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Hard Knock World: The Parallels of a World Cup

Protestor from Brazil masked in the infamous V for Vendetta mask holds up Brazilian Flag  on the streets - Getty Images (c) 

Protestor from Brazil masked in the infamous V for Vendetta mask holds up Brazilian Flag  on the streets - Getty Images (c) 

Last Thursday, the FIFA world cup kicked of in Brazil & for many football (or what is known in North America as soccer) has become their religion. At the same time Brazilians across the country have taken to the streets to protest bad public services, the high cost of living, government corruption and what they see as excessive spending on mega events like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

I fondly remember watching world cup matches with my father, always remembering it being one of the most beautiful games that had the ability to unite the world together on common grounds. It's known as humanity's largest sporting event, I've been glued to the TV screens this weekend catching almost every primetime game but I've been following the news for some time now since it was first announced the the world cup would be hosted in Brazil. 

Team Brazil may do its magic in the world cup but this is not about football anymore!
— Vice News

A paradox exists between our football fever and a harsh reality of what it has taken to create the game that we are watching. It's a paradox that exists, very often at the risk of the under represented who live in the countries hosting the games.  

It has always been important for me to try and understand how the world methodically operates in its own systematic chaos. Sports is something that has been seen by many as a tool to uplift people out of poverty. It can provide communities with better options for their future generations by providing healthier paths for growth and development. It gives kids a chance to dream. 

While I watch the world cup games, it was hard for me to ignore to reality on the ground that people have been facing for so long. This Hard Knock Word post aims to provide a primer for the on going problems and social movements behind the 2014 World Cup, by pulling from various online sources.  

Youth plays with a football in the Favelas of Brazil - Getty Images Brazil (c)

Youth plays with a football in the Favelas of Brazil - Getty Images Brazil (c)

When sports can no longer be seen as a community builder

So what happens when sports does the opposite of building communities and it takes away from the local people by feeding a bigger machine of international consumption? You will find scenes of civil unrest. Scenes that have been erupting in Brazil targeting government priorities, that people believe no longer serve the interest of the majority of the nation. The mis directed focus of spending billion of dollars on the building of colossal stadiums for tourists instead of the allocation of resources to support the larger social need of local infrastructure. This has struck at the heart of the Brazilian people living in and out of poverty. 

"Many Brazilians are outraged that services like transportation, education and healthcare are ineffective and underfunded, yet spending for the World Cup could reach the $40 billion mark, which would make it more expensive than the previous 3 world cups combined"

This video form Vice News paints the picture of the other side of Brazil's World Cup. A quick and in depth synopsis, this is the story of how a 20 cent transportation fare hike became the fire starter that began on going demonstrations against the most expensive World Cup in history. From the creation of a police state to re-gentrification of poor neighbourhoods the Vice News documentary covers how so many football-loving Brazilians ended up hating the world cup. 

Brazil is the largest economy in South America and the seventh largest in the world. Brazil's Rio De Janeiro is a city of the world, a place full of beauty and equally known violence. Like many developing countries the disparity between the rich and poor is ever growing, with the drug trade within urban slums (favelas) being the major problem that the government has been hell bent on trying to control.

When the world cup was first announced, I heard of massive raids that were being conducted in the favela's in lieu of game day preparations. I alway considered these developments as a form of re-gentrification aimed to beautify and create new spaces for international audiences without care being placed on the displacement of the current residents.

"In Rio de Janeiro, the legendary Maracana stadium received a $500 million face-lift, new roads have been built, and dozens of favelas have been demolished, either because they were built in high-risk areas or in spaces designated for public use. Advocates defending the rights of the favela residents say that nationally some 170,000 people have been evicted from their homes."

(Parts of post sourced from: Vice News & "World Cup blamed for Favela evictions in Rio De Janiero.")

 

The Battle for Rio

An anti-government protester dressed as Batman walks among the people of Rio De Janerio, who are protesting the demolition of their homes to make way for the FIFA World Cup. Picture taken in the Favela do Metro slum in Rio, an area near the Maracana stadium playing host to the 2014 games.  Getty images Brazil (c) 

An anti-government protester dressed as Batman walks among the people of Rio De Janerio, who are protesting the demolition of their homes to make way for the FIFA World Cup. Picture taken in the Favela do Metro slum in Rio, an area near the Maracana stadium playing host to the 2014 games. Getty images Brazil (c) 

"If your lucky enough to live in paradise, why turn it into hell?" This is the question that posed in the making of a documentary that depicts what officials in Rio have been doing to clean up its violent slums prior to the world cup kick off. 

