Hahnemann workers say final goodbyes: ‘We were a family’

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With just two weeks to go until Hahnemann Hospital closes for good, Friday marked the final day for many workers.

As their last shift came to an end, hundreds of workers walked over to Westy’s on Callowhill Street for a “Last Hahnemann Hurrah” party that started in the afternoon and lasted well into the night.

“It’s old staff and new staff coming together to say goodbye one last time because we were a family,” Diane Wysocki explained, who has worked at Hahnemann for the last 28 years.

It was hard to grasp the mood at this event. On the one hand you saw the now former coworkers reminiscing and laughing over some drinks. 

But, for every smile there were tears as many hugged one another and said their emotional farewells.

“You get to know these people,” said Patti Lee, a medical assistant coordinator at Hahnemann for the last six years. “Over the years I’ve known a lot of these people. They’re like family. You know about their kids, you know about their grandkids, you know about weddings and graduations, birthdays.”

Lee, like many others, wore a dark blue shirt with yellow writing that read, “So Hard To Say Goodbye,” written around a broken heart.

“We never thought Hahnemann would ever close,” Lee added, as the reality started to set in. “I don’t think anyone ever thought Hahneman would ever close after all these years. You know, 180 years that’s a lot.”

Both Lee and Wysocki have their next jobs lined up already, but that wasn’t the case for others.

“A lot of (my coworkers) still don’t have jobs,” said Wysocki. “They’re in that age range where they can’t find anything because they’re 59, 60. People look at that, the ages, they don’t get hired.”

Former Hahnemann employees who left the hospital before the closure was announced also showed up to this goodbye party. Karen Gerner, who left in 2018, was one of them. She broke down in tears while speaking with KYW Newsradio.

“If you were at Hahnemann and left Hahnemann, you always came back to Hahnemann,” she said. “It was your heart, your heart and soul. I’m going to cry. It’s one of the most devastating events. I can’t even go in there and talk to people without crying.”

Other former hospital workers tell us they flew in from across the country, just to be at this event.

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Lawyer who talked down Maurice Hill is getting death threats

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia attorney who helped his former client surrender peacefully last week after shooting six police officers has received death threats. 

Shaka Johnson says not everyone is happy the alleged gunman, 36-year-old Maurice Hill, made it out alive after the hourslong standoff with police in Niceotwn.

“I’ve gotten death threats- you know,” Johnson said. “I had to have a conversation with my family…look, I am getting these threats,” he continued. 

Johnson made headlines last week when he assisted police negotiators in convincing Maurice Hill to put down his weapon and surrender. He had represented Hill on previous criminal cases and won. He says he believes that Hill, who served as a federal informant, had a mental breakdown.

“Never during any of those cases did he pick up a pistol and try to shoot it out with the cops. So you have to ask yourself was he in crisis…at least I asked myself was he in a mental health crisis,” Johnson said. 

Hill was taken into custody without incident, despite the fact that he fired several rounds on police for hours. 

“Some people feel that the message should have been sent if you resist violently in this particular way- we put you down…like a dog, we put you down,” Johnson said. 

In the past week Johnson say’s he has received emails, calls, letters and post cards in the mail.

“After the first one or two- I was like…ehhh….but after three or four– and now people are putting things in the U.S. Postal service and sending them to me. So I have the girls in the office now, they have to open things with gloves,” he said. 

Johnson, who’s a husband and father, is also a former prosecutor and Fulton County Georgia Police Officer. So he says he’s not nervous. “I’m SWAT trained,” he said. 

You can hear his reaction to Commissioner Richard Ross’ retirement, what Hill said to him from prison, plus the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arrival in America Saturday night at 9:30 and Sunday morning at 8:30 on this weekend’s Flashpoint.

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Attorneys general, telecom firms team up to fight robocalls

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There’s a new nationwide initiative to push back against robocalls.

Attorneys general from all 50 states say they are teaming up with twelve major telecom companies to focus on robocall prevention and enforcement.

Sarah Frasch, Director of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says the phone companies will offer free call blocking and labeling services, monitor their networks for robocall traffic and develop technology that lets people know if a call is coming from a valid source. 

“We understand there’s always gonna be scammers and wrongdoers out there. But if we can create extra burdens, extra hurdles for them to be able to do this, that’s that many more people that we’ve protected from being harmed,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

The telecoms will keep law enforcement officials in the loop so they can follow up with punitive action. Unsolicited robocalls are the number one consumer complaint in Pennsylvania. And it doesn’t take much to get people lathered about the issue.

