Best of 2013: My Year in Pictures

This was my first full year based in Istanbul, Turkey, a city I have long dreamed of calling home since I was a student of Ottoman history in college. While my Turkish could still stand to see some improvement, I have begun to get a foothold in a complex region and see many of the corners of Eastern Europe I previously had not.

In February, my work photographing the Khazar Islands, a $100 billion fantasy real estate project of Azerbaijani oligarch Ibrahim Ibrahimov, appeared in The New York Times Magazine. Later in the year, it would be republished again in Mare magazine in Germany. While shot in the summer of 2012, I have chosen to start the year in pictures with some of my favorite images from this shoot, due to my desire to continue photographing the Khazar Islands and the initial publication of this work in the early part of this year.

(L-r) Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, is seen with his assistant and protege, Shahin Talibov, Vice-President of Avesta Concern, at the edge of the Caspian Sea outside one of several of his homes in the Garadagh region just southwest of Baku, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012.  Ibrahimov is the developer behind the Khazar Islands artificial islands project; in his private life, he enjoys building a home for his family, moving in, and then quickly tires of the property before building a new home on an adjacent lot on his seaside lands.

(L-r) Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, is seen with his assistant and protege, Shahin Talibov, Vice-President of Avesta Concern, at the edge of the Caspian Sea outside one of several of his homes in the Garadagh region just southwest of Baku, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012. Ibrahimov is the developer behind the Khazar Islands artificial islands project; in his private life, he enjoys building a home for his family, moving in, and then quickly tires of the property before building a new home on an adjacent lot on his seaside lands.

(Center) Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, talks on his cell phone at the breakfast table while seated between his wife (at left) Valida Ibrahimli and son Huseyn, 18, in one of several houses on his Caspian seaside property he used to inhabit with his family in the Garadagh region just southwest of Baku, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012.  Ibrahimov is the developer behind the Khazar Islands artificial islands project; in his private life, he enjoys building a home for his family, moving in, and then quickly tires of the property before building a new home on an adjacent lot on his seaside lands.

(Center) Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, talks on his cell phone at the breakfast table while seated between his wife (at left) Valida Ibrahimli and son Huseyn, 18, in one of several houses on his Caspian seaside property he used to inhabit with his family in the Garadagh region just southwest of Baku, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012. Ibrahimov is the developer behind the Khazar Islands artificial islands project; in his private life, he enjoys building a home for his family, moving in, and then quickly tires of the property before building a new home on an adjacent lot on his seaside lands.

(At right) Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, is seen on site of the of the Khazar Islands project near Sahil, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012.  The brainchild of Ibrahimov, the artificial Khazar Islands project just southwest of the Azerbaijani capital Baku is being built at a projected cost of $100 billion with an anticipated 800,000 housing units.

(At right) Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, is seen on site of the of the Khazar Islands project near Sahil, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012. The brainchild of Ibrahimov, the artificial Khazar Islands project just southwest of the Azerbaijani capital Baku is being built at a projected cost of $100 billion with an anticipated 800,000 housing units.

Dying palm trees are seen on site of the Khazar Islands project near Sahil, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012.  The brainchild of Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, the artificial Khazar Islands project just southwest of the Azerbaijani capital Baku is being built at a projected cost of $100 billion with an anticipated 800,000 housing units.

Dying palm trees are seen on site of the Khazar Islands project near Sahil, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012. The brainchild of Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, the artificial Khazar Islands project just southwest of the Azerbaijani capital Baku is being built at a projected cost of $100 billion with an anticipated 800,000 housing units.

Some of the first buildings are seen under development at the Khazar Islands project near Sahil, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012.  The brainchild of Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, the artificial Khazar Islands project just southwest of the Azerbaijani capital Baku is being built at a projected cost of $100 billion with an anticipated 800,000 housing units.

Some of the first buildings are seen under development at the Khazar Islands project near Sahil, Azerbaijan on July 18, 2012. The brainchild of Ibrahim Ibrahimov, an Azerbaijani oligarch and billionaire, the artificial Khazar Islands project just southwest of the Azerbaijani capital Baku is being built at a projected cost of $100 billion with an anticipated 800,000 housing units.

Ibrahim Ibrahimov stands beside the Caspian Sea at the edge of his property as a sea of minows swims in the sea passed his feet between Sangachal and Sahil, Azerbaijan on August 16, 2012.

Ibrahim Ibrahimov stands beside the Caspian Sea at the edge of his property as a sea of minows swims in the sea passed his feet between Sangachal and Sahil, Azerbaijan on August 16, 2012.

