February 28th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

Violence ripples across Iraq, leaves 8 dead

A series of attacks across the Iraqi capital left seven people dead and nine wounded Tuesday, while another attack killed a local leader and wounded his guard in Fallujah.

Police say four young men, all family members, were found shot dead in Baghdad's eastern district of Sadr City, considered a stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the country's influential Ahrar party. His political bloc recently joined with former rival and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, forging a tenuous political alliance in spite of persistent violence throughout the capital.

A juvenile detention center worker was also shot dead by gunmen in Baghdad's southeastern al-Ameen neighborhood, police said. And roadside bombs in two different Baghdad neighborhoods left at least one other person dead and wounded eight others.

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Filed under: Iraq • World
February 28th, 2012
10:21 AM ET

Syrian official insists regime cares about civilians as 60 more die

As carnage mounted in the streets of Syria on Tuesday, government officials also continued their war of words.

No regime cares more about the Syrian people than its government, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said. "We are not happy to see brothers killing each other," he said. His words flew in the face of opposition activists and world leaders who say thousands have died in a sustained onslaught by Syrian forces.

At least 60 people, including three women and two children, were killed across Syria on Tuesday alone, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.

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Filed under: Syria
February 28th, 2012
10:10 AM ET

London police lent horse to Murdoch exec Rebekah Brooks

London's Metropolitan Police lent a retired horse to Rebekah Brooks when she was an executive at Rupert Murdoch's News International, her spokesman and the police said Tuesday.

The revelation was met with incredulity and scorn amid investigations into the potentially corrupt relationship between the police and the press in Britain.

The news immediately prompted the creation of a Twitter account, RebekahsHorse, that began churning out puns including: "My PR has set me up a brief twitter question and answer session later this afternoon. Hope I don't stirrup any trouble."

The BBC unintentionally added to the gag by putting a reporter named Fiona Trott on the story, her colleague Chris Mason tweeted.

But along with the guffaws, the news ramped up pressure even further on Murdoch's empire as it is battered by investigations into police bribery, phone hacking and e-mail hacking.

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Filed under: Crime • News of the World • Rupert Murdoch • United Kingdom
'My Friend Dahmer' looks at serial killer as a troubled high school student
John Backderf's graphic novel about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's high school years will be released Thursday.
February 28th, 2012
08:41 AM ET

'My Friend Dahmer' looks at serial killer as a troubled high school student

Readers of alternative weeklies nationwide are probably familiar with the work of cartoonist John Backderf - a.k.a. Derf - who has been serving up his twisted take on contemporary culture since 1990 in "The City" comic strip. But before his work graced T-shirts and album covers and earned him the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, he was a kid from rural Ohio who happened to be friends with Jeffrey Dahmer before he became one of the country's most notorious serial killers.

Now, 21 years after Dahmer's arrest, Backderf is telling the story of Dahmer's  high school years in a graphic novel, "My Friend Dahmer," which is being released Thursday.

Backderf was 12 years old when he met Dahmer in the seventh grade. By high school, Backderf and his "band nerd friends" had welcomed Dahmer into their group as the oddball joker who made them laugh. They parted ways before graduating from Revere High School, and Backderf never heard from Dahmer again.

Dahmer was arrested in 1991 in Wisconsin after a would-be victim narrowly escaped from his home. He was found guilty at trial of 15 counts of murder in Wisconsin and pleaded guilty to killing one person in Ohio. He was bludgeoned to death in 1994 by a fellow inmate in a Wisconsin prison. In the aftermath, Backderf began to reflect upon how the young man he knew had become a despicable rapist, murderer and cannibal, and the work that would lead to "My Friend Dahmer," Backderf's third graphic novel, began.

The 55-year-old veteran cartoonist spoke with CNN.com about signs of trouble in Dahmer and possible missed opportunities to set the budding killer on a different path. The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

CNN: How did you become friends with Jeffrey Dahmer?

John Backderf: The usual way kids become friends. We sat together in the cafeteria, he was my lab partner, which is pretty strange looking back on it. He didn’t have a lot of friends and he wasn’t one of my close friends, but we sort of adopted him as high school wore on because he amused us with his bizarre antics. He became a mascot for our group of friends. He was obviously pretty damaged from the get-go, but not to the extreme that we’d see later in life. He did not relate to people the way other people do.

CNN: How so?

