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Migrants say they face danger before court in Texas tents
By MARIA VERZA and JOHN L. MONE 05:26 EDT
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico (AP) — Abel Oset was seized with panic. After an 11-country odyssey that began when he and his namesake son fled Cuba, and included a moment on U.S. soil, he was crossing back into America.
But he wasn’t sure he’d be able to stay.
The two were going to plead their case in a court set up inside a tent in Laredo, Texas, beamed via video conference to a judge in another city — the latest attempt to clear a massive backlog of asylum cases.
They were among more than 100 migrants on Tuesday’s docket — though only 38 had arrived. So much depended on this hearing; Oset dreaded the very real possibility that he and his 22-year-old son would be sent back over the international bridge, back to Nuevo Laredo, in Tamaulipas, and its cartels and violence.
Awaiting his hearing in the pre-dawn hours, Oset lay on the floor of a migration building. He spoke of the criminals who stalk the bridge, picking off migrants. He and his son were targeted by kidnappers twice but had no money and were turned loose with warnings not to return.
“Those who arrive are being taken, one by one,” he said.
Some migrants awaiting hearings arrived at the bridge before sunset Monday from Monterrey, hundreds of miles from the border. Others left city hostels early to avoid moving at night.
At least 42,000 migrants have been forced back into Mexico after crossing the border, according to the U.S. government. Many of them say they fled violence or threats in their home countries and hope to get asylum.
The Department of Homeland Security has said it planned to spend $155 million to build and operate the tent courts but expects the costs to be less. But critics have denounced the proceedings because they are closed to the public and difficult for attorneys to access.
President Donald Trump’s top lieutenants on immigration and border enforcement toured the tent complex in Laredo on Tuesday, defending the “remain in Mexico” policy. The complex includes several rooms where court hearings are held, people wait and children can read storybooks in Spanish.
During the tour, there were 15 immigrants in a processing room and two dozen in a room where migrants await a decision on their case. With the temperature outside approaching 100 degrees, air conditioning units blasted cold air through the tents, creating a din that makes it difficult to hear.
Many of the migrants making court appearances complain of the dangers they face as they are forced to wait in crime-ridden Nuevo Laredo. The U.S. government has warned Americans not to travel to the area, citing safety concerns.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan defended the “remain in Mexico” policy, calling it a reasonable alternative to separating and detaining families in the U.S.
“You are seeing a team effort across four agencies and two departments to run an expeditious lawful process so that families are staying together during their process so that they can wait in a non-detained setting for their hearing,” he said.
“We’re getting more integrity into the system to deter those who don’t have valid claims from making the journey,” McAleenan added.
For Trump, curbing immigration remains his signature issue, and his administration also is dealing with a massive increase in migrants, mostly Central American families, that has strained the immigration system. A major aim of these programs is to deter people from coming to the southern border.
Mexico has cracked down on migrants coming to its southern border, and the U.S. is working on diplomatic agreements with other Central American countries.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week made it vastly more difficult for people to win asylum, allowing the new rules into effect during litigation challenging them. The rules bar anyone who passed through another country from claiming asylum, though some other protections may still be available.
Oset hoped that because he came before July 16, when the regulations came into effect, he would pass. But he also had to convince the judge he was afraid not only to return to his home country, but to Mexico.
“I fall into the old law, and I think that can help us,” he said.
He got lucky; he and his son were allowed into the U.S., but 10 other adults and three children in the group were returned.
The two arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in April. They fled Cuba when a neighbor reported him to state security for watching a documentary about the Castro family’s possessions, and he was beaten, Oset said. He was returned to Mexico to wait for his asylum hearing.
Immigrants and advocates trying to help in Mexican border cities have reported families sleeping in overcrowded shelters, boarding houses or outdoor camps. Many have been bused south by Mexico to cities considered safer, though there was no guarantee that they would be able to return.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley chief recently testified that the agency was sending more than 1,000 migrants a week to Tamaulipas.
Margarita Arredondo, pastor of an evangelistic church, converted her home into a shelter and helps migrants make their hearings.
“You have to give them protection because Mexico is not a safe country, that is very clear,” she said.
According to data from Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, nearly half of those who were sent to Mexico from the U.S. returned to their homes.
