Stephen Donnelly was back in the Dáil this week following his trip to Dubai with Civil Service starlet Robert Watt, who is worth every penny of his ever-expanding salary (€294,920 and counting) to grateful Opposition TDs looking to embarrass the Government.
When the Minister for Health and his secretary general were away doing important “economic leverage” stuff at a medical expo in the UAE, TDs back in the House complained about having to deal with Ministers of State yet again instead of the main man.
Among those objecting was Catherine Connolly, who said the Minister’s absence was not only “entirely unacceptable” but that the junior ministers in his department (Mary Butler, Frank Feighan and Anne Rabbitte) appeared to be “totally overworked”.
However on Wednesday, Butler was able to confirm to Michael McNamara that Donnelly had returned.
“That’s good to know,” said McNamara, unconvincingly.
“The audacity of Mr Watt and indeed the Minister to go out to Abu Dhabi or wherever looking at best practice out there. In this time of Covid, look, that speaks for itself about how out of touch they are,” fulminated Mattie McGrath.
And indeed, Stephen D was back in Dublin and no doubt feeling chipper after a week immersed in the Expo’s health and wellness week. Happy days. Not out of the woods yet but the Covid restrictions have been lifted.
Maybe now the Minister might be able to relax just a little in the Department of Health’s modern headquarters on Miesian Plaza on Baggot Street? It’s been crazy since he took over the job.
But wait. What’s this?
On Wednesday, an internal email went out to all staff headed “Shower Facilities Legionnaires Detection – Miesian Plaza”. It said that following consultation with the landlord and the OPW, scheduled testing of facilities on the lower ground floor “has detected the presence of Legionnaires bacteria in the shower areas”.
As a result, the shower facilities will remain closed to staff until all required measures have been completed “all the way back to the storage tanks”. A decision will be taken to reopen following further tests and corporate services will ensure staff are kept informed of progress.
“All other facilities, including drinking water remain unaffected.”
Legionnaires disease. You couldn’t make it up.
Yes sir, I can boogie
A flurry of activity between representatives of the Irish media and a senior embassy official narrowly averted a disco inferno between Ireland and Russia this week. Emails flew during a tense 25-minute exchange after Russia’s ambassador to Ireland, Yuriy Filatov, unleashed Earth, Wind and Fire on a Government-commissioned report for attempting to portray his country as a bogeyman and a threat to Irish security.
4.24pm: Dublin-based press attache Nikita Isakin sends media outlets a short comment by the ambassador on the recently published report of the Commission on the Defence Forces. It includes the passage: “While the subject of the report is clearly an internal matter for Ireland, one cannot but note an attempt by the commission to substantiate its conclusions with a notion of a threat, allegedly posed by Russia to the security of Ireland. Any unbiased observer would be hard put to find any evidence of such a ‘threat’. Attempts to portray Russia as a boogie are misplaced and regrettable.”
4.38pm: Simon Carswell, Public Affairs Editor of The Irish Times, boogies on up with a rapid response to Nikita seeking clarification for himself and his colleagues on the sentence “attempts to portray Russia as a boogie are misplaced and regrettable.” Carswell, wearing his polyester zip-up bell-bottomed jumpsuit, wonders: “In your statement, does the Ambassador mean “bogeyman” rather than “boogie”, which is a style of blues played on the piano with a strong, fast beat or a type of dance to pop or rock music?”
4.45pm: Neil Michael of the Irish Examiner boogies on down in his sequined platforms. “Hi – we’ve gone with boogeyman. Is that OK there Nikita?” he emails, explaining he is interpreting the boogie reference as the ambassador to Ireland saying Russia is not the “boogeyman” as portrayed by “biased” people. “That is what you meant isn’t it?”
4.49pm: Nikita hits the floor again. He remains firmly of the view that You Can’t Stop the Boogie. Which, of course, everyone knows is true. You can’t. The Russian attache doubles down on the boogie writing: “I believe (and am sure) that in this case this is a short version of the word boogieman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogeyman), i.e. “scarecrow”. Best regards”
So there you have it. A victory for diplomacy in the battle of Boogie Wonderland. Wars have started for less.
As the saying goes: don’t teach your babushka to suck eggs.
