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NEWS   SUNDAY, FEBRUARY  25, 2018   NEWS

Dems' Rebuttal To GOP FISA Memo Is Released; Trump Deems It A 'Bust'
The rebuttal, written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, concluded that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.” Democrats sought to counter claims made in a Republican memo released this month that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page. Democrats have claimed that the Republican memo leaves out important information. Fox
VOA VIEW: Dems have no explanation for their stupidity.

CPAC's Schlapp, Ex-RNC Chairman Steele Have Tense Exchange Over Racial Comment
The exchange occurred on a Sirius XM radio show amid the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, in Washington, D.C., and one day after CPAC Communications Director Ian Walters said: “We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy. That was the wrong thing to do.” Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, apologized for the situation and said he loved Steele and considered him a friend. However, Steele took issue with Schlapp saying that he wasn’t going to “separate himself from Ian.” Fox
VOA VIEW: Talk is cheap and consequential.

Trump-Russia: Manafort 'Paid European Ex-Politicians'
Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly paid former senior European politicians to lobby for Ukraine's previous pro-Russia government, a new indictment says. It alleges the group was led by a former European chancellor; ex-Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer has denied to the BBC that it was him. The indictment has been brought as part of a US investigation into claims of Russia meddling in the US election. Mr. Manafort denies all the charges. His former aide, and Mr Trump's ex-deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, has admitted conspiracy and lying to investigators in a plea deal. BBC

Trump Is The NRA's Apprentice
When given the opportunity to stand in front of an audience of his supporters and call for real reforms that would have an effect, his answer was to double down on his call for more guns, including arming "well-trained, gun-adept teachers and coaches" with concealed weapons. If this refrain sounds familiar, it's because this is a position and an approach long called for by one of Trump's top cheerleaders, the National Rifle Association. CNN

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Trump Weighs 'Red Flag' Orders To Take Guns Away Quickly
At the White House on Thursday, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi described to President Donald Trump similar efforts underway in her state to allow law enforcement to seize firearms from someone who is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. "Good," Trump responded. At a Florida town hall on CNN earlier in the week, Marco Rubio, one of Florida’s two senators, said he supported restraining orders. While the concept has bipartisan support, some gun-rights groups have embraced it because it does not impose new regulations on firearms themselves. Bloomberg

After Testy Phone Call, Mexican Prez's Plan To Visit WH Shelved
Tentative plans for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump were scuttled this week after a testy call between the two leaders ended in an impasse over Trump’s promised border wall, according to U.S. and Mexican officials. Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in early March, but both countries agreed to call off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential conversation. Washington Post
VOA VIEW: Mexico's loss.

In Donald Trump, Evangelicals Have Found Their President
Office and looked me straight in the eyes. With a look of reflection and purposefulness, he discussed his upbringing and fondly recalled a vivid childhood memory from the 1950s: watching Billy Graham sermons on television with his father. “My father was a fan of Billy Graham,” the president said. He recalled how his father, Fred, attended the historic 1957 New York City Crusade. Mr. Graham, who died last week at 99, brought both evangelism and evangelicalism into the mainstream of American culture.  NY Times

U.S. Says Manafort Secretly Paid Ex-EU Leaders To Pitch Ukraine
Under that umbrella, former European heads of state were secretly paid more than 2 million euros ($2.4 million) by Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to aid lobbying for Ukraine, according to a superseding indictment filed against Manafort Feb. 23 by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller. While none of the former leaders is named in the indictment, other documents lead to Romano Prodi, former prime minister of Italy; Alfred Gusenbauer, former chancellor of Austria; and Aleksander Kwasniewski, former president of Poland. In interviews or statements Saturday, all denied being paid by Manafort.  Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: The truth is ...

Are US And North Korean Officials Meeting At The Olympics Some Clues Suggest So
North Korea sent one of its top officials dealing with American affairs to South Korea on Sunday, renewing speculation that a meeting between representatives from Pyongyang and Washington could take place on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics. As with the opening ceremony, both the United States and North Korea have sent high-level delegations to the closing of the games. The U.S. delegation is led by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, while the North Korean group is headed by Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief accused of involvement in 2010 attacks that killed 50 South Koreans. Washington Post

Forgot You Had That Joint? Las Vegas Airport Let's People Dump Pot
Tourists catching a flight out of Sin City can now dump their leftover legal marijuana in metal containers set up at the airport. The 10 green bins dubbed "amnesty boxes" prevent federal transportation agents from finding pot on passengers during security screenings. The drug is legal in Nevada but still banned by the U.S. government. The containers were installed last week following a county ban on marijuana possession and advertising at McCarran International Airport, aiming to keep it in compliance with federal law.  USA Today

