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Trocheck’s shootout goal lifts Panthers over Flames 3-2

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 21:15
SUNRISE, Fla. - Vincent Trocheck scored in the third round of the shootout to lift the Florida Panthers over the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Thursday night. Elias Lindholm scored for Calgary late in the third period to extend the game, but Matthew Tkachuk missed in the third round of the shootout with a chance to do the same. Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist, and Evgenii Dadonov scored for Florida. Mark Jankowski also had a goal for the Flames, who lost their fourth straight. Florida goalie James Reimer, pulled to start the third period in Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay, stopped 41 shots. Mike Smith had 30 saves and lost his third straight. Both clubs entered the contest on multigame losing streaks. Florida was blanked 3-0 by Dallas on Tuesday, marking the first time the Panthers had been shutout all season and making them the last team to be held scoreless. Smith blanked Florida through the 20 minutes - its fifth straight scoreless period - with a high glove save 1:20 into the game on a tipped shot by Jonathan Huberdeau. Calgary’s Derek Ryan had a point-blank short-handed chance on Reimer in the second but was denied on a kick save. The Panthers failed to score on their ninth consecutive man advantage. Dadonov finally broke the ice at 15:17 on a fortunate bounce for his 20th goal. Mark Pysyk sent a long, wide shot that careened off Dadonov’s body to give the Russian forward his second consecutive 20-goal season. Jankowksi scored his 10th at 6:51 of the third period to tie it at 1. Florida challenged for offside, but the goal was upheld. Hoffman scored 11:59 for his 26th goal, but Lindholm’s tip-in at 17:36 tied it at 2. NOTES: Calgary played the third game of its four-game trip and fell to 0-1-2. … Flames RW James Neal (lower body) left the game in the third period and did not return. … Florida held a moment of silence to honour the one-year anniversary of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland that claimed 17 victims. Goalie Roberto Luongo, who gave an emotional pregame speech to the crowd in the team’s first home game after the incident last Feb. 22, wore a special mask in tribute to the victims. … Florida scratched D Bogdan Kiselevich and replaced him on the bottom defensive pairing with Ian McCoshen. UP NEXT Flames: At Pittsburgh on Saturday. Panthers: Host Montreal on Sunday. ___ More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Bill Whitehead, The Associated Press

Canadian women’s hockey team edges U.S. 4-3 to push Rivalry Series to third game

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 21:08
TORONTO - Jamie Lee Rattray and Marie-Philip Poulin had a goal and an assist apiece as the Canadian women’s hockey team edged the arch-rival U.S. 4-3 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday night. The win tied the best-of-three Rivalry Series at a game apiece. The deciding contest goes Sunday afternoon in Detroit. Laura Fortino and Brianne Jenner had the other goals for Canada. Genevieve Lacasse made 24 saves, including 15 in the third period. Alex Carpenter, Hannah Brandt and Brianna Decker scored for the Americans. Katie Burt stopped 26 shots. Rattray’s goal at 7:06 of the third put the Canadians ahead 4-2 and gave them much-needed breathing room. Rattray completed a nice give-and-go with Laura Stacey and Blayre Turnbull on a three-on-two break. Decker pulled the Americans to within 4-3 at 10:34, shovelling a loose puck past Lacasse in front. But the Canadian goaltender made a big stop off a U.S. rush with 1:11 remaining. Both goaltenders came up with nice stops in the early going. Burt turned side Rattray at 4:47 before Lacasse halted a solid American rush less than a minute later. The U.S. won the series opener 1-0 on Tuesday night before 9,036 spectators in London, Ont. Hilary Knight scored the game’s lone goal and Alex Rigsby made it stand, stopping 33 shots for the shutout. Canadian goalie Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 20 shots. Canada outshot the U.S. 14-5 in the first and led 3-2 at the intermission on Thursday. But it was the Americans who opened the scoring with Carpenter converting on the power play at 7:03. Poulin made it 1-1 just 1:44 later, scoring off a nice centring pass from Stacey. Brandt put the Americans back ahead at 10:30. Again Canada tied the contest on Fortino’s power-play goal at 13:13. Then with 36 seconds remaining, Jenner scored on the man advantage, sliding a loose puck past Burt on a goalmouth scramble. The Canadians outshot the Americans 9-7 in a scoreless and had ample opportunity to break the game open with four straight power-play chances - including a 20-second stretch with a two-man advantage. But the Americans were able to kill off all four opportunities in the period and keep it a one-goal game. The U.S. pressed for the tying goal on the power play with under three minutes to play. Although Canada successfully killed the chance, the Americans kept the pressure on right to the end of the period. The Americans have had the best of the Canadians internationally of late, beating them in the final of the last four world championships as well as the past four Four Nations events. That includes a 5-2 victory in November in Saskatoon. And the U.S. edged Canada 3-2 in a climactic shootout at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the third game in the series was on Saturday. It also had the incorrect spelling for Genevieve Lacasse, Laura Stacey and Brianne Jenner

BlackBerry to get $40M in federal funds to support self-driving car development

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 21:07
OTTAWA - The Liberal government is giving $40 million in federal money to BlackBerry to help the company develop self-driving car technologies. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata on Friday to announce the support for BlackBerry, the one-time smartphone leader that is now working on advanced software for autonomous vehicles. BlackBerry says its QNX software is already in tens of millions of cars, guiding systems related to driver assistance, hands-free features and entertainment consoles. A government official says the federal money, to come from the Strategic Innovation Fund, will go toward software development and skills training for workers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the coming announcement publicly. The company is putting $300 million of its own money into the initiative, expected to create 800 jobs over the next decade at BlackBerry’s Kanata campus as well as support 300 existing jobs there. The Canadian Press

