I’m happy to know that a Caribbean publisher and writers in the region are creating such wonderful work. This happiness is shared as the joy in my voice when I read these stories to my children. 

Ti Koko and Kush Kush is available for Internet orders at www.SPDbooks (https://bit.ly/2rufPqb), Amazon, and from Van Dorp and other bookstores in the Caribbean and Canada.

nhp book cover

Ti Koko and Kush Kush, colorfully illustrated storybook by Patricia G. Turnbull.

nhp Photo2 art by ReubenVanterpool bayside TiKokoKushKush

Caribbean bayside artwork by Reuben Vanterpool in the storybook Ti Koko and Kush Kush by Patricia G. Turnbull. (Credit HNP photo)

 

 

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Foresee Foundation Announces Video Release: Soualichi Story Origins and Purpose

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Philipsburg, Sint Maarten –Foresee Foundation established Soualichi Stories as a way to preserve Sint Maarten’s rich and deep traditions of oral storytelling and also to draw Sint Maarteners closer during our period of social distancing.

In order to share more details about the origins, purpose and links between the “C’s” of the Foresee Foundation and essential elements of the Soualichi Stories series, the series team members collaborated on a new video released today, “Behind The Scenes, Insights from the ‘Soualichi Stories’ Team,” available on the Soualichi Stories website:

https://www.foreseefoundation.com/project/soualichi-stories/.

The video portrays the direct thoughts on the project from the Soualichi Stories Team, which includes representatives and leadership from the Foresee Foundation, along with its storytellers, the Soualichi Stories Project Coordinator, and other partners.

Next Soualichi Story Synopsis: In Soualichi Stories’ fifth story, “Nora and the Dry Gutter,” Nora and her sister visit the other side of the dry gutter to pick cherries. Upon returning across the dry gut, a voice asks them for a cherry. Nora’s sister offers the dry gut her only cherry and then crosses. Nora refuses to give up a cherry from her very full basket. The dry gut teaches her a lesson . . .

Release Date: “Nora and the Dry Gutter,” narrated by Papa Umpo, will be broadcast on multiple radio stations across the island beginning Monday May 11 (both Dutch and French side, schedule included below), while all prior stories are available on the project’s website, located at https://www.foreseefoundation.com/project/soualichi-stories/.

More Information: For inquiries and to suggest additional St. Maarten folk stories and story tellers, please contact Soualichi Project Coordinator, Laura Hartman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or contact the Foresee Foundation on Facebook.

Programming Schedule

Monday

SOS 95.5

8:30 AM

Mix 94.7

9:00 AM

MY 88.3

9:30 AM

Tunes Carib

3:00 PM

Radio St. Martin 101.5

5:30 PM

Tuesday

MY 88.3

9:30 AM

Island 92 (91.9)

10:00 AM

SXM GOV

8:00 PM

Wednesday

SOS 95.5

8:30 AM

MY 88.3

9:30 AM

Island 92 (91.9)

10:00 AM

Tunes Carib

3:00 PM

Radio St. Martin 101.5

5:30 PM

SXM GOV

8:00 PM

Thursday

Mix 94.7

9:00 AM

MY 88.3

9:30 AM

Voice of SXM (PJD2)

5:30 PM

SXM GOV

8:00 PM

Friday

SOS 95.5

8:30 AM

MY 88.3

9:30 AM

Island 92 (91.9)

10:00 AM

Tunes Carib

3:00 PM

Radio St. Martin 101.5

5:30 PM

SXM GOV

8:00 PM

Saturday

Mix 94.7

9:00 AM

Voice of SXM (PJD2)

3:00 PM

SXM GOV

8:00 PM

Sunday

SXM GOV

8:00 PM

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Tax Inspectorate Reopens as of May 11 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In light of the new developments regarding the de-escalation and the imminent lifting of the current measures within the coming weeks, the public is hereby advised that the following services will be available during the week of May 11, to May 15, 2020 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

 

TAX ADMINISTRATION

Week: May 11, 2020

Services

Times

Location

Days:

Mon/Wed/Fri

1.     Receiving of tax returns, protest letters, etc,

8:30 AM -1:00 PM

Vineyard Building

2.     Collection:For payment arrangements etc.

830 AM -2:00 PM

Vineyard Building

All collection inquiries will be handled via email and telephone.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: 542-2143/542-5301/542-5304/542-3839

3.   Cashier Transactions (Cash and Maestro payments only will be accepted at the window)

8:30 AM -1:00 PM

PSC /Government Building (Philipsburg)

Payments by check is also possible using the drop box located at the entrance of the Administration Building. Please be sure to print the name, contact number, and email address of the taxpayer or representative on the envelope. Please be sure to include tax returns, a copy of the invoice, etc.

