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Dog Gone

Image result for John Lewis
A young John Lewis, arrested for protesting Jim Crow,
and for his non-violent civil rights protests

Back in the late 1950s and through the 1960’s John Lewis fought for civil rights.  He was a non-violent protester who was severely injured during peaceful protests.

 

As a result of those peaceful protests, civil rights legislation was passed, and became law with the signature of then-president Lyndon Johnson.  Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the conservatives have worked tirelessly to bring back Jim Crow and to undo the provisions that guaranteed voting rights.

 

This is the shame, the stain, on conservatives and on our history that we let them get away with doing it.  No one understands that better than now-Congressman John Lewis.  Throughout the south, and in places other than the deep south which have Republicans in control of state legislatures we see voter suppression taking root.  This has been reflected in the decreasing voter participation among those targeted by voter suppression efforts.

 

I would argue that the lower the voter participation, the less legitimate, the less valid is any government of the people, by the people, or for the people.  To selectively take away the right to vote is not only a racial attack, it is an attack on the very premise of our nation, representative government, by limiting government representation as much as possible to conservative white people.

 

Nothing could be more in opposition to John Lewis, or to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

When we have a racist drug policy that disproportionately makes felons of minorities for what were previously not felony crimes, not only imprisoning them in largely for-profit jails which steal their labor for pennies an hour — sometimes as little as 8 cents an hour.  This is Jim Crow all over again.  To further deny these minorities the restoration of their voting rights has further shifted the participation in voting to white voters, and been part of the rise of white supremacy again in the south.

 

If anyone doubts that there is still an unrepentant population of white bigots in the US, we have only to look at the polling on those who desire to bring back anti-miscegenation laws which would again prevent intermarrying between people of different “racial” backgrounds.  This reflects not only a desire for racial purity that is synonymous with white supremacy, but also a completely false understanding by ignorant conservatives of race and the characteristics associated with that false understanding of race.

 

Make no mistake, Trump is himself a racist, and so are those who support him, or at the very least his supporters are tolerant of racism.  They are not supporters of MLK.

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While they like to give lip service to being the party of small government, and moan and groan about government over-reach ad nauseum, the GOP is the worst offender for unwarranted intrusion into the lives of citizens minding their own business.  The right is obsessed with controlling our sexual and gender identity, sexual orientation, and reproductive choices, attempting to variously criminalize those decisions, or to make them for us.  These are things which largely cannot be legislated, as gender and sexuality, and individual body autonomy are intrinsic and inherent parts of each human being.  The GOP, particularly the MN GOP, must get out of our bedrooms, our bathrooms, our locker rooms, and our pants.

 
It should be an accepted premise of government that any legislation that interferes with the free will and action of citizens should serve a demonstrated NEED for such legislation.  In the case of the transgender and bathrooms, there have been more instances of Republican politicians arrested for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than there have been documented incidents, much less arrests or convictions, of transgender persons behaving inappropriately or illegally.  One of those GOP pols, Larry Craig, was arrested right here in Minnesota, at the International Airport.

 

As noted by the Intellectualist:

 

According to Media Matters, there haven’t … been any reports of men ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them. You know who have been arrested in public bathrooms for sexual misconduct?Republican politicians.
Without even diving too deep, we found three GOP legislators who were picked up for lavatory indiscretions.
Their names: Larry Craig …, Jon Hinson, and Bob Allen.

We may need laws against GOP politicians using public bathrooms. By contrast, trans people are doing just fine.

It has long been my contention that not only are a number of conned-servatives are controlling, authoritarian hypocrites, but also that many are bigots, (bigotry being defined as “sincerely” believing broadly denigrating and factually false things about a broad group of people in order to in some way demean or discriminate against them). In the case of transgender people, American or otherwise, it is a fact that there have been more Republican members of Congress arrested for illegal sexual conduct in public bathrooms than there have been arrests of transgender people for either sexual assault or sexual harassment, both of which are the justification for transgender bathroom bill legislation.

 

The most recent example of that is HB 41, a bill introduce by three of the most consistently stupid members of the state legislature since the super star of MN lege stupid, Michele Bachmann, moved on to a larger public platform for embarrassment. Her most recent public embarrassment was the lie that President Obama had extorted foreign governments to walk in gay pride parades.  Because you can’t make up stupid, especially dishonest stupid, the way Michele Bachmann can.  Sadly all too often, when the facts are not on the side of conservatives, like Bachmann, like the authors of HB 41, they just make up stuff; worse they come to believe their lies.