AP Interview: Maduro reveals secret meetings with US envoy

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:57
CARACAS, Venezuela - President Nicolas Maduro said in an AP interview Thursday that his foreign minister recently held secret talks in New York with the U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, even as the Trump administration was publicly backing an effort to unseat the Venezuelan president. While harshly criticizing Donald Trump’s confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting the U.S. president soon to resolve a crisis over America’s recognition of opponent Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader. Maduro said that while in New York, his foreign minister invited the Washington, D.C.-based envoy, Elliott Abrams, to come to Venezuela “privately, publicly or secretly.” “If he wants to meet, just tell me when, where and how and I’ll be there,” Maduro said without providing more details. He said both New York meetings lasted several hours. A senior administration official in Washington who was not authorized to speak publicly said U.S. officials were willing to meet with “former Venezuela officials, including Maduro himself, to discuss their exit plans.” Venezuela is plunging deeper into a political chaos triggered by the U.S. demand that Maduro step down a month into a second term that the U.S. and its allies in Latin America consider illegitimate. His opponent, the 35-year-old Guaido, burst onto the political stage in January in the first viable challenge in years to Maduro’s hold on power. As head of the Congress, Guaido declared himself interim president on Jan. 23, saying he had a constitutional right to assume presidential powers from the “tyrant” Maduro. He has since garnered broad support, calling massive street protests and winning recognition from the U.S. and dozens of nations in Latin America and Europe who share his goal of removing Maduro. The escalating crisis is taking place against a backdrop of economic and social turmoil that has led to severe shortages of food and medicine that have forced millions to flee the once-prosperous OPEC nation. Two senior Venezuelan officials who were not authorized to discuss the meetings publicly said the two encounters between Abrams and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza came at the request of the U.S. The first one on Jan. 26 they described as hostile, with the U.S. envoy threatening Venezuela with the deployment of troops and chastising the Venezuelan government for allegedly being in league with Cuba, Russia and Hezbollah. When they met again this week, the atmosphere was less tense, even though the Feb. 11 encounter came four days after Abrams said the “time for dialogue with Maduro had long passed.” During that meeting, Abrams insisted that severe U.S. sanctions would oust Maduro even if Venezuela’s military stuck by him. Abrams gave no indication the U.S. was prepared to ease demands Maduro step down. Still, the Venezuelans saw the meetings as a sign there is room for discussion with the Americans despite the tough public rhetoric coming from Washington. At turns conciliatory and combative, Maduro said all Venezuela needs to rebound is for Trump to remove his “infected hand” from the country that sits atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves. He said U.S. sanctions on the oil industry are to blame for mounting hardships even though shortages and hyperinflation that economists say topped 1 million per cent long predates Trump’s recent action. “The infected hand of Donald Trump is hurting Venezuela,” Maduro said. The sanctions effectively ban all oil purchases by the U.S., which had been Venezuela’s biggest oil buyer until now. Maduro said he will make up for the sudden drop in revenue by targeting markets in Asia, especially India, where the head of state-run oil giant PDVSA was this week negotiating new oil sales. “We’ve been building a path to Asia for many years,” he said. “It’s a successful route, every year they are buying larger volumes and amounts of oil.” He also cited the continued support of China and especially Russia, which has been a major supplier of loans, weapons and oil investment over the years. He said that backing from Russian President Vladimir Putin runs the risk of converting the current crisis into a high-risk geopolitical fight between the U.S. and Russia that recalls some of the most-dangerous brinkmanship of the Cold War. Amid the mounting pressure at home and abroad, Maduro said he won’t give up power as a way to defuse the standoff. He called boxes of U.S.-supplied humanitarian aid sitting in a warehouse on the border in Colombia mere “crumbs” after the U.S. administration froze billions of dollars in the nation’s oil revenue and overseas assets. “They hang us, steal our money and then say ‘here, grab these crumbs’ and make a global show out of it,” said Maduro. “With dignity we say ‘No to the global show.’ Whoever wants to help Venezuela is welcome, but we have enough capacity to pay for everything that we need.” Opponents say the 56-year-old former bus driver has lost touch with his working-class roots, accusing him of ordering mass arrests and starving Venezuelans while he and regime insiders - including the top military brass - line their pockets through corruption. But Maduro shrugged off the label of “dictator,” attributing it to an ideologically driven media campaign by the West to undermine the socialist revolution started by the late Hugo Chavez. He said he won’t resign, seeing his place in history alongside other Latin American leftists from Salvador Allende in Chile to Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala who in decades past had been the target of U.S.-backed coups. “I’m not afraid,” he said, adding that even last year’s attack on him with explosives-laden drones during a military ceremony didn’t shake his resolve. “I’m only worried about the destiny of the fatherland and of our people, our boys and girls….this is what gives me energy.” ___ Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed. ___ This story has been amended to correct the day that Juan Guaido declared himself interim president. Ian Phillips And Joshua Goodman, The Associated Press

