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WHO Provides Ebola Update, Notes More Than 200 New Cases in West Africa


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The World Health Organization provided another update on the spread of the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak on Wednesday, noting 221 new cases and 106 additional deaths between Aug. 17 and Aug. 18.

In total the WHO says, there have been 2,473 cases of Ebola reported. The disease has killed 1,350 people thus far in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Of the new cases, they remain contained to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with Liberia seeing the most new cases. Between Aug. 17 and 18, there were an additional 126 cases and 95 deaths reported in Liberia.

About 1,460 cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the four countries, and 805 deaths confirmed related to the Ebola virus. The WHO also tallies "probable" and "suspected" cases of Ebola.

Also on Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health said that a possible Ebola patient in Sacramento is being considered a low-risk case, though blood samples were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of an abundance of caution.

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ALS Association Says Ice Bucket Challenge Helped Raise Largest Day of Donations Ever


Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association said on Wednesday that donations from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continue to flow in at a rapid pace, with over $31 million in donations in the last three weeks.

Since July 29, the ALS Association said that is has received charitable donations from 637,527 new donors. The donation total, which has reached approximately $31.5 million is far higher than the $1.9 million in donations received during the same time period last year.

The ALS Association, founded in 1985, said that it has its largest day of donations ever on Tuesday, taking in $8.6 million in donations.

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Guru Who Made Yoga Popular in US Dies, Influence Flows On


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  As news spread of yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar's death on Wednesday, disciples were quick to respond to the news via social media and other outlets with remembrances, gratitude and sorrow.

"As we mourn the passing of our great teacher B.K.S. Iyengar, we are filled with a sense of wonder and joy that one man could have touched so many lives for the better," the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the U.S. (IYNAUS) told ABC News in a statement. "Yesterday, Senior Iyengar teacher Manouso Manos told his students that he had once asked Mr. Iyengar about death and Iyengar replied that he did not know how he would die, but he knew that he would have given more to the world than he took from it. We are deeply moved by his example."

Iyengar, who died at age 95 in Pune, India, introduced his eponymous practice to the West when he first arrived in the United States in 1956. He continued at the center of the movement as yoga gained momentum here during the 1970s.

Students of Iyengar have ranged from novelist Aldous Huxley to Yoga Journal magazine co-founder Judith Lasater to pop star Madonna to domestic doyenne Martha Stewart, as well as myriad yoga instructors.

Iyengar classes are taught not only at official Institutes around the country but at chains, such as Yogaworks and Pure Yoga, as well as independent studios.

"I think it's impossible to underestimate his impact on the practice and the whole modern view of yoga," said Zubin Shroff, director of Piedmont Yoga in California, whose family studied with Iyengar. "He put an undeniable importance on the alignment approach and it is fundamental to any safe practice of yoga."

Iyengar is also credited for introducing the use of props, such as belts, blankets, benches, ropes and weights to yoga practice for accessibility.

"He had a particular talent for aiding people with different kinds of health problems, and there have been numerous medical studies of the effects of yoga based on his work," said IYNAUS Board of Directors President Janet Lilly.

Iyengar's legacy will continue to be upheld by his daughter Geeta and his son Prashant, both directors of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, stated representatives for the Institute. All over the world Iyengar Yoga centers will be sponsoring practice sessions in his memory in the coming days.

While the guri-ji, as he was honorably referred to, was known for inclusiveness, he also encouraged students to look past the material trappings of their practice.

"Students new to yoga might at first only be concerned with the physical performance of the asanas," said Lilly. "With time and practice they may come to agree with Mr. Iyengar’s statement from his 2005 publication, Light on Life:

“The yogic journey guides us from our periphery, the body, to the center of our being, the soul.”

Meanwhile, Shroff posited that Iyenger's transition may also open a door in the West for American yoga teachers to step forward as leaders in a more level playing field.

"We like to look from the West at teachers in India traditionally but [Iyengar] was a very creative, radical thinker," said Shroff. "And I think it's an exciting time for yoga in America when we're going to see some changes again."

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Surrogate Mom 'Felt Like Someone that Sold My Child'


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Tanya Prashad thought she was the perfect candidate for surrogacy. Having given birth to healthy children of her own, the 33-year-old wanted to give others the same joy she had known, and decided to be a surrogate for a same-sex couple.

