The 144-year-old Windsor Bridge in Sydney’s northwest is a risk to public safety, authorities say, but structural engineers argue the “old lady’s legs are in fine form”.
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The historic bridge – built in 1874 for horse-drawn vehicles – is slated for demolition and the NSW government plans to build a replacement bridge and connecting road to Windsor’s historical Thompson Square.

But bridge engineers believe the existing structure can be repaired and kept for use by local traffic while a bypass is built on the outskirts of the town to meet traffic demands.

The Roads and Maritime Services told an NSW upper house inquiry on Monday replacing the bridge was the best option for the community, claiming any bypasses were not feasible.

RMS north west precinct director Colin Langford said the structure was deteriorating and posed a risk to public safety.

“There are concrete chunks falling off this bridge,” Mr Langford said.

“(It) doesn’t meet current standards.”

But two retired bridge engineers who have been involved in some 1200 bridge projects say its destruction would deprive NSW of “one of its most historical treasures”.

Brian Pearson and Ray Wedgewood, who have a combined experience of 80 years in the industry, told the inquiry destroying the bridge was unnecessary.

“The grand old lady’s legs are in fine form …. It is wrong and unnecessary to destroy a bridge that is in good condition and has serviced the community for 144 years,” Mr Pearson told the inquiry.

Engineer Peter Stewart conceded the beam bridge which spans the Hawkesbury River needed repair but suggested it could be upgraded.

“I’ve been involved in strengthening the Harbour Bridge where the RMS invested significant funds and it now has a very long lifespan,” he told the hearing.

“This one seems to have slipped through … they don’t seem they want to keep it.”

The project, which was first flagged in 2008 and has already gone to tender, is facing delays after the RMS discovered historical artefacts nearby including a brick barrel drain from the early 1800s.

The replacement project has already cost about $30 million, before construction has even started, out of its $50 million estimated total cost, the inquiry chaired by Shooters MP Robert Brown heard.

Mr Brown has written a letter to Roads Minister Melinda Pavey requesting the government defer the tender process until the inquiry reports on its findings.

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Francis Molo (centre) is in line to replace Scott Bolton in the Cowboys’ line-up.Francis Molo is in line to make his North Queensland debut in place of prop Scott Bolton against the Wests Tigers this week.
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Bolton has flown home to Townsville after being charged with assault with an act of indecency following an alleged incident at a Bondi club over the weekend.

While Bolton has not been stood down by the club, he appears unlikely to return to Sydney in time for Thursday’s NRL clash with Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.

This brings former Brisbane forward Molo into the mix to make his first NRL appearance in three years.

Molo was responsible for a devastating shoulder charge on James Ackerman in a Queensland Cup match in June 2015.

Ackerman died in hospital two days later and Molo was suspended for eight matches by the QRL judiciary.

Molo subsequently underwent counselling and after leaving Brisbane, he has sought to piece his life back together in North Queensland.

After earning man of the match honours with a 176-metre effort in the Townsville Blackhawks’ Queensland Cup win over Souths-Logan a fortnight ago, Cowboys coach Paul Green said he was banging on the door for an NRL call up.

He was 19th man for the Cowboys’ win over Penrith in Bathurst last week and trained with the Cowboys squad in Sydney on Monday.

North Queensland stayed on in Sydney after Friday’s pressure-relieving win over Penrith and on Saturday night the squad was out for dinner at a Bondi bar.

Police were called to a Campbell Parade venue late on Saturday after a female patron made a complaint and Bolton was arrested the following day.

“Everyone was in the venue,” hooker Jake Granville said.

“It (the charge) is not what you want in your lead up and we’re sticking together.

“We’ve got a big job to do on Thursday night against the Tigers.”

Green said the playing group was “shocked” but couldn’t say too much more about the incident.

“The club’s position at the moment is we are making sure that we are working through all the facts. At the moment we don’t have all the facts so until we do I don’t think it is probably prudent that we make too much comment at all,” Green told Fox Sports’ NRL 360 program.