Fine Gael’s Conway fails to read the room
As we were away in Galway last week covering the trial of the century, we didn’t hear about a little incident in the Oireachtas Members’ Restaurant which had members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party sniggering well into this week.
Leinster House is slowly getting back to normal and the TDs and Senators are delighted to have use of the formal restaurant again. In the first week of its full opening, groups of politicians from all sides enjoyed shooting the breeze around the starched white linen, away from all the nosey journalists. We hear Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar was having a Wednesday night bite to eat with some of his senior team including Helen McEntee, Paschal Donohoe, Simon Harris, Simon Coveney and Patrick O’Donovan when the affable Senator from Clare, Martin Conway, ambled into the restaurant.
Martin, who is the first visually impaired member of the Oireachtas, saw Harris as he made his way around the tables.
He beetled over and gave him a hearty greeting, slapping him on the back and loudly declaring: “There’s the next leader of the party!”
There’s a bit of an awkward silence. Then Senator Conway glances across and sees a stony-faced Varadkar staring back at him. Harris doesn’t know where to look. The others are saying nothing.
Martin makes a brave attempt at chit-chat (not reciprocated) before beating a hasty retreat.
‘Champagne party’ scandal deepens
It’s the question to which nobody has got a satisfactory answer yet: what exactly were they drinking in the Department of Foreign Affairs on that night? Though widely reported as a “champagne party”, DFA gossip has suggested that the glasses may have been filled with rather more humble prosecco.
Certainly, though some slightly tipsy accounts have identified the tipple as Moet et Chandon champagne, the bottles in the infamous picture do appear to be from that particular house.
This week Simon Coveney and his secretary general Joe Hackett appeared at the foreign affairs committee to answer questions about the episode. It was a more restrained and humble Coveney who appeared and Hackett – only appointed last year and regarded as very young for the role – did much of the talking.
It was a polished performance – suitably contrite but strong in his defence of the department, polite and helpful to the committee while standing by the conclusions of his report. His Minister has good cause to be thankful for his cool response to the controversy, which has now fizzled out.
But one aspect of the affair unresolved despite the best efforts of Solidarity/People Before Prosecco’s Paul Murphy: what made the corks go pop? Hackett’s report specifies only “sparkling wine”.
Murphy asked the burning question: “What exactly were you drinking?”
Hackett hesitated. “Do I have to answer that?”
He did. “ . . It . . . It was sparkling wine,” stuttered the Iveagh House mandarin.
Meanwhile, a furiously googling Fianna Fáil member of the committee says he has solved the mystery and the bottles in the photo are . . . Marks and Spencer Prosecco. Could be a resigning matter yet. The Minister must be mortified. If word gets around the yacht club he won’t be able to show his face in the Royal Cork.
From Macaulay’s father to Madonna’s brother: When the enemy bears your last name | Culture
While fame and success usually come with the support of loved ones, some celebrities face a harsh reality when they find out that those who should have been their biggest allies are, in fact, their biggest problem. There have been many instances of show business figures who found themselves betrayed by their own blood, either for personal revenge or gain. Here is an overview of the most notable cases of famous family feuds.
Kit Culkin, Macaulay and Kieran Culkin’s father
The tradition of child artists being seen by their parents as a combination of ATM and retirement pension plan is as old as show business itself. One of the first child film stars, Jackie Coogan, the star of The Kid alongside Charlie Chaplin, would become infamous for inspiring what became known as the “Coogan law”: when he reached the age of 21, Jackie discovered that his mother had squandered the money he had earned, estimated at $4 million. Although he never recovered that amount, the young man’s lawsuit gave rise to a law that mandates that a trust fund be established for part of a child actor’s earnings, which must remain untouched until they come of age.
Nevertheless, cases similar to Coogan’s have been sadly recurring. Perhaps the best known is that of Macaulay Culkin, who became a star at the age of 10 when he appeared in Home Alone. Macaulay would describe his father, Kit Culkin, as a “mentally and physically” violent person who abused him and did not respect his desire to work less (in the middle of puberty) and, therefore, reduce his income – which had already taken the entire family from rags to riches. “My father was jealous of me,” Macaulay would confess. “Everything he had tried to do in life, I excelled at before I was 10 years old.” Just in case, Kit repeated the move by taking two more of his children, Kieran and Rory, to auditions.
