"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, 5 more officials are targeted (and killed) in Iraq, the Democratically-controlled US House of Representatives attempts another con related to the illegal war, Iraq War resister Ehren Watada and the Constitution win a victory, and more.
Starting with war resisters. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "There has been a development in the case of Ehren Watada -- the first Army officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. A federal judge has ruled the Army cannot hold a second court-martial for the Iraq war resister until the court resolves Watada's claim that it would violate his right against double jeopardy. Watada's first court martial ended in a mistrial." Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicy refuse to deploy to Iraq. When he was informed he would be deploying to Iraq, he did as his superiors had advised him, learn as much as he could so he could better serve those under his command. As he began researching, he realized that the Iraq War was illegal. In January 2006, he phoned his mother, Carolyn Ho, to advise her that he was going to be doing something very difficult, refusing to deploy. Shortly after that, he informed the US military which made the pretense of wanting to work out some sort of alternative. As his unit's deployment grew closer and nothing was being accomplished, Watada went public via an interview in June 2006. The initial interview was followed by others. He would tell his story on Democracy Now!, on MTV, on CNN, at Truthout, in LeftTurn, New American Media, Nichi Bei Times, and many other outlets. His mother Carolyn Ho, his father Bob Watada, his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi would appear in multiple outlets including, again, Democracy Now!, Laura Flanders' radio program, Law and Disorder, KPFK's Sojourner Truth and Uprising, KPFA's The Morning Show and Aaron Glantz's reporting on all aspects would spread the issue over all of KPFA's programming, etc. Rolling Stone magazine would put Watada on their "Honor Roll" for the 2006 year-end issue. Watada, as the first officer to resist, would garner more attention than any other Iraq War resister thus far and, in doing so, underscore several realities. Of chief interest to war resisters and those who support war resisters, the silence from The Nation magazine. Readers of the print magazine would make it through the end of the 2006 issues of the weekly 'political' and 'left' magazine without ever seeing the words "Ehren Watada" though there was plenty of time to provide glossy fluff on bad candidates (the DLC's Harold Ford being only one example) and to do 'theme' issues (such as their food issue). There just wasn't time to cover war resisters. Watada would finally make it into print in the January 8th issue (actually a double-issue but we're not going into that nonsense) where he would be called a "coward." The magazine that sat out Watada (and Abeer) throughout 2006 finally prints his name and it's in a statement calling him a coward. (No e-mails on the 'online exclusives,' they were covered long ago.) The article's a cover story (done by The Pooper) and it also contains a tiny sidebar that kind-of, sort-of tells Watada's story . . . after The Nation has already introduced him to print readers as a "coward." It was a telling event that would finally call to everyone's attention the magazine silence on war resisters under the 'leadership' of The Peace Resister. In their laughable article over the summer of 2007, they would manage to insult everyone participating (left, center and right) but the telling moment (after the fact that they wanted praise for an article which bragged of "dozens" of photos of abuse to Iraqis but printed NONE -- the photos did and do exist) would be in the way they reduced war resisters -- Camilo Mejia was a "deserter" (that call is in question since the military legally could not extend -- as they did -- Mejia's enlistment through stop-loss since Mejia was not a US citizen) but he wasn't billed as a "war resister." The coverage and non-coverage of Watada was a water-shed moment in many ways which did include instructing news consumers on who stood with and who stood far, far away. It's also worth noting that many other resisters went public in the wake of Watada: Darrell Anderson, Agustin Augyo, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilcox, Ricky Clousing and . . . stop there. Stop there and don't continue because that's how All Things Media Big and Small, with every few exceptions, have treated 2007's crop of war resisters. Despite the fact that 2007 is set to be a record year -- according to the military's own official numbers -- for war resistance, emerging war resisters fell off the media map. James Burmeister was the strongest example. Either you followed Canadian media or you caught NOW with David Brancaccio or you didn't have a clue. Too bad for everyone because the last week of September "kill teams" (US service members setting out equpiment as traps to shoot Iraqis) would become a huge story but Burmeister was telling the story when he went public in June of 2007. Eli Israel would remain "Eli Who?" to All Things Media Big and Small despite the fact that he became the first war resister resisting publicly while stationed in Iraq. The Kamunen brothers? In These Times could find them when no one else in independent media could or would. The mainstream media showed some interest because three brothers -- Leo, Leif and Luke -- all electing to self-checkout over the same Christmas 2006 holiday was news . . . to some.
