Eliahu v. Jewish Agency for Israel

(United States Second Circuit) – Held that four divorced men could not proceed with their lawsuit accusing Israeli government officials and others of misconduct in connection with their divorce proceedings and child support orders. Affirmed a dismissal based partly on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and partly on failure to state a claim.

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Can you email divorce papers?

Well, the short answer is no. The Family Procedure Rules state that a civil partnership order or a matrimonial order such as a dissolution/divorce petition cannot be served on the Respondent (the person receiving the divorce papers) by email or fax.

In fact, there are specific rules which must be followed once divorce proceedings have commenced including the correct service of divorce papers to the respondent and this must be proved.

In most cases, the Court will post the documents to the respondent, who will then complete and return to the Court an Acknowledgement of Service form to confirm that they have received them. The Acknowledgment of Service form is there to prove that the respondent has been properly served, and the divorce/dissolution proceedings can continue.

If the respondent fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service, stalling the divorce proceedings, there are a number of options:

  1. Arrange for the personal service of the divorce/dissolution papers to the respondent;
  2. Make an application to the Court for deemed service – this can only be used if the respondent has acknowledged in writing (for example letter, email or text message) that they have received the divorce/dissolution papers.
  3. Make an application to the Court to ask for permission to serve the papers by an alternative method where there is a ‘good reason’ to do so.

Log in, break-up

However, whilst you cannot serve divorce papers by email you can now apply for divorce online with a fully digital divorce online application portal launched by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to the public in May 2018.

Speaking at the time, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer, said: “Allowing divorce applications to be made online will help make sure we are best-supporting people going through an often difficult and painful time.”

And the initial take up has been positive with more than 23,000 applications made by January 2019.  The MOJ even reported 13 online divorce applications on Christmas Day.

To apply for divorce online you need to ensure you have the following prior to starting your application:

  1. Your husband or wife’s full name and address (this can be their residential or solicitors address). The court needs this so that it can send your husband/wife their divorce papers.
  2. Your original marriage certificate or certified copy (you can order one here)
  3. A debit or credit card to pay the £550 fee (you can get help if you are on benefits or a low income)

You can apply online here

The importance of legal advice

Applying online sounds simple but you need to consider the consequences of your marriage breakdown before you finalise your divorce.

It is important that you make arrangements for assets, property, money, children etc and you will need legal advice to make sure this is handled properly.

We recommend that you seek legal advice to protect yourself and your family. Decisions made quickly and without awareness of the law can often not be changed after the event.

Get in touch

You can email our Client Care Team here or call using the contact number below.  All calls and emails are strictly confidential.

The post Can you email divorce papers? appeared first on Stowe Family Law.

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Author: Maria Coster

The cost of ‘initial skirmishes’

We have all seen cases in which there have been seemingly endless initial skirmishes between the parties, as they jostle for position before the real proceedings begin. Unfortunately, the cost of this skirmishing can often put a huge dent in the assets available to the parties, and sometimes even use them up entirely.

AJ v DM, in which a preliminary point (or two) was recently decided by Mr Justice Cohen, is a case in point.

The facts of the case were as follows. The husband was born in Ireland and the wife in England. Both subsequently became Australian citizens, in addition to their original citizenship. They met in Australia in 2014, and were married there in December 2015. The wife fell pregnant in about January 2016. In March 2016, whilst on a holiday to England, she decided that she wished to see out her pregnancy in England. In June 2016, the husband returned to Dublin, where his family live, making trips over to England to see the wife, and in September he moved to England to resume cohabitation with the wife. The child was born a month later. In January 2017 the husband started a new job in St Lucia, and the wife joined him there in the following March.

The marriage became increasingly unhappy in early 2018. On the 2nd of April the wife and child left St Lucia and came to England, for what was agreed between the parties to be a holiday. However, whilst in England the wife decided that the marriage was over and issued divorce proceedings in England. It was her intention to remain here with the child. She also issued a financial remedies application and an application for a child arrangements order.

