Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Don't miss today's political news and commentary


Weather: High Wednesday and Thursday is 4F. The report says, " Another round of very cold wind chill temperatures... .northwest winds continue to bring arctic air to southern Wisconsin tonight into Thursday. The winds and very cold temperatures will make for wind chill temperatures of 20 below to 30 below zero."

Fun Movie: We saw Kingsman: The Secret Service this week. Very entertaining movie. No redeeming social value, but lots of fun. A lot of violence, but it was so fantastic that it was unreal and didn't upset my wife. Surprisingly, the villain is a rich, brilliant black guy who is a global warming fanatic. Not the kind of PC we expect from Hollywood.

General News and Comment

Funny, but I suspect Photoshop.

WaPo Editorial: Russia marches on uninhibited in eastern Ukraine
Excerpt: VLADIMIR PUTIN’S latest victory in Ukraine is turning into a rout. Having already induced Western leaders to endorse a peace plan that virtually guarantees continued Russian control over parts of two provinces, the Russian ruler ordered a large Ukrainian force holding Debaltseve, a key crossroads in the region, to surrender. His forces, including regular Russian army troops, then assaulted the city in brazen violation of a cease-fire. On Wednesday morning, Ukrainian forces withdrew from Debaltseve under fire, suffering a devastating defeat that will further destabilize the shaky Kiev government of Petro Poroshenko. Mr. Putin was so pleased that he indulged in some taunting of the Ukrainians. (Guess Hillary's "Reset" button didn't work. Who could have guessed? ~Bob)

Ukraine troops retreat from key town of Debaltseve
Excerpt: The Ukrainian president says his forces are making an "organised" withdrawal from the embattled town of Debaltseve. Petro Poroshenko said 80% of Ukraine's troops left on Wednesday morning after several days of fierce fighting. Russia said Ukrainian forces had tried to fight their way out of the town after being encircled but Mr Poroshenko insisted they were never surrounded.

Foreign donations to foundation raise major ethical questions for Hillary Clinton. By Jennifer Rubin 
Excerpt: In an extraordinary report that has not yet been fully digested, the Wall Street Journal tells us that the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has received millions from foreign governments including Qatar, a prominent backer of Hamas: The Clinton Foundation has dropped its self-imposed ban on collecting funds from foreign governments and is winning contributions at an accelerating rate, raising ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up her expected bid for the presidency. (We were bought and sold for foreign gold--such a parcel of rogues in a nation. Apologies to Rabbie Burns. ~Bob)

President Obama and the First Lady Rack Up $2.5 Million Bill in Separate Valentine’s Day Getaways
Excerpt: It seems like the Obamas are not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day – at least with each other. For the second consecutive Valentine’s Day in a row, President Obama headed to Palm Springs for some golfing and diplomacy (and some golfing). Meanwhile, Michelle flew down to Aspen for a ski trip with Sasha and Malia. (Roses are red, Violets are blue, If you're broke from taxes, Blame you-know-who." ~Bob)

Very Interesting Review: A Herd of Elephants: Handicapping the 2016 GOP field. By Stephen F. Hayes
Excerpt: With that, it’s time for my highly anticipated ranking of the Republican primary field. Okay, okay—that might be a stretch. These are probably unanticipated rankings. But with the Iowa caucuses less than a year away Republicans across the country are already abuzz about the possibilities. The assessments below are based on dozens of conversations with grassroots conservatives in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina; with Republican officeholders at virtually every level of government; with national Republican strategists, fund-raisers, and operatives; with advisers and consultants to the emerging campaigns; and in several cases with the candidates themselves. So in reverse order—from least likely to most likely—here’s a look at the prospective GOP nominees.

Scott Walker is a conservative hero, and liberals have themselves to blame for it. By Nia-Malika Henderson
Excerpt: Whether it's unions or universities, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has waged a number of huge fights -- symbolic and otherwise -- with liberals. So far, the fights have only served to bolster his credentials among national conservatives who like nothing more than a Republican willing to poke liberals in the eye. And now New York Times columnist Gail Collins has thrown Walker another hanging curveball by which to bash liberals and shine in the eyes of conservatives.