"The favelas, the city’s urban slums, are home to millions of people. The vast majority of residents are ordinary people with ordinary jobs, but turf wars between drug trafficking gangs against the fearsome Military Police have turned the favelas into war zones." 

The Battle for Rio directed by Gonzalo Arijón and produced by Christoph Jörg for Pumpernickel Films, tells the personal stories and complex reality in the favelas and paints a picture for the consequences of change that has arisen due to the international pandemonium of the cup.

In preparation for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games, Rio has decided to take back the hills with a unique experiment – a “pacification process.” The city has engaged in an ambitious security operation aimed at freeing its favelas from the control of gangs and drug traffickers with new neighbourhood police forces, the UPP or Police Pacification Units."
When you’re born in the favela you’re expected to become a gangster
— Lula (resident of Babilônia Favela)
Lula speaking of the realities that people have faced in the Favelas in the "Battle for Rio" documentary 

Lula speaking of the realities that people have faced in the Favelas in the "Battle for Rio" documentary 

"With some of highest murder and gun crime rates in the world, Favelas are communities located all across Rio, from the city center to the outer city limits. They have become as part of the Brazil's identity as much as the beaches and carnival. The “pacification process” has allowed police to regain control of dozens of favelas with plans to pacify another 60 or so, including 15 strategically located around Rio’s Maracanã Soccer Stadium."

The Battle for Rio tells the story of both residents, public officials and organizations looking for answers and solutions. The documentary also highlights a local group Afro Reggea that has been at forefront of creating projects and open dialogue to help traffickers demobilize and rejoin the job market. Founder José Júnior started Afro Reggae in response to the violent deaths of almost all his childhood friends.

What’s your strategy for getting a young boy into a gang? Let’s use the same strategy to get him out of crime. So we use the same strategies, not for bad, but for good.
— José Júnior (Founder of Afro Reggae Cultural Group)

From funding world cup dreams to the question of elevating intrinsic poverty, it's a bit more complex than just cleaning up the streets to showcase the development and power of the South American nation. With billions of dollars spent on building massive infrastructure for mega events like the world cup, will any of this benefit the local communities after the last game ends?

(Information sourced from CBC's The Passionate Eye: Battle for Rio)

 

The impact of a Global Cup

On one side sports empowers young people to dream about a better life, the other side of that dream is a much darker nightmare of a reality. Understanding the implications of a global cup is not an easy task to map out for on lookers and much more difficult the people who have to live in these realities. At these mega events it's often the youth caught within these complexities that suffer the most from negative impacts.

One such example of the cup's negative impact comes from the investigations that have shown that children as young as 10 are being forced to sell themselves for sex on the streets of Brazil to cash in on the waves of ­football fans heading to the World Cup.

Brazil's streets are filled with 'thousands' of desperate kids. Two pictured here with a missionary charity worker

Brazil's streets are filled with 'thousands' of desperate kids. Two pictured here with a missionary charity worker

Reports of gangs targeting poverty stricken areas to recruit young girls and boys on the street corners goes on under the noses of police. These ruthless sex gangs across Brazil have been coercing vulnerable children into prostitution in preparation for the world cup. 

"What would be amazing is if the many millions who will tune in to watch the Cup in the comfort of their living rooms could spare a thought for the children whose lives are being ruined."

(Sourced from the Daily Mirror)
 

Seeking Local Solutions for Youth

Ryan, 9, eats in front of graffiti painted by members of OPNI, in reference to the 2014 World Cup, in the Vila Flavia slum of Sao Paulo May 28, 2014. (Reuters / Nacho Doce)

Ryan, 9, eats in front of graffiti painted by members of OPNI, in reference to the 2014 World Cup, in the Vila Flavia slum of Sao Paulo May 28, 2014. (Reuters / Nacho Doce)

Local action has been strong in the communities around Brazil, demonstrating against government spending on the World Cup.  These movements have been calling to question Who truly profits more: FIFA, businessmen or the people? 

