Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Heavy Technology Use Linked to Fatigue, Stress and Depression in Young Adults

David Volpi, M.D., P.C., F.A.C.S.

Posted: 08/02/2012 2:50 pm

Modern technology is affecting our sleep. The artificial light from TV and computer screens affects melatonin production and throws off circadian rhythms, preventing deep, restorative sleep.
New research out of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden reinforces this fact, specifically relating to young adults. Doctoral student Sara Thomée and her colleagues at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy conducted four studies to find out the effects of heavy computer and cell phone use on the sleep quality, stress levels, and general mental health of young adults.
For the study, Thomée and her team asked 4,100 young adults between age 20 and 24 to fill out questionnaires. They also interviewed 32 of them who were considered heavy information and communication technology (ICT) users. The researchers analyzed and compiled the data, and the results revealed that intensive use of cell phones and computers can be linked to an increase in stress, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms in young adults.
Some of the more specific findings are:
• Heavy cell phone use showed an increase in sleep disorders in men and an increase in depressive symptoms in both men and women.
• Those constantly accessible via cell phones were the most likely to report mental health issues.
• Men who use computers intensively were more likely to develop sleeping problems.
• Regular, late night computer use was associated with sleep disorders, stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women.
• Frequently using a computer without breaks further increases the risk of stress, sleeping problems and depressive symptoms in women.
• A combination of both heavy computer use and heavy mobile use makes the associations even stronger.
So, what's behind this link between technology use and negative health symptoms? The researchers have not yet fully determined why heavy technology users are more likely to have sleep disorders, higher stress and mental health issues, but one theory is that people with these symptoms are more likely to reach out and contact friends and family via technology.
I tend to think that the relationship between technology and stress, sleep disorders and depression has more to do with the overuse of technology in our society, especially among young people. If you're a parent like I am, than you know firsthand how difficult it can be to get children to turn off the computer or put down their phone and stop texting so you can, just maybe, have a real conversation.
This is a growing and serious public health hazard that should be acknowledged and addressed by both the medical community and technology industry. It's been shown that the light from TV and computer screens affects melatonin production and melanopsin stimulation, and throws off our circadian rhythms. This interrupts or prevents deep, restorative sleep, causing an increase in stress and depressive symptoms.
In the words of head researcher Sara Thomée, "Public health advice should therefore include information on the healthy use of this technology." I couldn't agree more. Just like alcohol ads, so should technology companies carry warnings on their products and in their advertisements. "Text responsibly." "Don't surf, then sleep." You get the idea.
What can we, as individuals, do to protect our health from the negative impact of the ubiquitous technology in our society? Quite simply, turn it off, and get some good sleep. When you are on the computer for any length of time, take more frequent breaks and impose limits on the amount of time you spend online. Trust me, the world will wait patiently for another Facebook post or text from you.
Remember, people need an average of seven to eight hours of restful sleep to fully take advantage of its restorative power and avoid daytime symptoms of fatigue. So turn off your TV and computer at least one hour before you go to sleep. Don't sleep with your cell phone on and next to your bed. (Few things are more frustrating than being awakened in the middle of the night by an unimportant text message.)
Re-claim your bedroom for its intended purpose: restful sleep. Move the TV and computer out of the bedroom, or at the very least, don't watch TV or work on the computer too close to bedtime. Stick to a bedtime routine. Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends. Try to keep to within 20 minutes of the same time each morning and night.
Before bed, do activities that will promote sleepiness, such as a taking a warm bath or reading a book or magazine. It also helps to maintain a cool temperature in your bedroom. A cool but comfortable temperature is ideal for sleep. Too warm and you will be fitful; too cold, however, can be uncomfortable and disturb your sleep.
Exercise regularly but not after the late afternoon. Even though exercise helps regulate sleep, rigorous exercise causes endorphins in the body to circulate which can have a stimulant effect, and keep you awake longer at night.
Stay away from caffeine at night. The effects of caffeine are different from person to person and may last hours after your last cup of coffee, so make your last cup of coffee, regular tea or soda earlier in the day. Avoid alcohol and medicines that make you drowsy. Even if you think it is helping you fall asleep initially, alcohol and medicines that makes you drowsy may affect your sleep throughout the night.
And finally, if you feel that you are suffering from persistent sleep disorder, get checked out by a qualified sleep doctor. Regular, healthy sleep is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.
Read the full report, entitled, "Intensive Mobile Phone Use Affects Young People's Sleep."
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

School Board Meeting This Wednesday

DeKalb's school board is meeting on Wednesday, and it's open to the public.
The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a called meeting at 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 31, in the Cabinet Room in the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard in Stone Mountain.

