August 21, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 08/21/2008

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
McCain turns Bush on Iraq war surge - Sen. John McCain, who watched from a prison camp as America failed to deploy the overwhelming force necessary to win the Vietnam War, seized the moment after Republicans lost Congress in 2006 to push President Bush not to make the same mistake. (READ MORE)

Rice says US-Iraq coming together on timetables - BAGHDAD (AP) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday they agree that timetables should be set for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the battle-scarred country. (READ MORE)

McCain erases Obama's edge with swing voters - Sen. John McCain is having a very good summer, as a trio of new polls show the Republican presidential candidate pulling even with or slightly ahead of rival Sen. Barack Obama and erasing what had been the Democrat's clear edge on appealing to swing voters and dealing with the economy. (READ MORE)

McCain, Obama agree on fall debates - WASHINGTON (AP) – John McCain and Barack Obama say they are agreeing to hold three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate this fall. The campaigns issued a joint statement Thursday. (READ MORE)

Stevens loses bid for a trial in Alaska - A federal judge Wednesday denied a request by Sen. Ted Stevens that he be tried in his home state of Alaska on charges he lied on federal financial forms about receiving gifts from an oil services company. (READ MORE)

Giuliani, Lieberman Will Speak at GOP Convention - Socially moderate former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph I. Lieberman will have featured speaking roles at next month's Republican National Convention, party officials announced yesterday. (READ MORE)

U.S. and Poland Seal Missile Pact - WARSAW, Aug. 20 -- The United States and Poland signed an agreement here Wednesday to place parts of a U.S. missile defense system on Polish territory, finalizing a long-negotiated deal in the face of Russian warnings that Poland would become a potential target for attack. (READ MORE)

Bush Praises Georgia and Condemns Russia - ORLANDO, Aug. 20 -- President Bush reiterated his demand that Russia remove its forces from Georgia in a speech here Wednesday, stating that the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of the former Soviet republic and that "the United States will work with our allies to ensure Georgia's independence and territorial integrity." (READ MORE)

Obama Team Seeks Changes in Primaries - Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign will call next week for the creation of a commission to revise the rules for selecting a presidential nominee in 2012, with a goal of reducing the power of superdelegates, whose role became a major point of contention during the long battle for the Democratic nomination between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Redjeb Jordania: Georgia, Between Hope and Fear - I cannot help being anxious about what's happening to Georgia. My daughter is in Tbilisi with my grandson. Her husband, Sandro Kvitashvili, is the minister of health and social services. I don't know how dangerous his job is each day, whether he is on the streets, possibly exposed to gunfire. I don't know how he will cope with all the dead and wounded, how he is helping the refugees. All humanitarian activities are his responsibility, and Russia has blocked many of the routes necessary to transport goods. My daughter communicates with me online and assures me that Tbilisi is relatively calm. She thinks that she is not in danger. But there are frequent disruptions to our connections, and I would worry even if there were not. Our family's ties to Georgia run deep. My father, Noé Jordania, was president of the first democratic republic of Georgia. He was forced into exile in 1921 when the Red Army invaded and incorporated Georgia into the Soviet empire. (READ MORE)

Harold Meyerson: Obama's Factory Factor - Just as the ghost dance of the Sioux failed to bring back the buffalo, so the declining dollar and the high price of gas have failed to bring back American manufacturing. To be sure, with the dollar down, exports are up, and with the price of shipping goods from Shenzhen to Los Angeles rising with the cost of oil, Chinese imports have slowed. Nonetheless, as the New York Times' Louis Uchitelle reported Monday, most of the rise in U.S. exports has come in corn, wheat and other agricultural commodities, not in aircraft or machinery. Will America ever get its manufacturing back? Not unless we move to level a steeply tilted playing field: China and a host of other nations offer generous subsidies to companies locating their plants there, while the United States shuns such mercantilist strategies. But even if we moved toward mercantilism, we'd still have to confront the global economic order of the past quarter-century. (READ MORE)