Backderf: Early on, he would fake epileptic fits and spastic movements in the halls, bleat like a sheep. It sounds horrible now, but keep in mind we’re talking about 14- and 15-year-old boys who are idiots by nature, and he amused us. Later on, he started drinking heavily, at 8 in the morning he would reek of booze, which was disturbing, but now we know he was self-medicating to deal with everything going on his life. He was trying to quiet the noises in his head. There was strange behavior going on, but he was a smart guy and he just made us laugh. That’s really the bottom line.

CNN: What was he like?

Backderf: He was a real quiet guy. A lot of people portray him as this weakling who was picked on, but he was a big guy. He worked out with weights, and he was built like a linebacker. He was occasionally picked on a little by the jocks, but even they got wary of him. He kind of moved through the school without raising any notice from teachers. I don’t think any of the adults noticed him, despite how shocking his behavior was. He was able to sink into the shadows, but we noticed him in the way that kids often see things adults don’t see.

It didn’t surprise me that he became a serial killer, but he wasn’t my first choice from our class. When I heard the news that a classmate was accused of being a serial killer, Dahmer was my second guess in terms of classmates.

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Filed under: Crime
February 28th, 2012
07:41 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues tonight with the Arizona and Michigan primaries.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Rutgers cyber-bullying trial - The trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of bullying his roommate, who later committed suicide, continues in New Jersey.

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Filed under: Crime • Elections • Justice • Politics • Republican Party
February 28th, 2012
05:36 AM ET

Wounded photographer out of Syria, activist says

British photographer Paul Conroy, who was wounded in an attack in Syria that left two other journalists dead last week, has been smuggled out of the country and is now safe in Lebanon, activist Wissam Tarif said Tuesday.

There is no word on the fate of wounded French journalist Edith Bouvier, or of the bodies of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, who were killed in Homs.

Syrian activists "suffered and risked their lives" over the course of six nights to smuggle Conroy to a safe house in Lebanon, said Tarif, of the activist network Avaaz.

"Syrian activists wanted to help their friends who have been so bravely telling the story of the carnage in Homs," he said.

An additional 40 wounded people were smuggled out of the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, he said.

Colvin and Ochlik, both award-winning journalists, were killed on Wednesday.

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Filed under: Syria • World
February 28th, 2012
04:54 AM ET

Syrian official: No one dying from hunger, sickness even as deaths mount

While carnage mounts in the streets of Syria, the war of words rages on as well.

"We are not happy to see brothers killing each other," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said, insisting that no regime cares more about the Syrian people than his government.

The foreign minister told reporters no one is dying in Syria because of hunger or sickness, and said that despite an "economic international boycott," his government is providing all necessary services.

His words fly in the face of opposition activists and world leaders who say the regime's sustained slaughter has killed thousands.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • World
February 28th, 2012
04:08 AM ET

Lawyer: Suspect in Ohio school shooting 'distraught,' 'remorseful'

A teenager suspected of spraying an Ohio high school cafeteria with bullets - killing one student and wounding four - is distraught and remorseful, his lawyer said.

Authorities have yet to name the teen shooter arrested in the Monday morning attack at Chardon High School. But many students, some of whom said they were steps away from the suspect when the bullets flew, described the shooter as a withdrawn boy named T.J. Lane.

Lawyer Bob Farinacci, speaking for Lane's family, said late Monday night that the 17-year-old was "extremely remorseful."

"Very, very scared and extremely remorseful," he told CNN affiliate WKYC.

"He is a very confused young man right now," Farinacci added. "He's very confused. He is very upset. Um, he's very distraught...himself. This is a very scary circumstance that I don't think he could have possibly even foreseen himself in the middle of."

There will be no school Tuesday in Chardon where parents and children struggle to understand how the inexplicable actions of a quiet teen upended the calm of the small suburban Cleveland community.

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Filed under: Justice • Ohio • U.S.
February 28th, 2012
02:26 AM ET

Fire, rain makes for bizarre Daytona 500

For a sport where speed is king, NASCAR's Daytona 500 this year was one long waiting game.

First, rain led race officials to pull the plug Sunday - the first time in Daytona 500's history. Then, continuing showers led them to re-reschedule the start from noon to Monday evening.

When the race finally got underway, a massive fire with 40 laps to go red-flagged it for a couple more hours, pushing the race into a third day.

