‘Father’ of China’s nuclear, thermonuclear bombs dies aged 100

A nuclear physicist revered in China as one of the key figures behind its entire nuclear weapons program has died after living for no less than a century.

Cheng Kaijia, the man who helped China become owners of the deadliest and most devastating weapons on earth, passed away peacefully in Beijing on Saturday more than three months after he celebrated his centenary.

The physicist was actively engaged in the research, development and tests of the first Chinese nuclear bombs at “theoretical, technological and methodological” levels, according to the HLHL Foundation, a Hong-Kong-based NGO, which awards prizes to Chinese scientists. He particularly solved one of the key problems behind any nuclear bomb development: he explained and created a theoretical model of the mechanism of the inner explosion of the atomic bomb.

Cheng also calculated the temperature and pressure at an epicenter of a nuclear explosion in 1960. And he performed this complex task manually, without even using any computing hardware, which did not exist in China in those days.

Four years later, China tested its first nuclear bomb. Cheng took part in that test as well as in the tests of China’s hydrogen bomb in 1967. His efforts were duly recognized by Beijing, which awarded Cheng China’s top science award in 2014 and its highest military honor in 2017.

However, the scientist did not just devote his long life solely to the development of weapons of mass destruction, although he did help to create quite a few. The man also studied the effects of nuclear explosions and actively fostered a research program aimed at mitigating some of these effects such as high power microwave or initial nuclear radiation, according to the HLHL Foundation.

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Game developer apologizes, restructures firm after outcry over imaginary anti-gay Chechen vampires

The developer of ‘Vampires: The Masquerade’ tabletop game will be restructured after complaints about the game’s bizarre plot, in which vampires in Chechnya use the persecution of gay people to cover up their own existence.

The board game features bloodsuckers, who torture and feed on gay people, and wasn’t long in Russia’s Republic of Chechnya when the Swedish White Wolf company announced that sales of the 200-page explanatory ‘setting’ book, which was only just released, will be “temporarily suspended.”

“The section on Chechnya will be removed in both the print and PDF versions,” they pledged, adding that making these changes would take at least three weeks and would lead to delays in shipping of the product.

White Wolf made headlines earlier this week after media learned that their new ‘Vampires: The Masquerade’ orientation book characterized Russia’s Republic of Chechnya as a haven for vampires.

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FILE PHOTO Willem Dafoe, shown in this file photo from the film

According to the authors, in the game the undead rule the land through a powerful mafia-like structure, while the Kremlin-backed human leader of the republic, called Sultan Ramzan, is merely their puppet. This puppet, a namesake of the current head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is described in the game as the pursuer of a lavish lifestyle who feeds his enemies to predators in his personal zoo.

As for the international outrage over the alleged persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya, it’s actually a sophisticated media campaign to distract attention from the very existence of vampires. But it doesn’t mean that the LGBT community is out of harm’s way in the fictional version of Chechnya, as the undead torture, kill and use them as food.

White Wolf acknowledged that this time their imagination led them to the wrong place, saying that “horror should not be afraid to explore difficult or sensitive topics, but it should never do so without understanding who those topics are about and what it means to them.”

“In the Chechnya chapter… we lost sight of this. The result was a chapter that dealt with a real-world, ongoing tragedy in a crude and disrespectful way,” the statement read.

The developers apologized and said that they should’ve filtered the inappropriate content before the book went to print.

The whole scandal has also led to significant changes to the company itself, with the statement informing that “White Wolf will no longer function as a separate entity,” but is to be restructured as part of publisher Paradox.

READ MORE: Tender strongman: Chechnya’s Kadyrov rides swings in search of ‘purity and good nature’

It was the second time the game developer found itself in hot water in recent months. White Wolf was also accused of drawing inspiration from neo-Nazi and white-supremacist ideology, but has vigorously denied the claims.

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‘The only thing better than figure skating is sex’ – Russian ‘striptease’ star Tuktamysheva (VIDEO)

Russian figure skating star Elizaveta Tuktamysheva has delighted fans with her racy routines so far this season, but she’s revealed the one thing that for her can beat the highs of performing on the ice.

Speaking exclusively to RT, the 21-year-old former world and European champion opened up about her famous ‘striptease’ exhibition dance and the newfound attention and popularity it has brought her – including some controversial tweets that have got social media tongues wagging.

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Elizaveta Tuktamysheva © AFP / GEOFF ROBINS, Twitter / Hanyudab

Tuktamysheva set pulses racing when she won the Skate Canada Grand Prix earlier this season, producing a brilliant performance to seal first before pulling off a gala routine which garnered even more attention.  

