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While other states are working overtime to deny people the right the vote, California just made voting a whole lot easier thanks to the work of our amazing Secretary of State, Debra Bowen.

Have a valid CA driver's license or state issued ID card? Not registered to vote or have moved since the last election? Well now you can register to vote on your laptop or mobile device thanks to a new online voter registration program launched yesterday.

Go to this link to get started:

You must file an application by Oct. 22 to qualify to vote for the November election.

According to the California Secretary of State's website, all you need to do is provide your ID number from a valid California drivers license or state-issued identification card, the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, and your date of birth in order to file electronically.

The online system will search the Department of Motor Vehicles database for the applicant's driver's license and other identifying information and match it to the electronic form. Elections officials will use an electronic image of the voter's DMV signature to complete the application.

All electronic applications will be verified using the same process used to review paper applications submitted by mail or voter registration drives.

Those without a California drivers license, state ID or Social Security number can still fill out an application online, but they will have to print it out, sign it and mail it in.

Voters need to register to vote every time they change addresses, party affiliation or if they wish to become permanent absentee (vote-by-mail) voters.

"Today, the Internet replaces the mailbox for thousands of Californians wishing to register to vote," Secretary of State Bowen said at a Sacramento news conference. According to Bowen, 9,596 applications were filed online in the first 18 hours of the system's operations Wednesday.

California has one of the lowest rates of voter registration in the country, with more than a quarter of eligible Californians unregistered according to Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. "We're hoping that this new system will encourage more young people to get registered. This is going to make the process more accessible to more people."

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
                                                                                                 - Winston Churchill
National Equality March - October 11, 2009
National Equality March on Washington - October 11, 2009

Obama USC Rally - October 22, 2010
A lone 'Get Equal' protestor confronts Obama at a campaign rally in Los Angeles, CA - October 22, 2010


Today in the War on Women: New Hanover Commissioners choose not to accept family planning funds

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners (in North Carolina) unanimously voted to turn down a state family planning grant that would cover contraceptive supplies along with other medical services related to family planning.

Commissioner Rick Catlin, who represents the commissioners on the county's health board, said he also voted against accepting the funds when the item was on the health board's agenda.

He said he was concerned with answers to questions he asked about the funds.

"The answers that I got were that there were patients that were not being responsible with existing family planning that was being offered and that this would provide a more reliable solution for those people", Catlin said at Monday afternoon's commissioners meeting.

He added that he had an issue with "using taxpayer dollars to fund someone's irresponsibility."

The county's health department was awarded $8,899 in family planning funds that would "provide medical services related to family planning including physician's consultation, examination, prescription, continuing supervision, laboratory examination and contraceptive supplies," according to a budget amendment item included in documents for Monday's commissioners meeting. The county was not required to match the state grant.

Chairman Ted Davis said he thought it was a sad day when "taxpayers are asked to pay money for contraceptives" for women having sex without planning responsibly.

"If these young women are being responsible and didn't have the sex to begin with, we wouldn't have this problem to begin with," Davis said.

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said he was "one of those abstinence guys" and agreed with Davis' comment.

I'm sure this will be shocking news to all of you (not), but the 5 New Hanover County Commissioner are all men. No women on that board at all.

I'll make this short and sweet - here's the Commissioners contact information.

Feel free to let them know how you feel. If you do get a hold of a commissioner, please report the conversation in the comments.

Chairman - Ted Davis
Office (910) 763-6249

Vice-Chairman - Jonathan Barfield, Jr.
Office (910) 233-8780

Commissioner - Jason Thompson
Office (910) 798-7260

Commissioner - Brian Berger
Cell (910) 431-3115

Commissioner - Rick Catlin
Cell (910) 547-2724


In the comments, I joked that I hoped the commissioner's wives withheld marital favors until their husbands had a major attitude adjustment.

Well, it turns out at least one wife may have threatened just that:

The vote has caused enough controversy that at least one commissioner is backtracking.

Commissioner and Democrat Jonathan Barfield says he now regrets his vote and that the commissioners should have taken the grant money.  On his Facebook page, Barfield wrote:

"I'm getting a good lesson from my wife right this minute on the error of my vote," he posted around 7:30 p.m.

