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Why Taiwan and China are Battling over Tiny Island Countries - Explained

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Why Taiwan and China are Battling over Tiny Island Countries

Why Taiwan and China are Battling over Tiny Island Countries

The News Cover: The People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China, more commonly known as Taiwan, have fought their territorial dispute for generations, but now, nearly each and every one of the tiny nations dotting the Pacific Ocean has emerged as a battlefield for this conflict. 

The weapons of this war are not guns and bullets, but rather concrete and banknotes. This is a diplomatic mission aiming to shore up the support of some of the world’s smallest countries. There are fourteen nations in question here: Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga, Kiribati, Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands. 

With the exception of Papua New Guinea, each of these have populations below one million and each also tends to have fairly low GDP per capita’s—generally between one and five thousand dollars. This means that they’re each granted fairly significant amounts of foreign aid. In the previous decade, Niue, for example, received $134 million in aid, or about $83,000 for each member of its population. 
Region-wide that average is only in the low-thousands, but the point is that the Pacific gets a lot of aid. Now, most of this does not come from Taiwan or China. Australia is by far the largest donor. It is important for Australia to be in these countries’ good graces for strategic reasons. For example, 6% of Australia’s GDP is made up solely of exports that take one of these three maritime routes—each of which passes by some of these Pacific countries. 

These trade routes could be disrupted if there were instability in the Pacific. Political stability also keeps foreign powers from attempting a power-grab in any of these nations, and any such power-grab would likely be too close for comfort for Australia. So, the primary aid motivation for Australia and its close allies, like New Zealand and the US, is stability. That is not the primary motivation for China and Taiwan. These two powers are openly engaging in what's known as "checkbook diplomacy.” They're buying diplomatic partners through financial aid, but why? China is a massive nation of more than a billion people. 

What benefit does it receive from having tiny nations like Samoa, Tonga, or Fiji on its side? Well, they might gain some limited benefit, but the main reason China works to build these diplomatic partnerships is so Taiwan can not. That’s because, to Taiwan, even a tiny, eleven-thousand person nation like Tuvalu is hugely valuable as Tuvalu has something Taiwan doesn’t. 

Tuvalu is a member of the United Nations. Taiwan is rarely recognized as an independent country in international settings. This is despite the fact that, in almost every way, it acts and operates as an independent country would. There are plenty of countries, like the US, for example, that have strong relations with Taiwan and treat it as if it were a country. 

The US has a de-facto embassy in Taiwan, recognizes Taiwanese passports, sells military supplies to Taiwan, and has an enormously strong trade relationship with Taiwan, yet it does not recognize Taiwan as a country. That’s because, in international relations, there is an implicit rule: you either recognize the Republic of China or the People’s Republic of China. 

Now, given the choice between working with the world’s most populous country or a moderately-sized island of 24 million, nearly every nation picks China. Even though Taiwan and the US are functionally allies while China and the US are frenemies, at best, it’s just not worthwhile for the US to recognize Taiwan as a country. 

This is the case for almost every country—that is, of course, unless Taiwan makes it worthwhile. Across the Pacific, Taiwan has been funding projects to keep small nations on its side. In Palau, they spent $1.3 million to help the country recover from Typhoon Haiyan. 
In Papua New Guinea, they spent $4.5 million to improve domestic agriculture in order to increase food security. In the Solomon Islands, they spent $2.5 million to train local staff and conduct a survey of the islands’ local plant species. In Nauru, they spent $600 thousand donating more-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs to local households. 

In the Marshall Islands, they spent $1 million building a seawall around Majuro Atoll to protect it from rising sea-levels. In Fiji, they spent $300 thousand improving mental health service access around the country. In Tuvalu, they spent $200 thousand repairing and improving water storage equipment around the country after a cyclone. In Kiribati, they spent $19 million to repair and upgrade the country’s main airport. Each of these projects, and the hundreds more funded by Taiwan around the pacific, improves its relations with these countries, and therefore brings it more and more diplomatic clout. 

Taiwan can’t afford to buy the support of large nations, but in some settings the size of the nation doesn’t matter. In the United Nations General Assembly, for example, it’s one country, one vote. It doesn’t matter if it’s Tuvalu or China, when voting, every member nation has the exact same power. 

There are other systems in the UN where power is more balanced based on population, but overall, the world’s smallest nations have a disproportionate amount of power. More recognition, even by the smallest countries, strengthens Taiwan’s case for a position in intergovernmental organizations like the UN. That’s why Taiwan targets small nations for support. 

$5 million spent on Tuvalu goes a lot further than $5 million spent on Mexico, for example, but in the General Assembly, Tuvalu can help Taiwan just as much as Mexico can. This diplomatic clout that Taiwan has amassed, though, gets in the way of China’s ambition of eventually unifying the two. 
It is for that reason that the People’s Republic has gone on the offensive. China has been courting Taiwan’s diplomatic partners in the Pacific with promises of larger aid packages. The most recent two defectors were Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. Early in the 2010’s China provided no foreign aid to either of these countries, but then, as soon as they each revoked their recognition of Taiwan, promises of planes, ferries, medical supplies, and more started pouring in from China. 

In addition to these two countries, Taiwan has lost diplomatic support from the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Panama, and São Tomé and Príncipe since 2016. That leaves them with just fifteen total diplomatic partners, and only four in the Pacific region. To maintain the limited support that it has, Taiwan has had to get tactical. 

China’s style with aid is to build big, flashy, expensive infrastructure projects. In Fiji, they spent $50 million building a paved road that halved the time it took for local farmers to get to markets, but local engineers reportedly said that a far lower-quality and cheaper road could have achieved the same result. 

In Vanuatu, they spent $80 million upgrading a port to allow for larger cruise ships to dock, but in all of 2019, for example, just five visited. In Papua New Guinea, they spent $1 million building a malaria hospital in the capital of Port Moresby, despite that being the region of the country with the least malaria, and despite the capital having no road link to the regions with the worst malaria outbreaks. 