George F. Will: Where Paternalism Makes the Grade - OAKLAND, Calif. -- Seated at a solitary desk in the hall outside a classroom, the slender 13-year-old boy with a smile like a sunrise earnestly does remedial algebra, assisted by a paid tutor. She, too, is 13. Both wear the uniform -- white polo shirt, khaki slacks -- of a school that has not yet admitted the boy. It will, because he refuses to go away. The son of Indian immigrants from Mexico, the boy decided he is going to be a doctor, heard about the American Indian Public Charter School here and started showing up. Ben Chavis, AIPCS's benevolent dictator, told the boy that although he was doing well at school, he was not up to the rigors of AIPCS, which is decorated with photographs of the many students it has sent to the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. So the boy asked, what must I do? (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: Constitutional Scholar Obama Questions Legality of Slavery Ban - This week, Barack Obama's challenge is to select a running mate who's young, hip, and whose accomplishments in life don't overshadow Obama's. Allow me to suggest Kevin Federline. The only thing we can be sure of is that Obama will choose someone who is the polar opposite of all his advisers until now. In other words, it will be a very, very white male who was probably proud of his country even before being chosen as Obama's running mate. Obama's got a lot of ground to make up following that performance last weekend at the Saddleback presidential forum with pastor Rick Warren. After seeing Obama defend infanticide with the glib excuse that the question of when life begins is above his "pay-grade," Rev. Jeremiah Wright announced that although he's known Obama for 30 years, he only recently became aware of how extreme the senator's viewpoints were. Wright, after all, has his reputation to consider. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Blame Everyone But Russia! - Everyone is distracted by the Olympics. The squabbling here on the campaign trail consumes the media. Two presidential candidates and a lame-duck president all are weighing in on foreign policy. No wonder Vladimir Putin thought it was a good time to invade Georgia. Apparently the Russian prime minister knew exactly what he was doing but assumed no one in the West did. And he was right. Our pundits and politicians are all over the map as Putin is variously portrayed as villain, victim, patriot, tyrant -- and more still. The neoconservatives: We must make Russia pay a terrible price for subverting a democracy. Our policy of promoting liberal governments among the former Soviet republics, with integration into Europe and relations with NATO, was sound, and it cannot be allowed to be aborted by Putin. Bottom line: Form a ring of democracies around Russia until it sees the light and likewise evolves into a constitutional state. (READ MORE)

Larry Elder: McCain vs. Obama: Showdown at Saddleback - Oh, no, not another "town hall" meeting. Or at least, that's how I first reacted when I learned Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church intended to host an Obama-versus-McCain town hall forum at the evangelist's California church. But the rules, this time at least, seemed intriguing. Warren intended to ask each candidate one-on-one questions for one hour, with the rival offstage unable to hear questions and answers. The second candidate would then come out and answer the same questions in the same order. Obama, via a coin toss, went first, and answered the often simple, straightforward questions carefully or, as many in the mainstream media later reported, in a "nuanced" way. And then came McCain. He came across as funnier, more personable, more thoughtful, more specific and, for the most part, more direct. Some highlights. Warren asked the candidates to define "rich." (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: What Happened to Common Ground? - Last Monday at a trade show for people who are part of the Florida tourist industry, I asked the 750 assembled for lunch how many were happy with the tone of modern politics? Not a hand was raised. Since my Democratic friend Bob Beckel and I wrote our book "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America," among the public, I have found a growing discontent about a campaign that had promised to be different. Both John McCain and Barack Obama said they wanted to put to rest the divisive and incendiary politics of the past, but in their present campaigns both have now succumbed to politics as usual. How did this happen when the public consistently says it is sick of it and hates the tearing down of the other candidate rather than the building up of the country? In this campaign, part of the answer has to do with the massive media buildup of Obama, which has led the McCain campaign to do commercials mocking his "deity." (READ MORE)

