Thursday, November 8, 2018

Napa County college student among those killed in Thousand Oaks massacre

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2018 at 4:04 PM

The Thousand Oaks shooting hit very close to home for the Housely family of Napa County.
  • The Thousand Oaks shooting hit very close to home for the Housely family of Napa County.
Eighteen-year-old Alaina Housely of Napa County was one of the 12 people who were shot to death in a massacre at a Thousand Oaks bar last night.

Housely was a student at nearby Pepperdine University in Malibu, says Napa State Sen. Bill Dodd in a statement this afternoon. Dodd offered condolences to the Housely family as he also acknowledged the murder of Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus. The officer was killed at the Borderline bar by a former Marine who committed suicide in the Western-style club.

“I’m thankful to law enforcement for their quick response to their heinous shooting," says Dodd, "including Sgt. Helus, who was killed while heroically working to save others.”

The young woman was the daughter of Arik and Hannah Housely, reports Dodd. The Housely family owns the Ranch Markets in Yountville and Napa. They have our condolences too. 
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Friday, October 26, 2018

Tom Steyer and Kamala Harris reportedly latest pipe-bomb targets as U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman tees off on Trump's complicity

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 12:33 PM

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As Sen. Kamala Harris and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer have emerged today as two of the latest targets in a string of bombs sent to prominent Democrats and Trump critics, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman called in from the road to express his outrage and disgust at the disturbing week of domestic terrorism. "Several people I know and consider friends" have been targeted, says Huffman, citing Harris and Steyer as he called upon  Donald Trump to "basically shut up. He is not a credible messenger when it come to de-escalating this political wildfire. He needs to just tone everything down while others try to set another tone."

Huffman's not convinced that others in the GOP will stand up and denounce the attacks as he accused members of the Republican Party of playing Trump's game and deflecting blame to the media. "I wish I was hearing from a whole bunch of Republicans in a candid and fulsome way." he says, "but unfortunately, too many of them are following Trump's lead on this and suggesting that the media had a role." 

Yesterday the reality-show president tweeted that if it weren't for the media—the enemy of the people, as he's said before—maybe his supporters wouldn't be so angry that they'd be driven to try and murder public officials that Trump himself has vilified using extremist rhetoric.  "A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!"

Or else?

Steyer, the San Francisco hedge-fund billionaire, has been an out-front proponent of impeaching President Donald Trump. He was identified this afternoon, Huffman says, as another target of the Florida individual, Cesar Stoyoc, who was arrested earlier today in connection with the string of pipe bombs, whose other targets included Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, James Clapper, Barack Obama, John Brennan, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder and others. Huffman says he that he was "sort of waiting" for Steyer to be targeted and wasn't surprised to hear on the radio today that he's another apparent target of the pro-Trump bomber.

"There is a straight line from this deranged bomber to President Donald Trump," says Huffman—who has supported articles of impeachment against the reality-show president, "and there is no way you can separate the bombs from the bombast."

Huffman also pushed back against any argument equating the series of bombings with the shooting last year of Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise.

"It's preposterous to attempt at any moral equivalency," he says, noting that no-one—not Bernie Sanders, not Maxine Waters, not Eric Holder, has called for violence against their political opponents. Holder recently quipped at an event, "When they go low, we kick them," and immediately noted that he was joking and that his comment was intended as metaphor. Waters has called for verbal confrontations of Republican enablers of Trump, and while Huffman says he "disagrees with some of the tactics—there is a massive quantum difference and to try and conflate these things is dishonest and dangerous." 
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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Report: Catholic church sent sex abusers to Marin County

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 8:03 PM

Catholic Church clergy members accused of sexually abusing minors have served or retired at Our Lady of Loretto in Novato, a law firm alleges.
  • Catholic Church clergy members accused of sexually abusing minors have served or retired at Our Lady of Loretto in Novato, a law firm alleges.

A report released this week by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates has identified 17 members of the Roman Catholic clergy assigned to serve the church in Marin County who had demonstrable child sexual-abuse histories that in some cases dated back to the 1960's.

The findings from the law firm lists more than 200 clergy members who served in either the Oakland, San Francisco or San Jose Catholic dioceses and who have been alleged to have committed sexual offenses against minors.

A review of the law firm’s thumbnail sketches of the clergymen gives insight into what Spotlight highlighted—that for decades, the Catholic Church dealt with its pedophilia problems by shuffling sex-abusing clergy from one diocese to another. And it indicates that numerous California Catholic clergy sex abusers got away with their crimes because of a  2003 Supreme Court ruling that rejected a California attempt to retroactively eliminate statutes of limitations for certain sex crimes, including those perpetrated against minors. 

