Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Free Cinco de Mayo Rides — “Offered by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), the 2021 Cinco de Mayo SoberRide program will be in operation beginning at 4:00 pm this Wednesday, May 5, 2021 (Cinco de Mayo) and operate until 2:00 am on Thursday, May 6, 2021 as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk holiday.” [Press Release]

Extra ACPD Traffic Enforcement — From the Arlington County Police Department: “As part of the regional Council of Governments StreetSmart campaign, officers conducted high visibility speed enforcement along Lee Highway today. With warmer weather upon us, there is increased pedestrian and cyclist traffic in the County. Remember to slow down, obey posted speed limits and remain alert for other travelers.” [Facebook]

School Board Hopefuls On Math Controversy — “With the Virginia Department of Education under attack – fairly or unfairly – for what critics say is an attempt to dumb down math instruction across the commonwealth, the two candidates for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board gave state officials neither a rousing endorsement nor a ringing denunciation in a recent forum.” [Sun Gazette]

Critic Praises Local Restaurant — “Every once in a while, a restaurant comes along that checks off so many boxes, you wonder if it had taken a poll of diners’ wishes. Right now, that restaurant is a place in Arlington that combines a warm welcome with good food in a spot that locals might recall as a former paint store or a chocolate factory… Ruthie’s All-Day.” [Washington Post]

Covid Concerns for Local With India Ties — “Singh, a 28-year-old consultant, walked her dog in her Arlington, Va., neighborhood where people lined up to get inside a rooftop tiki bar and a group pedaled by on a party bike, drinking beer. She returned to her apartment and stayed up until 2 a.m. scouring Instagram for phone numbers of Indians who might have oxygen and getting no replies to a flurry of messages. Singh is among thousands of Americans struggling to help Indian relatives survive a catastrophic coronavirus surge that has caused the health care system to collapse.” [New India Times]

Nearby: Fairfax Co. Lowers Tax Rate — “Fairfax County adopted a budget Tuesday that lowers the residential property tax rate… the tax rate drops by a penny to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value. Prince William County officials also recently shaved a penny from their tax rate, now at $1.115 per $100 of assessed value. Loudoun County lowered its rate by 5 .5 cents, to $0.98 per $100 of assessed value, while Arlington County froze its rate at $1.013 per $100 of assessed value.” [Washington Post]

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A juvenile is facing numerous charges and police are looking for two other suspects after yet another business burglary in Dominion Hills.

Police have been more proactive in the wake of dozens of break-ins and thefts at local businesses. The arrest was made early Saturday morning after patrols were stepped up in response to reports of burglaries in a nearby jurisdiction, according to Arlington County police.

Officers allegedly caught three burglars in the act shortly after 3 a.m. while removing a cash register from a business on the hard-hit 6000 block of Wilson Blvd, scene of at least four prior burglaries. They had allegedly arrived at the location in a stolen vehicle and broken the front window of a business.

All of the suspects fled on foot, but Arlington and Fairfax officers were able to take one into custody in the Seven Corners area, with the assistance of the FCPD helicopter.

Police are continuing to investigate the burglaries and are working to determine the identity of the other two suspects. Previously, an Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman told ARLnow that the business burglaries are being investigated as being potentially connected.

“Investigators believe that some of these cases are linked but not all are committed by the same suspects,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage.

More from a police press release:

A juvenile suspect is facing charges of Burglary, Possession of Stolen Auto, Conspiracy to Commit Felonies (2x), Felony Destruction of Property, Possession of Stolen Property, Petit Larceny, and Underage Possession of Tobacco following a commercial burglary in the Dominion Hills neighborhood on the morning of Saturday, April 24, 2021. The arrest follows an increase in overnight commercial burglaries targeting cash-based businesses both in Arlington County and the region. Detectives continue to investigate the juvenile suspect’s role in these burglaries and additional charges are anticipated.

At approximately 3:13 a.m. on April 24, officers were conducting extra checks at commercial establishments after receiving the report of a business being burglarized in a neighboring jurisdiction. Upon entering the 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard, officers observed a vehicle, which was later determined to be stolen, backed in front of a business with both front doors open. As the officers approached the business, they observed that the front window had been broken out. Three suspects then exited the business through the broken window carrying stolen merchandise and a cash register. Officers gave lawful commands to stop but the three suspects dropped the stolen items and fled the scene on foot.

