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August 24, 2013

Transgender woman dies after beating in Harlem, New York

Transgender woman dies after beating in Harlem, New York

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

A transgender woman attacked in Harlem, New York last week died on Thursday after being declared brain dead and taken off life support. Police are treating the death of Islan Nettles, 21, as a hate crime.

Cquote1.svg They were called faggots, they were called he-shes, she-males, things of that nature Cquote2.svg

—Victim’s mother

Nettles was walking with transgender friends early on August 17 when they met a group of men opposite a local police building. Police say a fight ensued after the men discovered the group was transgender and local man Paris Wilson, 20, was arrested at the scene.

Wilson was charged by prosecutors in Manhattan with assault and harassment. Prosecutors say more serious charges could be brought after police received allegations homophobic language was used, with a hate crimes team now investigating. The death has been ruled a homicide and a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office said Nettles was killed by “blunt impact head injuries”.

Islan Nettles in a self-portrait posted to her LinkedIn profile.
Image: Islan Nettles/LinkedIn.

The criminal complaint Wilson presently faces says a police officer found Nettles “unconscious on the ground with a swollen shut eye and blood on her face”. Wilson is accused of punching Nettles to the ground and then repeatedly hitting her while she lay there.

Cquote1.svg Fashion became a definite decision for my life after my first show with my hand designed garments in high school Cquote2.svg

—Islan Nettles

Nettles was interested in a fashion career, working as an intern for local fashion firm Ay’Medici. “Fashion became a definite decision for my life after my first show with my hand designed garments in highschool”, she wrote on LinkedIn, where she described herself as “anti-violence”. She has previously instructed fashion at Harlem Children’s Zone, undertaking studies at New York College of Technology and the Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School.

Her mother, Dolores Nettles, told press Nettles and her friends were subject to transphobic insults. “They were called faggots, they were called he-shes, she-males, things of that nature,” she said.

Daniel L. Squadron of the New York State Senate said yesterday in a statement “Islan was 21 years old — 21 years old. And her life and future were stolen from her. Let’s be clear: intolerance, discrimination and hate have no place in New York or anywhere.” He called for the passage of a related bill he supports, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

Wilson is presently free on bail, with a court hearing scheduled for October 4.



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October 29, 2012

U.S. prepares for arrival of Hurricane Sandy

U.S. prepares for arrival of Hurricane Sandy

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Monday, October 29, 2012

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The United States is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane, which is expected to hit late Sunday into Monday, could affect up to sixty million people. The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced that all subway, bus and train services in New York City would be suspended from 19:00 EST on Sunday evening.

The hurricane has already caused damage and fatalities in several Caribbean countries this week. Meteorologists are concerned that it will turn into a “Frankenstorm” as it amalgamates with a winter storm in the run up to Halloween. It has now been downgraded to a post-tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center. It has sustained winds of 85 mph. Authorities warned that a full moon could trigger high tides with storm surges of up to 3 metres which would cause sea water to surge through Lower Manhattan.

Country Damage caused
Haiti At least 44 people killed and homes flooded
Cuba Eleven people killed and second city left without power
Dominican Republic Two people killed and 8,755 people evacuated
Jamaica One person killed and schools, airports closed
Bahamas Power cuts and flooding

It is also expected to cause serious flooding in several areas on the Mid-Atlantic coast, including Long Island Sound and New York Harbour.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg
Image: Rubenstein.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg urged people to take action now to keep themselves safe. “I don’t want anybody to go to bed tonight thinking that they can spend the day worrying about the night after,” Mr Bloomberg said. “If you don’t evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you,” he said.

It is expected that the hurricane will affect flights. Air France announced that it will cancel all flights to New York and Washington today. British Airways has cancelled all flights to and from the east coast of the U.S. today.

The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has announced that several bridges are to close from 19:00 EDT — George Washington, Verrazano-Narrows, Throgs Neck, Whitestone, Henry Hudson, Cross Bay Veterans, and from 16:00 EDT the Tappan Zee. He also said the worst of the storm has not yet reached the city.