Each of these projects and more clearly have positive effects, but undoubtably they are not the most efficient uses of $1 or $50 or $80 million in the mission of improving relations between China and these Pacific nations. China does big, flashy, and sometimes ineffective aid. Taiwan does small, personable, and generally more effective aid. 
That’s why they have been able to maintain the relationships they have for so long, despite a much lower budget. China works to impress the governments, Taiwan works to impress the people. Taiwan’s average aid project size in the Pacific is $500,000. China’s is $6 million. 

Taiwan does things like contribute $1,600 for Palau’s baseball team to attend a tournament in Guam, or spend $200,000 buying a boat for an outer atoll in the Marshall Islands, or construct $300,000 of solar street lights in Nauru. The $80 million port in Vanuatu might help people more than the $1,600 for the baseball team in Palau, but one can be sure that every member of that team and their families and friends heard about and remember how Taiwan helped them. 

That’s less likely with the large, somewhat ineffective port. Taiwan knows that the choice of which side to support is a political issue in the Pacific because there is that choice. Pretty much any politician in these countries will run their campaign with the Taiwan issue as part of their platform and so Taiwan is trying to gain the support of everyday people. 

They want to win support from the ground-up, rather than from the top-down. This might create a better value for their money, but at the end of the day, China just has so much more money. If China wants to win the political support of a small nation, they can just spend and spend and spend. At this point, Taiwan’s few, tiny diplomatic partners are no longer a threat to China’s goal of reunification. 

China will likely keep courting these nations, not because they need to, but because it’ll further weaken Taiwan. Eventually, though, if there comes a day when the Taiwan issue is resolved, either through reunification or recognized independence, the Pacific islands will be victims because, when it's no longer useful, the pawn is the first to be sacrificed. If you want to learn more about one of the four Pacific-island nations that are still on Taiwan’s side, the Marshall Islands, you can watch the Nebula-exclusive documentary we filmed on location in the Marshall Islands. 
You heard earlier that Taiwan funded a seawall for the capital, Majuro, but The Final Years of Majuro explains why that was necessary, and what it means for the nation. It explains what life is like in a nation with an expiration date. The best way to get access to that is to sign up for CuriosityStream’s Nebula bundle deal. Curiosity Stream is, of course, home to thousands of documentaries that any Wendover viewer will enjoy, and Nebula is home to all of Wendover’s normal videos early and ad-free, plus special, exclusive projects like this documentary.

Why Dubai's Man-Made Islands Are Still Empty- Explained

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Why Dubai's Man-Made Islands Are Still Empty

The News Cover: In 2003, the construction of the multi-billion dollar project “The World” was announced. The man-made archipelago shaped like a map of the earth was planned to feature luxurious houses and tourist-resorts located all within just a short boat ride from Dubai. But today, more than 10 years after the completion of these islands, there is hardly anything built on them. What happened here? 

In the early 2000s, Real estate developers saw an enormous opportunity in creating artificial land off the coast of Dubai. The real estate boom in the Emirate seemed unstoppable. And the demand for ocean properties was huge. Dubai had already expanded along most of its coast. 

Why Dubai's Man-Made Islands Are Still Empty

So Nakheel Properties, a real estate company owned by the government of Dubai made plans to radically change the region, all within just two decades. Between 2001 and 2006, a number of plans were announced. 
The company planned three different island projects that when viewed from space should represent the shape of palm trees. Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and lastly Palm Deira, by far the largest one. In addition, “The World” was announced. Different areas were planned, from low density housing, high density complexes and islands that can be used commercially. In a second phase, “The World” was planned to be supplemented by another even bigger project: The Universe. Man-made Islands were planned, that resemble the shape of the sun, the moon as well as the planets of the solar system, the milky way and a distant galaxy. 

Dubai's Man-Made Islands

Next to Palm Jebel Ali, another gigantic project was to be created: the Dubai Waterfront. These islands should be formed like a star and crescent, an important symbol in Islam. And the construction project was advertised as the largest man-made development project worldwide. 

The shape should also serve as a shelter to protect Palm Jebel Ali from erosion. With all these projects, most of the coast of Dubai would have been transformed as on one side the Emirate of Abu Dhabi begins, and on the other side there is the Emirate of Sharjah. In retrospect, the level of confidence with which these projects were advanced is astonishing. 

But the islands were seen as prestige projects that serve the larger goal of developing Dubai into a major tourist hotspot, and thereby creating new income sources for a place that gained most of its wealth through the extraction of oil. Now let’s take a look at what happened to these ambitious plans. In 2001, Nakheel Properties started building the Palm Jumeirah. 
This project alone would double the length of the coastline of Dubai. In 2006, the land reclamation was completed and the first apartments were already handed over. The strands of the palm mainly host private houses. 

While a number of large luxury hotels were built on the breakwater ring around the palm, that protects the Palm from storms. While Palm Jumeirah was still under construction other projects started to take shape. The 21st century seemed to have reached a new peak in the rate of growth of Dubai. 

The real estate market experienced a rapid boom. And a number of prestige projects, such as the Burj Khalifa, the largest building in the world, were built. In September 2008 the Atlantis Hotel on Palm Jumeirah celebrated it’s opening with a firework show on the entire Palm. But the celebrations couldn’t change that the international financial crisis started to affect Dubai. 

Reporter:"Just last week Dubai spent 20M Dollars for a party to open the Atlantis Hotel. The headline was: Dubai parties as the rest of the world reels from the economic crisis. Perhaps not anymore." 

Reporter: "Dubai has been hit by the global financial crisis. Especially in real-estate. Megaprojects like the artificial islands off the coast are in danger of collapse. Many construction sites are shut down." Due to a declining demand, the price of the plots of land fell rapidly. And the development of Palm Jebel Ali came to a standstill. In 2011, Nakheel Properties offered investors refunds and the project has been on hold ever since. 

The empty sand banks that reach 7km or 4.3 miles into the sea appear strangely forgotten. The Palm is located behind the Jebel Ali Port with no city development near it. And most of the visions dreamed up by the project planners seemingly evaporated in a puff of sand. 

The land reclamation of the Dubai Waterfront is nowhere near as advanced. But you can already see the shape of some of the islands on satellite images. This project as well has been discontinued. A similar situation exists with Palm Deira. 

