Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Election 2016 endgame: reflections

November 29, 2016

I have been concerned for years about the rigging of election results, including—but not limited to—voting machine tampering.   That is why I am in favor of an audit and/or recount in the current Presidential election.

Source: NBC News

Source: NBC News

I do not think there is any realistic possibility of changing the announced election results.   This would require the discovery of discrepancies in all three recount states—Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan—that would be large enough to change the result, and all this before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19.

What I hope will come out of the audit / recount will be an improved process for national elections—at a minimum, a paper record and a routine audit to check the paper record against the official tally.

I didn’t vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.   I am not pleased that Trump is President, but I am opposed to going to extraordinary lengths to keep him from taking office, such as trying to persuade members of the Electoral College pledged to Trump to violate their pledges.   I am more concerned with the integrity of the process than which of two candidates won.

On the other hand, I do not care at all whether the recount process undermines “confidence” in Trump’s supposed mandate.  Confidence is to be earned, not granted automatically.

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It would be unfortunate if the audit / recount process diverted attention from all the other ways in which the election process is and has been rigged.

Greg Palast

Greg Palast

An investigative reporter named Greg Palast has been reporting on vote rigging for years.  One method is the infamous CrossCheck system, whereby somebody who has approximately the same name as somebody in another state is assumed to be the same person, and the name is removed.

We the people don’t know if voting machines were tampered with.  We do know about CrossCheck.

As Palast notes, the names that are checked are almost always common last names of African-Americans or Hispanics.  Here’s how he said CrossCheck affected the current election:

Trump victory margin in Michigan: 13,107

Michigan Crosscheck purge list: 449,922

Trump victory margin in Arizona: 85,257

Arizona Crosscheck purge list: 270,824

Trump victory margin in North Carolina: 177,008

North Carolina Crosscheck purge list: 589,393

Source: Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter

It’s too late to give back the voting rights that were stolen in this year’s election.   The best that can be hoped for is to fix things for the future.

It’s too bad that the Obama administration did not see fit to investigate this.   I don’t hope for anything from Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s choice for attorney-general.   Ending this corrupt and illegal system will depend on citizen activists working on the state level.

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Election 2016 endgame: links & updates

November 27, 2016

This post and its links will be continuously updated until the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19, 2016.

‘Recount’ 2016: Hand, Machine Counts Begin in Wisconsin; Trump Blocks Michigan Count by Brad Friedman for The BRAD Blog.  [Added 12/2/2016]

A Slow Motion Coup D’etat by David Jay Morris for Cannonfire.  [Added 12/1/2016]

The No-BS Inside Guide to the Presidential Vote Recount by Greg Palast for Truthout.  [Added 11/30/2016]

Countdown to ‘Recounts’: Stein Files in Michigan; Still More Barriers to Citizen Oversight in Wisconsin by Brad Friedman for The BRAD Blog.  [Added 12/1/2016]

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Did the GOP Strip and Flip the 2016 Selection? by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman for the Columbus Free Press.

Why the U.S. State Department would not certify Trump’s election as legitimate by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman for the Columbus Free Press.

They link to other charts besides the one above showing the discrepancy between the exit polls and official vote.

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2016-presidential-election-table_nov-17-2016

2016 Presidential Election Table by Theodore de Macedo Soares for TDMS|Research. [Added 11/29/2016] This shows the discrepancy between exit polls and official votes in 28 states.

In 13 states, Trump’s margin of victory was greater than the margin of error in the exit poll; in four states—North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida—the exit poll favored Clinton and the official vote favored Trump. In only one state, New York, Clinton’s margin of victory was greater than the margin for error in the exit poll.

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The presidential vote will be recounted

November 26, 2016

Jill Stein of the Green Party raised enough money to meet the deadline for filing for a recount of the Presidential vote in Wisconsin.

She has until Monday to do the same in Pennsylvania and until Wednesday for Michigan.  I’ll update this post after the filing deadlines.

In order to change the apparent result of the election, the recount would have to show that Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, got a majority of the votes in all three states.

That’s not likely.  But a recount even in just one state would help to reassure me that the vote count was honest—or confirm my suspicion that it may not have been.

I think that’s Stein’s motivation as well.  She is not a supporter of Clinton and neither am I, but all American citizens have an interest in an honest vote count.

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No, I can’t prove voting machines were hacked

November 24, 2016

If you leave your car unlocked with the key in the ignition, sooner or later somebody will steal it.

