Apollo babies (hackers) recover earth-rise

This beautiful pix showing earth-rise for the first time (and its companions) will certainly be a joy forever. One more proof that the world is being  ruled by hackers and we are just allowed to live in it (and gawp at their achievements).
 

The most recent and impressive ones are the Lost Lunar Orbiter (satellite) pictures from 1966. It is mind-boggling what the folks did in those early days with so little money and primitive technology. Space was the new frontier then, and that magic cant be recreated easily. If someone can do it, we bet it will be the hackers (aka techno-archaeologists). Take a bow, Keith Conning and Dennis Wingo.

Finally, we just got bit by the nostalga bug when we read about Usenet and Radio Shack. Good old days!!!
…..
Sitting incongruously among the hangars
and laboratories of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the
squat facade of an old McDonald’s. You won’t get a burger there,
though–its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old
tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers
who’ve rechristened the place McMoon’s.
These self-described
techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize
forgotten photos taken in the ‘60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar
satellites.




The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data
tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken
from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise
(first slide above).
Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering
of the team at LOIRP, it’s being seen at a higher resolution than was
ever previously possible.

“We’re reaching back to a capability that existed but couldn’t be
touched back when it was created,” says Keith Cowing, co-lead and
founding member at LOIRP. “It’s like having a DVD in 1966, you can’t
play it. We had resolution of the earth of about a kilometer [per
pixel]. This is an image taken a quarter of a fucking million miles away
in 1966. The Beatles were warming up to play Shea Stadium at the moment
it was being taken.”

Between 1966 and ’67, five Lunar Orbiters snapped pictures onto 70mm
film from about 30 miles above the moon. The satellites were sent mainly
to scout potential landing sites for manned moon missions. Each
satellite would point its dual lens Kodak camera at a target, snap a
picture, then develop the photograph. High- and low-resolution photos
were then scanned into strips called framelets using something akin to
an old fax machine reader.

The images were beamed in modulated signals to one of three receiving
stations in Australia, Spain, or California, where the pictures–and collateral chatter from the NASA operators–were
recorded straight to tape. After finishing their missions, the
satellites were unceremoniously dashed against the moon rocks, clearing
the way for Apollo. 

“These guys were operating right at the edge,” Cowing says with a
reverence for these NASA engineers that’s shared by his team. “There’s a
certain spy program heritage to all this, but these guys went above
that, because those spy satellites would send their images back. These
didn’t. They couldn’t. They were in lunar orbit.”

The photos were stored with remarkably high fidelity on the tapes,
but at the time had to be copied from projection screens onto paper,
sometimes at sizes so large that warehouses and even old churches were
rented out to hang them up. The results were pretty grainy, but clear
enough to identify landing sites and potential hazards. After the low-fi
printing, the tapes were shoved into boxes and forgotten.

They changed hands several times over the years, almost getting
tossed out before landing in storage in Moorpark, California. Several
abortive attempts were made to recover data from the tapes, which were
well kept, but it wasn’t until 2005 that NASA engineer Keith Cowing and
space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo
were able to bring the materials and the
technical know how together.

When they learned through a Usenet
group that former NASA employee Nancy Evans might have both the tapes
and the super-rare Ampex FR-900 drives needed to read them, they jumped
into action. They drove to Los Angeles, where the refrigerator-sized
drives were being stored in a backyard shed surrounded by chickens.
At
the same time, they retrieved the tapes from a storage unit in nearby
Moorpark, and things gradually began to take shape. Funding the project
out of pocket at first, they were consumed with figuring out how to
release the images trapped in the tapes.

“We’re both Apollo babies, so the moon to us was something that’s
unfinished business,” says Cowing. 

“These tapes were sealed for history
by somebody who cared, and it was astonishing the condition they were
in. So we started buying used parts on eBay, Radioshack–I was sitting at
a black tie reception at one point buying something on my iPhone.
We
just buy and reassemble these things bit by bit.”

The drives had to be rebuilt and in some cases completely
re-engineered using instruction manuals or the advice of people who used
to service them. The data they recovered then had to be demodulated and
digitized, which added more layers of technical difficulties.

