Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Series Great reporting

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Trial: Did Someone Prevent Meredith Calling Home On The Night?

Posted by Peter Quennell


“The British student Meredith Kercher may have tried to telephone her mother in a last cry for help before she was overpowered and stabbed to death in Perugia in central Italy.”

This story on one of Meredith;s last actions out of the courtroom yesterday is being very widely picked up around the world. Click above for John Follain’s report.

Posted on 03/21/09 at 07:00 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trial: Wrap-Up On The Testimony For This Week From Officers Who Questioned Knox

Posted by Nicki




1.Monica Napoleoni

Today’s hearing resumed with the deposition of Ms Monica Napoleoni, the head of Perugia’s homicide squad, which had been halted yesterday.

Some of her statements were extremely touching and sad. For example, she reported on the text messages that were found on Meredith’s phone from her parents who, having heard on the news broadcasts that a British student had been murdered in Perugia, wanted to make sure that their daughter was fine. [A heartfelt comment on this by reader TT on the post below this one]

Ms Napoleoni also described what she saw when she entered the murder room and leaned over Meredith’s lifeless body. She reported that Meredith body had been cut about so ferociously that it was very hard for her to even look at the wounds.

Ms Napoleoni also talked about a female shoe print that was found next to the pillow near Meredith’s body, a footprint of a size compatible with Knox’s.

During cross-examination, Sollecito’s defense showed Ms Napoleoni pictures of the cottage rooms taken while the search by the Flying Squad and Scientific Police was taking place. She pointed out that shoe covers and gloves were always being worn by everybody present.

In one instance on December18th when the bra clasp was found and sequestered “whole overalls were used by everyone, since the scientific police were at work”.

Ms Monica Napoleoni confirmed the impartial handling of Knox on the night of 5-6 November which she briefly witnessed, and also confirmed that she witnessed “Knox‘s gymnast show” and improper behaviour of the couple during the course of investigating such a tragic event.

2. Rita Ficarra

Ms Rita Ficarra, the officer in charge of the Perugia Flying Squad, reported about the night between November 5 and 6, when the two defendants were interrogated and later arrested in the wee hours of November 6th.

Knox turned up at the police station, although she hadn’t been asked to, “because Sollecito had been requested to be interviewed and she was accompanying him” Ms Ficarra said.

She was not required to stay, and could have gone home any time.

“I encountered her in the waiting room doing splits, cartwheels and bridges. She was showing off her gymnastic capabilities”. Ms Ficarra added that she reproached Amanda, and asked her to quit her inapt behaviour, as in addition to her gymnast show, Knox kept French-kissing, stroking and hugging Sollecito.

Ms Ficarra felt that was very inappropriate behaviour to be going on in a police station while waiting to be heard concerning a gruesome murder.  “Everybody else was terrified” Ms Ficarra said “except for Amanda and Raffaele, who seemed indifferent, were smirking, and kept on French kissing.”

Ms Ficarra then described Knox’s interrogation and the false accusations against Patrick Lumumba.

Ms Ficarra testified that when Knox was asked about Mr Lumumba‘s text message to her on the night from his bar, “she started crying and wrapping her hands around her head, she started shaking it, and then she said: it was him…Patrick killed her”.

At this point, Ms Ficarra said “I stopped the interrogation and informed the judicial authorities”. Ms Ficarra stressed that “Amanda was never mistreated” and that “she had a chance to rest, go the bathroom, and eat”.  She insisted on writing out and signing statements both then and after being warned of her rights. She declined to have a lawyer present. 

Ms Ficarra’s deposition continued: “After Knox was notified of her arrest – in English - she asked for a pen and paper, saying: I’ll give you a present“. Ms Ficarra added “Knox asked me to read what she was going to write before she was taken to jail, because she wanted me to have a clear idea about what had happened”.

Ms Ficarra maintained that “Knox was never subjected to threats or violence…. she was treated firmly, but with cordiality”.

3. Knox and Sollecito

As Andrea Vogt reported, Knox and Sollecito both made impromptu declarations during today’s trial session.

Knox made a very brief statement in Italian, claiming “They did offer me drinks and food, but they started treating me as a person only after I made those declarations”. She did not elaborate any further.

Sollecito’s declaration took more time. He claimed that during his interrogation on the evening of November 5, he asked to make a phone call to his father but was denied it. He then asked for permission to call a lawyer, but he was not allowed to do so. He did not report any mistreatment or any physical or psychological abuse from the police.

