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Senators Rubio and Nelson Host National School Safety Forum

FLORIDA SENATORS RUBIO AND NELSON HOST NATIONAL SCHOOL SAFETY FORUM
AG Reyes and Utah Senator Thatcher to Take Part

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  On Wednesday, April 18th, U.S. Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Nelson (D-FL) hosted a forum of experts and leaders, including Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, to discuss school safety around the nation. The purpose of the forum was to share ideas and understand best practices on school safety and to provide officials with new ideas they can take back to their agency or community to implement.

The forum comes on the heels of the deadly shooting in Parkland, FL at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool. Various government officials, families impacted by the Parkland shooting, as well as experts and leaders gathered to discuss intervention and prevention of school gun violence. One particular focus was the use of technology in school security, which would include the SafeUT App out of Utah.

AG Reyes stated the following during the forum:

“We’re beneficiaries of a systematic environment, an ecosystem if you would, of trust, of safety, ofresources and collaboration that has direct application to the school safety challenge that we’re about today. The evidence is this: over the last 7 months 104 reported planned school attacks or threats in Utah were intercepted or thwarted because of this program and collaboration.”

Senator Daniel Thatcher, Representative Steve Eliason, and Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute Executive Director Ross Van Vranken were also on hand to give comments.

The SafeUT app has been getting national attention for its effectiveness in curbing school violence. Originally developed in partnership between AG Reyes and Senator Thatcher to curb teen suicide, SafeUT has morphed into a place where students can share concerns and provide tips about potential student attacks. 

Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty whose life was lost in the attack, played a main role in  advocating for SafeUT to come to Florida. Petty visited Utah at the end of March with his family to be present when the Utah Legislature passed HCR22 designating April as #MSDkindness Month to honor all those who were lost on Feb 14th in Florida.

You can watch the entire forum here: Politico: Sens. Rubio, Nelson Host Gun Violence Prevention Forum
Attorney General Sean Reyes starts right after the 1:00 hour mark. 

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AG Reyes Speaks on Veto Override

UTAH AG’S OFFICE RELEASES STATEMENT ON VETO OVERRIDE

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Utah Legislature met to override Governor Herbert’s veto of SB 171, despite significant concerns. Following the vote, Attorney General Sean Reyes made the following statement:

We believe in a carefully balanced democratic system of government where the legislature enacts laws, the executive branch enforces them, and courts interpret them. When one branch upsets that equilibrium, it threatens the harmony and integrity of the whole and erodes public confidence in the institutions.

The legislature heard several serious concerns about SB171 during the legislative session and ultimately the executive branch voiced its strongest opposition possible when the Governor exercised his veto power. In turn, a supermajority of the legislature has chosen, as is its prerogative, to go forward with this new law. If SB 171 is challenged, the courts will have their important role to play in deciding whether the law will stand or be rejected. We respect the role of all branches and have faith in the long-term results of our system of checks and balances.

In the Office of the Utah Attorney General, we will continue to do our duty and defend state laws, unless and until there is a decision from the courts requiring us to do otherwise.

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AG Reyes Statement on the Passing of Barbara Bush

This evening, Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement regarding the passing of Barbara Bush, wife of President George H.W. Bush and mother of President George W. Bush: 

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Barbara Bush – a larger than life political figure and the matriarch of the Bush family. She was a fierce advocate and a graceful public servant at the same time. Her commitment to her husband of over 70 years is, in and of itself, a testament of her character and devotion to her deep family values. 

“Mrs. Bush’s legacy cannot be overlooked and her selfless dedication to improve our nation is woven into the history of our country. One of the first to join the front lines of the civil rights movement, she was not shy about sharing her opinions and beliefs surrounding tough issues of the times. Most notably, she poured her heart into fighting illiteracy and homelessness, believing that the two went hand in hand. 

“Mrs. Bush was a remarkable individual and a great American. She showed us how to live a full life, committed to issues, but above all putting family first. Her influence will be greatly missed.”


AG Reyes & Olympic Gold Medalist Encourage Teens to Say “No”

UTAH AG AND OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST ENCOURAGE TEENS TO SAY ‘NO’ TO ALCOHOL
AG Reyes and Summer Sanders Film Anti-Underage Drinking PSA for Alcohol Responsibility Month

SALT LAKE CITY – Kicking off an April-long observance of “Alcohol Responsibility Month,” Attorney General Reyes, Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility teamed up to release a public service announcement (PSA) to prevent underage drinking. In the PSA, through the Foundation’s Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program, AG Reyes and Sanders encourage parents to have conversations with their kids and teens about saying “no” to underage drinking. 

