Politics

MAYOR VASQUEZ, IN LEMON GROVE’S STATE OF CITY ADDRESS, HIGHLIGHTS EFFORTS TO ADDRESS HUNGER, HOMELESSNESS AND PANDEMIC

By Miriam Raftery

November 27, 2021 (Lemon Grove) -- The City of Lemon Grove 2021 State of the City Address has now been released on several public digital platforms.  The address, delivered virtually by Mayor Racquel Vasquez, focused on the City’s successes in 2020 including compassionate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, goals for the future, and a positive year-end budget.


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CONGRESSWOMAN SARA JACOBS CELEBRATES THANKSGIVING WITH SERVICEMEMBERS AND VETERANS IN SOUTH KOREA



Photo: Jacobs serves Thanksgiving lunch at Camp Humphreys

 

East County News Service

November 27, 2021 (San Diego) -- Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) served Thanksgiving lunch to servicemembers at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, as part of an official congressional delegation trip to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, organized by House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano.


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COLLEGE DISTRICT RETAINS TRUSTEE BOUNDARIES

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

November 23, 2021 (El Cajon) - The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s trustee area boundaries will remain unchanged, after a thorough review of 2020 Census population and demographic data.


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BUILD BACK BETTER ACT PASSES HOUSE, ADVANCES TO SENATE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via C-Span:  House Democrats cheer passage of Build Back Better Act

November 20, 2021 (San Diego) – On the heels of a major infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden, on Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act on a party-line 220-213 vote, which now advances to the Senate.  The landmark measure would expand the nation’s social safety net for the middle class and poor including increased childcare, Medicare benefits, college aid, housing support, invest in shifting the nation to renewable energy and more.


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BIDEN SIGNS INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: CONGRESSWOMAN JACOBS AND STAFF ANSWER QUESTIONS FROM ECM ON LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Congresswoman Sara Jacobs and colleagues with President Joe Biden at infrastructure bill signing

November 19, 2021(San Diego’s East County) –  Could funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act just signed into law by President Joe Biden be used to fund sorely needed projects to benefit East County, from wildfire prevention to reducing freeway gridlock, taking communities off-grid, and improving dam safety?  East County Magazine reached out to Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, who attended the bill signing at the White House. She issued a statement on some local priorities and had her staff respond on other potential projects including:

  • Reducing gridlock on State Route 52 in Santee
  • Repairing dams at El Capitan and Lake Hodges reservoirs
  • Increasing mass transit for our region
  • Cleaning up a toxic underground plume near Gillespie Field and an elementary school in El Cajon
  • Taking communities such as  Descanso, that have suffered through many power outages, off-grid to produce their own clean energy for reliable electricity;
  • Replacing lead water pipes

“We have big infrastructure needs in San Diego, from broadband to transportation to wildfire prevention, but the good news is that this bill provides new funding to meet these needs. Now it’s time to make sure that San Diego gets our share of the funding and I look forward to working with our state and local partners to get that done,” Jacob says.


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SUPERVISOR ANDERSON TAKES ACTION TO EXPAND ACCESS AT LOCAL LAKES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our interview by clicking the image at left.

November 18, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County Supervisors on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve Supervisor Joel Anderson’s proposal aimed at expanding access to local lakes where hours have been cut back during the pandemic.

The measure directs the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation to start discussions with outside agencies managing East County lakes and reservoirs, with a goal to keep reservoirs open for recreational activities.

"These are great, COVID-approved recreational activities for families," Anderson said of hiking, fishing, boating and other lake-related opportunities. In an interview with East County Magazine also aired on KNSJ radio, he added, "I wanted to fulfill my campaign promise in the first year."


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TWO SAN DIEGO CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES CALL ON DEPT. OF JUSTICE TO INVESTIGATE BORDER PATROL “SHADOW UNITS”

By Miriam Raftery

November 17, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego Congressional members Juan Vargas and Sara Jacobs, along with Congressman Juan Castro of Texas, have sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigation allegations of critical incident teams or “shadow units” within the U.S. Border Patrol.