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Trump Says Arming Teachers In Schools 'Up To States'
President Donald Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is "Up to States." Trump heavily promoted the idea of putting "gun-adept" teachers and staff carrying concealed firearms in classrooms and schools to protect students following this month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, most of them students. ABC

Pelosi Fires Back At Trump Over Dreamers Remark
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed President Donald Trump on Saturday for claiming that she "doesn't truly care" about so-called Dreamers. "I continue to tell people that the President cares about Dreamers because he has said repeatedly that he does," Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter. "He can prove it by supporting bipartisan proposals in the House and Senate." Pelosi added that if Trump fails to keep his word, "it will be impossible to trust him on anything else." The president, as he has before, claimed that Democrats do not care about children covered by an Obama-era immigration order that provides quasi-legal status and work permits to foreigners who entered the U.S. illegally as children. Politico
VOA VIEW: Pelosi is bad for Democrats.

Trump Tax Reform Gives Buffet $29BN Boost
US billionaire Warren Buffet says his conglomerate has received a profit boost of $29bn (£20bn) as a result of President Donald Trump's tax reforms, he says. Berkshire Hathaway reported a record quarterly and annual profit on Saturday. The Republican law reform, approved in December, cut the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. Mr. Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, opposed the plan. BBC
VOA VIEW: Buffet can always give the tax benefits to his employees or back to the government.

Trump's 'Perfect' Brain Score Doesn't Mean You Can Test Yourself
When Donald Trump aced a cognitive test in January, scores of people tried to take it, too, based mostly on media reports that invited them to match wits with the president. Casual users puzzled over line drawings of animals, while others wondered what it meant if they were bad at subtracting by sevens. That was a mistake, according to the scientist who created the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCA, a popular screening tool designed to spotlight potential problems with thinking and memory. The MoCA was never meant for general use and it requires a health professional to monitor the test and interpret the results. USA Today

Trump Organization Execs Are Holed Up In Trump Tower Panama Shredding Documents
It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump’s business career has led him into some shady shit. Last November, the news broke that Alexandre Nogueira, the Brazilian businessman who in 2007 helped facilitate funding for the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City, had secured investments related to the project — Trump’s first international hotel property — from, among others, a convicted Columbian money-launderer, suspected human trafficker from the Ukraine, and a Russian dude who once did five years in an Israeli prison for kidnapping somebody. Outline

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'Yes, Russia Likely Did Swing Votes For Donald Trump'-Huff Post Findly Catching On?
As John Bentley waited in line to see President Barack Obama campaign for Hillary Clinton just days before the 2016 election, he worried that he’d been unable to persuade his son to cast a ballot for Clinton, too. The 24-year-old believed Clinton was untrustworthy, with new emails released by WikiLeaks providing fresh proof on a daily basis. “Can you believe it?” wondered Bentley, a 70-year-old African-American man and a lifelong Democrat. Fifteen months later, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has found that the skepticism that afflicted people like Bentley’s son was no fluke. It was the result of deliberate efforts by the Russian government to hurt Clinton and help Donald Trump win the presidency efforts that included the targeting of young African-Americans like Bentley’s son. Huffington
VOA VIEW: More liberal stupidity.

Attorney General Expand Foreign Gifts Lawsuit Against Trump
Attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia on Friday expanded their lawsuit accusing President Trump of accepting gifts from foreign and state governments, suing him not only as president but in his personal capacity as a businessman. Legal experts say the move takes the "emoluments" clause of the Constitution into uncharted legal waters, since it has been interpreted as only applying to presidents in their official capacity. "The conventional understanding is that once the president is sworn in ... everything he does is official, so he doesn't have a personal capacity any longer. . CBS

RNC Paying Trump's Rent At Trump Tower
Soon after the Republican National Committee came under pressure for paying legal bills for President Donald Trump and his eldest son in the special counsel's Russia probe, it started covering expenses for the president's re-election campaign. The RNC is using campaign funds to pay Trump's company more than $37,000 a month in rent, and to pay thousands of dollars in monthly salary to Vice President Mike Pence's nephew, John Pence, party officials confirmedcutive director. Campaign finance experts who spoke to CNBC said this type of spending by a party committee on behalf of a campaign is highly unusual but legal this week. The rent pays for office space in the Trump Tower in New York for the staff of Trump's re-election campaign. John Pence is the Trump campaign's deputy exe, and it appears the RNC disclosed it correctly. CNBC

United Airlines, Delta And Other Companies Cut Ties With NRA
Two major airlines — United Airlines and Delta — said Saturday that they are notifying the National Rifle Association that they will no longer offer discounted rates for NRA members in the latest display of corporate backlash to the pro-gun organization. United said it is canceling its program for discounted rates to the NRA's annual meeting while Delta said it was dropping its contract for lower rates through our group travel program. Both companies said they had asked the NRA to remove these offers from its website. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Dumb decision - passengers loose.