The performance saw the skater strip off to her bra to the tune of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ – which Tuktamysheva says brought new life to the “conservative” world of figure skating.   

READ MORE: ‘My boyfriend liked it!’ Russian figure skater Tuktamysheva on racy Canada GP dance

“It was a breath of fresh air in figure skating because nobody stripped on the ice before me. I see nothing bad in this exhibition dance, on the contrary I think it was a great idea.

“The emphasis in this performance is not focused on showing my lingerie, we wanted to concentrate on my top. In show business much more provocative performances are allowed. I understand that figure skating is a conservative sport, we just wanted to make it a little bit hot (eccentric).”

The figure skater says it was actually her coach’s idea to strip off her jacket during the revealing routine.

“Yes, it was Alexei Mishin’s idea. He is a really wise and prudent coach who keeps pace with the times. He knows quite well what the crowd wants.

“We just wanted to perform ‘Toxic’. He suggested that I take off the jacket during my performance, and foreign fans were crazy about it.”

Tuktamysheva has now earned social media celebrity to go with her figure-skating fame, prompting increased scrutiny over her Twitter posts.

That was evidenced by the reaction when she joked that she would “kick the ass” of US President Donald Trump.

READ MORE: Russian figure-skating ‘Empress’ says she wants to ‘kick Trump’s ass’ on Twitter & on ice

“Of course I knew that my comments would trigger emotional reactions, but I didn’t think about it. It was a mere joke and I just wanted to see how people would react to such kind of remarks. Trump is a bright political figure and I think the joke was quite funny,” she said of the ensuing media frenzy, especially in the Russian press.  

The 2015 world and European champion finished first and third respectively at two Grand Prix stages so far this season, and is well aware that her remarkable renaissance has sent her social media following rocketing. 

“Twenty-five thousand people have started to follow me on Instagram over the past month as well as several thousand on Twitter,” she said. 

“It’s cool. I’m paying a lot of attention to my social media accounts to make my fans feel that I’m not an unreachable star. I want them to know they can communicate with me,” Tuktamysheva said, adding that she largely ignores the haters.  

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© Twitter / AmberGlenn_

“Yes, I receive many negative comments, especially from women who ask me to put on clothes. I don’t reply to these messages. Some people just like to criticize others,” she says with a sagacity that belies her age.

READ MORE: Russian ‘Empress’ Tuktamysheva seals spot in figure skating Grand Prix Final (PHOTOS)

Tuktamysheva’s openness was made clear by her response when asked to complete the phrase: “The only thing better than figure skating is…”

“Sex,” the skater replied without hesitation, before bursting into laughter.  

She is clearly enjoying life and her resurgence in the sport she loves, which has been confirmed by her securing a place in the Grand Prix series final in Canada in December. There is plenty more to watch out for from the charismatic 21-year-old – on and off the ice.

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US to expand Pacific military base together with Australia in bid to stop China’s growing influence

The US has said it will join Australia in the development of a naval base on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island to “protect the freedom of the seas,” in a move apparently aimed at curbing China’s presence in the Pacific.

Australia, a staunch US ally in the Pacific, had already set its sights on Papua New Guinea’s Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island earlier in November, seeking to build a deep-water facility for its Navy. Now, Washington apparently has also decided to join the effort, in a move clearly aimed at sending a signal to Beijing, which is already locked in a trade war with Washington and in disputes over the South China Sea.

“We will work with these nations to protect the sovereignty and maritime rights of Pacific islands as well,” the US Vice President said on Saturday, referring to Australia and Papua New Guinea, as he spoke about the US plans on the Lombrum base.

“And you can be confident, the US will continue to uphold the freedom of the seas and the skies,”he added, in a thinly veiled jab at China as he appeared to draw parallels with the South China, where the US claims it seeks to protect “the freedom of navigation” as well.

It is no surprise that the US decision apparently came on the heels of rumors that China might also emerge as the eventual developer of the deep-water base. Some other reports suggested that China approached another Pacific island nation, Vanuatu, seeking to open a military base there.

Apart from that, the US also seems to be concerned that Beijing might use its growing influence over the Pacific island nations to get access to some military infrastructure in the vicinity of major maritime routes in the region. Pence even engaged in an indirect verbal duel with China’s President Xi Jingping at the APEC summit, where the two apparently fought for the attention of the smaller Pacific nations.

“Do not accept debt that could compromise your sovereignty. Protect your interests,” Pence called on the island nations, referring to China’s active policy of giving loans to the Pacific states, which might turn it into a major bilateral lender to island economies.

