Archive for the 'Oil' Category

Brookings poll uncovers some interesting information

This first question is hardly a surprise and should alert the Obama administration to the fact that the Arab population is not as stupid as they may have hoped. His speech in Cairo may have created hope, but that hope has dwindled and now the Arab peoples know the truth. Obama is no different. He will not deal justly with the middle-east, no more than any of his predecessors have.

These results here are very interesting. The way you hear it in the newspapers, everyone in Egypt and Saudi Arabia are opposed to Iran’s nuclear program. These numbers show a different story though. The Arabs polled were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan and the UAE. Saudi Arabia and Egypt citizens comprised approximately 20% each of the people polled.

Of those polled, 61% said they were most dissappointed with Obama’s handling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. They also saw our middle-east policy as being driven by a need to protect Israel and control oil. Also, 59% polled said that when they see a documentary about the Jewish Holocaust, they resent it because they feel it brings sympathy towards the Jews at the expense of the Palestinians. Very interesting. Similar to Ahmadinejad’s position.

77% also believed that Iran has a right to it’s nuclear program.

In a world where there is only one superpower, 35% wanted France to be that superpower! Only 7% wanted the USA.  Also beating out the USA were China, Germany, Britain and Russia. Pakistan just lost to the USA at 6%!

Two countries that pose the biggest threat to Arab Peoples? 88% Israel and 77% USA. Iran was 10%. Interesting.

Erdogan, Chavez and Ahmadinejad were the most admired world leaders (Obama wasn’t featured in this one).

Methinks it would behoove the people of the USA to look at why the people of Arab nations have these opinions. There are good reasons.

http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0805_arab_opinion_poll_telhami.aspx

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Clue #1 that tells us we are not all about freedom and democracy.

A subtle piece of evidence that you are not pursuing a war in a foreign country for the democratization and freedom of that country’s people:  You refuse to aquiesce to demands from that country’s leader when he asks you to stop airstrikes in his country that are killing his electorate and their kids.

The United States said on Sunday it would not halt air strikes in Afghanistan as demanded by President Hamid Karzai after civilian deaths, and it denied using burning phosphorus in the attacks.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090510/wl_nm/us_afghanistan

Interesting things happening in Bolivia.

It is very interesting to see what is going on in Bolivia these days.  Jan 25 is a nation-wide vote on a new constitution which seems to give more power to the people democratically.  From the Wikipedia entry on the subject, the new constitution would make the following changes:

  • It acknowledges Bolivia as a unitary plurinational state.
  • Natural resources are the exclusive dominion of the Bolivian people, administered by the state.
  • The number of MPs was reduced, while the number of senators was increased; the MPs will be elected by first past the post voting in the future, in a change from the previous mixed member proportional system.
  • A mixed economy will be established; in a separate referendum to be held before the constitutional referendum, voters will decide whether to allow private land possession up to 10,000 hectares.
  • Local autonomies and decentralisation will be reformed.
  • Elections to all public bodies will be held if the constitution is approved, and all previous terms will not be considered for term limits; additionally, the president will be allowed to be reelected once, thus allowing Evo Morales two more terms if he decides to pursue this route. Furthermore, if no candidate gains more than 50% of the vote in the presidential election, there will be a second round; up to now, Congress had to decide who would become president in such a case.
  • It introduces the possibility of recall referendums for all elected officials.
  • The judiciary will be reformed, and judges will be elected in the future and no longer appointed by Congress.
  • Sucre will be acknowledged as Bolivia’s capital, but the institutions will remain where they are (executive and legislative in La Paz, judiciary in Sucre). The electoral authorities, which will become a fourth constitutional power, will be situated in Sucre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolivian_constitutional_referendum,_2008

The Constitution is expected to pass:

Morales pointed out that in the new constitution, basic services – such as water, sewage, gas and electricity – would be a human right, as would education and healthcare. Morales also reflected on the recent history of US intervention in the country and pointed out that the new constitution prohibits the creation of US bases in Bolivia. He clarified that, in spite of the right wing’s claims, the new constitution does not (unfortunately) legalize abortion and gay marriage. Above all, he explained, indigenous rights and indigenous representation in government would be empowered. (For more on what changes the new constitution might bring, see this previous article, ¿Sí o No? Bolivians Mobilize for National Vote on New Constitution, 1/18/09)

 

Regardless of the extent to which the changes in the new constitution are applied, the document is significant in that it has been a central part of the political battleground for the bulk of Morales’ time in office. The constitution is also a kind of mirror held up to Bolivian politics, representing the hopes, contradictions and shortcomings of various sides of the political divide.