While we can point fingers at who is to blame, finding local solutions that support youth within these complex situations are more pressing. Solutions are needed to tackle problems and provide a game plan after the games are over.  

One example is "The Afro Reggae Cultural Group" which has become a rebirth of hope within Rio's Favelas. It has been recognized as one of the most pioneering NGOs in Brazil. The movement started as a cultural centre using traditional drumming, martial arts and dance, as well as recycling projects to recruit children and teens off the streets by providing them with tools for social change through self-improvement and pride. AfroReggae has been using arts and culture as a weapon against the violence created by drugs and weapons trafficking and the police violence in Brazil.

In line with the current football celebrations I've hard that there exists "The Favela World Cup" which is another initiative that has been created to unite youth from Brazil's different favelas to compete in their own reclaimed football matches.

The competition can act as a way for scouts to seek potential talent from these underserved communities, giving Brazilian youth the ability to dream about a possible way out. It also provides an alternative for youth take part in something outside of gang culture  

Brazilian street art 

Brazilian street art 

If you are interested in stretching you philanthropic side by your ability to contribute to causes, there is campaign being led by international volunteers to support the children of Rio's Zona Nortes Favela. Their fight for a favela campaign focuses on the IASESPE community centre in Rio's Complexo do Alemão Favela . The centre provides a safe haven for the favelas kids ( 4-14 ) before and after school , Extra-Curricular activities , lunches and sporting activities are organized for these special kids who live in a high risk environment most importantly it provides an alternative to the streets .

"People may still think that the problem is inside the favela and not in the city favela relationship. What Brazil faces is a larger issue of social exclusion and race. It is an issue of not recognizing equal rights for all. It's not enough just to bring in the police, it doesn't help to say the favela is a dangerous place full of criminals, the media is reinforcing that same image."  

As change makers, we need to ask the difficult questions Has anyone asked what the favela's want?

"Hope still exists for a positive impact to be made in a city that has never seen this magnitude of changes. This hope lies in the future generations to make a difference. A generation that will be born in the Favelas but one day will move beyond the drugs and guns to help change the nation of Brazil." 

(Parts sourced from: The Battle for Rio Documentary)

 

The Federation Fault Line. 

A population fed up, the Brazilians are tired of being robbed. "We love football, we just don't want the World Cup here - Vice News 2014 (c)  

A population fed up, the Brazilians are tired of being robbed. "We love football, we just don't want the World Cup here - Vice News 2014 (c) 

The parallels are not isolated to Brazil alone, it is a question of whether the infrastructure that is being build for mega sports events around the world can sustain the economic prosperity of countries long after these event end.

On home grown local level for Torontonians,  what has become the re-gentrification or revitalization of Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhoods can also support a similar world cup like agenda in preparation for the 2015 Pan Am Games that will be hosted in the city. While changes may seem small in comparison to Brazil's favela poverty populations, it is important to draw some parallels in how and why communities change and identifying the fault lines of imposed change is key.     

Fast Forwarding to 2022, where FIFA will host the world cup in Qatar, more of the original paradox of the sport vs sustainability is called into question.

"The working conditions of Qatar has coined this country the slave state of the 21st century with many migrant workers enduring sweltering heat levels to complete the building of stadiums. Migrant workers are unable to leave without an exit visa as these visas that have to be approved by their employer who often hold their passport on entry.  The conservative figures of just two countries of Nepal & India, more than 4000 workers will die before a football is kicked off at the 2022 games."  

If this is the on going reality of creating a global sport, I see there being a lot more overall loses than wins.   

(Parts sourced from: the Paradox of world cup excitement)

Defining a global cup - street art depicting hands holding the world with the Brazilian Flag in Sao Paolo. Associated Press (c) 2014

Defining a global cup - street art depicting hands holding the world with the Brazilian Flag in Sao Paolo. Associated Press (c) 2014

So who burdens the responsibility of ensuring sustainable development exists for a globalized sport. Is it the role of the official sport organization or that of the host country to be mindful of the consequences in organizing mega events for the world. What game plans exists to ensure that infrastructure build for these mega events support the people of the host countries long after the final game whistle blows. 

