Patterico's Pontifications


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:29 am

[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few news items to discuss. Feel free to share anything you might think would be of interest to readers. Please include links.

First news item

What a difference a surge makes:

“I don’t like to be authoritarian from the federal government, but at the local level, if governors and others essentially mandate the use of masks when you have an outbreak, I think that would be very important,” Fauci told Alabama Sen. Doug Jones during a Facebook live event in July.

Until now.

“Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it,” Fauci told CNN’s Erin Burnett Friday…Covid-19 has been worsening across the United States, with cases rising in 32 states Friday and holding steady in 17 more. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said the country was entering a winter surge as new infections passed 75,000 in a single day on Friday and more than 800 deaths were reported.

Mask mandates may be tricky to enforce, but it might be time to call for them, Fauci said.
“There’s going to be a difficulty enforcing it, but if everyone agrees that this is something that’s important and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and says, you know, we’re going to mandate it but let’s just do it, I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,” he said.


Second news item

This is terrible and wrong. Always, always more speech:

While free speech is a worthy cause, this isn’t an issue for its defense because this was not an attack on free speech. Instead, it is an act of intolerance.

Let’s not make excuses: The magazine had to have known that there would be a response to their illustrations. Everybody knows that you will get bitten if you poke the bear. The editorial staff at Charlie Hebdo fancied themselves iconoclasts looking to provoke, not to criticize.

We have to acknowledge that this was defamatory action. We should condemn brutality while also condemning the activities that caused it.

It is not okay to be intolerant. We cannot correct two wrongs with another wrong…

Free speech is a right that Charlie Hebdo abused. Violence is never the answer, and you don’t take a pen to a gunfight, but you also don’t spit in the face of a revered figure, no matter your beliefs.

Breaking the will of the terrorists:

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad were projected onto government buildings in France as part of a tribute to history teacher Samuel Paty, who was murdered by an Islamist terrorist last week.

The controversial depictions from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were displayed onto town halls in Montpellier and Toulouse for several hours on Wednesday evening, following an official memorial attended by Paty’s family and President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Paty was beheaded while walking home on Friday evening, just days after he showed Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of Mohammad to pupils in a class about freedom of expression…“Samuel Paty on Friday became the face of the Republic, of our desire to break the will of the terrorists… and to live as a community of free citizens in our country.”

Third news item

Trying to expand their customer base, I guess:

Fourth news item

No matter where one stands on immigration, this is just cruel and heartbreaking:

The parents of 545 migrant children who were separated under US border policy cannot be located, a court filing and US rights group revealed Tuesday.

The separations were carried out in relation to US President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward migrants who illegally crossed the border.

“Through our litigation, we just reported to the court that the parents of 545 kids — forcibly separated by the Trump administration’s cruel family separation practice — still cannot be found,” the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.

Fifth news item

Here we go:

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump threatened to sue the Lincoln Project over billboards the anti-Trump Republican PAC put up in Times Square criticizing the couple’s response to the coronavirus.

In a letter, Trump family lawyer Marc Kasowitz rebuked the group for putting up a billboard of Ivanka Trump smiling and gesturing toward the coronavirus death tolls for New Yorkers and Americans — 33,000 and 221,000, respectively. The letter also mentioned a billboard of Kushner, featured next to the Trump display, in which he appears next to a quote saying, “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”

Sixth news item

They’re coming out of the woodwork now:

Police in western Ohio have reportedly caught wind of a plan among an unspecified group of people to go to Gov. