Editor’s Picks

Articles that our Editorial Board feel really stand out. We’re glad we didn’t miss them and want to make sure you don’t either!

Thumbnail image for More Bare Facts About San Diego Government: How We Got From There to Here

More Bare Facts About San Diego Government: How We Got From There to Here

by Norma Damashek 07.22.2014 Columns

By Norma Damashek

Around this time last year San Diego’s former mayor Bob Filner was forced out of office.  As it happens, he was the first bona fide “strong mayor” our city has yet seen.

We voters had no choice but to wield our black markers once again and fill in the ballot bubble to select a new mayor.  The winner this time around was Mr. White Bread personified, Kevin Faulconer.

San Diego’s lead newspaper, the U-T, summed up the occasion in a neat sentence: “At least the day brought us one step further from our time of scandal and farce.”

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Thumbnail image for Welcome to Comic Con: Be Sure to Cover Your Ass

Welcome to Comic Con: Be Sure to Cover Your Ass

by Doug Porter 07.21.2014 Cartoons

By Doug Porter

The one of the largest collections of make-believe comes to San Diego this week, kicking off Wednesday night with Preview Night followed by four days of events running Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27. More than 130,000  are expected for Comic Con 2014.

What should be a dream-come-true event for fans of the genres involved has turned out to be a nightmare in recent years as an institutional malaise about dealing with harassment issues has surfaced. Last year photographs of attendee derrieres were posted online after Comic-Con as some sort of sick tribute to the misogynist mentality that’s flourished in recent events in San Diego and other cities.

A group calling itself Geeks for CONsent is fighting back this year, circulating a petition aiming at getting Comic-Con International in San Diego (SDCC) to update its harassment policy. They’re asking for a “full harassment policy,” as well as anti-harassment signs and trained volunteers to deal with complaints.  

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Thumbnail image for San Diego For-Profit Universities Making Tons of Money Handing Out Worthless Degrees

San Diego For-Profit Universities Making Tons of Money Handing Out Worthless Degrees

by John Lawrence 07.21.2014 Business

Ashford University and University of Phoenix Worst Offenders Targeting Returning Vets

By John Lawrence

Everyone wants to better themselves, right, by getting a college education. Most of all the Iraq and Afghanistan vets transitioning into civilian life. To that end our politicians in Washington have crafted a GI Bill that allows them to do just that at taxpayer expense.

Problem is most of that money is being gobbled up by for-profit universities like the University of Phoenix and Ashford University which don’t even qualify for state financial aid. These universities attract and recruit students by advertising heavily and “selling” them on the value of one of their degrees.

When many of the students graduate, they can’t get a job based on a degree which potential employers say is worthless. And despite the GI bill, many of them take on additional student loan debt.

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Thumbnail image for Creating a Better World with Children in Mind

Creating a Better World with Children in Mind

by Ernie McCray 07.20.2014 Books & Poetry

(Inspired by the Corner of Rhythm and Rhyme)

By Ernie McCray

I just spent a week doing a show at the San Diego International Fringe Festival called “On the Corner of Rhythm and Rhyme” with some of the most fabulous tap dancers anyone could ever find. This spoken word/dance piece was dedicated to the creation of a reality that
“appears to the mind to be of a gentler
more caring and loving kind…”
It was written in honor of children no matter where they reside on the planet. It entertains the idea of creating a world for them that is
“without arms,
worthy of their beauty
and their charm.”
The poem speaks to a society dancing On the Corner of Rhythm and Rhyme
“to the beat of a song,
a love song.”

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Oscar and Rosita Torres

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Oscar and Rosita Torres

by Maria Garcia 07.19.2014 Culture

By Maria Garcia

Oscar is now 80 years old and yet his memories of Neighborhood House are as clear as if they had happened yesterday. Like other boys in his age bracket, board games, baseball and basketball and the field trips stand out his memory. He also credits Neighborhood House for being the “baby sitter” for him and his brothers and sisters. Both of his parents worked and Neighborhood House provided a place to spend the day in a safe environment.

Most non-school days he played at Neighborhood House from 8:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night. They would go home and eat dinner and return to continue playing outside until Neighborhood House closed.