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9/11 FROM DUST TO DECEIT, FROM BUSH TO BUTCHERY

 

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored, by Ray McGinnis (NorthernStar Publications, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2021, 421 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

November 14, 2021 (San Diego) - Having been a juror in the “San Diego Citizens Grand Jury – Presenting the Evidence of the Crimes of 9/11” on April 14th, 2007 at San Diego State University, this book by Ray McGinnis resonates with me on so many levels.

Unanswered Questions is a brutally persuasive book for  those who want answers to the real origins of the Afghanistan war. Ray McGinnis’ book digs deeper and hammers harder for the unvarnished truths, Ex-President Bush, currently on a good-guy speaking tour speaks without remorse or responsibility for the unmitigated catastrophe he set in motion 20 years ago, according to many. President Bush famously said, in another of his statements that everyone seemed to relish; “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” But he rejected an offer by the Taliban to hand over bin Laden in exchange for the U.S. to stop bombing their country.


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FREE SPEECH ADVOCATES THREATEN LEGAL ACTION OVER SUPERVISORS’ NEW RULES LIMITING PUBLIC COMMENTS AND INPUT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  attorney Cory Briggs contends the county’s limits on public comments violate civil rights, free speech rights and open meeting requirements

November 14, 2021 (San Diego) – Last week, San Diego County Supervisors enacted changes limited public input in an effort to address racist and threatening comments made at a recent public meeting. But the new policy goes farther, also eliminating the public’s ability to ask that consent calendar items be fully discussed, severely restricting speaking times and prohibiting group presentations on some topics.


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CONGRESSWOMAN JACOBS VISITS EL CAJON BUSINESSES, TALKS ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS AND BUSINESS GRANTS

By Miriam Raftery

November 13, 2021 (El Cajon) – Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-53) stopped by downtown El Cajon on Wednesday to speak about how passage of the infrastructure bill could impact our region. In a tour coordinated with the East County Chamber of Commerce, Jacobs also met with local business owners to hear about their needs as the economy emerges from pandemic.

“We here in San Diego are well placed to receive a lot of funding from this bill,” Jacobs said in a press conference outside of Rob’s Brewpoint, a new coffee shop opened during the pandemic.

Through formula funding, California is expected to receive $44 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which President Joe Biden plans to sign into law on Monday. San Diego will likely get 8 percent of that for roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, Jacobs said. “There’s also a competitive grant program,” she added, noting that the Secretary of Transportation will have discretion on how those grants will be disseminated.


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REDISTRICTING COULD BRING BIG CHANGES TO EAST COUNTY REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS, LEGISLATURE, AND SUPERVISORS

By Miriam Raftery

Map, left:: Proposed Congressional districts (View full size)

November 12, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Every 10 years, political districts at all levels undergo redrawing district boundaries to reflect demographic changes reported in Census data.  A statewide commission this week released preliminary maps of Congressional, State Assembly and State Senate districts, which must be finalized by Dec. 7.  In addition, a county commission meets Nov. 13 to consider draft maps for Supervisorial districts.

Some East County leaders have voiced concerned over certain proposed maps that if approved, could divide East County, lumping communities such as Lakeside in with coastal areas and some places in with communities in other counties. Opponents include the Lakeside Chamber Commerce, which supports alternative maps.

The stated intent, per the law, is to focus on trying to keep communities together based on factors including shared cultural, ethnic, geographic or economic concerns, voting rights and more.  All districts must be approximately equal in populations, be contiguous with compact shapes to avoid gerrymandering and try to keep cities, towns and communities together.


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EL CAJON MAYOR, AT PARENTS ANTI-MANDATE RALLY, DECRIES 'PLOT TO TAKE OVER AMERICA'

By Ken Stone and Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells warned against the “evil” of government mandates.  Photo by Chris Stone

November 11, 2021 (El Cajon) - Raging against “a plot to take over America and the rest of the world,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells spoke Wednesday at a rally of parents calling for freedom from vaccination mandates.


