Archive for August, 2012

State Department Chief Diversity Officer John Robinson has published a warning to State Department employees that if they want to “go Dutch” or “hold down the Fort,” they had better find another way to express it. Those phrases are now deemed offensive.

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There is an interesting free exercise case developing in Fairfax County, Virginia (where I live). The Church of the Good Shepherd has been informed that it may have to remove its sign after violating country rules that prohibit electronic signs from being changed more than twice a day unless they are giving weather reports. An inspector informed the church that it had posted three different messages in one day and thus stood in violation of the law. The church is objecting on religious freedom grounds — citing the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Matthew 12:39 warns that “an evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign” and it appears that Fairfax County has found one.

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There is a bizarre and tragic sports accident in Düsseldorf when judge Dieter Strack, 74, at a javelin event was struck and killed by a javelin thrown by 15-year-old boy.

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Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has finally caught up with Richard Eggers, 68. The company filed the Des Moines worker after discovering that he has a criminal record. In 1963, Eggers used a cardboard dime at a Laundromat. His crime spree came to an end in July when the company fired him as part of its effort to stay in conformity with banking regulations to get rid of employees guilty of “transactional crimes.” I suppose using a cardboard dime at a laundromat must constitute a form of money laundering.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R. S.C.) is always good for a sound bite (though civil libertarians are still smarting from “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.”). Now Graham has identified the greatest threat to the GOP: the declining numbers of “angry white guys.”
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There is another claim of excessive force and abuse against officers with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) after two officers who were allegedly caught on surveillance camera (shown below) slamming a nurse, Michelle Jordan, 34, on the ground twice after a traffic stop. Not only is the basis for the action in doubt, but the two officers are shown giving each other a fist bump afterwards.

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A Florida appeals court has ruled that George Zimmerman is entitled to a new judge. In a 2-1 decision (below), the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled Judge Kenneth Lester has to go. Zimmerman accused Lester of “gratuitous, disparaging remarks” he made as part of his bail bond proceedings. Lester accused Zimmerman of “flout[ing] the system” when he failed to report outside donations. That would normally not result in a forced recusal but Florida is one of the states that makes disqualification mandatory when the motion is “legally sufficient.”

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There is a bizarre lawsuit this week against Continental Airlines by a gay couple who say that the airline caused them emotional distress after baggage workers removed a dildo and taped it to the outside of their suitcase. Christopher Bridgemann and Martin Borger say that the sex toy was openly displayed to other passengers when they picked up their luggage.

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The video below is causing a great deal of public anger showing St Paul officer Jesse Zilge macing, kicking, and hitting suspect Eric Hightower, who is slammed face first on to the hood of a cruiser.

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If you are looking for a nice outfit to go with that Hitler wine, you might try the Hitler clothing store in Ahmedabad, India. The owner of the Hitler clothing store, Rajesh Shah, is under criticism for the use of the name but has said that he will not change it unless someone reimburses him for the new sign and re-branding costs. Here is the incredible part of the story, Shah says that he had no idea who Hitler was. “Hitler” is used in India to simply refer to someone who is strict.

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Humans Did This To Me

I am waiting for the news story that after a Christmas dinner, the owner disappeared in a gas explosion due to a stove being turned on during the night . . . only a cat was found alive outside wearing Christmas bells.

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This week the public continued to get signals from our leaders that we may be in for yet another war. This time it would be Iran. In an interview this week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) uttered the words that many peace advocates fear: “regime change.” In response to public moves by Israel to attack Iran “before the U.S. elections,” Lieberman took to the air to assure the public that “we” can defeat Iran and “hope and pray” for a regime change. Sounds tragically familiar.

