OUSU responds to higher education reform

first_imgAndrew Smith, Labour MP for Oxford East, commenting on the impact of the scrapping of maintenance grants on students in Oxford, told Cherwell, “Maintenance grants provide vital support for students from lower income backgrounds, both those from Oxford and those who come to study here. In 2014-15, these grants ensured that over 7,000 poorer students studying in Oxford did not leave further education with greater debts than their more privileged peers. In spite of Labour’s attempt to halt the Tories’ plans in the house of Commons, they have forced through sweeping changes, which will scrap these grants.’’ The Institute for Fiscal studies substantiate the regressive impact this change will have, calculating that, “The poorest 40% of students going to university in England will now graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, rather than up to £40,500.”Cat Jones, OUSU Vice President for Access and Academic affairs, stated to Cherwell, “OUSU has been lobbying against the proposal to scrap maintenance grants since it was announced in the July emergency budget. We’re appalled that, despite making no mention of it in their manifesto, the government have taken away this vital support from the future applicants that need it the most. A larger loan for those with lower household in comes is in no way an adequate replacement for a non-repayable grant. Under the new system, students from less well-off backgrounds will owe thousands of pounds more to the government than their richer peers.’’ Jones added, ‘‘We would like to thank our local MP Andrew Smith and the team at the National Union of Students (NUS) for their support in challenging this regressive policy and are hugely disappointed to have lost the House of Commons debate by just 11 votes.’’ NUS has said it is “outraged” with the result of a vote to scrap maintenance grants for over half a million of England’s students hours after protesters blocked Westminster Bridge.The protests were organized by the national Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. A member, Hope Worsdale, said, “This is not only a direct attack on working class students, but it also shows the Government’s flagrant disregard for the most basic democratic processes.”Nichola Blackwood, the Conservative MP for Oxford West, did not respond to requests for comment. Proposed changes to higher education in England were presented to Parliament in November by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in a green paper entitled, “Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice.” The green paper sets out proposals to change the landscape of higher education, which include introducing a “Teaching Excellence Framework” (TEF), increasing access for disadvantaged groups and establishing a new “Office for students to promote the student interest”. At this week’s OUSU Council meeting, the council went through its official response to the green paper. OUSU expressed concerns about the green paper’s impact on students with disabilities and on gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation and religion policy. On the subject of the TEF, the statement read, ‘‘We remain sceptical of any metric, or limited set of metrics, that attempts to quantify the quality of an educative experience.” The response also questioned the validity of the planned framework on the grounds that it was “designed almost entirely as an undergraduate measure.” Becky Howe, OUSU President, told Cherwell, “We are completely against linking increased tuition fees to teaching quality, as this will result in a situation where ‘better’ institutions cost more money. We strongly suspect this will discourage students who are debt averse (research shows that those from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are most debt averse) from applying to top institutions such as our own.” Another aspect of the government’s proposed changes to higher education, the scrapping of maintenance grants, was also criticised during this Wednesday’s OUSU council. Until now, the poorest students have been provided with up to £3,387 per year extra non-repayable support, with the aim of reducing financial barriers to university. This government’s proposed changes to student loans would see, from this autumn, means-tested grants being switched to loans repayable after graduation. It will end the decades-long process, which has seen student grants incrementally switched into loans. last_img read more

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Weekend Readers Forum

first_imgWEEKEND OFF TOPIC “READERS FORUM”TELL US WHATS ON YOUR MIND TODAY?FOOTNOTE: Our next “IS IT TRUE” will be posted on this coming Monday?If you would like to advertise in the CCO please contact us City-County [email protected] “Readers Poll” question is: : Has Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and City Council been a “Good Steward of the Public Trust” ?Copyright 2015 City County Observer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributedFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

