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Potential Republican presidential candidate former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015.   REUTERS/Jim Young   - RTX1AA2E
Carly Fiorina
Failed Hewlett-Packard CEO and third-tier Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is hoping to use political reporters' resentment of Hillary Clinton's habit of ignoring them to boost herself:
"Carly Fiorina is speaking in downtown Columbia, SC on Wednesday. And guess what? So is Hillary Clinton," Fiorina spokeswoman Sarah I. Flores wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

"We know it must be hard covering the Hillary for America But Against Transparency campaign," Flores said. "Leading by example, Carly will host a media availability outside the Columbia Marriott at 12:00pm on Wednesday."

Clinton will be inside the Columbia hotel shortly thereafter, holding another in her series of campaign roundtables.

Leading by the example of begging for attention however she can get it, attacking Hillary Clinton in a campaign with no major rationale for existing beyond attacking Hillary Clinton. Ooh, that's newsworthy. Let's all rush to see if Carly Fiorina has anything different to say than in all her previous efforts to make herself relevant, because this one is happening outside a Clinton event.

It's kind of like when the Republican National Committee had a guy in a squirrel costume following Clinton around to attract media attention and score political points, except this time it's a presidential candidate. (Question: Would it be any worse for Carly Fiorina's dignity if she put on the squirrel costume?)

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, potential Republican presidential candidate, waits to speak at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 21, 2015.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX1E0OQ
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)
Here's Gov. Scott Walker trying to paint his forced-ultrasound-before-abortion law as a generous gift from him to the women of Wisconsin:
“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” he said. “Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”
There's a little bit of difference between an ultrasound of a desired pregnancy late enough in the game that you can see limbs and so on and an ultrasound mandated by the state to coerce you out of terminating a pregnancy, which will in the overwhelming majority of cases be happening before any details are clearly visible to the untrained eye. You don't have to think highly of Scott Walker's intelligence to believe that even he can understand that.

No, what we're talking about is a procedure that's considered medically unnecessary for first-trimester abortions (though some clinics do routinely do ultrasounds even in the absence of laws requiring them). And while the Wisconsin law is billed as allowing women to choose between a transvaginal or abdominal ultrasound, the reality is that in early pregnancy, transvaginal is required to get a clear view of things, because the fetus is so small at that point. So what are they requiring? Journalist Megan Carpentier went through a transvaginal ultrasound as part of her reporting on such laws:

... it was vigorously uncomfortable — more than a typical pelvic exam, with which most women are very familiar. In part, it’s more uncomfortable because the technician has to press the wand directly against the areas she wants to get an image of — your uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries — so there’s more movement and more direct contact with pressure-sensitive areas of your body; you’re also not lying flat on your back to facilitate access to the upper reaches of your vagina; and you’re being penetrated with a longer, rigid object than is used in a regular pelvic exam.
Your mileage may vary on "vigorously" uncomfortable—in my experience it's run-of-the-mill doctor's office uncomfortable, but still not something I'd like to bring Scott Walker in on. And frankly, while everyone talks about transvaginal ultrasounds as obviously the more unpleasant scenario, abdominal ultrasounds are not a walk in the park, either. But beyond the physical discomfort, we are, again, talking about the state mandating a medically unnecessary procedure. The grandparents are not going to be pulling out their iPhones to show these pictures. It is not a "cool" or "lovely" memento of your abortion. Let's force Scott Walker to have a medically unnecessary colonoscopy and see how lovely he thinks that is.
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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a news conference after the weekly party caucus policy luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT) - RTR4STHJ
The Senate did something remarkable in the early hours of Saturday morning; they defeated the politics of fear and defeated Mitch McConnell by refusing to go along with his plan to renew the Patriot Act's dragnet surveillance and to put the program in serious jeopardy of expiring at the end of this week. McConnell announced he'll call the Senate back a day early, on Sunday, to try once again to pass an extension of some sort before the law expires at midnight. At this point, however, his options are limited and the House holds almost all the cards.
If negotiators accept minor changes to the House bill, it will mark a significant retreat for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The two men have said phone companies, which would collect the data instead of the N.S.A. under the USA Freedom Act, are not equipped to handle the task.

Even face-saving changes will be difficult. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and one of the authors of the House bill, said the demands of Senate Republicans were “a lot of nonsense.” Democrats and many libertarian-minded Republicans would rather allow any eavesdropping authority to lapse than to give in.

