Tag Archives: “the ends justify the means”

Insomnia-Triggered Observations On The Blasey Ford-Kavanaugh Disaster

I don’t know if it is my usual sleeping in a hotel problem, my typical anxiety before an early morning ethics presentation, or the nauseating reality of what Christine Blasey Ford and the Democrats have inflicted on the political system and cultural norms of basic fairness and decency that has me awake writing a post at 5 am. I have my suspicions, though….

  • Judge Kavanaugh spoke to the Senate Judiciary committee via phone yesterday afternoon about the accusation of a three-decades old sexual assault while he was a prep school student. The committee Democrats refused to participate. I can’t reconcile this with a good faith effort to be fair to the nominee. Can you? It seems that the Democrats, having already made it clear that they will not vote for Kavanaugh for partisan reasons, have no compunction about making it clear that the allegation is just a convenient tool to engineer his defeat. They don’t really care about whether it is true or not.  It is simply a means to an end.

Is there any other conclusion?

  • Professor Rosa Brooks of my alma mater Georgetown Law Center (which has been embarrassing me a lot lately) pretty much sums up my position in a series of tweets. She writes:

I oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, think senators should vote no based on his judicial record, but am uncomfortable with asserting that his behavior as a teen tells us anything about his “character” now. Yes, even if his behavior as a teen included doing exactly what Ford says he did. This is because….I don’t think teen behavior is predictive of adult behavior, and I am also skeptical of the very idea of “character” as we use the term in American politics. And……. there is a ton of solid research on the general idiocy of teenagers, especially teenaged boys, and the neuroscience that explains their general idiocy….as a lawyer I also think there are sound reasons behind statutes of limitations. After 35 years it is nearly impossible to conduct a full or fair investigation….This does not mean I consider sexual assault “excusable” or “minor.” It just means that I think the bad behavior of minors should be treated differently than the behavior of adults, and that adults should not be shadowed forever by misdeeds as children.

Bingo.

Sadly, the prof’s inner progressive asshole could not remain hidden for the duration of her tweet-storm. I emphatically do NOT concur with her final observation in the last set of tweets, in which she confirms that she is a hyper-partisan bigot who just had a brief, uncharacteristic moment of ethical clarity:

Kavanaugh’s accuser nonetheless deserves to be treated with dignity and consideration; belittling her or her motives should be considered unacceptable. If Kavanaugh responds to her accusations in a way that belittles her or other women who come forward with stories of sexual assault, THAT will definitely be relevant now. And to all who say “well yes but the GOP would draw and quarter any Dem nominee with similar accusations against him,” you’re right, but why would Dems want to do the same things the GOP does? But the GOP would not treat allegations of assault by a black teen as forgivingly,” I agree as well. But again, we shouldn’t conform to the bad behavior of others. Again, this is not because I am “defending” Kavanaugh: I’d vote NO, and for all I know he is a complete jerk and a serial sexual assaulter to boot. All I’m saying is: I am uncomfortable having the current allegation be the basis for opposing, given the above.

Why does Ford deserve to be treated with dignity and consideration? She attempted an anonymous smear job that no professional anywhere would consider fair. When it was clear that this wouldn’t accomplish her goal, she accused a man of politically-toxic misconduct with no more evidence than her own misty recalled memories. Apparently she does  not even recall what year the alleged assault occurred. Professor Brooks is just confirming her #MeToo privileges by embracing the sexist theory that women deserve to be treated differently than men. They don’t. Any man who did something like this to a female nominee would deserve to be condemned. What an air tight gotcha! for the increasingly ethics-free left: an irresponsible, unprovable attack on a mans’ reputation and career that he will be disqualified for treating as it deserves to be treated.

I’d like the law professor to explain why she holds Kavanaugh to this exalted standard of tolerance when she says she assume that Republicans would treat allegations of a black teen’s assault as damning. Now she is virtue-signaling to her colleagues, calling Republicans racists, because of course they are. This tweet would disqualify her, in my view, if President Harris or Warren or Winfrey nominated her for the Supreme Court, or any other post. She’s a bigot, her outrageous claim that he might be a “serial sexual assaulter” is contemptible public discourse.

  • Anyone who uses the fact that she took a lie-detector test  and passed it to support her claim reveals their own ignorance and intellectual dishonesty. The devices don’t work. There isn’t even any debate about it. Sociopaths can beat them, and so can the confused and deluded. There’s a reason why they are inadmissible as evidence in court. Several alleged victims of alien abductions have passed lie detector tests too.