There are many valid criticisms of the constitution from the left – that the document won’t allow for the break up of existing large land holdings, that it won’t legalize abortion, that it doesn’t go far enough in combating neoliberalism, that there exists a lot of vague language about how these changes will be implemented, and more. But of the many people who will cast their ballot for the constitution this Sunday, a significant number won’t be voting specifically for the new document, or even the MAS government, but against the right wing, and the racism, poverty and conflicts the right has exacerbated in recent years.

http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1512/1/

‘Twill be interesting indeed.  Everyone check your favorite internet news service tomorrow and see how the vote turns out.

Also of interest down there is the recent nationalization of the Chaco oil company:

Chaco is controlled by Pan american energy llC, which is 60 per cent owned by london-based BP PlC. Bolivia’s state oil company, YPF Bolivianos, owns 49 per cent of Chaco, a stake it got after morales nationalized state pension funds in may 2006, according to Bolivia’s Hydrocarbons Chamber.

morales budgeted $43.1 million us for the takeover of energy companies in the country, according to aBI, the government’s official news agency. since taking office in January 2006, he has sought to increase state control of natural resources.

“some petroleum companies don’t respect the Bolivians,” morales said in the broadcast. “we’re going make them respect us by seizing all their shares.”

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Business/Bolivia+nationalize+company/1214537/story.html

The nationalization of the oil industry in Bolivia has been in the works since 2006 when Morales announced that the state would gain full control of the country’s hydrocarbons.

Though many in the Mormon Church cringe at the slightest hint of socialism, I see little problem with an imperfect government doing something that rectifies the reason the world lies in sin.  What do I mean?  D&C 49:20 says:

But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.

The Israeli massacre continues.

I am utterly horrified by the horrific act of violence being played out currently by Israel’s government upon the people of Gaza.  Israel claims that they are doing this to bring about peace and quiet for the inhabitants of southern Israel.  There is no chance that this action is going to reach the desired result.  The Palestinian people will surely not be beaten into submission.

There are apparently now 350 people killed and 1500 injured as bombing is occurring in the middle of residential neighborhoods.  Keep in mind, this is occuring in a land which has been deprived of medical supplies, food and energy due mainly to the Israeli closure of border crossings.  The 9 hospitals of Gaza are overwhelmed and the injured are being treated in doctors homes among other places.  Little children are being killed and injured.

The world is, for the most part, either deploring or condemning Israel’s actions with variable degrees of harsh language for Hamas as well.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,473664,00.html

The US, Germany, UK and Australia at least are laying the entire blame for the deaths of Gazans upon Hamas’s shoulders.  It is so disconnected from reality to hear Condi Rice say that Hamas is entirely to blame. 

Many news organizations can’t help but to report on the fact that oil prices are going up because of the violence in Palestine.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUKTRE4BS5A720081229

If you are at all opposed to Israel’s murders you can do something good by signing the letter available at JustForeignPolicy:

http://capwiz.com/justforeignpolicy/issues/alert/?alertid=12361911

Condi Rice is keeping Obama apprised of the Gaza situation and Obama is keeping completely silent on the situation.  The Bush administration refuses to call for an immediate cessation of violence, somewhat reminiscent of the US policy toward Israel’s attack on Southern Lebanon 2 years ago.

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/12/29/1726174.aspx

In the meantime, 7000 Iranian students have signed up to fight against Israel to protect Gaza.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-12/30/content_10577839.htm

In Iraq, the brutal Israeli actions are uniting Sunni and Shia in condemnation.  Surely Iraqi know something of what Gazans are experiencing since they received similar treatment from the US.

http://baghdadbureau.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/29/iraqis-demand-a-response-to-attacks-in-gaza/

Horrible eye-witness accounts pour in from Gaza:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/inside-gaza-the-hospital-morgues-were-already-full-the-dead-were-piled-on-top-of-each-other-outside-1213839.html

And the US, of course, has used its’ veto power to stop any meaningful statements from coming out of the UN:

http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=79727&sectionid=351020202

Parenti on Afghanistan: A must-read.

