22 September 2017

Until 2013, Daniel Testa was the most successful artist to represent Malta in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest with "Junior Swing", a song he wrote himself, finishing in 4th place. That all changed when Gaia Cauchi swept to victory in an impressive performance of "The Start", co-written with Gillian Attard, Elton Zarb and Matthew Mercieca.

Earlier this year, Daniel Testa emerged as a dark horse during the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, and came the closest to winning the ticket, as a vocalist who had been to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, including Marilena Gauci and Sophie DeBattista who have made the finals but yet to trouble the top three. "One Last Ride", a co-write between Stephen Rudden and Lawrence Peter Bridge, finished in third place, after achieving the second most amount of points with the public, just behind "Hypnotica" composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg by Jessika.

In an interview with junioreurovision.tv, Daniel Testa confirmed that he will be putting his name forward for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest in the future, including next year. Nevertheless, he hopes that 'there would not be too many' entries before he would finally triumph. We urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com even through Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news.

Source: junioreurovision.tv

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Published in Latest News - Local

Rui Andrade, a male vocalist who has finished as the second runner-up in the Festival da Cancao on no less than three occasions including earlier this year is set to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark as part of a team of backing vocalists. In yet another escflashmalta.com exclusive, we have learnt that the singer/songwriter from Portugal will be accompanying the Tolmachevy Sisters during their performance of the song Shine composed by Philipp Kirkorov & Dimitris Kontopolous with lyrics by Ralph Charlie, John Ballard & Gerard James Borg.

Participation in the Portuguese national selection was handled by none other than Olivier Vanhoutte, a longtime friend and escflashmalta.com editor who has declined to give a comment with regards to the story. Nevertheless, other outlets have confirmed this story which will add to the international intrigue surrounding the Russian entry at this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. The question which many will ask is whether this will turn up to be a wise marketing move or appear to be a desperate attempt at trying to secure votes. We urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all the latest news about the 2014 edition of the continental competition.

Source: escflashmalta.com

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Friday, 04 April 2014 12:50

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Russia

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #7, we catch up with Russia (RTR) who will be represented by Tolmachevy Sisters an the song Shine composed by Kontopoulos and Kirkorov with lyrics by Ballard, Charlie and Borg.

The twin sisters Anastasia and Maria Tolmachevy are from Kursk, a small town 500 km away from Moscow, where they are living now. They are 17 years old now and are graduating from the middle school this year. Anastasia and Maria are singing since they were little girls. Their mother is a music teacher who led and supported her daughters in their music career. Anastasia and Maria sang in various music studios. They participated in many junior song contests. But their breakthrough was in 2006 when the sisters took part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Bucharest and won the competition reaching 154 points with their performance Vesennij Jazz (The Spring Jazz).

In 2007, Russia 1 Channel broadcast the documentary film about their success in the 2006 Junior Eurovision Song Contest The Phenomenal Twin Sisters. In the same year, Anastasia and Maria stared in the New Year`s Eve television musical Kingdom Of Crooked Mirrors where they sang together with Alla Pugacheva, the Russian participant of the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest. The sisters also released their album Polovinki (The Halves). Later they took part in various concerts, for example at the Red Square, in different music television shows like Saturday Night at the Russia-1 Channel.

The Tolmachevy Sisters were special guests in the 2007 Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam and in the 2010 Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Minsk. Anastasia and Maria took part in the opening act of the First Semi-Final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. They have been given the challenge of a lifetime, that to possibly become winners of the senior edition of the continental competition after triumphing in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest as much as seven years back. It will not be an easy feat though, without bringing up certain elements which do not constitute as grounds of reason in music.

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Russia is well and truly one of the most successful countries to partake in the Eurovision Song Contest, having finished as the first runner-up in 2000 at the hands of Alsou and the track Solo before managing a string of top ten finishes, finally culminating in their first ever victory back in 2009. The song Believe performed by popstar Dima Bilan had been noted from the onset, especially because he had done well on one previous occasion. Since then, Russia has still flirted with the top ten but also obtained one of their worst ever results in 2011 when Alexey Sparrow and his song Get You could only garner 77 points to finish in sixteenth place.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 51%

Martin Isherwood: Strong melodies in the chorus. Nice sentiment in the lyrics. Good voices. Strong hooks. 60s feels with timpani and strings, quite like The Pierces: 'Glorious'.