"I just interviewed with WECT as I cited the error of my vote. I don't have the right to choose for any woman. If you watch the tape of the meeting you'll get a better sense of the discussion. Bottom line we should have accepted the money," he posted around 8:15 p.m.


According to a report published by the AFL-CIO, online piracy costs content providers (mostly TV networks and movie studios) a lot of money. Around $20 billion annually. That, in turn, costs a staggering number of industry-related jobs - over 140,000 by some estimates.

As  a freelance film editor,  this scares the hell out of me.  If the  networks and studios I work for don't make money, sooner or later I'm  out of a job. And if I'm out of a job long enough, I lose my union  health benefits, my pension, the whole ball of wax.

I know it scares the hell out of my union, IATSE, judging by numerous emailswarning how my livelihood is in grave danger from "foreign rogue sites" dedicated to wholesale theft of the intellectual property of my employers.

On the flip side, there were petitions filing my inbox from internet watchdog groups urging me to tell Congress to "preserve free speech", and that if I didn't, the "internet as we know it" would cease to exist.

Now, if you don't know what they're talking about, you're not not alone. Until I started getting these emails, I too was blissfully ignorant about the alphabet-soup of anti-piracy  legislation currently grinding it's way through the bowels of Congress -  the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.

But as I researched the bills and clawed my way though mountains of evidence on both sides predicting internet Armageddon, I quickly realized online piracy (and the solutions being put forth to curb it) is something we don't have the luxury to ignore. Because what happens in the next month could profoundly affect many aspect of our lives, not just how we interact online.

So I'll make you a deal: If you'll stick around to read this, I'll spare you the hyperbole and techno-speak and explain what I've learned in plain English.

Please, let my pain be your gain.

Continue Reading

Last Wednesday, I wrote an extensive piece on how I, as a Hollywood professional, cannot support the anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA. Out of everything I wrote, I received the most feedback for this passage:

What do Darrell Issa, Nancy Pelosi, the ACLU, Daily Kos,, Markos Moulitsas and Ron Paul have in common? They all oppose SOPA/PIPA.

Personally, I've never agreed with Darrel Issa on any issue ever, but I agree with him on this. How is this possible? Because the divide over SOPA/PIPA isn't political, it's between those who understand how the internet works and those who don't.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at two websites which normally inhabit diametrically opposing ends of the political spectrum; Daily Kos and RedState.

"There’s simply nothing partisan about this issue." wrote Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas for The Hill,  "Social media have been critical to both the Tea Party and Occupy movements, to trade unionists and anti-abortion groups alike.... The question isn’t whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, it’s whether you prize freedom of speech and freedom of the press for all, over the narrow intellectual-property concerns of a few."

RedState founder Erik Erikson is so incensed about the legislation, he's threatening to primary it's Congressional supporters......and - incredibly - called on left to join him in that fight. 

"This battle is so important — and is one of those rare fights where the left and right are united against Congress — that I suggest the left and right unite and pledge to defeat in primaries every person named as a sponsor on H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act.", Erikson posted. "This might mean some allies are taken out. It might mean we take out Marsha Blackburn on the right and Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the left. But sometimes a fight is that important..... Letting the Attorney General of the United States shut down the internet as he wants, whether it be Eric Holder or a future John Ashcroft, should scare the mess out of every American."

The bipartisan pressure seems to be working. In the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)  says he'll "delay" implementation of DNS blocking until "further study". In the House, Lamar Smith (R-TX) says he'll remove DNS blocking altogether. And yesterday, the White House issued a statement saying the President wouldn't support anti-pirating legislation "that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."

It's a step in the right direction, but it's not enough. There are too many weasel words in all these declarations. Now simply isn't the time to let up.

Which is why I'm asking both RedState and Daily Kos to join a blackout action planned for Wednesday, January 18th. 

