Tuesday, 23 March 2010

ABOUT THAT RECOVERY.....

Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from an Asssociated Press article:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of existing homes fell for a third straight month in February, pushing sales down to the lowest level since last July. There is concern the fragile housing rebound is faltering, making it harder for the overall economy to recover.

 

The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales of previously occupied homes dropped 0.6 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.02 million.

 

The weakness in sales depressed prices with the median home price dropping almost 2 percent from a year ago to $165,100.

 

Sales activity varied across the country. In the Midwest, sales jumped almost 3 percent, and were up more than 2 percent in the Northeast. In the South, sales fell about 1 percent, and were down almost 5 percent in the West.

The economy has gone to hell in a handbasket.  We've lost about 4 million jobs since the almost-trillion dollar "stimulus package" was enacted over a year ago.  Housing is down the crapper.  And, according to Moody's, the USA may even lose its AAA rating.

But we just passed a multi-trillion dollar unfunded mandate, didn't we.

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough. 

And that goes double for 2012.

Zeke .... ..... Housing Prices ? Well, Supply and Demand hasn't been repealed. .... .... .... Demand depends on the ability to pay a mortgage, and maybe meet the down payment. .... .... Those are two very tough requirements, if you don't have a job .... .... or have a job that you can't depend on being there in 4 months. .... .... ... There is a huge overhang of people hanging on to their houses by their fingernails -- can't afford to sell (below sea level ... the mortgage is more than the current market price) ..... ... can't buy a house because they have to sell their present one .... .... housing prices are going down, and the unsold inventory continues to rise .... .... .... .... Manufacturing Handbaskets seems like a Growth Industry. (03/24/10)


AS THE US, AND UN, CONDEMN ISRAEL FOR BUILDING RESIDENTIAL HOUSING......

Ken Berwitz

This clear demonstration of the double standard used against Israel comes to us from www.palwatch.org:

UNICEF supports Palestinian hate ad
A UNICEF-supported program's advertisement
features a giant ax splitting the Star of David

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
 

Donor organizations to the Palestinian Authority have been challenged for years to prevent their well-intentioned contributions from being directed towards hate promotion by the PA, its institutions and its NGOs.

This advertisement is another example of the misuse of UN funding. An ad by a Palestinian youth organization, PYALARA, which is funded by UNICEF, shows an axe destroying a Star of David. The UNICEF logo is right on the ad. The large Star of David that has been destroyed has on it pictures of stars and stripes, presumably representing the USA, and an additional smaller Star of David.



The organization PYALARA (Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation) has been funded by UNICEF since the year 2000: "PYALARA has been chosen by UNICEF as a major strategic partner in Palestine." [PYALARA website]

On the axe that destroys the Star of David is the word: "Boycott!" in the imperative tense. Youth are invited to watch the PA TV program calling for a boycott of Israel. In the program the host acknowledges that they are aware that the boycott is illegal but they have chosen to ignore this:


"We know that the Palestinian Authority is tied to a number of agreements that prohibit it from completely boycotting Israel... we call upon all the youth, to all the residents, to all businesses and stores, to completely boycott the Israeli goods in their stores."
The program started as follows: "The program Speak Up has decided to dedicate this program to a theme which is a national obligation upon each of us - the topic of boycotting Israel in all ways."

[PA TV March 21, 2010]
 

The ad reads that the weekly youth program Speak Up is "produced in cooperation with PBC (PA TV) with the support of UNICEF."

The following is information about PYALARA - Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation - from its website:


"PYALARA is registered as an NGO at the Palestinian Ministry of Interior Affairs. We work closely with the Palestinian Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as with Palestinian universities and colleges, a wide national network of schools, and a good number of other NGOs in implementing projects with a national and comprehensive outreach. PYALARA has been chosen by UNICEF as a major strategic partner in Palestine... Since December 2000, PYALARA has produced, with the support of UNICEF and the cooperation of Palestine TV, a weekly two-hour TV program called Speak Up. An average of 300,000 Palestinian children and teenagers watch every episode."

