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03.06.2021 – Colombia – Independent Media Institute

Peace in Colombia Should Mean Land Reform and an End to Hunger
Manifestaciones en Medellín durante el Paro Nacional, mayo de 2021. Date: 1 May 2021, (Image by Oxi.Ap / CC)

Since the end of April, Colombia’s streets have smelled of tear gas. The government of Colombian President Iván Duque imposed policies that put the costs of the pandemic on the working class and the peasantry and triedto suffocate any advancement of the Havana peace accords of 2016. Discontent led to street protests, which were repressed harshly by the government. These protests, Rodrigo Granda of Colombia’s Comunesparty told us in an interview, “are defined by the wide participation of youth, women, artists, religious people, the Indigenous, Afro-Colombians, unions and organizations from neighborhoods of the poor and the working class. Practically the whole of Colombia is part of the struggle.” A range of concrete demands defines the protest: running water and schools, the disbandment of the riot police (ESMAD), and the expansion of democratic possibilities.

By Vijay Prashad and Zoe Alexandra

The Comunes party was formed in 2017 by members of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army). Granda, who is known internationally for his former role as the foreign minister of the FARC, is now in the national board of the Comunes party. As a legal political party, Comunes is a direct product of the 2016 Havana peace accords signed by the Colombian government and the FARC. Over the past two years, members of the Comunes have been on the streets alongside their fellow Colombians who are fighting to bring democracy to the country’s economy and politics. Granda spoke to us about the ongoing protests and helped to put these protests in the context of the long history of struggle in Colombia.

Colombia’s Violent Oligarchy

The current protests remind Granda of the 1977 national civic strike that he participated in, with one difference: then, he says, there was “no international solidarity,” while now the global media attention to Colombia’s struggle allows the people in his country “not to lose heart” during a difficult fight. The 1977 strike emerged out of a long struggle against the country’s oligarchy.

Years before the strike, Granda looked forward to the Colombian elections of April 1970. He hoped that the former president and general Gustavo Rojas Pinilla of the National Popular Alliance (ANAPO) would win. Rojas Pinilla was not a leftist, but he offered the country a way out of the grip of Colombia’s oligarchy. Young people like Granda hoped that an ANAPO victory in Colombia and then, later in the year, the victory of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity in Chile would help change the character of South America’s politics. But Rojas Pinilla’s victory was embroiled in fraud, and while Allende won the election, he was ejected from power in 1973 in a coup. Looking back over these 50 years, Granda told us that he feels an “internal frustration” with the theft of that election in 1970 and the tortuous path his country has had to take since then.

The fight has been difficult because the ruling bloc of Colombia, including Duque, is unwilling to honestly participate in a democratic agenda. None of the major political parties that have controlled the state since 1948 have been eager for any kind of change. Suffocation of politics since then and the routine assassination of political leaders moved the left—through the FARC and other groups—into armed struggle in 1964. The FARC regularly called upon the ruling bloc to open negotiations, but with little success. However, talks with President Belisario Betancur in 1982 opened the way to the 1984 La Uribe Agreement, which resulted in a ceasefire from 1984 to 1987. Members of the FARC joined with others on the left to create Union Patriótica (UP) as a legal political party. Attempts to move a reform agenda by the UP came alongside a policy of assassinations by the state against the left. No genuine liberal sentiment pervades the Colombian ruling bloc, which refuses to share even a modicum of power with other groups.

The situation deteriorated under President Andrés Pastrana—who was in power from 1998 to 2002—and U.S. President Bill Clinton, who both signed Plan Colombia, which proved to be the beginning of a policy to define the FARC as “narco-terrorists” and conduct a war of extermination against the rebels. Incidentally, it was Pastrana’s father who stole the election of 1970 from Rojas Pinilla. Brutality characterized the Colombian state’s approach toward the FARC and toward anyone else who questioned its policies. Gradually, the ruling bloc was led by more and more ruthless men, none more so than President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010). Uribe, Granda told us, “promised to exterminate us [the FARC] in four years, but he could not.”