Watada is big Iraq news today and yet, at The Nation, the main page features nothing. No articles (even 'online exclusives'), nothing (except a screen cap that underscores why some people shouldn't part their hair in the middle). Forget the magazine's campaign blog, look at The Notion where conventional 'wisdoms' are dispensed in the best Kooky Cokie Roberts fashion. Today's posts? Karl Rove and a right-wing event, a week long event . . . that started October 21st. Three weeks old and served up as 'fresh' 'news' today on the rag's 'real time' blog: "Rapid reaction to breaking news and unfiltered takes on politics, ethics and culture from Nation editors and contributors." Rapid reaction to breaking news? Not a word on Watada but a three week old right wing action is worth posting on today? That Karl Rove doesn't care for left blogs is 'news,' but Watada isn't? Never forget that since assuming control, Our Lady of Peace Resistance has ensured that The Nation ignores Iraq, employs her friend and exists as a promotion tool for herself (hence all those bad e-mails sent out whenever she's booked anywhere and hence the 'notion' that a screen cap of her, with bad middle part, has more 'credibility' than one of Jeremy Scahill being interviewed by Bill Moyers for his PBS show -- give her time, she'll turn it into the 'political' equivalent of Martha Stewart's Living yet.). Why does the war drag on? Look no further than the non-leadership at The Nation.
Those waking up this morning might have been caught by surprise with the news but as the day wore on, the only excuse for refusal to cover it was not caring. (We did note it early this morning.) Aaron Glantz wasn't wasting his time covering three week old news or GOP poster boy endowed by the left with super-human powers. Reporting at IPS, Glantz notes Watada supporters are calling today's news "a huge victory." What's that? It's what should be one of the biggest stories of the day: US District Judge Benjamin Settle has provided a road block to the military's attempt to court-martial Watada for a second time. The issue that concerned Judge Settle was the same one Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, immediately noted when the first court-martial was ruled a mistrial over defense objection: double-jeopardy.
Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, "Settle ruled that the civilian court's review of Watada's double-jeopardy claim is appropriate, rejecting claims by the Army that the court can only step in after the conclusion of the second court-martial and likely appeals within the military court system. He also found that the granting of a preliminary injunction is necessary in part because Watada will 'probably prevail on the merits' of his case, his ruling said. Settle reached that conclusion largely because of what he said was the abuse of discretion by Lt. Col. John Head, the military judge who presided in Watada's first court-martial, in rejecting a so-called stipulation of fact agreed upon by the government and defense that led to the mistrial, the ruling shows." John Head, better known as Judge Toilet, nuff said. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) quotes Judge Settle's ruling: "The same Fifth Amendment protections are in place for military service members as are afforded to civilians. There is a strong public interest in maintaining these rights inviolate." Bernton also notes Kenneth Kagan's caution that the case is still not over. Kagan and Jim Lobsenz are Watada's civilian attorneys. Glantz observes that the military is already stating they will file additional briefs to argue for a second court-martial and that, "Judge Settle's ruling does not provide a complete victory for Watada, however. The injunction only temporarily blocks Army prosecutors from proceeding." It is the news of the day and it is a deserved victory for Watada. If, as Judge Settle feels, the Constitutional provision on double-jeopardy prevail throughout the process, this is a major victory not just for war resistance but for the Constitution -- especially a heartfelt moment at a time when the current administration has launched one attack on the Constitution after another -- usually without little more than a peep from Democrats in Congress. Double-jeopardy, in the simplest of terms, means that the government does not get a 'do-over.' They have to argue their case and if turns out they did so badly or if it turns out that they have wasted the government's time (and tax payer monies), that's the end of it. They do not get to audition in front of a judge and/or jury to find out which parts of their argument resonate and which parts do not. The provision against double-jeopardy exists to protect citizens from witch hunts by governmental prosecutors. It is a right embedded in the nation from it's founding. In terms of Watada, the prosecution was losing the court-martial -- possibly they should have vetted their list of witnesses better -- and Judge Toilet thought he could call a mistrial to allow them a second attempt at court-martialing Watada. They don't get to reset the clock and start over. That's not how it is supposed to work in the United States. Judge Settle's ruling is a victory for Watada and it is also a victory for the Constitution. It is one of the big stories of the day.Hawaii's KMGB (video and text report) quotes Watada's father, Bob Watada, "For Ehren, hopefully the army will do the right thing and discharge him immediately. That would allow him to get his life going. Because it's been on hold now for over a year." Get on with his life? Aaron Glantz notes that Watada has reported for duty for the last nine months as the appeals process has continued. Equally worth noting is the fact that Watada's service contract expired in December and the military has extended it while the court proceedings continue.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