AG Reyes commented on the importance of this topic:

“As a parent of six, I know how hard it can be to have these conversations both from a time and comfort perspective. But underage drinking is a reality our children face regularly. The influence our conversations have on our children are impactful whether or not we realize it or they acknowledge it. When we have real conversations about the effects of underage drinking, we show our children they are strong enough to make the hard and often unpopular choice when confronted by peer pressure. I am proud to partner with Responsibility.org as they resource parents with ways to address underage drinking. Together we can profoundly impact the lives and futures of our children in addition to increasing their safety and the safety of those around us.”

Sanders, who won two gold medals, one silver and bronze in the 1992 Olympic swimming competition agreed, stating:

“I’m thrilled to be a part of Ask, Listen, Learn team. As an Olympian and a mother of two, I’m keenly aware of how important it is to make the right choices, be a positive role model, and have meaningful conversations with my kids. I hope these PSAs will remind parents that they are the biggest influence in their kids’ decision to drink—or not to drink—alcohol and just how important it is to talk to them about underage drinking.”

AG Reyes encourages parents to talk with kids about alcohol because talking to teens about how drinking is unhealthy and negatively impacts their developing brains has shown to be effective. From 2003 to 2016, conversations between kids and their parents increased 73 percent. Since the inception of Ask, Listen, Learn, underage drinking has decreased 40 percent, according to the 2017 Monitoring the Future study. While this is a major improvement—underage drinking is at a record low—there is still work to be done. The PSA will begin airing this month.

“It was truly a pleasure working with Summer Sanders and so many of our country’s attorneys general in our longstanding joint effort to combat underage drinking,” said Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of Responsibility.org. “There is no better time than April—Alcohol Responsibility Month—to jumpstart conversations about making smart choices. We hope these PSAs will encourage parents to start the conversation about alcohol responsibility early, and continue it often, with their kids.”

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NOTES:

  1. You can watch the PSA here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17zU_LUwFs4.
  2. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is a national not-for-profit that leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Edrington; Mast-Jägermeister US; and Pernod Ricard USA. To learn more, please visit responsibility.org.
  3. You can find the entire Monitoring the Future study here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/mtf-overview2017.pdf.

April is #MSDKindness Month

In March of this year, the Utah Legislature passed HCR22 designating April as #MSDKindness Month to honor the lives that were lost in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, FL on February 14th. The hope is this would encourage Utahns across that state to perform small, random acts of kindness. Kindness goes a long way – a word, a smile, or a touch – can change the trajectory of someone’s day. Those small acts compounded over time can provide hope where there is hopelessness. 

The Office of the Attorney General invites you to participate in doing small acts of kindness throughout the entire month of April and let us know how it goes! As we hear about the small acts, we’ll be able to shine a light on acts of service, love, and kindness done while we honor those who’ve lost their lives and their families they left behind. 

You can report an act of kindness performed in a few ways:

  1. If you are a student or a parent of a student, download the SafeUT app. Submit a tip, select your school, and choose Kindness to share what you’ve done or what you’ve seen. 
  2. If you are not connected to a local school, send a DM (direct message) through Facebook or Twitter letting us know what you’ve done or seen. 

We’ll be highlighting these acts throughout the month. In this, we hope to create a wave of kindness that covers the state. 


AG Reyes & AG Bondi Commend Senate Passage of H.R. 1865

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES AND FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI JOINT STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF H.R. 1865

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah and TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Today, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, both leaders in the fight against human trafficking, issued the following joint statement commending the U.S. Senate passage of H.R. 1865:

“Today, we applaud the U.S. Senate for making the right decision and overwhelmingly passing H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, in a 97 to 2 vote. This legislation will significantly support all state attorneys general and state prosecutors in their effort to hold online sites accountable for supporting the sale of sex trafficking victims. 

“We thank President Trump and his Administration for working closely and proactively with Members of Congress, including our dedicated Utah and Florida federal delegations, industry experts and human trafficking survivors in the fight to eradicate sex trafficking across the country and around the world.”

