July 28, 2015

28Jul

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Political Briefs

Top stories

Dan Walters: Publishing appellate decisions – The Sacramento region’s state appeals court declared three decades ago that when a corporation hires lobbyists to pass a bill, it loses its claim of privacy in a libel action. I was particularly interested because it upheld a trial court judge’s decision to toss out a libel case filed against me by a chain of for-profit colleges, stemming from a 1983 column about the corporation’s efforts to be exempted from state accreditation standards. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

CA Fwd: The coming revenue debate must look beyond politics — In a report released Monday, From Revenue to Results: Considering today’s tax proposalsCA Fwd aims to broaden this pivotal conversation, encouraging Californians to look beyond how much money each measure would raise and who would pay—and to consider the proposals’ combined fiscal, governance, and policy impacts, as well. After providing a detailed look at this year’s major tax ideas, the report defines a set of criteria for assessing their strengths and weaknesses—and outlines what a tax system that meets the criteria might look like. CA Fwd website

Valley politics

Shuklian running for Tulare County supervisor – After nearly eight years serving on the Visalia City Council, Amy Shuklian said she’s ready to take on the issues affecting all of Tulare County. So Monday afternoon, she went to Tulare County Elections Office and filed a candidate intention statement to run for the District 3 Supervisor’s seat, which allows her to begin raising money for her campaign. Visalia Times-Delta article

Riverbank council will get update on districts — The City Council will get updates Tuesday evening on the proposed switch to district elections and planning for the town’s biggest annual event. The council will consider scheduling more public workshops on possible ways of dividing Riverbank into four council districts. The mayor would continue to be elected at large. Modesto Bee article 

McNerney: Extradite my hijacker — Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to support extradition of the sole surviving gunman who in 1971 hijacked a plane on which McNerney was travelling. Stockton Record blog

 

Immigration 

Pro bono attorneys fault immigrant detention centers – Pro bono attorneys working at the country’s two largest immigrant family detention centers in Texas said Monday that they have been “locked out” after they raised concerns last week that officials were forcing the immigrant mothers they represent to sign legal papers without consulting them. LA Times article 

Family detention social worker speaks out — Oliva López thought she’d be working with migrant mothers and children in a group-home setting when hired as a social worker at a Texas family detention center. But when she arrived at the concrete facility and the doors were unlocked to let her in, she was startled by the cacophony of cell doors clanging. McClatchy Newspapers article

 

Other areas

Joel Fox: The cigarette tax dilemma — Is a tax on cigarettes a revenue raiser or a “sin tax”—used to discourage individuals from using products considered harmful? The effort to raise taxes on cigarettes – there is a measure in the legislature as well a ballot initiative moving through the process—often directs new revenues toward specific purposes. Yet, the increased taxes often lower the use of a product thus reducing the revenue for organizations and agencies. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Atkins ivory bill sparks debate on illegal trade, property rights – The measure would enact a near total ban on the importation and sale of ivory and rhino horn items in California, including those knick-knacks lingering on bookshelves and attics that have been passed along for generations. Opponents say Atkins’ measure runs roughshod over property and gun owners’ rights, making it impossible, for example, to sell weapons with ivory-embellished handles. Sacramento Bee article

Obama ivory crackdown leaves open California loopholes – Ivory dealers in San Francisco’s Chinatown stood in their shop doors besides store windows full of carved ivory tusks and trinkets this week, unfazed by President Barack Obama’s announcement of proposed rules that the White House says go as far as the administration can go toward banning all U.S. trade of ivory from the world’s endangered elephants. AP article 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy rules out passing Senate’s highway bill — This much is clear: The House will completely ignore the Senate-passed highway bill. “We’re not taking up the Senate bill,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed Monday afternoon. Politico article

Boy Scout board approves end to blanket ban on gay adults — The Boy Scouts of America on Monday ended its blanket ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons. AP article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Hispanics’ population rises, but their home ownership doesn’t – They make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, yet Hispanics are increasingly locked out of home ownership because of tighter lending standards that rely on outdated measures of creditworthiness. McClatchy Newspapers article

 

Double-digit rate increases coming for those in region with Covered California health plans – Consumers who have Covered California health plans in the Northern San Joaquin Valley will experience sticker shock in 2016 rather than the modest premium increases reported in other areas of the state. On average, the premiums for health plans purchased under the Affordable Care Act will increase 10 percent in the pricing region that includes Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced, Mariposa and Tulare counties, the state exchange said. Modesto Bee article