In the end, Matt Kenseth crossed the finish line about 1 a.m. Tuesday, claming the 54th running of "The Great American Race."

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Filed under: Sports • U.S.
February 28th, 2012
12:18 AM ET

More than delegates at stake in Arizona, Michigan primaries

n an election cycle that's seen more than its fair share of ups and downs, crucial primaries Tuesday in Arizona and especially Michigan could add a lot more drama to the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Fifty-nine delegates are up for grabs when both states vote. But much more than that, momentum that could alter the state of the race is at stake.

"Mitt Romney's ferocious campaign against Santorum in Michigan is pivot point of the campaign," GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos said.

Romney was born in Michigan and his father served as governor of the state in the 1960s. Many political pundits say losing the state could seriously sting Romney's bid for the nomination.

The most recent polls indicate it's all tied up in Michigan between the former Massachusetts governor and his top rival, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

The latest survey to suggest a dead heat: An American Research Group survey released Monday, which indicated that 36% of likely Michigan GOP primary voters were backing Santorum, with 35% supporting Romney, 15% backing Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and 8% supporting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

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Filed under: Michigan • Politics • U.S.
February 27th, 2012
10:39 PM ET

CNN prime time: Maher's big gift, Colvin family waits

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Friend: Alleged gunman had sad look

A friend of the gunman suspected in an Ohio school shooting that left two students dead says she’s in shock.

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Colvin's mom: Return my daughter's body

“I want my daughter home,” pleads the mother of Marie Colvin, a veteran journalist killed last week in a shelling attack in Syria.

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Maher's $1 million super PAC donation

Bill Maher tells Piers Morgan why he made the decision to donate $1 million to a super PAC supporting Obama's reelection.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • CNN Prime Time • Elections • Syria
WikiLeaks + Anonymous = A powerful partnership?
Julian Assange could be in legal hot water over the release of e-mails belonging to a private company, an expert says.
February 27th, 2012
04:09 PM ET

WikiLeaks + Anonymous = A powerful partnership?

Though it's nothing new for WikiLeaks to publish information belonging to a private company, Monday's release of Stratfor e-mails might be an indication that for the first time, Anonymous and WikiLeaks have worked together. And that could have legal consequences for WikiLeaks' editor Julian Assange, experts say.

In December, Anonymous claimed it had hacked Stratfor, the Austin, Texas-based private company that produces intelligence reports for clients. On Monday, WikiLeaks began releasing 5 million e-mails it said belonged to Stratfor that reveal, WikiLeaks says, a litany of injustices by the company. WikiLeaks is calling the leak The Global Intelligence Files.

WikiLeaks has not said where it got the e-mails. Anonymous, an amorphous group of hackers worldwide,  is claiming on Twitter and on other social media that they gave it to the site. Numerous media outlets such as the Washington Post and Wired are reporting the partnership.

"Their [WikiLeaks and Anonymous] working together made sense. Anonymous did the hack, had the stuff and in the end decided that someone else would be better-suited to comb through this and release it," said Gregg Housh, who acts as a spokesperson for Anonymous. "Anonymous just didn't have the ability to go through all the e-mails themselves. This was a happy partnership. WikiLeaks did such an awesome job categorizing the [State Department] cables."

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Filed under: Anonymous • Julian Assange • WikiLeaks
February 27th, 2012
02:13 PM ET

Student shot at Ohio high school dies, police say

More on this story from CNN affiliates WOIO-TV, WEWS-TV, WJW-TV and WKYC-TV.

iReport: Are you there? Let us know but please stay safe.

[Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET] Chardon Police Chief Timothy McKenna said in a press conference today that two of the victims in Monday's shootings were in critical condition, one was in serious condition and one was in stable condition.

[Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET] Danny Komertz, a student at Chardon High School said that he saw shooter T.J. lane point a gun directly at a group of students before shooting them.

"I looked straight ahead and I saw a gun pointing at a group of four guys sitting at a table and he was able two feet away from them," Komertz said. "He just fired two quick shots at them. I saw one student fall. I saw the other hiding, trying to get cover underneath the table."

Komertz said that he felt that by his demeanor, the shooter was targeting that group.

"It was clearly to me that he was aiming right at them," Komertz told CNN. "He wasn't shooting around the cafeteria at all. He was directly aiming at the four of them."

