Danish government

You now have access to free legal help in Aalborg – thanks to Legal Aid!

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img.phpIn 1916, the Danish government passed the Retsplejelov (Administration of Justice Act) and in 1919 the law went into force. The Act fulfilled the promises of the 1849 Danish Constitution on the separation of the administration of justice from the administration, on the introduction of public and oral administration of justice, and on jurors’ involvement in criminal proceedings. The 1,000+-paragraph law has been amended multiple times since the early 20th century, most recently in 2013. Who cares, you might ask? Well it just so happens that one of the provisions in the law (Ch. 31) is the basis on which a free legal aid service has recently opened in Aalborg…

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Update on dual citizenship in Denmark

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aabf91441e8c4c79a9e696e4c6ac98e0I have been monitoring the situation with dual citizenship in Denmark. A friend pointed me to a discussion on the Americans in Denmark Part 2 group page that appeared on 16 November, 2014. ‘Larry Jf’ posted the following:

This past week the law allowing dual citizenship for those who become a Danish citizen was mentioned from the podium in the folketing (Parliament). That was treatment No.1 of the law. Treatment No.2 will be a debate of the law, which will take place soon and the final vote to pass the law will take place before the end of the year. I have this info from my contact in the folketing and since he is a folketing politician who has pushed for and will vote for the law I trust the info.

Indeed, I looked for the discussion in the Folketing’s Dagsorden and found it on their 13 November 2014 agenda. Here is a link (in Danish): http://www.ft.dk/samling/20141/lovforslag/L44/index.htm. So the law is on the agenda – they are recommending that it come into force in September 2015. Let’s keep fingers crossed and see how things go!

Danish institutes of higher education to see significant cuts in student places from next academic year

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UPDATE (29 June 2015): The Danish government reconfirms ‘dimensionering’ initiative. Here in English; here in Danish (with further links at the bottom of the page.)

UPDATE (evening of 4 November, 2014): Perhaps the sit-in worked – at least in part! 🙂 Since I published the post below early this afternoon, changes to the ‘dimensioning’ initiative have been announced by the Minister of Higher Education. Rather than reducing student spots only in Master level courses, dimensioning will now involve cutting student places in Bachelor programs first and then in Master programs. The old version of the plan would have, in effect, gone against what Danish law says – that all Danish students who finish a Bachelor degree have the right to pursue a Master degree – because it would have squeezed those who graduate from certain Bachelor programs out of a chance to do a Masters due to reduced student places at the higher level. Moreover, international students would have been shut out of certain Master degree programs altogether because the law does not apply to them, so the Masters programs would have been filled by Danish students, whom the universities would have been legally bound to admit. The new plan is that 3,500 places at the Bachelor level will be removed during the first few years of the policy’s implementation, followed by 2,400 Master places – and that the full implementation will be realised by 2020, rather than by 2018. Another big change to the plan is that rather than certain disciplines being forced by the government to cut places, institutions will be given the freedom to pick in which programs to make the reductions. (This updated information was taken mainly from politiken.dk’s story on the topic, ‘Universiteter og minister er enige om ny plan for nedskæringer,’ published today, 4 November, 2014 at 16:30. A big thanks, too, to a contact at a Danish university college.)

dimensioningDanish university students (and young people from other EU countries who study here) are some of the most privileged in the world. Not only do they not pay tuition to attend university, they also get a monthly stipend from the government to help with living expenses while they study (up to 5,839 kr./month before tax). The expectation is, of course, that graduates will find gainful employment related to their studies before or soon after finishing and begin to contribute to the social safety net from which they have just benefited.

sophie carsten nielsen
Sophie Carsten Nielsen, Minister of Higher Education
sitin
Student sit-in at the new AAU building on Rendsburggade yesterday

According to the Danish government, this model is not working as well as it could be. The government claims that there is high unemployment among those who graduate in certain fields of study and, as a result, wishes to cut down on the number of available student places in universities across Denmark in those areas, while boosting the number available in others. The total number of places will not go down; rather, there will be a shift in places from certain study programs to others. The inititative, announced at the end of September by Danish Minister of Higher Education Sofie Carsten Nielsen, is called ‘dimensioning’ and is one of – if not THE – most talked about topics on campuses nationwide at the moment. Indeed, from 9am yesterday to 9am today, students around the country participated in sit-ins on their campuses to protest the move.

