NOTE: This page from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism website offers documentation of and background about serious irregularities in international adoption. For the systemic analysis of corruption in international adoption, please read “The Lie We Love,” Foreign Policy magazine, Nov./Dec. 2008, and visit our webpages dedicated to international adoption. For ideas about fairer policy solutions, please read “The Baby Business,” Democracy Journal, Summer 2010.
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How fate smiled on foundling
Ha Noi—According to the latest version of the draft law on adoption—under discussion by the National Assembly Standing Committee—only children under 16 years can be offered for adoption. NA deputies also touched upon the termination of the relationship between the adoptive parents and adopted children.
Lawmakers have called for increasing the amount foreigners have to pay to adopt Vietnamese children to cover the administrative costs.
May 26, 2010: The U.S. Department of State strongly discourages prospective adoptive parents from choosing adoption in Nepal because of grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal’s adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children’s official files.
PUNE: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against a managing trustee of city-based Preet Mandir and some state government officials for their alleged involvement in an 'inter-country adoption racket'.
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) suspects the connivance of government officials with a Pune-based foundation in a racket involving the kidnapping of children of poor families and putting them up for adoption.
Take My Daughter: Confessions of a Chinese baby trafficker
Survey responses (.pdf) are listed below by agency name and responses are published as submitted.
Strengthen supports for international adoption
Reporter Scott Tong shares the backstory of his report on the dark side of China's adoption system, including how one convicted baby trafficker offered to sell Scott his daughter during an interview. View picture slideshow.
Opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Kathleen L. Whitten, visiting lecturer at Georgia State University and author of “Labor of the Heart: A Parent’s Guide to Decisions and Emotions in Adoption.”
After nearly a month of contradictory signals, a senior Russian official is now making clear that the government has not halted the adoption of Russian children by Americans.
By law, private adoption agencies in Georgia are supposed to operate as nonprofit organizations. For many private adoption and foster care agencies, nonprofit status in the child protection business leaves plenty of room for lucrative rewards, according to an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Haiti’s adoption authority, the Institut du Bien-être Social et de Recherches (IBESR), has informed the U.S. Government that they are now accepting new adoption applications for Haitian children who were either documented as orphans before January 12, 2010, or relinquished by their birth parent(s) since the earthquake.
The U.S. Department of State cautions American citizens against filing an application to adopt a child from Liberia while the moratorium on adoption remains in effect. The U.S. Embassy remains in frequent contact with adoption officials, but there is no indication when the moratorium might be lifted.
Kathmandu--Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare Sarwadev Ojha has been putting the money given by the donors in the name of Children’s Rights Trust into [h]is own bank account, reports Nepal Samacharpatra daily.
Kathmandu--The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) today directed Nepal Investment Bank to freeze the account of the financial relief fund being operated by Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare Sarvadev Ojha.
Kathmandu--The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has questioned the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) over the reported anomalies in the newly established Child Rights Fund.
Kathmandu--Despite government measures to make inter-country adoption foolproof and hassle-free, prospective adoptive parents are unlikely to get the children of their choice if the present situation persists... "The adoptive American parents won't get babies of their choice as most of the children registered at the ministry are above three years old," said an MoWCSW official. This means adoptive families either have to shelve their plans to adopt Nepali babies or opt for older ones.
MoWCSW spokesperson Tilak Ram Sharma expressed hope that the matching committee would do its best to meet the demands of the adoptive American parents.
The Federal First Instance Court of Ethiopia has announced that as of May 9, 2010, adoptive parents must appear at the federal court hearing for their adoptive child in order for the adoption to be approved.
April 9, 2010: The U.S. Department of State strongly discourages prospective adoptive parents from choosing adoption in Nepal because of grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal’s adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children’s official files.
Change in Processing Timeline for Adoption Cases in Ghana: The U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana wishes to advise adoptive parents of procedural changes that may increase the processing time for some adoption cases.
The Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW) has announced that it will not accept new inter-country adoption requests made directly through DSDW for “healthy” orphans from Thailand for 2010.