The land reclamation had already progressed but is far from complete. In 2013, Nakheel decided to try to save this project by re-branding it. Instead of continuing to create new land, the project was scaled down and is now just called Deira Islands. 

And there is current construction work underway, with a planned mall, two high-rise buildings and a shopping street. Finally, “The World”. The land creation was mostly completed and a large part of the islands had already been sold before the financial crisis. But the islands were just not developed further as many of the investors that bought them were facing their own problems in the aftermath of the financial crisis. 

And although investment into new projects in Dubai increased after the crisis. The “World” project couldn’t benefit from this, as there was less confidence on the return on any such investments. 10 years after the initial project reveal, “The World” already seemed to no longer fit in the current time. 

Many concerns about the longevity of the project arose as news reports stated that the smaller channels between the islands started to sand up. And the rising sea levels are a growing danger for a project like this. In general, growing concerns around land reclamation projects came up. 
Residents at Palm Jumeirah criticised their water quality. While the breakwater is necessary to protect the palm from erosion, it also hinders the natural tidal movement. And the seawater within the palm became stagnant. Additionally environmental concerns got more attention. Pilling up hundreds of thousands of tons of sand on a seabed that previously had been almost evenly flat has an impact on the marine ecology. 

The islands are composed mainly of sand that was dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters. And there are concerns that this leads to a destabilisation of the coastal soil, which can lead to an erosion of the natural coastline In addition, the coastal soil is destabilised, which can lead to an erosion of the natural coastline. Even if these consequences have been known for a long time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to market projects that are considered environmentally harmful. 

Many of the projects promoted in recent years are therefore trying to incorporate environmental compatibility. In addition, the difficult living conditions of migrant construction workers in Dubai is a topics that is receiving more media attention. Nevertheless, there are development projects on these Islands, that are starting to take shape Initially, there was only one island that had been developed. The villa served as a show house to promote the project. 

In summer 2012, the Royal Island Beach Club opened on Lebanon island. The club hosts daytime tourists that can get there by boat. The biggest project however was announced in 2014. An Austrian real estate investor plans to develope a number of projects on the European islands. The project is called “The Heart of Europe”. And the goal is to create kind of a mini version of Europe. 

With luxurious hotels that are inspired by places like Venice or Monaco. In addition to a number of restaurants with European food, the investor also plans to build a plaza on the Swiss island where there will be artificial snow falling. The project is currently under construction and time will tell whether it will bring the desired economic success. 

There are risky development projects almost everywhere in the world. And everywhere in the world, some of them fail. In Urban development, prestige projects often serve a greater role than being financially successful by their own as they can attract tourists to a region and therefore support the greater local economy in a variety of ways. In addition to attracting tourism, such prestige projects also often serve as national pride. 

Or they intend to symbolise the start of a new era, for example by using new construction methods or by breaking world records. Now if Dubai is questioned for creating planned landmarks, then the same criticism must certainly be applied elsewhere as well. But still the question remains, how these projects that changed the coastal landscape of Dubai will be viewed in retrospect. At a time when Dubais growth slows down and when the ambitious dream that this city represents stops being built and just has to be just lived.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra official render leaks from Samsung website

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News Cover: The Galaxy Note 20 announcement is close at hand and, if rumors are correct, its retail launch won’t be too far behind. The Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra have been an open book for some time now. We know almost everything there's to know about the handset which includes its specs and how it looks courtesy of Samsung themselves. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

But still, there are a few mysteries about the handsets and one of them is the price. Earlier this year, Samsung literally shocked everyone when they revealed the prices of the Galaxy S20 variants that starts from $999 for the S20 to $1400 for the S20 Ultra. As expected it drew a lot of criticism from literally everyone including their loyal fan base which consequently resulted in lackluster sales of all the Galaxy S20 variants. 

So you would expect Samsung to learn from their mistake and going forward make sure to price their handsets sensibly so that this doesn't happen again. But apparently they learned nothing...In fact, Samsung is going even higher. Techmaniacs which is a popular greek website has obtained the European prices of the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra and also the release date. 

They say it's from a very reliable source. By the way, Techmaniacs are the one who leaked quite a lot of Galaxy Note 10 features last year which all turned out to be true so if they are saying it's from a very reliable source then there's no reason not to believe them. Anyway, first up the Galaxy Note 20 will retail at €1,249 in Greece. To give you some comparison the Galaxy Note 10 was priced at €999 in Greece when it launched last year.

Samsung galaxy note 20 ultra price 

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, on the other hand, is going to retail at a massive €1,499 in Greece. That is higher than both the Galaxy Note 10+ and S20 Ultra, the Note 10+ was launched at €1,149, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra at €1,399 in the country. By the way, Most of the other European countries should be able to get these handsets at a lower price tag, almost 50 Euros less than the prices for Greece. Now, converting these prices into US dollars doesn't make sense because of the different tax rates. But it does give us a key takeaway here that Samsung is not dropping the prices instead they are raising them. 
If I were to purely guess how much the Note 20 Ultra is going to cost in the US based on these Greece prices, I would say $1449 which is ridiculous, on every level. During this pandemic where people are literally losing their jobs, where businesses of many people have been cut in half, you would expect them to think about the market condition right now and price it accordingly. 

But that's not happening. If these prices are actually true then Samsung is pricing themselves into irrelevancy, at least in their flagship segment where only the most tech-obsessed will buy these phones at these prices which by the way is showing in the sales report of the Galaxy S20 series where the sales have been cut in half compared to the S10. 

Yes, part of that is due to the pandemic but mostly it's due to the high prices. It actually baffles me that on one hand Samsung is ridiculously increasing the prices year over year and then there's Apple who by the way, has a bad name for charging insane prices, is actually dropping the prices or at least keeping it the same. The iPhone 12 Pro and Max will cost the same as last year or there will be at max $50 increase even with 5G. 
It feels like the roles are reversed. Anyway, they've also revealed the price of the Galaxy Fold 2 in Greece and it's 2199 euros. If I were to guess it should be at least $2000 in the US, probably even more. There go the rumors of cheaper prices for the Galaxy Fold 2 down in the toilets. With that being said, let me know what do you think down in the comments and as always I'll see you tomorrow...Peace out!

