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Thursday, March 26, 2020
March 26, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:29 PM :: 1383 Views

Prince Kuhio’s Fight to Americanize Hawaii

Hawaii Chamber of Commerce Calls for Suspension or Delay of GE Tax

Restaurant Association Petitions Ige for 'Sustainment'

Hawaii Worst Taxpayer ROI in USA

Telescope: Hawaii State Supreme Court Affirmed Sacred Beliefs Not Applicable

The Royal Origins Of "Police Power" Hawaii-Style: The King v. Tong Lee (1880)

Straub Employee Snooped Medical Records for Six Years

Ethics: HHSC Manager Retires, Goes to Work for Contractor

Most of Hawaii’s electric battery systems are paired with wind or solar power plants

Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan -- Public Comments Open 

3-26: Corona Count 106 -- 11 New Cases

3-25: COVID Count 95--Only Six New Cases

Don’t Use Virus as Excuse -- Government must be open to scrutiny

SA Editorial: … the governor’s decision to suspend the state’s Sunshine Law, the requirement that government agencies conduct business in open meetings and with advance notice, as well as the law that makes government records open and available, could have consequences that the beleaguered public, distracted by other woes, has not imagined and must work to avoid.

Gov. David Ige issued the announcement, a supplement to his emergency proclamation about the coronavirus pandemic, shortly after the state House and Senate voted to suspend the current session of the Legislature….

The decision, issued March 17, arose from the recommendation by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all gatherings consisting of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed over an eight-week period. Of course, since then there have been curbs against even smaller groups, and this week’s launch of a statewide shutdown makes activities that are less than essential harder to conduct.

So, yes, public meetings will no longer be routine, open-door gatherings — and yes, some meetings now will need to be called at unscheduled times. The need for government to move nimbly will overcome the imperative to notify everyone well in advance, so that they might drop in.

But it must not follow that the public should lose all its ability to know what government is doing. The federal experience during the 2008 financial bailout provides some context: Many officials point to a lack of oversight on government programs working to the benefit of financial institutions, and not the taxpayer who funded the rescue package.

Here in Hawaii there are going to be a lot more impromptu meetings, virtual or otherwise, by elected officials and others. Without the Sunshine Law’s protections, they will be free to have conversations about the business they’re supposed to be doing on the public’s behalf — meeting in person, using online conferencing or phone calls.

The state public-records law was also suspended, according to a statement from the Office of the Attorney General, “to give government the maximum flexibility to focus its attention and personnel resources” on imperatives of the crisis rather than on records.

Will the government have time to provide records promptly? Probably not.

(Editor’s Note: They could if they wanted to.  UIPA requests consume a very small amount of public employees time. The virus is being used as an excuse to hide corrupt activities.)

But government should be expected to keep records of all meetings, impromptu, online and any other kind. Once the crisis abates, the people should be asking: When was this decision made, and why?

Government must be held accountable to decisions it is making that affect the public welfare, even if the people have less of an opportunity to watch officials at work….

As Explained: Corona Towers: Council Hides Behind Quarantine, Gives $5B Deal to Convicted Felon

read … Government must be open to scrutiny

Secret Budget Meetings Legal Under Virus:  Major Cuts Planned as Tax Revenues Plummet

TGI: … The Kaua‘i County Council convened differently on Wednesday, as Councilmembers Luke Evslin and Mason Chock participated remotely via telecommunications in the meeting to practice social distancing amid the current COVID-19 outbreak.

The meeting, closed to the public and media, included councilmembers and essential staff phoning in through video or being physically present in the chamber.

With budget discussions on the horizon, the council is already anticipating major changes due to the global pandemic….

(Don’t worry you can trust them. They are Hawaii politicians.)

“Based on the current situation we’re in, the supplemental budget is going to be a lot different,” Council Chairman Arryl Kaneshiro said. Specifically, he noted that the county’s excise tax would be effected.

The county enforces a 4.712% general excise tax on nearly all purchases. Due to quarantines, working from home, closure of non-essential stores and a general slowdown of tourism, the county’s expected GET revenues and other money flowing into the county will be hit significantly. He also noted that there may be less money in federal and state grants coming in as the country responds to this ongoing crisis.