The husband responded with an application for the summary return of the child to the jurisdiction of St Lucia. However, before the application was heard the wife, presumably realising that a return order would be made, took the child back to St Lucia, where she then applied for leave to remove the child to England. That application remains outstanding.

Meanwhile, to make matters even more complicated, in June 2018 the husband applied to the family court in Australia for financial relief. That application is also outstanding. In the following month the wife made various applications, including an application to amend her divorce petition to show that the English court had jurisdiction to deal with the proceedings as the parties “were last habitually resident in England and Wales and the petitioner still resides there.” Without going into the legal details, the importance of this was that the wife could not pursue a maintenance claim here if the petition was not amended. (The only ‘asset’ in the marriage was the husband’s income, so all the wife could effectively claim by way of financial remedy was maintenance.)

So, to summarise, there were various proceedings taking place, in three different jurisdictions.

To cut a longer story short, the English proceedings went before Mr Justice Cohen in the High Court. He had to decide whether the wife could amend her petition, whether the financial remedy proceedings issued here by the wife should be stayed, as the husband maintained, and whether both of those matters should be adjourned until the court in St Lucia had determined the wife’s leave to remove application, as the wife wished.

Mr Justice Cohen felt that it would be inappropriate to adjourn, partly because he did not consider that there was a sufficient connection between the outcome of the leave to remove application and the other issues he had to determine.

As to the amendment application, Mr Justice Cohen felt that this was doomed to failure – it was plain on the facts that the parties were not last habitually resident in England and Wales. They were habitually resident last in St Lucia. This effectively decided the husband’s application for the financial remedy proceedings to be stayed, as there was no jurisdictional basis for the making of a maintenance order here.

OK, there is some more to this case, but for the sake of simplicity I have left out other details, and simplified things somewhat. If you want the full story, you can read the full judgment, at the link below.

Mr Justice Cohen did, however, have one other thing to say, and we have seen similar things said by judges on many occasions in the past. He concluded his judgment as follows:

“There is an important final thing that I ought to say. This case has generated an enormous amount of legal costs. The parties cannot begin to afford continued litigation in the way that they have spent on it so far. There is next to no money in the case other than an income which cannot sustain the level of fees. I would urge the parties to sit down and mediate their dispute, hopefully on everything but, if not, at least on the money, because it must be possible for them to be able to reach an agreement.”

In short, enormous costs have been incurred, but nothing substantial has yet been decided. As usual, I hope that the parties heed this advice.

You can read Mr Justice Cohen’s full judgment here.

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Author: John Bolch

The Writings of Carlos Castaneda

Books by Carlos Castaneda

Sorcery, mythology, or both?

Bookstores are dangerous places for me. I invariably leave with less money—and more books than I’ll ever have time to read. But I have to support my habit: I’m basically an idea junkie. I like to learn things, absorb new ideas, and challenge my mind to form connections between concepts that don’t seem to go together. So I choose books not because I assume they’re true, but because I expect them to be interesting or thought-provoking. When I’ve finished reading a book, though, I usually have a pretty strong sense of whether or not I believe it. After reading a dozen books by Carlos Castaneda—along with quite a few criticisms of his work—I could only come to the conclusion that some or all the stories he told may or may not be somewhat or completely true. This very uncertainty is one of the things that makes his books so interesting. I have since revised my conclusion—about which more later. But first, some background.

For years, as I browsed through second-hand books, I frequently came across Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. I’d invariably pick it up, glance at it, and put it back on the shelf. Then I read Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics, which had a brief quote from don Juan at the beginning, and that piqued my curiosity. Shortly thereafter, I ran across the book at a thrift shop and decided I could give it a whirl for 50 cents. Within a few pages I was hooked, and after finishing it I read all 11 of its successors. For better or worse, I was too late to be a groupie—in April, 1998, before I had finished reading all of the books, Castaneda died. Only then did I begin to realize the extent of the controversy surrounding his life and work, and the state of confusion he left behind among both fans and critics.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

For those unfamiliar with Castaneda and his books, here’s the short version of the story. Castaneda was studying anthropology at UCLA in the early 1960s, and during the course of his field research in Mexico, he claims to have met a Yaqui Indian named Juan Matus. Don Juan was reputed to be an expert on medicinal plants, and Castaneda hoped to use him as an informant to learn more about the use of peyote among certain groups of native Mexicans. The Teachings of Don Juan purports to be an anthropological study of the way don Juan used a variety of hallucinogenic plants as part of a system of sorcery. The research, however, was participatory rather than objective, and don Juan’s intent was apparently to treat Castaneda as an apprentice, indoctrinating him into the ways of the particular brand of sorcery he practiced.

