Holiday Heroes: Foster Kids Feel Her Love Each Year

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreKnowing that even if a foster child is placed with a family, it doesn’t guarantee a Christmas gift under the tree, Frances Smith for 15 years has used her annual vacation to amass new dolls, clothes, bikes, and games for every child in the foster care system of Coweta County, Georgia.For 500 to 600 foster children and vulnerable elderly adults, Smith, 64, has been a volunteer elf, in charge of the impressive Christmas Joy program.To donate to the Joy Project, contact Frances Smith at 770-683-9217 or donate to the address below. She doesn’t accept cash or checks, but you can send toys or gift cards to:Frances Smith – PO box 465 Newnan, GA 30264 (Newnan, not Newman)(READ the story w/ photos in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution)Image by ppdigital via MorguefileAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Odds are good that risky gambling choices are influenced by a single brain connection

first_imgShare Email Researchers have tracked activity in those two brain regions – known as the anterior insula and nucleus accumbens – for the past decade, but Knutson was curious how the two work together. Are they directly connected, or do they both influence a different brain region that makes the ultimate decision?Knowing this could help scientists and policymakers who want to better understand risky decision-making in the context of gambling and addiction and develop more effective interventions.Knutson’s team employed a technique developed at Stanford that identifies tracts of neurons that connect brain regions and measures the strength of those connections in terms of how well insulated they are.Using that technique, called diffusion-weighted MRI, Knutson and graduate student Josiah Leong found a tract that directly connects the anterior insula and nucleus accumbens – something that had been seen before in animals but never in humans.What’s more, they found that the thicker the sheath of fatty tissue insulating the bundle – an indicator of the strength of the connection – the more cautious the study participants’ decisions were in a gambling test. The neuronal connection appears to be a conduit for the more cautious brain region to dampen activity in the more enthusiastic region.“Most people love the small chance of a huge win,” Knutson said. “But people vary. Some people really, really like it. But people who have a stronger connection don’t like it as much.”Magnetic gambling denIn the study published Jan. 6 in the journal Neuron, the researchers gave each participant $10 that they could gamble, or not, in a series of games with different odds. The participants got to keep any money left at the end of the experiment.Money in hand, participants entered an MRI chamber where they could see a roulette wheel and the odds for winning or losing. In one bet, they might have equal odds to win or lose $3. In another, they might have higher odds of winning a small amount and small odds of losing a lot or vice versa.As the participants weighed the various gambles, the researchers tracked activity in the two brain regions. The team noticed that all gamblers – even the cautious ones with a well-insulated connection – would sometimes place risky bets. And when they did, the more cautious region stayed quieter while the enthusiastic region grew more active.“We could predict the person’s upcoming bet based on the balance of activity in these regions,” said Knutson, who is also a member of Stanford Bio-X and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.The stronger, better insulated the connection between the regions, the less likely it was that the enthusiastic region would become active at the prospect of a large but unlikely win.Knutson said that finding the connection between the two regions won’t immediately lead to new interventions for people with gambling problems or other issues relating to risky choices, but it does provide a starting point for studying interventions.“Now we can start asking interesting questions about impulse control and gambling,” Knutson said. “For example, does the connection change over the course of therapy?”Anything that strengthens the connection might potentially help people reduce risky decisions, whether in gambling, drug addiction or other potentially risky behaviors.Knutson is a leader of the NeuroChoice initiative, part of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, that has a goal of both understanding the brain regions and pathways involved in how people make choices and working with colleagues in public policy, law, business and education to apply those findings in the real world.“This finding is a step toward achieving some of the goals we set out in NeuroChoice,” Knutson said. Pinterest Share on Twittercenter_img One person’s risky bet is another’s exciting opportunity.The difference between those outlooks comes down to more than just disposition: It turns out that people with a stronger connection between two brain regions have a more cautious financial outlook.“Activity in one brain region appears to indicate ‘uh oh, I might lose money,’ but in another seems to indicate ‘oh yay, I could win something,’” said Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology. “The balance between this ‘uh oh’ and ‘oh yay’ activity differs between people and can determine the gambling decisions we make.” Share on Facebook LinkedInlast_img read more