When paying using online banking or bank transfer, please indicate in your transaction the crib number, tax type, year and month paid in the description box. Please note that for every payment, a separate transaction is required.

Banking Information:                       Account Numbers:

The Windward Islands Bank              324800-03-NAF/ 324800-05-US$

RBC Royal Bank                                5425048-NAF/403930461-US$

Please take note of the following tax obligation deferrals:

Wage and Turnover Taxes, AOV/AWW and AVBZ premiums (filing and payment)

March 2020                                        Postponed to May 25, 2020

April 2020                                              Postponed to May 25, 2020

For urgent matters, government public services departments/division can be contacted via email or through the 711 hotline. All clients must ensure that they are wearing proper protective gear (facial masks) and adhere to all security and safety (social distancing) guidelines. The public is also advised to stay tuned to the official Government website and other social media platforms with regard to the other services that will be provided in the coming weeks. 

 

 

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INCOME SUPPORT FOR SOLE PROPRIETORS, VENDOR LICENSE HOLDERS, BUS AND INDEPENDENT TAXI AND TOUR DRIVERS IN FULL SWING

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of Finance would like to remind you to apply to the “Income Support for Sole Proprietors, Vendor License Holders, Bus and Independent Taxi and Tour Drivers”. The Income Support Program will pay ANG. 1,150 per month to qualifying individuals for the months of April, May and June 2020. In order to qualify, you must fit the following criteria:

  • Legally registered as a Sole Proprietor or have a permit for public vending (of any kind) or public transportation.
  • You do not have employees and you are not a part of payroll.
  • You have updated Tax Declaration Forms.
  • You have a valid local bank account number.

This is grant is available for Sole Proprietors, Vendor License Holders, Bus Drivers and Independent Taxi/Tour Drivers. In order to receive continued support, applicants must resubmit every month before the 22nd of the respective month. If you believe you are eligible for “Income Support”, please submit the following documents to https://www.ssrp.sx/incomesupport/:

  • A Completed Income Support Application Form.
  • Upload a copy of your valid passport/ID.
  • Upload a copy of your valid Chamber of Commerce & Industry registration or vending (of any kind), bus or taxi license.
  • Upload a stamped (Tax Office) copy of your 2018 Income Tax Returns

After your application has been reviewed and approved, you can expect payment on the last Friday of the month. Please visit the official stimulus website for all information and updates. There is also a helpdesk available for all of your inquiries, the official SSRP website can be accessed at www.ssrp.sx.

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TelEm Group getting ready “New Normal” environment to keep everyone safe upon return to the workplace

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – TelEm Group is getting into gear to fully open its stores and offices to customers and the general public as soon as government makes the announcement that businesses can once again resume regular business hours.

So far, TelEm Group stores and offices have been permitted to open for limited hours and on specific days so that customers without the ability to make online payments can come into the stores to do so. From an initial “rush” last week, lines have tapered off somewhat, especially the special lines reserved for seniors, pregnant women and physically challenged persons, between the hours of 8:00 am and 10:00 am.

“We are informing customers now that we are now giving “preference” to Seniors pregnant women and the physically challenged, which means that customers no longer have to wait until 10:00 am in the morning to come in a be served,” said TelEm Group Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Mr. Michiel Parent.

Mr. Parent says the commercial team, including customers service, is being heavily supported by Manager, Procurement and General Affairs, Carmen Lake-Reyes, to ensure everything that is needed is in place to accommodate staff returning to the workplace and also customers who are coming into the stores to pay.

“Even though we continue to motivate our customers to pay their invoices online or ask helpdesk-related questions over the phone or via e-mail, there is still a significant amount of customers who require face-to-face service. Carmen and the Manager, Customer Relations, Veronica Browne, are doing a fantastic job getting things in place. We started off slowly by only allowing a few customers into the stores at a time while we had the bulletproof glass to act as a barrier for cashiers. We also set up some tents outside as waiting areas to accommodate customers as best as we could while enforcing strict social distancing protocols,” said Mr. Parent.

He said the measures being taken internally were stepped up another notch recently with completion of screens in the customer service area to separate the customer service representatives from visiting customers.

“The management team has inspected the screens and we are very pleased with how they look. They will create a very effective barrier along with the deep cleaning, hand sanitizing and other protocols that will be enforced once employees return to their posts,” said Mr. Parent.

Mr. Parent says employees still working from home should expect a different work environment upon their return to their posts, to what is being generally described as the “new normal” situation.