Here are the 17 clergy members of the Roman Catholic church who at one time or another were assigned to schools and churches in Marin County, and who are alleged to have committed sexual assault against children, according to Anderson & Associates, which specializes in clergy sex crimes:


Msgr. Peter Gomez Armstrong, according to the law firm's report, has been accused of sexually abusing at least one child. He worked at the St. Vincent School for Boys in San Rafael between 1975-79 and died in 2009.

Fr. James W Aylward was subject to a civil suit alleging sexual abuse against a minor, which the law firm reports was settled by the San Francisco Archdiocese. After assignments to San Francisco, Millbrae, San Mateo, Washington D.C., and Pacifica, he arrived at St. Sylvester’s in San Rafael in 1990 and stayed on for five years. Aylward was then sent to Burlingame for a few years and then to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Mill Valley from 1998-2000. His whereabouts are currently unknown, says the law firm report.

Fr. Arthur Manuel Cunha was assigned to Our Lady of Loretto in Novato and served there between 1984 and 1986. He was absent on sick leave in 1986-87, his whereabouts were unknown from 1987-89 according to the law firm, he was absent on leave again from 1989-91 and his whereabouts have been unknown since then. The law firm reports that Cunha was “arrested in 1986, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and four months of counseling in connection with sexually abusing two boys.” He’s been named in multiple civil lawsuits.

Fr. Sidney J. Custodio was assigned to St. Raphael’s Church in San Rafael in 1955; sex-crime allegations against him were lodged while he worked at St. Gregory in San Mateo County. According to the law firm, his whereabouts have been unknown since 1975.

Fr. Pearse P. Donovan was assigned to Marin Catholic High School in San Rafael from 1953-55 and allegations of sexual abuse against him were levied when he later worked at St. Clement in Hayward. He’s been named in at least one civil lawsuit, reports Anderson & Associates. He died in 1986.

Msgr. Charles J. Durkin is reported to have retired in 2002, “a month after the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office requested 75-years-worth of church records related to abuse allegations,” reports Anderson. He worked at St. Sebastian’s in San Rafael in 1962 and lived at the Nazareth House in San Rafael after he retired in 2003. He died in 2006 and was the subject of an accusation of sexual assault that occurred while he was at the Star of the Sea in S.F., where he served from 1956-1961, and again from 1996-2003.

Fr. Arthur Harrison was charged with criminally abusing a 10-year old when he was assigned to Our Lady of Loretto in Novato, in 1960. The case was dismissed because of the statute of limitation but the Diocese of San Jose lists Harrison as a clergy-member “with credible allegations of sexual abuse of children,” according to the law firm report. He died in 2006.

Msgr. John. P. Heaney served from 1971-74 at the Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, and again at St. Rita’s in Fairfax from 1974-79, according to the firm. Allegations against Heaney arose while he was the SFPD chaplain between 1976 and 2002 and he was criminally charged, in 2002, with multiple felony counts of child abuse that were dropped because the statute of limitations had run out. He died in 2010.

Gregory G. Ingels got his start as a clergyman at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield in 1970 and was also assigned to St. Isabella church in San Rafael in 1982. “Multiple survivors have come forward alleging sexual abuse” by Ingels from 1972-77, reports the Anderson law firm, while he was at the Kentfied school. He too was criminally charged with child sexual abuse, but the charges were dropped owing to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling. His whereabouts since 2011 are unknown, says the law firm.

Fr. Daniel T. Keohane was assigned to St. Anthony of Padua, in Novato, from 2006-2009—a sexual-abuse allegation was made against him for activities he allegedly committed while he was at the Epiphany church in S.F. in the 1970’s. The S.F. diocese deemed the allegations credible as it recommended further investigation. He took a leave of absence in 2015 and his whereabouts since then are unknown, reports the law firm.
Fr. Jerome Leach served at St. Patrick’s church in Larkspur from 1980-1983 and the Anderson report notes that he was alleged to have committed sex crimes there and at All Souls in San Francisco. In 2002, he was arrested and charged with child sexual abuse but again—the statute of limitations had run out.

Fr. Guy Anthony Mrunig spent his career as a clergyman at St. Sebastian’s in Kenfield-Greenbrae from 1971-1973; at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield from 1972-1978, and at the Serra Club of Marin County from 1973-1977. The report says that multiple survivors have come forward alleging sexual abuse while he was at Marin Catholic in Kentfield. He reportedly left the priesthood to marry a former student from the High School and his whereabouts since 1979 are unknown, says the law firm.