From lgbtqnation:

 

Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on the Family Research Council‘s “Washington Watch” radio program late last week to discuss the incoming Trump Administration.
In her appearance, which was captured by RightWingWatch, she denounced the State Department for forcing foreign government ministers to march in gay pride parades. It is unclear what she is referring to.

Financial incentives are withheld from countries unless they advance, for instance, the gay agenda. In a country that doesn’t believe in the gay agenda, the Obama State Department has said, “Look, you have to have a Gay Pride parade. You have to make sure that you can show us that ministers are marching in this Gay Pride parade.” What? The US government is telling another government, “You have to have Gay Pride parades”? That’s unbelievable! “You won’t get your PEPFAR money, you won’t get your USAID money, unless you follow our radical social agenda”?

HB 41 is the latest effort at a bathroom bill, a bill to make life more of a living hell for transgender students.

From OnTop magazine:

 

Three Republican members of the Minnesota House have introduced a bill that targets transgender students.
The Student Physical Privacy Act (HF 41) seeks to “protect and provide for the privacy and safety of all students enrolled in public schools and to maintain order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities where students may be in various states of undress in the presence of other students.”
It defines “sex” to mean “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.” The bill would designate restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms and shower rooms for the “exclusive use by students of the male sex only or by the students of the female sex only.”
The bill’s authors are Representatives Duanne Quam of Byron, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa and Eric Lucero of Dayton.
Introduced on Thursday, the proposed legislation has been referred to the Education Innovation Policy committee.

 

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Reince Priebus on Face the Nation: Failure

by Dog Gone on January 11, 2017 · 0 comments

On Sunday, January 8th, Reince Priebus apppeared on Face the Nation, an interview which included the statement that we have 25 million uninsured people in the United States.  He further posited that this represented a failure of Obamacare to cover every person. He kept calling Obamacare a failure.

 

It is in fact a success, a success that is, or was, growing.

 

I would argue this was a bold faced evil intentioned lie.

 

The reality is that under Republicans prior to the Democratic sweep of the Senate and White House, there was ZERO effort on the part of Republicans to address health care issues, other than to find new ways to enact wealth redistribution to the wealthy, both corporate and individuals, the life and health of average Americans be damned.

 

Number of serious or new replacement ideas from the GOP? ZERO.

 

Number of uninsured Americans the GOP sought to provide health care or insurance coverage? ZERO.

 

THAT is failure. And they are continuing that failure, not learning from it or improving on it.

 

It was not an exaggeration when then-Congressman Alan Grayson back in 2009 referred to the Republican plan for health care, as “Die. Die Quickly.”.

 

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Like White on Right, er, Rice

by Dog Gone on December 22, 2016 · 0 comments

There has been a rise in white supremacy supporters, and other racists.  There has been a rise in supporters of religious intolerance, misogyny, and intolerance towards the LGBT.

 

This is not fictional, it is a factual.  But the right, well, the right keeps trying to pretend; they don’t want us looking at the man behind the curtain, to borrow an analogy from the vintage movie, The Wizard of Oz.

 

The harsh reality is that the right, especially the Trump campaign, has been perfectly happy and willing to accept anyone, no matter how deplorable, on their side.  That has included the dregs, the same disreputable crowd that formed the John Birchers back in the mid 20th century, and worse.  And the respectable, decent, responsible right (sarcasm) which has been so tolerant of driving out moderates, has looked the other way.

 

Watching the 2015 movie, Woman in Gold, I was struck by what that particular slice of history tells us about the rise of authoritarianism.  Helen Mirren’s character observes how the Austrians welcomed the Germans, and only later tried to claim they were victims of them.  Now we see occasionally where the right is embarrassed, or in denial, about their political bedfellows. But it is too little, and it is way too late.

 

We have heard the accusation by our intelligence services of Russian meddling in our elections.  Vice News went further in connecting the dots between the neo-nazis and other deplorables and the mainstream Conservatives, including the proposed Trump administration.  I would argue the list below compiled by Vice News is far from exhaustive or encyclopedic.  Information like this makes it all the more important that we push back against conflicts of interest and that we push back against the influence and interference of other nation states and their governments intruding into our government.  And always, always, always, follow the money.  Because this is about all forms of power, and money is only one of them.