The government argues that the percentage of unemployed graduates is too high, especially among those who pursue a degree in the humanities or related fields. Here is the list of programs in which the government has identified unacceptable levels of post-graduation levels of unemployment, i.e. 7.5 to 10 percentage points above the average rate:

Humanities (Master degree in…) Technical and natural sciences
International business communication, English Master of science degree in biology
International business communication, German Master of science degree in geography
International business communication, Spanish Master of science degree in mediology
English Master of science in engineering degree – Product and technology design
German Master of science in engineering degree – Architecture
Danish Master of science in engineering degree – Industrial design
Applied philosophy Master of science in engineering degree – Urban design
Communication
Information science Health-related
Learning and change processes Master degree in sports technology
Culture, communication and globalization
Music Social sciences
Music therapy Master degree in History
Tourism Master of social science in international studies
Humanities (Master of IT in…)
Interactive digital media
Information architecture
Experience design
IT, learning and organizational change

Dimensioning will involve reducing the number of students in these programs, including those at universities, maritime institutions, business academies, and university colleges, by roughly 4,000 nationwide over the next three years. In 2015 spots in these disciplines will be reduced by 1,300 and in 2016 by a further 2,600, with the goal of 3,950 places fully phased out by 2017. (This was extended to 2018 last week.) In contrast, engineering and teacher training programs, for example, will see an increase in the number of available spots.

While it is unclear exactly how this will affect AAU (the president of the university was meeting with the Minister yesterday in Copenhagen), the impact is expected to be significant. At least 13 programs of study at the university will be hit by a total reduction of approximately 560 student places from now until 2017. According to a professor in the English department, the administration were aware the cuts were coming and preemptively decided to cut 220 spaces, which was the proportion they felt matched AAU’s share of the whole. However, this was evidently not enough. Negotiations continue.

Naturally there has been a great deal of anger and indignation on the part of professors and students, especially those affected directly by the cuts. Some critics accuse the government of fishy statistics, based on calculations taken too early in new graduates’ job search and outdated unemployment numbers. Critics also point out that Dansk Industri, a huge lobbying organization that has argued that there are too few engineers in Denmark and too many humanities students, has been involved in setting higher and higher employment benchmarks for the humanities, which, perhaps to Dansk Industri’s chagrine, have been consistently met. They accuse the organization of being behind this latest effort to push students towards studies that lead to jobs in sectors that are sorely lacking in qualified candidates, e.g. engineering.

As a US citizen, my first reaction to this issue was naive and, well…not exactly thought through. How could they just demand cuts in student places, I thought. Then my husband kindly pointed out that this is not the US, where students pay (a LOT) to go to university and the government has no say over programs and student numbers in institutes of higher education. No – this is Denmark, where the government pays and the universities are state-funded. The government, as a result, has a very vested interest in what happens to those graduates it pays to educate (and partially fund after graduation if they do not find work, through the a-kasse system). OK – I get that. But with my expat hat on, I must also ask: if there are so many highly qualified foreigners living in Denmark without work or who are under-employed, maybe the government and Dansk Industri could put more energy into improving job chances for those who already have degrees (especially those who live outside the Copenhagen area) and a little less in cutting spaces in popular higher education programs. Perhaps there are not enough foreign engineers either in Denmark, but I have spoken with my share of those who are having a hard time finding a job here in Aalborg. Engineers are already at the top of the ‘positive list‘, which consists of professions that lack qualified candidates in Denmark and puts potential immigrants on an accelerated path to a work visa. That is a start. But I think more could be done. This is putting it far too simply, but why not let Danish students study what they want and hire some more non-Danish engineers?

Read more here about the ‘dimensioning’ policy (all in Danish) – brief description and links to further information.

