Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blogging Will Be On Hold Until Monday Night

Dear Blogger Friends and Readers,

I am getting ready to fly to Texas, as I just got word that one of my brothers may have been one of the victims. I will be back online Monday night.

At least twelve killed in shooting at Fort Hood, Tex.


By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 5, 2009; 5:15 PM

At least one U.S. soldier in uniform opened fire on troops at Fort Hood, Tex., Thursday, killing at least 12 people and wounding more than 31 others, officials said.

Officials said two other soldiers suspected of being involved in the shooting were in custody. The shooting occurred at a processing center and nearby theater where soldiers were preparing to deploy to the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, officials said.

Lt. Gen. Bob Cone, the commanding general of Fort Hood, said one gunman was shot at the processing center and that two others suspected of involvement were apprehended later.

President Obama called the incident "a horrific outburst of violence."

"These are men and women who made the selfless and courageous decision" to risk their lives in the service of the nation, Obama said. "It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil."

Sgt. Maj. Jamie Posten, a base spokesman, earlier said that two gunmen opened fire at the post's Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Authorities said shots were also fired at the Howze Theater near the readiness center.

"At this time, Fort Hood is locked down to in-and-out traffic."

Inside the processing center, soldiers were preparing for deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Cone said he did not yet have information of which units were inside at 1:30 p.m., when the shooting took place.

Located near Killeen, Tex., Fort Hood is the U.S. military's largest installation and the only Army post in the United States that houses two divisions. It is also the home of III Corps headquarters.

About 65,000 soldiers and family members live on the post.

Obama was informed of the shooting shortly after it occurred, a White House spokesman said.

What is happening to us?

On the Hill, Protesters Chant ‘Kill the Bill’

November 5, 2009, 12:15 pm
By David M. Herszenhorn

Thousands of opponents of the Democrats’ health care legislation are gathered outside the Capitol, for a noon news conference and rally led by Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, and the chants are already underway, echoing across the Mall.

Kill the bill!” they are shouting. “Kill the bill!”

A series of spot interviews suggests that the protesters have come to Washington from all across the country – Texas, Ohio, Oregon and the greater Washington area. It’s a generally older crowd, many in their 50s and 60s, predominantly, white, and many self-identified as Christians. They are fiercely conservative and deeply skeptical of the government, many of them adamantly opposed to abortion rights.

“The government couldn’t even get the shots out,” said Karen Ambrose of Sunbury, Ohio, ridiculing the government’s efforts to vaccinate people for the H1N1 flu as an example of what government-run health care would look like. “Let’s just get the government out of all this.”

The crowd is waving signs, some predictable, others inventive.

“No Socialistic Health Care.” “Sweeping Away Socialism One Democrat at a Time.” “Politicians Lie, Patients Die”

“You lie!”

“All lies”

Jerry Hershberger, a market representative for an automotive company for Flower Mountain, Texas, said he flew up just to protest the health care bill. “A little expense now compared to a lot of expense later,” he said, explaining why the cost of the trip was worth it to him.

Mr. Hershberger, like many of the demonstrators, repeated some of the most common conservative and Republican talking points heard repeatedly on Fox News. “It’s not bipartisan,” he said, standing outside the Capitol wearing a Texas Longhorns baseball cap. “They are doing it behind closed doors.” He added: “It’s going to drive us into a super-deficit.”

Mr. Hershberger, who has health insurance through his employer, said that he believed some changes were needed to the health care system, but that Democrats were going about the process all wrong. “Scrap all this, start from the beginning, bring in the conservatives, the Republicans and the Democrats and see what we need to do to care for the 12 to 14 million people who really need insurance.”

Asked what he thought about the three-month effort by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, work with Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee to draft a bipartisan bill, Mr. Hershberger dismissed it, saying the resulting legislation proved the process had failed. “It doesn’t reflect what we want,” he said.

“Can you hear us now?” the crowd chanted behind him.

Mr. Hershberger said he was hoping to make a difference. “I literally got off my butt yesterday,” he said. “We might have an impact. A politician can’t be a politician if they get voted out of office.”

