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U.S. Cabbie Added to Terrorist List


A former D.C.-area cab driver has been added to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Liban Haji Mohamed, 28, lived in Alexandria before leaving the United States in 2012. The FBI said he's a known supporter of Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda. He is wanted in connection with providing material support to those terrorist groups.

Mohamed is believed to have left the United States on July 5, 2012, with the intent to join Al-Shabaab in East Africa, according to the FBI. He should be considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said.

According to the FBI, Mohamed was a close associate of Zachary Chesser of Bristow, Virginia. Chesser was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison for attempted material support to Al-Shabaab and for posting online threats against the creators of "South Park" over a 2010 episode he found insulting to the prophet Muhammad.

A federal warrant for Liban Haji Mohamed's arrest was unsealed Thursday in Virginia.

Mohamed, who was born in Somalia, speaks English, Somali and Arabic. He is six feet tall and weighs 194 pounds. He could be using aliases of Abu Ayrow, Shirwa or Shirwac, Qatiluhum and Qatil. The FBI said he is traveling with a U.S. passport that expires in May 2018.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

Photo Credit: FBI

Man Charged With Fox Exec's Murder


A convicted drug dealer has been charged with murder in the death of Fox executive Gavin Smith, whose remains were found more than a year ago in the desert north of Los Angeles.

John Creech, a 42-year-old convicted drug dealer, has been charged in the case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office confirmed Thursday. Arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

Investigators determined that Smith, 57, had "a relationship" with Creech's wife, who he met during drug rehab, but have not provided details. Creech had been identified as a "person of interest" in the case and has been in custody on a drug charge.

Smith was last seen leaving a friend's house May 1, 2012, in the Oak Park area in a black 2000 Mercedes-Benz. His family sensed something was wrong when he did not pick up his teenage son from school.

Authorities have said they believe Smith was killed on the night of his disappearance. His remains were found by hikers in October 2013 in a remote area of Palmdale near Acton.

The investigation led to a search of Creech's West Hills home in July 2013 and a major break in the case occurred in February 2014 when authorities discovered Smith's black Mercedes-Benz at a storage building in Simi Valley. Investigators said Creech was linked to the storage unit.

Creech is serving an eight-year jail sentence after pleading no contest to a count of sale or transportation for sale of a controlled substance in September 2012, according to the district attorney's office.

Smith played basketball at UCLA and was part of the 1975 Bruins' championship team. He became an actor and later a film executive at 20th Century Fox.

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95-Year-Old Ping Pong Champ


World War II veteran and former national table tennis champion celebrates his 95th birthday with a ping pong paddle in his hand.

Keeping the Super Bowl Safe


The party is in full swing at Super Bowl Central in Phoenix, Arizona, with a careful balance of celebration and security.

Stonington, Mystic Still Recovering From Blizzard


Thursday looked like a normal day of school in Stonington, as buses made their way to pick up students at Mystic Middle School two days after the Blizzard of 2015 paralyzed the southeast corner of the state.

"We told parents we would cancel school for two days because we wanted them to be sure of the schedule with the storm coming," explained Supt. Van Riley. He said the response to the blizzard was one of the best he's seen.

"Our crews did an unbelievable job. Everyone here loves the schools and they made sure we could get the kids back to school," Riley said.

Although some buses were late picking students up or dropping them off at school due to difficult road conditions, that was to be expected, according to Riley.

Firefighters from Stonington also made the rounds to dig out fire hydrants that were covered by multiple feet of snow following hours of plowing on the roads.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Boston Police Confirm Officer Struck by Vehicle


Authorities confirm an officer was struck by a vehicle in Boston.

Boston police say it happened at Merrimac and Staniford streets.

Authorities say the officer was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with minor injuries. At 9 p.m. Boston police say the officer was treated and released.

No other details were immediately available.

Stay with necn as this story develops. 

Photo Credit: necn

Calif. Snowpack "Dismally Meager"


California appears to be facing a fourth consecutive dry year, with water reservoirs already at critically low levels, the results of the state's second snowpack survey suggest.

Snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where spring water runoff produces a vital source of water for more than 25 million Californians, are "dismally meager," according to the Department of Water Resources. The agency conducted its second manual snowpack survey of the season Thursday, confirming the below-normal levels reported by electronic sensors.

At Echo Summit, about 90 miles east of Sacramento, snowpack was at 12 percent of normal for this time of year. Statewide, levels are 25 percent of historical average, according to the water agency.

The numbers are even lower than the previous manual survey conducted in late December. January is typically one of California's wettest months of the year, but precipitation has been well below normal after a few storms brought rain and snow to the state in December.

"Unfortunately, today’s manual snow survey makes it likely that California’s drought will run through a fourth consecutive year," DWR officials said in a statement.

Heavy precipitation and cooler temperatures would be required over the next three months to provide any reason for optimism around California's water supply, according to the agency.

The snowpack measurement is an important factor in the drought forecast because spring runoff from the Sierras flows into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which then feeds California's major water reservoirs. Without adequate spring runoff, those reservoirs will remain at critically low levels into the dry, hot summer months.

For example, the State Water Project's principal reservoir, Lake Oroville in Butte County, contains just 41 percent of its capacity.

State climatologists estimate the state would need at least 150 percent of normal precipitation by the end of the water year, which is Sept. 30, if California has any chance of significant drought improvement.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January 2014 and asked Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent. State records show its a figure residents have had difficulty meeting.

Photo Credit: Getty

Malloy Visits Plow Crews, Touts New Technology


Gov. Dannel Malloy made stops in Norwich, Old Saybrook, and Marlborough to say "thank you" to some of the hundreds of plow drivers who helped get the state moving again after the Blizzard of 2015.

“These guys do unbelievable work and it’s dangerous work as well," Malloy said Tuesday as he walked around talking with Connecticut Department of Transportation drivers.

"They deserve to have the right tools and I’m trying to make sure they have the right tools to do it,” Malloy said.

More than 600 crews worked the roads during the storm, dropping some 8,000 tons of salt to make roads passable.

Malloy also touted purchases made over the past few years that made snow removal easier. He focused on the state's new 15 industrial-sized snow blowers, which cost $57,000 apiece. Connecticut sent three to Buffalo, New York, at the end of 2014 when the city was dealing with severe lake-effect snow.

“The guys over here have got to clean a lane and they have to clean two lanes you know and they’re pushing it further and further aside you know and when you get to a point where you have to move that product, there’s nothing that beats one of these being driven by those guys,” Malloy said.

Crews are also preparing for the next round of snow, as a smaller storm is expected to hit the state late Thursday night and into Friday morning.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Waterbury Schools Take Up the Topic of Muslim Holidays


The Waterbury Board of Education is taking up the topic of school holidays and considering whether to allow students to spend Muslim holy days with their families at home.

"Our school board takes pride in the fact that we are very sensitive to all the needs of our students, and we have a diverse population, and that population deserves to have their culture represented and respected," said Waterbury Board of Education President Charles Stango.

The topic came up when the Muslim community started a petition asking the Board of Education to recognize two Muslim holidays on the school calendar. The petition doesn’t ask for schools to be closed, but asks teachers and staff to give consideration to students celebrating the Muslim holidays.

"So that the Muslim students, who come to our school system, would not be subjected to tests that were scheduled on their holidays, standardized tests, or field trips or plays or concerts, so that they could miss school with excused absences," Stango explained.

There’s no public comment at the Thursday Board of Education workshop. However, parents in Waterbury have said they agree with the petition and believe Muslim students should be given the same consideration as students of other faiths.

"Everybody is celebrating their own day for what the celebrate, you know?" said Waterbury resident Dottie James.

Parents also said students shouldn’t be penalized for staying home to attend prayers and spend time with family on holy days.

"I think they should stay home with their families and I think the school, the Board of Education, should excuse them, not leave it as an unexcused absence," said Mary Romaine, of Waterbury.

Stango said he'll suggest that the school superintendent send a memo to staff at the beginning of the year to inform teachers of all religious holidays. The Muslim students who need to miss class for those holidays would be given an excused absence.