Car bomb kills at least 33 Indian soldiers in Kashmir

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:47
SRINAGAR, India - At least 33 soldiers were killed and about 20 others wounded Thursday in a car bomb attack on a paramilitary convoy along a key highway in Indian-controlled Kashmir, security officials said. It was one of the deadliest car bombings in the disputed region’s history. Officials said a local Kashmiri militant rammed an explosive-laden van into the convoy, targeting a bus carrying at least 35 soldiers. Senior police officer Muneer Ahmed Khan said the attack occurred as the convoy reached southern Lethpora town on the outskirts of the main city of Srinagar. He said the bus was destroyed and at least five other vehicles were damaged by the blast. Sanjay Sharma, a spokesman for India’s paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, said many of the injured were in critical condition. “The blast was so powerful that one cannot recognize whether the vehicle was a bus or a truck. Just pieces of mangled steel remain of the vehicle,” he said. Videos circulated by local news groups showed ambulances rushing to the site and people running as smoke billowed from the damaged vehicles. Debris and body parts littered the road. Authorities closed the highway following the blast. Police officer Khan said soldiers and counterinsurgency police reinforcements were deployed in the area and were conducting searches. The Greater Kashmir newspaper reported that militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. A pre-recorded nine-minute video, circulated on social media sites, showed the purported attacker in combat clothes and surrounded by guns and grenades. Later Thursday, thousands of people, chanting slogans such “Go India, go back,” marched to the militant’s village in solidarity. Government forces tried to stop the people from gathering, leading to clashes as groups of young people hurled stones at the troops, who fired tear gas. No injuries were immediately reported there. Kashmir Gov. Satya Pal Malik accused Pakistan of being behind the attack. “Visibly it seems to be guided from across the border as Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility,” Malik said in a statement. “Such actions will not deter the resolve of our security forces … we will finish these inimical forces to the last.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack in a tweet Thursday evening. “I strongly condemn this dastardly attack. The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain,” he said. The Pakistan Foreign Ministry in a statement in Islamabad said the attack in Pulwama “is a matter of grave concern.” “We have always condemned acts of violence anywhere in the world,” the statement said. “We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian media and government that seek to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations.” The White House condemned the attack and said it strengthened U.S. resolve to bolster counterterrorism co-operation with India. “The United States calls on Pakistan to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence, and terror in the region,” the statement from the press secretary’s office said. Kashmir experienced many car bombings from 2000 through 2005 which inflicted high casualties on Indian troops. The attacks forced Indian authorities to procure bombproof armoured vehicles for soldiers operating in Kashmir. Indian soldiers are ubiquitous in Kashmir and local residents make little secret of their fury toward their presence in the Himalayan region. India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. Kashmir has experienced renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule in the past few years as a new generation of Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the region, has revived the militancy and challenged New Delhi’s rule with guns and social media. The anti-India unrest grew especially after a popular rebel leader was killed in 2016. The Indian government responded with stepped up anti-rebel operations, leading to more protests. Kashmiris have tried to protect rebels by hurling stones and abuse at Indian troops entering their villages in pursuit of militants. Last year’s death toll was the highest since 2009 in the Muslim-majority Kashmir, including at least 260 militants, 160 civilians and 150 government forces. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown since 1989. ___ Follow Aijaz Hussain on Twitter at twitter.com/hussain_aijaz Aijaz Hussain, The Associated Press

