Friday, July 31, 2009

OFF With Their Our PANTS

Canadian Protesters to Moon US Spy Balloon

Woo Hoo! This one's a gem. From Raw Story:
A Canadian man is planning what local press called a "moon mission" in protest of a U.S. spy balloon being tested for the Department of Homeland Security. In other words, when the balloon flies, he and other Canadians (he hopes) will give its operators a glimpse at how they feel about the aerial spying.

The Vancouver Sun kept score:

A Sarnia resident is organizing a protest to express his displeasure over a balloon equipped with a surveillance camera that was hoisted last week just across the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Mich., with its eyes set on the border.

Eli Martin said Thursday he hopes protesters at "moon the balloon" will simultaneously drop their trousers to send a signal that Sarnia "doesn't like being watched."

The 15-metre long balloon has a high-tech camera capable of identifying the name on a ship 12-15 kilometres out in Lake Huron, according to the American company operating it. The Sierra Nevada Corp., is testing the technology that could eventually be used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, according to the report, called it the "Port Huron Hindenburg" and demanded the Canadian prime minister stand up for citizens' privacy.
Let's hope there are lots of sunny days in Sarnia so that the patriotic residents there don't catch a chill when they drop trou for freedom. And even though I see a contradiction in someone exposing themselves over the issue of privacy, I say go for it boys and girls. You're all inducted into the Unruly Mob as far as I'm concerned.

Ella Fitzgerald: "Blue Moon"

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beyond Race: On "Contempt of Cop" Regarding The Crowley/Gates Affair

In my opinion, there was undoubtedly some racial profiling going on in the Crowley/Gates affair. I'll leave the racial component to others, as what I wish to draw out are some underlying points as regards the relationship between all of us citizens, our rights and the police.

First, bmaz articulates the basis of the legal argument better than I can:
Instead, the officer seems to have become angered and bellegerent [sic] that Gates would be so forward as to demand his identification. At this point, little old Professor Gates, who walks with a cane, was in what is known in the criminal justice field as "contempt of cop".

The salient problem for the Cambridge Police Department is contempt of cop is simply not a crime, even if profanity is directed at the officer, a situation escalator not even present in Gates' case. In fact, there is a case I have argued with success many times, Duran v. City of Douglas, 904 F.2d 1372 (9th Cir. 1990) which, in an opinion written by now 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kosinski, provides:

Duran's conduct is not totally irrelevant, however, as it suggests a possible motive for his detention, one upon which law enforcement officers may not legitimately rely. The Durans contend, and the district court held, that Aguilar stopped their car at least partly in retaliation for the insult he received from Duran. If true, this would constitute a serious First Amendment violation. "[T]he First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers." Hill, 482 U.S. at 461, 107 S.Ct. at 2509. The freedom of individuals to oppose or challenge police action verbally without thereby risking arrest is one important characteristic by which we distinguish ourselves from a police state. Id. at 462-63, 107 S.Ct. at 2510. Thus, while police, no less than anyone else, may resent having obscene words and gestures directed at them, they may not exercise the awesome power at their disposal to punish individuals for conduct that is not merely lawful, but protected by the First Amendment.
No less well established is the principle that government officials in general, and police officers in particular, may not exercise their authority for personal motives, particularly in response to real or perceived slights to their dignity. Surely anyone who takes an oath of office knows--or should know--that much. See Hill, 482 U.S. at 462, 107 S.Ct. at 2510. Whether or not officer Aguilar was aware of the fine points of First Amendment law, to the extent he is found to have detained Duran as punishment for the latter's insults, we hold that he ought to have known that he was exercising his authority in violation of well-established constitutional rights.

Sounds pretty much on point doesn't it? It is. The City of Cambridge, Sergeant Crowley, and the other individual officers actively participating in the wrongful arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates are in a world of hurt legally. They may want to rethink the company line of no official apology.

Pretty much lays out the legal side, no? So let's move on to the society and relationship pieces, which are woven together by who else, the traditional media.