If you entrust your nation’s elections to voting machines that can be tampered with, sooner or later somebody will tamper with them.

If your car is still on the parking lot when you come back, that is not a reason to leave your car unlocked and the keys in the ignition.

I think there’s enough circumstantial evidence to justify an audit of the 2016 Presidential election results in certain battleground states.

But if it turns out that there’s no proof that voting machines were tampered with in this election, that is not a reason to have voting machines that can be tampered with.

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The need for “faithful” Electors

November 23, 2016

I got an e-mail the other day asking me to sign a petition to members of the Electoral College pledged to Donald Trump to switch their votes to Hillary Clinton.

This is theoretically possible.  “Faithless” electors have violated their pledges in previous elections.

161101154244-electoral-college-explainer-animation-orig-00002708-exlarge-169But trying to overturn Trump’s election in the Electoral College would set a terrible precedent.  It is a bad and dangerous thing even to attempt.

If I were a Trump voter in a red state, I would be furious at the idea of my vote being set aside by somebody I probably hadn’t even heard of.

It would mean that, in the future, voting would not necessarily decide the Presidential election.  The vote would be followed by an attempt to persuade, threaten or bribe the Electors into going against the wishes of the voters.

Democracy is possible only when the results of elections are regarded as legitimate, and a peaceful transfer for power is taken for granted.

When elections are not regarded as legitimate, the basis of power is armed force.  And in general the Trump supporters are better armed and better trained in the use of weapons than the Clinton supporters.

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Did Trump owe his win to vote machine hacking?

November 21, 2016

Hat tip for the video link to Joseph Cannon.

Donald Trump got more votes than predicted by exit polls.  Was the problem the exit polls?  Or was it hacked electronic voting machines?

We’ve known for a long time that electronic voting machines can be easily hacked.

We know that in 12 states, Trump’s excess votes exceeded the margin of error.  Four of them were swing statesThere were four states—North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida—in which the Clinton won the exit poll and Trump won the vote count.  If Trump had not carried those four states, he would have lost.

Is this proof that Trump supporters stole the election?  No, but it is circumstantial evidence that needs to be investigated and explained.  It should not be let drop.

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Americans once again chose an outsider

November 18, 2016

donald-trump-stump-640x371In my opinion, Donald Trump got as many votes as he did because he is an outsider.

Why are outsiders popular?  American voters don’t like economic decline or stalemate wars.

The earning power of Americans has been in decline for the past 30 to 40 years, while wealth has become ever-more concentrated in the pockets of 1/10th of 1 percent of the population.

Over the same period of time, the United States has become more and more involved in inconclusive foreign wars.

Americans have turned again and again to outsiders who promise to change the system—Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ronald Reagan in 1980, Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008.   Donald Trump was the outsider in 2016.

The hunger for outsiders will cease when a President leads the nation on a path to prosperity and peace.  Or when the country has declined to such a state that elections cease to be held or cease to matter.

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Trump’s election is not the end of the world

November 18, 2016

A few weeks ago, Democrats and liberals ridiculed Donald Trump for saying he might not accept the results of the Presidential election, and hinting of protests and riots if it was rigged against him.

Now some Democrats and liberals are protesting the results of the election and asking members of the Electoral College pledged to Donald Trump to go back on their word.

Clinical psychologists in New York City and elsewhere are flooded with calls from people who need help coping with their fear of Donald Trump.   Little Hispanic and Muslim children are terrified that Trump supporters are going to come after them.

Donald Trump giving victory speech (AP)

Donald Trump giving victory speech (AP)

They literally believe that the election of Donald Trump is equivalent to the election of Adolf Hitler.

I don’t want to make light of these fears.  I think people really are afraid.

Trump’s election was a bad thing.  A lot of people are going to be hurt because of the Trump administration (for that matter, many would have suffered under a Hillary Clinton administration).

American democracy survived Dick Cheney, Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy.  I am confident it will survive Donald Trump.  I highly recommend watching the 12-minute Ian Welsh video above and reading the links below for perspective.

Trying to negate the Electoral College vote is a terrible idea.  The effort is bound to fail, and will discredit future demands by liberals and Democrats to respect the rule of law.   Even if it succeeded, it would set a bad precedent of setting aside election results by fair means or foul.

The Electoral College has existed for more than 200 years.  It is what it is because of a compromise that was necessary to create a United States in the first place.   Progressive and liberal presidents have been elected in the past through the Electoral College system and have just as much chance of being elected in the future.