This, readers, is what the Obama administration and the United Nations ignore.  Even though it is done under the direct auspices of the UN, and the US is a permanent member of the security council.

But let's face facts:  UN-subsidized hatred like this is not important enough to bother with.  It is far more important to stop those residential housing units in a Jewish area of Jerusalem.

This is well worth keeping in mind when you see and hear the US and UN howl at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for assertively stating that the residential construction will go on as planned.  Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Netanyahu does not perceive an even playing field.

And the next time you see poll showing Barack Obama is disliked, even despised, in Israel?  Maybe, just maybe, it isn't racism (i.e. the standard explanation from race pimps, both Black and White, every time someone criticizes Mr. Obama).  Maybe, just maybe, the actions (and inactions) he and his administration take have something to do with it.


JACKASS JOE STRIKES AGAIN

Ken Berwitz

Today, at the health care signing ceremony, Joe Biden introduced President Obama.  Then, knowing he was standing in front of a mike, and that the signing was being broadcast on live television, he audibly said to Mr. Obama that "this is a big fuckin' deal" 

I've watched a few of the news shows, and apparently some people want to make a big effin' deal of this.  But there's no big effin' deal to make.

Yes he is a jackass for saying it near a mike during a live broadcast.  But that is all it is.  There is no subtext, just Joe Biden's big mouth, again, for a change.  Just Jackass Joe being Jackass Joe.

Next subject.

 

Zeke .... ...... Fukkin Jackass ! ! ! (03/23/10)


THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' HEALTH CARE EDITORIAL

Ken Berwitz

Today's lead editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times is about passage of ObamaCare.

I thought you might be interested in seeing it -- along with my comments, of course, which are in blue. 

Here it is:

Health care is now an American right

March 23, 2010

 

We are in this together. That's the spirit that moved President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and every Democrat who voted "yes" in the House Sunday for the historic bill that will soon make health care affordable for almost every American.

 

We are in this together. Yeah, right.  Or, more exactly, we who purchase and pay for our insurance are in this together with they who do not, so that we can pay for them.  Great deal.

We know that sounds insufferably schmaltzy to many, with its echoes of soft-headed dreamers singing "Kumbaya." Bingo!  You can stop right there. But that has always been the matter at the heart of this centurylong national debate over health care: how much do we give a damn about each other. Bunko.  You should have stopped right there. 

We are a nation of individualists. Our abiding metaphor, even now, is the self-sufficient pioneer mending his own fences, minding his own business. When we help a neighbor, we do so because we want to, not because some government law says we must. We leave the socialism to the Swedes.  Except for now.  Now that this has passed we are all going to be Swedish.  Or didnt you notice, Bunky?

But we have always been more wrapped up in each other's business than we care to admit. We have always accepted that there is an important place for government in creating the safety net and passing out the basic tools of competition that make individualism and capitalism more fair and humane. Every child deserves an education. Every poor person deserves a roof over his head. Every man or woman willing to work deserves a job. Every elderly person deserves a secure old age.   I agree completely.  And I also would extend this to providing honest, rational changes in our health care. Unfortunately, ObamaCare provides neither.

And now we can add affordable health care to that short list of fundamental rights for all Americans.  Affordable?  To whom?  Certainly to the people who are not paying for it.  Certainly to the people who dont pay taxes to support it.  Certainly to the illegals who -- oh, sorry, I forgot:  illegals won't be getting any health care.  (Think of that last sentence as a friendly tip of the hat to anyone Obamesmerized enough to believe illegals are shut out of ObamaCare.  They'll need reassurance.  Lots of it).

Rights. Not privileges.  Kumbaya, lord, Kumbaya.  Hey, why stop there?  Why not the right for a homeless person to live in my house too.  Or, better yet, in your house, Mr. and/or Ms. editorial writer.  Heck, were all in this together, arent we?

Obama will sign the health care bill into law today during a ceremony at the White House, after which he will take to the road on a public education campaign. The president wants to get out front on this one, knowing that Republican critics will continue to trash the new law, misrepresenting its effects and costs.  I see.  President Obama, who tells us 30 million more people will be covered via an unfunded mandate, but the health care will be just as good and will cost less, is not misrepresenting effects and costs;  Republicans are.  Can I have a puff of what youre smoking?  

