Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pope Francis rebukes religious militants during visit to Albania



By Alba Prifti and Steve Almasy, CNN

September 21, 2014 -- Updated 2210 GMT (0610 HKT)


Source: CNN


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: No one can act as the "armor of God," Pope Francis says
  • NEW: Pontiff says Albania is an example of how people of different religions can live together
  • NEW: Francis doesn't mention any militant group by name
  • Religious freedom is relatively new in the country with a large Muslim population
(CNN) -- During a trip to the mostly Muslim nation of Albania, Pope Francis rebuked militants who act in the name of religion, saying no one can act as the "armor of God."
The Pope lauded Albanians during a visit to the capital of Tirana, calling the Balkan nation one that proves "a peaceful and fruitful coexistence between persons and communities of believers of different religions is not only desirable, but possible and realistic."
The pontiff didn't refer to any militant group by name. He denounced those who have perverted religious spirit and who are engaged in violence that prevents harmony between people of different faiths.
Last month, he denounced ISIS, the Islamist militant group seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East. He called ISIS an "unjust aggressor"
On Sunday, he again spoke harshly against religious warriors.
"Let no one consider themselves to be the 'armor' of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression," Pope Francis told diplomats at the presidential palace. "May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom."
The pontiff pointed to the religious peace in Albania, a country relatively new to the concept of religious freedom. The population is 56% Muslim, 10% Catholic and 7% Orthodox, according to the CIA Factbook. The climate of respect and trust between those groups is a "precious gift," the pontiff said.
It has been two decades since a Pope last visited Albania, which is a short distance from Italy, just across the Adriatic Sea. The day-long visit is the first for Francis to another European country since he became Pope.
On his way to the palace, he rode through the streets past multitudes of cheering fans and onlookers in an open Pope mobile.
Later the Pope celebrated Mass on Mother Teresa Square.
Many see Pope Francis' visit as support for the country's efforts to grow closer to the West and its wish to join the European Union. Albania was a Soviet satellite state before the fall of European communism at the end of the Cold War.
It has been a democratic republic for 24 years.




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Thursday, September 18, 2014

‘Kill the Christians:’ Sydney Church Under IS Death Threats, Pope Francis At Risk Of Assassination

By Sounak Mukhopadhyay |

September 18, 2014 9:56 AM EST


A stranger with the Islamic State flag shouted threats of killing "Christians and their children" at churchgoers in Sydney on Tuesday.

The stranger drove a car past Our Lady of Lebanon Church at Harris Park and threatened to "kill the Christians" and their children as well. According to witnesses, he had a triangular flag which resembled that of the Islamic State. The flag was hanging out of the car window, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

A priest confirmed the threats and said that the churchgoers had been scared. "They were strong words and people were scared of what they saw," he said. Rosehill police Inspector Brian Jackson also confirmed the death threats made near the church. Police were called to the church on Wednesday before the mass at 7 o'clock in the evening. Hundreds of people participated in mass in the Our Lady of Lebanon Church while police officers patrolled the area.

The Vatican was earlier warned by Habeeb Al-Sadr, an Iraqi ambassador, that Pope Francis was at risk of being assassinated by the Islamic State terrorists. The 77-year-old is apparently vulnerable when he visits Albania on Sunday, Sept 21. He will also be vulnerable when he visits Turkey in November, the ambassador informed. The ambassador confirmed that the death threats against the pontiff were "credible," The Independent reported. The Islamic State militants earlier claimed to plant their black flag on St Peter's Basilica.

Al-Sadr told Italian daily "La Nazione" that the pontiff was targeted after he had spoken in favour of the United States and its allies to conduct a mission against the Islamic State in the Middle East. "What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear - they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible," he said, "I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of Isil who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians. Isil could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe."

The pope is going to celebrate Mass in Albania's capital, Tirana, on his visit there in Sunday. He also has plans to move around in his open Popemobile.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au
To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.com

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Taken from: http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/566661/20140918/sydney-church-death-threats-pope-francis-risk.htm



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

There were Giants on the earth .... The Nephilim.