…..
Link: http://www.wired.com/2014/04/lost-lunar-photos-recovered-by-great-feats-of-hackerdom-developed-at-a-mcdonalds
…..
regards

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The (im)moral Maharajah

Adultery in our opinion is not necessarily a moral crime (in the context of an open marriage). We doubt this was the case when the famous lady journalist hotted it up with the Maharajah of Raghogarh (Guna, Madhya Pradesh) but this will be settled between the private individuals and is not a public concern. Normally we would worry about the neutrality of news media when journalists gets into bed (literally in this case, figuratively for others) with politicians. However with the spread of paid news and other delights no one in India can pretend that news is in any way neutral. Also by the time one has filtered the bytes through the lens (multiple) of caste, class, religion, language, and region, one is at liberty to state that there is no objective truth.

That said, it is always delightful to catch politicians with their pants down, especially hyper-moralistic partisans like Digvijay Singh, who was taking pot-shots just yesterday at the Hindu Great Man (HGM). Now we have also been critical of the shabby manner in which Jashodaben has been treated but then we are not creepy, stinky, dirty old males jumping into bed with married females young enough to be our daughters.

We also hope that this is not going to be another tragic play like the Sunanda Pushkar story. We pray that the husband gets his pound of flesh out of the matter, nothing less than 10 crore in cash will do, a posh flat in Delhi, and yes, a Jaguar F-type (Car of the Year award from Playboy magazine). We do wish the (about to be) married couple happiness in their future life together.
………
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s acceptance of his
“relationship” with a 43-year-old Rajya Sabha TV anchor and their plans
to marry created a political storm on Wednesday with the opposition BJP
and Aam Admi Party (AAP) targeting the 67-year-old former Madhya Pradesh
chief minister on “morality”.




Singh confirmed the relationship on Twitter a day after his pictures with Amrita Rai went viral on social media.


The senior Congress leader has made barbs over Narendra Modi’s
marital status recently.


Earlier in the afternoon, Singh had tweeted, “I have no hesitation in
accepting my relationship with Amrita Rai. She and her husband have
already filed a mutual consent divorce case.
Once that is decided we
would formalise it. But I do condemn encroachment in our private life.”

Rai too posted on Twitter: “I have separated from my husband and we have
filed a mutual consent divorce papers. After which I have decided to
marry with Digvijaya Singh.”  

She also tweeted, “My email/computer been hacked & contents tampered
with. It is a serious crime in India & encroachment of my privacy. I
strongly condemn it.”

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said, “A new definition of morality has
been given by the actions of senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh
Saheb. Those who preach lessons of morality should first look within
themselves to see if they are practising what they are preaching to
others. As far as the legal aspect of the matter of adultery is
concerned, it is up to the husband of the lady to pursue the matter.”

……….
Link (1): http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/digvijaya-singh-reacts-over-viral-pic-accepts-relationship-with-journalist-amrita-rai/99/

Link (2): http://newsroom.jaguarlandrover.com/en-us/jaguar/news/2014/02/jaguar_playboy_award_ftype/
………

regards

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Maoists driven back (by women voters)

Unlike in Kashmir (Srinagar recorded only 25% votes yesterday) there seems to be fresh hope for electoral democracy in Chattisgarh. Two key things will have to happen for democracy to flourish: maximum possible devolution of power to the lowest level possible, and implementation of social schemes without fear or favor.

Congratulations are due to the Raman Singh led BJP govt for doing well on the governance front. However the Maoist menace will remain for a long time to come (it cant be wished away). The worst thing (as in Nigeria) is for the govt to become complacent.
…..
Defying the Maoist threat of poll-boycott, Chhattisgarh
has indeed created a record of sorts in the just concluded Lok Sabha
polls in the state, registering not only the highest ever turnout of
69.48% but also witnessing an overwhelming participation of 68.04% women
voters.

