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Monthly Archives: February 2005


February 28th, 2005 - 11:56 pm

Iraq and Iwo Jima have a lot in common. One is a metropolitan country in the heart of the Middle East. The other is small volcanic island located due south of Tokyo. One is Muslim. The other is part of Japan’s Shinto/Buddhist complex. One has vast oil wealth. The other has some fisheries and military bases. One holds a strategic position in the heart of one of the world’s most volatile regions, which is also the incubator of a new global war. The other is, well, still just a small island in the middle of almost nowhere.

The battle for Iwo was one of the toughest in the entire Pacific Campaign. 70,000 Marines invaded, 6,821 of whom never came home. An additional 19,217 were wounded, and 2,648 suffered combat fatigue. All in just five weeks of fighting.

The battle for Iraq continues, but the results aren’t nearly so bad. To date, about 1,400 killed and 10,000 wounded in just less than two years of fighting.

But Iraq and Iwo Jima still have a lot in common

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February 28th, 2005 - 11:44 pm

If I ever getting into videoblogging, it won’t be anything special. Just a quickcam capture of me reading Jeff Goldstein and Tim Blair, while I drink vodka martinis and gripe, “I wish I were that good.”

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Partisan Much?

February 28th, 2005 - 11:09 pm

Taking a quick break from essay writing to note this from Josh Marshall:

This may surprise some of you, but I rarely if ever get any email from Republicans. But TPM gets email from the whole world, and today I received quite a few from people wanting to know why I wasn’t posting anything about Lebanon. Not having any particular thing to say about the happy contingency of the apparent collapse of the pro-Syrian government there, I didn’t worry about it much, until I got an email referring to this event as part of a “democracy domino.” And then I got it: those insistent correspondents were suggesting that I, as a Democrat, was indifferent to the latest triumph of Bush administration foreign policy.

Now I am aware the State Department made the appropriate noises, as its predecessors would have done, after the Hariri assassination, about Syrian dominance of Lebanon, and I also know the Bush administration has been generally hostile towards the Syrian government, as has been U.S. policy for as long as I can remember. But it literally never crossed my mind that Bush’s fans would credit him with for this positive event, as though his pro-democracy speeches exercise some sort of rhetorical enchantment.

This is the kind of thinking, of course, that has convinced God knows how many people that Ronald Reagan personally won the Cold War. It’s the old post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logical fallacy.

Sure, Lebanon has been under Syria’s boot for a quarter century, so it’s just coincidence that the locals are demanding freedom at the same time Iraqis are getting theirs.

Sure, Saudis have never voted ever, so it’s just coincidence that they had their first-ever, semi-free, all-male elections around the same time Iraqis got theirs.

Sure, Egyptians haven’t been promised a free election since the Brits left (and before the Brits even arrived), so it’s just coincidence that they’re getting promised one right after the Iraqis got theirs.

Sure, Syrians have never had free elections and aren’t about to get any, but it’s still just coincidence that they’re facing an uprising of popular will right after Iraqis expressed their popular will.

Maybe, in the world of Joshua Micah Marshall, that’s all just circumstantial evidence.

But juries have convicted guilty men on far less.

Smile, Josh — we’re winning the damn war. Why can’t you admit, just once, that the guy in charge is doing an OK job?

UPDATE: Josh Marshall might be better informed if he spent more time reading… Josh Marshall:

In short, the administration is trying to roll the table–to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism. So events that may seem negative–Hezbollah for the first time targeting American civilians; U.S. soldiers preparing for war with Syria–while unfortunate in themselves, are actually part of the hawks’ broader agenda. Each crisis will draw U.S. forces further into the region and each countermove in turn will create problems that can only be fixed by still further American involvement, until democratic governments–or, failing that, U.S. troops–rule the entire Middle East.

A tip of the hat to the indispensable Frank Martin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Speaking of which

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February 28th, 2005 - 10:57 pm

Bush’s fault? Well, there are pictures to help prove it…

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February 28th, 2005 - 10:14 pm

I’m working on what will be, I hope, a damn solid essay. So instead of waiting for hot & fresh & light material tonight, read this and this in full if you haven’t already.

Anyway, I hope to have the thing — titled “Perspective” — late tonight, lunchtime tomorrow at the latest.

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That Biased Media

February 28th, 2005 - 3:54 pm

This time, it’s the AP and Palestinian “outrage.”

