Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines

February 20th, 2019

Thursday, November 8, 2007

India is the latest of the countries where the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment has started. Children from the village of Khairat were given the opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptop. During the last year XO was distributed to children from Arahuay in Peru, Ban Samkha in Thailand, Cardal in Uruguay and Galadima in Nigeria. The OLPC team are, in their reports on the startup of the trials, delighted with how the laptop has improved access to information and ability to carry out educational activities. Thailand’s The Nation has praised the project, describing the children as “enthusiastic” and keen to attend school with their laptops.

Recent good news for the project sees Uruguay having ordered 100,000 of the machines which are to be given to children aged six to twelve. Should all go according to plan a further 300,000 machines will be purchased by 2009 to give one to every child in the country. As the first to order, Uruguay chose the OLPC XO laptop over its rival from Intel, the Classmate PC. In parallel with the delivery of the laptops network connectivity will be provided to schools involved in the project.

The remainder of this article is based on Carla G. Munroy’s Khairat Chronicle, which is available from the OLPC Wiki. Additional sources are listed at the end.

Contents

  • 1 India team
  • 2 Khairat
    • 2.1 The town school
  • 3 The workplace
  • 4 Marathi
  • 5 The teacher
  • 6 Older children, teenagers, and villagers
  • 7 The students
  • 8 Teacher session
  • 9 Parents’ meetings
  • 10 Grounding the server
  • 11 Every child at school
  • 12 Sources
  • 13 External links

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Student protesters take over Q&A

February 20th, 2019

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The broadcast of popular Australian TV show Q&A was interrupted on Monday night by a student protest targeting Australian Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

The protest was in response to proposals from the Commission of Audit for the May 13 budget suggesting the deregulation of university education.

Christopher Pyne had been the focus of many questions on the panel before the protest. One question initially directed at Pyne from the audience was given to former parliamentary speaker Anna Burke to discuss first. When she started to answer, students unfurled a banner behind her reading “More brains, not warplanes — Fund education”. This was accompanied by rhyming slogans shouted from the crowd of students including the phrase: “No cuts. No fees. No corporate universities.”

Unable to quell the protesters, the ABC briefly cut the program to air a musical segment from a previous show, while removing the protesters from the building. Upon return to the broadcast, about two minutes later, the host Tony Jones apologised for the incident: “Apologies to the minister, apologies to everyone on the panel, apologies to the wider audience watching[…] This is not what we want to happen on the program, that is not what democracy is all about and those students should understand that.”

Social media responded to the demonstration immediately, with mixed reactions about the incident itself and Jones’ handling of it. Education writer Maralyn Parker remarked on Twitter, “The riot on #qanda is indicative of how deeply Australians feel about the destruction of education the Abbott Govt is inflicting on us”.

The commission proposed to raise tuition costs by 14% and require repayment of the HECS loan starting at minimum wage, A$32,354, according to Gwilym Croucher of the University of Melbourne. The commission also proposed to reduce Commonwealth subsidies down to 45%.

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Six killed in UK car crash

February 19th, 2019

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A car crash on the A614 road, in Nottinghamshire, England has killed six people, all of whom are believed to have lived near the scene of the crash.

All six victims died at the scene of the crash, which involved four young adults in a Peugeot 206 and two elderly people, possibly a male and female, who police believe to be in their 60s, in the other car said to be a Ford Fiesta. Rescue workers fought to save the one of the elderly individuals, but were unsuccessful. Both vehicles collided head-on and exploded upon colliding.

Two police officers on traffic patrol discovered the crash, which took place at 23:00 local time (UTC) yesterday. The officers involved were praised by Bruce Cameron, a superintendent for Nottinghamshire Police. “The bodies are very badly burnt and they will have to be identified using dental records. We want to make sure we are absolutely certain as to who was in both cars when the accident happened,” he said.

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Local residents say that the A614 has been the scene of a large number of accidents. One resident, Stuart Stonebridge, told The Daily Telegraph that “we only moved here three years ago and there have been a lot of accidents and some fatalities in that time,” while another resident, Janice Gilbody said that “the people of Bilsthorpe will be in shock, horror and disbelief at the young lives lost.”

Gilbody also said that this accident is “yet again another accident on this road.” She then added that the road was dangerous, saying that “it’s a wonder it doesn’t happen more often.”

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but police say weather was not a contributing factor.

