May 29, 2015

Complaint: Tea-Party-targeting DOJ attorneys now work for White House, no taxpayer safeguards in place

Tax Division attorneys from the Department of Justice, some of whom worked directly on the IRS' illegal targeting of Tea Party groups, are now giving legal advice to the White House with no safeguards to prevent the abuse of private taxpayer information, says a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of D.C. by a watchdog group.

Cause of Action, a nonprofit government accountability group, filed the complaint against the DOJ and the IRS after both government agencies refused to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests filed in April asking how Americans' private tax information will be protected from abuse by government attorneys.

"Given the IRS' track record of failing to protect confidential tax information, this lack of agency oversight is a threat to our privacy and democracy," said Dan Epstein, president of Cause of Action, in a statement. "Ethical and legal protocols at these agencies should be held to the highest standards, especially when government attorneys are accessing confidential taxpayer return information while intermittently leaving to work in the White House."

A spokesperson for the Internal Revenue Service told the Washington Examiner that in a general sense, U.S. code 6103 governs confidentiality of tax returns but did not respond with a comment on Cause of Action's complaint.

"Federal law and regulations strictly limit what, if any, taxpayer information Department employees may share — whether employees work at the Department of Justice or elsewhere, and regardless of their status as current or former federal employees," Nicole A. Navas, a DOJ spokesperson, told Washington Examiner in a statement.

The watchdog group Cause of Action has also asked DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to investigate.


May 28, 2015

First Lady requires more than twenty attendants

How things have changed! If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans facing certain destitution, earning less than subsistence wages stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart or serving up McDonald cheeseburgers, prepare to scream and then come to realize that the benefit package for these servants of Miz Michele are the same as members of the national security and defense departments and the bill for these assorted lackeys is paid by John Q. Public:
  1. $172,2000 - Sher, Susan (CHIEF OF STAFF)
  6. $90,000 - Medina, David S. (DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY)
  7. $84,000 - Lelyveld, Catherine M. (DIRECTOR AND PRESS SECRETARY TO THE FIRST LADY)
  20. $36,000 - Armbruster, Sally M. (STAFF ASSISTANT TO THE SOCIAL SECRETARY)
  21. Bookey, Natalie (STAFF ASSISTANT)

May 27, 2015

Clinton, INC: Former President Has Secretive Shell Company

In addition to being vast, the finances of Bill and Hillary Clinton are apparently also incredibly complex and mysterious.
The Associated Press has discovered that former President Bill Clinton has a shell company with “no apparent employees or assets” he use as “a ‘pass-through’ company designed to channel payments to the former president.”
The company, WJC, LLC, was set up in 2008 in Delaware, then set up again in 2013. It was also set up in 2009 in New York, according to the AP, and “did not appear among holdings in the Clintons’ financial disclosure released last week or in previous Hillary Clinton disclosure reports between 2008 and 2013, when she resigned as secretary of state.”
Clinton appears to have established the company to handle consulting work the former president did for major Democratic Party donors while his wife was secretary of state.

May 26, 2015

Federal Court Rules Pro-Life Views Are ‘Patently Offensive’

A new decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals holds that New York’s state government has the right to ban “Choose Life” license plates on the grounds that such a statement is “patently offensive.”

The dispute stems from a now-suspended program offered by New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) which allowed private organizations to create custom license plates. If drivers purchased the plates, the purchasing price was split between the DMV and the non-profit.

The Children First Foundation (CFF), an organization promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion, submitted a design for a “Choose Life” license plate, which featured a drawing of two children’s faces in front of a yellow sun.

The proposed plate was rejected, with the DMV citing a policy that allows it to ban “patently offensive” plates in order to prevent incidents of road rage. The “patently offensive” category in U.S. speech is typically related to public obscenity laws, and allows for limitations on things like the public display of pornography or other materials that blatantly violate community standards.

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May 25, 2015

CNN's Jake Tapper on Stephanopoulos: 'Journalism is in a bad place right now'

"Journalism is in a bad place right now," said Jake Tapper, Chief White House correspondent for CNN, reacting to the controversy engulfing ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on WMAL, a Washington, D.C., radio station.

Stephanopoulos failed to disclose $75,000 worth of donations to the Clinton foundation, and Tapper noted that this isn't the only recent media scandal — NBC News anchor Brian Williams and Fox News's Bill O'Reilly were both found to have embellished their careers as reporters.

