US Ignores Torture Of Own Citizen As It Unfreezes Relations With Burma

Jotman has the goods on this, so go there. But briefly, Amnesty says

Trusted sources have reported to Amnesty international that male activist Kyaw Zaw Lwin was tortured and suffered other ill-treatment whilst in detention in Insein Prison, Yangon, Myanmar’s main city. He was arrested in Yangon on 3 September. He has been denied medical treatment for the injuries he sustained from the torture he endured during interrogation. There are grave concerns about his health.

Follow Amnesty link for action details.

This as the US meets the Burmese health minister and changes its policy on Burma. As I have said before the prospect of intelligent sanctions and negotiations could be good but… in reality is it really about countering China’s influence & non -US- aligned spread of nuclear technology in a geopolitical context as the US squares up to the new power in town (a power that owns a shit load of US debt, hmmm) and human rights & social justice will be forgotten. This is not the most auspicious start. I think we are getting used to the Obama administration’s style sheet, good presentation masking business as usual.

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Why Jim Webb Was In Burma

Reagan appointee (and now conservative Dem and occasional screenwriter whose ‘Rules of Engagement’ was described as “probably the most racist film ever made against Arabs by Hollywood“) the former Marine has gotten Yettaw out, but really the US agenda is …democracyChina.

He is a critic of US sanctions on Burma, Webb in his opening remarks at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Maritime & Sovereignty Disputes in Asia said-

At the pinnacle of this issue is China’s growing military, diplomatic and economic power, not only in the region but world-wide.  China’s evolution has changed the regional economic balance, and has enabled China to expand its political influence.  Across the East Asian mainland, from Burma to Vietnam, we have heard statements of concern about the impact of China’s reach.

As the United States continues its attempt to isolate Burma due to the human rights policies of its military regime, China’s influence has grown exponentially, including the recent announcement of a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline project that would enable the Chinese to offload oil obtained in the Persian Gulf and pump it to Yunnan Province, without having to transit the choke point of the Strait of Malacca.

As a maritime nation, the United States should maintain the quality and strength of its seapower—if not improve it.  The recent trajectory of American seapower is not encouraging.  When I first joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968, there were 931 combatants in the U.S. Navy.  When I served as Secretary of the Navy in 1988, this battle force numbered 569 ships.  At present, the U.S. Navy has 284 deployable battle force ships, with 42 percent of them underway today.   Although the quality of China’s 241 ships cannot match that of the United States’, that quality gap is closing.

If the United States is to remain an Asian nation, and a maritime nation, our nation’s leaders have a choice to make.  Our diplomatic corps and our military—and especially our Navy—must have the resources necessary to protect U.S. interests and the interests of our allies.  Smart power must be reinforced by military might.

The US is an Asian nation? Imperial entitlement much? I would like to hear Aung San Suu Kyi’s side of the meeting with Webb, but y’know she’s a prisoner of a military dictatorship so that’s not so easy. That’s kind of the point, Jimbo.

B-52’s Can’t Commit Genocide, Only The Khmer Rouge Can Do That

Yet again US bombing of Cambodia escapes scrutiny, but China’s role might be seen-

Analysis by Marwaan Macan-Markar PHNOM PENH, Mar 30 (IPS) Excerpt- Already, Noam Chomsky, linguist and trenchant critic of Washington’s foreign policy has fired a salvo ahead the opening session of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), as the tribunal is formally known.

On Monday, Kaing Khek Eav, or ‘Duch,’ took the stand at the ECCC to mark the beginning of the tribunal, which comes 30 years after the extremist Maoist group was driven out of power by Vietnamese troops.

Duch was the chief jailor of Tuol Sleng, a former high school in the Cambodian capital, which became the largest detention and torture centre of the Khmer Rouge.

Between 12,380 to 14,000 men, women and children were tortured and then killed under Duch’s watch. Many victims were accused of having links with the U.S. spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Only 11 people survived.

