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In Australia, Facebook is making a power shift – and can regret it

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In Australia, Facebook is making a power shift - and can regret it

 

For years, in the midst of a slew of privacy controversies, antitrust litigation and allegations that it allowed hate speech and populism to undermine democracy, Facebook has been in a defensive crouch. However, it suddenly pivoted early Thursday to take the offensive in Australia, where it lowered the boom on publishers and the government with a sudden decision to block news across the entire nation on its website.

The power play could easily backfire, considering how worried many governments have become about the company’s unregulated control over culture, democracy and political debate, a response to an Australian law that would require Facebook to pay publishers to use their news stories. But it’s still a surprising reminder of just how much influence Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO, can exert at the touch of a figurative button.

“Jennifer Grygiel, a social media expert and professor at Syracuse University, said, “Zuckerberg’s flex here reveals how he can disrupt global access to news in a heartbeat. “No company should have that much influence over journalistic access.”

The step by Facebook suggests that people in Australia can no longer post links on Facebook to news reports. In the meantime, outside Australia, no one will post links to Aussie news sources like the Sydney Morning Herald.

Facebook said its partnership with publishers who use its service to propel their stories around the globe “ignores the realities” of the proposed legislation. Significant questions have also been raised by technology and media experts. In January, Timothy Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist known as the World Wide Web founder, told an Australian Senate committee that the precedent of the legislation could potentially kill the internet by demanding payment for links that have always been free.

The bill hasn’t come into force. Negotiations between the tech firms, the government of Australia and the media giants of the country, most notably Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., may lead to changes in the final edition.

What can’t be altered, however, is the dramatic, if ham-handed, attempt by Facebook to force the question. The firm gave no warning about its decision to block Australian news and so clumsily enforced the ban that it blocked many innocent bystanders.

“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, in order to comply with the law as drafted, we have adopted a broad definition,” said Facebook spokeswoman Mari Melguizo, who added that the company will unblock any pages blocked by mistake.

Even if there are problems with the rule, including the fact that it stands to help media giants like News Corp., Facebook’s reaction was not justified, said Elizabeth Renieris, director of the Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab. The show of strength by Facebook, she said, is “really going to wake up regulators all over the world.”

Facebook is not consistent with democracy if it is not already obvious,” Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island who heads a House subcommittee that has called for antitrust action against the company, wrote on Twitter.” “The ultimate admission of monopoly power is to threaten to bring an entire country to its knees to agree to Facebook’s terms.”

Democrats announced on Thursday that they would hold fresh hearings to restrict online platforms and amend antitrust legislation.

For vital information, not just news, but charity and government pages, emergency announcements and other critical outlets, billions of people around the world depend on Facebook. Many of these, including humanitarian organisations such as Foodbank Australia and Doctors without Borders in Australia, which found their pages temporarily disabled, were swept up by Facebook’s news blackout.

Articles from major foreign news organisations and small community newspapers or radio stations were similarly impacted by the ban. These restrictions have potentially deprived many Australians of basic COVID-19 or the country’s fire season details on Facebook from a business that is dedicated to creating “connection and community.”

A blunt effect felt by Australian publishers. The Facebook ban resulted in a 24 percent decrease in total traffic to Australian publishers by late Friday morning local time, compared to 48 hours earlier, analytics firm Chartbeat said.

The tech company has faced years of scrutiny for allowing disinformation to fester on its platform about politics and the coronavirus. Critics say they fear that it would only exacerbate that issue by robbing Australian users of legitimate news outlets.

Tama Leaver, an internet studies and social media specialist at Curtin University in Australia, said during an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio Perth on Wednesday, ‘Playing this game in Australia would fill people’s feeds with misinformation.’

But for many users, a news-free Facebook could also be a more enjoyable experience, said Drew Margolin, a communication professor at Cornell University. If it had offered Australians an option to opt out of the news, Facebook would have been better off, he proposed. If many did, with the government and publishers, the firm might have used it for leverage.

What happens when they say that we’re about to turn it back on and say that we’re not ready, please? “Said he.

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New Yorkers warned about risks of using fake COVID vaccination cards

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New Yorkers warned about risks of using fake COVID vaccination cards

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is warning New Yorkers about the risks of buying or using fake COVID-19 vaccination cards. Officials say as more places are requiring proof of vaccination, scammers are taking advantage of this by selling fake verification tools including fake cards, certificates, and test results.