Deadly blue ‘Mexican oxy’ pills take toll on US Southwest

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:39
TUCSON, Ariz. - Aaron Francisco Chavez swallowed at least one of the sky blue pills at a Halloween party before falling asleep forever. He became yet another victim killed by a flood of illicit fentanyl smuggled from Mexico by the Sinaloa cartel into the Southwest - a profitable new business for the drug gang that has made the synthetic opioid responsible for the most fatal overdoses in the U.S. Three others at the party in Tucson also took the pills nicknamed “Mexican oxy.” They were saved after partygoers flagged down police who administered naloxone overdose reversal medication. The treatment came too late for the 19-year-old Chavez. The pills vary widely in strength, from a tiny amount to enough to cause lethal overdoses. Law enforcement officials say they have become a lucrative new product for the cartel, despite the conviction this week of Sinaloa kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera in New York. The four Tucson partiers thought they were taking oxycodone, a much less powerful opioid, investigators believe. The death of Chavez and many others, officials said, illustrate how Arizona and other southwestern states bordering Mexico have become a hot spot in the nation’s fentanyl crisis. Fentanyl deaths tripled in Arizona from 2015 through 2017. “It’s the worst I’ve seen in 30 years, this toll that it’s taken on families,” said Doug Coleman, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge of Arizona. “The crack (cocaine) crisis was not as bad.” With plenty of pills and powder sold locally from the arriving fentanyl shipments that are also distributed around the U.S., the drug that has surpassed heroin for overdose deaths has touched all Arizona demographic groups. Chavez’ relatives say he was working as a restaurant prep cook with dreams of becoming a chef and trying to turn his life around after serving prison time for a robbery conviction. The pills that sell for $9 to $30 each also took the lives of a 17-year-old star high school baseball pitcher from a Phoenix suburb and a pair of 19-year-old best friends and prominent former high school athletes from Arizona’s mountain town of Prescott Valley. The parents of one, Gunner Bundrick, said their son’s death left “a hole in our hearts.” Popping the pills at parties “is a lot more widespread than we know,” said Yavapai County Sheriff’s Lt. Nate Auvenshine. “There’s less stigma to taking a pill than putting a needle in your arm, but one of these pills can have enough fentanyl for three people.” Stamped with “M”on one side and “30” on the other to make them look like legitimate oxycodone, the pills started showing up in Arizona in recent years as the Sinaloa cartel’s newest drug product, said Tucson Police Lt. Christian Wildblood. The fentanyl that killed Chavez was among 1,000 pills sneaked across the border crossing last year in Nogales, Arizona by a woman who was paid $200 to tote them and gave two to Chavez at the party, according to court documents. It’s unknown if he took one or both. At the same crossing last month, U.S. officials announced their biggest fentanyl bust ever - nearly 254 pounds (115 kilograms) found in a truckload of cucumbers, enough to potentially kill millions. Valued at $3.5 million, most was in powder form and over 2 pounds (1 kilogram) was made up of pills. The tablets in most cases are manufactured in primitive conditions with pill presses purchased online, Wildblood said. The amount of fentanyl in the counterfeit pills varies from 0.03 to 1.99 milligrams per tablet, or almost none to a lethal dose, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “There is no quality control,” Wildblood said. While Chinese shipments were long blamed for illegal fentanyl entering the U.S., Mexico’s Army in November 2017 discovered a rustic fentanyl lab in a remote part of Sinaloa state and seized precursors, finished fentanyl and production equipment - suggesting some of it is now being synthesized across the U.S. border. Most fentanyl smuggled from Mexico is about 10 per cent pure and enters hidden in vehicles at official border crossings around Nogales and San Diego, Customs and Border Protection data show. A decreasing number of smaller shipments with purity of up to 90 per cent still enter the U.S. in packages sent from China. Although 85 per cent of the fentanyl from Mexico is seized at San Diego area border crossings, the DEA’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment said seizures have surged at Arizona’s border and elsewhere around the state. DEA statistics show Arizona fentanyl seizures rose to 445 pounds (202 kilograms), including 379,557 pills, in the fiscal year ending in October 2018, up from 172 pounds (78 kilograms), including 54,984 pills, during the previous 12-month period. The Sinaloa cartel’s ability to ramp up its own production of fentanyl and label it oxycodone shows the group’s business acumen and why it remains among the world’s top criminal organizations, Coleman said. “If they see a market for their stuff, they’ll make it and bring it up,” he said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl is now the drug involved in the most fatal overdoses in the U.S., with fatalities from synthetic opioids including fentanyl jumping more than 45 per cent from 2016 to 2017, when they accounted for some 28,000 of about 70,000 overdose deaths of all kinds. Fentanyl was also involved more than any other drug in the majority of overdose deaths in 2016, the year the pop artist Prince died after taking fake Vicodin laced with fentanyl. Heroin was responsible for the most drug overdose deaths each of the four years before that. CDC figures for Arizona show the statewide deaths involving synthetic opioids excluding methadone, largely from fentanyl, rose from 72 in 2015 to 123 in 2016 and then skyrocketed to 267 in 2017. In the first federal conviction of its kind in Arizona that linked a death to distribution of any drug, a woman from a Phoenix suburb last year got 12 years in prison for selling fentanyl tablets that killed a 38-year-old Arizona man. And in Tucson, Chavez’ relatives wonder why the woman accused of smuggling the pills across the border allegedly decided to hand them out at the party, saying they were Percocet, which contains oxycodone and acetaminophen, and “something else,” according to court documents. The woman, Jocelyn Sanchez, denied describing them that way and was charged with transporting and transferring narcotics. Her lawyer, Joel Chorny, declined to discuss the case. Nicknamed “Sonny Boy, Chavez was the third of 10 children born to Leslie Chavez, who was brought to the U.S. as an infant and deported back to Mexico last year, two months before he died. In a phone interview, she said Mexican officials arranged to have her son’s body brought across the border so she could say goodbye. She said she had “heard about how these pills were killing people” but never thought it would happen to one of her children. Chavez had a 2-year-old daughter and “was trying to get his life together, he was trying to be good” for the toddler, said his sister, Seanna Leilani Chavez. The dealers, she said, only care about profits. “They will sell you poison, take your money, and not think twice about how they could possibly be killing someone’s son, father, brother or grandson,” she said. ___ Follow Anita Snow on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/asnowreports Anita Snow, The Associated Press