When Kit Culkin and his wife Patricia Brentrup divorced, a violent dispute broke out over the custody of their seven children, and especially over control of the trust fund that had been created with Macaulay’s money. Patricia won and Kit disappeared from family life, announcing that he no longer considered Macaulay his son. After a while, Macaulay left show business, with his brother Kieran finding success in the industry. When he received a Golden Globe in 2024 for his role in Succession, Kieran dedicated it to “my wonderful mom. Mom, thank you so much for doing everything you did for us, you’re an amazing woman.”
Ronald Fenty, Rihanna’s father
Rihanna’s childhood in Barbados was far from idyllic. Her father, Ronald Fenty, was addicted to crack and alcohol and abused her mother, Monica Braithwaite. Rihanna’s relationship with her father has been full of ups and downs, fights and reconciliations, typical of a situation of codependency marked by an addicted father. Many even saw her past with an abusive parent as one of the reasons why she had an abusive relationship with singer Chris Brown. In any case, Ronald cannot accuse Rihanna of being resentful: in 2008, the singer bought him a mansion in Barbados for $1.8 million. That same year, when Ronald was thrown out of his daughter’s tour for his drunken behavior, she paid for the rehabilitation that prevented him from going to prison. In 2014, at the Diamond Ball gala organized by the artist, Ronald arrived drunk and fell on the red carpet, from which he was discreetly removed.
The conflicts reached the courts in 2017. That year, it emerged that Ronald had attempted to trademark a company as “Fenty,” which in addition to being his legal last name, was the name of his daughter’s million-dollar makeup and lingerie company. The singer’s lawyers prevented him from doing so, considering that it would lower the value of the Rihanna brand. But they were not aware of the extent of his actions: in 2019, the singer filed a lawsuit against her father and his partner Moses Perkins after finding out that he was posing as her agent behind her back to negotiate concerts worth more than $15 million. In September 2021, shortly before the trial began, the singer dropped the lawsuit.
The previous year, when he got sick with Covid-19, Ronald claimed that his life had been saved thanks to the ventilator that Rihanna bought him. Maybe that is the solution that she found: having her father close, but not too close. A good example is the moment when she announced her second pregnancy by showing her belly during the halftime show of the 2023 Super Bowl. Ronald did not know anything and found out at the same time as everyone else… but from a seat that his daughter had gotten him to watch the show.
Christopher Ciccone, Madonna’s brother
From younger brother to professional collaborator and, from there, to sworn enemy: Christopher Ciccone’s career is inseparable from that of his sister. From the moment Madonna achieved success in the music industry, Christopher started working for her as a personal assistant, artistic director and decorator. According to him, she needed an extremely trustworthy person and knew that she could count on her brother. It all faded away, however, when Madonna did not hire him for her Drowned World Tour in 2001.
As Christopher told in detail in his 2008 book Life with My Sister Madonna, it all happened as a result of her marriage to Guy Ritchie. Christopher claimed that his brother-in-law was homophobic and had caused the estrangement between them, which began when she accused him of swindling her “after 20 years of being the only person that hadn’t.” In the book, he claimed that his sister had paid him less than what he was entitled to for his work and that she had outed him against his will. He also reproached her for only allocating $500 a month to the care of their 97-year-old blind grandmother, aside from her medical bills. According to some publications, in recent years their relationship has recovered.
Christina Crawford, Joan Crawford’s daughter
When the actress Joan Crawford passed away in 1977, it emerged that she had distributed her inheritance in a strikingly unequal manner: the bulk of the money went to her twin daughters, Cindy and Cathy, while the eldest, Christina and Christopher, received nothing. The will included the puzzling phrase “for reasons which are well known to them.” Soon, Christina made sure that the rest of the world knew those reasons, too. A year later, Mommy Dearest went on sale, a memoir in which Christina tore apart her mother’s memory and which became the standard by which all scandalous star biographies were measured.