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Hoboken police arrest six drivers over New Year’s weekend

first_imgHOBOKEN– Police arrested and charged Jersey City resident Jamie Agosto, age 41, at 3:57 a.m. on Dec. 31. They charged Agosto with reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of an accident on Dec. 31. Officers arrived at Fourth and Monroe streets to find a motor vehicle allegedly involved in an accident with a parked vehicle. They arrested Agosoto a short distance away who allegedly had fled the scene, according to witnesses.At 3:32 a.m. on Dec. 31, Bellville resident Avanish Pandya, age 38, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated in a school zone, reckless driving, and impeding traffic flow. Officers conducted a motor vehicle stop of Pandaya’s car and were able to detect the smell of alcohol according to a press release from police. According to the release Pandya was unable to complete a field sobriety test and was found to be above the legal limit after a breath test conducted at headquarters.On New Year’s Day, 3:31 a.m., Marlboro resident Estefania Robles-Cabrera, age 31, was charged with driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene, and reckless driving. Officers were approached by the victim of a motor vehicle accident who said her vehicle was struck and the driver left the scene. Officers found the vehicle in question and a motor vehicle stop was conducted during which they detected the smell of alcohol. Robles-Cabrera allegedly failed to complete a field sobriety test and took a breath test which was found to be above the legal limit. She was given several summonses and “released to a responsible party.”Later that day, Bloomfield resident Evenet Estime, age 22, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Officers were dispatched to Newark Street on a report of a fight and found a group of people pushing and shouting at each other when they arrived. Officers calmed the group but Estime allegedly refused to obey officers orders and continued to act in a disorderly and disruptive manner after several warnings. Estime was then placed under arrest.Also that day, Harrison resident Anthony Martins, age 21 and East Newark resident Michael Granados, age 21, were arrested on various charges. Officers were dispatched to River Street and found two men in a shoving match. Officers were able to separate the two men and Granados allegedly continued to act disorderly and refuse officers’ orders and warnings. As officers attempted to place him under arrest Martins allegedly grabbed Granados’s arm and pulled him away from the officers. both were placed under arrest. A search of Martins allegedly found a bag of a powdery substance suspected to be cocaine. ×last_img read more

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Tesco: own-label revamp

first_imgTesco has revamped its bakery packaging and displays. The new look, which is being rolled out to stores from this week, covers packaging and point of sale and in-store fixtures and fittings.The revamp will more clearly differentiate Tesco’s standard range from its more expensive products. It will not affect Tesco’s Finest range. Point-of-sale material will communicate the expertise of Tesco’s in-store bakers.last_img

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Bakery veteran sets up nut-free cake company

first_imgFormer Avana Bakeries and Memory Lane Cakes MD Mike Woods has set up a new firm making nut-free celebration cakes.The Just Love Food Company, which began production at a 12,500sq ft factory near Black-wood in Wales this month, has already struck a 12-week exclusive deal with Sainsbury’s, which will see cakes in 200 Sainsbury’s stores UK-wide. The branded 7-inch hand-decorated cakes feature a monster or a princess design and will retail in the ambient cake aisle.After the exclusive period Just Love Food will be able to supply other retailers. It also plans to target foodservice markets, such as coffee shops and the health service, with individually wrapped nut-free products, such as cupcakes and brownies.Woods set up the company after struggling to find products on the market suitable for his two children with nut allergies. “One in 55 children has a nut allergy and the larger players find it hard to do nut-free, because their factories handle nuts. My wife and I found it particularly difficult when it came to sourcing birthday cakes, as all supermarket birthday cakes carry warnings that make the products ’not suitable for nut allergy sufferers’,” he said.The business was set up with the help of £150,000 funding from the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, secured by Natwest. It also secured £250,000 from Finance Wales, which provides commercial funding for Welsh businesses.Woods said he looked at 32 different bakery sites before settling on the unit near Blackwood. “One of our key requirements was securing a site that had never handled nuts. We looked at some factories that were kitted out for our requirements, but we couldn’t guarantee they had never handled nuts, so we went for a unit that was only five years old and was previously used for storage of non-food items.”last_img read more