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NOTES:

  1. You can read the National Association of Attorneys General urging the Senate to pass H.R. 1865 here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/CDA-Final-Letter.pdf.
  2. Find The Washington Post coverage of H.R. 1865 passing in the Senate on here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2018/03/21/bill-enabling-prosecutors-to-pursue-websites-that-host-sex-traffickers-heads-to-white-house/?utm_term=.44a852a8aaa2.

AGO Secures Settlement with Tobacco Companies

AGO SECURES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH TOBACCO COMPANIES WORTH
$300 MILLION OVER TEN YEARS

SALT LAKE CITY – Attorney General Sean Reyes announced a settlement agreement resolving Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds, and other major tobacco companies’ challenge to Utah’s enforcement of a 1990s-era tobacco settlement, resulting in an estimated $300 million coming to Utah over the next ten years.

AG Reyes spoke about the settlement stating,

“This is a monumental win for Utah in many ways. Not only will we see an immediate payout of approximately $60 million, with additional payouts of $240 million over the next ten years, but we also received terms in the settlement to better protect in perpetuity the multi-million dollar annual payments Utah receives from Tobacco companies.

“In addition, because of the waiver we negotiated with the participating manufacturers, Utah will save tens of millions in not having to arbitrate almost two decades worth of claims. This new agreement will give us until 2022 to restructure our compliance and enforcement regime to meet the settlement obligations without further arbitration challenges.

“The funds received will assist the State in fighting cancer and improving the health of Utahans among many other benefits. The tobacco team comprised of Chris Pieper, Alison Garner, Bridget Romano, and others in the AG’s Office did a tremendous job. They put Utah in a strong position going forward. We appreciate the encouragement and input along the way from the Governor, his Cabinet, and the Legislature, which passed a supporting resolution. In particular, Chairman John Valentine and the Utah Tax Commission were essential in making this happen for the State.” 

The agreement settles a dispute with major tobacco companies over enforcement of the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA requires the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the 46 states involved in the settlement, including Utah. The MSA settled state litigation for health care costs and other damages caused by cigarette smoking, according to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). The payment provisions compensate the states in part for the billions of dollars associated with treating tobacco-related diseases under state Medicaid programs. To date, states have received more than $50 billion in settlement payments, NAAG said.

During the recent dispute, tobacco companies alleged deficiencies in Utah’s enforcement of the MSA that would have put continued annual payments at risk.  With the agreement, Utah secures payment to Utah of MSA funds and gains time to make important regulatory changes to implement heightened enforcement obligations.

“The State Tax Commission is fully committed to the terms of the supplement to the Master Settlement Agreement signed on March 16, 2018,” said John Valentine, Utah State Tax Commissioner. “In accordance with the commitments made there, we will enhance tobacco tax enforcement of Internet sales, contraband sales of tobacco products, and tobacco products sold on reservations to non-Native American customers.”

The Attorney General’s Office is committed to ensuring that tobacco companies meet their obligations to Utah under the MSA without delay or uncertainty. This agreement ensures prompt and reliable payments into the State Endowment Fund and in support of vital health-related programs, including cancer research, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and alcohol, tobacco, and drug prevention.

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NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the Utah Tobacco Letter here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2018-03-16-Utah-Joinder-Ltr-Tobacco.pdf2018-03-16 Utah Joinder Ltr Tobacco.

AGO Dismantles Statewide Gambling Enterprises

ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE DISMANTLES STATEWIDE GAMBLING ENTERPRISES

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office Special Prosecutions Section wrapped up a year-long prosecution of two complex gambling organizations. ITM Management, LLC and WC Management, LLC were each convicted of five misdemeanor counts of promoting gambling and five misdemeanor counts of possession of a gambling device. Both fined $10,000.00 and required to remove all machines and gambling devices across the state.

In March of 2017, law enforcement agencies statewide served search warrants and preservation orders on more than 118 businesses from Cache County to Washington County. These warrants were the result of more than a year of investigation by Special Agents of the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“These illicit gambling operations involved and attracted other types of illegal conduct, causing local law enforcement and city attorneys serious concerns. The city prosecutors approached us along with legislators, including Rep. Justin Fawson, Sen. Curtis Bramble, and Rep. Norman Thurston to conduct a statewide investigation. We appreciate working with all of these partners to serve justice,” said Reyes.

Pierre Marcoux of Florida and John Honeycutt of Weber County, Utah, were also convicted of two misdemeanor counts of promoting gambling and one felony count of money laundering, with a plea in abeyance on the latter charge. The Utah Attorney General’s office seized over $900,000.00 in illicit proceeds, setting an important precedent as to some types of machines and video gaming devices that violate Utah’s gaming statutes.