A perimeter was established, and the area was searched with the assistance of the Fairfax County Police Department helicopter. At approximately 3:42 a.m., an officer observed an individual running across Route 50 matching the description of one of the burglary suspects. Fairfax County helicopter located the suspect in the 6100 block of Brook Drive where he was taken into custody without incident by Arlington and Fairfax County officers. The two additional suspects were not located and the investigation into their identities is ongoing.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information or video surveillance that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact Detective B. Kooharian at 703-228-4049 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Covid Testing Unit Coming to Marymount — “The mobile testing unit, operated by Quest Diagnostics, will operate at the university in the parking lot by Reinsch Library, from April 19 – May 7, open Monday-Friday from 9 AM – 4 PM. It will offer no-cost, no-appointment COVID-19 testing to the general public, as well as Marymount students, staff and faculty.” [Arlington County]

School Board Candidate’s Emails FOIAed — “Arlington School Board candidate Mary Kadera said a political opposition-research effort is unlikely to turn up any dirt on her. In a note to supporters, Kadera (one of two candidates in the upcoming Democratic caucus) noted that a local resident had submitted a request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act in order to gain access to all the e-mails she has sent to School Board members over the past two years.” [Sun Gazette]

Wakefield Alums Push for Accountability — “Members of the Wakefield High School community are pushing for more accountability and action in the wake of a March 5 football game where players on George C. Marshall High School’s football team allegedly used racial slurs against Wakefield players. In a letter sent Wednesday, alumni, parents and staff members at Wakefield — one of four public high schools in Arlington County — said they were ‘horrified’ by the events that occurred at the March 5 game.” [Patch]

Rosslyn Developer Dies — “Stanley Westreich, a commercial real estate developer whose projects helped define and shape Rosslyn’s skyline, died April 11 at his residence in San Diego. His cause of death was not disclosed. He was 83. Westreich and Westfield Realty… helped establish the Arlington neighborhood with 10 projects, most notably the Gannett and USA Today towers, now known as the Towers at 1000 and 1100 Wilson Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]

No Founding Farmers at DCA Yet — “It turns out that Founding Farmers won’t open a restaurant inside Reagan National Airport’s new 14-gate concourse, though it is still weighing one elsewhere within the complex. The Kensington-based company has scrapped plans… [it] was expected to join other restaurant and retail tenants there including Elevation Burger, Mezeh Mediterranean Grill and Timber Pizza Co.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Murder Outside Skyline Target — “A man was found dead this morning inside a parking garage in Bailey’s Crossroads. Officers responded around 3:30 a.m. to the 5100 block of Leesburg Pike after 58-year-old Hernan Leiva, of Falls Church, was found suffering from apparent stab wounds and blunt force trauma to his upper body… [a 22-year-old Alexandria man later] returned to a parking lot near the scene and turned himself into police.” [Fairfax County Police, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by C Buoscio

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A group of players and parents from Wakefield High School are speaking out about an alleged racist incident at Marshall High School (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

A group of Wakefield High School football players and their parents are contesting game suspensions and calling for accountability among athletic officials in response to reports of racism on the field.

The athletes say they endured being called “boy” and the N-word, and one student was spat on, during a football game on March 5 at Marshall High School.

On Thursday, Arlington Public Schools issued statements confirming the reports of racial slurs being used. Fairfax County Public Schools said it conducted an investigation and is working on a plan for restorative justice, but these reports are being contested by members of the Marshall community.

Senior Lukai Hatcher, one of the students who posted a widely-shared account of what happened on social media, tells ARLnow the taunting — which built on similar name-calling during basketball season — started early in the game.

“We complained to the ref, who did nothing, and the coaches, who couldn’t do anything,” he said. “Of course, if you leave something untreated, it’s going to grow.”

At the end of the game, Hatcher said a Marshall player spit at him, and he lunged for the player. This launched a brawl between the two teams and resulted in three Wakefield students and one Marshall student receiving three-game suspensions.

“We only got a reaction out of the refs when we did something to protect ourselves,” he said.

His mother, Lydia Hatcher, said that following the game she was in contact with the football coach, the school athletic director and the principal. She told them and Virginia High School League that she disagreed with the suspension on the grounds that her son was defending himself.

“My kids are used to being bumped a little harder, but they’re not used to being called the N-word,” Hatcher said. “If I had been close enough, I would’ve taken my son off the field.”

Both schools worked together to reduce the suspensions for students, said Mike McCall, the director of communications for VHSL.

“As soon as VHSL staff was made aware of incidents surrounding this game, the video of the game was reviewed,” he said. “Additionally, all those within the authority level of the VHSL were involved in conversations surrounding the concerns associated with the game. The schools worked collaboratively together with the VHSL during the entire process.”

Arlington Public Schools confirmed it has been in contact with multiple officials since the game.