First, she revealed that the star had bought her illegally, bypassing the law that prevented single women from adopting. She also claimed that she first named her Joan and then changed it to Christina on a whim, and that her younger sisters were not actually twins, but that Crawford decided to label them as such because she felt like it. According to the book, this erratic, irresponsible behavior was a constant, along with beatings and hysterical fits of cleaning. She also accused her of being controlling, obsessive, jealous and stingy with money. The climax came when Christina, who also tried to be an actress, said that Joan had stolen a role from her in a soap opera, replacing her when she fell ill, made up and characterized to look 30 years younger.
The book (and its subsequent 1981 film adaptation starring Faye Dunaway) sparked a huge debate among those who saw it as a pack of lies and exaggerations (Crawford’s youngest daughters defended their mother) and those who considered it to be one of the first public denouncements of child abuse. Its success gave rise to a bizarre trend of scandalous memoirs by other famous children, such as My Mother’s Keeper, by B.D. Hyman, the daughter of Bette Davis, who had been a great rival of Crawford but still expressed her deep disgust when Mommie Dearest was published.
Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s and Solange’s father
Having your father as your manager is a delicate situation. Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and Venus and Serena Williams know it well: both possibilities, success and failure, can lead to the destruction of the relationship. Mathew Knowles was selling medical equipment when his eldest daughter, Beyoncé, proved that she had a great talent for singing and dancing. Although the girl was only 11 years old, her father quit his job to dedicate himself full-time to her group, Girl’s Tyme. He changed its name, fired its less talented members and directed its professional footsteps with an iron fist until he achieved the fame of Destiny’s Child.
Over time, former members of the group would accuse Mathew of favoring Beyoncé and misappropriating money, something he has always denied, although he has defended the toughness with which he managed, first the group and then his daughter, as the only way to achieve such success. The family-business association suffered a severe blow in 2009, when Mathew and Tina Knowles separated after it was revealed that he had fathered a child with his mistress, actress Alexandra Wright. Two years later, Beyoncé and her father announced that he was no longer her manager. The official statement claimed that it was amicable decision, but TMZ reported that, through an audit, the singer’s lawyers had found out that he had stolen money from her tours.
Mathew Knowles followed a similar path as the manager of his youngest daughter, Solange, with whom he also ended up breaking off his professional relationship. When Mathew married Gina Avery in 2013, none of his daughters attended the wedding. Always cryptic when it comes to public statements, Beyoncé has spoken through her music, comparing her husband’s power and influence in her life to that of her father in the album Lemonade, with lines like “Did he make you forget your own name? Did he convince you he was a god?” Currently, Mathew claims to have a great family relationship as a father and grandfather (although he has rarely been seen with his daughters in recent years) and divides his time between being a lecturer, a businessman (in the cannabis industry, among other ventures) and an activist against breast cancer in men.
Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie’s father
When Angelina Jolie became famous in the mid-1990s, her father Jon Voight’s golden years were a thing of the past. The actor, who had won an Oscar in 1979 for Coming Home, had suddenly become “Angelina’s father.” And the use he has made of the title has not been particularly becoming. Their relationship has been marked by fights and reconciliations, as well as Voight’s constant criticism of his daughter in the press. The discord began early: Angelina was only one year old when Voight left his family to go with student Stacey Pickren. In Jolie’s version, her father neglected her and her brother, both emotionally and financially, and only remembered them when he could show them off on a red carpet.
As Jolie rose to fame as a wild star in the then-saccharine Hollywood scene, she faced criticism on multiple occasions from her father, who frowned upon her bisexuality and her penchant for (literally) sealing her love with blood. They filmed Tomb Raider together, but that did not help improve their relationship: according to him, she refused to see him; according to her, he was aggressive and did not respect her. The press found out that Angelina had adopted her eldest son, Maddox, in Cambodia, because Jon had announced that he was looking forward to meeting his grandson, shattering the discretion that she sought.
On other occasions, he claimed that Angelina had serious mental problems. Since then, with Angelina’s life always under the spotlight, her father’s presence in her life has been ambivalent. One of the latest examples of their complex relationship has been Voight’s criticism of Angelina’s statements of concern for the civilians in Gaza.
