National Anti-Mitch McConnell ad campaign launches in Louisville Tuesday, Oct 13 2015 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pro-life group Personhood USA has launched a nationwide campaign centered in Louisville, Kentucky calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his role in funding abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

The new campaign ads include billboards that state “247,755 Taxpayer Funded Abortions Since Mitch Became Majority Leader” and “#ObamasWallet.” Along with this new campaign, Personhood USA is developing plans with their grassroots volunteers to keep the new Speaker of the House aware that Republicans and conservative voters do not want even one dollar of funding directed to Planned Parenthood.

Jennifer Mason, Personhood USA Spokesperson: “By funding Planned Parenthood, Senator McConnell has made every American taxpayer an unwilling accomplice to the largest abortion provider in the world. In bankrolling Planned Parenthood, we are funding all of their business practices – and it has to stop. It is time for do-nothing politicians, who have used our money to fund President Obama’s agenda, to step down.”  

McConnell ad

The advertising outreach of the campaign, which is rolling out now, is expected to reach hundreds of thousands in the state of Kentucky and millions more nationwide.

“Pro-life voters expect Republican officials to take action, and so far we’ve been deeply disappointed. No more excuses, no more delays, we need people in office who will get things done,” continued Mason.

Planned Parenthood’s annual report documents a devastating 327,653 abortions annually. The number 247,755 is a conservative estimate reached by calculating the number of abortions committed at Planned Parenthood since McConnell became the Majority Leader in the Senate on January 3 of this year.

Personhood USA is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in the country. Dedicated to protecting every innocent person by love and by law, Personhood USA strives to educate the nation with the truth about abortion.

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Kentucky Republicans Renew Push For Charter Schools Monday, Oct 12 2015 

Kentucky lawmakers were predictably divided along party lines Monday during a committee hearing on charter schools, signaling that the Republican initiative might continue to languish in the state legislature.

The Republican-majority state Senate has approved a bill that would authorize charter schools every year since 2010. But that has been largely ignored by the Democratic House.

Rep. Jim DeCesare, a Bowling Green Republican, said House majority leadership has been unwilling to take up the issue.

“We can’t get hearings on some of these pieces of legislation or get them to the House floor for a vote,” said DeCesare, the House minority whip.

Kentucky is one of eight states that doesn’t allow charter schools.

On Monday, lawmakers heard testimony on a proposal to send state education funding directly to the families of students who opt out of the conventional public school system.

“If your kid doesn’t go to a public school, you still pay the money. And you should have the opportunity to say where some of that money goes,” DeCesare said.

The proposal was modeled after an Arizona law. The families of students who opted out of a conventional school would get 90 percent of the state dollars that would have gone to the public school system to educate that child. The funds would be put on a debit card that could be used only for educational services such as private school tuition, home school curricula, tutoring or special education.

Vicki Alger, a research fellow with the conservative think tank Independent Institute, said the “doomsday scenarios” about charter schools offered by critics are unwarranted. Under the Arizona-style model, conventional public schools would lose some funding when students left — but they’d also shed the cost of educating the child.

“What actually happens is their per-pupil funding goes up” because the conventional school would still get 10 percent of the state funding, plus local and federal dollars, Alger said.

Several Republican representatives said the alternative funding model would give particular flexibility to parents with special-needs children.

Rep. John Carney, a Campbellsville Republican, said lawmakers need to look past the partisan divide on the issue.

“We all know the makeup here, we know the issue and how charter schools are going to go for sometime, but I would beg this General Assembly to at least consider this issue with special-needs students,” Carney said.

Rep. Linda Belcher, a Shepherdsville Democrat, said the cost of educating a special-needs child far exceeds the amount a family would receive from the diverted formula funding.

“What happens when the money card runs out?” Belcher said, adding that public school districts are better able to fund and provide those services. “Our children are getting those services, and parents are not having to pay for them and not having to mortgage houses.”