“It’s awful and if you call the number back it’s either a disconnected or no longer in service number,” explained Tiffany McGoldrick.

“I think just any time you answer a phone and it’s an electronic message on the other end it’s impersonal and just annoying to waste your time,” said Tom Lavendar.

“I don’t answer any call that I don’t have the caller id person’s name in it. Don’t answer it, ever,” Bob Schmidt added.

In a statement, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, “Robocall scams are not simply an annoyance-they are illegal and they are used to take advantage of our seniors and other vulnerable populations. I’m proud to stand with my colleague attorneys general and major telecom companies in announcing this ringing success in the fight against illegal robocalls.”

So what would the penalties be?

“By law we can ask for up to $1,000 per violation or $3,000 if the consumer is 60 or older. So of course we would seek the maximum penalty for any of these that we found,” Sarah Frasch with the AG’s office explained.

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Potential buyer for fire-damaged PES refinery is identified

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A buyer has been publicly identified for the fire-damaged Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia.  

Sources have confirmed that SG Preston of Philadelphia is “very serious’ about buying the soon-to-be shuttered refinery.

SG Preston is a biofuels and jet fuel company, which repurposes used cooking oil and other products.

According to sources, at least two other companies are in the process of putting together proposals to buy PES.

On Wednesday, a bankruptcy hearing was held to determine the next steps for PES.  Bankruptcy court is nothing new for PES.

It was reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules in 2012 and 2018. But both times the plant was still in full operation.

This time, the plant will be shut down, which could be the first time in its 153 year history.

Sources say Wednesday was also the first day that the “data room” at PES was open.

The room contains all the accounts and business records which could be useful to a new owner.

It could also provide information which might discourage a potential buyer from continuing with a sale.

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Bensalem man gets 22 years in prison for stabbing inmate

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Bensalem man is facing more than two decades in prison after pleading guilty to stabbing an inmate in Bucks County County Correctional Facility. 

Martin McLoughlin, 28, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, and assault by a prisoner on Thursday. He is sentenced to 8 ½ to 22 years in state prison.

The attack took place inside the correctional facility’s inmate dining room in October. McLoughlin got up from his seat during breakfast, stood behind another inmate who was seated, and then stabbed him at least five times with a sharpened piece of wood wrapped in a cloth.

“He walked right up behind him without warning, without provocation and began to repeatedly stab him. If that had been a better weapon, this would have been a murder,” said prosecutor Ed Louka. 

The criminal complaint says McLoughlin told investigators he wanted to “reprimand” the man he stabbed, and that he chose breakfast for the attack because he believed he was about to be transferred to state prison later that day.

Louka says McLoughlin laughed during his guilty plea, prompting the judge to tell him that his actions show he can’t be part of society. 
 

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100,000 Philly streetlights will get LED upgrade

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The city is starting a bidding process for a huge job — replacing every streetlight with an energy-efficient LED bulb. The changes won’t happen overnight, it will take a few years to complete the project.

Deputy streets commissioner Rich Montanez says it also won’t be cheap with the city’s 100,000 streetlights.

“Probably $50 million, maybe more,” he said. 

He says each light costs between $250 and $600. Larger lights are needed on major routes like Roosevelt Boulevard. But the payoff is that each one will be about 40 percent more efficient than the current bulbs.

Montanez says they are carefully considering lighting options to make sure they get it right the first time.

“Color temperature being one. The light distribution being another. Glare…we want to make sure there is not too much glare on the driver,” he said. 

He says once they select a contractor, it could take about two years to complete even though each light only takes about 20 minutes to replace.

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Man charged in fatal Rittenhouse stabbing returns to court

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Prosecutors argued to a judge Friday morning that the man accused of fatally stabbing a well-known real estate developer in Rittenhouse Square last summer should go back to jail, after he attempted to contact the victim’s family through social media. 

But against the prosecution’s request — and after seeing screenshots in which the 22-year-old requested to follow the brother of murdered victim Sean Schellenger on Instagram — the judge decided not to put Michael White in jail.

White has been charged with third-degree murder in the stabbing death of Schellenger near 17th and Chancellor streets in July 2018.

Related:

The Instagram follow request violated a court’s stay away order, prosecutors say, but White’s defense attorneys argued that White didn’t intentionally hit the request button. They say it was likely an algorithm error, and the victim’s family tried to make contact with White first. 

White told the judge he didn’t make the request, but couldn’t say who did or why it happened.

Judge Glenn Bronson warned White that if anything like this were to happen again, he would be held in a contempt of court and would go back to jail.

