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January 2013 Archives

Carcinogen Found in Children’s Bedding Products

As many new mothers have found, getting new bedding products for your infant may seem like a special day – changing pads, mattress pads, car seats and other products you buy at your local toy or department store may seem new, but some also have that “funny” smell.  Initially, you may attribute it to being wrapped in plastic because the smell dissipates over time.Now comes word that some of these common products sold in stores and on the internet contain dangerous levels of carcinogens, according to a local watchdog group.  The Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California, told the press last month that it found 16 children’s products and four general-audience products that had chlorinated Tris and other flame retardants in its foam that exceeded what is allowed by California law.Chlorinated Tris was banned in 1977 from being used in children’s pajamas because it has been linked to gene mutation and hormone disruption.  The chemical is particularly dangerous for babies who come in contact with it and put their fingers and hands in their mouths.  In 2011, California law requires that products that have a certain level of the carcinogen must list that as a warning on its label.  The products above did not have such warning labels, the group said.A May, 2011 Duke University study first examined the dangers of flame retardants in babies’ products and revealed that 80 percent of car seats, changing pads and other items had toxic or unknown flame retardants and one third had chlorinated Tris.  The Center for Environmental Health said that Proposition 65, a consumer protection measure that is law in California, provides that a product’s amount of chlorinated Tris must not exceed a certain level because of the additional cancer cases that result from exposure to the product.The watchdog group found baby products it tested to have the carcinogen such as infant recliners, bassinet pads and crib wedges to be carried at Target, Babies R Us, Kmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart and Amazon.com.  A list of these products can be found here.

Moms Text and Drive With Babies in the Car

A new survey reveals an alarming rate of new mothers texting, checking emails or talking on the phone while their babies are in the car, according to a story published in USA Today (Wed., 1/23/2013).The survey conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide and American Baby magazine, two child protection advocacy groups, found that 78 percent of moms with children under the age of two acknowledged talking on the phone while driving with their babies.  As many as 64 percent said they turn around to tend to the child in the back seat.  The survey, which was conducted in July, surveyed 2,396 mothers who were licensed drivers with children under the age of two.The story explained how, of the 10 percent of the mothers surveyed who drove an average of 150 miles per week, had been in a crash, a figure that is three times higher than the national average.Safe Kids’ President Kate Carr recommended that mothers pull over if they need to tend to their children in the car and that all drivers leave their phones in the back seat and not attempt to answer them while driving. 

All 50 Dreamliners Grounded Across the World; U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Says 1,000% Safety Necessary

All 787 aircraft in operation around the world, 50 of them total, have been grounded in the wake of the multiple problems with its lithium ion battery.  A series of overheating batteries that run the plane’s electrical system led to a comprehensive inspection of the major systems of the high tech aircraft, a grounding of the jets in Japan, then in the U.S. and now across the world.Ray LaHood, the U.S. transportation secretary, said Friday he could not predict when the 787 would resume flight.  Last week LaHood told the public that the Dreamliners were safe during the press conference where the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the major systems of the aircraft.The 787 jets have been flying for 15 months, carrying more than one million passengers, but it has run into problems in recent weeks, including problems with fuel leaks as well.  Many aviation analysts have said that the flying public is distrustful of the aircraft, and regulators and experts needed to step in before the consumer will be willing to safely use the next generation plane.

Boeing Halts Delivery of Dreamliners

In the wake of all the problems that Chicago-based 787 Dreamliners have experienced in the past few weeks, aircraft maker Boeing announced Friday (1/18/13) that it will halt the delivery of the troubled new, high-tech jet until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides guidance on how to make its batteries compliant.   In a statement, a Boeing spokesman said, "We will not deliver 787s until the FAA approves a means of compliance with their recent Airworthiness Directive concerning batteries and the approved approach has been implemented."The lithium ion batteries that even have been found to overheat in computers has been creating bigger problems in the aircraft where they are being used for the first time.  The overheating has led sometimes to smoke, fire and even forced an emergency landing in one aircraft in Japan.Although the production of the plane is not stopping, Boeing representatives said they want to make sure that the aircraft’s electrical systems are in full compliance before delivery of any more aircraft.  The planes are assembled at plants in Everett, Washington, and North Charleston, South Carolina, with parts that are manufactured from around the world.The FAA has not said how long it will take them to fix the battery system that Boeing has said is a fuel saver of older jets running on different technology.