Buying fake vaccine cards, making your own or filling the blanks with false information is illegal and could land you in jail. Officials say the vaccines are safe and opting for a fake vaccination card instead of getting vaccinated is a health and legal risk.

“Making or possessing fake COVID-19 vaccination cards are serious crimes. We are taking this issue very seriously due to the tremendous risk presented by these false documents,” said State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen. “Anyone found to be involved with forged vaccine cards will be charged and face the legal consequences.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received several complaints from people reporting cases of possible fraud related to COVID-19 vaccination. They also received complaints of websites offering, for a fee, vaccine waivers and medical exemptions without seeing a doctor. The FTC is investigating these and other cases of possible vaccine fraud.

Officials warn:

  • Presenting fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards or test results can land you in jail. Buying or making fake vaccine cards or filling in blank cards with false information is illegal and could lead to fines or even land you in jail.
  • The only legitimate way to get proof of vaccination or a negative test result is to get vaccinated or to test negative.
  • Protect your personal information from COVID scams. Scammers set up fraudulent websites offering fake vaccine appointments or call people claiming to be COVID surveyors to collect people’s personal information. Never give out personal information over the phone.

New Yorkers can also report vaccine-related fraud by calling 833-VAX-SCAM (833-829-7226) or emailing [email protected]

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Rockies clinch another losing season, while power-hitting Giants win 100th game

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Rockies clinch another losing season, while power-hitting Giants win 100th game

The Rockies were hoping to play David to the Giants’ Goliath. The Dodgers were hoping so, too.

Nothing doing.

Home-run happy San Francisco cranked out four more long balls Friday night at Coors Field en route to a 7-2 cruiser over Colorado.

The Rockies, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday, fell to 71-82, clinching their third consecutive losing season and the 20th losing season in their 29 years of existence.

The storied Giants, now 100-54, reached the 100-win mark for the eighth time in their long history, but the first time since 2013.

More vital, they kept their slim lead over the Dodgers in the National League West. The Giants entered Friday one game ahead of their rivals with nine games remaining in the season. The Dodgers were playing at Arizona in a late game.

A bit of good news for Colorado was the performance of starter Peter Lambert. It was a milestone night for the right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery on July 21, 2020.

Pitching in a major league game for the first time since Sept. 20, 2019, Lambert took a positive step forward. He gave up two runs on four hits, walked one and struck out two in 3 2/3 innings. He threw 65 pitches, 38 for strikes. The game plan was for Lambert to throw about 60 pitches.

Lambert’s night, however, began with a big-league jolt of reality. On the game’s second pitch, Tommy La Stella lined Lambert’s 95 mph fastball into the right-field seats. In the second inning, Brandon Crawford launched a one-out solo blast into the second deck above right field. Crawford’s 442-foot homer had an exit velocity of 106.1 mph.

San Francisco’s other two homers came off of long reliever Ashton Goudeau. Brandon Belt led off the sixth with a 424-foot shot to right. Mike Yastrzemski put the game away with a three-run blast in the seventh.

Friday marked the 17th time this season the Giants hit at least four home runs and they are now just one blast shy of matching their all-time record for homers in a single season. That was in 2001, and yes, that was the year Barry Bonds hit 73 homers. This year’s Giants have no one with 30 or more homers. Belt leads the team with 27.

Giants starter Alex Wood stuck around for just four innings before getting lifted for a pinch-hitter. Colorado nicked the left-hander for two runs in the first. Raimel Tapia beat out an infield squibber for a leadoff single and Brendan Rodgers followed with a line-drive single to right. Charlie Blackmon’s single scored Tapia, and Elias Diaz’s pitching wedge single to shallow right scored Rodgers.

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Heavy police presence in Brighton for barricaded subject

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Heavy police presence in Brighton for barricaded subject

BRIGHTON, Colo. — The Brighton Police Department is responding to a report of a barricaded subject near S. 27th Avenue and Bromley Lane.

The Littleton Police Department confirmed it has officers on scene investigating the standoff in connection with the shooting that seriously injured an officer Monday. The department is looking for Rigoberto Valles Dominguez, 33, who is suspected of shooting Officer David Snook multiple times while officers responded to a call for shots fired in the area of 183 W. Powers Avenue in Littleton. Another officer, Cpl. Jeff Farmer, also injured his knee during the incident.

