Jameel family brings Reading offices fillip

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What next for Stanhope?

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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New coronavirus deaths in US as lawmakers reach $8.3 bn funding deal

first_img“This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”Earlier in the day, Los Angeles County officials reported six new cases in the West Coast metropolis, while the number of confirmed cases in New York state rose to 11.One of the Los Angeles cases concerns a medical screener at the city’s international airport checking overseas travelers for symptoms.The Department of Homeland Security said the worker was under self-quarantine at home along with family members and was showing mild symptoms. That person’s last shift at the airport was on February 21 and the symptoms began on February 29, a statement said.”DHS is happy to report that this individual was highly trained and did everything right both on the job and when they began to feel sick,” the statement said.”We are told the individual wore all the correct protective equipment and took necessary protections on the job.”Nationwide, more than 130 people have so far been infected, with the virus detected in more than a dozen states. Most of the deaths have been in Washington state including residents of a nursing home. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meanwhile said Republicans and Democrats had reached a deal to fund the response to the outbreak to the tune of $8.3 billion. The House of Representatives passed the measure, and the Senate was to vote on Thursday.Vice President Mike Pence, who is the White House’s pointman on the crisis, told reporters he would be traveling to Minnesota on Thursday to visit a 3M plant manufacturing personal protective equipment including masks. He will then visit Washington state and meet with Governor Jay Inslee to review containment efforts in the Seattle area.  ‘Coordinated, fully-funded response’ All of the newly infected individuals in Los Angeles were exposed to COVID-19 through close contact, health officials said.Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said three of the cases concerned travelers who had gone together to northern Italy — a virus hotspot with more than 100 deaths.Two other cases involved individuals who had come in contact with a family member who had the virus and the last was the airport screener.”The step we’re taking today is about preparation, not panic,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti of the emergency declaration.Officials said they expected the number of infections in California to rise in the coming days and urged families to brace for possible school closures and the cancelation of public events.Statewide, more than 50 people are known to be infected, the most of any state.In Washington state, officials in King County, which includes Seattle and where most of the deaths have taken place, said they were purchasing an 85-bed motel to house patients stricken with the virus.Topics : The death toll in the United States from the new coronavirus rose to 11 on Wednesday, as lawmakers in Congress agreed to provide more than $8 billion to fight the rapidly spreading disease.California Governor Gavin Newsom declared an emergency as he reported the state’s first fatality from the COVID-19 illness — an elderly person who had taken a cruise to Mexico — while health officials in nearby Washington state said a 10th person had died there.”The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” Newsom told reporters.last_img read more

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Virus testing blitz appears to keep Korea death rate low