FAA Considering Rules Limiting Pilots' Electronics Use

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a rule for pilots that would ban use of electronics while working. The proposed rule would prohibit flight crew members from using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use "while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated."  As reported in the Federal Register, the rule "is intended to ensure that certain non-essential activities do not contribute to the challenge of task management on the flight deck or a loss of situational awareness due to attention to non-essential tasks."    It refers to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that was enacted a year ago by Congress on the prohibition of the personal use of electronic devices on the flight deck which address the issue of "a breakdown of sterile cockpit discipline."  The Federal Register refers to some high profile incidents including a 150-mile fly-by of a destination while two pilots were using their personal laptops during a cruise flight. Because of these and other pilots losing "situational awareness," the FAA indicated in the Federal Register that this can lead to a "breakdown in task management."  Important tasks such as "missing information from one source when concentrating on another, altitude or course deviations, dominance of visual cues to the extent that pilots many not hear certain aural warnings, misinterpreting ATC instructions, or experiencing task overload" all come into play. Comments from the public on the proposed rule can be made by visiting here.  

FAA Grounds Dreamliner in the US

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered all Dreamliner flights in this country be grounded.    The action comes on the heels of two Japanese airlines voluntarily grounding all 787 flights Wednesday (1/16/13).  An All Nippon Airways flight had to land in an emergency in western Japan following a battery fire that led to smoke in the cockpit and cabin.In a press release issued Wednesday, the FAA stated, it was issuing “an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations.  Before further flight, operators of the U.S.-registered Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe.“The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.”Last week the FAA ordered a comprehensive review of all major systems of the state-of-the-art aircraft.  It went on to say in the press release, “The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.”The FAA recognized that United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier currently operating the 787 with six in use, but it said it was alerting all international carriers to take the same action.  To read the entire press release issued Wednesday by the FAA, visit here.The Chicago Sun-Times reported today that a LOT Polish airlines was scheduled to arrive at O’Hare Airport Wednesday afternoon carrying several dignitaries of the Polish government and airlines.  It was scheduled to leave O’Hare at 9:55 p.m. to return to Warsaw, but the FAA announced its grounding just hours before this flight was scheduled to depart.

Iowa Medevac Crash Kills Three

Communities surrounding Mason City, Iowa, continue to grieve after a medevac helicopter carrying three crew members crashed Jan. 3, 2013, in a field, burst into flames and killed the paramedic, nurse and pilot aboard.According to media reports, no patients were aboard the aircraft as it headed from Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa just north of Ventura in Cerro Gordo County about 9 p.m. that night.The dedicated emergency medical team that was killed in this tragedy served northern Iowa and southern Minnesota.The Rotocraft 407 helicopter that was involved was manufactured in 2009 by Bell Helicopter’s Textron Canadian division.  It was powered by a turbo-shaft 250-C47B engine designed by Rolls-Royce.The cause of the incident is under investigation.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reportedly said it could take up to 18 months to determine the probable cause of this crash.

Helicopter Crash in London Kills Two

A horrific helicopter crash occurred during the Wednesday morning rush hour in central London when the aircraft slammed into a construction crane on top of a 50-story residential building (1/16/13).The pilot and one person on the ground reportedly were killed; 13 others were injured on the ground.  It was reported to be misty weather and the pilot had asked to divert and land in nearby London Heliport.The helicopter reportedly was on a commercial flight for RotorMotion, an executive helicopter charter business.  A spokesperson for the company told the press that the pilot was identified as Peter Barnes, 50, who flew in films including “Saving Private Ryan” and the James Bond movie “Die Another Day.”Officials said the crane, which was 770 feet high, normally is lit at night.  It wasn’t known if the lights were lit at the time of the crash.  The area is 10 blocks from the major Waterloo train and Underground station just south of the river Thames.  The crane operator was not in the crane at the time of the crash. 