UC Merced receives approval to build Downtown Center – UC Merced officials received the go-ahead to build the $45 million Downtown Center, but officials say the project won’t make sense if the city doesn’t quickly agree to provide basic utilities for future campus growth. Merced Sun-Star article

 

Jobs and the Economy

Teacher pension liabilities driving up school costs, cutting take home pay – Teacher pensions are in the spotlight with school contributions rising steeply to offset the anticipated $70.4 billion future shortfall of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. Modesto Bee article

Jay Schenirer: Sacramento begins studying minimum wage increase – The Sacramento City Council member writes,” Sacramento’s leaders understand that creating a vibrant city requires a vibrant economy. We have made great strides in creating an economic climate that favors investment and revitalization, and we will continue to do so. But just as our city does better when we have a healthy economy, businesses do better when their employees can make ends meet. This is the backdrop for the minimum wage discussions in which the city is embarking in the coming months.” Schenirer op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Boston’s bid withdrawal puts LA back in the running for 2024 Olympics — Boston’s short-lived campaign to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics ended Monday after months of struggles with local opposition and low public support. Officials from the city and the U.S. Olympic Committee issued a joint statement announcing the withdrawal. The USOC also said it will immediately begin exploring the possibility of a replacement city — which opens the door for Los Angeles. LA Times article

 Visalia, Yuba City agribusiness banks merging in $9.4 million deal — Visalia-based Suncrest Bank continues to grow, announcing Monday that it’s snapping up another agribusiness-focused institution in a merger deal. Yuba City’s Sutter Community Bank will merge with Suncrest in an all-stock deal valued at about $9.4 million, making for about $300 million in combined assets. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Modesto Irrigation District will examine 2016 power costs — The board of the Modesto Irrigation District will get a glimpse Tuesday morning of trends that could affect electricity costs next year. Directors will hold a workshop on parts of the proposed 2016 budget that relate to power demand, renewable energy and several other factors. Modesto Bee article 

Fresno’s Warehouse Row flush with federal tenants – On July 30, Summa’s Will Dyck, the developer of the 220,000-square-foot project reshaping the 700 block of P Street, is scheduled to hand over the keys to one of his new main tenants, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. New offices for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will take up more than 30,000 square feet in the Warehouse Row complex. The Business Journal article 

Local housing market ‘trending up’ – Currently, Visalia city officials are reporting an uptick in permitting, including permits for single-family homes and the review of plans for a dozen subdivisions. If numbers hold up for the second half of the year, 2015 will register the highest number of single-family home permits given out in Visalia in seven years. Visalia Times-Delta article

State Fair attendance could be strongest in six years — California State Fair employees were cautiously optimistic about this year’s attendance numbers as the fair ended Sunday, crediting cooler weather and expanded live horse racing for bringing in larger crowds. Sacramento Bee article 

UCSF comes out in favor of Warriors’ arena – with a caveat — UCSF Monday officially threw its weight behind the Golden State Warriors’ plan to build an arena in Mission Bay, but that support is contingent on reaching a binding agreement with the city on how to handle traffic on days when there are major events at both nearby AT&T Park and the new basketball facility. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Why San Francisco evictions are on the rise — The number of rent-controlled San Francisco tenants receiving eviction notices is rising sharply, the latest evidence that the city’s economy continues to drive the displacement of long-term residents. San Francisco Chronicle article

Chevron cutting 500 jobs in San Ramon — Oil giant Chevron is cutting 500 jobs from its headquarters in San Ramon as part of a global effort to slash costs by $1 billion, according to a spokeswoman for the company. Contra Costa Times article

 

Agriculture/Water/Drought

Years later, 7 Tulare County towns still wait for clean drinking water – In 2011, folks in northern Tulare County were in an uproar about a project that seemed ready to get fresh Kings River water for seven communities where dangerous chemicals lurk in the well water. Four years later, there’s a different state agency handling the funding for drinking water projects. The picture is brightening. But this project still is years away from delivering water and a long-term solution to water contamination problems in the area. Fresno Bee article

Drought results in Modesto’s ‘negative outlook’ for water service – The drought is one reason the City of Modesto has received a “negative outlook” for water service. The city is using less water and that means less revenue. Moody’s Investors Service didn’t lower the city’s bond rating, but basically said it’s not sure the city’s water enterprise is in the best shape to cover its debt. Capital Public Radio report