first_imgHighly contagious and manifesting in some with little or no symptoms, the coronavirus has the world struggling to keep up. But when it comes to containing the epidemic, one country may be cracking the code — by doubling down on testing.South Korea is experiencing the largest virus epidemic outside of China, where the pneumonia-causing pathogen first took root late last year. But unlike China, which locked down a province of more than 60 million people to try and stop the illness spreading, Korea hasn’t put any curbs on internal movement in place, instead testing hundreds of thousands of people everywhere from clinics to drive-through stations.It appears to be paying off in a lower-than-average mortality rate. The outbreak is also showing signs of being largely contained in Daegu, the city about 150 miles south of Seoul where most of the country’s more than 5,700 infections have emerged. South Korea reported the rate of new cases dropped three days in a row. It’s an approach born out of bitter experience.An outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2015 killed 38 people in South Korea, with a lack of kits to test for the MERS pathogen meaning infected patients went from hospital to hospital seeking help, spreading the virus widely. Afterward, the country created a system to allow rapid approval of testing kits for viruses which have the potential to cause pandemics.When the novel coronavirus emerged, that system allowed regulators to collaborate quickly with local biotech companies and researchers to develop testing kits based on a genetic sequence of the virus released by China in mid-January. Firms were then granted accreditation to make and sell the kits within weeks –a process that usually takes a year.In a short space of time, South Korea has managed to test more than 140,000 people for the novel coronavirus, using kits with sensitivity rates of over 95%, according to the director of the Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine. That’s in stark contrast to countries like its neighbor Japan and the US, where the issues China experienced early on — with unreliable and inadequate testing resulting in thousands of infected patients not being quarantined until it was too late — are now threatening to play out.Testing widely has meant South Korea knows where its infections are centered, and so far they’ve been able to keep them largely contained with outbreaks beyond Daegu in the minority. In the capital Seoul, home to 10 million people, there have only been 103 infections.President Moon Jae-in has cast the virus fight as a battle, saying the country is “at war,” with a pathogen that’s killed 3,200 people globally and sickened more than 94,000. With parliamentary elections due in April, his government is under pressure to curb the outbreak and has faced criticism for not closing the border fully to travelers from China. Moon’s administration is seizing on the country’s testing apparatus as a solution.The emphasis on diagnosis is also being credited with helping patients get treatment early, bringing the mortality rate from the virus to under 1% — below every other affected country save Singapore, where the outbreak is on a much smaller scale. “The coronavirus is highly contagious and even those without symptoms can transmit the virus, which makes it hard to stop infection among communities,” said Lee Hyukmin, director at the Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine and a professor at Yonsei Severance Hospital. “Without enough testing capabilities, the death rate will be high as the delay worsens the damage in the lungs.”By late February, when South Korea’s outbreak began to accelerate, four local companies had approval to sell kits to test for the virus. The country is now able to test more than 10,000 people a day. In neighboring Japan, only 2,684 people in total have been tested as of March 3.The tests can deliver results within hours, with sensitivity rates of over 90% and are relatively easy to administer. Officials in Seoul have started operating “drive-through” testing stations in three districts where people can get tested without leaving their cars.The country is also exporting its testing kits elsewhere, including to China, Europe and Pakistan, according to the manufacturers.Seegene Inc., a diagnostics company based in Seoul, started developing its coronavirus testing kit during the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.“It was an adventurous investment for the company to start developing the test kit, as we weren’t sure how contagious the virus would be at the time,” said Park Yo-han, an investor-relations manager at Seegene. “We thought we needed to contribute to society.”The company’s stock fell slightly Thursday after soaring 21% this year on expectations its sales will grow.While pharmaceutical giants like Roche Holding AG have also developed reliable coronavirus testing kits, Seegene can churn out tests more quickly using a production system automated with artificial intelligence, said Shin Jae-hoon, an analyst at Hanwha Investment & Securities Co.The country’s inroads in test kit production also reflect South Korea’s position as a powerhouse for complex manufacturing, with electronic parts like memory chips and OLED displays that go into smartphones and laptops made there. The country spends more of its economic output on scientific and technological research than its most advanced rivals like Japan and Germany.In Hubei province, the region of China which has been devastated by the virus and is still under mass quarantine, the shortage of tests and their tendency to throw up false negatives meant that thousands of infected patients were not hospitalized before they spread the virus widely to other people.“China used massive social distancing to respond to the outbreak, but that would be difficult to replicate in most countries and might have adverse economic consequences,” said Ben Cowling, associate professor at the School of Public Health of University of Hong Kong.Similar issues are now cropping up elsewhere. Japan is facing criticism for a failure to test widely and well: two passengers let off a cruise ship the country locked down for weeks in Yokohama harbor to contain the virus tested positive after they returned home. Local officials from Tokyo to further-flung prefectures like Wakayama say they don’t have enough test kits.The US case tally — at 126 infections and 11 deaths — has some speculating the country just isn’t testing enough. New York and Florida have complained of faulty tests and a shortage of supply, and fewer than 2,000 people have been checked for the virus nationally as of last week.Similar scenarios are playing out other virus hot spots like Iran and Italy. Expanded testing will likely show that transmission within communities has been taking place for longer than realized, said Raina MacIntyre, professor of infectious diseases at the University of New South Wales. “In the US, the emergence of cases with no risk factors suggests that community transmission is a serious concern,” she said.For South Korea, widespread testing has helped it get a handle on the scale of the epidemic, but once diagnosed with the virus patients need to be isolated and treated. In Daegu, hospital beds are running out and public anger is rising over a shortage of masks and other supplies.“We are testing people on the biggest scale, at the fastest pace in the world, and disclosing the results transparently and instantly to public,” Moon said in a speech on Tuesday. “We believe this is the best thing we can do for now in order to prevent further spread in local communities.”Topics :last_img read more

