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Turkey’s Debt Crisis Deepens, Erdogan Bails out Banks His Way

Turkey’s Debt Crisis Deepens, Erdogan Bails out Banks His Way

Shifting bad consumer & business debts from banks to the public, but the way this bank bailout got packaged is pretty nifty.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has launched a raft of measures ostensibly designed to reanimate the economy, including offering direct financial support for people with credit-card debt. The plan will enable Turkey’s maxed-out consumers to go to the biggest state-run lender, Ziraat Bank, and apply for debt rescheduling at low rates of interest. “Any retail client from any bank can apply,” Erdogan said.

Credit-card debt is a major problem. Since 2010 consumer credit has increased almost five-fold on the back of low interest rates (at least in certain foreign currencies), government incentives, and loose loan standards. By August 2018, when these pillars supporting Erdogan’s debt-fueled economic miracle began to buckle, outstanding non-housing consumer debt, peaked at 532 billion Turkish lira ($97 billion at today’s exchange rate, chart via Trading Economics):

About half of this amount is credit card debt. About one-third of the credit-card debt was considered to be non performing. A good portion of this debt is denominated in foreign currency, such as the euro or dollar, to get access to the low interest rates available in those currencies. And this foreign-currency debt is now, after the lira’s exchange rate has fallen, very hard to service. In other words, the government’s scheme is likely to have plenty of takers.

“The debts of citizens who are having repayment problems will be collected under a single umbrella, via Ziraat Bank,” Erdogan said. “They will pay off their debt with a loan from Ziraat and will pay it back according to the level of their monthly earnings.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey Dismisses Trump’s Threat To Devastate Economy Over Kurds

Turkey has brushed off a Sunday threat by President Trump to “devastate” them economically if they attack the Kurdish militia (YPG) in northern Syria, which US forces have fought alongside against the Islamic State (IS).

Turkey regards the YPG as terrorists.


Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….


You cannot get anywhere by threatening Turkey economically,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Trump announced in December that the US would withdraw all troops from Syria as the Islamic State had been “defeated,” a move which shocked allies and resulted in the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Concerns remain that Kurds from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are are under YPG leadership, would fall under attack by Turkey once the US withdraws.

Last week Turkey’s leaders, including the defense minister, described preparations underway for another major Turkish assault on US-backed Kurdish positions east of the Euphrates, following the exit of American advisers based on Trump’s previously announced pullout. That said, Trump said on Sunday that he would thwart any Turkish invasion plans with a “20 mile safe zone,”

Presumably this “safe zone” will be towards protecting American forces while precise exit logistics take shape, and will occur simultaneously to the US pounding remnant ISIS positions; however the details remain uncertain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkish Lira Tumbles As Tanks Amass Along Syrian Border

After an already painful start for the Turkish lira this year, shedding more than 3.5% of its value against the dollar during the first three days of 2019 when it flash crashed after Mrs Watanabe puked on the carry trade after Apple shockingly guided lower, and after early this week the lira slid lower amid renewed tensions between the US and Turkey following hopes that the feuding NATO members might finally be setting aside their differences, dashed after Bolton’s snub heard round the world by President Erdogan, the lira is now tumbling on fears of further military escalation in Syria.

Prior file phone, via Reuters

On Friday Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported Turkey has deployed tanks on the border along Syria’s Idlib province. Turkey’s defense minister further announced preparations for an invasion of Syrian Kurdish enclaves east of the Euphrates “continues intensely”.

“We have Manbij, and the east of Euphrates ahead. Necessary planning was made regarding this. Our preparation continues intensely,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said while inspecting troops near the border with Syria, according to Anadolu.

The uncertainty and fears of another major flare-up following last year’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ sent the lira diving to session lows, and is approaching levels last seen at the start of November.

Turkey has billed its plans as a “counter terror” op, with the defense minister noting dubiously, “We have no problems with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups. Our only targets are terrorists Daesh and PKK/YPG.”

Turkey has for months stated plans to eradicate the presence of the Kurdish YPG, which it considers a terror extension of the outlawed PKK, from near Turkey’s borders.

The question is how will the US (and Israel/Iran/Russia) respond once Turkey follows though with the action so many had been expecting and invades, again.

 

U.S.’s Defeat in Syria is a Crisis of Empire

U.S.’s Defeat in Syria is a Crisis of Empire

The U.S. lost in Syria. Donald Trump finally had the courage to admit that to the world when he ordered the pull out of all U.S. troops there.