From 8am - 8pm EST, thousands of websites - including Reddit, BoingBoing, Mozilla, and TwitPic (to name a few) - will go dark. Users trying to access those sites will instead be redirected to a "blackout" page livestreaming a hearing called by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) to give technical experts and critics of the bills the chance to testify before the House Oversight Committee. Users will also be asked to contact Congress and voice opposition to the bills.

I can't think of a better way to send a powerful message to both Congress and the mainstream media that opposition to these bills transcends the political and should, as Erikson put it, "scare the mess out of every American."

Cross-posted at


Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 11:28 AM PST

UC Davis: Speechless (updated 3x)

by msblucow

Turn off your TV. Put down the phone.

Just watch.

From reporter Lee Fang, who witnessed the scene last night.

A pretty remarkable thing just happened. A press conference, scheduled for 4:00pm between the UC Davis Chancellor and police with local press on campus, did not end in an hour, as planned. Instead, a mass of Occupy Davis students and sympathizers mobilized outside, demanding to have their voice heard. After some initial confusion, UC Chancellor Linda Katehi refused to leave the building, attempting to give the media the impression that the students were somehow holding her hostage.

A group of highly organized students formed a large gap for the chancellor to leave. They chanted “we are peaceful” and “just walk home,” but nothing changed for several hours. Eventually student representatives convinced the chancellor to leave after telling their fellow students to sit down and lock arms (around 7:00pm).

The video is so quiet you can hear the echo of Katehi's shoes on the concrete. The students remain seated, staring at her with disdain, less than 24 hours after the police Katehi ordered to disperse the protestors forcibly opened the mouths of some of the them to shove pepper spray down their throats.

I'm in awe of these UC students, here and in Berkeley, who have consistently adhered to the principles of creative, non-violent civil disobedience. They've punched through the conscience of a nation, laying bare the militarization of our domestic police force while simultaneously taking control of their own narrative.

These kids can't easily be characterized as "dirty hippies" deserving what they get by the main stream media. Although, of course, they're trying, by pushing the police narrative that they had "no choice" because they were "surrounded" by protestors.  

The videos show unambiguously what a bright shining lie that is.

The protestors have focus, purpose. They know why they're there. And now, thanks to their discipline, the rest of the country will too.

We can help. Sign this petition to Governor Jerry Brown, Lt.  Governor Gavin Newsom, and the UC Board of Regents demanding Chancellor  Katehi's resignation.

Click on this link to sign.

Then, imagine if you will,  thousands of these silent, reproachful demonstrations happening at corporate headquarters all over the country, on Wall Street, in the halls of Congress. How, well, unnerving that would be.

Yes, we can.


Two of the UC Davis police officers have been put on leave.

Two University of California, Davis police officers involved in pepper-spraying seated protesters are being placed on administrative leave as the chancellor of the school accelerates the investigation into the incident.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi on Sunday said she has been inundated with reaction over the incident, in which an officer dispassionately fires pepper spray on a line of sitting demonstrators.

Video of the incident was circulated widely on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on Saturday, in which protesters flinch and cover their faces but remain passive with their arms interlocked, as onlookers shriek and scream out for the officer to stop.

The university's faculty association called on Katehi to resign, saying in a letter there had been a "gross failure of leadership."

Katehi said she takes "full responsibility for the incident" but has resisted calls for her resignation, instead pledging to take actions to make sure "that this does not happen again."


Kristin Stoneking, the woman seen in the video accompanying Katehi, wrote a long post on Facebook explaining the circumstances leading up to that video.

I include it here in it's entirety. It's worth reading to the very end.

At 5pm, as my family and I left Davis so that I could attend the American Academy of Religion annual meetings in San Francisco, I received a call from Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro informing me that she, Chancellor Katehi and others were trapped inside Surge II.  She asked if I could mediate between students and administration.  I was reluctant; I had already missed a piece of the meetings due to commitments in Davis and didn’t want to miss any more.  I called a student (intentionally not named here) and learned that students were surrounding the building but had committed to a peaceful, silent exit for those inside and had created a clear walkway to the street.  We turned the car around and headed back to Davis.