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A taste of Harvard in Shanghai

first_imgThis is part of a series about Harvard’s deep connections with Asia.SHANGHAI — Jeffrey R. Williams stood a tiered Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom, facing a semicircle of dark-paneled desks. His back was to the room’s multiple blackboards, mobile so they could be moved when full, letting faculty members continue writing on blank ones behind.The room had been organized to take advantage of the case method of teaching, spacious yet intimate, with clear sightlines to the instructor from any point.Williams nodded at two clocks on the back wall, one with the local time and another labeled “Boston.”“In Boston, you’re unlikely to have a clock with Shanghai time,” Williams said.Williams’ Harvard classroom was half a world away, in Shanghai, the biggest city in the world’s most populous country.Williams is executive director of Harvard Center Shanghai, a foothold designed to assist the University’s involvement in China by providing local knowhow, administrative support, and facilities like the facsimile classroom, which also features a booth for simultaneous translation and extra-wide blackboards so translators can duplicate instructors’ writings.The 90-seat classroom is used mostly by HBS’s Executive Education program, which Williams refers to as the center’s anchor tenant. But even though it was constructed with support from HBS and the Harvard China Fund, the center is intended as a University-wide facility, as welcoming to those interested in public health, education, or astronomy as to those interested in business.“We support student activities. We support training, like Harvard Business School’s executive training. We host symposia and conferences. We have staff here who support things like business publishing or delivering Law School programs,” Williams said. “I like to think of the center as a tool. We’re not creating new content ourselves, but we’re helping facilitate Harvard content and bringing it to China.”Williams points with pride to a planned 2013 conference on the Italian Renaissance because that illustrates the center’s usefulness to programs across the University and highlights the work of Chinese scholars in diverse fields, including European history.“It reminds people that there’s intellectual activity that goes way beyond the traditional China watcher and China specialist. In fact, the China specialists don’t need a center like this. They speak the language; they have local contacts,” Williams said. The center is really “important for the scholars who need to incorporate China in their research but they themselves don’t have contacts, don’t have the base [from which] to get things done — that’s where we come in.”The center opened in Shanghai’s Huangpu District in 2008 in much smaller quarters. Large events like HBS Executive Education sessions had to be held in hotel ballrooms or in facilities borrowed from local universities. The center christened its new home in 2010, with a symposium featuring Harvard President Drew Faust and 300 local scholars, alumni, and officials.The center now occupies the fifth floor of a tower in the International Financial Center, one of several new high-rise commercial complexes that have sprouted in the city’s Pudong section.William T. Kirby, Chang Professor of China Studies and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration, together with Jay Light, then the dean of HBS, played a prominent role in getting the center off the ground. Kirby, who is also chairman of the Harvard China Fund and director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, said a University-wide center in China makes a lot of sense, not just because of the nation’s economic expansion and rising prominence on the world stage, but also because of the growth of its higher-education system.Higher education in China has grown rapidly, from 2 million college students in 1990 to 6 million in 2000 to 31 million today. Over the last decade, the country has gone from having half the number of college students in the United States to twice the enrollment.Kirby said the growth has been not only in quantity but in quality. For instance, top Chinese universities have a reputation for excellence that is increasingly attracting collaboration with Harvard faculty members and students.