The New York Stock Exchange trading floor is closed today and is to remain closed tomorrow but electronic transactions are still able to take place. Spokesman Rich Adamonis told Reuters “We continue to monitor the situation and to communicate with government officials, regulators, and markets participants,”. The United Nations headquarters in New York have also been shut down. Several states have announced states of emergency- Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC and also a coastal county in North Carolina.

Public schools are to remain closed tomorrow in New York, Washington and Philadelphia. The Washington metro is also to be closed tomorrow because of the hurricane.

The state of Delaware has announced a mandatory evacuation order for 50,000 people from coastal areas and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie urged people not to take risks. “We have to be prepared for the worst here. I can be as cynical as any of you but when the storm comes, if it’s as bad as they’re predicting it will be, you’re gonna wish you weren’t as cynical as you might otherwise have been.” he said.

CNN have reported that about 1.5 million people are now being affected by power cuts.

President Obama receives an update on the response to Hurricane Sandy.

The hurricane has also affected the election campaigning plans of the two main presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Romney announced that he had cancelled a planned campaign rally yesterday evening in Virginia Beach and Vice-President Joe Biden cancelled a visit there on Saturday.



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January 17, 2012

Woman gives birth on New Jersey PATH train

Woman gives birth on New Jersey PATH train

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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Logo of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson
Image: PANYNJ.

A New Jersey woman, 31-year-old Rabita Sarker, gave birth on a moving Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) train yesterday morning. She and her husband Aditya Saurabh were heading to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan for a “practice run”. She gave birth between the Journal Square and 33rd Street stations at 9:49 am ET (1449 UTC).

Sarker boarded the Manhattan-bound PATH train at Journal Square already experiencing labor pains. At first she believed these were false, but soon realized she was in fact giving birth. A St. Luke’s-Roosevelt physician who was also traveling on the train came to her aid. Once train conductors heard that she was in labor, they switched the train to express service and bypassed stops to go directly to 33rd Street.

Paramedics and three Port Authority police officers were waiting on the platform of the 33rd Street station. “As the train came into the station, the woman had already given birth”, Sgt. Mike Barry of the Port Authority police said. Sarker along with her child were then taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt where they were in stable condition.

The couple has not yet announced a name for their boy but they have nicknamed him “Jhatpat”, which translates from Hindi as “Fast”.



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August 28, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene passes over New York

Tropical Storm Irene passes over New York

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

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Irene as seen from the International Space Station on August 24, 2011

Map of Irene’s path.

Tropical Storm Irene, recently downgraded from a hurricane, passed over New York City at about 0900 local time (1300 UTC) today, bringing heavy rain and winds up to 65 miles per hour (96.6 km/h).

Flooding has been reported in New York City, where the Hudson River spilled over its banks into Manhattan and the East River briefly flooded. Floods were also reported in Brooklyn. Water was reported to be inside Battery Park and near the New York Mercantile Exchange. The water level of New York Harbor is as much as four feet higher than normal, with a predicted storm surge of up to eight feet.

Elsewhere in the northeast, suburbs of Philadelphia also flooded; mayor Michael Nutter described the scene in one area as “couches, furniture, all kinds of stuff floating down the street.”

Up to eleven people have been reported killed by the storm, five in North Carolina, three in Virginia and one each in Florida, Maryland and Connecticut. Some three million people evacuated from areas expected to be impacted by the storm, and another three million are reported to be without power.

Irene made landfall in North Carolina on Saturday, bringing up to fourteen inches (~36 cm) of rain and a storm surge measuring four feet in the Cheasapeake Bay with it. At about 0530 local time today, the storm made its second landfall as it passed over Little Egg Inlet, New Jersey.

According to New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the storm is expected to cause damage “in the billions of dollars, if not in the tens of billions of dollars.”


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May 18, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn refused bail after appearance in New York court

Dominique Strauss-Kahn refused bail after appearance in New York court

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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File photograph of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Image: Guillaume Paumier.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, has been refused bail after appearing in court in New York charged with sexually assaulting a chambermaid at a hotel in Manhattan. The decision by the judge to remand him in custody yesterday will likely disrupt emergency talks over the European debt crisis, demolish hopes that he will challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency, and spell the end of his political career.