The judge suggested White get off Instagram altogether to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

He also encouraged the victim’s family not to contact White, as the trial is set to begin in a few weeks. White remains on house arrest.

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What’s Cooking on 1060: Jean-Georges Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It only takes 48 seconds — and 60 stories — to enter the highest restaurant in town.

At the new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, which sits atop the Comcast Technology Center, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened his restaurant, Jean-Georges Philadelphia on the 59th floor on the building.

This restaurant is his first in Philadelphia but 39th worldwide, showcasing the city through 40-foot windows in every direction.

The Michelin-starred Vongerichten said he combines “French technique, American ingredients, a little accent flavor.”

The most expensive item on the menu: “Probably the rib-eye for two people,” he said, “but we have appetizers from $14 to $28. Main courses start at $28 and finishes at — depends if you have the rib-eye for two — it’s around $90, and then the (seven-course chef’s) tasting menu for $138.”

Vongerichten said there’s a lot of emphasis on the overall dining experience.

“Service is very polished but very relaxed,” he said. “Usually when we hire our staff, it’s like a casting for like a movie, so we say about 600 people but we selected 80 waiters, but we’re looking more for characters.”

Opening this restaurant has been an exciting time for Vongerichten — five years in the making.

In that time, he said the most challenging part of opening his first Brotherly Love restaurant was simply “waiting for the building to be built.”

For detailed menu descriptions of Jean-Georges Philadelphia and more, subscribe to the What’s Cooking podcast on the RADIO.COM app.

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Police stop dozens of shooting threats due to public caution

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Police around the country have arrested dozens of people for making mass shooting threats in the recent weeks, following the one August weekend of violence in which 31 people were killed in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

In many of these cases, police say the people they arrested actually talked about what their plans were. Some said they were just joking. But JJ Klaver, who spent 26 years with the FBI in Philadelphia, said anything perceived to be a threat is no laughing matter these days.

“Obviously there’s this message if you see something or hear something, it should be reported to law enforcement. So I think it increases the public’s awareness of the importance of red flags,” he said.

That’s what happened in one of the most recent events. Police in California arrested a Marriott hotel cook who allegedly threatened to shoot co-workers and guests. A co-worker called police. 

“They’re members of the community,” Klaver said. “They’re at work, they’re at school. So there are people who are in contact with them every day, in direct contact with them. So we all need to be alert and aware of what potential warning signs are.” 

Related:

The man, 37-year-old Rodolfo Montoya, was arrested, and police seized firearms, including an assault rifle, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from his home.

There’s also the vast world of social media, where Klaver said “it is nearly impossible to monitor everything.”

In one recent incident, police arrested a Tennessee man who they say threatened to shoot up a Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C. However, he posted the alleged plans on the social media site iFunny, which is known for white supremacist content.

While law enforcement have tools in place to stay ahead, Klaver said it’s also important for people not to hesitate and to report alarming behavior they see online.

“With these incidents happening now, at least in the near term, there might be more people talking about these type of incidents in a copycat fashion,” added Klaver, “but you also have much greater public awareness.”

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Police aim to close unsolved cases with interactive website

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Police Department has launched a new website dedicated to unsolved murder cases in the city.

The interactive site, at phillyunsolvedmurders.com, shows all unsolved cases from 2018 and 2019. But it’s not just a summary of the facts. It also includes a “reflection” from the family about who the victim was, like Kimberley Robinson, whose son, Jonchristopher Savage, was killed in January. 

“He touched many peoples’ lives by just going to school and praying for people,” she said. “In school, he was known as the ‘preacher boy.’ “

Next to his mother’s words on the website is a picture of Savage wearing sunglasses and a hat. The 34-year-old was found shot dead in his car in Hunting Park.

“They not only took away my baby’s life,” Robinson added, “they killed mine.”

The police department hopes people visit the site and submit anonymous tips regarding the cases.

“I need his killer caught,” Robinson continued. “I forgive his killer. If you are out there and hear me, I forgive you. But I need you to come to justice and pay for what you did.”

Deputy Police Commissioner Dennis Wilson started the project after reading about another department’s similar website earlier this year. He explained that when you submit an anonymous tip, you receive a number.

“That’s really important because there’s a standing $20,000 reward on every homicide,” he said.

And that number is how you could collect the money, if the case is solved because of your tip. 

“We want to pay that $20,000 reward money and solve some of these cases,” he added.

___

For more on unsolved murders in Philadelphia, subscribe to the KYW Newsradio original podcast Gone Cold: Philadelphia Unsolved Murders, by Kristen Johanson and Tom Rickert. The latest episode takes a closer look at the only unsolved murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Listen below.