While most of the chattering class is interested in beer today, there were a few "poker tells" thrown in about the underlying issue; Do What Cops Say Or Else. From the years ago, formerly vaunted, but now pretty much noise machine NPR today there was anthe following article on All Things Considered.

Doing the usual, mush-mouthed, split-the-baby vis-a-vis Colbert "Bad Stenographers" type of reporting Tovia Smith offered this:

Adams is calling for a federal investigation into whether local police make unjustifiable or illegal arrests.

"We're going to have to compel them to examine what needs to be done. And to look at [whether they are] misusing the disorderly conduct statute to teach people a lesson who talk back to police officers," Adams says.

To others, Gates' arrest shows that the public needs educating as much as the police do.

"That learning curve should be on both sides," says Dr. Joe Thomas Jr., police chief in Southfield, Mich. He says citizens need to know not to cross the line with police. It's not so much about protecting police egos as it is about public safety.

"There's a certain amount of respect. There are certain things you don't say to ministers; there are certain things you shouldn't say to your mom, your dad, or the clergy," Thomas says. "It's how you talk to people that got responsibility and authority for controlling people, because if you disrespect them, you take away that authority and it hurts everybody." [emphasis added]

You can listen to the audio here, and you tell me if Joe Thomas' tone of voice is irrelevant.

This was not Joe Thomas' only appearance on a PBS network about this issue. He was also on Newshour, in a segment with Ray Suaresz and Professor Antwi Akom:

JOSEPH THOMAS, JR., Chief, Southfield Police Department: I think that there are some studies out there that this does happen in some areas, in some communities, but let`s not get too far away from this incident, because this is what we`re talking about. This is why we`re here. If not, we`re talking about a larger study.

This incident, as a law enforcement executive, when I saw this, first thing that went through my mind is a lack of training. That incident that occurred to that professor could and should have been handled differently.

Now, that does not mean that this officer did something that was against the law. I`m not going to go that far, because I don`t know the totality of the circumstances.

But I do know, from my personal standpoint, my law enforcement career standpoint, based upon my working with students and colleges and university settings, and I also own my own consulting company, G.I. Consulting (ph), that case or that incident should have been handled differently.

There`s no doubt about it; there`s a lack of training there.

RAY SUAREZ: So, Chief, just so I understand you, you`re saying by definition, if a mistaken call of a crime in progress occurs and it`s understood by both parties in an encounter that there is not a crime in progress, if somebody ends up getting arrested and led away in handcuffs, this wasn`t handled properly?

JOSEPH THOMAS, JR.: It could have been handled differently. I don`t use the word improperly. With the proper training, it could have been handled differently.

This is why I made the statement in the copy of today`s USA Today that, when you began to react and interact with a police officer in a negative manner, then the humanistic sides take place and you can -- sometimes I talk to my people of color about police demeanor and police training.

And you can talk your way into a ticket. I`ve seen people talk their way in jail by saying things to antagonize the police on the scene. And that could have been what happened here.

So we`ve got to be extremely careful and look at this case by itself, and then we voice our opinion. If not, we`re going to start talking about what happened in the `50s, the `40s, the `30s and `60s, and you won`t solve this problem.

I`ve seen a lot of cases, cases throughout this country, where we saw emotions and we saw personal frame of reference and we don`t solve the problem. If we don`t look at this from a training standpoint and take a look at what those officers are being taught in the academy and their enrichment training and what they`re taught to do, this incident will reoccur, if you don`t change the policy and training, rituals, beliefs and values of people that are in the law enforcement industry. That`s what I`m saying about this incident.

RAY SUAREZ: Let me turn to Professor Akom at this point. Professor Akom, does a black man have to handle an encounter with the police different from any other American?

ANTWI AKOM, San Francisco State University: No, I think that we should all be handling encounters with the police by following exactly what the police say. At the same time, I think that racial profiling is a rampant problem and that we need to very much be focused on making sure that racial profiling -- i.e., the criminal suspicion of people based on race -- there`s a psychological impact that I think that we need to be concerned about and that that this is actually broader than a law enforcement problem.