In court, Strauss-Kahn appeared sombre and tired. The judge agreed with the argument by the prosecution that the French politician was a flight risk after he reportedly tried to flee the country on a passenger jet for Paris. The defence said Strauss-Kahn denied the charges against him and offered $1,000,000 bail and said he would reside in Manhattan with an electronic bracelet, but the judge refused. Afterwards, defence lawyer Benjamin Brafman said: “This battle has just begun.”

The politician appeared in court charged with three crimes, including attempted rape, after a chambermaid told detectives she had been sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn in a luxury hotel near Times Square. “The maid described being forcibly attacked, locked in the room and sexually assaulted,” a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said. Detectives said the politician was detained in the first class cabin of the passenger plane which was minutes from leaving for Paris. Strauss-Kahn had reportedly fled the hotel “in a hurry” after the attack, leaving a number of personal effects behind.

Prosecutors have last night announced they are investigating claims made by a French author, Tristane Banon, that she was sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn in 2002. At the time, her mother—socialist councillor Anne Mansouret— persuaded her not to press charges against him, but yesterday she told French television that Strauss-Kahn had an “addiction” to “preying” on women, and had “a difficulty in controlling his impulses.” The author’s lawyer has announced he is planning to file a complaint with Banon to officials about the alleged attack. Kahn can be convicted and sentenced over the alleged attacks on the chambermaid and on Banon because he does not have diplomatic immunity.

Strauss-Kahn was considered a serious contender and was expected to announce his candidacy against Sarkozy this month, but the allegations are expected to destroy the hopes of his supporters, increase infighting among the French left, and leave his political career in tatters. His arrest comes at a critical moment for the IMF, and will likely plunge efforts to stabilise the financial states of struggling eurozone countries into chaos. Strauss-Kahn was meant to discuss the bailouts of Greece and Portugal with European Union financial officials at a meeting in Brussels this week.



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September 10, 2010

Pastor of Florida church cancels plans to burn Qur\’an, later reconsiders

Pastor of Florida church cancels plans to burn Qur’an, later reconsiders

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Friday, September 10, 2010

A protest in India against the planned September 11 Qur’an burning.
Image: Shabiha.

The leader of a Gainesville, Florida church announced yesterday that the church had canceled its plan to burn copies of the Qur’an tomorrow but later stated that he had reconsidered his decision. Earlier yesterday, Pastor Terry Jones said that the Dove World Outreach Center would cancel the burning of the Islamic holy book, stating that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, had agreed to relocate Park51, a mosque and community center to be located a few hundred meters away from the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In a press conference on Thursday, Jones announced that “we have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday and on Saturday I have agreed to meet with the Imam.” However, Rauf has denied that he struck a deal with the pastor, saying that he was surprised by the announcement of a deal.

On Thursday night, Jones insisted that he had struck a deal with Rauf, saying that he had been “clearly, clearly lied to”. Jones also said that he is having second thoughts of his earlier statement on Thursday afternoon.

“I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Qur’ans. However, I have not spoken to Pastor Jones,” Rauf said on Thursday. He followed up, stating that “We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we here to barter. We are here to extend our hand to build peace and harmony.”

The developer of the New York City mosque in question also denied that a deal had been reached with Jones, stating that “The Muslim community center called Park51 in lower Manhattan is not being moved. The project will proceed as planned.”

On Wednesday, Jones had announced his intention to go ahead with the September 11 Qur’an burning. He also said that he has support from churches around the United States, and that people from around the country have been mailing him Qur’ans to burn. The pastor also said that he has received over 100 death threats and has taken to carrying a gun on his hip for self-defense. In the past, the Dove World Outreach Center has declared that “Islam is of the devil” and that the religion is “evil” as it does not teach that Jesus was the son of God. Even though the church announced that it would continue with the plan, Jones could run into trouble as the Gainesville fire department has denied the church a permit to burn the Qur’ans.

A 17th century Qur’an in the Victoria and Albert Museum
Image: Adam Morgan.