5 Years' Probation for Former UNH Student


The former University of New Haven student who brought loaded guns to campus in December 2013 last winter, sparking a massive police presence and lockdown, has been sentenced to five years of probation on federal charges.

William Dong, 23, of Fairfield, traveled to Pennsylvania in September 2013 and bought a Bushmaster model XM-15-E2S, .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle and brought it back to Connecticut, where the firearm is a prohibited assault weapon, according to federal authorities.

On Dec. 3, 2013, he was arrested near campus and found to have two handguns on him, officials said, and the Bushmaster rifle in his car.

Dong has been detained since he was arrested and told officials he had the guns out of concern for his safety and the safety of his fellow students.

On Nov. 6, he pleaded guilty to the federal charge. Before that, he pleaded guilty in Milford Superior Court to state firearms offenses related to the December 2013 incident in West Haven, and has been sentenced to eight years of incarceration, execution suspended after two years, and five years of probation.

As special conditions of probation, the judge ordered that Dong cannot possess any firearms or ammunition, associate with individuals in possession of firearms or go to any shooting ranges. He also must submit to mental health counseling.

“A sentence of five years of probation with mental health counseling is an appropriate resolution to this case, as it will provide Mr. Dong with needed federal supervision,” U.S. Attorney Deidre Daly said in a statement. “We want to thank the conscientious citizen who first alerted law enforcement that an individual was in possession of a powerful and potentially dangerous firearm.  We also want to acknowledge the rapid response of the West Haven Police and University of New Haven Police, which quickly resolved this unsettling situation.” 

Dong's friends called the incident a "huge misunderstanding" and said Dong was just confused about where he was allowed to carry guns.

Dong told authorities he had been planning to visit a shooting range the next day and carried guns to protect himself in the event of a mass shooting.

Electricity Thief May Have Stolen 16 People’s Identities: Cops


An investigation into a woman accused of posing as someone else to steal electricity led police in West Haven to a bigger case of possible identify theft with more than a dozen victims.

Police started investigating in September, when United Illuminating Company filed a complaint that Tonya Flynn, 33, of 215 Jaffrey Street, Unit 9, was trying to receive electricity at her home by portraying herself as someone else, police said.

When police searched Flynn’s home in December, they found not only personal documents of the original victim, but also personal documents for 15 other possible victims.

Flynn had Social Security Cards, birth certificates, identifications, blank checks and credit card numbers for the 15 other people, according to police.

Police served Flynn with eight arrest warrants Wednesday, charging her with six counts of third-degree identity theft, one count of second-degree identity theft, four counts of third-degree forgery, one count of fifth-degree larceny, nine counts of sixth-degree larceny and one count of conspiracy.

She was due in court Thursday.

Police also obtained an arrest warrant for Flynn’s sister, Brittany Flynn, charging her with identity theft and larceny.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Embattled Judicial Marshal Facing Child Porn Charges


A judicial marshal arrested last year on charges pertaining to prostitution was fired last week and charged days later with possession of child pornography.

Michael Connelly, 53, of Waterbury, was arrested Thursday on state charges of third-degree possession of child pornography as part of an undercover operation, according to police.

He was also charged with third-degree prostitution in December and has pleaded not guilty.

According to a letter from Joseph D'Alesio, executive director of operations for the Connecticut superior court system, Connelly was placed on unpaid administrative leave in November when police began investigating his conduct.

D'Alesio said in the letter that Connelly failed to show up for three meetings arranged during the investigation, in violation of the Judicial Marshal Services ethics and conduct policies.

He was terminated Jan. 22.

Connelly, who worked in the Waterbury courthouse for 30 years, is the brother of the late Waterbury State’s Attorney John Connelly – a man who successfully prosecuted cases against four of the men on death row.

State police said troopers have been conducting interviews, gathering physical evidence and submitted an arrest warrant application to Superior Court to arrest Michael Connelly on child pornography charges. It was granted today.

At 1:30 p.m., he surrendered to State Police at Troop A, where he was processed and released on a $20,000 court-set bond.

He is due in Waterbury court on Feb. 4.