In January, I took a road trip through the American deep south to explore “post-racial America” and the tensions that exist beneath the surface of the narrative of Obama as America’s first post-racial president.

Members of a Mennonite family are seen riding a dinosaur with a saddle inside the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky on January 3, 2013.  The Creation Museum teaches the difference between "man's law" and "god's law," disputing evolution, evolutionary science and other teachings that eschew the Bible.

Members of a Mennonite family are seen riding a dinosaur with a saddle inside the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky on January 3, 2013. The Creation Museum teaches the difference between “man’s law” and “god’s law,” disputing evolution, evolutionary science and other teachings that eschew the Bible.

Muslim men are seen during Friday evening prayers at the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on January 4, 2012.  The Murfreesboro mosque was the center of a national controversy given the deep racist history of a town that saw many lynchings, some notorious, in the early 20th century.

Muslim men are seen during Friday evening prayers at the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on January 4, 2012. The Murfreesboro mosque was the center of a national controversy given the deep racist history of a town that saw many lynchings, some notorious, in the early 20th century.

A stop sign with "Obama" written underneath in Clarksdale, Mississippi on January 6, 2012.

A stop sign with “Obama” written underneath in Clarksdale, Mississippi on January 6, 2012.

A Never Forget September 11 billboard is seen beside a Budweiser plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 11, 2013.

A Never Forget September 11 billboard is seen beside a Budweiser plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 11, 2013.

Courtney Leigh celebrates her 12th birthday at the Tortuga restaurant in Galveston, Texas on January 11, 2013.

Courtney Leigh celebrates her 12th birthday at the Tortuga restaurant in Galveston, Texas on January 11, 2013.

In March, I spent a week in Cyprus covering the collapse of that country’s banking sector. Overnight, depositors lost 60 percent of their accounts. Some called it a “haircut,” but it really amounted to a distortion of EU banking rules and regulations. Overnight, the Euro was worth less than it was elsewhere in the Eurozone.

Bank of Cyprus employees, several in tears, swarm the Central Bank of Cyprus after marching from the Bank of Cyprus to demand the resignation of the chief of the Central Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia, Cyprus on March 26, 2013.  Banks in Cyprus remain closed for now until Thursday morning as many fear for their life savings and their jobs.

Bank of Cyprus employees, several in tears, swarm the Central Bank of Cyprus after marching from the Bank of Cyprus to demand the resignation of the chief of the Central Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia, Cyprus on March 26, 2013. Banks in Cyprus remain closed for now until Thursday morning as many fear for their life savings and their jobs.

In April, I spent a week in Berlin photographing what might be one of the most fascinating weeks I have ever experienced observing humanity interacting with what it considers “the other” at the Jewish Museum, where a different Jewish person spent two hours each afternoon seated in an open box taking questions from the visiting public.

Ido Porat, 33. Birthplace: Ber Sheva, Israel. Residence: Berlin, Germany. Citizenship: German and Israeli. Occupation: Works at the Jewish Museum Berlin and another memorial site; Hebrew school teacher. Favorite Question: I like more the children's questions because they really want to know.  The exhibit is based around questions and so this question of it is ok to joke about the Holocaust. Photographed at the Jewish Museum Berlin on April 16, 2013.

Ido Porat, 33.
Birthplace: Ber Sheva, Israel.
Residence: Berlin, Germany.
Citizenship: German and Israeli.
Occupation: Works at the Jewish Museum Berlin and another memorial site; Hebrew school teacher.
Favorite Question: I like more the children’s questions because they really want to know. The exhibit is based around questions and so this question of it is ok to joke about the Holocaust.
Photographed at the Jewish Museum Berlin on April 16, 2013.

Rabbi Walter Rothschild, 59. Birthplace: Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Residence: Lived in Germany since 1998. Citizenship: United Kingdom. Occupation: Rabbi. Favorite Question: Why is the name for God in Hebrew in the plural form? The answer is nobody really knows why but there are various theories. Photographed at the Jewish Museum Berlin on April 21, 2013.

Rabbi Walter Rothschild, 59.
Birthplace: Bradford, Yorkshire, England.
Residence: Lived in Germany since 1998.
Citizenship: United Kingdom.
Occupation: Rabbi.
Favorite Question: Why is the name for God in Hebrew in the plural form? The answer is nobody really knows why but there are various theories.
Photographed at the Jewish Museum Berlin on April 21, 2013.

In June, protesters in Istanbul occupied the central Taksim Square in anti-government protests that unsuccessfully sought the ouster of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has held power for 11 years now and is seeking to become the country’s president next year, a position he hoped to endow with new powers. The “Gezi protesters,” as they became known for the park beside Taksim where they had set up a tent city in an effort to protect the trees there and prevent the construction of a replica Ottoman barracks championed by Erdogan, were very successful however in giving the Prime Minister a black eye.