Turning to Iraq, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) pierces through the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk to report on reality, "Despite claims by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Bush administration officials that violence in Iraq is decreasing, residents in the captial tell a different story." Fadhily notes the increased air war, the increased arrests of Iraqis, and an increase in attacks in al-Anbar Province and Baghdad while quoting teacher Salman Hameed explaining, "Sectarian killings are less because all the Sunnis have been evicted from mixed areas in Baghdad. All my relatives and Sunni neighbours who survived the killing campaign led by the militias under the eyes of American and Iraqi forces have fled to either Syria or to other Sunni cities." Muhammad Younis explains to al-Fadhily that the violence continues "but media coverage has almost disappeared." That is the reality. In a really bad puff piece in this morning's New York Times, even Cara Buckley notes that the US military held 16,000 Iraqi prisoners in February of this year and now holds 25,800. While Buckley works overtime to attribute powers to puppet of the occupation al-Maliki (he had no say in the decision by the US military to release 500 prisoners today) but the reality is that the releases happen because there's a lack of space. Innocence or guilt? The US criminal justice system and the US imposed Iraqi criminal justice system is built around the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Iraqi prisoners rarely get trials. They're imprisoned willy nilly, held for months at a time and then released never having received justice but they are supposed to be grateful that the same extra-judicial process that kept them imprisoned went on to release them when they needed to add a new influx of prisoners.
It's among the many reasons Iraqis want all foreign forces -- including the US -- out of their country. But Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland (writing at CounterPunch) report that efforts are underweigh to strip Iraqis say in the matter, "The United Nations Security Council, with support from the British and American delegations, is poised to cut the Iraqi parliament out of one of the most significant decisions the young government will make: when foreign troops will depart. It's an ugly and unconstitutional move, designed solely to avoid asking an Iraqi legislature for a blank check for an endless military occupation that it's in no mood to give, and it will make a mockery of Iraq's nascent democracy (which needs all the legitmacy it can get." The Iraqi parliament is the only central government that can be considered to have been, in any form, elected by the people. The parliament has repeatedly favored the expulsion of foreign forces -- a position favored by the majority of Iraqis. However, past renewals of the United Nations mandate have taken place without their input. Most recently, al-Maliki (who was not elected by the Iraqi people to the post of prime minister) ignored the country's constitution and decided by himself (with pressure from the US) that the mandate would be extended. When that took place, the Iraqi parliament vowed that was the last time they would be double-crossed or caught unaware. Jarrar and Holland note, "The Iraqi executive branch -- the cabinet and the presidency -- are completely controlled by separatists (including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and sexuclar politicans.) But the parliament is controlled by nationalist -- nationalists from every major ethnic and sectarian group in the country -- who enjoy a small but crucially important majority in the only elected body in the Iraqi government." The reporters inform that after al-Maliki extra-constitutionally renewed the mandate (that power rests with the Iraqi parliament), they "passed a binding reolution that would force Maliki to go to the parliament and give Iraqi lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the mandate." The Iraqi parliament notified the United Nations of that June 2007 binding law. However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called the law a "non-binding resolution" in an October 15th report that's only now surfaced. The law wasn't needed, the Iraqi constitution gives the parliament and not the prime minister the power to renew or cancel the mandate. But the law was passed in addition to the Constitution and now the UN Secretary General wants to waive it off as some symbolic action when it is now the law of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Iraq's president, Jalal al-Tabani, insists that the key legislation will be passed before the end of the year while the reality, as Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reported, that al-Maliki has given up on wooing the Sunni bloc that walked out in August. His cabinet is missing five ministers (had he met their demands, that wouldn't be the case). This is the same al-Maliki that missed the deadline, after being installed as prime minister, to appoint a full cabinet. Meanwhile the World Health Organization found -- date covers through last week -- disturbing news, "The most important development this week is the steep increase in the number of cholera cases reported from Baghdad compared to last week. The number of laboratory confirmed cases jumped from 11 to 24 cholera cases representing an increase of 227% in the cumulative cases." How did the MSM miss that?