4. A comment on this.

It should be noted that when Sollecito asked for a lawyer’s assistance, he had not yet even become a suspect. His status was still that of a “person knowledgeable about the facts” who is not legally entitled to insist on a lawyer being present. 

Not an actual suspect. Simply a person who could possibly yield useful information to the investigators. So why would someone who is being heard as a “helper” be so concerned about getting a lawyer? If he really had nothing to hide?

The next trial dates are March 13 and 14, 20 and 21, and 27 and 28.


Trial: Nick Pisa Of On-The-Ball Sky News Reports On Saturday Morning

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 02/28/09 at 08:50 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Trial: Andrea Vogt Reports More Of The Details Introduced Friday

Posted by Peter Quennell




Introduction

Click above for the full report. From Andrea Vogt, a highly objective reporter, one of only two or three Italian-speaking American reporters actually attending the trial.

1) Knox at the police stationz: Officer Profazio and Officer Napoleoni

Giacinto Profazio, who supervised the investigation, said he had to tell the suspects at one point [at the police station] that it was inappropriate for Knox to sit on Raffaele Sollecito’s lap.

The couple was kissing, making faces and acting increasingly annoyed at investigators’ questions, said Monica Napoleoni, the head of Perugia’s homicide squad… “I took particular notice of their behavior because it seemed impossible that these two kids were there kissing when the cadaver of their friend had just been found,” Napoleoni said.

Police also emphatically defended their handling of the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, refuting allegations that Knox and Sollecito were mistreated during questioning in November 2007.

Investigators were firm, she testified during the six-week-old murder trial, but “absolutely” did not use violence—a claim Knox has made.

“She was given a drink more than once,” Napoleoni said. “She was given a hot chamomile tea; she was offered breakfast. Amanda was treated well.”...


2) And at Meredith’s house and Sollecito’s apartment: Officer Napoleoni and Officer Chiacchiera

Police and defense lawyers clashed over key forensic points, including whether or not the crime scene was contaminated, how the murder weapon was identified, luminol-enhanced footprints compatible with those of Knox and Sollecito, Knox and Kercher’s blood found in the bathroom, and most contentiously, Kercher’s bra clasp with Sollecito’s DNA on it.

Both Napoleoni and Marco Chiacchiera, the first investigating officer to arrive, said the crime scene didn’t jibe with the lone burglar theory put forth by the suspects. For example, the room had been messed up before the window had been broken, Chiacchiera said.

The 10-pound rock found inside the room would have been difficult to throw from the ground, more than 10 feet below, he said.

“The fact that this girl was semi-nude with a wound of that type, in a pool of blood in her own room with the door locked, and then with the rock and window like that—well, progressively, the analysis of all the investigative elements made us suspicious,” Chiacchiera said.

Investigators’ suspicions deepened once phone records arrived, he said, because there was a void of calls from 8:30 in the evening until the next morning on both their phones. In months prior, records showed phone activity until late in the night. In addition, Sollecito had told police his father had called him at 11 p.m., but phone records showed no such call….

Even the smallest details became points of [defense] contention, such as why investigators took into evidence the Manga comics Sollecito kept near his bed, which Chiacchiera described as “a cross between pornography and horror,” but took no notice of a nearby Harry Potter novel.

Posted on 02/28/09 at 05:19 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Trial: Nick Pisa Of On-The-Ball Sky News Reports Early Testimony

Posted by Peter Quennell

Hmmm. Many officers testifying = weakness of the case? That seems a stretch.

And in the accompanying article on Sky News, Nick Pisa reports one officer’s testimony.

Mr Profazio, who now leads the narcotics division in Rome, told the court how he had been on holiday at the time of the murder, but immediately returned to work.

“I was away when I had a phone call from colleagues telling me that there had been a terrible murder. The body of an English girl had been found with her throat cut,” he said.

“I immediately headed back to Perugia and got to the scene at the same time as the forensic officers from Rome.

“A window was pointed out to me, which was broken and which was said to have been the point of entry, but I thought it was strange as it would have needed a superhuman effort to climb up to it.

“I noticed that there was a much easier way into the house at the back, via a terrace and a boiler, there was a chair and table on the terrace and it would have been a lot easier to get in this way.”

He also told the court how both Knox and Sollecito’s mobile phones had been switched off “practically at the same time” between 8.00pm and 8.30pm the night of the murder.

Mr Profazio also told the court that a search of Sollecito’s house had discovered a 30cm kitchen knife which was given to forensic experts for examination.

Posted on 02/27/09 at 08:24 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Daily Mail’s Jan Moir Wants Due Process Respected By Parents

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for influential Jan Moir’s full column.