Michael Parenti has written a marvelous succint summary of the last 30 or so years of Afghanistan’s history.  This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand exactly what has been going on there for the last 30 years and answers questions such as the reasons we were funding jihadists in Afghanistan in the 80s such as Osama bin Laden etc. to go in and fight against Russia in Afghanistan, and whether or not there was ever a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or were the Soviets invited by the Afghanistani government (if you guessed invited you are right, but you didn’t get it from a US government or media source).  You’ll see that the USA has been screwing up Afghanistan for much longer than the last 7 years. 

Parenti is one of the originals who woke me up from my long slumber regarding the secret combinations that rule our nation in the early 90s.  His work here is amazing.  This was posted over at informationclearinghouse.info, a great source of news and perspective.  Here is the story:

December 05, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse” — Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan. Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States.

Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan, the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.

Some Real History

Since feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan had remained unchanged, with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords who comprised only 3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary elements coalesced to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In 1973, the king was deposed, but the government that replaced him proved to be autocratic, corrupt, and unpopular. It in turn was forced out in 1978 after a massive demonstration in front of the presidential palace, and after the army intervened on the side of the demonstrators.

The military officers who took charge invited the PDP to form a new government under the leadership of Noor Mohammed Taraki, a poet and novelist. This is how a Marxist-led coalition of national democratic forces came into office. “It was a totally indigenous happening. Not even the CIA blamed the USSR for it,” writes John Ryan, a retired professor at the University of Winnipeg, who was conducting an agricultural research project in Afghanistan at about that time.
The Taraki government proceeded to legalize labor unions, and set up a minimum wage, a progressive income tax, a literacy campaign, and programs that gave ordinary people greater access to health care, housing, and public sanitation. Fledgling peasant cooperatives were started and price reductions on some key foods were imposed.

The government also continued a campaign begun by the king to emancipate women from their age-old tribal bondage. It provided public education for girls and for the children of various tribes.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle (17 November 2001) noted that under the Taraki regime Kabul had been “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs—-in the 1980s, there were seven female members of parliament. Women drove cars, traveled and went on dates. Fifty percent of university students were women.”

The Taraki government moved to eradicate the cultivation of opium poppy. Until then Afghanistan had been producing more than 70 percent of the opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. The government also abolished all debts owed by farmers, and began developing a major land reform program. Ryan believes that it was a “genuinely popular government and people looked forward to the future with great hope.”

But serious opposition arose from several quarters. The feudal landlords opposed the land reform program that infringed on their holdings. And tribesmen and fundamentalist mullahs vehemently opposed the government’s dedication to gender equality and the education of women and children.

Because of its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies the Taraki government also incurred the opposition of the US national security state. Almost immediately after the PDP coalition came to power, the CIA, assisted by Saudi and Pakistani military, launched a large scale intervention into Afghanistan on the side of the ousted feudal lords, reactionary tribal chieftains, mullahs, and opium traffickers.

A top official within the Taraki government was Hafizulla Amin, believed by many to have been recruited by the CIA during the several years he spent in the United States as a student. In September 1979, Amin seized state power in an armed coup. He executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.

It should be noted that all this happened before the Soviet military intervention. National security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly admitted–months before Soviet troops entered the country–that the Carter administration was providing huge sums to Muslim extremists to subvert the reformist government. Part of that effort involved brutal attacks by the CIA-backed mujahideen against schools and teachers in rural areas.

In late 1979, the seriously besieged PDP government asked Moscow to send a contingent of troops to help ward off the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) and foreign mercenaries, all recruited, financed, and well-armed by the CIA. The Soviets already had been sending aid for projects in mining, education, agriculture, and public health. Deploying troops represented a commitment of a more serious and politically dangerous sort. It took repeated requests from Kabul before Moscow agreed to intervene militarily.

Jihad and Taliban, CIA Style

The Soviet intervention was a golden opportunity for the CIA to transform the tribal resistance into a holy war, an Islamic jihad to expel the godless communists from Afghanistan. Over the years the United States and Saudi Arabia expended about $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan. The CIA and its allies recruited, supplied, and trained almost 100,000 radical mujahideen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Among those who answered the call was Saudi-born millionaire right-winger Osama bin Laden and his cohorts.

After a long and unsuccessful war, the Soviets evacuated the country in February 1989. It is generally thought that the PDP Marxist government collapsed immediately after the Soviet departure. Actually, it retained enough popular support to fight on for another three years, outlasting the Soviet Union itself by a year.

