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BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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On today's BradCast, health advocacy organizations say they are shocked by Donald Trump's proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) among other federal agencies being slashed or eliminated in order to pay for a massive increase in military spending. But even some veterans organizations, whose members might otherwise stand to gain from increases to the budget of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, are slamming the cuts being proposed everywhere else. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (representing Cancer specialists) and the American Lung Association are charging that Trump's budget would have a "devastating" effect on both the health of the nation and its economy, both now and into the future. Even some Republicans in Congress are pushing back against the cruelest of cuts in Trump's proposal, such as slashing programs that fund Meals on Wheels and school lunch programs which, the White House continues to maintain, have not proven themselves to work.
The draconian cuts to science, arts, diplomacy and services for the poor are supposedly proposed in order to pay for huge increases in spending on military and veterans programs. Today, as Trump held a "Listening Session" with veterans groups at the White House, we're joined by Will Fischer of VoteVets.org, the largest progressive veterans organization, representing some 500,000 veterans and their families and which has come out strongly against Trump's proposed budget.
Fischer, a U.S. Marine, decorated Iraq War combat vet and VoteVets' Director of Congressional Relations joins us from Capitol Hill to argue that, while increased spending on VA issues is fine, the loss of domestic and non-military programs (not to mention repealing the Affordable Care Act, or "ObamaCare") is likely to be exceedingly damaging to vets. "This is un-American, and a blatant attempt to try to divide military and veterans and everyone else," he argues. "Nobody is going to leave unscathed by the Trump budget."
"No one is questioning that we need to have a military that is ready and equipped for the modern century," Fischer tells me. "What we don't want to see happen is this ridiculous notion that somehow we need to be forcing the American people to make a choice between having a strong national defense and having heating assistance for someone on hard times --- who very well may be a veteran. Choosing between having new equipment at a VA or scientists investigating climate change --- we need all these things, and we need to ensure everyone is paying their fair share so we can realize and have all of these things."
He also explains why his group rejects Trump's "national security" claims to justify a travel ban from Muslim countries. "It is absolutely not in line with the oath that I swore," Fischer says. "Donald Trump is deploying troops into Syria. Now, how in the world are our commanders on the ground supposed to go to Syrians and say, 'Hey, work with us, help us out, and we'll be sure to take care of you', when all they have to do is turn on the TV and see us turning away Afghanis who helped us, turning away Iraqis who helped us, and sentencing those people to death? People who kept Marines from walking into ambushes, these are people who served right alongside us, and Donald Trump is saying, 'no, you're not welcome here.'"
I hope you'll click below to tune in for what, I think, is a must-hear conversation.
Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report, with more on Trump's proposed slashing of the EPA budget, the global warming caused death of the Great Barrier Reef, Fukushima, six years after nuclear disaster and a hint, at least, of some encouraging news from the new Defense Secretary, who apparently understands the national security threat posed by climate change, even if his new boss clearly doesn't.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast, it was another bad day in court for Donald Trump, a disturbing day in the nation (and around the world) for those who care about science, the arts, the war ravaged and the poor, and a pretty encouraging week for those voters who actually give a damn about racial discrimination at the polling place. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Donald Trump's second attempt at a travel ban is, so far, not faring much better than his first one. Two federal courts have now blocked his newer Executive Order attempting to block Muslims and refugees from entering the country.
In the meantime, Trump finally released his alarming budget proposal, detailing draconian cuts to science, the arts, and policies that assist and aid the poor, in order to pay for a massive $54 billion increase in military spending and the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The cuts, if they were to be enacted, are far worse than you might have imagined, and even more drastic than many Congressional Republicans --- and even some in Trump's own Administration --- had been calling for. We detail the cruel mess and some of the responses, including one from the Corporation for Public Broadcast (for which each American pays just $1.35 per year), and who, along with the National Endowment for the Arts and organizations which help the poor and hungry across the globe, would be wiped out by Trump's "American First: Budget Blueprint to Make American Great Again".
Then, on the 52nd anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's historic 1965 introduction of the Voting Rights Act in Congress following the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama --- and four years since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted that landmark voting law in 2013 --- several court cases over the past week have, once again, found racial discrimination at the polling place by elected officials. We cover two such cases today, one that unlawfully purged African-American voters in a rural Georgia county before a white man unseated a black incumbent mayor in 2015, and the other, with far-reaching implications, in Texas, where a 2 to 1 appellate court ruling finds the state intentionally discriminated against Hispanic voters when drawing up its 2011 Congressional redistricting maps. That ruling (with a remarkable dissent) could result in the state being required to once again obtain federal pre-clearance under the VRA before enacting any new voting laws in the future.