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Thumbnail image for Jewish Voice for Peace San Diego Condemns the Israeli Offensive in Gaza

Jewish Voice for Peace San Diego Condemns the Israeli Offensive in Gaza

by Source 07.18.2014 Activism

By David Deutsch, Jonathan Graubart, and Avital Aboody, Jewish Voice for Peace, San Diego

Jewish Voice for Peace San Diego (JVPSD) is the local chapter of the national Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization devoted to the pursuit of peace, social justice, equality, and human rights in Israel-Palestine.

While most mainstream American Jewish organizations have long abandoned moral responsibility when it comes to Palestinians, we insist upon holding Israel accountable for its crimes, which include a nearly fifty-year occupation, a denial of Palestinian self-determination, repeated war crimes, and systematic human rights abuses.

We oppose Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip, labeled Operation “Protective Edge.” As of July 18th, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released figures that estimated more than 80 per cent of the 260 Palestinian victims to have been killed so far were civilians. They also reported that a further 1,920 Palestinians had been wounded as a result of the conflict that began on July 8th.

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Thumbnail image for The Orphan of Zhao: “Who wants to be another man’s equal? … To be powerful, one must be feared”

The Orphan of Zhao: “Who wants to be another man’s equal? … To be powerful, one must be feared”

by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán 07.18.2014 Culture

The story of loyalty, family and revenge at the La Jolla Playhouse

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

The latest piece currently on stage at the La Jolla Playhouse Mandell Weiss Theatre is a co-production of The Orphan of Zhao, the first Chinese play to be translated in the West. This adaptation by James Fenton is directed by Carey Perloff in conjunction with the San Francisco based American Conservatory Theater.

I am always amazed by the La Jolla Playhouse. This effort to bring different and diverse works to the stage is something not just to admire — it is something to also be grateful for.

“Staging an ancient Chinese epic for a contemporary American audience is like building a bridge between distant but entwined cultures,” shared Carey Perloff in his Director’s note.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces:  Evacuations

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Evacuations

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 07.18.2014 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

When flashing lights
pound on soundly sleeping doors
ordering evacuations five minutes
to gather a few items
from a lifetime of belongings …

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Thumbnail image for DeMaio Campaign Lines Up at the Money Fountain for Both Koch and Tea

DeMaio Campaign Lines Up at the Money Fountain for Both Koch and Tea

by Doug Porter 07.17.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Recent campaign finance reports reveal extensive financing from both Koch Brothers and Tea Party affiliates for Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio.

Incumbent (CA-52) Congressman Scott Peters campaign organization fired off a press release this morning calling attention to his opponents’ backers. 

“Clearly the Tea Party recognizes a kindred spirit in Carl DeMaio, which is why they’re investing so heavily in his candidacy,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Peters campaign in the press release. “The question is what these groups will expect in return if DeMaio is elected to Congress.”

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Thumbnail image for Lady Parts Justice Launches in 50 States

Lady Parts Justice Launches in 50 States

by Source 07.16.2014 Activism

National movement using humor and outrage to remove bodily autonomy-hating local politicians from office

By ladypartsjustice

Lady Parts Justice is the first not safe for work, rapid response reproductive rights messaging hub that uses comedy, culture and digital media to get people off their asses and reclaim their rights.

5 Reasons to Join Lady Parts Justice

Because neanderthal politicians are spending all their time making laws that put YOUR body squarely into THEIR hands.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

by Doug Porter 07.15.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Supporters of a hike in local minimum wages left nothing to chance yesterday as a city council decision on a proposal by Todd Gloria neared. Over 400 hundred people showed up at city hall for a 6pm hearing, filling the council chambers and two overflow rooms. Many wore pink signs indicating their support.

Email and social media reminders abounded during the day, including a mid-day Raise Up San Diego-led “Twitterstorm.” More than 100 people testified before the council. Highlights included former basketball star Bill Walton standing up in favor of the measure and United Foodservice and Commercial Workers’ Mickey Kasparian giving an impassioned speech.

In the end, the City Council did the right thing, voting 6-3 to enact by ordinance a minimum wage hike, with raises in three stages effective January, 2015. This means the measure will not be placed before the voters in November.

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Thumbnail image for Does the Federal Reserve Print Money?

Does the Federal Reserve Print Money?

by John Lawrence 07.15.2014 Economy

The Federal Reserve is America’s Central Bank

By John Lawrence

The Fed doesn’t actually “print” money in the sense of ink on paper hundred dollar bills. But what it can do is create money with a few keystrokes on a computer.