The House has compromised, watering down what was a very strong USA Freedom Act from last year to one that they had hoped would have a better reception in the Senate. McConnell got in the way of that, with his belligerent insistence that the Patriot Act remain unchanged, despite the fact that the House, and a federal court, have made it clear that's not going to happen. McConnell thought he could bully his way through, and failed. Spectacularly.

His options now are perhaps even more limited than they were before Saturday. Senators have demonstrated that they aren't going to mindlessly vote to "keep us safe" when doing so is in clear violation of the law, and potentially the constitution. That hasn't stopped some hawks, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) from trying to exploit the situation by introducing pro-surveillance "compromises," but given the massive loss the pro-surveillance side was dealt Saturday, the privacy caucus is buoyed and the House's position strengthened. There isn't going to be any incentive for the reformers in the Senate to make this easy for McConnell. And that's just his Senate problem.

The House spent a long time crafting a bill that could draw enough bipartisan support to pass, and it did overwhelmingly. They might not really be in the mood to make changes to it just for McConnell to save face. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, points out, "[i]f you go and monkey around with the USA Freedom Act now, you will definitely have a lapse in capabilities. […] That seems patently unnecessary." If it happens, it's all McConnell's fault.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Will "What difference, at this point, does it make" be the "You didn't build that" of 2016—an out-of-context sentence from a Democrat that Republicans think they can leverage into something electorally huge, despite all evidence to the contrary? Rand Paul sure seems to think so, in a passage from his new book that's getting attention for another reason entirely:
“I believe judgment day for Benghazi is also at hand,” writes Paul. “When the secretary of state answers a question concerning the murders of six Americans, including an American ambassador, by saying, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’ I think that’s a pretty clear indication that it’s time for that person to go. It’s 3 a.m., Mrs. Clinton. The phone is ringing. The American people deserve to know why you never bothered to answer it.”
Yes, in talking about how important the Benghazi attack was, Paul gets the number of Americans killed wrong: it was four, not six, and the publisher will be correcting that. But since Republicans are likely to return to "What difference, at this point, does it make" more than once, let's remind ourselves what Clinton was saying. Months after the attack, she was testifying before a Senate committee and, in response to repeated questions about why then-Ambassador Susan Rice characterized the attack as coming out of a protest, and accusations that the Obama administration was purposely misleading the public, Clinton said:
With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. [...] But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.
In other words, "Maybe we can be a little more interested in tracking these guys down than in what Susan Rice said on the Sunday talk shows?" But, for one thing, Republicans are overwhelmingly interested in talking points and Sunday talk shows, because those so often take the place of actual policy in the Republican mind, and for another, the idea that the Obama administration would try to find out what happened through an investigation in which different theories prevailed at different times is a very difficult mindset to understand for a party that saw the 9/11 attacks as a useful pretext for going to war with a country that wasn't involved in them.

And now Republicans want get the public to think Clinton was expressing lack of interest, saying "What difference does it make" as an excuse for not investigating what happened in Benghazi rather than as a dismissal of the whining over what Susan Rice said on the Sunday shows, because heaven knows they haven't yet got much else to use against Clinton in 2016.

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Wed May 27, 2015 at 07:00 AM PDT

Cartoon: Reasonable measures

by Matt Bors

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill

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Drone video of flooding in Central Texas over Memorial Day weekend.

The drought in Texas ended with a wet, thundering bang last weekend, but the political hypocrisy may just be getting started. The Lone Star State is currently ruled by the worst sort of Tea Party Republicans. We brought you Senator hopes-to-be-President of the Confederate-States-of-America Ted Cruz and Louie the-dumbest-man-in-Congress Gohmert just to name a couple. We even elected this clown:

West, TX is represented in Congress by Bill Flores, who is also asking that the government declare the impacted area a federal disaster—and is requesting federal money. [...] Mr. Flores was one of the 67 members of the House of Representatives who voted against the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief.
Spending is only big and bad and out of control when it helps people Bill Flores and his ilk don't care about. Case in point, it's now flooding down in Texas:
This is when Texas nationalists and secessionists really look foolish. With 46 counties now declared disaster areas by Gov. Greg Abbott and no end in sight until summer, Texas welcomes federal officials and disaster relief.

