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New Report Shows Terrorism is Top of Mind in U.S.

April 15, 2013
Contacts: 

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)COLLEGE PARK, Md. – More Americans think about terrorist attacks than violent crime victimization or hospitalization, according to a new report published by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), headquartered at the University of Maryland. A new study reveals that about 15 percent of those surveyed had thought about the prospect of terrorism in the United States during the preceding week, significantly more than the percentage who said they thought about the possibility of hospitalization (10 percent) or violent crime victimization (10 percent).

Furthermore, almost a quarter of those who said they had thought about terrorism reported that it made them extremely or very worried. 

The survey and resulting report, "U.S. Attitudes towards Terrorism and Counterterrorism," aim to provide baseline information about beliefs and attitudes on terrorism and counterterrorism in the U.S. A research brief on the report is available for download.

"Improved understanding of public attitudes can inform programs and tools related to managing public risk perception, increasing effectiveness of pre-and post-event communication by Federal, state, and local officials, and building and supporting more resilient social networks within and across communities," said Gary LaFree, professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UMD, START director and co-author of the report.

A large majority of respondents said that the U.S. government has been very effective (33 percent) or somewhat effective (54 percent) at preventing terrorism, despite the fact that 69 percent endorsed the view that "terrorists will always find a way to carry out major attacks no matter what the U.S. government does."

The survey also found that clear majorities of respondents were willing to meet with local police or officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to discuss terrorism, data which suggest that community outreach programs may be a viable strategy for countering violent extremism in the United States. 

While the survey highlights the public belief that the U.S. government is addressing terrorism effectively, the study's research team suggests that increased government support for public outreach efforts and community-engagement programs could be beneficial. More than 56 percent of respondents had not heard anything about DHS' "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign, while 85 percent of those who had heard something about the program thought it would be very or somewhat effective. The campaign is designed to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities.

Developed by leading survey methodologists in consultation with experts in terrorism, counterterrorism and community resilience, the survey was completed by 1,576 individuals 18 years of age and older in the fall of 2012. A second survey will be conducted in 2013.

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's Resilient Systems Division.

UMD Celebrates Legacy of Distinguished Professor

April 10, 2013
Contacts: 

Neil Tickner 301-405-4622

Roald SagdeevCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - In the final days of the Soviet Union, University of Maryland Physics Distinguished Professor Roald Sagdeev took a risk. In the face of having his tires slashed and apartment robbed, he pioneered U.S.-Soviet cooperation in space and was heavily involved in disarmament talks—establishing himself as a major 20th century force for peace and scientific cooperation.

Marking Sagdeev's 80th birthday, the university has recognized his lifetime of contributions and the impact he has made on modern science in the fields of plasma and space physics, scientific policy and global security.

UMD's Department of Physics hosted a special event in honor of Sagdeev, which included a public interview titled "The Day I Said 'Nyet!' to Gorbachev... and Other Life Tales of a Famous Soviet Scientist" and a Q&A with Dan Zwerdling, award-winning correspondent and investigative journalist with National Public Radio.

Watch the interview:

 

About Roald Sagdeev
Prior to his move to the United States in 1990, Professor Sagdeev was director of the Soviet Union's Institute of Space Research. He also led efforts for the first U.S.-Soviet joint space mission in 1975 and served as a science advisor to former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.

During that time, Sagdeev had a truly remarkable impact on East-West scientific collaboration. He established himself as a major 20th century force for peace and scientific cooperation by pioneering U.S.-Soviet cooperation in space and playing a leading role in disarmament talks.

Among his many awards and accolades, Sagdeev was awarded the Lenin Prize in 1984 for his outstanding achievements in the foundations of the neoclassical theory of transport processes in toroidal plasma. In 2003, he received the Carl Sagan Memorial Award and was recently honored with the highest award in his native Tatarstan.

He is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan, the Max Planck Institute, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and more.

ARHU Announces Foxworth Creative Enterprise Grants

April 9, 2013
Contacts: 

Nicky Everette 301-405-6714

Former Ravens cornerback and NFL Players Association President Domonique Foxworth '04, and his wife, Ashley Manning Foxworth '06, Harvard Law School graduate. COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) announced today an agreement with former Ravens cornerback and NFL Players Association President Domonique Foxworth '04, and his wife, Ashley Manning Foxworth '06, Harvard Law School graduate, to launch the new "Foxworth Creative Enterprise Grants." Their gift of $150,000 will fund a three-year pilot program intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts and humanities in spurring new ideas and solutions to some of society's most pressing issues.