The VA Can't Win: New rules on narcotic painkillers cause grief for veterans and VA
Excerpt: New federal rules that make it harder to get narcotic painkillers are taking an unexpected toll on thousands of veterans who depend on these prescription drugs to treat everything from missing limbs to post-traumatic stress. The restrictions, adopted last summer by the Drug Enforcement Administration to curb a national epidemic of opioid abuse, are for the first time, in effect, forcing veterans to return to the doctor every month to renew their medication, although many were already struggling to get appointments at overburdened VA health facilities. (The Tomah, WI VA has been slammed in the media lately for handing out so many opiates that vets called it "Candy Land. See: "Opiates handed out like candy to 'doped-up' veterans at Wisconsin VA."  Excerpt: Doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Tomah hand out so many narcotic painkillers that some veterans have taken to calling the place "Candy Land." They call the hospital's chief of staff, psychiatrist David Houlihan, the "Candy Man." ~Bob)

No, the VA has not fired 60 people for manipulating wait-time data. By Michelle Ye Hee Lee
Excerpt: It was notoriously difficult to fire senior executives at the VA — at a one-fourth rate than the firing rate for all federal agencies, according to CNN – and the goal was to allow the VA chief to replace bad actors quickly, especially ones connected to the scandal. In his “Meet the Press” interview, McDonald also said 100 senior leaders are under investigation by the inspector general and the Department of Justice. Yet McDonald is incorrect saying 60 employees who manipulated wait times were fired.

American Sniper and the Michael Moore Critique. By Dr. Carol Swain

Our Marines Would Slaughter Isis If Unleashed: Lone Survivor’s Marcus Lutrell Weighs In On Pathetic ISIS
Excerpt: Release, the Marines! Marcus Lutrell appears on Fox & Friends and talks about how it would only take 300 Marines to take on ISIS. Please forward to our Muslim Appeaser-in-Chief, Obama. (Well, he's a combat vet, but much as I love my brother Marines, ISIS has tens of thousands of armed fanatics and heavy weapons. Might take a tad more than 300. ~Bob)

The big-city boss behind Philly's winning bid. The low-profile, rank-and-file congressman is regarded as a kingmaker back home. By Katie Glueck
Excerpt: If you want something done in this town — something like, say, landing a national political convention — you ask Bob Brady. That’s the word among union workers, ward leaders and Democratic Party power brokers who regard Brady — a low-profile, rank-and-file congressman in the minority in Washington — as a kingmaker back home, one of the last of the big-city bosses. Brady, the chairman of Philadelphia’s Democratic Party since 1986, played an instrumental — if less nationally prominent — role in Philadelphia’s winning campaign to host the 2016 Democratic convention.

Interesting: Grand Strategy in the Age of Mass Destruction: The Dark Side of the Moon
Excerpt: During the Munich Security Conference on Friday, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told Reuters of a three-fold concern. First, he said, the Russians “may have lowered the threshold” for using nuclear weapons. Second, he said, the Russians are “integrating nuclear with conventional forces in a rather threatening way….” Third, he said, “at a time of fiscal pressure they are keeping up their expenditure on modernizing their nuclear forces.” (See the Reuters story: UK concerned over ‘threatening’ Russian nuclear strategy.) The Guardian headline on Friday showed a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande of France. The headline was, Fear of Vladimir Putin grows in EU capitals amid spectre of ‘total war’ – which included a disturbing comment from an EU diplomat in Brussels that arming Ukraine would trigger a war with Russia, and Russia was bound to win the war.

