"The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people...that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed." -- Thomas Jefferson

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How much more are you spending on food each month compared to two or three years ago?  In recent years, our leaders have been flooding the system with money at the same time that global supplies of food have been getting tighter and tighter.  On the other side of the world, hundreds of millions of people do not have enough food to eat on a regular basis and children are literally dropping dead from starvation.  Here in the United States, nobody is dropping dead from starvation, but demand at food banks is absolutely exploding as U.S. households struggle to deal with how oppressively expensive groceries have become.  Unfortunately, things are about to get even worse.


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Authored by Daniel Kowalski via FEE.org,

The plot of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged can be briefly summed up as follows: the productive leaders and innovators of the country go on strike by disappearing from society to protest the cronyism, corruption, and oppressive taxes that have made living a virtuous life unbearable.

The nation is then on the brink of an economic collapse as the remaining politicians, intellectuals, and mediocre businessmen are only able to take from others and have no capability to create or add value. Atlas Shrugged is very popular with those whose views lean toward libertarianism, while those who lean to the left react to it like a vampire does to a crucifix, despite never even reading a page.

Concerningly, the state of California seems determined to bring Rand’s novel to life.

During the 20th century, California was the jewel of America. Beautiful weather, diverse landscapes, access to the Pacific Ocean, and other features made it the leading state of the nation. There is a saying that says “As California goes, so goes the nation” because to many Americans this seemed like the best place in the entire country to live and raise a family.

Things seem to have changed in the 21st century though. When times were good, the government of California grew and spent more money than it had. In the short term, most people ignored this problem, but as time went on the deficits grew and grew. By the year 2000, the government had run up a debt of $57 billion. Twenty-two years later that number had almost tripled to $145 billion dollars. Since California is a state and not a nation they couldn’t print money to make up for the downfall, so their only options were to either cut spending or raise taxes. They chose the latter.

For state income taxes, California has the highest rates in the entire nation. They also have a declining population, with a loss of more than half a million people since a peak population of 39.5 million in 2019—and they did not all die of Covid. The majority are people who left to live in other states that did not have oppressive taxes and draconian Covid restrictions.

While wise leaders might look at this indicator and see it as a sign that they should change course, wisdom seems to be in short supply for the political elite in this state. Rather than move towards freedom, they are instead moving to erode and attack property rights even more through the form of a wealth tax. Of course, the people proposing this are trying to sell the idea to the public by saying only the super wealthy will be on the hook for this. The rest of us in the ninety-percent will benefit thanks to the rich paying their “fair share”.

The 16th amendment was sold to the American people under this promise too, and had people back then known that income taxes would lead to the system we have today, where the majority of the people use the majority of their income to pay taxes (federal, state, local, property, sales, etc), then this proposal would have been dead on arrival. Today’s politicians are trying to use the same tricks to pass a wealth tax, but the difference between now and then is that now we should know better.

What makes California’s proposed wealth tax even more disturbing is that they wish to still collect the tax for years after a person moves out of the state, like a feudal lord persecuting a serf for moving off his land.

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It’s already being used to save lives and catch criminals in the act.

Orange County just got online, but the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has been on board for a year now.

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It’s already being used to save lives and catch criminals in the act.

Orange County just got online, but the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has been on board for a year now.

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An appeals court in Washington unanimously ruled that a Jan. 6 defendant’s sentence was improperly enhanced, a move that could impact numerous other Jan. 6 cases.

Supporters of President Trump protest at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that Larry Brock, who was convicted for a range of crimes related to Jan. 6, improperly had additional charges of “interference with the administration of justice.” The judge who wrote the court’s opinion wrote that the charge doesn’t apply to a sentencing enhancement, however, and struck it down.

Brock challenges both the district court’s interpretation of Section 1512(c)(2)’s elements and the sufficiency of the evidence to support that conviction,” wrote the judge, Patricia Millett.

The judge, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, concluded that any interference with Congress’ certification of the 2020 electoral votes isn’t tantamount to a sentencing enhancement.

“Because Section 2J1.2’s text, commentary, and context establish that the ‘administration of justice’ does not extend to Congress’s counting and certification of electoral college votes, the district court erred in applying Section 2J1.2(b)(2)’s three-level sentencing enhancement to Brock’s Section 1512(c)(2) conviction,” the judge wrote.

The judges, in siding with Mr. Brock, wrote that Congress’ function on Jan. 6 was not judicial but was only a part of the 2020 presidential election process.

