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Headlines for Friday, November 30, 2018

Kansas Saw More Than 1 Million Vote, Setting Record for Non-Presidential Election

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — More than 1 million Kansas residents voted in the state's general election earlier this month to set a record for a non-presidential year. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Friday that the voter turnout of nearly 58 percent was "extraordinary." In non-presidential years over the past two decades, turnout in the general election had averaged 51 percent. Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Gov. Jeff Colyer's chief attorney met briefly Friday to formally certify results compiled for the Nov. 6 election by the state's 105 counties. Kobach's office reported that 1,061,029 people cast ballots, with a record 1,841,776 registered voters. In 2014, voters cast 887,023 ballots, or 20 percent fewer. The secretary of state's office also said 39 percent of the ballots this year were cast in advance.

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Kansas Governor-Elect to Change the Way Appeals Court Judges are Picked

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor-elect Laura Kelly says she will not follow former Governor Sam Brownback's method of selecting appellate court judges.  Kelly will need to appoint a new Kansas Court of Appeals judge soon after she takes office in January because Judge Patrick McAnany is retiring.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kelly will have a nonpartisan nominating committee filter the applications and send her a list of three candidates.  That is similar to the procedure used before Brownback changed it to allow him to make judicial appointments directly, subject to Senate confirmation.  Kelly said in a statement Wednesday that she will use the merit-based process similar to that used for Kansas Supreme Court appointments. She said she believes that makes the process more transparent for the public.

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Top Kobach Deputy Pursuing Newly Open Kansas Senate Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's top deputy is hoping to win an appointment from fellow Republicans to a newly vacant state Senate seat. Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker confirmed Friday that he is a candidate to replace GOP Sen. Vicki Schmidt of Topeka. Schmidt resigned Friday because she was elected Kansas insurance commissioner. GOP precinct committee members in the district will decide who holds the seat through 2020. Schmidt was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and is the chairwoman of its health committee. Another candidate for the seat is former Republican state Rep. Joe Patton. He unsuccessfully challenged Schmidt in Republican primaries in 2012 and 2016. Rucker has been assistant secretary of state throughout Kobach's eight-year tenure and is a former deputy Kansas attorney general.

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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Gas Tax Hike to Pay for Highways

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are discussing raising the state's gas tax and implementing new fees as a way to help fund future highway improvements. The Wichita Eagle reports that a state task force finalized recommendations Thursday for a long-term transportation plan as Kansas prepares to transition out T-WORKS, the 10-year, $8 billion transportation program that began in 2010. The recommendations call for transportation funding through sales taxes, a fee on electric vehicles and raising the gas tax. State lawmakers and the Kansas Department of Transportation will consider the recommendations as they develop a new transportation program in the coming year. The recommendations didn't specify how much the gas tax should be increased. But Democratic Sen. Tom Hawk has voiced support for raising the gas tax by 5 cents, which could produce about $90 million a year.

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Kobach Says He's Talked to Trump but Won't Discuss Details

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he has talked to President Donald Trump by phone since losing the governor's race but is declining to provide further details. Kobach told reporters Friday that he's not "out looking for random federal jobs" but said if Trump offered him a position, "That's a different matter." Fellow Republicans in Kansas have speculated since the election that Kobach could receive a high-profile job in Trump's administration. Kobach lost the governor's race to Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly. Kobach built a national profile as an advocate of tough immigration and voter identification policies before informally advising Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign and afterward. Kobach also served as vice chairman of a short-lived presidential commission on voter fraud.

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Salina Police Investigating City's 1st Homicide of Year

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police are investigating the death of a 30-year-old man as a homicide. Police Captain Paul Forrester says police went to a house early Friday after receiving a call about shots fired. Officers found the man dead inside the home. The Salina Journal reports it is the city's first homicide of the year. Forrester said detectives are interviewing witnesses who were inside the house during the shooting. No suspect has been taken into custody. The victim's name has not been released.