Taken from: http://biblelight.net/nephilim.htm


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The increasingly popular interpretation of the following passage is that it relates a story of angels interbreeding with the human race, and that this was a primary reason for God destroying most of humanity with the great flood.
First of all, it should be pointed out that angels are not humans, they are quite different creations of God. Satan and the other angels are spirit beings, and simply cannot have physical offspring (children). They do not marry (Matt. 22:30, Mark 12:25), they are incapable of procreation, and so are genderless creatures.
Let's look at this passage in an attempt to shed some light:
Gen 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Gen 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
Gen 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Gen 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Gen 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
So now let's evaluate each verse, and what it is saying-
Gen 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
This verse is straightforward. The human population on earth began to increase in numbers.
Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Now this verse is full of meaning. Some will point to Job 1:6, 2:1 and 38:7 where the same phrase "sons of God" is translated sometimes as angels, and conclude that this also refers to angels as well. The Hebrew words used are - ben: H1121 and 'elohiym: H430:
1121. ben, bane; from H1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of lit. and fig. relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., [like H1, H251, etc.]) ...
So the phrase "Sons of God" is a generic term that can mean the subjects or nation of God. It is not a phrase limited to just the angelic host, it has a wider meaning. The sons of God in Gen 6:2, in context, speaks of those men who were (or claimed to be) obedient to the will of God, they were the people of God, from the lineage of Seth (Gen. 5). In opposition to this are the daughters of men (not obedient to God), from the lineage of Cain (Gen. 4). These woman were quite attractive and alluring, and had little trouble enticing the sons of God into intimate relations and marriage. In doing so, the sons of God quickly abandoned God for these women and their ways.This is basically a retelling of the fall of Adam and Eve. Eve listened to the lies of Satan and doubted God. She ate from the forbidden tree and fell from the spiritual nature she previously enjoyed. That tree was the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:9, 17). Upon eating from the tree, Eve was aware of what she had done. She now had the knowledge of evil and she was aware that she had sinned against God. In that knowledge, and having fallen, she then offered the fruit from the tree to Adam.Adam was not deceived (1 Tim 2:14). He knew when he saw Eve that she had sinned, because she had lost the spiritual glow that results from being in close spiritual harmony with God. Moses had this same glow when he came down from Sinai (Exo 34:29, 30). Adam elected to eat the fruit, knowing what he was doing. His love for Eve (whom he knew had sinned) was greater than his love of God.This is a tactic used time and again by Satan. The downfall of God's people is frequently through the temptations of godless women (See Numbers 25:1-9). Other examples that come to mind are Samson and Delilah, and David and Bathsheba.So, now back to Gen 6:2. The same basic scenario is being repeated after the garden of Eden, only on a larger scale. There is a wholesale abandonment of God and his righteous ways by the descendents of Seth for women of the lineage of Cain, known to be in rebellion and sin. This is what God calls fornication, not referring only to a sexual sin, but the sin of mixing the righteous with the wicked, truth with evil. (One example of this is the word fornication as attributed to the harlot church in Rev 17:4 and 18:3) This sin was so prevalent, and so blatant a rejection of God that it could not be allowed to continue indefinitely.
Gen 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
God in this verse has just set a period of probation of 120 years on the human race to repent of their wicked ways. It could not be allowed to continue.
Gen 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
The word "giants" here in the Hebrew is listed in Strong's as follows-
5303. nephiyl, nef-eel'; or nephil, nef-eel'; from H5307; prop., a feller[*], i.e. a bully or tyrant:--giant.
*Main Entry: 4fellFunction: adjective
Etymology: Middle English fel, from Middle French, from Old French -- more at FELON
1 a : FIERCE, CRUEL, TERRIBLE b : SINISTER, MALEVOLENT fell
purpose> c : very destructive : DEADLY fell disease>  -- Webster's OnlineSo rather than being perhaps physical giants, in contrast to the meek people of god, these people were rebellious bullies and tyrants, forceful in character and great in their sins. This same phrase of "giants" is also used to describe the Canaanites following the exodus (Num 13:33). Again, this probably referred to their godless and lawless character, as much as their physical stature.
Gen 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The fault here is laid squarely on the wickedness of the people themselves. The first part of this verse is a restatement of the first part of verse 4. As a result of choosing godless women, men were turned away from God as well, and sin and wickedness flourished. God was rejected, and forgotten.
Gen 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Sin became so great, that God had to bring the flood on them, to cleanse the earth of such great wickedness.
Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Gen 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Noah was the exception, and he was given the task to build the ark, that would be the refuge from the flood for those obedient to God.
So, now back to the popular story about this passage. Based on a very narrow interpretation of the phrase "sons of God" as found here in Genesis, and bolstered by Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; and Psalms 29:1; 82:6, the case is made that this is referring to heavenly beings/angels that interbred with women, causing a ghastly mixed breed of creatures that God had to destroy.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
The above verses make clear that phrase "sons of God" applies to anyone with faith. Note how the righteous 144,000 are described
Rev 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
"Not defiled with women" alludes back to Genesis 6 and the sons of God and the daughters of men. The 144,000 walk with God just like Noah, and are not defiled by the great whore of Revelation 17, or her harlot daughters, which are symbolic of apostasy.
So the angelic interbreeding story appears to be nothing more than an attempt to put the blame on angels rather than man. The passage in Genesis 6 speaks only to the wickedness of humanity, and places no blame at all on angels. Humanity had turned their back on God, and did it on such a scale that God was moved to destroy them. Yet, God in His mercy, amid all the wickedness, still did not act hastily to exact his judgment. He gave humanity a period of probation. A time of 120 years, during which Noah could preach the message of God, of repentance and faith. ....
Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
Luke 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.



