Letters (July 26, 2017)

by AVA News Service, July 26, 2017

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Dear AVA,

David Severn's article, Stealing Sam's Land documents his slanted perspective of the controversy. With the addition of a few facts to the narrative a different picture emerges. There was no theft of land and to say so is a gross misstatement. In 1910 Dr. C.O. Edwards who previously owned Brian's land purchased an easement to use all of the water in a canyon from the prior owner of Sam's land, the easement running with the land and binding on successive owners and binding upon Sam.

In 2008 Mrs. Archambault sued Brian and Sam claiming that she had obtained a superior right to the water from the canyon by adverse possession. Both Sam and Brian successfully defended the right of Brian to use the water, Sam testifying in that case under oath that Brian had the legal right to use the water. Brian advanced all the legal expenses, but Sam reneged on his promise to pay half of the bills. Brian decided to let the nonpayment by Sam go. In 2013 without any warning to Brian, Sam destroyed the water line that had been in place since 1910 leaving Brian's house without any water service. Severn's article implies that the Warden authorized Sam's actions. Sam had told the Warden that he did not know who was using the water, although Brian and his predecessor had been using it for over one hundred years and Sam did not tell the Warden about the easement the validity of which Sam affirmed in sworn testimony in the Archambault case. Even then the Warden did not authorize the destruction as Sam attempted to claim but rather the Warden told Sam that he could address the "trespass" himself because it was Sam's land. The Warden did not know about the easement because Sam did not tell him.

Brian's response to the destruction was restrained. He contacted Sam and pointed to the easement and said he assumed that Sam had just had a bad day and that Brian would shoulder the burden of the $60,000 cost to replace the system but wanted Sam's assurance that it would not be tampered with again. All Sam had to do was to affirm the easement. Sam remained silent. Brian then sued Sam for the replacement cost, and for the damages associate with the hostile act of disrupting a neighbor'S water supply.

Sam pressed for Brian to be arrested for trespassing. Charges were filed. Those charges were dismissed when the additional facts were added to the equation that Brian had the legal right by reason of holding an easement to divert water from Sam's land and Sam not only knew it was so, but had affirmed that I:O! knew the easement was longstanding and valid. The Department of Fish and Wildlife was not happy that Sam had manipulated them into filing a complaint stating that Brian had trespassed, and the Department provided no support to Sam in the civil lawsuit.

David Severn's article incorrectly states that Brian and his friends trespassed on Sam's land and cut firewood. Sam made a police report about this as well. Deputy Keith Squires investigated Sam's accusation but Sam was unable to provide any evidence to support his allegation. When Deputy Squires walked the land with Sam and Brian to locate the stumps of the cut trees Sam was unable to point to any stumps or places where trees had been cut. Although Sam had tried to get Brian arrested on that occasion Brian did not press the issue with Sam although it is unlawful to make a false police report.

The article also states that Sam needed the water for his sheep. Sam testified that he did not want his sheep going into the forested area due to predators and that he with Brian's permission maintained several water troughs for his sheep. Ironically, Sam's destruction of the water system also severed the water service to the troughs.

Brian had to file suit to have the Court recognize his easement. Sam was represented by three aggressive lawyers from Redding who made the case as difficult as possible, asserting various theories that the easement was invalid. On the day before a three week jury trial was about to commence and after the three lawyers had caused the case to be very expensive both to the insurance company they were billing and to Brian, the aggressive lawyers from Redding sought to settle the case. Sam was facing damages of about $100,000 for the cost of repairing the water system and Brian's damages of having to truck in water to serve his property. Sam was also facing damages of up to ten times the amount of actual damages for punitive damages if the jury felt such damages were warranted by his surprise destruction of a water system known by Sam to be lawful, or if the jury felt that Sam having made unwarranted police reports, which in one case caused Brian to be wlongfully arrested,justified damages beyond actual damages.