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COVID-19: More Indonesian travelers test virus positive abroad

first_imgThe second case is a 62-year-old woman who entered Singapore on a social visit permit and had no travel history to countries or territories affected by COVID-19. She tested positive on March 6.Previously, nine Diamond Princess crewmen were diagnosed with the virus in Japan, while an Indonesian domestic worker in Taiwan tested positive. Six, all from Diamond Princess, have recovered from the disease.Meanwhile in Australia, an Indonesian woman in her 50s was declared as the 12th case of COVID-19 in Victoria on Sunday.The Health Ministry’s Disease Control and Prevention Director General Achmad Yurianto, who just got promoted on Monday from the secretary of the directorate general to the director general itself,  said his ministry had coordinated with Indonesian representatives in Australia and found that the patient had traveled in many places in Australia.“The patient’s travel records are rather long. From Jakarta, she has visited many places including a Vietnamese restaurant where many Southeast Asian people come to eat,” he told reporters on Monday.He said she tested positive for the virus but that her condition was stable and she was being treated in a health facility in Australia. According to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, 76 people have been tested positive for COVID-19.Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services has advised anyone who visited the restaurant on 6 March between 6-7pm to seek advice from the COVID-19 hotline.“We believe that she did not contract the virus in Indonesia,” Achmad said.Topics : Indonesian travelers have become the latest group of Indonesians who contracted the novel coronavirus abroad, as the government confirmed reports that its citizens have tested positive for the virus in Singapore and Australia.A 64-year-old Indonesian man in Singapore has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but it is likely he contracted the virus outside of the island nation, the Indonesian embassy has stated, confirming an earlier announcement from the Singaporean government. The Singapore Ministry of Health announced on Sunday that the man, identified as Case 147, had just arrived in the city-state on Saturday and tested positive for the virus on Sunday. “It is not yet known how the Indonesian citizen contracted the COVID-19 [virus], but the Singapore Ministry of Health has said that this case is an imported case, meaning that the [man] is likely to have been infected before [arriving in] Singapore,” the embassy said in a statement on Monday.The embassy also said it would be monitoring the situation closely and coordinate with the relevant local authorities on all matters regarding the patient.Case 147 is the third Indonesian to be diagnosed with COVID-19 in Singapore.The first Indonesian case is a 44-year-old domestic worker whose test results came back positive on Feb. 4, along with the positive test results of her employer, a Singaporean national. The woman has since recovered and has been discharged from hospital.last_img read more

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Google launches ‘journalism relief fund,’ following Facebook