Lawmakers also heard a presentation on a scheme that would provide a tax credit for donors to nonprofits that grant private school scholarships to low-income students.

Sen. Reggie Thomas, a Lexington Democrat, criticized the policy, saying that the tax credit would “have the effect of reducing government revenue for public schools.”

Republican candidate for governor Matt Bevin supports legislation to authorize charter schools in Kentucky, while Democratic candidate Jack Conway says he’s for more flexibility in the public school system. Conway says he would only support a system that doesn’t “siphon away public dollars.” Independent candidate Drew Curtis says he’s open to the concept of charter schools, especially if they would help low-income students.

Downtown Louisville Bridge to open early Monday, Oct 12 2015 

Public will have a chance to ‘Walk the Bridge’ before it opens to traffic

Oct. 12, 2015 – Speaking from the deck of the new Interstate 65 bridge in downtown Louisville, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today the bridge will open to two-way traffic ahead of schedule.

“In January, I stood at the base of this massive project and announced we were accelerating the schedule,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today, I’m walking on this beautiful new bridge and telling you we’re moving even faster than expected. Drivers will get an early present – you will be driving on the new bridge by Christmas!”

An exact date for the opening of the new bridge will be determined closer to that date. Gov. Beshear said the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and crews with Walsh Construction are on budget and ahead of schedule. Officials are confident the bridge will be ready to carry traffic before Dec. 25.

From Louisville Downtown Bridge's Facebook page

From Louisville Downtown Bridge’s Facebook page

Gov. Beshear also announced plans for a public celebration in advance of opening the bridge to traffic.

“Over the coming decades, hundreds of thousands of people and cars will cross this bridge, but we’re creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before we open the bridge to vehicle traffic,” said Gov. Beshear. “Before the first car drives across this span, the public will have a chance to walk the new bridge. It’s an opportunity to be part of an historic celebration of an extraordinary project. ”

Plans for the public celebration will be announced in the coming weeks.

Gov. Beshear was joined by Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Jeffersonville (Indiana) Mayor Mike Moore for the progress announcement. Each signed a golden bolt, some of the final bolts that will be put into place on the deck of the new bridge.

“I’m excited to be a part of this moment and proud of all this bridge represents,” said Lt. Gov. Ellspermann. “Building these two bridges will transform Indiana and Kentucky. Governor Pence and I applaud the hard work of people on both sides of the river and the political aisle to make it happen.”

Building a new interstate bridge across the Ohio River in Louisville had been discussed for decades, but became real in December 2011 when Gov. Beshear and then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels instructed their staffs to cut costs and make the project financially feasible. The groundbreaking ceremony was held 18 months later, in June 2013.

“I witnessed the decades of debate and heard from many people who never thought the bridges would be a reality,” said Mayor Fischer. “Because of Gov. Beshear’s tenacity, outside-the-box thinking and leadership, we are standing here today.”

Walk the Bridge

Details will be announced soon regarding the Walk the Bridge celebration. The event, planned for December, will offer the public a chance be part of history by walking on the bridge before it opens to traffic. The public is expected to access the bridge from Jeffersonville.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Jeffersonville host this tremendous event,” said Mayor Moore. “It’s been nearly 52 years since the Kennedy Bridge opened to traffic. Giving the public this opportunity offers all of us a chance to be part of a historic moment. It’s going to be a fantastic celebration.”

Opening to Traffic

When the new Downtown bridge opens in December, it will temporarily carry two-way traffic. Crews with lead contractor Walsh Construction Co. will then begin extensive improvements to the adjacent John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge. More than $22 million in improvements are planned, including building a new floor system. It’s expected to add decades of new life to the Kennedy Bridge.

All but one lane of the Kennedy Bridge will close when the new bridge opens to traffic. One lane will remain open for about a month to maintain access to I-64 and I-71 North. The entire Kennedy Bridge will then close for about six months. One lane of the Kennedy will reopen first, restoring access to I-64 East and I-71 North. Access to I-64 West will be restored a short time later. The entire Kennedy Bridge is expected to reopen in late 2016.

