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Baby's Skull Rebuilt With Help From A 3D Printer
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '17 at 08:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's practicing-with-print-outs department:
schwit1 writes: A team at Stony Brook Children's Hospital was able to use a 3-D printer to produce a replica of baby Vincent's skull, which, in turn, allowed the medical team to fully rehearse the surgery long before they stepped into the operating room. Through a collaboration with Medical Modeling in Colorado, known now as 3D Systems, Egnor and Duboys were able to virtually plan the entire surgery in advance. Duboys said images from a CT scan of baby Vincent's head were sent to the company, which then manufactured a model skull using the CT information as a template. The company also created a model of what Vincent's skull should look like after surgery.

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Germany Considers Fining Facebook $522,000 Per Fake News Item
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '17 at 08:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Facebook-fines-for-fakery department:
"The government of Germany is considering imposing a legal regime that would allow fining social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000) for each day the platform leaves a 'fake news' story up without deleting it," according to a story shared by schwit1. PC Magazine has more details:

The law would reportedly apply to other social networks as well. "If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 euros," Germany's parliamentary chief of the Social Democrat party Thomas Oppermann said in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, according to a report from Heat Street. Under the law, "official and private complainants" would be able to flag news on Facebook as fake, Heat Street reported. Facebook and other affected social networks would have to create "in-country offices focused on responding to takedown demands," the report says. The bill, slated for consideration next year, is said to have bipartisan support.

According to the article, "Lawmakers in the country are reportedly hoping it will prevent Russia from interfering in Germany's elections next year."

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Verizon and AT&T Prepare to Bring 5G To (Select) Markets In 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '17 at 05:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's very-high-speed-internet department:
An anonymous reader quotes IEEE Spectrum:
This year, Verizon and AT&T plan to deliver broadband internet to select homes or businesses using fixed wireless networks built with early 5G technologies. These 5G pilot programs will give the public its first glimpse into a wireless future that isn't due to fully arrive until the early 2020s. With 5G, carriers hope to deliver data to smartphone users at speeds 10 times as fast as on today's 4G networks, and with only 1 millisecond of delay... Over the past year, companies have completed a flurry of lab tests and trials to figure out what types of radios, antennas, and signal processing techniques will work best to deliver 5G in hopes of bringing those technologies and their capabilities to market as soon as possible.
The article notes that standards groups are halfway through their eight-year process of finalizing technical specifications (set to finish in 2020), but "With so much cash on the line, and facing pressure from data-hungry customers, carriers are moving fast." In Japan, NTT Docomo has even tested dozens of programmable antennas simultaneously transmitting signals, resulting in transmissions at 20 gigabits per second. "At that speed, a complete 2-hour, 1080p, high-definition movie can be transmitted in a second and a half."

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2016 Saw A Massive Increase In Encrypted Web Traffic
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '17 at 01:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's securing-the-electronic-frontier department:
EFF's "Deeplinks" blog has published nearly two dozen "2016 in Review" posts over the last nine days, one of which applauds 2016 as "a great year for adoption of HTTPS encryption for secure connections to websites." An anonymous reader writes:

In 2016 most pages viewed on the web were encrypted. And over 21 million web sites obtained security certificates -- often for the first time -- through Let's Encrypt. But "a sizeable part of the growth in HTTPS came from very large hosting providers that decided to make HTTPS a default for sites that they host, including OVH, Wordpress.com, Shopify, Tumblr, Squarespace, and many others," EFF writes. Other factors included the support of Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 by Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.
Other "2016 in Review" posts from EFF include
Protecting Net Neutrality and the Open Internet and DRM vs. Civil Liberties.
Click through for a complete list of all EFF "2016 in Review" posts.

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Slashdot's 10 Most-Visited Stories of 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 10:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's happy-New-Year department:
Slashdot's most-visited story of the year was "Microsoft Live Account Credentials Leaking From Windows 8 And Above," which was visited more than 330,910 times since we published it August 16. And our second and third most popular stories came in the spring -- Apple Is Fighting A Secret War To Keep You From Repairing Your Phone and Google Chrome To Disallow Backspace As a 'Back' Button. Click through for a complete list of Slashdot's 10 most-visited stories of 2016.