Komertz said he then ran out the door with his friends. While he was trying to escape he said he heard another two shots fired from behind him.

"I just can't believe it. I don't think it's real," said student Danny Komertz, who witnessed the shooting. "And I just, it kills me that I saw someone hiding, and now that someone is now dead."

[Updated at 2:13 p.m. ET] A fatally wounded student was identified by the hospital that treated him as Daniel Parmertor.

"We are shocked by this senseless tragedy," Parmertor's family said in a statement released by MetroHealth Medical Center. "Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

[Updated 1:19 p.m. ET] A student who hid in a classroom at Chardon High School said that T.J. Lane, the suspect in Monday's shooting, "was a nice guy" who he never suspected would shoot anyone.

“He just came from a really broken down home and he was living with his grandparents," Evan Erasmus, a senior at the school told CNN.  "He was more of a quiet type of kid. He was really nice, though, if you did talk to him.”

Erasmus said that Lane and some of the victims "used to be friends" but more in middle school and early high school.

“He was one of the nicest kids there…," Erasmus said. "It was really shocking that it was him.”

Erasmus told CNN that he believed T.J. Lane was either a sophomore or junior at the school.

He said that Lane was sitting about a table away from some of the victims.

Erasmus said he heard the victims "were all sitting there and then he just stood up and that’s when it all started."

Meanwhile, he and the other students in a nearby classroom, "turned the lights off and we headed into a corner" after the shooting.

[Updated 12:52 p.m. ET] Witnesses and one of the shooting victims have identified the gunman as T.J. Lane, according to The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

[Updated 12:04 p.m. ET] Police say one student has died from the shootings at Chardon High School this morning. Five students were shot in total, officials said.

[Updated 11:58 a.m. ET] A parent of children who attend Chardon High School says the gunman in today's shooting had specific targets and was not shooting randomly, according to a report from CNN affiliate WJW-TV.

[Updated 11:43 a.m. ET] The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says it has been given one handgun from the Ohio high school shooting scene to do an emergency trace.

The Geauga County sheriff's office is executing searches in the case with the assistance of ATF agents, a law enforcement official said.

[Updated 11:13 a.m. ET] Geauga County Sheriff Daniel McClelland says a K-9 unit tracked the shooting suspect, who was apprehended "some distance from the school," according to a report on CNN affiliate WJW-TV.

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Greenpeace: "Xena" actress arrested after protest on drilling ship
Lucy Lawless aboard the Noble Discoverer last week.
February 27th, 2012
10:22 AM ET

Greenpeace: "Xena" actress arrested after protest on drilling ship

Actress Lucy Lawless, famous for starring in the television show "Xena: Warrior Princess," was arrested along with six other Greenpeace activists early Monday for boarding a drilling ship last week in New Zealand, according to Greenpeace. She and the others who were aboard the ship without permission were released shortly after their arrest, the activist organization said.

CNN.com spoke with Lawless on Friday while she was having a restless night on the Noble Discoverer, a ship leased to Shell Oil. The ship was docked in the Port of Taranaki when the actress and other activists, on behalf of Greenpeace, made it on board to protest drilling in the Arctic.

The group was able to display signs on the Discoverer's 174-foot drilling tower. One sign said "Stop Shell #SaveTheArctic."

Lawless told CNN on Friday that she expected to be arrested for the stunt but that she and the others intended to remain on the ship for as long as possible. She stressed that exchanges between them and authorities had been peaceful.

"We feel very much that what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic anymore," Lawless said. "An oil spill can never be cleaned up because of the remoteness and the freezing temperatures. We risk trashing whole ecosystems and poisoning them from plankton on up. It's absolutely unthinkable."

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Filed under: Environment • New Zealand
February 27th, 2012
10:10 AM ET

Syria says new constitution approved; EU imposes new sanctions

Syria's new draft constitution received overwhelming approval, the nation's interior minister said Monday.

Some 89.4% of voters approved the draft, said Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar, and 57.4% of eligible voters cast ballots.

"We would like to say congratulations to Syria and to the Syrian people, who expressed their legitimate right" to vote, al-Shaar told reporters.

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Filed under: European Union • Syria
February 27th, 2012
10:10 AM ET

Former Spanish judge acquitted of abusing power

Spain's best-known judge was acquitted Monday of improperly investigating human rights abuses under the former dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

However, Judge Baltasar Garzon remains under suspension. He was removed from the bench by Spain's judicial authority last week following his conviction in a second case. The nation's Supreme Court said Garzon improperly ordered wiretaps while investigating a financial corruption case.