This is actually a problem that is also a public health problem. But in terms of reaction, I think that, yes, black Americans are no different than any other American, and we need to respond in the same way.
And voila! Yes, I said this post was beyond race, but behold; PBS put on two men of color who said basically "Do What The Police Say - Don't Get Uppity." Because the big message here was to anybody who would watch or listen to either of these PBS articles, much less any other trad med that might have pushed into this confrontation piece; Don't Any Citizens Talk Back To Authority. Have Respect Or Else You Get What You Deserve.

What is particularly bothering me, is that living in Denver, I have very recent memories of the Police State occupying town last year.

Nonetheless, I say:

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Real Public Option?

We still have a long way to go, but Congress looks like they have no problem handing the president a piece of trash and call it heal care reform.

If they do Mr. President, you have to throw that bill away.

You put a couple of big tin garbage cans out on the White House lawn. Take the garbage legislation Congress is about to give you, and drop it in there. Then tell the country that between now and November 2010, you'll be campaigning for members of and candidates for Congress that will pass a public option or single payer health care reform. Starting with Max Baucus, you show up in the districts and states of every Democrat and Republican that would not allow Americans the right of health insurance. We would rather wait two MORE years than allow the lobbyists to pass a "bi-partisan" piece of turd that does nothing but make this country even more unhealthy and even more economically unjust.

And if that doesn't work, roll out the trash can again and try to pass proper reform in 2012 and keep on pushing until it gets done right.

UPDATE: Ezra Klein has an opposing view.

UPDATE 2: Jane Hamsher says that Ohio's Sherrod Brown and the progressives in the Senate will not give up on the public option so easily.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Mission Accomplished

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal,
before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon
and returning him safely to the Earth.

-- John F. Kennedy, May 25, 1961 --"

I didn't want to give short shrift to this, technically the most difficult task of this or any moon mission, and the one that really meant the most to the astronauts and their families. The splashdown occurred at 16:50:35 UTC on July 24, 1969 @ 13°19′N 169°9′W.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apollo 11 and the Triumph of Liberalism

The Launch: July 16, 1969, 8:32 AM EDT

Some memories will always be with you, and for anyone who is "of an age" Apollo 11 has just GOT to be one of those memories. One thing that always bugged me about it though; Inspired by a speech given by John F. Kennedy and financed through the Lyndon Johnson administration, America's space program was as liberal as anything in America's history; tax and spend on a scale as massive as the Saturn V rocket itself. But it would be hard to argue that that spending didn't benefit US businesses, who responded with innovations as widespread as the microchip and Velcro™. Still, it's not Kennedy's signature or LBJ's that graces the commemorative plaque at Tranquility Base that will mark the event uncorroded for centuries, even millenia. No, it's Richard Nixon's. Nixon also took advantage of the event for his own political ends by staging a live telephone call to the moon which was broadcast live on all networks at the time -- this in spite of his government having slashed funding for space exploration and the Apollo program in particular. So yes, the Nixon plaque sticks in my craw.

Those Nixon cut-backs were done in such a ham-fisted manner that three flights already scheduled were cancelled. The Saturn booster rockets already built had to be abandoned. Today all three are on display in various locations. "One is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas while another is at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A third Saturn V is on display at the United States Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville near the Marshall Space Flight Center." How ignominious that these machines destined to put Apollos 18, 19 and 20 on the moon ended up as giant rusting hulks where generations of birds now nest! How shameful for America that the reason that those flights were cancelled was so that Nixon could expand the bloody and useless Vietnam War and make secret incursions into Cambodia.

