|Friday, 15 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 30 December 2008 Issue No: 3083
 PM confers with education ministerEducation sector reform issues dominated a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis with Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday.
In statements afterwards, Stylianidis stressed that the talks focused on the course of education sector reforms, pointing out that public dialogue on the new quality lyceum level secondary education and a new admission system to tertiary education institutions will get underway early in the coming year.
"The dialogue will be exhaustive", he said, adding that "the government is unbiased and open to all proposals."
 FM Bakoyannis to attend informal EU summit on Gaza crisisForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be leaving for Paris on Tuesday to participate in the European Union's informal meeting of foreign ministers that will focus on coordinating European policy on handling the crisis in the Gaza Strip.
The meeting will be taking place at 18:30 (local time), with the first target being achieving an immediate ceasefire.
A telephone conversation had preceded between Bakoyannis and her French counterpart and EU Council of Ministers President Bernard Kouchner.
 FM speaks with Arab League SG Moussa regarding GazaForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held a telephone conversation on Monday with the Secretary-General of League of Arab States Amr Moussa, expectedly focusing on the latest worrying developments in the Gaza Strip.
According to reports, the Greek FM and the Arab League head agreed that it is imperative to immediately cease hostilities.
 FM Bakoyannis to receive SYRIZA delegationForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be receiving a delegation of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday, December 30 and at 11:00 hours. The meeting will be taking place at the request of the party's Parliamentary Group and will concern the latest developments in Gaza. The meeting will be held at the Foreign Ministry.
 PASOK leader on developments in Middle EastMain opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou held a series of telephone conversations on Monday, in the framework of preparations for initiatives by the Socialist International on the dramatic developments in the Middle East, according to party announcement.
Papandreou communicated with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, "who has in-depth knowledge of the situation in the region of the crisis, since he had served as the European Union's special representative for the Middle East during the period of the Greek EU Presidency."
The PASOK leader then spoke with the joint presidents of the Socialist International's Committee for the Middle East, Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Store, and Pierro Fascino, with whom "he made an extensive probe of the possibilities of intervention by the Socialist International in the crisis, both immediately, to enable a ceasefire from all sides and a ceasefire agreement, as well as in the depth of time, to have the preconditiins shaped for a peaceful dialogue."
Papandreou had a telephone conversation on Sunday with the General Secretary of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, in light of the League's special summit.
His contacts with officials of the international community will be continuing in the coming days, the announcement concluded.
 KKE leader meets with Palestinian envoyCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Monday met with the Palestinian territories' envoy in Greece, Samir Abou Ghazaleh, as talks expectedly focused on developments in Gaza.
"Now it is the time, through crystal-clear positions, to raise to the highest level our solidarity to the Palestinian people and ask for the end of the Gaza blockade, the end of the Israeli attack and the immediate discussion for a solution to the Palestinian problem, a problem which is outstanding for the past 60 years," Papariga told reporters after the meeting.
She also asked for the "creation of an independent Palestinian state, a normal state and not a 'semi-state' in the way the US and others think of it; a state that will cover the territories of 1967 and will have as its capital east Jerusalem."
Papariga noted that the Palestinians "are threatening no one, no other country nor a neighbouring people."
 Athens Mayor Kaklamanis on the attack in GazaAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis called for an immediate ceasefire after the Israeli air strikes and the lifting of all obstacles raised by Israel blocking the arrival of humanitarian aid, in a statement issued on Monday on the "new bloodshed in the region of Gaza".
Kaklamanis stressed that "once again the European Union watches the massacre speechless and idle all those who had invested a lot on the new US President will probably have to cut down on their expectations to match the holiday season sales."
He also added that the municipality of Athens is ready to send humanitarian aid as soon as the circumstances will allow.
 KKE holds march to U.S., Israeli embassiesThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) held a rally at the War Museum in Athens and a march to the embassies of the United States and Israel on Monday over developments in Gaza.
KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga said in a statement that "the time has come now for us to take to the streets, just like then with the war in Yugoslavia," adding that "today, Gaza is being murdered literally and not only. They want to wipe out every hope for the creation of a Palestinian state. And, of course, in no way is Israel in danger from Palestine."
Demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy burnt two flags of the country, while shouting "either with Obama or with Bush the Americans are killing peoples."
 Protests outside Israeli embassyThree separate protests converged on the Israeli embassy in Athens on Monday afternoon, as demonstrators vented their anger over the recent Israeli air raids in Gaza.