"The college's faculty and students are engaged in amazing, far-reaching projects, and I see this initiative as another opportunity to help cultivate their work," said College of Arts and Humanities Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill.

The Foxworth grant contributes to university-wide innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives like the Future of Information Alliance's (FIA) Seed Grant Competition and the School of Public Policy's Do Good Challenge, focusing the initiative on the application of arts and humanities skills—reading, writing, critical thinking and effective communication―and deep knowledge of language, culture and history to address real-world problems.

The college appointed Michelle Rowley, associate professor of women's studies, as the first faculty administrator to lead this exciting initiative. Rowley's research and teaching has been keenly focused on issues of gender and development, transnational feminism and women in the African diaspora.

"I have spent a lot of time thinking about this initiative and it acknowledges and provides support for the things that I value – social justice, community based pedagogy and connections between the university and the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. metropolitan area," said Rowley. 

The grant will fund up to three "Creative Enterprise Teams," consisting of five to eight students and one faculty mentor per team. The purpose of the program is to award competitive grants to faculty and student applicants who will partner, perhaps with outside organizations, to expand and develop innovative practices that can be shared and scaled-up to initiate change for underserved populations in the greater university community and beyond.

The college plans to announce a call for faculty and student applications later this year.

Can Unmanned Aircraft Stop Poachers in Their Tracks?

April 9, 2013
Contacts: 

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

"Entrepreneurial Approaches to Protecting Highly Endangered Wildlife: Saving Rhinos with Math, Drones and Satellites," is free and open to the public, April 11 from 3 to 4 p.m. at 1410 Physics Lecture Hall on the College Park Campus. COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A daring experiment to use drone aircraft and intelligence tools against rhinoceros poachers in South Africa will be previewed in a free public talk April 11 at the University of Maryland. This wildlife conservation experiment is one of many peaceful uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) being explored by governments, universities and the commercial sector. And it occurs as the FAA is beginning development of a comprehensive plan for integrating unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace.

Tom Snitch, Ph.D., an intelligence consultant and remote sensing expert based in Bethesda, Md., is executive officer of the United Nations' Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring Systems, a visiting professor at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) and chairman of the Board of Visitors of UMD's College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (CMNS). Snitch has organized a May 25 field test of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones, for anti-poaching surveillance on a game reserve near South Africa's Kruger National Park, the center of a deadly epidemic of rhino killings.

It will be the first time unmanned aircraft are combined with satellite imagery and sophisticated mathematical modeling to catch rhino poachers in the act.  The goal is to quickly mobilize game wardens to stop the poachers, who are illegally killing one black rhino every 11 hours for their horns, prized in traditional Asian medicine. Poachers have fought a series of bloody battles with government troops and private game wardens.

UMD Mathematicians, physicists, and artificial intelligence experts are sharing ideas with the anti-poaching team. Some of the techniques to be tested were developed by UMD. Computer Science Professor V.S. Subrahmanian used a similar algorithm to find Iraqi insurgents' caches of bomb-making materials.

UMD faculty members are working on a range of other peacetime uses for unmanned aircraft, from rescuing lost hikers to controlling the spread of crop diseases. UMD aerospace engineers also are developing new types of UAVs; and the university is leading a state of Maryland effort to win a test site designation from the FAA for the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the national airspace.

"Entrepreneurial Approaches to Protecting Highly Endangered Wildlife: Saving Rhinos with Math, Drones and Satellites," is free and open to the public, April 11 from 3 to 4 p.m. at 1410 Physics Lecture Hall on the College Park Campus.  Snitch's talk is part of a "30 Days of EnTERPreneurship," a month-long series of campus events highlighting entrepreneurship.

Three UMD Students Earn Goldwater Scholarships

April 9, 2013
Contacts: 

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Three University of Maryland students have been awarded scholarships by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages students to pursue advanced study and careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.

Noah Roth MandellStephen RandallFang CaoUMD sophomores Fang Cao (left) and Stephen Randall (center), and junior Noah Roth Mandell (right) were among the 271 scholars selected from 1,107 students nominated this year.

Cao, a double major in neuroscience and computer science, is a member of the first cohort of the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Randall is a double major in physics and mathematics and plans to pursue a doctorate in theoretical physics. Mandell, a physics majors, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics.

"Maryland's winners already show distinguished achievement in academics and research. They join the ranks of 41 Goldwater winners from UMD since the program's creation – and a total of 14 winners in the last five years," said Robert L. Infantino, associate dean, College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, and UMD's Goldwater faculty advisor. "These Goldwater alums have gone on to pursue doctorates at prestigious institutions such as CalTech, Cambridge, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, and Penn."