Maybe a space alien assaulted Ford. Maybe Kavanaugh is a space alien. This fiasco is bad enough without lie detector nonsense.

  • Diane Feinstein officially qualifies as an Ethics Alarms Ethics Villain for her role in the episode, joining such disgraceful political characters as Chris Christie, and of course, Hillary Clinton. The San Francisco Chronicle laid much of it out neatly, concluding that her conduct

“..was unfair to Kavanaugh, unfair to his accuser and unfair to Feinstein’s colleagues — Democrats and Republicans alike — on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

  • Does anyone recall that DNC Deputy Chair and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison has been accused domestic abuse by former girlfriend Karen Monahan? That accusation isn’t 35 years old and didn’t involve a teenager. It has also been substantiated by others.The Democrats have done nothing about this, except to “investigate it” and allow their mainstream news media allies to bury the story, at least long enough for the current hypocrisy to escape public notice.

Imagine: I heard a female Democratic senator intone yesterday that if Republicans did not delay the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, it would be “an insult to every woman” in the country. I regard allowing so dubious and unprovable a #MeToo accusation raised in such a blatantly political context to derail the confirmation of a qualified male candidate a threat to every American male alive. Let’s hand every woman the power to ruin any man, because in any “he said/she said” controversy, only the woman has a “right to be believed.”

Democrats are deliberately encouraging a national, cultural gender war.

More than 200 women who attended the same all-girls school as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser have signed an open letter supporting her allegations of sexual assault when they were both high school students.

The letter says the women — who graduated from the private Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., between 1967 and 2018 — believe California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford “and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story.”

“Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton,” the letter says.

“Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

If I thought this was typical of the female ability to reason, I’d advocate banning women from positions of authority. The believe Ford because she’s a woman! They believe Ford because someone assaulted them! They are proudly proclaiming prejudice, misandry and bias. Nobody has any factual basis for believing either Ford or Kavanaugh. Here’s my bias: any position that relies on tactics like this letter is inherently suspect.

 

 

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Bret Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck Update: Christine Blasey Ford, AKA “Anita Hill”

Now we know the name of the author of the late, through-the-mists-of-time character assassination attempt on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Good. Realizing that her anonymous sniper attack wouldn’t be sufficient to accomplish the Democrats’ political objective, she identified herself in an interview with the Washington Post. She is Christine Blasey Ford, like Anita Hill a professor who decided to inject an ancient incident into the solemn process—well, it once was, anyway—of confirming a nominee to the Supreme Court.

The fact that the accusation is no longer anonymous changes some aspects of this latest—is it the most unethical? Probably—twist in the Kavanaugh Ethics Train Wreck saga so far. From the second the desperate Sen. Diane Feinstein—desperate to defeat a qualified conservative judge, desperate to bolster her standing with a California progressive base that finds her too moderate—released Ford’s allegation, it could be tagged “unethical” in five ways:

1 The accusation was anonymous, and thus could not be fairly confronted by the accused. UNFAIR.

2. The accusation was over 30 years old, meaning that all aspects of it, including the recollections of the alleged participants, would be inherently untrustworthy. This is why we have statutes of limitations. UNFAIR, and IRRESPONSIBLE.

3. The accusation was, and still is, unsubstantiated by anyone else. UNFAIR, and IRRESPONSIBLE.

4. The accusation was made against a distinguished public servant and family man with no documented blemishes on his record or character as an adult, stemming from an alleged incident that occurred, if it occurred, while he was a minor. UNFAIR

5. No complaint had been made against Kavanaugh by the accuser at any time in the intervening years, until his nomination by President Trump became a political rallying point for the Left. IRRESPONSIBLE.

Now there are only four. One would be too many. The accusation should not have been made, and should not have been made public. This is a simple Golden Rule equation: what innocent human being would want to be the target of an unprovable accusation like this, at a moment when a significant career advancing opportunity was in the balance? We must begin with the assumption that Kavanaugh is indeed innocent, because there is no substantiated evidence that he is not, and because as an adult, which is what matters now, he is innocent.

Do I believe Kavanaugh, who has unequivocally denied that the incident occurred? I have no reason or justification to believe or disbelieve him, and neither does anyone else. However, I would regard the incident as irrelevant to his confirmation even if he agreed that it happened. Would a report of such an incident when he was applying for bar membership be treated as sufficient proof of bad character to cause his application to be rejected? Absolutely not,  not in any jurisdiction in the nation. Would such conduct as a minor cause any adult with an impeccable record since high school to be rejected for any job or post? Are high school indiscretions that do not involve criminal prosecutions ever deemed relevant to adult employment? Never. (Well, hardly ever.) Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce State: California (Who Else?)