State to Pay $6M to Wrongfully Incarcerated Man


A Wallingford, Connecticut, man cleared of rape and murder charges and freed after 21 years behind bars will receive $6 million from the state for the ordeal he endured, officials said Thursday.

Kenneth Ireland was freed in 2009 when DNA evidence exonerated him of the rape and murder of Barbara Pelkey in 1989. Ireland was convicted of the crime more than two decades earlier on circumstantial evidence.

His $6 million award includes $2.5 million for "loss of liberty and enjoyment of life," $1.5 million for lost earnings," $300,000 for lost reputation, $1.5 million for physical and mental injuries and $200,000 for his expenses, according to a memorandum of decision from the Office of the Claims Commissioner.

"This is truly the last step in probably one of the most tortured, lengthy, difficult, painful legal proceedings ever in the state of Connecticut," said Ireland's attorney, William Bloss, who originally asked the state for up to $8 million.

Ireland was imprisoned from the age of 18 to 39, serving out nearly half a 50-year prison sentence, despite a lack of physical evidence connecting him to the crime.

He spent five years behind bars at Somers Prison, a maximum security facility, where he was exposed to "gang violence and administrative segregation," the memorandum said.

In 2000, Ireland was transferred to Wallens Ridge State Prison in Virginia, another maximum security facility "notorious for its poor treatment of inmates," according to the memorandum.

He was later moved to the Macdougall-Walker correctional facility in Suffield, where Ireland spent 21 hours per day in his cell, the document says. He was considered a "high security risk" and was targeted by other inmates.

"Mr. Ireland was wrongfully convicted and was labeled a murderer and sex offender and was forced to spend a long portion of his life in maximum security prisons, where he experienced twenty one years of violence, sleepless nights and the constant fear and hopelessness that he would die in prison as an innocent man," the state memo explained.

The Connecticut Innocence Project began probing the case in 2007. Ireland was freed two years later, and the real criminal was convicted in March 2012, according to the memorandum.

After his release, Ireland detailed the suffering he endured for more than two decades in prison serving time for a crime he didn't commit.

"Not one moment in my entire 21 years did I not have fear," Ireland explained. "You'd look up and there'd be 30 inmates, and everyone would have a sharpened piece of steel and they would just start stabbing other inmates."

Gov. Dannel Malloy called Ireland "a man of extraordinary character who endured the unimaginable pain of two decades of wrongful incarceration, and yet is not only without bitterness, but is incredibly thoughtful, insightful and committed to public safety and service."

"Nothing could ever replace the two decades of life as a free man that were wrongfully taken away from him, separated from his family and friends," Malloy said in a statement Thursday.

After spending half his life behind bars, Ireland has opted to become a professional adventurer. He has already checked skydiving and bungee jumping off the list but said he wants to explore the world he watched pass him by.

"All the different places I've read about, I would love to visit and see and experience them first hand," Ireland said."Twenty-one years is a long time, and I did every day of it. I can't go back, I can't change it, I don't want to relive it, so I'm all about moving onto the future."

Super Bowl Commercial by "No More"


No celebrities or NFL players facing the camera, saying "No more." This ad simply depicts a 911 call of a woman pretending to order a pizza while calling police with her attacker still in the house.

The Super Bowl commercial by No More, the group trying to end domestic violence and sexual assault, is a stark contrast to ads in recent months bringing attention to the issue that has become central for the NFL since Ray Rice was suspended for punching his then-fiancee in a casino elevator.

The new ad has become a topic for discussion around the Super Bowl.

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, daughter of former NFL player Phillippi Sparks, said what the NFL has gone through with domestic violence has helped publicize where women can call for help or find a safe haven. Sparks said it's great that people aren't being silent about domestic violence anymore.

"So it's unfortunate all the way around for whomever is involved in those sorts of things and for the teams having to deal with the media and all of those different things," Sparks said. "But at the same time for other domestic violence victims to know they can speak up that's all that's important, that's all that matters."

In the ad, the 911 call is a reenactment inspired by true stories of women using the tactic of disguising their calls while reaching out for help. No actors are seen in the stark ad; video shows only a house where a hole has been smashed in a wall, with books and photos knocked to the floor.