"And I think that we in journalism need to come to a place and realize that when you make mistakes you need to own up to them immediately and apologize," he said. "People expect our stories, whether they're on [David] Letterman or behind an anchor desk, they expect them to be correct and accurate. And when we mess up we need to accept it, apologize and own it. And it distresses me that it's a lot easier to not apologize and a lot easier to not disclose 100 percent. But if you are involved in something, that could affect the way you are covering an issue, you need to disclose it."

Previous to his stint at ABC, Stephanopoulos served as a top adviser under Bill Clinton when he was president.

The Clinton Foundation recently came under separate scrutiny after the controversial book Clinton Cash disclosed that the nonprofit acts as a type of slush fund for the Clintons to increase their wealth and that Democrat presidential candidate Hillary, while serving as secretary of state, may have traded favors to foreign entities in return for donations.

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May 22, 2015

Public outcry forces FEC Democrats to junk bid to regulate Internet, Drudge

The Federal Election Commission, facing punishing criticism for suggesting that political activity on the Internet should be regulated, rejected talk of new rules Thursday, a victory for GOP commissioners who feared Democrats were targeting conservative sites, even the Drudge Report.

During a public meeting, Democrats on the FEC said they were responding to the public outcry in saying that no new rules are required.

Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said the FEC received 5,000 comments demanding the agency keep their hands off the Internet. In response, she proposed a resolution that directly barred Internet regulation

"I wanted to make clear that I was listening to what people are saying out there and I think we should allay those concerns if people are concerned that we are about to do that," she said. Her resolution said: "I further move that the Commission direct [counsel] to exclude from the rulemaking any proposal affecting political activity on the Internet."

Republicans on the commission had raised concerns that Democrats on the commission were targeting conservative political and news websites like Drudge, and could regulate them.

Weintraub said she never sought to regulate the Internet in her bid to provide more transparency in fundraising and political activity covered by the recent Supreme Court case, McCutcheon v. FEC, where the court struck down contribution limits.

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May 21, 2015

Majority Of Dems Okay With Criminalization Of Hate Speech

A poll released Wednesday by the online pollster YouGov has found that a plurality of the American public, as well as a majority of Democrats, support limiting the First Amendment to allow a ban on hate speech.

The poll, conducted from May 8-11, asked respondents whether they would support a law criminalizing “public comments intended to stir up hatred against a group based on such things as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.” Overall, 41 percent of Americans supported such a laws, while only 38 percent were opposed (22 percent were unsure).

Among those supporting a ban on hate speech were 51 percent of Democrats, as well as 37 percent of Republicans. The higher figure for Democrats was driven in large part by the attitudes of black and Hispanic respondents. Sixty-two percent of blacks favored a ban on hate speech, as did 50 percent of Hispanics. In contrast, only 36 percent of whites wanted a ban.

YouGov found other significant demographic divides among respondents. Those age 69 or older were the most supportive of a hate speech ban, but they were followed by those aged 18-29, while those of intermediate age were more protective of free speech. Women and those earning under $40,000 a year were also more willing to ban hate speech.

A ban on hate speech, if it passes, would utterly violate the First Amendment as it is currently interpreted by U.S. courts. The Supreme Court has, among other things, upheld the legality of cross-burning and affirmed the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals and other events with hateful signs. Even hate speech calling for violence is protected in U.S. law, as long as the advocacy is general rather than promoting immediate and specific action.

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May 20, 2015

McConnell moves to end debate on 'fast track' trade bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday moved to end debate on a "fast track" trade bill, setting up a key test vote on Thursday and possibly final passage by the weekend.

McConnell said he would still be willing to negotiate amendments to the legislation, but accused Democrats of objecting to every amendment in an effort to stall the process and kill the bill.

Many Democrats oppose "fast track" authority, which will provide President Obama with expanded powers to secure international trade deals.

"The Senate can't move forward on amendments if there continues to be objections," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "This is a body that requires cooperation, and that cooperation has not been there for this bipartisan bill."

Democrats said McConnell is refusing to allow votes on a series of Democratic amendments, breaking a pledge to allow an open process.

"Senator McConnell filed cloture to end debate on trade, revealing his pledge of an 'open' and 'robust' amendment process to have been a farce," Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

Reid met privately to discuss the trade legislation with Democrats on Tuesday, telling reporters "there was a robust discussion."

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May 19, 2015

The Mystery Of Hillary’s Second Email Account

New emails published by The New York Times on Monday raise questions over Hillary Clinton’s claims that she only used one email account during her tenure as secretary of state.