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There is a truly bizarre story about of Nebraska where the parents of three-and-a-half year old Hunter Spanjer have been told that their son is violating the school’s policy against guns in school by making his fingers look like a gun. I have previously written (and here) about the lunacy of zero tolerance rules, including the gun drawing and finger gun violations. The difference in this case is that Hunter is deaf and the motion is the sign language for his name which involves crossing his forefinger and index finger and moving his hand up and down. When the situation was explained to Grand Island Public Schools administrators, they came up with a solution that only a bureaucrat would view as reasonable. According to the parents, they were asked to change their son’s sign name. There is now a Facebook page (shown here) to let Hunter keep his name.

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Atlanta math teacher Shayla Smith is now without a job after she allegedly admitted to cheating on tests for students to improve performance of her students, Smith allegedly explained that the illegal assistance was needed because the students were “dumb as hell.”

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For Storage Wars star Dave Hester, this might be one that deserves more of a “Yuuuk” than a “Yuuup. When a storage locker in Florida was auctioned off, the new owner found the interior that an unpleasant odor. He then uncovered a gruesome scene of human organs in drinking cups, Tupperware and other containers saturated in formaldehyde. Police say that the locker belonged to former medical examiner in Florida, Dr. Michael Berkland. Berkland was fired from the Medical Examiner’s Officer in Pensacola in 2003 after working there since 1997.

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Washington, D.C. is number one! No it is not number one in educational scores or safe streets. We have been found to be the worst drivers in America. The good news is that car crash fatalities are at the lowest level they’ve been since 1949. Yet, in looking at an average more than 32,000 every year, Washington drivers stood out for their lack of competency on the roads. The safest? Sioux Falls, S.D. Sure it’s safe but who goes to Sioux Falls? Everyone comes here just to see the cars crash.

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Ivana Samardzic, 20, is one lucky lady that her trip to Cancun was not shorten to a trip to the can. The Wisconsin juror was supposed to be deliberating a verdict in a felony shooting case when she simply left for the airport to go on vacation, calling the clerk from the airport to say that she left her vote in the jury room and did not want to lose out on the family trip. To the surprise of many, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge JD Watts (shown here) did not jail her for contempt but simply let the 11 member jury decide the case and fined Samardzic $300. The case that Samardzic abandoned involved a wonderfully named defendant, Spartacus Outlaw, who was accused in a felony shooting case.

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Judge Vincent Sgueglia of the Tioga County Family and Surrogate’s Courts has been censure in a bizarre case after he took a loaded .38-caliber Smith and Wesson that discharged in his chambers. There is no rule preventing judges from packing heat in chambers in New York but the state Commission on Judicial Conduct declared that Sgueglia, 70, should not have approved his own concealed-carry permit.

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Taliban militia in Afghanistan objected to a mixed-gender dance party in a Southern province this week as unIslamic. Rather than turning off the music, the militia (which controls the area) beheaded 17 people at the party to defend the faith against immorality. (A Taliban official is shown here in one of its favorite past times of beating women into submission).

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There is a terribly tragic story out of Quebec where Maria Pantazopoulos, 30, was drowned during a photo shoot near the Dorwin Falls in Rawdon. Pantazopoulos was in her wedding dress and posing by dipping her toes in the water. The newlywed realtor was wearing a long wedding dress that became saturated and she was pulled into the current. The weight of the dress pulled Pantazopoulos down quickly into the water.

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Nagla Wafa, 39, an Egyptian wedding planner and designer, had a simple business dispute with a partner over a cashed check and a joint business venture. The partner says that she cashed a check and reneged on opening a restaurant. It is the type of thing that is standard fare for courts around the world. However, this is Saudi Arabia and the partner was a princess in the Royal family. Wafa was arrested without charge and held for months. She was then belated charged with fraud and sentenced to 500 lashes and five years in prison in a case that has drawn rightful condemnation in Egypt. She is shown here with her two sons.

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There is a bizarre story out of Montana this week where Randy Lee Tenley, 44, reportedly wanted to make people think he was the Sasquatch by dressing in a military “Ghillie suit” (used by snipers) like the one shown right and walked along a highway at night. The drivers apparently had trouble seeing Tenley, let alone a Sasquatch, in the camouflage and ran over Tenley twice, killing him. (The photo on left is one of the best known Sasquatch shots).

