Marijuana-Related Environmental Damage Charges — Senator Calderon to Resign? — Senator Wright & Residence Issues — Lake Mendocino Water Cutbacks — Lifers Paroled — Carbon Permit Auction — Fake Service Dogs — Yosemite Film Fest

MARIJUANA-RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

A Mexican national has been sentenced to six years in prison for using illegal pesticides and rodenticides in connection with a marijuana growing operation in California’s Sequoia National Forest. The Fresno Bee reports 33-year-old Julio Cesar Villanueva Cornejo pleaded guilty in December to delivering chemicals and supplies to the cultivation site in Lilly Canyon. U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner says oak trees and plants were killed and cut down so that nearly ten thousand marijuana plants could be planted after the ground was prepared with the illegal chemicals. Guns, marijuana seeds and other things associated with pot cultivation were found on the site. Cornejo was also ordered to pay more than $4,000 to the Forest Service for the environmental damage. He is subject to deportation after serving his sentence. (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)

WATER RESTRICTIONS FOR LAKE MENDOCINO WATER

A water district on the Russian River will require residents, businesses and farmers to cut their dependence on Lake Mendocino water by half beginning next month. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports the district voted unanimously last night to adopt the mandatory cutbacks. To the south, the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board of directors is expected to consider today whether to ask the public for a 20% reduction in water use.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)

LIFERS BEING PAROLED IN RECORD NUMBERS

Record numbers of murderers and other California inmates serving life sentences, with the possibility of parole, are leaving prison. In the last three years, Governor Jerry Brown has authorized the release of nearly 1,400 lifers — more than twice the number of paroles his three predecessors combined have granted since 1991. Some 35,000 inmates are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole. And for decades, California governors and the parole board they appointed were denying parole to nearly every so-called lifer applying for freedom. Crime victims and their advocates say the increased releases are an injustice to their victims. More than 80% of the lifers are in prison for murder. Brown said he is bound by court orders easing stringent parole requirements.  (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)

CARBON PERMIT AUCTION

State officials say California’s latest carbon-permit auction has raised nearly $330 million. The Sacramento Bee reports industrial firms and others bought emissions allowances that can be used this year and in 2017. It was the sixth state-run carbon auction since California’s cap-and-trade market system began in 2012. The program places a limit on emissions from individual polluters. (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)

TRANSGENDER REFERENDUM FAILS

A referendum effort aimed at repealing California’s new transgender student rights law has failed.  Referendum backers did not turn in enough valid signatures for the measure to qualify for the November ballot. The law signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year provoked one of the most contentious debates at the Capitol.  It allows transgender students at California schools to choose which bathrooms and locker rooms to use – and which sports and extracurricular activities they participate in – based on their gender identity, not their physical characteristics. Opponents immediately began gathering signatures hoping to give voters a chance to reject the law this fall.  But after county election officials checked each of the nearly 620,000 signatures referendum backers turned in, the effort fell about 17,000 valid signatures short of the roughly 500,000 it needed to qualify. The law is now fully in effect.  The California School Boards Association issued guidelines for districts on how to implement the new law earlier this month. (Story by Capitol Public Radio Network)

NEW GLOVE LAW AT BARS/RESTAURANTS

A new California law that prohibits bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food at bars and restaurants just took effect in January – but it’s already drawing complaints and legislation to repeal the regulation. United States Bartenders Guild Executive Director Aaron Gregory Smith, who owns a restaurant and bar in San Francisco, says the law requiring employees to wear gloves has far too many unintended consequences – to the environment and to small businesses’ bottom lines. SMITH: “How many gloves is that on a daily basis?  I can tell you it’s 175 pairs of gloves in my establishment on one average business day, and that adds up quickly,” Smith told reporters at a news conference at a Sacramento bar Monday morning.  Last year’s legislation passed without any opposition.  Democratic Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan says the measure included a lot of provisions – and this one wasn’t adequately vetted.  So he’s carrying a new bill that would repeal the glove-wearing requirement. Fines for violating the new law will begin in July unless Pan’s urgency legislation passes before then. (Story by Capital Public Radio Network)