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9/11, Benedict XVI and Regensburg

Shealah Craighead / White House Photo
 

by George Weigel ....
 
In the flood of commentary surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I found but one reference to a related anniversary of considerable importance: the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Lecture. That lecture, given the day after the fifth anniversary of 9/11 at the pope’s old university in Germany, identified the two key challenges to 21st-century Islam, if that faith of over a billion people is going to live within today’s world in something other than a condition of war. On the fifth anniversary of Regensburg, therefore, it’s worth reviewing what the Pope proposed, not least because the 9/11 anniversary commentary assiduously avoided the question that the Holy Father courageously confronted: the question of what-must-change in Islam in the future, to prevent an ongoing global war of Islam-against-the-rest.
Benedict XVI made two proposals at Regensburg.
Islam, he suggested, must find a way to affirm religious freedom as a fundamental human right that can be known by reason and that includes the right to change one’s religion”and it must find this “way” from within its own religious, legal, philosophical and theological resources. The question is not one of surrender to certain secularist conceptions of public life, any more than it was when Catholicism confronted political modernity and found a solution in the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom. The solution has to come from within, in what Christian theology would call a “development of doctrine.”
Secondly, Islam must find a way”again, from within its own religious and intellectual resources”to affirm a distinction between religious and political authority in a just state. This need not and indeed cannot mean a radical “wall of separation” between the two, based on some (mis)conceptions of the American constitutional order. It might mean something like what the Catholic Church did during the late 20th century, when Catholic scholars reached back into the fifth century and rediscovered a traditional distinction between priestly and imperial authority: a tradition whose deepest roots go back to the Lord’s own distinction between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God (Matthew 15:21).

