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Councilman voices opposition to bill extending drinking hours

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — City Councilman Paul Koretz and a group of activists spoke out May 3 against a bill before the state Legislature that would allow Los Angeles and nine other cities to extend alcohol sales to 4 a.m. Koretz and the activists — including members of Alcohol Justice and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance — held a news conference outside Los Angeles City Hall to oppose SB 58.

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Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koret (Photo by: wavenewspapers.com)
By City News Service

LOS ANGELES — City Councilman Paul Koretz and a group of activists spoke out May 3 against a bill before the state Legislature that would allow Los Angeles and nine other cities to extend alcohol sales to 4 a.m.

Koretz and the activists — including members of Alcohol Justice and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance — held a news conference outside Los Angeles City Hall to oppose SB 58, the latest of several attempts by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, to pass a law that would allow bars in some cities to stay open later than 2 a.m.

“Once again we’re here fighting a bill that is so persistent that it has earned the name, the Zombie Bill, because we just can’t kill it,” Koretz said. “For the fourth time since 2014, Sen. Scott Wiener has reintroduced the bill that would extend alcohol sales from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. No matter how many times the bill is beaten down by those of us who understand that defeating this bill is a life or death issue, Sen. Wiener and bar owners who seem willing to trade people’s lives for liquor profits come back again and again.”

Koretz introduced a resolution in March against the bill and held several news conferences in opposition to the idea of earlier bar times when Weiner was trying to pass the previous versions.

“This bill fails to address who will pay for the alcohol-related harms that this bill will cost. This bill will endanger all the lives of the commuters that will be going to work in the early hours,” said Veronica De Lara, co-chair of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance.

The reintroduced Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act (LOCAL) would grant Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Long Beach, West Hollywood, Coachella, Cathedral City, Fresno and Palm Springs the power to extend alcohol sales until as late as 4 a.m.

The bill’s supporters argue that the law banning alcohol sales after 2 a.m. is an outdated requirement written in 1935 and is not in line with Los Angeles being one of the entertainment capitals of the world. They also say it would help businesses while giving the decision-making power to local jurisdictions.

The nonprofit group Alcohol Justice, which has opposed Weiner’s bills, said findings from various domestic and international studies have found that extending bar hours increases alcohol-related harm, including motor vehicle collisions.

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board endorsed an earlier version of Wiener’s bill in 2017, saying “there’s no firm science behind last-call laws, no data that prove that 2 a.m. is better than 4 a.m. or 6 a.m. or any other time. The laws are more a reflection of a state’s history, its cultural practices and its politics.”

This article originally appeared in Wave Newspapers.
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#NNPA BlackPress

Push to ban plastic bag sat groceries falls short

NEW TRI-STATE DEFENDER — Plastic bags will still be used in grocery stores, despite some Memphis City Council members’ efforts to ban them. Tuesday, the council rejected an ordinance that would have required grocery stores to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.

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By Erica R. Williams

Plastic bags will still be used in grocery stores, despite some Memphis City Council members’ efforts to ban them. Tuesday, the council rejected an ordinance that would have required grocery stores to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.

“This is an effort for us to do something different in the State of Tennessee,” Councilman Berlin Boyd, who sponsored the ordinance, said before the vote.

Boyd has continued to push for the ban despite a recent state law barring cities from regulating single-use plastic such as grocery bags. He argues that using them is costing the city too much money.

“If we pass this here, it will give us the leverage to negotiate on a state level,” he told fellow council members.

Some have complained that lawmakers are considering the bans to cater to plastic-industry lobbyists. Boyd said that’s not it, pointing out that the city’s Division of Public Works spends $3 million each year to dispose of the bags.

Last year before proposing the ban, Boyd suggested a seven-cent fee on plastic bags that shoppers take from retail stores. He then reduced the proposed fee to five cents earlier this year.

In other action

* Memphis 3.0 was dropped from this council meeting’s agenda. Last month council members voted on hiring an outside consultant to review the comprehensive development plan. They will delay voting until after the consultant’s review of the plan.

The consultant has until September 17 to present findings.

The Memphis 3.0 plan had been challenged by New Chicago community members who believe the plan excludes some neighborhoods based on race. A $10 billion lawsuit filed against the city was later dismissed.

Mayor Jim Strickland has signed an executive order that allows parts of the 3.0 plan to move forward.

* Council members approved an honorary street name change for Bishop David Allen Hall Sr., longtime pastor of Temple Church of God In Christ at 672 S. Lauderdale. The resolution calls for a street name of East Georgia Ave. between South Lauderdale and South Orleans. Councilwoman Cheyenne Johnson sponsored the resolution.