 July’s record-breaking rainfall may not be over – Forecasters say a monsoonal flow could hit Southern California on Wednesday, bringing more rain, thunder, lightning and muggy conditions into the weekend. The weather, which officials believe is tied to the El Niño system building in the Pacific, has been marked by contradictions. LA Times article

Michael Fitzgerald blog: Meet the new tunnels, worse than the old tunnels – UOP analyst Jeffrey Michael dismembers Brown’s revised tunnel proposal. Fitzgerald blog in Stockton Record

Plugging leaks with rate hike – Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in central Stockton could see their water bills jump nearly 33 percent by 2019, a “substantial” rate hike. For once, the drought isn’t to blame. Rather, the California Water Service Co.’s plan is based mostly on the need to upgrade deteriorating infrastructure. Stockton Record article

Study: Almond production close to being carbon-neutral – Almonds have a small carbon footprint compared to other nutrient-dense crops, according to a new study published by researchers from the University of California, Davis. Hanford Sentinel article

 Don Curlee: Grass turns brown, but weeds may not — The many suburban homeowners who are letting their lawns die to help conserve water may learn what farmers have known for their lifetimes — that weeds aren’t killed that easily. Curlee in Visalia Times-Delta

Landowners fight ban on new vineyards in Santa Monica Mountains area — Malibu vintners and grape growers will try Tuesday to persuade the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to lift a temporary ban on new vineyards, or extensions of existing ones, in the north Santa Monica Mountains. LA Times article

 

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Push to scale back sentencing laws gains momentum – Now, with a push from President Obama, and perhaps even more significantly a nod from Speaker John A. Boehner, Congress seems poised to revise four decades of federal policy that greatly expanded the number of Americans — to roughly 750 per 100,000 — now incarcerated, by far the highest of any Western nation. New York Times article

Jeff Jardine: Family, pols deliver message to Brown’s doorstep regarding killer’s parole – In the shadows of the State Capitol building, they pleaded their case to Gov. Jerry Brown. They argued, begged and demanded that he reverse the parole board’s decision two weeks ago to release convicted murderer Jeffrey Maria after more than 35 years behind bars. Maria and three others brutally murdered Phillip and Kathy Ranzo in their Modesto home in 1979. They raped Kathy Ranzo. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Online store created in honor of Bakersfield Police Department officer killed in line of duty — The family of a Bakersfield police officer who died in the line of duty last month has created an online store selling shirts to benefit a scholarship fund. The “Officer David Nelson Memorial Scholarship Merchandise Store” was created “in honor of David’s legacy,” his brother, Erik, said in an email. David Nelson died in a crash during the pursuit of a motorist in late June. Bakersfield Californian article

Judge denies request for juror information — Labeling it a “fishing expedition,” the judge hearing the Bank of the West robbery case denied a defense motion Monday afternoon seeking the identities of two of the 19 members of the grand jury that indicted Jaime Ramos and Pablo Ruvalcaba last December. Stockton Record article

Bank manager taken hostage breaks silence — Kelly Huber was accidentally shot as three heavily armed men drove away from the Bank of the West after robbing it and taking three hostages more than a year ago, she said Monday, the day her lawyer filed a lawsuit against the city of Stockton and the Police Department and up to 100 unidentified parties over the incident. Stockton Record article
Education 

States, U.S. must boost graduation rates, Duncan says in slamming college costs – The nation’s colleges are too costly and students frequently are not getting their money’s worth, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday, emphasizing that states and the federal government must do more to ensure that students complete their degrees. LA Times article

College of the Sequoias accepting architect students for fall semester — With the start of College of the Sequoias’ upcoming fall semester, comes the return of its many academic programs, including the school’s architecture program. On Aug. 17, new and returning students will have the opportunity to join the program, which offers seven main courses. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Joaquin County teachers to join statewide Common Core summit — Thousands of teachers across California will come together virtually this week to learn strategies to teach what is known as Common Core. They’ll be learning this together, even if in disparate parts of the state. Among the more than 30 sites where teachers will gather Friday is the University of the Pacific. Stockton Record article

