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Total number of comments: 35 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:21)

jonathan swift

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  • Syria Veto and the Revenge of the BRICS
    • joseph k winter 02/05/2012 at 2:16 pm

      This article is more thorough than Escobar's, with a similar analysis, and comment on the report he referenced: link to

      The point about Bahrain is good. Mercenaries from foreign countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar) intervened there to subdue the protests, and now (according to the above sources mentioned, including report linked) are entering Syria to do the opposite--create havoc in the government and army and feed propaganda for regime change. Most Syrians support the government and do not want regime change.

      If all this is wrong I'd like to hear about it. Again we seem neck-deep in pretext for regime change as with Saddam, Iran, and while we're pondering--Libya also? How brilliantly is that country moving ahead with "democracy"?

    • joseph k winter 02/05/2012 at 2:01 pm

      Which clique in power would that be?

    • By now we have been continually subjected to the notion that Assad is a Hitler-like evil figure, similar to or worse than Gaddafi. Once again in the murk is the difficulty of figuring out what's actually going on.

      As previously, Pepe Escobar (reporter for Asia Times), who focuses on the report in the link below, interprets what's going on in Syria as not strictly a government-driven repression, but influenced equally by gangs of "thugs," with regime change primary in the chaos, not protest for civil rights. That millions have demonstrated in support of the Assad government seems to point in this direction also.

      Escobar's argument has applied to Libya previously, and now Syria--that the illusion of protest presented as part of the Arab spring obscures who the opposition players are, and their motives, which are not necessarily for the purity of "democracy." The Big Players have their motives--to avoid regime change or acquire it.

      I would like to ask you, Juan, your opinion of the report available at the foreign reference:
      link to

  • Lyons: Islam, Women and the West
    • joseph k winter 02/05/2012 at 2:34 pm

      In America until 1920 women did not have the right to vote. Feminists such as Susan B. Anthony, Charlotte Bronte, Kate Chopin, Susan Glaspell were routinely scorned, even by females. Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening arises ire amongst many of today's male student college students, who consistently find her domineering husband righteous and entirely defensible. Women in many parts of Asia are dominated in a 19th century English-American manner, and risk alienation when thinking they should have equal rights. Fundamentalism is not simply a right wing Muslim tendency. In our own politics today the right wing favors an end to birth control and abortion. Idiot prejudice continues to prevail.

  • The Generals try to stop an Iran War
    • joseph k winter 02/04/2012 at 9:25 am

      A survey at link to today indicates only 17% Americans and 43% Israelis support the Right's desire for the attack.

      Leaving possibly a strategic problem on how to whip up enthusiasm and change the sentiment, since the various barking dogs of the GOP political candidates might be getting fatiguing. A changed public sentiment (get the survey numbers up) would at least be useful to obscure the truth and promulgate the knee-jerk military response thought desirable.

      Enter Arbabsiar-like plots (interesting that has gone completely away now, as indication of the BS toxic level on that one). But we might hearken back to 1962, the Kennedy administration, and tensions with Cuba and the Soviets, leading at that time to the same dark war clouds as now, including the bright idea to assassinate a few Americans in America and lay it on Cuba. There would be the pretext for "defense."

      Paranoia? Possibly. Given, for example, that it is now known how the CIA hated Carter for being a history book president who naively believed in such things as the constitution, instead of following power-reality for the special interests, we should continue skeptical on Arbabsiar-like ruses to serve MIC and full spectrum dominance intentions.

    • joseph k winter 02/03/2012 at 3:24 pm

      Seems to me the key question is to what extent the Netanyahu leadership coordinates with the long-standing neo-con US leadership toward regime change in Iran. (I'm assuming the current crop of GOP politicoes is hand in glove with this neo-con full spectrum dominance crowd, with the exception of Ron Paul's foreign policy notions.)

      Various ruses or covers are handy to conceal the underlying motives as we've seen historically, going back at least to the Gulf of Tonkin. To suggest a) that's there's actually a problem with Iran getting a nuke anytime soon is false, as Prof. Cole has pointed out earlier in this column. The patent unreality of the threat indicates all the war drum beating is for something else in the Right wing playbook; b) that there's any comparison between Libya and a possible limited bombing campaign in Iran--although removing Gaddafi did fit with aspirations toward regime change--seems to me superficial. There was first of all the R2P issue; secondly, the various rebel forces and their motivations, don't add up to being the kind of resistance and consequences we could expect from an attack on Iran.