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SUPERVISOR JIM DESMOND SPEAKS OUT ON MILEAGE TAX AND OTHER PROPOSED TAXES

By Miriam Raftery

November 11, 2021 (San Diego) – San  Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond spoke with East County Magazine via Zoom last week over his concerns about SANDAG’s planned mileage tax and its disparate impact on rural, mountain and desert residents whose communities are not slated for transit projects that the tax would fund, along with limited other transportation projects. The interview originally aired on KNSJ radio and can now be viewed by clicking the video on the left. 

He also talked about other proposed taxes ranging from a sales tax increase to toll roads in our region. These include:

  • A state fee of 2.3 cents for every mile driven, plus a 2 cent per mile local fee that SANDAG wants to impose countywide. (4.3 cents total)
  • Another ½ cent sales tax beginning 2024 (in addition to a ½ cent tax from 2008)
  • An Metropolitan Transit System tax for everyone who lives in the MTS area
  • A new fee for using a ride hailing company such as UBER or LYFT: $1.25/solo ride $.65/carpool ride
  • Changing 819 lane miles of San Diego’s freeways into toll lanes

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SANTEE SHOOTS DOWN BIRD BEFORE SCOOTER COMPANY TAKES FLIGHT

By Mike Allen

November 9, 2021 (Santee) -- A few years ago, Santee and other cities in San Diego County were flooded by electric-bike businesses whose products were strewn about, creating sidewalk congestion and possible liability problems.  In response, Santee and other cities enacted restrictions to the new bikes and scooters, requiring the businesses to enter into clearly defined contracts.


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SURVEY FINDS MOST SANTEE RESIDENTS GIVE HIGH MARKS TO CITY’S QUALITY OF LIFE, BUT NOT ALL ARE HAPPY

Traffic, homeless and racism are top concerns

By Mike Allen

Photo:  Josh Williams, president of BW Research, answers question about the Santee survey on Nov. 2 in front of City Council members Rob McNelis, Dustin Trotter and Mayor John Minto. All five members were present.

November 8, 2021 (Santee) -- A survey commissioned by the city of Santee found that while the great majority of residents, 80 percent, feel the city’s quality of life is excellent or good, about a third said that quality is declining.


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COUNTY BOARD ADOPTS NEW FRAMEWORK FOR ENDING HOMELESSNESS

Photo:  Homeless Outreach Team member speaks with a man who is homeless. 

By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office 

November 6, 2021 (San Diego) -- The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on November 3 to adopt a new framework that aims to end homelessness in the San Diego region.

A comprehensive presentation shown at the Board meeting focused on how the County will centralize critical expertise and operations, and use equity and data, to better provide housing and supportive services that address the needs of people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.


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HISTORIC INFRASTRUCTURE BILL PASSES HOUSE, HEADS TO PRESIDENT BIDEN FOR SIGNATURE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Miriam Raftery: bridge construction in Montana

November 5, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – The House of Representatives tonight approved the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by a 228-206 vote. The landmark bill previously approved by the Senate 69-30 now heads to President Joe Biden, who has pledged to sign it into law.

The bill marks the most significant investment in the nation’s infrastructure (including roads, bridges, railways, power grid and internet upgrades, disaster responses, and replacing lead water pipes), since Roosevelt’s New Deal after the Depression in the 1930s.  It will fund major infrastructure projects – also putting people to work – in all 50 states.

Specifically, it includes:


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REP. SARA JACOBS ADDS INCREASED CHILDCARE BENEFITS FOR FAMILIES IN HIGH-COST AREAS TO “BUILD BACK BETTER” BILL: VOTE EXPECTED FRIDAY

Update November 5, 2021: The vote on this bill has been postponed until November 15.

By Miriam Raftery

November 4, 2021 (San Diego) – The House of Representatives is expected to vote this Friday on the Build Back Better Act, President Joe Biden’s economic package aimed at rebuilding what the White House refers to as “the backbone of the country” – the middle class.” 