“They don’t want us anywhere — Mexicans reject us, too,” said a 29-year-old Honduran woman who spoke only on condition of anonymity because she was afraid.
She says she has just learned about the murder of a friend in Intibucá, where she fled, leaving two children behind with her mother because the gangs threatened her.
She has no documents, common among migrants who flee their homes quickly out of fear.
Her eyes fill with tears when asked what she will do if she is returned to Nuevo Laredo.
“God will see,” she said.
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Mone reported from Laredo, Texas. Associated Press Writer Colleen Long contributed to this report from Washington.

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Spanish court publishes ruling on Venezuelan ex-spy chief
Associated Press 11:18 EDT
MADRID (AP) — Spain’s National Court says it rejected the extradition to the United States of a former Venezuelan military spy chief accused of drug smuggling and other charges because the charges lacked detail and accepted the defense’s claim that it was politically motivated.
The court’s ruling released Tuesday said it rejected the request also because retired Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal had been acting under his military obligations when he committed the alleged crimes.
Carvajal was freed from a Madrid prison Monday. He headed Venezuela’s military intelligence agency for more than a decade and was a close aide to former Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chávez.
The U.S. sought his extradition when he fled to Spain this year after publicly supporting opposition’s efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The ruling can be appealed.

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The Latest: Netanyahu says he’ll seek ‘Zionist’ government
08:48 EDT
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the Israeli election (all times local):
3:45 a.m.
After an apparent election setback, Israel’s prime minister says he will seek the formation of a new “Zionist” government that excludes Arab parties.
Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a small crowd of supporters in Tel Aviv at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, more than five hours after voting ended.
Initial exit polls placed challenger Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party just ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud, hurting Netanyahu’s chances of remaining as prime minister.
Exit polls are often imprecise, and Netanyahu said he would wait for official results before making conclusions.
But he said he would not allow the formation of a new government with Arab partners. He said: “There will not be and there cannot be a government that leans on Arab, anti-Zionist parties.”
Netanyahu’s campaign repeatedly questioned the loyalty of Israel’s Arab citizens.
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2:45 a.m.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief challenger, Benny Gantz, says it is too early to declare a victory in national elections.
Exit polls in Tuesday’s vote showed Gantz’s Blue and White party with a slight lead over Netanyahu’s Likud.
Neither party appears to have enough support to form a majority coalition in parliament with their traditional allies, raising the possibility they will have to form a broad unity government.
Addressing supporters in Tel Aviv, Gantz says he will wait for formal results before making any bold pronouncements. But he says he’s already begun talking to potential allies. He made no mention of Likud.
“I am ready to speak to everyone,” he said.
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12:30 a.m.
Israel’s election commission says 69.4% of eligible voters cast ballots in unprecedented repeat elections, a slightly larger number than took part in April’s vote.
The commission says 4,440,141 votes were cast by the time polls closed in Tuesday’s elections, which were widely seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been in power for more than a decade and faces likely indictment on corruption charges.
Initial exit polls showed Netanyahu did not have enough support to form a right-wing majority coalition, potentially spelling the end of his political career.
Turnout in April’s elections was 68.5%. Parliament voted to dissolve itself when Netanyahu was not able to form a majority coalition.
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Midnight
The kingmaker in Israel’s election says there is only “one option” for the country: a unity government between him and the two largest parties.
Initial exit polls published after Tuesday’s vote showed the centrist Blue and White Party slightly ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud. But neither appears able to form a majority coalition without the support of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the midsize Yisrael Beitenu party.
In a speech to his supporters, Lieberman says the only choice is for the two large parties to join him in a broad, secular coalition that would not be subject to the demands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties.
Israeli polls are often imprecise. But if final results are similar, Lieberman’s call would set the stage for complicated negotiations.
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11:30 p.m.
A senior Palestinian official says he hopes the next Israeli government “will focus on how to make peace.”
Saeb Erakat spoke as initial exit polls from Tuesday’s vote showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu falling short of a majority, potentially spelling the end of his decade in power.
In the closing days of his campaign, Netanyahu had vowed to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 war and which the Palestinians consider the heartland of their future state.
