Melbourne Demons captain Daisy Pearce desperate to play preliminary final


“I’ll just be doing whatever I can each day.

Daisy PearceCredit:Simon Schluter

“[I need to show that I can] get through all the elements of the movement, the things you might come across in a game.”

Meanwhile Dees ruck Lauren Pearce was also on light duties at training but the club said this was no cause for alarm.

Elsewhere, Greater Western Sydney’s Irishwoman Brid Stack is weighing up whether to return to AFLW in 2022 after a neck fracture ended her maiden season before it began.

Stack was hurt in a controversial tackle by Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff in a pre-season match.

“I am privileged and honoured to have been offered another contract. My Giants teammates have spent the last few days attempting to sway me to return next year but I’m not sure what my next move will be,” Stack told the Irish Examiner.

“Any decision around my future here will be made in its own good time but, for now, I’m just so grateful to the club for the opportunity, and so proud of myself to have dealt with the varying circumstances I found myself in.

“It didn’t work out as I had planned but I have made peace with that frustration. I have no regrets. I trained harder than I’ve ever trained before in my life. I put myself under pressure to try and make everything work.

“When I look back on it all now, I realise that even me putting myself in a position to get out here was making it work in the first place.”

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‘I was desperate to stay’: Winless Waratahs sack Penney


Doorn said Penney won’t receive a full payout but noted that a confidential settlement had been agreed by both parties.

“Rob is the consummate professional,” Doorn said. “This is devastating news for him. To his credit, in many ways based off conversations we’ve had previously leading up to this point, it wasn’t a dramatic surprise. He is bitterly disappointed that he can’t continue to fight with the squad he has. He appreciates the organisation’s rationale for making the decisions that are made.”

NSW assistants Chris Whitaker and Jason Gilmore have been named interim coaches for the rest of the season.

The Waratahs have lost all five matches of their Super Rugby AU campaign.Credit:Getty

The pair will take over from Monday morning, with Doorn saying a new head coach won’t take over until 2022.

“Our No.1 priority is working with the playing group on the interim strategy,” Doorn said.

“If we’re going to make this decision, you have to also provide the opportunity to give the interim solution an opportunity for the last remaining Super Rugby AU games and then look forward into what it might mean for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman. There’s still weeks to play.”

The Waratahs have suffered record defeats this year to the Reds (41-7), Brumbies (61-10) and Melbourne Rebels (33-14). On Saturday, the Waratahs conceded the franchise’s most-ever points in a Super Rugby match against the Reds (46).

On March 10, before the most recent Rebels and Reds losses, chairman Roger Davis said any talk of cutting Penney was “a long way away”.

Asked why there had been a change of heart, Doorn said: “This is an ongoing cumulative impact of things. Clearly the advice the chairman might have said previously, the coach had our full support, and he did. We kept providing resources and opportunities for Rob but in the end when we sat down after last night’s game and looked at the total of this year and last year and what was ahead, it was important for us to make that decision.”

Davis has been at the helm since 2012 and has been under fire given the Waratahs’ alarming decline in recent seasons and questionable roster management decisions under his watch.

Asked whether any of the current crisis was the fault of the chairman or the board, Doorn said: “Anyone who works in the organisation has a level of responsibility. All of us have been on a process of thinking how can we do things differently going forward.

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“As the CEO it has been a challenging 14 months but I still stand resolute in the sense there is a magnificent future ahead of us. We’ve got an amazing group of young players, or inexperienced players, that are phenomenal.”

Doorn defended the organisation’s decision to spend cautiously over the off-season in terms of player contracts when other franchises spent more of their salary cap, despite a broadcast deal not being signed at the time.

“I don’t think we can regret it to be honest because … we had to live within our own means,” Doorn said. “We know the head coach and the board were all included in the discussion around what that meant for our squad and roster this year.”

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Reigning Olympic sevens champions desperate for matches ahead of Tokyo


Australia’s reigning Olympic champion women’s sevens team has had a disjointed preparation for a five-day Tokyo Games hit-and-run mission but they could get a block of games against the Kiwis in June.

