Friday, September 28, 2012

Bronx Clergy Teaming Up with Joel Olstein to Feed the Children

By Michael Horowitz
BRONX, NEW YORK, September 28- The Bronx Clergy Task Force, spearheaded by Bishop Angelo Rosario, is teaming up with Rev. Joel Olstein, one of the nation's most widely known ministers, to support the nationwide Feed the Children initiative.
Ray Fraticelli, a chaplain who has been working with Bishop Rosario at the Church of God's Children, said the Clergy Task Force has, in recent months, been responsible for the delivery of much-needed food to impoverished families in the west Bronx and the delivery of food and toiletries to the Town and Country Shelter for Battered Women.
“One of the Clergy Task Force's main goals is to assure that children don't go to bed hungry,” Fraticelli stressed. “I get a tremendous sense of personal satisfaction by knowing that I am doing God's work.”
In recent months, the Bronx Clergy Coalition held a coat drive in which thousands of Bronxites received much-needed clothing during the winter months.
“We have pictures of people going into the coat drive with clothing that was barely in one piece and leaving with ski jackets and other winter coats to keep them warm,” Fraticelli stressed. We are not about glorifying ourselves; we're about meeting the real needs of real people.”
Bishop Rosario, for his part, pointed with pride to the fact that the Bronx Clergy Task Force played a key role in preventing the illegal eviction of the Futa Islamic Center from its mosque at Third Avenue and 166th Street.
Fraticelli said that he will be outside of the Einstein Loop Community Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday as part of the city-wide Pray New York initiative.
“We will be there to offer comfort to those who need it,” Fraticelli said. “We will be there to try to address the spiritual and physical needs of those who seek us out.”
Fraticelli noted that the Bronx Clergy Task Force has an ongoing coat-collection effort. Coats are kept at the Church of God's Children in the lower level of the Dreiser Loop Shopping Center.
In recent weeks, the Dress Barn store in Pelham Manor has donated coats to the Bronx Clergy Task Force for future coat drives and for the task force's upcoming Dress for Success initiative among those seeking employment or those seeking better jobs.
To donate coats or to assist the Clergy Task Force in other ways, call (718) 790-9120.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stop laptop thieves by marking your items

NYPD Community Affairs Bureau 
Crime Prevention Section 
Weekly Crime Prevention Tip
Mark it . . Register it . . Keep it!
BRONX, NEW YORK, September 27- Almost 1/3 of all laptop thefts occur during the course of a burglary. Once a thief is in your home, small portable electronic items are easily removed and often easily sold. Would you buy a second-hand laptop if it had an NYPD ID number engraved on it?  
Engraving items makes it harder for criminals to dispose of valuables through dark-market channels, and may even deter theft. It can also help reunite you with your lost property.
The NYPD offers a free program – “Operation ID” - whereby a unique serial number is engraved on all portable valuable electronics and the owner’s information is registered with the Police Department. This program can be implemented by contacting your local Precinct's Crime Prevention Officer, or the Community Affairs Bureau direct at 646-610-5323
For more information on all of the programs we offer, or for additional crime prevention tips, please visit our website –
261270_Halloween Costumes
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little Leaguers Win Boro President’s Cup

BRONX, NEW YORK, September 26- Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the New York Yankees co-hosted the second annual “Borough President’s Cup” Little League Championship. The game featured a match-up between the Little League Raiders and the Bronx Bombers Little League, who competed for the title in a game at Yankee Stadium. The Little League Raiders won the game, for the second time, defeating the Bronx Bombers Little League 6-1. 
To compete for the “Borough President’s Cup,” players for each Little League had to meet a set of requirements unrelated to their performance on the field. Those included a B-average in school, 90 percent or greater school attendance and a demonstrated commitment to community service.
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Wakefield News: Justice denied for home owners

Wakefield News: Justice denied for home owners: Wakefield Area News By Mary V. Lauro BRONX, NEW YORK, September 26- Her voice trembled. She was choking back tears. "Not one penny. The...

