Tomic into Masters third round

The 18-year-old won 4-6 6-1 6-4 to reverse last week’s loss to world No.

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9 Fish at the Japan Open.

The 49th-ranked Australian had only won one match previously against top 10 players, but levelled with two breaks in the second set and a single break in the ninth game of the decider to earn the win.

Tenth seed Andy Roddick refocused after losing his cool to post a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 win over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.

Roddick won a first set tie-break and sealed victory after clinching a topsy-turvy second set that contained five breaks of serve.

After Dimitrov broke Roddick in the ninth game of the second set to lead 5-4, the American smashed his bag repeatedly in frustration but immediately broke back to level at 5-5, saving a set point.

Speaking about the incident, Roddick said: “I don’t know that I made a first serve that game, so that was frustrating for me.

“So I was kind of pissed. I felt like I was getting it backwards a little bit.”

Also in second round action, Swiss 13th seed Stanislas Wawrinka beat America’s Donald Young 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 and France’s Gilles Simon, seeded eighth, eased past Spain’s Albert Montanes 6-1 6-1.

Earlier, Germany’s Florian Mayer, the 15th seed, beat former world No.3 David Nalbandian 6-3 6-4 to reach the third round and seventh seed Nicolas Almagro defeated Spanish compatriot Tommy Robredo 7-5 6-3.

In first round clashes, Serbian ninth seed Janko Tipsarevic crashed out to Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-7 (2-7) 6-7 (3-7), dealing a heavy blow to his hopes of reaching the ATP World Tour Finals.

Tipsarevic won his first ATP title earlier this month at the Malaysian Open but lost in the first round of last week’s Japan Open.

Tipsarevic’s Serbian compatriot Viktor Troicki, seeded 11, also lost, beaten in straight sets by America’s Ryan Harrison.

Austrian 14th seed Jurgen Melzer, who defeated Rafael Nadal to reach the quarter-finals in Shanghai last year, beat Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic and Alexandr Dolgopolov, seeded 12, beat Lukasz Kubot of Poland.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori overcame a disastrous start against Robin Haase to defeat the Dutchman 0-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5).

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NSW working to get sick nurse home

NSW authorities are working to bring home a nurse from Newcastle who suffered brain damage and kidney failure after drinking a contaminated cocktail in Lombok, Indonesia.

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Jamie Johnston, 25, has spent the past three weeks in intensive care after ordering a jug of arak – a rice wine drink mixed with fruit juice – on her final night on holiday in Lombok.

The batch was contaminated with methanol, a toxic chemical often used as an anti-freeze or in paint, Fairfax Media reported.

Ms Johnston has been left with brain scarring and renal failure and she has since been unable to move or talk properly.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner on Wednesday said authorities were working to have her airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, where she works as a nurse.

She is currently undergoing tests in Darwin to determine whether she is fit to travel.

“I understand she might be able to travel by the end of the week and I’m trying to assist in getting that travel organised,” she told ABC Radio.

“This is really important to get (her) back home, to treatment you trust, close to family and friends.”

Ms Johnston doesn’t have travel insurance, with her mother reportedly paying $45,000 to have her flown back to Australia from Bali.

“I think it’s a tragic case, it could happen to anyone,” Ms Skinner said.

“(It should be) a warning to people: if you drink or eat anything or you’re sick when you’re travelling, seek immediate help.

“(It happened in) a popular part of Bali, a very popular holiday destination – I love it myself, but you have to be ever so careful.”

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Aussie nurse brain damaged by holiday cocktail

A 25-year-old nurse from Newcastle has suffered brain damage and kidney failure after drinking a contaminated cocktail in Lombok, Indonesia.

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Jamie Johnston has spent the past three weeks in intensive care in Bali and Darwin after ordering a jug of arak, a rice wine drink mixed with fruit juice, on her final night on holiday.

The batch was contaminated with methanol, a toxic chemical often used as an anti-freeze or in paint which has been linked to the deaths of four foreign tourists in 2009.

Ms Johnston’s mother Lyn, who was with her daughter, told Fairfax Media test results had shown her daughter suffered methanol toxicity after consuming the drink on September 20 at the Happy Cafe restaurant in Lombok.

She was taken off the plane at Denpasar airport in unbearable pain and then became unconscious.