In all, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people, nearly a quarter of the country’s population at that time, as they sought, between April 1975 and June 1979, to create an agrarian utopia.

But, as Chomsky asserts in the ‘Phnom Penh Post’, an English-language daily, the Khmer Rouge’s brutality against fellow Cambodia citizens did not emerge out of a political vacuum.

Chomsky points a finger at leading figures of the U.S. political establishment like Henry Kissinger, a member of the late president Richard Nixon’s administration, who should also be held accountable for creating the conditions that paved the way for the rise the Khmer Rouge.

‘’It (the trial) shouldn’t be limited to the Cambodians,’’ says Chomsky in an interview that appeared on the weekend. ‘’An international trial that doesn’t take into account Henry Kissinger or other authors of the American bombings and the support of the KR (Khmer Rouge) after they were kicked out of the country, that’s just a farce.’’

‘’The records say that the US wanted to ‘use anything that flies against anything that moves’ (during the bombing of Cambodia), which led to five times the bombing that was reported before, greater that all bombings in all theatres of World War Two, which helped create the Khmer Rouge,’’ he asserted.

Washington began flying sorties over Cambodia in the mid-1960s to crush parts of the country being used by North Vietnamese troops. These bombing raids using B-52 planes were kept a secret from the U.S. public for years.

During the Nixon years, from 1969 to 1973, an estimated 500,000 bombs were dropped, resulting in the deaths of close to 600,000 Cambodian men, women and children.

But the relatives of these victims will not have their day in tribunals such as the ECCC.

It stems from the limit of ‘’territorial jurisdiction’’ and ‘’temporal jurisdiction’’ written into the language of the laws to establish the special tribunal.

Washington, in fact, had a role in a placing such limits on how far across geography and time the war crimes tribunal could reach when a law to deal with the genocide in Cambodia was being shaped in the early 1990s.

‘’It is the policy of the United States to support efforts to bring to justice members of the Khmer Rouge for their crimes against humanity committed in Cambodia between April 17, 1975 and January 7, 1979,’’ Washington declared at the time as it threw its weight behind the effort to investigate a grisly period of Cambodia’s past.

China, however, may have more to worry, given its direct role in assisting the Khmer Rouge during the period the ECCC is examining. Beijing reportedly pumped in a billion U.S. dollars to help the Khmer Rouge, in addition to providing other material and diplomatic support.

The Asian giant wanted to draw Cambodia into its orbit to counter the growing influence of its communist adversary, the Soviet Union, and its Vietnamese ally.

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Naked Realpolitik

(Reuters) – The United States will review “the pace of development” of its missile defense shield in Europe if Russia agrees to help stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, a senior U.S. official said on Friday. The official was speaking as U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns was in Moscow to push ahead with Washington’s vow to hit the “reset button” on U.S.-Russian relations and halt a drift in relations. “If we are able to work together to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, we would be able to moderate the pace of development of missile defenses in Europe,” a senior U.S. administration official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Like Washington Needed Another Reason To Plot Against Cuba

The state-owned Cuban oil company says the country may have more than 20bn barrels of oil in its offshore fields – more than double the previous estimate. Cubapetroleo’s exploration manager said drilling in the offshore wells would begin as early as the middle of 2009. Such reserves would place Cuba among the top 20 oil producing nations.

If correct, Cuba’s oil reserves would be almost the same as those of the US – 21bn barrels, according to the Oil & Gas Journal – and nearly twice the size of Mexico’s – 11.7bn barrels. It could generate unprecedented wealth for the Communist-run state. Mr Tenreyro said he expected the first production well to be drilled before the middle of next year by a consortium led by the Spanish oil company, Repsol, and that more wells could be started before 2010. Cuba currently produces 60,000 barrels of oil a day. It depends on Venezuela for an additional 93,000 barrels a day, which it receives at preferential rates in exchange for the services of thousands of Cuban doctors working in Venezuela.

Bin Laden spotted in Havana coming to a corporate news outlet near you soon.