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Can Learning Smalltalk Make You A Better Programmer?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 07:20 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ghost-of-PARC department:
Slashdot reader horrido shares an article that "has done more for Smalltalk advocacy than any other article in memory." It was the second-most popular article of the year on the Hewlett Packard Enterprise site TechBeacon (recently passing 20,000 views), with Richard Eng, the founder of the nonprofit Smalltalk Renaissance, arguing that the 44-year-old language is much more than a tool for teachers -- and not just because Amber Smalltalk transpiles to JavaScript for front-end web programming.
It's a superlative prototyping language for startups. It's an industrial-strength enterprise language used by businesses both big and small all around the globe... Smalltalk's implementation of the object-oriented paradigm is so excellent that it has influenced an entire generation of OO languages, such as Objective-C, Python, Ruby, CLOS, PHP 5, Perl 6, Erlang, Groovy, Scala, Dart, Swift, and so on. By learning Smalltalk, you'll understand how all of those useful features in today's OO languages came to be.
The article also argues that Smalltalk pioneered just-in-time compilation and virtual machines, the model-view-controller design paradigm, and to a large extent, even test-driven development. But most importantly, Smalltalk's reliance on domain-specific languages makes it "the 'purest' OO, and one of the earliest... It is often said that programming in Smalltalk or Python is rather like Zen; your mind just flows effortlessly with the task. This is the beauty and value of language simplicity, and Smalltalk has this in spades... Smalltalk, by virtue of its object purity and consistency, will give you a profoundly better understanding of object-oriented programming and how to use it to its best effect."

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Google and Facebook Dominate The List of 2016's Top Ten Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 04:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fast-away-the-old-year-passes department:
After surveying over 9,000 Android and iPhone users, Nielsen's "Electronic Mobile Measurement" has calculated the 10 most popular apps of 2016. Interestingly, the #1 and #2 most popular apps of the year were Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

BrianFagioli writes: Facebook holds the first, second, and eighth spots -- remember, the company owns Instagram too. Google has the most number of spots in the top 10, with three, four, five, six, and seven [YouTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play, and Gmail]. Rounding out the bottom of the list is Apple [for Apple Music] and Amazon. Google Play is sort of a weird inclusion, however, as it is the app which downloads other apps -- it probably should have been excluded. Amazon saw insane growth, seeing a massive 43 percent year-over-year gain. Instagram comes in at second place with 36 percent. Facebook Messenger scores the third spot. The biggest surprise is that Apple Music is the top streaming music app, beating apps like Pandora and Spotify...because other music apps had huge head-starts.

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Let's Raise A Glass To The Many Tech Pioneers Who Died In 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 03:20 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's moment-of-memory department:
In technology, you're always "standing on the shoulders" of those who came before you -- and together, each individual's contribution becomes part of a larger ongoing story. So as this year finally winds to a close, click through to see our list of some of the pioneers who left us in 2016. And feel free to share any memories and reflections of your own in the comments.

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Creepy Site Claims To Reveal Torrenting Histories
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 12:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-know-what-you-downloaded-last-summer department:
Slashdot reader dryriver writes: The highly invasive and possibly Russian owned and operated website IKnowWhatYouDownload.com immediately shows [a] bittorent download history for your IP address when you land on it. What's more, it also [claims to] show the torrenting history of any specific IP address you enter, and also of IP addresses similar to yours, so you can see what others near you -- perhaps the nice neighbours in the house next door -- have downloaded when they thought nobody was looking...
There is also a nasty little "Track Downloads" feature that lets you send a "trick URL" to somebody else. When they click on the URL -- thinking its something cool on Facebook, Twitter or the general internet -- THEY see what they URL promised, but YOU get sent their entire torrenting history, including anything embarrassing or otherwise compromising content they may have downloaded in private... The website appears to offer an API, customized download reports and more to interested parties in the hopes of generating big cash from making other people's torrenting activities public.
It's not clear whether this site is really revealing the information it claims to -- or whether it can filter out the fake IP addresses provided by many downloaders. But putting that aside, it does raise an important question. Is it technologically possible to build a site that tracks and reveals torrenting histories based on IP addresses?