Instead of pressing the matter to trial, Brian accommodated the settlement request by Sam's lawyers by agreeing to accept some land adjacent to his property from Sam, something that would also resolve Sam's claims that property surveys were wrong. The settlement offer was accepted by Brian and by Sam who should have been greatly relieved to avoid trial on his unexplained actions of destroying the quarter mile water line. Although the land was depicted on a map in the courtroom, the location and extent of the land along with its precise dimensions were confirmed in the field by Sam, a surveyor, Brian and the attorneys by their walking the land together and marking the land to be conveyed. Sam agreed to transfer the land to settle the case, and only then was the judgment entered.

Not only was the agreement written, signed by Sam and approved by the Court, but also Sam and Brian shook hands to bury past grievances which act apparently did not have any meaning for Sam because when the surveying work was completed at Brian's sole expense, Sam reneged and refused to sign the deed claiming that the land which was marked in the field was too much land, and the best 7 acres of his 1000+ acre parcel. Another court proceeding was held to enforce the settlement. After hearing testimony the Court ordered Sam to comply with the promises he made to settle the case and avoid trial.

Mr. Severn does a disservice to Sam and to Brian by presenting a slanted version of the controversy. Every controversy has two sides. This controversy was settled by the parties who knew the facts better than anyone. It is a disservice to Sam to suggest that Sam did not know what he was doing when he settled a controversy.

Chris Neary, Attorney for Brian Padilla


Ed reply:  Sign here, Sam. I've got it all surveyed for you. And there go 7.6 acres of an elderly man's land. You're doing a good job for your client, counselor, but this basic fact remains: before the San Jose pot entrepreneur bought the Edwards place, the Edwards, Ms. Archambault, the Hulberts, and Sam shared the water that flows from Sam's land. They didn't fight over it, they didn't sue each other over it. Then a guy shows up who wants to grow marijuana on a lucrative scale and the neighborhood  erupts in rancor and lawsuits. If an agent of government not only tells me, in the middle of a drought, that the water that flows through my land, the water I need for my sheep, is being hogged by a pot grower down the hill, and that agent of government even helps me dismantle the diversion, please tell me (and Sam) what I've done wrong. Moreover, that agent of government then writes a detailed and legally irrefutable account of why Sam is correct in dismantling the diversion, complete with photos and grid coordinates clearly demonstrating what the pot grower was doing on Sam's land, and DA Eyster, whose campaign manager you functioned as, conveniently chooses not to prosecute, a decision occurring amid blustery promises by County law enforcement to go after illegal diversions! The entire legal apparatus involved here might as well have showed up with guns at Sam's house and told him to sign away his 7 acres and write you all big checks for your trouble driving over the hill from the County Courthouse to pick up his land and his cash.

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In August of 2015, I was assigned by my company, Medstar Ambulance of Mendocino, as a Paramedic to provide advanced life support coverage on Saturdays to the Anderson Valley community. This was a joint venture in response to grant funding provided to the Anderson Valley Ambulance to provide enhanced medical service to the community. When I accepted the assignment for this venture, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was working in a unique position on a quick response vehicle (QRV) as a solo paramedic that would cooperate with the BLS (basic life support) crews at the scenes of medical incidents to provide the most effective and efficient medical care and transport of patients in Anderson Valley. This was going to be the first time that Advanced Life Support (ALS) coverage was stationed in Anderson Valley in the history of the medical service of the area. The duties would also include working closely with the Volunteers of both the ambulance and fire department and providing high quality medical trainings during my shift to assist in the advancement of the EMTs’ knowledge, skills, and abilities in the medical field. I happily accepted the assignment with little to no understanding of just how close I would become both personally and professionally to these fine people and I feel that they deserve some recognition.