Without either one to the two bodies to act on what is right, it becomes the mission of the people to stand up for what they believe will truly benefit their communities. It becomes their right and duty to stand up and fight for reasons that are more positive than negative for their youth. This is their hard knock world and it's theirs cheers for action that need to be heard the most. 

If you made it this far through this article, I hope you understand that there is more at play when it comes to the FIFA World Cup. As a kid I've grown up with this beautiful game and have felt its sheer emotional power and spirit. As a change maker I see the need to harvest this power so that more rights can be written than wrongs. 


"Hard Knock World" was created as a form of investigative journalism to share the story of the realities we live in, dedicated to untold stories of people around the world. 

Do you have a Hard Knock World opinion to share? connect with @hardknockleader on twitter

Like & share your comments on www.hardknockleader.com 

This is about leadership and learning for the everyday hustle 

#WorldCup2014 #Brazil #FIFA #HardKnockWorld #YouthDevelopment

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Hard Knock Awakenings: The Urban Nomad

Sid Naidu Photography 2014 (c) A tale of two cities 

Sid Naidu Photography 2014 (c) A tale of two cities 

I woke up from a dream.. a dream of living a life between two cities. 

It was a restless life contemplation on a train, imagining a connection that could be created by being part of two uniquely different concrete jungles, yet not forgetting the third space of a life in transit that would become inevitable. One of the many "what if" thoughts that crossed my mind as I crossed between provinces.  

What is the difference between someone who wishes to settle versus the other who is always on the run?

To me it's nothing more than than the life they choose to live. One finds peace in comfort & certainty, while the other thrives on trying to organize the chaos that they find in constant risk and challenge. Every new journey to a city can bring possible opportunities & my direction has always been guided solely by the love for being on the road. A love which entails, seeing as much as I can see and learning about the realities of the world we live in.

I've visited a number of cities knowing that there is always a possibility to return to that same road some day. My experience as a traveler has always been a collection of stories that inspire me to do more. Every connection and every person met can be a valuable interaction. I've also been blessed to have people who are supportive of my crazy ambition and for this reason I cannot do less. I travel with a purpose to simply be present and build if needed. Someone who I met along the road recently told me "there is a difference between a tourist and a traveler." & that's where the story began.  

Now I'm back in T dot city for two weeks to freelance for a bit before I pack my bags again and YES I've decided to leave what I have know best for a good part of my life to try and learn something new, very possibly in a place where I would have to start from scratch all over again. I've been in a couple of games to know that when making certain transitions we can't be scared to start back at the bottom again, as it only sets the foundation for stronger long term growth.

I spent a week in a MTL to contemplate what the next challenge for me would be and returned still not having all the answers for what's best. However what I do and always have known is that by taking the path less traveled, I can bring a tougher but much richer experience for myself.

I've never known much about the settled life because my life has dictated otherwise, I've always felt like it was meant to be on the run. It's the kind of life where knowing what to pack becomes second nature as part of the travellers identity. Yet for every traveler packing is still an art to be mastered, because every journey requires a different types of bag for every path where new lessons are brought back in it.    

As I looked out the train I realized I was coming home, I recognized passing the boroughs that I grew up around. I remember once contemplating  what life would be like to settle down in those boroughs.

I closed my eyes and returned back to sleep as the urban nomad.


"Hard Knock Awakenings" was created as a form of reflective based storytelling, dedicated to realizations of purpose, struggle & passion in paths of life we have taken. 

Do you have a Hard Knock Awakening to share? connect with @hardknockleader on twitter

Like & share your comments on www.hardknockleader.com 

This is leadership for the everyday hustle 

 

 

 

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From Success to Significance

I want the money, Money and the cars, Cars and the clothes,  I just wanna be,  Successful.

I want the money, Money and the cars, Cars and the clothes,  I just wanna be, Successful.

Thought for a Hard Knock Leader 

On that paper chase for success we loose ourselves a little & forget about what exactly we are chasing. A common thought pops up "I just want to be successful." Success however carries more of a complicated definition that differs on what we individually place our significance on.   