Having not played any competitive matches since March last year due to COVID-19, a number of the team’s best players, including Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Evania Pelite and Charlotte Caslick, will take part in this year’s Aon Uni Sevens series, starting this weekend.

Australia and New Zealand could work together in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games.

Australia and New Zealand could work together in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games.Credit:AP

But the end goal is another gold medal in Tokyo, and coach John Manenti concedes the outcome isn’t completely in Australia’s court.

Northern hemisphere sides have managed to get games recently, butthe Games begin in four months and Australia and New Zealand can’t afford two weeks of quarantine on return if they were to try and play a tournament abroad.

Games are being organised here between Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in June, but nothing has been locked in.

If a trans-Tasman bubble isn’t established in coming weeks, New Zealand have indicated they may remain in Australia for an extended period and travel straight to Tokyo in July.

It means Australia could get a good hit-out against the 2016 silver medallists and the form team in the world.

“They [could] stay here for a month’s preparation,” Manenti said on Wednesday. “For us and them, it’s critical for us to have some sort of competition when we feel the rest of the world is getting ahead of that stuff.

“We’re replicating games, we’re having internal games, we’re playing games, but it’s very hard to play games without genuine meaning.

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International student stuck in China is ‘desperate’ to find a way back to her life in Australia


International student Carla Lyu had her bags packed and was about to leave for Guangzhou airport when she heard all flights from China to Australia had been cancelled.

It was February 1 last year, and as officials in Australia frantically worked to contain the spread of coronavirus by closing the border that day, many people like Ms Lyu were left wondering how to get home.

Now, more than 12 months have passed, and Ms Lyu is still in southern China desperately trying to find a way to return to Adelaide to her husband and dogs.

“I was shocked by the immediate ban,” she said.

“I was still hopeful during the first few months that the travel restrictions would be lifted, since the virus was under control here in China.

As one of the thousands of international students displaced by Australia’s border closures, the final-year University of Adelaide masters student now also faces the prospect of attempting to finish her degree online.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport was almost deserted as travel restrictions were imposed.(

ABC News: Xiaoning Mo

)

Ms Lyu tried to return to Adelaide several times, and even registered for the pilot program announced by the South Australian government that would bring 300 international students back to the state.

But those plans were scuppered by the state’s lockdown late last year.

Ms Lyu said the constant dead-ends led her to create a petition to the federal government.

“New Zealand has allowed immediate families of temporary visa holders to enter since June 2020.”

Her prolonged absence has negatively impacted her husband’s mental health — he has had to reduce his study load at university and is receiving ongoing medical support.

‘We need a plan’

With no clear way forward, Council of International Students Australia national president Belle Lim is calling on the federal government to design and publicly communicate a roadmap for students to return to face-to-face study.

“It’s a complicated situation and we need a plan to decide who comes back first as there are different levels of need,” Ms Lim said.

“There is an obligation for the government to do something.”

Ms Lim said there was a general lack of understanding among the Australian public about the contribution international students made to the Australian economy, and asked Australians to be sympathetic when considering the personal impact the pandemic was having on students.

In many cases, she said, mental health support was not available in their home countries.

“It is a huge investment for them to come to Australia and there is a lot of pressure on students in normal times to succeed,” she said.

“Online learning cannot replace face-to-face learning. Many courses have a practical component that can’t be replicated online.”

A selfie of a woman and her Pomeranian
Ms Lyu has created a petition to the federal government.(

Supplied: Carla Lyu

)

‘Difficult time for students’

The Northern Territory is the only jurisdiction in Australia to have followed through with its promise to bring international students to Australia, flying in 63 students to Darwin in November last year.

A South Australian government spokesman said work was underway to get international students back to the state “as soon as possible”.

“This includes options for further flights, including commercial and charter flights, as well as the possibility of additional quarantine measures,” the spokesman said.

Study Adelaide, a state government and university-funded organisation that markets the state to international students, said all of the stakeholders were working to get the pilot program off the ground.