The investigation was spearheaded by Special Agent James Russell of the Utah Attorney General’s Office’s Investigation Division in partnership with numerous law enforcement agencies and divisions, including county and city police, all of whom deserve credit.  Utah Attorney General’s Office Special Prosecutions Section, including Assistant Attorney General Steven Wuthrich, Paralegal Rosie McDonough, and law clerk Katrina Whitmer, expertly handled the forfeiture issues and prosecution.

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NOTES:

  1. You can find related case logs at the following courts:
    Salt Lake City Justice Court: Case No. 171408939 and 171408940.
    Third Judicial District Court: Case No. 171909305 and 171909307.
  2. The list of agencies involved is as follows: Bountiful City PD, Brigham City PD, Cache County Sheriff’s Office, Cedar City PD, Clearfield City PD, Harrisville City PD, Heber City PD, Hurricane City PD, Layton City PD, Lehi City PD, Murray City PD, North Salt Lake City PD, Ogden City PD, Orem City PD, Payson City PD, Pleasant Grove PD, Price City PD, Provo City PD, Roosevelt PD, Roy City PD, St. George PD, Salt Lake City PD, Santaquin City PD, South Jordan City PD, South Ogden City PD, South Salt Lake PD, Spanish Fork City PD, Taylorsville City PD, Washington City PD, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Weber County Sheriff’s Office, West Bountiful City PD, West Jordan City PD, West Valley City PD, and the Unified Police Department.

Combating Violence with Kindness

COMBATING VIOLENCE WITH KINDNESS
Utah Legislature Passes Resolution Designating April as #MSDkindness Month

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Legislature passed HCR 22, Concurrent Resolution Designating April as #MSDkindness Month, which aims to pay tribute to the victims who lost their lives in the senseless act of violence that was committed against students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clinton) and Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R-West Valley), designates April as Act of Kindness month to encourage Utahns to perform random acts of kindness to honor the victims of Parkland, Florida. In honor of #MSDKindness, a feature was added to the SafeUT so users could report acts of kindness in addition to incidents of crisis. People are encouraged to report their acts of kindness during April through SafeUT, which has been designed to improve school safety and help students access critical mental health resources. These acts of kindness will highlight the good of the community while engaging students in using an app that aims to help prevent future acts of violence.

Ryan Petty, the father of 14-year-old Alaina who lost her life during the recent attack in Florida, stated: 

“It is my goal to makes sure that my daughter’s legacy is remembered as one not of tragedy, but of hope, service, and love. It is also my goal to make sure this time will be different because we are going to focus on school safety initiatives to prevent anyone else from going through what we have gone through these past few weeks. I am grateful to the sponsors and supporters of this initiative who are working diligently to accomplish both of these goals.”

Rep. Ray added:

“The purpose of this resolution is to focus on the hope that comes from the strength of families, like the Petty’s. Their determination is an example to us all on how to persevere through challenging times and bring about positive change to school safety. My heart goes out to families during this time of unthinkable loss. Utah is ready to lead by taking actions to promote acts of kindness as well as developing the Davis School District mental wellness program that can serve as a model for schools around the state and nation.”

“With the noise of the world getting louder every day, simple acts of kindness are the best way to get to the root of the problem,” said Sen. Thatcher. “In fact, it may be the only way.”

“My heart also goes out to the perpetrator of this evil and senseless act,” said Petty. “And I wonder if somebody had put their arms around this young man a few months ago or a few years ago, would his life have been different? How much would the lives of the 17 families who have been impacted by the choices he made be different.”

SafeUT was launched in January 2016, following the passage of SB 175, School Safety and Crisis Line. Attorney General Sean Reyes, chair, and Rep. Steve Eliason and Sen. Thatcher are on the SafeUT Commission, which serves as a powerful tool for dealing with school safety, teen suicide, and the opioid epidemic. The Pettys have publicly encouraged Florida Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi for the adoption of a version of the SafeUT in the Sunshine State.

Attorney General Reyes spoke up regarding the resolution: 

“By designating April Kindness month, we want to encourage a little kindness to go a long way. One small act of kindness can change the trajectory of a life. In doing this we honor the legacy of those children and families in Parkland, Florida, many of whom were dedicated to acts of kindness and service and all of whom deserved more years to accomplish them. By celebrating their lives, we hopefully remind ourselves that we are all part of one large human family. We hope our challenge to other states continues a wave of kindness that will cascade over the nation and turn such tragedy into a little bit of light. Thank you to the Petty family for being an inspiration to us. Alaina has become one of our heroes for her kindness.”