Upon taking over Afghanistan, the mujahideen fell to fighting among themselves. They ravaged the cities, terrorized civilian populations, looted, staged mass executions, closed schools, raped thousands of women and girls, and reduced half of Kabul to rubble. In 2001 Amnesty International reported that the mujahideen used sexual assault as “a method of intimidating vanquished populations and rewarding soldiers.’”

Ruling the country gangster-style and looking for lucrative sources of income, the tribes ordered farmers to plant opium poppy. The Pakistani ISI, a close junior partner to the CIA, set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA’s arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland became the biggest producer of heroin in the world.

Largely created and funded by the CIA, the mujahideen mercenaries now took on a life of their own. Hundreds of them returned home to Algeria, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Kashmir to carry on terrorist attacks in Allah’s name against the purveyors of secular “corruption.”

In Afghanistan itself, by 1995 an extremist strain of Sunni Islam called the Taliban—heavily funded and advised by the ISI and the CIA and with the support of Islamic political parties in Pakistan—fought its way to power, taking over most of the country, luring many tribal chiefs into its fold with threats and bribes.

The Taliban promised to end the factional fighting and banditry that was the mujahideen trademark. Suspected murderers and spies were executed monthly in the sports stadium, and those accused of thievery had the offending hand sliced off. The Taliban condemned forms of “immorality” that included premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality. They also outlawed all music, theater, libraries, literature, secular education, and much scientific research.

The Taliban unleashed a religious reign of terror, imposing an even stricter interpretation of Muslim law than used by most of the Kabul clergy. All men were required to wear untrimmed beards and women had to wear the burqa which covered them from head to toe, including their faces. Persons who were slow to comply were dealt swift and severe punishment by the Ministry of Virtue. A woman who fled an abusive home or charged spousal abuse would herself be severely whipped by the theocratic authorities. Women were outlawed from social life, deprived of most forms of medical care, barred from all levels of education, and any opportunity to work outside the home. Women who were deemed “immoral” were stoned to death or buried alive.

None of this was of much concern to leaders in Washington who got along famously with the Taliban. As recently as 1999, the US government was paying the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official. Not until October 2001, when President George W. Bush had to rally public opinion behind his bombing campaign in Afghanistan did he denounce the Taliban’s oppression of women. His wife, Laura Bush, emerged overnight as a full-blown feminist to deliver a public address detailing some of the abuses committed against Afghan women.

If anything positive can be said about the Taliban, it is that they did put a stop to much of the looting, raping, and random killings that the mujahideen had practiced on a regular basis. In 2000 Taliban authorities also eradicated the cultivation of opium poppy throughout the areas under their control, an effort judged by the United Nations International Drug Control Program to have been nearly totally successful. With the Taliban overthrown and a Western-selected mujahideen government reinstalled in Kabul by December 2001, opium poppy production in Afghanistan increased dramatically.

The years of war that have followed have taken tens of thousands of Afghani lives. Along with those killed by Cruise missiles, Stealth bombers, Tomahawks, daisy cutters, and land mines are those who continue to die of hunger, cold, lack of shelter, and lack of water.

The Holy Crusade for Oil and Gas

While claiming to be fighting terrorism, US leaders have found other compelling but less advertised reasons for plunging deeper into Afghanistan. The Central Asian region is rich in oil and gas reserves. A decade before 9/11, Time magazine (18 March 1991) reported that US policy elites were contemplating a military presence in Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil and gas reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provided the lure, while the dissolution of the USSR removed the one major barrier against pursuing an aggressive interventionist policy in that part of the world.

US oil companies acquired the rights to some 75 percent of these new reserves. A major problem was how to transport the oil and gas from the landlocked region. US officials opposed using the Russian pipeline or the most direct route across Iran to the Persian Gulf. Instead, they and the corporate oil contractors explored a number of alternative pipeline routes, across Azerbaijan and Turkey to the Mediterranean or across China to the Pacific.

The route favored by Unocal, a US based oil company, crossed Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. The intensive negotiations that Unocal entered into with the Taliban regime remained unresolved by 1998, as an Argentine company placed a competing bid for the pipeline. Bush’s war against the Taliban rekindled UNOCAL’s hopes for getting a major piece of the action.

Interestingly enough, neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban government. Such a “rogue state” designation would have made it impossible for a US oil or construction company to enter an agreement with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.

In sum, well in advance of the 9/11 attacks the US government had made preparations to move against the Taliban and create a compliant regime in Kabul and a direct US military presence in Central Asia. The 9/11 attacks provided the perfect impetus, stampeding US public opinion and reluctant allies into supporting military intervention.