Perhaps the question should be a discussion two ideologies encompassing individual wealth versus collective value. If I dig a little deeper, the question I would like to pose is whether we are chasing success or significance?

There are a some interwoven complexities that arise from our own moral understanding of the question. These complexities are dependant on our expectations whether we seek success to give us more significance through the accumulation of wealth or whether our measure for success is more dependant on the significance of our accomplishments that have created value for others. 

Conceptualizing the Thought

The thought that is being posed here was best summarized in a the conclusion from an article I recently read on Forbes providing insights on how business can lift people out of poverty. 

"Instead of admiring people who have money, what if we looked up to those who create value? Let's redefine billionaire to mean someone who has improved one billion lives"

The example given illustrates that Social Innovation can build a bridge to redefine success as contribution towards a greater good. Here business is used as a tool to fight poverty and success moved to significance. 

Yes there is hope for the world and it does not only begin with the actions of others. So the question now is how would you start building a model that would help lift others out of poverty? 

Not an easy question to answer is it? Well maybe some reflection tim may help!

The Challenge to Start Thinking More

An additional thought that the article also puts into perspective one of the largest groups that is often underrepresented and usually forgotten. These are the individuals that make nearly one thirds of humanity, earning under two dollars a day. 

My assumption is if your reading this right now the reality could very well be that two dollars does not go further than getting some freshly brewed coffee at your own local cafe (I'm writing this just as I spent a little more than that to get some freshly brewed fair traded organic coffee). While the arguments arise that our North American lifestyle does not allow for to survive under such conditions, I ask you to reflect a little on how you would deal with those circumstances.

If by any chance, you do believe otherwise or are interested in understanding what it is like to live under such conditions then why not put our money where our mouth is: 

Can you survive below the poverty line? Take the challenge!

Can you survive below the poverty line? Take the challenge!

I CHALLENGE you to live below the line, so that others can RISE above it! 

Take the "Live Below The Line" Challenge, an initiative from the Global Poverty Project. This campaign has been changing the way people think about poverty by challenging every people to live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line for 5 days. 

With the though of moving from success to significance and this challenge that Calls 2 Action, I hope that we can add some significance to the way we grind and think about that paper chase. 


The idea moving from success to significance is part of larger journey taken from the last Hard Knock Leadership workshop I built for a student run leadership summit, which covered aspects of community and selflessness.  

How would you move from success to significance? #Success2Significance 

Share & comment on www.hardknockleader.com - Leadership for the everyday hustle 

Contact Sid Naidu to continue the discussion around ending poverty by emailng hardknockleader@gmail.com or tweeting @hardknockleader

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Project Updates: HKL Launches Pop Up Exhibits

Special Announcement: Hard Knock Leadership will be launching pop up exhibits highlighting the work of Sid Naidu Photography. The exhibits will be featured as part of the programming for the Ryerson University Live2Lead student run summit this weekend.  

February 28th 2014 – March 2nd 2014 at Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada)

These exhibits have been created to provide a cultural exchange in a public space and engage audiences in work covered by the HKL initiative. Two curated collections will be featured during the student leadership summit and will pull from works both local and global.

Hard Knock World Exhibit - Sid Naidu Photography (c) 2014

Hard Knock World Exhibit - Sid Naidu Photography (c) 2014

Hard Knock World

It’s a hard knock world for us where the road less traveled will let you walk through shared realities that we face as humanity. Off the beaten path, our identity has become one with this land, where every culture can be embraced by sharing the similarities that make us different.

The “Hard Knock World” series is a compilation that pulls from my photography works across the world. It highlights a global village faced with hard realities that we share as humanity. This work is dedicated to the road less traveled and the beautiful people that I have met along the way


Inside Out: Culture Exhibit - Sid Naidu Photography (c)

Inside Out: Culture Exhibit - Sid Naidu Photography (c)

Inside Out: Culture

We are more than a lifestyle, we are a culture, we are people.  Toronto is home, home to me, home to many. A multicultural mosaic of where the world meets. A community where identities can sometimes clash but where we can collectively create change as humanity.

“Inside Out: Culture” was created in support of the Inside Out Project by JR, a 2011 TED prize winner who challenged the boundaries of our world through art. Through portraiture, he provided communities with a voice to share their messages. This work is dedicated to cultural diversity that connect us as a campus community.