“We are mindful of how far reaching something like this goes and there’s a lot of people involved.”

An NRL spokesman said that Bolton would be allowed to play and the governing body would not interfere with the judicial process.

The 30-year-old Bolton has been granted conditional bail and will appear in Waverley Local Court on June 19.

The allegations against Bolton, who has played 215 games for the Cowboys including their 2015 grand final win, took his teammates by surprise considering his good standing in the game.

“For 10 years he’s never put a foot wrong and it’s something that was really weird,” winger Kyle Feldt said.

“He’s busted his butt for us so we’ve got support for him, we’re all going to be there for him no matter what.”

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Treasurer Scott MorrisonFor someone who was such a tough nut on immigration and still is one of the federal government’s hardline enforcers, likening Scott Morrison to Father Christmas seems absurd.
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The treasurer, himself, didn’t appear too happy with Nationals leader Michael McCormack’s Santa description.

Nor is Morrison about to concede that his third and likely pre-election budget will be a giveaway one.

There will be no “bag of goodies” but a responsible budget that shows the government living within in its means.

The man who set up the tough “turn back the boats” policy as immigration minister under former prime minister Tony Abbott has been more pragmatic in the role of treasurer.

You can call them back-flips, but Morrison has no hesitation fronting up to the media when there has been a change of heart over government policy – dropping the Medicare levy increase being the most recent case.

It’s like water off a duck’s back.

He has also avoided falling into the trap of his immediate predecessors of making outlandish promises about future surpluses, only that the budget is on a path to one by mid-2021.

He is reaping the benefit of a strong global economy, a tax revenue windfall and record employment growth, even if the n economy overall is still not firing on all cylinders.

Morrison still has aspirations to lead the Liberal Party if and when the job becomes vacant, although a recent opinion poll found only two per cent of voters agreed with that idea.

Even so, it’s a marked turnaround from a year ago.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found the need to defend the competency of his treasurer after presiding over the biggest quarterly contraction in economic growth – subsequently revised – since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

And, as if to add insult to injury, Sydney shock jock Ray Hadley dumped Morrison from his weekly slot on his 2GB radio program after the treasurer stood him up for an interview with the ABC.

Hadley accused Morrison him of lying to him, being “boring” and treating him “like an idiot”.

Like his predecessor Joe Hockey, Morrison met howls of protests over his first budget – from opposition parties, vested interests, the media and even his own backbench.

The treasurer was bagged for his changes to superannuation, which ended up being watered down to appease the Liberal Party base.

A large part of his 10-year company tax cut plan also remains stuck in the Senate.

For his third effort on Tuesday, the centrepiece is expected to be much-needed personal income tax cuts at a time when wage growth remains close to the slowest pace in at least two decades.

How lucrative they will be remains to be seen – but they won’t be mammoth, he said on Sunday.

They may even resurrect images of a Santa dressed Morrison on newspaper front pages in the post-budget wash-up.

But don’t hold your breath.

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SUCCESS: Mayfield’s Reece Hignell impressed the MasterChef judges and has made it though to this year’s competition.
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Reece Hignell lives in Mayfield and works as arecruitment consultant –for now, anyway.

The 28-year-old is a talented home cook and a contestant on this year’s series ofMasterChef . He cooked a sweet dish for the judges on Monday night (his was the “splash” on the plate that featured intelevision previews) and was awarded a coveted apron.

Born in Newcastle and one of three brothers, Hignell studied an advanced diploma in hospitality management, graduating in 2009. Working in hotels across the Hunter Valley and Newcastle for several years, he’s since moved into recruitment.

He is a self-taught cook, relying on YouTube videos and social media for ideas and techniques. He cooks what he likes to eat, and admits to having a massive sweet tooth. Frozen desserts are his favourite but Hignell is known towhip up some impressive braised meats.