first_img“We believe it is important to do what we can to alleviate the financial pressures on newsrooms, and will continue to look at other ways to help with more to announce soon.”The New York Times has estimated that news outlets have cut 28,000 jobs as a result of the health crisis and subsequent economic impact.Other outlets have furloughed journalists or announced pay cuts.Facebook on March 30 said it was donating $100 million to support news organizations globally hurting from the coronavirus pandemic. This includes $25 million in grants and ramped up ad spending by the social media giant.In recent months Facebook and Google have stepped up efforts to help news organizations, following criticism that their dominance of online advertising has made it difficult for media to profit from digital operations.Topics : “Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times,” Google News vice president Richard Gingras said in a statement.”Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how COVID-19 is affecting daily life.”Gingras said the fund will open to outlets “producing original news for local communities during this time of crisis,” with applications due by April 29.”At the end of the process, we’ll announce who has received funding and how publishers are spending the money,” he said. Google said Wednesday it will launch an emergency fund to help local news outlets struggling to maintain operations in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.The internet giant gave no specific figure for its fund, but said it would offer grants ranging from the “low thousands of dollars” for the smallest operations to “low tens of thousands for larger newsrooms.”The move comes with the media sector facing deep cutbacks resulting from the global consumer lockdown, an intense economic slump and a retrenchment in advertising revenues that many news outlets depend on.last_img read more

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Women crucial to peatland restoration efforts

first_img“On the other hand, [making purun crafts] is a source of income for the local women.”Since migrating to Amuntai, the capital of North Hulu Sungai regency in 2017, the mother of one has become more aware of the link between the oppression of the environment and the oppression of women.In her own community, the lack of access to jobs weighs heavily on the local customs, preventing women from taking on outdoor work that could pay the bills.Most women resort to making purun handicrafts instead, Enik said. Enik Maslahah, 49, is quite attuned to the environment she lives in, despite being a relatively recent transplant to Kalimantan.As a facilitator of Kemitraan’s Villages Care For Peatland (DPG) program in South Kalimantan, she has found a link between the quality of the handicraft that women from her local community make from purun, a type of sedge grass found in swampy areas, and the condition of the peatland they live on.“If the purun handicrafts that get produced are not of good quality, it indicates that the peatland here has degraded and is no longer fertile,” Enik said in a recent statement. Even at the village council meetings, where residents are usually empowered to speak up about issues that affect their communities, people don’t always take women seriously.“Coming from a background of low income and education, purun craftswomen find it hard to muster the courage to participate in village planning discussions,” she said.Women are playing an increasingly critical role in rural communities that both protect and rely on peatland for a living, but existing social barriers give them very few chances to empower themselves and their communities, especially when it comes to conserving the environment.The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) recently found some evidence to suggest that women make for better caretakers of peatland than men, according to its Villages Care For Peatland Index (IDPG) issued late last year.It measures the progress in restoration efforts seen in 172 villages, out of the total 257 villages observed in 2019.According to the index, about 65 percent of villages that had women facilitate the program have shown marked progress, while only 5 percent are worse off. The results are comparable to those of community efforts led by men, with 66 percent showing progress and 6 percent getting downgraded.The index found that 89 percent of peatland villages led by women had gained “adaptive, restored or empowered” status, while 85 percent of those led by men got similar results. Only a third of all DPG program facilitators in 2019 were women.While the results are nowhere near conclusive, BRG deputy for promotional education and partnerships Myrna A. Safitri said the figures were worth looking into, especially in the context of eco-feminism.“We haven’t really dug into the reason these figures emerged like this. We will leave that to the researchers,” Myrna said in a recent virtual discussion.The IDPG is used internally by the BRG to measure the progress that the program has achieved to formulate its annual work program. The agency aims to establish the program in 500 villages by the end of 2020.Myrna said that the women facilitators of the DPG program showed a higher level of professionalism than the men and an ability to persuade other villagers to participate in restoration efforts.They have been able to educate local residents about farming on peatland without resorting to slash-and-burn methods, and more recently, they persuaded local women to sew masks to distribute for free to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the rural community.But they still have a hard time with the power relations that put women at a disadvantage, especially in bureaucracy.“Even though they have been given the chance [to empower their communities], the current social structures have made it impossible for women to gain leadership roles,” Myrna said.Adverse effects: In 2015, Indonesia experienced massive and severe fires for most of the year. The World Bank reported in February 2016 that at least 2.6 million hectares of land (mostly peatland) had caught fire that year in just five months, from June to October. The economic value of losses was estimated to be US$16.1 billion. (JP/Hotli Simanjuntak)Their relationship with poverty also has much to do with how women relate to conservation efforts.On Kalimantan and Sumatra, where peatland fires still often occur annually, traditional farmers used to employ slash-and-burn methods to clear land for agricultural production.Since the massive forest fires of 2015, the government has actively discouraged such tactics with the threat of criminal charges.But unlike rural men, who have more employment alternatives, women often have no choice but to commit destructive deeds to keep their families afloat.Men and women have different responses to the loss of local sources of income, according to a study conducted by Daju Resosudarmo, an environment researcher at the Australian National University (ANU).While men tend to migrate outside their communities to look for jobs, women are often forced to stay at home and carry the burden of becoming both breadwinner and domestic worker – and even putting out the fires on peatland.“They would often describe themselves as mothers and fathers at the same time,” she said last week.Burning peatland, while destructive to the environment, provides opportunities to convert peatland into more productive rice fields, and the ashes that result from the blaze can be used as fertilizer. Refraining from such practices would have a great impact on rural women’s livelihoods.“Mothers tend to think about the consequences [of stopping the use of slash-and-burn methods] in their households,” Dayu said.For Enik, the DPG program provides ways out for women who find themselves pinching pennies, including by setting up Women and Peatland support groups.“These groups are important for women living in areas near peatland, […] providing them a space to improve themselves and express their ideas, as well as improve their self-confidence,” she said.Topics :last_img read more