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SANDAG APPROVES MILEAGE TAX OVER OBJECTIONS OF UNFAIRNESS TO EAST COUNTY

By Henri Migala and Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, by Henri Migala:  around 200 residents attended a forum in La Mesa organized by Carl DeMaio of Reform California, which opposes the mileage tax

November 4, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) on Friday approved a controversial road usage tax, also known as a mileage tax. The measure drew strong opposition from East County residents and political leaders, who argue that its unfair to charge hefty taxes to inland residents who won’t benefit from ambitious transit projects planned in coastal areas.


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JASON ROBO LOSES NORCAL RADIO GIG AFTER RACIST RANT AGAINST COUNTY SUPERVISORS

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Jason Robo in one of his YouTube channel videos, which mostly get very light traffic.

November 4, 2021 (San Diego) - Comedian Jason Robo on Wednesday apparently lost his 5-year-old unpaid radio gig in Humboldt County a day after his crude rant against three county supervisors and racist attack on the county’s public health officer.


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AS THOROUGHBRED DEATHS MOUNT, EFFORTS GROW TO BAN GAMBLING ON HORSE RACING

By Miriam Raftery

November 3, 2021 (San Diego) – California’s 2021 thoroughbred racing season is off to a deadly start.  So far, 62 racehorses have died, prompting animal rights advocates and the San Diego Democratic Party to call for a state constitutional amendment to ban gambling on horse racing.


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RACIAL SLURS, PERSONAL ATTACKS BY ANTI-VAXXER AT SUPERVISORS’ MEETING PROMPT CALLS FOR REFORMS

By Miriam Raftery 

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson contributed to this story.

Update (11:15 a.m.) : See link at end of story regarding Jason Robo. Robo allegedly bills himself as a comedian. 

Photo: Jason Robo’s personal attacks included racial slurs against the County’s Black public health officer.

November 3, 2021 (San Diego) – Personal attacks including profane and racist remarks by an anti-vaxxer during San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors meeting have prompted a prominent civil rights leader to call for limits on public speech.

A man identifying himself as Jason Robo testified that Chairman Nathan Fletcher should commit suicide, then made racial slurs against County Public Health Director Wilma  Wooten, who is Black. Among other things, Robo called Wooten a “f***king Aunt Jemima.”  (View video)


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LOTHIAN WINS LA MESA COUNCIL SPECIAL ELECTION

 

 

 

Update November 2, 2021:  The final, official results give Lothian the win with 4,474 votes, or 38.43% of the vote, a comfortable margin of nearly 2,000 votes. Out of 39, 346 registered voters, 11,686 cast votes. Afghsan too, 21.67%, Dillard 20.36%, Stieringer 10.95%, Brand 6.84%, and Louden 1.76%.

By Miriam Raftery

November 3, 2021 (La Mesa) – Realtor Laura Lothian appears poised to win the La Mesa City Council special election.  Preliminary results posted by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters show Lothian with 39.18% of the vote in the six-candidate race, more than double the vote tally of the next highest candidate.

With 2,000 votes yet to be tallied, Lothian has a lead of 1,451 votes over Patricia Dillard, who has 20.85% of the votes.


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MORE EL CAJON SCHOOLCHILDREN FREED FROM AFGHANISTAN, ISSA ANNOUNCES

“After months of teamwork, a brave family is finally coming home.” – Rep. Darrell Issa

 Nov. 2, 2021 (El Cajon) --  Today, Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50) announced that a seventh family and schoolchildren from the El Cajon school district has escaped Afghanistan and will be returning to their home in California.

“For months, my staff and I have joined an unprecedented community wide effort to bring this family and these kids home. Today, we can say that they are for certain on their way back to us,” said Issa. “There are so many people to thank for making this possible.”


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BILL TO PROTECT PALA INDIANS’ SACRED SITE PASSES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

East County News Service

November 2, 2021 (Pala) -- Bipartisan legislation to facilitate the Pala Band of Mission Indians’ work to protect a sacred San Diego County site passed in the House of Representatives today.  H.R. 1975 – The Pala Band of Mission Indians Land Transfer Act of 2021 – was authored by Congressman Darrel Issa (CA-50)  and cosponsored by Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51). 

