Arab Cities to Launch Drive to Combat Racism

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreSeveral cities across the Arab world have launched a campaign to fight racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, with the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). At a June ceremony in Morocco, the municipalities of Casablanca, Doha, Essaouira, Cairo, Nouakchott, Rabat and Tangiers announced the formation of a coalition to combat racism, following similar ventures in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. With Casablanca acting as the leader of the network, the cities will sign a joint declaration committing themselves to local action based on a ten-point plan which takes into account the forms of discrimination specific to their region. Initiated by UNESCO in March 2004, the project aims to help municipalities share their experiences to improve policies to fight discrimination, xenophobia and exclusion. UNESCO says that municipal authorities, as policy-makers at the local level, are key players in this process, which has the ultimate aim of creating an international coalition, drawing in all the cities around the world which want to work together to combat racism. The international coalition was officially launched on 30 June in Nantes, France, as part of the 3rd World Forum of Human Rights. Visit the web page at UNESCO. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Fiery La. Politician Leads Fight To Clean Up Oil

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreOne of the areas hardest hit by the BP oil spill is Louisiana’s southernmost Parish located along the 70 miles of Mississippi river that empties into the Gulf of Mexico. But the residents have something in their arsenal to help keep the oil out of their prized marshlands: Billy Nungesser. The parish president is a newcomer to politics who isn’t afraid to take on BP or the Coast Guard to save the livelihood of his home. From an emergency management center, he recently ordered his staff to ignore BP and put parish equipment out in the water to suck up the oil: “I should have told them to get the hell out of the way two weeks ago, but we are putting [this] equipment and we’re putting the skimmers in the water. I don’t give a s – – – what anybody says.” (READ the story from National Public Radio) …Thanks, also, to Roxana for submitting this New York Times article about the same story! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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States Put the ‘Home’ in Nursing Homes