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Oil & Gas UK CEO Opens Magma Products’ Office

first_imgOil & Gas UK chief executive, Malcolm Webb, has officially opened the new Aberdeen offices of oil and gas consultancy Magma Products. Magma, which provides specialist offshore commissioning and start-up services, has grown from a business employing six people in 2011 to one with an 85-strong team today.It has moved from small city centre premises to its new offices at The Spires Business Park, just off Mugiemoss Road. They can accommodate around 60 people, with many Magma personnel based on site at client projects.Paul Rushton, managing director of Magma Products, said: “We’re delighted Malcolm Webb took time out of his busy schedule of looking after the interests of the oil and gas industry to visit Magma Products and find out more about us as a company.“We’ve found being a member of Oil & Gas UK a valuable asset for networking and advice as we look to continue to grow the business.”Paul is also the Magma representative on the Oil & Gas UK Contractor Council.Malcolm Webb said: “The opening of Magma Products’ new office reflects the growing demand for services provided by the UK’s flourishing oil and gas supply chain. With the engineering, fabrication and installation subsector alone worth over £11billion and the supply chain as a whole generating £27billion revenue a year, it is a real driver for economic growth, innovation and job creation. “I’m delighted to have been asked to officially open Magma’s new offices and to find out more about the business, meet the team and discover the plans for the company. I’m sure Magma will continue to go from strength to strength.”Magma, which invested more than £750,000 in the move to the new 4,000 sq ft offices, is currently looking to recruit around 20 engineers due to the prospect of securing further projects by the end of the year.Magma Products has carved out a niche in the area of commissioning and start-up, the process of introducing oil and gas to projects whereby checks, inspections, certification and tests are carried out on components and systems before handover to the operator or duty-holder.Additionally, Magma has developed a technology-led system to enhance safety and efficiency during key phases of offshore oil and gas production projects. The Completion Hand Over Management System (CHOMS) is a web-based tool designed to capture all completion and certification data for all parts of any individual project. [mappress]Press Release, August 13, 2013last_img read more

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Supreme Court steps in to Hong Kong row

first_imgIn an unprecedented intervention, the president of the UK Supreme Court has publicly criticised the new security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong – but stopped short of withdrawing from his role in the region’s Court of Final Appeal. ‘The new security law contains a number of provisions which give rise to concerns,’ Lord Reed of Allermuir said in a statement released by the Supreme Court this afternoon. Under an agreement dating from the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, two law lords – subsequently, Supreme Court justices – sit on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal. Following the retirement of Lady Hale, Lord Reed is the only serving UK judge currently on the roster, which also includes retired judges from the UK and other common law jurisdictions. Lord Reed noted that he is not scheduled to sit in the court this year. In today’s statement, Lord Reed referred to the Court of Final Appeal’s work on ‘cases concerned with rights of protest and free speech’ – a role restricted by the new law, which bars foreign judges from sitting in national security cases.While stating that the effect of the measure ‘remains to be seen’, Lord Reed said: ‘Undoubtedly, the judges of the Court of Final Appeal will do their utmost to uphold the guarantee in Article 85 of the Hong Kong Basic Law that “the courts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference”.’ He added: ‘The Supreme Court supports the judges of Hong Kong in their commitment to safeguard judicial independence and the rule of law. It will continue to assess the position in Hong Kong as it develops, in discussion with the UK government. Whether judges of the Supreme Court can continue to serve as judges in Hong Kong will depend on whether such service remains compatible with judicial independence and the rule of law.’Although Lord Reed will stress that he is speaking purely in his role as a member of the independent judiciary, his statement is likely to be interpreted by Beijing as a further sign of deteriorating relations between the UK and Chinese governments.last_img read more

