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July 31, 2008

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Curiously, bu it is not clear

steven andresen

The job of this post seems to be to point out that Obama does not challenge the corporate powers-that-be while arguing that giving the workers, and middle class, a bone, or shoes, or some way of getting help getting health care, the country will be more profitable. Here is a discussion of this point pertaining to health care:

"...The newly empowered centrist faction of the Democratic Party may well be pushing a plan that is destined to fail, and in so doing they may sabotage reform for a generation.

Passing legislation and having it signed by the president may be the least of their problems. Much more central to the discussion is, will the middle way prescription realistically work? Here’s what the Obama plan won’t do: save the country any money. The modus operandi of all politicians, whether Democratic or Republican, is to defer to the powerful and rely on the largesse of the Federal Treasury.

The last thing that the Democratic leadership wants to admit is that their acquiescence on the $850 billion Wall Street bailout has seriously crippled their ability to expand spending on social programs, especially ones that represent burgeoning outlays into the future.

The working model of the Obama/Baucus plan of mixed private and public coverage is the Massachusetts universal care program. Passed under Republican Mitt Romney and implemented by Democrat Deval Patrick, its effect on public spending is unequivocal. The Boston Globe reports:

'...The subsidized insurance program at the heart of the state’s healthcare initiative is expected to roughly double in size and expense over the next three years — an unexpected level of growth that could cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars or force the state to scale back its ambitions...'

Massachusetts is now turning to the federal government for help in making up the difference. They will be joining the queue behind AIG, Lockheed-Martin and Kellog, Brown and Root.

If reducing the cost of healthcare was easy it would already have been taken care of by now. But the aforementioned political realities have kept key considerations off the table. Namely that roughly 30% of every healthcare dollar goes to maintaining the for-profit insurance infrastructure — administrative costs, advertising, promotions, lobbying, CEO salaries and profits. This is potential savings that the Democratic conciliatory approach is not attempting to reach.

Instead the cost-containment mechanisms in the Obama/Baucus plan are so generic that they are nearly identical to those in John McCain’s plan and are likely to be implemented by the industry irregardless of government action. These include improvements in information technology and a greater emphasis on maintaining good health..."

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2008/11/the-first-test-is-healthcare/

It is not too early to argue to President elect Obama that the corporations need to be put in their place.

steven andresen

Nader recently wrote an open letter to Sen. Obama wherein he criticized Obama for what Nader took to be too much interest in appeasing corporations and not enough interest in helping the poor. Sen. Obama may reply that he too has spoken about helping the poor, and the middle class, and shifting more burden onto the rich and well off. This is all well and good, but, as I read Nader, just getting better shoes for the poor working people is not enough. Nader wants Obama to challenge the system that keeps people poor and second-class citizens.

Here is some of this letter,

"...In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

...

You have turned your back on the 100-million poor Americans composed of poor whites, African-Americans, and Latinos. You always mention helping the "middle class" but you omit, repeatedly, mention of the "poor" in America.

Should you be elected President, it must be more than an unprecedented upward career move following a brilliantly unprincipled campaign that spoke "change" yet demonstrated actual obeisance to the concentration power of the "corporate supremacists." It must be about shifting the power from the few to the many. It must be a White House presided over by a black man who does not turn his back on the downtrodden here and abroad but challenges the forces of greed, dictatorial control of labor, consumers and taxpayers, and the militarization of foreign policy."

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10809

One might criticize Nader for raining on Obama's parade here by carping about his commitment to real change. Nader is here talking about some of the reasons he ran against him, and McCain in 45 states. He doesn't have to sweet talk Obama beyond congratulating him on winning. Nader seems intent on challenging Obama to be better in some specific ways involving Obama's commitments to corporations and how that effects the poor, and, how he treats Palestineans and Muslims.

