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Rep. Katie Hill getting death threats

Says Rep. Omar’s dehumanization is ‘worst of all’

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Rep. Katie Hill and Stonewall Democratic Club President Lester Aponte (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

It’s spring recess, a time when elected officials return to their districts to share what’s happening in this new world of quicksand politics. But Stonewall Democratic Club’s “Stoney Awards” on April 13 offered a sense of optimism that the darkness of Trump era is only a blip on the progressive trajectory of American democracy. 

Stonewall honored Rep. Katie Hill, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu, transgender rights activist Karina Samala, Black AIDS Institute founder Phill Wilson and Stonewall’s member of the year, John Erickson—and Rep. Adam Schiff received a hero’s welcome.

Though the 2020 elections are still 19 months away, races are well underway with Democratic candidates seeking Stonewall’s endorsement. In fact, Hill told the appreciative crowd, during the 2018 primary, she was accused of faking her sexual orientation to win their endorsement.

“One of my favorite moments in the entire campaign was in the primary,” Hill said, “when I was told that I was pretending to be bi because I wanted the endorsement of the Stonewall Democratic Club. So clearly this is an endorsement that carries a lot of clout.”

Republicans want Hill’s purple 25th District back in 2020. She won handily in 2018 as part of California’s blue wave winning the House of Representatives. The millennial activist defeated longtime conservative Rep. Steve Knight, son on the infamous anti-LGBT state legislator Pete Knight. 

But while her district includes Lancaster, Palmdale and Simi Valley where “The Gay Agenda” was produced and anti-LGBT hate crimes were routine, the old GOP stronghold went 50.3% for Hillary Clinton and 43.6% for Donald Trump. By 2018, Democrats held a nearly 4-point edge in the working class district. Hill defeated Knight 54.4% to 45.6%, becoming California’s first out LGBT woman in Congress.

Hill was assigned to three significant House committees, including the important Oversight and Reform Committee where she is Vice Chair to Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings. Oversight is holding hearings on climate change and prescription drug prices, as well as accountability in government. Additionally, Hill is co-Freshman Class Representative with Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top leadership.

Hill will be holding a “conversation” with constituents about her first 100 days on Sat, April 27, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM PDT at Santa Clarita City Hall. RSVPs are required: https://katiehill.house.gov/

Mike Garcia, son of a Mexican immigrant and a fighter pilot Iraq War veteran, announced on April 10 that he is challenging Hill. His strategy is to tie her to Bronx Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and others pushing a “Socialist agenda”—the new official Republican Party talking point.

“I have been at the edge where bullets fly and lives are lost,” Garcia said in a press release, reports Politico. “I believe America is the greatest country in the world. I’ve seen men and women lose their lives defending this country. And I am disgusted that politicians in Washington are voting in lockstep with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to push a Socialist agenda that jeopardizes everything we’ve risked blood and treasure to defend.”

Hill took the announcement in stride.

“I know how tough these primaries can be. With three Republicans now filed to run and likely more who will jump in, I wish them all luck,” she told Politico. “I am deeply grateful to Mr. Garcia for his service to our nation and thank him and his family for all they have given to keep America safe.”

Hill reported a little over $607,000 in first quarter filings for her re-election bid, according to Politico. Her SoCal 2018 fellow candidates also have done well. Finance whiz Rep. Katie Porter raised about $416,000; Rep. Gil Cisneros brought in $260,000; Rep. Harley Rouda collected around $495,000; and Rep. Mike Levin reported about $442,000.

The other member of the group, Ammar Campa-Najjar, lost by 3.4 points to longtime anti-LGBT Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is under federal indictment for allegedly using campaign funds for personal matters. Campa-Najjar raised more than $345,000 in the first quarter to Hunter’s reported $93,000. Hunter, meanwhile, has resurrected his nasty claims that the devout Christian Campa-Najjar has secret ties to Islamic terrorists.

“He’s just trying to fearmonger,” Campa-Najjar told Politico, calling Hunter’s claims “totally devoid of moral character and facts” to “distract from his criminal indictment.”

But nowhere has the ugly trope of Islamic terrorism been used as harshly as against Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who came to the US as a teenager with her family seeking asylum. She and Rep. Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and are in Hill’s freshman class. Omar is also the first to wear a hijab on the House floor, becoming a powerful symbol for both refugees and Muslims—and a prime target for Trump’s anti-Muslim aggression.