We don’t need further evidence that the Golden State has jumped the ethics shark, has general contempt for the Bill of Rights and is in thrall to Alinskyite “ends justify the means” rationalizations, but here it is anyway. California state lawyers tried to defend in federal court an old law, California Penal Code §26820, which read:

No handgun or imitation handgun, or placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof, shall be displayed in any part of the premises where it can readily be seen from the outside.

Now, don’t ask me how a law like lasted as long as it has; the thing is 95 years old. But it’s embarrassingly unconstitutional. That’s prior restraint by definition. If a first year law student, or a well-educated college student (if thee are such things), reads that law, the First amendment alarms have to start ringing. Why wouldn’t California just repeal such a law, quietly, so as not t embarrass the state? Why wouldn’t California, like a state with some integrity that supports  core U.S. values, just concede to the Court that the law is a dud, and not oppose the claim that it is illegal? I think we have to assume that is because the culture of this particular state has rotted through. It doesn’t support core U.S. values like the freedom of speech, which might be the most vital of them all. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: Through The Teeth Of The Storm Edition

Good Morning!

Just flew to Florida on pressing business. Ethics knows no obstacles…

1. From the  “The Ends Justify The Means” Files, Democratic section: Led by Sen. Cory Booker, Democrats are releasing confidential documents willy-nilly, in breach of Senate rules.  The Washington Post calls this “civil disobedience.” Elected officials aren’t allowed to engage in civil disobedience, because their duties include maintaining civil order and the Rule of Law. This isn’t civil disobedience. This is Democrat Senators violating rules when they think it’s to their advantage to do so. Chuch Schumer, whose reputation and level of public trust should be in freefall for anyone paying attention, tweeted,

“I stand w/ Judiciary Committee Democrats who are well within their rights to release these very important documents that a former Kavanaugh deputy designed as “committee confidential.”

This is apparently another convenient Democratic Party rule change: restrictions don’t count if Democrats don’t like the official who has the power to issue them.

2. This is  pure bigotry and discrimination. Why isn’t that obvious? Why isn’t the news media pointing it out? From the LA Times:

Twentieth Century Fox was just days away from locking picture on “The Predator” when an urgent note came in: Delete the scene featuring Steven Wilder Striegel. Striegel, 47, didn’t have a big role in his longtime friend Shane Black’s reboot of the sci-fi thriller — just a three-page scene shared with actress Olivia Munn.But last month, Munn learned that Striegel is a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 2010 after facing allegations that he attempted to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship via the internet. When Munn shared the information with Fox on Aug. 15, studio executives quickly decided to excise him from the movie.

This reminds me of the scene in “Ship of Fools” when a passenger is exiled from the captain’s table on a German ship because a Nazi complains that he is Jewish. Continue reading

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From The Ethics Alarms “Democrats Must Be So Proud” Files: An Obvious Observation On Today’s Kavanaugh Hearing

It is disgraceful,  embarrassing, and dangerous, and only two or three steps away from Charles Sumner being physically attacked by Preston Brooks on the Senate floor.

It emerged during the proceedings that Senate Democrats planned to disrupt the orderly process of the hearings as a strategy. Nice. I guess that’s their replacement for the filibuster. I think I prefer the device used by Lilly Tomlin’s character in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie”: when she can’t rebut an argument, she starts singing “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” as loud as she can, so nobody else can talk.

“The hearing began with protesters breaking in, and continued with serial efforts by Democratic Senators to postpone the hearing. To the credit of committed chair Chuck Grassley, he bulled on through. As he did so, the Democratic side degenerated into a contest regarding which putative candidate for the Democratic 2020 nomination could pander to the base more. Here is how the day began:

GRASSLEY: “Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of —“
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— Brett Kavanaugh –”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— to serve as associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago —“
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, regular order.”
HARRIS: “— 42.000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze.”
GRASSLEY: “You are out of order. I will proceed.”
HARRIS: “We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman. We have not been given the opportunity to have a meaningful hearing with Congress nominee–“[cross-talk]
GRASSLEY: “I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh, to his wife Ashley, their two daughters –[cross-talk]
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I agree with my colleague, senator Harris. Mr. Chairman, we received 42.000 documents tat we haven’t been able to review —”
GRASSLEY: “— And everyone else joining us today.”
UNKNOWN: ” and we believe this hearing should be postponed —”
GRASSLEY: “I know this is an exciting day for all of you here and your you’re rightly proud —”
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.”
GRASSLEY: “— From Judge Kavanaugh —”
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, we have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise —” (Audience cheering)
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, we have been denied the real access to the documents we need —[cross-talk] which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms and, Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing.”
AUDIENCE: “This is a mockery. This is a travesty of justice. Cancel Brett Kavanaugh, adjourn the hearing. [ indecipherable].”
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I ask for a roll call vote on my motion to adjourn.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: “‘[indecipherable]'”
GRASSLEY: “Okay.”
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. I ask for a roll call vote.”
GRASSLEY: “We are not in executive session. We will continue as planned.”