Many of the demonstrators, like Judith Garloch of Newark, Ohio, said they were opposed to an increasing government role in the health care. Many said they feared cuts to the Medicare program for Americans 65 and over. Many described themselves as conservative and opposed to higher taxes.

“We support our country and we’re patriots,” Ms. Garloch said. “And I don’t want my health care to be changed.”

Ms. Garloch, who has a combination of Medicare and private coverage, said insurance should be sold across state lines to increase competition.

But Ms. Garloch, like many in the crowd who while visibly angry. could not articulate the main problems in the health care system or how they should be solved.

Some of the same people warning of too much government spending also complained that Medicare does not provide sufficient coverage.

Ms. Garloch dismissed suggestions that some hospitals, like the Cleveland Clinic in her home state, had figured out ways to provide higher-quality medical outcomes at lower cost, indicating that there might be ways to cut costs without sacrificing patient care.

Her brother-in-law worked at the Cleveland Clinic for several years. “There’s a lot of bureaucracy there,” she said. “You don’t get everything you want.”

As for how to fix the health care system, she said “I think we need to fix what’s wrong now – I think we need to put a cap on the malpractice lawsuits. I just can’t see how adding more things, power to the government is going to help anything.”

Nearby, Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, who recently said the Democrats’ health care legislation was more frightening to her than terrorists, worked the crowd, shaking hands and offering warm greetings. It is a clear fall day, with a crisp breeze.

Alan R. Davis, of Chillicothe, Ohio, said he had a professional background in health care finance, and was attending the protest because of his deep concerns about that nation’s staggering debt. “The country is going broke,” he said.

As for controlling medical costs, Mr. Davis did not have any ready solutions. He said that last December, his wife, Jennifer, had a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. But he said he had no idea what it had cost. Her insurance coverage has an annual deductible of $4,000. After that, he said, everything was covered “100 percent.”

Mr. Davis said he did not trust Democrats’ assertions that the health care bill would be deficit neutral. “Whether it’s deficit neutral at this stage is someone’s guess, it’s an educated guess,” he said.

Mr. Davis said Americans needed to think more about the quality of life, rather than the length of life. He said that he and his wife had just such a discussion before she went forward with her heart transplant, at age 55.

Art Scevola, a financial consultant from Portland, Ore., said that he felt a mission to come to Washington. “It’s time to make a stand,” he said. “We want to see limited government, not more taxes put in our face. We don’t believe our health care system entirely broken. We need to slow down, stop and start over with this legislation.”

Mr. Scevola said that he had health insurance through his employer. “Kaiser Permanente,” he said proudly. “They are the best on the West Coast.”

So, I am sitting at my dining room table with my girlfriend, and a couple of our close friends and two of our neighbors are over here, and we are listening to the Rush Limbaugh show, and we find out that the 'AARP' is supporting this "Obamacare Nightmare".

The conversation stopped, and we all just looked at each other in astonishment, and suddenly, the cell phones came out and calls to other friends who are AARP memberswere being made, and then our friends started calling the AARP offices and telling them that "if they continue to support this Obama Healthcare Plan, all memberships would be CANCELLED. And our friends started taking their AARP cards out and began CUTTING THEM UP! CUT THE CARDS UP! LOL!

This is a message to any insurance company that is supporting this healthcare nightmare--if you do, you lose our support.

My friends asked me to post this on here in order to help support them in this fight, so, that is why I posted this. Start calling the AARP and tell them that if they support this, you will drop your memberships.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What will McChrystal do if he doesn't get more troops?

By Colbert King
November 2, 2009; 11:36 AM ET
Washington Post opinion Page

All eyes are on the White House, where President Obama will soon make a decision on the way forward in Afghanistan. But it pays to keep an eye on the Kabul headquarters of senior American and NATO commander Gen. Stanley H. McChrystal. If, as is being widely rumored in Washington, Obama ends up not going along with McChrystal’s request for a reported 40,000 troops to support a sustained, substantial counterinsurgency commitment to achieve victory in Afghanistan, what will McChrystal do?