Arabs and Palestinians living in Greece staged the first protest, with three arrests reported when demonstrators tried to break through a riot police barricade and enter the embassy's premises. According to reports, one man, identified as a Syrian national, was arrested and taken to police headquarters when he tried to tear at the Israeli flag.
Riot police intially detained three men, identified as foreign nationals living in Greece.
 PM Karamanlis receives outgoing Russian ambassadorPrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received outgoing Russian ambassador to Greece Andrei Vdovin.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Russian envoy said that the visit was a courtesy call on the prime miniser, as he was returning to Russia after five years of service in Greece.
Vdovin also referred to the wider Greece-Russian cooperation in recent years, noting that there has been great progress in many areas, while he also stressed that there was "very good chemistry" between Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, respectively, and Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
He further said that "very good cooperations" had taken place, and expressed satisfaction that the Greek people and all the parties had supported those collaborations.
Vdovin also expressed satisfaction over the great progress in the relations between the two countries effected in the past five years.
 New Russian envoy for Greece announcedMOSCOW (ANA-MPA / Th. AVGERINOS)
The Russian foreign ministry's up-until-now director of its "new threats and provocations" department, Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, has been appointed as Moscow's ambassador-designate for Greece, replacing currently Amb. Andrey Vdovin.
Chkhikvishvili, of Georgian descent, was also the Kremlin's ambassador to Georgia between 2002 and 2006.
A relevant presidential decree posting Chkhikvishvili in Athens was signed by Russian President Dimitri Medvedev.
 Gov't says slashing tax evasion, spending priorities in 09Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Nikos Legas on Monday urged ministries and agencies to work harder towards combating tax evasion and smuggling, while at the same time expanding the tax base and cutting spending.
In a circular, the minister said these goals are the axes to pursue fiscal consolidation in a 2009 state budget, with the aim of further reducing the country's fiscal deficit and public debt, within the framework of an EU Stability and Growth Pact.
The circular, which included the main directions for executing next year's budget, stressed that the main goal of economic policy for 2009 was the continuation of fiscal consolidation, ensuring satisfying economic growth rates amid a negative international financial juncture, supporting employment and social cohesion, combating tax evasion and smuggling, adopting a fairer distribution of tax burden and boosting regional growth.
The circular also strongly emphasises efforts by ministries and agencies to contain public spending.
 FinMin Alogoskoufis meets with market representativesThe measures implemented by the government aimed at restoring the damage caused during the rioting earlier this month as well as the market's current state and future prospects in view of 2009, were discussed during a meeting between National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis with market sector representatives on Monday.
The meeting was attended by Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) President Costas Michalos, Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE) President Dimitris Asimakopoulos, National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) President Dimitris Armenakis, Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UHCCI) President George Kassimatis, Hellenic Retail Business Association (SELPE) President Theodoros Vardas and Athens Traders Association Vice-president Andreas Triantafyllidis.
 Deputy development minister on shops opening on SundayDeputy Development Minister George Vlachos reiterated on Monday that no planning exists on commercial stores opening on more than one Sunday a year.
Responding to rumours on the amendment of legislation to enable stores to open on more than one Sunday a year, Vlachos said in an interview with the state ERT radio station that "there is no planning. The initiative only concerned the Sunday in question. We are raising no Sunday issue."
Also replying to a question on whether employees were obliged to work, he said that "they had the possibility of choosing whether or not they wished to work. No incident took place, everything went smoothly. Legality was observed piously by all. Today, there is no harassment, no dismissal, not even bothering by any employer of employees who did not work yesterday."
 One-time fare tickets for public transports raised, passes significantly reducedPublic transport fares in the greater Athens area are set to increase, whereas conversely, unlimited travel card prices will be reduced, effective on Jan. 1, according to a decision announced last May.
The so-called integrated ticket used for all modes of public transport will be valid for 90 minutes and will cost 1 euro, up 20 cents.
However, the monthly travel pass used for buses, trolleys and trams will cost 15 euros, down from 17.5 euros. Two new products, monthly cards for use on the electric rail network (ISAP) and the Athens metro will cost 25 euros and 30 euros, respectively. The monthly card for all public transports is reduced by three euros, to 35 euros.
The annual travel passes for buses, trams and trolleys will be slashed by 25 euros, down to 150 euros, while the annual pass for all public transports will drop 30 euros, to 350 euros.
The annual unlimited travel passes for ISAP and Metro will cost 250 euros and 300 euros, respectively.
 PASOK on public transport fare increasesMain opposiion PASOK party Transport and Communications representative Nikos Sifounakis criticised the government on Monday over increases in public transport fares.