The called meeting will adjourn to an executive session for the purpose of discussing personnel and legal matters.

Meeting information can be accessed online. Click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting agenda\information.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Breaking News: Judge sustains suspensions of two former DeKalb school board members

Posted on 

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that chief administrative law Judge Maxwell Woods has sustained the suspensions of two DeKalb County school board members who petitioned for their reinstatement earlier this year.

Sarah Copelin-Woods,
bottom left, and Dr.
 Pam Speaks, top,
failed to regain
their spots on the
DeKalb County
School Board.  
Woods ruled that both Sarah Copelin-Woods and Pamela Speaks failed to show that their presence on the DeKalb school board would improve the ability of the local school system to retain or re-attain its accreditation, as required by O.C.G.A Section 20-2-73.
The rulings in the cases of two other suspended board members who petitioned for reinstatement will be determined at a later date.

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Ex-Inmate Warns of Smuggled Cell Phone Dangers

Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Towers They Are a'Coming - One Way or Another

A new cell phone tower is being built in the Toco Hills area, even though it already has quite a few nearby.  It is possible that this one is taking the place of the one originally planned for the former Medlock Elementary School which was already closed and now houses the International Community Charter School.

It also marks the outside boundary of a proposed City of Lakeside, as do several other towers if they end up being built at the school where the contracts were signed more than two years ago, yet no one at the school system, at the county office, at the state, on the school board or in those communities can actually determine whether or not those towers will ever go up and how they plan to show a valid lease for the grounds since T-mobile never signed the Lakeside contract before they sold their towers division to another company (according to the articles we have read and posted here).

The North Druid Hills Patch was asking their readers if another tower would be an eyesore or if it represented better cell service.  We are making a wild guess that it is needed for the controversial traffic cameras that have been installed all around the area.

Big Brother is here.  Now, how much will our residents object to being followed and recorded at all times?

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Governor suspends Burrell Ellis, names Lee May interim DeKalb CEO

From FOX News:  ATLANTA -
Gov. Nathan Deal has suspended Burrell Ellis and appointed 
Lee May to serve as interim DeKalb County CEO.

The suspension is effective immediately, Deal said. It will last indefinitely either until the court case is completely adjudicated or Ellis term is up.
The move comes after a state-appointed panel recommended suspension of Ellis on Monday. Ellis was indicted on 15 counts last month.
"This is not something that I seek," said Deal. "It is a very difficult kind of situation for everybody involved."

Prosecutors say Ellis tried to extort campaign contributions from companies and their employees. Prosecutors allege Ellis instructed the county's director of purchasing and contracting to prevent some companies from getting business because they didn't contribute to his campaign. 

May is the DeKalb County Commissioner. He was sworn in less than an hour after the governor made the announcement.

"Some people are congratulating me; others are giving me condolences," May said. "I'm just honored to be in this position and, with God's strength, we're going to move this county forward."

May said he considers the CEO position to be temporary. 

Jeff Dickerson, a spokesperson for Burrell Ellis, said the deposed CEO maintains his innocence and will fight the criminal charges in court.

"He respects the governor's decision. He wants to devote all of his efforts to ensuring that these spurious charges are vigorously defended, and returning to office once having done so," said Dickerson.

It's more controversy for DeKalb County; a few months ago, Gov. Deal also removed the entire school board from office.

"It is disruptive to a county, let's say that," Deal said. "Just as the school board situation was disruptive to the school system, this will be disruptive to general county government."

The suspension is with pay, Deal said.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

We called it: Online learning expands in Georgia

Original post by DeKalb School Watch, found here.

DOE Seal
Georgia FIP consists of seven online modules. The primary target audience for five of the modules is teachers, while the other two are designed for administrators, coaches and teacher-leaders.  Georgia FIP has four major content components:  (1) Establishing Clear Learning Targets, (2) Collecting and Documenting Evidence of Learning, (3) Providing Effective Feedback, and (4) Developing Student Ownership of Learning.
GADOE’s Assessment and Accountability Division provided additional information, support, and guidance through informational webinars, which were held on Monday, June 24th and Wednesday, June 26th.  You may view a recording of the webinar by click on the link below.
Introduction and Overview on Georgia FIP: The Keys to Student Success
More information about this initiative, including implementation resources, can be found on the following webpage: Georgia FIP: The Keys to Student Succes

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Should School System Administrators Be Allowed to Make Minor School Attendance Line Edits Without Approval?