“For someone like me [a China specialist], China is the obvious choice, but it’s also the obvious choice if you look at where higher education in the world is going,” Kirby said.Kirby said Shanghai was chosen because of its geographic centrality, not only in China but for East Asia. Shanghai’s stature as the nation’s commercial center made it doubly attractive to Harvard Business School as a home for its activities.“I don’t think there’s a more dynamic city on earth today than Shanghai,” Kirby said. “It’s an extraordinary place: an international center of culture and commerce and a magnet for talent from across the globe.”The facility also has nine breakout rooms for smaller group discussions, a 90-seat dining area, a large, open, multipurpose space, as well as a suite of offices for local staff.HBS has the classroom booked for about nine weeks a year and represents approximately half of the utilization of the center, with the rest coming from other programs and schools at the University, Williams said. Early on, the decision was made not to rent the center out, but to focus on encouraging activity by Harvard faculty, students and alumni.Last fall, for example, students from Shanghai’s Fudan University were able to enroll in the global classroom of Bass Professor of Government Michael Sandel’s  popular “Justice” class.  About 20 students came to the center at midnight to participate remotely in the class, held at 11 a.m. Cambridge time in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. Together with students in Paris, Tokyo, New Delhi, and São Paolo, they were able to see Sandel on the big screen in the center’s multifunction room, as well as students from the other locations in smaller images inset on the screen.Williams said Sandel could see the same thing, so he could say, “Shanghai, the student in the white shirt in the front row, what do you think about this?”Recently, professional schools including Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School have started planning continuing education programs in Shanghai, broadening the base of users beyond HBS.The center also provides administrative support for ongoing programs such as the Harvard Project on Disability, a Law School program that supports those seeking to improve the lives of disabled people around the world. The center supports the Harvard China Fund’s Harvard China Student Internship Program, which has brought 200 students to China over the last six years for nine-week summer internships with Chinese companies and nonprofits. The center provides orientation for students after they arrive in China, arranges a field trip before they begin work, and remains a resource during the course of their stay. This summer, students will be staying in seven cities across Greater China, Williams said.The center also is a gathering place in the Shanghai area for Harvard’s alumni community, which is some 500 strong, according to Kate McFarlin, president of the Harvard Club of Shanghai.“With the Harvard Center here, we have a much more serious focus for Harvard in Shanghai,” McFarlin said. “The center’s been a great boon for our community.”Harvard has concluded that opening degree-granting satellite campuses is the wrong approach for it to take in an increasingly globalized world, Kirby said. But it may make sense to have physical facilities, perhaps even research institutes, to support faculty work in key cities. If that’s the way the University decides to go, Kirby said, planners of the Shanghai center left open space that can be developed for future purposes.“It gives us enormous flexibility as our plans and aspirations change around the world,” Kirby said.last_img read more