Debra J. Saunders: Woe Is Me, Said the Democrat - In politics, everyone wants to be seen as a mudslinging virgin -- who, like King Lear, is "more sinned against than sinning." Toward that end, Democrats have crafted the conceit that Republicans are attack dogs, while Democratic candidates are not sufficiently ruthless. After years of calling President Bush every name in the book, the left nonetheless manages to see itself as the victim in the smear game. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama knows how to play to that conceit. In a speech before a Veterans of Foreign Wars gathering in Florida on Tuesday, Obama went into woe-is-me mode as he responded to Republican candidate John McCain's criticism of Obama's opposition to the successful U.S. troop surge in Iraq. "One of the things that we have to change in this country is the idea that people can't disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism," said Obama. (READ MORE)

Brent Bozell III: America's Next Trans-Formation - Hollywood is always reminding us of its rosy vision of the future where there are absolutely no limits to sexual adventurism and gender confusion. Seldom is heard a discouraging word about the next new frontier of tolerance. "If it feels good, do it" isn't merely a T-shirt slogan. In California, it should become the state motto, and might soon sound like a new pledge of allegiance -- one utopia, casting aside any moral compass, finding liberty and justice in applauding every perversion. On television, it's become almost blase to place a reality show in the fashion world that merely features gay men with pink hair and cross-dressing judges. The CW network show "America's Next Top Model" has now gone through 10 seasons of "top models." So to freshen up the concept, hostess Tyra Banks announced that for the fall season, one of the girls will be a man -- or, to use the politically correct term, a "transgender." (READ MORE)

Amanda Carpenter: Obama Adviser Meets With Syria - Barack Obama’s Middle East Policy Adviser recently discussed presidential politics with high-level Syrian officials during a conference underwritten Syrian business interests and a Canadian oil company. Adviser Daniel Kurtzer told the New York Sun the trip was not related to his campaign work, but that he did discuss the next president’s role in Syria’s relationship with Israel with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. "I urged him to move ahead in the Israel-Syria negotiations as much as possible so that whoever is the next president would not start from too far down the track," Kurtzer told the Sun. "I did not say anything about Obama or McCain. I said whoever is the next president is not going to want to inherit a process that isn't going anywhere." The exchange took place at lawyer’s conference organized by the British Syrian Society in Damascus in early July. (READ MORE)

Matt Towery: A Word of Thanks for Newt Gingrich - It's ironic that when former aides or colleagues of prominent Democrats opine on the presidential race, for example Donna Brazile, who appears both on ABC and CNN and ran Al Gore's 2000 campaign, they are never asked to do a mea culpa about potential bias or conflicts. They just comment away on Democrats, Republicans, issues or whatever they like. That's fine, because for once I'm not going to try to explain my objectivity when it comes to a man I spent many years working with and have known since 1979. I've praised him and occasionally pushed him around a little in past columns. He doesn't like that pushing around bit too much, but he's tough, and I have a job to do. If John McCain and the GOP want to thank someone for helping turn around what seemed a dead-in-the-water campaign in a matter of weeks, they can thank former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich chose not to enter the 2008 presidential race... (READ MORE)

Marvin Olasky: Obama's Code Words - Journalists used to complain that George W. Bush's speechwriters slipped into his oratory phrases like America's "wonder-working power" that meant one thing to general audiences and another to evangelical supporters aware of the "wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb." Far-fetched? Maybe, but this year Barack Obama is proving to be a master of that art. "Economic justice" and "restoring fairness to the economy" are two of Obama's favorites. Who can oppose justice and fairness? To many Obama disciples, though, those words mandate not just equality of opportunity but a socialistic equality of result. Some in the general public would be less rhetorically transfixed if they understood the code. Here's a more subtle example: Obama's call for nondiscrimination in religious hiring. Obama received a great press last month when he said he wanted to maintain and expand the White House faith-based initiative: (READ MORE)