Recent & upcoming: Halloween options, toy donation, food market, flea markets, ContiNEO, AAU sit-in, Chris Carter and Vestby exhibition

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Happy Halloween, everyone! The holiday has inspired at least a few events and promotions in Aalborg today. Have a good weekend, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. Lots of stuff also coming up in November (which starts tomorrow – are we really at the tail end of 2014 already?), so check out the events below and use the events calendar to keep track of all the opportunities.

Also, not to beat a dead horse while it’s down (disclaimer: I love anything equine, so I chose this saying only because it was the first that came to mind), but tomorrow is the day that all Danish government offices go completely digital in their correspondence with you. See my posts here and here on the subject, if you have not already signed up for Digital Post! Some help in English in setting up your mailbox online is available through the second link.

EVENTS

BonesChildren eat for free at Bone’s tonight!

All children who come dressed up in costume to Bone’s tonight will receive a free main dish, plate for the salad bar, and soft ice cream as part of the restaurant’s Halloween promotion. You have to make a reservation, I think (sorry for the late notice). There are two Bone’s restaurants in Aalborg – at Danmarksgade 27 (tlf. 98 17 10 00) and in City Syd at Nibevej 17 (tlf. 98 17 10 30). The promotion applies only to children 12 years and younger; maximum 5 children per table (so no birthday parties with lots of friends there tonight!). It does not apply to Lalandia, Nuuk or Take Away.

Zombie/Halloween Walk through Aalborg tonightzombie walk

If you are a little bit too old to qualify for free food at Bone’s but you still want to dress up, then get decked out as a zombie or whatever tickles your fancy and show up at Studenterhuset this evening at 17:30. At least 80 people have signed up (as of 10:00 this morning) to take to the streets as ghouls and goblins in Aalborg tonight. And it appears, on the FB event page, that those participating will be welcome at the Nordjylland Historic Museum for free from 19:00 to 22:00 for a night of ‘museum in the dark’, a sincerely spooky affair (see next event).

historiskmuseumMuseum in the Dark on Halloween

Aalborg Historical Museum is hosting a truly frightful event on its premises tonight. From 19:00 to 22:00 visitors can experience the museum in the dark and listen to the curators tell of the harsh punishments and superstitions of days gone by when people believed in ghost horses and werewolves. The brave can grope their way through the chains rattling in a veritable labyrinth of eerie passages and plunge their hands into buckets of brains, guts and other items. Entry is (for non-Zombie walk participants) 40 kr. You can also partake of free hot chocolate and other treats, if you dare! See here for more info.

Donate toys to the Børnenes Kontor via Aalborg Library during the month of November

Do you have toys your children have outgrown or no longer wish to play with but that are still in good condition? Then bring them to the Main Library during the month of November. The library will then donate them to the Børnenes Kontor. More and more children in Denmark, including Aalborg, experience a sad Christmas, and look forward to a Christmas package and toys from the Aalborg chapter of Børnenes Kontor. Last year many donated toys made a good number of children in Aalborg happy and gave them a better Christmas.  Please deliver your toys unwrapped; Børnenes Kontor will do the rest.

Monthly food market at Nordkraft tomorrow

Nordkraft hosts its monthly food market in the center’s main hall tomorrow, 1 November. Held every first Saturday of the month, the market offers cheeses, breads, and a variety of other foods produced in North Jutland to sample and buy. Doors are open from 10:00 to 16:00.

Contineo concert at Kirsten Kjærs Museum this Sundaycontineo

Ensemble ContiNEO is a co-operative collective of international musicians based in Northern Denmark and is the ensemble-in-residence of John’s Hall at the Kirsten Kjærs Museum in Langvad, Denmark. ContiNEO’s third concert of the season – but the first at Kirsten Kjærs Museum this season – takes place this Sunday, 2 November. From 16:00 to 18:00 the ensemble will play pieces by Martinu, Francaix, Brahms. The setting of Kirsten Kjærs makes for a lovely musical experience. Entry is free, though a donation to the museum is encouraged. Please note that this is a repeat performance of the group’s concert on 25 October at Musikkens Hus. Read more about Contineo here and here.

ModeBørs second-hand clothing market at Nordkraft Sunday, 2 November

ModeBørs, or Fashion Exchange, takes place this Sunday, 2 November in the main hall at Nordkraft from 11:00 to 16:00. ModeBørs is an indoor secondhand clothing event for women of all ages. Private individuals, hobby businesses and traders rent booths and try to sell their wardrobe items, which are required to be in good condition and freshly washed. This Sunday Kunsten’s ‘to go’ creative workshop will also be visiting, so you can try your hand at some art before or after shopping. Entry is free but don’t forget to bring cash for the treasures you find! (Incidentally, there is a Spar Nord cash machine at Nordkraft in case you forget.) Here is the event’s FB page and more about the initiative is available here.

CreateAAUAAU student 24-hour sit-in starts Monday, 3 November

As you may have heard, Danish Minister of Higher Education Sofie Carsten Nielsen has announced a sharp reduction in student places in institutions of higher education throughout Denmark next year. Known as ‘dimensioning’, the move is being made with the goal of shrinking programs whose students face high unemployment rates after graduation. This will disproportionately affect the humanities, although it is not limited to the areas of study that fall under this title. AAU is no exception to the proposed policy – the university will lose roughly 650 spots over the next couple of years. To protest this move by the Danish government, students around the country will be conducting a 24-hour sit-in in university buildings from 9:00 Monday, 3 November. In Aalborg, this will take place at the new university building Create on the harbor, near Musikkens Hus. The protest is naturally voluntary but many participants are expected. A program for the day is being honed and currently includes talks by professors and the mayor of Aalborg, a balloon-release at noon, banner painting, and musical performances. If you are interested in joining – or just stopping by to show your support – feel free to do so. The event’s Facebook page holds more information for those interested. Here is an article about the University of Copenhagen’s participation in the sit-in, written in English.

Best-selling crime novel author Chris Carter to visit Hjørring Library 6 November

Are you a fan of Chris Carter’s crime series about Detective Robert Hunter? Then come to Hjørring Library on Thursday, 6 November at 19:00 to hear the author talk about his work on the series and his most recent book, An Evil Mind. Carter studied psychology and criminal behavior in the United States, where he also worked as a criminal psychologist. He has studied and interviewed several serial killers with life sentences, work that has contributed to and informed his novels. You can read more about the event here and about the author here.

Fashion Reuse flea market 8 November

From 11.00 to 16:00 on Saturday, 8 November a Fashion Reuse second hand market will take place at Skydebanevej 25, Aalborg (not far from Marina Fjordparken). There is free parking on site; bus 13 goes right past the entrance. The focus of the flea market is used accessories, clothing, and shoes. Entry is free. If you would like to sell items, rather than buy, call 25795758 to book a stand (150 kr.).

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????New to Aalborg Fair 12 November at Aalborg Main Library

Are you new to Aalborg? Or have you been here a while but still have questions about things like taxes, your job search, learning Danish, healthcare, banking, child care, residency, etc.? Then come to the first New to Aalborg Fair on Wednesday, 12 November from 16:00 to 18:00 at the main library (Aalborg Hovedbibioteket). The event is informal and designed to make it as easy as possible for you to ask authorities the questions that pertain to you. Representatives of several public organizations will be present to speak with you (in English or Danish), answer your questions, and provide information about their services. See my previous post about the event here.

Exhibition of Vestby at Utzon Center until end November

Western town is a neighborhood of Aalborg in transition, and most residents who live there like their part of town. Although many parts of Vestby appear worn and outdated, there is a wide range of untapped potential, and several major new development projects are underway. The exhibition tells about Vestby – its genesis, the composition of the population and settlement patterns, and a number of projects in the area, including the area around Vestre Fjordpark, the light rail, which will connect Vestby with the university and hospital being built in Aalborg Øst, and conversion of Poul Paghs Gade School to youth housing. The exhibition also includes the winning projects of Europan, a European architecture competition for young architects under 40 years. The theme of the competition was the adaptive city and entrants were asked to submit proposals for new activities and ideas on how to increase urban and housing quality in Vestby. The exhibition is housed in Spidsgatter Hall, Utzon Centre, Slotspladsen 4 and runs from 4th October to the end of November 2014. There is free admission. See Utzon Center’s page on the exhibit for more information.