The hallucinogenic plants turn out to be a red herring. In Castaneda’s next book, A Separate Reality, they have a more limited role, and from there on, they’re barely mentioned. The books focus on other aspects of Castaneda’s training as a sorcerer, along with several other apprentices of don Juan and his fellow sorcerer Genaro Flores. Eventually don Juan reveals that he only taught Castaneda about the plants to get his attention; most of the teachings are internal, psychological. Castaneda learns how to turn off his inner dialogue, control his dreams, perceive other people as luminous energy, and behave in a manner don Juan calls “impeccability.” A lot of time is devoted to an exercise called recapitulation, in which Castaneda recalls and relives all the events of his life. At the end of Castaneda’s fourth book, by which time he had been working with don Juan for over a decade, don Juan and don Genaro “leave the world,” which readers are supposed to understand not as death but as a deliberate crossing into another plane of existence.

Surprisingly, the story does not end there. Castaneda returns to Mexico two years later and meets up with the other apprentices of don Juan and don Genaro, some of whom we haven’t heard of yet. By the sixth book, The Eagle’s Gift, Castaneda and another apprentice, a woman nicknamed “La Gorda,” discover something shocking: during the years of their apprenticeship, don Juan had frequently made them shift into a heightened state of awareness, wherein he had taught them a variety of things that they could not remember in their normal state of awareness. There follows a long reexamination of their entire relationship with don Juan. They find that most of what they thought they knew was wrong or at least irrelevant; all the most crucial teachings had been hidden, delivered as they were in this altered state.

Castaneda’s penultimate book, Magical Passes, covers a series of movement exercises vaguely like ch’i kung, which are supposedly a key component of the knowledge don Juan revealed—even though they’re barely hinted at in any of the other books. Where Castaneda’s other books were simply reporting his own experiences, this one alone is actually written as an instruction manual.

Stalking Castaneda

From the publication of Castaneda’s first book in 1968 until today, he has been subject to harsh and relentless criticism. Entire books have been written on this subject, but I’ll give you just a sampling. First, many critics question whether such a person as don Juan ever existed. Only Castaneda and his close associates seem to have met him; there is no photograph or documentary evidence to prove he existed, or even a corpse—he conveniently “vanished.” Anthropologists point out that a number of the details Castaneda gave are inconsistent with what is known about the Yaqui Indians, native Mexican sorcery, and even the geography, flora, and fauna of the places Castaneda claims to have visited. Likewise, critics have cited other sources of suspiciously similar stories, suggesting that Castaneda “borrowed” some of his material. In addition, critics say, his stories read a bit too much like novels—real life doesn’t arrange itself that neatly for literary convenience, so at minimum he must have employed some artistic license in his descriptions. Then, of course, some worry that his discussions of hallucinogenic plants encourage the use of drugs.

Castaneda himself refused to respond to any of his critics. He was for the most part a recluse, declining to be interviewed or even photographed. His unwillingness to defend himself or offer proof of his claims was seen as an implicit admission of guilt; on the other hand, Castaneda’s own books repeatedly say that according to don Juan, a life of obscurity is absolutely essential to a sorcerer. Apologists thus counter that Castaneda was simply practicing what he preached.