Deo Grech: This is so ironic, indeed. Last year they presented a prophetic entry with the lyrics which went like this: ''what if we came together as one....what if we chose to bury our guns....why don't we always reach out to those who need us the most''.  Well it's high time they act what they preach. Full stop!

Stano Simor: This year Russia dissembled selection of songs and artist. Lackluster song in the style of outdated pop, which is not written for the voices Tolmachevy Sister .They  don 't have the space to show  their vocal potential in this song.

Matt Mercieca: Song is super average , but at parts I feel like I’m about to love it, but then something keeps me back, Im so lost, this is a little confusing, I love it one second, I think its rubbish the next! 

Source: eurovision.tv

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Published in Opinions

The Tolmachevy Sisters, winners of the 2006 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, were internally chosen by the public broadcaster, RTR as the representatives on behalf of Russia at this years' international competition. They will be performing a song entitled Shine composed by Dimitris Kontipoulos and Philipp Kirkorov with lyrics by John Ballard, Ralph Charlie and Gerard James Borg. The official presentation of the song took place earlier today through vesti.ru and their YouTube page, but nevertheless, it does indeed sound like a demo.

Shine is a mid-tempo number, one which seems to have been rushed into submission due to the Heads of Delegation Meeting which took place earlier this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. Whilst not dated, the song is very much influenced by music of the past, predominantly a merge between the seventies, and the eighties. We expect this song to be re-arranged in time for the Eurovision Song Contest, with a final version to be presented in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all the latest news.

Source: RTR

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In France, a selection process was unveiled a couple of weeks ago, featuring three (3) entries, all of which hope to represent the nation in this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark. In recent weeks escflashmalta.com had the pleasure of speaking to two (2) of the acts; Joanna and Twin Twin, both considered to be the frontrunners. Whilst we appreciate the authenticity of both entries, our support goes towards the former, due to the fact that the song-writing team comprises of Gerard James Borg, Philip Vella and Sean Vella, all being local.

Joanna is busy promoting her entry Ma Liberté, having had a special performance on Le Mag on NRJ 12, one of the most popular broadcasters in the country, especially where music is concerned. The vocalist has recently been in touch with the editorial team, and recorded a specific video directed to YOU, our readers, to call for your support and votes, something which could be done through the Official Website of France 3. You may also purchase a copy of the single through digital store, iTunes in Malta and help it climb up the local charts, considering that the product is indeed local.

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Apart from promoting the single, and hoping to become the next representative of France, with the hope of improving recent results at the international competition, Joanna is hoping to revive her career, and therefore, also launched an English version of the song entitled Re-Invented as well as a brand new version of Ma Liberté which has more punch. The idea is to re-create a bond-like feeling in this new take, one which I believe is extremely powerful, especially in comparison to the one presented before it. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all the latest news.

Source: Joanna (Facebook / Twitter)

Joanna, one of the hopefuls trying to represent France in this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest has just re-recorded her entry Ma Liberté in English as Reinvented. The original version is composed by Sean Vella, Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg with lyrics by Yann Guillon but this brand new version in English is penned by Gerard James Borg himself, having already exhibited his work on a notable number of entries in the past including; Desire (2000), 7th Wonder (2002), On Again .. Off Again (2004), Vertigo (2007) and Vodka (2008).

