Friday Open Thread

“Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”

–Sun Tzu, from The Art of War

Behold, We Go To Prepare A Place For You

UPDATE 8:50PM: We’re back, thanks as always for your patience.

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Jesus-hugging-a-dinosaur

We’ll be taking our server down a bit later this evening to complete another major round of upgrades–maybe, just maybe, the definitive upgrade to our always-overtaxed server capacity that everyone has been looking for. Or, maybe it’s just the next step in the endless arms race against spammers and hackers, while keeping the site functional for the occasional actual reader (that’s you). Either way, it must be done, and we’ll do our best to make it as brief an outage as possible.

Look for updates via Twitter, and we’ll see you on the other side.

Carly Fiorina Builds Kick-Ass Campaign Team…Somewhere

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

A press release from Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina today announces her new “leadership committee” for a state she calls Colorado:

Republican leaders and activists in Colorado have endorsed Carly Fiorina for President of the United States. From business leaders to elected officials, Carly Fiorina is proving that her conservative outsider message is resonating with Republicans across Colorado. These leaders are part of a growing group of prominent citizens comprising a Colorado leadership committee.

Vic Stabio, CEO of Hallador Energy, is joining State House Minority Whip Perry Buck and Camp Bow Wow CEO Heidi Ganahl as a Colorado Co-Chair supporting Carly Fiorina in her candidacy for President of the United States.

We wouldn’t consider her a goodwill ambassador, but at least we’ve heard of Rep. Perry Buck of Windsor–though not exactly a household name. Other members of Fiorina’s “leadership committee” announced today include Tony Gagliardi of the National Federation of Independent Business and Centennial councilwoman Stephanie Piko. Again, we’re not talking A-Listers.

Of course, maybe the reason we don’t recognize many members of Fiorina’s Colorado team is that we’re not actually talking about Colorado?

“Carly’s outsider perspective to Washington politics is resonating in the Boulder State,” said Tom Szold, National Political Director. [Pols emphasis]

Folks, where the hell is the “Boulder State?” Because as any member of Fiorina’s Colorado leadership committee could surely have told the front office, Colorado is known as the Centennial State. We do recall political campaigns in the past where Republicans have tried to portray Colorado as ruled by the liberal stronghold city of Boulder–think Dick Wadhams and “BoulderliberalMarkUdall”–but it’s just not reality. And if it were, we’re pretty sure Republicans would not bother campaigning for President there.

It could be worse–we suppose Fiorina could have subbed Denali for Pikes Peak on her website. But between Fiorina’s underwhelming list of local endorsers and a political director who can’t even get the state’s nickname right, we’re thinking she’s not going to factor much in our Republican primary.

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt has got to go

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s most infamous far-right Republican legislator, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, is at it again.

In a new video posted by Rep. Klingenschmitt this past week, Klingenschmitt claims that allowing gay scoutmasters to serve in the Boy Scouts of America “will lead to sexual abuse” and goes on to quote a Bible verse that says for those who cause “little ones to sin,” “it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Klingenschmitt then says it would be “better” for “child molesters” like the scoutmasters he previously described to be drowned.

Understand this: a sitting member of the Colorado legislature has called for gay scoutmasters to be killed. Sign our petition demanding that Rep. Klingenschmitt resign from the Colorado legislature immediately.

After Rep. Klingenschmitt claimed that a member of Congress from our state wants to “behead Christians,” and that the tragic attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont last March was “the curse of God,” we called for him to resign. Instead, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso restored Klingenschmitt to his committee assignments as soon as the media stopped paying attention, and swept the matter under the rug. That was a huge mistake, and today Republicans are paying the price as Klingenschmitt once again brings shame upon the entire state of Colorado.

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Local Planned Parenthood Pushes Back Hard On Latest Anti-Abortion “Sting” Video

komen-planned-parenthood4-1The Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez reports–as you’ve probably seen in the news by now, the anti-abortion gotchameisters at the so-called “Center for Medical Progress” paid a visit to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains as well–and a video this week adds to their drumbeat releases of highly edited videos attacking the organization’s alleged tissue donation practices:

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is “certain” it has done nothing illegal and that the accusations made against it by an anti-abortion group that posted an undercover, edited video of a PPRM physician seemingly talking about the sale of fetal parts is false.

The video — the third released by the Center for Medical Progress in recent days — shows local Planned Parenthood Dr. Savita Ginde looking at specimens with an alleged fetal tissue buyer.