The Special Restrictions on Adoptions from Abroad (Nepal) Order 2010 imposes a statutory suspension on the adoption of children from Nepal by British residents, currently subject to Parliamentary approval. For more information, contact Veronica Berti at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, Tel: 0207 7340 7180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cambodia plans to reopen the door to foreign adoptions by the end of March 2011, officials said. The announcement came after the National Assembly passed a law aimed at governing international adoptions last December. Observers say the law is crucial to ending the allegedly widespread practice of “baby-buying”, but some have raised questions about the government’s ability to enforce it.
Letter from U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa to adoption agencies stating the Embassy will be taking extra time to process adoption cases originating from Gelgela Orphanage.
The U.S. Department of State is aware of a growing number of Internet scams offering to match prospective adoptive parents with a child who is allegedly available for adoption in Cameroon. Americans should be extremely cautious about sending money to any individual in connection with adopting a child they have only corresponded with by e-mail.
Kathmandu--Controversy has not stopped dogging Nepal's inter-country adoption. There are cases galore that expose how adoption has become a money-making tool for some. Officials at the Ministry Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) say use of falsified reports is rampant in lower level making way for adoption of even those children who are otherwise not eligible.
Police investigate claims that in 2006, officials took thirteen children from Ruc hill tribe families with promises to educate them in the nearby provincial capital. When one mother tried to visit her daughters, she couldn't find them, and claims they were adopted overseas. Adoptive parents in Italy and the U.S.A pay as much as $10,000 in fees per child.
Effective March 10, 2010, British Columbia has made the formal decision to not facilitate adoptions from Nepal. Exceptions will be made for only for those applying to adopt relatives.
The U.S. Department of State strongly discourages prospective adoptive parents from choosing Nepal as a country from which to adopt due to grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal's adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children's official files.
A Nepali couple almost lost their son and daughter when a nearby children's home, where the parents had put their children temporarily, put them up for international adoption.
On February 24, 2010, the Deputy Prime Minister of Swaziland informed the U.S. Embassy in Mbabane that it will not process intercountry adoptions cases while the Department of Social Welfare completes a review of its adoption procedures.
After desperate searches, a downtrodden Dalit family from Nuwakot district has retrieved its lost children, who were nearly adopted by an American couple.
Over the past four months PEAR has received numerous complaints and requests for assistance from families who are in the process of adopting from Poland or who have completed a recent adoption from Poland. The majority of these situations involved inaccurate, incomplete, or falsified medical and psychosocial histories of the children to be adopted.
Kathmandu--Issuing a press statement by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu on behalf of the ad hoc IAWG, it recommended the implementation of all the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption regulations, including implementing measures aimed at ensuring authenticity and accuracy of documents, promoting family preservation and, most importantly, safeguarding children’s well-being.
PEAR is calling for a full investigation following their receipt of a court document stating that Scott and Karen Banks, former owners of adoption agency Focus on Children who were indicted on 135 Federal counts in 2007 for a fraudulent adoption scheme in Samoa, were allowed to adopt another child, originally from China.
The Nepal Government suspended inter-country adoption in 2007 following evidence that Nepali 'orphanages' were selling children for thousands of dollars to foreign parents. Nepal then drafted new Terms and Conditions on adoption and once again opened shop for potential adoptive parents. Although the new policies were an improvement, they were still full of loopholes and did not prioritize the best interests of the child.
Report on rescue of three Nepali boys from Indian juvenile homes where the two eldest had been detained for four years and the youngest for three. The boys' release coincided with calls from organisations such as UNICEF and Terre des Hommes to suspend, once again, inter-country adoptions from Nepal.
The report details a number of weaknesses in Nepal’s current system, including the falsification of documents, improper financial gain, and lack of a child protection system.
Majilis passed ratification of convention on protection of children and foreign adoption
CBS News has accused Christian World Adoption, an American adoption agency, of recruiting children from poor villages in rural Ethiopia for international adoption.
Kazakhstan--The deputies of Majilis at the plenary session passed the bill on ratification by Kazakhstan of Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the agency reports.