Plans involve using existing medi-hotels for mandatory two-week quarantine — a complicating factor when there are still Australian citizens trying to get home.

StudyAdelaide chief executive Karyn Kent said that students were still enrolling to study online, and some had remained in the state throughout the pandemic and were being supported.

A woman delivers a speech at a podium.
StudyAdelaide chief executive Karyn Kent said students were still being supported.(

Twitter: @StudyAdelaide

)

A spokeswoman for the federal Education Department said international students would be welcomed back to Australia “when conditions allow”.

“In November 2020, all states and territories were invited to submit Student Arrivals Plans for the broader return of international students.

“All jurisdictions are working on student arrival plans, but no final plans have been shared with the Commonwealth.”

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Desperate search for two-year-old girl who went missing after playing with dogs on Tara property


A desperate search is underway for a two-year-old girl who went missing from a Males property at Tara on the Western Downs more than four hours ago.

The alarm was raised about 3:30pm after the toddler, who goes by the name Ruby, had not been seen for half an hour.

The girl’s mother, Sky Gulliver, has been pleading for help on social media, telling ABC News the family were devastated to know their baby girl was missing.

“We would really like for her to come home where she can be safe and warm and with her loving parents that really, really miss her so much,” she said.

“If anyone has come across her, please bring her home, we just want our baby home.”

Ruby, 2, holding a water bottle.
The family said it was unlike Ruby to venture off.(

Supplied: Sky Gulliver

)

Another relative told ABC News this was the first time the little girl had gone missing.

“She usually stays around the house,” she said.

“This is very unlike her to go off. She was playing with the puppy at the time.

She said Ruby liked playing with her parents’ two dogs and that she was a quiet and shy girl who “doesn’t talk much”.

“One second she was playing with the dog and next second she was gone,” she said.

Ruby’s mother said Ruby is due to turn three years old next week.

Google map image of where a toddler went missing on Males Road at Tara.
The property is on Males Drive in Tara.(

Google

)

Police, SES volunteers and helicopters have been searching the property and surrounding area.

Thermal imaging equipment is also being used.

Police said they had no plans to call off the search any time soon.

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Rescuers reveal desperate fight to save drowning siblings from notorious rip at Apollo Bay


King Fue spent the first 15 years of her life living beside the sea in Samoa, where she would swim with her brothers on most days in calm, protected bays.

Anton McMurray grew up in the mountains of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, but spent his summers surfing with his brother at the beaches along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

Last Monday, on January 25, these strangers found themselves grasping each other and gasping for air in a desperate fight for their lives as a ferocious ocean rip tried to drag them under and pull them further out to sea.

Around the nation, similar terrifying experiences have cast a pall over summer, with 40 people losing their lives in Australian beach tragedies since December 1, and many more being pulled from the sea close to death.

But much can be learned from the fateful encounter of King and Anton.

This is the story of how four siblings were rescued from the watery clutches of death by two brothers from another family, who risked their own lives to save them.

It is also the story of how a makeshift triage team of family, friends and other bystanders on the beach flew into action, helping from the shallows, administering lifesaving first aid and communicating with emergency services to give those pulled from the water a fighting chance.

In short, it is the inside story of how a day at the beach became a fight for life — and what it took to fend off tragedy.

King Fue doesn’t have many opportunities to visit the coast these days, as the 25-year-old flight attendant now lives in a housing estate in Melbourne’s far-northern suburbs.

So on Monday last week, King and her family were full of enthusiasm when they decided to make a spontaneous trip down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay.

They had never been before, but had heard it was beautiful, so they packed a picnic and hit the road. Two and a half hours later, they arrived at Marengo, an unpatrolled beach west of Apollo Bay’s main swimming area.

King said that some family members, eager to feel the splash of salt water on their skin, rushed into the water while others set up the picnic under a shady tree.

Within moments, three members of King’s family — her brother Junior and sister Vaisaele, both 18, and her 14-year-old sister Agnes — were caught in a strong rip at the mouth of an estuary.

She instinctively rushed into the water to help them.

Within minutes they were all struggling to keep their heads above water as they were being swept out to sea.