PM Modi Announces Free Food for 80 Crore Indians

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The News Cover: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30th June 2020 addressed the nation on the coronavirus situation. He gave credit to the farmers and taxpayers because of them the Central Government provided free food grains to the poor and needy in the country. 
PM Modi praised India's progress compared to the rest of the world. He urged people to take all precautions even during Unlock 2.0, particularly those living in containment zones. I will tell you some of the highlights of PM Modi’s Speech: PM Modi said that, “India's efforts are better than many other nations across the world." However, since Unlock 1.0 started, we have noticed people not taking precautions and having a careless attitude regarding COVID-19. 

Earlier peopled washed hands, used sanitizers, wore masks, maintained social distance, etc. Since Unlock 1.0 people have gone back to their old ways and not following rules. Citizens need to follow the rules and more careful as the country enters Unlock 2.0 PM Modi said that compared to other countries, the death rate is very less in India. 

This is because right decisions at the right time have helped manage the situation. This is why our death rate is less compared to the world. PM Modi said that they will now starting One Nation One Ration Card for the distribution of food. This will benefit migrant workers and their families. 

Keeping in mind all the festivals that are coming up, free food will be given upto Diwali and Chhath Puja. Free food will be distributed upto November. Per family will be given 5 kg free ration and 1 kg dal per month. 80 crore people across India will benefit. This will be done at a cost of more than Rs 90,000 crore. 

He also said that in the last 3 months, Rs 31,000 crore was deposited in the bank of 20 crore families. Rs 9,000 crore was deposited to bank accounts of farmers. The credit for the way India is being able to handle this crisis goes to two categories of people. Farmers and taxpayers. 
The reason is the farmers continued to work and provided food to those starving and the taxpayers honestly paid their taxes on time which helped in India's development and ensured none of the poor went hungry. PM Modi bowed down and thanked all the farmers and the taxpayers.

iPhone 12 - Apple is doing the impossible

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The News Cover: Apple has done some stupid things in the past such as dropping the headphone jack, popularising this abomination at the front, and at the back as well. But recently they've been on a good side such as launching a $400 phone, pricing the iPhone 11 cheaper than its predecessor the iPhone XR and more. They are also expected to price the new 5G iPhone 12 variants the same as the iPhone 11 variants. 

So all of this was making us believe that Apple is no longer the company we used to despise in the past. But it seems we all got it wrong. They are back doing those stupid things again. This time they will no longer include a charger inside the box. Yes, you heard that right, a charger. You need to buy it separately now. Ming-Chi Kuo a famous Apple analyst says Apple is doing it to keep the price of the iPhone 12 variants down. 
5G networking components on the iPhone 12 series will increase the costs and Apple wants to sell the iPhone 12 at almost the same price as the iPhone 11 and that's the reason Apple is going to pass 100% of the cost savings directly on to the final price. But the problem is nobody is going to see it like that even if it's true. Because the charger is a basic need for a phone. 

Without it, the phone can't even function. Just imagine, you go to the Apple store to buy the iPhone 12 Pro spending over $1000 and come home only to find that the phone is running out of juice and there's no charger to charge it. If the phone was required to connect to a computer then it could be somewhat justified that the computer will act as a charger, but when the iPhone is completely standalone and you’re purchasing a $700-$1100 product that you cannot use after one charge without another $30 purchase is beyond insane. 

I see a lot of people already on twitter predominantly iSheep shamelessly defending this idea saying they have a lot of old chargers laying around so this move from Apple makes total sense. Listen, a tech-savvy person who upgrades his phone year over year and sometimes twice a year may have more than two chargers laying around but an average consumer doesn't. 

Remember people sell their old phones with chargers and earbuds included, so if they want the new iPhones then this is going to cost them $63.15 to replace the EarPods and the 18W fast-charger that the iPhone Pro models come with. It's somewhat acceptable for them to not include the earpods. The phone is completely usable without them, Bluetooth headphones have become the norm these days and it is rare to see anyone using wired headphones these days, although I hate the fact that they forced us to use Bluetooth headphones. 

But without a freaking charger, a basic necessity for a smartphone is not acceptable by any means. Not today, and not tomorrow. Maybe once we get true wireless charging where we don't need to put the phone on a mat and it gets charged over the air. Until that doesn't happen the cable is from where we are going to charge it and charging brick is absolutely necessary. By the way, a lot of you think this isn't a big deal for you because you're on Android. 

But if history is any indication then these Android companies will shamelessly I mean shamelessly follow this stpid trend by Apple just like they did with the headphone jack and that ugly notch and will take us back, back to a time where Android was the joke platform to Apple and its obsessed followers. 
I don’t know, but it sure looks bad and feels even worse as someone who covers Android for a living to know that this could possibly transition to the Android world as well. Anyway, let me know what do you think? Do you find it acceptable to not have a freaking charger inside the box when you pay over $1000 for a phone? let me know down in the comments.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20: Price, Review, Specification, Interesting fact

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Samsung Galaxy Note 20

The News Cover: So we've been talking about the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra for quite some time now, but today's news is interesting because it's apparently coming from someone who actually has the test variant of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Yesterday, a person messaged me on twitter saying his friend has the note 20 Ultra and he would be willing to share some information about the handset. 

He first shared the information on Reddit but it was deleted for some reason. To be clear upfront, I usually don't believe random person messaging or emailing me and making claims they have information about an unreleased product but some of the information this person shared aligned pretty perfectly with what I've heard from my sources. 


So I thought let's share that information with you as well. First up, recently we've heard from Ross Young that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra may have the new bigger Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner which is 17 times bigger than the current one on the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Well, it seems that's not happening. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will get the same fingerprint scanner as the S20 but there will be improvements in speed. Next, the renders from Onleaks showed us that the camera lenses on the Note 20 Ultra will have a shiny outer ring like the one on the iPhone 11 Pro. 

Well, that's true except it won't be shiny. It will be more like a matte chrome color. But the frame of the handset is like shiny steel, I would say more like the frame of the Galaxy S20 Ultra where it's tougher than aluminum but it's not stainless steel. 