NOTE: Right now, I’m willing to cut the Palestinians a little slack. Hell, I’m feeling so giddy, I’ll even let the AP slide. Even if there’s only a little Palestinian outrage over the most recent boming in Israel, at least:

1. It’s there.

2. Outrage is the line the PA is taking.

That’s progress. Slow, small… but real.

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Egyptblogging? Never Heard of It

February 28th, 2005 - 3:50 pm

Hey, kids — here’s a game everyone can play!

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Good for Nothing

February 28th, 2005 - 3:36 pm

Europe’s invaluable contribution to Free Iraq:

LUXEMBOURG (current holder of EU presidency): $196,000.

BELGIUM: $261,000 and five to ten driving instructors under German command for a training mission based in the UAE.

DENMARK: 10 trainers and seven soldiers for force protection. It also sent an assortment of pistols, radios, binoculars and other equipment for Iraq’s new army.

THE NETHERLANDS: 10 military police and 15 trainers already sent for the mission. It might send some more and contribute some money.

GREECE: $650,000.

What about Europe’s heavyweights?

FRANCE: set to train 1,500 Iraqi military police in Qatar, but probably outside
NATO’s mission. France may contribute to NATO fund for the mission.

SPAIN: plans to train groups of 25 Iraqis in mine clearance at a centre outside Madrid; several groups could be trained each year.

GERMANY: $652,000; plus it is training Iraqi military in UAE.

All told, that’s worth far less than Europeans paid into Saddam’s kickback fund during the halcyon days of Oil-for-Food.

Thanks, fellas.

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Yellow Alert

February 28th, 2005 - 2:32 pm

You realize, of course, this means war:

Recent communications between Usama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi indicate that bin Laden has “encouraged Zarqawi and his group to focus on attacks inside the United States,” multiple U.S. officials told FOX News on Monday.

The sources would not get into detail about how the communication was made or how it was intercepted by the United States. They also said that there is nothing specific in the message, such as maps or references to particular cities or buildings. Rather, the communication simply encourages a “focus” on attacks inside U.S. borders, sources said.

Well, duh — we’ve been at war with these jokers for a decade now. That’s not what’s interesting.

What’s interesting is, the dual messages Osama is sending. Allow me to translate his reported request to Zarqawi:

Hey, pal. Peace be unto you and all that. Now listen up. The Americans have just about run my group into the ground. Most of my people are rounded up or martyred, our sanctuary is gone, and it’s getting tougher and tougher to recruit new kids. Well, I don’t have to tell you about that last one, do I?

Anyway, it’s not like we here at al Qaeda are going to be doing anything big over in America any time soon. And let’s be honest: Your gang is hurting the Movement over in Iraq. You just don’t know how to get people on your side. But you are good at killing — so why not do a little less killing of our brothers in Iraq, and concentrate on killing heathens in America?

Allow me to translate that even more: We’re winning, kids.

We’re winning.

UPDATE: Jeff has more, that brainwave-sucking bastard.

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February 28th, 2005 - 1:32 pm

Day By Day… just… read it already…

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February 28th, 2005 - 1:18 pm

Best summary yet of the goings on in Lebanon is at new-to-no-one-but-me blog, Across the Bay.

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Cleared for Takeoff

February 28th, 2005 - 12:34 pm

Meanwhile, in America, our crazy-cool lives go on:

Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett was the first person to circle the globe solo in a hot-air balloon. Now, he wants to make the trip in a single-engine airplane without stopping – another aviation first.

Fossett, 60, hoped to take off in his GlobalFlyer on Monday afternoon at Salina Municipal Airport and land there again about 66 hours later. The 23,000-mile flight had already been postponed several times because of shifting jet stream patterns or weather at Salina.

“I’m a bit nervous about takeoff,” said Fossett, who has logged about 30 hours in the jet-powered aircraft. “I will be the ultimate test pilot. I have a lot to worry about. It’s a major endeavor.”


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The D Word

February 28th, 2005 - 12:19 pm

Adding to an Instalanche is more than a little like pissing into a rainstorm. But on the off chance you missed this link over at the big guy’s blog, click and read it now.

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Watch Your Back

February 28th, 2005 - 12:11 pm

Talk about looking for trouble in the wrong direction:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he thought Washington might eventually resort to military action against his country.

“Washington has imposed sanctions on us and isolated us in the past, but each time the circle hasn’t closed around us,” Assad told Italy’s Repubblica newspaper.

“If, however, you ask me if I’m expecting an armed attack, well I’ve seen it coming since the end of the war in Iraq.”