Fetal tissue cannot be sold for profit but can be donated for research with permission of a donor, and providers can be reimbursed for the cost of the procedure.

Planned Parenthood says it obeys the law. But since the release of the first furtively recorded video, Republicans in Congress have been pressing to bar federal aid to the group.

Now several weeks into a series of undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists in the hope of scandalizing what amounts to routine and life-saving medical research, two things are increasingly undeniable: that these videos rely on emotional manipulation to shock viewers out of thinking rationally, and that they are part of a longstanding campaign by anti-abortion activists and allied Republican lawmakers to discredit and ultimately defund Planned Parenthood–despite the organization’s major contribution to public health in a variety of fields. The Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein provides important context for locals:

This 501(c)3 nonprofit was founded in 2013 by David Daleiden, a famous provocateur in the anti-abortion movement. Also listed as a CMP board member on the group’s registration filing in the state of California is Troy Newman — president of Operation Rescue, which ran a decades-long harassment campaign against Dr. George Tiller in Kansas that only ended after Tiller was murdered in a church in 2009…

Here in Denver, it’s worth noting that PPRM, like most Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country, doesn’t currently have a fetal-tissue-donation program. From the highly edited video, the context of their conversation about tissue sales is unclear, but PPRM President and CEO Vicki Cowart issued a statement explaining that representatives from CMP’s fake company Biomax had approached the clinic about launching a program. [Pols emphasis]

Under pressure from hard-right Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, Colorado State University has announced they will suspend any further acquisition of fetal tissue until Congress completes an “investigation” sparked by the spread of these videos. CSU presently has a single research project that has used fetal tissue samples, working on a treatment for HIV/AIDS. CSU says they did not obtain complete fetal organs, just small tissue samples, and CSU insists they were all procured in accordance with the law.

It’s important to note that, other than the unpleasant subject matter being discussed, none of these videos show anything that appears illegal as the law pertains to voluntary fetal tissue donations. Planned Parenthood doctors covertly filmed repeatedly state that they are following the law, and that it’s “not about the money.” In the end, it is one’s pre-existing views on abortion that principally determine the reaction to these videos. And that means they are most useful for agitating people who already oppose abortion.

For the rest of us, it’s the same old anti-choice crap. It takes just a moment of critical thinking to realize that medical research is in fact a good thing, and doctors talking about their work in terms non-doctors find a bit macabre is hardly a new phenomenon. Once you realize that, these videos are no more worthy of consideration than those lurid rolling billboard trucks covered with bloody fetuses and pocket change. Not to mention the growing possibility that laws were broken filming them.

In the end, it’s (pardon the expression) red meat for the conservative base, and little more. With one possible caveat: to the extent that these videos send social conservatives into yet another public freakout over what most Americans consider a settled law, this could well backfire politically–once again defining Republicans as the “war on women” party just ahead of a major election.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 30)

Get More SmarterHappy Marter Day. Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado Springs legislator Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt has said plenty of disgusting and ridiculous things on his “Pray in Jesus’ Name” YouTube channel, but he pole-vaulted over the line with recent comments that gay Boy Scout leaders should be drowned. Calls for his resignation are growing louder by the hour, and the Colorado Republican Party quickly condemned Dr. Chaps.

Numerous domain names have been snapped up in relation to the controversy surrounding the embattled right-wing school board members in Jefferson County. You’ll never guess who owns domain names such as RecallNewkirk.com.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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Thursday Open Thread

“Seldom ever was any knowledge given to keep, but to impart; the grace of this rich jewel is lost in concealment.”

–Wendell Phillips

John Newkirk Takes Personal Role In Recall Shenanigans

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

One of the things that we frequently cover as the political water cooler blog for Colorado are the cutesey games that opposing political campaigns often play against one another online. Over the years and often the result of tips from readers, we’ve broken the stories of hilarious errors on candidate websites, candidate photo shoots gone horribly wrong, and the occasional outright spoofing of an opponent’s site.

The main “independent” group opposing the recall of conservative members of the Jefferson County school board is a group known as Jeffco Students First. Jeffco Students First recently pulled off a trick at the expense of the pro-recall group Support Jeffco Kids, who had registered their website’s domain name supportjeffcokids.org, but had neglected to also register supportjeffcokids.COM–the site people are most likely to type in from memory. Jeffco Students First snapped up the .com domain name and repointed it at their own website–which will both confuse voters looking for more information and hurt the real Support Jeffco Kids’ Google ranking.