Taken as a whole, the multi-step process of certifying electoral college votes—as important to our democratic system of government as it is—bears little resemblance to the traditional understanding of the administration of justice as the judicial or quasi-judicial investigation or determination of individual rights,” the panel concluded.

Law enforcement officials who were there at the Capitol on that day, they added, were “to protect the lawmakers and their process, not to investigate individuals’ rights or to enforce Congress’s certification decision.”

“After all,” the judges wrote, “law enforcement is present for security purposes for a broad variety of governmental proceedings that do not involve the ‘administration of justice’—presidential inaugurations, for example, and the pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

Now, Mr. Brock’s sentence under the statute will be vacated and will be remanded to the district court for resentencing, according to Friday’s order.

But it’s not clear whether Mr. Brock’s sentence will be reduced or whether it will apply to a number of other people who were charged with interference in the administration of justice related to the Capitol breach. However, the ruling could impact plea negotiations for future Jan. 6 defendants who are charged with the felony.

Dozens of Jan. 6 defendants have been convicted and sentenced for interference in the administration of justice, according to data provided by the Department of Justice. It may mean that their time in prison and other penalties need to be reduced.

Claire's Observations:  This whole "J6 thing", reeks of government operatives, and government set-up.

The release of the actual videos, (not the carefully edited ones, attempting to make all who supported Trump appear more than collectively ready for a nuthouse residency, ) should be seen by both the American people, and every judicial member of our court system, who has not had their conscience surgically  removed to support a political agenda.

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Russia's military may have its sights set on Ukraine's key southern port city of Odesa next. On Saturday a wave of drone and artillery strikes reportedly killed at least 11 people.

According to Ukraine government officials, "Eight were confirmed dead, including a child and a baby, after an overnight drone strike on the southern port city of Odesa." Two more bodies were said to have been found on Sunday. A direct drone strike appears to have destroyed a residential apartment block.

Port city of Odesa, via UNESCO

Zelensky in the attack aftermath said that ongoing aerial strikes like these are why Kiev urgently needs additional batteries of advanced anti-air defense systems.

"Russia continues to hit civilians," Zelensky said in a statement on social media. "We need more air defenses from our partners. We need to strengthen the Ukrainian air shield to add more protection for our people from Russian terror. More air-defense systems and more missiles for air-defense systems save lives," he said.

Claire's Observations:  And Ukraine's attacks on Russia are NOT "killing civilians"?!?

Come on, folks;  pot... kettle... black!!

This stupid, immoral and vile war, emboldened by Western opportunists who had utterly no clue about Russian capabilities, should never have gotten started; the US did a marvelous job of "scotching" any viable potential cease-fire and negotiations at its onset, and now has to live with the reality and consequences of its failure.  (DAMN:  that "hopium/changium" FAILED THE US AGAIN!!)

Sending more weapons to Ukraine, which can further penetrate Russia's airspace, will be a nasty "red line" which Putin will not tolerate. I would like to hope that some of us read some of Putin's weekend speech to Russia's General Assembly.

The whole speech was transcribed into English, as indicated here, in his remarks to the General Assembly:  http://www.en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/messages/73585, and here are some excepts which I think are critically important:

"We were not the ones who started the war in Donbass, but, as I have already said many times, we will do everything to put an end to it, eradicate Nazism and fulfill all the objectives of the special military operation, as well as defend sovereignty and ensure that our people are safe."

"The strategic nuclear forces are on full combat alert and the ability to use them is assured. We have either already accomplished or are about to accomplish all our plans in terms of weapons in keeping with what I said in my 2018 Address."

"Kinzhal, the hypersonic air-launched complex, has not only entered combat duty, but has been effective when carrying out strikes against critical targets during the special military operation. By the same token, Zircon, a ship-based hypersonic missile complex, has already served in combat. It was not even mentioned during the 2018 address, but this missile system has also entered combat duty."

"Avangard hypersonic ICBMs, as well as the Peresvet laser complexes have also entered combat duty. Burevestnik, a cruise missile with an unlimited range, is about to complete its testing stage and so is the Poseidon, an unmanned underwater vehicle. These systems have proven that they meet the highest standards and it would not be an exaggeration to say that they offer unique capabilities. Our troops also received the first serially produced Sarmat heavy ballistic missiles. Soon, we will show them to you on their combat alert duty"

"Here is a good example of their (Western) hypocrisy. They have recently made unfounded allegations, in particular, against Russia, regarding plans to deploy nuclear weapons in space. Such fake narratives, and this story is unequivocally false, are designed to involve us in negotiations on their conditions, which will only benefit the United States."