The Goldwater Scholarship program was created in 1986 to indentify students of outstanding ability and promise in science, engineering and mathematics, and to encourage their pursuit of advanced study and research careers. Colleges and universities can submit up to four nominations annually for these awards.

The University of Maryland has had a total of 44 Goldwater winners since the program's inception 27 years ago. UMD's prior Goldwater scholars and nominees have continued their impressive academic pursuits, including:

  • Three were 2013 National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship winners
  • A 2013 Gates Cambridge Scholar
  • A Churchill Scholar at Cambridge University, now at UC Berkley to pursue a Ph.D. in engineering
  • A Clarendon Scholar pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry at Oxford University
  • And several pursuing medical and doctorate degrees at prestigious U.S. institutions

Goldwater scholars receive one- or two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. These scholarships are a stepping-stone to future support for their research careers. Goldwater scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowships and distinguished honors.

UMD Mentors PG Students to Robotics Championship Shot

April 5, 2013
Contacts: 

Ted Knight 301-405-3596

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A group of University of Maryland undergraduates in the A. James Clark School of Engineering have helped mentor a local student robotics team to a top three finish in the recent Washington, D.C., Regional FIRST Robotics Competition and a chance to compete in the championship competition in St. Louis.

Six of the ten UMD undergraduates who mentored Team Illusion join the students as the celebrate their accomplishments at the FIRST Robotics Competition: Kanay Patel (mechanical engineering), Nitay Ravin (sophomore, electrical engineering), Eli Barnett (junior, physics), Ori Perl (sophomore, mechanical engineering), Yalun "Allen" Wu (junior, electrical engineering) and Mark Hoppel (freshman, mechanical engineering).

The UMD students are part of the Mentors Advancing STEM Education (MASE) group. MASE was formed in October 2012 by a group of Clark School undergraduate students to support and mentor K-12 students in engineering-related activities, including robotics. MASE now includes 26 UMD students, and is advised by Betsy Mendelsohn, director of the Science, Technology and Society program within UMD's College Park Scholars academic residential community program.

"College students benefit from mentoring children and teens in robotics," says Mendelsohn. "They get to integrate and implement many of the skills we require in different courses, like planning, public speaking, group facilitation and being resourceful. They also feel good, since the children's appreciation validates their own skills and engagement in engineering."

Team Illusion 4464, comprised of middle and high school students from Prince George's County, Md., was one of only three teams out of 58 participating in the D.C. regional competition selected to advance to the FIRST Championship Competition. Team Illusion also earned the Rookie All Star Award in recognition of the team's success in its first year competing.

"We guide the students to practical ideas and help them turn the images in their minds into an actual robot they can compete with," says Kanay Patel of MASE, a mechanical engineering student who participated in a FIRST Robotics team when he attended Cherokee High School in Marlton, N.J., before he came to UMD. "Seeing the glow in each student's eyes when everything comes together at the end of the build season is the most satisfying part. They see the masterpiece they all have worked so hard to put together finally do what it was designed to do. The sense of pride the students have for their robot and the unity the team has by the end of the build season is incredible."

UMD's Maryland Robotics Center, directed by Associate Professor Nuno Martins (Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research), has also played a key role connecting Team Illusion and other local FIRST Robotics clubs and teams with UMD students and resources.

A highlight of this support was opening their weekly seminar on March 8 to a presentation by three FIRST Robotics Competition teams from Maryland, led by FIRST Director for Maryland Bill Duncan. Martins also has arranged for FIRST members to participate in an all-day workshop about robotics at the American Control Conference in Washington, D.C., this June. UMD may also be eligible to host the Maryland Regional FIRST Competition, beginning in 2014 at the Comcast Center.

Mourning the Loss of UMD Alumna Jane Henson

April 3, 2013
Contacts: 

Missy McTamney 301-405-8102

From the School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies:

Jane HensonCOLLEGE PARK, Md - The University of Maryland is saddened by the news that alumna and world-celebrated puppeteer Jane Henson, class of 1955, died Tuesday at her home in Connecticut at the age of 78 following a battle with cancer. Ms. Henson was the widow of puppeteer Jim Henson, class of 1960.

Born Jane Ann Nebel, she and Jim Henson met as freshmen at a UMD puppetry class during the mid-1950s. They began working together on the live 1950s television show Sam and Friends, where Jane collaborated with Jim in performing the Muppets and devising several of the show's technical innovations, including the use of television monitors to watch their performances in real time. 