FAKE SERVICE DOG COMPLAINTS

Guide dog advocates say there’s a growing problem in California of dog owners dressing their pets up as fake “service dogs” to take them places they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed. State Guide Dogs for the Blind Board President Eric Holm, who relies on his yellow Lab “Ford” to help him live his life, says the state doesn’t have the legal authority – or money from the budget – to combat service dog fraud. HOLM: “When people violate that trust, it violates both health and public safety, it confuses consumers, it confuses vendors and it frankly undermines what we’re trying to accomplish,” Holm told a Senate committee hearing Monday.  Holm says service dog harnesses, badges and vests are all available online, so they’re easy for unscrupulous pet owners to obtain.  At the hearing, representatives of the guide dog community, advocates for the disabled and business groups asked for legislation to address the problem. (Story by Capital Public Radio Network)

ON THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

Ron Calderon Taken Into Custody, Pleads Not Guilty

State Senate leaders are giving Ron Calderon of Montebello one week, until March 3rd, to either resign or take a leave of absence. After that, Calderon’s colleagues are fixing to vote to suspend him from office. Calderon pleaded not guilty to a couple dozen political corruption charges in Los Angeles yesterday. Reporter: Frank Stoltze.

Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg Offers Different Approaches For Troubled Senators

A number of people are asking why Senator Calderon is being shown the door, while Senator Roderick Wright is not, even though he was convicted last month of eight felonies, including perjury and voter fraud, for claiming to live in Inglewood (his district) while really living elsewhere. Steinberg believes Calderon’s charges are mores serious.

US Attorney’s Office Launches Criminal Investigation of Petaluma Slaughterhouse

The US Attorney’s Office for Northern California has launched a criminal probe into Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma. At least, so says Congressman Jared Huffman, who represents the area. The USDA is conducting two investigations, but has not gone into detail about its concerns, other than to say meat was processed without the requisite oversight from inspectors.

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Craig Miller/KQED

Range of Light Film Festival Kicks Off in Yosemite National Park

The festival begins this Thursday, to mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant, the document that set aside Yosemite Valley. Festival Director Steven Bumgardner joins us from Yosemite and says there are more than enough films about the park to fill a five day marathon that runs through the weekend. Reporter: Rachael Myrow.

BLM & Burning Man Job — Shooting at Cedarville Rancheria — Homeless & Pets — Methodists/Same Sex Marriage

SHOOTING AT CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA

Authorities say a woman who once served as a leader of a small Indian tribe opened fire at an eviction hearing, killing four people and critically wounding two others at a tribal headquarters in Northern California. Cherie Lash Rhoades, former chairperson of the Cedarville Rancheria tribe, was taken into custody yesterday after the bloody attack in the small Northern California community of Alturas.

Police Chief Ken Barnes told KRCR-TV that one of the victims was the tribe’s current leader. No names were released. Authorities said that after running out of bullets, Rhoades grabbed a butcher knife and stabbed a woman. The attack occurred as members of the tribe were meeting about evicting Rhoades and her son from her home on tribal land. Alturas, the seat of Modoc County, is about 55 miles south of the Oregon border. (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press — Click here for the story from KRCR-TV)

BLM TO HIRE BURNING MAN COORDINATOR

The Bureau of Land Management is creating its full-time position dedicated to the annual Burning Man event in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. BLM officials say they plan to hire someone to oversee contracts, coordinate law enforcement and maintain safety at the week-long counterculture festival leading up to Labor Day.