Samantha Markle, Meghan Markle’s sister
In the explosive cocktail of family relationships that has been the history of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, several people could accuse each other of betrayal: Harry of William and William of Harry, just to give a quick example. However, few characters embody the archetype of fame-hungry relative as well as Samantha Markle, the half-sister of the Duchess of Sussex. According to Meghan, their relationship was practically non-existent — until she got engaged to Prince Harry and the media began to delve into her family tree, where they found Samantha.
According to Meghan, Samantha changed her last name back to Markle to make their link more evident, and she dedicated herself to selling lies to the press and spreading intimate details, much like their father, Thomas, did. Samantha did not take long to publish her own book, The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, where she claimed that Meghan had orchestrated a defamation campaign against her and her father. She even sued her sister for £75,000 (approximately $95,000) for spreading “demonstrably false and malicious statements” in her interview with Oprah. Samantha accused Meghan of lying about being an only child and exaggerating her childhood poverty. The lawsuit was dismissed several times, but Samantha’s lawyers are still trying to bring the case to trial.
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“Dune: Part Two” Strikes A Balance Of Solemnity And Excitement, Amplifying The Saga’s Epic Journey
Dune: Part Two
‘Dune: Part Two’
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebeca Fergusson, Javier Bardem
Genre: Science fiction. USA, 2024
Runtime: 166 minutes
Release date: March 1
Frank Herbert’s original novel presents a formidable challenge for readers, not due to its literary style, but rather the intricate web of names, languages, planets, dynasties, and character relationships it entails. Denis Villeneuve’s cinematic adaptation of the first half of the book, while visually stunning, maintained the solemnity and gravity of the source material, making it a demanding viewing experience with its 155-minute runtime dominated by browns, grays, and a lack of liveliness.
Despite the complexities, Herbert’s book has garnered a dedicated following spanning multiple generations, and Villeneuve’s adaptation, surpassing previous attempts, resonated with audiences, critics, and the Academy, grossing over $400 million worldwide and earning six Oscars out of 10 nominations. Against this backdrop, “Dune: Part Two” emerges, maintaining the cinematic flavor and sumptuous tone of its predecessor.
Adult science fiction often exudes grandeur and gravitas, and “Dune: Part Two” is no exception, with its nearly three-hour runtime sustained by the visual mastery of director Denis Villeneuve, known for his work on acclaimed films like “Sicario,” “Prisoners,” and “Enemy.” The stellar cast exudes charisma, complemented by Hans Zimmer’s evocative soundtrack, which fills the theater with palpable intensity. Amidst the weighty political and religious themes, occasional moments of levity, notably from Javier Bardem’s character, offer brief respites from the film’s otherwise serious tone.
Despite Villeneuve’s technical and artistic prowess, “Dune” falls short of creating enduring cinematic images, reminiscent of his previous works like “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049.” While some sequences lack memorable shots due to pacing issues in editing, others are hindered by digital effects, such as the overcrowded coliseum scene featuring Austin Butler’s character. However, the film still captures the essence of Herbert’s writing, with powerful quotes like “The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”
Timothée Chalamet’s portrayal of Paul Atreides draws intriguing parallels to Jesus, particularly in his journey through the desert trials, echoing Christ’s temptation by the Devil. The depiction of the Fremen and their struggle on Arrakis evokes comparisons to oppressed peoples throughout history, resonating with contemporary conflicts like Gaza.
Despite being somewhat austere, “Dune: Part Two” remains a compelling and engaging sequel, signaling Villeneuve’s commitment to adapting Herbert’s novels for future generations. As the series progresses, exploring themes of power dynamics, it mirrors present-day geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
Discovering The Top Destinations In Europe For 2024
The Top Destinations To Visit In Europe 2024
The Voice Of EU | Welcome to our comprehensive guide to the most exciting European destinations to visit in 2024. Delve into a curated selection of countries, regions, cities, and neighborhoods that promise unique experiences, curated by our expert editors at Condé Nast Traveller UK and Spain.
Discover intriguing new architecture and a collection of chic hotel openings in Antwerp. Experience the vibrant culinary scene with a visit to renowned Michelin-starred restaurants like The Jane, while enjoying rustic dishes at the sleek new bar, Untitled. Afterward, unwind at August or Hotel Julien for a serene retreat in the heart of the city.