Justice denied for home owners

Wakefield Area News
By Mary V. Lauro
BRONX, NEW YORK, September 26- Her voice trembled. She was choking back tears. "Not one penny. The judge said he owed me nothing. He hasn't paid rent for five months. That's $4,500. But she said he owes me nothing. How can that be?"
“Can you get rid of him? Is he being evicted?”
“Yes, but I have to give him about two weeks to clear-out. That's another month I won't be paid. How will I pay my mortgage, the fuel bills, real estate tax and my insurance?"
She was not the landlord of an apartment building with 20 or 30 units. It was a two-family house with one tenant and his wife. Like so many seniors in the community the rent supplemented her social security check. Without that rent, she was almost penniless. Her life savings had been sunk into a down payment for the house.
Unfortunate1y, the caller was only one of a growing number of two-family home owners who are facing what a generation ago was an isolated incident: the need to evict. What else can one do? These are not usual cases where the breadwinner loses his job, or a tragedy occurs or the tenant tries to make arrangement to pay back rent. Not at all. The perpetrators have an attitude of “Who is going to make me pay the rent?" The word has spread that it is next to impossible to collect unpaid rent beginning with the judges who have lost sight of justice.
Everything seems to be geared towards the tenant. The Attorney General's office issues a booklet on Tenants Rights directed at individuals who live in rent controlled apartment houses. There is nothing similar for landlords, or for that sub species of landlord, the owner of a two family house. The Borough President recently sponsored a forum on the rights of tenants with a star studded panel of experts. Very interesting, but there was nothing on tenant’s obligations or landlord's rights or the sad plight of a two family house.
It is true that the landlord of a two or three-family house can evict a tenant for reasons other than non payment of rent if there is no lease involved and the house is not rent controlled. It is called a "Holdover Case." However the process is long and even without a lawyer becomes costly mainly because the tenant usually does not pay rent during the process. Why would a landlord want to get rid of a tenant who does pay rent? The reasons are many: loud music, too much noise, use of drugs, bad attitudes, renting out part of the apartment, paying rent in a haphazard manner, refusing to recycle garbage, keeping an unclean apartment, etc.
The first step in a holdover case is to send via a process server a form letter notifying the tenant that he has 30 days to vacate before eviction process begins. If the tenant does not vacate the apartment, then the landlord goes to housing court for a date to see a judge. By this time the tenant owes at least two months rent, but as the devastated senior cried, it could be five months.
This whole process for the two and three-family home is so obviously in need of reassessment, one wonders why our elected officials do not pay it some attention. Non-payment of rent is a form of theft. It is a crime that goes unreported and it is, for the landlord, justice denied.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yet Another Wakefield Shelter is NOT Welcome

