The World Meteorological Organization Has No Immediate Plans To Name Heatwaves

As extreme heat stifles communities around the world this week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that it has “no immediate plans” to give heatwaves names. The July 19th announcement seems to pump the brakes on growing calls to come up with a strategy for ranking and naming heatwaves around the world.

In the US, heat kills more people than any other weather-related disaster. Globally, it kills 5 million people a year. But heat spells haven’t always spurred the same careful preparations people might take to, say, shelter from a major storm. The goal of naming heatwaves would be to make it easier to communicate the risks they pose to the public so that people can take measures to stay safe. In the US, heat kills more people than any other weather-related disaster

For decades, names have played a big role in early warnings for dangerous storms. Warning people about hurricane “Sandy” or “Harvey” just became a lot easier than identifying a storm by latitude and longitude. The US’s National Hurricane Center started giving Atlantic storms monikers from an official list in 1953. Currently, the WMO maintains rotating lists of names for the Atlantic and other regions.

Some advocates want to apply a similar naming mechanism to heatwaves. Seville, Spain, is set to become the first city in the world to test out the idea later this year. Officials in Athens, Greece, and California have contemplated doing the same. But the WMO apparently has some reservations, saying that it’s “currently considering the advantages and disadvantages of naming heatwaves.”“What has been established for tropical cyclone events may not necessarily translate easily across to heatwaves,” the WMO said in its news release this week. “Caution should be exercised when comparing or applying lessons or protocols from one hazard type to another, due to the important differences in the physical nature and impacts of storms and heatwaves.”“False alarms” are one concern for the WMO. Heatwaves can be forecast up to 10 days out in many parts of the world. But if the forecast for an extreme heatwave is inaccurate — maybe it’s not as hot as expected or it hits a different region than anticipated — then people might lose faith in the warnings and stop heeding them.

“False alarms”

The other caveat with heat, the WMO says, is that heat-related deaths can happen even when it’s not extraordinarily hot outside. If someone is continuously exposed to more sweltering conditions, say, in the workplace or in a home without air conditioning, they can become ill even if there isn’t an officially declared heatwave.

To prevent confusion ahead of a potential disaster, the WMO also says that any “pilot heatwave naming” should at least be tied into a country’s official warning system in the absence of a broader international framework.

Seville is piloting a project this year that will test a new alert system to warn residents ahead of a heatwave. Extreme heat events will be categorized based on their severity, and those forecast to have the greatest impact on the city will get a name. The first five have already been chosen: Zoe, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao, and Vega.

“We are the first city in the world to take a step that will help us plan and take measures when this type of meteorological event happens—particularly because heat waves always hit the most vulnerable,” Antonio Muñoz, the mayor of Seville, said in a June 21st press release.

Parts of Europe literally buckled and burned under a brutal heatwave this week — even in places with typically milder summers. In the UK, record-breaking temperatures buckled train tracks and even an airport runway. London’s fire service responded to more blazes in a day than it had since World War II, according to Sadiq Khan, the city’s mayor. And 100 million people in the US are under heat alerts today.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense as greenhouse gas emissions heat our planet. More than a third of heat deaths can be attributed to climate change, according to research published last year.

Source: The World Meteorological Organization has ‘no immediate plans’ to name heatwaves – The Verge

Critics by EPA

A persistent period of unusually hot days is referred to as an extreme heat event or a heat wave. Heat waves are more than just uncomfortable: they can lead to illness and death, particularly among older adults, the very young, and other vulnerable populations (see the Heat-Related Deaths and Heat-Related Illnesses indicators).

Prolonged exposure to excessive heat can lead to other impacts as well—for example, damaging crops, injuring or killing livestock, and increasing the risk of wildfires. Prolonged periods of extreme heat can lead to power outages as heavy demands for air conditioning strain the power grid.