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Now It’s Official, Non Proliferation Treaty Is Dead

(Reuters) – President George W. Bush on Wednesday signed legislation that will allow the United States and India to open up nuclear trade, saying the two countries are “natural partners.” His action will pave the way for the details of the agreement to be signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Washington on Friday.

“This agreement sends a signal to the world: nations that follow the path to democracy and responsible behavior will find a friend in the United States of America,” Bush said before he signed the agreement into law. The pact will provide India with access to U.S. nuclear fuel, reactors and technology, overturning a ban on such trade instituted after India first conducted a nuclear test in 1974. The India-U.S. deal could open up around $27 billion in investment in 18 to 20 nuclear plants in India over the next 15 years, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry.

You see-

The 1954 Atomic Energy Act, as amended by the 1978 Nuclear Nonproliferation Act, contains several provisions that effectively outlaw U.S. nuclear trade with India.

First and foremost, it requires that a nuclear cooperation agreement be signed with any foreign government looking to conduct nuclear trade with the United States. Among the act’s criteria of eligibility for such agreements is that a non-nuclear-weapon state have “full-scope” IAEA safeguards, meaning that all its nuclear facilities are subject to IAEA oversight. India, which is considered a non-nuclear-weapon state because it is not one of the five NPT nuclear-weapon states, does not have full-scope safeguards and says it will not adopt them.

The Atomic Energy Act would also need to be modified or waived in other ways. Notwithstanding the terms of any nuclear cooperation agreement, an export license is needed for individual nuclear transfers. These export licenses require non-nuclear-weapon states to have full-scope safeguards, which India does not. Another section prohibits nuclear trade with any non-nuclear-weapon state that exploded a nuclear device after March 1978, which India has done.

What’s the worst that could happen? Well… a global arms race (how will the START talks fair with Russia?) taking all our capital destroying health, education and welfare and creating even greater risk of incinerating the entire planet hundreds of times over. In the space of few minutes. Still, it’ll solve any credit problems.

America Wins Pakistan Election

NYT– ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who has little experience in governing, was elected president of Pakistan on Saturday by a wide margin.

Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party celebrated the victory of Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in Islamabad on Saturday. Mr. Zardari, 53, who spent 11 years in jail on corruption charges that remain unproved, succeeds Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month under the threat of impeachment. He is expected to be sworn in on Monday or Tuesday, officials said.

Mr. Zardari has the tacit approval of the United States, which views him as an ally in the campaign against terrorism. He has promised a tougher fight against members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda ensconced in the nation’s tribal areas, from where they mount assaults on American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Well that’s ok then Pakistan voted and America’s interests are secure, as for the actual people in Pakistan…erm, well they get the last few paragraphs in the New York Times, like they matter.

Tom Engelhardt & Chalmers Johnson on Imperialism

Tom sez-

Let’s face it, we’re on an imperial bender and it’s been a long, long night. Even now, in the wee hours, the Pentagon continues its massive expansion of recent years; we spend militarily as if there were no tomorrow; we’re still building bases as if the world were our oyster; and we’re still in denial. Someone should phone the imperial equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous.

But let’s start in a sunnier time, less than two decades ago, when it seemed that there would be many tomorrows, all painted red, white, and blue. Remember the 1990s when the U.S. was hailed — or perhaps more accurately, Washington hailed itself — not just as the planet’s “sole superpower” or even its unique “hyperpower,” but as its “global policeman,” the only cop on the block? As it happened, our leaders took that label seriously and our central police headquarters, that famed five-sided building in Washington D.C, promptly began dropping police stations — aka military bases — in or near the oil heartlands of the planet (Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait) after successful wars in the former Yugoslavia and the Persian Gulf.

As those bases multiplied, it seemed that we were embarking on a new, post-Soviet version of “containment.” With the USSR gone, however, what we were containing grew a lot vaguer and, before 9/11, no one spoke its name. Nonetheless, it was, in essence, Muslims who happened to live on so many of the key oil lands of the planet.