‘Parent trigger’ campaigns can continue despite lack of new test scores – While California’s testing and accountability system is in flux, parents are allowed to attempt to force major changes at schools considered failing based on tests that are at least two years old and that measure material that’s no longer being taught.EdSource article

After civil molestation case, Woodland parents see loophole in teacher hiring — Angry parents in Woodland are demanding to know how a man accused of molesting two students in Sacramento was able to teach physical education for nearly three years at Beamer Park Elementary School without anyone discovering his history.Sacramento Bee article

 

Energy/Environment 

First airing of Kern oil and gas plan draws overflow crowds — Monday turned into an oil industry love fest. Kern County’s plan to streamline oil and gas permitting here got a sea of support Monday at a joint workshop before the Kern County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission. Bakersfield Californian article

Crews on Willow fire brace for hot, dry, windy weather – Crews battling the Willow fire near Bass Lake got a break Monday as the fire’s growth slowed, but the break may not last long. Fresno Bee article

California seeing more wildfires but sustaining less damage — More wildfires have torn across California so far this year compared to the same period of 2014 but firefighters said Monday that efforts to confine and extinguish the latest blazes have been more successful than in the past. AP article

State extinguishes fires at whirlwind speed – but more keep emerging – California firefighters are caught in a nightmarish game of whack-a-mole. They are putting out wildfires at breakneck speed, often before they do much damage. But as soon as one fire is extinguished – if not before – another pops up. Sacramento Bee article

An ‘F’ in air quality: California national parks top the list for worst pollution – The report by the National Parks Conservation Assn. flunked four national parks in California — Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree and Yosemite — giving them F grades for having levels of ozone that are unhealthy for visitors during the busy summer season. LA Times article

Neighbors relieved at Stockton tree’s demise — A flowering pear tree, whose falling limbs had been menacing a central Stockton neighborhood for several years, came down Monday, this time at the hands of a tree service company paid for by a councilmember and to the relief of residents in the area. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

Covered California: Cost of health care coverage increasing — The cost of private individual health plans on California’s state-run market will increase about 4 percent for the second straight year, evidence the strategy of forcing insurers to compete is controlling costs, program officials said Monday. The average premium will rise 4 percent in 2016, a slight decrease from the 4.2 percent jump in 2015, said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. AP/Merced Sun-Star article; LA Times article; KQED report; Sacramento Bee article; Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno area to get new health plan options next year — Health consumers in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties will have two new choices of insurance companies offering health plans through the state’s insurance exchange in 2016. Sacramento Bee article

Willow fire prompts health caution in Merced — The Willow fire burning near Bass Lake in Madera County prompted air officials to issue a health warning in the eastern areas of Merced, Madera and Fresno counties. Merced Sun-Star article 

Dr. Monica Manga: Role of vaccinations in protecting you and the public – The president of the Tulare County Medical Society writes, “As parents, it is our obligation to protect our children. As individuals, it is our obligation not to cause harm to others. As physicians, it is our obligation to educate, offer protection and be a voice for our community.” Manga op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Kaweah Delta’s new residency program begins – Two brand new residency programs have been added to Kaweah Delta Health Care District and doctors are getting some firsthand experience in the few weeks the program has existed. Visalia Times-Delta article

Daniel Weintraub: Improved nutrition labels would provide better information on sugar content — The FDA’s proposal for clearer nutrition labels on packaged foods won’t by itself reverse obesity rates. But it will help those who want to help themselves. Weintraub in Sacramento Bee 

Jessica Jackson: Bee Healthy: Does smoking marijuana damage the lungs? —  The registered respiratory therapist/certified asthma educator at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation writes, “Is smoking cannabis (marijuana) harmful to the lungs? The simple answer is yes. Any kind of smoke, whether it is from cigarettes, marijuana or burning wood contains toxins and chemicals. Inhaling these substances can damage the lining of the large airways in the lungs, which can lead to respiratory issues.” Jackson in Modesto Bee

Friends’ approval of e-cigarettes may turn teens toward vaping, USC study suggests — It’s no secret that vaping is on the rise among California teens. Now, a team of USC researchers has delved deeper into the trend to try to understand how much high school students’ social environment has to do with the uptick in electronic cigarette use — and what it all might mean for the future of traditional cigarette use, which has been in steady decline, as well. LA Times article