      It is not unreasonable to suppose that a parallel with false WMD in Iraq exists (i.e. a large war), vs. a limited bombing campaign against developing nuclear sites. The notion of a "limited" bombing strike on Iran assumes very little consequence from that action. To begin with that would mean non-response of China and Russia, and not much of a response from Iran. This kind of optimism seems naive, in my view, if I'm reading responses in this thread correctly.

      It's amazing that we talk about the possibility of an Israeli strike in order to bring on a US strike a) based on the pretext of non-existent nuclear weapons, and not even the capability of getting them for a long time to come; b) a lunatic right-wing Israel government that is not representative of all Israelis; and c) the realpolitik of GOP war talk for the purpose of getting elected and serving the shadow plans in the neo-con playbook, for example expertly cooperated with by Bush and Cheney.

      Most disturbing to me is how all the war talk and rabid right wing response, reminding of Nazi Germany, could sway a Panetta or Obama to comply in an insane and unnecessary attack on Iran. Secret diplomacy using all this alarm to motivate getting somewhere? I hope so. But a mad dog slant-eyed and growling, waiting for you to think you're getting somewhere before attacking your back is more likely. Panetta and Obama need to convert NO to NO WAY, and that might be a position of strength for re-election vs.

    • joseph k winter 02/03/2012 at 9:17 am

      Kolumn9, your point appears to be the actual straw man argument. I say "appears" because you seem to be insinuating that attacking Iran is no problem, basically, because it would be a limited strike to remind Satan of its bad intentions, ergo do it. This is a valid argument? With no consideration of consequences? A bold "straw man" charge ought to have a little more to it, seems to me.

      Further, why aren't we paying more attention to the parallel with WMD in Iraq and what lies behind all this aggression--regime change once again, the long-standing neo-crazy policy of the Right grounded once again in a) full spectrum dominance and b) the quest for oil and resource dominance--capitalism not merely gone astray but gone insane?

  • Marsh on Obama: The Party's Over
  • Top Ten Things Americans can be Thankful for 2011
    • joseph k winter 11/24/2011 at 11:22 am

      I appreciate today's positive message and this column's consistent informative analysis and perspective. Many thanks for this service. Sorry to "cavil" on one issue--the war in Iraq as over. It is fact the Moqtada has stated ANY Americans left in Iraq after December 31 constitute a continued occupation, and that the Sadrists will resist that continuing occupation. Is he serious? He usually has been. If the Sadrists--a million member strong in 07--attack a "continuing occupation," then what? How long is this "war over" going to last?

  • GOPers Promise you War on Iran & Torture & Poverty
    • Surely Karl Rove is muttering to himself at what could be a missed opportunity for the GOP. How can the GOP hope to win with such ignorance from its presidential candidates? These clowns make it easier for Obama to look "presidential." Yesterday Bill Moyers said about the OWS, "They need to become a political movement instead of a grievance committee." What chance for an OWS third party to emerge and occupy the presidential election?

  • Would Obama Greenlight an Israeli Attack on Iran?
    • joseph k winter 11/05/2011 at 5:38 pm

      The Mahdi force has dwindled but in 07 was "a million member army." That might indicate potential for revival. Its restraint by Muqtada led to what Bush claimed credit for as "surge." Attack on Iran does indeed sound like Armageddon.

    • joseph k winter 11/05/2011 at 12:03 pm

      There is of course a tremendous difference between the situations in Libya and Iran. The attack on Benghazi, which was proceeding toward a slaughter and has largely been ignored by the progressive left, led to the NATO and US "war," which might have gotten out of control from its original intentions. (I haven't seen a report on whether it did get out of control.) With Iran we have a stupid plot (debunked today by Gareth Porter) involving Arbabsian which appears to be an eager sting operation to entrap Iran into being attacked. This law needs looking into to define security concerns vs rabid right wing paranoia and manipulation by security agencies.