Don’t worry about Washington, Baby Assad. Worry about Beirut — and maybe Damascus.

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Iran’s Terror Weapons

February 28th, 2005 - 12:03 pm

While revolution brews in Lebanon, it’s business as usual for Europe and Iran.

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Under Construction

February 28th, 2005 - 11:44 am

Hitchens on where “the Arab street” went:

In retrospect, it’s difficult to decide precisely when this annoying expression began to expire, if only from diminishing returns. There was, first, the complete failure of the said “street” to detonate with rage when coalition forces first crossed the border of Iraq, as had been predicted (and one suspects privately hoped) by so many “experts.” But one still continued to hear from commentators who conferred street-level potency on passing “insurgents.” (I remember being aggressively assured by an interviewer on Al Franken’s quasi-comedic Air America that Muqtada Sadr’s “Mahdi Army” in Najaf was just the beginning of a new “Tet Offensive.”) Mr. Sadr duly got a couple of seats in the recent Iraqi elections. And it was most obviously those elections that discredited the idea of ventriloquizing the Arab or Muslim populace or of conferring axiomatic authenticity on the loudest or hoarsest voice.

Of course, the Arab street was also going to rise up against us when the Afghan War began. And when Israel put Arafat under virtual house arrest. And when Saddam was captured, etc.

What Hitch leaves out is, where the Arab street is rising up in anger: In tiny Lebanon, in protest against their Syrian overlords. And quietly, in Iraq, during last month’s election. With some trepidation, in Egypt, as free elections are promised. Anyway, you get the idea.

The Arab street is marching against homegrown oppression, not against American “imperialism.”

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“God Bless the USA”

February 28th, 2005 - 11:13 am

Peace Corps volunteer Robert [not his real name, for obvious reasons] writes from Ukraine:

A friend received an sms message from a Lebanese friend currently in Beirut. The message simply said “God Bless the USA”. We have very limited access to news so we immediately went online and started searching for news about the US. Was there a bombing? What happened?

While I was searching, she was messaging back and finally received a call from him. In lebanon the news was reporting that Syria was finally pulling troops out. People were having parties to celebrate. People were in the streets shouting “God Bless the USA” and “God Bless George Bush”.

Wow, this sounds like a time to celebrate right? But my friends looked like they had been punched in the stomach. Just that morning they had double teamed me and insisted that the bush regime was the most evil on the planet and of course in the history of the US.

So why were they not happy? One meekly commented that perhaps this was
actually the result of Iraq etc. in spite of Bush’s evil intentions.
The other simply kept quiet beyond asserting that it was a stupid mistake to think that Bush had anything to do with this development.

It was if their entire world was crashing down on them.

Robert continues:


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A Long Hard Slog

February 28th, 2005 - 11:07 am

Iraq’s “insurgents” continue to win the hearts and minds of the locals:


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Required Reading

February 28th, 2005 - 10:55 am

Man, talk about burying the lede.

Congrats, Joe.

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Rocket’s Red Glare

February 28th, 2005 - 10:51 am

Photoblogging, Navy style.

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You’ve Got to be Kidding

February 28th, 2005 - 10:48 am

Dan Rather is still standing by Mary Mapes:

“To people who have been so loyal and true, I’m not going to give up on them,” Rather says, referring to Mary Mapes, who was fired immediately after the release of the critical report, and three others, who were asked to resign by CBS’s co-chairman, Leslie Moonves.

RatherBiased has the whole story.

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Getting What You Asked For

February 28th, 2005 - 10:45 am

The real Ward Churchill scandal from new-to-me blogger, Coalition of the Swilling.

Love the name.

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Now That‘s a Protest

February 28th, 2005 - 10:21 am


In a special speech to Parliament, Lebanon’s pro-Syrian prime minister has announced his resignation and that of his government.

Following Monday’s statement by Prime Minister Omar Karami, a Lebanese opposition figure called for popular protests in Beirut to continue until Syria quits Lebanon.

“The battle is long, and this is the first step, this is the battle for freedom, sovereignty and independence,” opposition MP Ghattas Khouri told a cheering protest in central Beirut, according to Reuters.

Ukraine, Georgia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Lebanon?

Who’s next?

UPDATE: The good professor writes that “the government has just fallen.”

Glenn, it didn’t fall — it was pushed over the ledge by popular protest.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein’s take is meaner and funnier. Which, like you knew that already.