AP Interview: Maduro reveals secret meetings with US envoy

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:34
CARACAS, Venezuela - President Nicolas Maduro said in an AP interview Thursday that his foreign minister recently held secret talks in New York with the U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, even as the Trump administration was publicly backing an effort to unseat the Venezuelan president. While harshly criticizing Donald Trump’s confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting the U.S. president soon to resolve a crisis over America’s recognition of opponent Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader. Maduro said that while in New York, his foreign minister invited the Washington, D.C.-based envoy, Elliott Abrams, to come to Venezuela “privately, publicly or secretly.” “If he wants to meet, just tell me when, where and how and I’ll be there,” Maduro said without providing more details. He said both New York meetings lasted several hours. A senior administration official in Washington who was not authorized to speak publicly said U.S. officials were willing to meet with “former Venezuela officials, including Maduro himself, to discuss their exit plans.” Venezuela is plunging deeper into a political chaos triggered by the U.S. demand that Maduro step down a month into a second term that the U.S. and its allies in Latin America consider illegitimate. His opponent, the 35-year-old Guaido, burst onto the political stage in January in the first viable challenge in years to Maduro’s hold on power. As head of the congress, Guaido on Jan. 10 declared himself interim president, saying he had a constitutional right to assume presidential powers from the “tyrant” Maduro. He has since garnered broad support, calling massive street protests and winning recognition from the U.S. and dozens of nations in Latin America and Europe who share his goal of removing Maduro. The escalating crisis is taking place against a backdrop of economic and social turmoil that has led to severe shortages of food and medicine that have forced millions to flee the once-prosperous OPEC nation. Two senior Venezuelan officials who were not authorized to discuss the meetings publicly said the two encounters between Abrams and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza came at the request of the U.S. The first one on Jan. 26 they described as hostile, with the U.S. envoy threatening Venezuela with the deployment of troops and chastising the Venezuelan government for allegedly being in league with Cuba, Russia and Hezbollah. When they met again this week, the atmosphere was less tense, even though the Feb. 11 encounter came four days after Abrams said the “time for dialogue with Maduro had long passed.” During that meeting, Abrams insisted that severe U.S. sanctions would oust Maduro even if Venezuela’s military stuck by him. Abrams gave no indication the U.S. was prepared to ease demands Maduro step down. Still, the Venezuelans saw the meetings as a sign there is room for discussion with the Americans despite the tough public rhetoric coming from Washington. At turns conciliatory and combative, Maduro said all Venezuela needs to rebound is for Trump to remove his “infected hand” from the country that sits atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves. He said U.S. sanctions on the oil industry are to blame for mounting hardships even though shortages and hyperinflation that economists say topped 1 million per cent long predates Trump’s recent action. “The infected hand of Donald Trump is hurting Venezuela,” Maduro said. The sanctions effectively ban all oil purchases by the U.S., which had been Venezuela’s biggest oil buyer until now. Maduro said he will make up for the sudden drop in revenue by targeting markets in Asia, especially India, where the head of state-run oil giant PDVSA was this week negotiating new oil sales. “We’ve been building a path to Asia for many years,” he said. “It’s a successful route, every year they are buying larger volumes and amounts of oil.” He also cited the continued support of China and especially Russia, which has been a major supplier of loans, weapons and oil investment over the years. He said that backing from Vladimir Putin runs the risk of converting the current crisis into a high-risk geopolitical fight between the U.S. and Russia that recalls some of the most-dangerous brinkmanship of the Cold War. Amid the mounting pressure at home and abroad, Maduro said he won’t give up power as a way to defuse the standoff. He called boxes of U.S.-supplied humanitarian aid sitting in a warehouse on the border in Colombia mere “crumbs” after the U.S. administration froze billions of dollars in the nation’s oil revenue and overseas assets. “They hang us, steal our money and then say ‘here, grab these crumbs’ and make a global show out of it,” said Maduro. “With dignity we say ‘No to the global show.’ Whoever wants to help Venezuela is welcome, but we have enough capacity to pay for everything that we need.” Opponents say the 56-year-old former bus driver has lost touch with his working-class roots, accusing him of ordering mass arrests and starving Venezuelans while he and regime insiders - including the top military brass - line their pockets through corruption. But Maduro shrugged off the label of “dictator,” attributing it to an ideologically-driven media campaign by the West to undermine the socialist revolution started by the late Hugo Chavez. He said he won’t resign, seeing his place in history alongside other Latin American leftists from Salvador Allende in Chile to Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala who in decades past had been the target of U.S.-backed coups. “I’m not afraid,” he said, adding that even last year’s attack on him with explosives-laden drones during a military ceremony didn’t shake his resolve. “I’m only worried about the destiny of the fatherland and of our people, our boys and girls….this is what gives me energy.” ___ Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed. Ian Phillips And Joshua Goodman, The Associated Press

Canadian women’s hockey team edges U.S. 4-3 to push Rivalry Series to third game

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:33
TORONTO - Jamie Lee Rattray and Marie-Philip Poulin had a goal and an assist apiece as the Canadian women’s hockey team edged the arch-rival U.S. 4-3 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday night. The win tied the best-of-three Rivalry Series at a game apiece. The deciding contest goes Saturday afternoon in Detroit. Laura Fortino and Briane Jenner had the other goals for Canada. Genevieve Lecasse made 24 saves, including 15 in the third period. Alex Carpenter, Hannah Brandt and Brianna Decker scored for the Americans. Katie Burt stopped 26 shots. Rattray’s goal at 7:06 of the third put the Canadians ahead 4-2 and gave them much-needed breathing room. Rattray completed a nice give-and-go with Laura Stacy and Blayre Turnbull on a three-on-two break. Decker pulled the Americans to within 4-3 at 10:34, shovelling a loose puck past Lecasse in front. But the Canadian goaltender made a big stop off a U.S. rush with 1:11 remaining. Both goaltenders came up with nice stops in the early going. Burt turned side Rattray at 4:47 before Lecasse halted a solid American rush less than a minute later. The U.S. won the series opener 1-0 on Tuesday night before 9,036 spectators in London, Ont. Hilary Knight scored the game’s lone goal and Alex Rigsby made it stand, stopping 33 shots for the shutout. Canadian goalie Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 20 shots. Canada outshot the U.S. 14-5 in the first and led 3-2 at the intermission on Thursday. But it was the Americans who opened the scoring with Carpenter converting on the power play at 7:03. Poulin made it 1-1 just 1:44 later, scoring off a nice centring pass from Stacy. Brandt put the Americans back ahead at 10:30. Again Canada tied the contest on Fortino’s power-play goal at 13:13. Then with 36 seconds remaining, Jenner scored on the man advantage, sliding a loose puck past Burt on a goalmouth scramble. The Canadians outshot the Americans 9-7 in a scoreless and had ample opportunity to break the game open with four straight power-play chances - including a 20-second stretch with a two-man advantage. But the Americans were able to kill off all four opportunities in the period and keep it a one-goal game. The U.S. pressed for the tying goal on the power play with under three minutes to play. Although Canada successfully killed the chance, the Americans kept the pressure on right to the end of the period. The Americans have had the best of the Canadians internationally of late, beating them in the final of the last four world championships as well as the past four Four Nations events. That includes a 5-2 victory in November in Saskatoon. And the U.S. edged Canada 3-2 in a climactic shootout at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Congress OKs border deal; Trump will sign, declare emergency