“Hundred percent motivated just to help another couple,” Prashad said. “As far as compensation was concerned it really was just enough to cover health insurance, life insurance, missed work, that was it.”

Although she had signed away her legal rights to be a parent, Prashad, an accountant who lives in the Minneapolis area, used her own egg and said she had worked out a deal with the couple allowing her to still be involved in the child’s life.

“I chose to have the baby with a gay couple because there’s not another mom,” she said. “The plan was for me to still act within the capacity as her mom.”

Prashad gave birth to a baby girl, but immediately after, she said she felt she had made a mistake serving as a surrogate.

“When she was right there in my arms, all those little pieces of paper that we signed kind of just fell away,” she said. “I never for a second thought about what was right for her and what she deserved.”

Prashad eventually had to fight to have a continued relationship with the daughter she gave birth to.

“We ended up in court,” she said. “We actually didn’t fight it out in court. We agreed on a joint custody order together.”

Her daughter is now 10 years old, but Prashad said she is still haunted by her decision.

“I felt like someone that sold my child,” she said.

For thousands of parents unable to conceive, surrogacy has been a viable option to still have biological children. But some are speaking out against surrogacy, claiming that there are risks involved and breaking that mother-newborn bond can have consequences.

Jennifer Lahl is one such woman, and she is on a mission to ban surrogacy in the United States.

Lahl, a mother of three and a former neo-natal nurse, is the filmmaker behind the critical documentaries, Eggsploitation, about egg donation, and Anonymous Father’s Day, on sperm donation. Her new film, Breeders: A Subclass of Women? features women who have deep regrets about being surrogates. Prashad shared her story with ABC News' Nightline at a recent Breeders screening.

Through Breeders, Lahl accuses the multi-billion-dollar global industry of concealing the health risks for prospective surrogates and equates it to selling organs.

“If you want to be a kidney donor, we say that's wonderful, but you are not allowed to be paid… because what happens when commerce enters in is people will make decisions that are not in their best interest for their health,” Lahl said. “Women are not breeders. Children are not products and commodities. Women are not easy-bake ovens baking cupcakes for nice, other people.”

Lahl is also the president of the conservative-leaning Center for Bioethics and Culture. Though she holds a masters’ degree in bioethics from a well-known evangelical university and books speaking tours with conservative groups, Lahl said her personal religious beliefs do not inform her position on surrogacy.

“I tell people all the time, I’m against surrogacy, I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, single,” she said.

But Lahl’s anti-surrogacy position is controversial, especially since children born through gestational surrogacy, meaning the child’s parents’ egg and sperm are inserted into a surrogate’s womb through in-vitro, is on the rise. Children born through gestational surrogacy increased 150 percent from 2004 to 2012, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

“I’ve been threatened, I’ve been told I should have a bullet put to my head,” Lahl said. “The industry hates me because I’m not good for the bottom line and I might hurt business.”

In recent years, surrogacy has had some high-profile attention, from Nicole Kidman to Sarah Jessica Parker and Ricky Martin, all using the method to expand their families.

Traci Woolard, who gave birth to a child for a couple that wasn’t able to conceive on their own, has been protesting Lahl’s Breeders screening and publicly defends her right to be a surrogate mother.

“I have successfully carried for two families, delivering four babies, to help complete their families,” she said. “It is something that I can give back, and something that I can help another family achieve.”

But Lahl believes surrogacy is wrong, and says fracturing the bond between birth mother and newborn “can have significant damage, short and long term.”

“Just because somebody can’t have a child doesn’t mean that I have to say by all means, any way you can get a child is fine,” she said. “There’s a long step between I can’t have a child, and what are the ethical ways to fulfilling that need to getting a child.”

ABC News senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton says that there are many ways for someone to be a parent, not just through giving birth to a child.

"I think one of the most important things for people to remember when they talk about unconventional ways to become parents today, is that a lot more goes into being a parent than biology," she said. "It's very important to remember that. People can get very, very emotional when they talk about these types of issues. The medical ones are straight forward, the social ones get a little trickier."

British researchers at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge recently released a study that followed surrogacy children from infancy to adolescence and found these children were very well-adjusted and had good relationships with their parents. However, surrogacy children showed slightly higher levels of psychological problems at age 7 in comparison with a group of non-surrogate children. The researchers found this difference usually disappeared by age 10.

However, Ashton cautions that more research is needed.