Unusually hot days and heat wave events are a natural part of day-to-day variation in weather. As the Earth’s climate warms, however, hotter-than-usual days and nights are becoming more common (see the High and Low Temperatures indicator) and heat waves are expected to become more frequent and intense.2 Increases in these extreme heat events can lead to more heat-related illnesses and deaths, especially if people and communities do not take steps to adapt.3 Even small increases in extreme heat can result in increased deaths and illnesses.4

About the Indicator

This indicator examines trends over time in four key characteristics of heat waves in the United States:

  • Frequency: the number of heat waves that occur every year.
  • Duration: the length of each individual heat wave, in days.
  • Season length: the number of days between the first heat wave of the year and the last.
  • Intensity: how hot it is during the heat wave.

Heat waves can be defined in many different ways. For consistency across the country, Figures 1 and 2 define a heat wave as a period of two or more consecutive days when the daily minimum apparent temperature (the actual temperature adjusted for humidity) in a particular city exceeds the 85th percentile of historical July and August temperatures (1981–2010) for that city. EPA chose this definition for several reasons:

  • The most serious health impacts of a heat wave are often associated with high temperatures at night, which is usually the daily minimum.5 The human body needs to cool off at night, especially after a hot day. If the air stays too warm at night, the body faces extra strain as the heart pumps harder to try to regulate body temperature.
  • Adjusting for humidity is important because when humidity is high, water does not evaporate as easily, so it is harder for the human body to cool off by sweating. That is why health warnings about extreme heat are often based on the “heat index,” which combines temperature and humidity.
  • The 85th percentile of July and August temperatures equates to the nine hottest days during the hottest two months of the year. A temperature that is typically only recorded nine times during the hottest part of the year is rare enough that most people would consider it to be unusually hot.
  • By using the 85th percentile for each individual city, Figures 1 and 2 define “unusual” in terms of local conditions. After all, a specific temperature like 95°F might be unusually hot in one city but perfectly normal in another. Plus, people in relatively warm regions (such as the Southwest) may be better acclimated and adapted to hot weather.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculated apparent temperature for this indicator based on temperature and humidity measurements from long-term weather stations, which are generally located at airports. Figures 1 and 2 focus on the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas that have recorded weather data from a consistent location without many missing days over the time period examined.

The year 1961 was chosen as the starting point because most major cities have collected consistent data since at least that time. Figure 3 provides another perspective to gauge the size and frequency of prolonged heat wave events. It shows the U.S. Annual Heat Wave Index, which tracks the occurrence of heat wave conditions across the contiguous 48 states from 1895 to 2021. This index defines a heat wave as a period lasting at least four days with an average temperature that would only be expected to persist over four days once every 10 years, based on the historical record. The index value for a given year depends on how often such severe heat waves occur and how widespread they are….

Related contents:

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Reporter – Climate change: Europe’s first heat officer Deutsche Welle

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How Finland is Eradicating Its Homelessness Problem

There are more than a million empty homes in Canada and on any given night at least 35,000 Canadians are homeless. They pack into overflowing, often dangerous, shelters or they hunker down outside, hoping the elements will be kinder to them than the conditions indoor.

In the 1980s, a Canadian psychologist working in New York had an idea: maybe the best way to solve the problem of homelessness was to give people homes. Sam Tsemberis was one of the earliest proponents of a model known as Housing First. The idea was viewed as outlandish and unworkable.

Skeptics argued that complex issues like addiction and mental health had to be addressed first before someone was a suitable candidate for long-term housing. How would the cost be justified to hardworking taxpayers?

But the idea has caught on. Housing First projects have appeared in municipalities across Asia, Europe and North America, including Medicine Hat, Alta. Now, Finland has become the first country to adopt a national housing first approach to homelessness.

Juha Kaakinen, CEO of Finland’s largest housing nonprofit, the Y-Foundation, has been working in the area of homelessness and social welfare since the 1980s. He was one of the architects of Housing First — Finland’s national plan. He spoke to The Sunday Edition‘s Michael Enright about how Finland eradicated homelessness. Here are some highlights from their conversation interview.