One might argue that someone with Obama's commitments to corporate domination, as Nader sees things, is preferable to the erratic campaign of Sen. McCain. We might say, we will get the same tax policies, or foreign policies with Obama, but they will be more carefully thought out. The poor might get some new shoes to work harder with. This might be a better deal than what one might expect with McCain where one might expect nothing.

All one can hope for is that Obama as President works for real change that, on many people's estimation, means going up against the corporations. Nader points out how difficult that would be for Obama to do, considering what his record says about his commitment to serving corporations in the past.


steven andresen

Here is a post on Truthdig, involving Ralph Nader saying, after the election of Sen. Obama, "Will he be an Uncle Tom for the corporations?"

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/20081106_nader_will_obama_be_an_uncle_tom_for_the_giant_corporations/

He is presumed to be making a racial remark, where the term "Uncle Tom" has been historically used to refer to a black character. The speakers included here do not consider the possibility Nader uses the term now to speak about all of us, black, white, yellow, and brown, as slaves in the corporate empire. There is truth in this usage, as I want to argue, in the fact that the U.S. does tolerate slavery where the rest of us as workers have limited rights.

Some of the comments are angry at Nader for his past, where they take him to be responsible for Democratic losses to George Bush.

Others argue he has not been relevant since the Corvair and seatbelts.

It would be better to let the man speak, though.

steven andresen

I've said here that Barack Obama is an "Uncle Tom." I mean that he doesn't have an abolitionist bone in his body. He does not intend to overturn the system that oppresses the rest of us like John Brown or Martin Luther King so intended. Maybe Obama sees that after the Civil War, if you become too effective at threatening the prerogatives of the powers-that-be, you get shot, or your small plane gets inexplicable problems mid-flight. In any case, Obama seems to be nothing more than a house slave using his close position to the masters to argue for some newer shoes or patches for the clothing of the field slaves. After all, if the slaves are better dressed and suffer less from the elements, then they work better and the masters profit.

Here is some more support for this take on Obama:

No Time for a Minimalist

Posted on Sep 18, 2008
By David Sirota

Old Milwaukee beer’s slogan—“It just doesn’t get any better than this”—should be Barack Obama’s after-hours toast these days.

He faces a Republican Party that built a house-of-cards economy—constructed with paper by speculators betting against inevitable collapse. With recession looming, his opponent is a guy who admits “economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should”—a career politician who famously helped campaign donors intimidate regulators during the savings and loan scandal.

Yet, Obama probably isn’t drinking to anything lately, as Reuters’ poll shows John McCain leading on economic issues.

The numbers are tragic but predictable. Until this week, Obama largely avoided the contrasting FDR-style populism the nation wants and the moment demands.

For example, instead of endorsing forceful re-regulation months ago when the financial meltdown commenced, Obama responded with a vague white paper that not only offered few hard-hitting prescriptions but denigrated key Depression-era regulations.

Likewise, despite slipping in the industrial heartland, Obama has muted his criticism of NAFTA. Indeed, one Obama adviser last week called trade only “an issue of symbolic importance.” Another said that far from opposing a controversial NAFTA expansion into Colombia as promised, the candidate now wants “to make it possible.”

The self-defeating behavior reflects both money and orthodoxy.

Obama has raised $9.8 million from investment houses (more than McCain). For economic advice, he relies on people like Robert Rubin—the NAFTA architect who gutted market regulations as Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and who then tried to rustle up government favors for Enron as a $17-million-a-year executive at Citigroup, a bank embroiled in today’s implosion.

Under such influences, Obama sends Wall Street hints that his “change” mantra might be empty rhetoric. This month, his adviser Cass Sunstein told The New Republic’s Establishment readership that the senator is merely “a minimalist.” In a recent New York Times interview, Obama himself reiterated his loyalty to free-market fundamentalism, even as it birthed the current emergency.

Discerning whether cash crafted or rewarded these statements is less important than Obama eschewing the populism that could undermine the Royalist Right and fix the economy. And the GOP is filling the resulting void.