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Mike Pompeo and James Mattis listen to China's Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi, November 9, 2018 © Reuters / Leah Millis

He then called on the Pacific nations to stick with the US as it allegedly offers a “better option” because it would supposedly never “coerce or compromise your independence.” Xi, in turn, said that “no one has the power to stop people from seeking a better life,” while calling on the Pacific nations to “strengthen development cooperation” as well.

However, in its attempt to outplay Beijing in its supposed rush to gain control over strategic locations in the Pacific, the US and Australia seemingly completely forgot to ask the locals about their take on the prospect of the base re-development.

No one has sought support from the locals, Manus Island Governor Charlie Benjamin said, as cited by Reuters. The project was also criticized by a former Papua New Guinea MP from the island, Ronnie Knight, who said that “there is lot of questions to be answered” first.

“There was no discussion with any of the locals, it has just been bulldozed through again and that is what makes people cross,” he told Australia’s ABC broadcaster, expressing his concerns about potentially “having a foreign base on our soil.”

Manus Island already has a history of serving the interests of the US and its allies. Papua New Guinea’s smallest province, with a population of about 50,000 people, it once served as a major US naval base during the WWII and hosted one of Australia’s two controversial offshore immigration detention centers in much less distant times.

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ATP Finals: Serbia's Djokovic breezes into final after straight-sets win

World number one Novak Djokovic cruised into the final of the ATP Finals in London after a comprehensive straight-sets victory over South Africa’s Kevin Anderson at the O2 Arena on Saturday night.

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© Reuters / Andrew Couldridge

Anderson’s best hope of victory was to dominate the Serbian star with his serve, but Djokovic struck a crucial early blow to the South African’s confidence by breaking his serve in the very first game of the match.

From that moment on, Djokovic looked completely unruffled as he comfortably held serve without facing a single break and broke Anderson again in game seven to win the first set 6-2 in just 39 minutes.

READ MORE: ‘No need to apologize’: Federer defends Zverev after controversial incident in ATP Finals defeat

The dominant Djokovic continued in the same vein in the second set, breaking Anderson in the first and fifth games to move into touching distance of a place in the final.

The Serbian won his service game to love and Anderson gamely held serve to force Djokovic to serve his way to victory.

And the number-one seed did just that, winning the final fame to love, with a cheeky net cord shot winning the game, the set and the match 6-2, 6-2 in just 75 minutes as he strolled into Sunday’s final with consummate ease.

After the match, Djokovic said: “I think it was the best match that I’ve played this week and it came at the right time.

“Kevin has been playing some really good tennis this week. He lost the serve in his first game and that was a big difference.”

Throughout the tournament Djokovic has dominated with his serve, which hasn’t been broken all week. But he admitted he was surprised to have served more aces in the semi-final than his big-serving opponent.

“It is definitely not very common to serve more aces than Kevin, especially in my case, so that definitely helps.”

Djokovic moves on to Sunday’s final, where he will take on Germany’s Alexander Zverev. The pair met in the round robin stages of the tournament where Djokovic ran out a straight-set victor, winning 6-4, 6-1.

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‘Ran out of anti-Russian stories?’: The Times grilled for calling ‘Masha and the Bear’ propaganda

A bizarre year-old report calling cartoon ‘Masha and the Bear’ Kremlin propaganda for kids has sprung up to live on the page of The Times, prompting commentators to wonder if the publication runs out of Russophobia ideas.

The adventures of a pesky little girl who befriends a bear and other animals in the style of Tiny Toon’s Elmyra has been enjoyed by children and parents worldwide. The Russian-made cartoon landed on Netflix and its Russian and English-language YouTube channels jointly have over 21 million subscribers.

What can be sinister there? “Children’s show is propaganda for Putin, say critics” – reads the headline on the Saturday edition of The Times.

The UK journalists have dug up the last year’s report from Finland’s paper, Helsingin Sanomat, which was based on an interview with an Estonian professor, claiming that ‘Masha and the Bear’ were intended to create a positive image of Russia in children’s minds and was a danger to Estonian national security.

The Times said that similar concerns were expressed in neighboring Baltic country of Lithuania and cited the University of Buckingham Professor, Anthony Glees, who believes that: “Masha is feisty, even rather nasty, but also plucky. She punches above her slight weight. It’s not far-fetched to see her as Putinesque.”

But internet users, including some with anti-Kremlin views, saw the story as a new low in anti-Russian sentiments.

Russia expert, Mark Galeotti, said on his website that The Times have reached the “peak” with its article, which he blasted as “cliché Russophobia.”

Mark Galeotti also argued that it was “pretty damn far-fetched” to suggest that the Kremlin, would want President Putin to be perceived as “a little girl who cries when she doesn’t get what she wants and gets her pig to dress up like a baby.”