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Witnesses recalled plane was low, wings tipping before crash

HATBORO, Pa. (AP) — Witnesses told investigators that a small plane was flying low, its wings were tipping and the engine was very loud before it crashed into the backyard of a suburban Philadelphia home earlier this month. All three on board — a husband, wife and their 19-year-old daughter — were killed.

Related: Family of 3 dead in small plane crash in residential Montco

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report Thursday on the Aug. 8 crash near Hatboro, about 30 miles north of Philadelphia.

The report says the plane crashed shortly after taking off from Northeast Philadelphia Airport. The pilot’s flight plan detailed a refueling stop in Columbus, Ohio, with a final destination of St. Louis, Missouri.

The report says shortly after takeoff the pilot was instructed to call the control tower and he did so. There were no other transmissions.

The victims were 60-year-old Jasvir Khurana, 54-year-old Divya Khurana — both doctors in Philadelphia — and their daughter Kiran.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.  

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Boathouse Row goes white for Philly’s annual Diner en Blanc

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Normally you see people jogging or biking along Kelly Drive.

But Thursday night, part of it was shut down for dinner — Diner en Blanc, that is — which started during the evening rush.

Boathouse Row was this year’s secret spot.

“The location is beautiful,” said Leah Dziura, one of more than 6,000 attendees. “Everyone is dressed to the nines; the tables are decorated. Once in a lifetime thing.”

And just like that, the 8th Annual Diner En Blanc has come and gone. Thank you to everyone who has made this evening even more magical than the last.✨ From the stunning table decor to the show-stopping fashion, we were blown away by all of our SPARKLING attendees, volunteers, and entertainers! Who else is counting down the days until next year? #BoathouseRow #DinerEnBlanc #DEBPHL19 #WhyILovePhilly #PhillyEvents #Igers_Philly #VisitPhilly

A post shared by Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia (@dinerenblancphl) on

Even tho The rain shut us down early — we still loved how our wall came out!!!! Did you get a pic in front of it?!?? #debphilly #debphilly2019 #phillyeventplanner #phillyevents #DEBPHL2019 #dinerenblanc #dinerenblancphilly #boxwood #boxwoodbackdrop #boathouserow #whyilovephilly #philly

A post shared by BackDroppers (@backdroppers215) on

As always, our guests never disappoint when it comes to dashing table decor, delectable cuisine, and delicious bubbly!– Here are some of our favorites so far. #BoathouseRow #DinerEnBlanc #DEBPHL19 #WhyILovePhilly #PhillyEvents #Igers_Philly #VisitPhilly

A post shared by Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia (@dinerenblancphl) on

I couldn’t have asked for a better night, until next year, Au revoir ——@dinerenblancphl #dinerenblanc #dinerenblanc2019

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“It’s my third year and probably the most incredible location that I’ve seen so far,” added Brittany Floyd. “Kelly Drive is just really iconic. It allows us to be near the river and it’s just a nice vibe. It’s just really, really lovely.”

Per Diner en Blanc tradition, guests dress in all white and pack a meal. They go to a meeting spot — not the actual dinner location — and don’t know where they’ll actually be eating until they arrive.

“Eastern State Penitentiary was our meeting spot,” explained Sue Getz. “So then you walk — even our table leader didn’t know where we were going. There’s a group leader that takes the tables, and then you’re walking and walking and then you just end up … it’s all set up they have the music, the balloons, the lights the water. It’s beautiful.”

Some people go all out for dinner, packing sushi or steak. Others keep it simple.

“Tonight we brought basic sliders, fruit, crackers,” said Maria Lyons. “We brought finger foods because we don’t eat dinner here, we just drink a lot, which is common.”

Diner en Blanc is BYOB, and the wine was definitely flowing Thursday night. But before bottles were corked and people start eating, groups at each table traditionally stand up and wave their napkins in the air.

Over the years, Philadelphia’s Diner en Blanc has become the largest one in the country.

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Retired cops discusses potential dangers of serving warrant

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The shootout that left six police officers wounded in North Philadelphia began when a tactical team attempted to serve a warrant. Former Philadelphia Police Sgt. Lee Rominiecki, a retired officer with decades of experience in handling one of the most dangerous aspects of the job, discusses parts of the job that isn’t known to many. 

“As we’re entering a home we were gonna serve a warrant, I always said a little prayer, ‘God get us through this, please,'” said Rominiecki, who explains that the first few minutes of a raid are crucial.