Sans aggressive opposition, McCain likens himself to Teddy Roosevelt and pledges support for tighter regulation—hoping America forgets his Keating Five past and March declaration that “I’m always for less regulation.”

His surrogates, meanwhile, are on the cultural offensive. Even as they endorse the crony communism of Bear Stearns bailouts, conservatives are using Obama’s community organizing experience to depict him as an inner-city black socialist—a caricature invoking the geography, ethnicity and ideology that Republicans regularly rely on to prompt white backlashes.

Regrettably, the underlying elitism charge may stick—not because of Republicans’ dishonest rationales, but because Obama confirms the attack’s grounding in a different truth.

Polls show majority support for tougher regulation and fair trade reforms—the very agenda opposed by the Washington and Wall Street elites who populate Obama’s kitchen cabinet. The Democratic candidate’s “minimalism” therefore isn’t a desire to “accommodate, rather than to repudiate, the defining beliefs of most Americans,” as Sunstein sententiously claimed. It is fealty to elites rather than the public—the dictionary definition of elitism.

Certainly, Obama’s is a less pernicious elitism than McCain’s billionaire tax breaks—and the Illinois lawmaker’s sharper speeches and new ads this week might indicate an authentic shift. But if they don’t and the elitism reappears, Obama could stunt real reform and lose a seemingly unlosable election.

“[Americans] crave someone who will be their pocketbook champion,” writes Bob Kuttner, author of the book “Obama’s Challenge.” “If swing voters don’t get that clear message from the Democrat, they will turn to the maverick patriot who did hard time in Hanoi.”

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose newest book, “The Uprising,” was released in June. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network, both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at www.credoaction.com/sirota.

© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080918_no_time_for_a_minimalist/

The people are split about what's needed. Maybe they'd like an abolitionist who would bring back jobs, provide a decent health care system, or stop the constant warring around the world. But, doing that would require being very effective against the masters. The problem there is that the masters control things and are making a lot of money from the system the way it is. They might just shoot Obama and be done with the threat. Or get to him through his children. Or persuade Arabs to blow up some more buildings. It is not easy to change the system the way it is. Obama might just recognize that fact and choose to be safe and at least obtain the shoes and patches.

steven andresen

I want to suggest that it is not far fetched for me to say we tolerate slavery. We allow countries to produce goods for us with labor that's artificially cheapenned. That is, they prevent their people from organizing themselves to improve their lives.

Let's look at the following piece, found here:

http://www.thelastoutpost.com/DesktopModules/Articles/ArticlesView.aspx?tabID=0&ItemID=459&mid=106&wversion=Staging


The New American Slavery
By Jolly Roger
slicingthroats@yahoo.com
4-2-5

The average American in the year 2005 lives a fragile existence, in a struggle for survival that can be end-ed by missing a few paychecks. The carrot at the end of the stick which was formerly known as "the American dream" has been replaced by a whip that can best be described as the American nightmare of homelessness, and slow, early death. You no longer work to achieve a better life for yourselves and your children. You work to keep a roof over your head, and you pray that you don’t lose it. You became a slave when fear replaced incentive as your motivation to work, but I still suggest that you work while you can, because if the company you work for can’t send your job overseas, the U.S. government is allowing 2000 people per day to enter this country illegally, because they’re willing to do your job for less. It doesn't matter if you’re a "white collar" or "blue collar" employee. If you’re an American, you’re too highly paid. There are billions of people who want your job, and your government is doing all they can to see that you lose it to them. You see, we’re not really Americans anymore. Now we’re just anonymous faces in the "global village," because our government has sold our nation to foreigners and international bankers, and the new bankruptcy law has doomed the American citizen to a life of debt slavery. They’ll insist that illegal immigrants are only doing jobs that Americans refuse to do, and you’ll probably believe it, because if you’re watching the TV that shovels that crap, you probably still have your job. The illegal immigrants are doing jobs that Americans always did, and every unemployed American I talk to can’t find a job anywhere.