“From the beginning, APS and Wakefield officials have been in contact with Marshall High School, VHSL leadership, staff at the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, and Fairfax County Public Schools about what transpired and the lack of action by the officials after repeated attempts by players and coaches to alert them to the behavior,” the school system said in a statement. “Staff was working behind the scenes to get the Wakefield suspension overturned.”

For Lydia Hatcher, however, the decision was inequitable.

“Had Lukai, as a black young male, spit on someone who was not a person of color, there would have been charges pressed,” she said. “A little slap on the wrist for one game is not acceptable punishment.”

The parents have launched a petition that currently has nearly 5,000 signatures, demanding an apology from Marshall and from VHSL, asking for the suspension on the Wakefield players to be reversed, and mandatory diversity and inclusion training for local athletes, coaches and officials.

Late Friday afternoon, the Arlington branch of the NAACP issued a statement in support of the “#PlayFairNow” petition, decrying “a culture of hate towards black students at Arlington Public Schools with no accountability for bad actors.”

“We’re trying to fight the pandemic, work careers, help kids with schooling, and we have to fight racism,” said Monique Brown-Bryant, whose son Kevin Robinson was on the field that night. “It’s a separate pandemic.”

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) Players on the Wakefield High School varsity football team were called racial slurs during a recent game against Marshall High School, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirms.

Students Lukai Hatcher and Izaiah Lang took to social media last night (Wednesday) to post about the events they say transpired during the away game on Friday, March 5.

“Me and my teammates were called racial slurs, taunted, and even spit on by Marshall players,” they said in a widely-shared joint statement posted on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere. “We also experienced unfair treatment by each of the refs and were harassed from the sidelines by coaches and Marshall parents.”

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed a portion of the allegations.

“An incident did occur between Marshall and Wakefield high schools where Marshall players used racial slurs at the Wakefield football team,” Bellavia tells ARLnow.

“The Wakefield administration as well as other APS officials have been in contact with Marshall High School, VHSL officials and the referee association about this incident,” Bellavia said. “APS administrators have been meeting regularly with the Wakefield team and parents to provide support since the incident occurred.”

Game footage shows a fight breaking out between the teams. APS confirmed that three Wakefield students were given three-game suspensions as a result of the fights, but the sanctions have since been knocked down to one-game suspensions per Virginia High School League guidelines.

Wakefield ended up losing the game to Marshall, 19-18.

Hatcher and Lang alleged in their statement that what happened on March 5 has happened before.

“Marshall High School’s athletic teams have been known to demonstrate a culture of racism and unsportsmanlike behavior,” including foul play on the basketball court, they said. “We are shining the light on the continuing culture of tolerance for unjust and discriminatory practices in sports for minority athletes and seeking accountability in support of change.”

“We as a team complained to the refs all game about the way that we were being treated yet the flags were consistently thrown on us and even our coaches,” Hatcher and Lang added. “We should not be punished for defending ourselves and each other especially because during the entire game the refs, [whose] job it is to ensure each game is fair and who were supposed to protect and defend us, did not.”

Principal Chris Willmore said in a letter to families Thursday afternoon that “the adults who were responsible failed” the Wakefield players.

“The administrative team and I are outraged by the blatant acts of racism our players were subjected to during the game and that the officials did nothing to intervene despite our urging and even after our coaches signaled them to the behavior multiple times during the contest, allowing the situation to escalate,” he wrote. “This is unacceptable.”

“All coaches have been instructed to leave the field/court immediately if our student-athletes are subject to racist, bigoted behaviors. Our student-athletes will not be put into a position like this again,” Willmore continued, adding that there have been “other incidents that we’ve have experienced in the past.”

APS Superintendent Francisco Durán also issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Our leadership and School Board are calling on VHSL and all parties involved in extracurricular activities to reform and change their practices to ensure our schools and athletic events are free of racism, bigotry, hate speech and unsportsmanlike conduct,” he said, in part. “APS encourages all students and staff to continue to stand up and call out acts of racism, hate speech and other forms of discrimination when they see them.”

In a statement, Fairfax County Public Schools said it “does not accept acts of intolerance” and has “expectations of behavior in our students and staff.”

“At FCPS, our primary responsibility is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Every student must understand the value of appreciating each other’s differences, extending common courtesy, and treating each other with respect,” the statement said. “We must all be committed to do better.”

The administration conducted a thorough investigation involving VHSL, officials, staff, players and families from both teams, according to the statement. The school system said it is working with the school, FCPS leadership and coaches from both teams to develop a plan for restorative justice.

In speaking out publicly, Hatcher and Lang said they were pressing for change.