Mark Pirtle, BLM’s interim project manager, says those chores have been handled in the past by a series of BLM workers in the Winnemucca District in addition to the regular jobs. But he told the Reno Gazette-Journal YESTERDAY/Thursday Burning Man has gotten so big and complicated that they can’t continue to operate that way. Nearly 70,000 people attended the celebration last September about 100 miles north of Reno. (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)

METHODISTS SANCTION SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

A group of five Sacramento-area United Methodist congregations are leading a push to sanction same-sex weddings, in clear defiance of international church rules. The Sacramento Bee reports that 30 churches in Northern California and other Western states each have adopted a joint “declaration of inclusion.” The churches say they hope to spur a national movement to change the rule book of the global United Methodist Church.  (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)

ON THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

LA City Council Pushes Higher Minimum Wage for Hotel Workers

A battle over income inequality looms in Los Angeles, where the city council may require the city’s large hotels to increase worker pay to more than $15 an hour. The debate arrives as California prepares to raise the minimum wage for all workers, to $9 an hour. Reporter: Frank Stoltze.

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Ryder Diaz/KQED

Vital Signs: Caring for the Pets of the Homeless

The unconditional love of a pet can help people facing some of life’s toughest challenges. After losing her job five years ago, Kelly Hall became homeless. She says her first night sleeping on the street was “terrifying,” she was afraid for her safety and worried about surviving the cold. Hall turned to her dog, Olivia, for comfort. Yet, while pets can provide solace for the homeless, caring for their medical needs can also be a challenge.

Rainfall Maps — State Drought Aid — Redding Crime — Chico School of Rock Owner Arrested — Day Care Inspections Online?

If you look under the weather tab, you’ll see a National Weather Service maps showing the drought conditions in the U.S. and California. We post the weather there every weekday morning! We have sunny skies thru early/middle next week, when some rain is possible. How much is still be be determined, of coursse.

There’s been a local response to the Governor’s recent announcement of state aid for the drough by Northstate Senator (R-Gerber) Jim Nielson, who is supporting the move to provide financing for shovel-ready projects. He has been insisting that new water storage facilities rise to the top of the list of drought solutions.  He expressed that opinion again when responding to the new state aid announced this week  by the governor.

SCHOOL OF ROCK OWNER ARRESTED

The founder and director of the Chico School of Rock  who was arrested yesterday for a misdemeanor charge for annoying or molesting a child, says the charges are false.  Breazid  Lewis, known as Sid Lewis, runs a popular after school music program in Chico. The School of Rock provides music instruction to over 100 students. Lewis a popular Jammin’ 101 class offered at various festivals throughout the state, and also runs a Band Builder youth program and an Acoustic College.

According to Butte County Sheriff officials, Lewis was masturbating at his home in front of a 17 year old girl he had hired to do housework. She was a former student of the School of Rock. According to the sheriff’s office press release, during one of the house cleaning jobs, the girl happened to look up and see Lewis masturbating, staring at her. The victim looked away – and when she looked back, according to officials, he was still masturbating.

Yesterday Lewis was arrested and booked into the Butte County jail, but was released on $5,000 bail. Lewis said this morning he will not be commenting publicly until discussing the case with an attorney tomorrow, but he did tell me that the charges are false.

Lewis grew up in the Redding area as a member of the Lewis Family Band. Lewis is currently facing charges for a previous incident involving a firearm, allegedly used to threaten a former partner over relationship issues.

Some of the instructors at the school are trying to save the after school program by talking to parents about continuing their childrens’ music instruction. (Story by Northstate Public Radio news director Lorraine Dechter)

REDDING CRIME STATISTICS

DISCUSSED BY POLICE CHIEF

Police Chief Robert Paoletti addressed the increasing crime rate in Redding at a community meeting last  night.  He blamed dwindling resources, increasing use of drugs, and prison realignment for the increases.  Paoletti passionately disagrees with a recent Time magazine article which said an increase in violent crime in Redding was the fifth highest crime rise location in the country.

Paoletti says calls for service increased from 83,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2013 — with no increase in staff.  In fact, he says, the number of officers on the street has actually decreased due to budget cuts.  And, while he does not dispute the statistics in the Time article, he does dispute their conclusions.