Immerse yourself in eco-focused luxury tourism amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Asturias. Explore UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and rejuvenated routes like the Camino Primitivo, followed by a stay at unique properties such as Solo Palacio and PuebloAstur Eco-Resort. Indulge in the region’s “landscape cuisine” and emerging culinary movement while experiencing cultural events in Oviedo, the gastronomic capital.
Experience the revival of the surf town of Biarritz, nestled in the French Basque Country. Stay at artfully restored Belle Époque hotels like Regina Biarritz and Hôtel du Palais, and savor the vibrant Basque culinary scene. Explore sun-soaked beaches, chic boutiques, and cultural hotspots, making Biarritz a must-visit destination for sophisticated travelers.
Embark on a journey of stargazing and natural wonders in Bodø, Norway. As the European Capital of Culture for 2024, Bodø offers a diverse arts program and spectacular landscapes, including the ethereal Lofoten Islands. Stay at luxurious accommodations like The Wood Hotel or embrace nature with GlampNord, all while experiencing the region’s burgeoning food scene.
Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Budapest with a blend of old-world charm and modern innovation. Explore the city’s architectural wonders, vibrant nightlife, and historic attractions like the Chain Bridge. Stay at iconic properties such as W Budapest and Dorothea Hotel, and experience the city’s cultural renaissance with musical events and new builds like the House of Music Hungary.
Immerse yourself in creative newness at the Carlsberg City District in Copenhagen. Explore a vibrant hub of restaurants, shops, and design houses amid repurposed brewery buildings. Indulge in culinary delights at establishments like Coffee Collective and Aamanns, while experiencing the district’s cultural revival with interactive attractions and summer parties.
Escape to the bohemian charm of Costa de Prata, Portugal’s Silver Coast. Experience the quiet coastal beauty of Ericeira and Nazaré, with new luxury hotels like Aethos and Ohai Nazaré. Explore historic towns like Obidos and Aveiro, indulging in local delicacies and cultural experiences, making Costa de Prata a hidden gem for discerning travelers.
Embark on a salty-air island-hopping adventure in the Cyclades, Greece’s dazzling blue archipelago. With new flights and smart stays like Santo Pure and Kalesma Mykonos, explore iconic destinations like Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros with unparalleled luxury. Experience the region’s vibrant atmosphere, thrilling beach clubs, and world-class hospitality, creating unforgettable memories in the Greek islands.
Discover pristine countryside and adventurous trails in Kosovo, Europe’s newest country. Explore hiking and biking routes like the Trans Dinarica cycling route, and experience the region’s unique Sámi heritage and outdoor activities. Stay at charming accommodations like Ujëvara e Drinit Resort and Ariu, indulging in traditional Kosovar cuisine and warm hospitality.
Experience the unrivaled luxury of Mallorca with an array of exciting new hotels across the island. Stay at exclusive properties like Son Bunyola and Ikos Porto Petro, indulging in low-key luxury and exceptional service.
Explore the island’s natural beauty, cultural attractions, and culinary delights, making Mallorca, Spain a timeless destination for discerning travelers.
Embark on next-level cycling adventures and motorsports experiences in Northern Italy. Witness the historic stages of the Tour de France in Florence, Rimini, and Turin, while exploring gastronomic heritage and scenic landscapes. Stay at luxury accommodations like Middleton Lodge and experience slow travel with new railway routes and cultural events, making Northern Italy a paradise for sports enthusiasts and culture seekers.
Indulge in a foodie revolution amidst the enchanting landscapes of Yorkshire, UK. Experience star chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants like The Abbey Inn and Mýse, offering creative culinary experiences and luxurious accommodations. Explore Yorkshire’s natural wonders, cultural events, and emerging culinary scene, creating a bewitching travel experience in 2024.
Destinations & Experience
With an array of exciting destinations and experiences to explore, Europe beckons travelers with its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you seek adventure, luxury, or cultural immersion, the best places to go in Europe in 2024 promise unforgettable memories and endless discovery. Start planning your European adventure today and embark on a journey of a lifetime.
We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!
— By Elisa Ferragni | Team VoiceOfEU.com Digital
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