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UK railway news round-up

first_imgEasier-to-use ticket vending machines and clearer language have increased the number of passengers buy the right ticket for their journey, according to mystery shopper research by the Office of Rail & Road. This found that 91% of users would have bought the most appropriate ticket, up 11% from 2016. Of the other 9%, 6% would have paid too much, down from 13%, and 3% would have got a ticket without the necessary flexibility, down from 6%. Improvements could still be made to the provision of information on ticket types sold by TVMs, their restrictions and details of off-peak times.London Luton Airport Ltd has directly awarded site owner Network Rail a contract to undertake works at Luton Airport Parkway station to provide access to the future peoplemover. Works including the construction of a footbridge will be subcontracted within NR’s existing framework agreements.In a trading update issued on March 27, Stagecoach Group plc reported like-for-like revenue growth for the 44 weeks to March 3 2018 of 3·2% at its UK Rail business (excluding South West Trains) and 2·8% at Virgin Rail Group. Discussions were continuing with the Department for Transport regarding new contractual terms for Virgin Trains East Coast, it had submitted a bid for the South Eastern franchise, and was ‘progressing work’ on shortlisted bids for East Midlands and with SNCF and Virgin for the West Coast Partnership franchise. Revenue growth across existing rail operations had been ‘broadly consistent with the trends seen in the first half of the year‘.Network Rail has awarded framework contracts for the supply of industrial batteries and chargers to Unipart Rail, Ritelite and Allbatteries UK.On March 22 the Department for Transport published the Thameslink Programme Evaluation: Baseline Report which it had commissioned from AECOM in September 2016. Intended to enable DfT to evaluate the completed programme ‘to ensure it is providing value for money for taxpayers and benefitting passengers’, the report sets key targets and looks at some early impacts.Transport for London has awarded Paragon ID a £2·2m contract to continue to manufacture Oyster smart cards.On March 26 the government announced the introduction of an additional provision to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill, which is currently before the select committee. One of the changes relates to a minor change in the alignment of the Phase 2a route near Stone, while other changes relate to ongoing design discussions with utility companies, highway works to address traffic and safety issues, and requirements for additional land for environmental mitigation.The ScotRail Alliance has launched a Cycle Fund which will provide £100 000/year for four years to meet up to 50% of the cost of projects to promote cycling, improve signage and upgrade cycling facilities between stations and destinations such as schools and town centres.New signalling installed as part of the £50m North Wales railway upgrading project came into use between Shotton and Colwyn Bay on March 26. Network Rail has replaced 96 existing signals with 54 LED signals, and upgraded Tyn Y Morfa level crossing to a manually-controlled barrier with CCTV.As part of Network Rail’s ambitions to reduce the impact of plastic waste, a free drinking water fountain was opened at London Charing Cross station on March 22. Similar facilities are planned for London Victoria, London Bridge and Cannon Street within a year. ‘By refilling our water bottles to cut our plastic use we can each make a genuine difference and help to protect our oceans and precious marine life’, said Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey.The Rolling Stock Strategy Steering Group, which brings together rolling stock owners, operators, Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group, has published the sixth annual edition of the Long Term Passenger Rolling Stock Strategy.ScotRail is seeking a supplier to use Network Rail infrastructure to provide onboard wi-fi on the Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High route. This would include equipping 24 Class 385 EMUs by March 2 2019, and managing the system to March 31 2025. Subject to a positive business case, coverage could be extended to Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa and a further 20 Class 385s.last_img read more

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Blake backs World Athletics – Olympic qualification period suspended until December 1

