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Off the Record (May 3, 2017)

A SMALL CLAQUE of animal nuts continues to bombard the County Animal Shelter with Public Record Act requests, the latest one for 400 pages of scattershot info, which means Shelter staff has to take time away from caring for the animals to come up with...... what? The demands on Shelter time has forced Shelter staff into spending a lot of their work time on the equivalent of answering serial crank calls.

THE NO KILL people filing these harassing requests seem to believe that the County's No Kill Shelter has a warehouse hidden somewhere with thousands of dead dogs and cats in it. Honoring what are essentially frivolous requests should have been stopped after the first one.

IN OUR print edition of April 26th there is an unkind reference to Paul Katzeff of Thanksgiving Coffee in a story by Rex Gressett. I had edited it out of our on-line version of the story and do not know how it appeared in our print edition. I am truly sorry for the error.

AND, while we're in full contrition mode, apologies to Paul McCarthy for failing to acknowledge his photographs of Tuesday's fatal accident on Highway 128.

I'M NOT MAKING excuses for editorial inattention, but in the pure volume of the daily info-deluge, added to poor computer skills, added to advancing decrepitude, I’m continually surprised that we don't make more mistakes.

HERE'S how it works at America’s last newspaper: I see everything that goes up on our website and into our print edition. Seeing is too often not synonymous with close textual analysis. I forward all the copy to my colleague, The Major, who formats and posts it and prepares some of it for print.

EVERY HECTIC MONDAY, much of the material posted during the week, plus print-only items and stories, are electronically transmitted to our ace paste-up person, Renee Wyant of Boonville. Paste-up used to be done by hand, now it's done by computer, a complicated process that Renee makes look easy.

EVERY MONDAY night, or some time early Tuesday, Renee assembles the print AVA for re-transmission to Healdsburg Printing. But before Renee dispatches the paper, she hurls it back through the ethers to us for our final go-over before she re-hurls the final product to Healdsburg where it must electronically get by 8am Wednesday morning.

I'M AT THE PRINTER'S back door by 9am every Wednesday morning to pick up the bundles of papers and drive them back to Boonville where a pair of senior citizens, The Major and David Severn, label and package the paper for mailing to our far-flung readership while I deliver the Anderson Valley. Mr. Severn delivers to Ukiah and Redwood Valley when he’s finished slapping labels on the mail-outs.

THE AVA's the only print paper, apart from the journalo-wreckage of the Press Democrat, the newspaper ghost ship out of Santa Rosa, that has sales outlets and subscribers in every area of Mendocino County.

PRINT IS DYING. This enterprise, though doomed, lumbers on. There are older people who read only print-print, but they are shuffling off and are not being replaced by young people, most of whom, it seems, get their information in bursts of sentence fragments and symbols called emoji’s (?) routed through Kim Kardashian.

THE RAW COPY we get varies in intelligibility. Professional writers send us "clean copy," meaning all we have to do is plug it in. Other writers need editorial assistance, which is my job.

I GIVE MYSELF a C most weeks, occasionally a B, rarely an A. Once, years ago, the paper was so boring, so utterly without interest to any reasonably sentient being I thought about quitting. But the very next week the paper was thoroughly lively and, as they say, “a good read.”

EVERY WEDNESDAY, late afternoon, after the mailing and all the deliveries, I read the hard copy — the paper-paper — mentally wincing at my own prose blunders and the mechanical errors I should have caught in the prose of other contributors. Computerized spelling and grammar services are not helpful. In fact, they're just two more obstacles to clarity, in my experience. I drink a couple of tall Buds while I watch the Giants with the sound off (Krukow talks too much) and call it a day. If the Giants aren’t on I go for a book.

A LOT can go wrong in the weekly uphill roll of the big rock. The issue of April 26, things went wronger than usual, but in this business, there's little time for regrets as next week begins as soon as last week ends.

THAT MACABRE ‘mummy’ case out of Fort Bragg has been, as they say, adjudicated. Lori Diane Fiorentino, 56, has pled to felony elder abuse. She’s looking at the possibility of four years in prison when she’s sentenced May 11, but it’s more likely that DA David ‘David The Merciful’ Eyster will not resist probation in lieu of prison time.