Trump tweeted a video using a fragment of remarks Omar delivered to the Council on American-Islamic Relations against the backdrop of graphic images showing the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center. Omar was describing how CAIR was founded after 9/11 “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

“Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the president’s video,” Omar tweeted. “This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”

In an interview during the Stonewall event, Hill said death threats have become commonplace.

“I think that people have really diminished the fact that she [Omar] and Alexandria and Rashida—and even myself have—we’ve been under death threats for quite some time,” Hill told the Los Angeles Blade. “Theirs have been worse—I don’t want to pretend I’m even on the same level as them. But hers [Omar’s] have been the worst of all.

“I don’t know exactly what makes people think they can do that. But I do think it’s a dehumanization,” Hill said. “This idea of people being dehumanized as second class citizens—however you want to put that in your mind—is that you are able to put them to a point where they are getting death threats or you feel like you can do that to somebody. We have to say unequivocally that that behavior is unacceptable.”

The interview was before Speaker Pelosi’s response to Trump’s tweet about Omar, which some Democrats felt was too tepid, and before Pelosi’s appearance on “60 Minutes” where she seemed to minimize the impact of AOC and the more outspoken newer members.

Hill seems to have a good working relationship with Pelosi. “It feels very much like she’s preparing for the next generation of leadership and I’m really honored and humbled and feel a great deal of responsibility to be part of that,” Hill told the Los Angeles Blade. “And I think it shows how much I’ve got to learn. She’s just an incredible role model and I would say unequivocally that we’re not quite ready for her to go.”

Hill, who has endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris for president, thinks candidates should focus on issues while providing a contrast to Trump.

“As far as I’m concerned, people’s opinions of Donald Trump are set. So from where I’m at, we have to do our constitutional obligation in Congress to hold the President accountable and to provide the oversight that hasn’t been done for two years. We’re going to keep doing that,” Hill said.

“We’re also sent there to work on healthcare and to work on rebuilding the middle class, doing the infra-structure, raising people’s wages, and providing accountability within government—so we’ve got to do that at the same time,” she said.

“In terms of the presidential campaign, I think what people want to see is what alternative you bring. And to me that’s honesty and integrity and an alternative that is not Donald Trump. I don’t honestly think that people need to have a whole lot pointed out about him, because everyone knows if you’re with Trump—that’s not moving, no matter how much you try,” Hill said, noting the importance of voters in the middle. “We can acknowledge what he’s done but we should not let him drive the narrative, which is what he’s done for four years.”

Hill is also practical regarding calls for Trump’s impeachment.

“Honestly, I think that what we have to just say across the board is that impeachment is a political process. If we don’t have the votes in the Senate, there’s no point,” she said. “So what we have to do instead is bring to light all the information for the American people and make sure that they have that information going into the election and can make their own decision.”

Hill’s own focus is her district, her committee assignments and her leadership post. “In large part, I see a responsibility to be a messenger on behalf of the new class as the Freshman Leadership representative and as somebody who is from this purple kind of middle,” Hill said. “It’s kind of figuring out what that messaging is and being able to deliver it and do both jobs at the same time.”

And run for re-election to keep the House in 2020.

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California

Newsom ushers in state’s full reopening at Universal Studios Hollywood

California was one of the only states to achieve a week-over-week increase rate of vaccinations, most recently with a 22% increase

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Governor Gavin Newsom ushers in state's reopening at Universal Studios (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

STUDIO CITY – As California moved to fully reopen the economy Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom welcomed the milestone at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he highlighted the attractions Californians can look forward to revisiting this summer.

Starting today, June 15, the restrictions that have been in place over the past year will be eliminated, including physical distancing, capacity limits, county tier systems and masks in almost all settings for vaccinated Californians.  The Golden State was one of the only states in the country to achieve a week-over-week increase in the rate of vaccinations, most recently with a 22 percent increase in vaccinations.

“Today, we celebrate the incredible strength and resilience of Californians – from our heroic health care workers to essential workers across the board to everyday Californians from all walks of life – who have supported each other through hardship and heartache over the past year, making sacrifices to save countless lives and enable us to turn the page on this pandemic,” said Newsom. “As we look ahead to better days, we will continue to look out for one another, redoubling our support to those hit hardest by the pandemic and making unprecedented investments to address California’s most persistent challenges, so that the entire state comes roaring back together.”

Newsom also selected 10 lucky Californians to receive $1.5 million each – for a total of $15 million – as part of the final cash prize drawing in the state’s Vax for the Win program. 30 prior winners won a total of $1,500,000.