“Once back in the workplace we have to constantly think of how we interact and relate with our colleagues and everything around us, what we touch, how close we are to each other, how we sanitize our work spaces, how often we wash our hands, how careful we are when it comes to reporting illness, no matter how small,” said Mr. Parent.

As the coordinator of the TelEm Group infectious diseases response team, Mr. Parent says the management team is doing all it can to ensure workers have a safe environment to work in when they are back in the workplace.

“The day is coming very soon when everyone will be called to return to work. We want everyone to be prepared for that day, but most of all to rest assured about the “new normal” environment they will be coming into,” said Mr. Parent.

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President Gibbs expresses his condolences on the passing of Senator Lurel

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) – Daniel Gibbs, President of the Collectivite of Saint-Martin on Monday issued a condolence message on the passing of Victorin Lurel.

In his condolence message, President Gibbs expressed great sorrow that he had learned this afternoon of the passing of fellow senator from Guadeloupe, Victorin Lurel.

President Gibbs conveyed to the family of Lurel his sincere support and comfort also on behalf of the Territorial Council of Saint-Martin, an expression of heartfelt condolences and on behalf of the people of Saint-Martinois.

Victorin Lurel and his family are in our prayers, President Gibbes concluded.

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Warning for organizers and participants of prospective street parties

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Police Force see it as a necessity to once again issue another stern warning to certain members of the general public, the police said on Sunday evening. “It has been brought to our attention that a small group is once again coordinating a jump up in light of the closing of what would have been Carnival 2020 after being repeatedly warned of the dangers doing so may cause,” the police said in their statement on Sunday.

Warnings such as these are not because the police are aiming at stopping anyone’s fun, as stated in several of the addresses made by the head of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Prime Minister Jacobs.

They serve as a means to request compliance from the community. We have all witnessed firsthand the countless lives that have been loss and masses of people that continue to battle with this COVID-19 virus. This virus is not a joke and can be caught in the simplest ways, the statement explains.

“Sint Maarten is a tiny dot compared to the rest of the world and our resources are limited. We are again asking the small group of people that refuse to comply, to rethink your decision-making process as it can cost you or someone you love their lives.

“We are in this battle together, no one is exempt from contracting the virus, and the more it spreads is the longer we have to limit movement, which will mean extended lockdowns.

“When we all come together to comply it will be the sooner, we can regain some sense of normalcy and get the country back up and running. We have done it several times after many devastating hurricanes, and we can do it again through this COVID- 19 epidemic with the help of the community.

“For those that may know someone who is involved in organizing or planning to attend these illegal gatherings, be your neighbors keeper, let them know it is wrong and the repercussions of their actions can have a tremendous impact on the economy of Sint Maarten.

“Please think before you act, anyone caught participating or planning any illegal gatherings will be arrested and fined heavily.

“At the same time, the police also want to thank the community of Sint Maarten who all comply with the described measure. You make the work easier for the Front liners, and we will get through this together.” (KPSM)

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President Daniel Gibbs brings the voice of Saint-Martin to the President of the Republic Macron

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - The President of the Collectivite of Saint-Martin participated, this Thursday, April 30, 2020, in a video conference organized by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron, with the Prefects and Presidents of Overseas Regions and Collectivites (Atlantic Zone), with the aim of taking stock of the situation with respect to the COVID-19 crisis in each territory and to examine together the stakes of the planned exit strategy from the confinement measures as of May 11, 2020.

Each territory was able to present the current situation of the epidemic and express its needs in terms of health, social and economic response, expected from the State.

On the reopening of schools

The issue of schools has been the subject of a discussion argued by territorial elected officials who do not wish to take any risks for students, teachers and their families and call on the government to deploy the necessary means for this recovery. President Gibbs was cautious in asking the President of the Republic to clarify the terms of the recovery and the means granted to the Collectivites. He confirmed that consultation meetings had taken place locally and would continue until a concerted decision was reached by 11 May.

On economic recovery

During his speech, President Gibbs stressed the major actions to be implemented in Saint- Martin to protect businesses and save jobs. The President of Saint-Martin recalled the statistics of his territory: 950 companies have used partial activity since the beginning of the Covid19 crisis, bringing to 4478 the number of employees affected by partial unemployment; 829 companies have applied for assistance under the National Solidarity Fund, with an average of 1390 euros per company in Saint-Martin. He also presented to the President of the Republic the main measures taken locally by the Collectivite , including the participation of our institution in the part 1 of the National Solidarity Fund to the tune of 123,000 euros, the establishment of an emergency fund of 5 million euros through a three-tiered scheme aimed at providing assistance to all businesses in the territory, regardless of their size. This assistance takes the form of two honorary loans of up to 15,000 euros and the use of the BPI's rebound loan,as well as the implementation, from 14 April, of deferrals of payments until next year, for the TGCA, corporation tax and commercial patent.