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:29
WASHINGTON - Congress lopsidedly approved a border security compromise Thursday that would avert a second painful government shutdown, but a new confrontation was ignited - this time over President Donald Trump’s plan to bypass lawmakers and declare a national emergency to siphon billions from other federal coffers for his wall on the Mexican boundary. Money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed and would finance just a quarter of the 200-plus miles he wanted. The White House said he’d sign the legislation but act unilaterally to get the rest, prompting immediate condemnation from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said Trump was abusing his authority. The uproar over Trump’s next move cast an uncertain shadow over what had been a rare display of bipartisanship to address the grinding battle between the White House and lawmakers over border security. The Senate passed the legislation 83-16, with both parties solidly on board. The House followed with a 300-128 tally, with Trump’s signature planned Friday. Democrats overwhelmingly backed the legislation, with only 19 - most of whom were Hispanic - opposed. Just over half of Republicans voted “no.” Should Trump change his mind, both margins were above the two-thirds majorities needed to override presidential vetoes. Lawmakers, however, sometimes rally behind presidents of the same party in such battles. Lawmakers exuded relief that the agreement had averted a fresh closure of federal agencies just three weeks after a record-setting 35-day partial shutdown that drew an unambiguous thumbs-down from the public. But in announcing that Trump would sign the accord, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also said he’d take “other executive action, including a national emergency,” In an unusual joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said such a declaration would be “a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract” from Trump’s failure to force Mexico to pay for the wall, as he’s promised for years. “Congress will defend our constitutional authorities,” they said. They declined to say whether that meant lawsuits or votes on resolutions to prevent Trump from unilaterally shifting money to wall-building, with aides saying they would wait to see what he does. Democratic state attorneys general said they would consider legal action to block Trump. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told the president on Twitter “we’ll see you in court” if he makes the declaration. Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump is under pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid looking like he’s surrendered in his wall battle. The abrupt announcement of Trump’s plans came late in an afternoon of rumblings that the volatile president - who’d strongly hinted he’d sign the agreement but never definitively - was shifting toward rejecting it. That would have infused fresh chaos into a fight both parties are desperate to leave behind, a thought that drove some lawmakers to seek heavenly help. “Let’s all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn’t shut down,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said after a chaplain opened Thursday’s Senate session. Moments before Sanders spoke at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor to announce Trump’s decisions to sign the bill and declare an emergency. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters there were two hours of phone calls between McConnell and the White House before there were assurances that Trump would sign. In a surprising development, McConnell said he would support Trump’s emergency declaration, a turnabout for the Kentucky Republican, who like many lawmakers had opposed such action. Democrats say there is no crisis at the border and Trump is merely sidestepping Congress. And some Republicans warn that future Democratic presidents could use his precedent to force spending on their own priorities such as gun control. GOP critics included Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who said emergency declarations are for “major natural disasters or catastrophic events” and said its use would be of “dubious constitutionality.” White House aides and congressional Republicans have said that besides an emergency, Trump might assert other authorities that could conceivably put him within reach of billions of dollars. The money could come from funds targeted for military construction, disaster relief and counterdrug efforts. Congressional aides say there is $21 billion in military construction money that could potentially be used by Trump if he declares a national emergency. But according to the law the money has to be used in support of U.S. armed forces, they say. The Defence Department declined to provide details on available money. With many of the Democrats’ liberal base voters adamantly against Trump’s aggressive attempts to curb immigration, four declared presidential hopefuls opposed the bill in the Senate: Cory Booker of New Jersey, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota voted for it, as did Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who is expected to join the field soon. Notably, the word “wall,” the heart of many a chant at Trump campaign events and his rallies as president, is absent from the compromise’s 1,768-page legislative and descriptive language. “Barriers” and “fencing” are the nouns of choice, a victory for Democrats eager to deny Trump even a rhetorical victory. The agreement, which took bargainers three weeks to strike, would also squeeze funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer immigrants. To the dismay of Democrats, however, it would still leave an agency many of them consider abusive holding thousands more immigrants than last year. Provisions like that were prompting some of the most liberal Democrats to vote “no.” Four progressive freshmen, including Rep. Alexandria Octavio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said they were opposing the agreement to show “a rejection of the hateful policies, priorities, and rhetoric of the Trump Administration.” The measure contains money for improved surveillance equipment, more customs agents and humanitarian aid for detained immigrants. The overall bill also provides $330 billion to finance dozens of federal programs for the rest of the year, one-fourth of federal agency budgets. Trump sparked the last shutdown before Christmas after Democrats snubbed his $5.7 billion demand for the wall. The closure denied paychecks to 800,000 federal workers, hurt contractors and people reliant on government services and was loathed by the public. With polls showing the public blamed him and GOP lawmakers, Trump folded on Jan. 25 without getting any of the wall funds. His capitulation was a political fiasco for Republicans and handed Pelosi a victory less than a month after Democrats took over the House and confronted Trump with a formidable rival for power. Trump’s descriptions of the wall have fluctuated, at times saying it would cover 1,000 miles of the 2,000-mile boundary. Previous administrations constructed over 650 miles of barriers. ___ Associated Press Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and reporters Padmananda Rama, Lolita Baldor and Matthew Daly contributed. Alan Fram, Catherine Lucey And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press