But this apparently wasn’t the only example of Jeffco Students First playing domain name games. Several other seemingly pro-recall domain names were bought up, apparently some time ago: including recallwitt.org, recallnewkirk.org, and recallwilliams.org. These three domain names were all registered to the same domain registrar, Omnis Network. Recallwitt.org and recallwilliams.org were registered at 10:21PM on June 26 2014, recallnewkirk.org at 10:27PM on June 26 2014. As you can see, someone was thinking ahead.

But here’s the newsworthy part: the latter two are NOT registered in the name of Jeffco Students First. They are registered in the personal name of Jeffco board member John Newkirk. Here are the relevant portions of the identifying WHOIS records for these three domains:

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“Dr. Chaps” Says Drown Gay Boy Scout Leaders (Yes, Really)

UPDATE #2: The Colorado House LGBT caucus weighs in strongly:

“Gordon Klingenschmitt is inciting physical violence against scoutmasters for their sexual orientation, plain and simple. This type of language is hateful and certainly below the station of any elected official, especially in 2015.

“Moreover, Rep. Klingenschmitt has a history of using his platform as an online minister to spread vitriol and violence, especially against members of the LGBT community. Sadly, it is no longer a surprise to hear this type of sentiment from Rep. Klingenschmitt, but that history of hateful speech does nothing to blunt its effect in this particular instance. If House Minority leadership does not act, then they are condoning this type of conduct from one of their caucus members; House GOP leadership’s actions will speak volumes.”

In March, Rep. Klingenschmitt was stripped of his post on the House Health, Insurance, and Environment committee after saying, “This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open,” after the brutal attack on Michelle Wilkins of Longmont.

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UPDATE: Colorado LGBT advocates react angrily to Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s latest remarks, a statement from One Colorado moments ago:

“After making numerous comments over the past year attacking lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families, Representative Klingenschmitt just can’t seem to get enough. He recently called on the Boy Scouts of America to drown all gay leaders in its organization. Gay adults are involved in scouting for the same reasons everyone else is; to serve youth, and to help them grow into good, strong citizens. These comments are reprehensible – and he should be ashamed of himself for making them.

“One Colorado calls on the leaders of the Colorado Republican Party, and Republican leadership in the State House, to condemn Representative Klingenschmitt’s comments and affirm that no one should be targeted for violence just because of who they are, or who they love.

“While experience tells us we shouldn’t hold our breath for an apology from Mr. Klingenschmitt, an apology is exactly what is owed – not just to gay scouts and leaders across the state, but to the countless friends and family members who are tired of seeing their loved ones attacked just for being who they are. Simply put, Representative Klingenschmitt – the fair-minded people of Colorado deserve better.”

Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado takes it a step further, calling (again) for Klingenschmitt to resign–and for House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso to step up and take some responsibility for his caucus:

“Just how far is too far?” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “After Rep. Klingenschmitt claimed that a sitting member of Congress from our state wants to ‘behead Christians,’ and that the tragic attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont last March was ‘the curse of God,’ ProgressNow Colorado called for him to resign. Instead, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso restored Klingenschmitt to his committee assignments as soon as the media stopped paying attention, and swept the matter under the rug. That was a huge mistake, and today Republicans are paying the price as Klingenschmitt once again brings shame upon the entire state of Colorado.”

“It would be easy to dismiss Klingenschmitt’s statements as the ravings of a deranged lunatic, except for the fact that he is an elected Republican legislator in the state of Colorado,” said Runyon-Harms. “By not acting to distance themselves from Rep. Klingenschmitt, Colorado Republicans are validating what he says. Every day that goes by with Klingenschmitt continuing to serve as a Republican legislator, his hatred speaks for them. It has to stop, and the only ones who can stop it are Klingenschmitt’s Republican legislative leaders.”

“It is months past time for Colorado Republicans to ask Rep. Klingenschmitt to resign,” said Runyon-Harms.

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Raw Story’s David Edwards reports on the latest over-the-top emanations from the mouth of GOP Colorado Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt–and this one can fairly be described as a doozy. In all our time discussing Klingenschmitt’s wacky declarations about demons possessing President Barack Obama or Rep. Jared Polis wanting to “behead Christians,” we’re pretty sure he has never actually called for the various agents of evil in the world he identifies to be, you know, physically harmed.