ISS report on Adoption from Viet Nam, 2009
Excerpt from Summary: The level and nature of intercountry adoptions (ICA) from Viet Nam are essentially influenced by foreign demand. Thus, the availability of children who are "adoptable" abroad corresponds more to the existence of foreign prospective adopters than to the actual needs of "abandoned" and orphaned children. As a result, the overwhelming majority of adopted children are under 1 year of age, the age-group most sought by prospective adopters. Since only a relatively small and ever-decreasing number of other "countries of origin" are currently making children of this age "adoptable" abroad, foreign actors have proved willing to accept conditions put in place by Viet Nam for processing these adoptions. There is also considerable pressure from abroad for Viet Nam to continue as a "source" of very young children.
BBC report about children adopted out of El Salvador during the country's civil war two decades ago.
ABCNews.com spoke with U.S. government officials, aid organizations and non-governmental organizations to get the latest information on adoption of Haitian orphans.
Report on a lucrative trade in newborns, fueled by an adoption frenzy that saw government-run orphanages paying for children who they then made available to Westerners.
The story of two Haitian children, who were in the process of being adopted to the U.S., and their birth parents, who have taken them from the orphanage after the earthquake and cannot be located.
Interview with Michele T. Bond, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizens Services, Jan. 19, 2010, U.S. Department of State. See also Haiti Country Info, Intercountry Adoption, U.S. Department of State.
Adoption Alerts for Guatemala, Intercountry Adoption, U.S. Department of State (scroll to bottom of page).
The Australian Government has suspended all child adoptions from Ethiopia over fears that it could be breaking human rights laws against child trafficking.
A review of Guatemala's history of international adoption, their new adoption rule, and its possible effects.
A MN couple were excited to become parents of sisters from India, until lies about their true age reverberated halfway around the world, raising fresh questions about an international adoption treaty and the United States' commitment to investigate alleged corruption in the orphan pipeline.
"The Lost Children" is the result of a two-year investigation by "48 Hours" into one of the largest foreign adoption scams in U.S. history. Anchored by "48 Hours" correspondent Maureen Maher, who herself was adopted, "The Lost Children" profiles three families - Patti Sawyer, Mike and Kari Nyberg, and Elizabeth and Gary Muenzler - who adopted children from the South Pacific island of Samoa through the now condemned Utah-based Focus On Children adoption agency.
A Netherlands-based international law group has cited the Philippines’ good practices on inter-country adoption system as it urged other countries to learn how the adoption system is being done in the country.
Olga Lopez, along with two other mothers who believe their children were stolen and put up for U.S. adoption, have pushed Guatemala to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to track down their babies they believe were adopted to the U.S. and give them DNA tests so they can be returned. So far there has been no response from U.S. authorities, Lopez says. U.S. officials would not confirm they had received a formal request from Guatemala.
We have read both the JCICS' and Ethica's statements and agree that prospective adoptive parents should not attempt to file an I800a for Guatemala at this time.
Families and agents have simply been told there are "concerns" that inter-country adoptions are not consistent with obligations under the Hague Convention and its guidelines on the protection of children, and that a review of the program was under way.
The countries entertaining inter-country adoption from Nepal, diplomatic sources said, are concerned over the rise in the number of adoptable children after the resumption of the inter-country adoption in 2009.
"The number of adoptable children dropped when adoption was suspended in 2007. But we have noticed a sudden rise in the number of such children in child homes and orphanages after the inter-country adoption was resumed in January 2009..."
Report reviews where and why vulnerable children are placed in care institutions, the harm institutional care causes these children, why these institutions are still in operation around the world, and finally, offers recommendations as to the most effective kinds of care needed.
The Kyrgyz government stopped processing all intercountry adoptions in October 2008 due to reports of corruption and fraud in the adoption process. The Kyrgyz authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into these allegations.
In 2010 we do not accept any applications that are for adoption of healthy children under 8 years old. There were few healthy children under 8 who could be adopted by our waiting couples this year.