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Man Convicted in Drug-Deal Killing in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been convicted in a drug-deal killing after his first trial ended in a hung jury. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that jurors found Luqman Keys guilty Friday of first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery in the June 2017 shooting death of 18-year-old Arden King. Jurors couldn't reach a verdict during his first trial in September. Defense attorney Kevin Shepherd characterized Keys as being "a kid trying to defend himself" when he fatally shot King. Shepherd said King lunged at Keys, who reacted by firing. But Shawnee County assistant district attorney Brett Watson questioned why King would have lunged at Keys, who was armed, while King wasn't. King's mother, Kelly Briones, says the verdict means she can "finally get a little bit of closure" for her son.

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Murder Charges Filed in Kansas Traffic Crash That Killed 2

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 45-year-old man who was allegedly racing with another driver before a traffic crash that killed two people is facing murder charges. The Kansas City Star reports Bradley Woodworth, of Olathe, was charged Friday with two counts of reckless second-degree murder. Woodworth was previously charged with leaving the scene of an accident. The October 6 crash in Overland Park killed 18-year-old Matthew Bloskey, of Overland Park, and 20-year-old Samuel Siebuhr, of Kansas City, Kansas. Woodworth is accused of driving a minivan that was jockeying for position with Siebuhr's car before the two vehicles made contact. Siebuhr's car spun out of control and eventually hit the vehicle driven by Bloskey. The charges filed Friday allege that Woodworth recklessly caused the deaths by showing "extreme indifference" to human life.

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Self-Defense Argument Rejected in Shooting over Fireworks

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man who shot a teenager as several people shot fireworks at him will not be able to claim self-defense during his upcoming trial. Twenty-year-old Rashan Gill, of Lawrence, is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 14 for criminal discharge of a weapon. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Gill is accused of shooting at a group of people who were firing Roman candle fireworks at him and his apartment on July 5. One of the shots hit a 17-year-old girl who was in the group's car. She suffered serious injuries but survived. Gill's attorney planned to use Kansas' stand-your-ground law to claim Gill was justified in the shooting. The Douglas County District Attorney said this week that a judge rejected that defense and ordered Gill to stand trial on the criminal charge.

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2 Charges Dropped Against Kansas Schlitterbahn Employee

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Attorney General has asked a judge to dismiss two criminal charges against a former employee at a Kansas water park where a 10-year-old boy died. The Kansas City Star reports a motion filed Thursday asks a Wyandotte County judge to dismiss charges against Tyler Miles. He was director of operations at Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas, when Caleb Schwab was decapitated on a water slide in August 2016. The charges accused Miles of lying to authorities and concealing evidence from investigators. Miles is still charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated child endangerment and aggravated battery. The motion doesn't give a reason why the Attorney General decided to drop the charges. A spokeswoman for the office didn't return a message seeking comment.Miles was among five employees indicted after the boy's death.

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Man Sentenced to Life for Killing Kansas Police Captain

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting a Kansas police captain. The Kansas City Star reports Jamaal Lewis was sentenced Friday for first-degree felony murder in the July 2016 death of Capt. Robert Melton. The charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with a chance of parole in 25 years. Sentences for aggravated assault and shooting into an unoccupied building will run consecutively to each other and to the life sentence. Lewis was initially charged with capital murder but pleaded guilty last month to the reduced charge. Melton was searching for suspects in a drive-by shooting when he saw Lewis walking and tried to block him with his car. Prosecutors say Lewis pulled a handgun and fired several shots at Melton's vehicle.

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3-Year-Old Boy Injured in Kansas Drive-By Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police are investigating a drive-by shooting that injured a 3-year-old boy. Police Chief Terry Zeigler says the boy was riding in a car Thursday night when shots were fired at the car from a passing vehicle. Ziegler says the boy was hit in the arm and is in stable condition. Police did not release a description of the suspect vehicle.