The report shows that Clinton sent emails to deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan on April 8, 2011, Jan. 5, 2012, and Aug. 28, 2012, from the address “”

But as the Republican National Committee pointed out in a widely circulated memo, that email address is different than the now-infamous that Clinton was known to have used during her time at the State Department — which stretched from Jan. 21, 2009, to Feb. 1, 2013.

The apparent use of two email accounts undermines claims from Clinton’s office and her attorney, David Kendall, that the 2016 presidential candidate exclusively used the account.

“As explained in my March 4, 2015 e-mail to your Staff Director and certain others, “” is not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State,” Kendall wrote in a March 27 letter to Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the Benghazi Committee.

In December, Clinton and her team turned over 55,000 pages emails to the State Department. Of those, the agency turned 300 emails over to Gowdy’s committee.

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May 18, 2015

Bernie Sanders To Hillary: Take A Position On TPP, ‘No Fence Sitting On This One’

Bernie Sanders said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “absolutely” needs to take a stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership on “State of the Union” Sunday.
Sanders told host Brianna Keilar there’s “no fence sitting on this one.”
BRIANNA KEILAR: Trade is a big issue in the Senate and now we are looking towards the House where Republicans, oddly enough, may not have the votes along with Democrats for the initiative of President Obama’s, something you oppose, and you have come out and said this is a terrible idea. Hillary Clinton has not. She is on the fence. Should she take a position?
BERNIE SANDERS: Absolutely. You can’t be on the fence on this one, you are either for it or against it. No fence sitting on this one. Here is the reality. When we talk about why the middle class is disappearing and why the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, you have to talk about disastrous trade agreements that have allowed corporate America to shut down in this country to move to China, Mexico, and other low-wage countries.


May 15, 2015

20 Traitors: Republicans Who Voted To Gut America’s Military Using Amnestied Illegal Aliens

Despite 20 Republicans defecting to join Democrats, Republicans and conservatives won big on Thursday evening: An amendment from Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) passed onto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) stripping amnesty for illegal aliens from the defense bill.

Brooks’ amendment, which stripped from the NDAA language that was inserted during the Armed Services Committee markup by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) —a freshman liberal Democrat who wants to amnesty all the illegal aliens in America—passed the House of Representatives 221-202 on Thursday evening.

“Today is a great victory for Americans and lawful immigrants who wish to serve America in our Armed Forces,” Brooks said in a statement after the vote. “I asked my colleagues to consider how much American families are struggling in an anemic job and wage market and how much the Gallego amendment makes job and income prospects for Americans even worse. It makes no sense to me that, at the same time the Army is downsizing and issuing pink slips to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there are Congressmen who seek to help illegal aliens deprive American citizens and lawful immigrants of military service opportunities. I’m pleased the House chose to stand up for American citizens and protect the Constitutional duty of Congress to set immigration law. Today’s vote was the fourth rejection of the President’s unconstitutional DACA program, with Republicans overwhelming standing up for the will of the American people and the citizens and lawful immigrants who want to serve our country.”

Gallego’s amendment would have allowed illegal aliens who have received President Obama’s first executive amnesty—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which some 800,000 or so illegal aliens have received—to enlist in the United States military. It would have come with an NDAA that reduces America’s force size—meaning the NDAA would have, if it weren’t for the Brooks amendment bolstered by conservatives like Reps. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Dave Brat (R-VA) among others, put illegal aliens ahead of Americans. What’s more, it would have used a defense bill—rather than an immigration bill—to do it.

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May 14, 2015

House rejects NSA phone snooping, approves Patriot Act rewrite

Democrats and Republicans in the House linked arms Wednesday and voted to cancel the NSA’s phone-snooping program and end all bulk data collection, approving a rewrite of the Patriot Act just weeks before the law’s key provisions are due to expire.

The 338-88 vote sends the bill to the Senate, where the issue is far more divisive, and where Republican leaders are defending the existing Patriot Act, trying to create an all-or-nothing choice that could force a full extension ahead of the June 1 deadline.

In the House, however, bipartisanship reigned as lawmakers said it was time to dismantle some of the surveillance programs run by both the Bush and Obama administrations — and the National Security Agency’s phone-snooping program in particular.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and author of the original Patriot Act, said the law was never intended to be used to justify massive collection and storage of Americans’ information, and he blamed overzealous lawyers for distorting the law to justify the NSA program.
“This program is illegal and based on a blatant misinterpretation of the law,” he said.