“They’re very small studies. They are very limited in number and any differences tend to disappear or resolve themselves by early adolescence or late childhood so I think we have to be careful in interpreting this data and literally not throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak,” Ashton said.

The Cambridge researchers believe the raised levels of psychological problems for surrogate children happen at age 7 because that’s when they gain a better understanding of how they were born, and they have questions.

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Fake Smartphone Designed to Comfort Technology Addicts


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's a low tech way for smartphone addicts who suffer from nomophobia -- the fear of being without their mobile devices -- to cope with being away from their beloved electronics.

Introducing the noPhone.

The brainchild of a group of Dutch creatives, the noPhone is designed to ease owners' separation anxiety from their devices.

Everyone knows someone who texts at dinner, in a movie, sleeps with their phone next to their pillow and basically won't let it out of their grip until its pried from their cold, dead hands.

The noPhone looks like a smartphone and feels like a smartphone, but that's where similarities end, Ingmar Larsen, one of the designers of the project, told ABC News.

"What inspired us is the fact that a lot of people around us nowadays are focused on their mobile devices and not on the social environment anymore," he said. "We wanted to make people aware of their addiction by creating a product that can be used for their addiction. It works as a placebo."

Larsen said the group is still figuring out "the possibilities" for manufacturing and selling the noPhone and said it's something they hope to do in the future.

"It’s easy to take it and to play with it," Larsen said. "It helps [people who use it] to stay calm."

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Are Athletes More Likely to Be Diagnosed with ALS?


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just one year ago, Tim Shaw was playing football with the Tennessee Titans. Now, he’s battling ALS, the fatal neurodegenerative disease at the center of the viral ice bucket challenge.

Shaw, 30, revealed his diagnosis in a video posted Tuesday to the Titans website.

“I'm here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease,” he said before dumping a Gatorade bucket full of ice water over his head. He then challenged the Titans organization, the Penn State football team and coach James Franklin, and his community in Clarenceville, Michigan, to follow suit.

Shaw is the latest NFL player to be diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, joining former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance and former Philadelphia Eagles fullback Kevin Turner, to name a few.

ALS is considered a rare disease, affecting an estimated two in every 100,000 Americans each year, according to the ALS Association. But some studies suggest football players have a higher risk, with one 2012 report finding NFLers were four times more likely to die from the disease. Some evidence points to a higher risk among soccer players, too.

“It remains unclear whether exercise is indeed a risk factor and what types of exercise may be of concern,” the ALS Association’s website reads, noting that “pesticides or some other chemical encountered on maintained playing fields” might also be involved. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE -- a neurodegenerative disorder linked to concussions -- also shares symptoms with ALS.

Pete Frates, the 29-year-old behind the ice bucket challenge, played baseball, like Lou Gehrig himself.

"The concept that this disease could be over-represented among athletes has been in the medical literature for a long time, and no one underscores that concept more than Lou Gehrig," Dr. Robert Brown, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and president of the ALS Therapy Alliance said in a 2012 story about Frates’ diagnosis. "But the interesting question is: Does athleticism set the stage for motor neuron degeneration, or does that same property that makes a person a great athlete also make them susceptible to the disease?"

Most people with ALS are diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 70, according to the ALS Association, and only 25 percent of them are alive five years later.

Brown said the “sense of tragedy looms even larger” for people diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, like Frates and Shaw.

"The irony is that at a time when their muscles are wasting away, we see extraordinary courage and motivation, and what can only be called strength,” he said.

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US Hospitals Have Had 68 Ebola Scares, CDC Says


iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- American hospitals and state labs have handled at least 68 Ebola scares over the last three weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitals in 27 states alerted the CDC of the possible Ebola cases out of an abundance of caution amid the growing outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Fifty-eight cases were deemed false alarms after CDC officials spoke with medical professions about patient exposures and symptoms, but blood samples for the remaining 10 were sent to the CDC for testing, the agency told ABC News Wednesday.

Seven of the samples tested negative for the virus and results for the remaining three are pending, the agency said.

Once a hospital or state lab notifies the CDC of a possible Ebola case based on travel history and symptoms, CDC officials talk to someone familiar with the suspected patient’s history to determine whether blood testing for the virus is necessary, said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. They discuss symptoms and determine whether the patient may have been exposed to the virus. Exposure can happen if the patient is a health care worker, has buried someone with Ebola, has lived in a house with someone who had Ebola or has lived in a place where Ebola is spreading.

