Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Storm Sets Off Frantic Rush ... - Yeshiva World News

Good luck buying lanterns, generators, propane, or ? if you?re really unprepared ? rain boots and batteries in areas in the path of Hurricane Sandy as it bears down on the U.S. East Coast.

The approach of the gigantic storm ? expected to come ashore Monday night ? set off a scramble this weekend for supplies from Virginia to New England, causing long lines at gas stations, bare shelves at hardware and home-supply shops, and a run on bread, bottled water and canned foods at grocery stores.

Big population centers including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Boston were in the hurricane?s path.

Gas pumps along the Berlin Turnpike in Newington, Connecticut, were covered with plastic bags.

?It?s been crazy. We?re the only one open who still has gas,? said Karen Tripodi a customer service representative at Cumberland Farms in Newington. ?They?re coming in for propane, ice, water, milk and cigarettes.?

At a Lowe?s store in Bowie, Maryland, the hot-selling items included generators, batteries, sandbags, sand, water, emergency radios, tarps, dry ice, lanterns, plywood, gas cans, propane, rain boots and rain suits.

Manager Eric Williams said, ?It seems to be a very busy day, but controlled.?

At Cosey Beach, Connecticut, which was under an evacuation order, homeowners scrambled to pack and board up windows.

?I can?t imagine what kind of damage this will do,? said Melissa Stone as she helped her father prepare to leave his home. ?It makes me sick, I can?t even think about it.?

Forecasters described the ?super storm? as a rare hybrid created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself around a tropical storm, possibly dumping up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in some areas, as well as heavy snowfall inland.

On its current projected track, Sandy is most likely to make landfall between in the New York/New Jersey area and head inland toward Philadelphia, forecasters said. Many of the 50 million people in the storm?s path seemed to be paying attention and attempting to prepare.

Authorities expected widespread power outages, and many residents wanted generators to keep their homes with power in the event downed power lines leave their neighborhoods without electricity. Flashlights and batteries also were in demand.

The storm was expected to play havoc with road, rail and air transportation. New York City?s subway, bus and train service will be suspended on Sunday evening. Only once before have transportation officials taken such a step, when Hurricane Irene slammed the city in 2011.

John Fallon, store manager at Port Annapolis Marina in Annapolis, Maryland, had a crew of at least eight people working to get boats out of the water, tie them down and remove sales and canvasses. ?Today has been absolutely frantic,? Fallon said.



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Ennis and Farah acclaimed by Athletics Writers ? Sports Journalists ...

From the BAWA

Neil Wilson, the Daily Mail?s retiring athletics correspondent, in conversation at yesterday?s BAWA lunch with Charles van Commenee, UK Athletics? former head coach, and Laura Williamson, the Mail?s new athletics reporter

Olympic champions Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis were named athletes of the year by the British Athletics Writers? Association at the organisation?s 50th annual awards staged in London yesterday.

It is the third year in succession that these two athletes have picked up the British athletics writers? top prize.

Neither winner could be present at the lunchtime ceremony at London?s Tower Hotel, but Ennis? coach Toni Minichiello was there to accept his athlete?s award on her behalf, while Alan Watkinson, the school teacher who discovered and nurtured the teenaged Mo Farah, collected the men?s award for his former pupil.

Farah first won the award in 2006 and dominated voting for the John Rodda Award this year after his thrilling double victory over 5,000m and 10,000m at the London Olympic Games. Olympic long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford was runner-up and high jumper Robbie Grabarz was third after winning a bronze medal in London.

Farah, 29, has now won the BAWA men?s award more times than any other athlete, moving ahead of all-time greats Lynn Davies, Sebastian Coe and Jonathan Edwards who were all triple winners.

?What a year I have had,? Farah told the audience via a video link. ?I can?t believe I have become double Olympic champion, I never thought it would happen in London. It has just been an amazing year.

?Thank you for your all your support, without it I do not think I could have managed.?

Ennis retained the Cliff Temple Award for female athlete of the year, which she has held since 2009. The 26-year-old from Sheffield was a comfortable winner of the 2012 vote after her emphatic and emotional heptathlon victory in London, which kick-started Britain?s golden hour in the Olympic Stadium on ?Super Saturday?. Ennis also won a pentathlon silver medal at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March.

Sandy Sutherland, the BAWA chairman, with Olympic triple jump bronze medal-winner Yamile Aldama

Christine Ohuruogu was runner-up in the vote after winning a silver medal over 400m at London 2012, while the world indoor triple jump champion, Yamil? Aldama, was third. Ohuruogu was female athlete of the year in 2007 and 2008.

With four BAWA awards to her name, Ennis is now equal with fellow multi-eventer Denise Lewis, the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion, and one behind Paula Radcliffe who was athlete of the year five times between 1999 and 2005.

Aldama?s triple jump victory in Istanbul also earned the 40-year-old east London resident BAWA?s 2012 Inspiration Award given in recognition of an athlete who made an outstanding performance in a single event, performed well against the odds, or is retiring after a long and distinguished career.

Aldama broke the world masters record to win world indoor gold in March then battled back from a shoulder injury to finish fifth at the Olympic Games.

The season?s sprint sensation Adam Gemili won the Jim Coote Memorial Award for junior men. The east Londoner ended his first full season in the sport as world junior 100m champion, British junior record-holder and silver medallist at the British senior championships where he won a place on the British Olympic team.