As compared to a turnout of 55.29% in 2009 and about
52.09% in 2004, nearly 70% of the 1,76,23,818 electorate exercised their
franchise in these elections. Even the so-called “red areas”, where
Maoists had given called for a poll boycott, voters remained undeterred,
with Bastar and Kanker regions recording a turnout of 59.4% and 70.29%
respectively, another first in the state.


Statistically
speaking, the second phase of polling in Rajnandgaon, Mahasamund and
Kanker witnessed the highest turnout of 73.04%. This was followed by
69.60% in the third phase, which concluded on Thursday.

Poling
in the first phase in Bastar was the lowest in the state at 59.40%.
However, this turnout was much larger than the 43.33% in 2004 and 47.33%
in 2009.

The increase in the participation of women voters has
been the other hallmark of these polls. As compared to 52.33% in 2009
and 45.50% in 2004, 68.04% of the 8714762registered women voters
exercised their franchise.

Even in the Maoist infested areas of
Bastar and Kanker, women participation was high at 49.85% and 49.27%
respectively. In fact the near 50% participation of women in Bastar has
been the highest in the state.

Reasons for high turnout: While
increased voter awareness, thanks to the massive campaigns undertaken by
the EC, is being considered the main reason for the high voting trends,
the hype surrounding the high pitched polls has also contributed to the
turnout. The BJP, which is hoping to come to power at the centre with
Narendra Modi at the helm, had been virtually in the poll mode for the
last one year and didn’t lose steam even after winning the assembly
elections. Some even attribute the advent of AAP on the state’s
political scene for the increase turnout.

The BJP has a lot at
stake and thus a lot to lose in these elections. It had won 10 of the 11
seats in the last two Lok Sabha polls and observers feel that it might
not be that easy for it to repeat the same performance. With punters
betting on 9 seats for the BJP, the gain of even one seat for the
Congress would mean a 100% increase for them.

…..

Link:
…..

regards

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“million-woman” against Boko Haram (an appeal)

The Nigerian school girls abducted by Boko Haram apparently have been sold as slaves to jihadists. This is not exactly a surprise. A million-women march may help put pressure on a complacent government. But chances of recovering the girls (especially if they have crossed international borders) is close to zero.

We @ BP would like to appeal to our readers to highlight this important event on social media and hope for success in a difficult cause.
…….

Protesters
will hold a “million-woman march” in the Nigerian capital (Abuja) on Wednesday
over the government’s failure to rescue scores of schoolgirls kidnapped
by Boko Haram Islamists two weeks ago.
Angry Nigerian parents
lashed out at the government on Tuesday as a local leader claimed the
hostages had been sold as wives abroad.



The outrage that
followed the mass abduction has been compounded by disputes over how
many girls were seized and criticism of the military’s search-and-rescue
effort.
Borno officials have said 129 girls were kidnapped
when gunmen stormed the school after sundown on April 14 and forced the
students — who are between 12 and 17 years old — onto a convoy of
trucks. Officials said 52 have since escaped.
Locals, including
the school’s principal, have rejected those numbers, insisting that 230
students were snatched and that 187 are still being held hostage.

 

Mark told AFP that his wife has hardly slept since the attack, lying awake at night “thinking about our daughter”.

 
An organization called Women for Peace and Justice has called for a
“million-woman protest march” in the capital Abuja on Wednesday to
demand that more resources be committed to securing the girls’ release.

 

While the group is unlikely to rally a crowd of that size, support for
the movement has been growing on Twitter under #BringBackOurGirls.


 
Pogo Bitrus, leader of a Chibok elders group, told AFP that locals had
been tracking the movements of the hostages with the help of “various
sources” across the northeast. “From the information we
received yesterday from Cameroonian border towns our abducted girls were
taken … into Chad and Cameroon,” he said. The girls were then sold as brides to Islamist fighters for 2,000 naira ($12) each, Bitrus added.

 

There was however no independent confirmation of his report and the
defence ministry did not immediately answer calls seeking comment.

 

Some of the girls who escaped have said the hostages were taken to
Borno’s Sambisa Forest area, where Boko Haram has well-fortified camps.
Locals have scoured the bushlands of the remote region, pooling money
to buy fuel for motorcycles and cars to conduct their own rescue effort,
saying they have no confidence in the military’s search.