His passion for cooking began at home. Growing up, he says, his mum cooked typical n dinners which prompted him tostart exploring different foods and cuisines. His signature dish is a coffee dessert with crumbled dark chocolate, honeycomb and Kahlua caviar.

His weakness? He reckons it is filleting fish. His greatest strength, on the other hand, is keeping a clean workbench in the kitchen.

Citing Jason Atherton, Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi as his culinary idols, Hignellsays if he could cook anywhere in the world he would choose Paris.

He hopes that following hisMasterChef journey, the show and judges will give him the confidence to open his own cafe. He dreams of a takeaway spot offering fresh, vibrant options, but with a sweet treat on the side. Most likely ice-cream sandwiches. He says he would like to offer opportunities to unemployed youth, providing traineeships to students and schooling them in seasonal produce.

You can watch Hignell in action on Channel 10 at 7.30pm. Check your guide for details.

Friends in need at high teaThere are still a few seats left at Friends with Dignity’sannual High Tea With Friends on May 20–and you’re invited to join in the fun.

Friends with Dignity is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit registered charity that provides practical programs to assist survivors of domestic violence in collaboration with refuge and crisis centres. Homes have been set up for men, women and children in need right here in Newcastle.

The high tea, to be held atNoah’s on the Beach from noon to 3pm,willraise critical funding for Friends With Dignity.Admission includes a glass of bubbles on arrival, delicious high tea, empowering and motivating guest speakers, an auction and raffles.Tickets can be bought online atfriendswithdignity苏州模特佳丽招聘.au.

If you would like to further support this event with sponsorship or donate a prizeemail [email protected]苏州模特佳丽招聘.au.

Product alertRumour has it Milkadamia’s macadamia products will soon be stocked in the Newcastle region. Based in Ballina, their nutty non-dairy milks are, Food & Wine was told,popular with lactose-intolerant buyers.

Golf classic returnsMcLeish Estate will be holding its 14th annual McLeish Golf Classic at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort on May 26.Each team is provided with a golf cart fitted with a Visage GPS system and access to the club’s facilities throughout the competition. Wine tasting is encouraged at each hole –which can lead to the odd air swing – and there are prizes up for grabs includingbest-dressed team and longest drive.

Afterwards, there will be apresentation wine dinner atMcLeish Estate Winery.Cost:$180 per person (including 18-hole Golf Classic and two-course wine dinner);$160 per person (including nine-hole Golden Slipper and two-course wine dinner).

Plan ahead when dining outFirst Table is coming to Newcastle. The restaurant marketing platform specialises in off-peak dining and works with more than 700 restaurants in 35 cities across and NZ.

“Our mission is to give restaurants exposure to a wide audience of the restaurant-going public in their region and to give diners the opportunity to experience new and exciting venues for the first time,” NSW director Mandy Whitney said.

Mandy Whitney

“Diners can book the first table of the night at any one of our partner restaurants and receive 50 per cent offtheir food bill.We have over 200,000 subscribed diners and have filled over 180,000 early tables for our partners so far.” First Table launches in Newcastle on May 14.

Region’s best on showThe sixth annual 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Festival is on June 30, 11am to 5pm, at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. The event willshowcase the region’s best wine and food,encouraging locals to re-discover home-grown offerings while attracting visitors to the Hunter Valley. Tickets are on sale now through moshtix苏州夜总会招聘.au.

Watch and learnMoney-saving series Eat Well for Less premieres on May 15 at 7.30pm on Nine and 9Now.In two 90-minute specials, hosts Leila McKinnon and Ben O’Donoghue take families who are cash-strapped and time-poor, seize their shopping trolleys and transform their lives meal by meal.

Urban tastings at LuckyThe Lucky Hotel is hosting Urban Cellar Door on May 27, 2.30pm to 5pm. Tickets cost $20 per person and include wine tasting and canapes. Six wineries are involved –Audrey Wilkinson Wines, Cockfighter’s Ghost, Silkman, Meerea Park Wines and Comyns & Co –with more than 30 wines available to sample.