On Friday, Mayor Derek Kawakami will provide a statement on the budget, as will Kaneshiro.

Understanding that budgets were submitted prior to the pandemic, Kaneshiro noted that department heads can expect changes in the coming weeks as budgets are looked over and cut….

Moving forward during this time, residents are asked to submit public-hearing testimony to counciltestimony@kauai.gov, to 241-6349, or mail responses to the County Clerk, 4396 Rice Street, Lihu‘e, 96766.

TGI: KPD looks to restructure salaries

read … Budget talks to continue

Petty Politics is the Priority: Ige, Green Smooth Over Differences On COVID-19 Response

CB March 25, 2020: … A day after massive public outrage over Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s decision to keep his lieutenant governor — a doctor with extensive emergency and public health experience — out of the inner circle leading the state’s coronavirus response, the two have apparently gotten back on the same track.

Ige and Lt. Gov. Josh Green met privately Wednesday evening in the governor’s fifth floor office for over an hour, Green said afterwards.

“It was about better understanding my role and trying to work more closely together,” Green said. “I greatly appreciate the clarity and what he told me he felt he needed from me. It was an extremely productive meeting.”

Cindy McMillan, Ige’s communications director, said the administration typically does not comment on meetings.

But Green said, “The governor and I were able to get on the same page as to how I can best help in the state’s health care response to coronavirus.”…

BJ: Josh & Jean: #2s Don’t Always Play Ball by #1s Rules

SA: Many in the public have been distraught by the seemingly petty politics playing out during a genuine health care crisis.

WHT: Green briefs County Council: Lt. Gov. pushes for stricter coronavirus protections

read … Ige, Green Smooth Over Differences On COVID-19 Response

Mandatory quarantine for all arrivals start Thursday  4,131 mostly locals Arrive Tuesday –40 Hotels Shut Down

KHON: … The Hawaii Tourism Authority says 4,131 people flew in to Hawaii Tuesday, most of them are residents. And while that is a considerable drop from the more than 34,000 on the same day last year, that is still a lot of people who can potentially spread the virus here….

HTA says more than 40 hotels statewide have stopped operating and that number is expected to go up in the days ahead. State officials told lawmakers that some of those hotel rooms could wind up being converted into hospital rooms….

read … Mandatory quarantine for all arrivals start Thursday

More than 60,000 have filed for unemployment in Hawaii so far this month—Unemployment hits 10%

HNN: … Some 60,463 people have filed for unemployment so far this month as the state’s no. 1 economic driver ― tourism ― comes to a standstill and social distancing mandates close hundreds of businesses, from nail salons to department stores to bars.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said 20,041 filed for unemployment on Tuesday alone. That tops the one-day record from the day before of 19,534.

Here’s a day-by-day breakdown since last week:

  • March 19: 1,117
  • March 20: 1,679
  • March 21: 3,914
  • March 22: 4,996
  • March 23: 19,534
  • March 24: 20,041
  • Total: 51,281

SA: Hawaii jobless rate tops 10% with 58,000 out of work

HNN: “The number of job losses that we’re talking about in March, April, May is in the 100,000 range, including hotel workers,"

KHON: Unemployment claims surpass 60,000 this month and checks may take additional time to process

read … More than 60,000 have filed for unemployment in Hawaii so far this month

What's the coronavirus risk to Hawaii hotel and restaurant workers? Start at $8.7M a day.

PBN: … Calls to more aggressively combat the rapidly expanding coronavirus pandemic could deliver a knockout blow to the already staggered Hawaii hotel and restaurant industries, home to roughly $8.7 million in wages and undisclosed millions more in tips each day….

Here's a breakdown of daily hospitality and food service wages that could be impacted across the Islands: In Urban Honolulu, that number breaks down to about $4.5 million in hotel and restaurant wages per day, across more than 58,000 employees; in the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina metropolitan statistical area (MSA) more than $2.2 million in hotel and restaurant wages, split between 20,834 workers, could be affected; in Hilo the pandemic has the potential to stagger more than $1.1 million in daily wages split among 13,480 employees; and in Kapaa, daily hotel and restaurant wages equal more than $895,000 in wages, representing the daily pay of 9,169 employees….