In a report, Save the Children says some institutions coerce or trick poor parents to give up their children. As a result, the report says, millions of children are put at risk through living in an institution, and face rape, trafficking and beatings.
Three doctors and a nurse have been arrested for allegedly selling newborns after telling mothers their babies had died at a private hospital in Mexico City, authorities said Wednesday.Trafficking reports raise heart-wrenching questions for adoptive parents
A group of parents in Sierra Leone has accused a charity of sending more than 30 children abroad for adoption without consent during the country's civil war.
Accounts of Chinese children being kidnapped, bartered and sold to orphanages have many adopters wondering about their children. Some may try to track down the birth parents--but then what?
Nineteen boys and 33 girls were bought from impoverished rural families in Shanxi and Hebei provinces in the past two years, Xinhua news agency said.
Chinese police have arrested 42 alleged members of a trafficking ring that sold dozens of infants stolen or bought from their rural parents, state media reported Friday.
Graphic: International adoptions decline
Three cribs stand empty in the unused bedroom of Suann Hibbs' Edina home, and the closet is full of unworn baby clothes. Sad reminders, Hibbs says, of her broken dream of bringing home three orphans from Guatemala to raise as her daughters.
System meant to protect parents and children doesn't bar unaccredited agencies from doing international adoptions.
In Guatemala, a number of private child care facilities or “hogares” have traditionally provided care for children. Some of these hogars were closely associated with the intercountry adoption process and provided care specifically for children awaiting adoption. Allegations of adoption irregularities have prompted Guatemalan officials to conduct a wide-ranging investigation that has included many of these facilities.
Sixteen former medical and orphanage officials were found guilty September 28 at Nam Dinh Province People’s Court on charges of forging documents and receiving bribes from foreigners to adopt 266 children.
Six health and charity officials in northern Nam Dinh Province involved in an adoption scam were sentenced Monday to jail terms of two to four and a half years.
Update on changes pertaining to intercountry adoptions from Nepal, from the U.S. Department of State.
(UAI News)—A large adoption agency in the Netherlands, Wereldkinderen, has temporarily stopped adoptions from Ethiopia as a result of recent reports about abuse of the system by the government in Ethiopia and local adoption agencies.
Research done by the adoption agency, shows that the information about the children on file does not match with their actual back ground. In several cases the mothers of the children were still alive, while being listed as deceased.
The Government of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs suspended adoptions on May 21, 2009 due to concerns on the legality of adoptions and the welfare of adoptees.
PEAR urges prospective adoptive parents considering adopting from Korea to ask their agency or possible agency about how the closing of the international adoption process will work and how this will effect non-special needs referrals and special needs referrals from now until closing. The newsletter includes links to sources.
Sixteen Vietnamese doctors, nurses and officials sold 266 babies for overseas adoptions, a court heard on Tuesday. The defendants from a number of clinics and social welfare centres in the northern province of Nam Dinh allegedly solicited the infants from unmarried mothers and impoverished families. To make the children eligible for adoption, and the process legal, they ring forged documents so it appeared the children had been abandoned at village clinics, it was claimed.
In some rural areas, instead of levying fines for violations of China's child policies, greedy officials took babies, which would each fetch $3,000 in adoption fees. Photos: "Chinese parents tell of abducted children."
Nine-year-old Zeng Shangjie asks her mother when she can see her twin sister, taken away by family planning officials. Shangjie and her mother believe the twin is in the United States.
Nearly 61,000 children from mainland China have been adopted by Americans since the late 1990s.
Christian Norris of Easton, Md., remembers little of his pre-U.S. life. A reunion at a Beijing hotel helps fill in some of the gaps. Photos: Reunited in Beijing.
Third International Conference on adoption Research (ICAR3) 11th–15th July, 2010
A multi-disciplinary conference aiming to bring together the worldwide community of distinguished and emerging adoption researchers
Since Angelina Jolie adopted her daughter Zahara in 2005, the number of Americans adopting Ethiopian children has quadrupled.