“Severe Turbulence” Causes Injuries to American Eagle Passengers on Flight to Chicago

Chicago Fire Department officials confirmed that they treated several passengers aboard American Eagle Flight 3720 that was heading to Chicago today from New Orleans.  The flight experienced “severe turbulence” while in flight that led to one passenger requiring to be taken to a local Chicago hospital.A spokesman for the Fire Department said that they experienced head, neck and back injuries.  At least three people were injured, according to reports.The flight reportedly left New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport about 7:30 a.m. this morning and landed at O’Hare International Airport at 9:30 a.m.  American Airlines told the press that 18 passengers were aboard that flight along with four crew members on the Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft.Earlier today in Japan, a man in his 60s was reportedly taken to a hospital following an emergency landing of a 787 Dreamliner on a local flight there.  All 129 passengers and eight crew members were forced to exit the aircraft on an emergency slide.  The man reportedly suffered minor hip injuries.This latest incident led to two major Japan airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, to ground all 787 flights while an investigation is underway of the 787 aircraft that has experienced many problems in the past few weeks alone.

Japanese Airlines Ground Dreamliners

In a move that the flying public may have been waiting to happen, Japan’s two major airlines and the biggest customers of the new Dreamliner jets have grounded the 787 aircraft following yet another incident that led to an emergency landing Wednesday (1/16/13) in that country.An All Nippon Airways jet on a domestic flight was reported to have battery problems and a burning smell was detected in the cockpit and cabin, forcing the 787 to land at Takamatsu airport in western Japan.  Japanese officials later told the press that the jet was found to be leaking electrolyte and burn marks were found around the main battery located beneath the cockpit area.All Nippon Airways flies 17 of the 787s and Japan Airlines, which has seven of the 50 in service, reportedly told the Japan transport ministry that it was voluntarily grounding the jet following this latest incident.  In a press conference in Japan, All Nippon Airways Senior Executive Vice President Osamu Shinobe told the media that most new aircraft experience “teething problems” when they are first flying and apologized to passengers and their families for the grounding.Japan’s transport ministry called the latest emergency landing “a serious incident” because it could have led to an accident, the media is reporting.  Japanese officials were sent to further investigate at the now closed Takamatsu airport.  The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reportedly are sending an investigator to Japan.All Nippon Airways changed 14 flights to other aircraft and canceled 31 domestic flights and seven international flights.  Japan Airlines reportedly canceled eight flights and two were changed to another aircraft.  It was not announced how long the Dreamliners would remain grounded there.

Japan Now Enters Probe of Boeing Dreamliner

In the wake of another 787 Dreamliner problem at Japan’s airport over the weekend, its transport ministry has launched an investigation into what caused two separate fuel leaks on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines Company.The investigation comes just days after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it was undergoing a comprehensive review of the next generation aircraft following a number of incidents in the United States as well.  The Chicago Tribune reported today (1/15/13) that Japan’s transport minister said in a press conference that passenger confidence in the Dreamliner is on the line.The Tribune reported that Akihiro Ota, Japan’s transport minister, told reporters today at a ministry briefing, "Looking at this from the point of view of average citizens, having these sort of incidents occur seemingly day after day, one could become very uneasy.”Japan is the largest market for the Dreamliner to date with Japan Airlines Company and its rival All Nippon Airways Company flying 24 of the 50 Dreamliners delivered to date.  Another 800 are expected to be purchased by various airlines in the next several years.  The aircraft, manufactured by Chicago-based Boeing, is the company’s attempt to use new technology to cut fuel costs.  Each lightweight jet reportedly has a list price of $207 million.Some of the Dreamliners in operation have experienced problems such as fuel leaks, a battery fire, a wiring problem, a brake computer glitch and a cracked cockpit window.  These separate incidents have caused intense scrutiny on the new design although U.S. officials have said that the aircraft is safe to fly while the investigation is underway.Japan’s ministry released a statement Monday (1/14/13) that read in an email: “Given the fuel leakage incidents occurred in succession, the minister directed the aviation director of the Regional Civil Aviation Bureau to open an investigation and find the causes of the two leaks as soon as possible.”  It added that the transport ministry has been in touch with U.S. aviation officials at the FAA as well as Boeing.