NEWS

17 single family house plots nearly ready for sale in Aalborg

Seventeen housing plots in Hasseris will be up for sale soon, and Aalborg Municipality expects significant interest from buyers. About 200 families are registered to be the first to be informed when the sale starts. However, they must have a good amount of money readythe plots are being offered at prices of 1.1 million, 1.2 million. and 1.3 million kr., with an  additional 100,000 kr. in related fees. The subdivision will have the Morbærhaven address, an area located south of Ferskenvej. In total there are 97 individual housing plots in that area – 72 are on municipally owned land, while 25 plots are owned by Erik NorgaardPedersen. The site development is done in cooperation with the private provider and will likely be ready at the end of year, so that the plots can be claimed by the buyers around August 1, 2015. (Article courtesy of Midt-Vest Avis, 29 October edition, p. 14.)

English guidance on setting up Digital Post box

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Ikon_digital postThis Saturday, 1 November, the Danish government’s correspondence with you – residents of Denmark – officially goes digital. That means you should be signed up with a Digital Post box in order to receive (and send) secure mail from public officials. I wrote a post about this a while back but have just come across The Copenhagen Post’s article on the same – with a link to step-by-step guidance in English on setting up your digial mailbox. For those of you not yet signed up, this might come in very handy! Here is the link to that guidance. (Incidentally, it was written by government officials at Århus Kommune.) Good luck!

Recent & upcoming: Voices of Refugees, yard sale, dual citizenship update, fashion outlet sale, Danish beach quality and weather and more

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EVENTS

Voices of Refugees concert at Musikkens Hus Friday, 6 June

A unique opportunity to hear refugees’ stories and thoughts through song will take place Friday, 6 June at 19:30 at Musikkens Hus. Danish singers will perform songs written by refugees from such countries as Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Bosnia about their experiences of war, trauma, and escape. Performers include Søs Fenger, Julie Maria, Sys Bjerre, Jeff Buckley, Freya, Ida Gaard and Sara Grabow. Tickets (205 kr + fee) are going fast, evidently, so buy yours soon if you’re interested. You can order them online or buy them at the box office tomorrow. Part of the proceeds will go to Amnesty International.

Yard sale in my neighborhood!

yard-sale3-600x365I am taking the opportunity as the writer of this blog to promote a yard sale in my neighborhood this Saturday, 7 June from 11:00 to 15:00. There will be at least six families taking part and lots of items will be for sale, from children’s items to women and men’s clothing to kitchen items. The sale will take place in the green space bordered by the Nørregade, Østergravensgade, and Søndergade streets in the center of Aalborg (click here for the map). There are several entries to the space – directly across from the main library, next to Amerikansk Diner; two entrances from Søndergade; and one from Østergravensgade. We’ll have signs up on the day indicating the entrances. Hope to see you here!

Fashion outlet sale at Aalborg Kongres- & Kulturcenter

There will be a massive outlet sale at Aalborg Kongres- & Kulturcenter this weekend, 7 and 8 June from 11:00 to 17:00 both days. Entry is free to the public. Steep discounts of 30-80% on all clothing, accessories, shoes, bags, etc. will be offered. Click here for more information.

“Why are Danes so weird at work?” – PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT WAS CANCELLED  ON 6 JUNE DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST

Day and time: Thursday 12th June – 16.30-19.30
Venue: Aftenskolernes Hus, Kjellerupsgade 16-18, 9000 Aalborg

Do not miss this exciting and unique opportunity to network with some of North Denmark’s business people! Erhverv Norddanmark (Chamber of Commerce for North Denmark) and Trademark Future Lounge are inviting expats to meet members of Trademark Future Lounge on Thursday, 12th June from 16.30 to 19.30. A sociologist from Aalborg University will give insights into how Danes behave at work and when doing business – for better or for worse. This talk should enable an interesting and positive debate between the participants before they are divided into teams and work together to produce the fanciest version of the Danish national dish.

Trademark Future Lounge aims to create links to expats living in North Denmark and between professionals with different backgrounds, nationalities and professional skills. This is done through the traditional Trademark Future Lounge approach where professionalism and active cooperation go hand-in-hand.