Brighton officers are working to establish communication with the barricaded subject through negotiators. It’s unclear if the subject is Dominguez.

There is a heavy police presence in the area, and 27th Avenue is shut down.

Drivers should use Sable Boulevard or Prairie Center Parkway to avoid the area.

Full story via Denver7

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Advocates urge NY to boost $2B fund for undocumented workers

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Advocates urge NY to boost $2B fund for undocumented workers

FILE – In this April 18, 2020, file photo, Francisco Ramírez searches a block for an address to drop off a box of grocery donations to a family in need in the Bronx borough of New York. New York might be on track to exhaust its $2.1 billion pandemic relief fund for undocumented workers, just weeks after it began accepting applications. Advocacy groups for immigrant workers are calling on the state to add as much as $1.4 billion to the fund to meet unexpectedly strong demand. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York might be on track to exhaust its $2.1 billion pandemic relief fund for undocumented workers, just weeks after it began accepting applications. Advocacy groups for immigrant workers are calling on the state to add as much as $1.4 billion to the fund—the largest of its kind in the county—to meet unexpectedly strong demand.

Initially, the state had estimated that the fund could benefit as many as 300,000 people whose immigration status made them ineligible for federal stimulus checks, unemployment aid, or other benefits. But contrary to expectations, nearly all 92,000 people approved for aid so far have qualified for the maximum $15,600 available under the program, the state’s website showed Thursday afternoon. Roughly 223,500 claims have been submitted overall, with a rush coming in recent days.

Natividad Aguilar, a 31-year-old mother of three daughters in Manhattan, is among those waiting for her application to be processed. She works a string of jobs, including cleaning homes, and said some in her community were skeptical or worried about the fund initially. But she said such concerns are dwindling as tens of thousands have received financial assistance in recent weeks.

“I’m so excited for the help and so grateful that New York is providing this help,” she said. “So, so many people need it.”

The Department of Labor told advocates Wednesday that it will alert potential applicants as soon as Friday that assistance won’t be guaranteed even if they’re eligible. They said “applications that have been submitted can be considered safe, that there might be a waitlist and that applications would be prioritized by the date of initial submission,” according to Bianca Guerrero, campaign coordinator for the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition.

The Department of Labor didn’t answer questions Thursday about whether the fund was likely to run out of money, or whether assistance might not be guaranteed if that happened. It’s unclear when or if the Democratic-led Legislature would consider a funding boost. Minority Republicans balked at Democrats’ passage of the fund this spring. Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat from the Bronx who chairs the Senate health committee, said he supports increased funding.

To be eligible, applicants must have made less than $26,208 in 2020, prove they are New York residents and show they have suffered loss of earnings because of the pandemic. They must also have worked at least six weeks during the six months before they lost earnings because of the pandemic.

Eligibility documentation might include recent tax returns with a valid taxpayer identification number, pay stubs or employer letters. Immigrants who can only prove identity and residency can receive $3,200 in payments if they don’t have required work documents. Even as the program has begun to run out of money, worker advocates have urged the state to loosen application rules.

Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, deputy director at the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, said it’s tough for workers who aren’t listed on an apartment lease or utility bill to prove residency. Municipal ID programs in New York City and elsewhere allow roommates to write affidavits to help prove residency, she said. The state allows self-employed workers to write letters that attest to their income. Workers paid in cash can receive similar letters from employers.

But Kaufman-Gutierrez and other advocates interviewed by The Associated Press say the state needs to let applicants know that workers paid in cash, like babysitters or domestic workers, can also provide their own letters in scenarios where employers refuse to do so. “There are still these very significant barriers for those who are still not able to apply,” she said. “These are the most vulnerable workers who need funds the most and deserve them.”

Advocates are also urging New York to make its helpline and follow-up notifications available in other languages besides English. Department of Labor spokesperson Deanna Cohen said the state is working to expedite the application process.

Meanwhile, some lawyers and notaries are charging applicants hundreds of dollars to help workers fill out the application. Advocates are reporting incidents to the attorney general and labor department.

Rosanna Aran, co-executive director of the Manhattan-based Laundry Workers Center, which represents over 2,100 workers, urged workers to ignore such “scams.” She said, “We are hearing people are paying $300 just to fill out the application, sometimes $150, $500.”

The state has provided grants to over 75 community-based organizations to provide free application assistance.