“If somebody had traveled to Guinea and came back and had a fever and has never been to a place where Ebola is transmitted, there’s no reason to suspect there’s Ebola just because Ebola is circulating in Guinea,” Nordlund said, explaining that the CDC takes suspected cases seriously but has to narrow them down.

The latest scare to make headlines involves a patient at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Sacramento who "may have been exposed to the Ebola virus," the hospital said in a statement. The patient has been isolated in a negative pressure room while awaiting blood test results from the CDC.

Earlier this week, a 30-year-old woman arrived at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque with a fever, sore throat, headache and muscle aches after returning from Sierra Leone, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Health. She is currently in isolation and awaiting test results from the CDC, according to the department.

Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland and an undisclosed hospital in Ohio have also tested patients for Ebola over the past several weeks.

The CDC has urged health care providers to ask patients about their travel history to help identify potential Ebola cases.

The death toll of the outbreak stands at 1,350, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. At least 2,473 people have been infected since March 2014.

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Athlete Who Raced While Pregnant Gives Birth to Baby Girl


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The athlete who made headlines for running an 800-meter race later in her pregnancy has given birth to a healthy baby girl.

Alycia Montaño, 28, gave birth Friday to Linnéa Dori Montaño, her first child with husband Louis Montaño.

In an interview with ABC News on Tuesday, the California resident said she felt great.

“I mean, I had the birth that I wanted…my natural birth, no meds at all,” she said, adding that believed she achieved her goal of remaining “mentally intact, physically intact.”

Her goal is to now ease back into her regular fitness routine. In two weeks she’ll start doing daily 20- to 30- minute runs and progress gradually from there, she said.

Since being released from the hospital 12 hours after the delivery, she has been going on leisurely daily walks of about a mile, she said, adding that she isn’t overdoing things.

Many questioned her decision to run the 800-meter race at the US Track and Field Championships in June. The five-time national champion came last in that race.

She told ABC News that she was surprised by the reaction to her participation in that event.

“That’s what I do for a living -- and it was so mild compared to what I normally do,” she said. “It was just kind of a stroll for me...”

She said she checked with her doctors and was told it wouldn’t be a problem, adding that it was important for her mentally and physically.

In fact, she remained physically active right up until the day she gave birth. “Well the day I delivered, the day I went into labor I ran five miles,” she said.

She labored for about eight hours before delivering the baby.

Montaño noted that she went into her pregnancy and labor without fear because of her husband’s support. She called him the unsung hero.

“He was such an amazing birthing partner. We labored together in the house and he was just a rock the entire time. You know like, nobody’s perfect but he was perfect on that day. He was perfect,” she said.

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Schoolkids Need to Be Extra Cautious in September


iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The end of summer means the start of school, and September is when most younger children head back to class. While it’s an exciting time, Safe Kids Worldwide reports it’s also the month that the most children are struck by automobiles, largely because of distractions.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center experts recommend a variety of precautions that parents can undertake to help ensure their youngsters’ safety.

First and foremost, children need to be taught to make eye contact with motorists before stepping off the curb, while also turning off all digital devices. If the kids have cellphones, they should only use them in an area away from traffic.

Another important reminder for parents whose children might be old enough to walk to school themselves is to go over a safe route that has crossing guards at every intersection. Even then, children should also be versed on all pedestrian safety rules.

Motorists are cautioned as well to slow down before reaching all stop signs, crosswalks and intersections, while remembering that cars stopping inside crosswalks may force kids into danger zones.

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Healthier Hearts Found in Tight-Knit Neighborhoods


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve lived in a neighborhood for a while, chances are that you take your neighbors for granted. Well, you shouldn’t, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, because the folks from your community may be helping your heart health.

Researchers surveyed more than 5,000 volunteers in the U.S. who reported no health problems, asking them a variety of questions over four years about their relationships with their neighbors.

During that time period, 148 people reported suffering a heart attack. Using the information collected from the survey, the researchers determined that those participants who reported positive experiences with neighbors were 17 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who didn’t feel as friendly or trusting of others.

The study seems to dispel other findings that have shown people put their health at risk by living in neighborhoods where there is a preponderance of fast food restaurants, violence, drug use and noise.