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Kansas Woman, 74, Fatally Shoots Burglar; Has Heart Attack

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 74-year-old Kansas woman shot and killed an intruder while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher and then had a heart attack. The Kansas City Star reports that Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said Thursday that the woman is recovering and is expected to be OK. He says she "obviously" won't face charges over the death of 41-year-old Ralph Byrd Jr., who broke into her Leavenworth home early Saturday. Thompson said she had reported an attempted burglary of her home about a week before. After that, she obtained a .22-caliber handgun that she took with her to bed at night. Leavenworth Police Major Dan Nicodemus says the case was "pretty cut and dried." Court records show Byrd had been convicted in 2017 of an attempted home burglary.

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1 Woman Arrested in Fatal Police Shooting in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a woman who is accused of fleeing from law enforcement before a state trooper fatally shot a man who tried to help her. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the 29-year-old woman was booked into jail early Thursday. Authorities say she and another woman were in a car that fled from a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Tuesday. The trooper called off the chase because of icy road conditions. After the car stalled, 35-year-old Jarmane Dywane Logan pulled up in a sport utility vehicle and tried to pick up the two women. Authorities say that as a trooper and a Topeka police officer tried to intervene, they were dragged. Police say the trooper shot and killed Logan when he refused to stop. Both women then fled from the SUV.

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Man Pleads in Death of 2-Month-Old Son at Wichita Motel

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man who authorities say had been drinking heavily for a week with his wife has pleaded guilty in the death of one of his twin sons.  Authorities say 34-year-old Kyle Kempton smothered his 2-month-old son after rolling over onto him while they were in bed in August.  The Sedgwick County District Attorney's office says Kempton pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter and to four misdemeanor counts of child endangerment.  The twins' mother, 39-year-old Christy Rollings, pleaded guilty to the same charges in October. She was sentenced to probation for manslaughter and two years in jail for the misdemeanors.  Officers had removed the twins from the parents two days before boy was found dead at the Scotsman Inn, but a family member returned the children to them the next day.

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Man Sentenced for Sexually Abusing Mentally Disabled Girl

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 39-year-old Lawrence man who molested a girl with mental disabilities was sentenced to just over 10 years in prison.  Steven Capps was sentenced Wednesday after previously pleading no contest to two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The girl was 14 when the abuse occurred.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Capps must register as a sex offender and be supervised for the rest of his life after he's released from prison.  Prosecutor Mark Simpson said the victim's family supported the plea agreement, in part because it kept the girl from having to testify.  Capps was arrested in July after another adult caught him in a room with the girl and called police.  Capps did not make a statement in court.

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Former Paramedic Admits Stealing Drugs from Ambulances

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City paramedic has admitted to stealing fentanyl and morphine from ambulances.  Thirty-seven-year-old Michael Fostich pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to illegally obtaining a controlled substance.  While working for the Kansas City fire department, Fostich had access to fentanyl and morphine locked in safes in city ambulances.  In his guilty plea, Fostich admitted he stole fentanyl and morphine for his own use.  The Kansas City Star reported that Fostich would replace the drugs with another substance before returning them to storage in the ambulances.  In 2016, Fostich reported that he administered or disposed of 806 vials of fentanyl and 636 doses of morphine.  That was 39 percent of the fentanyl and 63 percent of the morphine used by the entire fire department that year.

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Kansas Man to Change Plea over Threat to Blow up White House

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man accused of threatening to "blow up" the White House has notified a federal court that he plans to change his plea.  Thirty-two-year-old Brandon Koss of Wichita had pleaded not guilty to making a threat against the president. A court filing Thursday shows a change-of-plea hearing is now scheduled for December 14.  A Secret Service agent wrote in an affidavit that Koss called the White House in January and used a profanity when addressing the woman who answered the phone. He then said: "I'm going to blow up the White House."  The affidavit says Koss admitted calling the White House but denied making a threat.  Koss' attorney had said if the case went to trial, an expert would testify that Koss had an unspecified mental disease.

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Snowplow Driver Cleared Way for Ambulance During Blizzard

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An ambulance crew is praising a Kansas snowplow driver who came to the rescue during the weekend blizzard.  The Kansas Department of Transportation said in a blog post that Concordia Hospital called Sunday because the crew was struggling to transport an emergency patient to the larger Salina Regional Health Center about 50 miles away. They requested a snow plow to lead the way down U.S. 81.  Brandon Bennett, of the Concordia Fire Department, said in a thank you note that the highway was a "sheet of ice."  Highway maintenance supervisor Clyde Thrush was nearby and get in front of the ambulance, plowing snow out of its way and dumping salt in its path. The escort didn't end until the ambulance pulled up in front of the hospital.