THE MUMMIFIED BODY of Arlene Potts, 66, was found by Fort Bragg Police at the Duncan Place apartment complex in December of last year when it finally occurred to someone that maybe the police should do a welfare check.

THE OLD LADY had been dead for months, and how the manager of Duncan Place, not to mention the County’s dependably derelict Adult Protective Services, managed not to know their “client” was no longer alive, remains one more reminder to all of us that unless we have real family, real friends, real community Ms. Potts could be us in our golden years. Ms. Fiorentino also managed to come and go and, for an unknown period of time, lived with the remains of the person she was care taking.

MIKE GENIELLA WRITES: “Maybe it's just me. After all I am the public spokesman for Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster. Yet the notion that Sonoma County DA Jill Ravitch merits a news story in The Press Democrat about her possible return to the courtroom - only her second since taking office in 2011 and even with that as a 'co-counsel' - boggles my mind. Eyster is a regular in the courtrooms. He tries cases, and wins convictions in most of them including a first-degree murder conviction in 2012. Besides overseeing what in reality is the largest law firm in Mendocino County, Eyster is largely responsible for all marijuana prosecution cases, no small task in the heart of California's dope-growing region. So where's that story? Just asking.”

BUD & BREAKFAST — Tuesday’s Board Of Supervisors Agenda

Board Of Supervisors Agenda — May 02, 2017 — 9:00 AM Bud and Breakfast is not a joke, by the way. The County’s brain trust has devoted public, brow-furrowing time thinking about how to regulate B&B’s specializing in serving up dope along amidst chintz curtains and ceramic knick-knacks.

Item 5g: “Public Workshop — Discussion and Possible Direction to Staff Regarding a Presentation on Proposed Business License Ordinance and Zoning Regulations for the Processing, Manufacturing, Testing, Dispensing/Retail and Distribution of Medical Cannabis and Adult Use Cannabis Within the Unincorporated Areas of Mendocino County (Sponsor: Planning and Building)”

PS. The Agriculture Department requests the three vehicles for field inspections in the Cannabis Program. The Vehicles are (3) Toyota Tacoma SR, 4-Wheel Drive, Extended Cab, Standard Bed, Pickup Trucks. The funds are available for transfer due to savings within the Agriculture Department. $30,000 each.

PPS. The Department of Planning and Building Services requests [a similar] vehicle to conduct field inspections in the cannabis program. The vehicle is a Toyota Tacoma SR, 4-Wheel Drive, Extended Cab, Standard Bed, Pickup Truck. The funds are available for transfer due to savings within the Department of Planning and Building Services.

HOLLOW LAUGH OF THE WEEK: from the Proposed Mental Health Month Proclamation sponsored by Supervisor Dan Hamburg, Mendo’s master of the empty gesture: “Whereas, the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency is committed to transforming the way mental health services are provided to include: evidenced based treatment, support, integration of mental health, substance use disorders and primary care services, early intervention with a help-first rather than fail-first approach and community Wellness and Recovery Centers where clients can find hope, empowerment, personal responsibility, and a meaningful role in life…”

THIS JUMBLED, half-cracked declaration is typical of local government and the array of allied non-profits. If you went purely by their vacuous and often self-congratulatory public statements, you’d think Mendocino County was a kind of Norway of civic functioning rather than the neo-Appalachia it is for a good hunk of its citizens, especially children.

RE THE SINKING of the San Juan, an old salt

writes: "There's no room in the harbor for a boat of that length unless it's tied along the breakwater wall with no direct access. The late Abernathy who sold it to Gressett was a notoriously cheap boat slum lord. At one time he had hundreds of derelict boats piled up on the land up river, with the idea of selling off all their old salmon and crab permits. The county or state (not sure) made him clean the mess up. Getting rid of the San Juan to some gadfly unsuspecting hippie was a slick move. The San Juan was no longer seaworthy and sooner or later something bad was going to happen. To my knowledge she’s been tied to the dock for almost 40 years and never hauled out for bottom maintenance. Now she’s basically a hazard to navigation."