Frankly, we don't think the president has much to worry about.  Yep, HEs not facing voters in November. 

Once the bill is law, Americans will quickly realize there has been no "government takeover" and there are no "death panels."  You live in a dream world.  

They will be delighted to find they can keep their children on the family insurance through age 26. Yep, theyll be tickled pink that their kids can stay under mommy and daddy until they are the age most people with 26-year-olds had already been out of the house making their way for years.  Hallelujah.  They will be relieved to find that though they've lost a job, they have not lost their insurance. Wait a minute.  Didnt Mr. Obama create two million more of those?  No one is losing their jobs; out of work people are being employed by the millions.  Remember?  They will sigh with relief the first time that they, or somebody close to them, suffers a catastrophic illness and -- lo and behold -- the insurance companies can't jack up their rates or deny them coverage.  Sure.  Get more for no additional charge.  Everyone loves a bargain at someone elses expense.  Hey, why not allow your readers to take up to 10 extra copies at the newsstand at no additional charge too?  Whats that you say?  If they get more copies they have to pay more?  Oh, ok.  Silly of me to think youd go for that.

And what will be the Republican strategy? To complain that the bill costs too much, a specious argument that, at best, will win them a few seats in Congress in November.   Its a specious argument to claim that an unfunded mandate trillions of dollars we dont have will cost too much?  Holy excrement.  Is the editorial staff on LSD?

Illinois' own Mark Kirk, the North Shore congressman now running for the Senate, has vowed to lead the Republican charge to "repeal" the bill. To which we say: Go for it. The political independents Kirk must attract to win election will desert him in droves, but the Tea Party crowd will adore him.  Yep, them there independent voters just love ObamaCare.  Count on it.

The GOP's complaints -- when they're not calling people "baby killers" -- have always had some limited merit. One congressperson yelled that out and then apologized for doing so which you have projected to 218 other Republicans in congress.  Do you also stereotype Blacks and Jews?  Just asking.  Specifically, we have shared their concerns about the relentlessly escalating cost of health care. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the new law will lower federal deficits by $138 billion over 10 years, but that figure was derived by front-loading revenues from taxes and fees and delaying spending. And even if one takes the CBO numbers at face value, the bill Obama signs today will only marginally slow the projected growth of health care costs.  Gee, ymean it could cost too much?  But didnt you just say that the costs too much argument is specious?  Well, never mind.  Why should one part of this editorial coincide with another part.  Sorry, my bad.

The solution, however, was never to kill health care reform, but rather to move away from the wasteful fee-for-service system by which doctors and hospitals get paid for every last X-ray and MRI they prescribe, whether necessary or not. That battle has yet to be fought, but must.  Did it occur to you that they overprescribe to protect themselves against malpractice suits?  Did you notice that malpractice insurance is in six figures for doctors because of those suits?  So youre demanding tort reform which would lower heath care costs, right?  Oh, wait, its not mentioned in this editorial?  Nah, thats impossible.  It must be here somewhere..

But to save a buck by giving the boot to millions of uninsured fellow Americans -- that was no longer an option.  No one gave them the boot.  You conveniently forget/wont mention that everyone, with or without insurance, is compelled by law to be cared for at hospital emergency rooms.  But why waste facts in this editorial?  Facts are overrated, right?

To watch a woman die of colon cancer because she could not afford a colon screening -- that was no longer an option.  Now youre talking.  For once you make sense.  There are areas of health care that desperately need overhauling.  The problem, however, is that you are not fixing whats wrong; you are nationalizing the entire system. 

To watch a family lose their home because a child's medical bills have wiped them out -- that was no longer an option.  Refer to my last comment.

Health care in America is finally a right, not a privilege, because enough of us understand:

We are in this together.  Kumbaya, lord, Kumbaya..everyone sing along!