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Government critic faces incitement charges after WhatsApp hacked

first_imgAn independent researcher who has been critical of the government on social media is facing incitement charges after a message calling for nationwide riots on April 30 was broadcast from his WhatsApp account, which he says was hacked.His arrest has elicited protests from a coalition of human rights groups who believe that Ravio Patra, the researcher in question, was a victim of identity theft and should not be arrested or prosecuted.  Ravio, who has been critical of how the government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, was arrested between 09:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, shortly after he had announced that his WhatsApp had been hacked on his Twitter account, @raviopatra. The police have confirmed Ravio’s arrest, saying that he has been accused of inciting riots through social media but that they are still investigating the case. According to the coalition, SAFEnet received a report from Ravio at about 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday that someone had hacked his WhatsApp account after he saw a notification stating that his number had been registered on another phone and a One Time Password (OTP) had been requested, despite the fact that he had applied two-way verification and enabled fingerprint identification on his WhatsApp account.Ravio had also received calls from 082167672001, 081226661965 and numbers with Malaysian and United States area codes. The coalition said that the numbers belonged to two police personnel, identified as AKBP HS and Col. ATD.After hacking Ravio’s WhatsApp account, the coalition said, the hacker broadcast messages at about 02:35 p.m. to unknown numbers that read, “The crisis is already aflame. Come together and join us on April 30 for nationwide looting. All nearby shops are free to be looted.”Fears of nationwide riots have grown after the police claimed to have received information that an obscure group called Anarcho Syndicalist was planning to instigate riots throughout Java on April 18, a few days after the government imposed a partial lockdown in the capital on April 10. Activists, however, have doubts about the police’s claims.Rumors of a possible riot resurfaced after labor groups said they would hold a massive protest against the omnibus bill on job creation and risk contracting the coronavirus on April 30 to stop lawmakers from passing the bill. The police said they would not allow the rallies to take place as they would violate partial lockdown measures in Greater Jakarta. The coalition said that two hours after the announcement on his Twitter account, Ravio had reported at 07:00 p.m. that he was able to control his WhatsApp. However, a few minutes later, he reported that he was told by his boarding house guard that someone was looking for him and had left.Ravio also had reported that he was preparing to go to a safe house around midnight. The coalition has not been able to reach him since then.At the same time, around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, the website seword.com published an article stating that Ravio was “a person who provoked national looting on April 30” with screenshots of the messages.”On Thursday morning around 08:00 a.m., SAFEnet received a report that Ravio had been arrested last night by police intelligence in front of the safe house,” the coalition stated.For the last three years, Ravio has been Indonesia’s representative in the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee (SC OGP). He recently criticized presidential special staffer Billy Mambrasar for having a conflict of interest in the government projects in Papua.Topics : The human rights coalition believed that the WhatsApp hacking was an attempt to frame Ravio Patra as a provocateur advocating for nationwide riots on April 30. Labor groups have previously threatened to protest the omnibus bill on job creation on the same date despite the COVID-19 pandemic.The coalition demanded that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the National Police release the man, who they believed was innocent, without charges.”The police should have arrested those who hacked Ravio’s number and spread the hoax using his WhatsApp, not him,” the coalition said in a statement.The coalition includes the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Amnesty International Indonesia and the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (IJCR).last_img read more