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Progressives need to be uniters, not dividers

November 16, 2016

During the Presidential campaign of 1988, the Reverend Jesse Jackson was asked, “How you are going to get the support of the white steelworker?”  He replied: “By making him aware he has more in common with the black steel workers by being a worker, than with the boss by being white.”

Source: It’s Class, Stupid, Not Race by Marshall Auerback for Counterpunch.

GOP didn’t gain votes, but Democrats lost many

November 14, 2016

wsws-demcollapse-image

Hillary Clinton was not beaten by an upsurge in votes for Donald Trump.  She was beaten because she lost votes, not because Trump gained votes.

I don’t believe the American public is satisfied with either the Democrats or the Republicans.  That’s why we’ve been alternating Democrats and Republicans in power for the past 30 or 40 years.

We keep giving one party, then the other, an opportunity to prove its leaders can achieve peace and prosperity and, again and again, they fail the test.

As these charts indicate, Hillary Clinton’s loss in the Presidential election was caused by voters turning away from her, not the popularity of Donald Trump.   The charts below show that in every demographic category except “people of color,” the “other / no vote” voters outnumbered Democrats or Republicans.   And even support by “people of color” for Democrats dropped sharply.

Election 2016byrace1-1

Election20161-4

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Republicans gain even more power in the states

November 14, 2016

Republicans, who already control the majority of state governments, gained complete control last Tuesday in Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and New Hampshire.

These maps show the extent of GOP control.

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Thomas Ferguson on the Democrats’ future

November 10, 2016

Political scientist Thomas Ferguson is always worth reading and listening to.  In this interview with Paul Jay of the Real News Network, he said the Democratic formula of “Wall Street plus identity politics” is dead.

That formula is to take Wall Street money and then champion the interests of women and minorities in ways that don’t threaten Wall Street’s profits.

The problem from the standpoint of the Democrats is that so many people—including women and minorities—are more worried about keeping their jobs, earning a decent wage and paying their bills than they are about Donald Trump’s offensive way of speaking.

But it’s hard to do anything about jobs, wages and debt and stay in the good graces of big donors.

He said Donald Trump could be a popular and successful President if he follows through on certain of his campaign promises, particularly the one to begin a major public works—that is, infrastructure—program.

Is there a chance he would do that?  Too soon to say, Ferguson said.

LINKS

Democrats, Trump and the Ongoing Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept.  (Hat tip to Tim Mullins)

Clinton actually got more votes than Trump

November 10, 2016

The votes are still being counted, but it now seems almost certain that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for Donald Trump.

The same thing happened in the 2000 election.  Al Gore received more votes nationwide than George W. Bush.  Two out of the last three Republican victories were with a minority of the votes!

Until and unless the Electoral College is abolished, this is likely to happen again, and always in favor of the Republicans.

trump-clinton1The reason is that Americans do not vote directly for President, but for members of the Electoral College, who then choose a President, and that the Electoral College is tilted in favor of small states—most of them rural states with Republican majorities.

Each state gets a number of electoral votes equal to its representation in the House of Representatives, which is apportioned according to population, plus its representation in the Senate, which is two per state.

Democrats are concentrated in cities and in large states with large cities.  Republicans are more spread out across the country, and are more over-represented in the Senate and in the Electoral College (and also in the House of Representatives, due to gerrymandering).

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Why did Clinton lose? How did Trump win?

November 9, 2016

113282161-post-news-large_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8Yesterday morning at this time I was confident that Hillary Clinton would win the election and that Donald Trump would lose—not because I thought Clinton was a strong candidate, but that Trump (seemingly) was such a bad one.

Throughout the primary and general election campaigns, I expected Trump to self-destruct and, in the closing weeks of the campaign, I thought he did.

My great fear was that the Clinton administration would be a failure and that, four years from now, a sane Donald Trump would emerge—someone who stood for the same things that Trump stands for, but who had a minimum of dignity, courtesy, self-control and background knowledge, someone equivalent to Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen or Vladimir Putin.

But I was wrong.  Despite all his self-destructive behavior, the real Trump won.   Why?

Trump was a candidate of change, and Clinton was the candidate of the status quo.  More people wanted change, even risky change, than wanted the status quo.

Trump appealed to hate, and Clinton appealed to fear.  Hate is a more empowering emotion than fear.