"If you know some history that is outside the establishing view of history, you will not be fooled by the things you hear from the White House, or from members of Congress, or from leaders of political parties." Vivian Ho (The Daily Free Press via Common Dreams) quotes historian Howard Zinn explaining that in a speech to Boston area students and activists.
From November 10 through December 16th, Rebel Voices will be perfomred at Culture Project -- based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. Along with war resister Camilo Mejia, the voices of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Zinn will take part in the November 18th presentation (opening night). Tickets are on sale now. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) explored the timing of the play with Zinn today:
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the importance of these voices of resistance at a time when -- of resurrecting them at a time when so much accommodation is occurring to what the United States is involved in around the world, even among many right here in our own country?
HOWARD ZINN: The word "accommodation" brings to mind the Democratic Party, which was voted into power in Congress in 2006 and which has shown us a pitiful example of what an opposition party should be, accommodating itself basically to the Bush and Republican agenda, accommodating itself to the sort of orthodox political notion that you must be timid and quiet and not speak the truth. And the advantage of bringing back these historical figures is that these people give us an example. They spoke the truth no matter what. They took chances, they took risks. And so, we need to listen to them and to be inspired by them and to have us realize that wherever we are, whatever walk of life we are, our job is to speak loudly, to speak boldly, to tell the truth, and with the idea that the truth has a power which is very special, and if people keep uttering the truth, the idea will spread and a power will be created that even those who hold the reins in Washington, whether the Democrats or Republicans, will have to listen.
AMY GOODMAN: Howard Zinn, we began today's show with Congressmember Dennis Kucinich, who has been trying to force the issue of impeachment, wanting to start with the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. The Democratic leadership is fighting hard to stop it from coming to the House. Your thoughts on that issue as an historian and an American?
HOWARD ZINN: I believe that impeachment is an issue that should be raised all over the country. If Congress and the Democrats are too timid to raise it, then it should be done in grassroots meetings all over the country. I understand at least thirty or forty town meetings in Vermont have called for impeachment, that local groups in various parts of the country have called for it. It's the kind of situation that we faced on the eve of the revolution against England, where the colonial officials were not going to lead a fight against England, and so people gathered in various towns in the colonies, and they formed committees of correspondence, and they brought up the issue of independence. We need to bring up the issue of impeachment, because when you bring up the issue of impeachment, whether it succeeds or not -- I mean, the idea of counting votes to see whether you're going to win an impeachment misses the point. To bring up impeachment would excite the country, because it would force a discussion on all the most fundamental issues on the war, on civil liberties, on the stealing of the people's money to pay for the war and to enrich the rich. Impeachment would excite the country. And if the people in the leadership of the Democratic Party don't realize it, then the rest of us should try to make them realize it. I applaud Dennis Kucinich for bringing it up. I hope that John Conyers, who is head of the Judiciary Committee and who at one time showed signs of being a true progressive and a leader of and person of courage, I wish that John Conyers would stop playing with Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic policy of conciliation and caution. And John Conyers, as head of the Judiciary Committee, could hold hearings and start the ball rolling on impeachment. I think everybody who is listening to this broadcast, everybody should write, talk, email their congressman, email John Conyers, and demand that they begin the impeachment process against Cheney, against Bush. I think it would galvanize the energy of the country in a good direction.
We'll return to the topic of impeachment shortly. But let's zoom in on the latest con-game coming out of Congress and then go into violence because the shell game will allow more bloodshed to continue. US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is once again pushing another symoblic, non-binding kind-of end the illegal war proposal. As with the earlier bits of nonsense, it doesn't call for any troops to come home because the (non-binding) measure allows for classification of troops. Who exactly will be classifying them? Pelosi? No, the Bully Boy. So when they propose X combat troops out of Iraq or even all combat troops out of Iraq but leave troops behind for "counter-terrorism" (counter-insurgency, let's get real) and "police" they allow Bully Boy to follow anything they might pass (if he's in the mood to follow anything -- binding or not) simply by reclassifying the categories for the troops. For example, should he declare that all US service members in Iraq are "counter-terrorism" troops, no one could really act surprised by that because he's been allowed to lie about 'terrorism' in Iraq for years now. What these symoblic actions actually do is allow the Democratically-controlled Congress to continue to fund the illegal war while pretending that is not the case and acting as though they are really working to end the illegal war. The House of Representatives wants to give Bully Boy $50 billion more for the illegal war while he wants $70 billion. Pelosi pretends that she's accomplishing something with her non-binding measure that follows the House approval of a $471 billion defense budget. On Thursday's
Free Speech Radio News, Leigh Ann Caldwell reported that the $471 billion defense budget does allow Bully Boy some wiggle room on taking a little here and there to apply it to the illegal war --"but a provision was included in the bill to allow the president to borrow money" if his blood lust is not satisfied. So Pelosi's once again backing a 'symoblic' and toothless measure and trying to convince the public that she's doing something when the reality is the House has already given Bully Boy the means to continue the illegal war and the $50 billion -- which will be approved, Congress has no backbone -- is just going to be the cherry on top.
The con games are disgraceful and they have allowed the illegal war to continue and so many to die and be wounded. Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk car bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi police officer and wounded another as well as two civilians, a Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded one civilian, another Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of Captain Hassan Khalaf and left three other Iraqi soldiers wounded while yesterday a Khaniqeen bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers with three more wounded and another three were wounded in an Al Saidyah roadside bombing. In the continued targeting of officials in Iraq, Reuters notes that, today, 5 "Sunni Arab tribal leaders" were killed in Dojemah bombing (in which the bomber also died), while a Bagdad roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 people with two more injured, a Balad Ruz mortar attack that claimed the lives of 3 children (five people were injured), and a bombing outside Baquba claimed the life of 1 child and left six other members of the family, including five children, injured. On the targeting of officials, Reuters notes the five "were members of the Diyala Salvation Council, a body set up to oppose al Qaeda in Iraq" and that Sheikh Faeiz Lefta al-Obaidi was among the five killed.
Reuters notes 3 people were shot dead (and two wounded) outside Bauba and that "four gunmen" were then killed by residents.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a "citizen in Toz Khirmato" was kidnapped yesterday.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Reuters ups the count by 1 to make four corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Returning to the topic of the US Congress, Dennis Kucinich moved this week towards the impeachment of Dick Cheney. "Impeachment," Nancy Pelosi pompously declared in an October 2006 interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, was "off the table." Steny Hoyer repeated that nonsense this week. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "An American Research Group poll in July found 54% of Americans support beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney. 74% of Democrats were also in favor." From today's DN! broadcast:
AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what you did this week.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: The articles of impeachment that were introduced under a privileged resolution cite the Vice President's persistent lies relating to Iraq. He claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that necessitated the US response. He claimed that Iraq somehow was connected to al-Qaeda's role in 9/11. He has been beating the drums for war against Iran. Those are the elements of the articles of impeachment that were introduced into the House this week.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And why introduce your resolution in regards to Vice President Cheney and not to President Bush?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, certainly President Bush also has to be held accountable. However, I think that any constitutional process that begins for the removal of an official, when you have the Vice President, who led the effort to deceive this country with respect to a war against Iraq, it's appropriate that he be dealt with first, so that you don't create a condition where you remove the President first and then Mr. Cheney becomes his successor, and then you have to have an impeachment of two presidents consecutively.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain the leadership's position and why you chose to do what you did this week.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I think it's very difficult to explain their position, because I don't think their position is defensible. I think when you consider that our whole nation is at risk, our constitutional form of government has been undermined by lies, by illegal war, by massive debt, how can you explain the position of Democratic leaders?
Blackwater was also addressed today on Democracy Now! with the Washington Post's Steve Fainru and we'll grab that on Monday. This is a dictated entry and there is a K-limit in terms of size -- too many K, over 54K, and it will not hit the website when e-mailed. Quickly, as Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) notes, Bully Boy is indifferent to the suffering of Iraqis (it's not just Dem leadership) having declared that Iraqis should be saying, "God, I love freedom!" The Independent of London's Patrick Cockburn (at CounterPunch) continues his reporting on the PKK and the conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey which has not ceased -- just the MSM coverage of it -- and examines the historical roots of the PKK as well as the possible reasons why and why not Turkey may soon take action.
ehren watadahal berntonchristian hillthe olympianaaron glantzkpfa
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anthony arnovedemocracy nowamy goodmansteve fainaruthe washington post
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