Thursday, December 18, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
University Florist Celebrates 80 years at Mississippi State
For more than eight decades, the University Florist has provided a fun, enriching environment for Mississippi State students to gain the work and management skills they need to be successful in the floral industry and beyond. "A university florist like this one is not common on college campuses," said Lynette McDougald, who has served as florist business manager and plant and soil sciences instructor for 17 years. She explained that in addition to being a full-service flower shop, the florist serves as a hands-on, instructional laboratory for students majoring in floral management.
Mississippi State Freshman From Starkville Wins Sustainability Honor
A freshman architecture student at Mississippi State impressed judges with her ingenuity and empathy for others during the university's recent Sustainability Challenge. Southwire Company, LLC sponsored the competition to help find a way to utilize a foil laminate material that comes in the packaging of raw materials received by the manufacturer. The contest, part of the S3 Innovation Challenge, asked students to find innovative applications for the industrial scrap packaging material. Emily Turner of Starkville found not only a practical use of the foil laminate, but a use that would help shelter the homeless from harsh weather conditions such as rain or cold temperatures.
Khirbet Summeily Yields 10th-Century B.C. Clay Seals
Six clay seals unearthed at Khirbet Summeily, an early Iron Age site in southern Israel, suggest that there was more political complexity in the region at that time than had been previously thought. "These appear to be the only known examples of bullae from the tenth century [B.C.], making this discovery unique," said Jimmy Hardin of Mississippi State University and co-director of the Hesi Regional Project. The tenth century B.C. is often referred to as the time of the biblical kings David and Solomon.
Mississippi State's Sead 'Sejo' Sabanadzovic elected to committee
Sead "Sejo" Sabanadzovic, a professor in the Mississippi State University Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, has been invited to join the prestigious executive committee of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, or ICTV. Sabanadzovic was elected to the elite group of 18 international experts who serve as the leading authority on describing, identifying, naming and classifying viruses. Sabanadzovic is one of only three plant virologists on the executive committee. This recognition is the result of Sabanadzovic's long-term contribution to virus taxonomy initiated during his tenure in Italy and continued over the past decade at MSU.
Gary Jackson, Mark Leggett honored by Mississippi Farm Bureau
Gary Jackson, director of the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is the recipient of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation's Distinguished Service Award for 2014. The award was presented during the organization's annual membership meeting. Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, was honored with the organizations Ag Ambassador Award. Dr. Jackson has served as director of the MSU Extension Service for four years, and during that time, has initiated a process of reorganization and strategic planning to reconnect the Extension Service to citizens across the state of Mississippi.
Mississippi volunteers donate quilts to wounded veterans
Nearly a dozen veterans left south Mississippi with fuller luggage after Covington County quilters surprised them with early Christmas gifts. Members of the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers spent months piecing together fabric in anticipation of the annual Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes welcome dinner on Dec. 12. Doris Sullivan is a 16-year member of the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers, an organization sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Sullivan made seven quilts in three months for the wounded warriors.
Soybeans dominate Louisiana's fertile fields; forum set
Louisiana farmer Vendal Fairchild said the 2014 soybean crop was set to be good from the start. "They jumped out of the ground growing and never stopped," said Fairchild. His crop wasn't alone. "This will be another record year in Louisiana for soybeans," LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy said this fall. Louisiana producers will get a peek into the coming planting season during the 59th Annual Tri-State Soybean Forum Jan. 9, where farmers from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi will gather. The forum rotates among the three states. Experts from the LSU AgCenter, Mississippi State University and the University of Arkansas will discuss everything from insects, weed resistance, irrigation and other topics.
Starkville listing city hall, lagoon for sale Jan. 1
Starkville aldermen approved a series of orders Tuesday that will position the city to proceed with a $2.55 million-maximum purchase of Cadence Bank's Main Street branch next year. As approved Tuesday, Starkville will begin advertising its current City Hall location and lagoon property north of the city for bids beginning Jan. 1. The city will retain the right to reject any and all unsatisfactory bids. Additionally, the board authorized Mayor Parker Wiseman, Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins and Ward 3 Alderman David Little to negotiate a purchase price for the facility, which appraised for about $3.15 million. For months now, board members have eyed acquiring the property to serve as Starkville Police Department's future home. A financial shell game is developing if the city wishes to keep the purchase tax-neutral.