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreThe Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, Mass., is part of what’s known as the Green House project, founded by geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas as an alternative to traditional nursing  homes. Each apartment includes a large, centrally located kitchen and dining room designed to be the heart of the home. Residents often take part in meal planning and preparation.The Center, in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Boston is technically a nursing facility — a place most people hope they can avoid. But for Rhoda Klein, age 79, this five-story urban complex feels like home. There’s a calm and comfortable atmosphere in Klein’s apartment, which she’s decorated with her own furnishings. Outside Klein’s door is a common area with an open kitchen, a fireplace and a long dining room table where other residents in her suite often hang out to talk or eat. The residents interact with their caregivers, assigned four at a time to the suite, with the ease of old friends. There aren’t many rules or schedules to follow. “I decide every morning what I want to do that day,” Klein says. “I can share group meals if I want to. Or play bingo and just have a snack. If I get hungry later, someone will make me a meal.”Klein’s nursing home lifestyle is also notable for what it isn’t. There’s no long gray linoleum corridors with doors that open onto shared rooms with nothing but a curtain between the beds. No beeping monitors or carts full of soiled linens and no patients in wheelchairs parked in the hallways. Few rules govern when, what and where residents can eat. The brand new facility is one of a new breed of small, homey nursing facilities cropping up around the country, thanks to state collaborations with the nursing home industry, federal regulators and advocates for the elderly and disabled. It looks like a place only wealthy families could afford, but about half of its residents get their bills paid by Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.Massachusetts played a big role in making the $37 million center in Chelsea possible. And it’s encouraging other nursing homes across the state to provide similar settings and more personalized services, whether in new buildings or traditional ones. In fact, nearly every state now is promoting what policymakers and advocates simply call “culture change” — creating environments for the aged and disabled that feel more home-like than institutional.But it isn’t easy to reverse habits and procedures or undo the architecture of institutions that have been around since the 1960s, when the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid spawned a major expansion of the nursing home industry.For millions of Americans — and state governments, too — the question of what kind of care nursing homes should provide will be impossible to avoid in the coming years. By 2020, the number of people aged 85 years and older — those most likely to need long-term care — will reach 15.4 million, up from 4.3 million in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For states, nursing homes and other long-term care services represent more than 30 percent of a more than $320 billion annual Medicaid bill.The reason nursing homes have traditionally had an institutional feel to them is that most were designed in the mode of hospitals. That mentality extended to the physical space, leading to a standard two-wing design with a nurse’s station in the middle — a floor plan known in the industry as the “double-loaded corridor.” It also extended to the state regulations and rules governing everyday life in nursing homes. These tended to favor considerations for safety and medical care over concern for residents’ quality of life.As a result, frail elders in nursing homes have suffered from the “three plagues of boredom, helplessness and loneliness,” says Dr. Bill Thomas, a geriatric physician and a leader in the culture change movement. A self-described nursing home “abolitionist,” Thomas would like to see old-style nursing homes eliminated altogether.That won’t happen anytime soon. The nursing home industry is not growing; it’s shrinking. Despite an increase in the number of frail elders who need care, more are opting to remain at home or enter an assisted living facility where they can live more independently.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are some 16,000 nursing homes in the United States, averaging about 30 years old with an occupancy rate of 86 percent. Most of them were designed the old way, and many will need renovation or replacement in the next decade. In their place, Thomas wants to see more small cottages or apartments like the one Klein lives in at the Leonard Florence Center — designed for 10 to 12 residents with skilled health care workers who give individual attention to each person. Thomas’ design has been replicated in 50 such facilities in 13 states, built with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NCB Capital Impact, a nonprofit community development organization. Dozens of other small nursing facilities have been built across the country with the same goals in mind, gaining support from private donations, and in some cases, direct state and federal grants.States are adopting new attitudes toward regulation so that facilities can create more home-like settings and give elders more privacy and control over their environment. Arkansas, for example, recently changed a rule that prevented residents from using air fresheners in their rooms. The state also got rid of a regulation that prevented nursing facilities from serving hot coffee from a cart early in the morning instead of making residents wait for a cold cup on their breakfast trays.It’s a lot of little things, says Carol Shockley, Arkansas director of long-term care. But they make a big difference in people’s daily lives. Residents especially appreciate having more control over what they eat. “If a resident just hates broccoli,” Shockely says, “a nursing home ought to be able to take it off his plate.”Workforce training is another important piece, because few health care workers have had experience with what is known in the culture change movement as “person-centered” care. Instead, they’ve typically performed just one of the services needed to support a frail elder or disabled adult.Massachusetts spent more than $200 million over an eight-year period to train and mentor health care workers in this new method of care, although that program has been cut back since the recession. Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont made similar investments.States have found other ways to push culture change in nursing homes. Rhode Island has developed a survey that grades facilities based on whether they look more like an institution or a home, whether they allow residents flexibility in their sleeping and eating schedules and how well they’ve reduced annoying noises. Colorado pioneered a point system that bumps up Medicaid reimbursement rates for facilities that provide more home-like settings. Oklahoma has taken similar measures. Arkansas offers a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate for so-called “home-style” nursing homes.With all the budget cutting states have had to do in recent years, and will continue to have to do, it may be difficult for states to make a lot of progress in this area. Still, some are trying. Orinially published by Stateline.orgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Love of Rivers Makes Him Eager to Do the Dirty Work

first_imgWATCH the video below from MSNBC… AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreHe has been on a labor of love since he was 17 — hauling litter, tires, and even rusty cars out of the nation’s rivers. Spearheading 500 cleanups he’s pulled 70 million pounds of trash from the water and water’s edge, including 775 refrigerators, with the help of thousands of volunteers.For the past 13 years, Chad Pregracke has brought together donors, boats, barges, and even cranes to help him finish a job he started in high school, cleaning up every river in the country.He was featured last Friday in the NBC Nightly News Making a Difference segment. Last fall he was named the Hardest Working Man in America (story on GNN). AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Arctic Snowy Owls Soar South in Rare Mass Migration

first_imgA certain number of the huge owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter but rarely do so many venture so far away, even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions. (READ the Reuters story from MSNBC)Snowy Owl by Pe ha45-Flickr-CC license; Thanks to Julia Frerichs for sending the link!AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreBird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called “unbelievable.”Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts.last_img read more