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How much was the election rigged?

November 9, 2016

Greg Palast reported on how millions of registered voters, mostly African-Americans and Hispanics, were removed from the voting rolls in Ohio, North Carolina and other states.

He reported how there still are electronic voting machines that can be hacked, and how, in Ohio, a new safety feature on these machines was deliberately turned off.

So there is no question that there was vote rigging.  The question is whether this was what gave Donald Trump and the Republicans their margin of victory.

Voters were removed from the rolls by a system called CrossCheck.  The system checks to see whether people of the same name vote in different jurisdictions.  Palast said as many as one in six African-American voters lost their right to vote through CrossCheck.

I happen to know through Google that there are a number of men named Philip Ebersole throughout the country.  Assuming that all or most are registered voters, my voter registration could be canceled without me ever knowing about it until I came to vote.

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Jill Stein’s greatest hits

November 6, 2016

A shorter version is below.

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Donald Trump is not a friend of working people

November 5, 2016

I don’t personally know many Donald Trump supporters.  But I can understand why somebody might be so fed up with what’s happened during the past eight years or sixteen years or twenty-four years that they might turn to somebody such as Donald Trump.

720x405-GettyImages-483208910People will overlook many faults in a leader if they think the leader is on their side.  I think that’s why Trump’s offensive and foolish statements, which would have sunk any ordinary candidate, are overlooked.

Many people think—wrongly—that they have nothing to lose and might as well take a chance on Trump.

Unfortunately, Trump is not really on the side of working people, as is shown by his record in business, by the people on his political and economic team and by his economic policies (provided you read the fine print).

His record as a businessperson shows that he hired unauthorized immigrants so as to be able to pay sweatshop wages and that he often refused to pay employees and contractors what he owed.

His economic advisers are mostly Wall Street investors and hedge fund managers—the type of people he’s denounced on the campaign trail.

And although his actual proposals contain a few things I agree with, it is basically the same old 30-year-old Republican formula—cut taxes (especially on the rich), cut government spending (except on the military) and eliminate regulations to protect workers, public health and the environment.

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A choice of evils: links November 5, 2016

November 5, 2016

Trumponomics, Taxes and the American Worker by David Cay Johnston for the Washington Spectator.

It Didn’t Have to Be Hillary by Andrew Levine for Counterpunch.

The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters by Greg Palast for Rolling Stone.

Barrel Bomb: the Cataclysmic Close of Campaign 2016 by Chris Floyd for Empire Burlesque.

The Places Left Behind by Lily Geismer for Jacobin.  About the Clintons’ “New Markets” initiative.

Donald Trump in 2008 on Bill & Hillary Clinton

November 4, 2016

Hat tip for this to Mike the Mad Biologist.

Gary Johnson is a lesser evil

November 3, 2016

Above is a partial version of an interview with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate, on C-Span.   Click on this to see the full interview.  Click on this to see the C-Span interview with Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate.

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Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President, is a likeable individual, and I believe he is an honest one.

He meets the two most important of my three litmus tests for a Presidential candidate.   I don’t believe he would start wars and I think he would respect the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  If he were the only opponent of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I would vote for him.

But he doesn’t meet my third criterion, which is to set limits on corporate power and end the growing concentration of American wealth into the hands of a tiny minority of bankers, corporate executives and holders of financial assets.

He opposes the minimum wage at any level.

He would replace the income tax and all other taxes with a consumption tax, which would shift the burden of taxation away from the wealthy and onto the shoulders of the middle class.

He is the only one of the four candidates who openly supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.  The TPP and similar agreements, in the guise of promoting free trade, limit the power of sovereign governments to regulate foreign corporations.

While he recognizes the reality of global climate change, he thinks intelligent consumer choice would be sufficient to counteract it, and opposes governmental action.

He agrees with the Citizens United decision on campaign financing, and opposes any limits on campaign spending or contributions.

As Governor of New Mexico, he favored private prisons and privatizing public education.

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The case for Jill Stein and the Green Party

November 3, 2016

Unlike Donald Trump or Gary Johnson, Jill Stein has a grasp of the issues and gives substantive answers to questions.  Unlike with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, there is reason to believe that she means what she says.

Unlike Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein can be counted on not to risk nuclear war with Russia or to continue wars to dominate the Middle East.    Unlike even Bernie Sanders, she has a clear understanding of the costs and wrongness of U.S. military intervention.