 

Austria’s far-right party cozies up to Russia

The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party said his party had signed a friendly pact with the Russian government in Moscow on Monday and vowed to be “a neutral and reliable intermediary and partner in promoting peace” between the United States and Russia.
FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache also revealed in a statement that he’d traveled to New York a month earlier to meet with Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser.
Monday’s announcement sought to establish Austria’s growing populist party on the world stage, but it served the dual purpose of signifying Russia’s growing ties to Europe’s far-right movement.
“The FPO continues to gain international influence,” the statement said, although it did not not elaborate on the contents of the agreement with Russia.
Monday’s meeting in Moscow was also attended by the FPO’s recently defeated presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, and members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party.
Originally founded by Nazis shortly after World War II, the FPO has become one of Europe’s leading platforms against migration. Like many of Europe’s rising far-right populist parties, it also supports scaling back the European Union and cutting down on sanctions against Russia, which were imposed by the EU and U.S. governments in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine.
Russia’s recent meddling in European domestic politics has stirred plenty of anxiety among EU leaders, who accuse Russia of funding these populist movements in an effort to weaken Western democracies. The issue was a major preoccupation among EU leaders during a summit in October.
Monday’s meeting is hardly the the first time Russia has been linked with Europe’s far-right populist parties.

  • France: The National Front Party (FN) borrowed 9.4 million euros from Russia to help fund its reelection campaign in 2014. FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen, has made her admiration of Russia well known — she famously supported Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and opposes the EU and U.S. sanctions. Earlier this year, Le Pen sought a 27 million euro loan from a Russian-owned bank to finance her presidential bid.
  • Hungary: In May 2013, leaders of the far-right party Jobbik met with members of Russia’s parliament at Moscow State University. A member of the same party was accused in 2014 of acting as a Russian spy.
  • Bulgaria: The leader of the neo-Nazi Ataka Party, Volen Siderov, traveled to Moscow in 2012 for Putin’s 60th birthday party and expressed support for the Russian president.
  • Slovakia: The far-right Our People’s party is an ally of Moscow. Leader Marian Kotleba sent a letter of support to Ukraine’s pro-Russia leader, Viktor Yanukovych, just before he was ousted in a popular revolution in 2014.

The meeting between Strache and Flynn took place at Trump Tower, where, according to the statement, they discussed ending the United States’ and EU’s “harmful and ultimately useless sanctions” against Russia. It is the latest indication that historically chilly relations between the U.S. and Russia will warm under the incoming Trump administration.
Several key members of Trump’s Cabinet have shown close ties to Moscow in the past, most notably Trump’s pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has a history of friendly relations with Putin. Flynn has also expressed an openness to working with Moscow, and once sat next to Putin during an event.

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I acquired a new facebook friend who is a conservative Trump supporter.

 

He differs from many Trumpanzees in that he is an atheist, but in many respects we have the same conversations that would take place with other Trump supporters. These have been surprisingly cordial and informative, once we get past some of the assumptions we BOTH have about the other person. We are similar in age, but very different in employment background, most areas of interest, and especially in education. W. is an excellent example of the white, blue-collar, male supporter of Donald Trump.

 

Over the weekend, the conversation wandered from a shared enjoyment of certain poetry (to my surprise) to the topic of race and criminality. W. is convinced that black people are “crack-head animals” who are more inherently criminal because of their race.  But W. is convinced he is not a racist, because he likes a few of the “good ones” [black people] he knows personally So in his thinking, acknowledging there are a few exceptions to the racial rule, like Condi Rice, or Colin Powell, or a few people he personally has known or worked with, excludes the possibility that his views of a majority of black people are racist.

 

W. does not really understand that the concept of race he holds is faulty, an artificial construct that does not really encompass much less explain human similarities and differences that he believes defines race. W. regularly messages me for example with instances where someone commits a road rage shooting to assure me that while no individual had yet been identified, the shooter was certainly going to turn out to be black. I refuse to believe anything about the shooter one way or the other; I’m comfortable waiting for that identification, without making those same assumptions. W. further asserted with strong conviction that were the shooter to turn out to be white, because the victim was black, that there would be widespread looting (he used the word “shopping”) by African Americans.

 

It is a fact that some statistics show a larger number of black Americans responsible for crimes generally and for violent crime particularly. However there are also problems with the statistics inadequately covering rural areas where there are more white people. The numbers are not definitive, and any interpretation of those flawed numbers that also involves a false understanding of both race and genetics cannot come to a valid conclusion.

 

For presuming to differ with W. I was of course called names, like a “deluded liberal” among others. The legitimate objections I hold to his faulty conclusions, which include a practical and applied understanding of genetics and genetic inheritance was blithely dismissed as elitism and a compulsion to be politically correct. Any science which rejected his conclusion was denied while anything which was rejected by science that bolstered or supported his bias, no matter the quality of that source, was embraced.