Scott Bensing: Secrets Are No Fun for Unions - Who are you voting for this fall? The answer to that question is none of my business. In fact, it is a fundamental American right to have your vote be as private as you wish. Unfortunately, Democrats and their financiers, Big Labor, want to abolish a worker’s fundamental, American right to a secret ballot. Why are they doing this? Maybe because Democrats have openly admitted they owe their 2006 electoral success to Big Labor and have promised the elimination of the secret ballot as a return on investment. That is why during this Congressional session every Democrat in the House and Senate voted to abolish the secret ballot. Thankfully, Republicans in the Senate were able to stop this disastrous bill. This is a moment when hyperbole is unnecessary. This unprecedented power grab by Big Labor and the willingness of Democrats to ignore such a fundamental American right threatens the very nature of our system of government. (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: George W. Bush and World Politics - Robert Kagan, at the new Foreign Affairs, makes the case that President George W. Bush came to office with a realist perspective on international affairs. This approach hardly endeared the administration to the nations of the world. The U.S. in the late-1990s was frequently rebuked for pursuing a narrow national interest on issues ranging from global warming to the International Criminal Court to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. American preponderance was ridiculed in 1998 by French Foreign Hubert Védrine as unreconciled "hyperpower." Leaders across the capitals of Europe called for promoting an "international community" concerned with "the common interests of humanity." America's focus on self-interest power maximization was out of step with international demands for a more cooperative internationalism. (READ MORE)

Gabriel Malor: Court: First Amendment Protects Advertisement of Anti-War T-Shirts With Fallen Soldiers' Names - Anyone who uses the names of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq as part of a political punch-line is subhuman scum. If they had any moral scruples, such people would be too embarrassed to show themselves in public. They are scum and barely articulate scum. But they aren't criminal scum. Yesterday, a federal district court permanently enjoined the State of Arizona from prosecuting Dan Frazier, a man who sells "Bush Lied -- They Died" t-shirts which list the names of 3,461 soldiers who died in Iraq. The order also enjoins private citizens from suing him under a state-created cause of action for selling the t-shirts. The order is here (PDF). The statute, if you were interested, is here. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Hamas Calls For Jihad To Recover Jerusalem - For Hamas, there is no such thing as a two-state solution. It's all about the one-state solution - the elimination of Israel. Hamas' terror masters have once again reiterated their longstanding goal - to capture Jerusalem. Not through diplomacy and negotiation, but through jihad (holy war). “Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday that the Islamist group will not accept any future peace agreement that does not include the return of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to Palestinians hands and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes in Israel. Speaking at a ceremony marking 39 years since the fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, Haniyeh said ‘no one can cede Jerusalem, the city from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens. Jerusalem will be retrieved to the Palestinians not through negotiations or by hugging and kissing the enemy, but by way of jihad, blood, shahids and resistance. With Allah's help, Jerusalem will be returned,’ he said.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Tripwire - Negotiations to base ballistic missile interceptors on in Poland were stalled until Russia invaded Georgia. One interesting aspect of the final deal was its linkage to beefing up conventional Polish defenses and partly manning them with American personnel. Der Spiegel writes: “The United States and Poland reached a long-stalled deal on Thursday to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory, in the strongest reaction so far to Russia’s military operation in Georgia. Russia reacted angrily, saying that the move would worsen relations with the United States that have already been strained severely in the week since Russian troops entered separatist enclaves in Georgia, a close American ally. […]In exchange for providing the base, Poland would get what the two sides called “enhanced security cooperation,” notably a top-of-the-line Patriot air defense system that can shoot down shorter-range missiles or attacking fighters or bombers.” (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Obama learns what a counter punch is - Barack Hussein Obama woke up this morning and found himself five points behind John Sidney McCain. This after he suffered a serious blow at the Saddleback forum that saw all but the most seriously mentally ill calling it a big win for McCain. Obama attacked McCain after that forum and he came out swinging at the beginning of this week. I wrote earlier about Obama going on the attack, something I knew he would do as soon as he started to fade. Obama put out an attack video which ties McCain to disgraced lobbyist (they call him a Republican lobbyist but he gave nearly as much money to Democrats) Jack Abramoff. The ad implies that John McCain made sure that one of the people involved, Ralph Reed, did not have problems and now that person is raising money for McCain. It appears that Reed did not receive special treatment and that the fund raising is, according to him, as a private citizen. (READ MORE)