A home without preconditions

You can call it a principle, a service model or a philosophy; the main thing is treating homeless people like everybody else — people who have the same rights and see housing as a human right. So the housing first principle means that you give a homeless person a home, a flat, or a  rental flat with a contract, without preconditions. You are not required to solve your problems or get sober, for example, to get a permanent home. And then, when you have this home, you can get support to solve your issues. This is a simple basic principle of housing first.

Finland succeeds where the rest of Europe did not

A lot of progress has been made. We now have the lowest number of homeless. Our present government has decided that the rest of the homeless should be halved within the next four years and completely end by 2027.

We have had a constant policy of providing affordable, social housing. The state finances this. And in each new housing area, especially in the big cities, at least 25 per cent of housing must be affordable, social housing. This has kept the supply to a reasonable level. This has been probably the main reason why we don’t have the kind of housing crisis that most European countries have at the moment.

How Housing First works

For example, in Helsinki, there is a service centre for homeless people. You can always go in, no matter your condition. It’s probably the most similar to the shelters in other countries. But it’s the only one, with 52 beds. You discuss your situation with a social worker and they try to arrange housing for you. They make an assessment, find out what your needs are.

Affordable social housing stock is another option. For over 30 years, the Y-Foundation has been buying flats from the private market. We use these flats specifically as rental flats for homeless people.

Maybe the most important structural change in Finland is that we’ve renovated our temporary accommodations in shelters and hostels into supported housing. For example, the last big shelter in Helsinki, run by the Salvation Army, had 250 beds. It was completely renovated in 2012. Now they have 81 independent, modern, apartments in that same building. They also have on-site staff for support. So this structural change has probably been the crucial thing that has led to this trend of decreasing homelessness.

The common thing for all homeless people is that they don’t have a home. Everybody has their own story, their own history. They have their own resources. They may also have their own problems. For that reason, you have to make a very tailor-made plan for people, to provide adequate support.

For example, if you have drug abuse problems, simply providing housing doesn’t solve that kind of issue. You may need rehabilitation, detoxification, etc. These other elements are important. But to get these things done successfully, you must provide permanent housing. That way you can be sure that you are not kicked out the next morning and you can plan your life ahead.

Why the taxpayer argument doesn’t hold up

Keeping people homeless, instead of providing homes for them, is always more expensive for the society. In Finland we have some scientific evaluations of the cost of this program. When a homeless person gets a permanent home, even with support, the cost savings for the society are at least 15,000 Euros per one person per one year. And the cost savings come from different use of different services.

In this study, they looked at the services that homeless people used when they were without a home. They calculated every possible thing: emergency healthcare, police, justice system, etc. They then compared that cost to when people get proper housing. And this was the result. I’m quite sure this kind of cost analysis can also be found for Canada.

Political understanding is crucial

What has been crucial in Finland is that there has been a political understanding and political consensus: this is a national problem that we should solve together. Since 2008, we have had several governments with several different political coalitions. All these governments have decided to continue to work to end homelessness. This kind of political will — that’s the starting point. It doesn’t solve everything but it helps.

I think that it demands politicians who have an understanding of human dignity. It doesn’t require more. In Finland we have a very wide partnership. It has been a collaboration between the state, big cities and big NGOs working together towards the same goal.

Changing public attitude

There are several ways you can affect public attitudes. Facts and research are good starting points. But it’s always important to tell people stories of those whose lives have changed since they got housing. These things have an emotional impact on the general public. If there are willing former homeless people, who would like to tell their stories, this kind of human interest element is very powerful. But, of course there are very clear facts behind how it should be done and why we should speak about housing as human rights issue.

By: Tahiat Mahboob

Inflation Unexpectedly Spiked 8.6% In May Hitting 40-Year High As Gas Prices Surge Again

Consumer prices rose 8.6% in the 12 months ending in May, unexpectedly returning to record levels—and climbing at the quickest pace in four decades—amid an unprecedented surge in gas prices. Overall prices rose 1% from April—surpassing the 0.7% economists were expecting and much higher than the previous month’s increase of 0.3%, according to data released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The unexpected jump marks the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981, according to the release, and comes after prices in April fell on a monthly basis for the first time since August. The overall increase was the result of broad upticks across shelter, food and gas prices, which jumped 4% after falling 6.1% in April, the government said.