A pop-media obsession with celebrities adopting children in Africa has resulted in a queue of adopting foreigners dealing with opportunistic adoption agents in operating in a regulatory vacuum. In Ethiopia—and beyond—its creating a heartbreaking mess.
(CNN) The Guatemalan army stole at least 333 children and sold them for adoption in other countries during the Central American nation's 36-year civil war, a government report has concluded.
Saving children from starvation and death will always make news headlines. In the case of adoption, especially intercountry adoption, this is far from the reality most of the time. What once was presented as a last resort for children without parents has become a global enterprise where children seemingly are sold to the highest bidder under the supervision and agreement of involved nations.
Just after the final draft of this article, I asked myself ‘what would be the reaction of a foreigner, ferenji, or adoptive parents to this article?’; and I decided to send the final draft to one of my closest ferenjis and asked her to read the article from ‘a ferenji’ prism. Read her reaction and the article here>
A tearful reunion in Samoa has brought together two families unwittingly caught up in an adoption scam.
CC rechaza impugnación a Ley de Adopciones (Guatemala Constitutional Court rejects challenge to Law of Adoptions)
La Corte de Constitucionalidad falló en contra de las acciones de inconstitucionalidad planteadas a la Ley de Adopciones promovidas por un grupo de abogados, quienes buscaban anular la patria potestad de los padres luego de la adopción y declarar toda la norma en contra de la ley fundamental.
Orson Mozes sat apparently unfazed in a Santa Barbara courtroom during a sentencing hearing yesterday, listening to the words of the victims he swindled out of roughly $800,000 through his adoption business.
Western readers unfortunately were only given abbreviated and redacted versions of the original news story, “Manufacturing” Abandoned Infants", that appeared July 1, 2009 in the Guangdong Newspaper "Southern Metropolis News." Research-China.Org has decided to present an English translation for interested readers. One will find the original story more detailed and compelling than later recountings. More>
A federal judge in Utah has ordered five operators and employees of the now-defunct Focus on Children adoption agency to contribute $100,000 to a trust fund that would allow Samoan children adopted by U.S. parents to connect with their birth families.
Standing with his video camera at the Auckland, New Zealand, airport in February 2004, Mike Nyberg watched the adoption agency worker lead in a saucer-eyed 4-year-old wearing a dirty blue dress and clutching a rubber ball. She was crying... and repeated a single word: "Tupu," he later learned referred to the girl's mother.
Orson Mozes, a former Montecito businessman who swindled $800,000 from 59 hopeful parents through his adoption business, pleaded guilty in Superior Court yesterday to 17 felonies and a white-collar crime enhancement.
Authorities in southern China are investigating allegations that local officials took babies from their parents between 2003 and 2005 and delivered them to an orphanage that press reports said has offered children for overseas adoption.
Dozens of baby girls in southern China have reportedly been taken from parents who broke family-planning laws, and then sold for adoption overseas.
U.S. citizens cannot register a new adoption in Vietnam at this time. The Government of Vietnam has stated its intention to introduce new adoption legislation and to institute reforms in the adoption process, and has indicated that the anticipated new legislation and implementing regulations may take effect in 2011.
A Guatemala government investigation into some 3,000 pending adoption cases found fraudulent paperwork in more than 1,000 instances. There is strong evidence that in many cases babies had been stolen before being traded for adoption. Guatemalan mothers whose babies were snatched in this way are convinced that their children are in the U.S. and now they want them back...
A court in northern Vietnam sentenced three people to prison for trafficking children in a scheme that sold babies to a welfare center, an official said Friday...
Madonna has won a Malawi higher court appeal to adopt a three-year-old girl, the second child she is adopting from that country. The child's father, James Kambewa, is disputing the adoption, claiming his poverty is impeding justice. A lower court had earlier denied the adoption, citing that Madonna had failed a residency requirement.
Angelina Jolie will adopt a baby from Armenia, although her husband, Brad Pitt, prefers adopting an Indian baby, according to reports by several news sources. Few details have surfaced about the adoption, especially since Armenian officials seem to be keeping a tight lip on the matter.