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Pull Requests Are Accepted At About The Same Rate, Regardless of Gender
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 11:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's code-is-blind department:
An anonymous reader writes:

Remember that story about how women "get pull requests accepted more (except when you know they're women)." The study actually showed that men also had their code accepted more often when their gender wasn't known, according to Tech In Asia -- and more importantly, the lower acceptance rates (for both men and women) applied mostly to code submitters from outside the GitHub community. "Among insiders, there's no evidence of discrimination against women. In fact, the reverse is true: women who are on the inside and whose genders are easy to discern get more of their code approved, and to a statistically significant degree." Eight months after the story ran, the BBC finally re-wrote their original headline ("Women write better code, study suggests") and added the crucial detail that acceptance rates for women fell "if they were not regulars on the service and were identified by their gender."

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Astronomers Detect Mysterious Radio Signals Coming From Outside Our Galaxy
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 11:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's first-contact department:
This week the New York Post reported on "powerful radio signals which have been detected repeatedly in the same exact location in space," generating as much energy as the sun does in a whole day, in "the only known instance in which these signals have been found twice in the same location in space." Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes Science Alert:
Back in March, scientists detected 10 powerful bursts of radio signals coming from the same location in space. And now researchers have just picked up six more of the signals seemingly emanating from the same region, far beyond our Milky Way... Currently, the leading hypothesis for the source of the Milky Way's FRB is the cataclysmic collision of two neutron stars, which forms a black hole. The idea is that as this collision happens, huge amounts of short-lived radio energy are blasted out into space. But the repeating nature of these distant signals, all coming from the same place, suggest that can't be the case... the most likely hypothesis at the moment for these outer-galactic FRB is that they're coming from an exotic object such as a young neutron star, that's rotating with enough power to regularly emit the extremely bright pulses.
But the New York Post thinks it's aliens.

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'Watership Down' Author Richard Adams Died On Christmas Eve At Age 96
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 09:40 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's reading-about-rabbits department:
Initially rejected by several publishers, "Watership Down" (1972) went on to become one of the best-selling fantasy books of all time. Last Saturday the book's author died peacefully at the age of 96. Long-time Slashdot reader haruchai remembers some of the author's other books: In addition to his much-beloved story about anthropomorphic rabbits, Adams penned two fantasy books set in the fictional Beklan Empire, first Shardik (1974) about a hunter pursuing a giant bear he believes to be imbued with divine power, and Maia (1984), a peasant girl sold into slavery who becomes entangled in a war between neighboring countries. Adams also wrote a collection of short stories called "Tales From Watership Down" in 1996, and the original "Watership Down" was also made into a movie and an animated TV series. In announcing his death, Richard's family also included a quote from the original "Watership Down".

"It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.

"'You needn't worry about them,' said his companion. 'They'll be alright -- and thousands like them.'"

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Russian Hackers Penetrated The US Electricity Grid, Say Officials
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 08:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's power-play department:
Slashdot reader DogDude quotes the Washington Post:
A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials. While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation's electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability... American officials, including one senior administration official, said they are not yet sure what the intentions of the Russians might have been. The penetration may have been designed to disrupt the utility's operations or as a test by the Russians to see whether they could penetrate a portion of the grid... According to the report by the FBI and DHS, the hackers involved in the Russian operation used fraudulent emails that tricked their recipients into revealing passwords.

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Microsoft Patent Suggests HoloLens Could Keep Track of Your Small Items
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 05:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's where-did-I-place-my-keys department:
A new Microsoft patent has been published that describes a system that would let its HoloLens glasses track small items like car keys, ultimately helping users find their lost belongings. What's more is that the system can "monitor the status of objects without any instructions from users, keeping tabs on anything that's important to their lives," writes Adi Robertson via The Verge. From the report: The patent's basic idea is pretty simple. HoloLens has outward-facing cameras that can make a spatial map of a room, and machine vision technology can identify or track specific objects in an image. So if, for example, you put your keys down on a table, HoloLens could hypothetically spot them through the camera and quietly note their position. When you're about to leave the house, it could give you the keys' last known location, even if they've since been covered up by a newspaper or slipped under a couch cushion. But what's really interesting isn't the idea of HoloLens tracking an object. It's HoloLens learning what items matter to you and choosing what to follow, before you ever worry about losing something. To be clear, you could designate objects: one example has a traveler telling HoloLens to track their passport while abroad. In other cases, though, it could check to see how often you interact with an object, or when you move it around, and start tracking anything that hits a certain threshold.