In 1996, Jane established The Jim Henson Fund for Puppetry to foster interest in and encourage student work in the art of puppetry and in 2002 she established The Henson Endowment for Performing Arts, which supports Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center programs related to puppetry.

In January 2005, The Jane Henson Foundation and The Jim Henson Legacy generously donated videos and funding to UMD to support the creation of what is now known as The Jim Henson Works. This collection includes over 70 digital videos spanning 35 years of Jim and Jane Henson's groundbreaking work in television and film. These full-length videos can be viewed at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, McKeldin Library and Hornbake Library.

UMD CIO Named First Presidential Fellow by EDUCAUSE

April 2, 2013
Contacts: 

Brian D. VossCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland and EDUCAUSE announce the appointment of Brian D. Voss, UMD's vice president and chief information officer (CIO), as the first EDUCAUSE Presidential Fellow, effective April 2013. EDUCAUSE is an association of higher education information technology professionals.

Voss will remain as Maryland's VP and CIO. He will devote a portion of his time to working directly for EDUCAUSE President and CEO Diana Oblinger and with her executive team, leading the planning for a new association initiative focused on cost reduction in administrative use of information technology (administrative IT). "Administrative IT consumes a significant share of institutional spending at colleges and universities," explained Oblinger. "As a community, we must find ways of focusing resources to bring the greatest value to the mission of our institutions. Increasingly, that means streamlining investments in administrative functions, both for cost savings overall and for enabling investments in teaching, learning, and research and innovation. As a creative leader with broad experience across the entire IT enterprise, Brian will bring unparalleled experience and insight to this initiative."

Voss is the first EDUCAUSE Presidential Fellow, a position that will improve the association's ability to track and address the strategic issues that sitting CIOs consider most pressing. In addition to leading the administrative IT initiative, Voss will advise the association on other topics relevant to CIOs, including aspects of the CIO "career pipeline" challenge faced by aspiring and sitting CIOs and their institutions. He will also work with other constituencies, partners, and associations to address priority issues facing higher education. "My work at EDUCAUSE will directly complement our efforts at Maryland to assess and focus our IT investments both efficiently and strategically," said Voss. "I look forward to working with EDUCAUSE to influence community directions in a broad set of ways."

Voss has nearly 30 years of experience in IT, much of it in leadership positions at public flagship research universities. At the University of Maryland's flagship institution in College Park, he is responsible for IT strategy, infrastructure, and services. Voss is well known nationally as a result of his many publications and presentations and his community service. His contributions span a broad range of areas, such as research computing, cyberinfrastructure, telecommunications, disaster recovery and continuity planning, as well as IT security. He also focuses on IT leadership, the economic development impact of IT, and most recently, the implications of MOOCs and the impact of IT on blended and online learning environments.

"Brian's appointment as a Presidential Fellow at EDUCAUSE is an honor for the university as much as it is for Brian personally," said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. "I am delighted and proud to see his talent and leadership recognized and put to use in the broader community."

Can Obama Broker Arab-Israeli Peace?

April 1, 2013
Contacts: 

Neil Tickner, 301-405-4622
Laura Ours, 301-405-5722

Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development program

WHAT:

Former U.S. officials and a leading PBS journalist will discuss timely topics on U.S. involvement in Arab-Israeli diplomacy with the University of Maryland's Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, with opening remarks by Dr. Jehan Sadat, former first lady of Egypt. One of UMD's premier international events, the 2013 Sadat Forum is convening in coordination with the release of The Peace Puzzle: America's Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace: 1989–2011, with co-authors Daniel Kurtzer and Shibley Telhami available for discussion. This event coincides with Secretary of State John Kerry's recent visit to Israel; the panelists will discuss his new role and the significance of his visit to the region. Approximately 250 attendees will include guests from think tanks and the diplomatic community, as well as members of the university community.

The Forum is sponsored by the University of Maryland's Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Sadat Chair Shibley Telhami will moderate the event.

A public reception and book signing will follow the event.

WHEN:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 4 p.m.

WHERE:

Dance Theatre, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
University of Maryland, College Park 20742
Directions and parking information: http://claricesmithcenter.umd.edu/parking-directions

RSVP:

The event is free and open to the public. Audience members are requested to RSVP online at http://ter.ps/sadatfrm2013. Members of the media are encouraged to RSVP to Laura Ours at lours@umd.edu.