[full article here]

Chalmers sez-

Imperialism, meaning militarily stronger nations dominating and exploiting weaker ones, has been a prominent feature of the international system for several centuries, but it may be coming to an end. Overwhelming majorities in numerous countries now condemn it—with the possible exception of some observers who believe it promotes “stability” and some United States politicians who still vigorously debate the pros and cons of America’s continuing military hegemony over much of the globe.

To garrison its empire, as of last December, the United States had 510,927 service personnel (including sailors afloat) deployed in 151 foreign countries. This includes some 196,600 fighting in Iraq and 25,700 in Afghanistan.

In fact, the purpose of our overseas bases is to maintain US dominance in the world, and to reinforce what military analyst Charles Maier calls our “empire of consumption.” The United States possesses less than 5 percent of global population but consumes about one-quarter of all global resources, including petroleum. Our empire exists so we can exploit a much greater share of the world’s wealth than we are entitled to, and to prevent other nations from combining against us to take their rightful share.

[full article here]

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Russia- Dear George, Take Your Unipolar World & Shove It

Russia, like other countries in the world, has regions in which it has privileged interests” said Mr Medvedev. “In these regions are located countries which have friendly relations…Russia will work attentively in these regions” he said, adding these “privileged” regions included states bordering Russia, but not only those.”

“Russia does not intend to isolate itself. We will develop, as much as possible, our friendly relations with Europe and the United States, and other nations of the world”

He also focused on a commitment to international law, and again expressed Moscow’s now familiar antipathy to a “unipolar” world dominated by Washington, saying “this type of world is unstable and threatens conflict”.

The Terror We Support

On 21 August 2008, Luisa Fernanda Malo Rodríguez was in a park in the south of Bogotá on her way to the Family Welfare office to collect some documents. As she was crossing the park she was approached by two men, one of whom held a gun to her side, while the other attempted to inject her with a hypodermic needle. As Luisa Fernanda Malo Rodríguez was struggling to free herself, one of the men asked her if she wanted to die there and then. The other man then punctured her skin three times with the needle before injecting her with an unknown liquid. The men then pushed her and told her she had twelve hours to live. Luisa Fernanda Malo Rodríguez immediately contacted her partner, who accompanied her to a health centre located in the park, and subsequently to the Kennedy Hospital where she is currently under observation and is receiving psychological care.

Luisa Fernanda Malo Rodríguez has been forced to move around different regions of Colombia as a result of threats that she has received. She was residing in the city of Barrancabermeja with her family when her name appeared on a list circulated by the paramilitary group Águilas Negras, declaring her as a military target. She also received threats via e-mail and calls to her mobile phone in which she was told that her daily movements and places of work and residence were known. She was further threatened that retaliation would be taken and it would involve her children. Following these threats, she moved to Bogotá in March 2008, in order to lower her profile and she ceased many of her regular activities.

Front Line believes that the attack against Luisa Fernanda Malo Rodríguez was motivated by her activities in defence of human rights through her work with the Hope Foundation. In view of this attack and the resultant trauma, Front Line is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Luisa Fernanda Malo Rodríguez.

Go to www.frontlinedefenders.org for details of how to help.

As for AGUILAS NEGRAS (Black Eagles), a previous terror warning makes it clear who they are aligned with (and they love caps, a common rightist phenomenon)-

THAT THE FARC GUERRILLA MEMBERS JOSE DOMINGO FLOREZ AND LUIS EDUARDO GARCIA, CAMOUFLAGED IN THE TERRORIST UNION SINALTRAINAL, WHO ARE AGAINST THE FTA AND THE POLICIES OF OUR PRESIDENT ALVARO URIBE VELEZ, WILL BE EXECUTED IF THEY CONTINUE TO OPPOSE THESE POLICIES. WE DO NOT WANT TO SEE THEM IN OUR REGION. THE POLICIES OF OUR PRESIDENT WILL BE IMPLEMENTED.