VENEZUELA DEMOCRACY UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

This one is for Sean Penn and Danny Glover (among others), who are tres impressed with what a wonderful democracy yugo chavez is running in Venezuela.  It is excerpted from a Reuters article:

Venezuela holds Chavez critic for "conspiracy"

Andrew Cawthorne

CARACAS

 

(Reuters) - Venezuelan authorities have jailed a former state governor and presidential candidate who accused President Hugo Chavez's government of links to subversive groups in Latin America.

The detention of Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, a veteran with the opposition COPEI party but not one of Chavez's most prominent foes, will fuel criticism that the Venezuelan leader is taking his nation down an increasingly dictatorial route.

Alvarez joins a list of several dozen Chavez opponents now in jail, living in exile or facing probes in the South American oil-producing country.

With the political atmosphere heating up before legislative elections in September -- seen as a barometer for a 2012 presidential vote -- Chavez says his opponents are increasingly breaking laws in their desperation to topple him.

The accusations against Alvarez could carry a jail sentence of between two and 16 years, local media said.

His lawyer, Omar Estancio, said the arrest order was "disproportional" and "politicized" while COPEI, a Christian Democrat party, called the accusations "absurd".

"The national government, once again using the institutions it has taken over, tries to silence criticism and denunciations by those who do not think like it does," the party said.

The best-known Chavez critic in jail is Raul Isaias Baduel, a former defense minister who left government in 2007 to campaign against his former boss but was imprisoned last year on corruption charges.

In a blow for Venezuela's reputation, the human rights wing of the Organization of American States last month criticized what it described as the concentration of power and curbing of civil liberties in Venezuela under Chavez.

This is democracy?  Nope, this is chavez.  And those two are completely unacquainted with each other. 

But enjoy your next stay there, Sean and Danny.  Uncle yugo can't wait to roll the cameras when you greet him, and gracias for the publicity. 

Oh, one other thing.  Most people know that "Citgo" is a Venezuelan company.  And a great many people (me included) won't buy gas there because of it.  But a lot of people don't know that the "Petroleum 19" stations which have sprung up recently are also part of Citgo.  I don't go to those either. 

Just thought you should know.


HILLARY CLINTON'S IGNORANCE ABOUT ISRAEL

Ken Berwitz

I don't need to blog about this at all.  I'll let Mladen Andrijasevic at American  Thinker do it for me.  The bold print is mine:

March 23, 2010

Hillary sticks her foot in it in speech at AIPAC

Mladen Andrijasevic

Yesterday at the AIPAC conference Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

"When a Hamas-controlled municipality glorifies violence and renames a square after a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis, it insults the families on both sides who have lost loves ones over the years in this conflict. (Applause.)"

The importance of Hillary Clinton's speech is that now, thanks to her, it can be easily proven by simply looking at where Ramallah is situated on the map, that the whole US peace process policy in the Middle East is based on fiction that Fatah is moderate.

The square renamed after a terrorist is in Ramallah and Ramallah is in the West Bank and controlled by Fatah.

If Secretary Clinton did not know that Fatah was responsible , her own words accidentally finally exposed what Fatah's mindset is, something the administration was trying to hide.

If Secretary Clinton did know that Fatah was responsible, then she was explicitly lying. She had to change the geography to fit the fantasy. This reminds me of the days when Soviet cities on Soviet maps changed their positions every few years in respect to nearby rivers and mountains so as to 'fool'' the CIA. This time, however, the US is fooling itself. Then they will be surprised why things do not work as they expected

Either way, the truth has finally come out. Now what remains to be seen is will there be a single journalist who will ask Secretary Clinton if she knew that the square named after a terrorist was under Fatah control.

Is there?

The answer, Mladen, is that it went unmentioned on the Today Show.  And, though Secretary Clinton's remarks were quoted extensively in the New York Times, there was no mention of the Ramallah screw-up there either.

Are you surprised that Hillary Clinton makes this dumb, ignorant statement and our wonderful "neutral" media give her a pass on it?  If so, why?

Who do you think she is?  George Bush?  Dick Cheney?  Sarah Palin? 

