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News Outlets Report On U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Discuss Health-Related Issues Facing Africa

As the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, taking place in Washington, D.C., continues, news outlets report on the summit’s proceedings and discuss health-related issues facing Africa.

The Hill: Attacking ‘a hidden, deadly’ issue
“More than 250,000 women die each year in Africa from maternal complications, constituting 51 percent of the world’s maternal deaths. Preventing maternal and child deaths is one of the top issues for African leaders as they meet with U.S. officials this week to discuss pressing health issues in the continent…” (Hughbanks, 8/6).

The Hill: Reinforcing LGBT rights at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
“This week’s summit in Washington of national leaders from across Africa offers an essential opportunity for the Obama administration to advance one of its stated foreign policy goals: to promote the safety, equality and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. But it also presents a precarious balancing act between incentivizing progress without inducing a backlash that could worsen the situation for LGBT people in their home countries and impede international collaboration on other health, safety and development goals…” (Smith, 8/5).

Washington Post: Africa agricultural initiative gets $7 billion boost from private companies
“A group of African and U.S. firms on Tuesday … announce[d] an additional $7 billion in spending to promote agricultural development in Africa, nearly doubling an Obama administration initiative aimed at mobilizing private money to ease hunger and poverty on the continent. The commitments — which are being made as part of this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and include a $5 billion pledge by ­Coca-Cola to source more of its products from Africa by the end of the decade — highlight how U.S. food aid policy has shifted under President Obama…” (Eilperin, 8/5).

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U.S. 'Working Urgently' To Address Ebola

News outlets discuss U.S. government actions aimed at helping to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Hill: Obama: U.S. ‘working urgently’ to contain Ebola outbreak
“The United States is ‘taking the necessary precautions to protect Americans’ from the spread of Ebola, President Obama pledged… ahead of his appearance at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. The president said the U.S. was ‘working urgently’ with West African nations and global health organizations to treat and contain the outbreak…” (Sink, 8/5).

AllAfrica: West Africa: USAID and CDC Announce Additional Assistance for West Africa Ebola Response
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to West Africa to coordinate the U.S. Government’s response to the Ebola outbreak … The team will comprise [of] staff from the Agency’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, who will be overseeing critical areas of the response, such as planning, operations, logistics in coordination with other federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services. Members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also serve on the DART to lead on public health and medical response activities…” (8/5).

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U.N. Convenes Emergency Meeting on Ebola

U.N. News Centre: Ebola: U.N. health agency to convene emergency meeting on deadly disease
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) announced [yesterday] that it will convene a two-day meeting of its emergency committee starting [today] to determine whether the current Ebola viral disease outbreak in West Africa is a public health emergency of international concern…” (8/5).

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Ebola Death Toll Continues to Increase In West Africa; News Outlets Provide Updates On Outbreak, Response

As the number of Ebola deaths hits 932, news outlets provide updates on the outbreak and response in West Africa.

Associated Press/New York Times: Ebola Death Toll Reaches 932; 1,700 Cases: WHO
“A Nigerian nurse who treated a man with Ebola is now dead and five others are sick with one of the world’s most virulent diseases, authorities said Wednesday as the death toll rose to at least 932 people in four West African countries…” (8/6).

New York Times: Sierra Leone Deploys Troops in Ebola Crisis
“Faced with a widening crisis over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Sierra Leone’s government said Tuesday that it would deploy hundreds of troops and police officers to ensure that patients and family members who may be infected remain isolated…” (Nossiter, 8/5).

Reuters: Lagos has eight suspected Ebola cases, one confirmed: Nigerian health official
“Lagos has eight suspected cases of Ebola, all in people who came into contact with Nigeria’s first victim who died last month, the health commissioner said on Tuesday, with one case confirmed…” (Mayowa, 8/5).

Reuters: Nurse dies in Nigeria’s second Ebola fatality: minister
“A Nigerian nurse infected with the Ebola virus has died, the second confirmed fatality from the disease in Africa’s most populous nation and leading oil producer, the country’s health minister said on Wednesday…” (Cocks, 8/6).