The UK government’s support of the Uribe regime includes political backing and our special forces (SAS etc) ‘training’ and assisting Uribe’s security apparatus. Perhaps most infamously was the recent photo of Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells posing with members of the High Mountain Battalion, after that he smeared a human rights group- Justice for Colombia- as being supporters of FARC this put their lives in extreme danger. He has since rather grudgingly apologised, however our ‘aid’ in concert with US support of the Uribe client regime continues. As previously noted last year 329 people were assassinated by the regime, trade unions and human rights workers being prime targets. In this case our brave -boys- assistance supports the regime that fostered this terrorist attack on a woman and mother.

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Craig Murray On Russia/Georgia

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Oh Shit

Russia are doing the Kossova shuffle and recognising Ossetia and Abkhazia, and McCain is using Georgia in his campaign, this is not good. Lots of people in the break away regions seem to be pretty pleased but I wouldn’t bet on them staying that way. But culturally I find it appalling that the old guard cold warriors are seeing the chance to do it all over again. Even today there is evidence of the military industrial power that demands it’s pre-eminent entitlement to public wealth-

FT.com– Britain risks losing its influence abroad unless it makes defence a bigger priority, according to Mike Turner, BAE Systems’ chief executive. Mr Turner also warned that his company could be forced to consider leaving the UK if military spending ever declined below a “reasonable level”.

The chief executive, who retires on Friday after 42 years with BAE, told the Financial Times in a final interview that what he would miss least was “the bloody allegations”, a reference to the corruption claims surrounding the multibillion-pound contract to sell arms to Saudi Arabia that have dogged the company for the past four years and which BAE has consistently denied.

“They are annoying and I know it’s wrong; wrong for the company, for my employees and for the country,” Mr Turner said.

The 60-year-old, who has been chief executive of BAE, Britain’s largest defence contractor, for the past 6½ years, said Britain needed to give greater priority to defence or risk losing its “say in the world”.

“I’m very concerned that the politicians, and it’s up to the politicians to decide, are not giving the priority to defence that is needed,” he said.

“It’s right for the country to keep the Armed Forces strong, you get listened to in the world . . . It’s also good for jobs, for skills, for technology and for exports,” he said.

What was lacking, he said, was investment in future programmes, which was needed if the UK wanted to continue to “have say in the world”.

(ht2 Chicken Yoghurt)

There is a market incentive towards war, cold or otherwise, and as ‘free’ market capitalism dominates the planet woohoo, the future is going to be just fucking great. And please- ‘defence’, fuck that newspeak bullshit, it’s fucking arms & war spending you murderous kleptomaniacs. D’you think maybe late at night in this guys house (one of many) the walls run with blood and the moans of the dead and dying echo down the halls. But he doesn’t wake, a smile crosses his lips, his cock gets hard and he turns over and sleeps like a fucking baby.

US Ambassador Says Initial Russian Response Was Legitimate

I think he’s going to get an angry phone call-

ynet- The US ambassador to Moscow, in a rare US comment endorsing Russia’s initial moves in Georgia, described the Kremlin’s first military response as legitimate after Russian troops came under attack.

In his first major interview since his arrival as Ambassador last month, John Beyrle gave the Russian daily Kommersant his views on the conflict and warned about its impact on US investor confidence in Russia.

“Now we see Russian forces, which responded to attacks on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, legitimately, we see those forces now having advanced on to the soil of Georgia; Georgian territorial integrity is in question here,” Beyrle told the newspaper.

He said Washington had not sanctioned Georgia’s initial actions when on August 8, after a succession of tense skirmishes, Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia, triggering a massive Russian reaction when its peacekeepers there came under fire.

“We did not want to see a recourse to violence and force and we made that very, very clear,” Beyrle was cited as saying in quotes the US embassy confirmed as accurate.

“The fact that we were trying to convince the Georgian side not to take this step is clear evidence that we did not want all this to happen,” Beyrle said in the interview, which was published on Friday.