SA: Hawaii’s visitor industry is ready to help with coronavirus crisis

read … What's the coronavirus risk to Hawaii hotel and restaurant workers? Start at $8.7M a day

Honolulu tied for fewest construction cranes on Rider Levett Bucknall Q1 index

PBN: … Honolulu was tied with Phoenix for the fewest number of construction cranes among a dozen U.S. cities included in Rider Levett Bucknall’s latest crane index for the first quarter.

The crane count, a simplified way of illustrating the strength of a city’s construction industry, shows Honolulu and Phoenix with nine cranes each, the lowest amount among the 12 U.S. cities on the North American index, which also includes two Canadian cities.

Los Angeles had the highest number of tower cranes among the U.S. cities at 47, followed by Seattle with 36 and San Francisco with 33. Toronto, Ontario, had the highest number of all with 121 cranes, while Calgary, Alberta, had 37 cranes.

The index does not take into account any slowing from the coronavirus….

Honolulu has several new projects that are supposed to get underway soon, including Sky Ala Moana and the Mandarin Oriental Honolulu and Hawaii officials have said that construction is one of the industries expected to help pull the state out of the impending recession….

HNN: With economy faltering, construction industry shows an uptick

read … Honolulu tied for fewest construction cranes on Rider Levett Bucknall Q1 index

Hawaii officials announce list of efforts to ease coronavirus-related pains

SA: … State officials announced a host of efforts today to ease the blow from coronavirus-related health and financial related pains, including ensuring benefits for low-income residents while state government and non-profit groups work with private lenders to help idled workers across Hawaii’s economy….

heads of critical state departments today announced a series of efforts intended to keep services flowing, especially to those hardest hit by job losses and cut backs. They include:

>> Deferral of mortgage payments made directly to the state Department of Hawaiian Homelands for six months, starting on April 9.

>> Continuation of programs including child care and adult protective services — “from keiki to kupuna” — including food stamps, child care and processing of new applications from people likely to need a wide array of help as the economic shut down continues.

>> Extension of deadlines until August for graduating high school seniors to apply for University of Hawaii four-year campuses. UH community college students can apply up to the first day of instruction.

In past economic down turns, UH community colleges have seen their enrollments soar as residents go back to school….

>> Continuing efforts to find alternate distribution sites, including possibly Aloha Stadium, to take the load off of retailers for in-demand goods such as toilet paper and cleaning products, and especially to allow access for kupuna….

TGI: KIUC foundation gives to KEO for residents’ electric bills

UH News: UH credit union offers home loan relief to its members

read … Hawaii officials announce list of efforts to ease coronavirus-related pains

Hawaiian Air confirms a few of their employees have tested positive for COVID-19

KITV: … Hawaiian Airlines issued a statement in regards to multiple Hawaiian Air employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The statement can be found below:

"The health of our employees and guests will always be our priority. We are taking care of a few of our employees from different work groups and geographies who have tested positive for COVID-19. In these isolated and unrelated cases, our employees sought medical care right away and remained home. They are all doing well, and we look forward to welcoming them back once they have fully recovered. We immediately cleaned affected work areas, contacted any colleagues who may have been at potential risk of exposure, and provided information about each case to the CDC to support its notification protocol." …

CB:  This Hawaii Multi-Generational Family Of 7 Worries As Coronavirus Spreads

read … Hawaiian Air confirms a few of their employees have tested positive for COVID-19

Hawaii island police make 1st known arrest in connection with Gov. David Ige’s stay-at-home order

SA: … “It is urgent that our community respond to this pandemic and comply with these orders,” said Kauai Police Chief Todd Raybuck said in a written announcement of the Kauai checkpoints. “If this isn’t taken seriously, our small island’s healthcare system will not be able to withstand community spread of the virus. Please, stay at home and do your part for the wellbeing of our community.”

Violations of the orders are a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $5,000 or up to one year in jail.