Money so created is called “fiat money” since it’s not backed by gold or anything else. The Fed currently prints the money to purchase $40 billion in mortgage backed securities and $45 billion in government bonds each month. The rationale for doing this is that it keeps interest rates low which is thought to be necessary to keep the economy humming.

Before the financial crisis of 2008-09, the Fed managed to keep interest rates low by adjusting the interest rate at which banks borrow overnight. But after the financial crisis, the Fed needed a more robust policy which is called Quantitative Easing or QE. This policy is mainly a giveaway to the big Wall Street banks to augment their reserves. The lack of sufficient reserves is thought to have been the problem that caused the financial crisis.

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Thumbnail image for Darrell Issa Leads the GOP Charge to Exploit Refugee Children

Darrell Issa Leads the GOP Charge to Exploit Refugee Children

by Doug Porter 07.14.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

San Diego Congressman Darrel Issa has never been accused of being camera shy. Since taking over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee in 2011 he’s done his best to to keep the media fixated through a series of open-ended investigations: Solyndra, Fast & Furious, the IRS, and Benghazi.

Since immigrant children being subpoenaed to testify wouldn’t provide much in the way of good optics-what if they cried?–, Issa’s tackling the current humanitarian crisis at the border with bluster and bloviating.

Along with three resolutions that could trigger civil actions against the Obama administration for its decision to ignore laws passed by Congress on issues related to immigration, Obamacare and welfare, he’s joined with other California Republicans in introducing legislation (HR5079) allowing for  the accelerated deportation of unaccompanied children to countries that do not share a direct border with the United States.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Free Press and OB Rag Bring Home Four Awards in Society of Professional Journalists Competition

San Diego Free Press and OB Rag Bring Home Four Awards in Society of Professional Journalists Competition

by Staff 07.14.2014 Culture

Recognition of writers Doug Porter, John Lawrence, Anna Daniels and Frank Gormlie

By Staff

On July 10 the the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) held its annual journalism awards banquet at Bali Hai on Shelter Island. The names of all of the winners of the competition had been released in June. The list included San Diego Free Press editors Doug Porter, Anna Daniels and weekly contributor John Lawrence and Frank Gormlie, editor of our sister publication the OB Rag. First, second and third place winners would be announced at the banquet as well as the Journalist of the Year award.

Eight of us, representing the San Diego Free Press and the OB Rag, enjoyed a dinner on the bay against the backdrop of the city skyline and a rising, almost full moon.

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Thumbnail image for Teachable Moments: Grappling with Immigration as a Reflection of Ourselves

Teachable Moments: Grappling with Immigration as a Reflection of Ourselves

by Source 07.13.2014 Editor's Picks

These immigrant children and their families are us, and how we respond to them is a reflection of who we are as a society

By Michael Cheno Wickert

One does not need to sleep on dirt floors or live life constantly looking over a shoulder to understand why masses of people would want a better life. There is no requirement that a person must witness murder and mayhem to desire a more stable and safe environment in which to raise a family. Nowhere is it written that a person must personally experience the most extreme difficulties in life to practice compassion.

Yet, the arrival of tens of thousands of children and partial families from Central America has brought this to the forefront of our lives. In the past weeks we have seen the images and heard the stories of the most desperate, and often most vulnerable, people making the trek to the United States with hope for a reprieve from the chaos of their lives. Fortunately, more and more individuals and organizations are stepping up to help.

As an American, I am proud of everyone who has made an effort to bring some comfort and solace to the migrants who risked so much and were met with such resistance upon arrival here. I am also proud of those who practice acts of kindness in large and small ways, and who see these individuals in human terms, not as some abstract idea that can be ignored or turned off.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary and Helen Marston

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary and Helen Marston

by Maria Garcia 07.12.2014 Culture

The Marston family history is synonymous with the history of San Diego. Volumes have been written about their philanthropy and their contributions to the history of San Diego. For those of us that grew up in San Diego, we remember the Marston Department Store. My biggest memory of the department store is of the escalator and the smell of perfume.

I am sure we never bought one thing there. Despite her fear of escalators, my mother would take us there for the express purpose of riding the escalator. It was our simple version of the “E” ride at Disneyland. We would walk around the store, go up to the second floor and ride the escalator down with that beautiful smell greeting us at about the halfway point. In my mind the “Marston” name and “rich” are one and the same.