    • It could be inaccurate to say Muqtada is likely to "relaunch his Mahdi army" to attack withdrawing US troops versus his threat against a continuing occupation, as he sees it, in what will be left behind by the US after withdrawal.

      link to

      This is a minor point perhaps but also leads to the question of Muqtada's response to US ground forces as part of an attack on Iran--given Muqtada's ties to Iran. Another stupid war amidst current resistance to the right wing, plus its effect on Obama's re-election seems unlikely.

  • Romney Flip-Flops on Mideast, Too: Cole in Truthdig
    • Thank you, Don Utter, for the link to the Scheer-Hedges discussion. It would be valuable to see it continued, particularly in respect to where the OWS movement is going. The discussion refers to many global revolutionary protests and change, and made me think of one it didn't mention--in the Philippines to bring down Marcos. Marcos folded when the military went with the people. The point (vs. specific demands) seems emphasis on sweeping change--the stepping down, the toppling of a System--in which law enforcement and regular military might join. Whereas in the 60's protests did not have widespread support of the middle class those movements' development of awareness of the corruption took longer. It was years before the sense of shame over the Vietnam war became widespread. But the Scheer-Hedges discussion also illustrates the entrenchedness of the 1 percent in holding to power, including control of MSM. The ideas swing between the possibility the occupy movement is powerful enough and on the other hand the 1 percent as too dominant to be brought down.

  • Iran Alleges Saudi Plot Story is MEK Sting
    • joseph k winter 10/19/2011 at 12:18 pm

      Does the history of MEK support the style of this crude operation with its paltry 100,000 down and easily discovered manipulations?

  • This is the Way the Iraq War Ends, with Bangs and Whimpers
    • Specifically Moqtada Al Sadr may have other ideas, who has said all Americans should be out of Iraq by the new year, and who commands a million member private army as well as a block of votes in the parliament. A couple of days back he recommended other countries come to Iraq to take up the training mission of Iraqi security. That idea has already been dismissed as impractical, since the weaponry involved is American, but it indicates his seriousness on Americans out, not staying. And there's still the question of a SOFA in case the American forces have a Raymond Davis amongst them.

    • link to

      According to the above article (“US Denies Reports of Iraq Withdrawal Decision”), “The administration has already drawn up plans for an extensive expansion of the American Embassy and its operations, bolstered by thousands of paramilitary security contractors.”

      And “The State Department is expected to have up to 17,000 employees and at least 5,000 military contractors for this ongoing diplomatic presence, which has been described as necessary to provide ‘situational awareness around the country, manage political crises in potential hotspots such as Kirkuk, and provide a platform for delivering economic, development and security assistance’.”

      How do you suppose the Sadr contingent will view this presence of the American imperium in expanding an already enormous Embassy. And would this diplomatic mission also require a new SOFA for legal cover in case of war crimes for “this ongoing diplomatic presence”?

  • Palin was Right About those Government Death Panels
    • joseph k winter 10/08/2011 at 1:05 pm

      It seems to me if JFonda "simply registered her disagreement with the US in Vietnam" her action was bold, not necessarily treacherous. But the distinction is also clear--if 'Awlaki had the power to ignite five thousand jihadis to violent action he's some kind of "war" threat, whether the war is traditional or not. If I understand Juan's main point it is as he states directly above--"whom is it that we trust" to oversee such an operation--what agency, given a government now seriously impacted by special influence and money. The super-committee, for example, supposedly to look over Pentagon spending could be influenced by MIC war-profiteering interests to continue support of wars that endanger the country vs. protecting it. Applauding the 'Awlaki killing denies its implications as unrestrained political behavior without some safeguarding mechanism. Who or what agency is it, Juan, that you would recommend oversee such operations, that the people might trust?