Reuters: Ebola mortality rate expected to rise as outbreak runs its deadly course
“The death rate so far in the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola is not as extreme as recorded in the past, but experts expect it to prove no less virulent in the end, once more victims succumb and the grim data is tallied up…” (Kelland, 8/5).

Reuters: Bodies dumped in streets as West Africa struggles to curb Ebola
“Relatives of Ebola victims in Liberia defied government orders and dumped infected bodies in the streets as West African governments struggled to enforce tough measures to curb an outbreak of the virus…” (MacDougall/Flynn, 8/5).

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Second American With Ebola Arrives In U.S.; Americans Receive Experimental Treatment

News outlets report on the U.S. arrival of the second American infected with Ebola and the experimental treatment received by the Americans with Ebola.

Associated Press/Seattle Times: 2nd American aid worker with Ebola arrives in U.S.
“An American aid worker infected with Ebola arrived Tuesday in Atlanta, joining a second patient being given an experimental treatment that has never before been tested on humans…” (Brumback, 8/6).

The Atlantic: The Recovering Americans and the ‘Top Secret’ Ebola Treatment
“Two U.S. doctors with Ebola have improved after receiving an experimental antibody. … ‘Three top secret, experimental vials stored at subzero temperatures were flown into Liberia last week in a last-ditch effort to save two American missionary workers [Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol] who had contracted Ebola, according to a source familiar with details of the treatment’…”(Hamblin, 8/5).

The Hill: Second American with Ebola back in the U.S.
“Nancy Writebol, the second American to contract Ebola in Liberia, has arrived in the U.S. to be treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. … According to health officials, [the two Americans with Ebola] have both shown signs of improvement, after they were given ZMapp, an experimental drug being developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical with funding from the U.S. government…” (Al-Faruque, 8/5).

Politico: Second American health worker with Ebola arrives in U.S.
“The second American aid worker to be infected with Ebola disease in Liberia returned to the United States Tuesday aboard an ‘air ambulance’ charter plane, and by early afternoon, Nancy Writebol was undergoing treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. There she joined physician Kent Brantly, who was brought back Saturday, in Emory’s special isolation unit…” (Levine, 8/5).

Reuters: Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment
“An American missionary stricken with Ebola in West Africa wore a protective white suit on Tuesday as she was wheeled on a stretcher into the Atlanta hospital where doctors will try to save her and a fellow aid worker from the deadly virus…” (McKay, 8/5).

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Suspected Ebola Case in Saudi Arabia Dies; Health Officials Awaiting Test Results

Reuters: Saudi Arabian man being tested for Ebola virus dies
“A Saudi Arabian man suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus during a recent business trip to Sierra Leone died early on Wednesday in Jeddah, the Health Ministry said. Saudi authorities and international laboratories certified by the World Health Organization are testing samples from the man for Ebola and other diseases after he showed symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever, the ministry said in a statement…” (McDowall, 8/6).

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Ugandan Lawmakers, Religious Leaders Push To Revive Anti-Gay Law

News outlets report on the push from Ugandan lawmakers and religious leaders to re-introduce the anti-gay law that the Ugandan Constitutional court struck down last week.

Associated Press/New York Times: Ugandan Lawmakers in Campaign to Revive Gay Law
“Ugandan parliamentarians are launching a campaign to revive a recently invalidated anti-gay measure and hope to have it passed within weeks, a lawmaker said Wednesday…” (8/6).

Reuters: Ugandan parliament set to re-introduce anti-gay law
“Uganda’s parliament will try to re-introduce an anti-homosexuality law that was thrown out by a court, a lawmaker leading the effort said on Wednesday, a move that could once again damage relations with the West…” (Biryabarema, 8/6).

Washington Post: Ugandan lawmakers promise to revive their anti-gay law, just days after the country’s constitutional court struck it down
“Just days after the country’s constitutional court struck it down, some Ugandan lawmakers and religious leaders are pushing to revive the country’s controversial law that criminalized homosexuality with a maximum sentence of life in prison…” (Ohlheiser, 8/5).

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U.N. Reports On Impact Of Gaza Conflict On Children

New York Times: U.N. Reports Dire Impact on Children in Gaza Strip
“As a 72-hour cease-fire took hold in the Gaza Strip, a United Nations official said Tuesday that Israel’s nearly month-long offensive against Hamas, the militant Islamist organization that runs Gaza, had had a ‘catastrophic and tragic impact’ on children in the territory and that reconstruction would require many hundreds of millions of dollars…” (Cumming-Bruce, 8/5).