The rewrite bill, dubbed the USA Freedom Act, would still allow the government to demand companies turn over data on specific targets of terrorism investigations, but they would not be able to gather broad swaths of data. In an effort to head off legal trickery, the bill also prevents the intelligence community from justifying bulk collection under a different part of law other than the Patriot Act.

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May 13, 2015

Obama’s Energy Regulations To Cost Americans $460.5 Billion

Energy and environmental regulations finalized by the Obama administration in the past five years come with a hefty price tag of $460.5 billion, according to data compiled by a center-right think tank.

The American Action Forum’s Regulation Rodeo database shows that the Obama administration finalized 275 energy and environment regulations between 2009 and 2014, with the price tag of each regulation averaging $1.75 billion.

And that doesn’t even consider the paperwork companies will have to complete. AAF data shows that Obama’s energy regulations have burdened Americans with 24.3 million paperwork hours. That means every year, Americans have to complete an additional 3.95 million hours of paperwork because of energy regulations.

Now, $460 billion is a huge price tag, but most of the administration’s regulatory costs come from some 29 regulations that each cost $1 billion or more. The two most expensive finalized rules were imposed by the EPA to fight global warming.

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May 12, 2015

Chamber Feels Pressure From Ex-Im Opponents

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched an ad campaign Monday in support of the Export-Import Bank, revealing legitimate doubts about the bank’s future.

“The effort highlights the urgent action needed by Congress before the bank’s current charter expires on June 30, 2015,” according to a press release announcing the campaign.

Ex-Im’s charter was last scheduled to expire in September, and opponents were able to force a compromise on a short-term reauthorization, rather than the multi-year extensions that had been typical for much of the bank’s 81 year history. The Chamber supported reauthorization, then, too, but the current ad blitz is its first major effort to take that message to the public.

The first round of the campaign will include radio ads in approximately 10 states and 15 districts intended to win over members of Congress who are currently undecided about the bank. Once specific reauthorization bills begin to surface in Congress, the campaign will be expanded to include TV and print ads, and will target additional districts.

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May 11, 2015

Jindal: 'I don't trust' Obama with trade deal powers

Gov. Bobby Jindal opposes granting President Obama enhanced powers to negotiate trade deals and in an interview rejected a major trade deal with key U.S. allies in Asia.

The Louisiana Republican and likely candidate for president in 2016 has previously supported free trade deals and fast-track negotiating authority for presidents.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Jindal said he hasn't changed position on these issues but that he cannot support the Trade Promotion Authority legislation currently pending in Congress, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an expansive trade agreement that could strengthen bonds between the U.S. and allies in Asia, because he does not trust Obama.

"I'm in favor of trade. I've been in favor of giving presidents fast-track authority. I'm not in favor of giving this president fast-track authority," Jindal said. "I don't trust him to use that authority. This is a president that has broken the law."

Of the trade deal itself, Jindal said: "We don't know what's in the deal. Too much of this deal has been negotiated in private — in secret. I think Congress needs to maintain more oversight over this president. There's been a lot of speculation about what could or could not be in there. For example, I want to make sure this is not a back-door way for him to try and impose the kinds of environmental regulations he's trying to do through the [Environmental Protection Agency] around Congress. ... You look at the very one-sided deal he negotiated with China. I worry, is he going to strangle our economy?"

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May 8, 2015

Court Strikes Down NSA’s Bulk Phone Collection

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone data violates federal law.

The national debate over government surveillance has largely focused on the NSA program’s constitutionality. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit instead weighed it against Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and found it exceeds the boundaries of that law.

That section of the landmark post-9/11 law streamlines intelligence agencies’ right to legal seizure of business records “that are relevant to an ongoing foreign intelligence investigation.” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the USA PATRIOT Act, has himself argued in an amicus brief for the case that the current NSA harvesting of all information on Americans’ phone calls is too broad to meet the law’s standards, asking, “How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?”

The court noted that Edward Snowden’s exposure of the program’s details played a crucial role, pointing out in the decision that “Americans first learned” of the NSA’s metadata collection through Snowden’s leaks to British newspaper The Guardian in 2013.

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May 7, 2015

Teachers Union Fat Cat Thanks Little People Who Make Her Posh Life In The One Percent Possible

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, America! (And National Nurses Week, and Public Service Recognition Week.)

Naturally, then, the leaders of the country’s two largest teachers unions are issuing glowing remarks about how much they appreciate the low-level workers who fund their lavish executive salaries.