The Russian Embassy in London also joined the conversation and suggested that all Russian cartoons should be added to the UK sanctions, introduced against Moscow after the Skripal poisoning.

Other Twitter users hurried to share the made-up consequences of the cartoon’s harmful influence on their kids and themselves.

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'No need to apologize': Federer defends Zverev after controversial incident in ATP Finals defeat

Roger Federer has leapt to the defence of his opponent Alexander Zverev after the crowd booed him following his win over the Swiss star at the ATP Finals in London.

Zverev defeated Federer in straight sets 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) in their semi-final match at the O2 Arena, with the German winning the second set, and the match, after a tense tie-breaker. It was during that crucial tie-breaker that the controversial incident occurred as Zverev stopped mid-point after a ball boy dropped a ball.

READ MORE: Zverev shocks Federer in straight sets to reach ATP final

The umpire, who did not see the incident, ruled that the point should be replayed, and the German promptly fired an ace past a frustrated Federer to win the replayed point.

And after Zverev went on to close out the tie-breaker and win the match, he met with Federer at the net and apologized for the momentum-halting incident.

Speaking on court after the incident, Federer said he placed no blame on his opposite number, saying these incidents sometimes happen in tennis.

“I understand the frustration,” said the Swiss star.

“It’s just unfortunate circumstances. These things happen. Booing, I never like it. We see it in other sports all the time, but in tennis it’s rare. So when it happens, it gets very personal and we take it very direct.

“I think it’s unfortunate that this happened. Sascha doesn’t deserve it.”

Federer went on to reveal the conversation between the pair at the net at the conclusion of the match, where the young German apologized.

“He apologized to me at the net,” he said.

“I was like, ‘Buddy, shut up. You don’t need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.’ And you move on. He shouldn’t be apologizing. He didn’t do anything about it. He just called it how it was. He felt it affected play. There is a rule that if something like this happens, obviously you replay points.”

Despite his classy response to the incident, Federer admitted the incident played a major part in him losing the tie-break, and the match.

When asked if the incident affected him, he said: “Of course it did.

“It got replayed. I got aced. So, yes, it did affect me. It was obviously a big call. Instead of being in the rally in a decent position, you get aced, yes, it makes a difference. It could have made a difference. That’s all hypothetically speaking now at this point.”

But despite his frustration over the incident, Federer said he didn’t believe there was any bad sportsmanship at play during the match, and said he hoped the fans would not boo Zverev in Sunday’s final as a result of the incident.

“I’m sure he won’t be booed coming out for the final, or at least I hope so,” he said.

“It’s not his mistake. I think people will be happy to see a good final tomorrow. I’m not questioning Sascha’s sportsmanship in any way.”

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'Fantasy gone wild’ – Moscow sighs as Bellingcat claims FSB tried to influence UK visa process

Claims by “investigative” website Bellingcat that the FSB pressured a UK visa center to facilitate the issuance of travel permits to the alleged Skripal poisoners is a self-exposing joke, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“Great! There are certainly no limits to the imagination of our partners,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook, commenting on another report by the controversial Bellingcat group claiming that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had tried to infiltrate the British visa center system in Moscow to organize entry papers for “a couple of guys who need to visit the UK.”

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© Reuters / Simon Dawson

The authors hint that the “guys” were Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who London accuses of being Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) agents, responsible for the chemical poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March. The two men denied the accusations and said they only visited the UK as tourists. The GRU stated that they have never employed them as agents.

The new report includes a story by a man claiming to be “a highly proficient Russian IT specialist,” who has applied for political asylum in the US.

Vadim, as he’s called in the report, says that in 2016, when he was working at a firm that provided visa application processing services to British and other consulates, he was recruited as an “undercover collaborator” by the FSB in order to breach and compromise the British consulate visa issuance system. Of course, there were no mentioning of the names, but Vadim thought it was relevant to the Skripal affair and contacted Bellingcat.

It’s unclear how the scheme could even work as the decisions on granting visas is made in London.

READ MORE: Bellingcat’s Higgins likes lobbing insults on Twitter. Here are some of his favorites

“TLScontact has a purely administrative role, while all the visa and immigration issues are handled by the Home office,” a source in the Home Office told RBC.

Maria Zakharova called the UK-based Bellingcat’s investigation a “new joke” that simply includes all of the acronyms of Russian security agencies known to the authors in the same article.

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Ruslan Boshirov (left) and Aleksandr Petrov during an interview with RT

“So the FSB agents helped the GRU agents get visas without checks by the British visa center… They should’ve added that the agents of the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) were on the lookout outside, much to the envy of the Russian National Guard,” she wrote.