Father Richard F. Gorman
Community Board #12 (The Bronx)
BRONX, NEW YORK, September 25- “Turning up like a bad penny” is an age-old, old-fashioned, idiomatic expression probably more familiar to us “bigger kids” than to younger folks. It essentially is an adept and adroit way of saying that someone has arrived at a place where that person is not wanted or welcome. It is moreover an appropriate means to convey my gut reaction to the news that THE ACACIA NETWORK, a considerable conglomeration of Latino-based social service agencies with deep-seated roots in the Borough of The Bronx stretching back to the year 1969, wants to open a fourth homeless facility in Wakefield. ACACIA NETWORK provides assistance to needy individuals and families in the fields of health care, housing, and economic development. It was formerly known as “BASICS/Promesa.”
It would seem logical and rational to suppose that an agency such as THE ACACIA NETWORK would be kept more than occupied by individuals and families in need going to it for help.  Apparently, though, such is not the case. Is it that THE ACACIA NETWORK needs to find philanthropic work to do?  Does it need to create projects and opportunities that justify its existence as a not-for-profit (N-F-P) organization? Or is it that the individuals and the entities for whom ACACIA NETWORK is on the hunt seeking to assist are those who, far from being needy, are concerned with feathering their own nest with dollar bills? 
I pose these questions in all sincerity because, for the second time in approximately two years, THE ACACIA NETWORK is coming to the rescue of an acquisitive developer, Mark Stagg, who is the Founder and the President of THE STAGG GROUP, a Westchester-based enterprise that since 1996 has gobbled up every plot of available real estate it could find in the Northeast Bronx. In this last decade and a half, it has constructed on this real estate over 1,000 units of housing advertised as “affordable,” far too many of which have wound up in Community Board #12 (The Bronx).  
To give Mr. Stagg his due, his apartments, that many would consider too small and lacking in sufficient living space, are built to size specifications typical of units being constructed today. Moreover, while many would claim that rents being sought for these apartments are much too high and anything but “affordable,” again, to be fair to Mark Stagg, these rents are determined by Government-funded affordable housing programs, as are, I suspect, their size specifications. I by no means seek to kowtow at this point as an apologist for Stagg and Company. The fact is, however, that the “affordable” housing program established and regulated by Government produces housing that the average person and family sees as neither reasonably affordable nor sufficiently spacious.
Nonetheless, Mark Stagg is no babe in the woods. He gobbles up real state and builds apartments like greased lightning, but often is unable to rent them. In constructing his housing, he seeks and acquires significant tax breaks from Government agencies, such as the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (N.Y.C.H.P.D.). He is smart, swift, and shrewd but not always successful in renting his units.  So, what does he do? Like far too many in the private sector  --  some, if not most of whom, extol the blessings of such private sector staples as free enterprise, competition, and liberation from Government oversight and restrictions  --  he turns to Government to bail him out. This precisely what he sought to do approximately two years ago when he was unable to rent apartments at two of his properties in Community Board #12 (The Bronx)  --  viz., “JUSTIN’S PAVILLION,” a 50-unit building between Barnes Avenue and White Plains Road at 753 - 761 East 214TH Street and “MARILYN’S PLACE,” a 30-unit edifice between White Plains Road and Carpenter Avenue at 674 - 678 East 232ND Street. After applying for a generous tax abatement from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (N.Y.C.H.P.D.) for each of these two apartment complexes, Mr. Stagg, unable to market these 80 units, sought to recoup his investment by turning them into transitional housing for the homeless, a palpably cunning move. Cunning, one may inquire? Absolutely say I! If he had gotten away with this insidious idea, Mr. Stagg would have, in effect, been guilty of “doubling-dipping” into the largesse of Government, which basically comes out of your wallet and mine. Specifically, Mark Stagg would have gotten money in the form of affordable housing tax abatements from N.Y.C.H.P.D. in order to build his apartments and then even more Government dollars, for all intents and purposes, from the New York City Department of Homeless Services (N.Y.C.D.H.S.) in the form of rent for the homeless living in them. Of course, he needed a willing “go-between” in the form of a not-for-profit (N-F-P) or charitable group that would serve as a conduit for the cash  --  at benefit to themselves, naturally  --  from N.Y.C.D.H.S. to THE STAGG GROUP. Such an eager intermediary was found in THE ACACIA NETWORK, then operating under the name of “BASICS/Promesa.” Fortunately, this scheme was sunk by Community Board #12 (The Bronx) working with straightforward public servants at N.Y.C.H.P.D., who squashed this money-grab by informing Mark Stagg that, having received a tax abatement to erect and to market affordable housing, he had better do and could only do precisely that and not get more Municipal monetary munificence from N.Y.C.D.H.S., courtesy of BASICS/Promesa, by housing the homeless. The love of money, though, clothed in the disguise of doing God’s work, like old soldiers never dies, but neither does it, sorry to say, ever fade away.