The revamped Kennedy Bridge will eventually carry six lanes of I-65 South traffic and the Downtown bridge will carry six lanes of I-65 North traffic.

The entire Downtown Crossing – the new cable-stayed bridge, the improved Kennedy Bridge and interstate connections on both sides of the river – is scheduled to be complete in December 2016.

Find more information on the Ohio River Bridges Project at

Navigate traffic with KYTC,, and Waze,

downtown bridge

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Conway Supports Expanding Casino Gambling In Kentucky Sunday, Oct 11 2015 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway says he would support legislation to expand casino gambling in Kentucky to bring in more money for the cash-strapped state budget.

“If we’re looking for new revenue, I think gaming is the most obvious place to look,” Conway said.

During a Kentucky Public Radio News Special on Friday, Conway said the political atmosphere might permit a gaming bill to pass the legislature.

“We may have enough pressures on the budget now that forces can come together where we can put this issue in front of the people of Kentucky and let them vote on it,” Conway said.

Allowing a limited number of casinos to open in Kentucky was a priority during both campaigns and several legislative sessions for outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. The General Assembly would have to approve the measure as a Constitutional amendment, which requires a two-thirds majority vote of both legislative chambers. Kentucky voters would also have to approve the amendment in a referendum.

The three states on Kentucky’s northern border have made billions in tax revenues from their casinos on along the Ohio River. In the past 10 years, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio have raked in a total of $3.9 billion from a combined eight casinos, according to an analysis by Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

“We’ve got all of the ills of gaming but none of the revenue benefits that it could potentially provide. So for that reason, I would lobby for it,” Conway said.

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House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, has said he will propose legislation in the upcoming legislative session that would allow as many as seven casinos to open in Kentucky. Tax revenue from the casinos would be split among the pension system, public education, higher education and the racing industry.

During the gubernatorial debate at Centre College earlier this week, Republican candidate Matt Bevin said he would not support expanded gambling.

“I don’t think it’s the solution to what ails us financially in this state,” Bevin said.

Independent candidate Drew Curtis has said he would support the measure.

The Republican-controlled Senate didn’t take up the bill the last time it was proposed, in 2014. Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, has been wary of the policy, saying neighboring states that have allowed casino gambling have had mixed results.

Conway also said the state shouldn’t take out a $3.3 billion bond to help bail out the teacher pension system — something Stivers has also supported.

“The bonding issue is just problematic because if you have an economic downturn and the investments go down, all you’ve done is make the problem worse,” Conway said.

A bonding bill for the teacher pension system passed the Democratic-led House during last year’s legislative session, but it failed in the Senate.

LISTEN: WFPL News Special with Jack Conway, Democratic Candidate For Governor Friday, Oct 9 2015 

In an hour-long WFPL News Special on Friday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway discussed issues ranging from coal to expanded gambling.


Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton and WFPL’s Rick Howlett conducted the interview. Conway, the state’s attorney general, was pressed about the large role coal has played in the campaign, despite the industry’s dwindling number of jobs in the state. He said coal remains a major issue in the eastern and western parts of Kentucky.

“It’s an important part of our culture,” he said.

Conway also said he wants the state to better enforce current gun control laws, and he again expressed his support for the state government’s expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The interview was the third and final WFPL News Special with the candidates for Kentucky governor. You can find Republican Matt Bevin’s interview here and independent Drew Curtis’ interview here.

And find all of WFPL News’ and Kentucky Public Radio’s coverage of the 2015 gubernatorial election here.

Drew Curtis’ Donor List Features Nerd-Icons, Entrepreneurs and Tucker Max Friday, Oct 9 2015 

Drew Curtis may not have raised the most money for the 2015 gubernatorial election, but he did manage to raise funds from the most eccentric group of donors.

Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fame, “Mythbusters” star Adam Savage, infamous author Tucker Max and science fiction writer John Scalzi are among Curtis’ campaign contributors.