It is mainly about UK cases of parents not respecting the process, but the Knox campaign also gets a mention.

When Amanda Knox was arrested in Italy in connection with the murder of Meredith Kercher, her family began an incantation of her innocence and a blaring defence of her character that continues to this day

The defense PR campaign here seems to be unique in recent United States legal history. Also TV networks paying out very big bucks for exclusives with defendants’ relatives, as was just reported about ABC, seems something of a first here.

Typically the situation is that it is the victim and their relatives who get all the attention. Often on steroids. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Jan Moir is surprised.

The name of the victim here is Meredith, of course.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trial: A Heavyweight American News-Site Reports Well On The Case

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report in Tina Brown’s new Daily Beast

The Beast is an innovative and very-fast-growing New-York based site (like our own!) which launched about the same time we did (no connection).

We see this piece is by the same Rome-based American reporter who filed the Newsweek report below. There are only three or four American reporters close to this case, so it seems they’re in real demand now.

Less than we would have liked on Meredith. Almost no mention. But there are points here of special interest:

1) Knox seems to be enjoying the assigned role

Sollecito comes in shortly after, but most people remain fixated on Knox, who does not look at all like the girl in TV footage taken the day after the crime, cuddling with Sollecito. She is older, thinner, and much prettier, and she has an aura about her. She looks comfortable in the courtroom, almost as if she is playing a role rather than facing charges of cutting Meredith’s throat while Sollecito held back her arms and Guede sexually assaulted her.

2) Sollecito has a new journalism career

Sollecito, who comes from a wealthy and connected family in Puglia, in the south of Italy, has been recruited to write a regular column from prison for his hometown paper in Bari. In it he recently claimed that he was a 23-year-old virgin when he met Knox. Interest in Sollecito has not been as ardent as that lavished on the pretty American coed, but it is growing.

3) The aggressive PR campaign is discouraging digging

An aggressive PR machine out of Seattle that runs under the moniker “Friends of Amanda” speaks out quickly and authoritatively in Knox’s defense, effectively discouraging US media from digging deeper into this mysterious crime. Family spokesman David Marriott arranges regular TV appearances for Knox’s parents and confirmed in an email that ABC’s 20/20 “paid for [Amanda’s mother] Edda to travel to Perugia and back. As a result, the family feels obligated to speak with ABC first.”

We hear other rumors of American networks paying big bucks for the attention of the biological parents. No-one, of course, is paying the Kerchers anything at all - they apparently insist on paying all their own bills.

4) TJMK and Perugia Murder File get highlighted

Meanwhile, the case has taken on a bizarre life of its own in the blogosphere, where a number of partisan websites, in both English and Italian, wage fierce battle. Among the most notable are the New York-based True Justice for Meredith Kercher and the Perugia Murder File, which both believe that Knox is guilty and defend the court proceedings in Perugia, translating critical court documents and creating impressive Powerpoint presentations to help readers decipher the evidence.

Hmmm. Vey nice, but a correction, if we may, Beast?  These sites don’t ever claim guilt. They point to very hard evidence to address, and a very fair process under way. And to the once-fading-fast notion that justice for Meredith, the only real victim here, really matters.

The impressive Powerpoints created for us by Kermit and Nicki (with more to come) are all here. And why the defendants were sent to trial can be read here.

5) The fratricide on some amateur websites now in meltdown

The blogs in defense of Knox include Italian Woman at the Table, which is run by a Seattle-based reporter writing a book on the case, and Perugia Shock. Comment sections in the blogs are rife with threats and accusations—not against Knox and Sollecito, mind you, but against other bloggers. Some have taken to exposing the actual names and addresses of people posting under screen names or threatening physical harm to those with opposing views of the case.

6) And how the case coverage is tracked in Perugia

The blogs are taken very seriously in Perugia, where prosecutors have assigned someone to follow the postings.

So how is it going there, guys? Getting paid to read us? That must be a first…

Posted on 02/19/09 at 07:27 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trial: Newsweek Reports On The Perugia Progress So Far

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click above to start the video]

A good report now online from Newsweek’s Italy correspondent Barbie Nadeau.

Newsweek’s piece has more detail on the testimony from Meredith’s sad friends than previously reported in English. It concludes that the case continues to be stranger than fiction.

By the way, Newsweek is the only US weekly devoting resources to the case so far - strange to us, as the growth in our own readership suggests a very big potential audience.

Posted on 02/18/09 at 08:06 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Influential Legal Talking Head Nancy Grace Of CNN Is Now On The Case

Posted by Skeptical Bystander

[Click the arrow above, and then drag the time button to the 5-minute mark.]