And just like the European immigrants that flooded this country before the economic depression of the 1930's, today’s illegal immigrants also have no gripe with a government that has allowed them work for high wages in America, and send billions back to their homeland. Nor do they care very much about our constitution, bill of rights, or way of life. They’re only here for what they can grab, and our government has welcomed them with open arms, because they’re grabbing it from you.


You’re already working much longer, and much harder, to achieve a much lower standard of living than the previous generation, and 25 percent of working Americans no longer even get a vacation. The Social Security retirement age has been raised to match the life expectancy of American males, so apparently, you’re also expected to work until you’re dead. When you do finally get a vacation, they only trip you’ll be taking will be in a pine box, and that’s only if you’re one of the lucky ones. Most of us will only get the state issued canvas bag that gets tossed into the pit with all the others. If you don’t mind the fact that you’ll be working until you’re dead, you might also want to consider the fact that you’ll get nothing for your labor, because this nation’s economy is about to crash like a freight train, and when it does, everything you’ve worked for will vanish. After the depression gets ugly, and your family has made the adjustment from three meals per day to three meals per week, the newspapers will blame your hunger on "the economy," as if it were some magical force that uncontrollably ruined a couple hundred million lives.


Nothing could be further from the truth. Politicians and international bankers can manipulate national economies at will, much in the way the media manipulates your mind, and a decision has been made to impoverish Americans, because global government requires that everyone in the world have an equally low standard of living. Simply put, we’re being robbed of all we’ve worked for, because our government wants us to be poor, hungry, and docile, dependant upon them for our existence, and in fear of them for our lives. The government of the United States is intentionally destroying the economy of the United States, because the politicians and the international bankers they work for have decided that the American way of life, and catering to the demands of the American constitution, is simply too expensive. Regardless of how wealthy you think you are, you actually have no real money at all. The "federal reserve notes" that are in your wallet, and your bank ac-count, aren’t really money, but are actually only paper on a debt that can never be paid, not even by combining all the assets and labor of every American alive today.


Any loan-shark with a third grade education will tell you "the paper’s no good," and naturally, the foreign investors who allow us to float this debt, have come to the same conclusion. What is commonly known as the "U.S. dollar," represents a debt that is owed by the U.S. federal government, to the federal reserve bank. The federal reserve bank happens to be the privately owned entity that lent the money that’s represented by the paper in your wallet. The federal reserve act signed away everything you own, and the fruit of your labor as collateral on this debt, and as foreign investors are becoming increasingly unwilling to invest the $2 billion per day needed to cover the interest, our creditors will want to collect it. About 90 percent of all Americans are mortgaged to the hilt, and would have little or no assets left if all debts and liabilities were to be paid.* Most Americans have taken advantage of low interest rates, and are now paying a mortgage on their homes. The booming real estate market has made every purchase profitable, because the price of a home always rises. The problem is that the price of a home today is incredibly over-inflated, and the real estate boom that’s been keeping the American economy afloat, is about to bust. Interest rates are going to rise, and the price of your home is going to drop drastically, which will leave you stuck paying for a house that probably wouldn’t pay the interest on your debt if you sold it. If you’re lucky enough to remain employed, inflation will shred your paycheck until you can no longer make mortgage payments.


This is when you need to remember that when a nation’s economy collapses, the wealth of the nation doesn’t disappear, it only changes hands. Millions of Americans are about to be tossed into the street, and because we’re a kinder and gentler America, from the street they’ll be tossed into shelters. Once in the shelter, they’ ll be wards of the social service system which will make sure they all have food, and a bed to sleep in. In exchange for that food and shelter, the "welfare reform" act will put them to work at jobs where they will collect no additional salary. I guess the idea of welfare reform" is a lot more acceptable to Americans than "forced labor" but regardless of what you call it, many Americans will soon experience slavery once again, and the slaves are not just sweeping public streets. Under the welfare reform act, many Americans are being put to work for private companies for no wages other than the cost of their food and shelter both of which constitute the bare minimum requirements of survival.