A recurring theme was the disingenuous complaint that Democrats, who have received over 400,ooo pages of materials relating to Trump’s nomination to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat on the Court, as well as all of his judicial opinions which are what really matter, did not have time to read the most recently released batch of about 40, 000 pages. Everyone knows that what is in those documents doesn’t matter one bit, because the entire group of Democratic Senators have already made it clear that they are going to vote against Kavanaugh as a bloc. They are going to do it to express their outrage over Merrick Garland; they are going to do it to pander to the resistance narrative that Trump is an “illegitimate” President, they are going to do it because the party increasingly seeks to demonize conservatives, they are going to do it because they are afraid of their base. Oh, there are lots of reasons. All of the Democratic Senators, maybe most,  don’t seriously believe their party’s own scare-mongering that Kavanaugh will lead the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, but there is the rapidly pro-abortion—not just pro-abortion rights but pro-abortion—feminist segment of the base to pander to as well.

Essentially, we are watching an entire political party embrace mob-style interference as an alternative to process, because they don’t like what the likely results of the established process will be. Of course this is dangerous to the nation and the Constitution. It is also a tantrum, just like the party’s reaction to President Trump’s election itself.

It was predictable that if the funeral of a Senator was exploited  as an opportunity to attack the President, the hearings on his Supreme Court nominee would certainly be. (I am not finished looking, but so far I can find no comparable direct attacks on Barack Obama during the hearings on his two nominees.) Here, for example, is the reliable demagogue Dick Durbin (D-Ill), doing his best Keith Olbermann imitation:

“You are the nominee of President Donald John Trump. This is a president who’s shown us consistently he’s contemptuous of the rule of law. He’s said and done things as president which we’ve never seen before in history. He dismissed the head of the FBI when he wouldn’t bend to his will. He harasses his attorney general on almost a daily basis in the exercise of his office, and I didn’t vote for Jeff Sessions, but I have to tell you there should be some respect at least for the office he serves in. And it’s that president who’s decided you are his man. You’re the person he wants on the Supreme Court. You are his personal choice. So are people nervous about this? Are they concerned about it? Of course they are.”

As in the hypocritical remarks by the McCain mourners. Durbin is hilariously self-indicting. Durbin’s party has been  contemptuous of the rule of law in areas where the President has been committed to enforce it, as with illegal immigration. Durbin and his party have undertaken direct assaults on the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments. The way Democrats are conducting themselves in this very hearing has never been seen before in history. Continue reading

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/18: Talking Rabbits, Giant Ants, And California Progressives

Good Morning!

1. I may start banning commenters who keep saying this. A new, articulate and agenda-driven commenter, Ross Grazier, writes, “But your writing on this blog seems to be all about politics and much less about ethics.” I don’t want to drive Ross off, since the position of Ethics Alarms Knee-jerk Progressive Ratioanalizer And Denier of Mainstream Media Bias seems to be vacant at the moment, but I’m really, really sick of this common smear of my work (Ross’s comment also reminded me that I need to add the “s0 called ethicist” and “self-anointed ethicist” to the magic phrases that can get a commenter banned). Not for the first time, I decided to categorize every topic I wrote about here in the past week as political, non-political, or “mixed,” meaning that the article included substantive relevance to political figures or controversies but that the ethical issues involved were not solely political in scope or relevance. There were 42 distinct topics discussed (I did not include the Comments of the Day). Of these, 26 were non-political. Ten were “mixed.” Exactly six were  “about politics.”

I was surprised, frankly. I expected a bit more emphasis on politics.

I regard Ross’s accusation and others like it as an either an effort to undermine my credibility and the reputation of Ethics Alarms, or as an example of confirmation bias at work. Easily debunked claims that are asserted anyway in print are unethical.