* The council delayed voting on the third and final reading of an ordinance that would present new rules for public art placement.

This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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Olivia and Marcus Barnes Deliver With Full Bar Catering Service

BIRMINGHAM TIMES — Olivia Barnes is a traveler and will say Southern hospitality is real and so are the amenities the Magic City has to offer.

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Olivia and Marcus Barnes Deliver With Full Bar Catering Service (Photo by: Infinite Creation Images)
Olivia and Marcus Barnes Deliver With Full Bar Catering Service (Photo by: Infinite Creation Images)

By Jasmine Shaw

Olivia Barnes is a traveler and will say Southern hospitality is real and so are the amenities the Magic City has to offer.

“Birmingham has the best food, we have the best hearts, and most importantly we care about the good of other people in our community,” she said.

All of those elements were on display during a recent launch party for Barnestending, a bartending catering service, that drew more than 100 attendees.

“It really gave us an opportunity to network and show everyone what Barnestending is all about,” said Marcus Barnes, who co-owns the business with wife Olivia. “We have done weddings, birthday parties, reunions, surprise parties, and retirement parties. We want to elevate and grow by possibly adding more bartenders that share our same goals and values.”

Working with his wife has been a beneficial experience, said Marcus.

“We have done a lot to build this company in just a few months but having faith in God made it possible,” he said.

Barnestening is a full bar catering service that prides itself on helping customers “shake things up” by creating tailor-made drinks and offering swift service.

The idea for the business came from Olivia bartending at her mother’s café.

“I dragged Marcus into working with us one night many years ago and he enjoyed it,” she said. “So we trained him and it was just a couple of years later that we decided to do our own thing.”

The couple dated for three and a half years before marrying in December of 2018 and launching Barnestending in January of 2019.

Building Team

The two met on the University of Alabama campus in 2008. When Marcus set foot on campus he had no idea that in addition to his major in business administration he’d also learn a lesson about love.

Olivia Barnes, her major was management with a minor in Spanish. The pair caught glimpses of one another around campus but it wasn’t until Marcus messaged Olivia on Twitter that things really began to flourish.

“We had our first date at Steamers on the strip in Tuscaloosa,” said Marcus, “and we have been building with each other ever since.”

While Olivia learned business lessons at her mother’s café Marcus developed a managerial mindset while working in customer service throughout high school and college. He was able to learn from well-rounded leaders and gain wisdom.

“I worked at Jack’s Family Restaurant in Bessemer until 12th grade then I started working at Footlocker in the Galleria Mall,” he said. “Working these jobs taught me how to deal with the public, which can be hard at times, and to be patient with customers. Teamwork and communication were two things we always talked about at both jobs that Olivia and I use to be successful today.”

Marcus, 29, who grew up in the Dolomite community, attended A.G Gaston K-8 and Ramsay High School. Olivia, 25, who grew up in Birmingham, in the Brook Highland neighborhood, learned leadership skills by keeping busy with a myriad of activities as a teenager. She was a shooting guard for Oak Mountain High School’s basketball team, a member of the Birmingham alumnae chapter of Delta Gems, and the business manager for the Imperial Club Debutantes.

“I am extremely social,” she said. “In college, I was a member of an organization called SANKOFA, which brought awareness to the black community at UA and also put on an amazing play. During my senior year, I became president of the Carl. A. Elliott Honor Society. I excelled at increasing membership and also served as the treasurer.”

During the summer Olivia enjoyed taking trips to visit her grandmother, Mildred, in Montevallo. She spent the rest of her time in Birmingham, admitting that the city life brought many friends, making it the perfect place to call home.

Staying Competitive

Olivia said the couple enjoys being around great people and “learning from them to make ourselves better at what we do.”

Marcus thanks his parents, Jimmie and Annette, for being their biggest support system.

“They keep us motivated and always provide words of wisdom. Although we may not agree with what they tell us all the time, it’s always for our best interest,” he said.

The team also stays active visiting places like California and New York. Interacting with entrepreneurs in other cities allows them to bring fresh ideas to their brand.

“Networking is going to be our biggest plan to grow efficiently,” said Marcus. “We plan on staying in touch with our ever-changing society to make sure we are following the culture. Our goal is to stay competitive and hungry.”

Contact: Instagram: @barnestending, Email: barnestending@gmail.com, Phone: 205-937-6006.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.  