Texas Task Force 1 and soldiers and pilots of the Texas Military Forces — the National Guard units and Texas State Guard — have worked round-the-clock to save motorists in Krum, lift away flood victims in Cleburne and search for the missing in Wimberley. But if anyone needs convincing, this reminds us Texas can’t go it alone.

And why would we want or expect to go it alone? Texans pay income tax and other federal fees just like any other state's residents. Some of our politicians may be bug-fuck crazy—or they may simply be off the chart cynical, it's not clear which is worse. But by and large we are full of kind, big-hearted people. When neighboring states or nearby foreign countries suffer the wrath of nature or the callous nature of man, Texans are often among the first volunteers on the front line rendering aid.

So, when Texas Tea Party Republicans seek to deprive taxpayers in any state of their own money, in some cases money and resources specifically earmarked for disaster relief, maybe it's time for voters of all stripes to re-examine that party's notion about what Americans expect and deserve from their elected representatives.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Jeff Singer
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (R) arrives for a vote on whether to overturn a presidential veto of the Keystone XL pipeline, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 4, 2015. The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to overturn Obama's veto of legislation ap
Republican Sen. John McCain will face a credible Democratic foe next year
Leading Off:

AZ-Sen: Tuesday morning brought some exciting news for Arizona Democrats, as Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced she'd run against veteran GOP Sen. John McCain, who is seeking a sixth term in the Senate. It's a welcome but unexpected development: Kirkpatrick, who holds a vast, GOP-leaning seat in the state's northeast, had long been on the DSCC's wish list but had never spoken publicly about her interest in taking on McCain. Her entry instantly makes this race competitive, as a recent PPP poll showed McCain with a horrific 36-51 statewide approval rating and just a 42-36 lead on Kirkpatrick.

Those are very weak numbers for an incumbent, particularly in a red state like Arizona, but McCain actually faces a double-barreled threat. Hardcore conservatives have long despised McCain for his many apostasies—he's always preferred hobnobbing with the Sunday talk show set rather than party with the tea partiers—and he's already earned a primary challenge from state Sen. Kelli Ward. That same PPP poll found McCain up just 44-31 on the unknown Ward among Republican voters, another terribly weak result.

Ward's not a strong candidate, though (she's a "chemtrail" conspiracy theorist who's been spurned by anti-establishment groups like the Club for Growth), and McCain handily dispatched a similarly unimpressive primary opponent back in 2010. But Ward could keep McCain occupied, draining his coffers and dragging him to the right, as Kirkpatrick travels the state and raises money. And if a better option emerges in the GOP primary for the purity brigades, it's possible McCain might not even earn his party's nomination.

Democrats, though, can only hope for so much, and they're already quite fortunate that they've landed someone like Kirkpatrick, who has experience winning on difficult turf. However, her candidacy comes at a price. Kirkpatrick's 1st Congressional District went for Mitt Romney by a 50-48 margin, making it one of just five red seats held by a Democrat anywhere in the country, and odds are it will now return to the Republicans.

That's not just because it's a tough district for a Democrat to win: A case pending before the Supreme Court could invalidate Arizona's entire congressional map if the justices decide that the state's independent redistricting commission runs afoul of the constitution. If that happens, the GOP-dominated legislature would get to redraw the lines, and they'd make Kirkpatrick's district even more inhospitable for Democrats.

So the Senate race actually offers Kirkpatrick something of an escape hatch. A statewide win won't be easy, but when you combine McCain's unpopularity, the possibility that he gets dinged up in his primary, and the fact that Democrats nationwide should benefit from increased presidential turnout, that gives Kirkpatrick a real chance. (In 2012, Team Blue fell just 3 points short in Arizona's Senate race.) What's more, it improves Democratic odds of retaking the Senate, where the party needs a minimum of four seats to return to the majority.

There's also the outside chance that if Hillary Clinton tries expanding the presidential playing field, she could look to Arizona as a "reach" state. Kirkpatrick and Senate Democrats would love to see that, but whether or not that happens, we've got a real race on our hands. And for once, my friends, there's no way even the most sycophantic Beltway blowhard can spin this as good news for John McCain.

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Technically, it's only been a day and a half since they got the Kagro in the Morning Super Computer in their hands, so they're still well within the predicted range for the repairs. You go, Apple repair persons!