Many prominent figures have condemned the Qur’an burning. Yesterday morning, US president Barack Obama responded, “… what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans,” and warned, “This is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda.” In his interview recorded on Wednesday for Good Morning America, Obama stated that “this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan”, adding, “This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities.”

General David Petraeus, NATO commander in Afghanistan, said on Wednesday that the plan would endanger US troops worldwide. In response to the general’s comments, Jones had told the press that “we understand the general’s concerns, we are taking those into consideration. We feel it’s maybe the right time for America to stand up. How long are we going to bow down? How long are we going to be controlled by the terrorists, by radical Islam? … As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing.”

Other prominent people from around the globe condemned the plan earlier this week, including the head of the US State Department, Hillary Clinton. She called it a “disrespectful, disgraceful act,” while US Attorney General Eric Holder pitched in, calling the book burning “idiotic and dangerous.”

Republican Tea Party activist and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin also chimed in, saying that burning the Qur’an would be an “insensitive and an unnecessary provocation — much like building a mosque at ground zero.” She also said that people have the constitutional right to burn the book, and that “I would hope that Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters will consider the ramifications of their planned book-burning event. It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance. Don’t feed that fire.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the plan, saying that his God was a tolerant God, and suggesting that freedom of religion comes from a tolerant spirit.

A coalition of religious leaders from different religions including Islam, Christianity and Judaism met in Washington to condemn “International Burn a Koran Day”. People took to the streets in the Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan in protest. In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, thousands of protesters gathered around the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Monday.

Due to the increase in tension caused by this activity, INTERPOL released an alert warning of attacks and asking member nations to contact the international police agency if they receive information on public safety hazards.

Despite the criticism, legal commentators say that Jones and his church have the constitutional right to burn the book, which is considered by Muslims to be the word of God. “The First Amendment, as it’s been interpreted, would probably not win if it were put up to a vote. It is very hard to explain to people why this sort of conduct should be permitted,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University.


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August 12, 2010

Early puberty for US girls raises health risk

Early puberty for US girls raises health risk

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hormones that control puberty. According to a new study, US girls are reaching puberty earlier than in the past 10-30 years.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

According to a new study, US girls are reaching puberty earlier than ever, a trend that raises some health concerns. The study, which was conducted in New York’s East Harlem, the Cincinnati metropolitan area, and the San Francisco Bay area, showed that by age eight, 27% of girls had begun puberty and showed breast development. By age seven, 15% of girls were developing breasts.

There were differences among races. By age 7, 10.4% of white girls had reached puberty, up from 5% in a 1997 study. In contrast, 23.4% of African-Americans and 14.9% of Hispanics had reached puberty. Also, at age 8, 18.3% of whites, 42.9% of blacks and 30.9% of Hispanics had reached puberty.

Girls who reach puberty earlier have a higher chance of engaging in early sexual activity. The study examined 1,239 girls aged between six and eight.

Though the study did not address why US girls were reaching breast development earlier, it found that heavier girls reached puberty earlier. Marcia Herman-Giddens of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has said that the earlier puberty could be related to the rising obesity rate among US citizens. Currently, a third of US children are overweight or obese. Scientists and researchers are also worried about chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and atrazine that could disrupt growth hormones. The chemical industry says that these chemicals are safe and are harmless to humans.

Herman-Giddens also said that it can be confusing to hit puberty at a young age. Girls reaching puberty at a younger age are more likely to attempt suicide. Also, earlier puberty can cause low self-esteem and depression and at adulthood, girls who reached puberty earlier are more likely to have breast cancer and endometrial cancer.



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August 10, 2010

British scholar Tony Judt dies aged 62

British scholar Tony Judt dies aged 62 – Wikinews, the free news source

British scholar Tony Judt dies aged 62

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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British historian Tony Judt died Friday of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 62. Judt was known for his contributions to European history and his controversial position regarding the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Judt’s death was announced in a statement from New York University (NYU), where he was a professor. He died in his home in Manhattan, said the school. Judt is survived by his third wife, dance critic Jennifer Homans, and their two children, Nicholas and Daniel. Judt’s first two marriages both ended in a divorce.