“So much for the idea that inflation has peaked,” Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride said in emailed comments after the report, noting that increases were “nearly ubiquitous.” Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.6% in May against an expectation of 0.5%; shelter prices rose at the fastest pace in 31 years while food prices climbed at the largest rate in more than 41 years.

Stock futures immediately fell after the worse-than-expected report, with the S&P 500 reversing early gains and falling 1.6% below Thursday’s closing level in premarket trading. In another concerning sign, used car prices, which McBride says “had been the ray of hope for easing price pressures” after three straight months of declines, jumped 1.8% for the month of May.

Rising energy prices have elevated inflation readings during the pandemic to the highest level in decades, and stocks have struggled in recent months as Federal Reserve officials work to combat the surge by unwinding the central bank’s pandemic-era stimulus measures. After rising 27% in 2021, the benchmark S&P 500 has tumbled 16% this year.

Meanwhile, oil prices have surged more than 15% over the past month with demand expected to spike this summer—adding to supply concerns spurred by intensifying sanctions against Russia, one of the world’s top oil-producing countries. “Any hopes that the Fed can ease up on the pace of rate hikes after the June and July meetings now seem to be a long shot,” says McBride. “Inflation continues to rear its ugly head and hopes for improvement have been dashed again.”

Since Monday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has increased by nine cents to $4.71. According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 700,000 bbl to 219 million bbl last week. Meanwhile, gasoline demand grew from 8.8 million b/d to 8.98 million b/d as drivers fueled up for Memorial Day weekend travel.

These supply and demand dynamics have contributed to rising pump prices. Coupled with volatile crude oil prices, pump prices will likely remain elevated as long as demand grows and supply remains tight. At the close of Wednesday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by 59 cents to settle at $115.26. Crude prices have increased amid supply concerns from the market as the European Union works to implement a 90 percent ban on Russian oil imports by the end of this year.

Crude prices were also boosted by increased demand expectations from the market after China lifted COVID-19 restrictions in Shanghai. Additionally, EIA reported that total domestic stocks decreased by 5.1 million bbl to 414.7 million bbl last week. As a result, the current storage level is approximately 13.5 percent lower than a year ago, contributing to rising crude prices.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business

Source: Inflation Unexpectedly Spiked 8.6% In May—Hitting 40-Year High As Gas Prices Surge Again

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The Oldest 17,300-Year-Old Kangaroo Painting Discovered In Australia

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A life size red ochre  kangaroo painting has been discovered in  Australia. The ancient artwork has been dated to around 17,300 years old and the researchers are calling it “the oldest dated painted figure in an Australian rock shelter.” What can it tell us about the ancient history of Australia?

The Kimberley region of Western  Australia is sparsely settled and known for large swaths of rugged mountain ranges and deep gorges. Set amidst a semi-arid savanna and greatly isolated coastline, the region contains thousands of rock paintings similar to the one that features in this article.

Dating such images has always been a problem for researchers. But now, professor Damien Finch from the  University of Melbourne  has dated a series of ancient paintings in eight rock shelters in Balanggarra Country, which lies in the north-eastern Kimberley region.

Finch and his colleagues worked in conjunction with the  Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation , which represents the traditional owners of the land. Rock cannot be dated because it is not organic, but what did contain ancient data was “the radiocarbon signal from ancient wasp nests that lie beneath and on top of the artwork.” The  kangaroo was discovered painted on a rock behind the nests, that when dated are said to have been created some where between “17,500 and 17,100 years ago.”

Cissy Gore-Birch, Chair of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, said that this rock painting “is the oldest known painting in an Australian  rock shelter .” The painted kangaroo is about 2 meters (6.56 ft) in length and it was one of 15 other images that were analyzed during the recent project.

According to an article in the  New Scientist , the team of researchers also measured a 3-meter-long (3.28 ft) snake, “and a lizard-like creature,” as well as other kangaroo-like animals. It was concluded that this “naturalistic style” of animal paintings proliferated in this region for Australia between 17,000 and 13,000 years ago.