Today was going to be a scheduled absence, anyway. So in a sense, it's a free day for the repair. Still, I gather you're all getting rather impatient for a new show. And so am I! And I'll be Greg is, too!

In the meantime, we're forced to bring you yet another rerun, this time the May 29, 2014 show today:

Greg Dworkin gets us back on track with his roundup this morning. More from Kinsley. Why he's wrong. EPA to regulate emissions by executive authority, and the likely fallout. Terry Lynn Land is terrible. McConnell fares no better. And could Andrew Cuomo be a test case for pulling Hillary left? Want to help Charles Gaba help MI? Gun news roundup: a public AR-15 whoopsie; WalMart #GunFAIL nearly took out a newborn infant; more bullets fly in Isla Vista. Conclusion of Andrew O'Hehir's "The empire strikes back," and the start of Eben Moglen's "Privacy under attack" set us up for some serious discussion of the national security state.

Listen at 9:00 ET, here: Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

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Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

The Josh Duggar shocker takes up a considerable amount of time today. The Boy Scouts of America are finally coming around to reality, it seems. Irish abroad are heading home to vote in today's historic referendum on marriage equality. Greg Dworkin agrees to come in (and fight through technical difficulties) on his birthday to round up stories on ACA's increasing popularity and entrenchment, Chris Christie's attempt at recovery that hometown papers aren't buying, handicapping who gets into the Gop debates, Obama's (un) lame duck status, a peek inside the American Board of Internal Medicine's finances, and Bill O'Reilly's in hot water (and in denial) again. NYT reporter goes way out on a limb on Hillary. Armando joins in to discuss the Duggar & O'Reilly news. Kansas, whose governor blows a lot, takes punishing the poor to a new level. Journos begin admitting they were wrong about the "Fight for $15." Self-driving cars might not necessarily kill us all.

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Things I Learned from Republicans in May:

The giant, pulsating Bin-O-Edumacation is already full to the brim with four days to go. To quote the great Colin Powell: "Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence." So…let's go!

Walmart is practicing sharia law. (Allen West)

If you're running for public office and you lose, it's okay to screw your campaign workers out of their pay until just before you announce your next campaign. (Carly Fiorina)

Fuck the Supreme Court. (Dr. Ben Carson)

Elephant in graduation gown
Yeah, fuck the Supreme Court. (Gov. Mike Huckabee)

The replacement for Obamacare is obvious: the Apple Watch. (Gov. Jeb Bush)

It's possible that homosexuality caused that Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia. (Sandy Rios of AFA)

The government is going to take away the Catholic church's right to free speech. (Sen. Marco Rubio)

Incest should be a capital crime for everyone unless it's a member of the Duggar family. (Jim Bob Duggar)

Women who need an abortion in Wisconsin shouldn’t complain about the state forcing them to get an ultrasound because ultrasounds are a really cool and lovely thing. (Gov. Scott Walker)

Same-sex marriage will turn America into a ghost town. (Focus on the Family)

President Obama has created an environment for the apocalypse to happen as defined by Christians and Muslims. (Chuck Norris)

The best thing to stock up on before the apocalypse happens is veggie burgers and macaroni & cheese. (Jim Bakker)

All that learnin' makes me hungry. Apocalypse burgers for everyone!

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Poll

Do you support the suggestion that Hillary Clinton is better off getting her message out through local and social media and avoiding the beltway political media, aka the "dinosaur press corps"?

60%1461 votes
25%618 votes
6%162 votes
2%70 votes
3%88 votes

| 2399 votes | Vote | Results

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Great "error" page for Bernie Sanders. Love the Brooklyn accent that he's never lost.

TPM:

For Democrats who had hoped to lure Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into a presidential campaign, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders might be the next best thing.

Sanders, who is opening his official presidential campaign Tuesday in Burlington, Vermont, aims to ignite a grassroots fire among left-leaning Democrats wary of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is laying out an agenda in step with the party's progressive wing and compatible with Warren's platform — reining in Wall Street banks, tackling college debt and creating a government-financed infrastructure jobs program.

"I think our views are parallel on many, many issues," Sanders said in an interview with The Associated Press, describing Warren as a "good friend."

Ryan Cooper:
In democracy, the voters decide who wins a presidential election. But the media has great influence over which candidates get serious consideration. So when it comes to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the 2016 race, it's clear that he's getting a raw deal. It's long since time the press gave him the respect he deserves.