Finally, we close with an amusing --- and telling --- look at what Fox "News" considers to be "anti-Trump media bias"...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump orders EPA to roll back fuel economy standards...and plans to slash EPA's budget by even more than previously known; Large sections of the Great Barrier Reef have now died, thanks to global warming; PLUS: Six years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, radioactive wild boars complicate residents' return... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): To Protect Climate Money, Obama Stashed It Where It’s Hard to Find; Lawmakers ask Trump to stop nuke waste storage plan near Lake Huron; White House Proposes Reviving Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site; NV plant closes after half-century of producing coal-fired pollution; Interior Department To Withdraw Obama-Era Fracking Rule, Filings Reveal; National Academies Praise Obama Climate Report Pending Under Trump; 17 Republicans Back Resolution Urging Action On Warming; WV Senate Bill Eliminates Mine Safety Enforcement... PLUS: Unsealed Documents Raise New Safety Doubts on Monsanto Weedkiller Roundup... and much, MUCH more! ...
Today on The BradCast, the record-breaking March Blizzard of 2017 (sorry, Weather Channel, we won't call it "Stella"!), may be mostly gone from the Northeast, but a blizzard of disinformation remains in its wake. We do our best to shovel out a bit today with our favorite Republican meteorologist. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
I'm happy to be joined today by Paul Douglas, longtime Minnesota broadcast meteorologist, StarTribune columnist and co-author of Caring for Creation: The Evangelicals Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment to respond to, among many other things, those on the right (led by Matt Drudge), charging that the blockbuster late-season winter storm that swept through the Midwest and Northeast, leaving record snowfall in its wake, was actually evidence that Donald Trump should "clear out [the] climate hysterics" from the National Weather Service.
While he's here, Douglas also explains the dangers of Donald Trump's proposed massive cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other science, weather and climate-related federal agencies. NOAA, he says, whose satellites are relied upon as the "eyes" of the National Weather Service, is also "essential for the private sector, and for the military". Without those eyes, many of which are already beyond their expected lifespan, Douglas argues that the nation will be "more vulnerable" to all matter of threats.
Douglas also offers his thoughts on last week's comments by Trump's EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, claiming, in contradiction of well-established science, that the scientific evidence is lacking to prove that CO2 is the primary driver of man-made climate change. Douglas gives us a non-denier Republican perspective on the entire matter, noting that we "can't pollute our way to prosperity" and argues that "the final chapter is not written yet" when it comes to the GOP response to climate change. Somehow or another he remains "optimistic" that his party will come around to reality on that score...eventually. (I remain dubious.)
Also today: A new poll finds the (deadly) GOP/Trump plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is wildly unpopular among voters; Top Congressional Republicans repudiate Trump's wire-tapping claim against former President Obama; We take a few fairly salacious calls from listeners; and Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: It's no longer about facts. For Republicans and Team Trump, it's now about undermining virtually every authority on which American democracy has, for so long, relied. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
As an unusual late season blizzard slams the Northeast, the White House continues to deploy a blizzard of disinformation in hopes of disparaging the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in the wake of its estimate [PDF] released yesterday, finding that some 24 million Americans will go without health care coverage by 2026 under the Republican's proposed bill to replace the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"). That, even as the White House had reportedly made similarly dire estimates on their own concerning the disastrous affect of the imperiled GOP legislation.
The attack against the non-partisan CBO is just one example of many key, American institutions now under fire by Republicans. David Roberts, climate and politics journalist from Vox.com, joins us to today to discuss the recent comments made with CNBC's Joe Kernan by Donald Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, pretending that he doesn't know that scientists determined long ago that carbon dioxide is the primary driver for man-made climate change.
But outrage over those falacious remarks and Pruitt's dismissal of basic scientific facts misses the bigger point, Roberts explains. "If the science was going to settle anything, it would have settled it by now," he says. The issue is not about facts or science, but about the Republican Party itself and their on-going assaults on our nation's institutions --- from science to government to academia to journalism to, yes, the CBO.