Fresno hospital CEO in Washington for rural health hearing — Tim Joslin, CEO of Community Medical Centers, will be speaking before the House Ways and Means Committee’s rural health hearing Tuesday, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Gingi Freeman: Ask cities that OK chickens, goats if they’re a problem – The Visalia resident and member of the Urban Farmers for Food Freedom writes, “There is no shortage of urban farming friendly cities out there, so why the conjecture of what “could” or “might” happen when you could get a real grasp on what a city with goats and chickens would look like by actually looking at those cities?” Freeman op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta 

Transportation

Another icon falls for high-speed rail — Another longtime Fresno business icon is falling to make way for California’s high-speed train project. Demolition began Monday at the old Kerr Rug Co. building at the southwest corner of Ventura and G street by subcontractors for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Fresno Bee article 

Other areas 

State appellate court suspends Stanislaus County contempt-of-court case – A state appellate court is reviewing a case involving a Stanislaus County chief prosecutor and an investigator facing contempt-of-court charges. Modesto Bee article

Good-hearted neighbors offer help in face of wildfire — As one North Fork resident described a growing wildfire, threatening to destroy her home this weekend: “The worst is bringing out the best in people, it’s amazing.” That was Barbara Grow, 64, reflecting on all the people who offered to shelter her and her husband or fight the Willow fire — dare it start moving towards their mountain home. Fresno Bee article

Fresno State will re-install displaced Armenian monument plaque – Fresno State plans to re-install a plaque that was displaced from the Armenian Genocide Memorial Monument on campus. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Bee: PUC plays by its own rules, hires outside lawyers – Why does a public agency with nothing to hide need a team of criminal defense lawyers to represent it against another public agency that is seeking to determine whether there has been wrongdoing? What sort of precedent does this set? Sacramento Bee editorial

Commentary: Sexism in science is no joke – A controversy has erupted over an attempted joke by a Nobel prize winning scientist at the 2015 World Conference of Science Journalists held in South Korea last June. It turns out that Science, like the rest of society, has a problem of sexism. In this segment of The Moral Is, Fresno State biology professor Dr. Madhusudan Katti confronts the pervasive everyday sexism in science and challenges the institutions of science to address the structural barriers and cultural climate that keep women out of science. KVPR commentary

No excuses: Kyle Chaboya sparks Calaveras football team despite celebral palsy — Kyle Chaboya has been a member of the Calaveras football family since the eighth grade, and the terms of his participation are the same now as they were then. Chaboya can wear the pads and jersey. He can stand on the sideline, peering through the mask on his helmet, but knows he won’t ever play a significant down for the Redskins, a perennial Sac-Joaquin Section playoff team.  Modesto Bee article 

Michael Hiltzik: Georgia claims that publishing its state laws for free online is ‘terrorism’ — Government officials have threatened “rogue archivist” Carl Malamud with legal action many times for his efforts to make public government documents widely available for free, but the state of Georgia has set a new standard for fighting this ridiculous battle: It’s suing Malamud for infringing its copyright of state laws by — horrors — publishing them online. Hiltzik in LA Times 

U.S. court upholds California ban on shark fins — A federal appeals court upheld California’s ban on possession or sale of shark fins Monday, rejecting a challenge by Bay Area suppliers and sellers of shark fin soup, a traditional dish in the Chinese American community. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A wildfire is no place for a drone.

Sacramento Bee – Why does a public agency with nothing to hide need a team of criminal defense lawyers to represent it against another public agency that is seeking to determine whether there has been wrongdoing? What sort of precedent does this set?; Republican presidential candidates need to tone down the wild remarks.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers on a worthwhile honor for Larry Itliong, “branding” Stockton and other issues.

Upcoming Events

  • The Better Blackstone Association will hold a street festival, “Come Imagine the Possibilities for Blackstone …,” on Friday, Aug. 7, at the Susan B. Anthony school parking lot in Fresno from 5-8 p.m. More information: Call (559) 485-1416 or email info@betterblackstone.com.
  • “Unlocking Renewables: A Summit,” which will explore the clean energy potential in the San Joaquin Valley, will be held at Fresno State on Wednesday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Featured speakers include state Sen. Anthony Cannella and Ken Alex, senior policy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown and director of the Office of Planning and Research. More information:  www.RenewablesInTheValley.org.
  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. Visitwww.essentialelementsseries.com for details of this no-fee policy series.

Interactive

Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at www.federalbudgetchallenge.org.

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge 

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.  http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/ 

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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