Study: Obama’s Carbon Rules Could Cost Thousands of Manufacturing Jobs in Your State. By Kelsey Harkness
Excerpt: A new study predicts that more than a half million manufacturing jobs will be eliminated from the U.S. economy as a result of the Obama administration’s proposed regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions. “Every state would experience overwhelming negative impacts as a result of these regulations, but especially those with higher-than-average employment in manufacturing and mining,” said Nick Loris, a co-author of the study, which was completed by energy experts at The Heritage Foundation—the parent organization of The Daily Signal. (This isn't a bug, it's a feature. If you lose your job, you have too go on welfare. Then you have to vote Democrat to keep the benefits flowing. ~Bob)

Census Bureau: 30.3% Millennials Still Living With Their Parents
Where they are drinking coco, wearing PJs and talking about Obamacare. ~Bob

Tanzanian albino boy found mutilated
Excerpt: An albino toddler missing since Sunday has been found dead in northern Tanzania with all his limbs hacked off. Yohana Bahati, aged one, was snatched from the house of his mother, who was cut with a machete. ... At least 74 albino children have been killed this century in Tanzania, where some witchdoctors use albino body parts to make their charms.

Learning from Obama: French PM skips parliament vote to push through reforms
Excerpt: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls defied critics from left and right on Tuesday by declaring he would ram a flagship economic reform bill through parliament by decree, bypassing backbench rebels but exposing his government to a no-confidence vote.

Outspoken Sheila Jackson Lee refuses to speak about Grammys. By Martin Barillas
Excerpt: Questions still swirl around congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and her attendance at the 2015 Grammy Awards on February 8. Democrat Jackson Lee represents the 18thCongressional District of Texas in the House of Representatives and is a frequent advocate of income equality and social justice. A reporter from KPRC-TV asked the legislator “Did you pay for the trip to L.A?” In response, Jackson Lee deferred to her staffers, saying “I let my staff have all my information and I let my staff handle it. And I will address the question…” as she stepped away.

The Campus Cult of Victimhood: At the University of Michigan, (certain kinds of) intolerance will not be tolerated. By Jonah Goldberg
Excerpt: I visited my father’s alma mater for the first time last week. The University of Michigan’s chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom invited me to give a speech. A banner warning the “thought police” of my imminent arrival was torn down, presumably by the irony-impaired thought police. The university has been in the news recently for such shenanigans and worse. For instance, student Omar Mahmood, a columnist for both the Michigan Daily and the conservative Michigan Review, was fired from the Daily for writing a parody piece for the Review about the oppression of the “left-handyd.” In the piece, Mahmood’s narrator takes a comment from a “white cis-gendered hetero upper-class man” as microaggression. “Behind his words I sensed a patronizing sneer, as if he expected me to be a spokespersyn for my whole race. He offered his hand to help me up, and I thought to myself how this might be a manifestation of the patriarchy patronizing me.”

Just Biden Being Biden? VP's Odd Moves Give Pause
Excerpt: Hosting a White House summit on violent extremism, Biden sought to draw a parallel between Minneapolis, where local leaders are working to prevent radicalization of Somali youth, and his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, which Biden said also has a "large, very identifiable Somali community." "I might add, if you ever come to the train station you may notice that I have great relations with them, because an awful lot of them are driving cabs, and are friends of mine," Biden said.

Excerpt: He was extremely attentive. Particularly to underage girls. And, well, it’s not that big of a deal, I guess, but it got kind of creepy. To wit (and I might actually mean this Trigger Warning for once: lecherous elderly man creeping on underage girl): ... None of us can fully imagine what holy hell would be brought down on a conservative elected official who engaged in behavior like this by more or less everyone in the feminist-media-industrial complex. We wouldn’t be seeing jokey headlines. We wouldn’t see praise for the White House putting out a video on Biden being Biden. As if.