Syria was to be the sparkling jewel in the Empire of Chaos’ Crown. A masterstroke of realpolitik which would advance every major U.S., Israeli and Saudi objective while thoroughly destabilizing the Levant and setting the stage for wiping out Iran and eventually Russia.

If the Assad government fell Syria would become something worse than Libya. It would become a source of abject chaos for decades to come. And the formation of greater Kurdistan would put advanced U.S. and Israeli military assets on Iran’s doorstep.

Carving up Syria, Iraq and possibly even Turkey, once Erdogan was removed from power, would put the U.S. and Israel in control of the oil assets to fund a jihadist-led insurgency across all of central Asia.

Moreover, the chaos would ensure a steady stream of refugees into Europe to destabilize it. That chaos would lead to further political integration of Europe under EU control.

You can see the remnants of this plan all around you today. In fact, a great deal of it is still on auto-pilot. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron’s tag-team calls for ceding national sovereignty to the EU are a perfect example of this.

They can all feel the project slipping away from them. Despite their failing political power they are pushing their legislatures to ignore the people, calling them traitors.

Orwell would be proud of Macron for saying, ““patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism [because] nationalism is treason.”

The generals Trump just fired over his decision are another example. They still believe they can win a balkanization of Syria and Iraq. They just need more assets and more time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Troops Out, Syrian Army In: Kurdish City Handed Back To Damascus As Turkey Poised To Invade

After days of Turkey mustering huge military forces poised to enter the northwestern Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij, and just as American advisers have pulled out of the area based on Trump’s broader Syria draw down, what many analysts saw as impossible throughout seven years of war has suddenly happened: the de facto autonomous Syrian Kurdish region has formally invited the Syrian Army to take control to prevent the invading Turks from seizing it.

Damascus has now confirmed government forces have entered Manbij in a move likely to stave off a full-scale Turkish offensive. An official statement  said government forces were already entering the city in what is among the most historic moments signalling Assad is likely to take back all of natural Syria: “Considering the Arab Army’s duty and in a response to a call by the people of Manbij, the Syrian general staff announces that the Army has entered Manbij and raised the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic there,” the statement cited by Syrian media said.

Syrian pro-government channels indeed showed the national flag raised over municipal buildings in Manbij early Friday.

As pro-Turkish rebels as well as Turkey’s Army stationed forces along the province’s western border for what Ankara called an “anti-terrorist operation” around the city, with the Kurdish YPG being the target (as Ankara considers the group an extension of the outlawed PKK), the Syrian Army likewise has built up troops in the area over the past days ready to take back sovereign Syrian territory.

Shortly before handover the town to the Syrian Army, the YPG issued an official statement announcing its withdrawal to positions east of the Euphrates where it will engage remaining ISIS pockets. The YPG spokesman stated:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

The invasion and occupation of Syria by tens of thousands of jihadists who were recruited from around the world to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, was financed mainly by US taxpayers and by the world’s wealthiest family, the Sauds, who own Saudi Arabia and the world’s largest oil company, Aramco. America’s international oil companies and major think tanks and ‘charitable’ foundations were also supportive and providing propaganda for the operation, but the main financing for it came from America’s taxpayers, and from the Saud family and from the Government that they own.

One of the best articles that the New York Times ever published was by Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, on 23 January 2016, “US Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels”. They reported that, “the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels. … From the moment the C.I.A. operation was started, Saudi money supported it.” Furthermore, “The White House has embraced the covert financing from Saudi Arabia — and from Qatar, Jordan and Turkey.” But “American officials said Saudi Arabia was by far the largest contributor to the operation.” The invasion and occupation of Syria by jihadists from around the world was primarily a Saud operation, though it was managed mainly by the US Government.

Prior to the failed US-backed coup-attempt on 15 July 2015 to replace Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey’s President, Turkey was part of the U.S-Saudi alliance to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government. But afterwards, Turkey increasingly switched against the US and Sauds, and toward instead supporting the target of the Sauds and of America’s aristocrats: Syria.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Empire’s Sea of Woes

The Empire’s Sea of Woes

The noose cinches.

Second-rate George H.W. Bush got a first-rate Washington send-off. For one day it interrupted the downtrend in equity markets. It may mark the US apotheosis of inflated grandiosity. Across the Atlantic, Emmanuel Macron, pretentious popinjay of Gallic grandiosity, has gotten a deserved comeuppance. Brexit, Trump’s election, and nationalist uprisings in Southern and Eastern Europe apparently insufficient warning to the globalists who would rule us, the French rioters are sending yet another wake-up call. If that’s not enough, so too are many of the nations outside the Euro-American welfare state asylum.