By the end of the day, King’s siblings were in hospital and she was on her way home, in shock and exhausted.

If sculptor Anton McMurray, 47, and his brother Myron, 41, had not been nearby with their friends and family, that could very well have been the outcome for the Fue family last Monday.

It was soon after taking this photograph and making a video call to her brother to show him how beautiful the beach was, that King realised her siblings were not having fun in the water, as she had thought, but were actually in real trouble, struggling against a rip.

“All I wanted to do was to get in the water and save them,” King said.

“I got fabric so I could try and rope them in but the fabric wasn’t long enough, and then I was in the current.

“I said, ‘I can’t get to you but I need you to float’.”

King estimates her brother and sisters had been struggling in the water for about 10 minutes before she reached them. She had rushed into the water so quickly she was still wearing her dress, and it began to weigh her down.

“It was just the rip, no matter how hard we tried to come to shore it was just pushing us back,” King said.

Then, like a miracle, a group of bystanders — or “angels”, as King describes them — appeared on the beach.

As fate would have it, those “angels” had sufficient medical skills and surf-lifesaving knowledge to make it through the mammoth effort required to save King and her siblings.

But the ocean did not give in without a fearsome fight.

Anton and Myron McMurray, both strong swimmers, heard the Fue family’s calls for help and made a snap decision to attempt a rescue at the notorious Marengo rip.

Everyone knows the cruel irony that it is often the people who rush into raging surf to rescue others who end up drowning due to exhaustion.

Amid the frantic battle for survival unfolding just a few kilometres from one of Victoria’s most popular beaches, both the rescuers and those they were trying to save knew the odds of them all surviving were slim.

As the Fue and McMurray families and other beachgoers watched anxiously from shore, Anton and Myron ploughed through the ocean and reached Vaisaele and Agnes first.

Anton said they managed to pull the girls from the rip and get them back to the shallows, where their friends were waiting to carry the teenagers to shore.

Both girls were breathing but Vaisaele was unresponsive.

Friends and family of the McMurray brothers and other bystanders immediately used their lifesaving and nursing skills to administer first aid as they waited for an ambulance and lifesavers from Apollo Bay to arrive.

Rushing straight back out into the waves again, the brothers finally reached King and Junior, who by that stage were exhausted and incapable of keeping their heads above water.

A friend attempted to help with the rescue by using a stand-up paddle board but was unable to reach them in the rough conditions.

Anton took hold of King and Myron supported Junior. But as they all struggled, Anton and Myron realised they, too, were quickly running out of energy.

It was at this point, Anton said, that his training as a pool lifeguard really helped him to keep calm and make decisions during the chaos of the rescue.

“They were climbing on top of us and pushing us under, just to try to get a breath of air.

“Then of course we’re getting exhausted by that stage and I was really worried about my brother.

Back on shore, as Myron’s partner, a nurse, and others focused on trying to help the girls, Anton and Myron’s friends’ children realised that the brothers’ lives were now also in danger.

The children grabbed their boogie boards and alerted another adult in their group who was able to swim far enough out to skim the boards across the water to Myron and Junior.

“It was lucky that the kids thought we needed boogie boards, and they ran back and got them,” Anton said.

In the children’s swimming lessons, they had learned that boogie boards could be used to save people from drowning. That early life lesson proved crucial.

After Myron got Junior to shore, he returned with the boogie boards to help his brother.

Anton said that once King knew her siblings were safe, she remained calm despite her exhaustion and the terror of still being caught in the rip.

Eventually, in a last heroic effort to save King and themselves, the exhausted brothers used the boogie boards to “crash” onto some nearby rocks using the force of the waves to propel them.

“I stood back in disbelief.”

Anton said the whole rescue scene on the beach reminded him of a movie set, with everyone quick to act and pitch in.

Two nurses happened to be among those helping, including a local woman who is a critical care nurse.

“It was incredible everyone knew what to do,” he said.

“I’m an experienced surfer, my brother and I have both done surf-lifesaving.