I got a birthday present

that made me feel so fine

It was my secret boy-cave

I went there all the time

But people laughed and told me

To wear pants, shoes and socks

Which made me think and ever since

I’ve thought outside the box

— Jim Gibbons

LAST THURSDAY'S PeeDee reported that Susan Faludi will be at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa the evening of May 1. $45 admission will get you a copy of her new book but for some reason the paper omits the title, which is “In the Darkroom.”

IN 2004, SUSAN FALUDI, the journalist and author best known for her 1991 book “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women,” received an email from her estranged father, who had returned to his native Hungary. “I’ve got some interesting news for you,” the email said. “I have decided that I have had enough of impersonating a macho aggressive man that I have never been inside.” Attached was a series of photographs, including one taken in the Thai hospital where her father had just undergone gender reassignment surgery. It was signed “Love from your parent, Stefánie.”

The message wasn’t entirely a shock; Faludi had heard about her father’s operation from another relative. Nevertheless, it was puzzling, because Faludi hadn’t previously had any idea that her father identified as a woman. “Despite our long alienation, I thought I understood enough of my father’s character to have had some inkling of an inclination this profound,” she writes. “I had none.”

WE'RE STILL HOPING Ms. F will return to the maze of lies and obfuscations enveloping the "mystery" of the 1990 car bomb that finally killed Judi Bari in 1997. A brilliant writer and dogged researcher, Susan Faludi has a good two years invested in the Bari case, but seems to have given up the project when she found, among other things, that the people who knew weren't talking, and the people who were talking were a collection of lunatics and mercenary liars. The best (and only) work on the case remains Steve Talbot's 1991 documentary film, "Who Bombed Judi Bari." In the film Talbot points straight at Bari’s ex-husband as the bomber and, in a subsequent appearance on KQED’s Newsroom program, said that Bari herself said she was certain Sweeney had tried to kill her. (Bari had also tried to find someone to kill Sweeney, but she said the two solicitations were a joke. I guess the first one wasn’t funny enough.) But a collection of ghouls at KPFA and, of course, here on the Northcoast, claim, on the basis of zero evidence, that Bari was the victim of grander forces like timber corporations, like the FBI, like religious fanatics, like men generally, until it became the largest suspect pool in the history of crime.

A FRIEND puts our fondest hopes this way: "I hope the internet goes down one day and the trolls are left with only the screen… acting as a mirror."

REFRESHING GUSTS OF HUMOR from the usually straight-ahead Mike A’Dair of the Willits Weekly. In last week’s edition of Willits’ popular weekly newspaper, A’Dair runs down the many bureaucratic hurdles, processes, rules, forms, approvals and agencies involved in the County’s and the State’s new legalized pot regime.

NOT ONLY are there at least five separate County offices heavily involved (Ag, Planning & Building, Environmental Health, County Counsel, Sheriff), but there’s also the State Water Board (one of the most rule-heavy but enforcement-light organizations on the planet), the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Fish & Wildlife, each with their own set of complicated application forms, rules, and paperwork requirements.

A’DAIR OPENS THE STORY with the following intro: “Dudes, it’s time to start growing tomatoes. That’s the takeaway from an April 19 workshop at the Willits Senior Center where county and state agency personnel explained to nearly 200 attendees interested in cultivating medical cannabis commercially the hoops they will have to jump through to grow legally in Mendocino County. There’s, like, a lot of hoops.”

MENDOCINOSPORTSPLUS FIGHTS BACK! MSP Policy On 'Banning' People From This Page

Once again, we'll explain a few things about this page. MSP is a "credentialed" media sports & news page. It contains sports (oftentimes as they happen) and it contains news (often times breaking news). We have been referred to as "The working parent's best friend" and we have been derided for posting breaking news that comes over the scanner.

Although we have a "profanity" filter on the page, we usually warn a person three times if they use excessive profanity before they are no longer welcome. This page will not, however, tolerate THREATS and/or attempts to shut us down.

Thursday, one woman said she wanted to do just that under the guise of protesting our live coverage of a gunshot victim. It turns out she may just happen to be a person we posted about involved in a DUI accident that caused property damage a while back.

Payback to MSP? Perhaps.

Another person commented on MSP Thursday night: "We need to stop this guy!!!!"

Stop the media from doing its job? What country is he from?

In other words, he wants to take away our right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, to gather, publish, and distribute information and ideas — is this what it has come to — No Free Press? Does he want us to surrender our firearms too?