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Panel offers tips on translating research into action

first_imgHow can scientists turn their research into action? Four faculty members from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shared advice from their careers during a panel discussion on March 20, 2017. The event was organized by students Anna Young, S.M. ’18, Annelise Mesler, S.D. ’20, and Erika Eitland, S.D. ’20, and focused on the challenges researchers often face in translating scientific results for the general public.Marc Weisskopf, associate professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology, said that before research can have an impact, people must understand the scientific process—and that begins with effective communication.“Science isn’t about figuring out the absolute truth; we’re always evolving,” Weisskopf said, addressing the uncertainty that can often surround recommendations related to health. “We’re never going to be 100 percent [certain], but we need to make our best judgments based on the evidence we have.”Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, has seen the importance of communication firsthand. He recalled meeting with a CEO in the indoor air purification industry who was unaware of the negative effects of particulate air pollution—an area where there is large amount of evidence. In response, Allen and his team have created quick guides to air pollution that have been well-received by business leaders. “We’re not doing a good enough job of explaining what matters and why it matters,” Allen told the audience. He urged attendees to step outside of academia and speak directly to the people who work in areas they’re trying to influence. Read Full Storylast_img read more

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The conservative quandary

first_imgWith President Trump’s courtship of the Republican Party and its brand complete, what does it mean to be a political conservative in this day and age? Well, it’s complicated.During a talk Wednesday evening at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Alice Stewart, a CNN political commentator and an Institute of Politics (IOP) fall 2019 fellow, asked a conservative panel from media, academia, and politics to define the values and ideas at the core of the belief system. Each characterized the political and social philosophy quite differently.George Will, the veteran Washington Post columnist and political commentator, said American conservatism means “conserving a government organized around a belief in natural rights. … Natural rights require a regime of liberty, and the regime of liberty requires a separation of powers. All of which frames the American constant, which is a never-ending debate about the proper scope and actual competence of government.”Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said, “Conservatism is achieving the maximum amount of freedom consistent with order,” paraphrasing a famous line from the late Sen. Barry Goldwater’s highly influential 1960 book, “The Conscience of a Conservative.” That has come to manifest itself, in recent decades, in a kind of conservatism that’s animated by “principles of limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility, free trade, free markets, strong American leadership around the globe,” said Flake, also an IOP fall fellow.As someone who came to the philosophy after the rise of President Ronald Reagan, and who, like Reagan, strongly favors immigration, Kennedy School Professor Arthur Brooks said he believes conservatism “is open to the embracing of the idea of dignity and potential for ambitious riffraff,” foundational ideas that he hopes one day will define American conservatism once more.,Brooks, a faculty fellow at Harvard Business School and past president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said his conservatism was inspired by something his wife, Ester Munt-Brooks, once said about the U.S. Munt-Brooks came to this country at 25, speaking only Spanish and without a high school education. “She said, ‘This is the greatest country in the world for people who want to work and who want to be free,’” Brooks recounted. “That contains the DNA of what I think this country is all about. This is the ‘optimism for the striver,’ the people who really, truly believe that freedom is possible for all people.”With Trump in the last several years reshaping conservatism in his own image, Flake said the president is appealing to a diminishing constituency. Flake served in the U.S. Senate from 2013 through 2019 and was one of the few Republicans to criticize Trump publicly.While a conservative message can attract a broader, more diverse constituency than it now does, the “harsh tone and rhetoric” used by Republican leaders today keeps people away, he said. Suburban women, who polls show have been “walking away” from the Republican Party for some time, are now in “a dead sprint” because of that language, he added.,“Are there enough angry people who look like me to sustain a party over time? I don’t think there are,” said Flake, noting that Arizona, close to being a “purple” state, will have a non-white majority within 20 years. “That’s not to say that the conservative movement won’t survive. But will the Republican Party be the vessel of it? I’m not sure.”Will has been a vociferous “Never Trump” voice on the right and has been highly critical of Republican members of Congress for what he cites as their unwillingness to perform their constitutional oversight. When the nation’s Founders designed the government, he said, they built in a rivalry between the co-equal legislative and executive branches, and they believed that inherent tension would be a reliable check on unfettered power and malfeasance. “Our system is supposed to work even if people don’t have good motives because they have different self-interest,” he said, meaning Congress.But the Founders didn’t anticipate how political parties would come to exert iron-clad control over not just ideology, but self-identity and all legislative action — and inaction.“Now that they think of themselves as teammates of the president — and inferior teammates, that he’s the quarterback and they’re interior linemen blocking and tackling for him — the whole script of the Madisonian balance is dissolved,” said Will, a political theorist who briefly taught at Harvard’s Government Department in the mid-1990s.Discussing the impeachment inquiry, Will said there’s a “vanishingly small” chance Trump will be removed from office. While he suggested that Trump is “guilty of impeachable offenses,” it would be “imprudent” to impeach him so close to the 2020 election, when his base, which polls put at a third of the country, would be convinced that the system was rigged against him.Brooks advised young conservatives and progressives alike to “stay close to first philosophical principles and not hard party principles … because, in an environment of tribalism, the worst thing that we can do is align ourselves with the party.”“But that’s not really good enough,” he added. “What we’re talking about is the moral obligation … in a free society … to speak according to our principles and furthermore, to respect the principles of other people, to stand up not just to the people with whom we disagree, but on behalf of those with whom we disagree — standing up to the people with whom we agree. That’s acting according to first principles.”last_img read more