When I arrived, there was a walkway out of the building set up, lined on both sides by about 300 students. The students were organized and peaceful. I was cleared to enter the building along with a student who is a part of CA House and has been part of the Occupy movement on campus since the beginning.  He, too, was reluctant, but not because he had somewhere else to be.  For any student to act as a spokesperson or leader is inconsistent with the ethos the Occupy movement.  He entered as an individual seeking peace and resolution, not as a representative of the students, and was clear that he had called for and would continue to call for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation.

Once inside, and through over an hour of conversation, we learned the following:

The Chancellor had made a commitment that police would not be called in this situation

Though the message had been received inside the building that students were offering a peaceful exit, there was a concern that not everyone would hold to this commitment

The Chancellor had committed to talk with students personally and respond to concerns at the rally on Monday on the quad

The student assistants to the Chancellor had organized another forum on Tuesday for the Chancellor to dialogue directly with students

What we felt couldn’t be compromised on was the students’ desire to see and be seen by the Chancellor.  Any exit without face to face contact was unacceptable.  She was willing to do this. We reached agreement that the students would move to one side of the walkway and sit down as a show of commitment to nonviolence.

Before we left, the Chancellor was asked to view a video of the student who was with me being pepper sprayed. She immediately agreed.  Then, he and I witnessed her witnessing eight minutes of the violence that occurred Friday.  Like a recurring nightmare, the horrific scene and the cries of “You don’t have to do this!” and students choking and screaming rolled again.  The student and I then left the building and using the human mike, students were informed that a request had been made that they move to one side and sit down so that the Chancellor could exit.  They immediately complied, though I believe she could have left peacefully even without this concession.

I returned to the building and walked with the Chancellor down the human walkway to her car.  Students remained silent and seated the entire way.

What was clear to me was that once again, the students’ willingness to show restraint kept us from spiraling into a cycle of violence upon violence.  There was no credible threat to the Chancellor, only a perceived one.  The situation was not hostile. And what was also clear to me is that whether they admit it or not, the administrators that were inside the building are afraid.  And exhausted.  And human.  And the suffering that has been inflicted is real.  The pain present as the three of us watched the video of students being pepper sprayed was palpable.  A society is only truly free when all persons take responsibility for their actions; it is only upon taking responsibility that healing can come.    

Why did I walk the Chancellor to her car?  Because I believe in the humanity of all persons.  Because I believe that people should be assisted when they are afraid.  Because I believe that in showing compassion we embrace a nonviolent way of life that emanates to those whom we refuse to see as enemies and in turn leads to the change that we all seek.  I am well aware that my actions were looked on with suspicion by some tonight, but I trust that those seeking a nonviolent solution will know that “just means lead to just ends” and my actions offered dignity not harm.

The Chancellor was not trapped in Surge II tonight, but, in a larger sense, we are all in danger of being trapped.  We are trapped when we assent to a culture that for decades, and particularly since 9/11, has allowed law enforcement to have more and more power which has moved us into an era of hypercriminalization. We are trapped when we envision no path to reconciliation.

And we are trapped when we forget our own power.  The students at UC Davis are to be commended for resisting that entrapment, using their own power nonviolently.  I pray that the Chancellor will remember her own considerable power in making change on our campus, and in seeking healing and reconciliation.


It's not surprising, given escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, that the Iranian government would seize on a domestic incident like this and twist it around to serve its own purposes. Justified or not, this gives the phrase, "The whole world is watching." a whole new meaning, doesn't it?


Venice, California resident Peter Thottam recently made headlines when he set up a website, "Occupy The Rose Parade", and put out a call for "'40,000 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters and supporters to come together from across California, New York and rest of the USA & World" to disrupt the Pasadena Rose Parade.

If you're considering participating in the event, or donating funds, I ask you to read this first before you do so.

Back in 2010, Thottam made headlines for a far different reason when the Daily Breeze newspaper ran an investigative report on Thottam, who at the time was a candidate for the 53d Assembly District.

As a candidate for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's 53rd Assembly District primary, Peter Thottam has stressed his financial expertise.

But the Venice resident's financial acumen - and his judgment - has been called into question by his brother and sister in a drawn-out probate case over their late mother's will.