PAOLETTI: “If you’re in community with one homicide and you have two you have a 100% increase.  If you’re in a community with 100 homicides and you have 110 you have a roughly 10% increase.  Which community do you want to live in?  I can skew statistics however we want to.  I showed real numbers tonight based on population growth.”

Both the Chief and Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko also spent some time discussing AB-109, also known as the prison realignment program, where non-violent offenders spend time in county jails instead of State prison.  Bosenko says a program known as “Shasta Counties Most Wanted” – publicizing offenders who have been convicted, but then failed to appear for sentencing, has been very successful.

PAOLETTI: “We can accelerate their process for getting them in since that makes it easy since they need to be sentenced.  And then they can either be held in custody to serve their sentence, shipped out to prison or shipped out to another county to serve their sentence.”

93 of the 118 on the”Most Wanted”  list have either been arrested or turned themselves in since the inception of the program.  Paoletti wrapped up the meeting by saying that a long awaited police station adjacent to city hall is finally in the works, and should be completed by the middle of 2016.  (Story by Northstate Public Radio news reporter Kelly Frost)

ON THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Brown to Tap Nearly $700 Million in Drought Relief Funds

Governor Jerry Brown and top lawmakers are lining up behind a nearly $700 million package that they say would ease California’s water woes. But that drought relief may take a while to kick in. Reporter: Scott Detrow.

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

L.A. Archdiocese to Pay $13 Million to Sex Abuse Victims

The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed this week to pay out $13 million to more than a dozen victims of clergy sex abuse. Attorneys for the victims claim Los Angeles and Mexican church leaders also conspired to shield one notorious pedophile priest from authorities. Reporter: Steven Cuevas.

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Getty Images

After Years of Delay, State Moves to Post Day Care Inspection Info Online

Parents who want to find out whether their child’s day care has any health and safety violations will soon be able to get at least some information online. Last month, we reported that California is way behind other states which have been making day care inspections available online for years. Now, the head of California’s Department of Social Services tells legislators he has a plan. Reporter: Katharine Mieszkowski.

Redding Water Deliveries/Contracts — CalPERS Pension Increases — Homicide Report (L.A.)

REDDING WATER DELIVERIES & CONTRACTS

Because of cutbacks from the Bureau of Reclamation, residents of the City of Redding will be asked to cut back their water usage after an action by the City Council last night. The city is also talking about taking legal action against the Bureau because of the cutbacks.  Kelly Frost of Northstate Public Radio reports:

The council has implemented stage one of a four stage drought management plan, which means residents will be asked to voluntarily cut back their usage by 15%.  Assistant Director of Public Works John McClean says although the City is in good shape compared to other districts the restrictions are necessary because of cutbacks from the Bureau of Reclamations contract with the city.

MCLEAN: “We have two contracts with the bureau.  One is our Sacramento River contract, and one is our Buckeye contract.  And this morning we received a letter from the bureau notifying us that our allocation of the Sacramento River contract is going to be cut by 60%.  In other words down to 40% of the last three years average us from April to October.”

But City Manager Kurt Starman told the Council that the way he reads the cities contract is that usage can only be cut by 25%.

STARMAN: “We want to be good team players, we want to help the rest of the State, but I think it’s imperative that the City protect is contractual water rights, and if we have to intervene from a legal perspective, we’ll do that as well.”

Starman says he has a conference call scheduled with other water districts and will guage their feelings on the issue before any action is actually taken. While stage one is voluntary, if the drought persists mandatory cutbacks of up to 50% could be put into place.  Something everyone hopes to avoid.  (Story by Northstate Public Radio reporter Kelly Frost)

ON THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

CalPERS Board Approves Increased Contribution, CalSTERS Concerns Remain

The board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, voted to ask for more money, starting in the new fiscal year, and phasing up. There’s also concern over the future solvency of CalSTERS, the pension fund for teachers, facing an unfunded liability of $71 billion dollars. State lawmakers discuss that later today. Reporter: Scott Detrow.