The crazies’ kings, queens, and courtiers face a dwindling inheritance and mounting debt, but spend lavishly to keep up appearances. Falling markets and rioting taxpayers are unwelcome reminders that the money’s running out, leaving behind a stack of IOUs that won’t be paid. The aristocracy wants to offload the pain to the peasantry, but the riots demonstrate that the peasantry has other ideas. Our betters also want to blame their sea of woes on Eurasia’s leaders, but Russia, China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are having none of that. They are, however, delighted to see the West crumbling and will do nothing to stop it.

Empire is America’s noose, hubris America’s curse. Once upon a time it didn’t matter much to the American people or their politicians what happened in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or even Europe. During the nineteenth century, for the most part we minded our own business, and what a business it turned out to be. America became the world’s industrial, technological, and commercial powerhouse.

Success may be the hardest human condition to endure. Few individuals withstand it. For empires, it’s always temporary. They fail and topple from the pinnacle with monotonous regularity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Geopolitical Stakes Are Huge On This Tiny Island

Geopolitical Stakes Are Huge On This Tiny Island

Cyprus

The specter of a rumored U.S. military buildup in Cyprus that would draw a major Russian response now adds to the ongoing Greek Cypriot-Turkish conflict over the island and the oil and gas riches it promises.

Ever since the massive hydrocarbon discovery in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in 2011 by American company Noble Energy the island has been the center of a geopolitical game that doesn’t stop with rife tensions between Turkey and the Greek Cypriots.

And now this game is drawing nearer to its climax, with much at stake.

Cyprus–an island in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea—is divided into the Greek-dominated Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish-controlled north. Since 2004, the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the European Union, and the northern ‘entity’ remains recognized solely by Turkey.

But it is the EEZ—the exclusive economic zone—where this geopolitical game of chess is being played out.

(Click to enlarge)

Generally, Turkey doesn’t accept the jurisdiction of Cyprus over the EEZ, and particularly the process of bidding on and awarding concession for offshore oil and gas drilling. Every attempt by Nicosia to invite international companies to explore offshore has been met with a strong reaction from Turkey, which is constantly looking for geopolitical leverage in this battle.

From the Turkish perspective, the Greek Cypriots persist “in ignoring the equal and inalienable rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot side on natural resources of the island”.

Indeed, everything in correlation with oil and gas on Cyprus has a specific political weight and is highly sensitive.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russian South Stream 2.0 Comes Out of the Shadows

Russian South Stream 2.0 Comes Out of the Shadows

Russia and Turkey have announced that the two countries have reached significant progress in reviving the November 2014-shut down South Stream gas pipeline intended to land Russian gas across the Black Sea. The project is the part of the already secured open tender contracts for purchases of gas signed between Gazprom, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

Source: Kommersant

The new Black Sea gas pipeline Turkish Stream will run under sea from Krasnodar to a landing hubv just west of Istanbul. On November 19, presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Istanbul to announce the completion of pipeline’s off-shore section.

Pipeline capacity is for 30 bullion cubic meters, bcm, although initial phase capacity will be closer to 17bcm (the first pipe). Currently, Gazprom supplies the above volume (30bcm) to Turkey (ca 16bcm), Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. Turkish market has been supplied via Blue Stream pipeline, and the other countries are supplied via Ukraine.

Based on reports from Russia’s Kommersant (https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3806415), Gazprom has managed to achieve two feats:

  1. Gazprom has completed laying two (not one) pipes for Turkish Stream, one intended to supply Turkey and another, to supply Southern Europe,
  2. Gazprom secured tenders for purchases of gas from all EU states to be connected to the South Stream project (Bulgaria’s open tender closes in December 2018, but all other countries have already signed onto supply agreements).

Significantly, the tenders were secured in compliance with the EU Energy Directives. This means that Gazprom latest venture has addressed the main cause of the EU’s original objections to the same pipeline prior to 2014. In the case of open tenders process, Gazprom used exactly the same scheme to secure capacity orders for its Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia back in 2017.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Forget Nordstream 2, Turkstream is the Prize

Forget Nordstream 2, Turkstream is the Prize

While the Trump Administration still thinks it can play enough games to derail the Nordstream 2 pipeline via sanctions and threats, the impotence of its position geopolitically was on display the other day as the final pipe of the first train of the Turkstream pipeline entered the waters of the Black Sea.