Important: How much debt does your state have? By Jason Russell
Excerpt: Massachusetts has more outstanding debt per capita than any other state government. The state is $76 billion in the red, or $11,379 per person, or $2,000 more than the next highest state, Rhode Island. Tennessee has only $953 of debt per person, or 8 percent of Massachusetts’ debt per person. Next at the low-end is Nebraska, with only $988 in debt per person. States that had Republican governors in 2013 averaged $2,902 of debt per person, while states led by Democratic governors averaged $5,131. State government debts have been amassed over time, so it would be an oversimplification to blame a state’s current administration for its debt levels. (When Michael Dukakis offered a $500 million bonding plan to pay for operating expenses [rather than capitol improvements] for the first time ever, we managed to block the vote with eight Democrats joining the seven Republicans voting no. The Senate President was unhappy, kept the senate in recess around the clock, vowing he would pass the bond issue at 2:00 am on a voice vote with only one Democrat on the floor. I slept in front of the Senate door for two nights to prevent him from doing so {as if I was there, I could doubt the presence of a quorum, thus shutting it down until 20 senators turned up]. Eventually they convinced one of the Democrats to change his vote from "No" to "Present," which gave them the 2/3rds majority they needed to pass the bond issue. Dukakis promised to only sell as many bonds as needed, but found immediately that the whole $500M was needed. And the taxpayers paid. State debt is one of the factors in my book, The Coming Collapse of the American Republic. I took a photo of one of the clips in my scrapbooks, below. ~Bob)

Gun News

Excerpt: According to the Marine Times, the Corps is considering a number of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) upgrades to enhance the combat accuracy of Marine riflemen. The Marines will also be investigating a continued shift away from full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds to open-tip (rifle) and hollowpoint (pistol) ammunition for combat. The rifle upgrades to the existing Marine Corps M16A4 assault rifle will use many upgrades that civilian AR-15 users have preferred for years for hunting and competition on their semi-automatic-only rifles. Perhaps the most important single upgrade is the adoption of a free-floating barrel, so that Marines shooting the rifle using a sling or bipod doesn’t experience a significant point-of-aim/point-of-impact (POA/POI) shift. (In my view, we should do away with the whole M-16/M-4 system. Lots of better rifles in the world. The left will go ballistic over hollow points. But a hollow point not only has better stopping power--the point of shooting someone--but is much more likely to stay in the body of the shootee, while FMJ rounds are more likely to pass through him, increasing collateral damage in places where there are innocent kids and women in the fighting zone. ~Bob)

Gun rights groups await judge's ruling on California's 'microstamping' law. By Malia Zimmerman
Excerpt: The problem with the “microstamping” law, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 but only took effect in 2013, is that it relies on an unworkable technology, according to gun manufacturers and attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns Foundation. If guns without the technology can't be sold in California, and gun manufacturers can't implement the technology, the law is, for practical purposes, a handgun ban that violates the Second Amendment, goes the argument.

Race Card News

Consistently Worth Reading: Shame. By Walter E. Williams 
Excerpt: Today's liberals are not racists, but they often behave that way. They would benefit immensely from considering some of the arguments in award-winning scholar Dr. Shelby Steele's forthcoming book, "Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country."
Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, explains that in matters of race, there is an ideological vision that completely ignores truth -- a vision he calls "poetic truth." (Dr. Williams, a leading economist and former department head at George Mason University grew up poor and black in Philadelphia's projects. His short book, Race and Economics is a must read. ~Bob)

How We Can Honor Edward Brooke, a Great Trailblazer. By Gerren McHam
Excerpt: When people think of history makers, they may first think of those whose accomplishments rest upon specific moments in their life. However, there are individuals whose actions over a lifetime create ripple effects for many years to come. A man of this exact nature, the late Sen. Edward Brooke, R-Mass., served as the inspiration for the Republican National Committee’s third annual Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon held last week.
Serving as the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate in 1966, Brooke paved the way for future men and women of color and deserves to be remembered during Black History Month. (First since Reconstruction, when former Rebels couldn't vote. Tim Scott is the first from the Old South since then. ~Bob)

Obamacare/Government Healthcare News

Another Cluster-You-Know-What from the World of Government-Run Healthcare. By Daniel J. Mitchell 
Excerpt: In the grand scheme of things, the most important development in health policy is the pending Supreme Court case revolving around whether subsidies can be provided to people obtaining health insurance from the federal exchange, even though the law explicitly says handouts are only available to people getting policies via state exchanges. If the Court rules correctly (unlike, ahem, the last time the Justices dealt with Obamacare), it will then be very important that congressional reformers use the resulting mess to unwind as much of the law as possible. (Thinking of signing up for Obamacare? You might want to use some "Strategic Patience." ~Bob)