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Foxconn and Sharp Team Up To Build $8.8 Billion LCD Plant In China
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 03:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's how-it's-made department:
Foxconn was in the news recently for plans to "automate entire factories" in China, but the electronics manufacturing company has also announced plans with Sharp to build a $8.8 billion (61 million yuan) factory in China to produce liquid-crystal displays (LCDs). Reuters reports: Sakai Display Products Corp's plant will be a so-called Gen-10.5 facility specializing in large-screen LCDs and will be operational by 2019, the company said at a signing event with local officials in Guangzhou on Friday. It said the plant will have capacity equating to 92 billion yuan a year. The heavy investment is aimed at increasing production to meet expected rising demand for large-screen televisions and monitors in Asia. Sakai Display Products Corp's plans for the Guangzhou plant come as Hon Hai seeks to turn the joint venture into a subsidiary, investing a total of 15.1 billion yuan in the company. The venture will also sell 436,000 shares for 17.1 billion yuan to an investment co-owned by Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou, giving Hon Hai a 53 percent interest in the business and lowering Sharp's stake from to 26 percent from 40 percent.

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NASA Designs 'Ice Dome' For Astronauts On Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '16 at 12:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cold-as-ice department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: The "Mars Ice Home" is a large inflatable dome that is surrounded by a shell of water ice. NASA said the design is just one of many potential concepts for creating a sustainable home for future Martian explorers. The idea came from a team at NASA's Langley Research Center that started with the concept of using resources on Mars to help build a habitat that could effectively protect humans from the elements on the Red Planet's surface, including high-energy radiation. The advantages of the Mars Ice Home is that the shell is lightweight and can be transported and deployed with simple robotics, then filled with water before the crew arrives. The ice will protect astronauts from radiation and will provide a safe place to call home, NASA says. But the structure also serves as a storage tank for water, to be used either by the explorers or it could potentially be converted to rocket fuel for the proposed Mars Ascent Vehicle. Then the structure could be refilled for the next crew. Other concepts had astronauts living in caves, or underground, or in dark, heavily shielded habitats. The team said the Ice Home concept balances the need to provide protection from radiation, without the drawbacks of an underground habitat. The design maximizes the thickness of ice above the crew quarters to reduce radiation exposure while also still allowing light to pass through ice and surrounding materials.

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How Russia Recruited Elite Hackers For Its Cyberwar
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '16 at 08:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's how-it-came-to-be department:
Lasrick quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternate source): For more than three years, rather than rely on military officers working out of isolated bunkers, Russian government recruiters have scouted a wide range of programmers, placing prominent ads on social media sites, offering jobs to college students and professional coders, and even speaking openly about looking in Russia's criminal underworld for potential talent. From the New York Post: "Russia's Defense Ministry bought advertising on Vkontakta, the country's most popular social media site, to lure those who were more talented with a keyboard than an AK-47 rifle. 'If you graduated from college, if you are a technical specialist, if you are ready to use your knowledge, we give you an opportunity,' the ad promised, according to the Times. The ad went on to assure recruits that they would be part of units called science squadrons based at military installations where they would live in 'comfortable accommodation' and showed an apartment outfitted with a washing machine, the Times reported. The Defense Ministry even dangled the chance to dodge Russia's mandatory draft by allowing university students to join a science squadron instead and then questioned them about their proficiency with programming languages, the report said."