Sifounakis spoke of a New Year's "tax imposed by the government on tens of thousands of citizens and indeed on low income ones in the midst of an economic crisis, tax raids and continuous diminishing of family income."
According to the representative, the increase in the region of 25 perceent for the ordinary ticket is the second in eight months, since in May 2008 price increases were imposed on tickets ranging from 60 percent to 100 percent.
He concluded by saying that "also taking into consideration that public transport primarily serves the poor and middle classes, it is realised immediately that the government and the Transport ministry are once again showing social insensitivity, that characterises their overall policy."
 Greek markets cut fixed volatility rate for margin insurance on derivatives productsHellenic Exchanges, the listed operator of ASE, ADEX and the Alternative Market, on Monday said it was revising down its fixed volatility rate, used by RIVA to calculate derivatives products' insurance margins on the FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40 indexes to 44 pct, down from 50 pct, and valid as of Tuesday.
The changes will be valid for open positions resulting after completion of the session at the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday.
 Greek stocks end up 1.68 pctGreek stocks moved higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, following a similar trend prevailing in other international markets. The composite index rose 1.68 pct to end at 1,751.62 points, with turnover remaining at very low levels, 68.4 million euros of which 8.9 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Chemicals (3.91 pct), Banks (3.58 pct), Media (3.32 pct) and Personal/Home Products (3.05 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (10.21 pct), Healthcare (4.18 pct) and Commerce (2.02 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.09 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 1.11 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.84 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 131 to 72 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Industrial Product and Services: +1.21%
Oil and Natural Gas: -0.53%
Personal/Home Products: +3.05%
Raw Materials: -1.22%
Financial Services: +2.49%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alapis and Pigasos.
Blue chip stocks ended as follows:
ALPHA BANK: 6.10
COCA COLA: 10.20
HELLENIC PETROLEUM: 5.26
NATIONAL BANK: 12.42
CYPRUS BANK: 2.68
HELLENIC POSTBANK: 5.22
MOTOR OIL: 7.36
PIRAEUS BANK: 5.86
MARFIN POPULAR BANK: 1.84
MARFIN INVESTMENT GROUP: 2.94
 Foreign Exchange rates: TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.438
Pound sterling 0.986
Danish kroner 7.509
Swedish kroner 11.067
Japanese yen 130.01
Swiss franc 1.505
Norwegian kroner 10.024
Canadian dollar 1.754
Australian dollar 2.076
 Greece in grips of stinging cold, snow and sleetGreece was in the grips of stinging cold, snow and sleet, with snow chains required along most parts of the road network in the north of the country.
Cloud with snow flurries were forecast for Monday in Thessaloniki, the eastern-central mainland (Sterea), the Peloponnese, the Cyclades and Crete, with a further drop in tenperatures and northeasterly winds of 4-6 beaufort.
Rain and sleet is forecast for Tuesday in the southern part of the country, with local snowfall in the rest of Greece. The weather conditions are expected to ease up on the mainland on Tuesday afternoon, while the rest of the country will see a small further drop in temperatures, and frost in the west and north.
Temperatures are expected to rise slightly on Wednesday, as snowfall will ease up and be contained to northern Crete.
On Thursday, New Year's Day, snow flurries or sleet are forecast for the Cyclades and northern Crete, mainly during the early morning hours, while the weather will be clear throughout the rest of the country, with a small rise in temperatures.
Snow chains were needed on Monday on the roads leading to the ski centers in Central and Western Macedonia, as frost followed the snowfall of the recent days, with temperatures dropping below 0 C on Sunday night.
Snow chains are also necessary for vehicles along the entire rural road network in Grevena and Kozani prefectures, where snow has reached from between 15 to 50 centimeters, and also along the 29th to the 39th kilometer of the Kozani-Veria highway via Kastania.
In Kastoria prefecture, snow chains are required from the 22nd to the 28th kilometer of the Kastoria-Florina highway via Vitsi, from the 22nd to the 35th kilometer of the Kastoria-Amyntaio highway via Kleisoura, and from the 25th to the 50th kilometer of the Kastoria-Ioannina nighway via Nestorio.
In Florina prefecture, snow chains are necessary from the 18th to the 30th kilometer of the Florina-Kastoria provincial road, via Vitsi, and along the Aetos-Nymfaio and Amyntaio-Kastoria stretches. Traffic along the Egnatia Highway is problem free and no snow tires are required.
In Central Macedonia, snow chains are required on the road accesses to and from the ski centers of Elatochori and Mt. Vorras, and on the Livadia-Kastaneri provincial road in Kilkis prefecture.