Ma Liberté is one (1) of three (3) entries which have been shortlisted in the pre-selection and is seemingly joint favourite with Moustache performed by the group Twin Twin who have been racking up public support for one main reason; their insanity. Late in January, we had the pleasure of speaking to Joanna and her participation in France, and we will be publishing an exclusive video message in a couple of day’s time, along with details on how the public can vote for the song without using their phones. We urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for the latest news about the 2014 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Source: Official Facebook Page

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It has always been a pleasure to speak to artists competing in national finals across Europe and therefore, this year will not be any different, even more for the simple reason that local songwriters are entering foreign selection procedures. We have recently caught up with Joanna, one (1) of three (3) acts competing to represent France in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Ma Liberté written by Philip Vella, Gerard James Borg, Sean Vella and Yann Guillon.

In 2013, Amandine Bourgeois represented France with L’Enfer et Moi, mustering only fourteen (14) points to finish in twenty-third (23rd) place at the end of the voting. This kept in line with the disappointing results that the nation has achieved in recent years, despite enlisting notable names such as Amaury Vassili and Anggun, who in turn represent different genres. What would you bring to the competition that would make you stand out?

I will try to be myself, without thinking about what people think because of the past. The most important thing when I'm on stage in every circumstance is, to respect people in being honest in my interpretation. The first thing, if I go to Copenhagen, is to satisfy my country, even if I don't win, I want them to be proud to have chosen me.  

Ma Liberté, the song which you hope to represent France with in this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is co-composed by Philip Vella, Gerard James Borg and Sean Vella with French lyrics by Yann Guillon and English lyrics by Gerard James Borg. How did you come in contact with the songwriters and how would you describe your entry?

I was listening to some songs for my album, when I heard Ma Liberté and I felt like it was my own song. It was like I could have written in myself because it was full of emotion – the very same strong emotions I would describe in music and lyrics.

When my manager saw my reaction in listening to the song, he decided to present it for the national contest. And it was a really beautiful and welcome surprise for me to be chosen as a finalist for France. 

Without a shadow of doubt, the local audience are familiar with three (3) of those four (4) individuals but nevertheless, Yann Guillon is an extremely respected songwriter in France having previously worked with Emmanuel Moire whose most recent album Le Chemin peaked at number #1 in the official chart. How does it feel to have such an opportunity and will this be the start of an extended collaboration?

I would be so honoured and happy to work with him on other songs. He understood who I was, and he uses words like I would listen to a French song, it's pure and honest. It's really difficult for me to write in french so I'm really admiring Yann Guillon he's a really talented man.

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This marks the first time in seven (7) years that France is hosting a public selection process, and your entry Ma Liberté is up against another two (2) entries, one entitled Moustache and the other one being Sans Toi. How does it feel to have been selected by the professional jury as one of the finalists and what do you think of the other songs in contention?

It makes me happy and I'm really motivated to show French people I'm able to go to Copenhagen. I don't like to be in competition, not because it's a lot of stress, but because when there's competition there's negativity. The other songs are pretty different to what I do and it's good. Because French people will be free to choose which kind of image and music they want to be represented by.

Natasha St-Pier, a French-Canadian recording artist who had the opportunity to represent France at the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2001 with the song Je Ne Que Mon Âme  has decided to publically support your participation on behalf of the nation. Having such a magnificient artist throw her weight of music experience behind you must be an honour and a burden at the same time. How do you view such support, and were you surprised?

I'm really happy to see her supporting me publicly. I was really surprised because I didn't expect her support my song before the diffusion of the show on Sunday 26th January. It's very good but I have to convince everyone else now! :)

Would you like to say anything to our readers at escflashmalta.com? And what can our readers - who have read this article and would like to support you and your song in France – do?

I want to say thank you to those who are supporting me. And I invite them to go on France 3 web site, and vote Ma Liberte’ (Song number 2) if they like it and if they want me to go in the Eurovision finale. (http://www.france3.fr/eurovision) Thank you very much and I hope to see you in Copenhagen. A big hug and kiss to sunny Malta! xxxxx  Thanks for your support! I truly appreciate.

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Published in Interviews
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 17:39

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track 'Oblivion'

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Oblivion, composed by Philip Vella and Chris Grech to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by Chris Grech.