Peace Accords

Granda understands why peace had to define the agenda a decade ago. “After the failure of Plan Colombia and a stalemate in the war,” he told us, “we could not defeat the Colombian army in a short time, and the Colombian army could not defeat the guerrillas in a short time either. Therefore, a political solution through dialogue was necessary.” President Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) wrote a letter to the FARC saying that he recognized the internal problems in Colombia and also recognized that the FARC was a political organization and not a narco-terrorist organization. This set in motion the negotiation in Havana that resulted in the accords.

The accords put in place a plan for integrated agrarian reform and democracy, as well as restitution for the victims of the long war. “We put down our arms,” Granda said, “but we did not disarm ourselves from an ideological point of view.” The signing of the accords is only one part of the FARC’s plan toward peace, since their implementation is key before other kinds of meaningful change can be made. But the Colombian oligarchy, Granda said, has an entirely different view of what peace would mean. For the oligarchy, peace means that the guns of the FARC are silent. “For us,” he says, “peace means an attack on the factors that generate the violence in the first place.” These include factors like hunger, dispossession and the frustration with the oligarchy and the harsh violence by the state against which the people of Colombia continue to protest.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Debate Over the Release of Patents on Anticovid Vaccines by Marianella Kloka

03.06.2021 – Quito – Atenas – Nelsy Lizarazo

This post is also available in: Spanish

Debate Over the Release of Patents on Anticovid Vaccines by Marianella Kloka
(Image by 4 Elementos)

The debate on the patent release of COVID19 vaccines is open and has intensified in the context of the WHO Assembly, which is taking place these days. Marianella Kloka, from Pressenza’s Greek desk, which has been following this issue closely, is here to talk to us about it.

From the moment that companies and national research centres around the world began to enter the vaccine race, almost all leaders, except perhaps Trump, spoke of vaccines as a global good, a common good. Everyone’s pledge was that if we had vaccines, we would not opt for two-speed vaccination: which would see rich countries vaccinated quickly and poor countries left behind. A year ago, world leaders seemed to understand that either we would all be vaccinated or we would not escape the pandemic. Today the situation is not so rosy. The global patent pool created by the World Health Organisation to help vaccinate every country in the world is not making the contribution which we had hoped for. Forecasts say that 83 countries will not start vaccination programmes until 2023. At the same time, the United States and Israel have very rapid vaccination coverage in their populations, but that is not enough to prevent us all from getting sick again. It is also worth noting that, according to a study by the People Vaccines alliance, at least nine people have become new billionaires since the start of the pandemic, thanks to the excessive profits made by the monopoly pharmaceutical companies in the production of vaccines. If you add up the profits of the new 9 billionaires, the total net worth reaches $19.3 billion, enough capital to vaccinate every person in every low-income country more than once. Meanwhile, these countries have received only 0.2% of the world’s vaccine supply due to the huge shortfall of available doses, despite the fact that these countries make up 10% of the world’s population. As you understand “Houston, we have a problem”.

The patent liberalisation debate… What is the key and what are the positions?

It is important to understand that intellectual property rights protection, better known as the TRIPS agreement, has a short history. It was established by a resolution at the World Trade Organisation only in 1994. According to contemporary thinkers, this agreement is part of a variant of capitalism introduced by Reagan and Thatcher. Capitalism is known to glorify the market and, because it believes so much in the market, it tries to regulate itself with as few restrictions as possible. But as the Australian academic John Braithwaite says, today we live in monopoly capitalism, a paradox if we think about it, an unconventional concept and a new form of capitalism. Instead of letting the market decide, TRIPS decides which products, for at least 20 full years, no one has the right to intervene, with the protection of intellectual property rights. And the most outrageous thing, for all of us who did not agree with the market as the god and ultimate regulator of everything, is which drug or vaccine that has been patented for 20 years has emerged several times from public funding in the early stages of research. In other words, we pay twice and will not be able to do something about it. However, the TRIPS agreement has also provided some flexibility, in cases where the public interest is at stake. I think it is clear from the data I presented earlier, that the global public interest is at stake. Unless we are all vaccinated and safe, no one will be safe. So the WAIVER proposal by India and South Africa builds on this flexibility. The WAIVER initiative aims at temporarily removing intellectual property rights protection on drugs, vaccines, diagnostics which help tackle the pandemic. It now has the support of 100 countries and recently we have seen which has the support of the United States, the support of Russia and China. The European Union remains the opposite, to this day.