Msgr. John O’Connor was placed on leave by the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 2002 “after it received an allegation of improper contact with a boy occurring more than thirty years ago,” the law firm reports. During his career he was mostly assigned to churches in San Francisco but was at St. Isabella’s in San Rafael between 1964 and 1971. He was “absent on leave” between 2005 and his death in 2013.

Fr. Miles O’Brien Riley was assigned to St Raphael’s in San Rafael from 1964-1968 and also worked as a chaplain at San Quentin State Prison during that time. He was accused of sexually abusing a girl when she was 16, and the Anderson & Associates document notes that the Archdiocese of S.F. permitted Riley to retire quietly, in 2003.

Fr. John Schwartz was ordained in 1981 and, after assignments in Oregon, wound up at St. Anselm’s in Ross in 2004-2006. No further information is provided by the Anderson report on allegations against Schwartz, whose whereabouts since 2012 are unknown, says the law firm.

Fr. Kevin F. Tripp was ordained in 1968 and spent much of his career in Massachusetts, where, in 2002 the district attorney in Fall River released a list of priests under investigation for sexual abuse, and Tripp was on the list, according to the law firm. The Massachusetts D.A.’s finding alleged that there were two persons who had been victimized by Tripp. The law firm determined that as of 2003, and according to a San Francisco Faith newsletter, Tripp was the executive director of the Marin Interfaith Council in San Rafael.

Fr. Milton T. Walsh’s first clergy assignment was at Our Lady of Loretto in Novato before heading to Rome to get his doctorate in 1982. He reportedly returned to Novato on a break from his studies, “where he allegedly sexually abused a boy whose family he had grown close with during his time working at Our Lady of Loretto,” reads the law firm report; he was at Loretto between 1978-1980. Walsh was arrested for the sexual assault in 2002 after being caught in a Novato police-department telephone sting where he admitted to the sexual abuse of a minor—but the charges were dropped. Yes, the statute of limitations case, again. His whereabouts since 2015? Unknown, says the law firm.
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sonoma D.A. announces pro-tenant resolution in price-gouging case

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 5:16 PM

....and the Sonoma D.A. agreed.
  • ....and the Sonoma D.A. agreed.

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch today announced that a property-management corporation with business in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park has agreed to a stipulated judgement and will pay $50,000 in penalties, $10,000 in legal fees—and restitution to a dozen tenants who were found to be victimized by rental price-gouging following the 2017 wildfires.

Admiral Callaghan Professional Center, Admiral Callaghan Professional Center II, and other related business entities were named in the suit now concluded. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau found the company had violated state Penal Code 396's price-gouging restrictions put into effect following the declaration of a state of emergency after the October 2017 firestorm.

According to online business resources, Admiral Callaghan Professional Centers is based in Novato and is the property manager at some 60 sites comprising nearly 280 housing units. They were cooperative in the recent price-gouging inquiry.

"The corporations and their counsel cooperated in the investigation and resolution of this matter," Ravitch's office reports via an email this afternoon.

Ravitch reminded local landlords that price-gouging restrictions are in effect through Dec. 4 and could be extended. "The restrictions make it illegal for property owners to increase the price of rental housing by more than 10 percent of the rental price charged prior to the fires," she explains.

Residents are encouraged to report cases of suspected price gouging to the District Attorney’s Office at http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/District-Attorney or call (707) 565-5317.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Report: Santa Rosa roadways among worst in nation

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 8:56 AM

Santa Rosa's roads have gone to pot(hole) according to TRIP report
  • Santa Rosa's roads have gone to pot(hole) according to TRIP report

A report out today from TRIP, the national transportation research group, says that Santa Rosa has some of the worst road conditions in the country. The city's seventh on the list of bad-road cities with populations between 200,000 and 500,000, with 43 percent of Santa Rosa's major roads and highways in woeful shape.

TRIP's research found that Santa Rosa automobile drivers spend an average of $776 a year in vehicle operating costs associated with the poor road conditions; the national average is $599. It also reported that among big cities, San Francisco and San Jose take top honors for their poor roadways.

The TRIP report arrives as Santa Rosa residents are asked to support local Measure 0 this election day—and to consider a repeal of the state gas-tax boost set to go into effect in January under SB1. Gas-tax revenues under SB1 are targeted at rebuilding the state's roadways but Measure 6 would repeal the measure. 