McChrystal is a consequential figure. He is one of the pioneers of counterterrorism and a highly intelligent, reliable, and well regarded general. His standing in the Pentagon and NATO and his professional reputation are on the line.

After all, McChrystal is the top military officer Obama dispatched to assess the Afghan situation on the ground. Having found a dangerously deteriorating situation, McChrystal, as instructed, proposed a strategy up through the chain of command to the White House that he concluded has the best chance of staving off defeat in what Obama has called a “war of necessity.” McChrystal wants to pursue a counterinsurgency strategy that focuses on protecting civilians, winning over cities and building infrastructure -- a strategy that calls for more manpower on top of the 68,000 U.S. troops already there and a much longer time horizon.

McChrystal has made it clear that he does not support the more limited campaign pushed by Vice President Biden that stresses a counterterrorism effort against Al Qaeda along the Pakistani border with missiles and drones.

If Obama agrees with McChrystal’s goals and strategy yet scales down the mission by sending fewer troops, will the general salute like a good soldier and carry on, as the White House would wish? Or will McChrystal conclude that he has been second-guessed by poll-driven civilians outside the military, that he has been handed a stripped-down mission that cannot succeed and which will only endanger the men and women entrusted to him?

Will he decide that he can no longer serve as Obama’s war commander? Because an Afghan strategy crafted around a table in the White House will be all Obama’s, even if it draws upon some ideas of McChrystal.

Yes, watch the White House. But keep a close eye on Stanley McChrystal.


Wow. That is a really good question. What WILL General McChrystal do, if the Obama administration continues to procrastinate on this issue?

Now, I am by no means an expert on politics, war, or anything of that nature (which is the reason WHY I started this blog--to LEARN), but, if you appoint someone who is deemed as 'consequential' and considered to be highly intelligent, and reliable, and you tell him/her to make an assessment of the situation of a war, and they tell you what they need and when they need it, WHY in God's name would you continue to take your time on making a decision, knowing that this man is relying on YOU for help?

Now, my question is this: If Obama continues to put off making a decision on whether or not to send more troops to this Generaal (which he appointed) do you think it is fair to say that the General may decide to have an 'uprising' of his own? Would it be too far fetched to assume that General McChrystal may try to go against the Obama administration in some way, that may cause the president some major political problems?

Well, I think the next few days (or weeks) are going to be very crucial indeed, and we may see something very interesting start to transpire. What do you think?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Karzai win complicates White House strategy for Afghanistan

By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 2, 2009; 1:43 PM

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's election by default Monday confirms at least a week earlier than expected that the Obama administration will continue for the foreseeable future to have the same mercurial partner in Afghanistan.

Karzai was expected to win the Nov. 7 runoff election easily and continue in the role he has held for nearly eight years, just as President Obama enters the final stage of deciding whether to escalate U.S. involvement in the war.

But the departure of Karzai's chief rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, deprives him of a genuine win at the polls and potentially undermines the Obama administration's goal of building a legitimate government in Kabul.

Obama, congressional leaders and the U.S. commander on the ground, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, have made clear that the success of any strategy the White House eventually settles on will depend on the Afghan government's ability to improve its credibility among the people.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama planned to telephone Karzai shortly since the runoff election was called off.

Senior administration officials were encouraged last month when Karzai accepted a second round of voting following the deeply flawed August election. He won that vote with more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, but a U.N.-backed review later determined that nearly a third of his votes were fraudulent.

His acceptance of a runoff, administration officials say, was far more important in ensuring the legitimacy of the election process than Abdullah's participation in it. Abdullah trailed Karzai by double digits after the first round even after Karzai was stripped of the fraudulent votes.

Karzai said Monday that he wanted the runoff to go forward, given that Abdullah's name would still appear on the already printed ballots. It was an acknowledgement that his victory without a vote will almost certainly leave his administration weaker among Afghans than it would have been after a clean election. Throughout the weekend, as Abdullah's threat to quit turned into his announcement to do so, senior administration officials drew parallels between the Afghan election tumult and domestic politics.