Despite their being largely ignored during the 9/11 anniversary,
these do seem to be the two key issues. An Islam that affirms religious freedom, including conversion from one faith to another, and that buttresses that affirmation through its own religious self-understanding and the arts of reason, is an Islam with which “the rest” can live at ease, and in enriching ways. An Islam in which religious and political authority are distinct, if related, is an Islam in which a genuinely civil society can begin to take root”and a robust civil society is one barrier against the corrupt authoritarianism that has bedeviled Islamic countries for centuries. A robust civil society in which there is room for religious freedom and multiple political perspectives is also essential to realizing the promise of today’s “Arab Spring””which could give birth to a hot summer and a bitter winter if its chief accomplishment is to effect a change from secular political authoritarianism to religiously-warranted political authoritarianism.
What hit the United States on 9/11 was not a “tragedy,” despite the ubiquitous and virtually universal misuse of that word in the 10th”anniversary commentary. What hit New York and Washington was evil unleashed from within an intra-Islamic civil war that had been going on for decades. And at the center of that civil war is a contest over whether Islam can embrace such modern political ideas as inalienable human rights (that can be known by reason, and thus by everyone) and the separation of powers within governments.
If the answer to that question is “No,” then the cycle of war between Islam and “the rest” that has ebbed and flowed since the seventh-century will continue. If the answer is “yes,” then that answer will have to come from within Islam, not by a process in which Islamic societies radically secularize. Pope Benedict XVI was insightful enough, and courageous enough, to say this at Regensburg. It’s about time the world paid attention.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ambassador warns of ISIS threat for Pope Francis' Albania visit

untitled
 
 
Published September 16, 2014
 
Sept. 14, 2014: Pope Francis waves from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square during his Sunday Angelus, at the Vatican. (AP)
Iraq’s Ambassador to the Holy See is warning that Pope Francis could be targeted by ISIS militants ahead of the pontiff’s first visit to Albania this weekend.
The Vatican is not beefing up security to protect Francis during his upcoming trip to the majority Muslim country on Sunday, despite warnings from Habeeb Al Sadr, who said there are credible threats against the pope’s life, according to an Italian newspaper cited in The Telegraph.
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The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said Monday that Francis would use the same open-topped vehicle he uses in St. Peter's Square when he greets crowds in the poor Balkan nation. Vatican security officials are "calm" ahead of the 11-hour visit, he said.
Lombardi said that while there is general concern about the Islamic State threat, "there are no specific threats or risks that would change the pope's behavior or the way the trip is organized."
But Al Sadr says the pope has made himself a target by speaking out against ISIS and the atrocities suffered by Christians in Iraq and Syria.
"What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the pope. The threats against the pope are credible," he told La Nazione on Tuesday, according to The Telegraph. "I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of ISIL who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians.”
Francis has said he wanted to visit Albania to highlight the rebirth of Christianity that was brutally wiped out during communist rule, and to showcase how Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims are working together now to govern the country.
Italian news reports, citing unnamed sources, have said Albanian law enforcement had flagged to Interpol concerns that Muslim militants who trained in Iraq and Syria had returned and might pose a threat to Francis.
Francis' decision to visit tiny Albania before any major European capital is in keeping with his desire for the church to go to the "periphery." It also confirms his desire to encourage once-persecuted Christian communities.
Like other religions, Catholicism suffered gravely under Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha, who declared Albania the world's first atheist state in 1967. Many Catholics were killed, tortured, imprisoned or sent to labor camps. The ban on religions ended in the early 1990s and St. John Paul II visited in 1993.
During his brief visit, Francis will address Albanian authorities and an interreligious gathering, celebrate Mass in a square named for Albania's most famous Catholic — Mother Teresa — and greet children cared for by charitable groups.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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"I answered [the terrorists] immediately, I was born Christian and if that leads me to death, I prefer to die a Christian.”