The legislation will authorize the Secretary of the Interior to transfer approximately 720 acres of land – which includes a sacred site known locally as Gregory Mountain or Chokla– that was acquired by the Pala into trust for the benefit of the tribe and its members.

The action ends a two-decade battle by the tribe to prevent the Gregory Canyon Landfill.  In 2016, the land was purchased by the Pala Band of Mission Indians to prevent construction of a landfill on the mountain, a site of tremendous cultural significance to Pala tribal members. 


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SAN DIEGO AND THE RISE OF PUBLIC BANKING

By Brian Schrader

Photo: County administration building, from Flickr by Tony Webster

November 1, 2021 (San Diego) -- Everything old is new again, and California seems likely to revive an old idea to solve its modern challenges. Public banking isn’t a well-known or often discussed subject, but proponents believe that it might just be the catalyst of much needed reform in California.

In general, there are two kinds of public banks: investment banks and deposit-taking banks. The latter is the kind that most of us are familiar with—those that offer checking and savings accounts—and while there is an ongoing discussion about public deposit-taking banks, it’s the investment banks that are currently getting the most attention in San Diego and in Sacramento.


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NEARLY $800 MILLION IN AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN SUPPORTS SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR SEXUAL ASSAULT AND THEIR CHILDREN

Source: U.S. Health and Human Services

Photo:  CC via Bing

October 30, 2021 (Washington D.C.) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is awarding a total of $797.5 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.


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SUPERVISORS REPEAL SUNSET CLAUSE, ALLOWS FIVE LEGAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES IN UNINCORPORATED AREAS TO STAY OPEN, EXPAND WARES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Outlier’s Collective near Gillespie Field is one of five legal dispensaries that will be allowed to expand to include recreational, edible and drinkable cannabis products

October 30, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Five medical marijuana dispensaries that were legally licensed to open in San Diego County’s unincorporated areas faced closure after Supervisors in 2017 repealed legalization and allowed existing dispensaries to stay open only until April 2022.  But now the current board of Supervisors has voted to remove the sunset clause and allow the five legal dispensaries to continue operations, as well as expand by up to 10,000 square feet to add recreational cannabis products including edibles and beverages.


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SUPERVISORS APPROVE ANDERSON PROPOSAL FOR HOMELESS SHELTERS AND SERVICES IN EAST COUNTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 30, 2021 (San Diego) – On Tuesday, Supervisors approved a measure introduced by Supervisor Joel Anderson to bring help to homeless people in East County.

The new ordinance gives staff 120 days to propose locations for homeless shelters in unincorporated areas, as well as safe parking lots for people living in vehicles. The sites will have wrap-around services, so homeless families and individuals will receive support to get off the streets.

“The goal is to put these individuals on a path towards stability, independence, and employment,” says Anderson.


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JUSTICE DEPT. OPENS HOTLINE FOR SCHOOL OFFICIALS TO REPORT THREATS; ISSA INTRODUCES “STAND WITH PARENTS” RESOLUTION

By Miriam Raftery

October 27, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – Following a rise in complaints by school board members, teachers and school workers over threats of violence, harassment and intimidation, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced plans to convene a meeting with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement leaders to create strategies for addressing this trend.

In a press release, the Dept. of Justice also encouraged education officials to report threats to the FBI’s National Threat operations Center tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI or via the FBI website at http://fbi.gov/tips. “Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Garland states. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”

Republicans have criticized Garland for setting up what they term a “snitch line on parents” and seeking to suppress free speech. But in testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Garland made clear that he has no intention of targeting free speech, which he said is “totally protected by the First Amendment…We are only concerned about violence and threats of violence against school administrators, teachers, staff.” 

In response to the Dept. of Justice announcement, Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican from the 50th district which includes San Diego and much of East County, introduced the “Stand With Parents” resolution.


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