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Slow wages growth is one of the issues affecting the federal economy.CHALLENGES FACING SCOTT MORRISON’S BUDGET1) POLITICS/ELECTION: The Turnbull government will be pinning its hopes on the budget to change its fortunes in opinion polls having continually dragged its heels against Labor since the 2016 election. Malcolm Turnbull will be hoping it will also lift his standing to stave off any challenge to his prime ministership in the party room ahead of the next election.
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2) DEFICITS: Economists expect the government will be able to boast a further improvement in the budget position and keep to the promise of a surplus in 2020/21. Tax revenue is rolling in, helped by a booming global economy but measures like personal tax cuts also have to be accounted for in leaner times.

3) ECONOMY: The economy has repeatedly failed to live up to its potential, recording its slowest quarterly rate of activity in over a year in the final months of 2017. Economic growth remains restrained by slow household spending in the face of weak wage growth, rising energy prices and high debt.

4) LABOUR MARKET: Jobs growth has been the good news story for the economy in the past year and has boosted government revenue. Employment increased by a record 16 months in a row, producing more than 420,000 positions, although growth has come off the boil in recent months. Such strength has drawn more job seekers into the market, which has slowed the rate of decline in the jobless rate. It has also yet to translate into a pick-up in wage growth.

5) WAGES GROWTH: The missing link in the economic outlook, annual wages growth remains around its lowest in at least 20 years at just over two per cent, which is affecting household spending. Strong wage growth is a key component in returning the budget to surplus with Treasury having forecast a rate of 3.5 per cent in 2020/21.

MORE BUDGET:The federal budget in simple language6) CONFIDENCE: There has been a big divide between the upbeat confidence and conditions of business and the mediocre sentiment among consumers. Businesses have started investing again and are hiring new staff in droves. But consumers have been hampered for most of the past year by rising energy prices and high household debt in a low-wage growth environment. History shows confidence readings usual converge over time as one feeds off the other, although it is unclear whether it is business or consumers that have got it right.

7) INTEREST RATES: The next move in interest rates is widely expected to be up but the timing of the Reserve Bank finally pulling the trigger remains up in the air – anywhere from late this year to way into 2019. The official cash rate has been at a record low 1.5 per cent since August 2016. The jobless rate and wages growth are key factors as to when rates will be hiked. Other central banks, led by the US Federal Reserve, have started increasing their rates on signs of an expanding global economy.

8) GLOBAL ECONOMY: The world economy is showing its first sustained improvement since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, fuelled by savage company tax cuts in the US and other countries. China remains a key driver for the n economy and for now is following the stronger global trend.

9) COMMODITY PRICES: Iron ore prices have held up reasonably well since the mid-year budget review in December, fuelling the government’s tax revenue. The price has averaged $US65 per tonne compared with Treasury’s most recent $US55 forecast for early 2018.

10) CREDIT RATINGS: Concerns about being able to retain its triple-A credit rating appear to have eased as the budget remains on a gradual path to a surplus. The 2016 election and a fractured parliament have not led to a major policy blockage as feared. Even so, global rating agencies will be watching the budget with a keen eye.

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CLOSE, NO CIGAR: Churchill ON his pedestal IN London NEAR a building.It’s time for an about-turn on prepositions. Anyone else taught the “circle and dot trick”?
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Draw a circle and then place a dot on its outside. Writethis sentence: The dot moves … the circle. Any word you use to replace the ellipsis is a preposition. The dot moves towards the circle. The dot moves about the circle.

When I was taught the secret to uncoveringprepositions, I was also told they were words we couldn’t end a sentence with. As was apparently Winston Churchill’s memoir editor.

This an attributed story only, but Winnie apparently chided the editor for correcting a sentence ending with a preposition with this response: “This is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

The word for which I feel sorry is “about”.

“Approximately” and “around”are not suitable substitutes. Approximately means close to, but not exactly. About does not stress that closeness to accuracy, in which case approximately is better used for scientific writing.“Around” is a spatial cowboy.