The Lillian Board Memorial Award for junior women went to Katarina Johnson-Thompson who won the world junior long jump title in Barcelona before finishing 15th in the heptathlon at London 2012. The Liverpudlian set four personal bests at the Olympics and broke the British junior record twice in 2012.

Wheelchair racer David Weir won a special award for Outstanding Achievement by a Paralympic Athlete, a category introduced by the athletics writers to mark the success of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Weir won four gold medals at London 2012 just a few months after claiming a record-equalling sixth London Marathon victory.

The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics was presented to veteran athletics writer Mel Watman, a founder member of the British Athletics Writers? Association and the organisation?s honorary president. Watman, a former editor of Athletics Weekly and author of numerous books on the sport, is now co-editor of the highly respected newsletter, Athletics International.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Note's Must-Reads for Friday October 26, 2012

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Carrie Halperin, Jayce Henderson and Danielle Genet


ABC News' Gary Langer: " Romney Hits the 50 Percent Mark, With a Clear Edge on the Economy" Mitt Romney has seized further advantage on economic

issues at the core of the 2012 campaign, taking him to 50 percent support among likely voters vs. 47 percent for Barack Obama - Romney's highest vote-preference result of the contest to date. The difference between the two candidates is within the margin of sampling error in the latest ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll, and their individual support levels have not significantly changed. LINK

USA Today's Susan Page: " Poll: An Obama comeback, but a Romney edge on debates" President Obama was the runaway winner of the presidential debate on foreign policy this week, a nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. But Republican rival Mitt Romney edges him when voters assess which candidate did a better job in their three debates overall. LINK

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen and Rosalind Helderman: " Poll shows widening racial gap in presidential contest" The 2012 election is shaping up to be more polarized along racial lines than any presidential contest since 1988, with President Obama experiencing a steep drop in support among white voters from four years ago. At this stage in 2008, Obama trailed Republican John McCain by seven percentage points among white voters. Even in victory, Obama ended up losing white voters by 12 percentage points, according to that year's exit poll. LINK


ABC News' Gregory J. Krieg: " Obama Casts Early Vote and Reminds Dems of 2000 Recount" President Obama took a break from a marathon blitz of swing states today to cast an early ballot in his home town of Chicago, making him the first sitting president to vote in-person before Election Day. "I can't tell you who I'm voting for," he told supporters at a rally in Tampa, Fla., earlier in the day. LINK

Boston Globe's Bobby Caina Calvan: " President Obama, Mitt Romney wooing early voters" Republicans learned the lesson the hard way: In the new arithmetic of presidential politics, counting on Election Day votes doesn't always add up to victory. In 2008, John McCain won the majority of votes cast at the polls that day in the crucial states of North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, and Colorado, but his victory margin was wiped out by support for Barack Obama among the millions of voters who cast ballots early. LINK


The Hill's Justin Sink and Keith Laing: " Working-class voters could be the key to Romney's chances in Ohio" White, working-class voters in Ohio are supporting President Obama at higher levels than in other swing states, making it tougher for Mitt Romney to catch the incumbent in perhaps the most vital of all battlegrounds. Even as the GOP nominee has inched ahead in polls of swing states like North Carolina, Florida and Colorado, Romney has been unable to crack Obama's slim but steady advantage in polls of the Buckeye State. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr.: " On One Ohio Street, Voters Weary of Election Promises" Long before Ted and Linda Prues planted a Mitt Romney sign in their front yard, they were Midwestern Democrats, and then some. "I was a raging liberal, a real bra-burner," said Ms. Prues, 65 years old, the daughter of a local Teamster. LINK

USA Today's Kevin A. Kepple, Julie Snider and Maureen Linke: " Can Ohio's better days help Obama?" The economy is bouncing back in what may be ground zero of the presidential campaign, but not everyone credits the president. Unemployment in Stark County, a bellwether county in the hardest-fought state in the nation, just dropped to 6.5%. Manufacturing is booming. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook: " Romney Team Goes All-Out in Buckeye State" Mitt Romney is making a full-court press to win Ohio and taking a page from George W. Bush's playbook to do so. Signaling the state is a must-have part of his strategy to win the White House, Mr. Romney and his running mate are returning again and again-Mr. Romney crammed in three appearances Thursday. LINK


Politico's Glenn Thrush and Jennifer Epstein: " Momentum Wars" In the past 10 days, Mitt Romney's campaign has gone from Big Mo to Slow Mo. Like a shark that must swim forward and fast, the Romney campaign needs to maintain its forward momentum - and its heady narrative of an irresistible finish-line surge - despite an increasing pile of polling data pointing to a race that has stabilized since Barack Obama's disastrous performance at the Oct. 3rd debate in Denver. LINK

The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore and JO Craven McGinty: " Obama, Romney and Their Parties on Track to Raise $2 Billion" President Obama and Mitt Romney are both on pace to raise more than $1 billion with their parties by Election Day, according to financial disclosures filed by the campaigns on Thursday. From the beginning of 2011 through Oct. 17, Mr. Obama and the Democrats raised about $1.06 billion, and Mr. Romney and the Republicans collected $954 million, including some money for the party's Congressional efforts, setting up 2012 to be the most expensive presidential campaign in history. LINK


" Massachusetts Race Could Decide Who Controls the Senate" LINK " President Obama and Mitt Romney Battle for Ohio" LINK " Hillary Clinton Recalls Pregnancy, Creating Maternity Leave" LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK The Must-Reads Online: LINK Top Line Webcast (12noon EST M-F): LINK ABC News Politics: LINK The Political Punch (Jake Tapper): LINK George's Bottom Line (George Stephanopoulos): LINK Follow ABC News on Twitter: LINK ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News app on your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad: LINK

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The Biggest Loser a big turnoff

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Biggest Loser might be a TV ratings winner, but its extreme depiction of exercise is more likely to turn people off than get them off the couch, according to new research from the University of Alberta.