Early in the morning, temperatures plunged to -9 C at the Tria-Pente Pigadia ski center in Naoussa prefecture, -4 C in Grevena and Kozani, -3 C in Kastoria, and -2 C in Edessa.
 A Greek-Australian among the brightest minds in 2008Melbourne (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)
A 37-year-old Greek-Australian university professor, a leader in wireless technology, was voted by an Australian newspaper as one of the brightest and strongest minds in 2008.
Dr. Stan (Efstratios) Skafidas is included among the leading minds in the field of technology, according to The Age newspaper, after developing a new silicon chip that will revolutionize the way household gadgets like televisions, phones and DVD players 'talk' to each other.
The tiny five-millimeter-a-side chip, that will cost roughly 5 euros to manufacture, can transmit data through a wireless connection at a breakthrough, five gigabits per second over distances of up to 10 meters. An entire high-definition movie from a video shop kiosk could be transmitted to a mobile phone in a few seconds, and the phone could then upload the movie to a home computer or screen at the same speed.
It uses the 60GHz "millimetre wave" spectrum to transmit the data, which gives it an advantage over WiFi (wireless internet). WiFi's part of the spectrum is increasingly crowded, sharing the waves with devices such as cordless phones, which leads to interference and slower speeds.
The "GiFi" was unveiled early this year by Dr. Skafidas and his team at the Melbourne University-based laboratories of NICTA, the national information and communications technology research centre, after three years of hard work.
 Changes in Athens Metro routesChanges in Athens Metro routes will be applied on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and on Epiphany Day on Tuesday, January 6.
It was announced that on Wednesday, New Year's Eve, trains will be running every five minutes from 06:30 until 18:00 and every 10 minutes over the remaining period.
The last trains will be running from Syntagma Square to all the terminal stations at 23:00.
 Armed robbers target bakery ownerTwo armed robbers held up a bakery in the Vrilissia district of northern Athens and made off with roughly 22,000 euros in the early morning hours Monday.
According to police, the gunmen intercepted the owner outside the bakery and forced him at gunpoint to open a safe inside the store. They fled with the money using a getaway car.
 Suspects arrested in Church of Greece warehouse burglaryThree Albanian nationals -- aged 23, 25 and 32 -- were led before a local prosecutor on Monday in relation to a break-in at a warehouse belonging to the Church of Greece NGO "Allilegii" (Solidarity) warehouse in central Athens.
The suspects, identified as Rom from neighboring Albania, are accused of stealing 130 cardboard boxes with donated clothing and footwear destined for the poor.
The trio was arrested last Saturday after they were spotted in a nearby abandoned factory building, where the stolen items were reportedly stashed.
 Foreign national airlifted from GavdosA Polish national with a severe heart condition was airlifted on Monday from the remote island of Gavdos, south of Crete in the Libyan Sea, to a hospital in Hania, Crete. A Hellenic Air Force helicopter transported the man and a local physician to the nearby large island.
 Ferry collides at Kassos island dockThe ferry 'Marina' rammed into the dock on Kassos island on Monday morning. The ship had safely disembarked the few passengers it was carrying and was ready to set sail when it was struck by large waves caused by high winds prevailing in the area.
The vessel suffered material damages, but no injuries were reported among the approximately 20 passengers and 45-member crew.
The ferry was currently sailing 5.5 nautical miles off Kassos port. The captain has requested the Merchant Marine ministry's permission to either return to Rhodes or head on to Pireaus port for inspection.
The vessel was serving the Rhodes-Kassos-Santorini-Milos-Pireaus itinerary.
 4.8 R quake jolts Samothrace┴ light earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale jolted the northern Greek island of Samothrace in the first hours of Monday.
The quake was recorded at 00:48 a.m., with its epicenter in the sea east of the island.
According to local authorities, no damage or injuries were reported.
 Public stem cell bank in Thessaloniki in Jan.The first public cord blood bank in northern Greece and the second nationwide will open in Thessaloniki on Jan. 14 at the G. Papanicolaou Hospital.
The stem cell bank will operate with equipment donated by the group Friends of Social Paediatrics and Medicine "Anichti Aggalia" ("open arms") and will contribute to the creation of a supply of 10,000 units for local patients, children and adults.
 Cloud, sleet on TuesdayCloudy weather and snow or sleet and northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -9C and 12C. Temporary snowfall or sleet in Athens, with northeasterly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 2C to 6C. Locally cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 4C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe massacre in Gaza and concern over the economy in the midst of the global crisis dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "After submitting their retirement applications, when will the retirees receive their pension? - The state's largest social security fund (IKA) sets firm timetable".