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China Says It Will Shut Down Ivory Trade By End of 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '16 at 06:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's endangered-species department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: China says it plans to shut down its ivory trade by the end of 2017 in a move designed to curb the mass slaughter of African elephants. The Chinese government will end the processing and selling of ivory and ivory products by the end of March as it phases out the legal trade, according to a statement released on Friday. China had previously announced it planned to shut down the commercial trade, which conservationists described as significant because China's vast, increasingly affluent consumer market drives much of the elephant poaching across Africa. China, which has supported an ivory-carving industry as part of its cultural heritage, said carvers will be encouraged to change their activities and work, for example, in the restoration of artifacts for museums. More efforts will be made to stop the illegal trade, the statement said. China has allowed trade in ivory acquired before a 1989 ban on the ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which seeks to regulate the multi-billion-dollar trade in wild animals and plants. The number of Africa's savannah elephants dropped by about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014, to 352,000, because of poaching, according to a study published this year. Forest elephants, which are more difficult to count, are also under severe threat.

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Apple Patent Hints At Magnetic Ear Hooks To Keep Future AirPods In Your Ears
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '16 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's over-priced-accessories department:
Patently Apple has recently uncovered a new Apple patent that may help AirPods stay in your ears. The patent details a magnetic mechanism that wraps around the user's ear. Digital Trends reports: The magnets attract each other through the ear tissue, keeping the AirPods in place and ensuring that they don't get lost. Of course, it's not certain if Apple filed this patent with AirPods in mind -- one of the images clearly shows a wired pair of headphones, and the patent was filed in June. The concept, however, would help keep both wired and wireless earbuds in place. The issue of keeping AirPods in the ear has been arguably the biggest issue related to the AirPods, and for good reason -- they're pretty expensive little devices, so losing them is definitely not something you want to do. It's possible that Apple decided against using the ear hooks for aesthetic reasons -- Apple is known for its excellent design and the ear hooks in the patent don't exactly look great. Not only that but the design of the charging case would have to change with the ear hooks. Some reports indicate that the patent could be implemented with future versions and given the hullaballoo surrounding keeping AirPods in, we wouldn't be totally surprised. It's also possible, however, that Apple patented the design but ultimately ended up nixing it.

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Self-Driving Cars Will Make Organ Shortages Even Worse
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '16 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's wait-until-your-number-is-called department:
One of the many ways self-driving cars will impact the world is with organ shortages. It's a morbid thought, but the most reliable sources for healthy organs and tissues are the more than 35,000 people killed each year on American roads. According to the book "Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead," 1 in 5 organ donations comes from the victim of a vehicular accident. Since an estimated 94 percent of motor-vehicle accidents involve some kind of a driver error, it's easy to see how autonomous vehicles could make the streets and highways safer, while simultaneously making organ shortages even worse. Slate reports: As the number of vehicles with human operators falls, so too will the preventable fatalities. In June, Christopher A. Hart, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said, "Driverless cars could save many if not most of the 32,000 lives that are lost every year on our streets and highways." Even if self-driving cars only realize a fraction of their projected safety benefits, a decline in the number of available organs could begin as soon as the first wave of autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles hits the road -- threatening to compound our nation's already serious shortages. We're all for saving lives -- we aren't saying that we should stop self-driving cars so we can preserve a source of organ donation. But we also need to start thinking now about how to address this coming problem. The most straightforward fix would be to amend a federal law that prohibits the sale of most organs, which could allow for development of a limited organ market. Organ sales have been banned in the United States since 1984, when Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act after a spike in demand (thanks to the introduction of the immunosuppressant cyclosporine, which improved transplant survival rates from 20-30 percent to 60-70 percent) raised concerns that people's vital appendages might be "treated like fenders in an auto junkyard." Others feared an organ market would exploit minorities and those living in poverty. But the ban hasn't completely protected those populations, either. The current system hasn't stopped organ harvesting -- the illegal removal of organs from the recently deceased without the consent of the person or family -- either in the United States or abroad. It is estimated that, worldwide, as many as 10,000 black market medical operations are performed each year that involve illegally purchased organs. So what would an ethical fix to our organ transplant shortage look like? To start, while there's certainly a place for organ donation markets in the United States, implementation will be understandably slow. There are, however, small steps that can get us closer to a just system. For one, the country could consider introducing a "presumed consent" rule. This would change state organ donation registries from affirmative opt-in systems (checking that box at the DMV that yes, you do want to be an organ donor) to an affirmative opt-out system where, unless you state otherwise, you're presumed to consent to be on the list.

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