Chris Grech, lead singer of the band Twenty-Six Other-Worlds which is definitely the comfort zone for the male vocalist considering that it encompasses a rock/metal genre, which best suits his vocal chords. The Eurovision Song Contest on the other hand, is completely different and something which Chris has decided to give a shot due to the massive exposure it is known to give to the participants. Kick starting his campaign just last year with the song Never Walk Away, he left a long lasting impression by virtue of winning the Public Award offered by escflashmalta.com and finishing in third place when it came to the public vote behind eventual winner Gianluca and runner-up Kevin Borg. Music is in his blood, and in his veins and Chris will stop at nothing to get his voice heard by the masses as seen in a variety of events, amongst them Rockestra where he teamed up with Ludwig Galea in 2013 and Teatru Unplugged.

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Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg, the most successful songwriters in Malta, having been given the opportunity to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest on no less than five (5) occasions, all of which came in the past decade; kicking things off with Desire in 2000, and moving onto 7th Wonder in 2002, On Again .. Off Again in 2004, Vertigo in 2007 and Vodka in 2008, respectively. It has been six (6) years since their last victory and whilst they have been close, most notably with Claudia Faniello and her entry Pure back in 2012, they are yet to head over to the international competition for a sixth (6th) time. Apart from being a successful combination on a local level, it is well worth pointing out that they have also achieved national final success in Norway and The Netherlands where their entries managing third and fourth place, respectively.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 54%

John Scott: He has a great voice, but the song is pretty generic to me. It doesn’t quite become the anthem sort of song that it needs to be for a rock song.

Martin Isherwood: Super high notes worthy of 'The Darkness'. ‘Judas kiss' and 'nest of worries' in the first verse! I'm scared to continue! Good melodies in chorus. There are unfortunately, many singers and songwriters of gloomy songs who know exactly what musical oblivion feels like. Some great moments. Stops rather than ends - feels like a clumsy edit of a longer song.

Sharon Vaughn: The artist is remarkable. The song is too far off topic to be moving. Sadly, the topline melody doesn't match the changes in the melody of the track. 

Stano Simor: Chris is a rocker and demonstrates clearly its distinctive voice. His voice surpassed energy of the entire musical background. This is evident especially in the chorus. But the track in this version does not have the required potential. I would certainly download it to an MP3 player in my car as I travel between Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Greig Watts: For me just feels like an ordinary rock song, nothing different or special jumps out to me to make it above the others. Nice song but as I said previously nice is often not good enough.

Source: Public Broadcasting Servicesescflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Lovetricity, composed by Magnus Kaxe to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by Christabelle.

Christabelle, a female vocalist who decided to focus on releasing material onto radio, rather than competitions, going onto release six (6) singles; I Wanna Know, Flame, Naturally, Everytime I Bleed, Everything About You, Say and Fall For You, all of which made it into the top ten on 89.7 Bay. At the Bay Music Awards, organised by the aforementioned radio station, Christabelle has been successful on seven (7) occasions, going onto win the Best Solo Artist four (4) times (2008-2009, 2011-2012), the Viewers Choice Award in 2008 and the Best Song Award in 2009, respectively. Apart from working on a series of singles, Christabelle has been given several opportunities pertaining to her talent, having been the opening act for Laura Pausini and also got chosen to perform with Gigi D’Alessio during his nationwide tour back in 2009.

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Magnus Kaxe and Gerard James Borg, the individuals behind this song in particular have managed to build a respectable discography between them, having successfully worked with Dorothy Bezzina, Richard Edwards and Klinsmann on their most recent submissions for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest including; Autobiography, Starting from the End, Fall Like Rome and The Remedy. Magnus Kaxe from Sweden, has incredible experience in the field, having successfully collaborated with the likes of Celine Dion and Clay Aiken, a former winner of the Eurovision Song Contest and American Idol runner-up. In the meantime, Gerard James Borg, is the most successful lyricist in Malta, having songs selected to represent the country on five (5) occasions, and making national finals in France, Romania, Iceland, Norway, Spain and Belgium. Together they are becoming a formidable team, and their approach this time round is a tad different as they have submitted a dance song.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 61%

John Scott: The production is more modern than most of the dance songs. And the post-chorus part is nice. But I think the hook is not strong enough in the end for the song to stand out.