 

I have two problems with the racism that I have encountered with conservatives, one is the “don’t try to confuse me with the facts” response, and the other is the “I know it because I’ve seen it” response. W. disparages black people for supposedly still using crack cocaine in large numbers, which statistically is not the problem it was at one time, from the mid 1980s into the early 1990s. At the same time W. unrealistically minimizes the dangers and illegality of a close white friend who snorts cocaine on a regular basis, and whom he admits is an addict. W. even claimed not to be aware that it was possible to overdose on coke, or that it could cause heart attacks and strokes which might not be fatal but could certainly be massively debilitating. No, the white guy shoving coke up his nose was — in his estimation — nothing like those animalistic black people.

 

I consistently see not only this failure of information as a recurring problem with conservatives, not only W., but a very superficial level of understanding and analysis. Beyond that however I have seen a serious and recurring problem with applying a double standard to the conduct of those they like and those they don’t like. For example, W. has no problem with any of the well documented issues with the Trump charity, but is convinced that Hillary Clinton should be in jail for some vague misconduct that he cannot specify and for which he cannot cite a single statute, and believes that there is no benefits from the operation of the Clinton Foundation.

 

The stark reality of course is that the Clinton Foundation has done a broad range of public good, both in the US and overseas, and that while both Bill and Hillary Clinton have prospered during the existence of the Foundation, there does not appear to be any illegality involved so far. The same cannot be said either for the benefits from the Trump Foundation, or the credible accusations of fairly blatant illegality, and Donald Trump has clearly benefited from an entity that spends other people’s money (NOT his own) on toys like autographed footballs, on egotistical portraits, and on legal fees from Trump’s for-profit businesses that run afoul of the law.

 

Pointing out those acts of misconduct by Trump elicit complaints that “Trump won, so I need to get over it”. They elicit complaints that I am a “poor loser” and that there is nothing wrong with what Trump did because he is “a smart man”.

 

This blatant denial and the gleeful application of double standard, not only to Trump but to so many, many more issues and people, and the enormous accumulation of false information combined with the utter denial or disregard for anything that does not support the blind illusion and delusion of expectations about Donald Trump deeply concern me. The failure of facts to persuade deeply concerns me because when facts are denied or rejected, there can be no finding of common ground, no meeting of the minds, and no reality based on the grasp of cause and effect. I see a pattern of emotional thinking that deeply concerns me because it actively rejects logic and rational critical thinking.

 

As frustrating as these engagements with conservatives like W. are, I see value in continuing them. There is some hope that if W and other conservatives decide they LIKE me enough to at least listen, to at least consider briefly before rejecting facts, that it will be possible to make gains in finding common ground. And it serves to remind me to make a concerted effort not to dismiss the thinking of conservatives as bigoted without listening to why they feel the way they do. It is by addressing the why of their feelings rather than the ways those feelings are wrong or invalid that we find any future reunification of the factions of this country.

 

But dear God, it is not going to be easy to find that “meeting of the minds”, that common ground. And if one more low information low education Trump supporter tells me to sit down, shut up, and relax because now the “grown ups are in charge”, I might throw up.

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Sadly with the rise of fascism in governments, not only in the US with our president elect and many of those on the right who are his advisors or in congress, protecting civil right, HUMAN rights is more important than ever. Our conned-servative fellow human beings are unwilling to accord those who they perceive as “other” and therefore less human, for their race, for their religious beliefs, for their socio-economic background, or for their gender or sexual orientation, among other pretexts for bigotry.

From the official UN web site:

Human Rights Day
10 December

Stand up for someone’s rights today!

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights! Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack.

We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media.

The time for this is now. “We the peoples” can take a stand for rights. And together, we can take a stand for more humanity.

It starts with each of us. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.

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Happy Thanksgiving from MNPP

by Dog Gone on November 24, 2016 · 0 comments

Wishing all of our readers the happiest of Holidays.

 

It is never more important than now, post-election, to assess the many things for which we can and should be grateful, both for a sense of context and perspective, and for their own intrinsic value.

 

Hoping that each of our readers can find an abundance of those things, and people, for which to be both glad and thankful.

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I will not Kumbaya with Trump

by Dog Gone on November 21, 2016 · 0 comments

Kumbaya from the Urban Dictionary:

blandly pious and naively optimistic

The Kumbaya Law: In any conversation where some of the participants hold an opinion to the left of other participants, someone with the more conservative position will compare said person’s opinion to the naivete of “singing around a campfire singing Kumbaya”

Our government, as of January 20th 2017, will be run by a man who appears to have collaborated with a foreign government to alter our elections. This was a crime of espionage against Trump’s political opponent.