Over the course of these last couple years, I worked a 24 hour shift in Anderson Valley on Saturdays in addition to the 48 hour shifts that I work for the Mendocino Coast District Hospital Ambulance. Every Saturday became an adventure of some sort. Whether it was a medical call that would come in that would challenge both my medical knowledge and improvisation skills, or a training put on at the request of some volunteer EMTs that would challenge my abilities to teach in an effective manner, or being an active participant in the medical response of large events in the community like the Sierra Music Festival, my shift here in Anderson Valley was always busy and interesting. What I am walking away with the most from this experience is a huge appreciation for the dedication of the members of the AVAS and AVFD. These are community members who dedicate enormous hours of labor to help enhance their community for almost no financial reimbursement. I would always see these folks working tirelessly on trainings, community organizations or emergency calls and they would do it with smiles and positive attitudes. These folks are always striving to better themselves and are always willing and asking for constructive critiquing and training before and after calls to help learn from and improve on the quality of care that they provide. On top of this, these responders welcomed me and the changes in the medical care system that I brought with me with open arms and made me feel like a part of this community right away.

My first shift here in Anderson Valley, I was a little nervous about what to expect. I was coming into an area that had a very well established and close knit group of responders that had an effective way of providing service that has been tried and true for more than fifty years and I was a little apprehensive at how well the changes that I was bringing with me were going to be received. My apprehensions were immediately proven completely illegitimate. My first contacts were with Clay Eubank and Aaron Martin with the AVAS and immediately struck up positive relationships with both. They filled me in on how the response plans worked here in the Valley, introduced me to all the folks I would be working with, and basically became my liaisons helping me integrate fluidly into the community. From there, I was introduced to the Fire Chief Andres Avila who gave me excellent insight and advice on how to effectively serve the needs of his personnel and interact with them in the most effective and positive ways. As I began working regularly here and running medical calls, I also got to know the regular crews that were staffing the ambulance on Saturdays. Martha Hyde, Mike Mannix, Tom Melcher, and Antoinette VonGrone were my usual coworkers and I am proud to say that I grew to know these individuals on a personal level as well and I was very thankful to have such a positive and hard working group of people working with me. There are many other people that I was closely involved with and I enjoyed my time working and interacting with each and every one of them.

Attending the annual holiday department appreciation dinners the last two Decembers have also helped solidify my love and admiration for the AVFD and AVAS. Being able to participate in an annual celebration of the dedication and commitment these individuals undertake and seeing the love and joy expressed by everyone shows me just how wonderful these people are and just how underappreciated they can be at times. The sheer amount of commitment and logistics that goes on behind the scenes to keep volunteer organizations afloat is astounding and these individuals not only meet the challenge head on, but they do it with smiles on their faces every time. There is no amount of thanks in the entire world that would come close to expressing the gratitude these individuals deserve.

So, while my time in the Valley is coming to an end, I want to extend an enormous thanks to everyone. Chief Andres Avila and Battalion Chief Clay Eubank of the Anderson Valley Fire Department, Theresa Gowan, Leonard Winter, and Lea Bergem of Medstar Ambulance, Dave Diggs and Mike Fonsen and Kevin Fenske and Ben Nicholls of CalFire, Mike, Martha, Antoinette, Tom, Regine, Tamera, Aaron, Moy and everyone else who I’ve worked with on Anderson Valley Ambulance and Fire Department: thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this more than just a job for me; for accepting me into your community, for providing me an opportunity to make a difference and to learn and grow from everyone, and for just being you. While I am excited to finally be pursuing my dream of being a firefighter/paramedic for a major metropolitan fire department, I leave bitter sweetly as it is hard to walk away from such a wonderful experience and group of individuals. I hope the community recognizes just how lucky they are to have such wonderful members working so diligently behind the scenes to keep them safe and well.

Tylor Rial

Paramedic, Formerly of Medstar Ambulance of Mendocino and the Mendocino Coast District Hospital

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I read in the Ukiah Daily Journal that the empty Savings Bank building at the corner of Low Gap and State Street is being considered as a cannabis dispensary. What a great location for the kids to walk by when the high school, Pomalita Middle School, and Frank Zeek Grammar School get out. This is a good reason why there should not be any of these stores within the city limits.

Sherice Vinson


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Heard on the corner by the Ukiah Courthouse during the Friday Night Peace Vigil:

A nicely dressed senior citizen looked at my sign: "No US war on Syria," and shook his head: "If we don't stop them there we will have to fight them over here!"