 

“The
free movement of the kidnappers in huge convoys with their captives for
two weeks without being traced by the military which claims to be
working diligently to free the girls is unbelievable,” Bitrus told AFP.

 

Nigeria deployed thousands of additional troops to the northeast last
year as part of an offensive aimed at crushing Boko Haram, but security
experts say the military lacks the troops needed to fully cover the
region.

Dozens of Borno women clad in black staged a protest on Tuesday in front of Nigeria’s parliament.

 

Protest leader Naomi Mutah told three senators who received the group
that they did not know the whereabouts of the girls, saying some might
have crossed over to Chad. “Our grievance is this: For the past
two weeks and this is the third week, we have not heard anybody talking
to us,” said Mutah. “They are suffering in the bush. Let them (authorities) help us to free them,” another protester said.

 

In a motion Tuesday, the senate urged the government and security
agencies to seek the cooperation of other countries and the UN security
council in the rescue effort.

…….

Link:
……

regards

0

India before Japan (World Bank)

Economy #3 as ranked by the International Comparison Program (ICP), hosted by the
Development Data Group at the World Bank.

These gross numbers are a bit meaningless anyway, still India would do much better off if the conflict level was lower in the sub-continent, OTOH the situation is more stable than Middle East North Africa (MENA) nations which are superior in HDI rankings.
……..
In a
matter of six years, India emerged as the world’s third-largest economy
in 2011 from being the 10th largest in 2005, moving ahead of Japan,
while the US remained the largest economy closely followed by China,
latest figures have revealed.


“The economies of Japan and the
UK became smaller compared to the US, while Germany increased slightly,
France and Italy remained the same,” according to data released on
Wednesday by the International Comparison Program (ICP), hosted by the
Development Data Group at the World Bank Group.

“The relative
rankings of the three Asian economies — China, India, and Indonesia — to
the US doubled, while Brazil, Mexico and Russia increased by one-third
or more,” the report said. The world produced goods and services worth
over $90 trillion in 2011 and that almost half of the total output came
from low and middle-income countries, it said.

According to the
major findings of the ICP, six of the world’s 12 largest economies were
in the middle-income category (based on the World Bank’s definition).

When combined, the 12 largest economies accounted for two-thirds of the
world economy and 59 per cent of the population, it said.

The
purchasing power parities (PPPs)-based world GDP amounted to $90,647
billion, compared with $70,294 billion measured by exchange rates, it
said, adding that the share of middle-income economies in global GDP is
48 per cent when using PPPs and 32 per cent when using exchange rates.

The six largest middle-income economies — China, India, Russia, Brazil,
Indonesia and Mexico — account for 32.3 per cent of world GDP, whereas
the six largest high-income economies — US, Japan, Germany, France, UK
and Italy — account for 32.9 per cent, the report said.

Asia
and the Pacific, including China and India, account for 30 per cent of
world GDP, Eurostat-OECD 54 per cent, Latin America 5.5 per cent
(excluding Mexico, which participates in the OECD and Argentina, which
did not participate in the ICP 2011), Africa and Western Asia about 4.5
per cent each.

“China and India make up two-thirds of the Asia
and the Pacific economy, excluding Japan and South Korea, which are part
of the OECD comparison. Russia accounts for more than 70 per cent of
the CIS, and Brazil for 56 per cent of Latin America. South Africa,
Egypt, and Nigeria account for about half of the African economy,” said
the report.

“At 27 per cent, China now has the largest share of
the world’s expenditure for investment (gross fixed capital formation)
followed by the US at 13 per cent. India, Japan and Indonesia follow with 7 per cent, 4 per cent, and 3 per cent, respectively,” the report said.

China and India account for about 80 per cent of investment expenditure in the Asia and the Pacific region. Russia accounts for 77 per cent of CIS, Brazil for 61 per cent of Latin
America and Saudi Arabia 40 per cent of Western Asia, it said.