Nancy Grace [image at bottom] runs a wildly popular CNN crime talk-show.

It is the companion program to the wildly popular show of Jane Velez-Mitchell that is already on the Perugia case.

A couple of days ago Nancy was on another wildly popular show, ABC’s The View, talking about the Perugia case. The View reaches three and a half million viewers daily, remarkable for a daytime show.

I think we can all agree that Nancy Grace does not mince her words. Nancy proceeds methodically here, presenting these relevant facts:

  • Age of the victim and the American suspect
  • A description of the relationship between the victim and her American roommate
  • Knox’s statement to police that she was present when her roommate was killed
  • Knox’s subsequent claim that she was coerced into making the statement, rather weakened by her assertion that she had smoked pot on the night of the crime and was therefore confused
  • The key physical evidence placing Knox at the scene (the knife and the mixed blood).

Nancy then closes the segment with these observations on the case:

  • She says Knox was “obviously” involved in the murder.
  • She notes that the victim was tortured and sexually assaulted prior to being murdered.
  • She ends by bringing up two other seemingly unlikely murder suspects: Ted Bundy and Scott Peterson.

This came just two days after the antic Paul Ciolino fundraiser which got extensive coverage in Seattle.

Nancy’s compelling intervention on The View could not have exactly pleased the David Marriott PR team or the Friends of Amanda who organized the fundraiser.

Nancy’s appearance also coincided with the release of the much-awaited and very detailed report of Judge Paolo Micheli (post below) on the Guede sentencing. It was Judge Micheli who had decided after a preliminary hearing that there was ample evidence against Knox and Sollecito to send them to trial.

The wheels really seem to be coming off the media effort at this new development.

We already see anew the reflexive barrage of protests from Friends supporters in Seattle. Candace Dempsey, the Seattle blogger who signed a book deal with Penguin to make money out of Meredith’s murder, attended the Saturday night Friends fundraiser for Amanda Knox.

But in her very next post, rather than describe her wonderful night with Mr Ciolino, she weighed in on Judge Micheli’s ruling. The title of her post is quite ludicrous: Why would she [meaning Amanda] let a killer in?

Well, Rudy was not actually a killer at the point when Amanda Knox allegedly let him in. And he was not convicted until months later. Is this really too subtle a point to be grasped?

And there’s more. On the NBC Today show on Wednesday morning, a visibly agitated Anne Bremner claimed to bemused host Matt Lauer that Judge Micheli was guilty of “theorizing” (gasp!)

She then changed tactics in a way frequently observed of the Friends PR effort: Oops! Change the story-line being propagated.

Perhaps a Lone Wolf or a Spiderman didn’t actually enter the cottage through the window? Bremner “theorized” that perhaps it was Meredith who opened the door to Guede?

Do I hear Candace Dempsey shouting “Why would she let a killer in?” Never mind! Remember Jonathan Demme’s terrific Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense?

It looks to me like some people have really heeded that command.


Posted on 01/28/09 at 09:54 PM by Skeptical BystanderClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Web Commentary Skeptical Of “Friends” Campaign Proliferating

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for an example.

More commentaries like these are surfacing now. Posted by independent news-watchers who are all of them unknown to us.

They are taking a close look at the case, and finding the Friends of Amanda Knox claims wanting. And the financial angles of some of them suspect.

Posted on 01/23/09 at 07:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Trial: Court Report From Trisha Thomas Of Associated Press

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 01/16/09 at 04:47 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good Overview Of The Case In Germany’s Der Spiegel

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for the two-part report by Alexander Smoltczyk.

Based on the numbers of reports appearing in Germany, interest in the case is high there. It seems to rank fourth after Italy, the UK, and the US.

There is some mild sensationalism in the newspapers there; not much. Reporting on the whole is as in this report: factual and objective.

Before she moved to Perugia Amanda Knox stayed with an uncle in Germany and interned for a day or two at the Bundestag in Berlin. German is one of her languages.

An on-the-run Rudy Guede was caught on a train in Germany and after a brief period he was semt back to Italy where he broke from the other two.

And Italy is the Number One tourist destination for Germans on vacation. They know and really like the place.

Posted on 01/15/09 at 08:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, January 05, 2009

And Newsweek’s Most-Read Stories Over The Long Weekend Were…

Posted by Peter Quennell

Three on Meredith’s case in the top six.

Click above for a more readable version. The thriller headlines used here don’t quite reflect the cool, precise Newsweek stories which the online readers were reading.