Deer out in force, collisions on rise
Northeast Mississippians aren't the only ones bustling about this time of year. It's a common sight to see herds of deer standing alongside -- and even crossing -- busy highways and roads. During December and January, when temperatures drop and the breeding season ensues, deer become more mobile, increasing their visibility as well as producing a higher number of vehicle collisions. "We have deer crashes in the middle of the day, we have deer crashes at night," said Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Ray Hall. "Predominantly during their feeding periods, which would be early morning and late evenings, we have more crashes, but we do have them all times of the day."
Mississippi governor says oceangoing drone just one spinoff technology from BP spill money
Gov. Phil Bryant brought a singular oceangoing drone to the Coast on Wednesday for a demonstration of the research and development sparked by the state in the wake of the BP oil spill. "This is a unique, one-of-a-kind, first-in-this-country, autonomous maritime vessel," said David Brannon, general manager of the National Oceans and Applications Research Center, a nonprofit research and development firm at Stennis Space Center.
Road map to success: State ed board to unveil its first strategic plan
The Mississippi Board of Education today will unveil a document that will significantly impact education policy in the state over the next five years. The state board will hold a press conference to release its first strategic plan. It will guide future actions of the nine-member board, said board member Danny Spreitler of Amory, including evaluating the state superintendent, prioritizing projects, determining organizational structure and allocating resources within the education department. "This strategic plan drives everything we do," Spreitler said. "This is not the agency's prioritizes. These are our priorities we will deliver to them."
McCrory joins Epps in asking for trial delay
Brandon businessman Cecil McCrory has joined former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps in asking a judge to delay their Jan. 5 trial date. In a motion filed Wednesday, lawyer Don Leland wrote he has received 66 discs of government evidence against McCrory and needs more time to review it. Last week, Epps' lawyer also asked U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to delay the men's trial.
Mississippians react to easing of Cuba embargo
Evan Alvarez's father was 9 years old when his parents moved the family from Cuba to the United States to escape immediate turmoil. Fidel Castro's regime was taking hold on the Caribbean island, and in the couple of years that followed, the United States unrolled a series of strict embargoes against the communist country. Fifty-five years later, 22-year-old Alvarez, who now lives in Ridgeland, expressed excitement over the new policies that were announced Wednesday by President Barack Obama. Though his father is no longer living, he said the entire family followed the news closely. "It feels like we're moving forward," Alvarez said.
US global aid chief Raj Shah to resign; oversaw secret Cuba programs
The head of the nation's global development agency said Wednesday he will step down from his post in February, following an announcement by the U.S. government that it would start talks toward restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba. Rajiv Shah, the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, gave no public reason for leaving the agency he's led since 2000. In a statement released Wednesday morning, he said he had "mixed emotions" but did not elaborate. USAID, under Shah, drew intense criticism from some U.S. lawmakers and the Cuban government for its Cuba programs. USAID describes itself as the lead U.S. government agency working to fight poverty and promote democracy around the world.
Cuba Action Is Obama's Latest Step Away From 6 Years of Caution
President Obama's decision on Wednesday to radically shift United States policy toward Cuba is the latest and most striking example of a president unleashed from the hesitancy that characterized much of his first six years in office. It follows decisions by Mr. Obama to defy Republicans on immigration, climate change policy, the regulation of the Internet and negotiations with Iran. Gone are the cautious political calculations that consigned contentious issues to secondary status. Mr. Obama is instead pushing aggressively on his promises and ignoring his opponents in the process. The president's unilateral action on Cuba fits a pattern that Mr. Obama has established in the twilight of his presidency. Frustrated by congressional inaction and Republican efforts to block legislation, the president has increasingly pushed the limits of his executive authority in domestic and international policy making.