Dadmanly: No Tears for Ivan - Thomas Friedman plays Olympic Judge on the Georgia conflict, and rightly awards Gold to Russian “prime minister” Vladimir Putin in a US Foreign Policy towards Russia NY Times Op Ed. Unfortunately, Friedman also leavens his judiciousness with some errant (if predictable) cause and effect, thus ruining the whole loaf of his argument. Based on Friedman’s assessment, he awards the Silver to a Georgia’s “bone-headed” President, Mikheil Saakashvili, and in a spirit of bipartisanship, Bronze to the “Clinton and Bush foreign policy teams.” Friedman wants credit for the prescience of arguing against NATO expansion after the liberation of the Eastern Europe, and the attendant collapse of the Soviet Union. In this, Friedman shares some illustrious company, including foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum, Democrat Sen. Sam Nunn, and the State Department forbearer of Containment as America’s response to Russian Communism, George Kennan. (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: Charming! Obama's Only Executive Role A Disaster - Anyone the least bit familiar with Barack Obama's rise to power knows "hope" and "change" are just words; he's built his career the old-fashioned way, by making powerful allies and casting those no longer useful to him aside. It is those same business-as-usual allies in Chicago that are now protecting Obama from deeper scrutiny of his 21-year relationship with the Ayers family, specifically his involvement in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with infamous domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. At the moment the internal documents for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge are in a special collection at the Richard J. Daley Library. Think they'll ever see the light of day? (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Ayers in 2006: Weather Underground a “great teaching moment” - For those still unfamiliar with the “mainstream” William Ayers, as Barack Obama described him on his campaign web site, this 2006 interview with Venezuelan socialist Luis Bonilla-Molina, founder of the Centro Internacional Miranda (CIM). In this clip, Ayers speaks about how the Vietnam War forced an escalation of tactics to violence and notes the terrorist Weather Underground as a “great teaching moment” — a telling description for this professor of education: “3:20 - The particular crisis we faced with the Vietnam War was a crisis that called on us to escalate, to resist in more intense and, and, uh, uh, in more extreme ways. But one way of looking at it is that the Weather Underground was a great teaching moment. And, to the extent that we didn’t fully realize what we were trying to do, we were bad teachers, and to the extent that we did good things, we were good teachers.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Ivan Wants To Play - Brinksmanship from a Russky general who rather idiotically threatens Poland with nukes if the Poles go ahead with the U.S. missile defense program. Here’s Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn: “Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent.” Sounds like windy bullying. Sounds like the Russkies just explained why missile defense is a great idea for Europe. Someone needs to tell the Russian Foreign Ministry, which is still in a froth that anyone would think Russia is a threat. Sounds like we’ll be needing a president who won’t whinge or dither, and who can embolden Europe likewise. OK, that’s probably the hardest nut to crack in this particular bowl of nuts. Russkies, like the Chinese, like throwing their weight around and benefit from everyone else’s nervous politeness. Blumenthal and Gaffin at The Weekly Standard note Georgia’s troubling upside for China; and recommends the United States get serious about reasserting itself as a world power. (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: Report from Tbilisi - (Note: I'm writing a long piece for this Web site called The Truth About Russia in Georgia. I should have it finished by this weekend. In the meantime, here is a short piece I filed for City Journal.) Russia’s invasion of Georgia has unleashed a refugee crisis all over the country and especially in its capital. Every school here in Tbilisi is jammed with civilians who fled aerial bombardment and shootings by the Russian military—or massacres, looting, and arson by irregular Cossack paramilitary units swarming across the border. Russia has seized and effectively annexed two breakaway Georgian provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It has also invaded the region of Gori, which unlike them had been under Georgia’s control. Gori is in the center of the country, just an hour’s drive from Tbilisi; 90 percent of its citizens have fled, and the tiny remainder live amid a violent mayhem overseen by Russian occupation forces that, despite Moscow’s claims to the contrary, are not yet withdrawing. (READ MORE)