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Pride in London 2013: in pictures

February 19th, 2019

Monday, July 1, 2013

Yesterday, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and their supporters and allies, paraded through central London and partied in the streets as part of Pride in London. With the Parliamentary debate around the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill continuing, the organisers decided that the theme for this year’s parade was to be “Love and Marriage”, with a number of the parade participants dressing as brides or grooms.

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Some attendees took drag to extravagant levels. Image: Tom Morris.

Rainbow-coloured dresses worn by paraders as part of ‘Filipino LGBT UK’. Image: Tom Morris.

Two men both wearing hats with the word ‘Groom’ on the front. Image: Tom Morris.

Topless barmen and go-go boys. Image: Tom Morris.

Three men dressed as masked nuns to protest Vatican anti-gay attitudes. Image: Tom Morris.

Members of Imaan, an Islamic LGBT support group. Image: Tom Morris.

Members of LGBTory, a group for LGBT members of the Conservative Party. Image: Tom Morris.

Marchers from the Metropolitan Community Church, a gay-affirmative Christian group. Image: Tom Morris.

A group of gay and lesbian Jews with rainbow-themed Star of David flags. Image: Tom Morris.

An enthusiastic steward. Image: Tom Morris.

Supporters of Bradley Manning. Image: Tom Morris.

A man wearing a costume made primarily of inflated balloons. Image: Tom Morris.

Marchers from Stonewall with placards reading “Say I Do to equal marriage” and wearing t-shirts saying “Some people are gay. Get over it!” Image: Tom Morris.

A drag queen with an enormous red wig. Image: Tom Morris.

A man wearing a costume made up of party animal balloons.Image: Tom Morris.

A group of leather enthusiasts. Image: Tom Morris.

Gay squash players. Image: Tom Morris.

Members of a small Christian anti-gay protest in Lower Regent Street, before the parade started. Image: Tom Morris.

A man with bright red feathers and an ornate headpiece. Image: Tom Morris.

Two women sharing an affectionate cuddle at the end of the parade. Image: Tom Morris.

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Super high speed internet launched in New Zealand

February 19th, 2019

Friday, September 1, 2006

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, yesterday unveiled Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN). It is super high speed Internet that is capable of transmitting data with speeds of up to ten gigabits per second, 10,000 times faster than the current speed of broadband (1Mbps), and 200,000 times faster than dial-up.

The New Zealand Government put NZ$43 million ($28.1 million USD) into the Crown company: Research and Education Advanced Network of New Zealand (REANNZ) organization, responsible for the running of KAREN.

KAREN will link universities and research institutions in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Rotorua and then to the rest of the world via a TelstraClear fibre optic cable.

The network will allow geologists/geophysicists to access U.S. data on fault lines, 3D modellers the ability to collaborate on international mapping projects and students will be able to participate in interactive video lectures with experts, anywhere in the world.

The technology so far is limited to just universities and research institutions but Minister for Education Steve Maharey said: “The network will be extended over time to include other institutions, including schools, libraries and museums.” It is also limited to just one university in the South Island, it is located in the HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury.

Clark said: “The link is crucial in order to attract and retain scientists, because it allows a greater level of real time collaboration between scientists based in New Zealand, and their colleagues around the world.”

The Telecommunications’ Users Association of New Zealand chief executive, Ernie Newman, said: “Karen was a ‘great initiative’ for the science community, and that would have wider benefits for the country.”

Dr. Mark Billinhurst, HIT Lab director, said: “The network meant the country was now legitimately part of the international research community.”

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US federal judge and Florida judge clash over Scientology wrongful death case

February 19th, 2019

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A United States federal court judge and Florida state court judge are enmeshed in a conflict against each other regarding a wrongful death lawsuit involving Scientology.

A federal judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Steven Douglas Merryday, ordered Pinellas County Senior Circuit Judge Robert E. Beach not to intervene regarding appearance of an attorney in a federal court case involving Scientology. Lawyer Kennan Dandar is representing the estate of Kyle Thomas Brennan in a wrongful death claim against the Scientology organization.

The suit asserts that members of the Scientology organization, including the father of Brennan, removed access to the deceased’s anti-depression medication, and provided him with means to utilize a loaded gun. Brennan had been staying with his father for a week prior to his death. Police in Clearwater, Florida investigated the 2007 death of Brennan, and determined it was a suicide. Kyle Brennan was himself not a member of Scientology. The lawsuit, filed in 2009, was filed by Brennan’s mother on behalf of her son’s estate. Named as defendants in the lawsuit include the Scientology organization, its subdivision the Flag Service Organization, twin sister of Scientology leader David Miscavige – Denise Gentile, and her husband Gerald Gentile.