first_imgJamaica Athletics Administrative Association President Dr Warren Blake says the move to revise the Olympic qualification period for athletics allows for a levelling of the playing field for athletes to continue their Olympic aspirations. World Athletics, in a release yesterday, announced the suspension of the current qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics effective April 6 to November 30. This means that any results obtained during this period will not count towards the athletes’ chances of competing in the games which have been rescheduled to July 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Qualification will resume December 1 until the latest June 29, 2021 “subject to the global situation returning to normal.” Worldwide, up to late yesterday, more than 1.4 million persons have tested positive for the virus. Of those, over 301,800 have recovered while there have been 81,978 deaths. Blake says that the decision to revise the qualification period was the best the world body could make to prevent athletes from gaining an unfair advantage. Levelling the Field “If there were competitions going on in some places in the world, then only those athletes would get ranked and the ranking system would end up electing people based on whether or not you have coronavirus in your country,” Blake told The Gleaner. “This is why it was important to just have a level field where everybody starts over from the same period. It’s not the ultimate solution, but it’s the best that can be done given the circumstances.” World Athletics confirmed that those who have already met the qualifying standard for the Games since the previous period will be eligible for selection by their member associations combined with those who have qualified during the additional period. The 2020 track and field season has effectively been suspended as a result of the virus, which has already resulted in the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics as well as the Diamond League season which has seen its first six competitions rescheduled. These include meets in China and Italy where there have been large numbers of infections and casualties. Restructuring Training Blake says that coaches may be inclined to end their seasons early and restructure their groundwork training usually reserved for late fall but doesn’t see any significant effects as everyone would be preparing under the same conditions “What they [World Athletics] are saying is some people might shut down their season to start up again for next year. So when you start back up again for next year, you would hopefully pick up where you left off this year,” he said. “You would still end up with roughly the same period between the end of the year and the Olympics.” Swept Track Club coach Okeil Stewart says that the revised period will affect how members of his camp prepare and any adjustments made won’t be made collectively. “We will look at where they (athletes) are, look at their development and see what they need to do and then draft their programme to suit the set-up for next year,” he said. The adjustment will not have any effect on World Championship 400m hurdles bronze medallist Rushell Clayton who is coached by Stewart. Clayton gained the qualifying standard in Doha last year. [email protected]last_img read more

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A look at each team in the women’s preseason top 25