Dear Board Members and Superintendent Thurmond,
We will try not waste more than a moment of your time, but we wanted to give you some feedback regarding the request for you to allow the school system administration to revise boundaries for school districts without your approval.  We feel that this is a power that could be used to reward individual parents for advocating for a particular issue (such as SPLOST or the city votes that may be coming up in the near future).  We have seen similar perks handed out for similar reasons in the past and, quite frankly, it is appalling. 
Please do not approve, even if you do not think the individuals you would empower today are ones who would abuse their power.  We are counting on you to help protect the system and its functioning over the long haul.  We do not see how this policy change and lack of accountability that goes along with it could possibly be a good thing.  And, at its worst, it could be a way to retaliate against certain stakeholders if they do not “fall in line.” 
Since we have personally been on the receiving end of such attempts to silence us, we do not want to see the same, or similar, tactics approved for use on others.  Speaking up for the rights of a child should not come with a personal price to pay simply because your opinion is not popular with that of a powerful monopoly.  It is our ability to speak up that should be protected because it keeps our big systems in check and helps to protect those unable to speak up for themselves.
Kindest regards.  We have great respect for each of you and the good job you are doing.  Thank you!
Most sincerely,
Get the Cell Out – ATL

(cotact details)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Happy July 11 to the DeKalb County Cell Tower Warriors!

GET THE CELL OUT - ATL TURNS TWO YEARS OLD TODAY - Happy July 11 to everyone who has ever been involved in the fight against placing dangerous cell towers on public school grounds.

Here in Dekalb County, GA, just outside the great city of Atlanta, today is our official TWO YEAR MARK since the date our school board voted yes for towers with the majority of the residents and parents who would be affected by their decision being left completely in the dark.

Some things have changed ... our entire board has been remove from office, either by voters or by the Governor of Georgia.  That decision is still be reviewed by the court system while our schools are still open and still accredited - they are just being run by a board of mostly political appointees and an Interim Superintendent.

And, some things have stayed the same - we are still largely unsure of the status of these original cell tower contracts, being force to speculate and commiserate as our leaders press onward and somehow evade questions while still smiling and shaking hands.

In a strange turn of events, communities in "Democratic DeKalb" are suddenly so aghast at other issues that are completely unrelated to the school crisis that they are being led by Republicans into a quest for more government.  Democrats are scrambling to write bills to be passed at the state level in an effort to limit their ability to do so.

And, we just completed the school year with fewer graduating senior than ever before.  Great time to turn our attention elsewhere, isn't it?  Well, GTCO-ATL is staying the course as best we can and will continue to keep our community informed.

Thank you to every one who has paid attention, learned about the dangers and voted responsibly.  Please keep up the good work.  We continue to fight because you continue to care!
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beloved Coach Calls for County Unity

Retired coach William “Buck” Godfrey greets well-wishers on June 3 after receiving a
special recognition award from the DeKalb School Board. 
From Crossroads News:  July 7, 2013:  Legendary Southwest DeKalb High School football coach William “Buck” Godfrey made a heartfelt appeal for an end to racial polarization in the county as he accepted an award from the DeKalb School Board on June 3.
Godfrey retired in February after 34 years as an English teacher and head football coach at SWD.
He said to face the facts.
“Our county needs to come together as one with one vision, several voices combined into one voice to make this county – I’m not going to say like it used to be – but better than it used to be,” he said during a special recognition ceremony at the start of the monthly board meeting.
Godfrey, who is the county’s winningest coach, said that when he started coaching in 1983, it was tough.
“We were a black school and we had to play white teams,” he recalled. “And I hope we’ve gone beyond that, but I still see north [predominantly white], and I see south [mostly black]. It’s just bad that we’ve gotten into that kind of situation. It all has to do with the color of our skin.”
Godfrey said if we could “ever get by pigmentation and start thinking about implementation and the gift God has given us in the young, beautiful minds of young people,” the county would be much better off.
A School Board proclamation presented to Godfrey praised his monumental influence in developing youths into productive adults.
“No other individual has ever been head football coach at the same school in DeKalb County for more than 20 years,” the proclamation said.
Godfrey won more games than any other coach in DeKalb history, finishing with a 273-89-1 record. He led SWD to the state Class AAAA championship in 1995 and to the playoffs 26 of his 30 years as coach. Godfrey led SWD to the state semifinals seven times and to the championship game in 1990.
“An amazing 279 of coach Godfrey’s players signed college football scholarships and 211 of them earned college degrees,” the proclamation said. “He was also an accomplished English teacher and published author.”
Godfrey said that even with all the social strife in the county, young people’s needs haven’t changed.
He called on adults to set a positive example.
“Kids want discipline,” he said. “Kids want love. Kids want direction. Kids want focus. Kids want heroes and we’ve got to give them that. If we could ever get back to some sort of basis in this county to set the tone and be upfront as leaders and come together as one … God blesses effort and if you pray to your God and believe in what you’re praying for, God will answer. And, again, I hope to see this county come back together – not like it used to be – but much better.