Turks light a paper lantern at a protest in Taksim Square after a week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from the square as it transforms increasingly into a free, carnival-like zone in Istanbul, Turkey on June 6, 2013.  The crisis which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall has evolved into Turkey's biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turks light a paper lantern at a protest in Taksim Square after a week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from the square as it transforms increasingly into a free, carnival-like zone in Istanbul, Turkey on June 6, 2013. The crisis which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall has evolved into Turkey’s biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Flags bearing Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed PKK leader, and the Kurdish national flag are seen in the middle of Taksim Square on an overturned police vehicle during a protest of the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square leading to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013.  A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul's Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey's biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Flags bearing Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed PKK leader, and the Kurdish national flag are seen in the middle of Taksim Square on an overturned police vehicle during a protest of the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square leading to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013. A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul’s Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey’s biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A young woman blows bubbles in Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square where ongoing protests against the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square have lead to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013.  A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul's Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey's biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A young woman blows bubbles in Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square where ongoing protests against the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square have lead to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013. A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul’s Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey’s biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The crowd in Taksim Square reacts to a pyrotechnics show of fireworks and torches in during ongoing protests against the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square have lead to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013.  A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul's Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey's biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The crowd in Taksim Square reacts to a pyrotechnics show of fireworks and torches in during ongoing protests against the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square have lead to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013. A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul’s Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey’s biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turks gather in Taksim Square where ongoing protests against the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square have lead to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013.  A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul's Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey's biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turks gather in Taksim Square where ongoing protests against the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies a week after demonstrators forced police to withdraw from the square have lead to a carnival-like sit-in in Istanbul, Turkey on June 8, 2013. A week of protests led to police being barricaded out of and withdrawing from Istanbul’s Taksim Square as it transforms increasingly into a free zone; the crisis, which began over construction of a park and plans to reconstruct Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall, has evolved into Turkey’s biggest political crisis in decades as Turks express frustration with the current AK Party, Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A vendor is seen in Taksim Square early in the morning in Istanbul, Turkey on June 10, 2013.  After more than a week of protests in Taksim Square against the demolition of the adjacent Gezi Park in favor of a reconstructed Ottoman barracks and shopping mall which have escalated into a nationwide call of the country's secular-minded citizens for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign, the signs of life slowly returning to normal are gradually reappearing after a weekend of street parties.

A vendor is seen in Taksim Square early in the morning in Istanbul, Turkey on June 10, 2013. After more than a week of protests in Taksim Square against the demolition of the adjacent Gezi Park in favor of a reconstructed Ottoman barracks and shopping mall which have escalated into a nationwide call of the country’s secular-minded citizens for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign, the signs of life slowly returning to normal are gradually reappearing after a weekend of street parties.

Turks continue to occupy Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square by camping out in Istanbul, Turkey on June 10, 2013.  Ten days of protests that began over plans to demolish Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square and have spread into a nationwide manifestation of dislike for the policies and ruling style of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics charge has become increasingly authoritarian.

Turks continue to occupy Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square by camping out in Istanbul, Turkey on June 10, 2013. Ten days of protests that began over plans to demolish Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square and have spread into a nationwide manifestation of dislike for the policies and ruling style of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics charge has become increasingly authoritarian.

A mattress is seen on a pile of rubble after riot police moved to retake Taksim Square the night before in Istanbul, Turkey on June 12, 2013.  After 11 days of protest and occupying Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square, riot police firmly took control of Taksim Square with street battles on back streets occurring until the early hours of the morning and a few hundred demonstrators continuing to camp out in the adjacent Gezi Park.

A mattress is seen on a pile of rubble after riot police moved to retake Taksim Square the night before in Istanbul, Turkey on June 12, 2013. After 11 days of protest and occupying Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square, riot police firmly took control of Taksim Square with street battles on back streets occurring until the early hours of the morning and a few hundred demonstrators continuing to camp out in the adjacent Gezi Park.

A protester poses in front of a Turkish-made TOMA riot control vehicle in Taksim Square the evening after riot police moved to retake the square the night before in Istanbul, Turkey on June 12, 2013.  After 11 days of protest and occupying Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square, riot police firmly took control of Taksim Square with street battles on back streets occurring until the early hours of the morning and a few hundred demonstrators continuing to camp out in the adjacent Gezi Park.