Supreme Court says Arizona must issue driver's licenses to immigrants
The Supreme Court decided Wednesday that Arizona must offer driver's licenses to young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children but were later shielded from deportation by President Obama. In a 6-3 decision, the justices turned down an emergency appeal from outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer, who argued that the state had the right to decide who gets a driver's license. Though the justices did not explain their decision, the conservative-leaning high court has maintained the view that matters of immigration are entrusted to the federal government, not the states.
Is Obama destroying the Russian economy?
Speaking at a Moscow event in early October, Russian President Vladimir Putin sounded cocky about the sanctions imposed on his country by Washington and its European allies. The penalties, Putin said, were "utter silliness" that would only hurt Western businesses. But now that Russia's economy is rapidly imploding, with oil prices plunging and the ruble collapsing, Putin is the one feeling the pain. And the question already being debated in Washington is whether President Barack Obama's strategy of economically sanctioning and isolating Russia deserves any credit. Republicans, who have long maligned Obama's policy as too timid, were more skeptical. Though the cause is disputed, no one disagrees that Putin's economy is in crisis.
U.S. officials determine North Korea is behind the Sony hack
Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday cancelled the Christmas-day release of The Interview, bowing to threats of a wide-scale attack from hackers who U.S. intelligence officials have concluded were working for North Korea. U.S. officials, though, were not prepared to publicly accuse the reclusive government in large part because the Obama administration has not determined what action, if any, it could take. Intelligence officials believe with "99 percent certainty" that hackers working for the North Korean government carried out the attack, said one individual who was briefed on the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity. But the administration hasn't figured out what to do in response, U.S. officials said.
Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind
As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today. In many other countries, however, the percentage of working women has continued to climb. While the downturn and the weak economy of recent years have eliminated many of the jobs women held, a lack of family-friendly policies also appears to have contributed to the lower rate. For many women with children, it seems, the decision about work involves weighing a particularly complex set of benefits and drawbacks.
Wall Street is expanding, and the economy is worse off for it
Wall Street is bigger and richer than ever, the research shows, and the economy and the middle class are worse off for it. There's a prominent theory among some economists and policymakers that says the big problem with the American economy is that a lot of Americans don't have the talent to compete in today's global marketplace. While it's true that the country would be better off if more workers had more training -- particularly low-skilled, low-income workers -- that theory misses a crucial, damaging development of the past several decades. It misses how much the economy has suffered at the hands of some of its most skilled, most talented workers, who followed escalating pay onto Wall Street -- and away from more economically and socially valuable uses of their talents.
Scientists Debate If It's OK To Make Viruses More Dangerous In The Lab
Imagine that scientists wanted to take Ebola virus and see if it could ever become airborne by deliberately causing mutations in the lab and then searching through those new viruses to see if any spread easily through the air. Would that be OK? The question was posed by David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford University, at a two-day meeting being held National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to discuss whether some experiments with germs are so risky that the dangers aren't worth the potential benefits. The work has split the scientific community. Some of the most the prominent figures in this saga showed up at the historic National Academy of Sciences building this week to have another go at it.
MUW to Raise Awareness of Healthy Eating
Mississippi University for Women plans to make Mississippi healthier with mobile kitchen demonstrations of healthy ingredients and food preparation. In the fall of 2015, The W looks to launch Project CHEW (Cook Healthy, Eat Well). The mobile unit will be highlighted by a 24-foot fully equipped W-wrapped catering trailer that will feature a demonstration kitchen with audio visual equipment. The project will venture statewide to present culinary demonstrations that emphasize healthy ingredients and food preparation techniques. "I believe Project CHEW will help The W play a role in building a healthier Mississippi and show that the building blocks for these meals are grown right here in our home state," said Dr. Scott Tollison, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies, in which the Culinary Arts Institute is housed.
U. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory director resigns
Dr. Eric Powell announced his retirement from the USM's Gulf Coast Research Lab effective Dec. 16 and cited a desire to focus on other responsibilities as the reason for his departure. "I find that competition for my time by administrative duties has degraded commitments that I consider important in continuing as a competitive scientist and as a leader in the national fisheries community," he said. Powell said he will now focus on his research portfolio and his position as Southern Miss site director for the Science Center for Marine Fisheries. "For the staff that have worked for me for the past two years, I deeply appreciate your hard work and confidence in me as director," said Powell.
Southern Miss Researchers Working to Find Cure for Alzheimer's Disease
While you are reading this article, two-to three people will develop Alzheimer's disease - a life-threatening illness that killed more than 83,000 people in 2010 alone. However, with the help of Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, Southern Miss Professor Vijay Rangachari is furthering research on the disease to help find better treatments, or a cure, for those affected. Rangachari's lab is researching to discover exactly what causes the rogue form of the protein to emerge, and how these rogue forms spread throughout the brain. Their newest publication details new information on the rate in which the proteins change and their behavior.
Community College Board to interview director finalists
The 10-member Community College Board will meet Thursday to interview two finalists seeking to become the next executive director of the board that oversees Mississippi's 15 two-year colleges. The board has not released the names of the candidates. Board Chairman Bruce Martin of Meridian said that the finalists are a man and a woman, both Mississippi residents. He says neither is currently a president of one of the 15 colleges.
U. of Alabama President Judy Bonner plans to resign by September
University of Alabama President Judy Bonner announced Wednesday her intentions to leave the presidency no later than the end of September. Her replacement, who has yet to be determined, will be the school's fourth leader since 2012. "I would like to return to my first love, which is teaching and working more directly with students," Bonner said in a letter to students Wednesday. "In order to do so, I will take a year's sabbatical to prepare to return to the classroom in the Fall of 2016." Bonner, the university's first woman president, was selected by the Board of Trustees on Nov. 1, 2012, after the sudden resignation of then-president Guy Bailey, who served less than a semester.
Tuscaloosa businessman named chairman of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education
Tuscaloosa businessman Andrew G. Linn Jr. has been elected the next chairman of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, the state's coordinating board for all public institutions of higher education. Linn has served on the commission since 2005, representing an at-large district. Members serve nine-year terms without compensation. Linn is president and chief executive officer of Southland International Trucks Inc. The commission coordinates planning for higher education in the state, and also lobbies on behalf of higher education in the state, making annual budget recommendations to the governor and legislature.
World Bank adviser to lead IFAS' food system hub at U. of Florida
The University of Florida has hired James Anderson of the World Bank to run the newly established food systems research hub at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, along with two other faculty members with impressive credentials of their own. After being out of academia for the past four years traveling the globe as a fisheries and aquatics adviser for the World Bank, Anderson -- a former University of Rhode Island professor -- said he's looking forward to returning to a university setting. He started working at UF on Dec. 1. The food hub is one of 26 research areas UF administrators targeted as pre-eminence initiatives in its hiring of 120 top researchers from around the nation.
New details emerge in Jindal's prayer rally; LSU board member involved in planning
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's much-publicized prayer rally "The Response" began with talks of having the event in the fall, according to public records obtained by The Advocate. The records also show LSU Board of Supervisors member Rolfe McColliser has been involved in the plans. "Working with the governor on this idea," McCollister wrote to LSU event management director David A. Taylor on Aug. 18. Taylor initially appeared skeptical of the plan, due to team practices and the work that goes into putting on a production at the PMAC. McCollister's involvement in the early planning had not previously been disclosed. Jindal appointed McCollister, publisher of the Baton Rouge Business Report, to the LSU board by Jindal in 2012.
A&M Bush School report says fracking could lead to Texas water shortage
Freshwater in the Eagle Ford Shale -- a geological formation that encompasses 30 Texas counties, including Brazos -- is being drawn from the aquifers 2.5 times faster than the replenish rate, according to key findings from a Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service study. Highlights from the report, "Water Use in the Eagle Ford Shale: An Economic and Policy Analysis of Water Supply and Demand," were recently included in the latest edition of "The Takeaway," a publication of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy at the Bush School. Led by Bush School professor James Griffin, researchers analyzed four years of groundwater consumption data from within Eagle Ford, which spans southwest from Brazos County into Webb County.