“There [were] nurses amongst us and three of us had done workplace first aid.

He said it proved how important it was for people to make sure they had the basic skills to deal with emergencies, and that it was sheer luck that a team of people so well-equipped to deal with the situation happened to be on the beach at the time.

“We’re not heroes, we didn’t do anything amazing outside of taking opportunities that have been offered [such as] doing some first aid courses,” he said.

“If you like to go to the beach, you’ve learned how to swim and importantly, identify rips.

After emergency services arrived, Vaisaele was airlifted to Geelong Hospital and Junior and Agnes were taken to hospital in ambulances.

King’s family swapped contact details with the McMurrays and the families have kept in touch.

Anton said the “big, beautiful family” was gushing with tears and gratitude.

Anton said he hoped that speaking about last week’s incident would remind beachgoers that it was vital to learn how to safely navigate the ocean rather than be afraid of it.

“It’s not about fear, it’s a beautiful playground we come into contact with, it’s a wild place,” he said.

He said he supported a proposal from the Apollo Bay Surf Lifesaving Club to build a centre in the town dedicated to teaching people practical skills, including how to identify rips and how to enter the water safely.

At the time of the rescue, Apollo Bay volunteer lifeguard Thom Cookes, who helped to save the Fue family, said they had been swept out to sea “very, very quickly” by the notorious rip at Marengo.

King said her family members had all recovered now and were extremely grateful to be alive.

“We are very religious people,” she said.

“I believe we were given a second chance in life by God and he sent those angels that were on the beach to help us through our toughest time.”

She said the children in her family had said they would not swim in the ocean again.

“I told them they can still swim but we need to ask questions about where it’s safe to swim, especially at a new place,” King said.

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From UK COVID hotspot to Texas ice storm, desperate Australian couple scrambles to find a way home


An Australian couple has been forced from COVID-wracked London to a frozen Texas in a desperate attempt to find a way home through a tangle of international pandemic travel restrictions.

What started as a patient wait to return home to Swan Hill, Victoria, has turned into a “cruel” experience for Sarah Reynolds-Ryan and husband Jackson, some of the thousands of Australians stranded overseas since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

They were due to arrive in Melbourne from the United Kingdom on Monday after booking tickets two months ago, quitting jobs and giving up their flat.

But Victoria’s snap five-day coronavirus lockdown meant flights to Victoria were cancelled and Qatar Airways offered no immediate alternative destinations in Australia.

Ms Reynolds-Ryan said the next flight to Australia with any airline was to Brisbane on April 5.

“We just couldn’t wait that long,” Ms Reynolds-Ryan said.

“When we booked tickets [after international flights to Victoria reopened in December], we handed in our notice for our jobs and our flat. We started packing up our lives and selling things off.

With no options to return to Australia and no home or work in the UK, Ms Reynolds-Ryan, a dual US citizen, opted to fly with her partner to the US to stay with an aunt in Denton, Texas.

They are now riding out a storm emergency that has sent temperatures plummeting across the US and living without health care in a state that has recorded 2.58 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Ms Reynolds-Ryan said she hoped there would be more frequent flights to Australia from the US, which has not yet recorded large numbers of the more contagious UK variant of COVID-19.

“Our plan is to be in Texas until we can get home, but my husband is here on a three-month ESTA visa, so the clock is really ticking,” she said.

Ms Reynolds-Ryan said she was also concerned about vaccines becoming mandatory for travellers on US airlines.

She said her husband could face an extensive wait to receive a vaccine because, as an Australian, US citizens would take priority.

“We just want to come home,” she said.

Ms Reynolds-Ryan said the duo, who moved to London to live and work in mid-2019, first started trying to get home at the start of the pandemic in March as international flights were cancelled.

She said a lack of assistance from the federal government had been “draining and demoralising”.

“As citizens, we feel abandoned by the government,” she said.

“Of course we support the quarantine system — the government has to protect its citizens from COVID-19.

“But we’re Victorians too. I think the lack of options for arrivals is over the top and unnecessarily cruel.”