“Many of us have had teachers who changed our lives, nurses who saved our lives or public employees who improved our lives,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said in a press release obtained by The Daily Caller.

“For me, I often talk about Mr. Swift at Clarkstown High School North, who taught me how to be both confident and responsible, while opening the door to theater and art,” Weingarten reminisced. “This week is our chance to say ‘thank you.'”

Weingarten, a frequent critic of economic inequality, makes at least $360,000 per year. This salary puts her squarely in the top 1 percent of all Americans.

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May 6, 2015

IRS gave out billions of education tax credits for phony claims -- again

A government watchdog has identified $5.6 billion in bogus education tax credit claims, and the rate of fraud seems to be growing. But Internal Revenue Service officials still say their fraud-catching processes are adequate.

The likely fraudulent education credits were paid out to 3.6 million taxpayers in 2012, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reported Tuesday, 1.5 million more than investigators found in 2011. The bogus claims represent almost one-third of the $19 billion doled out in 2012 for education credits.

The tax break, known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, was made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is intended to offset the cost of college.

"The IRS still does not have effective processes to identify erroneous claims for education credits," Inspector General J. Russell George said in a statement. "Although the IRS has taken steps to address some of our recommendations, many of the deficiencies TIGTA previously identified still exist. As a result, taxpayers continue to receive billions of dollars in potentially erroneous education credits."

IRS officials, however, argued that the agency can effectively detect erroneous education credit claims. Investigators noted that the agency's processes only caught about half the questionable claims.

The inspector general also reported in 2011 that 2.1 million taxpayers received $3.2 billion in likely fraudulent education credits.

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May 5, 2015

Watchdog blows ethics whistle on Clinton, Reid, Senate Democrat meetings

A taxpayer watchdog group is calling for an ethics investigation into meetings between Hillary Clinton's team and key Senate Democrats inside official Senate offices where political activities are barred.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust has asked the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to probe the "apparent breach of ethics rules" stemming from an April 21 Clinton strategy session in a room just off the Senate floor.

The group said that the rules need to be reinforced because it appears that "ongoing" strategy sessions are planned between the Democratic frontrunner and Senate supporters.

"The taxpayers expect and deserve that senators will use taxpayer funded resources for Senate business, and abide by the law and rules requiring them to do so. This type of obvious violation without any consequence is precisely what causes public distrust of political officials, and damages the integrity of the Senate as a whole," said Matthew G. Whitaker, executive director of the group.

He submitted his request last week. A copy was provided to Secrets.

The group cited federal and Senate rules barring political activities inside Senate offices. The rules are typically directed at senators, though the Senate Ethics Manual reads, "Senate space may NOT be used for any political campaign activity, fundraising (including charitable contributions in lieu of honoraria), commercial, promotional, or profit-making purpose whatsoever."

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May 4, 2015

Trade deal opens immigration floodgates, OK's future Obama changes

President Obama's bid for fast track trade authority along with a huge Asian trade deal fell into further trouble Sunday night when a key Republican senator charged that the deals open the door to more immigration and let the administration make future changes without congressional approval.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions delivered the bruising blow when he raised five questions about the Trade Promotion Authority speeding through Congress and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that TPA would help push.

"The president has circumvented Congress on immigration with serial regularity. But the TPA would yield new power to the executive to alter admissions while subtracting congressional checks against those actions," said a "critical alert" dispatched by the senator's office. It was provided in advance to Secrets.

Despite promises by the administration and two House committee chairmen pushing TPA and TPP that immigration would not be changed, Sessions and several outside groups said Obama could change immigration policies between trading partners at will without any congressional oversight.


May 1, 2015

Obama honors Earth Day by using 9,180 gallons of jet fuel — that’s just the start

President Obama is celebrating Earth Day by flying in his jumbo jet down to Florida so he can tour the Everglades.

The 1,836-mile roundtrip will consume 9,180 gallons of fuel on Air Force One, according to CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller. And that’s just the president’s plane.

There will a half-dozen support planes along for the trip, Marine One helicopters, and a 25- to 30-vehicle motorcade belching exhaust into the air.

“While in Florida, the President will take a tour of the Everglades, and deliver remarks at Everglades National Park on the threat that climate change poses to our economy and to the world,” the White House said.

Democratic presidents always make a big show on Earth Day.

President Clinton once traveled to New England for an event, speeding through pristine forests in a massive motorcade. One of the vehicles smooshed a beaver trying to cross the road.

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