Those people have been banned. They will no longer be welcome on this page.

MSP is NOT like the Fort Bragg Press Advocate-News that has banned legions of viewers who have disagreed with their views. We welcome comments, good or bad, about our coverage. That's the way it has been for six years, and over that time, MSP has "banned" less than six people.

But we will not tolerate threats — any threats posted in the “comment” section or private messaged will be handled through the proper channels.

If you DO NOT want to see or hear breaking news on the Mendo Coast, simply do not visit this page. Can it be any clearer than that? We have a right to post, you have the right not to patronize MSP.

Peace out. Have a nice day.


I SHARE Paul McCarthy's opinions of the people who claimed they were so upset by his reporting they don't want anyone reading MendoSportsPlus. Happens to us here in Boonville all the time, not that it keeps me from getting my seven hours of oblivion every night.

WHAT DOES bother me is the refusal of certain publicly-paid persons to, as they say, engage. They whine privately about Boonville's beloved weekly "getting it wrong" but, having little-to-no interest in getting it right is where they end it. What they're really saying is, We don't care enough to bother getting it right but we’ll whine privately that they’ve been maligned.

OF COURSE there are a few Mendo officeholders who I think are so comprehensively contemptible I'd rather not deal with them at all, ever, but our magnanimous pages nevertheless remain open to them on the off chance they want to cry in print, not that they will because, and this is what one character had the nerve to tell me, "But you always have the last word." Which is your basic pre-emptive strike, a way of saying, "I'm right but I'm not going to argue with you because whine snivel sob….”. An honorable person either defends himself or he doesn't. Unfortunately for us, dishonorable people occupy too many of this county's and the country's public offices.

AND DON'T get me started on people who can't discern the difference between an opinion and a fact. But all-in-all, my attitude has always been the same as Paul McCarthy's: Don't read it if it upsets your pretty little heads.

MARK SCARAMELLA butts in: Before Bruce Anderson went into Oregon exile from 2004 to 2007, we heard a number of Mendo Liberals complain that they were reluctant to publish anything anywhere in Mendocino County because Bruce Anderson might criticize it. The implication was that if the Beast of Boonville was out of the picture the warm wonderful fuzzyheads would come out of their paranoid shells and say and do wonderful things without having to worry about comment or criticism. We paid very close attention to local media during that 2004-2007 period and guess what? Nobody did or said anything they wouldn’t have done or said before. Draw your own conclusions.

FINISHED the latest book on the berserk pastor, Jim Jones, the only preacher in the history of Christianity to murder his flock. "The Road to Jonestown — Jim Jones and Peoples Temple" by Jeff Guinn tells us nothing new about the hold Jones had on his robotized followers, a number of whom, like many people in the county, I had fleeting dealings with in the early 70's. It seemed at the time of the mass poisoning in Guyana that half the people in Ukiah had suddenly disappeared — a bunch from the welfare office, the produce guy at Safeway, and so on. If I had one overall impression of the Peoples Temple people I encountered before Jones finished them off it would be their lack of irony, always a constant in the fanatic personality type.

READING this depressing account of Jones getting crazier and crazier it constantly re-occurs to the reader, "What the hell's wrong with these people? Why don't they run?"

NOT TO RAG on Tim Stoen, right hand man to Jones wayyyyyyyy too long, and presently a prosecutor for the Mendo DA at Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg, despite his dishonest and entirely self-serving account of his years running legal interference for Jones, I think Stoen should have been arrested and prosecuted for helping Jones put it all in place.

ED NOTE: Elsewhere in this week’s paper you will find a long account of a Jones-related encounter I suffered in 1973. Some of you have probably read a version of it before, but if you haven't and can spare a few minutes to absorb a total bummer, and a glimpse of Mendocino County in the early 1970s, you’re invited.

RECENTLY re-read "Vietnam" by Mary McCarthy, her account of a trip to Vietnam in 1967 when America still had influential literary intellectuals who appeared on national television and other public venues to defend unpopular political positions in the teeth of that war's popularity. The only intellectual of any influence left in the country is Noam Chomsky, and he's been cordoned off for so long that if there's even a reference to him in the mainstream media it's a slighting one.