Moving on, in the current software on his Note 20 Ultra there are only two options to set the display refresh rate and that is 60Hz and 120Hz LTPO. There's no option to set it at fixed 90Hz which makes sense as the LTPO display will automatically vary the refresh rate from 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the content being shown. So I don't think there's even a need for a 90Hz refresh rate option. 

Next, remember Ross Young said a few weeks ago that even the base variants of the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra will offer 16GB RAM, well that's not true either. Apparently the test variant of the Note 20 Ultra that he has got has 12GB RAM. Not only that but the base storage option is going to be 128GB as opposed to the rumored 256GB. 

Last year both the Note 10 and Note 10+ started at 256GB as base so this will be a downgrade and it wouldn't make sense at first glance. But months ago my sources have told me the exact same thing that the Note 20 will have 128GB storage as the base. So it's totally possible that this is indeed true. The S20 Ultra also starts at 128GB so it makes sense Samsung has decided to do the same with the Note 20 Ultra. Moving on, the S-Pen is made from plastic like before with added new functionality. 

The one he shared is interesting and I'm not really sure if it's going to make it to the retail units but apparently you can record your voice with the S-Pen while taking notes. I'm not sure how is that even going to be helpful, maybe video content creators could find it helpful as it could potentially act as a mic. But I'm not buying it. 

This is the only thing that I find sketchy with all the information he shared. I asked him for more clarification on this and hopefully, he gets more details about this from his friend. Anyway, he said he'll soon share more information about the handset that is not on the internet already.

Sushant Singh Rajput : A Wake-up Call for the Indian Society

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News Cover: India crushed the dreams of Sushant Singh Rajput Not some producer, not some actress. It is India and Indians who are responsible for the death of Sushant Singh Rajput The toxic environment for dreamers in this country is directly responsible for it. Be it in the field of Sports, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship or Music. Brought up in Patna, Sushant was a Genius. 

A robust personality - Popular among ladies. Sushant had huge dreams in multiple fields Be it acting, science or business It is wrong and disrespectful to call sushant a failed actor Because of the simple reason - He was not a failure at all. And that is rpecisely why people are shocked. 

The trajectory of success in the capitalistic world like India (Entertainment) Is this - You work hard in the field you choose Be it cricket or acting or content creation If you get noticed, brands approach you. If you get more success, your brand value increases. You earn money. You invest that money into multiple ventures. And your profits and brand value increase further Finally you reach a point Where you are so financially secure that generations after you will be able to live because of you. Sushant was here. 

And it is precisely why it has shocked people to the core He was on his way. He was not a failure Just a couple of hit movies more Just a couple of brand endorsements more And Sushant would have been all time Superstar. He was almost there.. Sushant's death has not only broken many hearts But has also demotivated many dreamers. Now lets talk about the toxic environment which failed him Nope,its not entirely nepotism. Nepotism is just a part of it. A major part of this toxic environment is the incredibly judgemental society of India. 

When Sushant got a lot of success after the Dhoni biopic People started to hate him for no reason Take up any of Sushant's videos in which he is addressing to the media after his MSD success and see the OLD comments ! Comments like "He has gone arrogant" filled the comment section. Baseless allegations & speculations like - He deliberately left his old girlfriend to maintain an image in Bollywood And the incredible trolling he received whenever he posted something really intelligent on twitter and instagram. 

What right did you have to say that ? So many of you commented on the failure of Raabta Simply because everyone was doing it And probably you hadn't even watched the movie ! Did you know him personally ? Had he harmed you in any way ? What did you know about his struggles or mental health? All of you are shaming 'starkids' right now But did you go to the theatres to watch the absolute masterpiece of a movie like "Detective Byomkesh Bakshy" Did you watch the incredibly well crafted movie "Sonchiriya" in the theatres ? Did you make it a Superhit ? Now that he is gone, how conveniently you all are blaming 'starkids' and 'nepotism' Will you take the responsibility if Ananya Pandey commits suicide tomorrow because of the hate she is receiving for merely being born as a starkid. 

Something which was not in her control at all Yes, they get their chances easily But its on the audience to ultimately reject a star or not. India as a society needs to reflect upon itself Because it is seriously getting rotten day by day A genius mathematician like Vashishtha Narayan Singh Who had challenged Einstein's theory of relativity When he died... His family were forced to wait for an ambulance outside the hospital when his body was lying on a stretcher. This is the reality of how India treats its achievers. Our society loves to shame Dreamers. 

Our society does not reward risk-takers. You guys want others to fail. Thats probably why - India accounted for the highest estimated number of suicides in the world in 2012 Over 5 crore Indians suffered from depression And over 3 crore others suffered from anxiety disorders in 2015. 

Sushant was a dreamer A genius dying to express the complex thoughts going on in his mind One can easily tell he certainly was going through something I feel this incident might trigger suicides all across India Because people are slowly realising India is not a country for dreamers. We shouldn't forget only recently The founder of Cafe Coffee Day - VG Siddhartha committed suicide as well These incidents are telling us something. 

We need to question our system And we need to think why is a dreamer not rewarded in this country Only if.. We would have valued Sushant more when he was with us Only if we would have appreciated his intelligence And love for science and space. Only if we would have showered him with a lot of love. Lets not do the same mistakes with anyone else again And lets develop a culture of rewarding people who genuinely think different and are trying to achieve in their life. Otherwise We are going to see many more innocent smiles fade away Because of our toxic society.

The Rise Of TikTok | Explained By The News Cover

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The News Cover: 2020 has been a year of chaos, uncertainty and grief. A global pandemic, record unemployment and nationwide protests have left people reeling. Through it all though, there's been TikTok, providing moments of levity and new dance crazes, interspersed with more serious commentary on the issues that we face. TikTok, it's like the party you want to be at, a t the moment. 


You'll see hair tutorials, cooking tutorials. People can create challenges, they can create duets, th ey can interact, they can engage. T ikTok is the most downloaded app of 2020. Since its global release less than two years ago, TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, have amassed 800 million monthly active users, more than Reddit, Snapchat or Twitter. Its parent company, ByteDance, is the most valuable startup in the world. Its reach might surprise you unless you're a member of Gen Z or the parent of one. But as millions scramble for connection amidst quarantines, more and more users of all ages are hopping aboard. 