By causing the economy to collapse, and then "saving" the poor, our government can legally force millions of Americans into slavery.


The new slavery will be blamed on "the economy," and it will employ a much larger percentage of the population than it did before the civil war. To understand how they’re accomplishing this, we need to turn our thoughts back to our monetary system, because due to the fact that it is no longer based on the gold standard, our government is in control of the money supply and that gives them the ability to cause rampant unemployment, which is exactly what they’re doing. The framers of the U.S. constitution protected us from this brand of tyranny, but because Americans were foolish enough to ignore and/or trust their government, they will become slaves, but most of them will blame themselves for their plight. Article 1, Section 10, of the U.S. constitution clearly states that "no state shall... make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts." The constitution’s prohibition of "fiat money" (what’s in your wallet) guarantees that the wealth of the nation remains in the hands of the people, which leaves the government incapable of stealing the population’s wealth, as they’re doing today. ‘You can collect all the dollars that you like. Our government decides what they’re worth, and by keeping the presses working overtime, they’re insuring that the dollar will soon be worthless.


The U.S. department of labor has also changed the way it collects data regarding unemployment, which allows for the fraudulent unemployment figures that are printed in the newspapers, and allows working Americans to believe that things aren’t really that bad. Their new "household survey" system avoids counting most of the poor by basing unemployment figures on telephone surveys. A real estimate, based on population and payroll taxes, reveals that about 25 percent of the American workforce is presently un-employed, and that will eventually force them into the social service slavery system. Unless your mortgage and debts are completely paid off, and you can still pay your property taxes, there’s a good chance you’ll soon be joining them. Welcome to the third world, and to an American world, where slavery is legal once again. What are you going to do when your government forces you into slavery? You can’t avoid it, because if you’re homeless, you’ll be rounded up and brought to a "shelter", where you’ll be fed, and probably medicated if you’re’ not happy to be there.


With so many people becoming homeless, it will be easy for them to find an apartment for you, and social services will pay your rent, and give you food stamps. Soon after that they will find you a job, but naturally, you won’t be taking home a paycheck because you’re in debt to the social service system. They’ll tell you that you’re working your way back to independence, but since your salary will never be more than your expenses, you’ll work for free until you’re dead. If you refuse to work, the government "assistance" will be cut off, you’ll be back ‘out on the street, and you’ll probably do your next job with a shackle around your ankle. I’m not asking that you waste the time or paper required to write your congressman, because they don’t care what you think anyway. What I am asking you to do is to remember something. When the economy does crash, and you’re forced into the street. I want you to remember that this isn’t your fault, and it’s not the result of a "bad economy." Please remember that you’re poor hungry and homeless, because that's where our government wants you to be, and they intentionally destroyed the U.S. economy because they want you to suffer, and beg. And regardless of how bad things get, never sell your rifle. Jolly Roger" Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens..... Lenin was certainly right." John Maynard Keynes** "90 percent of all Americans are mortgaged to the hilt, and would have little or no assets left if all debts and liabilities were to be paid."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rep. Traficant to U.S. Congress. John Maynard Keynes is the economist for whom our present monetary system is named.

Unlike this nation’s wealth, anything written by Jolly Roger is the property of the American people, and the author hereby grants permission to anyone who so desires to post, copy, forward or distribute this letter as they see fit, and in fact, the author encourages you to do so.

"The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-by to the Bill of Rights." -- H.L. Mencken

"The ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination." ~Voltaire

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." ~ Samuel Adams

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“That you vote does not prove you are free, it only shows you are a voting slave.”—anonymous

Just one page by this anonymous writer will convince any literate person that we are slaves.
----------------------------------------

Please follow up on this line of thinking.

http://52.thelastoutpost.com/

steven andresen

There are those who doubt how much Senator Obama will do for the working people of this country. It's not as though they think he will do nothing, nor do they believe that what he ends up doing won't make the country more prosperous, in a sense.