  • Boule de Suif and La Maison Tellier — de Maupassant
  • The Red and the Black — Stendahl
  • Les Fleurs du Mal — Baudelaire
  • Madam Bovary — Flaubert
  • Remembrance of Things Past — Proust
  • Buddenbrooks — Mann
  • Taras Bulba — Gogol
  • The Brothers Karamazov — Dostoevski
  • Anna Karenina and War and Peace — Tolstoy
  • Huckleberry Finn — Mark Twain
  • Moby Dick — Melville
  • The Scarlett Letter — Hawthorne
  • The Red Badge of Courage — Crane
  • Madam de Mauves — James

I LOVE to go to the zoo. But not on Sunday. I don't like to see the people making fun of the animals, when it should be the other way around. — Hemingway

I THOUGHT the ABC documentary Friday night on the LA Riots of late April, 1992 was nicely done and a fair representation of what happened, not that I'm pretending to be any kind of authority on that event, "the deadliest race riot since the Civil War," as a book jacket has it. That book backs up the film in every respect. It's by Lou Cannon and is called "Official Negligence." In excruciating detail Cannon places ultimate responsibility for the catastrophe with LA police chief William Gates who, incredibly given the astounding not guilty verdict in the famous Rodney King beating case that exonerated the cops, was not on the job the day that inflammatory news was delivered. The cops were soon overwhelmed at a crucial intersection where the riot got going. The lieutenant who ordered their withdrawal when the mob started throwing stuff at the police makes a strong case for his decision, pointing out that the officers at the scene were too few and were not suited up in protective gear to handle a violent mob. Gates subsequently went on national television to blame the murderous chaos that followed on this lieutenant, diverting public attention from his own gross dereliction. Cannon makes the point that black police officers familiar with the ground zero neighborhood said at the time they could have quickly weeded out the worst criminals and prevented at least the violence in that part of the city if Gates had prepared for the verdict as he should have. The film is strong stuff, but the humanity, especially that of the black men, risking their own lives, who rescued several racially-targeted victims from their attackers, including the most spectacular victim, Reginald Denny, the truck driver. ABC's riveting film is probably already available on-line. It's a must-see.

ODDS are heavily against anyone under the age of 60 seeing this, let alone a Boonville high school student, but if I were a teacher committed to the welfare of my students on this May Day, I'd tell them to point their handheld gizmos in the direction of William Domhoff's "Who Rules America," an accessible explanation of the world they'll be stepping into after four years of irrelevant instruction in not much of anything.


(1) I think that if US. Gov.Inc goes into shutdown for any extended period of time over wrangling about funding for Trump’s Great Wall, he’ll find his support among even his base vanishing like the pleasant days of spring. And no, Mexico is never going to pay for such stupidity. Why would they, other than possibly as a means to keep the gringos out? But we all know those fat-assed wily gringos would never resort to something as humbling as walking.

(2) If Macron wins, the first lady of France will be 25 years older than her husband–she’s 64. He married his high school teacher. Interesting psychodynamics, eh?

Look at the bright side, at least lovely Melania Trump won’t have gorgeous Carla Bruni Sarkozy as a fashion competitor.

My list of the world’s most beautiful ceremonial women (for ribbon cutting and superfluous national jobs):

1. Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway

2. Queen Letizia of Spain

3. Queen Rania of Jordon

4. Melania of Trump

5. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

6. Princess Madeleine of Sweden

7. Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge

8. Marie-Chantel of Greece

9. Mrs. Trudeau

(3) “One thing that used to occupy the center was public discussion, debate, and argumentation.”

It could again if we convert churches to local ethical debate societies where local, state and national issues and laws were politely debated, and above all, understood in factual terms instead of the fake news sky-is-falling chain email fashion. Debates of ethics could include biblical passages that speak to an issue, along with other perspectives. Voter registration, civics education, League of Women Voters, there’s a long list of needs in our society that could be filled by local gathering places, free of all religious fiction.

Recycled church buildings could host social organizations of many stripes, from kids in scouting, to the Lions Club, to the neighborhood soccer team. On a few trips to Germany over the years I noticed most small towns had its own sports/swim club, a place for locals to actually play as opposed to sitting on our fat American asses, swilling beer and watching mega-million dollar pro athletes on TV. My father’s generation used to work all day in smokestack industries then go play hardball in local industrial leagues. Ever see an obese soccer player?