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Italians scramble to find ‘relatives’ as lockdown eases

first_imgConte said Italians would be allowed to leave their homes for the first time since March 9 “to visit relatives, but only if they respect distance and wear masks”.The only problem is that Italy has no legal definition of the term and people sounded genuinely confused.Most of the big papers devoted entire articles to the subject of whether your boyfriend or distant cousin provided a good enough legal excuse to leave your house.”Here is who you can call your relative,” read a headline of the highbrow Il Sole 24 Ore financial daily. Just who is your relative anyway?That is what millions of stir crazy Italians have apparently been asking ever since Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte allowed them to leave their homes to see their loved ones starting next Monday.Media reports said “relative” became the most searched for term on the Italian internet for a few hours after Conte’s Sunday night television address. Its deep dive into the subject included a passage on “emotional relationships” and kinship.The paper concluded that engaged couples were safe but boyfriends and girlfriends were iffy.Other papers strongly disagreed.”Boyfriends are also relatives,” the Il Messaggero newspaper declared in a headline.It quoted an unnamed “source” in Conte’s office as saying that relatives could potentially include “stable boyfriends”.Corriere della Sera said the prime minister’s office planned to issue a “FAQ explainer” that could help dispel the confusion.Eventually Conte himself stepped into the fray.”A relative is a somewhat broad and generic term,” he conceded to a group of reporters late Monday.”It does not mean that you can go to a friend’s or someone else’s house and have a party,” he said to the likely disappointment of many.”These are people with whom you have family relations. Or, stable emotional relations,” Conte said.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Higher Netflix bill? Govt to charge VAT on imported digital goods, services starting July

first_imgRead also: Indonesia taxes tech companies through new regulation“[The tax] is one of the government’s efforts to create a level playing field for all business players, especially between domestic and foreign players as well as conventional and digital businesses.”The ministry will appoint providers that have passed a certain transaction value or amount of traffic to collect the VAT for their goods and services. Meanwhile, companies that have met the transaction requirement but have not been appointed were also urged to notify the authorities.The ministerial regulation is a follow-up to a government regulation in lieu of law issued on March 31 that aims to support the government’s efforts to fight the adverse economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.Previously, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said companies such as streaming service Netflix and online meeting app Zoom were a few examples of foreign businesses with a significant economic presence in the country that would be subjected to the tax.Topics : The Finance Ministry will start charging 10 percent value-added tax (VAT) on imported digital goods and services, which includes video and music streaming subscriptions, starting from July 1 in an attempt to boost state revenue amid the COVID-19 outbreak.According to Finance Ministerial Regulation No. 48/2020, the tax will be collected from customers by the digital goods and services providers or their representatives in Indonesia that will be appointed by the ministry’s Taxation Directorate General.“The regulation will apply to music and film streaming subscriptions, digital applications and games as well as online services from abroad. They will receive the same treatment as conventional products subjected to VAT as well as similar digital products produced by domestic businesses,” the directorate general wrote in a statement published on Friday.last_img read more

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