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February 28th, 2005 - 10:05 am

VodkaPundit is a Michael Jackson-Free Zone since February 24, 2005.

We here at VP promise to go at least four more days without a mention of the Wacko One, unless of course something really really funny happens – or double your money back.

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And the Oscar Goes To…

February 28th, 2005 - 10:00 am

I didn’t watch the Oscars last night, and haven’t since Letterman hosted. Not because Dave sucked — I loved his schtick. Always have. Just lost interest is all.

Fortunately, La Shawn Barber did watch, and has a scathing review.

UPDATE: No, she didn’t really watch. But she really didn’t have to.

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The Ten Million Dollar Man?

February 27th, 2005 - 11:38 pm

We’ll get to Ward Churchill in a moment, but a story first.

Twenty years ago, my Grandfather Green had a problem with the Teamsters.

Preston M. Green owned a small steel service plant, Southwest Steel, and one of the shop guys was trouble. He refused to work. He showed up drunk. He started fights. Grandpa had been trying to get rid of the guy for months, if not years. If you’ve ever seen a steel shear or a pickling plant in action, you understand why you don’t want drunks or fights anywhere near them.

Then the guy showed up drunk again one day – with a pistol.

Now, this wasn’t Preston’s first run-in with a Teamster. He’d been through strikes, he’d been through slowdowns, he’d been through every kind of union trouble you can imagine. Grandpa, however, wasn’t anti-union. As he told me years ago, “The way management used to run roughshod over the workers way back when, it was criminal. Unions were necessary.”

But this guy… this drunk, gun-waving guy… well, he was too much.

After the gun incident, the shop foreman went to Preston’s office and said, “You have to get rid of him.”

“I can’t,” Grandpa replied. “All your goddamn rules have my hands tied. He’s your problem.”

And that was a fact. The company couldn’t fire him, because he was a Teamster. The Teamsters couldn’t get rid of him, because, well, he was a Teamster.

That childhood story came to mind reading this:

University of Colorado officials are considering offering Ward Churchill an early retirement package that could end an increasingly uncomfortable standoff with the controversial professor.

Two people familiar with internal CU discussions said the still-undetermined offer is in the idea stage. The discussions come just a week before a three-person panel is scheduled to deliver a report on Churchill’s fitness for tenure.

David Lane, Churchill’s attorney, said he has not been contacted about a buyout offer.

But, he said, while his primary focus is on protecting Churchill’s constitutional right to speak out, he would be willing to listen to a university proposal.

“If they offer $10 million, I would think about it. If they offer him $10, I wouldn’t,” Lane said.

Things have gotten so bad on campus, that UC can’t get rid of a known liar and plagiarist – not without a ten million dollar settlement, that is. Things have gotten so bad in the courts, that a ten million dollar buyout might be cheaper than a court fight. Things have gotten so bad, that a liar and plagiarist holds all the cards; he can keep his stature, pay, and influence, or he can get a seven figure check.

Tenure has become the Teamsters of acadamia. Even when acadamia doesn’t want the guy around any longer, they still have no easy way to get rid of him.

Ward Churchill is now a brother-in-arms with the drunk, gun-waving idiot in a steel plant. A major university finds itself in the same position as a hated “robber-baron.” Ward might be flattered by the comparison, but I doubt the University of Colorado would be.

But they have no one to blame but themselves.

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Professor Pangloss Speaking

February 27th, 2005 - 11:13 pm

It’s too soon to gloat, but I’m going to anyway.

Many of the same people who said that the Iraq War was wrong, stupid, criminal, immoral, Hitlerian, whatever, also told us we just had to keep making deals with Arafat. (Or more accurately, pressuring the Israelis into doing so.) But look what’s happening now that Ol’ Liver Lips is dead.

For starters, Israel is on the diplomatic offensive against Syria:

Shalom and Major General Ze’evi will meet with ambassadors of the European Union countries and countries that currently serve on the United Nations Security Council to present the evidence that Syrian-based groups have been involved in multiple attacks, including the weekend bombing at a beachfront nightclub, which killed four people.

Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, who heads MI’s research department, will make similar presentations in Washington, London and Paris.

Before Arafat’s death, an Israeli diplomatic move could always be countered by a “but what abotu the Palestinians?” gambit. Today, however, the Palestinian Authority isn’t just freely-elected, it’s even taking sides against Syria:

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas angrily accused a “third party” on Saturday of sabotaging the Middle East peace process by orchestrating the suicide bombing on Friday night, as Israel threatened a resumption of targeted killings of militants.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not tolerate attacks such as last Friday’s suicide bombing in Israel and reaffirmed his commitment to finding peace.