I’m not the only one feeling lost and carrying on “about” this.

In a recent “Mind Your Language” column in The Spectator, Dot Wordsworth had this to say.

“As for around, it thrives in some jargon-infested semantic wastelands in constructions that you and I never use: issues around anger-management, for example.” There is also David Thatcher’s wonderful Saving Our Prepositions – A Guide for the Perplexed.

It’s not a good time to be “around” senior big-four bank officials, AMP executives, or financial planners. The dot moves … the circle. AMP has taken … $33 million from clients, but is defending an empire worth … $12 billion. CBA admitted it breached statutory disclosure laws … 53,000 times. What goes around comes around.

Darrell Croker is senior coach at Write For Impact

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ELITE PERFORMER: Newcastle Grammar School’s Lorcan Redmond competing in the School Sport Triathlon Championships at Penrith late last month. Hamilton triathlete Lorcan Redmond overcame team tactics from interstate competitors and bridged a one-minute gap in the final leg oflast month’s School Sport Triathlon Championships (SSATC) to claim a fifth-straight title.
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The 17-year-old went into the race, held at Penrith in late April,in blistering form having wonthe Oceania Championships a few weeks earlierin New Zealand.

However,Redmond said his preparation forthe SSATC wasn’t as intense as usual.

“It’s kind of the last race of my domestic season,” hesaid. “It’s the School Sport Championships, so I don’t go in their fully prepared.

“I had the Oceania champs beforehand and had a little down time before then, so I just went along and enjoyed the company of all the boys I know.”

The Newcastle Grammar School student was surprised how the raceunfolded.

“It was fairly uneventful the swim, I just hopped out,” he said.

DETERMINED: Lorcan Redmond.

“But then there was a 20km bike ride and there was four Queenslanders who solely went in with the intention of riding really hard with team tactics, trying to get one of their boys to win the race.

“So I was kind of left in no-man’s land behind those boys and another big bunch behind me. They had a minute lead on us and the run’s 5kms, so I just hopped off [the bike] and ran really hard. I ended up beating them by about 20 seconds.”

The fifthtitle is likely a record, as2012 London Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson and recent Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Matt Hauser, had won the event only four times each.

After his earlier win in New Zealand, Redmondis ’s sole under-19’s automatic qualifier for the SeptemberWorld Championships on the Gold Coast. The victorymade his preparation for the Gold Coast easier, but it was a win that didn’t come easily.

“It’s fantastic to book the spot,” he said. “Last year I didn’t end up winning the Oceania champs and there’s three spots… the other two are discretionary, so that’s up to the selectors and they don’t find out until July.

READ MORE:Newcastle Herald’s weekly junior sport column

““It wasn’t the best lead in though, because we flew into Auckland and were delayed overnight. We arrived in New Plymouth about 4pm the day before the race and I opened up my bike bag and my bike had a massive crack in the frame.”

Redmond managed to get a local cycling shop to lend him a bike for the race and eventually won the event.

It’s a massive effort given the amount of time he spends on his custom-fitted bike each week, but he played down the “subtle differences” as just a minor challenge.

Each week in training, he completes 70km running, 30km swimming, 200km cyclingand a few gym sessions.

An incredible commitment for someone duringtheir HSC, but Redmondhas his sights set on making a career out of the sport. Although, hesays he’ll study after school to ensure he’s got something to fall back on.

Redmond said his school have been fantastic in letting him juggle his pursuits. He came 22ndat the world champs last year and hopes to win September’s race.

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The abuse of fentanyl and other pain killers is under scrutiny at a NSW inquest into six deaths.Half of a group of people who fatally overdosed on opioids in NSW in May 2016 had fentanyl in their system – the pain-relief drug that’s sparked a “public health crisis” in the United States, an inquest has heard.
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The cluster of six deaths occurred over one month, but counsel assisting Peggy Dwyer said prescription opioid overdoses were at record levels in with hundreds of opiate-related deaths in the state each year.