One senior administration official said Abdullah, who had been seeking a power-sharing arrangement with Karzai after the first round, was following a political strategy often seen in U.S. elections. At no time does a candidate not expected to win have more leverage than just before the vote, the official said.

"This does not, in our view, affect the legitimacy of the process," the official said. "It does present an opportunity to shift to a new phase in Afghanistan."

Whether it does undermine Karzai's legitimacy will be decided ultimately by the Afghan people. But the relatively mild way Abdullah left the race -- angry but never calling for a boycott -- could help Karzai and his U.S. partners consolidate power around his new administration.

Abdullah criticized Karzai for refusing to take the steps he had demanded to ensure a fair second-round of voting, but in a tone that administration officials described as "moderate."

One senior administration official involved in the review process said the administration hopes Abdullah "continues to remain involved in Afghan politics and have a voice in the country's future," a signal he would be more helpful on the inside of any Afghan government or political process than as an outside critic.

Obama is scheduled to take up the review again this week in meetings with military leaders and his civilian advisers.

He had planned to announce his decision on U.S. strategy for the country after the Nov. 7 vote, waiting for a government accepted by Afghans to emerge from what would likely have been a messy aftermath before doing so. That lengthy -- and potentially violent -- process has now been avoided.

Obama's advisers say it is unclear how the Independent Election Commission's declaration of Karzai as the winner will affect the timing of his decision or the shape of the strategy he endorses.

McChrystal has asked for tens of thousands of additional troops to support his counter-insurgency strategy that focuses on protecting the Afghan population from the Taliban.

A legitimate and effective Afghan government is essential to the strategy because, as McChrystal notes in his grim assessment of the eight-year war, the Afghan public must be given an alternative to the Taliban.

The Karzai administration is widely viewed within Afghanistan as corrupt, and the Obama administration's review is identifying local leaders who might serve as more effective partners than the central government.

Karzai's reelection by default underscores the importance of the provincial governments and tribal leaders, who have traditionally exerted the most authority in a country with a historically weak central government.

But Obama will also be asking Karzai to do far more to reform his government, which administration officials who favor a more narrow counter-terrorism strategy in Afghanistan have long criticized. Those officials include Vice President Biden, who has had a rocky relationship with Karzai, now set to assume another five-year term.


Ok, I have to ask this question, because I am not quite able to grasp the reason(s) as to 'why' this runoff election in Afghanistan affects the Obama administration's decision on whether or not to send General McChrystal more troops.

Also, I haven't been able to ascertain why Abdullah Abdullah even dropped out of the race. I mean, what (or who) made him suddenly decide to just back out of this election?

I know from reading this article a couple of times (and I am still reading it) that Karzai's administration had been viewed as 'corrupt'. So, if the Afghan people (and/or our own government) wanted to put an end to the political corruption in Afghanistan, why would Abdullah back out of the election? Especially if he [Abdullah] had a fair shake at winning and if he would have run a "non-corrupt government"?

For some reason, this just doesn't sit well with me. I wonder if, and I promise you I am NOT trying to resort to my famous 'conspiracy theories', but, I wonder if, MAYBE, Abdullah was 'pressured' into backing out of this election, and if that was the case, why, and who was responsible?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

CIT files for bankruptcy; taxpayers may lose $2.3B stake

By Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY

Contributing: Pallavi Gogoi, Reuters, Associated Press

Small- and midsize-business financier CIT Group's bankruptcy protection filing Sunday could put most of its clients back into the precarious position the federal government was trying to prevent with its $2.3 billion cash infusion late last year.
CIT is the largest of the so-called factoring companies that provide capital to clients based on their accounts receivable to tide them over until they're paid.

The filing by CIT, the leading provider of financing to retailers and their vendors, is one of the largest in U.S. history and affects 2,000 of these clients but not the company's other operating subsidiaries. CIT expects to reduce its total debt by about $10 billion.

CIT says its creditors have already approved its prepackaged Chapter 11 reorganization plan and that it plans to emerge by the end of the year.

Like its clients, CIT had been struggling to find funding of its own. Sources, such as short-term debt, that it used to be able to rely on had dried up in the credit crisis. Babson College management professor Peter Cohan says CIT "got distracted by subprime mortgages and student loans" and will now likely have to focus on lending to small and midsize businesses.