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Syrians In Besieged Areas Receive Food Aid, Says U.N. Agency

U.N. News Centre: Tens of thousands of besieged Syrians receive food aid for first time, U.N. reports
“More people in besieged and difficult-to-reach areas of Syria are getting food due to a Security Council resolution approved last month that allows delivery trucks to more easily cross borders and conflict lines, the United Nations emergency food agency today confirmed…” (8/5).

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Rains, Insecurity Aggravate Cholera Outbreak In Cameroon

IRIN: Cholera surges in Cameroon
“Rains and insecurity caused by Nigerian Islamist militants are aggravating a cholera outbreak in northern Cameroon which has killed at least 75 people and infected some 1,400 others since April. Water scarcity, poor public health care, and risky hygienic practices have rekindled the disease which badly hit the country between 2009 and 2011, experts say…” (8/6).

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Drug-Resistant Malaria Found Throughout Southeast Asia

NPR: Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads Across Southeast Asia
“Back in 2008, doctors in Cambodia made a worrisome discovery. They were having a hard time curing some people of malaria. … Malaria had evolved resistance to the last medicine we have against it, a drug called artemisinin. … A study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that artemisinin-resistant malaria is common throughout mainland Southeast Asia…” (Doucleff, 8/5).

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USAID Launches Project To Tackle HIV In Vietnam

Xinhua News/Global Post: USAID helps Vietnam tackle HIV infections
“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a two-year project to improve community response to HIV in Vietnam’s southern Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho City and An Giang province, local Thanh Nien (Youth) reported Tuesday…” (8/5).

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USAID Program In Cuba Could Undermine Agency's Global Health Efforts, News Outlets Say

Associated Press: U.S. sent Latin youth undercover in anti-Cuba ploy
“… Over at least two years, the U.S. Agency for International Development — best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid — sent nearly a dozen neophytes from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru to gin up opposition in Cuba. … According to internal documents obtained by the AP and interviews in six countries, USAID’s young operatives posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world…” (Butler/Gillum/Arce/Rodriguez, 8/4).

International Business Times: How USAID Cuba Revelations May Threaten Global Health Programs
“… The Associated Press revealed this week a U.S. International Development Agency-funded operation to spur antigovernment activism among Cubans, this time through an HIV-prevention program. U.S. lawmakers and health advocates are lambasting USAID’s use of a health program for political ends, saying it puts the U.S.’s other global health and development programs at risk…” (Lee, 8/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces, Editorial Discuss U.S. Approach To Ebola, African Aid

Opinion pieces and an editorial discuss the U.S. government’s approach to fighting Ebola and sending aid to Africa.

Washington Post: Why Ebola worries the Defense Department
Rick Noack, Arthur F. Burns Fellow at the Washington Post

“While the public discourse on Ebola has so far been fixated on the public health hazard caused by the disease itself, it may also have awoken an older fear for anti-terror agencies: Could a lethal disease actually be used as a bio-weapon? … The potential terror risk posed by Ebola does not only add a new dimension to the African outbreak, but it may also speed up efforts to find an effective treatment…” (8/5).

Washington Post: The real Ebola risk is to Africa, not the United States
“… The Ebola virus, while deadly, is most likely not coming to the United States. … With a well-developed public health infrastructure, the virus is not likely to become a contagion in the United States. … The outbreak in West Africa is severe, the largest recorded to date and the first in that part of the continent, and it is important to examine the reasons for it. … The Ebola virus can be stopped, but instead of hysteria, it needs a serious commitment of people and resources” (8/5).

Reuters: Violence or vaccines: Which way will U.S. choose in Africa?
Michael Shank, associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and adjunct professor at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

“U.S. military and police aid to all Africa this year totaled nearly $1.8 billion, with additional arms sales surpassing $800 million. In terms of ensuring Africa’s safety and security, however, the return on this investment is questionable. What if, for example, that money was instead spent eradicating pervasive viruses that are undermining Africa’s future? … The real terror on the continent remains the elusiveness of a sustainable, grass-roots development agenda that is genuinely inclusive. That should be Washington’s focus. It’s time to stop looking at Africa through the barrel of a gun” (8/6).