Until now:

Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R) said on Monday that it would be “better” for the Boy Scouts of America to drown its gay scoutmasters in the “depths of the sea” instead of lifting a ban on them…

“If your boy is in one of those organizations, you need to get him out of there,” he warned. “Because what they’re going to do is promote homosexual men to mentoring and camping with your boys in the woods. And it will lead to child abuse… The children are in danger. It’s not about the sexual pleasure of the adults.”

Klingenschmitt pointed viewers a verse from the book of Matthew: “Whoever causes one of these to little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

“This is what Jesus said about child molesters,” the Republican lawmaker insisted…

Klingenschmitt goes on to say that gay Boy Scout leaders being drowned would be preferable to the wrath of the Almighty God “when he throws them into hell.” Klingenschmitt himself says he would rather be drowned than face God’s judgment for the molestations that must surely follow if the Boy Scouts let gay scoutmasters come out of the closet.

Got that? According to the elected Republican representative of Colorado House District 15, who never misses the chance to pose with big-name Republicans for a photo, and who was reinstated to his committee assignments by House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso after calling a vicious attack on a pregnant Longmont woman “the curse of God upon America,” murdering gay Boy Scouts would be doing them a favor.

To be honest, we weren’t sure how “Dr. Chaps” could ever top his previous outrages–but it looks like he just did.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 29)

Get More SmarterNo, your office does not have a “trade deadline.” Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► “Turn-In Tuesday” contained quite a surprise; supporters of a recall campaign in Jefferson County turned in more than 110,000 signatures in an effort to oust three right-wing school board members. Recall proponents needed less than three weeks to collect — and significantly exceed — the required number of signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. Opponents of the recall will now have a difficult time challenging the signature collection process, as Westword explains:

Now, the clerks have fifteen days to validate the signatures. Then there’s a fifteen-day window for any protest of the validity of the signatures. McCord hopes that doesn’t happen. “If somebody does protest, they will drag us past the date by which we can get on the November ballot,” she says. “Then we end up in a special election that costs the district a whole lot of money that we don’t want to spend.”

The parents estimate that a special election would cost half a million dollars. “We got lots and lots of extra signatures,” McCord adds. “So there wouldn’t be any valid protest. It would be frivolous.” [Pols emphasis]

Of course, this won’t stop opponents from making ridiculous Baghdad Bob-style arguments.

Congressional Republicans are fidgeting over how to deal with a new challenge to House Speaker John Boehner. In a surprise move on Tuesday evening, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) offered a motion to vacate the chair — an effort to force a vote on whether Boehner should remain Speaker. As it approaches its annual August recess, Congress appears to have completely run off the rails.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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Wednesday Open Thread

“The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.”

–John Milton

Jeffco Recall Campaign Turns In Over 111,000 Signatures

UPDATE: The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland:

The Jefferson County Clerk has 15 business days to review the petitions and deem the signatures sufficient. After that, opponents have 15 days to protest or challenge signatures.

That’s where the cost could go from a low of about $10,000 to more than $500,000. The district will have to cover the costs, whether it’s for the November election or a special election.

According to Jeffco United for Action, which led the petition drive, if even one protest is filed, because of time constraints, there will not be enough time to get the recall onto the November ballot. The recall will instead take place through a special election, resulting in the $500,000 cost.

Gurdikian said she hopes the opponents recognize that there are more than enough signatures to get the issue to the ballot, and not waste taxpayer money by forcing a special election.

Westword’s Melanie Asmar:

Now, the clerks have fifteen days to validate the signatures. Then there’s a fifteen-day window for any protest of the validity of the signatures. McCord hopes that doesn’t happen. “If somebody does protest, they will drag us past the date by which we can get on the November ballot,” she says. “Then we end up in a special election that costs the district a whole lot of money that we don’t want to spend.”

The parents estimate that a special election would cost half a million dollars. “We got lots and lots of extra signatures,” McCord adds. “So there wouldn’t be any valid protest. It would be frivolous.”

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Volunteers deliver Jefferson County recall petitions today.

Volunteers deliver Jefferson County recall petitions today.

A press release a short while ago from Jeffco United For Action announces the delivery of over 37,000 petition signatures to recall each of the conservative majority members of the Jefferson County school board: Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams. This total dwarfs the required 15,000 signatures needed for each recall to proceed, virtually guaranteeing that Jefferson County voters will settle the question once and for all:

Today, Jeffco parents, educators and community members rolled over 111,000 signatures in little red wagons into the Jeffco Clerk’s office to recall Jeffco Schools Board of Education members Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams. They turned in just over 37,000 signatures for each of the three board members to the Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder.