Erakat says Israel “cannot have peace or security without ending the occupation, without two states, the state of Palestine to live side by side with the state of Israel in peace and security on the 1967 lines.”
The peace process broke down shortly after Netanyahu was elected in 2009, and no serious talks have been held since then.
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11:15 p.m.
Israel’s president says he will press party leaders to quickly form a new government after initial exit polls showed no clear winner in parliamentary elections.
Reuven Rivlin’s office said Tuesday that his nomination of a candidate to form the next government would be guided in part by the need to avoid a third election, after two votes in five months. It said he would meet with party leaders “after he receives a clear picture of the results, and as soon as possible.”
Israel’s largely ceremonial president assigns the task of forming a new government to the party leader most likely to assemble a majority coalition.
Exit polls showed former military chief Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party winning slightly more seats than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. But it appeared that neither would be able to form a government without Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, which has said it wants a national unity government.
Israel’s parliament dissolved itself after April’s elections when Netanyahu was unable to assemble a majority.
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11:00 p.m.
The leader of an alliance of Arab parties that initial exit polls indicate will be the third largest bloc in Israel’s next parliament says it marks a “historic” moment for the minority, which has long complained of discrimination.
Initial exit polls released by Israel’s main three TV stations indicate the Joint List won around a dozen seats in the 120-seat parliament in Tuesday’s elections. The polls indicate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fall short of a parliamentary majority, potentially marking the end of his decade-long rule.
Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, told Israeli media that if the final results match the exit polls, Arab voters will have “prevented Netanyahu from forming a government.” Netanyahu had repeatedly warned his supporters about large Arab turnout, using language that was widely seen as racist.
Arab citizens make up around 20% of Israel’s population and largely identify with the Palestinians.
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10:15 p.m.
In an apparent setback for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, exit polls show the Israeli leader has fallen short of securing a parliamentary majority with his hard-line allies.
The results posted by Israel’s three major TV stations indicate Netanyahu’s political future could now be in doubt.
The three stations all showed challenger Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party slightly ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud party. However, neither party controls a majority in the 120-seat parliament without the support of Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the midsize Yisrael Beitenu party.
Netanyahu had hoped to secure a majority with his allies in hopes of winning immunity from an expected indictment on corruption charges.
The results raise the likelihood of a unity government between the three parties.
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9:50 p.m.
Turnout in Israel’s national elections is on track to outpace the April vote.
Israel’s Central Elections Committee said Tuesday that 63.7% of eligible voters had cast ballots by 8 p.m. (1700 GMT), around 2.4 percentage points higher than the same time during the previous election. Polls close at 10 p.m.
While Israelis typically vote in greater numbers than in many democracies, the April vote saw a comparatively low turnout of 68.5%. An unprecedented repeat vote was called after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a majority coalition and parliament dissolved itself.
Netanyahu, whose political career is on the line in a tight race, and other party leaders delivered election day appeals for citizens to go to the polls.
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4:10 p.m.
Facebook has penalized a chatbot on the page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because it violated a law prohibiting the publication of public opinion polls in the days leading up to an election.
It was the second time in less than a week that Facebook has taken action against Netanyahu’s page, which uses an automated chat function to communicate with followers. Last week it was over a violation of the social network’s hate speech policy.
The measure came as Israelis head to the polls in what is largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu.
In a statement Tuesday, Facebook said it had suspended the bot “for violating local law” until polling stations close later in the day.
In a video posted to Facebook, Netanyahu called the step “disproportional” and “unjust,” claiming his Likud party was being targeted by the country’s election commission.
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1 p.m.:
The leader of the main Arab faction in Israel’s parliament says his constituents “must be first-class voters on the way to becoming first-class citizens.”
Ayman Odeh cast his ballot on Tuesday in the northern city of Haifa and urged his fellow Arab citizens to vote in large numbers. He called Benjamin Netanyahu “an obsessive prime minister who is inciting against us.”
Netanyahu has alleged fraud in Arab voting areas and unsuccessfully pushed for legislation to place cameras in polling stations on election day. He also has accused his opponents of conspiring with Arab politicians to “steal” the election.
Turnout in the minority Arab sector was just below 50% in April. Many Arab voters boycotted the vote. Odeh has banded the various Arab parties together in a bid to boost turnout.