As I reported to do last week, the cottage industry that has grown up and prospered around the homeless crisis is still up to its usual games. All parties involved  --  viz., Government, so-called advocacy outfits, not-for-profits (N-F-P’s) and developers  --  continue to barnstorm straight away through local neighborhoods like General Sherman marching through Georgia to the sea. Government gives tax dollars via proposals to N-F-P’s, whose mangers are frequently former officials in the very same Government agencies from which they seek funding and who have been consulted by their former employers in Government in the composition of these proposals for public funding known as “REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS,” or “R.F.P.’s” Government throws in its lot with N-F-P’s, showering them considerable amounts of taxpayer money in order to build and to manage permanent and transitional housing for the homeless, thus fabricating the façade that the N-F-P sector is doing in its facilities, instead of Government in its facilities, work that the Courts have said Government must do  --  i.e., affording shelter to all those who need and want it.  Conveniently, this ruse allows Government, in particular that of the City of New York, to escape the constraints of the “FAIR SHARE” provisions of THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, which mandate that the location of city facilities and the cost that they impose upon localities must be equitably distributed among all 59 Community Boards. Contributing to the public policy predicament as well are advocacy groups who continually raise the bar  --  and the cost to taxpayers  --  of what must be provided as-of-right to the disadvantaged population whose interests they promote before they eventually get hired by Government. Completing this vicious and fraudulent cycle, are voracious real estate developers, who incestuously get into bed with both Government and N-F-P leaders by delivering sites for homeless facilities while simultaneously destroying neighborhoods, whose taxpaying residents have to fork over the money that Government blithely passes along to the N-F-P sector, which subsequently pays developers more rent than they would have otherwise received for their apartments.
This is the homeless juggernaut that Community Board #12 (The Bronx) faces as once more Mr. Mark Stagg, perhaps unable to market but seeking a sure and certain return on his investment nevertheless, peddles a five-story building with 56 apartments and solar panels affixed on the roof at 4453 White Plains Road as a facility for transitional homeless housing. The dream of Community Board #12 (The Bronx) and of its residents  --  who in having White Plains Road and the whole of Bronx Community District #12 re-zoned  --  undertook to revive this commercial strip as a vibrant boulevard populated and enlivened with apartment dwellers and small businesses, be DAMNED!  
Not surprisingly, who should THE STAGG GROUP dig up to be its partners in crime thrusting yet another stake in the heart of Wakefield than its old buddies at BASICS/Promesa now d/b/a/ THE ACACIA NETWORK! On Thursday morning, 13 September 2012 at Community Board #12’s Headquarters in TOWN HALL, the bosses at the former BASICS/Promesa still in the driver’s seat at ACACIA NETWORK  --  viz., its Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O), The Honorable Raúl Russo, former Commissioner of the Department of Probation of the City of New York and its President, The Honorable Hector L. Diaz, former Bronx Assembly Member, Bronx County Clerk, and Clerk of the City of New York  --  along with Mr. Fernando Brinn, a Marketing and Community Relations Consultant who is no stranger to the politics of The Bronx, were politely but pointedly informed by “YOURS TRULY” that a fourth facility in Wakefield serving any portion of the overall homeless population is out-of-the-question as far as Community Board #12 (The Bronx) is concerned. Already the victim of a “double-whammy” at the intersection of Bronx Boulevard and East 238TH Street (Nereid Avenue), where PROJECT RENEWAL and THE DOE FUND intend to operate sizeable facilities right across the street from each other, this Community Board Chairman says “NO WAY!  NO HOW!” to the creation a near-similar situation on White Plains Road, where a hop, a skip and a jump slightly south of 4453 White Plains Road, PRAXIS HOUSIG INITIATIVES has purchased land at 4339 White Plains Road to construct 61 studio apartments as permanent housing for those who have been homeless, whose circumstances may have been engendered and/or exacerbated by H.I.V./A.I.D.S., chemical dependencies, mental health issues, or special needs.  The STAGG property at 4453 White Plains Road should be for what the Community Board had White Plains Road rezoned and for what Mark Stagg originally build it  --  viz., a multi-storied, multi-family apartment house. Messrs. Russo’s, Diaz’s, and Brinn’s ideas to the contrary, it is not meant for transitional housing for the homeless, unless, of course, the three of them intend to give our homeless friends motor vehicles in addition to apartments, which can be placed in the building’s underground garage with it 28 parking spaces.
The so-called “ARAB SPRING” of 2011 demonstrated how “people power,” with fellow citizens forgoing personal and petty preoccupations in favor of pursuing the common good, can overthrown even bloodthirsty dictatorships and indulgent monarchies that have existed for decades. Are the people of Community Board #12 (The Bronx) no less capable of being so powerful? Are our public officials ready to supply the leadership needed to overthrow a tyrannical system and an exploitative cottage industry that eats up more and more of our tax dollars in these challenging economic straits even as it abysmally fails to solve the crisis of homelessness that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg promised would diminish, if not disappear, in the course of his second term of office? We shall see . . . . . . We shall see.
Stay tuned!
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not another shelter!