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Entertainment

Newest ‘Chopped’ Champion to Open BBQ Pop-up at Shops at Hilltop

OAKLAND POST — Oakland chef and restau­rateur Rashad Armstead, who last week was crowned the Food Network’s newest Chopped Champion, is set to open a pop-up BBQ shop at the The Shops at Hilltop in Rich­mond starting Aug. 1, it was announced today.

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Oakland chef and restaurateur Rashad Armstead. (Photo credit: Shops at Hilltop).

The Richmond Standard

Oakland chef and restau­rateur Rashad Armstead, who last week was crowned the Food Network’s newest Chopped Champion, is set to open a pop-up BBQ shop at the The Shops at Hilltop in Rich­mond starting Aug. 1, it was announced today.

Chef Rashad, who current­ly owns popular Grammie’s Down-Home Chicken & Sea­food in Oakland, will launch Crave BBQ, a new blues house concept featuring live music and authentic BBQ, on Aug. 1 for a limited time only.

The restaurant will open in a 4,952-square-foot space at The Shops at Hilltop, which is undergoing a transformation under new ownership at 2200 Hilltop Mall Road. Crave BBQ will be located in Suite D107.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Chef Rashad and his top-notch, nationally-recognized culinary talent to The Shops at Hilltop,” David S. Goldman, managing partner in charge of leasing for LBG Real Estate Companies, said in a statement. “As we continue our work to transform The Shops at Hilltop, the ad­dition of Crave BBQ not only further expands our growing food and beverage offering, but illustrates our commitment to bring the Greater East Bay marketplace a premiere, mul­ticultural shopping and enter­tainment destination.”

The Shops at Hilltop’s trans­formation plans include:

  1. a new outlet/value shop­ping component;
  2. an expanded collection of foodie-centric food and bev­erage concepts focusing on a wide variety of Asian cuisines along with other more tradi­tional offerings and;
  3. a variety of new, major entertainment venues and ser­vices.

Currently, the mall is an­chored by Macy’s, Walmart and 24 Hour Fitness.

In the longer term, a master plan for the 77-acre property called Hilltop by the Bay aims to add residential, office and hotels.

This article originally appeared in the Oakland Post. 

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Food

Supervisors oppose federal efforts to limit food stamps

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — The county Board of Supervisors voted July 30 to oppose federal efforts to limit food stamp eligibility, which would affect an estimated 40,000 Los Angeles County residents. Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the county’s congressional delegates.

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County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
By Mark Ridley-Thomas

LOS ANGELES — The county Board of Supervisors voted July 30 to oppose federal efforts to limit food stamp eligibility, which would affect an estimated 40,000 Los Angeles County residents.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the county’s congressional delegates.

“The Trump administration is proposing callous rules that would limit Americans’ access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, referred to as CalFresh in California,” Solis said. “Such action would affect 3 million Americans who rely on the nation’s most successful anti-poverty program to access healthy food. L.A. County recognizes that food insecurity is a matter of public health, and these heartless proposed rule changes would have a pronounced effect on county residents.”

The proposed rule would take away states’ ability to extend eligibility to households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty line or roughly $50,000 a year for a family with two children. That flexibility was granted by Congress in 1996.

Federal officials estimate that nearly 8% of beneficiaries qualify under expanded eligibility, which the Department of Agriculture calls a “loophole.” The department pointed to the case of a Minnesota millionaire who qualified for food stamps after applying to highlight what he viewed as taxpayer waste.

“Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement issued last week. “The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient and to have integrity — just as they do in their own homes, businesses and communities. That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.”

The Agriculture Department also wants to exclude beneficiaries with more than $2,250 in eligible assets from receiving food stamps. The department estimates an overall savings of more than $2 billion annually from the proposed changes.

The county’s Department of Public Social Services estimates that more than 120,000 California households — including 40,000 in Los Angeles County — would be affected.

Members of the board and education advocates said children would be the biggest losers.

An estimated 500,000 children nationwide could lose their automatic eligibility for free school meals under the proposal, according to Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo.

“Research has shown that access to free and reduced-price school meals allows low-income students to stay engaged and learn,” Duardo said in a statement issued after the board vote. “Removing this access would have a detrimental impact on student academic performance and success in school.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said that children represented 60% of CalFresh beneficiaries in 2016, the last year for which data is available.

“Those who stand to lose … are those who are the most vulnerable among us,” Ridley-Thomas said, which includes seniors on fixed incomes and community college students, many of whom experience “food insecurity.”

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said the proposed change is part of a larger pattern.