Unlike Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein can be counted on to respect the Bill of Rights.  That means no assassinations, preventive detention or warrant-less surveillance.   It’s true that the NSA, CIA and other secret agencies might resist any effort by Stein or any other U..S. President to curb their power, but a start has to be made somewhere.

Unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson, Jill Stein can be counted on to oppose corporate and financial practices that redistribute income upward.

Alone of all the candidates, she takes the threat of global warming seriously and would give priority to moving the United States to a sustainable, carbon-free economy.

Her proposed “Green New Deal” would be an effective means of putting Americans to work doing things that America needs.

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The new normal: links Nov. 2, 2016

November 2, 2016

A Tale of Three Foundations: Carter’s, Clinton’s and Trump’s by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

Forget the FBI cache: the Podesta emails show how America is run by Thomas Frank for The Guardian.

Too Smug to Jail: ‘The Economist’ issues a myopic defense of the white-collar criminal by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Michael Moore Owes Me $4.99 by David Swanson for Counterpunch.

Economic anxiety and Donald Trump voters

November 1, 2016

A lot of Hillary Clinton supporters say that Donald Trump’s supporters are not white working people who are worried about their jobs and their economic future.  No, Trump’s supporters are all racists and bigots.

Trump in NH in 2015. Source: Reuters

Trump in NH in 2015. Source: Reuters

It’s true that Trump has sought to appeal to white nationalists, gun-toting private militias and paranoid conspiracy theorists.

In the primary election, he talked a lot about unfair trade treaties, industrial decline, immigration and unwise military interventions.  He still talks about immigration, but his emphasis now is on law and order, the threat of unauthorized voters and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

But all kinds of people support Trump for all kinds of reasons.  Some no doubt vote for him because they fear Muslim terrorists, unauthorized Mexican immigrants and illegal African-American voters.  Others see him as the last hope of making American industry great again.  And many others see him as the lesser of two evils.

If you say that all Trump supporters are racists and bigots and nothing more, then there is no reason for Democrats to try to appeal to them on economic grounds.

And there is no political reason for Democrats to appeal to black and Hispanic working people in grounds of economic self-interest either, because Donald Trump’s candidacy provides sufficient reason for voting Democratic.

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The real threat of vote-rigging

October 31, 2016

Donald Trump’s supporters say the integrity of the coming U.S. election is threatened by illegal voting.  Hillary Clinton’s supporters say it is impossible to rig the U.S. election.  They’re both dead wrong.

The real problem is the vulnerability of electronic voting machines to hacking and the lack of transparency in vote counting.

LINKS

We Will Never Know If Electronic Voting Compromises Elections; Democrats Should Worry About This by Mike the Mad Biologist.

DHS Seeks to Protect U.S. Election Infrastructure – But Is That Even Possible? by Brad Friedman for The BRAD BLOG.

How to Hack an Election in Seven Minutes by Ben Wofford for POLITICO

America’s Electronic Voting Machines Are Scarily Easy Targets by Brian Barrett for WIRED.

Democracy’s Gold Standard: Hand-Marked, Hand-Counted Paper Ballots, Publicly Tabulated at Every Polling Place in America by Brad Friedman for The BRAD BLOG.

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‘Critical support’ of Hillary Clinton?

October 25, 2016

Choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is like choosing between Richard Nixon and George Wallace.

One heads a powerful machine dedicated to preserving the status quo.  The other is rebel who appeals to hatred and prejudice.

GettyImages-480679428.0I can understand why someone might support the Nixon-like candidate as a lesser evil.  The expression for this is “critical support”, which is means you may support a candidate, but reserve the right to call the candidate to account.

The problem with this is when the support ceases to be critical, which is what I see happening.   I know a number of liberal Democrats who are so afraid of Donald Trump that they think it out-of-bounds to point out that Clinton is a warmonger and literally a paid servant of Wall Street.

Support for a candidate should never be unconditional.  If you demand nothing in return for your support of a candidate, nothing is what you’ll get.

The leaked Hillary Clinton e-mails, especially the ones with the excerpts from her Goldman Sachs speeches, show that she regards her rich donors as her peer group, but that she finds it necessary to appease her core voters, as with the Dodd-Frank banking reforms.

The fact that Clinton can be pressured is, as I see it, the only argument for anti-war, pro-labor, pro-consumer or environmentalist Democrats to support Clinton.  And they are naive if they give their support without demanding commitments in return.

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