Allegations leveled against Thottam by his siblings in court documents related to the trust set up for them include:

That his brother and sister, Jameson and Elizabeth, were "considering removing Peter as a co-trustee because Peter lost $800,000 playing the stock market and misappropriated rents" from a property belonging to the trust "to cover margin calls on his personal stock account."

That he was "an unsuitable trustee because he was convicted of shoplifting from the UC Irvine bookstore and was previously caught shoplifting from a clothing store on the East Coast and again shoplifting from a store in Mexico where he was subsequently placed in jail."

Prominent on Thottam's website arevarious links to Paypal. Supporters who can't make the protest in person are strongly  encouraged to make donations via an "Occupy The Rose Parade"  account.

"We need funds from OWS supporters," writes Thottam,  "to enable us  to obtain banners, pamphlets (for on-site distribution), and for the  BackBone Campaign's "human float" & other visuals during Occupy  The Rose Parade outreach."

Emails sent to potential supporters via a Google listserve also push hard for donations,  "This has the potential to be huge," writes Thottam,  "but it requires as many occupiers as possible putting in $10, $20, in order to make it happen."

Organizers for Occupy Pasadena say they are not connected  to "Occupy The Rose Parade" and no mention of Thottam or his plans  appear on the group's website.  Occupy Pasadena activists told the  Pasadena Star News it's unlikely the Rose Parade protest will get  support from their group.

 "Disrupting cherished city traditions is really not an appropriate step to take."

"It  is tempting to leverage all that media, but the parade feels like it's  something that is such a part of the fabric of Pasadena that we don't  want to go there," said Maddie Gavel-Briggs, 46, of Pasadena, and a activist.

Continue Reading

Occupy Oakland injury

Less than 24 hours after Oakland police forcibly cleared the encampments of Occupy Oakland with tear gas and rubber bullets, Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl is telling Occupy protestors in Los Angeles it's "time to move on."

"They've made their statement. I agree with their statement, but it is time to move on. The trees are in the process of being impacted. The grass is being impacted. Other activities that we need to do on the lawns are being put on the back burner," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

In Oakland, where nearly 200 Occupy protesters had taken up residence, police moved in, claiming the encampment had become a health hazard. Police in riot gear arrested 85 protesters on Tuesday....

Some Los Angeles protesters said despite concerns about damaged grass and run-ins with police at similar encampments across the country, they plan to stand their ground on the lawn of City Hall.....

"I frankly think if we can be civil about it, they should get the message that it's time to move on from our lawn at City Hall. It is everybody's lawn, not just those with their tents right now," said Rosendahl.

Only three weeks ago, Rosendahl and other City Council members were described as "giddy" in their support of Occupy Los Angeles.

Continue Reading

Do a Google News search with the words "Occupy Wall Street" and/or "Yom Kippur" or "Sukkot". Got it? Good. Now do another search with the words "Occupy Wall Street" and "anti-semitic".

Notice anything? I did.

The first search will get you about 60 blog posts about the various Yom Kippur and Sukkot services being held at Occupy Wall Street protests around the country.

The second search will get you three times as many articles from major mainstream TV, print, and internet news outlets (Washington Post, Politico, Forbes, The Daily Caller, etc...) describing Occupy Wall Street protests as having a "problem." with antisemitism.

It's a pattern as predictable as it is infuriating. First, Rush Limbaugh, then conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks began cherry picking isolated antisemitic incidents to undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Continue Reading

Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 07:43 AM PDT

msblucow goes to Washington

by msblucow

Whether you're a supporter of President Obama, or his harshest critic, Obamabot, EmoProg, or Firebagger, no matter what side of the pie fight you find yourself on today, I'm going to ask you to hang in there and read what I promise you is going to be a very long diary.


Because for one day last week this kossak - a community organizer with no professional interest in politics, and who couldn't lobby her way out of a paper bag - brought the hopes, fears, and messages of 1,300 others just like me (and you) directly to key White House officials, staffers and cabinet members in a way I never hoped or thought possible.