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Dog Versus Cabbage

This video captures the little discussed vegan canine element in our society.

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Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez has been accused by Texas lawyer Nat C. Perez of a rather unique form of abuse: cookie coercion. Perez has filed an unusual motion for recusal that lists, among other complaints, Lopez’s alleged pressure on Perez to buy her daughter’s girl scout cookies. He suggests that a couple boxes of “Thanks-a-lot” would go a long way with Lopez and that he refusal meant he could not “Tag-a-long” in cases. . . but he did get a judicial “Shoutout”
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The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has struck down the graphic warning images on cigarette packages in an important opinion on corporate speech rights. I have been a long critic of the images on both constitutional and policy grounds. Previously the Sixth Circuit rejected the same free speech claims.

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Reports now indicate that all nine wounded bystanders in the recent shooting near the Empire State building were shot not by the gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, 58, (left) but by police officers.

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You may recall how recently an array of high ranking Israeli officials in the Netanyahu government, including National Security Council head Ya’akov Amidror and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, briefed ultra-Orthodox rabbi and Shas leader Ovadia Yosef on the proposed war with Iran in the hopes of receiving his blessing. Both the war (which Netanyahu reportedly wants before the U.S. presidential election) and the need to get nod from a religious leader were criticized, including by some of us who noted the extreme views of Yosef. Now, Yosef has called upon Jews to pray for the death of Iranians and the destruction of the nation of Iran. Now we have spiritual leaders is both countries calling on God to annihilate whole countries as examples of divine and moral justice.

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New York Family Court Judge Bryan Hedges, 65, thought that he had resigned from the bench in Onondaga County in April after allegations that he sexually abuse with 5-year-old deaf niece. However, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct decided to retroactively remove him from the bench and bar him from ever holding a judicial office again in the state of New York despite that fact that the incident occurred 40 years ago and before he become an attorney. It presents an interesting case on the reach of judicial ethics for judges.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

According to Huffington Post, the following 2010 interview that Michael D. Higgins, the current president of Ireland, did with Boston conservative radio talk show host Michael Graham went viral recently.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Judith Jarvis Thomson, professor emeritus at MIT, provides some interesting thought experiments in her article entitled In Defense of Abortion. Thomson acknowledges the problem of determining the particular moment during gestation when a fetus becomes a human being, so she starts by granting that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception. From there, the argument usually goes that, since every person has a right to life, a fetus has a right to life. The fetus’s right to life supersedes the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body.

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Akin’s Proof

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Rep. Todd Akin, Republican senatorial candidate from Missouri: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” Now you can buy a bottle to collect these vital toxins.

“Unless you’ve been in a soundproof booth for the past three days (lucky you), you’ve probably heard a lot about this mysterious chemical that women can produce on demand to prevent them from becoming pregnant. For centuries, women have, according to anti-choicers, been able to ward off becoming impregnated by their rapists by emitting this substance during their rape. Despite being a miracle of science and biology, we’ve never known its name.”

H/T: Pharyngula.

 

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

The issues discussed on this blog are wide-ranging even though at base we are all about upholding the Constitution and ensuring civil liberties. The disputed election of a President began this millennium in controversy, underlined by a horrific terrorist attack and the prosecution of two unnecessary wars. These wars have lasted longer than any other American war save for the Viet Nam debacle. They have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians, more than eight thousand of our troops, tens of thousands of soldiers with crippling injuries and unprecedented suicide rates among both active and inactive members of our armed forces. Trillions of dollars have been wasted on these adventures in the imperialistic pursuit of empire and no end is in sight, although our complicit corporate media has ceased to find interest in coverage of the continuing devastation.