The pipe was sanctioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who shared a public stage and held bilateral talks afterwards.  I think it is important for everyone to watch the response to Putin’s speech in its entirety.  Because it highlights just how far Russian/Turkish relations have come since the November 24th, 2015 incident where Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 over Syria.

When you contrast this event with the strained and uninspired interactions between Erdogan and President Trump you realize that the world is moving forward despite the seeming power of the United States to derail events.

And Turkey is the key player in the region, geographically, culturally and politically.  Erdogan and Putin know this.  And they also know that Turkey being the transit corridor of energy for Eastern Europe opens those countries up to economic and political power they haven’t enjoyed in a long time.

The first train of Turkstream will serve Turkey directly.  Over the next couple of years the second train will be built which will serve as a jumping off point for bringing gas to Eastern and Southern Europe.

Countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Serbia and Slovakia are lining up for access to Turkstream’s energy.  This, again, is in stark contrast to the insanely expensive Southern Transport Corridor (STC) pipeline set to bring one-third the amount of gas to Italy at five times the initial cost.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey Vows To Make “Sea Bandits” Drilling Gas Off Cyprus Pay “Like Terrorists In Syria Did”

Ankara will not allow any “sea bandits” to roam free and tap the disputed natural gas reserves off Cyprus, Turkey’s president has vowed, while commissioning a new warship to challenge competitors militarily, should the need arise.

“We will not accept attempts to seize natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean through the exclusion of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC),” 

Erdogan said Sunday, according to Daily Sabah. While claiming that Turkey has no ambitions to annex any “territories,” Ankara promised to protect “the rights of our country and of our brothers.”

“Those who thought that they could take steps in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean despite [this] have begun to understand the magnitude of their mistake. We will not allow bandits in the seas to roam free just like we made the terrorists in Syria pay,” Erdogan said at a ceremony transferring the TCG Burgazada corvette to the Turkish Navy.

The exploration of hydrocarbon resources off the coast of the Republic of Cyprus has become a sensitive issue for the international community, ever since the first gas deposit discoveries were made off the coast in 2011. While the Republic of Cyprus belongs to the EU community and is recognized by the UN, TRNC, the northern third of the island, has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. As a result, Ankara continues to claim jurisdiction for offshore research in the East Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich with natural resources.

The region has recently witnessed an escalation in tensions, after the Turkish Navy intercepted a Greek frigate which tried to interfere with a Turkish research vessel’s seabed exploration on October 18. The incident prompted a diplomatic row with Greece, which traditionally supports the ethnically Greek government of the Republic of Cyprus.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This Major Cover Up Could Wreak Havoc On Global Oil Markets

This Major Cover Up Could Wreak Havoc On Global Oil Markets

Riyadh

The decision facing President Donald Trump is not an easy one, a problem not of his own choosing and one that the politically charged president would rather not have to deal with.

To sanction or not sanction Saudi Arabia over the alleged killing last month of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (that often criticized in his Washington Post columns the royal family and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman) will dictate U.S.-Saudi relations more than any other development since the 1973 Arab oil embargo that sought to punish Washington and its western allies over its support of Israel in the Yom-Kippur War.

The fallout and disapproval has taken on a life of its own in both diplomatic circles and among global media outlets after news initially broke that Jamal Khashoggi had been killed in the Saudi consultant in Istanbul in early October. Not that politically charged killings are anything new, unfortunately, but the problem in this instance was the inconsistencies in the Saudi narrative from the onset.

Changing narrative

Saudi officials initially rejected assertions that Khashoggi had even been killed. On October 15, Trump said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman denied any involvement, and the president suggested that “rogue killers” could be responsible for the killing. The next day, Trump said criticism of Saudi Arabia was another case of “guilty until proven innocent.” And the following day, he said he’d contacted Turkish officials and requested audio and video related to the case, “if it exists.”

However, amid all of the uncertainty and political posturing, Turkey pushed its investigation. The Associated Press on October 16 quoted a high-level Turkish official as saying police who entered the consulate found “certain evidence” that Khashoggi was killed there.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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A new flashpoint in the Mediterranean deepens the conflict between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece

A new flashpoint in the Mediterranean deepens the conflict between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece

The conflict over gas in the eastern Mediterranean is intensifying. In February, the first case of intervention by the Turkish navy took place in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus. Last month, two more flashpoints have appeared.