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NYSPHSAA memo clarifies state guidance: Student-athletes must wear masks

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NYSPHSAA memo clarifies state guidance: Student-athletes must wear masks

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — Bishop Ludden’s volleyball team has been wearing masks while playing since last year.

“The kids have made a pretty good adjustment to that,” said Bishop Ludden Head Volleyball Coach John Buskey. “Nobody likes it, if we’re honest. We would love to see the masks go away.”

Masks won’t be going away anytime soon. This week, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) clarified guidance from the state health department in a memo.

It mandates that everyone including students and visitors wear a mask while indoors regardless of vaccination status. It also says if it’s not possible for an athlete to wear a mask and they cannot maintain six foot distancing, then they should not participate.

“I wasn’t surprised to see it come down. Some of the other sports—volleyball, we’re actually somewhat distanced most of the time anyway,” Buskey explained, “Mask-wearing doesn’t always make sense. In some other sports where you’re close, like in basketball, it may make a little more sense.”

Coach Buskey said he wishes the state guidance included considerations for students with medical conditions like asthma. “Especially if they have exercise-induced asthma where they just need to have the ability to breathe,” Buskey said. “In volleyball, it’s really home court rules as far as how much it’s enforced or not enforced. You see, some of the masks dropping down around the chins most the kids now are at least good about covering their mouths with the masks

Buskey said he will continue to advocate for students. He hopes the state will eventually adjust the guidance for medical exemptions and even tailor it to individual sports.

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Pesticide protest at Delmar CVS on Sunday

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Pesticide protest at Delmar CVS on Sunday

DELMAR, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Bethlehem residents concerned about pesticides will be protesting the CVS store in Delmar on September 26 starting at 9 a.m. The organizer of the event, Joe Murphy, says protesters will bring signs and informational flyers to attract public notice concerning pesticide use by CVS.

Murphy said he contacted CVS and other businesses earlier this summer and offered them information about natural alternatives to pesticides. He says CVS continues to use pesticides on their lawn.

“Some of the other businesses we contacted were grateful for the prompt and decided to stop using pesticides. It’s unfortunate that CVS insists on continuing this toxic practice,” said Murphy.

The picketing is part of a new Pest Protest anti-pesticide action plan. Murphy says the protests will continue and grow until CVS agrees to stop using pesticides in the community.

“Picketing, social media, news coverage, you name it. We are confident that once the public understands what this business is doing, they will tell them to stop, ” said Murphy.

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Annual memorial mass for deceased members of the law enforcement

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Annual memorial mass for deceased members of the law enforcement

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Tuesday, September 28, at 10:30 a.m., the 34th Annual Memorial Mass for deceased community members of the law enforcement, will be held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, on Eagle Street.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger will preside the mass to remember those who have died in law enforcement and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Law enforcement from New York City, Long Island, the Capital Region, and from across New York State will be present, along with local dignitaries.

For more information, contact Mary Poust at (518) 331-0850 or visit the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany webpage.

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Colorado high school football: How CHSAANow Top 10 teams fared in Week 5

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Colorado high school football: How CHSAANow Top 10 teams fared in Week 5

Class 5A

1. Valor Christian (4-0) vs. No. 3 Columbine, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. Mountain Vista, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

2. Cherry Creek (3-1) at No. 5 Regis Jesuit, 6:30 p.m. Friday. Next week: at No. 8 Cherokee Trail, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

3. Columbine (4-0) at No. 1 Valor Christian, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: at Arvada West, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

4. Ralston Valley (4-0) at Doherty, 11 a.m. Saturday. Next week: at Mullen, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

5. Regis Jesuit (3-1) vs. No. 2 Cherry Creek, 6:30 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. Chaparral, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

6. Grandview (3-1) vs. Horizon, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. Smoky Hill, 7 p.m. Sept. 30

7. Legend (3-1) at Westminster, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. 4A No. 2 Pine Creek, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

8. Cherokee Trail (3-1) at Denver East, 11 a.m. Saturday. Next week: vs. No. 2 Cherry Creek, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

9. Douglas County (5-0) won vs. Boulder, 34-7. The Huskies defense returned a fumble for a touchdown, Reed McConnell and A.J. Jackson each had interceptions, and Douglas County won its fifth in a row for the first time since 2008. Next week: vs. Doherty, 1 p.m. Oct. 2