Tuesday’s selection of 10 $1.5 million winners caps off the cash prize giveaways as part of the $116.5 million Vax for the Win program – the largest vaccine incentive program in the nation. The program previously selected 30 winners to receive $50,000 each, for a total of $1,500,000. In addition, the program is providing $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for newly vaccinated people, while supplies last. Governor Newsom also highlighted the upcoming California Dream Vacations, a new Vax for the Win incentive in which vaccinated Californians have the chance to win one of six in-state vacation packages in a drawing on July 1.

In a press release, the Governor’s office touted his administration’s accomplishments that had been spread out over the duration of the pandemic in the past 15 months.

  • California is forecasted to outpace the country’s economic recovery, ranked as the No. 1 U.S. economy for “expanding GDP, raising household income, investing in innovation,” and more.
  • California is creating more jobs than any other state for three months in a row, adding 385,000 jobs; in April alone, California created 38 percent of the nation’s jobs.
  • The state consistently has amongst the lowest case rates and transmission rates in the nation, and hospitalizations dipped to the lowest point since March 2020.
  • More than 40 million vaccinations have been administered in California, surpassing the next closest state by 16 million, with over 70 percent of adults having at least one shot. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted that at the peak of the pandemic the County was losing 277 residents a day. Hospitals were under enormous strain, with more than 8,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and there were more than 15,000 new cases diagnosed each day.

L.A. County is in a better place than any other metro area of similar size in the entire nation. Each day, on average, only 1.5 cases per 100,000 people are diagnosed in L.A. County, compared with 2.8 cases in the same population in the New York City metro area, 2.9 cases in Chicago, 3.5 cases in Atlanta, 5.3 cases in Houston, and 9.1 cases in Miami. Only 0.4% of COVID-19 tests in L.A. County are positive, compared with 0.8% in New York, 1.3% in Chicago, 1.7% in Atlanta, 3.3% in Houston, and 3.7% in Miami.

Over the past six months, the tremendous effort to get the vaccine into the arms of residents has gotten the County to a place where as of June 11, more than 5,490,637 (66%) of eligible L.A. County residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 4,668,783 (56%) are fully vaccinated.

“After 16 months of enormous upheaval and loss, we can now move forward with a genuine sense of hope. We can and should feel joy while recognizing and honoring the immense collective effort that brought us to the point where we can fully reopen. We remain committed to protecting your health and to closing gaps in health outcomes associated with COVID-19.,”said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Case counts and transmission are low because of our shared efforts to implement a layered approach to preventing transmission.  As we reopen, we are mindful that for those not yet vaccinated, protection is highly dependent on our continued actions to take care of each other. Sensible protections for our essential workforce will be instrumental in keeping transmission of COVID-19 in check,” she added.

Unvaccinated people need to remain very careful and wear masks when they are around people outside their household, and if in close contact with others, including at worksites, they should consider upgrading their masks to a respirator, such as an N95, or a KN95.  These masks do a much better job protecting the wearer from other people’s germs, a spokesperson for Public Health said.

Public Health continues to urge unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. Through Thursday, June 17 at County-run vaccination sites, participating LA city and mobile sites, and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites, everyone 18 and older coming to get their first vaccine or who brings a first-time vaccine recipient with them to their second dose appointment, will have an opportunity to win a pair of season tickets to the 2021-2022 home season of the Clippers, the Rams, or the Chargers. Official rules and participating site locations are posted online on the Los Angeles County Vaccination Sweepstakes page.  Winners will be contacted by phone and/or email.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound.  Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

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California

Newsom signs orders to roll back coronavirus restrictions next Tuesday

The Governor’s Office established a timeline to continue winding down the various provisions of the 58 COVID-related executive orders.

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Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

SACRAMENTO – Effective June 15, restrictions such as physical distancing, capacity limits and the county tier system will end as Governor Gavin Newsom signed a series of executive orders Friday marking a return to normalcy after nearly 15 months of the ongoing battle to protect the state’s residents from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.  Additionally, those Californians who are fully vaccinated won’t be required to wear a mask — including indoors.

Newsom’s actions also include terminating the Stay-at-Home Order that was implemented early in the pandemic to protect Californians and retiring the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

“California is turning the page on this pandemic, thanks to swift action by the state and the work of Californians who followed public health guidelines and got vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities,” said Newsom. “With nearly 40 million vaccines administered and among the lowest case rates in the nation, we are lifting the orders that impact Californians on a day-to-day basis while remaining vigilant to protect public health and safety as the pandemic persists.”