Tony Robert Judt, a secular Jew, was born on January 2, 1948 in London, but spent much of his adult life in the United States. The descendant of Marxist Lithuanian rabbis, he was sent to a camp in Israel as a teenager, and became a Zionist. Later, he spoke at a Zionist convention in Paris and worked as a translator for the Israel Defense Forces in 1967, starting with the Six-Day War.

An alumnus of King’s College, he began teaching at NYU as Professor of European studies in 1987. Judt had previously taught at Cambridge, the University of California, and Oxford University.

Judt, also an author, became a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his 2005 book Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. The almost 900-page book covers the history of the development of Europe after World War II. He also wrote about topics such as the fall of Marxism and Communism.

In September 2008, Judt was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. One form of motor neurone disease, ALS targets nerve cells and causes a loss of speech and movement abilities. Left paralyzed and unable to breathe without assistance, Judt continued to lecture. Earlier this year, Judt was able to write a group of personal essays for The New York Review of Books, in which he discussed the disease. “In contrast to almost every other serious or deadly disease, one is thus left free to contemplate at leisure and in minimal discomfort the catastrophic progress of one’s own deterioration,” he wrote. In 2009, Judt was the recipient of a special Orwell Prize, given to him for “intelligence, insight and conspicuous courage.”

Judt’s later views on Israel differed from those he had held as a teenager. In 1983, he called Israel a “belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno state,” opposing a two-state solution. Earlier this year, he wrote, “most Israelis were not transplanted latter-day agrarian socialists but young, prejudiced urban Jews who differed from their European or American counterparts chiefly in their macho, swaggering self-confidence, and access to armed weapons.” His stance on the topic was the subject of much controversy, even leading to his removal from the editorial committee for The New Republic.



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February 27, 2010

Snow-laden branch kills man in Central Park

Snow-laden branch kills man in Central Park

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

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Central Park during the winter.
Image: Taís Melillo.

A snow-laden tree branch killed a man on Literary Walk in Central Park in Manhattan on Thursday. The body was later identified as Elmaz Qyra, a middle-aged resident of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Qyra was found by a passerby around 3:30 p.m. local time (11:30 UTC), and was pronounced dead by authorities at the scene.

One witness, who would not release his name, said, “It was obviously a direct hit to his head. There was this big pool of blood spreading through the snow. It was horrifying.”

Qyra’s shift at The New York Athletic Club (NYAC) had likely just ended. “It happened at the time he finished working. He might have been trying to get home.” said Gaz Bharmi, Qyra’s brother-in-law. “The breaking of the branch and the other fallen trees were likely caused by the accumulation of wet, unusually heavy snow,” the New York Parks Department said in a statement.

Qyra, an immigrant from Albania, came to New York with his family ten years ago in order provide them with a better life. Qyra “loved” Central Park, and would regularly have his teenage children meet him there after finishing his health club shift. “He goes there every summer with the kids to take picture and have hot dogs,” Bharmi remarked. Cesar Zuzunaga, Qyra’s NYAC supervisor said, “He was always talking about his family, and he was family to us here.”

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday.



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December 11, 2009

New York City Mass Transit facing service cuts

New York City Mass Transit facing service cuts

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Friday, December 11, 2009

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Photo of Cortlandt Street Station

Cortlandt Street is one of the stations proposed to lose night service

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing to make service cuts to close its expected US$343 million (€234m, GBP £211m) budget deficit. The plan includes the elimination of multiple bus lines in The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, the elimination of the W (Astoria, Queens to Lower Manhattan) and the Z (Jamaica, Queens to Lower Manhattan via Brooklyn) train services. Also included in the plan are cuts of nighttime bus and train service.

“We’re not going to rely on anyone else to do anything for us. We’re going to rely on ourselves.” MTA board member Mitchell Pally said, commenting on the New York state’s budget plan cutting $143 million of tax revenue from the agency. MTA Chairman Jay Walder has said in the past that he would not raise fares ahead of schedule.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a commuter advocacy group, said that the agency should take money from its current construction and maintenance fund, and put it into maintaining these services.



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