A protester poses in front of a Turkish-made TOMA riot control vehicle in Taksim Square the evening after riot police moved to retake the square the night before in Istanbul, Turkey on June 12, 2013. After 11 days of protest and occupying Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square, riot police firmly took control of Taksim Square with street battles on back streets occurring until the early hours of the morning and a few hundred demonstrators continuing to camp out in the adjacent Gezi Park.

Posters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk surrounded by painted over graffiti are seen near Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey on June 13, 2013.  On the 17th day of protest and periodic riots in Istanbul, many awoke to find graffiti opposing the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish acronym AKP, had been painted over by municipal workers overnight.

Posters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk surrounded by painted over graffiti are seen near Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey on June 13, 2013. On the 17th day of protest and periodic riots in Istanbul, many awoke to find graffiti opposing the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish acronym AKP, had been painted over by municipal workers overnight.

Davide Martello, an Italian residing in Germany, gives a piano recital for the second consecutive night in Taksim Square two days after riot police raided the square and left the adjacent Gezi Park for demonstrators and hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that patience with the demonstrations had ended and that mothers and fathers should take their children from Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey on June 13, 2013.  While many protesters expected further police violence, the night was peaceful.

Davide Martello, an Italian residing in Germany, gives a piano recital for the second consecutive night in Taksim Square two days after riot police raided the square and left the adjacent Gezi Park for demonstrators and hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that patience with the demonstrations had ended and that mothers and fathers should take their children from Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey on June 13, 2013. While many protesters expected further police violence, the night was peaceful.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a crowd of supporters after more than two weeks straight of protests across Turkey against his rule in Sincan, Turkey on June 15, 2013.  Sincan is the site of the 1997 "post-modern coup" and where Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chose for his Ankara rally to bolster his position with regard to ongoing protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square and across Turkey; at his rally he said that the security services would promptly take care of the protesters and shortly after riot police were unleashed on the peacefully gathered demonstrators who quickly retook the square.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a crowd of supporters after more than two weeks straight of protests across Turkey against his rule in Sincan, Turkey on June 15, 2013. Sincan is the site of the 1997 “post-modern coup” and where Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chose for his Ankara rally to bolster his position with regard to ongoing protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and across Turkey; at his rally he said that the security services would promptly take care of the protesters and shortly after riot police were unleashed on the peacefully gathered demonstrators who quickly retook the square.

Protesters gather on Kennedy Street to express their distaste for Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish acronym AK Party, in Ankara, Turkey on June 16, 2013.  Since protesters occupied and were evicted from Gezi Park in Istanbul's main Taksim Square in late May, nationwide protests have followed in solidarity with the cause and against Erdogan.

Protesters gather on Kennedy Street to express their distaste for Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish acronym AK Party, in Ankara, Turkey on June 16, 2013. Since protesters occupied and were evicted from Gezi Park in Istanbul’s main Taksim Square in late May, nationwide protests have followed in solidarity with the cause and against Erdogan.

In September, I returned to Azerbaijan where I first visited in 2010 with a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant and lived in 2011-2012 with a Fulbright grant for my first visit back since leaving Azerbaijan. I continued several bodies of work in progress and started a new project. But I think finally I can let my Heydaristan! work rest now that I captured this first shot of the new 90th birthday special billboard for Heydar Aliyev’s official posthumous celebrations.

A special 90th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev poster is seen at the Statistika intersection in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 8, 2013.

A special 90th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev poster is seen at the Statistika intersection in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 8, 2013.

After two years of construction, a barge hauls the West Chirag offshore oil platform, operated by BP, out into the Caspian Sea in the Bibi Heybat district of Baku, Azerbaijan on September 12, 2013.  The platform will be operational by December 2013 and will see its first returns of crude oil in the spring of 2014.

After two years of construction, a barge hauls the West Chirag offshore oil platform, operated by BP, out into the Caspian Sea in the Bibi Heybat district of Baku, Azerbaijan on September 12, 2013. The platform will be operational by December 2013 and will see its first returns of crude oil in the spring of 2014.

An Avar family is seen riding in a motorcycle and a side car along a main street in the Avar village of Danaci, Azerbaijan on September 14, 2013.

An Avar family is seen riding in a motorcycle and a side car along a main street in the Avar village of Danaci, Azerbaijan on September 14, 2013.

Thank you for your interest and support in my work! Hope your year was productive, inspiring, and enjoyable and wishing you the same in the new year. All the best, Amanda



Categories: Archive, Azerbaijan, Baku, baku billionaire, Cyprus, Energy, Germany, Gezi Protests, Istanbul, Politics, Publications, Turkey, United States

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