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12:45 p.m.
Israel’s central election committee says early turnout for the repeat election has been slightly higher than the previous round.
It says that as of 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, some 15% of Israelis had already cast their ballots. It marked more than a 2% increase over the figure at the same time in April.
Voter turnout has emerged as a key element of this election.
Election day is a national holiday, a measure aimed at encouraging participation.
In April’s election, turnout was about 69%, slightly below the 72% figure in the previous election in 2015.
But turnout in the minority Arab sector was just below 50% and many Arab voters boycotted the election. The various Arab leaders have handed together on a joint list for this election, hoping to boost turnout.
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10:30 a.m.
The chief challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s election says the vote is about hope and change.
Retired military chief Benny Gantz cast his ballot on Tuesday alongside his wife near his home in the central Israeli city of Rosh Haayin.
Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu’s Likud. Both parties could struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, though, forcing them into a potential unity government.
Outside his polling station, Gantz says “we will bring hope, we will be bring change, without corruption, without extremism.”
The decorated ex-general is campaigning on unity and egalitarianism, offering himself as a calming influence and honest alternative to the scandal-plagued Netanyahu. It’s the second election this year, after Netanyahu failed to build a coalition following April’s vote and dissolved parliament
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10:00 a.m.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country’s election is going to be “very close.”
Netanyahu cast his vote on Tuesday in Jerusalem alongside his wife. He is seeking a fifth term against the prospect of a likely indictment on corruption charges.
He faces a stiff challenge from retired military chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu’s Likud. Both parties could struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, though, forcing them into a potential unity government.
Netanyahu urged all citizens to cast their ballots and said of the election that “I can confirm to you this morning that they are very close.”
It’s the second election this year, after Netanyahu failed to build a coalition following April’s vote and dissolved parliament.
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9:00 a.m.
The potential kingmaker of the Israeli election says he will insist upon a unity government between the two largest factions.
Avigdor Lieberman cast his vote early on Tuesday in his settlement of Nokdim. Lieberman, a former defense minister and one-time protégé of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, forced Israel’s unprecedented second election of the year when he refused to join Netanyahu’s coalition government after the previous election in April.
Polls suggest Netanyahu won’t be able to form another coalition without Lieberman’s support.
Lieberman says there won’t be a third round of elections and the parties will have to deal with the “constellation” that emerges from this vote.
He says he will only sit in a wide government that includes Netanyahu’s Likud and its main challenger, the centrist Blue and White party.
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7:00 a.m.
Israelis have begun voting in an unprecedented repeat election that will decide whether longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stays in power.
Against the prospect of a likely indictment on corruption charges, Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term.
He faces a stiff challenge from retired military chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu’s Likud. Both parties could struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, though, forcing them into a potential unity government.
It’s the second election this year, after Netanyahu failed to build a coalition following April’s vote and dissolved parliament.
Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday with exit polls expected at the end of the voting day at 10 p.m. Official results are projected to come in overnight.

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Indiana, Illinois AGs investigate after fetal remains found
By RICK CALLAHAN | Mon, September 16, 2019 09:55 EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s attorney general said Monday that he will work with his Illinois counterpart to investigate what he called the “grisly discovery” of more than 2,000 medically preserved fetal remains at the Illinois home of a late doctor who performed abortions in Indiana.
Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill said he and Democratic Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul have “agreed to work together” as Hill’s office coordinates an investigation of the remains found at the home of Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who died Sept. 3.
“The grisly discovery of these fetal remains at the Illinois home of a deceased abortion doctor shocks the conscience. Further, we have reason to believe there is an Indiana connection to these remains,” he said in a statement.
Hill’s statement did not elaborate on what specifically would be investigated. Raoul’s office said it has agreed to assist Hill with contacting authorities in Illinois.
Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, issued a statement Monday evening decrying the situation and calling for a full investigation to determine if anyone else was involved and whether crimes were committed.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office in northeastern Illinois announced late Friday that Klopfer’s relatives had discovered 2,246 preserved fetal remains while sorting through his property. The county coroner’s office has taken possession of those remains, and it, the sheriff’s department and local prosecutors were already investigating.