Zeke Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington for meetings, including one with Obama. .... ... Just an historical note: .... ...Operation Entebbe was a counter-terrorism hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976. A week earlier, on June 27, an Air France plane with 300 passengers was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists and flown to Entebbe, near Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Shortly after landing, all non-Jewish passengers were released... ... ..... .... The Israeli Defense Force mounted a commando raid from 2,500 miles distant, and rescued 103 hostages; 3 hostages were killed, and one elderly woman who had been removed to a hospital was murdered there by Ugandan officers. .... ... ... There was ONE IDF casualty --- the commander, Col. Jonathan Netanyahu .... ... the older brother of the present Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.... .... .... Somehow, one doubts the Prime Minister will be a pushover. (03/23/10)


WHO CARES ABOUT BLACK CHILDREN IN D.C. BEING EDUCATED?

Ken Berwitz

You would think this answer is pretty easy, wouldn't you?  There is a Black President in Washington DC - one who claimed to be of limited means, yet attended both Harvard and Columbia (though the circumstances under which he went are very murky, since he has released virtually no information regarding the years he spent at those schools). 

So Barack Obama must deeply care about Black children in DC being educated, right? 

And we all know that Democrats are far more interested in seeing motivated Black children getting ahead than those neanderthal racist Republicans, don't we?

Well, maybe the answers to those questions are not necessarily, and we don't. 

With that in mind, please read today's editorial in (to its credit) the Washington Post and get your own education about who cares:

Step up for D.C. vouchers

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

 

PARENTS LOVE IT. Students benefit from it. But neither the White House nor most Democrats in Congress had the backbone to support a unique program that provides vouchers to low-income D.C. families in search of better educational opportunities. Now the question is whether D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) -- who has made education his priority -- has the guts his party leaders lack and will seek to save this worthy program.

 

The Senate last week all but decreed the demise of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program when it rejected, in a 55 to 42 vote, a measure that would have permitted the enrollment of new students by reauthorizing the program for another five years. Introduced by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), the measure was vigorously opposed by the teachers unions. Hence, only three Democrats -- Mark Warner of Virginia, Dianne Feinstein of California and Bill Nelson of Florida -- joined Republicans in supporting the program that has, since 2004, allowed hundreds of needy children to attend private schools instead of low-performing public schools. In an era of hyper-partisanship, these few Democrats deserve to be remembered for putting the interests of children above party ideology and fundraising. The willingness of three other local Democrats -- James Webb of Virginia and Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland -- to deprive poor children of choice deserves to be remembered, too.

 

The animus toward this tiny, clearly successful program is not grounded in logic. "The real goal of education," Ms. Feinstein said, sensibly enough, "ought to be to provide a number of different choices for youngsters so you can see where they learn best and then enable them to be in that situation." That's supposed to be the philosophy of Mr. Obama's Education Department, too, which purports to want to reward programs that work. The program has been subject to rigorous scientific study, and preliminary evaluations have shown academic gains and student improvement. But the Obama administration had shut the door on new students and didn't lift a hand to rally support for its continuation.

 

"What is everybody scared of?" Ms. Feinstein asked. Sadly, the answer is no secret: Teachers unions have an outsized influence on the Democratic Party. The unions fear that if objective analysis rather than political muscle is allowed to shape education policy, traditional public schools that are more frequently union shops would lose out. Only the children would be better off.

 

Is there any hope? The Obama administration is pressing the District government to manage the program for current scholarship students, who supposedly are going to be supported until they graduate; the nonprofit group that has been running the program is pulling out. We hope Mr. Fenty not only will agree but will allow new students into the program. His schools chancellor, Michelle A. Rhee, has argued against cutting off this opportunity while public schools are years away from being able to provide all students with proper educations. This would be no financial burden: The voucher program has been able to educate students for less per pupil than charter or traditional public schools have.

 

No doubt Mr. Fenty is being counseled on the political dangers of going where President Obama and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), among others, fear to tread. Such arguments have never stood in his way when it comes to promoting school change. We hope he gives serious thought to stepping up one more time.