Critics say college graduation rates don't tell the whole story
Pushing public colleges and universities to increase graduation rates has become a key objective for President Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown, among others, as they seek to hold higher education institutions more accountable. But a growing chorus of opposition argues that graduation rates by themselves may not accurately measure campus performance and that using the rates to determine allocation of federal and state funds would be especially troublesome. Critics also contend that the increasing focus on timely degrees overlooks the reality that in a system such as the California State University, the nation's largest, many students are older, have jobs and families and are hard pressed to graduate "on time."
Johns Hopkins mistakenly says 'yes' to hundreds of rejected applicants
Sam Stephenson was steeling himself for another round of college applications after his first choice, Johns Hopkins University, turned him down. Then the 17-year-old from Culpeper County in Virginia received an e-mail from Hopkins on Sunday afternoon that suggested he might still have reason to hope. "Embrace the YES!" it said in the subject line. It was all wrong. Like 293 others who had been turned down or deferred in their bid for early admission to the prestigious private university in Baltimore, Sam had received a welcome-to-Hopkins e-mail by mistake. The university, tipped off to the error by another rejected student, sent an apology Sunday evening to those affected by the head-spinning goof. David Phillips, vice provost for admissions and financial aid at Hopkins, said Tuesday that the e-mail mistake last week was a result of "human error."

Mississippi State freshmen get reps during bowl practices
An opportunity presented itself for J.T. Gray. Most of Mississippi State's freshmen waited until bowl practices to make a splash with the first and second teams. Gray received his chance against Arkansas in MSU's eighth game. Zach Jackson was sidelined with an injury, which forced the Bulldogs to burn his redshirt. Now it's the other freshmen's turn to stand out. Mississippi State is in game preparation mode for Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The freshmen will return to scout team responsibilities. But through the first five practices, they took center stage as veterans watched.
Cowbells ring -- are you listening?
Thanks to their team accepting an invitation to the Capital One Orange Bowl, Mississippi State fans will have the opportunity to ring in the new year in Miami -- literally. On Tuesday, the Orange Bowl announced it would allow MSU fans to bring one of their most beloved traditions to South Florida, as cowbells will be allowed inside Sun Life Stadium for the Dec. 31 matchup between No. 7 MSU and No. 12 Georgia Tech. "College football is all about tradition and passion," said Orange Bowl spokesman Larry Wahl late Tuesday afternoon. "As an organization, we have very close community ties for over 80 years and we understand and value the traditions of each individual institution. So we wanted to make sure Mississippi State fans had an opportunity to enjoy their tradition at the Orange Bowl." The decision by the Orange Bowl was well-received in Starkville.
Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney earns two more All-American honors
Mississippi State had an All-American named by the Football Writers Association of America for the third straight season. Benardrick McKinney became the latest on Wednesday. The linebacker was named a first-team All-American. Gabe Jackson and Johnathan Banks were both named FWAA All-Americans the last two years as well. McKinney is the seventh Bulldog ever to receive the honor. He became the first MSU linebacker to receive Walter Camp All-American honor. He was listed as a second-teamer.
McKinney leads Mississippi State's All-America honorees
The rewards continue to roll in for Mississippi State's Orange Bowl-bound football team. A week after five Bulldogs were named All-Southeastern Conference performers, three of those players added All-America status to their list of accolades Tuesday. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney was named a second-team All-American by The Associated Press, while offensive lineman Ben Beckwith was named a third-team selection. The AP's All-America teams were released late Tuesday morning. Two hours later, McKinney had his name called again, this time as a first-team All-American, according to Sports Illustrated, which also picked quarterback Dak Prescott as an honorable mention All-American.
Is Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney a lock to enter NFL Draft?