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Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times Reintroduces “The Homicide Report”

It started with a good idea from a single reporter at the Los Angeles Times. Write a blog that details every homicide in LA County. When it launched in 2007, The Homicide Report was a big hit, especially with the victims’ families. 5,200 reported homicides later, the Times has put a new full-time reporter on it and freshened the design so the reader can see the Big Picture. Assistant Managing Editor Megan Garvey joins us. Reporter: Rachael Myrow.

President Obama’s California Drought-Related Visit — New Federal Marijuana Guidelines — ACA & Latino Outreach in CA

PRESIDENT OBAMA VISITS

DROUGHT-IMPACTED FARMS

Last Friday President Obama flew into the Central Valley to visit farmers impacted by the drought. He announced over $170,000 in financial assistance to farmers, farm workers and rural communities.

Steve Baker, from Nevada City is the founder of Operation Unite. He went to see the president land on Friday near Firebaugh in the Central Valley. He met with the mayor of Mendota, some representatives from the California Latino Coalition, and members of the Nisei Farmers League.

BAKER: “It’s extremely hard for the families. And now it’s just beginning. These people aren’t going to have water as they get into their next planting season, and they really have three or four of them. So as this develops there will be a lot of people with no place to go, and a lot of times that results in crime in their towns.”  

Baker has brought water users together in California in several forums since 2009, conducted several interviews with water constituents and has also visited other states and other countries to discuss water issues. He believes there are five major constituent groups that are impacted by the California drought.

BAKER: “Obviously the Central Valley communities are hit hard. They’re one of them. And the Delta communities. They will be hit hard when and if the Delta tunnels go through because a lot more water will leave their region. They’re very concerned with that. They’ll be losing a lot of farmland and it will change things dramatically for the Delta itself. Municipal and irrigation districts in Northern California — I would lump them together as a group. Regulating agencies like Bureau of Rec, Fish & Game, those types, would be another group — and then the general public.”

ON THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

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David McNew/Getty Images

New Marijuana Guidelines May Not Impact California

Legitimate marijuana businesses could have an easier time securing loans and setting up bank accounts under new guidelines released by the Obama administration. It’s uncertain how the new rules will affect California. Reporter: Michael Montgomery.

How Covered California Failed to Market Itself to Latinos

California is making a mad dash to enroll Latinos into health care plans. So far, the state’s health insurance marketplace, known as Covered California, has not done well on this front. Advertising campaigns are missing the mark, and Spanish speaking counselors who can help with the complex sign up process are hard to come by. Reporter: April Dembosky.

North State Symphony Conductor Reflects on Music Education in N. California

Kyle Wiley Pickett Conducter, Northstate Symphony

Kyle Wiley Pickett
Conducter, Northstate Symphony

Northstate Symphony conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett is leaving the Northstate in the spring to conduct orchestras in Topeka, Kansas and Springfield, Missouri. He speaks out about music education in Northern California.

PICKETT:  “The thing about it is, there’s no argument. It’s a settled matter. If you want your kids to do better in math, if you want your kids to do better in English and social studies, if you want them to test higher, if you want them to have better attendance in school, if you want them to excel in their activities, they should be doing music. It’s settled. So whoever decides to cut music is just going on their gut and not on settled science. Since I’m leaving the region I can be more open about it. It’s infuriating. I mean it’s absolutely infuriating. It’s shortsighted. It’s shameful, really.

It’s tremendously different elsewhere. And to be honest — I’m not saying this to bash this region — I love this place. There’s a part of me  that would’ve never left if it hadn’t been for a job change. But Alice, my wife, has said for years, “You know they still have music in the mid-west.” And it’s true. I mean, you know, in third grade they start violin. There’s an orchestra in every single elementary school. All 39 elementary schools in Springfield have an orchestra. They have a dedicated music teacher that doesn’t have to travel from school to school to school.