Follow the Ryerson University live 2 Lead student run summit this weekend #evolve14

Share & comment on www.hardknockleader.com - Leadership for the everyday struggle 

Contact Sid Naidu to create a pop up exhibit for your youth group around culture and community by emailng hardknockleader@gmail.com or tweeting @hardknockleader

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Sueños De La Calle: The making of an overseas exhibit

An international workshop for Hard Knock Leadership... Sure why not?

I have a condition of impulse travel that always leaves me with a small window for accomplishing the world of to do’s that need to be ticked off before I depart. For two years now this very impulse has had me overseas for the New Year in a new country. I consider myself someone who travels with a deeper purpose than a vacation. So what better way to start the New Year overseas than with a proposed exhibit building discussion among youth leaders within the Dominican Republic.

The question is how does one go from facilitating local initiatives to building discussion globally? Here is the making of my overseas exhibition and some steps to how I made it happen.

Sueños De la Calle photography work printed for the exhibit / workshop

Sueños De la Calle photography work printed for the exhibit / workshop

Creating material & content before you head abroad is key as this allows you to connect with others in two ways.

1) Showcase your work to contacts you meet along the way  

2) Be prepared with a theme and transferable idea of what you can accomplish.

Enter “Sueños De La Calle,” a compilation of my street photography work that I put together before heading to Latin America in December 2013. It curates my eight years of my photography work that I have captured and shares the narrative of storytelling that I have roughly titled street dreams. I printed a little black photo book that became the idea I would carry around with me in order to showcase my work and build dialogue around the message of my content.  

Don’t speak the language fluently to communicate... Hmmm that could be a challenge.

My brother, life mentor & truster translator Spin el Poeta who broke down the language barrier for me 

My brother, life mentor & truster translator Spin el Poeta who broke down the language barrier for me 

The language barrier is your biggest barrier. No matter how much street slang you think you know, “habla un poco” (Speak a little) doesn’t cut it. Your either fluent or your not and this particular exhibit for Hard Knock Leadership would not have been possible without a trusted translator that shared the same goals as me.

Shout outs to my brother Spin El Poeta for the taking the role as the official translator for Sueños De La Calle 

Even with a translator do make an effort to translate some of your own work. Web applications like google translate can also help you pick up the language that your decoding. It’s important to keep in mind that some words do not have a translation in another language. “Hard Knock is Hard Knock” it’s a North American term that does not convey the same message in Spanish, so be flexible with how you communicate to accommodate any lost translation.

Break down a written script of what you wish to communicate to ensure your translation is coherent and paced out for understanding. Be patient in communicating words with your translator and use the universal tone of body language to engage visually where you may lack verbally.  

Not knowing the group your going to facilitate until you land... Lets MIH: Make it happen.

Facilitating dialogue around photography as a tool for community building in Dominican Republic as a Hard Knock Leader 

Facilitating dialogue around photography as a tool for community building in Dominican Republic as a Hard Knock Leader 

Your work essentially carries you halfway there and the rest comes down to your determination and focus to dedicating some of your time overseas to executing your game plan. Work on the logistics of finding local print shops to having your work on display and have that work donated to the organization for future conversation & dialogue if the interest is there.  Your canvases become the tool for engagement and delivering a message becomes the purpose of your art.  

Having a good set of trusted contacts that make things happen becomes your driving force. Convey your intent to them before you travel so they can get the ball rolling or at least plant the seed to grow. They will not always have all the answers for you immediately so plan what you can and be prepared to do the majority of the groundwork and research when you land. Bringing youth leaders from Dominican Republic's Juventud Caribe & sister organizations took on a grass roots form of word of mouth.  

 Always remember what you hope to accomplish as someone who is visiting. My goal was focused on creating global dialogue and this could only start by learning about the current environment that people live in. No matter who your audience, there should be a two way exchange of learning, where you are asking  questions to learn about their reality as much as you speak to explain your own.


To book this Hard Knock Leader as a facilitator for dialogue around community building email hardknockleader@gmail.com or tweet @hardknockleader

Hard Knock Leadership supporting culture and community both local & global

                       

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