2. Movie Ethics Potpourri! A. I finally saw “Peter Rabbit,” which was the subject of a (Non political, Ross!) post here. You may recall that Sony was pressured into grovelling an apology for a scene in which the animated rabbits shot blackberries into Mr. McGregor’s mouth using sling-shots, provoking an allergic reaction. Seeking its 15 minutes of cheap publicity and social media outrage mongering, Kenneth Mendez, president and chief executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said, “Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.” Naturally, there was a Change.org petition demanding that the offending sequence be removed. Now that I’ve seen the film—which is pretty good, not quite “Babe” good, but well-done and fun—I can appreciate the full insanity of the complaints.  B. The British film “Calibre,” now playing on Netflix, is a “Deliverance” style ethics movie, in which two reasonable good guys go on a hunting trip in Scotland and are hurled by bad luck and panic into a series of ethical dilemmas, managing to make exactly the wrong decision at every turn. In the end, three people are dead, multiple crimes have been committed, and the lessons are murky. This is an excellent “what would you do?” film for group discussion, though the ultimate answer is “Don’t go hunting, in Scotland or anywhere else.” C. Finally, in the rarified category of giant ant movie ethics, there is “Them!” It is a justly admired 50’s Sci-Fi flick about an alien invasion of giant ants, featuring a surprisingly accomplished and diverse cast including pre-“Gunsmoke” Jim Arness, James Whitmore, ol’ Santa Clause himself, Edmund Gwenn, ubiquitous Western character actor Dub Taylor, and Sigourney Weaver’s wacky uncle, Doodles Weaver. I hadn’t seen it for a while, and forgot that it included one of the most blatant examples of Rationalization #58. The Universal Trump, or “Think of the children!” on film.

Scientists and the military have determined that the giant ants—We’re talking THIS big:

—have invaded California (from outer space, in ant-shaped space ships!), that they pose a threat to LA, the state, and entire country, and that there may be hundreds of thousands of them. California has declared martial law. A military commander announces that the best strategy is to gas underground passages where the ants are presumably gathering, and then kill the ones who escape to the surface. No, says Big Jim. It seems that there are two small children missing that were taken by the ants from their now thoroughly masticated and dead father. As long as there’s a chance they may still be alive,  Jim says, we can’t take the chance of harming them. The man is gob-smacked. “You mean you’d risk all of Los Angeles for two kids who are probably already dead?” he asks, in a fair framing of the issue. “Why don’t you ask their mother?” says Arness. “She’s right over there.”

Well all righty then! How can you argue with that? Continue reading

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Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 8/29/2018: Amazingly, There Are More Important Ethics Developments Than How Long The White House Flag Was At Half-Mast…

Gooooood Morning!

1 It’s not just bias–ignorance also makes you stupid, Part I. On Fox News this morning, they were breathlessly talking about the importance of stopping the publishing of those evil blue-prints of 3-D printable guns. Why, last year, a plastic gun got through TSA security, and it was loaded! And those 3-D printed guns are cheaper than ever! (nobody mentioned that making a 3-D gun that shoots is still incredibly expensive.)

The report was like science fiction, and the woman in a protesting group who said that these guns needed to be stopped NOW! should have had her head wreathed in tin foil. Did Fox discuss the First Amendment issues? No. Did Fox explain that anyone can make their own gun without a 3-D printer? No. Did Fox explain anything relevant to the actual case? Of course not. Did Fox point out that the judge who just issued the injunction admitted that his action abridged speech? No, not that either.

And no, the other news networks weren’t any better.

2. California is ending cash bail. Good. It may backfire, but a statewide experiment somewhere is needed. Bail may be a necessary evil, but the long-time criticism of the system as being biased against the poor has validity, if not a solution. Not every idea Jerry Brown has is bad, just most of them. My guess is that this will be a PR and political disaster, but hey, I don’t live there. The first time a “non-violent” accused criminal kills someone while on his own recognizance, the someone won’t be anyone in my…oops, I forgot, I have a nephew and a niece in California. Well, they’re rabid Democrats and progressives, so they have consented to the risk, I guess.

Amusing reaction: The bail-bondsmen say that they’ll leave the state if this policy stays. Well, of course. Why wouldn’t they leave? What kind of a threat is that?

3. It’s not just bias–ignorance also makes you stupid, Part II A poll says that a majority of the public can’t name a single member of the Supreme Court, despite a large majority believing that the Court’s decisions greatly affect their daily lives. Worse, most of the public thinks the Court is a partisan body, like Congress, because most of the public doesn’t know the difference between the Supreme Court and an ice cream cones, and virtually none of the public has read a single Supreme Court opinion all the way though in their entire lives. No wonder  the Democrat fear-mongering about Judge Kavanaugh is regarded as a smart tactic. Ignorant people are the easiest to con. Conned people warp our democracy.

That’s why it is unethical to be ignorant. Continue reading

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