UN Orders Ceasefire In Syria
The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Sunday (AEDT) in favour of a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, after days of bombardment by the Syrian government on a Damascus suburb left hundreds of civilians dead. The resolution called for all parties to "cease hostilities without delay" across the country to enable the "safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded". Australian Financial Review

Trump Urges National Unity, Investigation Of 'The Other Side' Amid Russia Probe
Saying there were "no phone calls, no meetings, no collusion," President Donald Trump on Saturday pushed for an investigation of "the other side" amid the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, while claiming "we need intelligence that brings our country together." "A lot of bad things happened on the other side, not on this side, but on the other side. And somebody should look into it, because what they did is really fraudulent and somebody should be looking into that and by somebody, Politico

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If Newsweek Dies, So Does A Vivid Chapter In American Journalism
When Bruce Springsteen received cover-story treatment in both Time and Newsweek on the same day, Oct. 27, 1975—“Rock’s New Sensation,” claimed Time, while Newsweek’s cover blazoned: “Making of a Rock Star”—it was a seismic event in the popular culture and a tad awkward for both newsmagazines. It was especially jarring for Newsweek, whose editors had believed they were alone on the Springsteen story, something of a conceptual scoop, until Time’s Jay Cocks got wind of Newsweek writer Maureen Orth’s reporting the week before publication and persuaded his bosses to pounce. Daily Beast
VOA VIEW: Only a rag tabloid would care.

Olympic Games: Did Anyone Really Watch Them?
In 2011, NBC paid a total of $4.38 billion for the rights to the next four Olympics. Three years later it bought another six for $7.7 billion. At the time, the deals looked to many like a sure thing. Now, they have started looking like they could end up being more of a burden than a boon. For years, the conventional wisdom in TV had been that even as younger viewers turned away from TV, live sports were invulnerable -- after all, the thinking went, people wanted to watch live sports, well, live. In 2012, viewership of the London Games was up even though many viewers had already seen the results on social media. An average of 31.1 million people tuned in to watch the Games when they aired during prime time on a tape delay. CNN

InfoWars' Main YouTube Channel Is Two Strikes Away From Being Banned
The Alex Jones Channel, Infowar's biggest YouTube account, received one strike for that video, a source with knowledge of the account told CNN. YouTube's community guidelines say if an account receives three strikes in three months, the account is terminated. That video focused on David Hogg, a strong voice among survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The attention has given him a powerful platform -- but it has also made him the subject of demonstrably false conspiracy theories that claim he's so skilled as a public speaker that he must be a paid actor. CNN

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'The Snake': Is Trump Describing Himself?
A theory has emerged among some commentators that Trump’s love affair with the poem represents a subconscious confession: The president identifies with the snake. “Historians will view it as obvious that Trump was describing himself in ‘The Snake,’ ” Dan Lavoie, an aide to Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, wrote on Friday. “His over-the-top recitation will be the narrative device for the first big post-Trump documentary. And they’ll think we’re all so dumb for not recognizing it in real-time.” Washington Post
VOA VIEW: Liberal propaganda.

Gay Parade Permit Sparks Major Debate In Mississippi
At first, the plan to hold a gay-pride parade here didn't seem like such a big deal. Such festivals aren't that unusual even in the traditionally conservative Deep South, and Starkville, "Mississippi's College Town," made a name for itself as the first community in the state to pass a resolution denouncing discrimination against people for sexual orientation. But when organizers applied for a permit, they ran into a roadblock: A majority of Starkville's aldermen voted it down, transforming what had been envisioned as a relatively small-scale event into a constitutional confrontation over free speech and equal rights. Yahoo News