    • joseph k winter 10/07/2011 at 3:04 pm

      These are excellent questions. Another question has been raised as to why the Yemen government was not called upon to capture 'Awlaki and extradite him. I suspect the Yemen government is too weak amidst current civil unrest to carry out this idea. The main case against 'Awlaki seems to be that he was somehow causally connected to ("inspired") the Christmas 09 underwear bomber and the 010 Times Square bomber. An analogy here related to the limits of free speech is holding a match ever closer to a combustible mixture (cf shouting fire in a crowded auditorium). If 'Awlaki was inciting a war-like attack maybe there's a comparison and a reason for missile defense. But years ago the Supreme Court dismissed a case against the KKK for a similar kind of incitement to violence as protected speech under the constitution. But this was a civil matter, not parallel with a "war" situation. Very much needed is clarification of the action taken--the evidence--and the laws governing such a horrific response. Of course civilians are anxious about when "treason" and "aiding the enemy" spreads to simply being critical of the government, as with asking critical questions. Under this ineffectual president, the 'Awlaki controversy, along with many other problems as indicated by the Occupy Wall Street movement, is being left gray and emotional, and highly provocative. Remarkably--so far--violence has been restrained, but that could change.

  • Al-`Awlaqi Should have been Tried in Absentia
    • joseph k winter 10/02/2011 at 1:27 pm

      I "mouth off critically" myself--government POV intended with that language. It seems to me crucial to define when speech can be equated with bombs and missiles. How can Awlaki's rhetoric be responsible for attacks on the US? Or was he arming and secreting the bombs and putting them in somebody's underwear? It's difficult to distinguish between "enemy combatant" and "member of a hostile foreign organization" without more information on this matter. Since yesterday I've read Awlaki was critical of the 9/11 attacks. What did he do to put him in the "enemy combatant" position other than "mouthing off critically"?

    • Yes, this is the question. What ARE his crimes, what is the evidence? If he's been engineering attacks on the US via airliners and passengers he's an enemy combatant, citizen or not. We don't bring to trial enemies attacking us but defend against them. This is the obvious counter-argument. Was he an enemy? How? Versus mouthing off critically? This information needs to be clearer.

  • Ten Years after 9/11, Do the Arabs value Democracy more than We do?
    • joseph k winter 09/11/2011 at 6:18 pm

      It seems that in taking the bait George W's desire to go to war, especially into Iraq to make up for Daddy's pusillanimity, was also a gift for which Georgie was highly thankful, and continues to be. He had been hankering for the opportunity since back in the 90's. It also seems the always incipient super-nationalism of Americans in general, the desire to show that WE after all are indeed "the greatest nation on the planet," coincides with the 9/11 official knee-jerk attack responses in the 9/11 decade. Bush's approval ratings soared, etc. etc. Drive anywhere downtown today to find flags waving on every corner and recall the orgiastic celebrations of Bin Laden's death, few questions asked. Revenge after all is highly stimulating in many ways. In other words, the complexities of cause move beyond simple analysis as in Al Qaeda laid the bait and the yahoo Bush took it toward supra-rational, unconscious, subconscious, deeply limiting human factors. Difficulty in responding to and assessing policy, in the face of surging righteous emotion and desire for vengeance, has also been one of America's most virulent problems. For example, right now, where is the agency, the voice, that questions and urges pause to programs we continue after a decade many Americans now routinely denounce as a fiasco of failure? Where today is the agency questioning why we're in Afghanistan and the middle east, plus questioning the legitimacy of our military programs as "defense" versus profit-seeking by the "military-industrial-complex" or military-corporatists? Or political posturing from special interest politicians melded with corporatists? I submit that empowering a "democracy" or a "representative government" needs a strongly self-critical agency raising the vital questions, and potentially influencing the course of events. But from where, how? Lone voices within a rabid lobbying culture are too easily dismissed. A problem we're having right now is FOCUS in terms of assessment and what to do. "Democracy" is fading into myth beneath an assault of Neo-Machiavellianism.

  • Sound and Fury: Americans Actually Lightly Taxed
    • joseph k winter 08/01/2011 at 11:37 am

      I submit relation of taxation to levels of violence may be too simplistic. Cultural values in South Korea, for example, determine violence, which is low no matter what the economic conditions in the society. We need to search for alternatives to the current ruling duopoly serving the rich. You might want to consider this alternative:

      link to

  • Taliban, al-Qaeda Flee N. Afghanistan as Morale Collapses with al-Qaeda admission of Bin Laden's Death
    • Juan, may I ask a basic question, your opinion. Was the taking out of Bin Laden wise? Was it a progressive move toward resolving the conflict? Could this move entirely backfire into making things much worse than they already are? And is there any possibility a May Day Strike would be a good way to start a new election campaign?

  • The Muslim World Sounds off on Bin Laden's Demise
    • This post mounts an argument for Bin Laden's insignificance in terms of de facto influence in country after country. Why then all the hoopla? What is being expressed with all this bloodlust?

  • Should Professors in Public Universities Give up their Email Addresses?
    • As you say, an important role of the university professor is "to think critically about society," including leading students in critical evaluations of political and social movements within society. This differentiates from "training" students for jobs with the corporations and grooming conformity. Once again, as with demanding loyalty oaths of professors at UBerkeley back in the McCarthy period, we're now seeing fanatical right wing pressure on the academic establishment. A lively university environment and exchange of views from all sides in controversies is essential to education--versus brainwashing the workforce.

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • Whereas your fall-back position is ranting and spewing your anger simplistically--the not much thinking as usual response. Why do we insist on this self-righteous "war" charge for an intervention? Juan Cole has been sorting through the positions to present his conclusions on what is needed in this situation. He has presented these with evidence and a reasonable tone. The essential nub is what would have happened without an intervention. If the WAY of the intervention is the problem let's hear why, with some evidence to back it up.

  • Sarah Never Does Anything Wrong
    • jonathan swift 01/10/2011 at 1:31 pm

      We need to grow up and stop all this demonizing and antagonism. Conniff's tweet is all rife with hatred. Yesterday's commentaries continually nitpicked and flared with antagonism. This country's political idealism from the founders deserves better than this kindergarten approach to politics.

  • White Terrorism
    • jonathan swift 01/09/2011 at 1:15 pm

      Throughout this country we need to emphasize law and order and decency. We need tolerance and clarity for opposing views. The political idealism in this country is meant for progress toward enlightenment, not a filthy sinking away into rancor and violence. Thank you, Juan, for your consistent work to inform and lead a fruitful exchange.

  • Can 'Desperate Housewives' Defeat al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia? Wikileaks
    • jonathan swift 12/10/2010 at 8:40 pm

      The question posed by the title of this piece seems frivolous to me. The war enjoined by resistance to US empire has surely shown its temper and obduracy, no matter what you think of it. A more important question regarding wikileaks is to discuss the principle of the right to government secrecy, and whether for the greater good that principle should be overthrown--in the event of the emergence of a rogue state, what Eisenhower warned of in speaking of the military-industrial complex.

      Even liberals, perhaps Juan himself, tend to believe the principle of secrecy should be honored in the spirit of national self-defense. and are confused and on the fence about the power of Assange's work, and how to assess it. But as the Pentagon Papers case showed, the principle of government secrecy needs to be thrust aside and upended when a government is using it as a cloak for criminal and destructive behaviors.

      The important questions now are has the time come again for over-riding the principle of secrecy for the greater good? And what harm, specifically, has so far come from the wikileaks information, as charged by the attorney general's office? What are the specifics with this accusation? Are we about to see a Saudi Arabian government move to extradite Julian for "espionage" in what's revealed in secret Saudi Arabian parlors (as indicated by this piece) on corrupting American influences?

      Why is there so much silence on this outrageous political maneuver to use a bogus sex charge against Assange to spirit him away to the US? Why aren't we discussing these serious questions?

  • Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government
    • jonathan swift 12/05/2010 at 4:08 pm

      Amidst the irrational screaming and posturing from supposedly mature and responsible government leaders, what's particularly not clear is just what the leaks have done to harm anybody or anything other than disclosing criminal behavior by the US plutocracy. What about some specifics instead of the ranting and raving? Also, I submit the importance of the leaks is more significant than a bored comparison with eating ice cream. I'm somewhat suprised at this easy-going dismissal of what is very serious on so many levels, and which the wikileaks disclosures have catalyzed into the light of the open day.