“We were on our way home when she collapsed. It was a dreadful end,” Mrs Johnston told Fairfax.

“It has all been unbelievably traumatic and horrible. People need to be warned about this. Potentially she could have been killed. We could have both been killed.”

The ordeal has left Ms Johnston with brain scarring and renal failure and she has been unable to move or talk properly since.

Mrs Johnston spent more than $45,000 having her daughter flown from Bali to Darwin because she didn’t have travel insurance.

Dennis Tisdell, Ms Johnston’s 28-year-old boyfriend of three years, told News Ltd doctors suspected the drink was laced with methanol.

He added Ms Johnston’s mother did not get sick because the methanol was in the top of the jug of Jungle Juice.

Mr Tisdell made a mercy dash to Bali to be with his sick girlfriend.

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Wilson, O’Brien seal Ireland’s thrilling win

Needing almost 10 runs an over at one stage, Wilson and O’Brien smashed 72 in their sixth-wicket stand off just six overs to revive their chase.

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O’Brien, who was dropped on 24, hit eight fours and lofted Amjad Javed (3-60) for two consecutive sixes but fell on the next ball with his team still needing 36 runs to win.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Wilson got Ireland, who beat West Indies in their first match, closer but was dismissed by Mohammad Naveed (2-65) after hitting the bowler for two successive boundaries ion the 48th over.

Ireland needed 12 at that stage and tailenders George Dockrell and Alex Cusack held firm to see them through.

Earlier, Shaiman Anwar registered UAE’s first World Cup century to help them overcome a poor start and post a strong total.

The 35-year-old right-hander scored 106 off 83 balls and dominated a breezy 107-run stand with Javed (42), a World Cup record for the seventh wicket, to lift UAE who were reeling at 78-4 in the 21st over.

Anwar became the second batsman to score a ODI hundred for the Emirati nation, who are making their second appearance at the event after also qualifying in 1996.

Anwar, who hit 10 fours and a six, raised his bat and went down on his knees after reaching the 100-run mark in 79 deliveries.

Ireland were guilty of bowling too short to Anwar, who had scored his previous highest of 67 in the last match against Zimbabwe, and Javed as UAE plundered 147 runs in the last 15 overs.

The duo came together with Ireland looking to bundle their opponents out having reduced them to 131 for six in the 35th over.

Anwar eventually fell in the 49th over, skying Max Sorensen for Wilson to complete a comfortable catch.

Off-spinner Paul Stirling (2-27) struck in his second over to dismiss Andri Berenger (13) and then picked up Krishna Chandran for a duck in his third to deny UAE a strong start after they were put in to bat first.

O’Brien came into the attack for Ireland and dismissed set opener Amjad Ali (45) and Swapnil Patil (two) in his first two overs to further stifle the UAE innings.

O’Brien, however, proved expensive in the final overs, eventually conceding 61 off seven overs.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Australia on ‘path of complacency’: BCA

A leading business group fears Australia is on a path of complacency that could lead to European-style mediocrity and decline in 20 years’ time.

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The president of the Business Council of Australia, Graham Bradley, will warn on Wednesday that the economy’s current path will lead to lower growth and an inability to fund high-quality services from government over the next two decades.

“The commodities boom has made it possible to paper over weaknesses in our economic policy settings and to delay decisions that must ultimately be made,” Mr Bradley will tell an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney.

“Australians would, I believe, feel more confident if we were on a better path … that would make our economy more resilient in the face of international headwinds, better manage our economic transition and firmly pursue productivity as the basis of our future prosperity.”

In excerpts from his written speech, Mr Bradley points to four pillars where government action influences underlying productivity – tax policy, labour market flexibility, infrastructure delivery and better regulation.

He says an alternative path is one with a comprehensive reform plan that will encourage competitive industries to grow by providing a supportive regulatory and taxation environment.

With an ageing population, and fewer workers each year supporting every retiree, Australia runs the risk of becoming a country “forever playing catch-up” on social and economic infrastructure.

“Unless we take steps now, we risk seeing thousands of higher value-adding jobs drift overseas and our economy become less adaptable, less diversified, less resilient,’ he says.

“This is the path to mediocre growth and declining opportunity. It is the path European democracies chose a decade a go.”

He says the sheer size of planned investments in the resources sector is bound to have a positive effect on Australia’s future productivity.