The ad concludes with the phrase: "When it's hard to talk, it's up to us to listen." It had already more than 482,000 views on YouTube by Wednesday.

The ad will air Sunday just after the second quarter between Seattle and New England. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said it can only help by bringing more attention to the issue.

"I think anytime you talk about domestic violence it is going to have a meaningful effect, you want to eliminate that as part of society," Sherman said.

Seattle linebacker Heath Farwell said the ad is key to better communication.

"Guys realizing this (is) an issue, and you know it's not just football, it's across this county, these are the issues we have to address and to get better at," Farwell said.

Domestic violence has been a critical issue for the NFL for nearly a year since Ray Rice was arrested Feb. 15 over an altercation at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. The Baltimore running back initially was suspended two games, then indefinitely after video from inside an elevator surfaced showing him hitting his now wife, Janay.

An arbitrator threw out the indefinite suspension in December. He was released by the Ravens and has not signed with another team.

NFL players have been featured in ads from No More since October airing weekly.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said New England supports the league's efforts against domestic violence. Belichick said it has been a priority for New England owner Robert Kraft since he was hired. The Patriots gave up their draft rights to defensive tackle Christian Peter a week after taking him in the fifth round in 1996 because of questions about his history with women

"So it's always been that way for us, for our organization, and obviously we support everything in that area," Belichick said. "But what the league decides to do relative to things like that, you know, it's not really my pay grade."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Metro-North Delays Frustrate for 2nd Night


Delays across several Metro-North lines Thursday frustrated commuters for a second night in a row. 

The New Haven line had delays due to congestion caused by unscheduled track work, according to Metro-North. It's not clear what the track work entailed, but the same line was delayed Wednesday when a "minor" derailment inside Grand Central Terminal caused trains to be delayed and canceled.

The Hudson and Danbury lines were also delayed, Metro-North said on its website

Crowds grew at Grand Central Terminal during the evening rush as passengers awaited the delayed trains, and crowded conditions were reported on combined trains. 

Early Thursday morning, another Metro-North train derailed as it was pulling into a trainyard in White Plains due to snow, but MTA officials say the empty train had already terminated service.

Commuters vented their frustration on social media, complaining about late announcements and congestion. 

"There are 22 people standing between the 4th and 5th cars of this train," tweeted Cassandra Lauren. "Great idea combining trains, Metro North. Excellent planning.

"Wish I could be late every single day, and fail to meet the most basic expectations of my job and STILL get a raise! @MetroNorth #fare hike," tweeted Marjorie. 

"@MetroNorth is an absolute joke. Derailments, trains never on time anymore, not enough cars for the people, and yet... raising prices again," said Michael Taxin. 

In response to the train cancellations and delays resulting from the derailment Wednesday, the MTA said in a statement on its site: "Your safety has always been, and always will be, Metro-North's first priority. We regret any inconvenience you may have experienced as a result of this incident." 

Multiple derailments on the Metro-North in 2013 and 2014 -- including one in December 2013 that killed four people when a fatigued engineer fell asleep at the controls -- prompted a federal review and a new recommitment by the Metro-North to safety.

Photo Credit: @JessTravelPR/Twitter
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ATM Skimmer Accessed Hundreds of Bank Accounts: Police


Authorities are investigating after someone attached skimming devices to two ATMs in East Haven earlier this month and used them to access hundreds of bank accounts, according to police.

Surveillance images show what appears to be the same person targeting First Niagara Bank branches on Frontage Road and Main Street in East Haven.

A time stamp on the footage from Frontage Road shows the device was attached Jan. 3. The skimming device was planted at the Main Street branch on Jan. 17, according to the images.

Police said the skimming device found at the Main Street ATM allowed the thief to access up to 200 bank accounts. It's not clear how many accounts have been compromised by the skimming device on Frontage Road, which was reported Thursday.

Police said the two incidents may be connected and are asking for help in identifying the suspect.

Anyone who recognizes the suspect or has information on the crime is urged to call East Haven police at 203-468-3820. If you believe your account has been compromised, contact your bank right away.