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Kansas Man Fined $5,000 for Importing Endangered Leopards

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man will pay a $5,000 fine for unlawfully importing endangered leopard cats.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister announced Thursday that 34-year-old Lawrence Payne, of Olathe, was fined after pleading guilty to one count of violating the Endangered Species Act.  The investigation began when Payne applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a breeding license for Asian leopard cats.  Investigators found three Asian leopard cats when they served a search warrant at Payne's home. Payne admitted importing the animals.

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Board Delays Plan to Colonize Wichita's Feral Cats

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A plan to allow Wichita residents to keep colonies of feral cats in their yards has been delayed.  The Wichita Animal Control Advisory Board voted Wednesday evening to delay the proposal until December or January pending some changes.  The Wichita Eagle reports supporters of the plan say it will reduce the stray cat population by trapping, neutering and releasing them to colonies in backyards.  Opponents say the cats are a threat to wildlife, particularly bird populations.  The board made some decisions on the proposal, including limiting people to eight cats per property, including feral and pet cats.  Also no limits would be established for the number of colonies in a given area, but animal-control officers would have discretion to step in if too many are established.

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Quapaw Tribe Acquires More Land in Kansas

QUAPAW, Okla. (AP) — The Quapaw Tribe has acquired additional property in southeastern Kansas along the Oklahoma border after gaining approval from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.  The Joplin Globe reports that the tribe has obtained 211 acres of Cherokee County grassland stretching north of its Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, Oklahoma. The land is now part of the federal Quapaw Tribal Trust, giving the tribe governing authority over the land.  The tribe faced opposition from Kansas officials over concerns the land would be used for gambling.  John Berrey is chairman of the Quapaw Tribal Business Committee. Berrey says the tribe will use the land for agriculture and has no plans to expand its gambling operation.  Berrey says the property acquisition brings more land that used to be part of the tribe's reservation back under its ownership.

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Kansas House Member to Replace Governor-Elect Kelly in Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats have picked a Kansas House member to fill Governor-elect Laura Kelly's former state Senate seat, more than three decades after he ran unsuccessfully for it.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Democratic precinct committee members in Kelly's former Topeka-area district chose Representative Vic Miller on Thursday to serve the final two years of Kelly's four-year term. Miller would not say whether he would run for the seat in 2020.  Democrats in Wichita plan to meet Saturday to fill the former Senate seat belonging to Lt. Governor-elect Lynn Rogers. Miller said the departure of both Kelly and Rogers from the Senate left Democrats needing someone with legislative experience to replace Kelly.  In his race, Miller defeated three other candidates, receiving 49 of 80 votes.  "I love politics," Miller said during the meeting at the Topeka public library. "We will show Kansas what it's like to be governed by Democrats and not incompetents."  Miller, 67, is an attorney who served in the Kansas House from 1979 through 1984 and then lost a hotly contested Senate race that year, receiving about 48 percent of the vote. The Senate district has grown in the years since to include more rural areas near Topeka, and Kelly first won the seat in 2004.  After Miller's 1984 loss, he was director of the Department of Revenue division dealing with property taxes for two years and became a power in local politics. He served 15 years on the Shawnee County Commission and eight years on the Topeka City Council before becoming a municipal judge in 2011.  In 2016, he unseated state Represented Ben Scott, of Topeka, in the Democratic primary and faced no Republican opponent to return to the Kansas House.

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Impact of New Marijuana Law on Welfare Recipients Unclear

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters have approved medical marijuana, but it remains unclear whether thousands of welfare recipients will lose benefits if they opt for it.  The Missouri Department of Social Services told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the question remains under review, and offered no timeline for a decision.  Voters this month overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, legalizing marijuana and marijuana-infused products to help patients who suffer from several serious illnesses.  A 2011 law resulted in a program to screen Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program applicants for drug use. The program provides cash benefits to about 25,000 recipients monthly.  Recipients are asked about drug use and some take drug tests. Those who fail to show up for the test or do not complete it are ineligible for benefits for three years.