The Reyes Family Foundation, The Grand America Hotel, and M. Peterson Consulting hosted the Petty Family while they were in Utah.

The resolution also challenges other states to claim the remaining months in the year to carry on the legacy of kindness and service left by those who lost their lives in this tragic incident. Two cities in Washington, Camas, and Washougal, have already declared March as their month of kindness to honor the victims of this singular act of violence.

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NOTES: 

  1. Watch the press conference here.
  2. You can read the entire resolution here: https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HCR022.html.

AG REYES LEADS EFFORT URGING SWIFT PASSAGE OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY BILL

AG REYES LEADS EFFORT URGING SWIFT PASSAGE OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY BILL
Bipartisan Group of 54 AGs Calls on Congress to Support Victims of Child Pornography


SALT LAKE CITYToday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes led a bipartisan group of 54 state and territorial attorneys general in calling upon the United States Congress to pass legislation supporting victims of child pornography. The states of Utah and Washington led the coalition by drafting a letter which was joined by fifty-two other states and territories.

The bipartisan bill, known as The Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017, would make it easier for victims of child pornography to obtain restitution. A similar bill passed the U.S. Senate in 2015 but failed to pass the House of Representatives. The letter is directed to House and Judiciary Committee leaders. Today AG Reyes issued the following statement: 

“Victims need this bill. Child exploitation and abuse through pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes worldwide and certainly within our nation. A victim can be re-victimized his/her entire life from the dissemination of one child porn video. The number of children exploited globally has skyrocketed. The number of child porn images in the US processed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children increased by over two thousand percent in just a decade, and things have continued to get even worse,” 

“The number of illicit images confiscated in Utah by the AG’s Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce has grown alarmingly. Cases of youth being extorted or otherwise terrorized as victims of porn have risen exponentially everywhere. The only thing that has decreased is restitution for victims. That’s unacceptable. Congress can change that narrative by passing this law.

“I’m proud of all our colleagues who have joined us today in lending a voice to victims worldwide. It was a privilege partnering with Senator Orrin Hatch, a consistent advocate for children in need and a co-sponsor of this bill. I also want to thank those in the Utah victim advocate community. Powerful leaders like Hildegard Koenig in the Utah Office for Victims of Crime, Jim Swink from the Utah Council on Victims of Crime, University of Utah Law Professor Paul Cassell, Clay Olsen of Fight the New Drug, and Ruthie Pedregon of my office all stand up each day for victims throughout Utah.”

A 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Paroline v. United States held that while victims of child pornography are entitled to restitution, any individual defendant they sue is only liable for the harm caused by that one individual’s possession of the images.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision puts an enormous burden on victims of child pornography,” the letter from the AG coalition reads. “To receive restitution, a victim must pursue every case in which a defendant was found to possess images of the victim. As the Supreme Court recognized, digital images of each child victim are trafficked worldwide, and there may be thousands of defendants found to possess each victim’s images. As a result, victims are only able to receive a small amount of restitution from each defendant and must pursue thousands of cases to receive full restitution. Preventing victims from collecting full restitution protects defendants, who are shielded from having to pay meaningful costs to those they have harmed.”

The Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act will improve the law by:

  • Clarifying congressional intent that victims be fully compensated for all the harms resulting from every perpetrator who contributed to their trauma;
  • Establishing a more meaningful definition of “full amount of a victim’s losses;”
  • Clarifying restitution owed to victims;
  • Establishing a process for victims to receive compensation from the Child Pornography Victims Reserve within the federal Crime Victims Fund;
  • Requiring a judicial appointment of a guardian ad litem for victims of child pornography production;
  • Allowing victims and their attorneys access to images in which they are depicted which is crucial for victim identification, expert testimony, forensic review, treatment, and the prevention and prosecution of future crimes; and
  • Requiring the U.S. Department of Justice to report on implementation within two years.

Every state attorney general in the nation signed the letter, along with attorneys general from the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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NOTES:

  1. You can find a PDF copy of the letter at https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NAAG-Final-Child-Pornography-Victim-bill.pdf.
  2. The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Utah with attorneys and staff in 20 divisions across the state. Visit attorneygeneral.utah.gov to learn more.

 


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