While this kangaroo painting represents Australia ‘s oldest rock painting inside a shelter, or cave, humans arrived around 65,000 years ago so it’s far from the  first art works  ever discovered in Australia. In 2009  Antiquity published an article about the discovery of  rock art , including engravings, or carvings, depicting now extinct megafauna such as  Genyornis and Thylacoleo from the Pleistocene era.

While the discovery of the 17,300-year-old kangaroo painting is indeed a remarkable find, it falls way short of the impact of Jeff During’s 2000 work:  Gwion Gwion: Secret and Sacred Pathways of the Ngarinyin Aboriginal People of Australia . This research presents what is “the oldest firmly dated rock art painting in Australia.”

This unique charcoal drawing was discovered on a rock fragment found during the excavation of the Narwala Gabarnmang rock shelter in south-western Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory in the 1990s which was dated “at 28,000 years old.” This location is described as “one of the oldest known pieces of  rock art  on Earth with a confirmed date”.

Read more:

6 Incredible Facts About the Prehistoric Altamira Cave Paintings

How This 30,000-Year-Old Figurine Continues to Captivate Today

15,000-Year-Old Bison Sculptures Are Perfectly Preserved in a French Cave

“Sistine Chapel of the Ancients”: Researchers Discover Thousands of Ice Age Rock Paintings

The 17,300-year old kangaroo painting is far from being Australia ’s oldest known  rock art , but what it does do is further illustrate the emerging picture of life in Australia during the Paleolithic. Cave art has been discovered in caves in Spain dated to 65,000 years ago, and according to  National Geographic  this “includes the oldest cave art ever found” that predates the arrival of modern  Homo sapiens  to Europe, which means someone else must have created them.

And that someone else were the  Neanderthals, who were  painting in caves around the same time we  Homo sapiens  were arriving on the shores of Oz.

Damien Finch, the lead author of the research paper, pioneered a method of testing mud wasp nets with carbon dating. To date the kangaroo, the researchers used the fossilized mud wasp nests surrounding the painting. After deciphering the specific layer of ocher belonging to the kangaroo (under more recent artwork), the team tested a nest below the ocher as well as one above. This gives a date range for when the kangaroo was drawn.

The results suggested the kangaroo is between 17,500 and 17,100 years old, with 17,300 years old being the best estimate. The team was lucky to find nests providing such a close date range. “This makes the painting Australia’s oldest known in-situ painting,” Finch said.

According to Cissy Gore-Birch, Chair of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, partnership and knowledge sharing are critical to preserving this history. Gore-Birch commented, “It’s important that Indigenous knowledge and stories are not lost and continue to be shared for generations to come… The dating of this oldest known painting in an Australian rock shelter holds a great deal of significance for Aboriginal people and Australians and is an important part of Australia’s history.”

How To Save Money As Inflation and Consumer Prices Rise

Food Price Inflation Drives Grocery Store Prices Of Meat And Poultry Up

The pandemic has delivered another unwelcome threat to our lives — inflation.Consumer prices are rising, and if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, this means you have a harder time paying for food, gas and other items.

Inflation hit its largest annual increase in 30 years in October, with consumer prices up 6.2 percent compared with a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data released Wednesday showed that prices rose 0.9 percent in October compared with September.

“Inflation has been a surprising and unwelcome guest seeming to persist at an elevated level at a time when we’re all hoping to put the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic behind,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate. “Like the pandemic-caused downturn itself, it exacerbates wealth and income inequality. The wealthy can adjust. Those on lower incomes, not so much. It is as if some people just can’t catch a much-needed break.

Prices are way up compared with what we were used to pre-pandemic. But this isn’t a fun ride. Here’s how to handle a rise in consumer prices.

What changes should I make to my budget to beat inflation?

This is a time when you should review how you spend your paycheck. Even if you’ve cut until it hurts, look for additional trims.

Obvious places to cut are eating out or streaming services. When was the last time you looked at your mobile plan?

Use apps and the Internet to find lower prices where they are available, including for gasoline.