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Thumbnail image for Are African American Males an Endangered Species?

Are African American Males an Endangered Species?

by John Lawrence 07.08.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

As a white guy, this question is still very germane for me since my grandson is an African American male. Or rather he is half African American and half European American – actually a little less than half African American with a little Native American thrown in. And he has already been placed in a tenuous position at the age of six because next year he will be repeating kindergarten.

His parents were not able to afford the level of pre-school instruction that the other members of his kindergarten class evidently received. It’s amazing that now they expect kindergarten children to do first or second grade work with spelling tests and homework every day. When I went to kindergarten, the only thing expected of us was that you would learn to tie your shoes.

His case is not so much a case of racism as it is a case of being raised in relative though not extreme poverty. The only reason it wasn’t extreme was that there were extended family resources available to them.

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Thumbnail image for A Moral Crisis Unleashed in Murrieta

A Moral Crisis Unleashed in Murrieta

by Doug Porter 07.07.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

For better or worse, it appears last week’s confrontations in Murrieta have unleashed a lot of pent up anger and frustration. And it’s my guess that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. My take is that this has the potential to blossom into a full-blown identity crisis for this country, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the civil rights movement of the 20th century.

On July 4th protesters again gathered in front of the Murrieta Border Patrol station. This time around those supportive of the refugees out-numbered the teahadist types who’d blocked busses filled with families from Central America earlier in the week. No busses arrived at that location, making the day essentially a media event.

The award for most over-the-top headline goes to CBS8/KFMB: “Massive protest in Murrieta centers around migrant families.” There were two stories beneath the headline on the station’s website, one by Associated Press and one video by reporter Matt Johnson which included the phrase “More than 100 people…”

More than a hundred people is massive? Really? Let’s take a spin around the media world to see what other bullshit’s been doled out lately.

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Thumbnail image for What the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn Decision Means for Workers and American Democracy

What the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn Decision Means for Workers and American Democracy

by Jim Miller 07.07.2014 Columns

“Our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” --James Madison

By Jim Miller

After last week’s slew of bad Supreme Court rulings much of the media attention rightfully went to the horrendous “Hobby Lobby” case where the rights of corporations were deemed more important than the rights of women.

But there was another big decision where the Supreme Court surprised some observers and ruled narrowly on Harris v. Quinn, the case which could have gutted public sector unions and virtually wiped out their ability to play in American politics by ending all public sector unions’ ability to collect agency fees. As the Daily Kos noted of the case:

Harris v. Quinn, is about the constitutionality of “agency fees” charged by public sector unions to all workers in a unionized setting, even non-union members. These fees are essential to their operation . . . Agency fees in principle are important to public employee unions because they’re required by law to bargain for all workers in a unionized setting. If agency fees for non-members are ruled to be a violation of free speech, unions fear they would lose funding, become less effective at bargaining for benefits and, in turn, lose members.

If the Supreme Court had ruled broadly it would have crippled public sector unions by making them much less effective, leading to a loss of political power, bargaining clout, and lots of members. And though Harris v. Quinn only involved public sector unions, their demise would have surely been a death knell for the entire American Labor movement.

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Thumbnail image for Our Children: Thoughts from #Murrieta

Our Children: Thoughts from #Murrieta

by Source 07.06.2014 Editor's Picks

They ask again what side I’m on. I think and answer, “I’m on the children’s side.”

By Rick Najera / Latino Rebels

I’m in Murrieta, California, ground zero in the immigration debate.

I’m watching hundreds of protestors and supporters at a hastily called town hall meeting at the local high school.

Police surround the auditorium to shield between protestors and supporters. A massive wall of news vans fill the parking lot. Reporters with news cameras troll the crowd hunting for sound bites.

On both sides, people fly American flags. The crowd is polarized with protestors and supporters—islands of different groups arguing. The borders are blurred between the groups.

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OB Marshmallow War 2014 – a Shadow of Its Former Self

by Frank Gormlie 07.05.2014 Culture

OB July 4 2014 road

By Frank Gormlie

The Marshmallow War in Ocean Beach last night, July 4th, was less than a third of what it was in 2013. Way less marshmallows were thrown, the throwing did not get out of hand, and by 9:50 it was over and there was hardly a marshmallow in the streets down around Newport and Abbott. It indeed, was but a shadow of its former self – and that was a good thing. No violence. No riot.