Even if it emerges intact, more than three-quarters of its clients will likely need alternative financing, says Joe Alouf, senior managing partner of the crisis turnaround and restructuring company Eaglepoint Advisors.

CIT has already scaled back on lending. In the first six months of 2009, CIT provided 1% of all Small Business Administration loans. In 2008, it provided 6% of all SBA lending, the National Small Business Association says.

"If you were a customer of CIT, and you haven't done so already, you're going to need to scramble to find someone," Alouf says. "A lot of these traditional asset-based borrowers will have the ability to go to a more traditional bank, but for the weaker, smaller ones, there is no guarantee a new institution is going to accept them and under what terms."

**(MY THOUGHTS ON THIS: Ok, I had to break in right here because, as we all know, Obama thinks he is on some gigantic 'Monopoly' board, and is trying to 'take control' of every aspect of the business world, i.e. the automotive industry. Now, I have to ask, what will happen if these businesses end up having to go to a bank, if Obama has control over it, and they get turned down? Wouldn't that mean that small businesses would become a 'thing of the past'?)**

CIT clients and industry officials have rallied to its support as its fate grew more questionable this year.

"If CIT were to go away, it would take a financing option away from our franchisees who want to buy stores or expand their networks," Dunkin' Donuts spokeswoman Michelle King said on CIT's website.

National Retail Federation CEO Tracy Mullin said "a failure of CIT would impact thousands of retailers and, consequently, the consumer spending that makes up two-thirds of our nation's economy. That cannot be allowed to happen at a time when retailers are already struggling to survive the national recession."

RECOVERY WATCH: Tracking the economy; see VIDEO

About the only option for retailers who can't get credit is raising equity, and that's a long shot these days, Alouf says. "The question is what do you do if you cannot find what is absolutely a lifeline to your business. It's like if someone told you the company that delivers oxygen tanks to your house is going out of business."

Along with where they shop, the filing is expected to have another effect on consumers: Their $2.3 billion investment is expected to be wiped out as well.


Ok, on that last line, does this really come as no surprise to any of you? We have alreaddy wittnessed what Obama's 'stimulus packages' create--Jack and Squat--so, does it really come as no surprise that we [taxpayers] are going to lose MORE money?
I mean, come on, someone please tell me that Obama cannot see this. Or, maybe he DOES see it, and he just doen't care, because he WANTS this country to go bankrupt to the point of no return.

How much longer are we going to put up with the crap that is happening to us?

Afghan challenger Abdullah drops out of election

From staff and wire reports

Contributing: Jim Michaels in Kabul; Associated Press

KABUL — The main challenger to Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Sunday that he was withdrawing from the Nov. 7 presidential runoff. The decision dealt a potential blow to the government's legitimacy at a time when President Obama is weighing a decision to send thousands of additional troops into the fight there.
Abdullah Abdullah made his defiant announcement inside a tent packed with hundreds of supporters, including tribal leaders wearing turbans who sat near the front of the audience. Supporters interrupted his speech with scattered applause and cries of Allah Akbar, God is great.

The decision leaves Afghanistan's government in a fragile position and heightens political tensions at a sensitive time. Karzai's popularity is waning amid charges of corruption and incompetence as it struggles against a growing insurgency.

"I think the government will have a difficult time," said Sayed Eshaq Gilani, an Abdullah supporter and member of parliament. "The most important thing is legitimacy."

Karzai's campaign spokesman, Waheed Omar, said it was "very unfortunate" that Abdullah had withdrawn but that the Saturday runoff should proceed.

"We believe that the elections have to go on, the process has to complete itself, the people of Afghanistan have to be given the right to vote," Omar said.

President Obama is considering a request from the top U.S. and NATO commander here, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to send thousands of U.S. troops to shore up the fight against the Taliban and other insurgencts. Having a credible local government to partner with is considered critical to defeating an insurgency.

At a news conference after the announcement Abdullah said he would advise his supporters not to take to the streets and said he remained committed to unifying the country. The capital appeared quiet and there were no reports of protests elsewhere in the country.