"At the same time, they have blocked our proposal which has been on the table for over 15 years. I am referring to the agreement on preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space, which we drafted back in 2008. There has been zero reaction to it. It is totally unclear what they are talking about."

"Therefore, there are reasons to suspect that the current US administration’s professed interest in discussing strategic stability with us is merely demagoguery. They simply want to show to their citizens and the world, especially in the lead-up to the presidential election that they continue to rule the world, that they would talk with the Russians when it will benefit them and that there is nothing to talk about and they will try to inflict defeat on us otherwise. Business as usual, as they say."

"But this is unacceptable, of course. Our position is clear: if you want to discuss security and stability issues that are critical for the entire planet, this must be done as a package including, of course, all aspects that have to do with our national interests and have a direct bearing on the security of our country, the security of Russia."

"We are also aware of the Western attempts to draw us into an arms race, thereby exhausting us, mirroring the strategy they successfully employed with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Let me remind you that in 1981–1988, the Soviet Union’s military spending amounted to 13 percent of GDP."

"Our current imperative is to bolster our defence industry in such a way as to increase our country’s scientific, technological and industrial capabilities. We must allocate resources as judiciously as possible, fostering an efficient economy for the Armed Forces, and maximising the return on each ruble of our defence spending. It is crucial for us to expedite the resolution of social, demographic, infrastructural and other problems we face while simultaneously advancing the quality of equipment for the Russian Army and Navy."

So can anyone tell me, please,  with all the billions the US has spent on "defense", why are we still "behind the 8 ball"  relative to Russia and China's defense industries?!? The weapons Putin talks about in this speech, are real, and one of the most interesting (terrifying) things about them, is that they are maneuverable in flight.  

Please understand:  I hate war.  To me, the act of war demonstrates  a catastrophic failure of imagination. Preventing wars takes hard-fought, hard-won moral negotiations on both sides.

But having said this, if we are going to be at war with Russia (or China) why aren't our weapons systems better than those Putin described in this speech?!?  

Somehow, our DOD, and the manufacturers which service them, have been "asleep at the wheel" for far too long, and the time has come for a thoughtful, radical change here, taking into account the weapons Russia and China have, which the US government and military do not.  

 I am profoundly baffled as to why the weapons Putin described, have not been put into service far before the Russians have by the US's DOD.

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Remember when, in the immediate aftermath of the Ukraine war, Russian oil immediately traded down to a discount of as much as 30% below spot Brent as the entire western world suddenly found itself locked out of access to the most valuable Russian export (which also meant that China and India were the only natural buyers left) and the price of Russian oil had to reflect the explicit plunge in demand?

Well, that's no longer the case because in the two years since the start of the Ukraine conflict, it became apparent that Western sanctions were merely a theatrical publicity stunt as the alternative - strict enforcement - would have sent oil prices soaring and that would be unacceptable to a Biden administration terrified of losing the November elections if and when oil and gasoline prices surges.

And as fear of enforcement became a non-issue over time, so did the discount of Russian oil to Brent, which brings us to today, and Goldman's "chart of the week" which illustrates the collapse in the discount on Russian crude oil close to zero relative to Brent, according to the bank's estimates using the most recent customs data for December.

According to Goldman, which estimates the effective price of Russian crude paid by its trade partners using detailed customs data on import volumes and import payments for Russia crude, this drop in the price discount was primarily driven by the countries outside of the G7 coalition.

However, the discount has also narrowed for most of the buyers as Russian fleets were becoming more capable of operating under the G7 price cap.

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As we reported earlier, the US made its first successful aid airdrops over Gaza on Saturday, at a moment the White House is seeking to stave off further humanitarian disaster in the Strip as the war presses on.

Local footage has begun emerging, captured by Palestinians scrambling to access the aid. Like Jordan before, the US C-130s flew low and dropped the aid crates over and near the beach. Hundreds if not thousands of people could be seen clamoring to open the crates.

Pentagon officials have said that such air drops can be risky in terms of the safety of people on the ground, hence a beach is 'open air' enough for an optimally safe delivery.

Israel's military over the weekend issued a video saying it had authorized the US airdrops and coordinated with the Pentagon.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israel is working with international partners "to enable the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza."

View from inside C-130 of Saturday's airdrop. US Air Force via Reuters

"We encourage all efforts, all of them to help alleviate the suffering of civilians in Gaza," he said also of airdrops by the Royal Jordanian Air Force, which has conducted at least 16 drops since the Gaza war began.