first_imgPreviewing the college women’s basketball season.1. Connecticut2014-15: 38-1, 18-0Three-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart is back, and only two seniors from last season’s championship team have graduated, so there’s no reason the Huskies can’t win a fourth consecutive title and send Stewart out with a perfect college career. A 2016 title would be coach Geno Auriemma’s 11th, moving him past John Wooden’s NCAA record of 10 championships with UCLA. TOP 25: Women’s preseason poll2. South Carolina2014-15: 34-3, 15-1Before graduating from Virginia in May, Sarah Imovbioh, last season’s leading rebounder in the ACC, signed to play her final season of eligibility for coach Dawn Staley, who led South Carolina to its first Final Four in 2015. Imovbioh will team with Tiffany Mitchell, one of the Southeastern Conference’s best scorers and a two-time SEC player of the year.3. Notre Dame2014-15: 36-3, 15-1Jewell Loyd, the second-best scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference, left for the WNBA after her junior season, but the Irish have plenty of players left from last year’s run to the tournament final. Sophomore Brianna Turner and juniors Lindsay Allen and Taya Reimer lead a relatively young team, which will play Connecticut on Dec. 5 in a rematch of the title game.4. Tennessee2014-15: 30-6, 15-1The Lady Vols graduated their three top scorers, but that’s no reason to worry. Coach Holly Warlick has an experienced roster loaded with players who expect to take on leadership roles. Former North Carolina guard Diamond DeShields is eligible to play after sitting out the mandatory season.5. Baylor2014-15: 33-4, 16-2Baylor might have more talent than it had last season, even with second-leading scorer Imani Wright transferring to Florida State. Baylor returns the remainder of its top five scorers and adds two McDonald’s All-Americans in 6-5 Kalani Brown and 6-4 Beatrice Mompremier. Plus, Duke transfer Alexis Jones is eligible to play this season. Senior Niya Johnson, the nation’s assists leader, returns.6. Maryland2014-15: 34-3, 18-0The good news for Maryland is junior center Brionna Jones is still around to help the Big Ten champion Terrapins on the boards and try to lead the team to a third consecutive Final Four appearance. But getting that far in the tournament appears to be more difficult than it has in years. Starting point guard and No. 2 scorer Lexie Brown transferred and coach Brenda Frese’s top two assistants left the program. Plus team leader Laurin Mincy won’t be around to score 13.5 points a game. Now Maryland’s hopes rest on redshirt senior guard Brene Moseley and junior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.7. Florida State2014-15: 32-5, 14-2Florida State had perhaps the most impressive breakthrough story of 2014-15. After going 16-0 at home and ending the ACC tournament second to Notre Dame, the team earned a No. 2 NCAA tournament seed — highest in program history. The team lost only two seniors, so a group of ex-McDonald’s All-Americans and ACC-leading players remains.8. Louisville2014-15: 27-7, 12-4Louisville finished a respectable third in the ACC after switching from the American Athletic Conference at the end of the 2013-14 season, mainly because of excellent team play and a solid offense managed by guard Jude Schimmel. This year, coach Jeff Walz has to get five true freshmen to buy into his ball-sharing strategy, ideally by the time the Cardinals host Florida State on New Year’s Day.9. Oregon State2014-15: 27-5, 16-2Team leaders Jamie Weisner, Sydney Wiese and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Ruth Hamblin are back to take the Beavers through what should be a routine non-conference schedule (the biggest challenge is Tennessee in December). Wiese helped TeamUSA take home the gold medal this summer in the World University Games while Hamblin won silver with Canada.10. Ohio State2014-15: 24-11, 13-5Ohio State made it to the BigTen tournament final and was a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament despite a slim roster after a slew of early season injuries. Now, the Buckeyes are back in full form and return seven of the eight healthy players from that tournament team, including the nation’s leading scorer, Kelsey Mitchell. A few dynamic freshmen flesh out the roster, and Ohio State should have no problem challenging for the Big Ten title.11. Texas2014-15: 24-11, 9-9Texas didn’t find its rhythm until late last season. The largely underperforming team got it together to finish the regular season in second place in the Big12. In the Longhorns’ first trip to the regional semifinal since 2004, they lost to Connecticut in the Sweet 16. 6-7 center Imani Boyette (formerly McGee-Stafford) returns along with Big12 All-Freshman Ariel Atkins and second-leading scorer and team engine Kelsey Lang.12. Duke2014-15: 23-11, 11-5Sophomores Rebecca Greenwell and Azura Stevens will help facilitate another season of efficient offense at Duke, which bowed out of the NCAA tournament with a loss to Maryland in the regional semifinals. Maryland transfer Lexie Brown lends the team credibility, but she won’t be eligible to play this year.13. Mississippi State2014-15: 27-7, 11-5Mississippi State has the tools to back up a historic season in which the team broke school records with 27 overall and 11 in the SEC. Leading scorer Victoria Vivians returns for her sophomore season, as does Morgan William, the leader in forced turnovers. Junior forward and leading rebounder Breanna Richardson also is back, and the Bulldogs beefed up their non-conference schedule in hopes of impressing the tournament selection committee.14. Stanford2014-15: 26-10, 