Hill’s announcement came after several Indiana lawmakers called for his office to investigate whether the remains were illegally transported across state lines. Lawmakers are also seeking a probe of the shuttered clinics in Allen, Lake and St. Joseph’s counties where Klopfer had performed abortions to make sure no fetal remains are being stored at the former clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend.
Indiana state Rep. Ron Bacon, a Chandler Republican, called the discovery at Klopfer’s home “seriously disturbing.” He also expressed concern that “there may be other remains in the Indiana clinics where he performed abortions.”
Several Indiana lawmakers held a news conference Monday outside Klopfer’s former clinic in Fort Wayne, the county seat of northeastern Indiana’s Allen County, calling for multiple state investigations.
“We have a lot of work to do to make sure this never, ever happens again,” said Republican Sen. Liz Brown of Fort Wayne.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statement saying he was “deeply disturbed” by the discovery of the fetal remains and that he supports “calls for a federal investigation.” His statement followed Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski’s request Saturday that state and federal authorities “conduct a full investigation into this case and take any steps necessary to protect Hoosiers, including the unborn, from unsafe practitioners.”
Klopfer was believed to be Indiana’s most prolific abortion doctor, performing thousands of procedures over several decades, the South Bend Tribune reported.
The U.S. Supreme Court in May upheld a 2016 Indiana law requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains after an abortion. Before that, clinics could turn over fetal remains to processors who handle disposal of human tissues or other medical material by incineration.
However, Klopfer’s clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend closed years before his death.
The state revoked the South Bend clinic’s license in 2015. The Indiana State Department of Health had previously issued complaints against the clinic, accusing it of lacking a registry of patients, policies regarding medical abortion, and a governing body to determine policies. The agency also accused the clinic of failing to document that patients get state-mandated education at least 18 hours before an abortion.
Klopfer’s license was suspended by Indiana’s Medical Licensing Board in November 2016 after it found a number of violations, including a failure to ensure that qualified staff was present when patients received or recovered from medications given before and during abortion procedures.
Klopfer was no longer practicing by that time, but he told the panel he had never lost a patient in 43 years of doing abortions.
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Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.

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Spain won’t extradite Venezuela’s ex-spymaster to US
By ARITZ PARRA and CIARAN GILES | 01:31 EDT
MADRID (AP) — Spain’s National Court on Monday rejected the extradition to the United States of a former Venezuelan military spy chief accused of drug smuggling and other charges.
The court released retired Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal, who denies the charges and says that they were politically motivated.
He told reporters outside the prison after the ruling that he intends to remain in Spain.
The court was expected to issue its written ruling later, according to a court spokesman who wasn’t authorized to be identified by name in media reports.
María Dolores Argüelles, a lawyer for Carvajal, said she had no immediate details of the ruling beyond that a release order had been issued for the retired general. She did not know what Carvajal’s plans would be once out of prison.
The U.S. embassy in Madrid had no immediate comment on the ruling.
Carvajal headed Venezuela’s military intelligence agency for more than a decade and was a close aide to former Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chávez. Earlier this year, he fled to Spain after publicly supporting the opposition’s efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
At a court hearing Thursday in Madrid, his lawyers claimed the U.S. sought the extradition because the information Carvajal has from controlling the secrets of Venezuela’s armed forces for so long had the potential to topple the current Venezuelan government.
Spanish and U.S. officials, however, have cast doubts on Carvajal’s claims to hold information that would be currently relevant, as he was demoted and retired shortly after Maduro came to power in 2013.
The former general was arrested in Aruba in 2014 on another drug warrant, but authorities in the Dutch Caribbean island rejected extraditing him to the U.S. and sent him back to Caracas.
Prosecutors in New York say Carvajal should face trial for “narcoterrorism.” Investigators with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency say he used his post to coordinate the smuggling of around 5.6 tons of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico in 2006. He allegedly also used weapons to achieve his goals and aided and protected Colombian guerrillas, according to unsealed U.S. court documents.
When Carvajal publicly backed Maduro’s opponents earlier this year, he fled to Madrid, where Spanish intelligence officials initially welcomed him. But police arrested the former spy chief in mid-April after the U.S. issued a drug warrant.
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Parra reported from London.

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