According to the city website, the League of California Cities estimates that Santa Rosa would receive $2,935,933 in fiscal year 2018-2019. SB1 will eventually send $3.9 million annually in road maintenance funds when fully implemented, reports the city.  That's the good news. "Even with this new funding, we are still left with a shortfall of approximately $10 million annually."

Santa Rosa has a $1.1 billion dollar street system with more than 500 miles of roadway and an average annual maintenance budget of around $5.4 million dollars. The city says that because of deferred maintenance, its Pavement Condition Index (PCI) has declined to 60, "at the line between 'good' and 'fair' condition. Recent evaluation with our pavement management program has concluded that we should be spending at least $18 million per year just to maintain the existing pavement conditions at 60."

Measure 6 sets out to repeal SB1 and been heavily pushed by the state Republican party and gubernatorial candidate John Cox. The GOP recently announced it would run anti-SB1 ads on gas station TV screens to whip up support for its repeal.

The local Measure 0,  or "the Vital City Services Measure" sets out to temporarily raise the local sales tax by one-quarter cent and would raise $9 million annually "to help Santa Rosa recover from the recent fires, rebuild our infrastructure, preserve emergency services such as rapid 9-1-1 emergency response times, and address other critical City needs," according to the city website. The tax lapses after six years.

The crumbling-infrastructure question was raised at a recent Santa Rosa City Council candidate's forum for the newly created districts 2 and 4.

District 2 incumbent John Sawyer said that  if Measure O fails and Measure 6 prevails, "I recommend everyone invest in new shocks." 

Here's the TRIP report:

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Prescribed Burns Planned for Salt Point State Park

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 3:20 PM

Salt Point State Park's got lots of trees, too. - CA STATE PARKS
  • Ca State Parks
  • Salt Point State Park's got lots of trees, too.


California State Parks is reporting today that they're working with Cal Fire to plan prescribed burns in Salt Point State Park that could be set as early as Friday.

The burns are being coordinated with the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control Board to minimize smoke impacts in the region. According to State Parks, the burn will take one day to implement followed by several days of patrolling the burn zone.

The fire won't be set unless weather and air-quality conditions are favorable for smoke dispersal. State Parks says in release that public trails near the burn site will be closed, and that notifications will be posted at camp kiosks, trailheads and the agency's district office in Duncan's Mills. The fires will be set between the hours of 9am and 6pm, and residents are warned that they may smell smoke.

The burn is intended to clear vegetation, conserve the grasslands, reduce hazardous fuel loads from the 6,000-acre park, and improve wildlife habitat. "This treatment will enhance the health of the grassland by removing invading woody species, restoring essential nutrients to the soil, and reducing the chance of a catastrophic fire."

Sounds like a plan. 
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Friday, October 12, 2018

Cal Fire Ramping Up for High Wind, Low Humidity Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 5:15 PM

It's going to be a Red Flag weekend—stay vigilant.
  • It's going to be a Red Flag weekend—stay vigilant.


Cal Fire says it is increasing staffing this weekend owing to the potential for "extreme fire weather across many parts of California," according to a news release. The warning comes on the heels of a week of remembrance in the North Bay following last October's devastating firestorm.

Cal Fire reports that the National Weather Service is predicting gusty winds and low humidity "in much of Northern California" this weekend. "We have increased our staffing," says Chief Ken Pimlott, "but need the public to remain vigilant.'

The agency is urging weekenders who are otherwise enjoying the great outdoors to "exercise extreme caution when in or near the wild-land or open areas to prevent sparking a fire."

They're asking folks to refrain from mowing or trimming dry grass on windy days; to not park their cars in dry grass; to target shoot in approved areas, with lead ammo only; and to ensure that any campfires are sanctioned by Le Authorities. And: Keep an eye peeled for arsonists.

For more info, head to Cal Fire's handy site offering fire prevention and evacuation tips: www.ReadyForWildfire.org.
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Monday, October 1, 2018

Jerry Brown: Hero of the 'Pro-Life' Movement?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 1, 2018 at 7:48 PM

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Now here's a subject line in an email you don't see every day: 'CA Governor Jerry  Brown becomes newest hero of the pro-life movement.'

Today the Alexandria, Virginia–based organization Americans United for Life applauded Brown for his veto Sunday of a bill that "would have required public universities in California to offer abortion bills on campus," said the organization in a statement.

SB 320 was first proposed (and written) by students at UC Berkeley and has been debated over the past year, after a 2017 bill was introduced by Inland Empire Democrat State Sen. Connie Leyva.