As we know the linchpin for these phony wars was the attack on 9/11 by a team of Saudi Arabians purportedly working for Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. However, the blueprint for this endless quest for America Hegemony was made public in 1997 with the publishing of the manifesto for the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century . This conceptualization laid out plans for a putative American Empire and its’ signatories prominently included those who would become part of the administration of George W. Bush. A list of those signatories will continue after the page break, with the most prominent in bold links. (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

For eons, defenders of  the monotheistic religions  have cited the introduction of morality to the human species as the unquestionable foundation for the belief in a deity that moves with humanity through time and intervenes in human affairs to fulfill his will. Philosopher Robert Adams has asserted that human moral properties “cannot be stated entirely in the language of physics, chemistry, biology, and human or animal psychology” but require a divine perspective to be understood. (The Virtue of Faith (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987)). No less a pillar of Christianity than C.S. Lewis, opined that the existence of seemingly universal laws of morality contrary to the selfish laws of nature such as survival of the fittest, implied that an intelligent creator served as the foundation and basis. To Lewis and those of his ilk, the best and simplest explanation was God as author of the good in the human heart. Lewis’ ideas were not new.

Building on Aristotle’s definition of morality as human happiness or eudaimonia, Thomas Aquinas, had contended centuries before Lewis that, “If we speak of the ultimate end with respect to the thing itself, then human and all other beings share it together, for God is the ultimate end for all things without exception.” The thirteenth century monk therefore concluded, “There can be no complete and final happiness [beatitudo] for us save in the vision of God”; “the human mind’s final perfection is by coming to union with God.” Thus communion with the deity was the fountainhead of all human goodness and subscribing to the religion that best mapped the revelations of that deity onto human experience was the true path to human happiness and ultimate morality.

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Prince Harry’s latest drunken escapade is now laid out for hundreds of millions to see in all of his naked glory . . . except for people in England. The Royal family moved quickly to effectively bar British newspapers from publishing the photos under the English libel laws, which I have criticized in the past as both draconian and restrictive of free speech. Now the Sun is bucking the effective order from the palace and now running the photos. In the meantime, millions of Brits were able to see the photos barred in newspapers but simply turning on their computers.

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Coley Mitchell, 32, has been arrested after he was found drunk with his pants down in a campus locker room with two lab monkeys at the Georgia Health Sciences University. The charge of public intoxication is interesting since he was presumably working at the lab.

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Jennelle Carrillo is suing the Dallas Cowboys and its owner Jerry Jones for toasting her bottom before a Blue & Silver scrimmage at the Cowboys stadium. Carrillo says that she sat on a black marble bench outside the stadium on a hot 101 degree day. The result, she says, was sever burns on her buttocks.

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Lois Ann “Lolo’’ Goodman, 70, was a well-known US Open judge who faced down the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors in heated calls. However, Goodman is now in jail after police accused her of killing her husband Alan Goodman, 80, with a coffee mug back in Los Angeles.

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This piece by Elias Garcia Martinez is entitled “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man), but many would prefer not to look after an artist “restored” the painting in Borja, Spain. Many are outraged at that artist — described only as an amateur artist in her 80s — for the effective destruction of the work from 1910.

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We have yet another case of passengers being thrown off planes because of a message on their clothing. Arijit Guha and his wife were returning from a funeral on Delta at the Buffalo-Niagara Airport when they were told that his tee-shirt mocking the TSA made passengers and employees feel “very uncomfortable”. Guha is an Arizona State University graduate student.

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This may come as no surprise to married readers of this blog. A new study found that women increase their alcohol consumption during marriage while male consumption actually falls. Once divorced, men increase their alcohol consumption. In other words, there is nothing more sobering for men than marriage but there is no better reason to drink for a woman than a man in the house.

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Lubbock County Judge Tom Head is opposed to the reelection of Barack Obama but does not simply confined his objections to unemployment or civil liberties or those mundane political concerns. Head has called for a tax increase to prepare for “civil war” if Obama is elected. He insists that Obama is planning to turn over the United States to the United Nations in this second term. He wants to prepare Lubbock for the invasion of United Nations troops as well as the riots and demonstrations that are likely to occur following the reelection of Obama.