But, providing new shoes for the people who do the work under oppressive conditions is not the same thing as doing something effective to smash the oppressive situation.

Read here,

"...There is no doubt that a not insignificant number of white working class voters will not vote for a black man for president under any circumstances. Some may vote for McCain, although those interviewed in the Times story had little use for him or for the war in Iraq. Some may go for the Libertarian candidate. Some may not vote at all.
But there is more to the antipathy that some in the white working class in the rust belt have for Obama.

What exactly does Obama have to say to them? Is he going to fight for their lost pensions? Make sure that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has adequate funds? Is he going to do battle for their health care? Is he going to get the unemployment insurance system fixed? Is it possible to believe that he will go afer all those anti-worker trade agreements? Will he ensure that social security is never privatized? That it be made more generous, as it easily could be? Is he going to reverse the Bush administration’s draconian labor policies? Put people on the National Labor Relations Board who take the purpose of the labor laws—to promote collective bargaining—seriously?

Will he make the Occupational Safety and Health Act a real law and not the dead letter it is now? Will he engineer a public works program that rebuilds the infrastructures of these forgotten towns and puts their citizens to work? Will he look for creative ways to bring these places back to life? Will he do something about public education and get rid of the corporate-inspired and ultra authoritarian No Child Left Behind legislation? Will he fight for college grants for those with little income? Will he bring home the working class wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters from Iraq and Afghanistan? Stop wasting billions of dollars on these criminal wars? Demand that unions be made legal in Iraq?

Obama has failed to say anything meaningful about these matters, and as the campaign drags on, he moves ever further to the right. And if he doesn’t speak to the white working class, how could it be said that he speaks to the black or Hispanic working class either? What about the more than one million black men and women in prison? The gutted and ruined inner cities? The lost manufacturing jobs? The millions of immigrants now being treated as criminals, imprisoned and sometimes tortured before being shipped off to their native lands?

I doubt that we will get much from Obama to inspire working men and women, of whatever part of the country, of whatever age, race, or ethnicity. Now he has chosen a pathetic old hack, Joe Biden, to be his running mate. What exactly has Biden done for workers in his more than thirty years in the Senate? That a man who has been in this elite body (whose members’ stock portfolios have performed better than almost anyone else’s) this long can be called 'working class' by Obama himself tell us just how lame U.S. politics are...."

http://www.counterpunch.org/yates08262008.html

steven andresen

I want to insist that our country tolerates slavery, not just in foreign countries. You might think that we do not allow extreme exploitation of workers in this country because we have Amendments to our Constitution that prohibits such things. But laws are only as good as you enforce them. Here is a story about how we exploit immigrant workers:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/20/iowa_town_turned_into_open_air

The Rev, Ouderkirk finishes his remarks talking about the treatment these workers experienced at the plant, where they were subsequently arrested for immigration violations,

"...PAUL OUDERKIRK: Well, you mentioned one thing that we have seen a lot firsthand, and that is the protection of the workers. We know that they are mistreated. A couple were beaten. They were asked to work faster when a line was going already so fast they could barely keep up to it.


When I was pastor here, I saw many cases of carpal tunnel, because they had heavy electronic knives that they had to swing over their heads to cut the legs of chickens and turkeys day after day.


We had the case of a young man whose—he was working on a machine. It got blocked. They shut it down. He reached in to unblock it, and his own foreman turned it on, and he lost a hand. And to this date, he doesn’t receive very much compensation from the plant. He’s seeking to get his just dues there.


But we saw people that were cut and others who were illegally charged for buying their own safety work clothes, when the plant should provide that. They were charged for washing. Different deductions were taken out of their checks that were never explained to them..."

I'm sure we could multiply this case. The point is, we tolerate slavery and the Senators running for President have no commitment to do anything about it.


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