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.... Khiria Al-Kas Isaac is a 54-year-old Iraqi Christian woman, whose testimony will move you to tears. I am utterly impressed by her bravery.
Islamic Jihadists just invaded her village of Qaraqosh. She expected death, as they demanded she convert to Islam or die. Khiria survived, as she consistently said: "I answered [the terrorists] immediately, I was born Christian and if that leads me to death, I prefer to die a Christian.” Quoting from Matthew 10:33, she said: "Jesus said: 'Whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven'.”
Such bravery. You can read the full interview here.
Khiria is not alone. Like Khiria, another 46 Christian women were separated from their families. None which renounced their faith. They were whipped and further beaten for 10 days as the terrorists sought their 'conversion'. "All of us were crying but refused to convert,” says Khiria who cannot sleep because of nightmares stemming from her captivity. That's firmness. That's faith. That's strength. Quite a contrast to the style of faith we live, often without persecution, or at least often without this type of persecution.
Testimonies from the refugee camps are also striking. 'They will kill us or sell us as sex slaves; we are the spoils of war,' said one of the Christian refugees, who is 5 months pregnant… "What will happen to my son?" She asked anxiously.
The harsh winter is approaching and they are still living in a tent. To make things worse, there is a reported outbreak of typhoid fever and volunteers fear a cholera epidemic.
Damien, this is an extreme situation. We must act.
Please help by calling on the European Union to provide immediate shelter to the persecuted Christians of Iraq. As a community, we cannot look away any longer.
We request, in addition to signing the petition, please also share it with your friends and family via email and social networks. The situation to Christians in Iraq is startling and appears overwhelming. We need to provide a solution. With your help, we can.
As I said in a previous e-mail, Damien, during the Italian Semester of chairmanship of the European Council, the Italian Government committed itself in defending and promoting religious freedom and in fighting violence and discrimination on religious grounds. As you may recall, it was the airplane of an Italian official that helped Meriam Ibrahim escape Sudan.
We now have the opportunity to lobby European institutions to demand concrete support for Christians in Iraq. Who will deal with the typhoid fever? Will deal with the cholera epidemic? Who will provide real shelter during the harsh winter? Who will step up and work towards providing asylum status, offering them the dignity they deserve?
My friend, Luca Volonte, the President of Novae Terrae Foundation (Italy) just announced that he will soon meet face to face with the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and leaders within the European Union. Furthermore, as soon this upcoming Monday, Luca is expected to present your petition signatures in Brussels.
In advance, we thank you for joining our efforts to ensure that Iraq Christians receive the dignity they deserve. We cannot look the other way when our brothers and sisters in Iraq are suffering.
Just another quick story. My colleague Luis Losada was recently in Mexico giving a speech about online activism and CitizenGO. He could not help but to talk about the situation in Iraq. Afterwards, a young girl came up to him with an amazing gesture. Obviously, being a young girl, she has very little. She doesn't have internet, she won't have a chance to sign this petition. She walked up to Luis and handed him her most precious and valuable item, a coin worth around $700 and said 'please make sure this goes towards Christians in Iraq.' Truly an amazing gesture.
She couldn't join our campaign via online activism -- so she gave everything. We are not asking for financial donations, just asking you donate a few minutes of your time to sign our petition and share it online. Send an email to some friend, or simply promote it on Facebook.
 
Luca will present your signature to MEP Brok, Chairman of the Foreign Affair Commission of the European Parliament. Currently we have 187,169 signatures. Please help us increase that number by Monday, so we can show strong support.

Warmest regards,
Gregory Mertz and the whole CitizenGO team

Sunday, September 14, 2014

'War is madness’: Pope Francis says WWIII is happening already






Pope Francis has compared the current situation internationally to a third World War “fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres and destruction.” Calling wars irrational, the Pontiff lamented conflicts are often “justified by an ideology.”


"War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying," Francis said while visiting Italy’s largest war memorial Saturday. "Greed, intolerance, the lust for power. These motives underlie the decision to go to war and they are too often..."
"War is madness” which “ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers” the Pope said as he recalled the Genesis story of how Cain killed his brother Abel.


"Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep," Francis said in the homily of a Mass.






Francis has also spoken during a mass at the Italian First World War memorial at Fogliano di Redipuglia, in northern Italy, where more than 100,000 fallen Italian soldiers are believed to be buried in the military graveyard.
“Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war. Today, too, the victims are many,” the Pope said.
"Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres and destruction," Francis said. “And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, ‘What does it matter to me?’”


In the past few months, Francis has repeatedly called for the end of military conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza and throughout Africa.


In July, he also made an emotional appeal to the world, calling to stop war, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine, saying that the children who live in conflict zones are suffering most and are deprived of hope and a future.


During his visit to Korea in August, the Pope said that humanity was in the midst of a Third World War.
“Today we are in a world at war everywhere. A man said to me, ‘Father, we are in World War III, but spread out in small pockets everywhere.’ He was right,” Francis said at the time.




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