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Watch the ‘Magical’ Moment Epileptic Teen is Surprised With Her Own Therapy Dog for Her Birthday

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreFor years, Summer Shott has dreamt of one day owning her own dog – so when her parents finally surprised her with her own therapy dog, she could barely contain her emotions.Due to her medical issues, Summer’s doctor has encouraged the family to get her a therapy support dog in the past; because in addition to the London teen suffering from epilepsy, she also has hemiplegia as a result of being born with cerebral palsy.The condition means that Summer is almost constantly suffering from anxiety, which prevents her from doing a lot of the activities that other young girls are free to do. Since she has also been bullied for her medical conditions in the past, the youngster struggles with self-confidence. Her accumulative anxiety issues have had a history of triggering her epilepsy. After a recent string of seizures landed her in the hospital, doctors urged Summer’s family to consider getting her a therapy dog to reduce her anxiety.RELATED: After 12 Years of Waving to Students From Her Window, Watch Her Reaction to 400 Kids Saying GoodbyeSummer’s mother Cherie Johnson is allergic to furry animals – but with her daughter’s 16th birthday quickly approaching, she finally decided to surprise the teen with her very own support dog.With camera in hand to videotape the big reveal, Johnson broke the news to her daughter by giving her a birthday card with a message inside detailing her struggles in school. At the end of the card, Johnson instructed her daughter to life up a little flap of paper. Underneath the paper, it said that Summer was the proud new owner of her own therapy dog.Shocked, the teen could barely believe what she was hearing – and then her father walked in with Buddy the Chihuahua puppy wrapped in a towel.MORE: When Radio Station Hears About Mom Struggling to Care for Sick Son, They Give Her Surprise She Will Never ForgetSummer immediately started crying tears of happiness. Still in disbelief, the teen asked her mother several times “Is he really mine!?”Finally, the teen sits down on the sofa with her new canine companion in her arms – and the pup even touched noses with Summer as a way of saying hello.Since being given the puppy in April, Summer’s mental health has undergone a huge transformation.CHECK OUT: Woman Stunned to Find Out That ‘Anonymous’ Kidney Donor is Actually Her Best Friend“I knew Summer would be ecstatic, but her reaction was absolutely magical,” Johnson told Caters News Agency.“Since having him, she looks forward to the weekend, she’s got someone to look after rather than her always being looked after, and it’s given her so much confidence,” she added.“Her anxiety levels have dropped dramatically and she hasn’t had any of the bigger seizures since she came out of hospital.”(WATCH the emotional video below) Teenager Sheds Happy Tears After Receiving Surprise Support Dog0:00 / 0:00LoadingSurprise Your Friends With This Sweet Story By Sharing It To Social Media…AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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UK University Installs Free ‘Vending Machines’ to Dispense Tiny Short Stories Printed on Eco-Friendly Paper

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreSWNSThis university has become the first in the United Kingdom to install vending machines that are designed to dispense free short stories for students to read on campus—and any writer will soon be able to submit their own prose.The machines on the campus of the University of Lincoln print out tiny works of literature that are dispensed after someone chooses how long they want to be reading— one, three, or five minutes—all at the touch of a button.Students will be able to read on a whim anything from crime to contemporary fiction, including authors like Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens. LOOK: School Installs Vending Machine That Dispenses Free Books to Kids Who ReadThe machines also contain an exclusive story written by British author Anthony Horowitz—a whodunnit called “Mrs. Robinson” that was designed to be read in less than a minute.The stories are delivered randomly from a database of 100,000 titles on a receipt-sized scroll of eco-friendly paper using heat transfer instead of ink.SWNSIan Snowley, Dean of Student Learning Development and University Librarian said: “Not only will the new machines offer the opportunity to access stories at seemingly unexpected spots around campus to encourage people to engage more with reading, but we also hope that it will encourage students, staff, and people across the city to become published authors by submitting their own work.”The machines are made by French publishing company Short Édition and were previously installed at London’s Canary Wharf following success in France and Hong Kong.RELATED: Two Sisters Have Been Reading Bedtime Stories for Children on Facebook Live Every NightLater in the year, students and the public will be able to submit their own stories for possible inclusion in Short Édition’s repertoire of over 9,000 authors.Professor Mary Stuart, the University’s Vice Chancellor, said: “I’m delighted that Lincoln is the first UK university to use this innovative technology to support the development of reading and writing in our university and city communities.”SWNSHelp Your Friends Read About This Ingenious Project By Sharing It To Social Media…AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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This Therapy ‘Dogtor’ is Delivering Thousands of ‘Hero Healing Kits’ to Hospital Workers on the Frontlines