Curtis, a Lexington-based tech entrepreneur and founder of, is running for governor as an independent. Polls show a tight race, but Curtis is trailing Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin. In a Bluegrass Poll released late last month, Curtis drew 7 percent.

When asked about the out-of-state contributors, Curtis said in a statement that his time in the business world helped him cultivate relationships with people from all over the U.S.

“I’ve made great friendships all over the country in my time with Fark, and I always tell them about what an amazing place Kentucky is to live in,” Curtis said.

Savage, an industrial/special effects designer and TV personality best known for the Discovery Channel series “MythBusters,” donated $1,000 in May to Curtis’ campaign, according to Curtis’ filings this week with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Savage said via Twitter that he would move to Kentucky if Curtis won the election.


Wheaton, who played Welsey Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in the late ’80s and early ’90s, donated $1,000 in September. Following his time on the U.S.S. Enterprise, Wheaton has been an advocate for mental health and overall geek icon.

Also, Curtis got a $250 donation from Tucker Max in June. Max wrote “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell,” a controversial collection of non-fiction stories where he chronicles his drunken sexual conquests throughout his 20s. The book, which reached No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, eventually became a feature film. The release of that movie was met with protests.

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Max has reportedly cleaned up his image. His Twitter photo is now complete with a family portrait featuring Max, his wife and a baby.

When I mentioned on Twitter that Max contributed to Curtis’ campaign, he replied, “Yes I did. He’s awesome. Would be the best thing to ever happen to Kentucky (after Coach Cal).”

Scalzi, who recently signed a $3.4 million, 10-year deal with the publisher Tor Books, gave the Curtis campaign $1,000 in August.

According to the New York Times, Scalzi’s notable works “include a series known as the “Old Man’s War” and the more recent “Redshirts,” a Hugo Award-winning send-up of the luckless lives of non-featured characters on shows like the original ‘Star Trek.’”

The Curtis campaign can also boast a list of interesting business founders who are also contributors. Among them: Stone Brewing Co. founder Greg Koch and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. There was also a smattering of people in the tech industry on Curtis’ financial disclosure.

“In my years as an entrepreneur, I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with what amounts to an all-star team of technology and business experts,” Curtis said in a statement. “If we’re serious about making Kentucky a tech-friendly state, I can deliver.”

Curtis has $1,942 in his campaign coffers, according to his state campaign filing. He’s raised $42,909.

Kentucky Democrats Hold Fundraising Edge In Most Statewide Races Thursday, Oct 8 2015 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway has a major financial advantage over Republican Matt Bevin, who has struggled to raise funds and has loaned his campaign $995,100 during the general election period.

Bevin, a Louisville businessman, loaned his campaign $825,000 in the days after last month the Republican Governors Association announced it would stop airing ads for his campaign, raising questions about the strength of the campaign and Bevin’s ability to raise money.

During the heated four-way Republican primary, Bevin loaned his campaign $2.55 million, about 95 percent of all the money he had on hand for the race.

Bevin’s campaign currently has $674,427 after raising $1.7 million and spending $1 million.

Conway’s campaign has $2.3 million after raising $6.1 million and spending $3.8 million.

According to the most recent Bluegrass Poll, Conway has a slight lead in the race with 42 percent. Bevin is close behind at 37 percent and independent candidate Drew Curtis has 7 percent.

Curtis has $1,942 on hand after raising $42,909 and spending $42,269.

Democratic candidates for other statewide offices also hold financial edges in all the statewide races except for agriculture commissioner and treasurer.

In the race for state treasurer, Republican Alison Ball, a bankruptcy lawyer, has $67,968 in cash on hand after raising $90,724 and spending $22,756. She’s running against Democratic Rep. Rick Nelson, of Middlesboro, who has $9,505 after raising $56,552 and spending $47,046.

The recent Bluegrass Poll showed Ball with a three-point lead over Nelson after a July poll showed her with a two-point deficit.