And they listened.


On the last week of August, I received one of "those" emails. You know the ones, sincere emails from OFA and the DCCC promising you dinner with the President if only you'd donate $3 by midnight tonight.

This one asked, "Would you like to join us at the White House?". Out of reflex, I almost deleted it, except I realized it was coming from someone I actually knew and had collaborated with, Rick Jacobs, founder of the California Courage Campaign.

Dear Marta,

The Courage Campaign would like to extend an invitation to you as a key California progressive supporter and leader for a "California Day" at the White House in Washington, D.C. on September 23, 2011. Organized by Courage Campaign and hosted by The White House Office of Public Engagement, the purpose of this day-long conference is to meet with key Administration, policy, and political experts to talk about issues and plans that affect California.

It must be a joke, I thought. No joke, Rick assured me. This was real.

Why me, I asked? I'm not a politician or a lobbyist. I don't head up a non-profit, and I have zero interest in ever running for office (I like my day job). And since 2008, when I volunteered as a Regional Field Organizer for the Obama campaign, I've become progressively (pun intended) more critical of the Obama administration and OFA, harsh even. This entry in my blog,, is not untypical:

In 2008, I took a six-month unpaid leave of absence to work on the Obama campaign. In fact, I was a Regional Field Organizer in Southern California. I also maxed out my campaign donations - the first time I've ever done that in my life.

Not in 2012. Next year, I'll be turning my focus on retaking the House, keeping the Senate, and electing good Democrats in local races.

I highly recommend many of you do the same.

If I went, I told Rick, I have no incentive to tone it down. In fact, the only way I'd agree to go is if I were allowed to speak my mind. I'd be respectful, but I would not hold back.

"We're counting on it.", Rick said.

And that's how, on September 23d, I came to be in the auditorium of the Old Executive Office Building with a hundred other California activists, DFA organizers, labor and union leaders, non-profit representatives, key White House officials, staffers and cabinet David Plouffe a piece of my mind.

(our fearless leader, Rick Jacobs with Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis)

Continue Reading

If you were in a room with David Plouffe, Valerie Jerrett, and other members of President Obama's inner circle, what you say to them, right now, if you had the chance?

Think hard about that, because if I have my way, in two days you'll get that chance.

I've been asked to be a part of the California Courage Campaign's delegation of activists and organizers who will meet with top White House staff and advisors this Friday to participate in the White House's Community Leaders Briefing Series.

Since I'm going in my capacity as a community organizer, I feel it's important to use this opportunity for unfiltered access to make sure your voice heard.

Click on this link to fill out our short survey.


My apologies for the short notice, but I will need time to tabulate the results so I can present them to White House officials on Friday.

This is an amazing opportunity, and I'm truly humbled to be a part of it. The survey isn't perfect, I'm sure I've left out some issues people care about. But I've made to sure to leave room at the end so you can compose a message in your own words.

Please take a few minutes, click on this link to fill out the survey and let the Obama administration know what you care about most leading up to the 2012 elections.

Now is the time. Take ownership. Make your voice heard.
Continue Reading

If you were in a room with David Plouffe, Valerie Jerrett, and other members of President Obama's inner circle, what you say to them, right now, if you had the chance?

Think hard about that, because if I have my way, you'll get that chance.

I've been asked to be a part of the California Courage Campaign's delegation of activists and organizers who will meet with top White House staff and advisors this Friday to participate in the White House's Community Leaders Briefing Series.

Since I'm going in my capacity as a community organizer, I feel it's important to use this opportunity for unfiltered access to make sure your voice heard.

Click on this link to fill out our short survey.


My apologies for the short notice, but I will need time to tabulate the results so I can present them to White House officials on Friday.

This is an amazing opportunity, and I'm truly humbled to be a part of it. The survey isn't perfect, I'm sure I've left out some issues people care about. But I've made to sure to leave room at the end so you can compose a message in your own words.

Please take a few minutes, click on this link to fill out the survey and let the Obama administration know what you care about most leading up to the 2012 elections.

Now is the time. Take ownership. Make your voice heard.
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