"That will not happen," I said. He moved on.

I tried to imagine the devastated nation of Syria attacking the American homeland. This specious notion first used by George W. Bush to justify our destruction of much of Iraq 15 years ago is still imprinted in the minds of our people. Good heavens!

Jim Houle


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To the editor:

A recent grand jury report titled "Formula Businesses Restriction -- NIMBY overreaction" is revealing. The "over reaction" assessment depends on which formula business one is talking about. There was no major outcry, for instance, about about Chipotle or In-N-Out Burger (starting hourly wage of about $12.50) locating in established shopping centers in Ukiah. There was an outcry from 1700 Redwood Valley residents when a Dollar General (minimum wage by law in California $10 per hour) was permitted to locate next to a fifth generation sheep and goat farm in Redwood Valley.

Anybody been to "downtown" Redwood Valley lately? It is clearly a very small village with an excellent food market that stocks local vendor products, post office, bank, fire department, gas station, small industrial area, historical bar, outdoor coffee bar, and a Mexican Café. That group of locally owned businesses is well supported by this small community  and is, by the way, exactly why we Redwood Valley types live here. It would have been fortunate had the grand jury interviewed any member of the Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council to learn that the Redwood Valley community is dedicated to the investment and encouragement of locally owned small businesses. The recent Sonoma Mendocino Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy supports this strategy and points to a regional economic development advantage and buildson local assets such as organic food production and green technologies. Those businesses keep and recycle their profits back into the community. That is what community is about. And that is what can happen when small communities invest in themselves.

Sheilah Rogers,

Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council

Redwood Valley

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Dear AVA,

My name is Marc Hunter. I am in the beautiful Delano state prison! Where the weather is hot and the punks are pretty ugly.

In your last issue I read that you were upset that none of us inmates sent you a postcard once they got out of the big house. What is the real issue? That you don't hear from them or the broken promises of some these homies when they get out? I will send you money. I myself have been in prison for 10 years and have more than once sent stamps and they were returned by you. You should ask these guys in jail or prison to send you stamps for a subscription to your newspaper. A book of 20 stamps sounds fair for an indigent inmate to pay for a six month subscription to America's Last Newspaper. At least that would help cover the shipping. But not printing costs. Nobody rides for free. My subscription is just about over and I was wondering if you could extend my subscription for another six months. I sure would appreciate it. And think about the stamp thing.


Marc Hunter

Somewhere in Delano

ED NOTE: Thanks for writing Marc. We don't need your stamps. You need them more than we do. But we appreciate the gesture.

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Dear Editor:

June 2017: Third-hottest June on Record Puts 2017 on Track to make Hat-trick of Hottest Years

The Guardian has an article reporting that new figures from the National Oceanic and Administration (Noaa), showed June 2017 was the third-hottest June on record, beaten only by the two preceding Junes in 2015 and 2016. The Noaa data shows combined land and sea-surface temperatures for June 2017, 0.82C above the 20th century average, making a string of 41 consecutive Junes above that average. The warming trend is almost certainly caused by greenhouse gas emissions, mostly the result of burning fossil fuels with many studies showing such warm years would be almost impossible without that effect. For example, Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University in a paper and a follow up article commented "In short, we can only explain the onslaught of record warm years by accounting for human-caused warning of the planet". Andy Pittman from the University of New South Wales commented the ongoing trend was "entirely inconsistent" with the target of keeping warming at just 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures. Current trends suggest the 1.5 barrier would be breached in the 2040s with some studies suggesting it might happen much sooner. Unfortunately, President Trump and his supporters believe climate change is a hoax and they continue to support the burning of fossil fuel. That stupidity will have extreme consequences for our grandchildren. Trump and his supporters will be playing their fiddles while the earth is burning up from climate change.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


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Letter to the Editor,

Obamacare: Hated by Trumpery and the GOP who want to get rid of it by kicking thousands of poor people off the plan and giving the money saved to the 1% in the form of tax breaks.

What the majority says they want is “single payer.” So why not give it to them Since we already have it? It’s called Medicare.