Republican Rep. Ryan Quarles, of Georgetown has $159,006 left for his bid to be the next agriculture commissioner. He’s raised $200,576 and spent $41,569. His Democratic opponent, Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, had not filed her finance report as of Thursday morning.

Quarles currently leads Spann, 34 to 31 percent.

In the race for attorney general, Democratic candidate Andy Beshear has $742,085 after raising $2.7 million and spending $1.9 million.

Republican candidate Whitney Westerfield has $110,321 after raising $151,032 and spending $40,710.

Despite the fundraising disadvantage, Westerfield is tied with Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, according to the Bluegrass Poll. Westerfield’s bid has been buoyed by $2.2 million in support from the Republican Attorneys General Association in the form of TV advertising.

Democratic State Auditor Adam Edelen has $557,599 in his bid for reelection after raising $774,590 and spending $216,990.

Edelen is in a close race with Republican Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville, who has just $9,532 cash on hand after raising $28,968 and spending $19,436

Democratic Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes’ reelection campaign has $505,125 after raising $615,131 and spending  $110,006. She holds an eight point lead over Republican Steve Knipper, who has $5,954 after raising $31,413 and spending $25,459.


This Weekend, Journalists Meet In Louisville To Tackle Workers’ Rights Thursday, Oct 8 2015 

Thursday is the beginning of a four-day national meetup in Louisville aimed at getting journalists and organized labor to understand each other better. It comes as journalists at some national digital-news outlets have sought — and established — unions.

The goal of the event, organizers say, is to eventually develop a Nationwide Center for Media Workers here in Louisville.

Labor reporter Mike Elk said the city was an obvious choice for a summit designed to hash out issues involving journalists and workers’ rights. For one, Elk said, Louisville was home to civil rights activists and reporters Anne and Carl Braden.

“Louisville is at the crosscurrents of so many different things,” Elk said. “It’s a microcosm of what’s happening in the United States. You have the Kentucky labor movement fighting ALEC and right-to-work.”

Labor groups oppose right-to-work laws because they eliminate the requirement that workers pay union dues as a condition of their employment. Here in Kentucky, organized labor has stepped up outreach ahead of the gubernatorial election next month.

Republican candidate Matt Bevin has promised to push a right-to-work law if elected. Democratic candidate Jack Conway opposes such laws.

Norwood Orrick, one of the organizers of the summit in Louisville, said the media could learn some lessons from how unions get their priorities across — especially at a time when the media landscape is going through major changes.

“We have to get over this idea that we are on this higher plane and we are automatically protected and don’t need the protection of a union or the power that comes with speaking with one voice,” he said.

Elk, who used to cover labor for Politico, said journalism has suffered as a result of massive turnover in newsrooms. He also said media outlets need to start better understanding workers.

“Media workers have a lot to learn from workers in other occupations,” he said. “So we are not limiting this to digital journalists. We are saying this is about media and labor understanding one another better.”

Several digital-news websites have begun talks of unionizing. In June, Gawker was the first online-only outlet to vote to unionize. U.S.  Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced he will visit with Gawker staff Friday to discuss the company’s work relations.

According to the Media Workers Unite website, the organizers hope to “create a non-traditional labor committee, develop our own industry-wide campaigns to promote the right to self-determination and workplace democracy over 12 key areas of media workers’ rights.”

Of Louisville, the organization’s mission statement says: “We have chosen this site because it is an important part of the hidden history of media workers. Carl and his wife Anne Braden were white, Southern, trade unionists who fought for racial justice.”

Elk said organizers are expecting more than 100 people to take part in the inaugural summit.

New LRC Director Says He’s Ready To Make Changes Wednesday, Oct 7 2015 

The new director of the Legislative Research Commission says the state agency needs to get its “swagger back” after a years-long sexual harassment scandal and reports of low morale.

The LRC runs much of the administration at the state Capitol and also manages staffers who work for state lawmakers.