Meanwhile, there are emerging reports Sunday saying that children in some local hospitals have begun to die of malnutrition. "The number of children who have died of dehydration and malnutrition in northern Gaza has risen to 15, a Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman there said Sunday," CNN reports

Claire's Observations:  This number of kids, dead from starvation, is probably very conservative, compared to the number of kids who actually have died, or are dying, from starvation in Gaza.

But hey, starvation and illness are dandy ways to kill Gazans, and the IDF doesn't  need to use those pesky, US continually-supplied bombs and bullets to do so!!!

And about a potential, viable cease-fire?!?  As a much loved TV character used to say frequently, "Fuggetaboutit!!"   

Netanyahu will refuse it, because he can: the "fix is in" with Egypt, which is being given a two billion dollar massive loan/(bribe) by the IMF to establish tent cities in the Sinai for those Palestinians left breathing, to become their  "permanent home". 

Because of a recent population boom there, primarily among its poorest citizens, Egypt's poverty rate is estimated at roughly 27%, by various private agencies, including the World Bank.

How in the name of heaven Egypt is going to take care of their own people, let alone, their "Gazan Guests", is anyone's guess, particularly when most of the IMF money will most likely be "siphoned off"  by President El-Sisi and his minions.

But hey, Egyptian state accounting people will make the spending of this money look great, and as though that money is actually getting to the people who desperately need it..... on paper.  

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Yesterday, we detailed the leak of a wiretapped telephone conversation in which senior German officers discuss the use of German Taurus missiles, training, the capabilities of this system and the possibility of destroying the Crimean bridge.

Image removed.

They revealed many interesting facts. Embarrassing for the Germans, who have now launched an investigation...

As The FT reports, German chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised a full investigation after Russia published a recording of a phone call between senior German air force officers in which they appeared to discuss supplying missiles to Ukraine.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, Scholz described the incident as a “very serious affair”.

“It will be investigated very carefully, intensively and quickly,” he said.

“It is also necessary to do so.”

Politicians from parties in Scholz’s coalition expressed concern that Russia may have eavesdropped on other sensitive conversations, and that government communications may no longer be adequately protected.

The German defence ministry said:

“According to our assessment, a Luftwaffe conversation was tapped. We cannot say for sure whether changes were made to the recorded or transcribed version that is circulating on social media.”

Konstantin von Notz, a senior Green MP, said it must be swiftly established if the “eavesdropping scandal is a one-time event or a structural problem”.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the Bundestag defence committee, told the news agency RND that the Russians were trying to scare Scholz off from allowing the delivery of Taurus missiles.

But the cat is out of the bag.

Adding more color to what we already know, Peter Hanseler breaks down, via Voice From Russia, the full content of the leaked call and shows how the NATO states are already knee-deep in the Ukraine conflict as active warring parties.

Claire's Observations:  And Germany's ( and NATO'S) intel community, never saw this coming?!?

I am having a double face-palm, at velocity, upon reading this.

For Russia, there is no such thing as a "Frenemy"; I would have thought that the German and NATO elite in leadership, would have understood this a long time ago.

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On Sunday night, Congressional negotiators revealed a bill which will fund key parts of the government through the rest of the fiscal year which began in October.

The 1,050-page legislation sets a discretionary spending level of $1.66 trillion for FY24, which comes just days after lawmakers passed the fourth stopgap measure since Oct. 1 to keep the government funded a bit longer.

According to Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer's office, the bill "maintains the aggressive investments Democrats secured for American families, American workers, and America’s national defense."

House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement that "House Republicans secured key conservative policy victories, rejected left-wing proposals, and imposed sharp cuts to agencies and programs critical to the President Biden’s agenda."

But what neither of them mention is that the bill also nukes the entire Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve - which, at roughly 1 million barrels, is too small to matter on a national scale - but which could serve as a critical cache of energy in the event of another major disaster.

Claire's Observations;  Apparently, to become "vetted" as a Congressional Representative  on either side of the aisle, one must demonstrate a pathological and critical inability to think something through to its logical conclusion; this is a perfect case in point.

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Something is going on.

Saturday Night Live last night did a cold open attacking Joe Biden’s age. It wasn’t funny, but it was pretty brutal.

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Well, that escalated quickly.

I guess we’re just going to cancel the utopia?

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This year's Christmas presents could be sorted: scientists have invented a DVD-sized disc that can store millions of hours of video, enough for all your favorite movies and TV shows—and much more besides.

Current DVDs only have a storage capacity of about 4.5 GB, which can contain about 2 hours of video footage.

Now, however, researchers from China have developed a new type of disc that can hold up to a petabyte of data, the equivalent of more than 220,000 regular DVD discs, according to a new paper in the journal Nature.