Releasing patents without having the technology and infrastructure to produce vaccines… Is this really a solution?

The release of patents must go hand in hand with the sharing of knowledge about vaccines and especially about the new generation of mRNA vaccines. One of the criticisms of this initiative is that even if we temporarily release intellectual property, we don’t have the global infrastructure to scale up production. But you saw that last week we welcomed to the European Parliament the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Ms Okonjo-Iweala, who said that she had met with manufacturers around the world and that she had assurances that we could significantly increase production if we supported the WAIVER initiative. My view is that we must bring our full arsenal to this global battle and prioritise both safety and health over profit. The WAIVER initiative I believe is surely a way in this direction.

Which elements should the good comprehensive international policy consider?

We have not got it all wrong. First of all let’s say that at the moment we have 6-7 good vaccines available in record time, some of them even have completely new biotechnology. Science has achieved a lot in a very short time. We have also seen examples of solidarity: countries sending medical staff, masks and respirators to other countries, laboratories working to produce masks and respiratory valves for free, especially at the beginning, at the time when everything was brand new. We have seen solidarity on a small scale, such as support for people which were in quarantine or for very poor citizens through social meals, etc. But we have seen examples of solidarity on a large scale maybe not as large as we would like… For example, the European Union mobilised for the first time in its history the mechanism of joint negotiation with pharmaceutical companies and ordering for all its 27 countries, leaving as a legacy that in the vaccination process there are no countries which can do it and others which are left behind. The same must now be done at the global level.

The role of the WHO just in Assembly these days?

Accelerating global vaccination is exactly what the head of the World Health Organisation, Mr Gebregesius, called for: he said that it would be good to ensure that we have vaccinated 10% of the world’s population by September and 30% by the end of the year. Think 200 countries, catalyse the concept of vaccination nationalism. The recent shift in US policy, following Biden’s election victory, is promising. The US is back on the international bandwagon, joining forces and funding the WHO. Slowly I think we are coming to realise that both the disease and the negative effects on society with increasing poverty will not be overcome if we do not have a minimum of unity.


In my opinion, all this is an exercise for future pandemics but mainly an exercise for the problems which we will face with climate change. The race for profits and geopolitical games are understood, and yet these are the motivations of high-level political leadership today. But they do not drive us well. These kinds of crises are bellwethers, we say in Greece, which we need to change priorities globally. I am very optimistic mainly because people are slowly beginning to understand that. Any initiative that has the human being at the centre and gives priority to the global, must take care of it and nurture it. Sooner or later, at a greater or lesser human cost, we will realise which we are a human village which can become a human nation by including and celebrating diversity but creating common consciousness.

Meeting Minutes

“This was a universalist Christian vision that was not constrained by human structures or traditions. Everyone possessed the Holy Spirit, so all people could enter the new covenant relationship and live in the new humanity in Christ, regardless of nation, culture, class, gender, age, or education. To be a true Christian, therefore, was not first and foremost about being in the right institution or professing the right beliefs but rather about surrendering oneself to a hearing and obeying relationship with God in Spirit. The first Friends saw an essential choice for humanity: people could focus their lives on the Creator or on the created. If they chose the former, they would abide in that which is uncreated and eternal. If they chose the latter, they would know only what is temporary and corruptible. One way leads to the divine nature and eternal life, the other to sin and death. Hence, these Friends concluded that heaven was not primarily a future event or a post-mortem destination but rather the ever-present possibility of communion with God.”