So also they were in talks with Georgia before and knew of their plans, interesting. But doesn’t that raise the question of- if the US really wanted to stop it, why not tell Russia who could put defensive measures in place that would deter the Georgian attack and once Georgia was told the Russians knew they would most likely of stood down. Really, is the US saying they could not have made Georgia stop the attack? Plus clearly Bush, McCain et al lied when they went all ‘Russia’s attacking, it’s the Cold War 2!’, they knew Georgia was the aggressor, they were talking to them about the planned attack! Meanwhile Russia is withdrawing -sort of- having done their worst.

Fucking The Corpse of the NPT

The US is set to push a consortium of nations into dropping a ban on nuclear trade with India, a move that will help finalise a US-India nuclear deal. The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group meets in Vienna on Thursday for two-days and will discuss the US-proposed waiver that would help give India access to legal imports of nuclear materials.

The India-specific exemption would give New Delhi access to technology and fuel normally reserved only for those who have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and allow the full inspection of their nuclear facilities.

India has not signed the NPT. Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency agreed a similar waiver.

“Like a number of countries we do have reservations about aspects of the content of the draft exemption recently circulated,” Phil Goff, New Zealand’s defence minister, said in an interview, published on Wednesday, with The Times of India newspaper. “We would like to see these reservations given full and effective consideration so that we could have added confidence in the nonproliferation benefits an exemption might bring.” He said his country was considering whether the waiver should be made conditional on wider UN inspections of Indian nuclear sites and what would be necessary to prevent the transfer of technologies with possible military use.

Iran, which is locked in a disagreement with Washington and its allies over its own nuclear programme, is likely to argue that India, which developed nuclear arms in secret, is now being rewarded with access to atomic technology. Iran is under UN sanctions for refusing calls to freeze its nuclear activities, which the US argues could produce a nuclear weapon but which Iran says are for peaceful purposes.

No only is this the end of the NPT it makes negotitions with Iran impossible to hold in good faith. So another victory for the Bush doctrine.

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Off The Field Of Competition

Across the beaches and cranes
Rivers and trains
All the money I’ve made
Bodies I’ve maimed
Time was when I seemed to know
Just like any other G.I. Joe
Should I cry like a baby
Or die like a man?
While all the planets little wars
Start joining hands
Oh, what a heaven what a hell
Y’know there’s nothing can be done
In this whole wide world

You honestly could make this stuff up, but you don’t need to-

Russian Chargé D’affaires in Tel Aviv sits down with Ynet to explain his country’s military objectives in Georgia: ‘We’re only there to push the Georgian army out of the region. We have no plans to annex South Ossetia.’ As for civilian casualties, says Dr. Yurkov, ‘sometimes civilians get hurt in war, just like in Israeli operations in Gaza’

That’s a not so subtle dig at Israel’s arms and training deals with Georgia, see the Mask for an all points state of play. And it ain’t just Putin and Saakashvili settling business-

Almost 130,000 people have fled their homes following clashes between Philippine government security forces and Muslim separatist rebels in the central Mindanao province of North Cotabato, according to officials.

The military launched air and ground attacks over the weekend when hundreds of rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front failed to comply with a government deadline to leave about a dozen villages in North Cotabato. Political leaders in the largely Christian province about 885km south of Manila are opposing a landmark peace deal with the MILF.

The attacks came days after the Philippine Supreme Court blocked government representatives from signing the peace deal.

Despite the fighting, the government proceeded with voting on Monday for government posts in the autonomous region encompassing neighbouring predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao.

“Generally, the elections there [were] very, very peaceful. The turnout is very, very good,” said José Melo, chairman of the Commission on Elections, indicating that 50-60 per cent of the region’s 1.7m voters took part. Poll officials also used the elections to test automated vote counting technology being considered for the presidential and legislative polls in 2010.

Like Georgia, was this helped along by leaders meeting and otherwise engaged Olympics wise, much like the sequences in the Godfather films with big events punctuated by concurrent assassinations neatly obscured by the dazzling social whirl.

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