“But the Australian Bureau of Statistics measure of multi-factor productivity reports that our national productivity has been negative for the last six years – an unprecedented period of negative growth,” Mr Bradley says.

The council represents the CEOs of the country’s top 100 companies.

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Plot to kill Saudi envoy busted: US says

The United States says it has busted a plot conceived at high levels of Iran’s revolutionary leadership to kill the Saudi envoy to Washington in a major attack, and vowed to hold Tehran to account.

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Injecting an explosive new element into the showdown between Washington and the Islamic Republic, the Justice Department charged two men with conspiring with factions of the Iranian government to carry out a deadly plot to blow up Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir on American soil.

The criminal complaint named Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalised US citizen holding both Iranian and US passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran’s Quds Force, in the plot.

Shakuri remains at large, Justice Department officials said.

Arbabsiar was arrested on September 29 at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport and was to appear in court later on Tuesday in Manhattan.

“The complaint alleges that this conspiracy was conceived, was sponsored, and was directed from Iran and constitutes a flagrant constitution against the law from protecting diplomats from being harmed,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

“In addition to them being held accountable for their plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.

“The organisation that I reference in my warrant is a component of the Iranian government.

“It was directed and approved by the senior members of the Quds force and the Iranian military. High-up officials in those areas were responsible for this plot.”

Holder said the plot was “conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran.”

News reports said the plot also included a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington.

The case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a US informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.

The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of a Mexican drug organisation, according to documents.

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Underwear bomber trial opens in Detroit

The trial has begun for the Nigerian man accused of a failed suicide bombing attempt aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

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One of the most significant al-Qaeda plots in years collapsed to the cry “hey dude your pants are on fire” as explosives in the underwear of a Nigerian man failed to detonate aboard a packed US-bound airliner.

The humiliation was far from over for the allegedly failed suicide bomber aboard the Northwestern flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, a court heard on Tuesday in the first day of his high-profile trial.

His trousers were around his ankles when four passengers pulled him from his seat, exposing his badly burned genitals and what remained of his underwear.

“They were bulky and they were burning,” passenger Mike Zantow testified.

The underpants “resembled something I hadn’t seen before,” Zantow said, adding that “they reminded me of my son’s pullups when he was little.”

Prosecutors on Tuesday describe how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, prepared himself for martyrdom by fasting, praying and performing a purification ritual in the toilet as the plane began to make its descent to Detroit.

He then walked back to his seat, pulled a blanket over his head, yanked down his trousers, emptied a syringe into the powdered explosives stitched into his underpants and waited for the plane to crash.

Zantow, a military contractor and army veteran who was seated across the aisle and a row behind Abdulmutallab and was flying home to see his terribly ill mother, said he heard a loud pop that sounded like a large firecracker.

The plane was silent for 30 seconds to a minute, and then pandemonium broke out.

Zantow stood up and saw passengers and crew members rushing over as smoke billowed up from between Abdulmutallab’s legs while the young man simply sat there burning.

“I never saw any reaction at all,” Zantow told the jury. “I heard him say nothing.”

Prosecutors said Abdulmutallab spoke plenty after he was hauled up to first class where an off-duty airline employee and other passengers could stand better guard over him.

On the way there, a package of what was left of the explosives rolled under seat 13B. FBI tests showed it to be PETN, a hard to detect and powerful explosive, US attorney Jonathan Tukel told the jury.

It took just seven minutes for the pilots to land the plane after crew members alerted them to the fire.

At this point, pilots thought the fire was caused by a firecracker. But when a border control agent came to collect Abdulmutallab he saw the burns must have been caused by something far more powerful.

He asked Abdulmutallab what happened.

In the few minutes it took for paramedics to arrive, the young man told him that he had been trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen and planned to bring the plane down over US soil using a bomb hidden in his underwear.

He would tell the same story to FBI agents and hospital staff.

Nearly two years later, Abdulmutallab – who is representing himself – did not have anything to say to jurors in opening statements. But he reserved the right to speak to them later in the trial.

He faces life in prison if convicted of eight terrorism related charges, including attempted murder of the 289 other people on board.

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G20 action on global woes vital: Swan

Treasurer Wayne Swan believes the challenges facing the world economy are the most severe since the global financial crisis (GFC), and there is concern over the capacity of European and US political institutions to deliver the needed response.