A Glimpse of Heaven on Earth

On this date in 1924 (June 3rd), Franz Kafka died. (Born July 3, 1883.) Short story writer. Novelist. Socialist. Author of “The Metamorphosis” (1915), “The Trial” (1925), and “The Castle” (1926), among other works. Born in Prague, Bohemia. Died in Kierling, Austria. Buried in the New Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic.

Potrebbe essere un'immagine raffigurante attività all'aperto e monumento

Happy birthday, Curtis Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – Dec. 26, 1999). Singer-songwriter. Civil rights activist. Advocate for Black Pride. In the 1960s he was lead singer for The Impressions. Writer of many classic songs, including “People Get Ready” and “Keep On Pushing.” Born in Chicago, Illinois. Died in Roswell, Georgia. Cremated.

Potrebbe essere un'immagine raffigurante 1 persona, barba e calzature

Happy birthday, Nathaniel Peabody Rogers (June 3, 1794 – Oct. 16, 1846). Abolitionist. Journalist. Temperance advocate. Advocate for women’s rights. Editor of the “Herald of Freedom,” a New England anti-slavery newspaper. Born in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Died in Concord, New Hampshire. Buried in the Old North Cemetery, Concord.

Potrebbe essere un'immagine raffigurante 1 persona

María de Quesada: “Journalists should be agents of suicide prevention”

02.06.2021 – Córdoba, España – REHUNO – Red Humanista de Noticias en Salud

This post is also available in: Spanish

María de Quesada: “Journalists should be agents of suicide prevention”
(Image by Imagen Tornero)

By Diego Villagraz, thanatologist and social worker.

María de Quesada, journalist and head of the project “The yellow girl. Suicide narratives from love”.

REHUNO: How did this project start?

María de Quesada: The project emerges from my own personal experience, I tried to commit suicide at the age of 15. It was an event that was kept within my family and something that I did not share with anyone else throughout many years.

I thought I had forgotten it but it was obviously an event that I was unable to shake off. In 2017, I travelled to the US for a Yoga training and one of my partners shared his suicide attempt story as a teenager.

It was at that precise moment when I felt that something had awoken within me, I saw myself mirrored in his experience and I wanted to speak up as well. However, when I tried to tell it I couldn’t, I wasn’t able to share it with a group of people, it felt unnatural to me.

So it wasn’t something immediate, it took me ages to do it, it was a gradual process. After a few months I finally got it out off my chest and I told it to my partner. In spite of the fact that we had been together for 15 years and had two children in common, I had never told him anything. I started confessing it to my friends from twenty years ago who were also completely unaware of it. And by sharing it little by little, I began to realise many things within myself…

REHUNO: Being a journalist, have you ever talked or reflected about this particular topic before through the media?

María de Quesada: As a reporter, suicide was never a theme that I had dealt with or drawn attention to naturally. During my university degree we had always been warned about it being banned from the media due to the contagion effect.

I had this idea of sharing my story but at the same time I wanted to share everyone else’s too. At the end of the day mine is just one of many other suicidal behaviours which are hidden and stigmatised. What’s more, people feel extremely guilty and ashamed of this.

I had the opportunity of speaking up about this and I took advantage of it. There is a high suicide rate in Spain and I think that the first step is to talk about it openly since hiding it is useless. I created “The yellow girl” while being in quarantine during the pandemic in June of 2020. Many people started reaching me with their stories about similar situations such as suicide attempts, self-harming, suicidal thought. I always intended to share them from a love perspective because we have suffered a lot and we have got over it. Thus, we are able to encourage and motivate other people who may be going through the same situation to realise that recovery is possible. And that is how everything started.

REHUNO: The project issues from the book The Yellow Girl. The book came first and later on the association was created.

María de Quesada: The project starts with a book called The Yellow Girl, the title originates from a dream that I had but it isn’t related to anything really, it was just a dream about the cover of a book and the yellow girl. The book is going to be released in September of 2021 which is the month of the suicide prevention recognition and the world day on the 10th of the same month. The book comprises stories which, like mine, have undergone excruciating pain but have been positively flipped over and turned into overcoming narratives. I think that when you are in the dark your personal self gets really affected. At the end of the day, we all have that bright and that dark side and when you are going through a period of darkness you learn to see life from many different perspectives and that is why we, the people who have been there, have a lot to share.