Since being established by Eliot Higgins in 2014, Bellingcat has become a darling of the mainstream media, which rarely questions the authenticity of its research.

It’s not surprising as the website’s investigations, claimed to be based on open sources, are usually targeted against governments that don’t share the Western agenda, such as those in Russia, Syria, and Iran.

Many Bellingcat revelations have been refuted and the website has been repeatedly slammed for bias, questionable handling of facts, and reliance on fakes.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov previously said Higgins’ website was cooperating with Western intelligence agencies and releases its ‘investigations’ in order to influence public opinion.

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'Fantasy gone wild’ – Moscow sighs as Bellingcat claims FSB tried to influence UK visa process

Claims by “investigative” website Bellingcat that the FSB pressured a UK visa center to facilitate the issuance of travel permits to the alleged Skripal poisoners is a self-exposing joke, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“Great! There are certainly no limits to the imagination of our partners,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook, commenting on another report by the controversial Bellingcat group claiming that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had tried to infiltrate the British visa center system in Moscow to organize entry papers for “a couple of guys who need to visit the UK.”

Read more

© Reuters / Simon Dawson

The authors hint that the “guys” were Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who London accuses of being Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) agents, responsible for the chemical poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March. The two men denied the accusations and said they only visited the UK as tourists. The GRU stated that they have never employed them as agents.

The new report includes a story by a man claiming to be “a highly proficient Russian IT specialist,” who has applied for political asylum in the US.

Vadim, as he’s called in the report, says that in 2016, when he was working at a firm that provided visa application processing services to British and other consulates, he was recruited as an “undercover collaborator” by the FSB in order to breach and compromise the British consulate visa issuance system. Of course, there were no mentioning of the names, but Vadim thought it was relevant to the Skripal affair and contacted Bellingcat.

It’s unclear how the scheme could even work as the decisions on granting visas is made in London.

READ MORE: Bellingcat’s Higgins likes lobbing insults on Twitter. Here are some of his favorites

“TLScontact has a purely administrative role, while all the visa and immigration issues are handled by the Home office,” a source in the Home Office told RBC.

Maria Zakharova called the UK-based Bellingcat’s investigation a “new joke” that simply includes all of the acronyms of Russian security agencies known to the authors in the same article.

Read more

Ruslan Boshirov (left) and Aleksandr Petrov during an interview with RT

“So the FSB agents helped the GRU agents get visas without checks by the British visa center… They should’ve added that the agents of the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) were on the lookout outside, much to the envy of the Russian National Guard,” she wrote.

Since being established by Eliot Higgins in 2014, Bellingcat has become a darling of the mainstream media, which rarely questions the authenticity of its research.

It’s not surprising as the website’s investigations, claimed to be based on open sources, are usually targeted against governments that don’t share the Western agenda, such as those in Russia, Syria, and Iran.

Many Bellingcat revelations have been refuted and the website has been repeatedly slammed for bias, questionable handling of facts, and reliance on fakes.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov previously said Higgins’ website was cooperating with Western intelligence agencies and releases its ‘investigations’ in order to influence public opinion.

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Best of enemies: PSG teammates Neymar and Cavani clash during Brazil v Uruguay 'friendly'

Paris Saint-Germain teammates Neymar and Edinson Cavani were involved in an angry clash during Friday night’s match between Brazil and Uruguay in London.

The two nations met at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium for a friendly, but the simmering bad blood between the two came to a head when Cavani brought down Neymar on the touchline with a strong challenge.

READ MORE: Clap happy: Neymar reportedly receives €375,000 ‘ethical bonus’ payout to applaud PSG fans

Neymar, perhaps unsurprisingly, made the most of the collision, rolling around on the floor as the referee issued a shocked Cavani with a yellow card.

And when the Uruguayan hitman offered a hand to help his PSG teammate to his feet, Neymar appeared to dismiss him.

The duo exchanged words before play got back underway. But the incident highlighted tensions between the pair that go back to last year, when the duo clashed over who should take penalties for their club.

They infamously clashed over a penalty in a match against Lyon last season, when the Brazilian intervened and attempted to take the ball off Cavani, who went on to miss his spot-kick.

It reportedly led to a behind-the-scenes row between the pair, with claims that PSG even offered the Uruguayan €1 million (US$ 1 million) to relinquish spot-kick duties to the Brazilian. Cavani refused and the uneasy relationship between the pair continues to this day.

Ironically, it was Neymar who scored the only goal of Friday’s friendly. From the penalty spot.

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