The development could be great news for lovers of physical media—as just one of these "super-DVD"s could contain up to a million movies.

The new disc may be dangerous, however, as it could make it much too easy to binge-watch every episode of Gossip Girl for the fifth time.

Webmaster addition:  Sure will make backups easier for large amounts of data!

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In a huge development and absolute smoking gun revelation, the government of Germany has confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio recording file published by Russia's state-backed RT. The leak was first published by RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan, who described that she received it from Russian security officials.

It first appeared under the headline "Alleged audio of German officers discussing Crimean Bridge attack leaked" - as it featured top ranking Germany military officials in a private discussion of "a potential German operation to bomb the Crimean Bridge in Russia," as it was initially described by RT. Russian media is now openly admitting that the call was in fact intercepted by Russia. Moscow is now saying this shows "direct" German involvement in the war.

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The entire Maricopa County, Ariz., Board of Supervisors was driven out of a recent meeting by a cohort of We the People who served them for treason.

Michelle "Miki" Klann, who spoke directly to the board, reported that every last scoundrel on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors fled the room and "vacated their post" after citizens stormed the room and informed them about their personal liability in the 2020 election heist they oversaw.

(Fact check: A forensic audit found that Arizona's 2020 election results are based on systemic fraud, meaning Biden did not win in that state.)

"My name is Michelle Klann, and I'm here today to put you on public notice and to inform you that you are not our elected officials," Klann said to the board.

"None of you have ever signed an oath to the Republic of Arizona. Instead, you have signed an oath of office to a foreign corporation which means this is an act of insurrection."

Klann would continue by informing the board members that they do not have a proper bond carrying surety for their actions with regard to We the People.

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A proposed change to existing Kentucky law seeks to charge parents of transgender children with neglect and potentially remove children from their homes if they do not use restrooms that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The language of the bill itself doesn’t mention transgender children at all, but rather references the state code that currently exists regarding restrictions on restroom and locker room use in schools. For individuals who are not familiar with that state code, which is referred to as Senate Bill 150 and passed into law in March of last year, the changes would be easy to miss.

Legislative tracker and transgender activist Allison Chapman appears to be the first to have noticed the proposed changes to state law, posting about it on social media on Tuesday night.

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One of the basic rules of war is that you always keep two fronts going simultaneously. The first is the obvious battlefield. However, the second is communication. Suppose you DO NOT keep communication open through the back channels. In that case, there is NEVER the possibility of PEACE, and the war then becomes concluded only when one side is obliterated. This is what has taken place, and the demonizing of Putin is HIGHLY dangerous, for it shows there is no intention of peace. You cannot keep calling someone a piece of shit publicly and then expect the people to accept a reversal of that policy.

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The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza announced that the death toll of the Israeli aggression on Gaza has risen to 30,228 martyrs and 71,377 injuries since the seventh of last October.

The Ministry confirmed in a press statement on Friday that the Israeli occupation army committed 16 massacres against families in the Gaza Strip, claiming the lives of 193 people and injuring 920 others during the past 24 hours.

The Ministry pointed out that there are victims still under the rubble and on the roads, as Israeli occupation forces have been banning ambulance and civil defense crews from reaching them.

For 147 days in a row, the Israeli occupation army has been waging a genocidal war against civilians, mostly women and children in the beleaguered Gaza Strip, with US and European support.

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Well, it looks like the band’s back together. The CIA and the New York Times have teamed up yet again to pull a fast one on the American people. Sadly, this shouldn’t surprise anybody. After all, the CIA and the New York Times have been working together to gaslight the American people on a whole host of issues, including the infamous and debunked “Russia hoax.”

There’s a common misconception that the CIA’s job is to protect the US from foreign dangers. That’s a cute idea, but it’s not true. Obviously, the CIA has morphed into a law unto itself, and having a federal agency that operates outside of Congressional oversight cannot be allowed in the United States. Now, we’re learning that the CIA has been sharing top-secret intel with select journalists as part of a PR battle against GOP members in Congress pushing to cut back on Ukraine war funding. It’s like the CIA has gone full throttle against Republican lawmakers, once again proving US intelligence is weaponized and being used against anybody who dissents from the regime’s approved policies.

According to Mike Benz, this is the key paragraph from the New York Times CIA Ukraine piece that reveals, explicitly, why the CIA hand-selected the NYT to publish highly classified intelligence and invited hand-selected NYT journalists onto a secret CIA base: It was to pressure Republicans in Congress to keep funding Ukraine.

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