“It feels like the current president has announced a program called the War on the Impoverished,” Kuehl said, drawing a contrast with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty in 1964.

The proposed rule change is subject to a 60-day public comment period.

Those who stand to lose … are those who are the most vulnerable among us.”

This article appeared in the Wave Newspapers

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Advice

14 Foods You Absolutely Need in Your Kitchen

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Shopping on a budget can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to be healthy. Plant-based diets can be especially costly, attributing to the large population of underserved communities that face food insecurity and poor nutrition. A plant-based diet consists mostly of foods derived from plants with few or no animal products and is proven to reduce the risk of chronic health issues and improve quality of life. While the options may seem overwhelming and your budget may not appear to accommodate this lifestyle, the Bridge guarantees that grocery shopping* for a week can be as low as $20.

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By Saskia Kercy

Plant-based Milk Alternatives : Non-dairy alternatives like soy, nuts, seeds, oats, or rice are healthier, cruelty-free and low-cost, especially if homemade.

Eggs : With 6 grams of protein per serving, eggs are a great source of protein in your diet and can be eaten in a variety of ways.

Onions : Onions can serve as the foundation for all foods, adding both taste and texture to any meal.

Peanut Butter : A tasty treat packed with 8 grams of protein, peanut butter can be paired with fruit, crackers or bread for the perfect midday snack.

Frozen Fruit : For quick smoothies or fun additions to meals, buy fresh fruit and cut into smaller pieces to preserve in the freezer.

Tomato Paste : A tasty multipurpose base, tomato paste is high in antioxidants that promote skin health and fight against many chronic diseases.

Quinoa : Quinoa is a high-fiber, high-protein superfood that can serve as an alternative to rice.

Beans : High protein, low calorie and low saturated fats levels are three of the many reasons to incorporate beans into your diet.

Oatmeal : Oats are one of the healthiest grains, with vitamin and mineral levels that keep you fuller longer.

Lentils : A personal favorite, these high protein, high fiber legumes can be eaten as a soup, chili, side, dip, stew, or bean alternative.

Raw Honey : This natural sweetener can add a little smile to your tea, coffee, pancakes, waffles, yogurt and cereal.

Mushrooms : Mushrooms boost immune system health, prevent disease and can be paired with virtually any meal for an added nutritional kick.

Nuts : Whether it’s almond, cashew, peanut, walnut, or anything in between, nuts are jam-packed with healthy fats and proteins that keep you strong and alert.

Leafy Greens : Leafy greens like kale, collard, spinach and cabbage are essential to a balanced diet. In addition to their superfood powers, they are the perfect combo to meals, snacks and even smoothies.

$20 Dollar Holla

Shopping on a budget can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to be healthy. Plant-based diets can be especially costly, attributing to the large population of underserved communities that face food insecurity and poor nutrition. A plant-based diet consists mostly of foods derived from plants with few or no animal products and is proven to reduce the risk of chronic health issues and improve quality of life. While the options may seem overwhelming and your budget may not appear to accommodate this lifestyle, the Bridge guarantees that grocery shopping* for a week can be as low as $20.

Breakfast
$2.00 : Bananas
$3.00 : Instant Oatmeal
$2.00 : Large Eggs

Lunch
$2.00 : Broccoli Crowns
$3.00 | Quinoa
$1.00 | Red Kidney Beans

Dinner
$2.00 | Extra Firm Tofu
$2.00 | Green Cabbage
$3.00 | Potatoes

*prices based on Giant Food and rounded to the nearest dollar

This post originally appeared in the Washington Informer.

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Birmingham Times

Brandy Williams Rebounded From Hurricane Katrina To Bring Taste of NOLA to Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM TIMES — At age 18, two weeks into her freshman year at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL), New Orleans, La., native Brandy Williams’s life changed forever—when Hurricane Katrina forced her family from the only place they knew and loved.

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Brandy Williams (Photo by: birminghamtimes.com)

By Ameera Steward

“That time was just a blur because it was just a nightmare,” said Williams. “You’re happy that everybody is safe. Still, …all my childhood memories, … all of our videos [are gone]. … I don’t have any baby pictures to show my [future] kids because they got destroyed. We were able to save some stuff from the second floor [of our house], but everything on the first floor was destroyed.”

One thing Williams didn’t lose was one her fondest memories of growing up: the sweet taste of snow melting in her mouth after eating a New Orleans snoball. “Unlike a snow cone that is extremely hard and crunchy, a New Orleans-style snoball is very soft and fluffy,” according to Williams’s website (whodatsnoballs.com).