Compared to last year, there were no marshmallows thrown before the fireworks, none thrown during the fireworks, and after the explosions and light show, it took a few moments before the first white globs were seen in the air.

Police were fairly low-key, although their presence was known – they had set up a command post in and around the trailer in the OB Pier parking lot. At least two arrests were made – one was related to the marshmallow throwing.

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Thumbnail image for The National American Theatre Conference in Tijuana: The Challenge of “Crossing Borders”

The National American Theatre Conference in Tijuana: The Challenge of “Crossing Borders”

by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán 07.05.2014 Culture

Tijuana and San Diego unite the border through theater

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

On Wednesday June 18th, more than one hundred people from different cities all over the United States crossed the border to Tijuana to discuss one thing: Theater. It was truly a historic moment. It had been years since the city of Tijuana had such a happening due to its violent chapters (which have since passed) and the bad and very widespread publicity that accompanied that time. People from San Diego just stopped crossing the border.

In November 2012 when the idea came about to organize a leg of the National American Theatre conference in Tijuana, it seemed to me that people were talking in a dead language. I was familiar with the mission of the Theatre Communications Group. It just was not as clear to me whether its reach could extend to the city of Tijuana and the rich cultural activity there.

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Thumbnail image for To Hell with  Hobby Lobby

To Hell with Hobby Lobby

by Source 07.02.2014 Activism

By Lauree Benton

“Corporations are people, my friend.”

Women? Well… the jury is still out on that. Whether you are a person or not may depend on the religious views of your boss.

Makes sense I guess. The Constitution does say that all men are created equal.

I’m sure the ALL MALE majority who made this stirring decision is just looking out for us lady types. You know, we can’t be trusted.

Never mind that NONE of these men have ever dealt with the realities of human reproduction. Losing complete control over your body once a month. Uterine lining that decides it has better places to be. Cysts. Fibroids. Organ prolapse. Unexpected, complicated, and even dangerous pregnancies. All for the honor of ripping up your nether regions to push a basketball out of a hole the size of a dime.

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Thumbnail image for Extreme Weather Watch: June 2014 – Torrential Rains, Baseball Sized Hail, Massive Midwest Flooding

Extreme Weather Watch: June 2014 – Torrential Rains, Baseball Sized Hail, Massive Midwest Flooding

by John Lawrence 06.30.2014 Editor's Picks

Another Month, Another Couple of Towns Wiped Out by Tornadoes

By John Lawrence

June 2014 was one of the worst months on record for extreme weather. Tuesday June 3 saw baseball size hail, 100 mph wind gusts and 11 tornadoes in South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. In Omaha and Des Moines there were hundreds of reports of hail. Trees toppled on autos. Wind damage was mostly from derecchio winds. Derecchio winds are straight line winds which can be as damaging as tornadoes.

In Blair, Nebraska, officials said nearly every home, as well as any car that was parked outdoors, was damaged. The courthouse alone sustained more than $1.2 million in damage because, after hail shattered windows and skylights, rain penetrated inside. The insurance price tag in Nebraska and western Iowa will soar into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Although a handful of tornadoes were reported, baseball-sized hail and flooding rains left the biggest mark.

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Thumbnail image for Court Rulings: Corporations Are People; Women Not So Much

Court Rulings: Corporations Are People; Women Not So Much

by Doug Porter 06.30.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Today was another day for bad news out of Washington. I knew there was trouble brewing when the announcement was made this morning that Supreme Court Justice Justice Samuel Alito would be reading the majority opinions for the high courts final decisions of this session.

First came the ruling (Harris v. Quinn) that home health care workers constituted a new class of “partial public employees” who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees. The ruling was narrower in scope than many unions feared a negative opinion might be, but significantly impacts one of fastest growing areas of labor organizing.

Then, in keeping with the current flair for the dramatic by Chief Justice Roberts (who decides when rulings will be announced), the Supreme Court (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) held that closely held corporations (90% of all companies) are “persons” as defined by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and can hold religious beliefs exempting them from the ObamaCare mandate on contraceptive coverage.

Again, the scope of this final ruling was not as broad as some analysts had feared. But if you happen to be a woman, its implications are huge.

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