WHO:

  • Daniel Kurtzer: S. Daniel Abraham Professor in Middle Eastern Policy Studies, Princeton University; Former United States Ambassador to Israel and to Egypt
  • Dr. Jehan Sadat: former first lady of Egypt and Associate Resident Scholar, University of Maryland
  • Shibley Telhami: Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland; Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings
  • Margaret Warner: Senior Correspondent, PBS NewsHour
  • Tamara Cofman Wittes: Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings; Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State


About the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development and the Sadat Forum

The goals of the Anwar Sadat Chair, and of the professor who occupies it, are to further the dialogue for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world; to bridge the gap that often occurs between the academic and policy worlds, bringing the policy community of Washington, D.C. in closer touch with the latest research findings; and to maintain an active and rigorous research agenda. Professor Shibley Telhami was invested on October 7, 1997 as the first Sadat Professor.

Through the Sadat Forum, the community of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Dr. Jehan Sadat continue to honor the peacemaking legacy of Dr. Sadat's late husband, Anwar Sadat, the third president of Egypt. The Sadat Forum was organized a decade ago and supplements the Sadat Lecture for Peace, which has hosted renowned speakers including Nelson Mandela, President Carter, Kofi Anan, Henry Kissinger, and Madeline Albright. On May 7, 2013, the Sadat Lecture will be delivered at 10 a.m. in UMD's Comcast Center by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet (see www.umd.edu/lecture for more information).

Astronomers Take a Closer Look at Comet ISON

March 29, 2013
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Astronomers from the University of Maryland, along with Lowell Observatory, have had the rare opportunity to observe comet ISON in close detail, which may become one of the most dazzling in decades when it rounds the sun later this year.

Using images acquired over the last two months from NASA's Swift satellite's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT), the team has been able to make initial estimates of the comet's water and dust production and used them to infer the size of its icy nucleus.

"Comet ISON has the potential to be among the brightest comets of the last 50 years, which gives us a rare opportunity to observe its changes in great detail and over an extended period," says lead investigator Dennis Bodewits, an astronomer at UMD.

The Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope aboard NASA's Swift imaged comet ISON (center) on Jan. 30, when it was located about 3.3 degrees from the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini. At the time of this 5.5-minute optical exposure, ISON was about 5,000 times fainter than the limit of human vision.In late February, a team of comet experts initiated the Comet ISON Observing Campaign (CIOC) to assist ground- and space-based facilities in obtaining the most scientifically useful data.

Like all comets, ISON is a clump of frozen gases mixed with dust. Often described as "dirty snowballs," comets emit gas and dust whenever they venture near enough to the sun that the icy material transforms from a solid to gas, a process called sublimation. Jets powered by sublimating ice also release dust, which reflects sunlight and brightens the comet. Typically, a comet's water content remains frozen until it comes within about three times Earth's distance to the sun.

In January, UVOT observations found that ISON was shedding a significant amount of dust, but a much smaller amount of water. "The mismatch we detect between the amount of dust and water produced tells us that ISON's water sublimation is not yet powering its jets because the comet is still too far from the sun," Bodewits says. "Other more volatile materials, such as carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide ice, evaporate at greater distances and are now fueling ISON's activity."

Similar levels of activity were observed in February, and the team plans to do additional UVOT observations.

While the water and dust production rates are relatively uncertain because of the comet's faintness, they can be used to estimate the size of ISON's icy body, which they've found is a typical size for a comet.

An important question is whether ISON will continue to brighten at the same pace once water evaporation becomes the dominant source for its jets.

"It looks promising, but that's all we can say for sure now," said Matthew Knight, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., and a member of the Swift and CIOC teams. "Past comets have failed to live up to expectations once they reached the inner solar system, and only observations over the next few months will improve our knowledge of how ISON will perform."

Based on ISON's orbit, astronomers think the comet is making its first-ever trip through the inner solar system. The first of several intriguing observing opportunities occurs on Oct. 1, when the inbound comet passes about 6.7 million miles from Mars. Fifty-eight days later, on Nov. 28, ISON will make a sweltering passage around the sun. Around this time, the comet may become bright enough to glimpse just by holding up a hand to block the sun's glare. Following ISON's solar encounter, the comet will depart the sun and move toward Earth, appearing in evening twilight through December.
From now through October, comet ISON tracks through the constellations Gemini, Cancer and Leo as it falls toward the sun.
Whether we'll look back on ISON as a "comet of the century" or as an overhyped cosmic dud remains to be seen, but astronomers are planning to learn the most they can about this unusual visitor no matter what happens. 

Watch this animation showing the comet's approach and departure from the inner solar system from various perspective:

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