Why not lower the age for eleibility to 60 instead of 65? Thousands of people could now retire creating tthousands of job openings for younger workers. Then every year lower the entry age a couple of years until everyone is covered.

While we’re at it, let’s make Medicare the medical coverage for all federal employees, including the president and congress.

Don Phillips


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Wednesday, August 2nd, Ukiah City Council will join “Yes, In My Back Yard,” approving a State inspired ordinance allowing a granny flat behind every existing Ukiah home.

Not only has the Council majority shown no resistance regarding this State takeover of local growth control, it has acted in concert and evident pleasure with th big government usurpation.

It’s a game of pretend. The new California law requiring this population growth and densification ordinance says it will create “affordable” rental housing. That is a lie. This ordinance increasing Ukiah’s population by 30% in existing neighborhoods fails to provide any affordable housing.

There is nothing in either the State second unit law or the corresponding local ordinance that requires any new construction to be “affordable.” Without rent control, the new “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs) will be priced at whatever the market will bear.

Yes, growth-at-all-cost proponents argue that housing prices depend on supply and demand. They dissemble, claiming this required population increase will stabilize or reduce Ukiah rents. But logic and history show this free market notion to be hogwash. New housing construction in L.A., Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Orange counties has done nothing to inhibit exorbitant rents and sales pricing. It’s beyond debate. Advocates pushing this thirty percent population increase in our existing neighborhoods chant a refrain similar to 2002’s “WMD.” Now it’s “housing crisis” and their push for densification is promoted as compassion for those in need. This is codswallop. Anyone dedicating $30,000 to create an ADU is motivated not by empathy for the down and out but by a desire for greater personal income. Only way to garner that is to rent at the market rate which is - for half or more of renters - not affordable.

To top it off, neighbors will not be informed in advance when a Ukiahan seeks approval for a second unit no matter if it’s a second story above a garage on the lot line. And since all Ukiah homes are within a half mile of an MTA bus line, no off street parking will be required even if the unit is 1000 square feet. Of course, any American couple renting the new infill dwellings will have two cars. Our Council majority is fine requiring all these to be parked on our streets.

Is it too much to expect from our elected representatives spirited alarm and analysis of unintended consequences from this State requirement to increase population. Already Council acquiesces without a peep to State’s “Regional Housing Need Allocation” ordering Ukiah to grow by a fair share percentage of projected statewide population surge. Ukiah valley has a population holding capacity for water, air quality, natural habitat, safety, quality of life. Refusal to admit this guarantees housing spillover onto our greenbelting agricultural lands. Some now promoting infill behind everyone’s home fail to grasp that sprawl is inevitable after our existing neighborhoods become less livable due to the latest planning fad “Yes, In My Back Yard.” Some simply don’t care.

Philip Baldwin


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Nobel prize winner Bob Dylan is to singing as Salvador Dali is to painting. Neither makes any sense. Thank God!

Dan Clark


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Letter To The Editor

Almost 40 years ago, a handful of new homesteaders in Mendocino County came together to create the Simple Living Fair, which took place annually for several years at the Fairgrounds in Boonville. The weekend was full with classes on rural living: beekeeping, gardening, animal husbandry, alternative energy, etc.

As a new transplant fresh from the suburbs to Mendocino County, the Simple Living Fair was my introduction to homesteading skills and I learned a lot at these events.

Thirty-plus years later, some of the same organizers came together again to bring back the Fair. Now, having had several decades of experience in rural living, they decided to call it The Not-So-Simple Living Fair. Although this lifestyle may be “not-so-simple”, many would agree that it is a creative and worthwhile way to live. It is this spirit that is at the heart of the Fair, which continues to inspire new and seasoned homesteaders alike.

Information and skills shared are time honored and tested, as well as cutting-edge. Several local residents will be adding their knowledge and experience to this mix.

The Fair, July 28-30, includes children’s activities, a Saturday evening potluck and dance, keynote speaker Brock Dolman from Occidental Arts and Ecology, and camping is available. Check out the website, notsosimple.info, for times, cost (very reasonable!), and lists of classes and workshops.