The Governor’s Office today established a timeline and process to continue winding down the various provisions of the 58 COVID-related executive orders, which suspended statutes and regulations to help the state and businesses continue operations during the pandemic.

To ensure that impacted individuals and entities have time to prepare for the changes, the provisions will sunset in phases, beginning later this month, in July and in September. For example, the suspension of certain licensing requirements for manufacturers to produce hand sanitizer will end on June 30, as shortages are no longer a concern. By the end of September, nearly 90 percent of the executive actions taken since March 2020 will have been lifted.

The California Department of Public Health on Friday released a new state public health officer order that goes into effect on June 15. 

Dr. Tomás Aragón, California’s public health officer, issued a new order that, among other things, puts in place new requirements for mask wearing that take effect Tuesday. The new rules say fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear a mask in most places, either indoors our outdoors. But the state is still requiring people who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask in public places.

“We’ve met our metrics, we feel prepared,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services Agency secretary, told reporters on Friday. “Things in California, from a COVID transmission perspective, are going reasonably well.”

These actions supports the full and safe reopening of the state, while maintaining focused public health requirements that address the risk posed by variants as some regions across the nation and world continue to experience high levels of transmission, Ghaly noted.

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West Hollywood

One City One Pride, LGBTQ Arts Festival Continues through June 30

All festival events are being presented on an online virtual platform to respond to the City’s efforts to prioritize health & public safety

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OUT on Robertson painting honoring Lady Gaga's Born This Way Album 10th anniversary (Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The 2021 theme for One City One Pride is ‘For the Record LGBTQ Stories’ of the past that have often been hidden or undocumented. One must read between the lines to find stories hidden behind “beard” marriages, coded language, and erased or destroyed evidence. This year, One City One Pride looks at some of these previously hidden stories.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, all festival events are being presented on an online virtual platform to respond to the City of West Hollywood’s efforts to prioritize health and public safety. A select few programs can also be experienced as self-guided solo walking tours or outdoor exhibitions.

More detailed information about the following City of West Hollywood One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival events is available at www.weho.org/pride.

Forthcoming events of the 40-day festival include:

  • Pride Poets Poetry Hotline presented by West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace & the Pride Poets from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, June 11, 2021 to Sunday, June 13, 2021. Free. Call in to get a custom poem for you or a loved one based on the topic of your choice, written by one of the team of LGBTQ+ Pride Poets standing by at the remote Poetry Hotline from June 11-13, marathon-style from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m. Poems will be written on-the-spot and callers can choose to have copies of the poems emailed or mailed to them. Poetry hotline: call (202) 998-3510 to speak to a poet.
  • LGBTQ History in Comics — A virtual panel with readings from creators presented by Prism Comics. Launches Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at 6 p.m. Free. View the panel at: http://www.youtube.com/wehoarts and www.prismcomics.org. Join Prism Comics, moderator Justin Hall (No Straight Lines; Associate Professor of Comics, California College of The Arts) and a diverse, talented group of creators as they explore our queer past through comics. The panel and readings will remain online for viewing after the premiere date. More information is available at www.prismcomics.org.
  • Secret Lives, stories, music, and original writings by LGBTQ seniors watch party presented by NewStages, a program of Oasis Theater Company at 7 p.m. on the first four Tuesdays in June. Free. RSVP by calling (323) 860-5830 or by email at [email protected]Secret Lives will explore the stories of remarkable seniors as well as many historical figures who had to keep secrets to maintain their careers, their families, and their place in society. Archived events available at www.weho.org/pride.
  • WeHo Reads: Legacy and Lineage and the Lost Generation at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Free. RSVP to get a reminder: https://wehoreadsrajivjubidare2021.eventbrite.com. As part of the City’s WeHo Reads series and One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, poets read and discuss works by mentors they’ve never met alongside their own work. Streaming at www.weho.org/wehoreads.
  • Shaped By Sylvester: Tiki Spills the Tea podcast organized by Steven Reigns. Free stream at https://www.stevenreigns.com/appearances from Wednesday, June 23, 2021 to Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Listen to tales of growing up black and trans in 1960s LA with a good friend that soon became a disco superstar.
  • West Hollywood Pride Play Reading Festival presented by The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 26, 2021, and Sunday,  June 27, 2021. Free. https://www.facebook.com/groups/laplaywrights. The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights (ALAP) annual West Hollywood ALAP Pride Reading Festival features staged readings of six one-act plays on Saturday, June 26, 2021 and one featured full length play on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
  • QueerWise presents Queer/Women+ Discussion at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 26, 2021. Free. Join the woman-identified people of Queerwise for an exploration of gender where it gets tricky – where gender touches race and class and desire. Livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/queer.wise.
  • Stuart Timmons West Hollywood LGBTQ History Tour — A collection of short films to be released on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 9 a.m. Free. Originally written by acclaimed author/historian Stuart Timmons and produced/directed by Jason Jenn, the tour first dazzled audiences in 2015 as part of the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the City of West Hollywood’s incorporation in November 1984. The project is both a self-guided walking tour and a special in-person performance event. For 2021, the tour is being recorded as a collection of short films hosted indefinitely in the City of West Hollywood’s WeHoArts YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/wehoarts.