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It could be the homosexual version of the Tawana Brawley case. In Lincoln, Nebraska, former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star Charlie Rogers crawled to a neighbor’s house covered in blood with anti-gay slurs of “dyke” and “c*nt” curved into her skin. Her case became a rallying point for the community which is debating a “fairness ordinance” to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. However police now say that she faked the attack.

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Despite the harsh conditions for women living under the Sharia laws, Iran has a long history of highly educated women. Indeed, women have been outnumbering men three to one in entrance exams — and outperformed men in many tests. Iranian clerics have mandated a new policy that will surely wipe out that deficiency among men: they are effectively barring women from dozens of degree programs and universities as a whole in some cases. It is a devastating blow for women’s rights and will lock millions of women into lives of subjugation.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly wants to attack Iran before the U.S. elections. If true, it is a demonstration of the predictability of U.S. politics. Netanyahu knows that both Romney and Obama are seeking the support of Jewish voters and would be less likely to denounce such a unilateral attack before November. Indeed, they might even help fund the war with additional U.S. loans and military support. What is equally bizarre is the scene of top Israeli officials going to the ranking Rabbi in Israel to get his approval for the attacks. We are accustomed to seeing such influence by religious figures in Iran, but officials have been shuttling back and forth to get the nod from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

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You have probably been reading the torrent of criticism over the lack of legroom on U.S. airlines and how many people are simply choosing not to fly given the punishing nature of air travel today. JetBlue and WestJet have responded with decisions to cut legroom even more on their flights.

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While Rep. Akin may have doomed Republican efforts in retaking the U.S. Senate, a Minnesota state representative may have done the same for Democrats in that state. Rep. Kerry Gauthier, 56, has admitted to having a liaison with a 17-year-old boy at a rest stop but insists that it was all perfectly legal since the boy was over 16 years old. The thing that struck me as the most interesting is his claim that it is not a crime to have sex at a rest stop in Minnesota.

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Three Delaware day care givers — Tiana Harris, 19, Lisa Parker, 47, and Estefania Myers, 21 — have been charged with organizing a type of baby fight club where they encouraged 3-year-olds to fight for their entertainment. We now know the third rule of fight club after you don’t talk about fight club you don’t talk about fight club . . . you don’t use pre-school toddlers.

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Some strategists believe that Rep. Todd Akin may have not only saved the most unpopular Democrat in the U.S. Senate but could well have kept the Senate in Democratic hands. It is too early to tell, but Akin yesterday let the deadline pass for withdrawal without a court order and refused to yield to demands from leading Republicans that he drop out. He appears hoping that the Republicans in the state would prefer to send a man viewed internationally as a dysfunctional moron rather than accept six more years with McCaskill. What is even more disturbing, however, is Akin’s view of his own conduct. In refusing to leave the race, Akin said that he simply mad a bad choice in using “one word in one sentence on one day.”
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Massachusetts Judge Cheryl Ann Jacques is facing a bizarre misdemeanor larceny charge for allegedly misrepresenting the features of a combination crib-and-playpen set she sold on Craigslist. Jacques, 50 sold the Graco Pack ’n Play to Tracey Christopher, 39, for $75. It sells for roughly $150 new. Christopher insisted that there were parts missing but that Jacques refused to return her money. On both this allegation and a prior ethics charge, the level of scrutiny does not appear (in my view) justified by the underlying allegations.

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Winston Dudley (shown left) has won a false arrest case where a police account was proven to be false after the review of security tapes. Officer Daniel R. Gowans wrote a report that said that Dudley was “disorderly intoxicated” and resisted arrest on Sept.18, 2010. However, the video directly contradicted Gowans account. While Dudley will receive $30,000, there is no indication that the officer will be fired for a early false report following a false arrest.

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