10. Arapahoe (3-1) at Rock Canyon, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. Eaglecrest, 7 p.m. Sept. 30

Class 4A

1. Palmer Ridge (4-0) at Lakewood, 7 pm. Friday. Next week: vs. No. 5 Montrose, 6 p.m. Oct. 1

2. Pine Creek (4-0) vs. No. 4 Chatfield, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: at 5A No. 7 Legend, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

3. Dakota Ridge (4-0) at Brighton, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. Bear Creek, 7 p.m. Oct. 1

4. Chatfield (4-0) at No. 2 Pine Creek, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. Wheat Ridge, 6 p.m. Sept. 30

5. Montrose (4-0) vs. Grand Junction, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: at No. 1 Palmer Ridge, 6 p.m. Oct. 1

6. Loveland (3-1) at Broomfield, 7 p.m. Friday. Next week: vs. Monarch, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30

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Massachusetts COVID Daily Report: 23 new deaths, 1,885 new cases

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Massachusetts COVID Daily Report: 23 new deaths, 1,885 new cases

BOSTON (WWLP) — State public health officials reported 23 new confirmed deaths and 1,885 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts.

Total COVID cases by age

  • 0-4 years: 1,224
  • 5-9 years: 1,753
  • 10-14 years: 1,632
  • 15-19 years: 1,932
  • 20-29 years: 4,999
  • 30-39 years: 3,616
  • 40-49 years: 2,560
  • 50-59 years: 2,347
  • 60-69 years: 1,665
  • 70-79 years: 963
  • 80+ years: 521

Testing

According to the Department of Public Health, 109,695 new tests were performed with an overall of 28,055,548 molecular tests administered. Antigen Tests: A total of 10,656 new individuals have tested positive with 1,941,886 total tests reported.

The 7-day average of percent positivity is 2.11%

Hospitalizations

There are 606 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 with 165 patients that are in intensive care units and 96 patients intubated. There are 209 patients of the 606 patients that are reportedly fully vaccinated.

Confirmed COVID cases

  • New Cases: 1,885
  • Total Cases: 747,656
  • New Deaths: 23
  • Total Deaths: 18,141

Probable COVID cases

  • New Cases: 119
  • Total Cases: 53,253
  • New Deaths: 0
  • Total Deaths: 386

Berkshire County

  • New Confirmed Cases: 34
  • Total Confirmed Cases: 7,971
  • New Deaths: 0
  • Total Confirmed and Probable Deaths: 312

Hampden County

  • New Confirmed Cases: 190
  • Total Confirmed Cases: 61,541
  • New Deaths: 5
  • Total Confirmed and Probable Deaths: 1,606

Hampshire County

  • New Confirmed Cases: 49
  • Total Confirmed Cases: 10,991
  • New Deaths: 0
  • Total Confirmed and Probable Deaths: 313

Franklin County

  • New Confirmed Cases: 14
  • Total Confirmed Cases: 3,150
  • New Deaths: 1
  • Total Confirmed and Probable Deaths: 11

Higher education

There are 2,231 new cases in the last week with a total of 22,528 confirmed COVID-19 cases in higher education institutions. In the last week there were 583,922 new tests reported with a total of 9,651,458.

MassDPH COVID-19 Dashboard

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Machete attack in NJ Walmart: Man slashed in head, police say

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Machete attack in NJ Walmart: Man slashed in head, police say

KEARNY, N.J. – A man was attacked with a machete in a New Jersey Walmart during an argument with another shopper Friday morning, according to authorities.

Officers responded around 10:30 a.m. to a 911 call for the attack at the Kearny store, on Harrison Avenue, local police said.

Responding officers found the man inside the store with a deep wound to the back of his head, police said.

Preliminary information indicated the victim was involved in a verbal argument with another man who then struck him in the head with a machete, according to authorities.

Cops said the alleged attacker fled the store before police arrived on the scene.

The victim was rushed by EMS to a local hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

According to one Walmart employee, who did not wish to be identified, managers told workers to leave the store and wait in the parking lot.

Employees remained in the store parking lot over two hours later Friday afternoon as detectives and officers continued their investigation inside.

Markell Wilson of Newark, who came for a quick grocery run, was stunned by the news of the apparent machete attack.

“Oh my God! A machete!?” he told PIX11 News. “Never heard of anything like that happening in my life, it’s actually very scary.”

No arrests had been made as of 12:45 p.m., however police do not believe there is a threat to the community at large.

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