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Opinion Pieces Address Issues Around Ebola Vaccine Development

Opinion pieces discuss challenges and issues around developing an Ebola vaccine.

The Atlantic: An Ebola Vaccine Is Not the Answer
Olga Khazan, staff writer for the Atlantic

“… [E]ven if a vaccine [for Ebola] works, it would be a stretch to say we could confidently use it to prevent another Ebola outbreak, like we did with smallpox or (largely) with polio … [The development of an Ebola vaccine] could prove essential in the event of a bioterrorism attack … or if the vaccine was also effective as a treatment. But it might not be our best hope for stopping this and future outbreaks. Instead, we want a treatment…” (8/5).

Scientific American: Ebola and Priorities in Drug Development
Judy Stone, infectious disease specialist

“News is rapidly changing regarding Ebola. Even as I’ve been writing this post, we’ve gone from ‘There is no treatment except supportive care’ to NIH’s Dr. [Anthony] Fauci saying a potential vaccine ‘could be given to health workers in affected African countries sometime in 2015.’ This optimistic projection was a surprise to me, as normally it takes years to develop and bring a drug or vaccine through all phases of clinical treatment. … While identifying effective treatment for Ebola is important, we should not forget the many multi-drug resistant infections that do not have treatments as well, and the frighteningly high and increasing toll MDR infections have both in the U.S. and globally. The lack of attention focused on antibiotic development is very disturbing…” (8/5).

Wall Street Journal: Experimental Medicine in a Time of Ebola
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, David Heymann, head and senior fellow of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, and Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

“…Experimental treatments aren’t a substitute for standard infection-control measures. Past Ebola outbreaks have demonstrated which containment approaches are effective: hospital-infection control, self-protection of health workers, community education about how to avoid infection, and placing those exposed under fever surveillance and isolation for a full 21 days. These measures, however, have failed to stop the West African outbreak, because of profound distrust in authorities and health services, strong traditional beliefs concerning disease causation and funeral practices, and, until recently, a lack of leadership. Populations have grown, people travel more, and there are more people living in major cities — all of which complicate the containment of Ebola and other highly infective diseases and multiply the risks of catastrophic outcomes. These dire circumstances call for a more robust international response” (8/5).

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U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Should Address Sustainable Financing For HIV/AIDS Programs

The Hill: We can end AIDS in Africa and the world
Taufiqur Rahman, head of operations for UNITAID

“Africa leaders are convened in Washington this week to discuss Africa priorities with President Obama and U.S. institutions. U.S. support for HIV/AIDS programs will be an important topic of discussion. Africa’s economic development can accelerate if Africa can have sustainable financing for its HIV/AIDS programs and stop this epidemic. … African leaders must be prepared to discuss transition and sustainable financing for HIV/AIDS programs. A commitment to shared responsibility and national financing is what is needed from all” (8/5).

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Post-2015 Framework Should Address Economic Inequality, Gender Equality, Climate Change

Devex: The solutions to tackle global challenges are within our grasp
Winnie Byanyima, executive director at Oxfam International

“We can be proud of progress made since 198 world leaders signed up to the Millennium Development Goals. In the 14 years since the goals were launched, we have seen the fastest reduction in poverty in human history. … However, there is a lot of work ahead: 1.2 billion people remain in extreme poverty, and the challenges of climate change and inequality are threatening to undo the significant progress that has been made. … [T]he future framework for global development should include goals dedicated to eradicating extreme economic inequality, achieving gender equality and addressing climate change. We are at a unique moment in history. The eradication of poverty is within our reach, as is a more sustainable and equitable world…” (8/5).

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Improving Maternal Health Part Of 'Unfinished Business' Of MDGs

Devex: Protecting the health of mothers when they need it most
Andris Piebalgs, E.U. commissioner for development

“… Improving maternal health is among the most challenging of the Millennium Development Goals and overall progress on reducing maternal mortality is slow. … Soon, the U.N. process will enter into intergovernmental negotiations. The E.U. and its member states are ready to continue to play a constructive and influential role in this, to make sure that we adopt an ambitious post-2015 development agenda in September 2015, negotiated in close dialogue with our international partners. Maternal health, which is part of the unfinished business of the MDGs, has an important place in this future agenda. Making sure that everybody can live in health will require equitable, universal, and quality health services that people can afford” (8/6).