I didn't watch either the launch, nor the landing, nor the first moonwalk live on TV - my family was at the cottage that week. I listened live on the radio. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the DJ who spun the first platter of music after the news bulletin chose this song, the #2 hit of 1969:

CCR: Bad Moon Rising
There's another Nixon connection here.
[writer John] Fogerty claims it was written on the day Richard Nixon was elected to power in the States, and it reflects the sense of unease in the air and the portents of what was to follow.”
Triumph of liberalism? Maybe not, but for one glorious shining moment we showed what Big Government can do.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Call It "Medicare for Everyone" And Just Get Over It Already

If you take this whole health care legislation thing seriously these days like I do, you should take 35 minutes and watch this piece from Bill Moyers.

BILL MOYERS: So why are you speaking out now?

WENDELL POTTER: I didn't intend to, until it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they've used over the years, and particularly back in the early '90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan.

BILL MOYERS: But during this 15 years you were there, did you go to them and say, "You know, I think we're on the wrong side. I think we're fighting the wrong people here."

WENDELL POTTER: You know, I didn't, because for most of the time I was there, I felt that what we were doing was the right thing. And that I was playing on a team that was honorable. I just didn't really get it all that much until toward the end of my tenure at Cigna.

BILL MOYERS: What did you see?

WENDELL POTTER: Well, I was beginning to question what I was doing as the industry shifted from selling primarily managed care plans, to what they refer to as consumer-driven plans. And they're really plans that have very high deductibles, meaning that they're shifting a lot of the cost off health care from employers and insurers, insurance companies, to individuals. And a lot of people can't even afford to make their co-payments when they go get care, as a result of this. But it really took a trip back home to Tennessee for me to see exactly what is happening to so many Americans. I--

BILL MOYERS: When was this?

WENDELL POTTER: This was in July of 2007.

BILL MOYERS: You were still working for Cigna?

WENDELL POTTER: I was. I went home, to visit relatives. And I picked up the local newspaper and I saw that a health care expedition was being held a few miles up the road, in Wise, Virginia. And I was intrigued.

BILL MOYERS: So you drove there?

WENDELL POTTER: I did. I borrowed my dad's car and drove up 50 miles up the road to Wise, Virginia. It was being held at a Wise County Fairground. I took my camera. I took some pictures. It was a very cloudy, misty day, it was raining that day, and I walked through the fairground gates. And I didn't know what to expect. I just assumed that it would be, you know, like a health-- booths set up and people just getting their blood pressure checked and things like that.

But what I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they'd erected tents, to care for people. I mean, there was no privacy. In some cases-- and I've got some pictures of people being treated on gurneys, on rain-soaked pavement.

And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care. People drove from South Carolina and Georgia and Kentucky, Tennessee-- all over the region, because they knew that this was being done. A lot of them heard about it from word of mouth.

There could have been people and probably were people that I had grown up with. They could have been people who grew up at the house down the road, in the house down the road from me. And that made it real to me.

BILL MOYERS: What did you think?

WENDELL POTTER: It was absolutely stunning. It was like being hit by lightning. It was almost-- what country am I in? I just it just didn't seem to be a possibility that I was in the United States. It was like a lightning bolt had hit me.

BILL MOYERS: People are going to say, "How can Wendell Potter sit here and say he was just finding out that there were a lot of Americans who didn't have adequate insurance and needed health care? He'd been in the industry for over 15 years."

WENDELL POTTER: And that was my problem. I had been in the industry and I'd risen up in the ranks. And I had a great job. And I had a terrific office in a high-rise building in Philadelphia. I was insulated. I didn't really see what was going on. I saw the data. I knew that 47 million people were uninsured, but I didn't put faces with that number.

Just a few weeks later though, I was back in Philadelphia and I would often fly on a corporate aircraft to go to meetings.

And I just thought that was a great way to travel. It is a great way to travel. You're sitting in a luxurious corporate jet, leather seats, very spacious. And I was served my lunch by a flight attendant who brought my lunch on a gold-rimmed plate. And she handed me gold-plated silverware to eat it with. And then I remembered the people that I had seen in Wise County. Undoubtedly, they had no idea that this went on, at the corporate levels of health insurance companies.

BILL MOYERS: But you had, all these years, seen premiums rising. People purged from the rolls, people who couldn't afford the health care that Cigna and other companies were offering. This is the first time you came face to face with it?