We're all just kind of going through the same thing together. And we happen to be documenting it all through TikTok. It's not all rosy, though. The Chinese-owned app faces a slew of regulatory hurdles, privacy concerns and allegations of censorship. Amidst these struggles, it's brought in a new CEO. This guy is Kevin Mayer. Formerly the Head of Streaming at Disney. That's basically what Kevin Mayer's first priority needs to be, is to make sure that Americans trust TikTok. In the long run, t hat may prove complicated. But in the short term, it hasn't prevented tens of thousands of new users from signing up. 


The predecessor to TikTok was an app called Musical.ly. Founded in 2014, it provided a platform for users to create short, 15 second videos set to a song of their choice. The content mostly involved lip-syncing and dancing, and it took off quickly among preteens and teens in the U.S. This is an app that was built around the fact that there was music that was licensed to be used on this app. This was something that Musical.ly decided really to invest in, because they knew that music and sharing music was inherently social. 


By July 2015, a year after its launch, Musical.ly reached number one in the iTunes app store. It continued to grow and was bought by the Beijing-based startup ByteDance for one billion dollars in 2017. ByteDance already owned Tik Tok, a similar video sharing platform, and merged the two apps less than a year later. Now TikTok's main office is in Los Angeles, California. They're essentially an American startup that is subsidized by a successful Chinese tech company. As the app has grown, it's given rise to a whole new pack of social media celebrities. 


Content is public by default on TikTok, and the algorithm that determines what appears on a user's home page gives every creator the chance to put their video in front of millions. Really what we saw was a different style of humor. It wasn't the sketches that you saw on Vine, and it wasn't longer-form YouTube videos. It was meme culture or like the general public's take on a meme. What I enjoyed about it is there was some deeper humor in there if you were paying attention to the trends that were happening. 


On TikTok, King uses creative video editing to make it look like he's performing magic tricks, a skill which has earned him over 44 million followers, the second most on the app as of June 2020. But at 30, King represents the rare millennial that's broken into TikTok's top ranks. Many of the most followed users are in their teens, and lip syncing and dancing remain wildly popular. So I originally started when I was 14 years old, and so I started using my facial expressions and hand motions to make these like larger than life lip sync videos. And as I grew up, I think the app also grew up. Now there's so much more that you can do. 


While Martin has found her niche with dancing and lifestyle content, she says there's something out there for everyone. There's like creators who are huge when it comes to comedy, some still do lip syncing, some cooking videos, tutorials. You can do whatever you want as long as it's fun, it's quick and it catches people's eye. Stay at home orders have propelled the app's rapid growth in the United States. So between October and March, according to research fro m Comscore, its unique visitors has grown from 27 million to 52 million, so doubled in the past five months. 


And within that time period, just in March alone, according to Comscore TikTok added 12 million new unique visitors. People in the U.S. on TikTok spent more time on TikTok than Instagram users spent on Instagram or Snapchat users spent on Snapchat in the month of March. That's a big deal since Snap and Instagram are two of the app's main competitors. They're all extremely popular among young users, b ut in the U.S. at least, TikTok still has some catching up to do. We estimate that this year TikTok will have 45 million users. 


But Instagram, we're estimating will have over 110 million and Snapchat will have 85 million users. But TikTok is also huge abroad, especially in India and China. In China, it operates as a technically separate but very similar app called Douyin. And in the first quarter of 2020, TikTok and Douyin were downloaded 315 million times globally, a 68 percent increase over the previous year. In April, the company reached two billion overall downloads. 


India is by far the app's largest market when it comes to downloads, accounting for 30.3 percent of the total. But China is definitely the largest from a revenue standpoint, accounting for about 72 percent of total spending on the app. The U.S. is third in terms of downloads and second in terms of revenue, and its influence continues to grow. Viral dances and memes have propelled a number of songs to the top of the U.S. charts, most famously, Old Town Road in 2019 . And now the moms, dads and siblings of the TikTok o bsessed have started to get in on the trends as well, learning dances and performing challenges together. 


You're still laughing at them, but actually the fact that parents are getting on it, I mean they needed that demo so badly to even make it to this level that they're at now. In order to build out a sustainable revenue model, e xperts say that TikTok eventually needs to attract older users. Advertisers are going after broader demographics and especially those with purchasing power. But TikTok is not under immediate pressure to make money just yet. Its parent company ByteDance is valued at over 100 billion dollars and made three billion dollars in revenue last year. 


That's because it owns a host of other, more profitable Chinese apps, most notably Douyin and a news aggregator called Toutiao. TikTok's revenue model is still very, very nascent. This is a company that has some advertising, we have some of the users starting to do sponsorships. But at the end of the day, this is a company with hundreds of millions of users here in the U.S. that's still not making as much money as it could some day. Monetization aside, many say that CEO Kevin Mayer's first priority needs to be the regulatory and privacy concerns facing the app, which stem from its Chinese ownership as well as its popularity among children. 


You know, it's never been the case that so many Americans are putting so much of their visual data in the hands of a Chinese company. And as we know, the relationship between the Chinese government and Chinese corporations is a pretty tight one. While TikTok claims that all American user's data is stored within the U.S. and is not subject to Chinese law, many security experts remain skeptical. Similar concerns exists in India, where data protection laws are weaker and thus citizens are more vulnerable. Regulators are going to be very weary of that separation. 


Where's the data held? What's the cross-pollination look like? A number of incidents over the years have provided ample reason for worry. An investigation by The Guardian last September revealed that TikTok moderators were instructed to censor videos related to Tiananmen Square and other content deemed sensitive by the Chinese government. 


While the company claimed that these guidelines had been phased out by the time of the investigation, it still helped spur the Federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to open an ongoing review into ByteDance's acquisition of Musical.ly. It seems unlikely that ByteDance would be forced to divest itself of what was Musical.ly, now is TikTok. But I do think that this all speaks to the great amount of concern and oversight over this app that's gone from a tiny little thing to this huge powerhouse. 