first_imgIn just a few short weeks, the dynamic duo has used their Amazon Wishlist to raise thousands of dollars and collect hundreds of gift donations.“So far we have raised over 1,400 total kits, but are closer to +1,600 incomplete kits,” Benzel wrote on Loki’s Facebook page. “The donations keep coming in!! Needless to say, we are blown away by the kindness and generosity of people.”Not only has their internet campaign helped to fuel their labor of love, Benzel says that community members across the country have reached out to her about launching “hero healing kit” initiatives in their own cities.WATCH: 17-Year-Old ‘Angel’ Cashier Picks Up $173 Grocery Bill for Senior Shopper Who Found Himself Short on Cash”We will be distributing the majority of these to 4 different hospitals over the next week,” continued Benzel, “AND THAT IS JUST THE BEGINNING.“The hope was people would see what we are trying to do and be inspired to do the same in their respective areas, and that HAS HAPPENED! … [we have] inspired others to do similar projects in New Jersey, North Carolina, [Pennsylvania], and other parts of Maryland.“THIS was was the dream, and it is coming to fruition: not only to help frontline workers/first responders, but to inspire others to do the same in their counties and states for their respective hospitals,” added Benzel. “Thank you again for all the love and support shown through all of this. We wanted to show our people keeping us safe some love, and because of you, we have been able to do that.” AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreThis “dogtor” may not have a degree in medicine, but she has been helping to treat hardworking healthcare employees with joy and care packages.Prior to the COVID-19 outbreaks, Loki the Rottweiler and her owner, Caroline Benzel, were familiar faces at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Since Loki had such a friendly reputation with the hospital staffers and patients, she and Benzel would visit the hospital and cheer up the residents three days a week.Because Benzel is just a second-year medical student, however, she was pulled out of school and off of the hospital frontlines after the novel coronavirus outbreaks. Rather than spend her time in quarantine twiddling her thumbs beside her therapy dog, she began thinking up new ways to help her hospital community.RELATED: Sam’s Club is Offering ‘Hero Shopping Hours’ to Healthcare Workers Regardless of MembershipsAt first, Benzel and Loki would use FaceTime conversations to offer some virtual comfort and relief to the staffers—but Benzel eventually found the inspiration for her new passion project after she noticed the physical toll that protective medical gear had on healthcare workers.Since the doctors and nurses have been forced to wear gloves and masks around the clock, many of them have been developing rashes and skin irritation from the constant friction.Benzel and Loki then took to the internet and started asking their social media followers for donations to make “hero healing kits” with hydrating skin lotion, boxes of tea, baby powder, chapstick, chewing gum, and moisturizer for healthcare workers.CHECK OUT: 99-Year-Old WWII Veteran Raises $3.3 Million for Hospital Workers Simply By Walking Laps of His Garden Be Sure And Share The Pawesome Story With Your Friends On Social Media…AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore Benzel says that she just started distributing her first batch of care packages this week to four different hospitals, and she is excited to deliver many more in the weeks to come.If you would like to donate to Benzel’s mission, you can check out her Amazon Wishlist—otherwise, you can follow their progress on Loki’s Instagram and Facebook pages.This is just one of many positive stories and updates that are coming out of the COVID-19 news coverage this week. For more uplifting coverage on the outbreaks, click here.last_img read more