The Kauai checkpoints are designed to limit people’s movements to control the spread of the coronavirus, and Caldwell said each island has taken a different approach to enforcing the orders limiting the movements of residents based on the specific circumstances of each county.

“Kauai is a small island, there’s basically one road around the island, it’s easy to do checkpoints because of that,” Caldwell said. “Oahu has almost a million people, there are many different roads and we have a limited number of police officers who are out there every day making sure that laws are followed, and there are additional pressures on them now.”

“They are out there enforcing and warning people to comply, and what I hear from the chief is that they are complying, so to add this to their their responsibilities right now given the other challenges that they face is not something we’re considering,” Caldwell said of the checkpoints….

read … Hawaii island police make 1st known arrest in connection with Gov. David Ige’s stay-at-home order

Virus Becomes Latest Excuse to Let lots and lots of criminals out onto the streets

SA: … Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald has directed some top Hawaii judges to work with police and prosecutors to identify jail inmates who can be quickly released to reduce the inmate population in Hawaii’s packed jails to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus among the prisoners and staff.

According to a letter dated Tuesday, Recktenwald instructed the chief judges and deputy chief judges in the Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii County circuits to work with prosecutors and public defenders to “identify individuals in custody in community correctional centers who might be subject to release.”

In a related development, the state Office of the Public Defender on Tuesday petitioned the state Supreme Court to commute or suspend the sentences of inmates serving time for petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor offenses in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The petition also would cover inmates who are serving jail time as a condition of probation for felony convictions….

(NOTE: No amount of population reduction can prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This is just a ruse to let lots and lots of criminals out  on to the streets.)

read … Chief justice wants jail populations reduced to limit COVID-19 infections

Virus Becomes Latest Excuse to Keep the Homeless on the streets

CB: … Many Honolulu park bathrooms that homeless people rely on were still closed on Wednesday despite the city’s claim a day earlier that the facilities would be open.

The city boarded up bathrooms islandwide last week amid park closures prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak. That’s despite guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say public bathrooms should be open and stocked 24 hours a day to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among the homeless population….

Bathrooms at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park and at the state-run Waianae Harbor – homeless communities who vocally criticized the closures – were open on Wednesday…

HPR: Hawaii Homeless Shelters Scrambling As Coronavirus Outbreak Expands

SA: Advocacy groups says most park restrooms remain closed

(Best policy: FORCE the homeless into shelters.  Use the health emergency authority to cut thru red tape and build 1,000 SRO units this week.)

read … Honolulu Said It Would Reopen Public Bathrooms. It Hasn’t

Moron Attacks Tourists in Waikiki

HNN: … Robert Shepard says they were attacked by a man (moron) who accused them of trying to spread the coronavirus.

The incident left his daughters in tears on the side of the road at Kapiolani Park.

"He started screaming and yelling about how we're not from here, and that we need to leave," said Shepard. "Then he started to back up with his door open and tried to hit me. Then he turned in and tried to back up and ram me with his truck, and finally he decided to take off."

No one was injured.

Police were nearby and immediately started searching for the suspect….

read … About a mindless follower

American Samoa's coronavirus conundrum: No way to test after Hawaii Refuses

NBC: … The remote U.S. territory lacks the ability to conduct its own tests on possible COVID-19 patients, fueling concerns it's ill-equipped to handle an outbreak…..

Without a certified lab to handle testing, American Samoa tried submitting the samples to the nearest public health lab in Hawaii, some 2,300 miles away, officials said. After the patient didn’t meet that state’s testing criteria, the health department turned to its second quickest alternative — sending them more than 6,500 miles away to be examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Six days later, the territory still doesn’t have the results, officials said….

American Samoa is one of only two jurisdictions among the nation’s 50 states, the five inhabited territories and the District of Columbia, that does not have the ability to test its own samples. It and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands -- another U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean -- must send their samples by commercial airline to labs in other parts of the mainland. But as air traffic decreases and case counts accelerate elsewhere, the territories worry delays could mean virus detection comes too late….

read … American Samoa's coronavirus conundrum: No way to test

O'ahu mom reaches day nine awaiting daughters COVID-19 results

KITV: … Mckeague took her daughter to the emergency room at Queen's Medical Center, and was later checked for COVID-19. That was on March 16th.