Most recently, the app received criticism for what it said was a technical glitch, in which post tagged with #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd appeared to have zero views when they actually have over two billion. And in the past, both India and Indonesia have instituted brief bans on the app due to concerns over inappropriate content like violence and pornography. 


Lastly, there are ongoing issues regarding children's privacy. Users under 13 are technically not allowed on TikTok, but there's not much really preventing them from signing up. In February 2019, the company paid 5.7 million dollars to the FTC to settle charges that it was illegally collecting children's personal information. This then prompted the U.K. to conduct their own investigation into the matter. While TikTok said it would make changes, in May 2020 a coalition of consumer groups filed a complaint stating that TikTok had not kept its promises. 


It's all undoubtedly a lot for Mayer to inherit. But given his background at Disney, some say he may be exactly the right person to address these concerns. So he is someone who has experience dealing with regulation, dealing with oversight, and especially dealing with online security issues, which are certainly front of mind for TikTok as they navigate their relationship with the FTC. If Mayer can secure the trust of U.S. consumers and investors, Byt eDance could be well positioned for an IPO in the next year or two. Beyond that, experts say that TikTok's long-term prospects depend upon its ability to keep users engaged while building out a sustainable monetization strategy. 


YouTube could be seen as a model in the way that YouTube shares advertising revenue with its content creators. Mayer's background in streaming services also has both analysts and creators excited about what new forms of content may lie on the horizon. I have been begging TikTok to get into the streaming game. People have speculated that TikTok might get involved in original programming.


 To make TikTok sustainable, you're going to have to do long-form content. I don't see a version where you make 60 second videos forever and it stays cool for another two to three years. King also says TikTok's live-streaming feature has room to grow. It's super popular in China, but hasn't yet taken off in the U.S. I think what's next for TikTok is how they figure out how to make money, how they figure out how to create a home for advertisers, and how they make sure that content creators themselves want to stick around and don't want to go jump off to whatever the next cool app is going to be.

Ministry of Health Issues Advisory on Social Stigma | News Cover

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Ministry of Health Issues Advisory on Social Stigma


News Cover: India currently has many cases of COVID-19 infections. However social media platforms such as WhatsApp have led to an increase in sharing negative information about COVID patients. Such false information and attacks are breeding fear and confusion among the citizens. 

       There have been many cases. For example, images of individuals displaying symptoms but who are not COVID+ are going viral, families suspected of being COVID+ are being assaulted, doctors, nurses who are doing a fabulous job are being stigmatised due to COVID-19. 

      If we discriminate against medical workers, how will we contain COVID-19? There have been many cases like this. Many Hearing individuals are sharing WhataApp messages falsely targetting people of being COVID+. They do this out of the excitement to share negative information. This is not a joke. COVID-19, is not a joke. Many such cases have happened in the Deaf community as well. 

        Here are two examples. A Deaf person was not feeling well and was not sure about his sickness. He went to the doctor for treatment, where he was made to wear a PPE suit and was very sick. Someone got to know about this and video called the Deaf person. The Deaf person's video call conversation was recorded. When the person asked the Deaf person what happened, the Deaf person said he was feeling sick. 
  
    The person said, that since the Deaf man was displaying all the symptoms, he is COVID+. The recorded video call was then made viral. How do you think the Deaf person must have felt? The person was bombarded by calls. Turned out the person did not have the coronavirus. The Deaf person misunderstood his symptoms, which were due to a change in weather. When the person went to the doctor, the doctor said there was no need to visit the clinic. The symptoms were due to climate change. 

      This recorded video labelled him a COVID+ patient. The Deaf person was unable to understand what was happening. Is recording a video like that and making it viral, right? Is this a joke? Its completely wrong! Second case is of a Deaf family who decided to stay home as precautionary measure. 

       A Deaf man had an itch in his throat and asked for hot water. When he asked for hot water, his family said this meant he has coronavirus. Labelling someone like that is not a joke. There are many cases like that happening all over India in the Deaf and Hearing community. This is not the right time to spread false information, jokes and oppress people during the COVID outbreak. 

        We need to be united and share positive talks from now. Now let tell you the Ministry of Health Family Welfare's points that we must all follow. 

       1. Remember PM Modi had said that medical workers are like God. They are helping to contain COVID-19 and hence, PM Modi said we must respect them like Gods. However people are discriminating and assaulting doctors. If targetted like this, medical professionals will lose their morale and this will lead to a rise in infections. This is why we must cheer them on their efforts, which will motivate healthcare workers to help contain COVID-19. Remember the government is providing them with PPE suits, so that they can care for us and stop the infections. 

      2. You can verify the authenticity of information in two places. First is the Indian government's website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. They have mentioned all information regarding precautions related to COVID-19. Second is the World Health Organisation. Do not trust any information shared on social media. 

     3. Messages on WhatsApp are quick to go viral. When you receive messages on WhatsApp related to, COVID recovery stories, COVID related deaths, etc. if you are confused about the veracity of the message, then do not forward it. Once you confirm its authenticity, you can share it. If you receive messages and know they are false, immediately inform the person about it. So that it doesn't go viral and there are no misunderstandings. If you know that the news is fake and do not inform the person, it will go viral spreading fear among people. 

       4. There is no harm in sharing information on WhatsApp. But remember to share positive stories of those who have recovered from COVID-19 and stories about the hardwork of healthcare workers and security officials. Sharing such positive stories will give citizens the strength to remain united. 

      5. Never spread the names, identity of those affected or their locality on social media. Secondly taking pictures and sharing the identidity of patients being taken by healthcare professional is not right. If a person is guilty of revealing the identity of individuals and targetting people on WhatsApp, it is in violation of Whatsapp policies. It can lead to a police case. 

         6. Do not spread fear and panic. 

       7. Do not label any community for the spread of COVID-19. We must remain united and care for each other, instead of targeting communities. 

         8. Everyone is wearing masks, gloves, using sanitisers, etc to remain safe. If anybody catches the infection, do not target them. It is not their fault. Be compassionate, cooperate with them and give them positivity. Tell them to avail treatment, take medications and give them faith. Giving them positivity will help them fight the infection. Social stigmatisation affects patients negatively which makes their recovery harder. There have been many cases, so give them positivity. 