A late-August story in the Berkeley student newspaper the Daily Californian, argued that "for thousands of students enrolled in California public universities who could face unwanted pregnancies, SB 320 could be the difference between finishing college and dropping out." It highlighted the challenges for college students seeking an abortion and argued that the on-campus medical-abortion option would ease access to for students seeking their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion.

According to votesmart.com, Brown has been a lifetime champion of reproductive-choice rights for women and has a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Now he's a pro-life hero in the eyes of AUL President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster, who says in a statement that "Governor Brown recognized that in a state where Medicaid already pays for elective abortions, there is no issue of access, since, as he said yesterday, ‘the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from 5 to 7 miles, not an unreasonable distance.’

Foster also argued that "college health clinics are not equipped to handle the very serious risks of chemical abortion drugs, which, as AUL testimony against the bill pointed out, the FDA warns can cause life-threatening hemorrhaging of blood and bacterial infection."

Leyva told the Daily Californian today, “I’m so incredibly disappointed in the Governor, and I think it’s yet just another example of old white guys thinking they know what women need,” Leyva said. “For him to say he doesn’t think (the commute is) inconvenient, he just completely missed the whole point of the bill.”

She vowed to reintroduce the bill again next year, when Brown is no longer governor. 
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Friday, September 28, 2018

Air Resources Board Considers All-Electric Bus Fleet by 2040

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 8:21 AM

California looks even Furthur into a possible future of zero-emissions buses
  • California looks even Furthur into a possible future of zero-emissions buses

The California Air Resources Board is meeting this morning in Sacramento to hear expert testimony on a proposed rule that would mandate a statewide zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.

The ARB reports that transportation emissions are at their highest levels in ten years—what?!—and today's meeting will zero-in on the board's Innovative Clean Transit Rule, an ambitious effort to electrify buses in municipalities from Chula Vista to Yreka.

Closer to home, Santa Rosa is already on the stick: This week the Federal Transit Administration announced $366 million in competitive grants had been awarded for bus and bus-facility infrastructure projects. California clipped $29 million of the federal greenbacks, including $1.8 million directed to Santa Rosa.

The FTA reports that Santa Rosa will use the money to fund the purchase of zero-emission buses, as the city begins to transition from its stinky fleet of exhaust-spewing buses, to an all-electric fleet of clean, mean, transporting machines. $1.8 million can basically get you two electric buses. 

A June 2017 feature on electric buses that appeared in the online Marketplace.org noted that a diesel bus costs around $500,000; electric buses cost about $800,000—but the added cost is offset by fuel savings over the vehicle's lifetime.

Today's hearing in Sacramento begins at 9am and will feature testimony from EarthJustice, Sierra, the Coalition for Clean Air, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the American Lung Association of California.

Sayeth the ARB: "Experts say California cannot meet its clean air or federal ambient air quality standards so long as the state's vehicle fleet is dependent on fossil fuels," as it notes that the state already has a thriving electric-bus manufacturing industry.

The Marketplace.org report highlighted one of the California companies building the next-gen fleet, Proterra. They've got a good problem, noted the article's author, Andy Uhler: "It can’t build buses fast enough to keep up with demand." 
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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Just Say Kavan-no.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2018 at 2:09 PM

Dr Blasey-Ford: An American Hero
  • Dr Blasey-Ford: An American Hero

It's been quite an emotional day in America as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford took the stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee to describe her alleged sexual assault at the hands of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The hearings today have prompted dozens of House members to ramp up their demand that Sen. Mitch McConnell postpone the confirmation hearings until the FBI conducts an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault that have been levied against the former frat boy Kavanaugh.

Ford and two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have come forward in recent days to describe horrific acts allegedly committed by Kavanaugh, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by a president who has himself been accused of sexual assault and misconduct. Kavanaugh has denied everything and .

Local U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman is one of the 65 congressional Democrats to sign the statement sent to McDonnell today. He sent along the statement this afternoon, which reads, in part: "These courageous women have nothing to gain by speaking their truth and every reason to stay silent and avoid the harassment and death threats they are currently receiving for coming forward." McConnell has assured Kavanaugh supporters that he will be seated on the bench. Today's hearing may perhaps throw that assurance into doubt.

Downstate U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu signed the statement, as did U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, from Riverside. Those are a few of the handful of men who signed it. U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, whose congressional district comprises Santa Rosa, did not sign the statement calling for McConnell to pause the proceedings, nor did Nancy Pelosi.  
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