Still More Problems for Boeing’s Dreamliner

On the heels of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review of the 787 Dreamliner following its series of troubles with the aircraft comes the news that yet another problem.  A Japan All Nippon Airways 787 experienced a fuel leak Sunday (Jan. 13, 2013) during an inspection at Narita International Airport outside of Toyko.  The aircraft reportedly was the same one that had a fuel leak in Boston last week.Only about 50 of the 787's are in operation and some of them have experienced a fuel leak, a cockpit window crack and a computer malfunction that appears to be tied to the electrical system.  Several domestic flights were canceled as a result of the problems.The aircraft is the latest state-of-the-art high tech airliner that the Japanese airlines are among the top customers of Chicago-based Boeing.  Nearly 800 more have been ordered by various airlines.Boeing and the FAA have defended the aircraft’s operation noting that the FAA logged 200,000 hours of technical work before certifying the plane to fly some 15 months ago.  The Dreamliner is the first all-new commercial airplane to be certified in 15 years.

Bumpy Week for Boeing's Dreamliner Ends in FAA Review of Aircraft

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials held a press conference Friday (1/11/2013) in Washington, D.C., where they explained the comprehensive review that was ordered of the Boeing 787 aircraft. Following a week of more problems for what has been called the next generation airplane, experts and analysts speculated on what the high priority review of the 787 design and assembly, particularly the electrical system, means. Wall Street Journal reporter Andy Pasztor told PBS New Hour Friday that the FAA's move was "extremely unusual" and perhaps even "unprecedented in reacting to public pressure and public concerns.  He said it is "extremely significant" for Boeing as well.  Despite the FAA certifying the aircraft for flying and some 50 Dreamliners currently in use with orders for another 800 over the next several years, the review serves as a "wake up" call for the company.    Pasztor explained how the aircraft is the first one that is run electrically with parts that are manufactured around the globe then brought together and assembled at Boeing.  He said that making sure that all of the parts then fit together exactly as specified, involving different entities under different roofs in Boeing's effort to save time and money, remains to be seen.  He said ceding the far-flung network of subcontractors to provide parts and subsystems in a highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art airplane will be a "big test case" that the industry will be examining. Pasztor estimated that the review will take not less than several months, although the FAA has not given a timeline. To view the interview with PBS reporter Margaret Warner, visit here.

FAA Declares 787's “Safe” While Conducting Comprehensive Investigation Into Aircraft

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared the Boeing 787 or Dreamliner is “safe” despite numerous incidents including a fire and fuel leak in the aircraft.The statement from FAA administrator Mike Huerta comes as the government agency is conducting a comprehensive examination of the aircraft following five instances this week alone that often grounded the aircraft at various airports including in Japan.The aircraft has had problems since it rolled out 15 months ago.  It was touted as the most technologically advanced aircraft of its time, relying on electrical signals in order to operate.  It also uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which charge more quickly and can be molded into space-saving shapes on an aircraft.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also released a statement today where he said that he is unafraid to fly the 787 aircraft, of which about 50 are in operation.  Hundreds more are expected to be assembled and delivered to various airlines over the next several years.  United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier that currently includes 787s in its fleet.Airline executives compared this aircraft to others that have “issues” when they first enter service.  Some airline analysts have said that the FAA investigation is to reassure the flying public.  Boeing officials said they welcome the review of its “next generation” aircraft.