"They had explained that it would take five days to get back the results. Five to seven." She said.

Five turned into seven, and still no word.

Everyday Mckeage made calls, and pressed for answers.

"The individual who picked-up the phone call, he didn't even know how to respond."

Mckeague went to the source.

"So I called the Department of Health. I got no answer."

Mckeague explained she felt like she was being given the run-around.

She circled back to Queen's and was told to ask her daughters pediatrician.

"They told me, 'where you get tested is where you get the results from.'"

It was by day eight that Mckeague finally got some reassurance when she was told by a doctor that she wasn't the only one waiting on COVID test results, because medical professional were too.

"When we got to the bottom of it, it's really not their fault because it got sent to a lab in the mainland, and they're not turning these tests quick enough because the system is bogged-down," She said. …

As of Wednesday, March 25-- Mckeague hasn't received her daughters results nor given a date when she will. …

read … O'ahu mom reaches day nine awaiting daughters COVID-19 results

Pocket Change: Hawaii spending $13 million for health care protective equipment

SA: … Some $13 million in state money is being used for Hawaii’s emergency management agency to buy personal protective equipment for health care workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, “incident commander” of Hawaii’s coronavirus response told the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 today….

Hawaii is also asking for federal Department of Defense funds to pay for Hawaii National Guard salaries and benefits during the novel coronavirus pandemic. But the proposal is getting “a lot of push back from the Secretary of Defense (Mark Esper) on that,” Hara said.

If Hawaii reaches “surge capacity” during the pandemic, Hara said the Army Corps of Engineers can convert empty hotel rooms to treat COVID-19 patients into a “negative pressure room.”

While there may be a need for ventilators and respirators, the larger need will be for health care workers, Hara said….

WHT: North Hawaii Community Hospital seeks masks, other gear

KHON: Mid-Pac Institute is 3D printing 4,500 face shields to help supply the safety equipment shortage

SA: Hawaii health officials warn coronavirus threat will continue for ‘at least four or five months’  Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management Coalition, commissioned to maintain essential medical services in the case of chemical and biological emergencies, has assembled stockpiles of emergency supplies, including 179,000 masks.   Hawaii could see 40,000 to 45,000 cases by the end of April if drastic action isn’t taken, Caldwell has said….

SB: Hawaii Health Workers Are Already Running Low On Protective Gear

read … Hawaii spending $13 million for health care protection

Donations down 35%, Blood Bank of Hawaii needs more donors

KHON: … Because of the coronavirus pandemic, fewer people are donating blood or platelets.

Blood Bank of Hawaii said it needs 200 donations a day to maintain blood supply. Lately, it is only getting about 130 donations a day, which is a 35% drop in donations.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell stressed that donating blood is an exception to the stay-at-home order.

“Donating blood complies with the stay-at-home order. This is an essential function. Keeping our blood supply strong, particularly during this time of crisis is critical,” Caldwell explained. “We are asking all of our folks, if they can, to donate their blood,” he added.

Blood Bank of Hawaii is also taking safety precautions like spreading out donation chairs to follow social distancing guidelines…..

CB: Hawaii’s Blood Banks Need Your Help To Avert ‘A State Crisis’

read … Donations down 35%, Blood Bank of Hawaii needs more donors

Teachers union files lawsuit against state over work mandate despite school closures

HNN: … The Hawaii State Teachers Association has asked a judge to block the state Department of Education’s earlier order for teachers to continue working in classrooms after originally extending spring break until April 7. Yesterday, the DOE announced schools would remain closed until at least April 30.