Researchers in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation found that watching a short video clip of the Biggest Loser fuelled negative attitudes toward exercise, raising further questions about how physical activity is shown in the popular media.

"The depictions of exercise on shows like The Biggest Loser are really negative," said lead author Tanya Berry, Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity Promotion. "People are screaming and crying and throwing up, and if you're not a regular exerciser you might think this is what exercise is?that it's this horrible experience where you have to push yourself to the extremes and the limits, which is completely wrong."

In the study, 138 undergraduate students from the U of A were split into two groups. One group watched a seven-minute clip?chosen for its extreme depiction of exercise?from early in The Biggest Loser's ninth season, when competitors were struggling with obesity. A control group watched a segment from the reality show American Idol.

Immediately after viewing the clips, participants from both groups were asked to write down their first five thoughts. Students also completed a computer test that measured their automatic attitudes about exercise before they had time to think about the question, plus a hand-written questionnaire.

"We did find that the people who watched The Biggest Loser had worse attitudes about physical activity than those who watched the American Idol clip," said Berry, adding that the results were consistent no matter participants' physical activity levels or weight.

Berry said the results debunk the belief held by some researchers and many in the popular media that shows like The Biggest Loser can be motivational and get people off the couch. In fact, the negative portrayals of exercise are counterproductive to public health campaigns.

"There's a lot of effort and good work out there just to get people more active, but it's such a small voice in this big wash of different depictions of exercise. It's a big mess."

Berry's research team is now working on a further study that focuses on followup episodes of the Biggest Loser that feature participants who have lost weight, are physically fit and enjoy exercise. Those results should be published next year.


The current study, to be published in the January 2013 issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior

University of Alberta:

Thanks to University of Alberta for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

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Riverdale eases pool setback ordinance

Riverdale?s ordinance governing placement of swimming pools, spas and hot tubs is now less restrictive.

City staff reviewed similar ordinances from other Utah cities and found that Riverdale?s was ?excessive as far as where a pool could be located on a residential lot,? according to an executive summary prepared by Randy Daily, community development director.

A recent inquiry from a resident led city staff to review the ordinance, which required pools to be 35 feet from the property line.

Layton and Lehi require that pools are no closer than 4 feet to a property line. Clearfield and Clinton require a 5-foot setback from property lines. Syracuse?s restriction is 8 feet, and South Ogden requires 10 feet.

The ordinance applies to both in-ground and above-ground pools, swim spas and hot tubs.

The new ordinance allows pools in the rear yards to be 7 feet from any interior property line and completely off easements. The ordinance also encourages pool covers and calls for a 6-foot-high fence to enclose all outside family swimming pools.

?It?s a good ordinance, and does ease up a little bit the setback requirements for swimming pools,? Daily said.

City Councilman Norm Searle said the city?s nuisance ordinance could govern ?raucous? pool parties that disturb the neighbors.


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Powerful Sandy Reaches Cuba (Voice Of America)

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Travel Agents Could Become Obsolete - Business Insider

Airlines are testing out a new ticket initiative to compete with websites, which could go in effect by 2016.?

The plan, in which airlines solicit info to create a personalized ticket with bundled in items like bag-check and meals, could signal the demise of travel agents as well.

According to The Flight Deal, a blog that tracks fares, "travel agents now depend on selling airfare as a means of upselling additional products like hotels where commissions still exist."

But these days, "consumers do not need travel agents for the traditional tonnage business of booking simple itineraries as airline websites and online travel agencies have filled that need."?

With the advent of personalized tickets, consumers might not see a need for agents at all.?

"Their business will suffer greatly," predicts Flight Deal, "unless they can move up the value chain. They need to be true value adds like the Virtuoso agent network, which provides booking for high-end, customized experiences where the agent's knowledge trumps the technology."

However, they shouldn't write off these bricks-and-mortar agents just yet as they're still useful for booking certain kinds of trips. As U.S. News' Daniel Bortz has?pointed out, travel agents come equipped with a deep Rolodex of sales associates and bookers, first-hand experience from their own personal travels, and knowledge of an area or service that can be tougher to find online if it's relatively niche or in a small country.?

"You'll pay a fee to have a travel agent do something," says Brett Snyder, an expert who blogs at The Cranky Flier, but "they generally focus on tours, land packages and things where they can actually make a living."

However, if these services fall by the wayside, consumers risk losing out on one of the best ways to find cheap fares to certain countries, learn about its culture from people who may have lived there and possibly receive better service than they'd get from an online booking agent. As The New York Times' Seth Kugel found out, travel agents beat sites on all counts.?

Now check out how a personal finance editor books a cheap trip to Ireland >?


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Romney on economy: Obama 'made the problem worse'

AMES, Iowa (AP) ? Seizing on fresh evidence of economic sluggishness, Republican challenger Mitt Romney said Friday that President Barack Obama inherited a bad situation when he took office and then "made the problem worse." Obama campaigned from the White House 11 days before the election after a wearying, 40-hour circuit of battleground states.