Martin Isherwood: Nice voice if a little processed. Can't really make out the lyrics though. Chorus strong melodically but I'm clueless as to where 'lovetricity' fits in or what it is, but it sounds painful! Throws in a few dance tricks, but never really sounds authentically club like.

Sharon Vaughn: Hate the name, gimmick, gimmick, gimmick. She struggled but couldn't make anything of this over-used approach.

Stano Simor: Surely one of the best productions of the year. This is a pop dance song, which is somewhat up-tempo and has melodic choruses. It works well! Christabelle has a very good attitude in front of the camera and the tracks fits her like a globe. I will keep my fingers cross that this gets through to the Saturday show.

Greig Watts: A good song! It builds nicely throughout and the chorus hits you well in the track, for me the first part of the chorus melody is good but what hits me most is the secondary hook with the La Lovetricity that is definitely the memorable bit. I thought Second chorus was too long and therefore was waiting for this part to come in, but I expect this is due to the 3 minutes rule, so the writers/producers needed to decide whether to have a short chorus and mid section (bridge) or just a long chorus. They opted for the long chorus here; I personally would have done the same but brought the la lovetricity hook in earlier. 

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions
Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:48

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track ‘Invisible’

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Invisible, composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by Raquel.

Raquel, a relative newcomer to the local music industry, is a debutant in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, one (1) of five (5) which also include; ChristabelleRyan Paul Abela, De Bee and Daniel Testa. With just one prior competition as experience though, it seems that she is the most green and susceptible to the newcomer tag. As a finalist in the 2013 edition of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza with the song Mhux Pupa Biss composed by Minik to the lyrics of Rita Pace, she finished in ninth (9th) place ahead of more established artists such as Christian Arding, Janice Mangion and Domenique, all of which had previously been part of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. Vocally coached by Ludwig Galea, a former representative of Malta at the international spectacle, Raquel is known to channel dido with her impressive vocal range.

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Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg, the most successful songwriters in Malta, having been given the opportunity to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest on no less than five (5) occasions, all of which came in the past decade; kicking things off with Desire in 2000, and moving onto 7th Wonder in 2002, On Again .. Off Again in 2004, Vertigo in 2007 and Vodka in 2008, respectively. It has been six (6) years since their last victory and whilst they have been close, most notably with Claudia Faniello and her entry Pure back in 2012, they are yet to head over to the international competition for a sixth (6th) time. Apart from being a successful combination on a local level, it is well worth pointing out that they have also achieved national final success in Norway and The Netherlands where their entries managing third and fourth place, respectively.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 58%

John Scott: She has a very unique and interesting voice. The song is good. My biggest concern is that her accent is very heavy and it is difficult to understand what she is singing. But she has good stage presence and the song is memorable.

Martin Isherwood: Unusual voice like Dido wearing Bjork's teeth. Wasn't sure what language she was singing in at first although the lyrics seem quite well put together use of falsetto flip and melsima really disrupts the flow. The song meaning escapes me. Almost impossible to understand what she's saying. I'm not sure that this stands a chance in Eurovision. Strange ending just stops.

Sharon Vaughn: There is something really fresh and original about this girl and this song. The falsetto flip is alluring... a little like some other artists but she puts her own spin to it and it works.

Stano Simor: Invisible was the only song that has left me with little emotion from this years’ entries. I did not hear a strong hit factor in the chorus. The song is built too high for her vocal range. It seems that it does not fit her, especially in those high notes. I think Raquel would fit a rebel song better.

Greig Watts: For me I’m not sure the singer matches the song, actually she has a good voice, but sounds a little like she’s trying to be Bjork where the song needs a more pure vocal (in my opinion of course), so for me it doesn’t come across as well as it could, So for me a quite good song becomes a bit more ordinary because of its presentation by singer and fairly basic production. It doesn’t grab me as much as others, sorry

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions
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