 

It is not important that the crimes were against an opponent; that detail is merely a distraction from the real issues. In attempting to alter the results of an election this way with the collaboration of a foreign government, Trump welcomed and apparently participated in crimes against Americans. It doesn’t matter a damn if the Americans were allies or opponents.

 

As Lincoln, who must be rolling in his grave so brilliantly said about representative government in the Gettysburg Address, our Constitution, the very premise of our nation, is to provide government of the people, by the people, and for the people. To act against that by espionage to alter that election in cooperation with a foreign power is the opposite, the antithesis of government by OUR people.

 

From Vox:

Fisher points to a 2013 article, by Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, as key evidence of this new Russian thinking. Gerasimov argued that “non-military means” had eclipsed weapons in their strategic importance. Controlling the information and propaganda environment can inflict serious blows on one’s enemies.
“The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness,” Gerasimov writes. He advocates using “military means of a concealed character,” including “actions of informational conflict” in order to accomplish Russian strategic objectives.
Gerasimov’s article uses the Arab Spring as a key example, which is telling. The Arab Spring wasn’t about wars between countries but rather upheaval inside countries. Gerasimov’s ideas, then, are explicitly designed to be used in attempts to influence other countries’ internal politics and conflicts.
That’s exactly what Russia is doing when it hands over the information to WikiLeaks.

And from a different piece over at Vox, we see that interference in elections and other domestic politics by the Russians against the autonomy and interests of countries is not unique to the USA:

“That Russia is pulling for Trump is at this point beyond any dispute,” New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes. “Putin’s Russia has been proven or credibly alleged to have boosted friendly candidates in France, Germany, Austria, and, most successfully, in the election of a pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Something like this seems to be happening in the American presidential election now.”

The U.S. intelligence services clearly identified that Russia provided emails to wikileaks after committing a cyber attack against the Americans campaigning for Hillary Clinton. Russia acknowledges that people from the Russian embassy were meeting with the Trump campaign prior to the election. Equally important, Trump denied involvement with the Russians during the campaign which now appears to be false.

 

From the NY Times:

MOSCOW — The Russian government maintained contacts with members of Donald J. Trump’s “immediate entourage” during the American presidential campaign, one of Russia’s top diplomats said Thursday.
“There were contacts,” Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign,” he said.
Mr. Ryabkov said officials in the Russian Foreign Ministry were familiar with many of the people he described as Mr. Trump’s entourage. “I cannot say that all, but a number of them maintained contacts with Russian representatives,” Mr. Ryabkov said.

We cannot currently accuse Trump of committing treason; we limit that term to acts of war. I would argue that we should change that definition to include acts that attack, interfere with or undermine our national autonomy. We are not formally at war with Russia, and cyber attacks are not currently included in our definition of attacks. I would argue we have to change our definition of attack now to include cyber attacks as an act of aggression. Clearly this is how the Russians view their own actions.  As we know from the much quoted Maya Angelou, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. …READ MORE

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Now we need to do something about it.

 

We must begin with getting rid of voter suppression, which has been shown to have steadily lowered voter turnout.

 

We must also make getting foreign governments out of elections, like the Russians meeting with the Trump campaign throughout the lead up to the election, with those Russian emails, intending to interference with our elections.

 

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If we are to heal the divisions of this nation, we need to undo the right wing evil that disenfranchised too many voters.  Only those elections that represent the people are true democracy in action.  I would argue that the greater the whole spectrum of legal voters who participate, the more valid that election as the will of the people, as government by the consent of the governed.

 

To do that I think we need a national holiday for voting, so even people forced to stand in lines (which we need to address) can vote without conflicts with other demands on their time.  We need some form of automatic registration of citizens in this country, that does not vary from state to state.  Sadly too many states have Republican majorities that have done everything they can to alter the outcome of elections in their favor, not by having better, more competitive policies, but by disenfranchising their opposition voters.  And we need some form of nation-wide early voting and absentee voting, and a nationwide law that prohibits gerrymandering.

 

I would even go so far as to argue we should adopt a law that makes voting a civic duty, and that failure to do so results in some kind of fine, like a $100 surcharge on your state ID or driver’s license, or your passport.  Or a mandatory extra fee on your taxes of around the same amount.  We penalize people who ignore summons to jury duty, so why not for voting?

 

Here is Robert Reich, explaining unpatriotic conservative voter suppression brilliantly.

 

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