Romney was unsparing in his criticism of the man he hopes to unseat. "Despite all that he inherited, President Obama did not repair our economy, he did not save Medicare and Social Security, he did not tame the spending and borrowing, he did not reach across the aisle to bring us together," the former Massachusetts governor said.

"Four years ago, America voted for a post-partisan president, but they have seen the most political of presidents, and a Washington in gridlock because of it," he added.

The Republican challenger borrowed a theme from Obama's successful 2008 campaign, saying he and running mate Paul Ryan "can bring real change to this country." And he tweaked a line that former President Bill Clinton unveiled at this summer's Democratic National Convention, saying, "This is not the time to double-down on trickle-down government policies that have failed us."

Democrats delighted in pointing out that Romney spoke outside Kinzler Construction Services, which benefitted from more than $650,000 in stimulus funding from the 2009 package Obama that signed into law ? and the Republican nominee often criticizes.

Romney campaigned in Iowa and Ohio as national polls showed a tight race. Though his aides claimed momentum, citing recent polls, Obama's team said the president led or was tied in each of the nine battleground states where the two sides have concentrated hundreds of millions of dollars in television commercials over the past five months.

Back in the White House after his long day and night and day of campaigning, Obama said he looked forward to trying to reach a deal with congressional Republicans on a sweeping budget deal if he wins re-election. Asked by radio show host Michael Smerconish if he would make the first move, the president replied, "I've said I'll do whatever's required to get this done.

"And I think the key that the American people want right now is for us to tackle some big challenges that we face in a commonsense, balanced, sensible way." That was a reference to one of his biggest differences with Romney ? his insistence that tax cuts be allowed to expire at upper incomes on Dec. 31, as opposed to Romney's insistence that they be extended.

Obama has been under pressure from Romney in recent days to be more specific about a second-term agenda, and he released a 20-page pamphlet earlier this week. He also had interviews with MTV and several battleground-state television stations on his schedule for the day.

The two sides disagreed ? of course ? on whether the political battlefield was expanding.

First Romney, then Obama, launched a modest run of television ads in Minnesota, where neither side had made a significant effort to date. The Republican's aides claimed an opportunity to make a state competitive that had long been counted as safe for Obama. The president's side disputed that, insisting that its ads were aimed at voters in Wisconsin, the battleground next door.

Obama's strategists appeared concerned about the impact of Romney's persistent attacks on the president's position on Israel, airing a commercial in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area, home to a large number of Jewish voters. "As long as I'm president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon," the president vows in the ad, addressing fears that Tehran would attempt to obliterate the Jewish state.

The ad's subject matter, foreign policy, was a rarity in a campaign for the White House focused largely on the economy and jobs.

Romney vows to put his experience as a businessman to use to create 12 million jobs in four years in a country where unemployment only recently fell below 8 percent for the first time since Obama took office. The president claims progress during his term on fixing the economy, though conceding it hasn't been fast enough, and says Romney's policies would only make matters worse.

There was little indication that the economy was gathering much momentum, based on a Commerce Department report during the day, which said growth from July through September was slightly faster than a 2 percent annual rate. Growth so far this year is slightly less than in 2011, which was weaker than 2010. Officials said the current annual rate is too slow to bring a rapid boost in job creation.

Not all economy-related soundings were negative.

A prominent measure of consumer confidence, calculated by the University of Michigan, rose to its highest level since September 2007, three months before the nation's economy cratered and the credit system virtually shut down.

Romney's aides billed his remarks as a speech about the economy although it was more political than that.

"Four years ago, candidate Obama spoke to the scale of the times. Today, he shrinks from it, trying instead to distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest, from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false," he said.

"And then, where are the jobs? Where are the 9 million more jobs that President Obama promised his stimulus would have created by now? They are in China, Mexico, Canada" and elsewhere, he said.

The Republican's statement that it was no time to "double down on trickle down government policies" was eerily like Clinton's criticism at the Democratic convention. "We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down," the former president said, referring to policies he said Republicans had tried in the past with poor results.

The Romney campaign moved swiftly to try to lay one controversy to rest.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu suggested in an interview on Thursday that retired Secretary of State Colin Powell had endorsed Obama because both are black. Sununu later issued a statement that said, "I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the president's policies."


Associated Press writers Michele Salcedo and Martin Crutsinger in Washington and Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this story. Espo reported from Washington.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Complete mitochondrial genome sequences of ancient New Zealanders

ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2012) ? In a landmark study, University of Otago researchers have achieved the feat of sequencing complete mitochondrial genomes for members of what was likely to be one of the first groups of Polynesians to settle New Zealand and have revealed a surprising degree of genetic variation among these pioneering voyagers.

The Otago researchers' breakthrough means that similar DNA detective work with samples from various modern and ancient Polynesian populations might now be able to clear up competing theories about the pathways of their great migration across the Pacific to New Zealand.

Results from the team's successful mapping of complete mitochondrial genomes of four of the Rangitane iwi tupuna (ancestors) who were buried at a large village on Marlborough's Wairau Bar more than 700 years ago will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Study director Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith explains that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is only inherited through the mother's side and can be used to trace maternal lineages and provide insights into ancient origins and migration routes.

"We found that three of the four individuals had no recent maternal ancestor in common, indicating that these pioneers were not simply from one tight-knit kin group, but instead included families that were not directly maternally related. This gives a fascinating new glimpse into the social structure of the first New Zealanders and others taking part in the final phases of the great Polynesian migration across the Pacific."