Attorney Dandar had previously represented the estate of Lisa McPherson in a separate civil wrongful death claim against the Scientology organization. After being under the care of members of the Scientology organization for 17 days, McPherson died in Clearwater in 1995. The wrongful death suit claimed that Scientology officials permitted McPherson to deteriorate to a dehydrated state, where her condition was such that she did not have the energy to fend off cockroaches from biting her skin.

Scientology management settled the McPherson wrongful death case in 2004; lawyers representing the organization stated the settlement included a confidential arrangement with Dandar to never again represent clients in lawsuits against Scientology entities. The settlement included an agreement that both sides would never speak again about the case; California lawyer Ford Greene commented, “The church bought silence.” The Scientology organization had also filed a countersuit against the estate of Lisa McPherson, and named Dandar a party to that lawsuit. The organization claimed Dandar had inappropriately tried to add the head of Scientology David Miscavige as a party to the wrongful death lawsuit.

I’m stuck in the middle of two courts.

Scientology legal representatives requested Judge Beach to see to it that Dandar abide by the secret settlement agreement, and Beach subsequently issued an order in June 2009 that Dandar be removed from the Brennan wrongful death case. Dandar faced sanctions from Judge Beach including suspension of Dandar’s license to practice law, a US$130,000 judgement to be given to the Scientology organization, and a fine of $1,000 per day. Judge Beach ruled that all money from the sanctions imposed against Dandar – were to go directly to the Scientology organization. The Tampa Tribune noted that Judge Breach made his ruling, “in an inexplicably closed hearing from which Beach tossed a St. Petersburg Times reporter”.

Faced with these possible sanctions, Dandar filed an “involuntary” motion to withdraw from the Brennan wrongful death case in federal court, but Judge Merryday denied this request. Dandar stated to The Tampa Tribune, “I’m stuck in the middle of two courts.”

D. Wallace Pope, a lawyer for the Scientology organization, stated that he wished to show evidence regarding the settlement in the McPherson wrongful death case. However, Judge Merryday emphasized his main issue was determining whether or not Dandar was being penalized for obeying the federal court’s order denying his request to be withdrawn from the Brennan wrongful death case. Judge Merryday stated he would prevent the Scientology organization along with Judge Beach from punishing Dandar for representing his client in US federal court. Merryday stated Beach had attempted to usurp control outside of his jurisdiction, thereby “aggressively” interferring with the US federal court process through imposing sanctions on Dandar.

Merryday has served as a US federal judge based in Tampa, Florida since 1992. The St. Petersburg Times noted that Judge Merryday, “has presided over some of the region’s most noteworthy cases.” Judge Merryday’s court order creating an injunction against Beach was 29-pages long, and criticized the “stunning severity” of Beach’s sanctions imposed on Dandar. Merryday explained that the federal court needed to “act in defense of the (federal) court’s jurisdiction”, due to Beach’s actions. Referencing Judge Beach, Merryday wrote in his court order, “A judge should not undertake, directly or indirectly, overtly or through a surrogate, to compel an act by another judge, especially in a different jurisdiction.”

Judge Merryday stated to Scientology lawyers, “have forced my hand on this issue.” Merryday stated to Scientology lawyer, Robert Potter, “I don’t like being put in this position. When people start to squeeze, other people can squeeze back.” Potter asked him to seal the proceedings from public view, and Judge Merryday responded, “I’m not going to be entering any seals unless I see a lawful reason, and I can’t even see the beginning of a reason”. Merryday stated he would not allow his court to be influenced by “some circuit judge somewhere who appears for all I can tell to have sealed something for some unknown reason”.

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Judge Beach responded to Judge Merryday’s injunction which “permanently enjoined” him from imposing sanctions on Dandar, by filing a motion on Thursday in federal court in Tampa. Beach asked Merryday to rescind his order so that he may recuse himself from acting as a judge on the Scientology case related to Dandar. Beach’s motion argued that he was denied due process because he was not given notice by Merryday of the hearing which occurred before Merryday issued his ruling. In addition, Beach asserted Merryday did not have power to issue the ruling restricting him from sanctioning Dandar, because Beach was not a party to the Brennan wrongful death case, and Merryday lacked authority to restrict powers of a judge from outside his federal court jurisdiction. In response, Judge Merryday has scheduled a hearing for October 12 in federal court to hear state court judge Beach.