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SMC Hypatia Day encourages learning in math & science

first_img­DNA extractions, Fibonacci numbers and bouncy ball polymers were the main attractions of Saint Mary’s 21st annual Hypatia Day on Saturday. The event, named for the first female mathematician and scientist in recorded history — Hypatia of Alexandria — is aimed to inspire local seventh grade girls to study math, science and engineering. “The event is for the seventh graders to get them involved in doing fun math and science activities led by all of our student clubs,” Kristin Jehring, mathematics professor and director of Hypatia Day, said. To qualify for participation, Jehring said students apply for the event after their teachers nominate them. “We send out materials to the math and science teachers to the schools in the greater Michigan area,” she said. “They nominate a couple students that they think would benefit and should be encouraged to continue their math and science education.” This year, 95 students were selected. The students, along with their parents, started the day with a welcome from Jehring and a keynote address by Abby Weppler, local meteorologist for WSBT-TV. From there, students from various clubs lead hands-on activities for the girls, Jehring said. “The chemistry club [lead an activity with] bouncy balls to learn about polymers,” she said. In addition, the Biology Club worked with the girls on extracting DNA from strawberries and learning about dissection to experiencing working in the lab. The Nursing Club taught students how to perform Triage and basic CPR, the Engineering Club built bridges with K’Nex and the Math Club showed students how to manipulate a JAVA program. “[The students received] a taste of programming and seeing how little changes will affect the system,” Jehring said. “[They also played] with math theory, Fibonacci numbers and sequences to [observe] patterns.” While the girls conducted experiments, parents attended lectures by mathematics professor Mary Connolly, Director of Admissions Kristin McAndrew and financial aid counselor Lonnie Kizer. The lectures featured information about college affordability, classes women should take in high school to prepare them for college and why a life in science or math is a good option, Jehring said. The day concluded with closing remarks from College President Carol Ann Mooney. Despite the number of hands-on activities offered by the event, Jehring said the most exciting aspect of the event was the participation. “[The seventh graders] get involved, and they’re actively doing things in these sessions,” she said.last_img read more

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Seniors seek opportunities to serve

first_imgFor seniors networking with representatives from national and international service programs Wednesday night at the Post-Graduate Service Fair, volunteer work after graduation can be more than a “year off.” Michael Hebbeler, director for student leadership and senior transitions at the CSC, said the fair, hosted by the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) in the Joyce Center, offered another option for students looking for jobs from every college. “It’s a full-time job,” Hebbeler said. “It’s a misconception that it’s a year off and you’re kind of volunteering here and there. [The programs] are looking for students in all disciplines, there is accounting work to be done, there’s environmental work to be done, there’s counseling [and] education. Students of all majors should be able to find something that fits their skill set, their passions.” Hebbeler was the conduit between the graduate service world and the student body. He said the fair was primarily for seniors looking for opportunities to serve after graduatioy. “[There are] post-graduate opportunities ranging from health care to education to ministry,” Hebbeler said. “In the programs, [you’re] living in community, living simply, living on a small stipend, but engaged in work that promotes the common good that really carries out the mission of the University in a very direct way.” He said the international and large programs are the most competitive for applicants. The full-time positions range from small stipends to salaries, and from living in community to living alone, he said. “But all of the organizations are focused on work of peace and justice in a very direct way,” Hebbeler said. “We welcome all these programs, There are bigger programs, [such as] Teach for America, [Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE)], Peace Corps, and we also really value the small programs who do very good work in their smaller communities.” He said the fair benefited students looking for a variety of choices. “There’s something for everybody,” he said. You can find your niche, the community you want to live with, the work you want to do, whether you want a large program or a small program.” Volunteers typically commit one to two years to work 40 or more hours per week, Hebbeler said. He said the time spent serving others guides students as they discern their skillsets in the community and in the business world. “Students find themselves,” he said. “They mature, they grow in wisdom, they grow in skill set and they are more marketable for jobs after this or applying to grad school. Oftentimes this experience makes them a better and more competitive applicant. Of course we don’t promote it for the resume, but practically speaking it does help.” The programs intend to help students serve outside of their comfort zone, he said. “In the end, the real intention is students wanting to live out the mission of the University in a direct and fulfilling way, in relationship with other populations that will stretch them,” Hebbeler said. “These are oftentimes not comfortable positions, but because of that they will grow.”last_img read more

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