Additionally, these programs are available to view through June 30, 2021:

  • Dear Harvey: Stories of Harvey Milk byPatricia Loughrey. Extensively researched and beautifully constructed, this documentary-style ensemble play recounts the life and lasting impact of groundbreaking LGBTQ activist and politician Harvey Milk, as told by the people who knew him best … the real-world figures whose lives were forever altered by Milk’s too-short career. This performance will be available to watch for the duration of One City One Pride through June 30, 2021 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShX27kXqwBg and there is a special welcome from Stuart Milk, the nephew of Harvey Milk.
  • John Elgin Woolf: Master of the Hollywood Regency (Trail and Short Film) presented by Friends of Residential Treasures: LA. Free. Experience online or as a self-guided walking tour. Take this self-guided architectural trail curated by filmmaker and journalist Matt Tyrnauer, or watch a short film exploring the interior of the Seiter House — an important early work that John Elgin Woolf designed for himself and his same-sex partner.
  • Love Note presented by Rogue Artists Ensemble. Free. No RSVP Needed. Experience online or as a self-guided experience at Plummer Park, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. Rogue Artists Ensemble’s Love Note is a free, interactive, solo audio expedition of your heart, taking place in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park, where audience members can activate sonic narrative experiences at eight unique stops throughout the park. Using only a cell phone and headphones, participants will discover and listen to stories about romance, compassion, and connection, leading to a secret phone line, where participants are invited to share their own love story that will become part of the project’s archive. The community-contributed stories recorded during the run will be then woven back into the experience to create an ever-evolving tapestry of voices calling out for love and belonging. This experience is free and open to the public during park operating hours. The experience contains some mature themes and is not recommended for children. A travel map is available for download at the Rogue Artists Ensemble website for audience members to use for their story expedition in the park. Can’t make it to Plummer Park? Visit the Rogue Artists Ensemble website at www.rogueartists.org/lovenote to create your own experience from the comfort of your home.
  • Meringue, a public art exhibition. Free. Outdoor exhibition on traffic median at Santa Monica Boulevard and N. Doheny Drive. Meringue is a temporary public art exhibition by LGBTQ artist Kim Kiduck. The translucency of Meringue lets sunlight in to glow naturally during the daytime, and at night transforms Meringue into a mixing chamber of various light combinations. The exhibition will be lit up in rainbow colors for the duration of the City’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival.
  • The City of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speakers Series presents: Breaking Fast. Free.

The City of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speaker Series and One City One Pride LBGTQ Arts Festival present Breaking Fast: Exploring the Intersection of Faith and Sexual Identity, an open panel discussion of the feature film, Breaking Fast, and its themes related to navigating the difficult conversations and real-life impacts of faith, sexual identity, and community. Archived event video available to view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmSvpTBPzkI.

  • Walking Amongst the Rubble: Undocuqueer Pride Queer Poetry Reading Series presented by Influx Collectiv. Free. More information and the online podcast is available at https://www.influxcollectiv.org/podcast.
  • Pride Publics: Words and Actions presented by ONE Archives Foundation. Free. ONE Archives Foundation presents “Pride Publics: Words and Actions,” a multi-site outdoor exhibition that examines the intersection between pride and publicness and examines themes central to queer public life while highlighting trailblazers and their visions. With free and accessible outdoor installations plus a digital guide, this exhibition aims to give visibility to LGBTQ life in the public through the lens of history, community, and activism. More information is available at https://www.onearchives.org/pridepublics. This exhibition is organized by ONE Archives Foundation.
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