Everyone is invited to join this celebration of country life.

Donna d'Terra


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Hi all,

Petit Teton Monthly Farm Report - June 2017

There are many difficulties in this farming gig...hard labor, of course, both in the fields and in prepping and setting up for markets twice a week, which leads to broken fingernails, pulled muscles, cuts, bruises, bug bites and sunburn; the inconvenient surprises of the unpleasant variety including broken septic, leaking plumbing, escaped animals, and downed fences, to name a few; and the really painful and unexpected ones about death - dead animals or wounded animals which need to be put down and drought-caused fruit tree deaths (our hand grafted babies)...but the direct and personal connection with nature and animals overrides all difficulties and makes every day an adventure and a wonder.

Today on the way to open the coops and feed the chickens I saw the four swallow chicks, just fledged from the nest above our entryway, huddled on the handle of an antique rototiller in the cactus garden across from our front door (see picture Juan took) while mom and dad sat, high up on fence posts, guarding them one on either side of the group. As I continued my walk to the swale coops I saw a flock of turkeys gobbling near the yaks who were at the fence awaiting their breakfast of hay flakes just as Duster, the cat, wandered past on her morning gopher hunt. ChiChi, the dog watched the scene with me, not interested in chasing anyone because it was too early and nothing was out of order.

The barn swallows have been a great pleasure to observe over the past two months. How they chose to place their nest right above our front door, I don't know, but it was a wise choice since we've done everything possible to protect them from predators. It took mom and dad nearly a month to build the clay and straw nest which clings to a perpendicular board of the roof soffit and looks like a small half-cone or sconce. They collected the mud from a nearby pond and straw from the chicken pens across the driveway and slowly glued it to the board one beakful at a time. We watched from our locked front gateway and kept track of the parents sitting on the eggs by the tail feathers that stuck up above the rim. We knew the chicks had hatched when mom and dad started doing endless fly ins to feed them. Soon we could see four wide open white beaks rimming the nest and after a week or so could hear them peeping.

As soon as the eggs were laid, a scrub jay was lurking nearby to steal them or the chicks once they hatched. Happily, when we're indoors, ChiChi lies at our doorway to guard us from intruders serving as protection against the scrub jay also. But as the pile of poop grew taller we decided to fence the dog out since we knew, she too, would love to eat any chick foolish enough to fall out of the nest. Besides, who wants bird poop in her fur? The furious and protective parents would swoop at ChiChi's head any time she'd wander close to the fence but now that they've flown the coop and only return to sleep at night, all's well. We see them in the fields and on the telephone wires and zipping about but soon they'll be ready to fly away since they're a seasonal species only appearing in the later spring. We're hoping to have five nests at our doorway next season.

Nikki Auschnitt & Steve Kreig


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Dear Editor,

The California Homeowners Bill of Rights AB 278 (SB 900) will expire on 1/1/2018. This will end prior written notice to borrower of default or sale while home loan modification is pending. It will also end the borrower's right to appeal. It will end notification to borrower of the foreclosure postponement.

Also ending will be the requirement to record recission of foreclosure when the borrower has executed a foreclosure prevention alternative. Also ending will be the prohibition against collecting application fees or late fees while a loan modification is being considered. Thirdly, ending will be the mandate that all property documents be accurate and backed up with evidence.

This is the time to write your California legislators and urge them to extend the sunset date for HBOR AB 278, SB 900, for five more years or permanently! Let’s not have a repeat of the economic downturn of 2008. After all the settlements, the mortgage and investment institutions paid fines but maintained their unethical business models based on fraud. You may know that Wall Street bankers were sued for fraudulent foreclosure practices, but none of them went to jail, so they have no incentive to stop those practices.

Get active! Letters have more weight than post cards, but a visit to Sacramento offices has even more weight than an email or a telephone call. Contact your California Senator and Assemblyperson now to extend or eliminate the sunset clauses in HBOR AB 278, SB 900.


Agnes Woolsey & Robin Sunbeam


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