“I remember snoball stands in New Orleans being so popular,” Williams said. “My favorite ones were Plum Street and Rodney’s… It’s just a taste of home.”

Williams, 32, has brought a taste of New Orleans to Birmingham as the owner of Williams Who Dat Snoballs, a food truck that sells not only a range of snoball flavors but also some of her favorite hometown dishes, including red beans and rice, gumbo, crawfish pies, jambalaya and crawfish etouffee.

“[If] you would have told me three years ago that I would have a truck selling snoballs, I would have laughed in your face,” said Williams, who now puts smiles on the faces of her customers.

“I’ve always had a love for kids and a love for people,” she said. “One of the greatest things [is] something as simple as giving a snoball [with gummy bears on top] to a child and seeing that child’s face light up. Something as simple as bringing a smile to [a child’s] face is very fulfilling to me. That makes it all worth it.”

Putting gummy bears on top of a snoball was something Williams grew up with.

“It was only natural to do it here,” she said.

Williams Who Dat Snoballs offers flavors, such as cake batter, banana, mango, pink lemonade, and strawberry cheesecake; prices range from $3 to $6 for different sizes.

Family

Looking back on the hurricane that brought her family to Birmingham, Williams said, “I wouldn’t wish that pain or devastation on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I wouldn’t want [anyone] to experience that.

“One day you have a home, and the next day you don’t know where you’re going to live, where you’re going to lay your head, where your family is.”

Williams was majoring in communications and minoring in business at ULL when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. She was staying in an apartment on campus when her parents came to stay with her in Lafayette, La., which is about two and a half hours from New Orleans. They stayed with her for two weeks and moved to Birmingham in September of that year.

“I went to [ULL] to be close to New Orleans [and] my parents, then they moved all the way … to [Hoover], Alabama,” she said. “[This] was probably one of the hardest things I think we ever had to do.”

The Williams family lost everything and scattered to different places. Her dad went back to New Orleans for work. One sister was in college in Oklahoma. Another sister was in Atlanta, Ga. Brandy was in Lafayette.

If not for God, Williams said, she doesn’t know how they would have survived.

After graduating from ULL in 2009, Williams said there was no doubt about where she would live.

“We had been through a lot, lost our whole house, and got displaced. Then, a couple of years later I lost my sister unexpectedly,” Williams said. “I had to come home. … Home is where my family is.”

Williams’s sister, who attended and graduated from an Oklahoma college in 2008, became ill while the family was living in Hoover, so coming back to her family meant everything to Williams because she was able to see them and make sure they were doing well.

“[It was important] just to know that I got to see them, touch them, … make sure they’re eating, make sure they’re getting up and still continuing with life,” said Williams. “I know it wasn’t my responsibility, but I felt like it was my responsibility to make sure my parents kept living because they still had other kids to live for.”

Who Dat

Coming to Birmingham also meant bringing a slice of New Orleans along with her—so Williams started her business in the summer of 2017 with a table and a tent.

“I thank God for my parents, [Blake Williams Sr. and Donna Williams],” she said. “My dad believes in me more than I believe in myself. If it weren’t for him, I probably … wouldn’t [be where] I am now. … He got all of my business licenses and registered everything I needed. … [My parents] have been behind me 100 percent since the moment I said this is what I wanted to do.”

Her parents help in another way, too. Williams still works a full-time job as a help desk analyst at a local financial software company. Technology and computers were an occupation before she started her business, and her family helps run things while she’s in the office.

Williams Who Dat Snoballs operates mainly during the summer. Because of the heat, they mainly sell snoballs and crawfish nachos; on Sundays, they sell New Orleans cuisine specialties. In the colder months, the family sells food full time—but that doesn’t stop them from selling snoballs.

“I can’t pull up somewhere and be like, ‘Oh, we’re not selling snoballs. As long as I have this truck and it says Who Dat Snoballs, I’ll put ice in the machine and crank it up. Even if it’s just one, … I’m going to always be Who Dat Snoballs,” Williams said.

Another positive about the food truck for Williams: it helps her meet new people and gets her out of her comfort zone. That’s a benefit for someone who’s not from Birmingham because her business interactions give her an opportunity to network.

Williams Who Dat Snoballs is usually set up at Exit 1 in McCalla at the Sunoco gas station on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., and on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. They also travel to farmer’s markets, and Williams said they’ll still do table and tent.

“We haven’t forgotten where we came from,” she said.

For more information on Williams Who Dat Snoballs, visit whodatsnoballs.com.

This article originally appeared in the Birmingham Times.

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