A total of 42 US Senators voted to keep the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program in place.  Virtually all of them were Republicans.   By contrast, 55 of the 58 Democratic senators voted against this highly effective, desperately-needed program

And President Obama?  He was out to lunch.  Not a word of support for the program, even though he has been begged for it since becoming President.

How could this be?

Simply stated, there are a lot more votes to lose by angering the teachers' unions than there are by angering a few hundred families with Black children who can excel if given the chance. 

So screw them.  Screw them all.  We're going to be good little foot soldiers for the NEA.  And don't forget to show your appreciation by campaigning for us in November.

Apparently Democratic Senators love those Black children; honest they do.....as long as those children are consigned to schools which minimize their ability to succeed academically, that is. 

Keep 'em dependent and you own 'em. 


A NEW NATIONAL TAX? VAT CHANCE

Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of Jeff Poor, writing for www.newsbusters.org, is Charles Krauthammer's argument that the Obama administration is going to impose a national tax - which, in Europe is called VAT (Value Added Tax):

Krauthammer Predicts European-Style VAT Tax

 

By Jeff Poor

Tue, 03/23/2010 - 08:12 ET

Remember when it was the liberals that considered the potential of a value added tax or VAT in the United States? More and more, conservatives are starting to express their concerns about it becoming a reality. 

The VAT is a consumption tax that is placed on a product whenever value is added at a stage of production and at final sale. For example, as Investopedia.com explains, "When a television is built by a company in Europe the manufacturer is charged a VAT on all of the supplies they purchase for producing the television. Once the television reaches the shelf, the consumer who purchases it must pay the VAT that applies to him or her."

Now that health care reform has actually been passed by Congress, the options of stopping it are growing more and more limited.  According to syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, this expensive unfunded liability won't likely be undone in the Supreme Court.

"The first question is, will the courts act on this? I think there is a very good case, a very strong case you can make that the Commerce clause has never been used to force an individual to engage a contract with a private institution, i.e. an insurance company here," Krauthammer said on FNC's March 22 "Special Report with Brett Baier." "Although - so I think there is a strong case. But I cannot imagine that the courts will overturn a piece of legislation this large. So, just as a practical prediction on this, I think it's unlikely, although I would like to see Justice [Samuel] Alito write the overturning opinion."

Therefore, Krauthammer contends this liability will lead to the federal government instituting a VAT for the first time in the United States.

"But then I think there is a larger issue here," Krauthammer said. "I think ultimately Obama understands that he has just added an unbelievably large entitlement on to a country drowning in debt. He is not stupid. I think he is anticipated this, and I think he is, from the beginning, had a plan and the plan is he is going to use the Deficit Reduction Commission, which will report only after November, and I'm absolutely sure it will recommend something new in American history, a national sales tax which is called a VAT in Europe."

Krauthammer suggested liberals believe this is how to fund an entitlement state and not have the public notice, as would be the case with income taxes. And this will be an issue for the 2012 presidential election.

"All the Europeans who have the kind of entitlements America is now going to have, health care and all the others, need the VAT, because it's a gusher of income for the government," Krauthammer continued. "And once you have that, even very small levels - a percent or two of a national sales tax - that's how the liberals think they will be able to fund this new very expanded entitlement state. It's the way it's done in Europe. It's going to have to be done here. And that, I think, is going to be the argument in the president's election of 2012."

As Chris Edwards pointed out for Cato @ Liberty last year, a VAT wouldn't be a cure-all. Instead, this would encourage more spending and higher tax rates, causing an impediment to U.S. economic growth.

"In sum, a VAT would not solve our deficit problems because Congress would simply boost its spending even higher, as happened in Europe as VAT rates increased over time," Edwards wrote. "Also, a VAT is not needed to cut the corporate income tax rate because a corporate rate cut would be self-financing over the long-term as tax avoidance fell and economic growth increased."

Is Mr. Krauthammer right? 

And if he is, will people understand that it is a direct consequence of the unsustainable deficit spending of the Obama administration, which goes so dramatically far beyond anything we have seen in the history of this country?

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough.

And that goes double for 2012.


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