"If it wasn't Scott Pruitt, it would be someone else who denies climate change," as head of Trump's EPA, Roberts argues. "That's what the party is. It's one major party, in the U.S. --- alone among major parties in the developed democratic world, alone, completely idiosyncratic and unique in this --- den[ying] that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it. So if Pruitt outrages you, the proper target of your outrage is the party. He's just a party functionary. If it wasn't him, it'd be someone else."
Roberts discusses why that denial is so important to the party, and whether or not even they believe their own nonsense anymore.
Finally today, speaking of climate change denial: Some very encouraging news when it comes to renewable energy in the U.S. (don't tell Donald Trump or the Republicans) and some bad news in court for Sec. of State and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: EPA Chief peddles fraudulent, disproven claims on climate change; Disinformation works, poll finds --- Americans really confused about climate science; Elon Musk offers bet to upgrade South Australia's electric grid for renewables; PLUS: From extreme warmth to extreme snow --- extreme weather swings wallop the Northeast... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Dilemma: Past and Future of Science in Society; Scientists are conspicuously missing from Trump’s government; The world's oceans are storing up staggering amounts of heat - and it's even more than we thought; Dakota Access oil pipeline doesn't faze big rail shippers; California to fight if EPA eases emissions rule; Before the EPA, Wyoming's environment suffered. But could the state have cleaned things up on its own?; Ohio’s EPA director talks changes in the Trump era... PLUS: This Man Hiked the Entire Route of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Here is what he found... and much, MUCH more! ...
A few weeks ago, Donald Trump's top White House strategist Steve Bannon vowed to bring about the "deconstruction of the administrative state". On today's BradCast, it sure looks like he's getting what he and Trump set out for. [Audio link to show posted below.]
First up today, after a week of devastating analyses of the bill by GOP leadership and Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and replace it with the American Health Care Plan (the Republican plan), the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally came out today with its estimate [PDF] of what the scheme will cost Americans in money and health care. And it isn't pretty.
Some 14 million Americans will go without health insurance in 2018 under the Republican scheme, according to the CBO's estimate, which they note is based on "the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes." Some 24 million Americans will go without by 2026, as compared to projections for the current law. Hardest hit, as a number of reports over the weekend have found: elderly and rural voters in areas where support for Donald Trump was highest in the 2016 election.
Then, as Trump prepares to announce his "historic" slashing of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of federal jobs from non-military programs, hundreds, if not thousands of key roles at Executive agencies across the federal government remain unfilled. Many agencies are currently gutted following the resignation and/or firings of Obama staffers, and top appointments remain vacant in the meantime (because Trump has failed to nominate people to fill the roles, much less see public Senate confirmation hearings for the appointees.)
In the meantime, hundreds of unknown campaign staffers with no government experience at all, and others who are longtime industry lobbyists, are still heading up his "beachhead" transition teams, effectively controlling dozens of federal agencies on behalf of the Trump Administration. Those findings come via an analysis by ProPublica, based on responses to public records requests
Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), joins us to explain what that means, and the havoc these folks --- some just out of high school and college who had worked on the Trump campaign, others lobbyists for industries being overseen by the very federal agencies they now oversee --- are able to wreak on government and policy while barely even being noticed by media or Congress.
"The level of separation between industry and the government has gone from a thin veneer of separation to no separation whatsoever," Hauser warns, describing the situation as "an intentional breeding ground for corruption".
"The State Department is a topic of particular concern," he tells me. "They have only nominated the Secretary of State. That is the only nominee. So you've seen the Obama people all leave. You've seen the strata of the top professional career people pushed out. You've seen no names offered. So you have a complete vacuum at the top of the State Department, beneath Sec. of State Tillerson. And the only people with any authority are the people who can claim to be acting on behalf of the President via their status on the 'beachhead.'"
"I think people seem to be underestimating what a federal government that seems to be more focused on enriching Donald Trump, his family, and his closest allies, could do to the lives of normal people," he explains, charging that the entire operation appears to be little more, at this point, than an attempt at "wrecking the country for financial gain."
Finally today, we close with one more story of a very popular (and right-leaning) town that supported Trump "bigly" last November, but now, perhaps, having second thoughts about what his immigration policies are doing to their own business interests...
On today's BradCast, trouble continues to brew for Congress, the White House, the nation, the world and, yes, for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Among the stories covered on today's program:
The never before utilized Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (full text posted below) may provide the most efficient lawful means to facilitate a swift end to the madness brought on by the Presidency of Donald J. Trump.