Photo Credit: East Haven Police Department

Men Stole $4K in PetSmart Merchandise: Cops


Two men are facing charges after allegedly stealing $4,000 in merchandise from a PetSmart store in North Haven earlier this month.

Police said William Rosado, 37, and Jonathan Dozier, 35, both New Haven residents, broke into locked cabinets at the store on 400 Universal Drive, then stole from Five Below and Target stores in North Haven.

They were eached charged with two counts of larceny and two counts of conspiracy and are due in court Feb. 12.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart

Police K-9 Hurt On the Job Makes Full Recovery


A North Haven police dog badly hurt while helping with a hit-and-run investigation in New Haven earlier this month has made a full recovery, according to police.

K-9 Zeus suffered a serious injury to one of his back legs will scaling a metal fence in search of the hit-and-run driver in early January, police said. He underwent surgery at the Central Animal Hospital and was out of commission for a couple weeks while his injury healed.

Zeus has now returned to work full time, the police department posted on its Facebook page Thursday.

"We would like to Thank everyone for the overwhelming support and well wishes," the department said on Facebook.

Photo Credit: North Haven Police

Heart Attack Patient Thanks Teams Who Saved Him During Storm


It may not have been on the agenda when Michael Anderson visited Connecticut this week, but the 55-year-old from Jamaica couldn't have been happier to see Hartford Hospital on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack during the blizzard.

At the height of the snow storm, Anderson started experiencing severe chest pain and knew he would have to call 911.

“I was apprehensive in calling, saying, ‘Why should I call someone in this bad weather?’’’ Anderson explained. “I was trying to be good.”

Even with treacherous travel along the snow-covered streets, East Hartford’s emergency responders rushed to the rescue. They loaded Anderson onto a stretcher and whisked him away.

“It was one, two, three,” Anderson said.

Over at Hartford Hospital, Dr. Paul Thompson’s team was waiting. The chief of cardiology explained that the longer an artery is blocked, the more cardiac muscle is being injured during the heart attack.

“The goal is to get everything done in 90 minutes. The national average is somewhere around there,” Thompson said. “This individual, despite the fact that there was a big storm, got the whole thing done in 56 minutes.”

Anderson said those 56 minutes flew and he didn’t feel a thing.

“It went so fast, I didn’t even realize I had heart surgery,” he said.

Today, Thompson tipped his hat to the staff that showed up even as the snow came down, calling the entire process a true “team effort.”

When asked how that team performed under pressure, the patient said he couldn’t be more pleased.

“Superb. I have been well taken care of,” Anderson said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Snow Fatigue: Crews Gear Up for Another Storm


Keep those shovels handy: more snow is on the way.

If you’re getting tired of digging out your driveway, imagine the people in charge of clearing miles and miles of roads.

Public works crews in Waterbury spent Thursday getting ready for more snow just as cleanup efforts were winding down after this week's blizzard.

“We are receiving deliveries of sand and salt material and prepping that. Our fleet staff has been going over the equipment, repairing anything that needs to be completed from the last storm,” said Waterbury Public Works Deputy Director David Simpson.

That last storm, the Blizzard of 2015, dumped up to 33 inches of snow across parts of Connecticut.

Although Waterbury only received about 8 inches, it still meant a long day for crews who worked about 36 hours.

“We do try to rest the staff in-between and I’ll only call it rest. It’s an hour or so in their truck, off the road, closing their eyes for a couple hours,” said Simpson.

After the storm, there is little down time because crews have to immediately begin storm cleanup. While the equipment can weather the storms, it’s harder on the crew members, and Public Works tries to make sure they can get at least a little rest.

“I don’t call it problematic. It’s New England. It’s winter. The staff is used to it. It disrupts their personal lives. They can’t have a personal life," Simpson said. "But they know their responsibilities and they’re a dedicated crew and I’m proud of how they respond every time the phone rings.”

Public Works officials said they’ve already gone through 1,400 tons of material in the past week.

Fortunately, they’ve got plenty left for the rest of the season – and at this rate, they'll need it.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com
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