More Problems Found on Two Additional Dreamliners as FAA Ready to Hold Press Conference

Two more Boeing 787 aircraft called Dreamliners were found to have problems just hours before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to hold a press conference this morning on the plane’s problems since it rolled out 15 months ago, according to USA Today.An All Nippon Airways jet suffered a crack in its windshield during flight in Japan and an engine oil leak was discovered in another jet as it landed in an airport in southern Japan.In addition to the three incidents earlier this week, that makes five reported problems this week alone with what Boeing touted as the next generation aircraft.  The FAA announced it is conducting a full review of the new aircraft and is expected to hold a press conference this morning (Friday, Jan. 11, 2013) on the issues that have raised concerned in the industry and the flying public. 

FAA Orders Top-to-Bottom Review of Boeing 787s

Despite the chief engineer of Boeing telling the press that he is “100 percent convinced that the airplane is safe to fly,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered a comprehensive review of what the aircraft maker touted as most technologically advanced plane.Two latest incidents regarding Boeing’s newest airplane called the Dreamliner led the FAA to call for a review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly of the plane.  FAA officials are expected to lay out the details of their review in a news conference today (Friday, Jan. 11, 2013).Earlier in the week Vide President and 787 Chief Project Engineer Mike Sinnett indicated the company’s “extreme confidence” in the airplane.  Although acknowledging problems to the press, Sinnett said he was “not overly concerned” because they could be fixed.  The FAA has not indicated that it would be grounding the planes during the review.The Dreamliner rolled out 15 months ago and has experienced a rocky start including three incidents just this week alone.  An All Nippon Airways flight was canceled Wednesday after some brake parts were needed on the Dreamliner.  A Japan Airlines flight bound for Tokyo from Boston Tuesday was prevented from taking off when a fuel leak was discovered.  And on Monday a battery used to power systems that run while the engines are off caught fire at Logan Airport in Boston.  In December, two airlines experienced electrical issues on two separate Dreamliners.One of the Dreamliner’s new features is that it is made largely of lightweight carbon composites instead of aluminum and steel.  The FAA set special rules for the lithium-ion batteries in the aircraft that also aren’t commonly used.   Eight hundred planes are scheduled to be made; about 50 have been delivered. 

Boeing Dreamliner Apparently Not a Dream

Today’s front-page story of USA Today (1/9/2013) focuses on the ongoing failures of the Boeing Dreamliner aircraft that was touted as the next generation aircraft.Several mishaps and problems have caused experts, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), to investigate the Boeing 787.  The latest two incidents came earlier this week when a fuel tank leaked Tuesday on a 787 Japan Airlines Dreamliner while on the ground at Boston’s Logan Airport.  On Monday, at Boston’s airport a battery exploded in another 787 that controls the airplane’s electrical systems when the engines aren’t running.  A fire filled the cabin with smoke just minutes after the passengers had disembarked while the plane was on the tarmac.The first 787 was delivered in late 2011.  During a test flight in November, 2010, the plane had to make an emergency landing after an in-flight electrical fire which further delayed its debut.USA Today reports in its story of two other incidents in December, 2012, including a United Airlines flight from Houston to Newark that had to make an emergency landing in New Orleans when a power generator failed.  The FAA has ordered inspections of the 787 fleet’s fuel lines.Over the past 25 years, Clifford Law Offices has been a leading plaintiffs’ lawyer against the Chicago-based Boeing on behalf of families who have suffered injuries or the loss of a loved one in Boeing tragedies. 

Pilot Shortage May Be on the Horizon

With the federally mandated retirement age looming for many pilots, some experts are predicting that the United States may be facing a pilot shortage soon.Thousands of new rules for pilots regarding training and rest are kicking in this year, so some say the shortage of pilots may be coming as early as 2013.  One of the new rules requires copilots to have as many flight hours as captains in the cockpit.  With the mandatory retirement age of 65 requiring many pilots to retire, it leaves some to wonder if their shoes can be filled quickly enough.  In 2000, the retirement age of pilots in the U.S. was raised from 60 to 65 years old.  As the first wave of these pilots’ retirements has begun, experts are calling for a study of what may become a crisis very soon.  Click here to read Aviation Week article.Some experts are saying that regional airlines will be hit particularly hard because the bigger carriers pay more in pilots’ salaries.It is estimated some 90,000 pilots currently work for U.S. carriers and roughly 8,000 a year will need to be hired in the coming years, particularly if the economy improves and an increased growth in travel is seen.  A 2012 Boeing report estimated a need for 460,000 new commercial pilots in the next two decades.