The real issue is not whether Donald Trump --- an utterly dishonest raging authoritarian narcissist and "pathological liar" --- should be removed from office. Instead, the focus should be on which of two alternative constitutional means for removing this miscreant from office has the best chance of ultimately succeeding.
Impeachment is a cumbersome process that, assuming the GOP-controlled Congress would permit it, entails lengthy investigative hearings, and the introduction of Articles of Impeachment alleging High Crimes and Misdemeanors --- Articles that must be approved by a majority of the House. This would be followed by a trial in the Senate. Trump would then be removed from office only if two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict. Tall orders for both Republican-majority chambers, to say the least.
Throughout the length of those protracted proceedings, Trump would remain in office with access to the nuclear codes.
In his recent New York Times op-ed, Nicholas Kristof, quoting Harvard's renowned Constitutional Law Professor Laurence Tribe, opined that the 25th Amendment offered a viable means for removing Trump from office. Per the language of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, if Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Trump's own cabinet transmitted to the leaders of the House and Senate "their written declaration that [Trump] is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President." The burden would then shift to Trump to submit "his written declaration that no inability exists." If he submits a declaration contending that he is able to carry out the duties of his office, Trump would not be permanently removed unless two-thirds of both Houses of Congress upheld the Vice President's declaration.
Irrespective of the legal bases for impeachment --- such as Trump's corrupt and remarkably overt violations of the Constitution's Emoluments Clauses --- it is unlikely that a GOP-controlled Congress would be willing to entertain, let alone vote to impeach a Republican President. This would especially be true if, as is likely, the Articles of Impeachment were introduced by Democratic members of the House.
By contrast, as observed by Lawrence O'Donnell during a Feb. 20 airing of The Last Word (see video below) --- if successfully invoked, the 25th Amendment would pit Republicans against Republicans: to wit, Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the cabinet against Trump and a minority of the cabinet. If the chaos that is the Trump administration continues and potentially threatens GOP majority rule in either or both houses of Congress in 2018, there's a distinct possibility that, as predicted by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), the dynamics within the GOP could undergo a significant change. If he could overcome loyalty to the man who named him as his running mate, Pence and a majority of the cabinet could legally initiate a swift end to the Trump presidency.
That's a lot of "ifs"...and even if they all came to pass, there is more to think about regarding this path...
On today's BradCast, Congressional GOP leadership continues to ram their "ObamaCare" repeal and replacement bill through House Committees, even as the future of their American Health Care Act remains uncertain with Republican opposition in both the House and Senate, not to mention growing opposition from health care advocacy groups. But that's just one of the potential battles on the near horizon amongst Republicans in the House, Senate and White House. [Audio link to show posted below.]
Donald Trump's budget proposals include a huge increase in military spending and huge cuts across the board to domestic programs --- and just about everything else --- in order to pay for it, including taxes and cuts to the IRS itself, by itself, will cost the government billions in revenue alone. (The IRS brings in $4 for every $1 that funds it --- so why would the GOP and Trump want to cut it? We discuss.)
But the question of whether Republicans in the House and Senate can come to terms with the White House, much less each other, on spending priorities is another matter entirely. Journalist Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo joins us from Capitol Hill today to discuss what may be ahead for the upcoming budget battle that could include, yes, another Government Shutdown (today the Treasury Department announced we will hit the debt ceiling against next week) and even an attempt by Trump to circumvent the law entirely, "because you can't legally do what President Trump wants to do," she explains.
By way of just one example of surprises that Trump may encounter even with a friendly Republican Congress, Ollstein explains: "I am hearing a lot of opposition from Republican lawmakers, especially to cuts to the State Department, saying 'We do not support cutting the State Department's budget by a third, because diplomacy keeps us safe and would make us eventually have to spend more on war.'" Those proposed cuts to State, 37% of their current budget, have already been opposed by Trump's own Secretary of Defense James Mattis, among others.
Ollstein also cites "the ghost of Ronald Reagan" as a specter that could end up haunting Trump's plans, since he seems to be following a path for radically growing the military, cutting taxes and blowing out the deficit in the bargain, a model that even Reagan ultimately had to try and roll back. "So, we'll see if this Trump plan, that is sort of Reagan 2.0, goes forward" at all, she explains.