The dispute concerns gas blocks, i.e. areas into which waters around Cyprus have been divided. Turkey does not recognize the government in Nicosia or its agreements regarding EEZ. Ankara thinks that the right to extract gas should also be exercised by the Turkish Cypriots and also by Turkey in the case of Blocks 4, 5, 6, and 7, through which – according to Ankara – passes the Turkish maritime border (the map below).

At the beginning of October, Cyprus put gas extraction in the disputed Block 7 out to tender,1) which the Gefira Team has informed about.2) In response to this, in the middle of the same month, Turkey sent an exploration ship assisted by four naval vessels and began exploration in the area of 44 thousand km2, including blocks 4 and 5.3) Nicosia and Athens consider it a violation of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.4) On October 18, another event took place. Greece reported that the Turkish ship had entered the Greek continental shelf, which provoke Athens to send the frigate Nikiforos to drive the Turks out.5)

[Location of the Turkish research ship Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa in October 2018 in the disputed area in the Eastern Mediterranean. Source: Marine Traffic]
In the vicinity of the disputed waters, exploration is carried out by, among others, Italian Eni, French Total and American ExxonMobil. When the Turkish Navy stopped an Eni research vessel in the EEZ of Cyprus in February, Rome decided to send a frigate.6)…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

OPINION: CBS’s & NPR’s Rabidly False ‘News’ About the Khashoggi Case

OPINION: CBS’s & NPR’s Rabidly False ‘News’ About the Khashoggi Case

CBS

It’s a lie to say, as CBS ‘News’ did on October 24th, that Saudi Crown Prince Salman couldn’t have done what Turkey says he did in the Khashoggi case — couldn’t do it,  because it’s not in the Saud family’s “DNA” to do such things. To the exact contrary: it is the norm for the Saud family, and has been for decades if not longer. What’s not normal in the Khashoggi case is that it was being done to a Saudi who has so many admirers and friends at high places in The West. That’s what makes the Khashoggi case different from all the others. And the evidence for this — and for the pervasive propagandistic fakery in U.S. mainstream ‘news’ reporting about foreign affairs (such as CBS did there) — will be presented here. This routine and unchallenged lying by the ‘news’-media is a super-scandal that the U.S. and UK press don’t report, but instead they all hide that they had lied and routinely do lie. So, since it’s totally unaddressed, it continues, on and on, for at least decades. Probably none of the major American or British ‘news’-media will publish this American samizdat, exposing the press, but this is being submitted to them all, in the hope that maybe at last, some or at least one of them will finally relent, and break open this mega-scandal — about the press itself. It needs to be made public

The constant lying, at any rate, must stop, regardless how it’s done. Though the problem itself, of repeatedly deceiving-the-public-into-wars, is not being reported, some U.S. and UK ‘news’-media are starting to come clean on aspects of the resulting disaster. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Listening In to Killings – and Everything Else

Listening In to Killings – and Everything Else

Listening In to Killings – and Everything Else

It was intriguing that the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 was apparently recorded in some fashion. The BBC reported that “A Turkish security source has confirmed to BBC Arabic the existence of an audio and a video recording. What is not clear is if anyone other than Turkish officials has seen or heard them. One source is cited by the Washington Post saying men can be heard beating Mr Khashoggi; it adds that the recordings show he was killed and dismembered.”

It seemed pretty much an open-and-shut case. There was evidence that the despotic regime of Saudi monarchy, as always regarding themselves as being above decency, law and civilisation in general, had been so annoyed with a Saudi journalist that they killed him. It was an amateur operation, and Mossad (for example) would have done a better and more discreet job (although their assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai was a bit botched), but it achieved the Saudis’ objective and sent the message round the world that any of their nationals daring to speak out against the Trump-supported boy dictator in Riyadh, the ruthless Mohammed bin Salman, would pay the ultimate price.

But then the story about a recording of the torture and killing of Jamal Khashoggi underwent modification. Perhaps there wasn’t a Turkish audio and video recording, after all. CNBC broadcast that “The Turkish newspaper Sabah reported that Khashoggi recorded audio of the alleged killing using an app on his Apple Watch and was able to upload the recording to his iPhone and iCloud account,” but the conclusion was that “It would have been nearly impossible for Khashoggi to record audio and upload it to his iPhone or the internet, and it raises questions as to how Turkish officials obtained the audio and video evidence of the alleged killing.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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