13-5The Cardinal will have to do a lot better than 26-10 to hold their own. The team suffered its most losses since 2000-01 and had worlds of trouble against top-10 teams, despite handing Connecticut its only loss. But Stanford is still Stanford, meaning it’s coming in with a strong recruiting class to balance out the team’s lone senior, guard Alex Green. Coach Tara VanDerveer could have a good bit of molding to do before she sees success.15. Arizona State2014-15: 29-6, 15-3The Sun Devils lost a heartbreaker last year to Florida State by one point in the NCAA Sweet 16, the team’s best result since a 2009 appearance in the Elite Eight. This season, they’ll have the chance to build on that success with four starters returning and four good athletes signed from the 2015 recruiting class. With 52 victories since their freshman year, juniors Sophie Brunner, Kelsey Moos and Quinn Dornstauder are a dependable winning trio.16. Texas A&M2015-15: 23-10, 10-6Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said at SEC media days his team trails South Carolina and Tennessee when it comes to sheer talent, but come conference play he might be pleasantly surprised. Standout seniors Courtney Walker, Courtney Williams and Jordan Jones (who tore her right ACL and meniscus last February) return to lead the guard-heavy team; the trio combined for 40.1 points per game last season. The seniors and Blair’s veteran know-how will combine to contend admirably in a loaded conference.17. Kentucky2014-15: 24-10, 10-6Kentucky retains most of its guard-oriented offense from last season and gets back a healthy Janee Thompson, who generated the bulk of the team’s ball movement before breaking a leg in January. Junior guards Makayla Epps, who averaged 14.9 points per game last season, and Linnae Harper (11.4 ppg) will be back to help the Wildcats through a fairly treacherous schedule.18. Oklahoma2014-15: 21-12, 13-5Another NCAA Tournament regular, Oklahoma will be in good shape this year after graduating only two seniors and retaining their two top scorers. Four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year Sherri Coale was inducted into the women’s basketball Hall of Fame this year, and with three Final Four appearances during her tenure at Oklahoma, she’ll have no trouble getting the Sooners at least a few rounds into the Big 12 Tournament.19. South Florida(25-8, 14-4 AAC)2014-15: 27-8, 15-3The Bulls graduated two seniors, meaning top scorers Courtney Williams and Alisia Jenkins are around to run the offense. Connecticut will always be in the way come championship time, but South Florida should have few AAC roadblocks this season.20. North Carolina2014-15: 26-9, 10-6Coach Sylvia Hatchell is feeling the ramifications of the NCAA’s investigation of the school before any penalties have been handed down. This summer, the remaining three members of Hatchell’s 2013 recruiting class transferred, including leading scorer Allisha Gray and all-ACC center Stephanie Mavunga. North Carolina also graduated four seniors. It’s left with No. 3 scorer Xylina McDaniel and a few solid rebounders. Because of Hatchell’s experience, the Tar Heels might hang around for a while, but it will be an uphill climb for the next few years.21. George Washington2014-15: 29-4, 15-1George Washington had a school-record 29 wins and finished atop the Atlantic 10 for the first time in seven years. This season could be better. The team’s two incoming freshmen make up the strongest recruiting class in the conference, and Jonquel Jones, one of the nation’s best rebounders, returns to the Colonials for her senior year. Only one active senior, Chakecia Miller, graduated.22. DePaul2014-15: 27-8, 15-3This year’s Blue Demon team likely won’t break the program’s 13-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances, but they will have plenty of tests to pass in a tough non-conference schedule. Preseason All-Big East Team members Megan Podkowa and Chanise Jenkins, both seniors, are tasked with leading the two-time reining Big East champs against Connecticut, Texas A&M and in-state rival Northwestern in December before conference play starts.23. Iowa2014-15: 26-8, 14-4After making it to the Sweet 16 and nabbing second place in the Big Ten, Iowa graduated All-America point guard Samantha Logic, assists leader Melissa Dixon and center Bethany Doolittle. That means coach Lisa Bluder likely will look to junior guard Ally Disterhoft to help run the offense.No. 24 Northwestern2014-15: 23-9, 12-6Northwestern is in a good place to build on their impressive 2014-2015 campaign, which they finished with the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 19 years and the most wins (23) in the program since the 1995-1996 season. The Wildcats return the core five of their seven-woman rotation, including leading scorer Nia Coffey, who averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds and earned a spot on the Coaches Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Maryland is obviously still their biggest challenge in the Big Ten, but experience with playing through late March will serve the team well.25. Princeton2014-15: 31-1, 14-0Princeton returns four of the five starters who helped the Tigers go undefeated in the regular season. They met an early demise against Maryland in the NCAA tournament’s second round, but Princeton has been leading the Ivy League pretty much since coach Courtney Banghart started in 2007. This season should be no different. The Tigers will have to replace point guard Blake Dietrick, the team’s scoring and assists leader, who graduated.GALLERY: PRESEASON TOP 25last_img read more

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