The lawsuit, filed in circuit court on Tuesday, says Governor David Ige abused his authority and exceeded his emergency powers by suspending state collective bargaining laws and issuing orders that conflict with his social distancing orders for the public, placing teachers and students in danger.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced the new delay for students’ return to campus on Wednesday, though also said that teachers and administrators must continue to work ― from home or on campus ― to come up with plans for remote learning and the eventual return of students ….

read … Teachers union files lawsuit against state over work mandate despite school closures

Parents And Guardians Look For Education Options For Their Keiki As Schools Switch To Distance Learning

KITV: … Distance learning options …

Big Q: Do you agree that schools should be closed through April 30, with distance learning ramp-up?

read … Parents And Guardians Look For Education Options For Their Keiki As Schools Switch To Distance Learning

Developer Quits Gill Family Windfarm Deal

PBN: … After dedicating four years to develop the Palehua Wind project in West Oahu, project developer Eurus Energy America has decided to withdraw its bid from Hawaiian Electric's renewable energy RFP.

Eurus cites that "risk factors associated with developing wind projects in Hawaii were deemed too great" to proceed.

"Eurus will continue to operate the Eurus Waianae Solar Plant….”

The Palehua wind energy project was slated for 1,600 acres on the eastern slope of the Waianae Range. The plans for the project consisted of 13 wind turbines measuring 260 feet from base to hub, capable of generating about 150,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually – enough energy to power 25,000 Oahu homes.

The land is in part owned by Gill ‘Ewa Lands…

read … Eurus Energy America withdraws Palehua Wind project bid

Virus Scares Protesters off Mauna Kea

KHON: …  watch bye bye video ….

FB: UPDATED VIDEO: Packing Up and Coming Off the Mauna: Kapu Ke Aloha Iā Kāne

SA: Coronavirus threat prompts TMT opponents to pull back from Mauna Kea protest camp

CB: Camp elders promise to return if construction is planned to resume.

read … Kiai say mahalo, a hui hou to Mauna Kea as coronavirus numbers climb

The Thirty Meter Telescope: How a volcano in Hawaii became a battleground for astronomy

S: … Flores and other native Hawaiians have filed multiple court cases over the permits required for construction. When the TMT tried to break ground in 2014, the kia'i interrupted the ceremony. Tensions came to a head in July 2019, when the TMT announced it was ready to try building again and the kia'i mobilized, blocking construction trucks from the road that climbs to the summit. They settled in with tents and Porta-Potties, a kitchen and a makeshift university offering lessons in native history and culture.

(By then, the TMT had spent $500 million in 2014 dollars worldwide on the project; current estimates suggest it will total about $2.4 billion in today's dollars, although that number will change based on where and when construction finally begins, a TMT representative said.) …

That said, the kia'i can point to a ring of hundreds of shrines about 1,000 feet below the summit, which they say mark the edge of the most sacred zone. These shrines are nothing dramatic, Flores said: standing stones a foot or two tall, reaching the height of a kneecap, some toppled by time. But TMT construction would run right through that ring, he said, and that shouldn't be acceptable. 

(BTW: This is 100% BS.—see pg 311)

Squires contends that TMT selected its location in consultation with native Hawaiians to avoid areas of concern. "It's on a site that has no historically significant or cultural practice areas on it," he said, citing the nearest cultural site as being a mile away.

A TMT representative said that it's too early to estimate how much would be spent in Hawaii if the project goes through, but that once the facility is observing, the organization expects to spend about $50 million each year on operations and employ 140 people….

read … The Thirty Meter Telescope: How a volcano in Hawaii became a battleground for astronomy

NOAA tsunami website faltered Tuesday while Hawaii faced a potential threat

WaPo: … The Hawaii tsunami watch was posted to the website of the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Honolulu and on its Twitter feed.

Yet the agency's tsunami portal, tsunami.gov, intended to be a one-stop shop for information on such hazards, presented conflicting information. In bold print and large letters, the NOAA tsunami.gov website headlined: "No Tsunami Warning, Advisory, Watch, or Threat," while the watch was in effect.

Then, when the watch was canceled less than an hour later, the list of advisories on the Tsunami.gov website failed to update and provide the latest statement indicating the watch had been canceled. Some people reported not being able to access the website at all during the event. In addition, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Twitter feed failed to issue any statements on the tsunami threat.

In a statement, National Weather Service spokeswoman Susan Buchanan attributed the tsunami.gov problems to "a local router setting" which was fixed within an hour, she said….

read … NOAA tsunami website faltered Tuesday while Hawaii faced a potential threat

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