Martin Errorl Rice is an attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida who represented Beach in the motion before the US federal court. Rice stated his client’s motivation in requesting the ruling by Judge Merryday be rescinded was to allow Beach to recuse from the Scientology case. Rice told the St. Petersburg Times that his client’s conflict with the US federal court has “cast kind of a cloud” over Beach’s position in the Scientology case.

Stetson University College of Law constitutional law professor Michael Allen analyzed the clash between the US judge and Florida judge for The Tampa Tribune. Allen observed that it was “very, very rare” for a US federal judge to order a state judge. He noted that a 1793 federal law contravenes such orders – except in “extraordinarily narrow” cases where the federal judges are permitted to create rulings in order to safeguard the jurisdiction of their federal court proceedings.

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US president Obama, Congress call for blocking of executive bonuses at AIG insurance company

February 18th, 2019

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

United States President Barack Obama stated Monday that insurance giant AIG is in financial trouble due to “recklessness and greed,” and called for legal action to stop the company from giving out millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives.

“It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat.”

Obama’s statement comes after reports surfaced last weekend saying the insurance agency, which is in deep financial trouble, had paid US$165 million to executives in bonuses, after receiving $170 billion as part of a government bailout plan.

AIG has said that the bonuses have to be given out, as the company is legally required by contract to do so. A representative with the National Economic Council, Lawrence H. Summers, also said that the bonuses were required to be given out. If AIG had refused to give out the bonuses, employees could file a lawsuit against the company for the money.

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said in a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Saturday.

Liddy said that he asked Geithner “to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”

“I want everybody to be clear that Secretary Geithner’s been on the case,” Obama said. “He’s working to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy, who, by the way, everybody needs to understand, came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.”

If the bonuses cannot be stopped, the U.S. Congress says they want AIG to reimburse the government. Congress is looking to impose stiff new taxes on the pay, or ordering the company to return the money which was originally granted from a government bailout. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, senator Richard Shelby promised that the treasury will recover all of the money. Several U.S. senators along with Liddy have sent letters to AIG asking for the bonuses to be renegotiated, something AIG agreed to and says they will reduce future bonuses by 30%. Senators state that if Libby does not respond by renegotiating the bonuses, the Senate Finance Committee will propose an excise tax. Not only will an excise tax be proposed on AIG, but all companies receiving bailout money and their employees who receive bonuses.

What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.

Numerous House Democrats have introduced legislation which would place a 100% tax on any bonuses of over $100,000 from companies that are receiving government bailout funds. Meanwhile in the Senate, a bipartisan proposal by Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) would levy a special 90% excise tax on AIG’s bonuses. Asked Senator Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee: “What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.”

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County Donegal, Ireland crash kills one, injures two

February 18th, 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A two-vehicle road traffic accident in County Donegal in Ireland has left one person dead and injured two others. The accident occurred when a camper van collided with an oncoming car on the N15 road between the towns of Ballybofey and Donegal at approximately 1540 BST (1440 UTC) on Monday.

The fatality was reportedly a man in his 70s from the town of Lifford; he has not yet been publicly identified. He was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The female passenger he was travelling in the car with, thought to be the wife of the man, was taken to the same hospital after suffering serious injuries.

The man and woman in the camper van were transported to Sligo Regional Hospital. The condition of the two occupants is not clear, although the woman in the vehicle reportedly injured her leg in the accident.

The road where the crash occurred was closed to allow the Garda to investigate the incident.

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Wikinews Shorts: August 13, 2009

February 14th, 2019

A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, August 13, 2009.

Contents

  • 1 Paris suffers second night of violence
  • 2 No concrete progress but North American leaders express solidarity
  • 3 Mexican federal police foil plot to assassinate President Calderón
  • 4 Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to another three years of house arrest
  • 5 Four Rio Tinto employees formally arrested for bribery
  • 6 Michael Jackson to be the star one last time

The French capital Paris has seen a second night of violence by demonstrators, who have blamed police for the death of a motorcyclist on Sunday.

On Sunday night youths in the eastern suburb of Bagnolet, set 29 vehicles alight and threw stones and petrol bombs at police. Monday night was “relatively calm” according to Samira Amrouche, spokeswoman for the regional administration, the authorities having depolyed 40 vans of riot police only 8 vehicles were burnt.

The motorcyclist, a pizza deliveryman, was killed when he fled police attempting to examine his documents, dying when he was struck by a pursuing police vehicle according to the youths,however in the police version his death was a result of him crashing into barriers.