"We fully endorse his emphasis on national unity," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

A clouded electoral picture further complicates the Obama administration's efforts to decide whether to send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan to battle the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies.

The White House has been waiting for a new government in Kabul to announce a decision, but the war has intensified in the meantime. October was the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces; there were at least 57 American deaths.

Before the announcement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton downplayed the prospect of an Abdullah withdrawal, saying it would not undermine the legitimacy of the election.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the legitimacy of the election," Clinton told reporters Saturday in Abu Dhabi. "It's a personal choice."

Nevertheless, the contentious electoral process has divided anti-Taliban groups at a time when the U.S. and its allies are pressing for unity in the face of growing insurgent strength.

U.S. officials pressured Karzai into agreeing to a runoff after U.N.-backed auditors threw out nearly a third of his votes from the August ballot, citing fraud.

Despite the rhetoric it is impossible to rule out an accommodation between Karzai and Abdullah or his supporters. Afghanistan's history is replete with examples of factions continuing to talk even as they were killing each other.

"In Afghanistan even the people who have fought against one another sit together and they talk," Abdullah said. He said he hasn't ruled out talks in the future.

Abdullah had demanded that Karzai replace the election commissioners, whom he said were biased, and several ministers. Karzai had refused.

It is not clear whether election officials will go ahead with balloting on Saturday or whether Abdullah's name will be taken off the ballot.

Abdullah, the former foreign minister, said he made his decision after Karzai turned down his demands for changes to the Independent Election Commission and other measures that he said would prevent massive fraud, which marred the first round of balloting on Aug. 20.

Azizullah Lodin, the head of the Karzai-appointed commission, said he would have to confer with constitutional lawyers before deciding later Sunday whether the runoff would proceed without Abdullah.

Kai Eide, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the next step is to "bring this electoral process to a conclusion in a legal and timely manner."

The statement did not address whether the runoff should go forward, though U.N. spokesman Aleem Siddique said it looked impractical.

"It's difficult to see how you can have a runoff with only one candidate," Siddique said.

Abdullah also made no mention of agreeing to take part in any future unity government with Karzai, which the U.S. and its international partners believe is the best hope for curbing the Taliban insurgency.

Instead, Abdullah said Karzai's government had not been legitimate since its mandate expired last May. The Supreme Court, appointed by Karzai, extended his mandate after the election was put off from last spring until August.

"In one hour, all my conditions could have been implemented. Unfortunately, until the last moment we were waiting, but we heard they rejected our appeals," Abdullah said.

He said the people of Afghanistan "have the right" to a free and fair election but the last ballot "was a failure."

Obama administration officials said they would be receptive to a power-sharing deal to avoid a runoff if Karzai and Abdullah could agree on a formula.

But Abdullah decided to exit the race after talks between the two sides broke down Thursday, according to two people close to the negotiations. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the candidate.


Ok, *(sighing)* I have read this news article (that I found on the USA Today site) twice, and I am still trying to get a handle on it.

I am trying to understand what this would mean to our military forces that are over ther now, and what it may mean to future troops [US] that may be sent over there.

How does this run-off election in Afghanistan affect our U.S. troops? Or better still, (since I am still trying to get a clear understanding of this whole thing) does this election run-off affect our troops?

The way I see it, and I could be mis-reading this, is that it could affect Obama's decision to send more troops, no matter what happens during or after the run-off. I think, and remember this is just my personal opinion, that it will have a negative affect on Obama's decision in such a way that he won't send the number of troops needed, or that he may decide to NOT send any additional troops at all.

Personally, if that is the case, I think that it would be an unwise decision for him [Obama] not to send the number of troops needed or to not send them. I believe that it would seriously hurt him politically.

So, now, you guys tell me what is really going on with this. Because I am really trying to learn and understand what is going on in our country and our world and I cannot succeed without the help of you guys.

Ben Ferguson Show

Ronald Reagan Speech--A very good lesson for Obama to learn!

Ronald Reagan Speech--A very good lesson for Obama to learn!
Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.


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