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Ending FGM, Child Marriage Depends On Increased Momentum, Support

Huffington Post: Building a Brighter Future for Girls Everywhere
Patrick Davies, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Washington

“…We know that this campaign [to end female genital mutilation and child marriage] can’t be driven by government action alone. I firmly believe we can all play a part in ending FGM and child marriage. In the last few weeks alone thousands of people from around the world have signed a pledge calling for action to be taken to end FGM and child marriage. This includes actors, pop stars, newsreaders, religious leaders, and politicians. For everyone who feels strongly about these issues, we need your voice to keep up the pressure for change. You can also pledge your support and help us build the momentum. Too many girls around the world reach adolescence and find their future is already mapped out. They never have a chance to finish school or get a job, or an opportunity to travel and experience life. It’s time to give these girls the chance to write their own future” (8/4).

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Achieving Food, Nutrition Security In Africa Should Be Shared Goal For U.S.

The Hill: Africa: Game changer for global food security
Pedro Sanchez, director of the Agriculture and Food Security Center at Columbia University’s Earth Institute

“…Without question, the African continent has suffered its share of uphill battles when it comes to food and nutrition security. … Thankfully, the continent is finally reaching its tipping point. … With better policies, new innovations, best practices, and greater investment, African farmers are demonstrating their potential to bring about another Green Revolution. … Africa can become the model for the local tools, solutions, and practices needed to increase agricultural productivity and enhance the nutrition of crops and food around the world. But, realizing Africa’s agricultural potential will require continued investment from both domestic and international sources. … As over forty leaders convene in Washington, D.C. for the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, I urge continued focus on each of these challenges to catalyze agricultural development across the continent. Achieving Africa’s food and nutrition security should be a goal shared by all of us. After all, while the promise of a food and nutrition secure world may not have begun in Africa — Africa will be critical to achieving our success” (8/5).

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'Political Opportunism' Hurt Polio Fight In Pakistan

Foreign Policy: Loose Lips at the White House Created a Polio Crisis
Kristofer Harrison

“…Pakistan was well on its way to eradicating polio until the Taliban learned how the CIA operated. … The administration’s shameless leaking literally created a public health crisis. The fight against polio has gone on for decades and cost billions of dollars. It is a worthy goal and attainable. Yet it’s a fight that would have been met with a little more success had there been a little more discretion and less political opportunism from President Obama” (8/5).

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Recent Releases

Response To Ebola Outbreak Illustrates Challenges To Confronting Global Health Threats

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Ebola outbreaks, response … We’re reading about new and persistent challenges to confronting global health threats
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses the Ebola outbreak in Africa and how response to the crisis illustrates challenges to confronting global health threats (8/5).

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U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Highlights Food Security, Resilience, Demographics

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Africa’s Trifecta: Food Security, Resilience, and Demographics at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
Roger-Mark De Souza, director of population, environmental security, and resilience at the Wilson Center, discusses highlights from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, including the announcements of new partnerships, population and gender dynamics, chronic disasters, and collaboration (8/5).

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Gates Blog Discusses Importance Of Breastfeeding

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: 5 Reasons Why Breastfeeding Matters
In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week, which takes place August 1-7, Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, discusses five reasons why breastfeeding is important for health (7/29).

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Report Calls For Action To Tackle Childhood Malnutrition

Institute of Development Studies: Report calls for strong public action to fight child and maternal undernutrition
“A report launched [Monday] by the Institute of Development Studies and UNICEF calls for effective public action to tackle childhood stunting” (8/5).

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special notice

On Thursday, August 7, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will hold a briefing to assess the major outcomes of the 2014 International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), held from July 20-25 in Melbourne, Australia. The discussion will touch on the latest scientific developments; the current funding climate for the AIDS response; the impact of anti-LGBT laws on efforts to address HIV/AIDS around the world; and other major contributions to the field emerging from the conference. Learn more about the event here.

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