“That’s when my stomach flutters. Once you get through the door you see who’s in the house, you separate the people. You have enough police officers with you that will watch the people in the house because you have to search them first to see if they have drugs or weapons, which they could use against us.”

“It’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get when you go through that door,” he added.
 
Rominiecki served on the force from 1973 to 1994, a much different time when cops served warrants with .38-caliber revolvers, which are pop guns compared to the automatic weapons that many use today. 
 
“And you look at the drugs that you’re using today, how powerful they are. You take something like fentanyl, and if someone is on that, they’re crazed. This is what the police have to deal with today, it’s a tougher situation,” he said. 

After serving a warrant, there’s a “feeling of euphoria afterwards among the police officers that served that warrant,” he explained.

“Number one, we made it through safely. We got drugs off the street, we locked up some bad guys. And we survived, that’s the thing.”

Related:

Despite better training and assistance from SWAT teams, a raid can sideways at any moment, as seen in Nicetown last week. 

“Anytime there’s a high-profile situation, I guarantee you police departments all over this nation are looking at what happened. They look at what went well, what went bad and they improve on it.”

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Hahnemann disputes claims of medical records roadblocks

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There seems to be some confusion in regards to obtaining medical records from Hahnemann University Hospital, which will be closing for good on Sept. 6. 

Konrad, the son of a former Hahnemann University Hospital patient, told KYW Newsradio he had been trying to obtain his deceased father’s medical records for a month. When he called earlier in the week, however, he was told the medical records department will be shutting down Friday, Aug. 23. 

The department not only handles information about patient health procedures, but also information such as birth and death records.

After hearing about Konrad’s struggle with the department on KYW Newsradio, listener Steven Packer thought it would be a good idea to get a hold of his Hahnemann medical records before the hospital closes, and spoke to someone in the medical records department. 

“He said ‘you have to send in a form but quite frankly, it’s a waste of time because we’re not processing any new requests for medical records, and we can’t really tell you what to do because our last day here is Friday and we haven’t been told what’s going to happen with medical records requests,'” Packer said.

However, Ron Dreskin, interim systems CEO with Hahnemann University Hospital, disputed that.

“So, that is 100% false. Our medical records department is open and has been open and will continue to be open,” Dreskin said. 

On behalf of a KYW Newsradio colleague who’s had a procedure done at Hahnemann Hospital, KYW Newsradio called the hospital and asked for medical records. Just like what was told to Packer, the department said they are no longer processing new requests and that after Friday, forms would have to be downloaded from the website.

After some back and forth with the hospital’s public relations department, KYW Newsradio was asked to call the medical records department again, and the department then said they would be answering phones after Friday and it is possible to get your medical records. 

However, the department said that due to the backlog, it could take up to a month to get them. 

Dreskin insisted they have a hospital closure plan in the works.

“Which is state and city mandated. The finalization of that plan has not been approved yet by the state. When it does, we will have a protocol that will be followed,” he said. 

He also reassured patients that they are mandated to hold on to records up to seven years following a procedure and they have to make medical records available to patients.  

“I understand that it’s supposed to be an orderly and organized closing, and this sounds like it’s anything but orderly and organized to me,” Packer said.

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Planned Parenthood chapters deal with loss of federal funds

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Planned Parenthood chapters across America have pulled out of a Title X program that uses federal funds for birth control to help fund birth control efforts. The reason? Guidelines from the Trump administration that the agency equates to a gag rule over abortion counseling.

So how will local chapters make ends meet?

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood received $1.3 million under Title X, which regional CEO Dayle Steinberg says is a sizable chunk of their $18 million annual operating budget. 

And they’re hoping to make it up the old fashioned way.

“We’ve already stepped up our fundraising and donors are extremely responsive,” Steinberg told KYW Newsradio. “They see this for the outrage that it is. It’s yet another attack on communities that are vulnerable and being targeted by the Trump-Pence administration.

She hopes Gov. Tom Wolf might step up to help in some way. 

But the bottom line is that the agency vows to continue to provide services to those in need, with or without federal help.

Related:

New Jersey’s three branches of Planned Parenthood will lose some $9 million a year, but state officials are looking to make up the difference, and discussions are already underway in Trenton.

“I think it is incumbent on us as state legislators to look at trying to address this issue so that no women are caught without having the necessary resources or venues in order to make those life changing decisions,” said State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington County).

There’s a $7.5 million line item in the budget for family planning services statewide. The thought here is to include Planned Parenthood’s need there and increase funding accordingly.

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