The researchers discovered that the four genomes shared two unique genetic markers found in modern Maori while also featuring several previously unidentified Polynesian genetic markers. Intriguingly, they also discovered that at least one of the settlers carried a genetic mutation associated with insulin resistance, which leads to Type 2 diabetes.

"Overall, our results indicate that there is likely to be significant mtDNA variation among New Zealand's first settlers. However, a lack of genetic diversity has previously been characterised in modern-day Maori and this was thought to reflect uniformity in the founding population.

"It may be rather that later decimation caused by European diseases was an important factor, or perhaps there is actually still much more genetic variation today that remains to be discovered. Possibly, it may have been missed due to most previous work only focusing on a small portion of the mitochondrial genome rather than complete analyses like ours."

Professor Matisoo-Smith and colleagues including ancient DNA analysis expert Dr Michael Knapp used Otago's state-of-the-art ancient DNA research facilities to apply similar techniques that other scientists recently employed to sequence the Neanderthal genome.

"We are very excited to be the first researchers to successfully sequence complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient Polynesian samples. Until the advent of next generation sequencing techniques, the highly degraded state of DNA in human remains of this age has not allowed such genomes to be sequenced," she says.

Now that the researchers have identified several unique genetic markers in New Zealand's founding population, work can begin to obtain and sequence other ancient and modern DNA samples from Pacific islands and search for these same markers.

"If such research is successful, this may help identify the specific island homelands of the initial canoes that arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand 700 years ago," she says.

This research is the most recent output from the Wairau Bar Research Group, a collaboration between Otago researchers and Rangitane-ki-Wairau. The Otago research team is led by archaeologist Professor Richard Walter (Department of Anthropology and Archaeology), and biological anthropologists Associate Professor Hallie Buckley and Professor Matisoo-Smith (Department of Anatomy).

Background information

First excavated over 70 years ago, the Wairau Bar site is one of the most important archaeological sites in New Zealand because of its age and the range of material found there.

It is the site of a fourteenth century village occupied by some of the first generations of people who settled New Zealand. The material excavated from the site, most of which is now cared for in the collections at Canterbury Museum, provided the first conclusive evidence that New Zealand was originally settled from East Polynesia.

This discovery was first reported to the NZ public in 1950 by the late Dr Roger Duff, Director of Canterbury Museum, in his ground breaking book The Moahunter Period of Maori Culture. The principal evidence for his conclusions was in the artefacts found; however, the site also contained a large number of human burials.

Between 1938 and 1959 a total of 44 graves were excavated from the site and the grave contents taken to Canterbury Museum for study. For many years Marlborough Iwi, Rangitane, sought to have the remains repatriated so they could be reburied in the site and an agreement was reached with Canterbury Museum.

The reburial took place in April 2009, following earlier archaeological investigations of the site undertaken in collaboration with Rangitane.

A University of Otago-led multidisciplinary team of scientists have been analysing tooth samples recovered from the koiwi tangata (human remains) of the Rangitane iwi tupuna prior to their reburial. This work includes studies of the diet and health of the tupuna.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Otago.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Knapp, K. Ann Horsburgh, Stefan Prost, Jo-Ann Stanton, Hallie Buckley, Richard Walter, and Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith. Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences from the first New Zealanders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1209896109

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Video: Two-legged robot ?walks? a tightrope

21 hrs.

Researchers have modified a two-legged hobby-kit robot with the balance and dexterity required to inch its way along a thin?steel wire.?

Japanese robotics researcher Masahiko Yamaguchi, who goes by the name Dr. Guero, modified the $1,800 hobby kit robot with grooves in its feet to catch the wire, akin to the way human tightrope walkers do with their toes, according to Gizmag.?

The arms have fewer moving parts than the original to provide greater stability.

Instead of walking ? that is putting one foot in front of the other ? the robot inches its way across the wire, which is about an eighth of an inch thick. Walking with alternating feet, Dr. Guero notes on his website, should be possible, but will require more work.

No word on whether the robot will walk a wire between skyscrapers akin to Philippe Petit's 1974?stunt between the World Trade Center towers featured in the Academy Award winning "Man on Wire," but given the robot's nerves-of-steel such a feat should be as easy as cruising over table inside a lab.

Visit Dr. Guero?s website (in Japanese) to view more of his creations, including a robot that can ride a bike. ?

? via Gizmag

John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.


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FACT CHECK: Flunking geography, history

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Voters didn't always get the straight goods when President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made their case for foreign policy and national security leadership Monday night before their last super-sized audience of the campaign. A few of their detours into domestic issues were problematic too.

Romney flubbed Middle East geography. Obama got Romney's record as Massachusetts governor wrong.

At the same time, they injected a little more accuracy into two leading misstatements of the campaign: Romney's claim for months that Obama went around apologizing for America, and the president's assertion, going back to his State of the Union address in January, that the U.S. military's exit from Afghanistan will yield money to rebuild America.

A look at some of their statements and how they compare with the facts:

ROMNEY: "Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations, and on Arabic TV, you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations."

OBAMA: "Nothing Gov. Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of this campaign. And every fact checker and every reporter who's looked at it, governor, has said this is not true."

THE FACTS: Romney has indeed repeatedly and wrongly accused the president of traveling the world early in his presidency and apologizing for U.S. behavior. Obama didn't say "sorry" in those travels. But in this debate, Romney at last explained the context of his accusation: not that Obama apologized literally, but that he had been too deferential in his visits to Europe, Latin America and the Muslim world.