I would love to help, even if it is just one person, I want them to see their past, present and future situation from a different view, from a perspective based on hope, on overcoming. Overall, I would encourage them to ask for help, that is the most behind every story.

It is very difficult to actually leave from a place of so much suffering and darkness if we do share it and ask for help. If we get isolated and remain alone with our own thoughts, we may fall into a very deep hole from which it may be very hard to get out. The association issues from the book, I would have never imagined that this project would lead to the creation of an association, the book itself has naturally paved the way for me to form it. Benefits are certainly destined to contribute to suicide prevention in every sphere of society such as the educative, social and the mass media.

REHUNO: How is the mass media currently dealing with suicide?

María de Quesada: The WHO (World Health Organisation) has been encouraging the media to talk about suicide ever since twenty years ago. The first document in which it is recommended was written in the year 2000.

Considerable progress has been made in this matter since there is media which has openly established their own codes of practice while dealing with the topic of suicide like for example the Spanish news agency EFE. It is true that when you read the news you realise that there is still much left to do. But still, there are news which have already started including suicide hot lines and which are extremely respectful when it comes to families who have recently suffered suicide from a first-hand position.

I believe that this work needs to be started first in the journalism and communication university degrees. It is very difficult for journalists to take care of this theme if we haven’t been taught how to do it beforehand.

Our project has contacted already the universities in Valencia and it is also being done by other associations such as Papengo (Association of professionals of suicide prevention and post-prevention)

REHUNO: What is the contagion and the papageno effect in the media?

María de Quesada: When I was studying in the journalism faculty, we were informed about the contagion effect, also known as Werther effect or copycat. What it means is that when we openly talk about suicide without taking into account the WHO recommendations, the contagion effect is produced. Reporting news in the wrong way contributes to the contagion effect. Furthermore, what we are trying to encourage is the papageno effect, which is completely the opposite. This one has to do with a clear and respectful way of reporting suicide information which may encourage individuals to ask for help.

Personally, the most meaningful aspect for me as a journalist is being able to prevent suicide and to avoid contributing to the contagion effect in any way.

Translated by Claudia Bordalo

Quaccheri e cristiani non evangelici senza chiesa

02.06.2021-Laura Tussi

Atlante dell’uranio: testo di riferimento sul nucleare civile e militare nel mondo

L’Atlante dell’uranio (Multimage – Terra Nuova Edizioni) è per tutti noi, amici della nonviolenza, della pace come lotta alle disuguaglianze sociali e nel mondo e del disarmo e disarmo nucleare, un testo di riferimento attuale, valido per comprendere che il nucleare non è assolutamente uno sbiadito ricordo del passato, ma una minaccia sempre attuale e molto dannosa.

In questo importante dossier, che è definito in modo molto pertinente e competente Atlante per la sua compiutezza e completezza, è contenuto tutto quello che è importante sapere sul nucleare civile e militare e diviene così uno strumento culturale, scientifico, politico per la conoscenza e l’aggiornamento di insegnanti, giornalisti, militanti e per tutti gli studiosi antinuclearisti.

L’Atlante dell’uranio diviene così, per tutti noi, amici della nonviolenza, della pace come lotta alle disuguaglianze sociali e nel mondo e del disarmo e disarmo nucleare, un testo di riferimento attuale, valido per…

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14.05.2021 – David Swanson

This post is also available in: ItalianGerman

Ground the Drones!

There are a number of hurdles to clear before you can get people to support banning armed drones or surveillance drones. One is the existence of good drones.