The Community is financially abounding in Part 2 of the Solidarity Fund, which will be launched from 1 May 2020 and which can reach 5000 euros.

President Gibbs also made it clear that investment assistance and the acquisition of protective measures will soon be put in place by the Collectivite for Shops and Restaurants.

Daniel Gibbs also spoke of his plan to revive the Economy of Saint-Martin and to start on a solid footing, the president asked the State for three levers: à l’Etat :

  • The revision of the State/COM convergence contract, to which the Minister of Overseas Affairs Annick Girardin, present alongside the President of the Republic, responded
  • The use of the remaining funds of the European funds under the 2014-2020 programmes (26 million euros) in actions to exit the COVID-19 crisis and the redeployment of part of the funds allocated for cooperation on COVID-19 shares (4 million euros out of 10 million euros of INTERREG-CTE credits initially allocated to STEP).
  • A revenue safeguard plan: revision of the endorsement to the State-COM protocol of 6 November 2017 with the request to extend it by 3 years and the guarantee of tax revenue actually collected in 2019 (100.2 million euros). Not to mention the implementation of tax reform of Saint-Martin that has been pending for a long time. The Minister of Overseas Affairs recognized the need to move forward on this issue.

On the reopening of bars, restaurants and shops

The President expressed to the President of the Republic the vital urgency for Saint-Martin to be able to reopen bars, restaurants and shops as soon as possible, as of 11 May, at the risk of many businesses finding themselves in serious difficulty and unable to overcome this unprecedented crisis.

A point on which the President of the Republic responded favourably under certain conditions. The President of Saint-Martin has also called for an extension of the partial unemployment scheme until the end of December 2020 in order to save jobs and support businesses that will have to wait until the next tourist season to be able to restart their activity satisfactorily.

The President of the Republic took this issue into consideration for the overseas territories and announced that a specific mechanism should be created quickly in the continuity of partial unemployment, for companies in this sector and help them to prepare themselves for the future.

The support of the banks was also discussed by President Gibbs, who wants much more support for the companies of Saint-Martin. The Minister of Overseas Affairs has pledged to intervene, as after Irma, for banks to strengthen their financial support to the overseas territories.

On regional cooperation

Another major topic for President Gibbs is the geopolitical context of Saint-Martin and its proximity to Sint Maarten, Anguilla and Saint Barths. As Saint-Martin is an air hub for these islands, the recovery must take place in consultation and in harmonizing tourism decisions: establishing joint modalities for the reopening of tourism services and infrastructure.

On COVID-19 screening

President Gibbs highlighted the involvement of the Collectivite of Saint-Martin about the community outreach COVID-19 testing initiative planned for May 4 to May 18.

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Only two active COVID-19 Cases. One hospitalized

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) – Out of the 38 positive COVID-19 cases, French Saint-Martin only has two remaining active cases. One person remains in hospital in Martinique.

The President of the Collectivite of Saint-Martin, Daniel Gibbs, met on Tuesday 28 April, Valérie Denux, Director of the Regional Health Agency of Guadeloupe, as well as Professor Roger, an infectious disease specialist at the University Hospital of Pointe-à-Pitre/Abymes, to discuss joint measures to combat the spread of COVID19, on the territory of Saint-Martin.

This meeting was first and foremost an opportunity to provide a comprehensive update on the health situation of the territory, as the Director of the L.A. confirmed to the President a significant decrease in acute respiratory infections observed by doctors and a stabilization of COVID-19 cases in recent days, indicating that containment is working.

However, further action should be taken by expanding screening tests to all people with flu-like symptoms, even mild ones, and by continuing joint efforts to drastically reduce the circulation of the virus in Saint-Martin and to contain each case that would prove to be in the future.

In partnership with the Collectivite and under the aegis of the LRS, L.C. Fleming Hospital is currently forming a team of mobile physicians who will travel to Sandy Ground, St. James, and French Quarter to conduct voluntary testing. The Collectivite and the Neighbourhood Councils are mobilized for this operation which takes place from 4 to 18 May and will be accessible to all residents who are identified as symptomatic of COVID 19 and wishing to be screened, regardless of their neighbourhood of residence.

The Collectivite is also committed to the acquisition and donation of a PCR screening machine and two ventilators (anesthesia and resuscitation) for the L. C. Fleming Hospital, as well as to make available under agreement, two screening machines for the two laboratories of Saint-Martin as well as 3000 PCR tests. This contribution from the Collectivite amounts to a total amount of 190,000 Euros, from European funds.

french sxm stat

 

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