Chicago police, Fox dispute reports about Smollett attack

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:12
Chicago police said Thursday night that local media reports that the attack against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was a hoax are unconfirmed. The reports surfaced as detectives were questioning two “persons of interest” who were captured on surveillance cameras in the area of downtown Chicago where Smollett said he was attacked last month. The two men aren’t considered suspects but may have been in the area when Smollett says he was attacked, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said earlier Thursday. Smollett said two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs before attacking him and putting a rope around his neck early on Jan. 29. Guglielmi said Thursday night that Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson contacted at least one Chicago news outlet to say investigators have no evidence to support their reporting. The spokesman added that Johnson said the “supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.” Producers of the television drama also disputed media reports that Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, was being written off the show, calling the idea “patently ridiculous.” “(Smollett) remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him,” 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement late Thursday. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told ABC News in an interview that aired Thursday morning that he believes the people of interest were the ones who attacked him. “I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them,” he told the network. “Never did.” No arrests have been made in the case. Police said they have not found surveillance video that shows the attack, but that the investigation is ongoing . Smollett also told Robin Roberts of ABC News that people who question his narrative of the attack were “ridiculous” to think he would lie. Smollett has said he was attacked while out getting food at a Subway restaurant. “I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.” The singer and actor said the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country,” referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Smollett said earlier reports from some outlets that his attackers were wearing “MAGA” hats were inaccurate. “I didn’t need to add anything like that,” he said. “I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.” Smollett said he didn’t want to call police at first, but that his friend and creative director, Frank Gatson, called on his behalf. Smollett said he didn’t remove a rope from around his neck before police arrived “because I wanted them to see.” He also said he didn’t initially want to give police his cellphone because the device contained private content and phone numbers. Smollett later gave detectives heavily redacted phone records that police have said are insufficient for a criminal investigation . ___ See AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case: https://www.apnews.com/JussieSmollett The Associated Press

A few feel-good moments to remember from NY Fashion Week

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:10
NEW YORK - Fashion Week has ended in New York, leaving a trail of sequins and feathers, worn-out stilettos and blisters and traffic jams. But sometimes, fashion feels good: there were some moments of genuine, happy emotion. Here are a few feel-good moments of the week: __ BARRY IN THE HOUSE No, Michael Kors didn’t make that orange bedazzled “Copa” jacket that Barry Manilow wore to perform at the designer’s show. We’re not sure who did, but it was fabulous. Manilow, a surprise guest at Kors’ ’70s runway bash, belted his hit “Copacabana” from a glitzy stage set up near the catwalk as Bella Hadid danced beside him and rock muse Patti Hansen (married to Keith Richards) hopped up for a quick kiss after walking for Kors, an old friend. Backstage after the show, Kors said he had met Manilow at a concert a year ago and invited him on board. The pop king had never been to a fashion show before, Kors said, calling Manilow the “cherry on the cake.” -Leanne Italie AGE IS JUST A … WELL, YOU KNOW The grand finale of designer Naeem Khan’s runway show featured three models, all over age 60, walking the runway in silver sequined gowns. Karen Bjornson, Alva Chinn and Pat Cleveland were known for working with Halston in the 1970s and were part of a group known as the Halstonettes. Khan was an apprentice under Halston earlier in his career. But it wasn’t the age of these models that was impressive, it was their attitude. These three had such confidence, pizazz and style that audience members were standing, applauding and whooping with joy. These models brought down the house. -Jill Dobson THE ORIGINAL SUPERMODEL RETURNS And then there was famed ’90s supermodel Christy Turlington - heck, she’s one of the women they coined the phrase for - stunning the fashion world by turning up to walk the Marc Jacobs runway in a voluminous black feathered gown and matching fascinator, closing out New York Fashion Week with an emotional bang. Taking to Instagram later, Turlington explained that she had turned 50 earlier in the year and “have arrived at a place where ‘why the … not’ is the answer that comes up when I ask myself questions.” And she said she has “a 15-year-old daughter who I desperately want to see and hear me, and this is a medium that ‘speaks’ to her.” Her appearance came as Jacobs put on one of his best shows in years, filling the runway with high drama and fairytale whimsy. -Jocelyn Noveck THIS ONE’S FOR MOM In a week that focuses on appearance, it was refreshing to see a moment of pure tenderness. Brandon Maxwell dedicated his show to his mother, Pam Woolley, who’s been battling breast cancer, and to other strong women everywhere. At the end, the designer escorted her down the runway for a final bow, kissing the side of her head as she wiped away tears. Maxwell called the show “the physical manifestation of, I think, the strength that I saw her display over the past few months.” -Ragan Clark LAUGHTER ON THE RUNWAY The Badgley Mischa show featured sleek, fitted dresses with stretch, in sequined metallic, black and green. But the end of the show was a vision in red, when all the models stormed the runway at once, in short dresses made of various fabrics, including lace, velvet and feathers - all in the same shade of crimson. Usually models remain stone faced when strutting the runway, but this finale had models smiling and clapping and clearly enjoying the hoots and applause from the enthusiastic crowd. -Brooke Lefferts The Associated Press