Dan Riehl: CAC Doc Drop: Obama Has More Than Ayers To Worry About Now - Continuing to follow up on what can be learned of Barack Obama's tenure as the Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), evaluations of the program during his tenure available on line demonstrate that in his only real executive test, Barack Obama was a dismal failure squandering millions of dollars on education programs which had basically no real effect. They also strongly suggest Obama's claim that un-repentant terrorist Bill Ayers is just a teacher who lived down the block is an outright lie. The structure and tone of the CAC, addressed in the documents, leave a strong impression the two men had to work together closely over a number of years. Also, as copies of CAC internal documents were given over to the evaluators, any notion that they now shouldn't be immediately shared with the public is an absolute farce. (READ MORE)

DJ Drummond: Intelligence and War - The sudden invasion of Georgia by Russia has, once again, brought strong criticism on America's intelligence community. Some of it is justified critique of a bloated bureaucracy, some of it is a kneejerk reaction from people who hate the intelligence services, and some of it comes from people who simply do not understand the structure, functions, and limits of intelligence. For example, more than a few people have blamed the Central Intelligence Agency for missing the warning signs of Russia's invasion, while in fact it is the responsibility of the DNI, or Director of National Intelligence, who has the duty to advise the President of such threats. The head of CIA, the DCI, has since 2005 been a deputy to the DNI, one of several people who report events and analysis for his review. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Obama Still Telling Americans "Be Like Republicans" - Last Saturday night, when both John McCain and Barack Obama were interviewed by Pastor Rick Warren, one of the questions intrigued me: what do they consider America's greatest moral failure? That one got me thinking, and I decided to limit it to just actions taken during my memory. My answer would be those times when we have given our word to other people, not kept that word, and watched them suffer for the folly of depending on us. The greatest example I can give is in the immediate aftermath of the first Gulf War, when Iraqis under American encouragement rose up to overthrow Saddam Hussein -- and were slaughtered when our pledged support never materialized. It reminded me of the way we left Viet Nam and the Bay of Pigs incidents, and we should remember those incidents with shame. Obama's answer, though, bothered me: (READ MORE)

This Ain't Hell: IVAW scrapes bottom of barrel - As I’ve been writing the last few months, the Iraq Veterans Against the War have been trying to get the word out about the perceived atrocities they’ve witnessed in Iraq. The media has largely ignored them so they’ve been on the road this summer hoping someone will notice them. No one has noticed them thus far…until now. LT Nixon emails me this morning that they’ve caught the attention of that paragon of virtue and truth Hustler Magazine (beware of any links at El-Tee’s place - he doesn’t have a wife that bonks him on the head when nekkid women pop up on the screen). Slog’s Bethany Jean Clement has the press release; “In arguably the most shocking piece of the year, HUSTLER Magazine reports on the truth about what’s going on in Iraq. The ‘Winter Soldier’ veterans, as they are called, speak out about the war and the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilian casualties.” (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: The Great Windmill Swindle - No one questions the fact that oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power can fuel our country's energy needs because they already do. But, what about the hot, sexy alternative power source that's now being touted non-stop by the Left and T. Boone Pickens, wind power? How feasible is it that wind power is really going to go from meeting far less than 1% of our current energy needs to 20% of our energy needs -- which would presumably allow Pickens to make back the billions he put into wind power and collect a tidy profit for his trouble? Well, take a look at these numbers and you tell me how likely wind power is to sweep the nation in the next few years, (READ MORE)

Have an interesting post or know of a "must read?" Then send a trackback here and let us all know about it. Or you can send me an email with a link to the post and I'll update the Recon.

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