Effective May 1, 2009: Due to the large number of unmatched approved adoption applications of Prospective Adoptive Parents wanting to adopt children within the age range of 0-2 years old with or without medical / developmental concerns coupled with the limited number of children of such category, ICAB has set a moratorium on accepting new applicants wanting to adopt from the above mentioned category.
Funds are being raised to help Jayden Sawyer and her family visit Jayden's birth parents, whom she hasn't seen in almost five years...
Jayden was adopted by Patti Sawyer of Fond du Lac when Jayden was 4 years old. Her birth parents, Upega and Melei Isaia of Tufulele, Western Samoa, were told by an adoption agency Focus on Children, that their daughter would be educated in the United States and then return to Western Samoa when she was 18 years old.
The Ethiopian First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting cases involving abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa, citing concern over a recent increase in the number of abandoned children being brought for adoption.
The Hungarian Parliament ratified the Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption in 2005. The Hungarian Central Authority has been dealing with intercountry adoptions since October 2005 and according to the three years long experience, the number of the children, their age and health status as well as the high number of the applicants being registered in the international registry the Central Authority determines how many applications they will accept in 2009.
ACCRA, 27 May 2009 (IRIN) - The recent rape of an eight-month-old boy in an orphanage in the Ghanaian capital Accra revealed conditions that child rights advocates say are rampant across West African orphanages. When the authorities investigated the incident they discovered 27 of the 32 children living in the home were not orphans.
The government of Nepal on Tuesday signed the Hague Convention, an international agreement between participating countries, on the best adoption procedures. The procedures of the convention consider the best interests of children and prevention of abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking of children.
On Tuesday 28 April 2009, the Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption was signed by H.E. Mr Pramesh Kuman Hamal, Ambassador of Nepal to the Benelux and the European Communities.
Nine children ranging in age from 1 to 5 were rescued in the southern Guatemalan municipality of Palin, officials said. The children, three girls and six boys, were found at a residence operated by Primavera Association, which had no legal permit to operate in the Palin municipality. The house in which they were found reportedly did not meet standards of hygiene. According to the prosecutor, the children were in the process of being adopted out illegally. No arrests were made during the raid because the babysitter was the only adult found there, he said.
I am so grateful to Madonna for her second highly-publicized and controversial adoption from Malawi. Why? It reminds us that there are millions of children living in extreme poverty, in need of help, and opens the debate as to the best way to care for them. More>
Madonna's adoption bids rejected
- Malawi divided as Madonna loses bid for orphan
- Madonna adoption of Mercy James rejected by Malawi judge
Madonna told "Leave Malawi orphan alone"
Madonna is facing growing opposition to her plan to adopt another child from Malawi. A spokesperson from Save the Children, who is urging Madonna not to adopt the child, told Sky News, "International adoption can actually exacerbate the problem it hopes to solve." More>
A Midwestern kid's family believes his birth parents put him up for adoption. An Indian couple claim he was kidnapped from them and sold. Who's right?
all adoption cases between the U.S. and China will be processed by China as Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention cases'.
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said he plans to temporarily ban the adoption of Moldovan children by foreign couples, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service has reported.
Scott and Karen Banks, operators of a Utah-based adoption agency, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanors in a deal that likely will give them probation rather than prison...
Nepal has begun accepting applications from foreigners who want to adopt Nepalese children, 18 months after the practice was stopped because of widespread malpractice, officials said Friday…
Orzon Mozes, alleged adoption scammer, is caught in Florida
Orson Mozes, alleged adoption scammer and “America’s Most Wanted” fugitive, charged with 62 felony counts of “Theft by False Pretense,” is caught in Florida:
A civil lawsuit that 14 families filed against Mozes’s former agency, Adoption International Program (AIP), remains underway:
While Russia remains a leading source for foreign adoptions, Russian authorities are no longer so willing to send their children out of the country...
Celebrate Children International is under investigation by the state of Florida. The US Department of State had earlier denied this agency accreditation under the Hague Convention regulations...
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Last page update: February 23, 2011