WENDELL POTTER: Yeah, it was. You know, certainly, I knew people, and I talked to people who were uninsured. But when you're in the executive offices, when you're getting prepared for a call with an analyst, in the financial medium, what you think about are the numbers. You don't think about individual people. You think about the numbers, and whether or not you're going to meet Wall Street's expectations. That's what you think about, at that level. And it helps to think that way. That's why you-- that enables you to stay there, if you don't really think that you're talking about and dealing with real human beings.

BILL MOYERS: Did you go back to corporate headquarters and tell them what you had seen?

WENDELL POTTER: I went back to corporate headquarters. I was trying to process all this, and trying to figure out what I should do. I did tell many of them about the experience I had. And the trip. I showed them some pictures I took while I was down there. But I didn't know exactly what I should do.

You know, I had bills of my own. And it was hard to just figure out. How do I step away from this? What do I do? And this was one of those things that made me decide, "Okay, I can't do this. I can't keep-- I can't." One of the books I read as I was trying to make up my mind here was President Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage."

And in the forward, Robert Kennedy said that one of the president's, one of his favorite quotes was a Dante quote that, "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain a neutrality." And when I read that, I said, "Oh, jeez, I-- you know. I'm headed for that hottest place in hell, unless I say something."

BILL MOYERS: Your own resume says, and I'm quoting. "With the chief medical officer and his staff, Potter developed rapid response mechanisms for handling media inquiries pertaining to complaints." Direct quote. "This was highly successful in keeping most such inquiries from becoming news stories, at a time when managed care horror stories abounded." I mean, you knew there were horror stories out there.


BILL MOYERS: You put these techniques to work, representing Cigna doing the Nataline Sarkisyan case, right?

WENDELL POTTER: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: And that was a public relations nightmare, you called it. Right?

WENDELL POTTER: It was. It was just the most difficult. We call them high profile cases, when you have a case like that — a family or a patient goes to the news media and complains about having some coverage denied that a doctor had recommended. In this case, Nataline Sarkisyan's doctors at UCLA had recommended that she have a liver transplant. But when the coverage request was reviewed at Cigna, the decision was made to deny it.

It was around that time, also, that the family had gone to the media, had sought out help from the California Nurses Association and some others to really bring pressure to bear on Cigna. And they were very successful in getting a lot of media attention, and nothing like I had ever seen before.

[PROTESTERS: Shame on Cigna! Shame on Cigna!]

WENDELL POTTER: It got everyone's attention. Everyone was focused on that in the corporate offices.

BILL MOYERS: You were also involved in the campaign by the industry to discredit Michael Moore and his film "Sicko" in 2007. In that film Moore went to several countries around the world, and reported that their health care system was better than our health care system, in particular, Canada and England. Take a look at this.


MICHAEL MOORE: Even with insurance, there's bound to be a bill somewhere. So where's the billing department?

BRITISH WOMAN #1: There isn't really a billing department.

BRITISH WOMAN #2: There's no such thing as a billing department.

MICHAEL MOORE: What did they charge you for that baby?


MICHAEL MOORE: You've got to pay before you can get out of here, right?


BRITISH MAN #1: No, no, no. Everything's on NHS.


BRITISH MAN #1: You know, it's not America.

BILL MOYERS: So what did you think when you saw that film?

WENDELL POTTER: I thought that he hit the nail on the head with his movie. But the industry, from the moment that the industry learned that Michael Moore was taking on the health care industry, it was really concerned.

BILL MOYERS: What were they afraid of?

WENDELL POTTER: They were afraid that people would believe Michael Moore.

BILL MOYERS: We obtained a copy of the game plan that was adopted by the industry's trade association, AHIP. And it spells out the industry strategies in gold letters. It says, "Highlight horror stories of government-run systems." What was that about?

WENDELL POTTER: The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern.