      One example is enough to indicate the last point--the maneuverings of US "diplomats"
      with the Spanish government to interfere with Spain's judicial interest in the ElMasri mistaken ID case, in which the wrong man was apprehended, beaten repeatedly and drugged, then for a time considered too dangerous to be freed because he "knew too muuch"; the murder of a cameraman journalist in Baghdad with the attack on the Hotel Palestine; and interference with Judge Baltazar Garzon's intention to investigate torture under Bush and Cheney at Guantanamo. US personnel engaged in a variety of peculiar tactics, including trying to influence who should be justices over what, leading to a recent uproar in Spain, nicely encapsulated by the brother of the slain cameraman who asked whether Spain was still a sovereign country or had become yet another vassal state of the current ruling elite in America.
      link to

      Since journalism in America has largely become coordinated with elite American interests, how might we have found out the sinister nature of recent activities in Spain and elsewhere if not by this wikileaks source? Why trivialize the significance of this development?

  • The Karzai Problem in Afghanistan: Wikileaks
    • "The troubling question is what they [the six dead troops] died fighting for." The answer is to prop up the Karzai regime? I would like to see more discussion beyond this answer. Why prop up a regime that is basically self-serving and has lost the support of the Afghani people? What is our global dominance interest in being there, in terms of Afghanistan as a gateway to resources elsewhere plus buffering one side of Iran in case we’re finally ready to attack there?

      According to a November 26 Guardian piece from a reporter who somehow got inside the taliban (“Americans have no right to tell us about democracy”), the Afghani people use taliban services and are deeply suspicious of both Americans and Karzai. Hence the popularity of the resistance. The situation appears similar to Vietnam. Then again did we ever find an answer to why we were in Vietnam?

      link to

  • Scammed in Afghanistan
    • I don't see much difference between the two statements--we're fighting Al Qaeda vs. we're fighting to prevent Al Qaeda from returning. The number consistently used is 100 Al Qaeda (who are now not there). It's not reasonable to occupy a country and encourage resistance from natives who have resisted invasions for centuries to contain 100 bad guys. WHY we're there needs more explaining than we're there to prevent Al Qaeda from returning. This line of thought seems similar to Vietnam and we need to destroy it to save it.

  • Looking for PETN, Scanning Grandma at the Airport, and the Future of Air Travel
    • As indicated by the discussion, the assumptions in this TSA procedure need a serious look to restore sanity. First is the assumption that all Americans are now dangerous, guilty before innocent, and must be checked fastidiously by these intrusive methods. Why this particular method? Is there not some other, unobtrusive method, as with law enforcement people who do not have to be checked and who establish their "credentials" ahead of a flight? Second is the assumption that a dangerous person will stand in a line and wait his or her turn approaching the scanners and gropers. Common sense suggests this is not plausible as thirdly we can assume a bomber would want to escape detection until getting to the target. A fourth assumption that is being ignored is this: if we're going to apply a Baghdad bomb blow-up mentality to Americans traveling then their having to stand in line for this procedure is highly dangerous. Lines gather and grow, crowds become more dense, particularly as passengers slow down the procedures, and could bring a bomber to a line to detonate something BEFORE reaching the scanner-groper checkpoint. In short, we could be inviting a disaster from within a gathering and growing line. This thought has apparently not come to many people yet, because this idea might make anybody extremely nervous standing in a line moving very slowly and becoming more and more packed with people. The entire procedure is flawed as the discussion has shown again and again. The interpretation that all this "security theater" is aimed mostly at a) more heavy-handed manipulation of ordinary Americans and b) to make security products that earn big bucks is buttressed by failure to scrutinize assumptions for authorizing these intrusive procedures. That the security industry has recently invested five million in lobbying for scanning machines adds to the feeling we ordinaries are being fooled again. Pistole is also interested in extending the scanner-groper approach to subways and trains, which could be even more dangerous in terms of crowd density. When tractor trailers come to our highways and we're pulled aside to wait our turn I wonder if 80 percent of Americans will still agree that all this nonsense is necessary?

    • I write to urge TSA Security Chief Pistole to take the security procedures one more step. That is, that all scanner and grope-down personnel be required to be scanned and groped when beginning each day's work. I think this methodology should apply also to management and corporate executives involved in the program. After all, we'll never know when somebody could slip in to one of these roles very cleverly and pose a mortal danger. The assumption that such a danger has slipped in amongst ordinary citizens today in airports must also be applied to the TSA personnel themselves, to the highest offices! It’s only reasonable and logical. To review: an hour or two’s start up with scanners and gropers scanning and groping themselves, then turning their skills to management and upper level executives with the security companies will surely add to the sense of security these methods bring to us.

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