One might agree with John Ryan who argued that if Washington had left the Marxist Taraki government alone back in 1979, “there would have been no army of mujahideen, no Soviet intervention, no war that destroyed Afghanistan, no Osama bin Laden, and no September 11 tragedy.” But it would be asking too much for Washington to leave unmolested a progressive leftist government that was organizing the social capital around collective public needs rather than private accumulation.

US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government. In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.

The war against Afghanistan, a battered impoverished country, continues to be portrayed in US official circles as a gallant crusade against terrorism. If it ever was that, it also has been a means to other things: destroying a leftist revolutionary social order, gaining profitable control of one of the last vast untapped reserves of the earth’s dwindling fossil fuel supply, and planting US bases and US military power into still another region of the world.

In the face of all this Obama’s call for “change” rings hollow.

Michael Parenti’s recent books are Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader and the forthcoming God and His Demons. For further information, visit www.michaelparenti.org.

Afghanistan… not the good war.

There is an informative article on the so-called, “good war” of Afghanistan and what the real reasons are that the US went in after 9/11.  Check out the following excerpts:

The war in Afghanistan was never simply a response to 9/11. It was conceived of by the Bush administration as the opening salvo in an unbounded war for greater empire under the rubric of a “war on terror.” This war’s goal was to defeat Islamic fundamentalism, overthrow states not fully under U.S. control, restructure the Middle East and Central Asian regions, and seize deeper control of key sources and shipment routes of strategic energy supplies. All this grew out of over a decade of imperialist planning, strategizing and intervention. And from the beginning all of it was part of an overall plan to expand and fortify U.S. power—to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable global imperialist empire…

All this is shown by what the U.S. rulers were doing—and planning—in these regions and globally during the decade of the 1990s, including in Afghanistan itself. It can be shown by the plans the U.S. had for destabilizing, perhaps overthrowing, the Taliban government of Afghanistan even before 9/11. It can be demonstrated by the actual discussions and decisions taken by the Bush regime in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and by the U.S.’s war objectives in Afghanistan and the Middle East as a whole, which it is still pursuing. And it can be shown by the U.S.’s conduct of the war and the impact it has had on the people of Afghanistan.This was articulated in the Defense Department’s 1992 “Defense Planning Guidance”—written by Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby and Zalmay Khalilzad under the direction of then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney—all later top officials in the Bush II administration. This document argued that the U.S. should insure “that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territory of the former Soviet Union” and that the United States remain the world’s predominant power for the indefinite future. The Defense Guidance envisioned accomplishing these far-reaching objectives by preemptively attacking rivals or states seeking weapons of mass destruction, strengthening U.S. control of Persian Gulf oil, and refusing to allow international coalitions or law to inhibit U.S. freedom of action…

Such planning was stepped up after George W. Bush came to power. Before September 11, 2001, there were sharp divisions within the Bush regime over whether to focus on non-state Islamist “terrorists” like al-Qaeda or states such as Iraq. But plans to step up attacks on al-Qaeda and destabilize the Taliban regime—perhaps even overthrow it—were being developed and debated. In his book Bush at War, Bob Woodward reports that in April 2001—5 months before the attacks of September 11—plans were in the works to begin arming the Northern Alliance. By July, proposals were put forward to not only roll back al-Qaeda, but to eliminate it and “go on the offensive and destabilize the Taliban.” Although the divisions within the Bush team had not been resolved, this plan was approved on September 4, with $125-200 million given the CIA to implement it. It was placed on Bush’s desk by National Security Advisor Rice on September 10 as a secret Presidential Directive, awaiting his signature.

http://www.counterpunch.org/everest10172008.html

Time to face the facts on Afghanistan

These words ring true to me on the situation in Afghanistan:

The current war in Afghanistan is not really about al-Qaida and `terrorism,’ but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin of Central Asia to the West. The US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are essentially pipeline protection troops fighting off the hostile natives..

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are wrong about Afghanistan. It is not a `good’ fight against `terrorism,’ but a classic, 19th century colonial war to advance western geopolitical power into resource-rich Central Asia. The Pashtun Afghans who live there are ready to fight for another 100 years. The western powers certainly are not.

As that great American founding father Benjamin Franklin said, `there is no good war, and no bad peace.’ Time for the West to face reality in Afghanistan.

Read more here:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20971.htm


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