He did, however, conduct seminars and workshops for a select few students. One of these students, Amy Wallace, was Castaneda’s lover (or one of them) for a number of years. Her 2003 memoir Sorcerer’s Apprentice gives an unprecedented (though clearly biased) inside look at the real Castaneda. A fascinating read, it details the life of a man who appears by turns to be a highly evolved guru and a megalomaniacal cult leader. Wallace’s bottom-line opinion: don Juan almost certainly did not exist, but Castaneda, though deeply disturbed, was a genius who believed deeply in the path he followed. This seemed to be the general consensus of those interviewed for the 2004 documentary film Carlos Castaneda—Enigma of a Sorcerer, made by another former Castaneda student, Ralph Torjan. Another book with a different (and also rather uncomplimentary) view of Castaneda was A Magical Journey With Carlos Castaneda, written by Margaret Runyan Castaneda, who claimed to have been married to Carlos for 13 years (though there is some uncertainty as to whether she really was).

In any case, these books and the film together erased any lingering faith I may have had in the veracity of Castaneda’s writings. Unlike his students, I can’t take his ideas seriously knowing what I do about him.

Is The Truth Out There?

What makes Castaneda’s books so compelling to many is their vivid descriptions of the world as perceived through the eyes of a sorcerer (or “man of knowledge”—in Castaneda’s usage, the term “sorcerer” does not carry any undertones of evil practices). Some of the experiences he reports are frightening, shocking, or simply off-putting, and they wouldn’t make the average person say, “Hey, this sounds like fun, I think I’ll become a sorcerer.” What they suggest, though, is that the underlying reality of the world is not at all as most people perceive it, that ordinary human awareness is, as it were, a bad habit.

Castaneda’s writings have attracted such a following for much the same reason as The Matrix or The X-Files: people want to believe that there’s more to the universe than meets the eye, that a more fantastic world lies beyond our perception. Whether Castaneda’s version of alternative reality is the right one, or even approximately correct, is the question. But whatever your opinion of Castaneda—a prophet, a fraud, or a misguided fool—his books are fascinating and thought-provoking. Even in fiction, there are kernels of truth.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on June 19, 2003, and again in a slightly revised form on October 21, 2004.

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Author: Joe Kissell

National Black Forest Cake Day

Black Forest cake

Black Forest cake—or, as it’s known in the Black Forest, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, is a nearly perfect dessert, combining as it does four of my favorite edible substances: chocolate, cherries, whipped cream, and alcohol (kirschwasser, or cherry liqueur). I also have fond memories of visiting the Black Forest when I was living in Europe, so that association is a bonus. I don’t have time to bake a Black Forest cake today, but maybe I’ll luck out and find one at a local bakery.

Image credit: Mikelo [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Joe Kissell

Mother found to have maliciously fabricated allegations against father

One of the very worst things a parent can do is to try to prevent the other parent from having a relationship with their child by falsely manufacturing allegations against that parent. Sadly, this is a scenario that happens all too frequently, as any family lawyer will testify.

The recent case Re ABCDEF (Fact Finding: Honour Based Violence) is a clear example, which tragically led to a child having no contact with his father for more than half of his life. Thankfully, the allegations made by the mother in the case have been proved to be false, and steps can now be taken to try to repair the damage caused to the child’s life.

The facts of the case, as I understand them, were that the father was a UK citizen and the mother was Pakistani. They married in Pakistan in April 2011, and the father returned to this country the next month. A year later the mother joined him in England. In August 2013 their son, ‘D’, was born.

The family went on holiday in Pakistan in February 2015. They returned to this country in April 2015, by which time the mother was expecting another child. The mother and father attended hospital in August, for the mother to have her first scan. It became clear from that scan and the dates of expected delivery, and therefore the date of conception, that the father knew he could not be the biological father of the child (the mother had had sexual intercourse with another man whilst in Pakistan).

After this, the mother remained living with the father in the family home for two months, before she left without telling the father, taking D with her. The father has had no contact with D since. The mother initially stayed with a friend, but had to leave after three weeks. She then contacted the police and made allegations of domestic abuse against the father, as a result of which she was placed in a refuge. She gave birth to her second child in the following month. She named her husband as the father, but subsequent DNA testing confirmed that he was not the father.

In February 2016 the father issued an application to spend time with his son. The mother responded to the application by making various allegations of honour-based violence against the father, including that her marriage to the father was a forced marriage, that she was treated like a prisoner in the family home, that the father and his family threatened to have her deported to Pakistan, and that the father and his family made threats to kill her.