Obama said while abroad that the U.S. acted "contrary to our traditions and ideals" in its treatment of terrorist suspects, that "America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy," that the U.S. "certainly shares blame" for international economic turmoil and has sometimes "shown arrogance and been dismissive, even divisive" toward Europe. Yet he also praised America and its ideals.


OBAMA: "What I think the American people recognize is, after a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools."

THE FACTS: If Romney's "apology tour" was a campaign whopper, so has been Obama's repeated claim that ending expensive wars meant the U.S. now has money to spend at home. There is no such peace dividend because the wars were financed largely by borrowing.

Yet Obama, too, watched his words a little more carefully Monday night, with his milder suggestion that "some resources" are freed up. That's a more plausible point, if only because U.S. "resources" include the ability to continue to go deeper in debt, but for the purpose of fixing roads, bridges and the like, instead of for making war.


ROMNEY: "Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea."

THE FACTS: Iran has a large southern coastline with access to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. And it has no land border with Syria.


ROMNEY: Said that when he was Massachusetts governor, high-school students who graduated in the top quarter "got a four-year, tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning."

OBAMA: "That happened before you came into office."

ROMNEY: "That was actually mine, actually, Mr. President. You got that fact wrong."

THE FACTS: Romney was right. The John and Abigail Adams scholarship program began in 2004 when he was governor.


ROMNEY: "I said that we would provide guarantees, and that was what was able to allow these (auto) companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstance would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry. Of course not. That's the height of silliness. I have never said I would liquidate the industry."

OBAMA: "Gov. Romney, you keep on trying to airbrush history here. You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn't true. They would have gone through a liquidation."

THE FACTS: It's true that Romney didn't preach liquidation of GM and Chrysler and that he saw his approach as a way to save the auto companies. But his was an improbable course. Opposing a government bailout, Romney instead favored private loans to finance the automakers' restructuring in bankruptcy court. His proposed government loan guarantees would only have come after the companies went through bankruptcy. At the time, however, both automakers were nearly out of cash and were bad credit risks. The banking system was in crisis and private money wasn't available. So without hefty government aid, the assets of both companies probably would have been sold in liquidation auctions.


ROMNEY on SYRIA: "What I'm afraid of is we've watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, 'Well, we'll let the U.N. deal with it.' And Assad ? excuse me, Kofi Annan ? came in and said we're going to try to have a cease-fire. That didn't work. Then it went to the Russians and said, 'Let's see if you can do something.' We should be playing the leadership role there."

OBAMA: "We are playing the leadership role."

THE FACTS: Under Obama, the United States has taken a lead in trying to organize Syria's splintered opposition, even if the U.S. isn't interested in military intervention or providing direct arms support to the rebels. The administration has organized dozens of meetings in Turkey and the Middle East aimed at rallying Syria's political groups and rebel formations to agree on a common vision for a democratic future after Syrian President Bashar Assad is defeated. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought dozens of nations together as part of the Friends of Syria group to combine aid efforts to Syria's opposition and help it win the support of as many as Syrians as possible. The U.S. also is involved in vetting recipients of military aid from America's Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Romney is partly right in pointing out Obama's failure to win U.N. support for international action in Syria. But the Friends of Syria group has helped bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance to Syrian civilians and the political opposition.


OBAMA: "What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East." THE FACTS: Obama was suggesting that he had never favored keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the December 2011 withdrawal deadline that the Bush administration had negotiated with the Iraqi government. Actually, the Obama administration tried for many months to win Iraqi agreement to keeping several thousand American troops there beyond 2011 to continue training and advising the Iraqi armed forces. The talks broke down over a disagreement on legal immunity for U.S. troops.


ROMNEY: "We have an enormous trade imbalance with China, and it's worse this year than last year and it's worse last year than the year before."

THE FACTS: That's true as far as it goes but the imbalance is far from unique to the Obama years. The U.S. has run a trade deficit with China since 1985 and the gap has widened nearly every year since. According to Chinese customs data, Beijing reported a $181.3 billion trade surplus with the United States in 2010. That grew to $202.3 billion last year. The surplus for the first nine months of this year was $161.9 billion, well ahead of the level at this point in 2011.


OBAMA: "You are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas. And, you know, that's your right. I mean, that's how our free market works."

THE FACTS: Bain Capital, the private equity company that Romney ran from 1984 to 2001, did invest in several companies that shifted American jobs and operations from the U.S. to China and other foreign nations. In one instance in 1998, Bain bought a 10 percent investment stake in Global-Tech, a Hong Kong firm that used mainland Chinese factories to make toasters and other appliances for U.S. manufacturers that were phasing out American operations and jobs. Romney held full Bain partnership stakes in that deal before the firm sold its holding later that year. Bain also invested in several firms that outsourced to Mexico in the early 2000s, but by then Romney had begun shifting away from Bain to a role running the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. And in almost all of these cases, it remains unclear how much oversight Bain had in the overseas shifts. The Romney campaign has said that Romney's holdings were mostly passive in nature, particularly after he left the firm.


ROMNEY: "In the 2000 debates, there was no mention of terrorism."

THE FACTS: There was passing mention of terrorism in the 2000 debates. In the Oct. 17, 2000, debate between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Gore talked about his work in Congress to "deal with the problems of terrorism and these new weapons of mass destruction." And in the vice presidential debate, Democrat Joe Lieberman defended the Clinton administration's record of preparing the armed forces to "meet the threats of the new generation of tomorrow, of weapons of mass destruction, of ballistic missiles, terrorism, cyber warfare." Romney's larger point, that the U.S. did not anticipate anything on the scale of terrorist threat that existed, is supported by the light attention paid to the subject in the debates.


Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper, Robert Burns, Tom Raum and Stephen Braun in Washington, Charles Hutzler in Beijing and Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ An occasional look at political claims that take shortcuts with the facts or don't tell the full story


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Monday, October 22, 2012

Arduino and Raspberry Pi: We need them in classrooms across the ...

Seta school kidIt is great being introduced to science and technology at a young age. Do you remember that moment you used a computer for the very first time, or the first time you played Tetris or Snake? How fascinating was that?

I have fond memories of my earliest encounter with a computer, it was a 386 PC and it ran Windows 3.1. I would spend days on end fiddling with the spreadsheet software and playing Minesweeper, trying to figure out how everything worked. It was those early moments with technology that ignited my love for computing and anything science related.

The world we live in is immensely dependent on technology and that means we require a more technically skilled workforce to produce and maintain the required technology.

Imagine if we could give school children cheap computers to play with, learn how to code, and hack some cool hardware projects. Teach them computer science and technology early on in their academic lives. Well, it is possible with the Raspberry Pi computer and the Aurdino microcontroller.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Computer Photo: Raspberry Pi Foundation

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV/monitor and has 2 usb ports. It?s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video.

The miniature Linux computer?comes in two models which retails at US $25 and US?$35, and ships with 256MB of on-board of RAM and a 700MHz ARM chip, and boots from an SD card with either the Fedora, Debian or ArchLinux distros installed. A schematic drawing is shown below.


Raspberry Pi Schematic Diagram

It is a simple computer stripped down to the bare minimums, which makes it perfect to be implemented in classrooms and to be used by hobbyists.







What is an Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software.


arduino Photo: Arduino Team

Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the?Arduino programming language?(based on?Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on?Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software running on a computer.

The Arduino can be used to make fun projects such as flashing LEDs, remote sensing projects, and even a plant that tweets when it needs watering. The possibilities are truly limited only by your imagination.

Arduino, unlike the Raspberry Pi, requires a bit of expertise, but it is fun to use and the possibility of building things that actually do something is amazing. An interesting and compelling example is that of a plant that can send a tweet when it needs water, as shown below.

Plant that can tweet when it needs water

Other great aurdino projects can be found here.

Why should we put them in classrooms?

Our current education curriculum focuses mainly on teaching students ICT skills; basically how to work with word processors and spreadsheets, how to switch a computer on and off, but no other true computing skills beyond that. I am not arguing against the importance of such skills, but we need to teach more computer science skills at an early age so that we equip students with a greater understand of what makes up a computer and eventually they can do their own hardware projects. We should teach students practical skills that they can later build upon in life.

Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from Estonia who recently made programming part of first grade education. With the Raspberry Pi computer it would be easy to overcome problems of cost and uniformity, since students all over the country would have a consistent environment to work on, and teachers would also have a consistent platform to teach against.

Essentially, the point I am making is that we need to include more computer science related content into the primary and secondary education curriculum, and the introduction of Raspberry Pi and Aurdino in the classroom would be a great starting point.

Related posts:

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  2. ?Free? Samsung Galaxy I9000 available at Econet for US $6,000 over 2 years
  3. SMS, USSD and the mobile web: Zimbabwe is not that country
  4. Re-live the Titanic?s story on Twitter
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

McGovern an unwavering, often unrequited, liberal

FILE - In this July 14, 1972 file photo, Sen. George S. McGovern makes his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach. At left is his running mate, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri, and at right, convention chairman Lawrence F. O'Brien. A family spokesman says, McGovern, the Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, has died at the age of 90. According to the spokesman, McGovern died Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at a hospice in Sioux Falls, surrounded by family and friends. (AP Photo)

FILE - In this July 14, 1972 file photo, Sen. George S. McGovern makes his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach. At left is his running mate, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri, and at right, convention chairman Lawrence F. O'Brien. A family spokesman says, McGovern, the Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, has died at the age of 90. According to the spokesman, McGovern died Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at a hospice in Sioux Falls, surrounded by family and friends. (AP Photo)

FILE - In this July 14, 1972 file photo, Sen. George S. McGovern with his wife, Eleanor, and Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton with his wife, Barbara Ann, stand before the Democratic National Convention delegates who chose them to try to capture the White House from President Richard Nixon in Miami. A family spokesman says, McGovern, the Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, has died at the age of 90. According to the spokesman, McGovern died Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at a hospice in Sioux Falls, surrounded by family and friends. (AP Photo)

FILE - In this June 1960 file photo, U.S. Rep. George McGovern, joins Sen. John F. Kennedy on the campaign trail in Sioux Falls, S.D. A family spokesman says, McGovern, the Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, has died at the age of 90. According to a spokesman, McGovern died Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at a hospice in Sioux Falls, surrounded by family and friends. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - This 1944 file photo provided by the McGovern family shows George McGovern when he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. A family spokesman says, McGovern, the Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, has died at the age of 90. According to a spokesman, McGovern died Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at a hospice in Sioux Falls, surrounded by family and friends. (AP Photo/McGovern Family, File)

FILE - In this March 25, 1974 file photo, U.S. Senator George McGovern,looks out an airplane window on a flight to Pierre, S.D., to begin a four-day campaign swing. A family spokesman says, McGovern, the Democrat who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, has died at the age of 90. According to a spokesman, McGovern died Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at a hospice in Sioux Falls, surrounded by family and friends. (AP Photo, File)

(AP) ? George McGovern was an unwavering, often unrequited advocate for liberal Democratic causes. He pursued those goals in plainspoken, usually understated, Midwestern style. He was a dedicated, decent man, a devoted Democrat even when the party establishment turned away from him in defeat.