“This isn’t new and enough is enough!” they wrote.

The full statement from Wakefield High School’s principal is below.

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Morning Notes

Distance Learning Only for APS — “Due to inclement weather… Level 1, in-person learning support, Level 2 Career & Technical Education students and staff supporting these programs will temporarily revert to distance learning.” [Arlington Public Schools]

County Government Open — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, & facilities are OPEN Friday, 02-19-2021. Courts will open at 10AM. All facilities will follow normal operating hours.” [Twitter]

Be Careful Out There — “Northern Virginia crews continue to clear and treat roads overnight, for both some additional wintry precipitation as well as refreeze from low temperatures. Drivers are asked to continue to limit travel if possible, or to use extreme caution and be aware of the potential for slick pavement, even where surfaces appear clear or were previously treated.” [VDOT]

Doses May Be Delayed — “Virginia is seeing delays in this week’s vaccine shipments due to severe winter weather in the Mid-Atlantic region and across the country. The Virginia Department of Health says the state will likely see a delay in the delivery of approximately 106,800 doses, due to distribution channels in the Midwest and elsewhere that are currently shut down.” [InsideNova]

Architectural Review of HQ2 Phase 2 — ” It very intentionally does not look like anything else in Pentagon City or Crystal City, or anywhere else in the region. The style, a populist, jazzy take on high-tech modernism, isn’t aimed at architecture critics, but at the public, which shows remarkable forbearance to the predations of large corporations so long as they have a reputation for being innovative and forward thinking.” [Washington Post]

County Board Members Endorse Candidate — “Alexandria City Council member Elizabeth Bennett-Parker has picked up the endorsement of two Arlington County Board members in her quest for the 45th District House of Delegates seat. Board members Libby Garvey and Katie Cristol endorsed the candidacy.” [InsideNova]

New Spanish Publication on the Pike — “As part of its increased business support efforts, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has launched a new publication dedicated to supporting the area’s Hispanic business community. The publication, Boletín, is a small booklet of resources and information specific to those Spanish speaking businesses serving Columbia Pike’s residents.” [CPRO]

Arlington Man Arrested for Armed Robberies — “An Arlington man was arrested last night and is facing charges in connection with a series of recent armed robberies. Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau determined that in three of the four robberies, the suspect approached the victim, displayed a firearm and took their personal property. In the other case, the suspect took a victim’s purse by force.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

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(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) A 27-year-old Arlington man reported missing by police earlier this week has been found dead.

Police say Oscar Flores “was located deceased in Fairfax County” yesterday.

“The investigation into his death is being handled by the Fairfax County Police Department,” Arlington County police said in a brief statement. No other information was given.

Previously, ACPD said Flores “was last seen on February 13, 2021, at approximately 8:00 p.m. in the area of the Dulles Toll Road and Wolf Trap in Fairfax County.”

A reader tells ARLnow that there was police activity yesterday afternoon near where Flores was last seen.

“Friend of mine was just driving out the Dulles Toll Road at Wolf Trap,” the reader said, prior to the announcement of Flores’ death. “They have about 20 police cars on the side of the road. And two lanes blocked.”

An Arlington police spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

Tysons Reporter, ARLnow’s sister site, reported Thursday afternoon that Flores’ remains were found near Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, “in an area off the roadway near Trap Road.”

Currently, Fairfax County police do not suspect foul play in his death.

Photo courtesy ACPD

Morning Notes

Megachurch Coming to Courthouse — “McLean Bible Church aims to lease about 10,000 square feet at 1310 N. Courthouse Road, according to documents submitted by MRP to Arlington planners earlier this month. The church would be able to host up to 450 worshippers in this new space, and use some other portions of it for classrooms and offices.” [Washington Business Journal]

Crane Erection to Close StreetUpdated at 11:15 a.m. — The erection of a crane at an apartment construction site in Pentagon City, near HQ2, will result in a road closure. The work, however, has been postponed after initially being scheduled this weekend. [Twitter]

Fairfax County Also Low on Vaccines — “‘Even though I have all the people power to be able to vaccinate folks. I literally just don’t have the vaccines,’ said Jeff McKay, Chairman of Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors… ‘My greatest concern is now we have ramped up this huge operation, I don’t want to be ramping it down and then ramping it back up again and ramping it down,’ said McKay. ‘We are overwhelmed by demand and underwhelmed by supply.'” [WJLA]

Sports Betting Now a Reality in Va. — “Virginia’s highly lucrative sports gambling market officially opened Thursday when, shortly after 2 p.m., a cellphone user placed a $25 bet on the Golden State Warriors to beat the New York Knicks. Sports betting was approved by the General Assembly in 2020, and the Virginia Lottery was tasked with vetting interested companies. That law included a provision that stirred controversy this week, though, as FanDuel was able to beat the other interested players to market by affiliating with the Washington Football Team.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, ESPN]