So What Was Obama's Secret Speech For The Sports Conference All About?
But seriously, a sports conference?  Obama?  Who can barely ride a bicycle, let alone play sports?  He's not exactly the guy who'd know all that much about the topic enough to keep a secret on, except for the fact that major-league sports is getting increasingly politicized by the left, and Obama is the left. That raises questions about the real secret here: why they wanted such an unimportant conference to keep Obama's remarks secret.  Was it Obama's doing?  Or the conference that paid him for the speech?  Could be either, actually. American Thinker

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Google 'Bro Culture' Led To Violence, Sexual Harassment Against Female Engineer
As a young, female software engineer at male-dominated Google, Loretta Lee was slapped, groped and even had a co-worker pop up from beneath her desk one night and tell her she’d never know what he’d been doing under there, according to a lawsuit filed against the Mountain View tech giant. The lawsuit comes as Silicon Valley’s tech industry, dominated by white men, has been roiled by a series of sexual-misconduct scandals and gender-related upheavals as the MeToo movement against sexual assault of women has prompted a nationwide cultural reckoning. Mercury News

CPAC Speaker Calls Conservatives "Hypocrites" For Ingnoring Trump's Sexual Harassment Allegations
Mona Charen, a longtime conservative writer and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, appeared as a panelist for a discussion called “#UsToo: Left out by the Left.” And, when asked what gets her “riled up” about modern feminism, she criticized conservatives for being willing to look the other way about allegations about both Roy Moore — and President Donald Trump.  Vox

Trump Officials Fight Eviction From Panama Hotel They Manage
One of President Donald Trump’s family businesses is battling an effort to physically evict its team of executives from a luxury hotel in Panama where they manage operations, and police have been called to keep the peace, The Associated Press has learned. Witnesses told the AP they saw Trump’s executives carrying files to a room for shredding. Representatives of the hotel owners’ association formally sought to fire Trump’s management team Thursday by hand-delivering termination notices to them at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, according to a Panamanian legal complaint filed by Orestes Fintiklis, who controls 202 of the property’s 369 hotel units. Politico
VOA VIEW: Follow the money.

All Of West Virginia's Public School Teachers Are On Strike
Thousands of public school teachers across West Virginia went on strike this week in protest over their pay and benefits, affecting more than 277,000 students. It began on Thursday, a day after West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, signed legislation providing teachers, school service personnel, and state police with a 2 percent pay increase starting in July and scheduling 1 percent pay hikes for teachers in 2020 and 2021. The strike is poised to extend into Monday. Vox

Russian Mercenaries On US Strikes In Syria: ‘They Beat Our A**** Like We Were Little Pieces Of S***’
The Russian government has downplayed the recent strikes on Russian mercenaries in Syria, however, recordings from fighters on the ground reveal just how hard U.S. forces hit them. “One squadron fucking lost 200 people … right away, another one lost 10 people … and I don’t know about the third squadron but it got torn up pretty badly, too … So three squadrons took a beating,” a man believed to be a Russian contract soldier said in the first of three audio recordings obtained from a source close to the Kremlin by Polygraph.info, a fact-checking website affiliated with Voice of America. Daily Caller

Here’s Why Schools Are REQUIRED To Teach Illegal Alien Children
Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars educating illegal aliens and their citizen children. Much of this education is required by law. A 1982 Supreme Court case citing the 14th Amendment requires public K-12 schools to teach illegal alien children. The federal government has spent over $1 billion and states have spent over $44 billion educating approximately 12.5 million illegal aliens and 4.2 citizen children of illegal aliens, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Daily Caller

US Will Open Embassy In Jerusalem Earlier Than Expected
The US will open its new Israeli embassy in Jerusalem in May, officials said Friday — marking a move from Tel Aviv that reverses decades of American policy and infuriates Palestinians. The move comes earlier than expected after Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli Parliament last month the relocation would take place by the end of 2019. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday signed off on the security plan for the new embassy. “In May, the United States plans to open a new US Embassy in Jerusalem,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70 anniversary.” New York Post

Trump: 'The Generals Would Love' To Have A Military Parade
President Trump said Saturday that the U.S. generals “would love” to have a military parade. Trump made the comment during an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro, his 21st interview with Fox News or Fox Business Network during his presidency. “The generals would love to do it, I tell you, and so would I,” he said. “I think it's great for the country being a cheerleader and the spirit. It's very important.” Hill

Utah Gov's Opinion On Romney's Trump Endorsement Flip: 'Things Have Changed'
“I think there’s an opportunity for him to help galvanize, I think there’s the opportunity for him to bring some more unification,” said Herbert, speaking on Friday at POLITICO's State Solutions event that’s available as the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. Herbert said he’s not bothered by Romney running for senate in Utah despite having grown up in Michigan and lived most of his life in Massachusetts, where he was governor, and then New Hampshire —Romney, notes Herbert, has deep ancestral roots in the Beehive State.  Politico