The current violence has echoes of the unrest in 2005, with again dissaffected youths of Arab and black descent venting their anger and frustration.

Sources

The leaders of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) met in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday and Monday. The leaders of the three countries (Barack Obama of the United States, Felipe Calderón of Mexico, and Stephen Harper of Canada) promised to work together on swine flu, organised crime and green issues.

Despite disputes in a number of areas remaining unresolved, the three leaders succeeded in presenting an amiable Three Amigos image. The three leaders expressed solidarity, and an understanding of each others position.

The unresolved issues include the buy American clauses in the US stimulus package, tit for tat reprisals by the Mexican authorities over Canadian visa restrictions on Mexican travellers, and the US ban on Mexican trucks from crossing the border.

Risking the ire of human rights activists back home President Obama expressed support for President Calderón’s war against drugs saying he had “great confidence” in the Mexican authorities.

Sources

Mexican Federal Police (Policía Federal) have foiled an alleged plot to assasinate the President of Mexico Felipe Calderón. Acting on intelligence gathered over a year the Federal Police arrested five drug cartel members on Sunday and publicly paraded their captives and a number of weapons ,including automatic rifles, on Monday. Speaking during a summit of North American leaders Calderón played down the threats on his life, saying that the cartels are being destroyed by his policies.

Some 11000 have died since President Calderón’s took office in 2006 and made the war on drugs a cornerstone of his administration.

Sources

Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced by a court in Burma to a further three years of house arrest for violating the terms of her previous sentence. However her sentence was immediately commuted to 18 months on the orders of Burmese head of state Senior-General Than Shwe out of respect for her father General Aung San and out of a desire for “national reconciliation”.

The period of her arrest will prevent Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in the general elections scheduled for 2010. The sentence was immediately condemned by Western leaders, and breaking from their usual silence, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) through its current chair Thailand issued a statement expressing disappointment. The ASEAN statement and talk of further European Union and United States sanctions are unlikely to have any impact on Southeast Asian country given the support of India and China.

The Chinese issued a statement calling for the world to respect Burmese sovereignty and laws, and is seen as an indication that China, a veto power will not support any United Nations actions.

John Yettaw whose unauthorised visit led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s prosecution has himself been sentenced to seven years imprisonment, four of which will be for hard labour.

Sources

Four employees of the Rio Tinto Group have been formally arrested in China on charges of bribery and using improper practises in its negotiations with Chinese companies. The Chinese accuse the men of improperly learning the negotiating position of Chinese companies wishing to buy iron ore, and through this charging 700 billion yuan (US$102.46 billion) more then they would otherwise have been able to

The four were initially held on espionage charges and have been held since early July. The formal charges allows the Chinese authorities to hold the four a further seven months as it prepares its case against them. Their arrests followed the collapse of an attempted by Chinese owned Chinalco to raise its stake in the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto Group to 18%.

Sources

Michael Jackson will be the star of a film to be released on October 28, some four months after his death. The film will be primarily cut from footage of Jackson rehearsing for the series of concerts that would have taken place at the O2 in London, but will also feature interviews with Jackson’s family and friends.

The film becomes possible after AEG Live, the promoter of the O2 concerts, reached an US$60 million agreement with Columbia Pictures for over 100 hours of footage of Jackson preparing for his swan song.

“He was the architect of ‘This is it‘, and we were his builders…” said Kenny Ortega, Jackson’s collaborator on the project “…it was clear that he was on his way to another theatrical triumph.”

Sources

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Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigns amid bailout talks

February 14th, 2019

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigned yesterday due to public discontent with his handling of the negotiations over a bailout from international lenders and a state investigation into the circumstances that pushed the country close to a financial collapse. According to Cyprus based media organizations, Sarris has been succeeded by the current Labor Minister Haris Georgiades

Sarris attributed his resignation to the probe announced earlier today, admitting that he may also be targeted by judges as they try to find out why the country was forced to seek a bailout. “I believe that in order to facilitate the work of [investigators] the right thing would be to place my resignation at the disposal of the president of the republic, which I did,” said Sarris, who was appointed as minister only in February.

Sarris’s resignation came shortly after he signed a €10 billion (US$13 billion) rescue deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that could see depositors with €100,000 lose up to 60% of their savings. An earlier version of the deal, which called for all Cypriot bank depositors to sacrifice part of their savings, was later scrapped following a wave of popular outrage.

The bailout deal includes measures that strip Cyprus of its status as a financial hub and force the local government to impose limits on cash transfers lest depositors try to channel their money to banks abroad.

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