Monday's acquittal was on a 6-1 ruling, according to a court spokesman.

Earlier this month, the court dropped a third case against Garzon, saying the statute of limitations had expired on alleged abuse involving some courses he taught at New York University years ago.

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Filed under: Human rights • Spain
February 27th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

Ex-President Saleh to leave Yemen after handover, officials say

After seeing his three-decade rule come to an end, Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, will leave the country for Ethiopia this week, ruling party officials said Monday.

Saleh returned to Yemen just days ago. However, he was under increased pressure to leave, as Yemenis worry his presence will undermine efforts of the new president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi.

Saleh and Hadi appeared at the presidential palace Monday for a former handover of power ceremony amid cautious optimism and ongoing threats of violence in the country.

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Polar bear cub going live to save sea ice
Siku the polar bear, shown in this photo at 89-days-old, will be streaming live online.
February 27th, 2012
08:30 AM ET

Polar bear cub going live to save sea ice

When Siku the polar bear cub was introduced to the public late last year, he quickly became an Internet sensation, with his own Web and Facebook pages. But with fame often comes responsibility, and officials at Denmark's Scandinavian Wildlife Park said Siku would have an important burden to shoulder.

"Siku is going to be an ambassador for polar bears, for global warming," park director Frank Vigh-Larsen said in December.

Siku's official first day on the job was Monday, International Polar Bear Day.

Beginning Monday, the wildlife park, in cooperation with Polar Bears International and explore.org, a philanthropic media organization, will show  a daily live look-in at Siku from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET at explore.org/siku and polarbearcam.com. You can also follow along again on Tuesday at CNN.com/live.

“We’re launching the Siku Cam on International Polar Bear Day, which is a day of action on climate change,” Robert Buchanan, president and CEO of Polar Bears International, said in a press release. “Our goal with the Siku Cam is for people to fall in love with this little cub and become inspired to reduce their carbon footprint to help save arctic sea ice.”

Siku is named after the environment of the polar bear, with siku being the most common word for sea ice in the Inuit language across the Arctic. The bears hunt on the sea ice, and as it disappears, so do opportunities for the bears to eat, the polar bear conservationists say.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that the Arctic ice cover is near record lows, with the January 2012 Arctic ice cover the fourth lowest ever recorded.

"Based on the satellite record, before 2005 average January ice extent had never been lower than 14 million square kilometers (5.41 million square miles). January ice extent has now fallen below that mark six out of the last seven years," the NSIDC website says.

Many scientists blame global warming, fueled by carbon dioxide emissions, for the decline in sea ice. Polar Bears International says two-thirds of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the wild could disappear by the middle of this century if carbon dioxide emissions are not cut.

“Our goal with the Siku Cam is to create awareness and inspire change,” Vigh-Larsen said in a press release. “And we are resolute that his image may only be used to advance those ends.”

Siku's secret to saving ice may be melting hearts. Check out these pictures and try not to smile.

See polar bears in the Canadian wild.

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Filed under: Animals • Bears • Climate change • Environment
February 27th, 2012
07:33 AM ET

Monday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues tomorrow with the Arizona and Michigan primaries.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Romney rally - GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is spending his day in Michigan, starting with a rally in Rockford.  He'll also hold rallies in Albion at 12:45 pm ET and Royal Oak at 6:45 pm ET.

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Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
A 1st for Daytona 500: Rain washes out race for the day
Crew members move a race car down pit lane during a rain delay Sunday at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
February 27th, 2012
04:54 AM ET

A 1st for Daytona 500: Rain washes out race for the day

NASCAR will battle the elements again Monday - a day after rain postponed the Daytona 500 for the first time in its 53-year history.

After hours of intermittent showers Sunday, race officials decided to pull the plug and give it another try on Monday, rescheduling for a 12:01 p.m. ET start.

NASCAR officials will be battling the odds again Monday. The National Weather Service forecast calls for an 80% chance of precipitation along the central Florida coast.

Prior to this year, the Daytona 500 had a sparkling record with only four races out of 53 shortened by rain - in 1965, 1966, 2003 and 2009. None, however, had ever been canceled for the day.

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Filed under: Sports • U.S. • Weather
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