APOGEVMATINI: "The drums of war - Shock and awe all over the world over the massacre in the Middle East".
AVRIANI: "Global outcry against the massacre of Palestinians - Americans' stance was outrageous: They called the Hamas fighters 'thugs'."
CHORA: "Massacre in Gaza - New bloodbath in Palestine".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Gaza strip another Auswich".
ELEFTHEROS: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' would-be-successors' plans - How they're preparing for the showdown".
ELETHEROS TYPOS: "Massacre in Gaza Strip on Christmas eve".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Bloodbath in Gaza ".
ESTIA: "Serious worry for 2009 - 2008's major political mistakes".
ETHNOS: "Expensiveness' raid from New Year's Day - New burden for consumers in the midst of the crisis".
TA NEA: "Unarmed population's slaughter with the US and Europe as spectators - The most deadly attack in the last 40 years".
VRADYNI: "Crucification instead of Hosanna - Hundreds of dead in Gaza after Israel's merciless air raids".
 President hopes all remains of missing persons to be identified in 2009NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias expressed hope on Monday that all remains of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons would be identified in 2009, noting that this was owed to the families of missing persons from both communities.
Speaking after a visit to the laboratory of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), President Christofias said that the procedure carried out at the laboratory was ''a positive and important step to ease, to the extent possible, the ordeal of the families,'' noting that what is left is to determine the causes.
President Christofias, who was accompanied by Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, met with Greek Cypriot member of the CMP Elias Georgiades and the third member Christof Jirod. Turkish Cypriot member Gulden Plumer Kutsuk is abroad.
The president thanked the three members of the CMP, as well as the scientific and other staff of the laboratory, and praised them for their strength to carry out their mission. He also expressed gratitude to the chief of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
President Christofias assured that the government would continue to contribute to the work of the CMP and would be donating an additional sum of 150,000 euros on Tuesday.
He expressed hope for the reconciliation of the two communities and for a functional and viable solution based on the principles of a bizonal bicommunal federation, which would serve the interests of all Cypriots.
To a remark that investigations into the fate of missing persons should be extended to Turkish archives, since many prisoners were taken there, President Christofias said ''this is the demand and the effort but it is not simple.''
Jirod thanked President Christofias for visiting the laboratory, noting that the visit proves his support to the work of the CMP.
He added that remains believed to belong to 466 persons have been exhumed and that so far 110 have been identified and returned to their families.
New results are expected in the next few days and the remains of the identified remains will be returned to their families next month, Jirod noted.
Referring to the opening of the crossing point of Limnitis, President Christofias said that the opening of Limnitis had not been absolutely linked to the opening of Ledra Street.
''We linked it in the sense that we agreed for Ledra Street to open, we agreed that Limnitis and another crossing point would open. The fact that the other side is paltering is not our responsibility. That side is exposed,'' he noted.
Commenting on the fact that the Republican Turkish Party in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus intends to call early ''elections'', President Christofias said it is obvious that the Turkish Cypriots are facing problems, especially regarding the power of the various political parties.
Asked if this development would affect direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias expressed hope that it would not.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem since early September.
 Cypriot volunteer doctors set sail for GazaLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
A vessel departed on Monday afternoon in harsh weather conditions for the Gaza Strip, carrying a delegation of Volunteer Cyprus Doctors, former Doctors of the World Cyprus, headed by Democratic Rally MP Eleni Theocharous.
Trucks transported three tonnes of medical material, mainly antibiotic painkillers and surgery material, to Larnaca Port. The vessel made available by Free Gaza Movement could not carry all the medical material and a selection of the necessities was made.
''We will try to transport at least three tonnes of medical aid but it seems that the volume is too large to fit in the boat. In any case, we will take the most necessary items,'' Theocharous said.
She pointed out the risk of the vessel being intercepted by the Israelis. ''We know that 20 km from Gaza the boat will be intercepted. If they allow us to continue knowing that we are simply volunteer doctors, this is a question to be answered at three or four o'clock in the morning,'' she added.
Regarding the time of return, Theocharous said that this depended on many factors. ''The weather is not favourable and we do not know when the boat will arrive in Gaza. If we begin to operate, then more psychological stress will be added, which does not allow you to abandon your patients and the people who need you,'' she explained.
Theocharous thanked all those who provided support to the mission, such as the Ministry of Health, the Government and the people of Cyprus.
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