Thank you Coach Godfrey.  We couldn't have said it better ourselves. The more people we can get to see the light on this subject and reform their way of thinking, the better we will be able to make our schools, our neighborhoods and our lives.
          - Get the Cell Out - ATL

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Deal appoints review panel in DeKalb CEO case

From On Common Ground:  
Mon., July 8, 2013:  Gov. Nathan Deal today appointed Rockdale County CEO Richard A. Oden and Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeffrey E. Turner to a panel that will determine whether the indictment against DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis relates to and adversely affects his ability to perform his official duties.
The law requires Attorney General Sam Olens to fill the third position on the review panel. Under the executive order, the panel has 14 days to study the case and issue a recommendation to the governor. If the panel determines that the CEO should remain in office, that decision is final. Should it determine that the charges require suspension, the governor makes the final decision.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oakland police radio culprit: cell towers

Oakland officials say they and federal investigators have discovered a major source of disruption to the city's police radio communications system: interference from cell phone towers.

Specifically, officials said, cell phone towers operated by ATT Wireless have been interfering with the city's public safety communications frequency and causing radio failures among police and firefighters on city streets.

ATT, notified by the city of the problem last week, is cooperating and has partially disabled 16 towers. A company spokesman said the impact on customers will be minimal, affecting only those on the company's oldest phones.

The towers constantly interfered with the radios, but the problems became particularly pronounced when a police car was within a quarter to a half mile of a tower, said David Cruise, Oakland's public safety systems adviser.

"If the officer is in an area close to one of their cell sites, essentially the cell site overpowers their radios," he said.

The number of officers reporting no radio connection, however, dropped immediately after the frequency was curbed at the first cell site, Cruise said.

The city's public safety radio communications system has suffered repeated failures. Officers routinely have been unable to connect to dispatchers or to communicate with other officers.

In addition, the radios do not work in hundreds of buildings, including the basement of Oakland police headquarters. The night President Obama visited Oakland in July, police radios went down, although after the president had left town.

More issues to inspect
Cruise emphasized that cell tower interference was only one part of the city's examination.

"Our investigation is continuing," Cruise said. "This is not the end of it, for sure. There are plenty more issues we're looking at. We're working on plans to remove all of them."

Cruise said the city will be looking at cell phone towers of other companies, particularly T-Mobile, which uses a frequency that might also interfere with police radios.

Oakland and the Federal Communications Commission had been investigating the police radio communications problems. The city mapped locations of radio blackouts, said Cruise, who was hired on Aug. 2, partly to help resolve the issues.

Public safety priority
An analysis of the maps led investigators to believe cell phone interference was playing a role. The FCC confirmed the interference on Thursday. The next night, AT&T shut down the problem frequency. FCC rules give public safety agencies priority in communications, according to city officials.

ATT cell towers emit three different frequencies - 850 MHz, 1900 MHz and 700 MHz - said John Britton, a company spokesman. In addition, it operates three different cellular networks - 2G, 3G and 4G.

The company temporarily shut down the 850 MHz frequency for 2G customers. The 2G network is the company's oldest, meaning relatively few customers would be affected, Britton said. Those on 2G are using some of the company's oldest phones and would still be supported in the affected areas on the 1900 MHz frequency.

"ATT would never do anything to jeopardize law enforcement," Britton said. "This spectrum has been out there since the 1990s. Thursday or Friday was the first time we were notified by Oakland. We reacted quickly."

Britton said the company does not disclose how many towers it has in Oakland, but did say it has more than a thousand towers in the Bay Area.

Limiting interference
Interference from cell phone towers is not unique to Oakland. Sprint Nextel is spending well over a billion dollars nationally to relocate public safety radio frequencies, a project known as re-banding.

Sprint Nextel paid $10.5 million in direct costs to move Oakland's $7.5 million radio system to a frequency further from its network, Cruise said. Oakland moved to the new frequency in July 2011, Cruise said.

The company that installed the Oakland radio system did check for interference, but it's unclear how close it got to each of the cell towers, he said.

"Unless they drove close to a cell site, they wouldn't have seen this," Cruise said.

Matthai Kuruvila is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @matthai

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Monday, July 1, 2013

iPhone sale leads to shootout at convenience store in Georgia

 by Associated Press

JONESBORO, Ga. — Police south of Atlanta are investigating a shootout that began after a family set up a meeting to sell an iPhone 5 with someone they met through Facebook.
Apple's former founder and CEO Steve Jobs
(who passed away in 2011)  and the Iphone.