How One Nebraska Woman Lost Her Health Insurance Three Times Under Obamacare. By Melissa Quinn
Excerpt: Dec. 26, 2014, was strike three for Pamela Weldin. The day after Christmas, Weldin, of Minatare, Neb., had logged on to Facebook to find a message from a friend of hers. Included in the note was a link to an article from the Omaha World-Herald announcing that CoOportunity Health, a nonprofit health insurance company offering plans in Nebraska and Iowa, had been taken over by state regulators. The insurer, one of 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or co-ops, started with the backing of the federal government and received $145 million in loans from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But, CoOportunity’s expenses and medical claims would far exceed its revenue for 2014.

"You're Greener than Gore" News

Worth Reading: How Billionaires Run Solar Plant Scams. By Mitchell Tu  and David Kreutzer
Excerpt: At the recent inauguration of the Desert Sunlight solar farm, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell stated, “This is the beginnings of a renewable energy future.”
Let’s hope she is wrong, because the Desert Sunlight project is cronyism at its worst. This project involves $1.5 billion of subsidized loans. It also mandated purchases of overpriced power, all to benefit the project’s owners. And don’t think those owners are struggling mom-and-pop operations. Instead, they’re three of the world’s largest corporations—GE (market capitalization of $247 billion), NextEra Energy (market capitalization of $47 billion) and Sumitomo Corporation (market capitalization of $13 billion). Here’s how the scam works. It begins with proposing to build a solar plant. But solar plants take up a lot of land. Gosh, that can be expensive. So, the government rents them the land at bargain prices.

Religion of Peace News

Consistently Worth Hearing: Islam, The One Way Street
Check out Pat Condell’s rant on Islam. It’s nothing but awesome.

Worth Reading: Obama: Extremists Have "Legitimate Grievances." By Katie Pavlich
Excerpt: But the President touting a victory about core Al Qaeda isn't the most bizarre part of the piece. Further down, Obama claims those engaging in violent extremism have "legitimate grievances" that must be addressed. (There grievances include the existence of gays, apostates, Jews and other infidels who refuse to submit to Islam and Shari'a law and must be killed, democracy, freedom of speech, women not dressing modestly, women driving, working or going to school, people who oppose child marriage as practiced by the "perfect example" of conduct for Muslims (Mohammad), people who oppose sex slavery, and people who oppose many other Seventh Century traditions enshrined in the Qur'an, Hadith and Shari'a Law. ~Bob)

Next they'll suggest Midnight basketball. You laugh, but look how it eliminated crime and violence in our cities! ~Bob

Excerpt: In the history of all the world, there has never been a war that could not be won by killing more bad guys than they kill of the good guys. But Marie Harf, the State Department spokeswoman making international headlines for being a damn naive fool, claims we cannot win this war by killing the bad guys. According to Harf, we need to root out “underlying causes” and create jobs. So a Presidency that rejects nation building thinks we must, essentially, nation build to win the war. I realize the Obama Administration is composed of a bunch of secular, atheist God haters, but this is just naive dumbassery. As has now been well established, the Islamic State is, in fact Islamic, and intends to expand a Caliphate and bring about the Apocalypse. (I think she's a fool too, but must point out that in Vietnam, we killed maybe ten times as many Communists as they killed of us. but the American people led by media and leftists, turned against the war, and the sacrifice of our troops was made vain. They were then free to impose their tyranny on SE Asia, which continues to this day. ~Bob)

Denmark Terror Attack Survivor Said She Won’t Submit to Shariah Law. That’s When the News Anchor Interrupted Her. By Sharona Schwartz
Excerpt: When a survivor of Saturday’s terrorist attacks in Copenhagen told a television interviewer she would not be silenced by Shariah law, the news anchor interrupted her, saying, “We don’t know details about the gunman yet.” Agnieszka Kolek, a Polish artist and free-speech activist who was a panelist at the freedom of speech discussion attacked by a terrorist gunman, told Britain’s Channel 4 Sunday that she personally heard the attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

Texas Islamic Center Fire Appears Not to be a Hate Crime.” By Lana Shadwick
Excerpt: An arrest was announced at 6 p.m. Monday night at the Houston Fire Department Arson Headquarters in connection with the February 13th Quba Islamic Institute fire. Darryl Ferguson, age 55 of Houston, has been charged with arson. It appears the fire is not a hate crime. Ferguson told reporters at the police station that he was just trying to keep warm and the fire was an accident. Ferguson approached detectives who were investigating in the area around the Islamic Institute and asked to talk to them, according to ABC13 News in Houston. He is reported to have voluntarily admitted to setting the fire.