Google Maps Is Different Depending on Your Location | News Cover

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News Cover: The question of what we should believe and what we shouldn’t can be somewhat arbitrary. And even though we might have a spontaneous gut feeling of whether something is believable or not, can we really explain our reasoning for it? If you go on Google Maps in Japan, the region between South Korea and Japan is shown as the “Sea of Japan”. 


    However if you’re using Google Maps inside South Korea, it will instead appear by the name “East Sea”. Two names for the same body of water on the same site. Which name is displayed depends on the location that you're browsing from. For the past two decades Japan and South Korea have been in a dispute over what the sea should be called. 
   While South Koreans refer to the waters that surround their country as the West Sea, South Sea and East Sea; in Japan this body of water is traditionally called the Sea of Japan, a name that also is more internationally accepted. The arguments on both sides are complex - South Korea argues that the name “Sea of Japan” was pushed during the time Korea was under Japanese occupation, meaning South Korea couldn't internationally dispute it. 

    Japan on the other hand argues that the name has been used long before the occupation and has been the historical internationally recognised name. In international politics, there are many disputes over naming things. But when there are arguments about names of regions or entire seas, things that are essential to normal communication, how can we neutrally talk about it? Cartographers have had the challenging job of handling naming disputes like this for centuries. And there are a few ways to deal with this. Either by choosing one of the names, by printing both versions next to each other, as two equal alternatives or as a mainly accepted one and an alternative name, or by simply leaving the disputed area completely blank. 

    Google however chooses a different approach. Google Maps avoids such conflict by showing different maps to different people. An approach only possible for an online map service. A similar situation exists in the middle east, between Arab countries and Iran. On the international version of Google Maps you will find the “Persian Gulf”. However if you zoom in more, you will also see the name “Arabian Gulf”. Whereas Iran argues that the sea has consistently been called Persian Gulf throughout history. Conflicts like these may seem absurd, but between two rivalling countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, both claiming a leading role in the region, the name has a tremendous cultural and political significance. 

Read More: Corona: Foreign nationals-NRI advised not to visit Tirupati temple | News Cover 

     In many countries it is against the law to publish maps that contradict the official government maps. Therefore Google has the choice of either adapting to these laws or to not offer Google Maps in those countries. The fact that some countries regulate maps by law is an indicator of how politically significant they can be, as they can either confirm or put to question geographical claims. Another example of this is China and India. 

    Both countries claim this area which is designated as "Arunachal Pradesh" by India, which governs it. And as long as you are using the site from an Indian domain, Google Maps will show it as an Indian state. China, on the other hand calls the area southern Tibet and Chinese Google users will see the area as a part of China. In both countries Google doesn’t show the users that there is a border conflict. 

   Only when using the site outside of both nations the map indicates the controversy by rendering dotted border lines. The same applies to Kashmir, an area which is in parts claimed by India, China as well as Pakistan. When Google is used in China and India the official maps of their respective governments are shown. Rendering the border as a continuous line conceals the dispute and makes the borderline seem internationally recognised. 
    While Google has to obey the countries laws, they also don't want to anger customers in those countries. Leaving out growth markets like China or India would be a huge economic disadvantage. Now, the fact that Google even offers a map in China is a bit surprising, considering that the company is in a long disagreement with the authorities. 

     In 2010, Google decided to relocate its services from mainland China to Hong Kong, in order to avoid the Chinese firewall, which required them to censor search results. Ever since, Google has become rather insignificant in China, but the company still keeps offering their map service. Both in the conflict with India, as well as with Taiwan, Google Maps in China corresponds with the official government viewpoint. And the map even shows the 10-Dash Line. 

      A line that originates from a Chinese map from 1947 and is used by the country to justify its claim on several islands in the South Chinese Sea. This area is disputed by many countries. The cause of the conflicts are the rich fishing grounds, ressources in the sea as well as the military importance of controlling the area. If countries convincingly argue a claim over a sea, they can use that to justify exclusive rights. The crimean peninsula is disputed between Ukraine and Russia. The conflict broke out in 2014 and ever since a controversial referendum, Russia regards Crimea as its territory. 

     A large part of the international community however considers this a violation of international law. While the international version of google shows a dotted line, the Ukrainian version doesn’t immediately show this. Only when zooming in much closer we see the line. Russian Google Maps however shows Crimea as part of Russia. Google is in the difficult position where there is not really any approach to draw a map that would not offend somebody. 
     And even though it may be a power that Google doesn’t want, it has to deal with the responsibilities that come with it. If Google draws a straight border in an area that is disputed - Google is creating facts that do have strong impact on the real situation on the ground. Now let’s take a look at how another website handles this. The collaborative Wikipedia project also struggles to neutrally portray border conflicts. 

    There are long-lasting discussions between the authors on the correct way of dealing with disputes. In the Crimean conflict, this has even led to the peninsula being shown as Russian territory on the Russian language wikipedia, while the Ukrainian site claims it as part of Ukraine. In both countries, there is information available about the dispute, yet how the borders are rendered changes from time to time. 

     In both countries the articles are available and Wikipedia wasn't blocked. The fact that Wikipedia would show disputes, even if that puts the site at risk of being blocked can be seen by them switching their web protocol. In the past, countries were able to censor individual articles from the site. For example, sexually explicit content was blocked in Turkey and an article about Marijruhanna was blocked in Russia. 

      But since Wikipedia changed to the new encrypted protocol, the only censorship option countries have is to block Wikipedia in int’s entirety, not just single articles. And Wikipedia is currently blocked in China. Whether Google wants it or not, since they are the main player in online maps, they have enormous power and responsibility. 

      Because the map that Google shows will be the map that a lot of people believe. Maps should always be viewed critically. Not only since Google. It is important to recognise that even things which at first glance seem to be objective truths may be more subjective. Behind every map, also Google Maps, there is an approach. And that doesn’t mean they are bad maps, just that we should view them critically, since the decisions mapmakers make affect our view of the world every day.
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