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Hear Jessie Mueller, Kelli O’Hara and More Get Artsy on Pop! Goes the Easel

first_imgKelli O’Hara, “Try a Hat On”Songbird Kelli O’Hara lost a hat and found love in her breakout role as Clara in The Light in the Piazza. The Tony winner has worn many hats since then, so it’s only appropriate that she would dazzle singing about Degas’ At the Milliner’s.     View Comments Sutton Foster, “Starry Night, Starry Night”Sutton Foster’s twinkly vocals have nabbed her two Tony Awards, and Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night is just as mesmerizing as this track. Now, all we need is a trip to the French countryside, which van Gogh’s painting depicts. Take in the full musical masterpiece with the CD. A celebratory release concert will take place at MoMA’s Bartos Theater on Friday, April 29. Singing along will be encouraged for attendees of all ages, so start brushing up now!  Star Files Jessie Mueller Alice Ripley, “Three Small Pups”Forget about Paul Gauguin’s fruit and Tahitian women. Puppies are where it’s at, especially when Tony winner Alice Ripley is singing this playful number about Gauguin’s Still Life with Three Puppies. Have you ever dragged your kid through MoMA without a meltdown (for either of you)? Neither have we. Here’s an innovative solution for art lovers and musical theater buffs alike: Museum Music’s recent release Pop! Goes the Easel features catchy tunes inspired by the works displayed in the Museum of Modern Art sung by Grammy winners, Emmy winners…but most importantly (to us!) Tony winners.The adorable book and CD features Broadway favorites like Sutton Foster, The King and I darling Kelli O’Hara, upcoming American Psycho star Alice Ripley and Waitress headliner Jessie Mueller serving up their colorful vocals on the album. Pop! Goes the Easel is a kid-centric masterpiece that adults will also enjoy. Hear snippets of our fave clips below!       Jessie Mueller, “Pop! Goes the Easel”Tony winner Jessie Mueller gives this play-on-words childhood favorite a rockin’ stir—not unlike Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, which shook up the fine art world in 1962.          Jessie Mueller, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara & Alice Ripleylast_img read more

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VSAC offering $23 million in private student loans for 2010-11

first_imgAfter providing students and parents federal and private loans for years, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) will go to the bond market within the next two weeks to raise finances for about $23 million in private student loans for the 2010-11 academic year.Up until now, VSAC has offered students and parents both federal education loans and private loans to supplement federal borrowing. Because of federal legislation, as of July 1, federal loans are available only through the federal government, while private loans continue to be the domain of financial institutions and nonprofits like VSAC.“Given the demand, VSAC is very happy to be able to offer a private student loan this year,” said Don Vickers, VSAC president and CEO. “We are especially pleased that our private student loan will carry a lower interest rate than the federal PLUS loan for parents and grad students.” The PLUS loan for 2010-11 has a fixed interest rate of 7.9 percent and a 4 percent fee.The Vermont Advantage Loan, VSAC’s private student loan, will offer a fixed interest rate that varies according to the repayment option chosen.”This loan is different from loans VSAC has offered in the past because previously our loans were adjusted,” said Irene Racz, director of public affairs at VSAC. The options are: paying principal and interest while enrolled; paying only the interest while enrolled; or deferring payment until leaving school. Fees range from zero to 5 percent, based on the credit rating of the student and his or her cosigner.VSAC still encourages students and parents to look into federal loans first, then look to VSAC.”Federal limits on loans are often too low. Often parents will look into parent loans. VSAC’s interest loan is lower than the Federal Parent loan,” Racz said.With the popularity of the loan yet unknown, VSAC is still uncertain as to how this change will affect its employment. By losing federal loan origination, VSAC could be forced to reduce employment. Racz said if necessary, VSAC will first try to reduce payroll through attrition rather than lay-offs.Racz is optimistic about the new loan and job security for those who have been with VSAC for some time, “This [new loan] helps keep some of the folks here who are traditionally in the loan business,” Racz said.Students eligible to borrow from VSAC are Vermont residents attending any college, nonresidents attending Vermont institutions, and previous VSAC borrowers.VSAC expects to have the Vermont Advantage Loan application available later in July. Students or families who want to be notified when the application is ready may email VSAC at [email protected](link sends e-mail). Periodic updates will also be available on the VSAC Web site at www.vsac.org(link is external).Source: VSAC. 7.7.2010last_img read more

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