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Mr Swan used a ministerial statement marking three years since the Australian government moved to protect the economy when faced with the first GFC to set out priorities for when G20 finance ministers meet in Paris this Friday and Saturday.

The gathering is the final preparation for the G20 Leaders meeting to be held in Cannes in November.

“My clear message will be that both individual and collective action is needed to address global financial market volatility and put the global economic recovery back on track,” Mr Swan told parliament on Wednesday.

“Developed countries – in particular in Europe – need to put their budgets on a sustainable footing, while supporting growth where possible. Europe needs to regain the confidence of markets in its capacity to meet its debt obligations.”

The United States must also do more to support its faltering recovery, while putting its budget on a sustainable path in the medium term, he said.

“More broadly, all countries need to undertake reforms that will both lift and rebalance global growth. With hundreds of millions unemployed globally, it is vital that this work has at its centre the creation of jobs,” he said.

He again called for more flexible exchange rates in developing nations, a position he argued on his recent visit to southern China, as well as at recent International Monetary Fund and G20 meetings in Washington.

“Despite our fundamental strengths, we know that the Australian economy and our budget will not remain untouched from global instability,” he said.

He said the domestic fallout from these global events was most evident in the share market and had unsettled both consumers and business.

Still, the IMF in its annual report on Australia released Friday confirmed Australia’s strong fundamentals and its successful response to the GFC, which meant it is better placed to deal with global instability, he noted.

Responding to the statement, opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the treasurer was preparing the ground for failing to deliver a budget surplus next year as promised.

“That’s what the ministerial statement is about,” Mr Hockey told parliament.

“We’re not affected, but we are affected.”

But he said the time for excuses had come to an end.

He also felt that not enough was being done by the G20 and others to properly identify the derivative risk that is flowing through to other financial institutions around the world from the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

“That was, of course, the unidentified, poorly explained and rather dramatic impact of the original financial crisis in the United States and Europe in 2008.”

He said the secondary flow-through of laid-off risk could be tens, perhaps hundreds, of billions of dollars of sovereign debt exposure.

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Nigerian ‘underwear bomber’ pleads guilty

The so-called “underwear bomber” has pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, saying he had sought to avenge the killing of innocent Muslims.

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In a six-minute speech to a shocked courtroom on Wednesday on the second day of his high profile-trial in Detroit, Michigan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab insisted his actions were righteous and that the true crime was US foreign policy.

“I am guilty of this count in US law but not in the Koran,” the 25-year-old Nigerian said as he confessed to trying to kill 289 people on a packed transatlantic airliner using explosives hidden in his underwear.

“The United States should be warned that if they continue and persist in promoting the blasphemy of Mohammed and the US continues to kill and support those who kill innocent Muslims then the US should await a great calamity through the hands of the Mujahedeen… or God.”

The botched plot, which US officials say was the work of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, failed because the explosives did not fully detonate and instead caused a fireball.

Passengers and crew members were able to restrain Abdulmutallab and put out the fire as the Northwest flight from Amsterdam made an emergency landing in Detroit on December 25, 2009.

Since many of the counts Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to carry mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years without parole which must be served consecutively, he is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Abdulmutallab kept his description of how he carried out the plot to the absolute minimum required to satisfy the judge that he was indeed guilty of all charges.

Reading calmly from a prepared speech, he stood straight in a black skullcap, gold tunic and blazer.

Abdulmutallab said he “had an agreement with at least one person” to attack the US in retaliation for US support for Israel and in revenge for the killing of innocent Muslims in Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond.

“I carried with me an explosive device onto Flight Northwest 253, again to avenge my fellow Muslims,” said Abdulmutallab, who has confirmed that he travelled to Yemen for al-Qaeda training prior to the attack.

“I attempted to use an explosive device, which under US law is called a weapon of mass destruction, which I call a blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims for the US used weapons of mass destruction on innocent Muslims,” he told the court.

“If I said I did it, but the American people are guilty of the sin and (President Barack) Obama should pay for the crime the court would not accept that,” he said.

“However, according to US law which is unjust… my actions make me guilty to a crime.”

The botched operation triggered global alarm and led the United States to adopt stringent new screening and security measures, including controversial pat-downs at airports and a massive expansion of the no-fly list.