Sarah’s mother Laura Ryan, who owns a Swan Hill hotel, said it was heartbreaking to be separated from her daughter in the middle of a global crisis.

“We just feel really let down,” she said.

“Could we not have diverted flights? Could we not have said that people who had flights during the five-day [lockdown] would be allowed to land and go into a stricter quarantine?

Announcing the five-day lockdown last week, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said there needed to be a “cold, hard discussion” about the number of people coming into Australia as the number of more contagious UK and South African variants of COVID-19 cases grows.

“It’s not for me to make announcements about how many Australians get to come back to Australia,” he said.

“That’s for the federal government. What I’m saying is the game has changed

“Should it be a much smaller program that’s based on compassionate grounds? That’s a conversation we should have.”

The state and federal governments were contacted for further comment.

Ms Reynolds-Ryan said she was worried by Mr Andrews’s comments.

“We’re worried about the idea of us having to apply to come home on compassionate grounds,” Ms Reynolds-Ryan said.

“We’ve emailed the embassy and DFAT a number of times and gotten no response.

“The vulnerable are already not being prioritised in any way.”

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Covid vaccine scammers conned ‘desperate’ residents out of thousands of pounds


Fraudsters have scammed people who are desperate for the coronavirus vaccine out of thousands of pounds, police have warned.

The crooks have been targeting people with an elaborate swindle that dupes them into paying for the jab which is free on the NHS.

West Midlands Police said the con artists are looking to “take advantage of people’s desperation” to get the jab as soon as possible.

The force said it had received 26 reports of people being tricked into handing over cash after receiving a fake vaccine invitation since the turn of the year.

So far they have pocketed more than £3,500 from victims living in the West Midlands area, Birmingham Live reports.



Fraudsters have scammed people who are desperate for the coronavirus vaccine (stock image)

The victims are contacted by the scammer who call, email or send them a text message.

Police are also reminding people to ignore the approaches of coronavirus scammers as the vaccine is only available solely through the NHS.

Officers are also warning people that by putting your bank details into an illegitimate website you “risk exposing your account to fraudsters”.

They are also urging residents not to click on email links from unknown sources as they “could contain malware that will infect their device.”



Police are warning people not to fall for the con
Police are warning people not to fall for the con

Chloe Guy, from the force’s economic crime unit, said: “Although the vaccination programme is being rolled out at a rapid pace there are still some con artists looking to exploit people’s desire to be vaccinated.”

“Although the vaccination programme is being rolled out at a rapid pace there are still some con-artists looking to exploit people’s desire to be vaccinated,” said Chloe Guy, from the police’s economic crime unit.

“If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details or pay for the vaccine, this is a scam.

“You can be contacted by the NHS, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.”

The news comes as the Prime Minister announced on Saturday that every UK adult should be vaccinated by July 31.

Boris Johnson has vowed that 52.8million people will be invited to have the jab two months ahead of the Government’s schedule.

It raises hopes that the worst of lockdown could soon be over and the country can, finally, get back to some kind of normal.



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Authorities make DESPERATE plea for anonymous caller in case of missing Melbourne mum Ju ‘Kelly’ Zhang


An anonymous phone call to police has prompted a desperate plea from authorities about the whereabouts of missing Melbourne woman Ju “Kelly” Zhang.

The anonymous person phoned Crime Stoppers Thursday morning, providing information on Zhang’s whereabouts.

Detectives are appealing for that caller to make contact again.

“Investigators are urging that person to call back and provide further information or to make contact with detectives,” police said in a statement.

Zhang, a 33-year-old mother, was last seen at her home in Epping on February 1 wearing a pink night gown and pink slippers.

A friend reported her missing the next day.

Her partner Joon Seong Tan has since been charged with murder.

Zhang’s boyfriend Tan, 35, was arrested on February 10 after authorities found him at Melbourne airport.

He was taken into custody at Melbourne Airport around 6.15pm.

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Demon desperate to power up



Alex de Minaur will continue his battle to add more power to his game after a frustrating straight-sets loss on Saturday night denied him place in the second week of the Australian Open.

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