The report said low-income economies, as a share of world GDP, were
more than two times larger based on PPPs than respective exchange rate
shares in 2011.

Roughly 28 per cent of the world’s population lives in economies with
GDP per capita expenditure above the $13,460 world average and 72 per
cent are below that average.

The approximate median yearly per
capita expenditure for the world — at $10,057 — means that half of the
global population has per capita expenditure above that amount and half
below, it said.

The five economies with the highest GDP per capita are Qatar, Macao, Luxembourg, Kuwait and Brunei. The first two economies have more than $1,00,000 per capita, the ICP report said.

Eleven economies have more than $50,000 per capita, while they
collectively account for less than 0.6 per cent of the world’s
population. The US has the 12th-highest GDP per capita.

Eight
economies – Malawi, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Niger,
Burundi, Congo, Comoros and Liberia — have a GDP per capita of less than
$1,000.

The five economies with highest actual individual
consumption per capita are Bermuda, US, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and
Luxembourg.

The world average actual individual consumption per capita is approximately $8,647, it said.

…….

Link:
……

regards

0

Messing about with the site

Since it seems that Blogger is going to stay our home for a little while longer I’ve made a few changes to the right hand column. Our comments section is uncharacteristically quiet as compared to before so just revamped that section.

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Subverting the discourse; using the colour card

Maybe I read too much of Steve Sailer & the alternative sites. Maybe it’s cuz I’m in Africa and see so much of the paternalism condescension of Muzungu NGO workers but I’m beginning to get awfully bored of our mainstream sanctimonious attitude towards “rights” (be it class, gender, race or orientation).

It’s increasingly leading to a culture of hypocrisy in the public sphere but a shadow culture, where such vices flourish. As long as you espouse the “correct” views in public you can get away with practically anything short of murder in the real clubby elitist world that these movers & shakers actually occupy.
It’s maybe a sign of the times when a Great Civilisation on the wane doesn’t have much else to do but fight imaginary wars all the while not offering any real solutions.
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Do what I say not what I do

I hang out with a lot of expats in Uganda. The local term for Westerner is Muzungu (Swahili/Luganda for “wanderer” as the white man was always wandering all over the place, the English language is called Luzungu).

At any rate almost down to the tee any Englishmen or American in Uganda would be a reliable lefty, almost a sure voter for the Labour/Liberal party or a Democrat/Independent.
While these self-professed liberals (after all most of them are NGO types) regularly declaim the Tory party or the right wing for their racism and proclaim their paens to diversity, in many of their gatherings I end up being the only “dark-haired” person about. Now that’s another level of homogeneity and it’s only happened to me once before in the West (forget about being the only dark skinned person but dark haired to boot).
At any rate I find that while their adhere to the cult of diversity and multi-cultural ism in practise the Tory party gatherings (even the far-right UKIP) will be more diverse in terms of race & ethnicity. In part because the right insists on a minimum standard of acculturation/assimilation (which is easily accomplished depending on your class levels, immigration is fraught as a two-edged sword since underperforming immigrants “sponge on welfare” high performing “take jobs”) they are able to accommodate racial diversity.
Whereas I’ve noticed that the left liberals won’t notice anything amiss about their all-vanilla gatherings, it’s as though their ideological leaning insulate from any actual criticism. The right considers any superiority/arrogance to derive from wealth & the creation of wealth whereas the left seems to hold itself apart from a complex interlocking of race, class & ideology that makes it far more opaque and inaccessible to get into. Essentially the easiest pass is to blend in by just fudging the boundaries (understand the rules & play them to your advantage).
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Save Our Servants (leaders)

Andhra Pradesh goes to vote today for the last time as an united entity. It is a bitter-sweet moment which has been 65 years in the making (an un-making).  

There
are two parties presently in the battle-field led by (supremely astute)
Servant-Leaders: Jaganmohan Reddy (YSR Congress) and Sonia Gandhi
(Indian National Congress).
While YSR Congress is expected to
shine in coastal Andhra (estimated 90% Dalit Christian population), the
fortunes of the INC (and the all-important Mission 115) will depend on its
performance in Telengana.