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Missouri's Senator-Elect Hawley to Reintroduce Senator McCaskill's Duck Boat Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican Sen.-Elect Josh Hawley says he'll reintroduce a duck boat safety bill that his campaign rival Sen. Claire McCaskill proposed after a duck boat sank in July, killing 17 people.  Hawley on Wednesday said he'll bring the legislation up again after he assumes office in January.  McCaskill pushed to enshrine into federal law recommendations to improve safety of the amphibious vehicles after the duck boat capsized on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.  Her bill would require the vehicles to comply with U.S. Coast Guard regulations aimed at ensuring they stay afloat.  Hawley unseated the Democratic senator this month. He says McCaskill was right to try to codify federal safety recommendations.  As Missouri's attorney general, Hawley is suing the duck boat company.

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Smoking Suitcase Causes Disruption at Boston Airport, Delayes Flight to KCI

BOSTON (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration says smoke pouring from a suitcase caused a temporary disruption at Boston's Logan International Airport over the holiday weekend.  The agency in a statement Wednesday said the checked baggage screening area was evacuated for 49 minutes on Saturday morning to allow authorities, including the state police bomb squad, to investigate.  The cause was determined to be a lithium battery in an e-cigarette that ignited.  The passenger, who was heading to Kansas City International Airport, was contacted by authorities and his flight was delayed until the situation was resolved. His name wasn't released.  The TSA screened nearly 57,000 passengers plus their checked and carry-on bags that day.

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Timbers Beat Sporting KC 3-2 to Earn MLS Cup Trip

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Timbers manager Giovanni Savarese wouldn't divulge what was said in the Portland locker room at halftime Thursday night, saying only that "a few words" might have come across rather sharply.  Whatever they were sure had an impact.  After getting dominated by Sporting Kansas City for the first 45 minutes and falling into a 1-0 hole, the Timbers rallied in the second half in the second leg of the Western Conference final. Diego Valeri scored a pair of goals, one of them in stoppage time, and Sebastian Blanco had the other as the Timbers squeaked out a 3-2 victory to advance to the MLS Cup for the second time in four years.  The Timbers will visit Atlanta United on December 8 to play for the league title. Atlanta beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 on aggregate to win the Eastern Conference final series.  "I'm very proud of the performance of the guys," Savarese said. "It was a very difficult first half and they were very good and we were lucky to be down 1-0. Then we came out with the fire we needed in the second half."  Sporting KC had been 15-2-4 in home playoff games, their only losses coming in 1997 and 2011. Sporting KC also had been 12-2-5 at Children's Mercy Park this season, losing just three times in 48 matches across all competitions in one of the toughest venues in all of Major League Soccer.  The Timbers made it four defeats on Thursday night.  "Situations like this, they're going to stick with you for a long time," Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said.

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Chiefs Running Back Hunt Appears Headed to NFL Exempt List

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A person with knowledge of the move tells The Associated Press that Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt appears headed to the NFL's Commissioner Exempt List, sidelining him while the league investigates a video of Hunt striking a woman in February. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not issued a formal statement Friday, although one was expected for later in the evening. The video was published earlier Friday by TMZ. Police were called to the scene, but no charges were filed for the Feb. 10 incident. But the video shows Hunt knocking over and kicking the woman in a Cleveland hallway. Cleveland police and the NFL did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hunt was at practice Friday, then was excused and sent home. The Chiefs (9-2) are at Oakland on Sunday. Being placed on the exempt list means the player is paid and does not count against the club's 53-man roster. But he can't practice or play until he is removed from the list. Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with 1,327 yards and scored eight touchdowns in helping Kansas City make the playoffs. This season, he has run for 824 yards and seven TDs in 11 games, and also has seven touchdowns receiving. Domestic violence has been a major issue in the NFL in recent years.
 

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