The matter was eventually listed for a fact-finding hearing before Mr Justice Keehan. It did not go well for the mother. Mr Justice Keehan found her to be “a most unsatisfactory witness”, and found that she “lied serially”, including to the police and the court.

“In the course of her evidence,” he said, “it became abundantly clear that there was no truth whatsoever in her allegations.” It had not been a forced marriage, she was not a prisoner in her home, and any threats that had been made against her did not come from the father (her brother may have made ‘honour-based’ threats to kill her). And as for an allegation that the father gave her the ‘cold-shoulder’ and that he was not warm towards her, that was entirely understandable in the circumstances. He said:

“In the circumstances that I have described, I am entirely satisfied that the mother made a false case and false allegations against the father. There is no truth whatsoever in any of the allegations that the mother has made. The father does not pose any adverse risk of harm to the mother: still less is she at risk of honour-based violence from him. His approach to her actions has been measured. It follows that, in my judgment, there is absolutely no reason why the father and [D] should not, as soon as ever possible, have the opportunity to resume their relationship. It is, in my judgment, appalling that this little boy and this father have not seen each other for some three and a half years solely because of the malicious conduct, as I find it to be, of the mother.”

And he concluded in a similar vein:

“All the allegations made against the father by the mother are dismissed. None of them are true. This mother has wrongly and maliciously sought to exclude the father from Child D’s life. There is no reason why the child and the father should not now have the opportunity to re-establish their warm and loving relationship and that the father has and plays an important and full role in Child D’s life which will be to the inestimable benefit of Child D. It is to be regretted deeply that the mother’s actions have resulted in Child D and the father not having any contact whatsoever for three and a half years”

Obviously, it is now the job of the court to see that the father/child relationship is re-established as quickly as possible.

You can read the full judgment here.

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Author: John Bolch

Milk in a Box

Single-serving boxes of milk

Losing the bottle

I’ve managed to suppress most of the memories of my college days—quite wisely, I think—but every once in a while some random factoid springs to mind. For example, I remember clearly the wonder I felt one evening in the mid-1980s when I walked into a New Jersey supermarket and saw a box of milk on the shelf. At first I didn’t comprehend what I was looking at. I had to study the package at some length before I grasped that this was not powdered milk or some milk-like nondairy product. Sitting there quite happily at room temperature was a container of milk that, so the label claimed, would remain fresh without refrigeration for months. I couldn’t figure out how they’d managed to pull this off, but I was excited. Just think of the convenience of not having to buy milk every few days, not to mention saving space in your refrigerator! I bought a box and tried it. OK, the flavor was a bit less than fantastic, but still…pour it on some cereal or in your coffee and you’d never know the difference. This revolutionary development seemed so obviously useful to me that I was certain all milk would be sold this way within a couple of years.

Time passed—months, years, and then decades. The boxes of milk, instead of multiplying on store shelves as I’d expected, disappeared almost entirely. I found this completely baffling. Why hadn’t this sort of milk caught on? I was even more surprised when I went to Europe and discovered that in many places, it’s much harder to find refrigerated milk than boxes or bottles of milk stored at room temperature. So clearly the technology to package milk this way was still in use…but did those Europeans know something that we didn’t? Or was it the other way around? I decided to investigate.

Out to Pasteur

In order for milk to stay fresh at room temperature, two things are required. First, it must be completely free of any bacteria or other microorganisms; bacteria, after all, are what cause milk to spoil. Second, the milk must be packaged in such a way that it can’t be contaminated after the fact. The packaging must also keep out light, which can cause the breakdown of nutrients such as Vitamins A and D. To rid the milk of bacteria, dairies employ a process known as Ultra High Temperature pasteurization, or UHT for short. The specially treated milk is then stored in aseptic packaging, which preserves the sterility of its contents for long periods of time. Together, UHT processing and aseptic packaging give you milk with a shelf life of six to nine months, as long as the package is unopened.