Congress OKs border deal; Trump will sign, declare emergency

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:06
WASHINGTON - Congress lopsidedly approved a border security compromise Thursday that would avert a second painful government shutdown, but a new confrontation was ignited - this time over President Donald Trump’s plan to bypass lawmakers and declare a national emergency to siphon billions from other federal coffers for his wall on the Mexican boundary. Money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed to build a wall along the Mexican boundary and would finance just a quarter of the 200-plus miles he wanted. The White House said he’d sign the legislation but act on his own to get the rest, a move that prompted immediate condemnation from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said Trump was abusing his authority. The uproar over what Trump would do next cast an uncertain shadow over what had been a rare display of bipartisanship in Congress to address the grinding battle between the White House and lawmakers over border security. The Senate passed the legislation 83-16, with both parties solidly on board. The House followed with a 300-128 tally, with Trump’s signature planned Friday. Both margins were above the two-thirds majorities needed to override presidential vetoes, though one wasn’t expected and lawmakers sometime back a president of the same party in such battles. Lawmakers exuded relief that the agreement had averted a fresh closure of federal agencies just three weeks after a record-setting 35-day partial shutdown that drew an unambiguous thumbs-down from the public. But in announcing that Trump would sign the accord, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also said he’d take “other executive action, including a national emergency,” In an unusual joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said such a declaration would be “a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract” from Trump’s failure to force Mexico to pay for the wall, as he’s promised for years. Pelosi and Schumer also said “Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.” They declined to say whether that meant lawsuits or votes on resolutions to prevent Trump from unilaterally shifting money to wall-building, with aides saying they would wait to see what he does. Democratic state attorneys general said they would consider legal action to block Trump. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told the president on Twitter “we’ll see you in court” if he makes the declaration. Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump is under pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid looking like he’s surrendered in his wall battle. The abrupt announcement of Trump’s plans came late in an afternoon of rumblings that the volatile president - who’d strongly hinted he’d sign the agreement but never definitively - was shifting toward rejecting it. That would have infused fresh chaos into a fight both parties are desperate to leave behind, a thought that drove some lawmakers to seek heavenly help. “Let’s all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn’t shut down,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said after a chaplain opened Thursday’s Senate session. Moments before Sanders spoke at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor to announce Trump’s decisions to sign the bill and declare an emergency. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters there were two hours of phone calls between McConnell and the White House before there were assurances that Trump would sign. In a surprising development, McConnell said he would support Trump’s emergency declaration, a turnabout for the Kentucky Republican, who like many lawmakers had opposed such action. Democrats say there is no crisis at the border and Trump is merely sidestepping Congress. And some Republicans warn that future Democratic presidents could use his precedent to force spending on their own priorities such as gun control. GOP critics included Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who said emergency declarations are for “major natural disasters or catastrophic events” and said its use would be of “dubious constitutionality.” White House aides and congressional Republicans have said that besides an emergency, Trump might assert other authorities that could conceivably put him within reach of billions of dollars. The money could come from funds targeted for military construction, disaster relief and counterdrug efforts. Congressional aides say there is $21 billion in military construction money that could potentially be used by Trump if he declares a national emergency. But according to the law the money has to be used in support of U.S. armed forces, they say. The Defence Department declined to provide details on available money. With many of the Democrats’ liberal base voters adamantly against Trump’s aggressive attempts to curb immigration, four declared presidential hopefuls opposed the bill in the Senate: Cory Booker of New Jersey, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota voted for it, as did Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who is expected to join the field soon. Notably, the word “wall,” the heart of many a chant at Trump campaign events and his rallies as president, is absent from the compromise’s 1,768-page legislative and descriptive language. “Barriers” and “fencing” are the nouns of choice, a victory for Democrats eager to deny Trump even a rhetorical victory. The agreement, which took bargainers three weeks to strike, would also squeeze funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer immigrants. To the dismay of Democrats, however, it would still leave an agency many of them consider abusive holding thousands more immigrants than last year. Provisions like that were prompting some of the most liberal Democrats to vote “no.” Four progressive freshmen, including Rep. Alexandria Octavio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said they were opposing the agreement to show “a rejection of the hateful policies, priorities, and rhetoric of the Trump Administration.” The measure contains money for improved surveillance equipment, more customs agents and humanitarian aid for detained immigrants. The overall bill also provides $330 billion to finance dozens of federal programs for the rest of the year, one-fourth of federal agency budgets. Trump sparked the last shutdown before Christmas after Democrats snubbed his $5.7 billion demand for the wall. The closure denied paychecks to 800,000 federal workers, hurt contractors and people reliant on government services and was loathed by the public. With polls showing the public blamed him and GOP lawmakers, Trump folded on Jan. 25 without getting any of the wall funds. His capitulation was a political fiasco for Republicans and handed Pelosi a victory less than a month after Democrats took over the House and confronted Trump with a formidable rival for power. Trump’s descriptions of the wall have fluctuated, at times saying it would cover 1,000 miles of the 2,000-mile boundary. Previous administrations constructed over 650 miles of barriers. ___ Associated Press Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and reporters Padmananda Rama, Lolita Baldor and Matthew Daly contributed. Alan Fram, Catherine Lucey And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press

Ottawa spending $12 million to upgrade remote airport near site of 2017 crash

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:04
FOND DU LAC, Sask. - The federal government says it will spend $12 million to improve safety at a remote northern Saskatchewan airport near where a plane crashed in December 2017 shortly after takeoff. All 25 people on the West Wind Aviation plane were injured - nine seriously - and 19-year-old Arson Fern Jr. later died in hospital. Some of the upgrades to Fond du Lac’s airport are to include runway rehabilitation, replacing airfield lighting and installing a visual aid system that helps pilots make their approach when landing. Last December, the Transportation Safety Board said people who use remote, northern airports are at substantial and unnecessary risk because of a lack of proper equipment for de-icing planes. The board reached that conclusion during its investigation that found that the pilot took off despite noticing ice on the plane during a pre-flight inspection. Last fall, West Wind said all of the airline’s northern destinations now have better de-icing equipment. Speaking in Saskatoon, Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan said airports such as Fond Du Lac provide essential air services including community resupply, air ambulance, search and rescue and forest fire response. “The community of Fond du Lac was profoundly touched by tragic events in 2017,” O’Regan said Thursday in a release. “Today, our government is announcing new funding which will help ensure the continued safety and reliability of operations at the Fond du Lac Airport.” A group that represents 74 First Nations in the province said it welcomes the federal announcement. Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said the upgrade is badly needed. “We send congratulations to Fond Du Lac Chief Louis Mercredi and his council and community today as the fight to upgrade this airport has been a long time coming,” Cameron said. “The community has overcome great tragedy and this funding today will go a long way in ensuring the safety of everyone who utilizes this airport.” Transport Canada suspended West Wind’s ability to operate after the crash but restored it last May. Fond Du Lac is about 800 kilometres north of Saskatoon. (The Canadian Press, CJWW) The Canadian Press

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