“Opioid deaths increased (nationally) by 60 per cent in 2011-2015 compared with 2001-2005,” she told Glebe Coroner’s Court heard on Monday.

“Pharmaceutical opioid deaths in now exceed heroin deaths by a significant margin – two to 2.5 times.”

Ms Dwyer said one schizophrenic overdose victim had been prescribed fentanyl – a highly potent synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.

“A particular issue, in this case, is why that drug was prescribed (and) whether it was appropriate,” she said.

Illegal manufacturing of the drug in the US had caused a “public health crisis” with a significant spike in addiction rates and related deaths, Ms Dwyer said.

But the inquest is expected to hear expert evidence that fentanyl is on the rise in regional , where heroin is in shorter supply.

“One high-profile case was the death of Prince, the music artist, who died after taking a counterfeit painkiller laced with fentanyl,” Ms Dwyer said.

NSW Health estimates there may be up to 750,000 ns dependent on opioids and the inquest aims to learn lessons from the deaths to prevent future tragedies.

It will explore the need for real-time prescription monitoring to avoid “doctor shopping” and the provision of supervised injection rooms.

The inquest would also consider the need for greater availability of naloxone, a “life-saving” drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, Ms Dwyer said.

Harm-reduction strategies will be examined including testing of drugs for impurities, with the inquest hoping to review an evaluation from the first trial of recreational pill testing at a recent festival in Canberra.

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The federal budget will be handed down in Canberra on Tuesday.AN ARMCHAIR GUIDE TO BUDGET TERMINOLOGY:BUDGET: Like a household budget, it estimates government income and spending. Income is generated through taxes and investments. Spending is on things like welfare, schools, roads, health and defence.
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BUDGET OR FORWARD ESTIMATES: The budget covers this financial year – the 12 months ending June 30 – and a further four-year period, known as the estimates. The first two years are forecasts, the latter two are projections.

GDP (gross domestic product): The value of a nation’s output. As the economy grows, the government collects more revenue from company taxes and income tax. Things like deficits, revenue, spending and debt are often measured as a proportion of GDP.

UNDERLYING CASH BALANCE: The best guide to the nation’s financial health. It estimates the balance of income and spending, removing one-off events like asset sales (Telstra and Medibank Private are examples).

BALANCING THE BUDGET: The government can change tax rates, impose new taxes, abolish old ones, cut spending, introduce new programs and ditch existing ones. When outgoings exceed income, the government has to borrow to cover the shortfall (see GOVERNMENT DEBT).

CYCLICAL DEFICIT: During lean economic times governments can decide to do things like offer short-term tax breaks for business or pump money into the economy, with schemes like Labor’s controversial schools building program during the GFC. Because jobs disappear during an economic downturn, the government has to pay more in welfare and dole payments. These are known as “automatic stabilisers”. That may force the budget into a cyclical or temporary deficit, but it should return to surplus when the economy improves.

STRUCTURAL DEFICIT: The gap between income and spending that is not the result of changes in the economy. For example, income tax cuts in the 2000s when the government was enjoying the “rivers of gold” from the mining boom still have to be accounted for when revenue is not so abundant. It’s like a household taking on a mortgage based on overtime or bonuses that are flowing at the time. It still has to be paid for when that extra money dries up.

GOVERNMENT DEBT: To balance the books while the budget is in deficit, a government has to raise money through government securities or bonds – a type of IOU that pays interest. Gross debt is the amount of bonds a government has on issue. Net debt is the amount on issue minus government financial assets.

CONTINGENCY RESERVE: Money set aside for policies yet to be announced or negotiated for commercial or security reasons. It may also include decisions made too late to be counted in the current budget or budgeted expenses incurred outside the current financial year.

BUDGET PAPERS: Books containing nuts-and-bolts things like economic forecasts, financial strategy, spending and revenue measures, management of government debt. Masses of tables for the pointy-headed community.

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