So let's do this:

Call it "Medicare for Everyone", which every American will understand instantly and not connect it with some dumb fuck idea of socialism, and let the HealthCareProvider CEOs pee their fucking pants.

Interview, Part One

Interview, Part Two

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Happy 4th of July (Bumped)

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing,
and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

-- Thomas Jefferson --

Cans 1,358
Cash $1,965
I'll have some comments and links tomorrow.

Don't forget that the push is on to get some numbers up for the Million Can March today, and show the wingnuts that real grass roots beats Astroturf™ any day.

Mention your donations on the thread below so that RevPhat can total them up.

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Blast from the past; last June that is...

From Last June, PRIOR to the FISA vote by Obama.

Let's just have a look:

Pitchfork? Check.
Torch? Check.
Unruly attitude? Check.

OK let's go:

In all the noise and fury of the last primary run, and Scott McClellan's book last week, there's a unruly gem in them thar hills:
"David Sirota is a clear-headed and principled hell-raiser for economic justice. More like him and we'll have a real uprising on our hands. "
—Naomi Klein, author of "No Logo" and "The Shock Doctrine"
Do I have your attention, Mob? Good, I thought so.

I saw this on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" show last night. I am a latecomer to David Sirota. He has been blogging on which is a major Colorado progressive blog, (credentialed to the DNC by the way) and I always thought he was interesting, but I had never dug fiercely into him before. Last night's show had me absolutely riveted.

You can watch the whole show here, but I have excerpted a couple of points:

His observations about Obama, the political process this cycle being the "starting point, not the end point" and further observations about "direct action" making Wall Street and K Street "scared" are just music to my ears. Literally.

Just listen to what he says about the Iraq War. We've been saying it for the longest time!

AMY GOODMAN: David Sirota, you talk about conflicts of interest within the antiwar movement: the antiwar movement, which enjoys widespread support, and the politicians who ally themselves with pro-war consultants.

DAVID SIROTA: Right. What happened, in the chapter that I reported on the antiwar movement, is back in 2007, what we found is that you just had an election where the Democrats were elected promising to end the war, and what ended up happening was that the same Democratic Congress refused to really do what it takes to actually end the war. And part of that was, I think, a strategic decision on behalf of the antiwar organizations in Washington about how they said we could end the war. You had consultants who were simultaneously being paid by the Democratic Party and Democratic Party politicians.


DAVID SIROTA: You had Hildebrand Tewes. You had consulting firms. They were the lead consulting firm. And I don’t mean to pick on them. It’s just that they were the consulting firm that was heading up the major coalition in Washington of antiwar groups. And so, the strategy that came out of those antiwar groups was we have to simply bash the Republicans to end the war, when in fact, of course, Congress was controlled entirely by Democrats. Last I checked, Democrats have forty-one senators in the US Senate, if they wanted to filibuster a bill to continue funding the war [sic-they could]. They haven’t done that. Yet the strategy kept saying, well, we have to only focus the ads, the media buys and the pressure on Republicans. It was sort of a dishonest strategy, and I think it had something to do with the fact that you have organizations in Washington that put partisan affinity over movement goals. [emphasis mine]

He is totally speaking our Unruly Language, I do believe. The part about sneaking into the Exxon Shareholder meeting is GREAT!

Watch the whole show, (Sirota's interview starts at 30 minutes into the stream) and buy the book. I have never EVER said buy something before on this blog, but I'm telling you I am buying it, and from what I saw of the interview, Sirota's insights into the whole political process and "direct action" really speak to what we as the Unruly Mob hold dear.

Pitchfork? Check.
Torch? Check.
Unruly attitude? Check.

OK let's go!
Are we really anywhere different than this point from last June? I say "No, we're not." Do you?

Observe with scrutiny from 2:00 in the video. [Observe with a harsh eye, and you tell me that it hasn't worked out better for the corporations than for you or me.] Up until 2:45.

There was simply no choice last summer/fall. There is no way I or anyone I know or trust would have voted McCain/Palin.

But what do we do now?

Personally, I don't care to punt.

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