Finally, we close today with some listener e-mail from Costa Rica, on what a national health care system, actually looks like in a civilized country...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: State of emergency declared for early season wildfires across four states; Trump Administration plans cuts to Coast Guard, FEMA, and Energy Star program; Gulf of Mexico dolphins still suffering effects of 2010 BP oil disaster; PLUS: Pollution is responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million children each year... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): February’s Warmth, Brought to You by Climate Change; Warming may disrupt four-fifths of world's oceans by 2050; White House Pushes for Deep Cuts to Clean Energy Office; Top Environmental Justice Official at EPA Resigns, Pens Plea to Pruitt; Water Rights: Landmark Ruling Lets Tribe Tap Calif. Aquifer; Top Environmental Justice Official at EPA Resigns, Pens Plea to Pruitt; Dying robots, failing hope at Fukushima as clean-up falters; PLUS: Reassessment of Calif. Faults Hints At Possibility Of Major Quake... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast, can Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump overcome the mountain of push-back --- from Right, Left and Center --- against their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare")? [Audio link to show is posted below.]
First up today, we check in with KPFK/Pacifica Radio's Alan Minsky from the scene of today's International Women's Day demonstrations in downtown Los Angeles, where, he reports, thousands are gathering in protest.
Then, it's on to the quickly growing opposition to Speaker Ryan and the rest of the GOP leadership's scheme to "repeal and replace" ObamaCare, as introduced on Monday, and being "rammed" through House Committees beginning today, even before the bill, the American Health Care Act, has been scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
So far, the conservative right is revolting against the replacement bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, endangering its potential for passing in either the House or Senate. But the scheme is also now being opposed by major medical advocacy groups like the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), who all charge that millions will lose health care coverage under the Republican plan.
Will the GOP and Donald Trump be able to overcome the opposition to keep their long-held promise to kill ObamaCare? Do they really event want to, as discussed on yesterday's show? We take listener calls today on that and more, including the continuing progressive push for a single-payer plan that covers all Americans.
Also today, with yesterday's document dump at WikiLeaks revealing (among other things) that the CIA has been able to hack into encrypted apps and devices, it's yet another reminder that encryption schemes cited by supporters of electronic vote casting and counting, like all non-transparent forms of tabulation, should be dismissed.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Trump continues to break his promise to "protect our air and water" with his new EPA and Interior Department chiefs rushing to return favors to the fossil fuel industry...
On today's BradCast, the GOP health care plan to "repeal and replace" Obamacare has landed with a thud among Democrats and, only somewhat more suprisingly, among so-called conservatives. And, as our guest argues today, that may have been the plan all along. [Audio link to show posted below.]
House Republicans leadership introduced their long awaited health care plan on Capitol Hill late yesterday and we break down the details of it today. But, other than Donald Trump who described it, via Twitter, as "our wonderful new healthcare bill", the plan does not seem to be going over well in a number of key quarters. Of course, Democrats oppose the new scheme to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act (or, "ObamaCare") and Republicans have yet to have their new plan, dubbed the American Health Care Act, scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). So we don't know how much it will cost or how many people will actually be covered under it (or lose their coverage, thanks to it.)
But, the more important push-back against the new plan appears to be coming from Republican members of Congress and the rightwing policy groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity. They are calling it "ObamaCare-lite" and vowing to block it, as our guest Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau Chief for Huffington Post reports today.
Grim tells me why, based on his reporting, the roll-out --- and the plan itself --- appears to be such a disaster, and suggests that Republicans, including Speaker Ryan and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have no actual intention of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act at all. "They're pretending," he says. "Also they didn't think they were going to win the election. They didn't think they were going to catch this car that they've been chasing down the road. The problem for them is that Obamacare itself was basically designed by the Heritage Foundation years ago. So it's almost unfair for them to try to come up with an alternative to the thing that they developed themselves. But they're the ones who disavowed their original plan, so it's not that unfair."
"Paul Ryan is not an idiot. He has the phone numbers for the Koch Brothers, Club for Growth, Freedom Works, Heritage, all these different outfits that piled on it today. So how was this not worked out [in the last 8 years]? It suggests to me that it's not actually a serious attempt," Grim explains before detailing why it is not even a safe bet, at this point, to assume that Ryan and McConnell "actually want to pass something" at all.
Also on today's show: Trump lied about requiring U.S.-made steel in pipelines like KeystoneXL, and France, fearing the possibility of hacking, cancels on-line voting in advance of their upcoming elections...
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