Good news for those wanting objective coverage, everything to come out, and the chips to fall where they may in the case.

And bad news for those not wanting these three particular outcomes…

Posted on 01/05/09 at 09:28 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Excellent New Report From Italy In The Latest Newsweek

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for the story by Rome-based Barbie Nadeau.

The best so far on the Meredith v Knox focus that we are here to re-balance. Newsweek has now set us up with a real challenge, it seems.

By the way, Newsweek has emerged as a real powerhouse of a news magazine in the past four or five years, with a really terrific group of writers.

On the news-magazine front, it is now about as influential as the New York Times on the newspaper front, and the BBC on the broadcast-news front.

Thanks for reading, muffle up well if you are in cold climes, and see you on Monday.

Posted on 01/01/09 at 10:05 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eight Weeks Now And Counting! Our Year-End Report

Posted by Peter Quennell

Here’s where we seem to stand now, two months (yes just two months!) after TJMK first launched. 

1) In the United States here in recent months, Meredith Kercher had become almost invisible in the press reports on the case. The Associated Press report we criticized a week ago is a case in point: half a dozen paras on Amanda Knox’s Christmas plight, and one cold sentence on the Kerchers’ Christmas plight.

2) TJMK has been the one site (try to find another)  to actually draw some of the attention back to Meredith Kercher, to show that she was a really bright and attractive person, to illustrate the London and Leeds environments that she came from, to explain how very much her intended year in Perugia meant to her and how hard she had worked for it, and to show that as the one and only true victim in the case, Meredith REALLY matters,

3) In the United States here, coverage of the emerging public evidence of the case has been between thin and non-existent, and there have been some actively misleading reports. Even the excellent NBC Dateline report that we praised a week ago left out some key evidence points.

4) TJMK has been a solitary voice (try to find another) in setting out the full sweep of the publicly available evidence in a cool and methodical way for everybody’s consideration, the American media’s included, without any exaggeration or misinterpretation, and with the repeated caution that, kinda like an iceberg, most of the evidence is still out of sight.. 

5) In the United States here, there has been a considerable attempt to stir up sentiment against the Italian legal system and the prosecutor. Legal experts here in New York tell us they cannot think of another case where a legal system has been so mischaracterized and a police force, evidentiary service and prosecutor so ridiculed. For example check this out..

6) TJMK has been a solitary voice (try to find another) in explaining how the Italian legal system actually works, in noting that it is actually extremely fair toward defendants, and in showing respect for the efforts of the police, the evidence service, the judiciary, and especially the prosecutor for the case.

7) In other media and other areas of the blogosphere you can find a number of sensationalized reports about Amanda Knox and a lesser number about Raffaele Sollecito.

8) We have generally not commented very much on Sollecito, who remains quite an enigma to us. We have not dwelled on any of those lurid reports about Knox, and we have actually shown a certain sympathy for the plight of Knox who we suspect may have serious unaddressed psychological issues, and who we think has been served very badly by the well-funded, bare-knuckles public relations campaign.

9) We have unmoderated comments here, with no registration required, and we have welcomed all comments in the general tone of the site regardless of point of view. We fund the site ourselves, we dont request contributions, we carry no advertising, and we have no secret book deals in the wings. The agenda simply remains justice for Meredith and some eventual signs of contrition to provide the Kercher family with some sort of closure. And that is it.

10) Two post-length comments appeared here yesterday that showed very little sign that any of the many posts on the evidence on this site had ever been read or understood. If they had been taken into account, such claims about Guede as sole perp would in our view have been impossible. It was not what the commenter said that led to the rebuttals (though he or she mistated some hard facts) so much as the volume of contradicting facts here that he or she ignored and went past. Rebuttals do not seem to have taken a harder line against Knox and Sollecito than comments on any previous posts. 

11) We think we have provided many people with a better appreciation of the really remarkable person Meredith was, and the truly sadistic nature of the crime committed against her. We have run an uphill truth-focussed campaign for her justice which seems to be gaining real traction now against some very well-funded, money-making, smoke-blowing interests. And we have gained respect from the media.

12) We would like to see Guede come out with an ACCURATE description of the events on the night (which he hasn’t yet) and let the chips fall where they may for the remaining two defendants. And we’d really like to see a strong show of contrition from the perp or the perps to the Kerchers to hopefully provide them with some closure.

Very many thanks to all of our sharing, caring, and extremely insightful contributors.  Happy new year, everyone.

And rest in peace, Meredith. You had a very, very good life ahead of you…

Posted on 12/31/08 at 10:31 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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