Pasteurization is simply a matter of heating something hot enough and long enough to kill pathogens—disease-causing germs. To pasteurize milk, you can heat it to about 140°F (60°C) for a half hour, or for faster results, increase the temperature to 163°F (73°C) and reduce the time to about 15 seconds. This makes milk safe for human consumption, and in the process, dramatically reduces the number of bacteria that cause spoilage—enabling the milk to remain drinkable for a week or so, as long as it’s refrigerated. Pasteurization has little or no effect on either the flavor of milk or its nutritional content. It does, however, leave some viable microorganisms, which multiply over time—especially after the milk is exposed to air.

UHT pasteurization, on the other hand, destroys virtually all bacteria and spores. To do this, it heats the milk to a much higher temperature—around 275°F (135°C)—for about two seconds, then rapidly cools it back to room temperature. Because the exposure to heat is so brief, the milk is not damaged and remains nutritionally intact. However, UHT processing can have a noticeable effect on the taste. (I was tempted to say something about the added flavor coming from the corpses of millions of microbes, but that would have been…in poor taste.)

Meanwhile, the packaging itself must also be sterilized, and it must be filled with milk and sealed in a sterile environment. The most common form of aseptic packaging is a box made from layers of polyethylene, aluminum foil, and cardboard. The plastic keeps the package airtight, the foil keeps out light, and the cardboard provides structural integrity. This type of package is sometimes called a “drink box,” and is commonly used for fruit juices. But the boxes can be made in nearly any size or shape. Specially designed opaque, aseptic plastic bottles have also come into use, though boxes use space more efficiently and are therefore easier to store and transport.

Got Box?

UHT pasteurization and aseptic packaging are becoming more and more common not only for fruit juices but for soups and broths, sport drinks, soy beverages, pasta sauces, coffee drinks, and other liquids. But if this technology is so wonderful, why do we so seldom see it used for cow’s milk in North America?

According to one theory, it’s all about the taste: if the milk in a box doesn’t taste exactly like milk in a bottle, consumers won’t buy it. True enough, the taste is slightly different. But in defense of UHT milk, its flavor has improved quite a bit over the last few decades. As long as it’s refrigerated before it’s served, many people will be unable to distinguish it from conventional milk. Moreover (according to some tasters, at least), lower-fat varieties of UHT milk taste better than whole UHT milk—and North Americans certainly buy more lowfat milk today than they did when UHT milk first appeared. Furthermore, let’s be realistic: in the United States, at least, consumers overwhelmingly choose convenience over flavor—just look at the popularity of American cheese, instant soup, and frozen vegetables, to say nothing of the entire fast-food industry. In short, I don’t think taste is the real problem.

Perhaps the issue is cost. UHT milk does cost more than refrigerated milk. This is due in part to the high cost of the equipment needed to package it, and in part to lower demand. Needless to say, if consumers adopted a preference for UHT milk, the price would eventually come down. After all, producers and supermarkets would save money in the long run on energy bills and transportation, as well as reducing waste due to spoilage.

But even though higher costs may be part of the problem, I think the real issue is one of habit. Because we’re so deeply conditioned to believe that fresh milk is something that can only be sold in cold bottles, we regard anything else as suspicious. “What could this mean? Does it contain scary hormones? Was it treated with radiation? Will I spontaneously change my political affiliation if I drink it?” These are the sorts of worries that can only be alleviated by proper education, by which of course I mean good advertising. Hey, wait a minute—did I just say we need more advertising? I never would have said that back in college. Maybe there is something in this milk.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on June 19, 2004.

Image credit: DebMonOf3 [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

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Author: Joe Kissell

National Joe Day

Joe coffee and espresso sign, 170 Commercial Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA

It’s here at last: my very own day! Yes, it really is National Joe Day, so I guess I can spend the day…being myself? If your name is also Joe, I look forward to celebrating with you today. If not, you can observe National Joe Day by hugging a Joe, or drinking a nice hot cup of Joe, or—if you absolutely must—eating a Sloppy Joe. If you’re looking for a gift for your favorite Joe, I have it on good authority that Joes like to receive large boxes of money. Just a thought.

Image credit: Le grand Cricri [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Joe Kissell