“We’ve seen such amazing support over the last few weeks. We have had people seeking us out at sporting events, coffee shops, grocery stores and parks all across the district to sign,” began Tina Gurdikian, a mom of two Jeffco Schools students.

“In an unprecedented move, we as a community collected more than double the number of signatures needed to recall school board members Witt, Newkirk and Williams. The message is clear, the people of Jefferson County want to hold this Board Majority accountable and demand a recall vote on November 3rd,” continued Gurdikian.

“We have done our job, and now it’s time to let the people vote on November 3rd whether the School Board Majority deserves to be recalled,” continued Wendy McCord, also a mom of Jeffco students.

Having crushed their original goal on a highly compressed schedule, recall organizers have done all they can to ensure that the recall questions appear on the regular November ballot in Jefferson County–which will both increase turnout and prevent the unnecessary expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold a separate recall election.

The only question? Whether the recall opponents who have complained all along about this possible added expense try to make it happen.

“Because of overlapping timelines for November elections and recall elections, for the Jeffco voters’ will to be honored we need our opponents not to play political games in attempting to protest what are clearly 15,000 valid signatures. Should they choose to play games, opponents to the recall will cost the school district over half a million dollars, dollars that could otherwise be going to benefit our students. It is time for our community to have an honest conversation about the direction of our school district,” concluded Wendy McCord.

By all accounts recall organizers were surprised by the huge response to the recall petition drive, but turning in well over double the number of signatures required also serves an important strategic purpose. Accounting for delivery of mail ballots and the 15-day period for filing protests, the window in which to turn in signatures for the recall timed correctly to appear on the November ballot was quite small–only three days, July 28-30. If opponents choose to challenge the petition signatures line-by-line in an attempt to get enough thrown out to drop below the 15,000 minimum, it will most likely result in the recall being held after the first Tuesday in November. And that would indeed mean a large added expense to the school district.

In short, if opponents engage in an almost-certainly futile challenge of this overwhelming number of signatures, they will be the ones responsible for the additional hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the recall. The huge safety margin in turning in 37,000 signatures per board member when only 15,000 were required makes any such challenge either a fool’s errand or an act of intentional retaliation–with Jeffco students paying the price. And either way, it won’t stop the recall from going forward.

With all of this in mind, it would be better if the board majority just faces the proverbial music.

Jeffco Recall Opponent Channels Baghdad Bob in Response

Baghdad Bob.

Baghdad Bob.

Comical Ali. Baghdad Bob. The former Iraqi Information Minister (real name: Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf) secured his name in Internet infamy when he appeared regularly during the 2003 Iraqi Invasion to confidently deny the American surge into Baghdad and U.S. military success in general — sometimes with American tanks as his backdrop. As The Atlantic wrote in 2013:

Sahaf’s nickname, “Baghdad Bob,” now denotes someone who confidently declares what everyone else can see is false–someone so wrong, it’s funny.

Back here in Colorado, opponents of the campaign to recall three right-wing Jefferson County School Board members are channeling Baghdad Bob in their response to the news that more than 90,000 signatures supporting the recall were gathered in less than three weeks. This would be a massive success for a grassroots group for any issue on any level, which makes it difficult for opponents to tamper enthusiasm.

Enter Sheila Atwell, head of a group called “Jeffco Students First” that supports the right-wing majority school board. Atwell told 9News last weekend that she is surprised that it took 17 days to get the required signatures, saying that they should have been able to do it in a week:

We did the math here. In order to gather more than 90,000 signatures in just one week, organizers would have had to average 9 signatures PER MINUTE, 24 hours a day. That’s completely silly, of course.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 28)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenIf you don’t want to get traded, you might want to avoid Coors Field this week. Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Parents and activists in Jefferson County will submit 90,000 petition signatures to the County Clerk today on what supporters are calling “Turn-In Tuesday.” Proponents of  recalling three right-wing Jefferson County School board members needed less than three weeks to collect 30,000 signatures (for each member; by completing the signature-gathering process so quickly, there should be plenty of time for the recall questions to appear on the regular November ballot for all Jeffco voters.

► The Colorado Rockies traded star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on Monday night, sending the 9-year veteran to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Jose Reyes and — more importantly — two top pitching prospects. This has nothing to do with politics, of course, but Tulo is a big enough name in Colorado to warrant a mention here.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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