Prince William Co. Grapples with Namesake — “Prince William County was named after Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, Marquess of Berkhampstead, Viscount Trematon and Earl of Kennington. The Duke was the third and youngest son of King George II. In England, Prince William had another title. He was commonly called ‘Butcher Cumberland’ for his ruthless conduct during the Battle of Culloden and subsequent genocide of Catholic Jacobites.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

ACPD Salutes Fallen Officer — “ACPD Officers honored fallen @CapitolPolice Officer Brian Sicknick as his procession traveled through Arlington County. In Valor, There is Hope.” [Twitter, Twitter]

M.J. Stewart Makes Splash in Upset Win — “Former Yorktown HS standout M.J. Stewart was one of NBC’s players of the game in the Cleveland Browns’ playoff upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight.” [Twitter]

National Award for County Naturalist — “Alonso Abugattas, natural resources manager for Arlington County, VA, received a Regional Environmental Champion award at the 2020 Natural Latinos conference.” [Bay Journal]

Cristol to Chair NVTC Again — “Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol will go another round as chair of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) for 2021.” [InsideNova]

McAuliffe Picks Up Local Support — “Four of the seven members of Arlington’s legislative delegation, including all three state senators, have announced their support for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s bid for governor. McAuliffe ‘has the bold vision and proven track record we need to push Virginia forward,’ said state Sen. Adam Ebbin.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Fairfax Vaccinating Teachers — “Starting as early as Saturday, Jan. 16, the Fairfax health department has partnered with Inova to vaccinate an estimated 40,000 teachers and staff of public and private schools and childcare programs across the health district.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Thanksgiving County Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 26 & Friday, Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving. Courts will close Wednesday Nov. 26 at noon… Metered Parking: Not enforced on Thurs. Nov. 26 or Fri., Nov. 27.” [Arlington County]

Development Plan for Silver Diner Site — “The Donohoe Cos. is targeting Clarendon’s Silver Diner for a major redevelopment. The company has yet to file specific plans with Arlington County for the triangular parcel at 3200 Wilson Blvd., a block from the Clarendon Metro station, but it has outlined a mixed-use vision for the newly dubbed ‘Bingham Center’ on a project page on its website. Specifically, the developer envisions 286 apartments, a 224-room hotel, 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, a public park and ‘a new public street designed with the principals of a woonerf (a curbless pedestrian-friendly street).'” [Washington Business Journal]

The End of Snow Days? — “Superintendent Francisco Durán of Arlington County Public Schools said that shifting classes online for snow days was a ‘possibility’ but that he doesn’t expect it to happen often.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Commission Calls for Renaming Powers — “The Arlington Transportation Commission is asking County Board members to seek legislative approval from Richmond to give the county government power to rename the highways and byways within its boundaries. Currently, some (though not all) Virginia cities have broad power on street and highway naming, but counties are much more restricted.” [InsideNova]

Last-Minute Thanksgiving IdeasUpdated at 8:35 a.m. — Here are a few local Thanksgiving options, including for takeout dinners, for those seeking last minute ideas. Check with the restaurant first to confirm they are still accepting orders or reservations. [Twitter, StayArlington]

Nearby: Flurry of Fs at Fairfax Schools — ” Stunning data for Fairfax County, VA’s largest school system, shows HUGE academic cost of online learning — Fs up by 83% this year. Vulnerable children struggling most: Fs for students w/ disabilities up by 111%, for English learners up by 106%.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

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Update at 6:40 p.m. — Power appears to have been restored to all Arlington and most Fairfax County customers, according to Dominion’s website, after an issue with a transmission line.

Earlier: More than 1,600 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington due to a widespread power outage.

The outage is affecting parts of Arlington County, Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church, according to Dominion. A cause was not given on the company’s website, but the restoration time was estimated as between 5-10 p.m.

The outage is affecting North Arlington neighborhoods, including areas around Jamestown Elementary, Yorktown High School and Bishop O’Connell High School.

Wide swaths of McLean, Pimmit Hills and West Falls Church are also affected in Fairfax County, where more than 26,000 Dominion customers are reported to be in the dark.

Arlington County police are responding to several intersections where the traffic signals are inoperable, for traffic control.

The outage comes amid wet and breezy conditions, as the remnants of Hurricane Zeta exit the area. A Dominion spokeswoman said via social media that the outages stem from an issue with a transmission line.

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