Father Richard F. Gorman
Community Board #12 (The Bronx)

“L’SHANA TOVA!” or, as one would say in English, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” This Sunday evening past at sunset, our Jewish friends across our beautiful Borough of The Bronx and, indeed, throughout the world, began the celebration of their New Year 5773.   

The traditional New Year greeting of “L’SHANNA TOVA,” literally “for a good year,” expresses the ardent aspiration of the Jewish people for a year of holiness, wholesomeness, good health, and good will among each other and with all people. On this ROSH HASHANAH, I join with my Jewish friends in praying for such a year, not only for them, but for all of God’s Children. May 5773 bring only peace and prosperity to us all!

Regrettably, though, 5773 is not getting off on the right foot for the citizens of Community Board #12 (The Bronx) and, in particular, for the residents of Wakefield. The hard-pressed people of Wakefield, already exploited by the burden of taking on three facilities housing different populations within the greater homeless populace of the City of New York, are about to be weighed down with possibly a fourth one. 

As all in Bronx Community District #12 already know all too well, three facilities are already in the works in Wakefield. PROJECT RENEWAL, a mega-not-for-profit (N-F-P) catering to homeless individuals with chemical dependencies and/or mental illness, has undertaken to convert a former commercial building into a facility housing 100 to 125 homeless persons at 4380 Bronx Boulevard at the intersection of East 238TH Street (Nereid Avenue). Directly across the street on the very same intersection, in the now vacated SERGEANT JOSEPH E. MULLER UNITED STATES ARMY RESERVE CENTER (M.U.S.A.R.C.), formerly a base for the United States Army National Guard situated at 555 East 238TH STREET (Nereid Avenue), THE DOE FUND, another colossal charitable organization addressing the homeless issue, is intending to operate a facility for over 200 itinerant individuals. Up the hill and around the corner to the right at 4339 White Plains Road, PRAXIS HOUSING INITIATIVES  --  still another sizable charity dedicated to aiding those who are chronically homeless as a consequence of H.I.V./A.I.D.S., mental health concerns, chemical dependency, and other special needs  -- has embarked on the construction of a facility with some 60+ units in which homeless individuals, with one or more of the aforesaid complicating factors, will be leased apartments thereby technically rendering them no longer homeless.

“ENOUGH ALREADY!” one would say. Certainly, the good, decent, hard working, taxpaying people of Wakefield have done more than their fair share for their disadvantaged brothers and sisters without a roof over the head. BUT . . . . . . “NO!” says ACACIA NETWORK, still another money-spinning not-for-profit (N.F.P.) who used to go by the name “PROMESA.” Conniving with a local developer, who has a voracious appetite for gulping up sites in our neck of the woods and putting up housing that he is unable to market, ACACIA NETWORK is looking to lease a newly erected edifice situated at 4453 White Plains Road between East 240TH Street and East 241ST Street that has some 56 units --  studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments  --  in which 100 or more homeless folks could easily be sheltered. Of course, who should be noticing that the greatest transformation occurring in Wakefield has less to do with the lives of the homeless than that that of the homeowners and residents of this bucolic neighborhood, who are witnessing the conversion of their neighborhood into a homeless colony! After all, protest our say our gainfully employed friends in the N-F-P community, something needs to be done in order to get a
handle on the homeless epidemic in New York City and to turn its tide.

I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agree. Where I vehemently
disagree with many of these folks  --  most of whom I do believe are sincere in their desire to do good for the less fortunate  --  is the fashion under which this true work of God is accomplished and how the sacrifice for it is shared.