It also cast a spotlight on Yemen, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is increasingly seen by US officials as a threat comparable to the terror network’s core leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The reputation of the US intelligence services also took a hit because Abdulmutallab’s father, a prominent Nigerian banker, had warned the CIA about his son’s growing radicalisation.

Abdulmutallab’s calm and respectful demeanour on Wednesday was in sharp contrast to his disruptive behaviour during jury selection.

This was marked by incendiary outbursts, including a pledge that militants will wipe out “the cancer US,” and praise for radical al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi and former leader Osama bin Laden, both killed in US raids.

Abdulmutallab is to be sentenced on January 12.

His court-appointed standby counsel said he had urged the young man to see the trial through in hopes of evading convictions on at least some of the eight charges.

“Certainly no lawyer will recommend a plea to life without parole,” he told reporters. However, Abdulmutallab was not interested in trying to avoid spending the rest of his life behind bars.

“He wanted to say something for some time and that was satisfying to him,” Chambers said.

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Iran plot ‘dangerous escalation’: Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday denounced an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on American soil as a ‘dangerous escalation’ by Tehran.

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As the United States began individual consultations with UN Security Council ambassadors — a possible precursor to international condemnation or some other action — Clinton reiterated that Iran must be “held accountable.”

The plot is “a flagrant violation of international and US law and a dangerous escalation of the Iranian government’s long-standing use of political violence and sponsorship of terrorism,” Clinton said.

“We call upon other nations to join us in condemning this threat to international peace and security,” the top US diplomat told journalists at a think-tank in Washington. “Iran must be held accountable for its actions.”

Clinton said the plot was “directed by elements of the Iranian government,” and said this “kind of reckless act undermines international norms and the international system.”

The US has “increased our sanctions on individuals within the Iranian government who are associated with this plot and Iran’s support for terrorism,” she said.

Clinton’s spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States is “looking for countries to join us in increasing the political and economic pressure on Iran,” adding the political pressure would involve condemning Iran.

She added that the United States was putting renewed emphasis on sanctions given that a number of countries are not fully enforcing the existing ones.

The United States would like “everybody redoubling their efforts to enforce UN sanctions, national sanctions, regional sanctions and to take more sanctioning measures,” Nuland told reporters.

Iran warned the United States to shy away from any confrontation over what Tehran called baseless allegations that it plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

The US Justice Department on Tuesday named two Iranian suspects as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized US citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, said to be an Iran-based member of the Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Shakuri remains at large while Arbabsiar was arrested on September 29 at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport and appeared in court Tuesday in Manhattan. His lawyer said he would plead not guilty.

US officials say the case was broken open by a paid US source posing as a member of a Mexico-based drug cartel, which the defendants believed would provide explosives for the attack on the ambassador.

Mexico said it cooperated closely with the US investigation, and said Arbabsiar was denied entry and put on a flight to New York, where he was arrested by US authorities.

Nuland also said that Clinton’s deputy William Burns earlier Wednesday briefed ambassadors from countries around the world about the plot and the indictment.

The State Department also sent messages to all US ambassadors and chiefs of missions overseas to brief them on the plot.

IRAN AIRLINE SANCTIONED

The US Treasury Department has hit Iran’s Mahan Air with sanctions, saying it secretly transported members of a military force accused of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador on US soil.

The Treasury Department said commercial carrier Mahan Air transported members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp-Qods Force, a force directly linked to the plot, and Hezbollah across the Middle East.

Any of the airline’s assets in the United States will now be frozen and US citizens will be barred from doing business with the firm.

The announcement came a day after Washington levelled the accusations at Tehran and the Treasury Department moved to block the assets of five individuals directly linked to the alleged assassination plot, which has sent diplomatic shockwaves around the world.

The Treasury Department accused Mahan Air of ferrying Iranian operatives between Iran and Syria for military training and Revolutionary Guards officers in and out of Iraq, and of transporting members of Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which the US deems a terrorist organisation.

“Mahan Air’s close coordination with the IRGC-QF, secretly ferrying operatives, weapons and funds on its flights, reveals yet another facet of the IRGC’s extensive infiltration of Iran’s commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism,” said the Treasury’s sanctions czar David Cohen.

“Following the revelation about the IRGC-QF’s use of the international financial system to fund its murder-for-hire plot, today’s action highlights further the undeniable risks of doing business with Iran.

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