Bishop G Dyvasyrvadam and Archbishop of Hyderabad Thumma Bala have issued an S.O.S. on behalf of The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches for today’s (April 30) and the May 7 ballot. The Bishops have also presented a detailed Charter of Demands.
John Dayal, a noted (Catholic) Dalit activist reports from the Christian foxhole:
 ……
The Andhra Pradesh Bishops’ group has perhaps gone a step further and
presented a charter of demands to the political parties and candidates
in the election fray.  

These demands included setting up of a Christian
finance and development corporation,
….removal of the ban on propagation and practice of Faiths in certain
areas,  and Christian representation on various government
organisations.
They ….also
demanded an Assembly seat in each district and two Lok Sabha (seats), …..apart from
land for building churches. 

………

John Dayal is not happy with the mix of Church and Politics but he appears to be in the minority. Everyone recognizes that desperate times call for desperate measures (also every Sadhu and Mullah is doing it, so why not the Bishops?). That said the Bishop’s Charter of Demands on behalf of his flock are indeed nothing short of extraordinary.

……
The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches has written a letter to
churches within its jurisdiction asking them to “elect leaders…. Who
uphold secular character and promote communal harmony”.



 
The APFC is body of several Christian denominations including
Catholic, CSI, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Salvation Army,
Seventh Day Adventist, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Churches and other
Christian Denominations. It functions under the Andhra Pradesh Bishop’s
Council.



 
Christian leaders say they are “worried” about the violence in Kandhamal, Odisha and hence they had taken the step.


 
The letter asks Christians to “elect leaders who are close to people
and their needs, and only vote for those who uphold secular character
and promote communal harmony”



 
It has been signed by Bishop G Dyvasyrvadam a moderator of the Church
of South India and the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches. It has
also been signed by Archbishop of Hyderabad Thumma Bala.





The letter will be read out on a Sunday before the state goes to
polls. Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections will be held on April 30 and May
7.

.……
Link (1): http://johndayal.com/church-politics-mix-india/
Link (2): http://www.thenewsminute.com/stories/AndhraPradeshchurchesaskChristianstovoteforsecularcandidates
…..
regards

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“Rahul Gandhi is not a running item any more”

On the eve of the April 30th ballot, the bookies have closed their books on the dynasty. Enough said.

……..
As May
16 nears, leading bookies in Rajkot, Indore and Ahmedabad have stopped
offering bets on Rahul Gandhi as the next prime minister of India,
suggesting that the Congress VP does not stand much of a chance to move
into 7 Race Course Road after the Lok Sabha poll results are out in
mid-May.  Even a month ago, some bookies were offering odds of about Rs
6-7 for Gandhi to be the PM, while the rate for Arvind Kejriwal, the
founder of Aam Aadmi Party, was about Rs 500-525.

In contrast
to Rahul Gandhi, the rate for Narendra Modi, the BJP candidate for the
PM post, is 45 paise, nearly unchanged from what the rate was about a
month ago. This means if one bets Rs 100 on Modi to assume the coveted
office in Delhi’s South Block, and he actually becomes the PM after May
16, one would get Rs 145.

“Rahul Gandhi is not a running item
any more,” said a person who is aware of the rates. According to the
person, the rates in other parts of the country would differ by 1-2
paise, and not much.

In the Rajkot-Indore circles, the rates
for the NDA coming to power is 44 paise. The rates for the BJP, which
led the alliance that ruled the country from 1999-2004, getting 200 Lok
Sabha seats is 46 paise and 58 paise for 250 seats.  This rate has
slightly changed what was offered about 10 days ago, — 50 paise to 75
paise for the BJP getting 250 seats — indicating the party has a lower
chance of getting to that level.

Bookies are also betting
heavily about the Congress getting less than 100 Lok Sabha seats, with
the rates for it getting 85-90 seats at Rs 1.60-1.70, the person related
to bookies said.

…….
Link: http://www.siasat.com/english/news/no-betting-rahul-gandhi-bookies
……
regards

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