Benardrick McKinney could have one foot out of Starkville as Mississippi State prepares for the Orange Bowl. Yahoo Sports reports the linebacker is expected to leave for the NFL Draft. Yahoo's Rand Getlin says McKinney has already begun talking with potential agents. The news isn't surprising. Many draft sites and scouts consider McKinney a first-round selection. But don't expect an announcement until after the bowl game. "Probably after the bowl game, I'll talk with my family and just talk it over with them," McKinney said. "If it's the best decision for me to leave, then I'll leave. If not, I'm staying."
Cornerbacks helped deliver signature moments for Georgia Tech, Mississippi State
If there's one image that stands out about the Georgia Tech football team's 10-3 season to this point, it came in Athens, Georgia. That's where junior cornerback D.J. White intercepted a pass by quarterback Hutson Mason to preserve a 30-24 win, Georgia Tech's marquee victory of the season. The interception also nearly was a carbon cop of one of Mississippi State's signature moments, when MSU cornerback Will Redmond leapt and snagged an interception in the end zone with 22 seconds left to save the team's No. 1 ranking and a 17-10 win against Arkansas. "Guys on this team just make plays," MSU coach Dan Mullen said of Redmond, a junior from Memphis. The plays were emblematic of the seasons put forth by Georgia Tech and MSU, and evidence of the big-play ability possessed by both groups of defensive backs. On Dec. 31 in Miami, those groups will be central figures in the Orange Bowl.
Orange Bowl shirt combines Mississippi State, Ole Miss in attempted joke
Mississippi State has a handful of slogans merchandisers can take advantage of when producing clothing. There's "Hail State." "StarkVegas" has caught on lately. They can replicate the billboards across Mississippi that announce, "This Is Our State." Well, one vendor over-thought the process with an Orange Bowl shirt that read "This Is Our Grove." The shirt combines the Mississippi State slogan with the well-known location of Ole Miss' tailgates -- the Grove. The shirt attempts to poke fun at Ole Miss' Grove with MSU's orange grove in the Orange Bowl, but it falls flat.
Bulldogs off to best start ever
Morgan William hit 11 of 14 free throws and scored 21 points to help No. 21 Mississippi State stay undefeated by beating Louisiana-Lafayette 66-51 on Wednesday. Mississippi State is off to its best start in school history after its 12th consecutive win. It's the first time the Bulldogs have won 12 straight since the 2004-05 squad, the only other time it has happened for the program. MSU had previously started two other seasons with 11 straight wins. "Take your hat off to Louisiana," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "It was heck of a game. We didn't play well at times."
A new low? MSU falls to lowly Arkansas State
There have been a lot of low points in Rick Ray's two-plus years as Mississippi State's coach. Among them: the Bulldogs have lost 19 straight road games; they've lost 13-straight in back-to-back seasons; and at times, they barely have had enough scholarship players to field a viable team. But Wednesday's 69-55 loss to Arkansas State was among, Ray admitted, among the lowest of the lows. "This is about as disappointing a loss we had since we've been here," Ray said.
RICK CLEVELAND (OPINION): He may be gone, but Jack Vaughn's stories will last forever
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "Before Jack Vaughn officiated in three Super Bowls as one of the NFL's top-rated field judges, he was a Mississippi State shortstop looking for a way to make spending money in the autumn. Jack Cristil, the new State broadcaster, needed a spotter, somebody to help him give credit to the correct players for making tackles or especially good blocks. Jack hired Jack. This was 1955 and the legendary Dudy Noble paid Cristil all of $25 per game to do the Bulldog football broadcasts. 'Money,' said Vaughn, 'was tight back then.' Cristil, however, was not. 'Jack always gave me $15 for spotting the games,' Vaughn said. 'So, in actuality, I made more money than he did. He made 25, paid me 15 and that left him with 10.' Said Vaughn, 'You think I didn't appreciate Jack Cristil?' The feeling surely was mutual. Jack Vaughn died at home in Starkville last week of an apparent heart attack, roughly three months after his friend, the inimitable Cristil, passed away."

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