In an interview with Britain’s Independent newspaper published on Monday, Abbas blamed an unnamed party for sabotaging peace efforts.

“We believe peace is possible now and we are ready to negotiate with Israel to reach a true and lasting peace,” Abbas said ahead of a meeting in London on Tuesday to discuss Palestinian reforms.

“As for the suicide bombing last Friday, such actions will not be tolerated by us as they are against the Palestinian interests.”

“Third party” is code for “Syria.” I had my doubts about Abbas – and it isn’t time yet to break out the party hats – but let’s sound a cheer for free elections, shall we?

Meanwhile, don’t think Syria isn’t feeling the pressure, from Israel and elsewhere:

A half-brother of former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein has been captured with help from a Syrian government seeking to ward off accusation it is helping Iraqi militants.

Now, we know Syria (along with that secular regime’s allies in Tehran) has been aiding the Iraqi insurency. Yet they just sold out one of the biggest insurgents.

Meanwhile, Egypt is promising free(er) elections, the Saudis are calling for a nuke ban, and even Tmo Friedman is sounding cautiously optimistic about the chances of real reform in the Arab world.

Not one of these events would have been possible if Arafat or Saddam Hussein were still in power. President Bush decided that Arafat wasn’t worth dealing with, and that future progress would have to wait for a freely-elected PA. President Bush decided that big changes in the Middle East weren’t possible until Hussein was dealt with in the most serious way.

It’s still too soon to gloat – all of the progress we’ve seen still could slip away, if we retreat from our principles, from this fight. But looking at the news this week, it’s become obvious that President Bush, and his neocon-warblogger-chickenhawk allies here in the blogosphere were right when we said that Arafat and Saddam had to go.

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Uncommon Courtesy

February 27th, 2005 - 10:16 pm

Never wrote anything about Glovegate because, well, it seemed too silly to be news, but not silly enough to bother with. Then a teacher of mine from way back when, Tom Teel, emailed this:

I worked in Germany as a computer simulation technician all across the country supporting the United States Army. While I was in Germany I worked with both German and American soldiers. I lived on the local economy, ate in the local German gasthous, shopped at the local German stores, and was a member of the community. I talked to people from all across Europe every day. I have seen people of all walks of life, community leaders, military personnel, politicians, and clergy shake hands. Some of them took their gloves off during the winter when shaking hands, some left their gloves on. My point during this ranting is that if all the European press has to report about a state visit is who did, and did not take their gloves off, it must be a slow news day. I believe we are surely seeing European snobbery being elevated to a new level.

For the last decade, most of Europe has become a continent-wide slow news day. Why? Because in 1981, another American President Ronald Reagan took his gloves off to fight the Soviets. Eight years later, the Wall came down. And with it, Slovakia gained her freedom.

Hey – maybe that’s where the Slovakian tradition came from.

NOTE: All kidding aside, Tom gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. When I was a young punk with a bad case of Senioritis back at MMA, then-SFC Tom Teel caught me doing who-remembers-what. He didn’t report me, didn’t lecture me, just looked down and said, “Son, don’t be stupid on purpose.”

50 years from now, I hope to be telling my grandkids that story.

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Photoblogging – Since 1914

February 25th, 2005 - 1:38 pm

SSG Daniel Felten turned me on to a really cool photo collection — color pictures from the First World War.

(Original link here.)

Every picture I’ve ever seen from WWI looks like we expect that era to look. Black and white moonscapes in the north of France, black and white corpses, black and white gore, black and white trenches, black and white soldiers wearing comical helmets, black and white politicians posing with black and white generals.

Seeing these same scenes in color somehow reminds me that WWI wasn’t really all that long ago, and that this fractured world is still suffering its effects.

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My Wife Won’t Love Me Anymore

February 25th, 2005 - 11:40 am

Not after I show her this, coming out just in time for Christmas ’05.

(Hat tip to uh, Tim Martin, I think.)

UPDATE: Of course, she’ll still love me. A recent conversation about Condi Rice and those boots went like this:

Me: Did you see that pic I sent you of Condi?

Her: Yes, I want those boots!

Me: Well, I want Condi. Fair trade?

Her: Fair trade.

A match made in heaven, I’m tellin’ ya.

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