Sign up by Tuesday 10th June by sending an email to Annica Gade Engholm (annica@erhvervnorddanmark.dk). The event is free of charge when you sign up. However, please note there is a no-show fee of DKK 220 + moms which is also payable in case you cancel after the deadline.

Kunsten offers art summer school for children 9-12

Kunsten is offering an art summer school for children ages 9 to 12 this year at Utzon Center and Karolinelund, as the museum is undergoing renovations until October 2015. I was unable to find more information about this on either the Utzon Center or Kunsten websites; perhaps it will show up soon. Stay tuned!

NEWS

Liberalization of dual citizenship rules in Denmark receives political agreement

Yesterday the Danish government signed a broad political agreement with the Left (Venstre), the Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti), Enhedslisten and Liberal Alliance parties to accept dual citizenship for both foreigners living in Denmark and Danes living abroad. The parties also agree that there should be a transitional period for former Danish citizens who lost their Danish citizenship when obtaining foreign citizenship. This autumn the government will, in light of the agreement, forward a legislative proposal to amend the rules on dual citizenship. The changes are expected to come into force in the summer of 2015. (See my previous post on dual citizenship here. I received the information for this update from the Ministry of Justice’s website.)

Board and card games at Aalborg Library

Did you know that you can borrow board and card games from the Aalborg library? I didn’t either – but apparently the library has just purchased a load of new games and made them available to play either at the library or at home. I saw one of my all-time favorite card games, Ligretto, in the photograph so I am tempted to go check out their other offerings.

Mødrehjælpen (Mothers’ Help) opens new advice center in Aalborg

Mødrehjælpen has just opened a new counselling center in central Aalborg at Boulevarden 30, 4th floor. A national Danish organization, Mødrehjælpen provides women and families with advice and gives economic, social and educational support; offers counselling on abortion and  abused women; and helps individuals build a social network so that there’s someone whose hand you can hold when you need it. They also provide legal assistance. More information about the Aalborg center’s opening hours, etc. is available here. While the organization has had a second-hand shop on Danmarksgade for quite some time, this is the first counselling center they’ve opened in Aalborg.

Aalborg beaches get top marks by EU Commission and Danish Outdoor Council

Studies of water quality and beach quality in Denmark by two organizations – the EU Commission and Danish Outdoor Council (Friluftsråd) – have given Aalborg Kommune beaches top marks. While the EU study focused on water quality, bacteria and health in its study, the Outdoor Council focused on toilets, parking places and beach cleanliness, among other things (there is some overlap between the two). Both organizations found beaches in Aalborg Kommune in excellent condition, as well as the ports of Nibe, Hals and Marina Fjordparken (included only in the Outdoor Council’s ratings coverage). Here are the marks by beach (blue flag is a top mark):

EU Commission rating of excellence Blue flag from Danish Outdoor Council
Bisnap X X
Dokkedal X
Egense X X
Egholm X X
Halkær Bredning X
Hesteskoen X X
Hou X X
Lindholm Strandpark X X
Møllestenen X X
Nibe X
Stejlgabet X
Vester Langeland (Mou) X

Denmark awaits a warm summer

Meterologists in Denmark, Germany and Scandinavia had already declared that this summer will be a warm one; now an American meteorological organization has chimed in with similar predictions. The U.S. weather service NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) has studied what weather will look like in Europe throughout the summer, and estimates that the temperature in Denmark will be about one degree warmer than normal and that we will get about twenty percent less rainfall over the three summer months. While one degree does not seem much, it can evidently do a lot to provide stable summer heat.

Once again, thanks to Midt-Vest Avis for the bulk of the info!

Digital Post in Denmark: mandatory sign up by 1 November 2014

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Ikon_digital postYou may have seen this logo (left) at Aalborg Kommune’s Borgerservice on Rantzausgade. Or at the library. Or at yet another location that offers public services. It is part of a campaign to alert people that mail from the kommune, SKAT, health service, Danish government and other public authorities is set to go completely digital on 1 November of this year and you will need to be set up to receive that mail or risk missing important notices, bills, and other correspondence. Moreover, you can also receive mail from private companies such as banks, pension firms, utilities, and others through your digital postbox.

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