(4) And no mention of the gang activity which promotes the distribution of Opioids either.

The large extended family I married into eons ago lost its family heroin addict last year. He will not be missed. He was taken from the homeless shelter he was living in to a hospital because he was not feeling good. Returned to the shelter a few hours later he had a heart attack and died.

Over the years he had ripped off virtually everybody in the family to pay for his habit, stealing guns, power tools cash and anything he could get his hands on. He burned all his bridges and as it turned out Eleanor Rigby had more people going to her funeral. I don’t think he even had a funeral.

Twenty years ago I had been given legal guardianship of the then young man along with Mrs. Dog when he was out on bail. That lasted three days before he skipped out and disappeared.

His life was an unbroken string of failed treatment attempts and petty crime and in that he was no different in that from the many other heroin addicts who grace Seattle with their presence.

I get that heroin is highly addictive and I agree that having no life prospects kills any desire to get the monkey off one’s back but my own feeling about long term heroin addicts is that they are selfish self-centered people who care not about the pain they inflict on others in their endless shenanigans of trying to get their next hit.

This is not the first time America’s Opioid Epidemic has been in the news nor will it be the last. Perhaps this time the brouhaha is meant to distract from Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassments at Fox news, I do not know and I really do not care. Nothing will come of it.

Nothing will come of the opioid epidemic attention this time around and little effort will be invested to understand what’s behind the choices people make to live pointless meaningless lives.

The reason is that the American heroin addict actually embraces some very deep American core values which will not be discussed because they are sacred axioms on which we center our lives.

Selfishness and self-centeredness is the American way.

(5) A young woman I know of has recently gotten herself a new job. It is hard work, she had to go through some training to learn it, but she is anxious to better herself. This will be one of two jobs.

Now she wants to move from her present lodgings, and maybe find a place convenient to work (she does not drive). That’s what you are supposed to do, right? Walk or use public transportation.

The smallest apartments in the decent (no roaches, lower chance of getting shot at) buildings she can find, are somehow charging rents commensurate with what people with “good” jobs could have afforded in perhaps the 1970s. I think it is because the area she lives in has a glut of people still holding jobs in one of the rackets.

She, being a single woman without children, is not eligible for any sort of subsidized housing, and anyway, we are experiencing a lack of that because we’ve been importing people to live in it, leaving us with a shortage of such housing.

Her family probably has lived in this area for over two hundred years. Nowadays, I hear mixed messages in the media. On the one hand, buy local, ‘walkable’ communities, blah blah blah, on the other hand, contempt for people who choose to live where they grew up.

I happen to have some relatives who did the “right” thing, bought some education in the “STEM” fields, and moved to where the opportunities are. They haven’t ended up that much better off, long term, than this young woman is now.

The woman is black. She is not a male criminal, she is not a single mother, so the politicians, the bleeding hearts who derive their income from the ‘helping’ NFP rackets, and the armchair liberals have no interest in her. They likely don’t know people like her exist. They’ve moved on, anyway, to ‘helping’ adult male Guatemalans, largely by flapping their lips.

The social contract is broken. Main Street is a bygone concept. The Northeastern Liberal Elite idea of a walkable Main Street, is this time they went to the wine bar down the street on foot instead of driving the SUV they take everywhere else.

(6) A man who looks at women as an investment on which he wants a return is not a man any woman should have anything to do with. The lack of insight of some people is gobsmacking.

I speak as one who left a useless husband decades ago, not because he didn’t provide a ‘return on my investment’ but because he was a useless husband and father (nothing to do with money). I bought his half of our equity, took over the mortgage myself and brought up my daughters with no help (he contributed the equivalent of $5/week for the two of them!!). They are now productive adults who don’t need to rely on men for anything, but are their equals and friends, as it should be in 2016.

I spent over a decade bringing my kids up (well) on my own and only then turned my attention to the possibility of having another man in my life. He’s a professional, but we live in my home because he incautiously tried to set up his own business in later life and lost everything but the shirt on his back. We are a partnership, but it’s me that put the roof over our heads, so endless crap about women living off men I can seriously do without.

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