Michael Steele Spars With CPAC Head Over Race Comment
The row between the former RNC head and Matt Schlapp on Steele's SiriusXM radio show "Steele & Ungar" came a day after Ian Walters, the communications director for the Conservative Political Action Conference, said that Steele was picked as RNC chairman because "he was a black guy." "I've spent 41 years in this party. Forty-one, all right?" Steele said. "I have taken crap you have no idea about, and I have carried this baggage. And for him to stand on that stage and denigrate my service to this party, and for you as a friend to sit there and go, 'Well, you have been critical of this party.' " Hill

Chileans Lose Faith As Vatican Once Again Scrambles To Contain Another Sex Abuse Scandal
To understand why Chile, one of Latin America's most socially conservative nations, is losing faith in the Roman Catholic Church, visit Providencia, a middle-class area of Santiago coming to terms with a decades-old clergy sex abuse scandal. Providencia is home to El Bosque, the former parish of priest Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing teenage boys over many years, spurring a chain of events leading to this week's visit by a Vatican investigator. Yahoo

Poised And Gracious Ivanka Trump Tries On Olympian's Silver Medal: 'Am I Allowed?'
“I feel like this is almost like trying on someone’s wedding band,” Trump said, according to a pool report. “Am I allowed?” Gibbs placed the medal around Trump’s neck. “That is so cool,” Trump said as she raised the medal with one hand and put her other arm around Gibbs as they posed for photos. Trump gave the medal back to Gibbs, but then asked to wear it one more time for a group photo with athletes from the U.S. luge team. “I told you I wasn’t going to give it back,” she joked. Trump also commented on how calm the athletes were while competing. Washington Examiner

Florida Survivor To Melania: Make Your Stepson Stop Bullying Us Online
“Hey @FLOTUS you say that your mission as First Lady is to stop cyber bullying, well then, don’t you think it would have been smart to have a convo with your step-son @DonaldJTrumpJr before he liked a post about a false conspiracy theory which in turn put a target on my back,” Lauren Hogg wrote Friday. Conspiracy theorists have accused Hogg’s brother, David, of being “coached” by his father, a former FBI agent, to call for stricter gun regulations. David Hogg has also been accused of being a paid “crisis actor.” Rebecca Boldrick, the mother of Lauren and David, told the Washington Post that the conspiracy theories circulating online have led to death threats against her family. Washington Examiner
VOA VIEW: Liberal media ignorance.

SMILING Again And Fabulously Dressed Melania!
Melania Trump seemed in high spirits as she and President Donald Trump welcomed the Australian Prime Minister and his wife on Friday, after several weeks of appearing distant from the president following cheating allegations. The first lady, 47, flashed a bright smile next to her husband, 71, as they greeted Malcom Turnbull and his wife, Lucy Turnbull, at the south entrance of the White House.  Daily Mail UK

Megyn Kelly Just Isn't Working Out At NBC
NBC execs are said to be growing weary of Kelly’s drama. You can feel Andy [Lack] and Noah [Oppenheim, NBC News president] stepping away from her.” TV producer Ross said that Kelly was a “miscalculation” by management, noting she’s “the wrong personality for a morning audience. Ross said that Kelly “popped” at Fox, “but . . . morning news is about talking to people, not just talking at them. It’s not about monologues.” The contributor said that Kelly lacks the natural rapport of other “Today” hosts. While Kotb and Guthrie hit tough topics with an emotional touch, Kelly doesn’t adhere to the unspoken protocol of gentle morning television. New York Post

Smith & Wesson And James Debney's AR-15. The Gun That Slaughtered Parkland's Kids
In September of 2004, the assault ban expired and gun companies began cashing in big time with what were at first euphemistically termed "tactical rifles” and then even more euphemistically called “modern sporting rifles.” Smith & Wesson was in the midst of getting new leadership, having been further shaken when its chairman, James Minder, proved to have served time in prison for a string of armed robberies while a journalism student at the University of Michigan. The young Minder had started with one of his future company's revolvers but had then opted for a sawed-off shotgun. In a general shakeup, Smith & Wesson recruited Michael Golden, who was then president of the cabinetry division of Kohler Company. Golden took over Smith & Wesson in December of 2004 having never fired a gun. Daily Beast

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