David Byerman started work as the LRC’s new director last Thursday. The last full-time director, Bobby Sherman, resigned from the position in September 2013, after accusations that he covered up sexual harassment in the state agency and had an ongoing romantic relationship with one of his subordinates.

During a presentation on Wednesday to the panel of lawmakers that oversees the LRC, Byerman said he’s going to create a new structure for the state agency, which House Speaker Greg Stumbo previously called “a rudderless ship.”

“We have the right workforce, we just need for the level of leadership to rise to the level of performance we’re already getting from our employees,” Byerman said.

A National Conference of State Legislatures audit of the LRC found that the state agency had low morale in part due to unclear hiring and compensation practices. Employees also said hiring and compensation were influenced by favoritism.

After the presentation, Byerman said that during private meetings, employees have reinforced the NCSL’s findings. He said reforming the LRC’s compensation system will take time.

“If you have people being overpaid, what do you do? Do you promote them? Do you make them do more work for the pay that they currently have? That’s one option. Do you fire them if they’re overcompensated for the job? I don’t know the answer to that yet,” Byerman said.

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The LRC’s troubles were made public when two staffers sued former state Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis. They accused Arnold of inappropriately touching them.

Arnold later resigned, was fined $3,000 by the Legislative Ethics Commission, and eventually settled the case with the women. Former LRC Director Bobby Sherman, the LRC, Rep. Johnny Bell and Rep. Will Coursey were also defendants in the case.

When asked if he had any plans to reign in lawmakers who misbehave, Byerman said he did not.

“My charge is to oversee the 320 nonpartisan staff of LRC and to protect those employees. I am not in charge of disciplining members of the legislature, that is not in my job description,” Byerman said.

During the meeting, Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, said he “felt as much responsibility as anyone” for not monitoring the actions taken by former LRC Director Sherman.

“It was my job to watch him, and maybe I didn’t watch him as much as I should have,” Stumbo said.

He went on to say that once allegations against Arnold came to light, he asked all LRC employees to bring any complaints directly to him, an offer that no one took.

“No one came. Which I think is a testament to the fact that much of what was reported in the media may have been over-exaggerated,” Stumbo said.

Byerman relocated from Nevada last week. During the meeting, the panel presented him with a certificate, notifying him that he was now a Kentucky Colonel.

Fairness Leader Arrested At State Fair Heads To Court Thursday Wednesday, Oct 7 2015 

A Louisville gay rights leader will appear in court Thursday morning after being arrested while protesting the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s policies at this year’s state fair.

The Fairness Campaign’s Chris Hartman, as well as Carla Wallace and Sonja de Vries, face misdemeanor charges for standing up in protest at a breakfast event at the fair in August. They were protesting what they called discriminatory policies of the farm bureau, including its formal opposition to same-sex marriage and domestic partner benefits.

Hartman, Fairness’ executive director, faces charges of disorderly conduct and failure to disperse. Wallace and de Vries face charges of failure to disperse.

Hartman and his attorneys, who are associated with the ACLU of Kentucky, argue police acted improperly that day. Kentucky State Police have said the protesters were there to create a disturbance and to get arrested.

Trooper Paul Blanton, a spokesman for Kentucky State Police, said officers approached Hartman and others before the breakfast and told them not to disturb the event. The protesters went inside and stood silently once the event began.

“He wanted to go in and disrupt the meeting,” Blanton said of Hartman in August.

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But Hartman maintains police didn’t give the protesters enough time to comply with their orders.

“We certainly don’t feel that we were arrested legally,” he said.

Hartman said he is interested in hearing the prosecution’s case, which he said he hopes will be thrown out.

“I don’t believe that they will be able to prove the standard to be guilty of those charges,” he said. “You really have to be creating a disturbance that makes people fear for their safety.”

If Hartman’s charges are dismissed, Wallace and de Vries will also no longer face charges. The maximum penalty for the Class B misdemeanors is a $250 fine.

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