Jay Rosen, the New York University journalism professor, has a useful concept for describing the ideology of journalists: nested spheres of legitimacy. These have to do with the way ideas are presented in a piece of journalism. The idea of women's suffrage is presented as non-controversial, thus placed in the "sphere of consensus." The idea that aliens control the government, say, is presented as nuts, thus placed in the "sphere of deviance." The latter ideas are openly presented in the news as illegitimate or insane, if they are not ignored altogether.

What ideas go in which sphere is an inescapable part of journalism, though most reporters don't acknowledge they're doing it. And at the moment, the idea of Bernie Sanders as a candidate is getting placed in the deviant sphere.

More politics and policy (and more Bernie) below the fold.
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Let's have some more cakewalks, 'kay?
Robert D. Kaplan recently wrote a piece (behind a paywall) saying it's time to bring imperialism back to the Middle East, although the editors at Foreign Policy changed the original headline to tone it down a bit. Juan Cole at The Nation writes—What’s Wrong With Robert Kaplan’s Nostalgia for Empire. Excerpts:
Journalist Robert D. Kaplan thinks that what is wrong with the Middle East is a lack of imperialism, and he urges that it be brought back. It is how, he says, most of the world has been ruled by “default.” This argument is so ahistorical and wrong-headed that it takes the breath away. [...]
owls
The idea that the European armies that marched into the region offered order is laughable. They provoked revolt after revolt. They are dates local nationalists still take pride in. There was 1918–20 in Egypt, which forced the British out in 1922. There was 1920 in Iraq, which made London give up any idea of trying to run that country directly, as it did India. There was 1936–39 in Palestine and Syria. The French had to relinquish Syria and Lebanon, having, ironically enough, been weakened by being themselves colonized by Germany. [...]

The Middle East is not facing state collapse because of the lack of empire. European empires themselves drew lines in the desert and instituted policies favoring minorities and dividing and ruling, which continue to haunt the region. A long-term drought has driven millions of farmers from their land in this region, a drought exacerbated by the extra heat in the atmosphere caused by climate change. Water shortages in Raqqa in Syria or Taiz in Yemen are severe, and underpin some of the social turmoil.

The collapse of the socialist state after the fall of the Soviet Union and its deterioration into a rule of oligarchs under the impact of neoliberal (market fundamentalist) policies pushed by the West further destabilized these societies. The youth bulge, with hundreds of thousands of new workers trying to enter the work force annually, has presented challenges to these governments that they were unable to overcome. In any case, world regions do witness a great deal of turmoil in modern history. There was a time when Southeast Asia was in flames. It didn’t get back on track from the 1980s forward via Western neocolonialism. Indeed, the US Vietnam War had contributed to the destabilization of Laos and Cambodia. [...]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004The sham handover:

The idiot establishment media is playing along with Bush (as usual) and pretending that the "handover" date has significance beyond the shuffling of a few legal documents.

Fact is, nothing much will change. The decidedly non-liberal Wall Street Journal makes this clear as day:

Haider al-Abadi runs Iraq's Ministry of Communications, but he no longer calls the shots there. Instead, the authority to license Iraq's television stations, sanction newspapers and regulate cellphone companies was recently transferred to a commission whose members were selected by Washington. The commissioners' five-year terms stretch far beyond the planned 18-month tenure of the interim Iraqi government that will assume sovereignty on June 30.

The transfer surprised Mr. Abadi, a British-trained engineer who spent nearly two decades in exile before returning to Iraq last year. He found out the commission had been formally signed into law only when a reporter asked him for comment about it. "No one from the U.S. even found time to call and tell me themselves," he says.

As Washington prepares to hand over power, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly building institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make.


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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by David Nir

Click to enlarge.

Ireland made history last Friday, approving an amendment that enshrined marriage equality in the country's constitution by a wide 62-38 margin. As you can see in the map above, the "yes" vote carried a majority in all except one constituency, and passage of the referendum made Ireland the first country in the world to ensure marriage equality by popular vote. A bill to allow same-sex marriages is expected to be enacted by the end of July, and marriages would follow in early autumn.

Many news reports mentioned the high turnout for the vote, especially among young people. We explore that topic below the fold.

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