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Certain Seniors Advised Against Cancer Screenings


TongRo Images/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- Cancer screenings can help people detect early signs of the disease or put their minds at ease if no trace of cancer is found.

However, Dr. Ronald Chen, a radiation oncologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says in a new study that too often elderly patients are screened for certain cancers that are of little consequence to them if they are only expected to live up to ten more years.

In particular, the aged are tested for prostate, breast, cervical and colon cancer, which are certainly serious but not so much as a person nears the end of life.

Chen and other cancer experts say quality of life may be adversely affected through biopsies and treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

According to Chen, both patients and physicians may have to be educated about the pros and cons of cancer screening.

Dr. Cary Gross, who wrote an accompanying editorial to Chen’s study, contends, “People should ask about their probability of dying from cancer if they are screened, compared to if they are not screened. Also, they should ask about which type of test is best for them, and why the doctor recommends it.”

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Report: Big Drop in Teen Pregnancy Rate


Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Teen pregnancies continue to drop, with the latest figures from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showing that the teen pregnancy rate is less than half of what it was in 1991.

In 2013, the NCHS says that there were just 26.6 births per 1,000 teens, 9.5 percent lower than the 2013 figure. That drop-off is the second-largest one-year dip in teen pregnancies since 1945.

The National Vital Statistics Report released recently indicated that teen pregnancies are lowest in the Northeast and highest in the South.

Still, however, the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. continues to outpace that of other developed nations. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the latest data indicates just 21.8 births per 1,000 teens.

The NCHS warns that teen pregnancies bring heightened risk of low birth-weight and premature birth, which are linked to a number of health complications."

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California Patient Being Tested for Ebola


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A patient in California is being tested for Ebola on Tuesday.

According to a statement from Dr. Stephen Parodi, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Director of Hospital Operations at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, the patient, "may have been exposed to the Ebola virus."

The statement does not provide any identifying information about the patient, their recent travels or their symptoms.

The hospital says it is acting cautiously to protect its other patients and its staff, even though the patient has not been confirmed to have Ebola. The patient is reportedly being isolated in a specially-equipped negative pressure room, and hospital staff in contact with the patient are using personal protective equipment.

Doctors and infectious disease experts at the hospital are also working with local and state public health agencies to monitor the latest developments and share information on the case.

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Study: Couples Who Wait Longer to Have Sex, Live Together, More Likely to Report Higher Marriage Quality


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Virginia finds that survey subjects who waited longer to have sex with their significant other were more likely to have a higher quality marriage.

The study, conducted as part of the National Marriage Project, found that nearly one-third of respondents said that their relationship with their eventual spouse began as "a hook-up." The researchers did not define "hooking up," rather, allowing the respondents to do so themselves. However, those respondents who said their relationship began as a "hook-up" were less likely to have a higher quality marriage. Of those who said their relationship began that way, only 36 percent ranked in the top 40 percent of overall respondents for marriage quality. Forty-two percent of those who said their relationship did not begin as a hook-up placed in the top 40 percent of marriage quality.

Researchers also said that the longer into their relationship that couples waited to have sex, the more likely they were to see higher levels of marital quality.

A larger gap in marriage quality, however, was seen when looking at responses to whether or not respondents and their spouse had lived together before making the commitment to get married. According to the research, just 31 percent of those who cohabited before having plans to marry ranked in the top 40 percent of overall marriage quality. However, 43 percent of respondents who had waited until after making plans to marry one another ranked in that same upper class of marriage quality.

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Brita Recalls Children's Water Bottles Due to Safety Concerns


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Consumers are being urged to stop using Brita hard-sided water filter bottles for children after the Consumer Product Safety Commission said that the lid can break into pieces with sharp points.

According to the CPSC, about 242,500 of the bottles have been recalled, including four different styles. Among the recalled products are versions featuring Dora the Explorer on a violet bottle, Hello Kitty on a pink bottle, SpongeBob Square Pants on a blue bottle and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on a green bottle.

Brita has reportedly received at least 35 reports of the lids breaking or cracking, which poses a threat to children drinking from the bottle. No injuries have been reported, however.

Consumers are asked to stop using the bottles and contact Brita to receive a pre-paid shipping package to return the bottle. Customers will receive a full refund.

The bottles were sold at a number of retailers, including Target and Walmart stores and online on Amazon.com between June 2013 and July 2014.

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