There is great value as a human being to studying music in the same way that there’s great value to yourself as a human being to study Shakespeare and to read literature — study anything in the humanities, and sciences for that matter. You know we are made better people by being broadened and by having those experiences. But the thing that’s infuriating, is if we’re worried about our kids doing well in their academic classes, we know that if you do music they do better.

And there are some bright spots. The Redding School District, for instance, had a couple of superintendents who recognized this. And they partnered with organizations — the Classics for Kids organization — that gave instruments so that the schools would have instruments to loan to the kids. They actually did a lot of scientific testing. In fact, some of that data is being used nationally, about the results on test scores and attendance rates and things. And that comes from the Redding School District and their commitment to — it was really a function, I think, of putting music back in the schools after it was gone for quite some time. There are certainly bright spots. And there are people in Chico, and there are people in this whole area who are trying to do that.

But I wish there was a way for the message to be heard at the superintendent level, at the school board level, at the principal level, that if you  want your text scores to go up, broad music education is one of the ways to do it. The recipe is not to cut out the extracurriculars and just do English and math. It’s a settled matter. It’s not a question. So it’s not my opinion. We know this. That is something I feel very strongly about.”

Homelessness & Addiction in Butte County — Redding Residents Still Under Evacuation Orders — Tuition Freeze for Higher Ed? — Republican Mayor for San Diego

WEST REDDING EVACUATIONS STILL IN PLACE AFTER MORE EXPLOSIVES FOUND

25 residents on Chaparral Drive in west Redding remain out of their homes as officials decide what to do with some highly volatile explosives in a home there.  Last week a hobbyist was apparently making rocket fuel in his home when some of it exploded.  63 year old D. Ray East lost one of his hands during the incident, and remains hospitalized.   Responding crews found more explosives and materials for making explosives inside the home.  Lieutenant Dave Kent says a plan is being developed to dispose of those chemicals, but it may be several weeks before it is implemented.  KENT: “We’re looking at dismantling very volatile chemicals and the risk of an explosion that could be very devastating in the area.  We have to take the necessary precautions in dealing with so many agencies, it takes time.” Lieutenant Kent is asking the affected residents for patience. KENT: “You have environmental concerns.  You have air quality concerns.  You have the houses that are next to this particular house.  There’s a lot of things that have to go into play and we’re looking into every avenue.” And in the meantime, anyone living within 1000 feet of the Chaparral Drive home remains evacuated.  The Shasta County Board of Supervisors has declared a local state of emergency and sent their proclamation to the Governor in order to qualify for state resources to help resolve the situation. (Story by Northstate Public Radio reporter Kelly Frost)

ON THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

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Ryder Diaz/KQED

Overcoming Homelessness and Addiction in Butte County

Each month, our new project “Vital Signs” will explore a different topic on health. Today we hear from Julie Gates and Elena Wilson, who met seven years ago in Chico. Both women struggled with addiction and Gates, who goes by the nickname “Jewels,” sold drugs to support her own habit. In largely rural Butte County, it was hard for them to find treatment they could afford and were daunted by months-long waiting lists for help. Now clean and sober, the two women volunteer at the Hope Center in Oroville, giving back to the homeless community. They talk to one another about their journey. Reporter: Ryder Diaz.

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Claire Trageser/KPBS

What a New Republican Mayor Says About San Diego Politics

San Diego is now the largest city in the United States with a Republican mayor. After a solid win at the polls, Kevin Faulconer will finish out the term of disgraced Democrat Bob Filner. What does the election of a centrist Republican mayor say about the direction San Diego is taking? Reporter: Sandhya Dirks.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Legislative Analyst: Thumbs Down on Plan to Freeze Tuition

A new report from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office says Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to freeze tuition now will just shift the burden of new increases to the next recession. The LAO also rejected his overall plan for funding higher education. Reporter: Ana Tintocalis.

 

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