Hospital Fires Nurse for Refusing to Get Flu Shot

The flu season certainly is upon as we read headlines of area hospitals handling an “explosive” outbreak of the illness that apparently still hasn’t peaked.The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday, Jan. 5, 2012, that one Chicago-area hospital fired a part-time nurse for refusing to get a flu shot.  The critical care nurse at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove told the press that she was fired in December after the hospital instituted the flu shot requirement.  The newspaper went on to report that Indiana University Health announced Friday that “more than 25,500 of the employees statewide [in Indiana] got newly required flu vaccinations or exemptions, while about 175 employees were expected to be fired for non-compliance.”The issue is sure to become discussed in a more widespread forum as hospital workers ask, as did the nurse at Alexian Brothers, “‘Where does it say that, just because I’m a nurse, I’m not a patient?’”The issue is one for continued debate in the area as the Tribune story said that the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council reports that a slight majority of Chicago-area hospitals now require flu shots for health care workers.

Tragic Oregon Bus Crash Investigation Continues

Authorities in Vancouver, Canada, have joined with Oregon officials in the aftermath of the deadly bus crash that left nine people dead and dozens more injured.The tour bus crash occurred Sunday (Dec. 30, 2012) about 10 a.m. as it returned from a nine-day western tour that last stopped in Las Vegas, Nevada, before returning to Vancouver, Canada, the area where some of the passengers resided.  Other passengers were exchange students from South Korea or were residents of the state of Washington or British Columbia, Canada.  Police reported that the bus was operated by a tour company in British Columbia.The bus went through a guard rail and plummeted some 200 feet down a steep slope, ejecting many passengers as it rolled down the embankment, authorities told the media.  The crashed occurred on Interstate 84 about three and a half hours east of Portland, Oregon, at the top of a seven-mile descent in the Blue Mountains.It has been reported by the press that the bus driver wore a seat belt, but that it was not required for passengers to wear seat belts.  Authorities are said to be examining the speed of the bus and whether some passengers telling the media that the bus had been traveling too fast down the mountain was a factor in the crash.  The bus reportedly hit a concrete barrier on the interstate then veered across both westbound lanes before crashing through the guardrail and plummeting down the embankment.It also has been reported that the Canadian Royal Police are helping in contacting family members of those who have been killed.  Personal effects of many passengers were scattered about the scene through broken windows.  Many of the passengers spoke only Korean and language was a barrier to the relief efforts as well making the identification process slow.  The investigation into the cause of the crash is expected to take several weeks, authorities said. 

Oregon Bus Crash Kills Nine, Injures Dozens

News video of a tragic scene in Oregon’s ice and snow tells the story – nine people are dead and three dozen more injured following a bus crash Sunday morning off of a mountainous highway in the state’s northeast corner.Steep slopes and ice made the rescue effort even more difficult as paramedics and ambulance companies from the region tried to make their way to those in the tour bus that had rolled down the steep slope after crashing through a guardrail.  Most of the passengers are reported to be Korean and language also was a barrier in the recovery efforts, the media reported.  The 49 people on the bus ranged in age from 7 to 74.  Some passengers were asleep but at least two reportedly told authorities that the bus was traveling too fast down the mountain.Many of the passengers were ejected or partially ejected from the bus and roadside triage had to be set up, officials said.  The Oregon State Police identified the bus to be operated by a Vancouver, Canada company and was returning there following a trip to Las Vegas.Authorities investigating the matter are said that it will take weeks to figure out what happened.

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