He wasn't good at political gamesmanship. He suffered his worst blunders when he strayed from straight talk in his doomed 1972 presidential campaign. It didn't fit the man and it shook the credibility he treasured.

McGovern was a partisan without the poison that increasingly infected American politics. In his career-long quest for programs to feed the hungry, in the U.S. and worldwide, he worked in partnership with Bob Dole, a former Republican leader of the Senate, where they'd both served.

During his years of political retirement ? he lost his South Dakota Senate seat in 1980 ? McGovern remained active, lecturing, teaching and writing. He even waged a token presidential campaign in 1984. He'd also run briefly for the 1968 nomination after the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

In his 2011 book, "What It Means to Be a Democrat," he summed up his credo:

"Above all, being a Democrat means having compassion for others. ... It means standing up for people who have been kept down ..."

That was the essence of his program during four terms in the House, three in the Senate, and a doomed and crushed presidential campaign in 1972. By the time he was nominated for the White House, McGovern had been marginalized by rivals in his own party, who argued that he was too far left to be elected. That probably was so, but President Richard M. Nixon was the overwhelming favorite against any Democratic challenger.

McGovern got just 37 percent of the vote to Nixon's 61, carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Embittered, he considered whether to even stay in politics, especially as other Democrats made him a symbol of what ailed them and kept him off their stages. McGovernite became a label for losers. But he went back to the Senate, and within months he could joke ruefully about his landslide loss.

"I opened the doors of the Democratic Party and 20 million people walked out," McGovern later joked of his reform commission, which had broadened the nominating process, driven out the old party bosses and ultimately made the presidential primaries the arenas for choosing nominees of both parties.

There was nothing strident about McGovern; even when his words were harsh, his delivery tended to be bland. As a young man, he had been a warrior, and a heroic one. As a senator, he opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam from the beginning, in 1963. Arguing in 1970 for legislation to cut U.S. war spending and force troop withdrawal, he offended his colleagues by telling them, "This chamber reeks of blood," vehement words delivered in the matter-of-fact McGovern style. His 1972 presidential campaign proposals included withdrawal from Vietnam, amnesty for draft evaders and steep cuts in the Pentagon budget.

For a time, he also advocated a $1,000 tax grant to every American to replace complex welfare and income support programs, saying the needy could spend it and the wealthy would pay it back in taxes. It came with no numbers, no estimate of the cost, although McGovern claimed, against arithmetic and logic, that it would balance out at zero. He dropped that idea, but the Republicans never did.

That spoke to one of his chronic political problems. He was an idea man, not a manager. Witness the uncontrolled chaos of his nominating convention, dramatized when assorted Democratic interest groups spent so much time talking that McGovern did not get to deliver his own acceptance speech until 2:48 a.m., long after the TV audience had gone to bed.

But one of his best-remembered, and most unfortunate, lines came later ? after his unvetted selection of Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri as his running mate turned into a political disaster with the disclosure that Eagleton twice had undergone electric shock therapy for depression. McGovern said he was "1,000 percent" for Eagleton and wasn't dropping him from the ticket. But he had to. Then he had to shop for a running mate, with five Democrats declining before Sargent Shriver finally said yes.

So if there'd been any doubt about his outcome against Nixon, it was erased before the fall campaign even began. McGovern was frustrated because Nixon stayed at the White House and seldom campaigned at all. McGovern called him the most corrupt president in American history, as The Washington Post published a succession of Watergate disclosures. Nixon just denied it all.

The political pain would ease. More devastating was the death in 1994 of his daughter, Teresa, who had suffered mental illness and alcoholism, and froze to death in a snowbank near a bar where she'd been drinking in Madison, Wis. "You never get over it, I'm sure of that," he said. "You get so you can live with it, that's all." McGovern and his wife Eleanor, who died in 2007, had four daughters and one son.

McGovern wrote a book, "Terry," about his daughter's life struggle, the family impact and his own worry that his political preoccupations had somehow contributed to her troubles. He used the proceeds to open the Teresa McGovern Center in Madison to help others afflicted by addictions.

As a candidate, McGovern had to fend off conservative claims that he was weak on national defense, a naive peacenik ? that he had, according to the far right, shirked combat, which was a lie. He was a decorated World War II pilot with 35 combat missions in B-24 bombers.

It could have been a campaign asset, but he talked little about it. He did in a Labor Day speech: "I still remember the day when we were hit so hard over Germany that we were all ready to bail out. So I gave this order to the crew: 'Resume your stations. We're going to bring this plane home.' I say to you and to people everywhere who share our cause: 'Resume your stations. We're going to bring America home.'"

That last line became the standard closing of his campaign speech. But he didn't repeat the details of the mission that won him the Distinguished Flying Cross for safely landing his crippled B-24. Perhaps he should have said more about his service, he said later, "but I always felt kind of foolish talking about my war record ? what a hero I was."

That he did not was typical George McGovern.


EDITOR'S NOTE ? Walter R. Mears, who reported on government and politics for The Associated Press in Washington for 40 years, covered George McGovern in the Senate and in his 1972 presidential campaign.

Associated Press


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Services announced for former Sen. George McGovern


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With Romney closing in, Obama to launch swing state blitz

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