Wakefield Homeless Facility #4 brought to us by ACACIA NETWORK is a story only beginning to unfold that requires additional space and print to tell. Tune in next week for more of the truth of this sad saga.
Until next time, that is it for this time!

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Crime on the rise

Wakefield Area News
By Mary V. Lauro
BRONX, NEW YORK, September 19- DI Brian Mullen, the new commander of the 47th Precinct, went to his first community based meeting on Monday, September 10 in Woodlawn. He was met by 220 Woodlawn residents. On Wednesday, September 12 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Wakefield, he was met by more than 250 members of the 47th Precinct Community Council ($& PCC). It has been reported that he later remarked that he has never been to such a well-attended Precinct Council. If there were 30 people he would have thought it normal. That is all well and good, but will it get us more officers or reduce crime?
Insp. Mullen did not deny that crime is on the rise. In the 47 the rise, so far this year, is above 6 percent. Woodlawn, which is the lowest in crime in the 47, has experienced a rash of burglaries. They are also having difficulty with youths who are terrorizing the community. Residents identified the youths as members of their community, not outsiders. Drug activity was also decried.
Naturally, Woodlawn residents cried out for more police presence. They would like, as we all would, the return of community policing officers which program was terminated some years ago. There is nothing exceptional about their request for a larger and stronger police presence. We all want that.
DI Mullen did not disappoint. He spoke very convincingly about more patrolling for Woodlawn and more foot patrols. Little did he know it would come back to haunt him because at the 47 PCC, members wanted to know where he planned to get the patrol cars and officers he was promising Woodlawn. Did he plan to take them from other neighborhoods that had far higher crime? Did he plan to benefit one neighborhood at the expense of the others?
Not at all, said DI Mullen. He explained that he planned to use some tactics he had developed in order to service the entire 47 Precinct community. He said Borough Command gives him officers at least three times a week. And he hinted he had 12 officers that had come along with him. In short he vowed to treat all of the 47 equally, which was what the Council wanted to hear even though that will not halt the rising crime rate.
When we were winning the war against crime, we had a much larger police force. Now that the force has been diminished, criminals are licking their chops. Opportunity is knocking for them. Moreover, the diminished force must also and primarily deal with the threat of terrorism which means that Manhattan has officers tripping over each other, while we here in the Bronx send up cheers when we see one.
Regarding burglary, the question is, how safe are you? Safety Officer Chin will gladly come to your home to do a safety survey. He will point out weaknesses and prescribe usually inexpensive cures to keep burglars out. For an appointment call, (718) 920-1239.
We remind you, even though you probably will not be receiving this notice in time due to the horrible service we are now receiving from the Post Office that the League is meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church's Undercroft. Redeemer is located at Barnes and Boyd Avenues. Assemblyman Carl Heastie will be unable to attend. In. his place the guest speaker will be Elizabeth Gill, President of the 47 PCC assisted by Community Affairs Officer Soto. Come! Our meetings are fun.

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Splash Mob Beats Laundromat Clerk

By Dan Gesslein

BRONX, NEW YORK, September 19- A group of thugs beat and robbed a laundromat clerk in Wakefield and all of it was caught on tape.

Police released the video that showed the clerk trying to fight off a male robber while two women took turns beating the worker with a pole. While the beat down was going on, a fourth accomplice made off with the cash register. 

At around 10:40 p.m. on September 16, the group entered the Clean Laundryland Laundromat on White Plains Road and attacked the clerk. As the male robber and the clerk struggled, the two women are seen hitting him with a pole.

The main attacker is described as a black male who was seen wearing a blue-hooded sweatshirt, black pants with white stripes and sneakers. The second suspect is a black woman seen wearing a long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans and yellow baseball cap. The other woman was wearing a white tank top and blue denim shorts. The fourth suspect, who made off with the cash register, is a black male who was seen wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, black pants and sneakers.

Anyone with information is urged to call CRIMESTOPPERS at (800) 577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are kept strictly confidential.

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