“When prices aren’t changing all that much, people may be inclined to invest less of their time shopping, thinking that it might not make all that much of a difference,” Hamrick said. “Think of shopping right now as investing time to find better deals.”

Supply-chain disruptions may continue to push consumer prices up, so you might want to get an early start on your holiday shopping, Hamrick said.

Hamrick makes this great point: Is this a year when something more personal, such as baked goods or a customized photo album, could be substituted at a lower price?

Put off unnecessary purchases until supply issues are resolved and prices go down.

“Whether it’s an updated iPhone or another piece of clothing to mostly hang in the closet, most Americans simply consume more than they need to,” Hamrick said.

Is there anything I can do to reduce my food costs?

In an inflationary environment, substitutions can be your financial friend.

The BLS noted “broad-based” higher prices for energy, shelter, food, used cars and trucks and new vehicles among the larger contributors to higher prices in October.

Food prices have largely been rising because of weather-related shortages, transportation issues and lack of staffing. Meat and fish prices are going up faster than vegetable prices, so take that into consideration in your at-home meal planning.

Hamrick said he went shopping recently to make crab cakes for his son, visiting from Los Angeles. A 50 percent price hike for crabmeat changed the menu.

“I bought chicken thighs and cooked them at a fraction of the price,” Hamrick said. “Now’s the time to try to spend time when possible preparing meals at home, using lower-cost items as much as possible.”

Should I change how I invest for retirement?

Inflation doesn’t really change what you should have been doing all along, which is diversifying, said Carolyn McClanahan, a certified financial planner who founded the fee-only Life Planning Partners, based in Jacksonville, Fla.

“Through thick and thin, the best way to prepare for any economic environment is to have a diversified portfolio,” McClanahan said. “If you aren’t already practicing diversification, now is the time to make that change.”

If you’re an ultraconservative saver who has shied away from stocks because you’re scared of the stock market, you might want to consider that inflation is also a risk. If you don’t at least keep pace with inflation, you’re losing the purchasing power of your money.

“Where interest rates are right now, investors need to take on slightly more risk to get a return that may beat inflation,” said Ben Bakkum, quantitative investing associate at the digital adviser firm Betterment.

Is there anything I can do to take advantage of a rise in inflation?

If you have some cash that you don’t think you’ll need for a while, consider purchasing bonds, McClanahan recommends.

Series I Savings Bonds, which are issued by the Treasury Department, allow investors to earn a combination of a fixed interest rate and the rate of inflation, adjusted semiannually. The composite rate for I bonds issued from May through October was 3.54 percent.

The composite rate for I bonds issued from Nov. 1 through April 2022 is 7.12 percent, a portion of which is indexed to inflation every six months.

To buy and own an electronic I bond, you must establish a TreasuryDirect account. Go to treasurydirect.gov.

Is there any good news about rising inflation?

If you receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you’ll see your payments go up because of rising consumer prices. The Social Security Administration announced a 5.9 percent benefit increase for 2022.

And, if inflation relents next year, which some believe is possible as supply chains normalize, Social Security recipients will continue to get the higher payments anyway, Hamrick said.

Additionally, one of the few potentially beneficial effects of rising inflation will be that the Federal Reserve may well lift benchmark rates sooner rather than later, and more than previously believed, he said. That’s welcome news for savers.

“Previously miserly returns on savings should begin to rise,” Hamrick said.

It’s hard not to panic about inflation when your paycheck doesn’t go as far as you need. Still, keep things in perspective. It’s not the 1970s, when prices skyrocketed.

“Recent headlines about increasing inflation have been alarming, but inflation itself is not abnormal if it’s not out of control,” Bakkum said.

Source: How to save money as inflation and consumer prices rise – The Washington Post

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More Contents:

What changes should I make to my budget to beat inflation?

Is there anything I can do to reduce my food costs?

Should I change how I invest for retirement?

Is there anything I can do to take advantage of a rise in inflation?

Is there any good news about rising inflation?

Ruane, Michael E. “Two million Delmarva chickens euthanized as virus hobbles processing”

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