The Muslim Brotherhood-ISIS Connection. By Arnold Ahlert 
Excerpt: President Obama’s ongoing antipathy towards Egypt is no accident. Our feckless president has long had a soft spot in his heart for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and Egypt’s removal of the terror group from the corridors of power has rankled the administration. So what is it the Egyptians understand and our president denies? The Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments insists that ISIS was birthed by the MB.

There Is No Modern Islam. By Daniel Greenfield
Excerpt: Like math and the Midwest, ISIS confuses progressives. It’s not hard to confuse a group of people who never figured out that if you borrow 18 trillion dollars, you’re going to have to pay it back. But ISIS is especially confusing to a demographic whose entire ideology is being on the right side of history. Raised to believe that history inevitably trended toward diversity in catalog models, fusion restaurants and gay marriage, the Arab Spring led them on by promising that the Middle East would be just like Europe and then ISIS tore up their Lonely Planet guidebook to Syria and chopped off their heads. But ISIS also believes that it’s on the right side of history.

Obama’s Anti-Netanyahu Boycott Is Collapsing. By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn 
Excerpt: The final numbers are not yet in, but it seems clear that the White House-orchestrated campaign to boycott Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is collapsing.
Despite two weeks of intense anti-Netanyahu leaks, insults, and pressure, the White House has so far succeeded in persuading only a handful of Democratic members of Congress to stay away from the speech. (Obama still has a trick up his sleeve. He's going to promise them that if they boycott the speech, they can keep their health plan and doctor. ~Bob)

Expert: ISIS is Very Much Islamic, West Stunningly Ignorant. By Guy Benson 
Excerpt: Graeme Wood's lengthy piece on the roots, goals and motivations of ISIS in The Atlantic has gone viral this week, and deservedly so. It offers an insightful, frightening and illuminating analysis of the hardcore Islamist army whose merciless and bloody rise has horrified and confounded the civilized world. Wood's story truly earns the overused "must read" moniker. An important snippet:

WaPo Falsely Implies Detroit Stabbing Was Hate Crime Against Muslims
Excerpt: But while the Post’s story does contain the alleged non-Muslim targeting which is key to the story, it has not been reflected in the article’s headline or lead paragraph—even after the paper updated the headline to address outrage on social media. It now reads, “Police: Man stabs two after asking about religious beliefs.”

Boko Haram poses disaster for all of Africa. By Martin Barillas
Excerpt: If Maiduguri, a city in northeastern Nigeria, falls to the Boko Haram Islamist sect, all of Africa is threatened, say observers. The terrorists would then have access to an airport in an area they have now surrounded.

Broad disagreement with Obama on Islamic terror. By Martin Barillas
Excerpt: Comment has come from various sectors about Islam that is at odds with President Barack Obama’s continued insistence whether the deadly attacks in France, beheadings of Christians in Libya, or the abduction and rape of girls in Nigeria amount to Islamic extremism. For example, Fox TV host Bill O'Reilly expressed outrage over the Obama’s failure to identify the religious identity of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya by Islamic State terrorists. Declaring “The Holy War is here,” O’Reilly asked the public to contact the White House to express their anger over the killings. The host called on religious leaders in the U.S. to address their congregations this weekend to “tell our leaders to get in gear. I'd like to see every cleric in this country to do that! I want every pastor, every priest, every imam, and every rabbi to email me personally and tell me you're going to do that.”

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam Veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. He is the author of The Coming Collapse of the American Republic. For a free PDF of Collapse, e-mail him at tartanmarine(at) Hall’s eleven books are listed here:

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