WSB-TV reports that a mother, her son and his girlfriend arranged to meet a prospective buyer at a QuikTrip in Jonesboro.

Police said that while the son and his girlfriend were in the store early this morning, three men got into the mother’s car and demanded the phone, money and her car keys at gunpoint.

When the woman’s son approached, one of the suspects flashed a gun and tried to drive off. Police said the son fired 15 rounds at the men’s black Dodge Charger. No one was injured.

Officers apprehended three suspects. Few details about them were immediately available.

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The Fight for Truth and Voting Rights continues

Dr. Eugene Walker, former DeKalb County
School Board Chairman.

All things considered, I am encouraged by Friday’s administrative hearing in Judge Maxwell Wood’s courtroom.  It was in his venue that any scrutiny whatsoever was given to the blatantly false AdvancED/SACS report which has caused irreparable damage to the DeKalb School System, my colleagues on the Board of Education and the community as a whole.  No matter what the outcome is from this point forward, at least there is that.

I have been dismayed since the beginning of this odyssey that the report, lengthy as it is, has been sold and bought as the gospel truth.  In Judge Wood’s courtroom, we were finally allowed to scrutinize the document and the hands that prepared it.  We were validated:  SACS brought forward no supporting documentation for their baseless allegations.

The whole process has been suspect from the start.  SACS had advised us of concerns, and we were addressing them.  In their review in March 2012, SACS commended the DeKalb School System in five areas.  There were seven areas, called “Standards,” that we had been addressing.  At that time, we had met 4 of them and making progress on the other three.  Things were looking up.

In an effort to streamline our processes as a policy setting organization, and to rectify our remaining issues with SACS, we did vote on a policy change that I believe was the root of our sudden and unexplained falling out with SACS.  We increased the unilateral purchasing authority of the superintendant from $50,000 to $100,000.  With this flexibility came the condition that a report of these purchases would be provided to the Board.  After all, the Board was no longer seeing and approving these purchases on the front end, so to ensure transparency and fiscal integrity, we asked for the report on the back end.  It was our responsibility as stewards of public funds.

But the report, as stipulated by policy, was not produced.  When I asked for it, our former superintendant said it could not be produced without additional money and staff.  I wasn’t buying it.  And then came the sudden execution from SACS:  immediate probation.

Remember, a few scant months earlier DeKalb was making substantial progress toward all the SACS goals.  We were on “advisement” and moving in the right direction.  As a result of the December 2012 report, the School System was taken off of “advisement,” moved past “warning,” and placed on “probation”.

The record shows that there was not a drop in student performance, there was no credible evidence of fiscal mismanagement, nepotism, and the personnel department had consistently received good ratings for their operations.  No one knows what evidence or documents were used to pass “warning” to placing the System on probation in light of the March report.  Thanks to Judge Wood’s hearing, we know that SACS did not review the state audits.  I would think a sound and fair review of alleged fiscal mismanagement might have included taking a look at them.  But not in DeKalb’s case.

I could go on and on, and I have done so before.  But there are two more things I’d like to make clear before I close.

First, enough with the missing book money already.  All of the money earmarked for textbooks went for textbooks.  We have the records and the textbooks.  Just because SACS cites it in a flawed report does not make it true.

Second, there are many who believe that my legal filings are the selfish act of an old man trying to save his political career.  Completely false, except for my age.  While I am indeed 77 years old, my political career was over years ago.  The job pays $18,000 a year, if anyone is interested.  I continue to serve the school system only because I believe I have something to offer.

The reason why I continue to fight in my retirement is because what has happened here is wrong.  I have not been arrested, indicted or even accused of any crime or wrongdoing.  There is no recall effort underway for myself or any other board member.  Yet the Governor, armed with a largely anonymous and completely flawed report, usurped the will of 42,000 DeKalb County voters without due process for me, or for them.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Georgia has made sufficient progress that the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed.  It is true that the old Jim Crow has been eradicated for the most part, but you can’t tell me that the new Jim Crow isn’t just the same.  It’s just gotten smarter.

Dr. Eugene P. Walker

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School Board Public Meetings Today, July 1

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following hearings and meetings on Monday, July 1 in the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard in Stone Mountain.

2 p.m. Second Public Millage Rate Hearing & Work Session. Committee of the Whole and Executive Session for a personnel matter; Cabinet Room. 

5:45 p.m. Community Meeting for Public Comments; J. David Williamson Board Room.

7 p.m. Third & Final Millage Rate Hearing & Business Meeting; J. David Williamson Board Room. 

Meeting information can be accessed online. Click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting.

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