It seems silly, but it is the number one cause of failures to pass local resolutions against drones. Unlike some of the hurdles, this one is fact-based. It’s simple-minded, but fact-based. There really are drones for fire and rescue and science research and toys and lovers of technology and even peace activists tracking weapons shipments. But we can ban selling deadly poisonous mushrooms even though other mushrooms taste great in pasta sauce. We can allow cooking those mushrooms in a frying pan even while banning hitting your neighbor in the head with that frying pan. We can ban killer drones without banning toy drones. We can even devise ways to ban drone surveillance without banning drones with cameras, if we put half as much effort into it as goes into creating drones.

Another big hurdle is what people (at least in the United States) imagine drones do, which is wildly different from what drones actually do. People imagine that killer drones are used against identified targets who have been convicted of horrible crimes in absentia, who cannot possibly be arrested, who are in the very act of committing mass murder of those most valuable beings on earth (U.S. citizens), and who are alone in their nefarious lairs far from any innocent people whom it might be unnecessary to blow up. None of this is true. But we’ll never ban drones as long as people believe this fantasy, co-produced by the Pentagon and Hollywood.

An additional hurdle on the way to banning all killer drones is the idea that all we need to do is ban drones that are fully autonomous. A drone that decides on its own when and where to launch a missile is unacceptable, while a drone that relies on some future suicide risk being ordered to push a button is acceptable. While I’d be happy to ban any particular type of deadly weapon, normalizing non-fully-autonomous drones is simply nuts. It violates laws against murder, laws against war, and the core of basic morality.

If I search on Google for the words “drones” and “morality” most of the results are from 2012 through 2016. If I search for “drones” and “ethics” I get a bunch of articles from 2017 to 2020. Reading the various websites confirms the obvious hypothesis that (as a rule, with plenty of exceptions) “morality” is what people mention when an evil practice is still shocking and objectionable, whereas “ethics” is what they use when talking about a normal, inevitable part of life that has to be tweaked into the very most proper shape.

The U.S. exports more weapons than it buys and fights all of its wars against U.S.-made weapons, yet people get teary-eyed, flag-loving, and viciously patriotic at the very mention of the weapons industry. Not only are drones, like other weapons, not uniquely identifiable with star spangled nationalism, but the U.S. military is now in wars with drones on the other side, after having been a leader in the proliferation of drones and the promotion of a drone arms race — including through intentional sales and through the apparent capture and reverse engineering of U.S. drones. One study finds that five nations have now exported armed drones, while dozens of nations and some non-nations have imported them. A report finds over three dozen nations with armed drones.

Armed drones are imagined far away. “Would you rather have a real war?” people ask. “At least with a drone war, nobody gets killed.” People who count as nobody are often far away. But, of course, drone bases are attacked. Militaries that use drones generate more enemies than they kill. Drone pilots commit suicide. Drones surveille Black Lives Matters rallies in the Indispensable Nation itself, and its borders, and anywhere within flying distance of those borders, they do test flights and sometimes crash in U.S. towns, and local police departments adore them.

Drones are secretive, presidential, imperial, employed by people wiser and with better information than mere humans have. It’s best for us not to question. If there weren’t a good reason for the drones, why would they be sending people to prison for telling us what the drones do? This, too, is propaganda that must be overcome.

Drones are special, above the law, outside the law. Like Henry V or Karl Rove they make their own laws. War is illegal under the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. Murder is illegal in every corner of the world. Why redundantly ban weaponized drones? The answer, or course, is for the possibility of getting that new law adhered to by some parties. Drones offend some people because they’re cowardly or unfair, but they should offend us because they make murder easier, and we should be outraged by the reason they make murder easier, namely the idea that people who don’t matter can be slaughtered without risking the life of anyone who matters.

With miles and miles yet to go, we have seen definite movement in U.S. corporate media on respecting the value of black lives as long as those black lives are U.S. black lives. The drone problem could be addressed if the other 96% of human lives were thought to even somewhat matter, and there would be no drone problem to worry about if they were understood to matter fully.

All is not hopeless in the world of anti-drone activism. In my town of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2013, we successfully urged the city council to pass a resolution against drones. It said: “The City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, endorses the proposal for a two year moratorium on drones in the state of Virginia; and calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being; and pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.”

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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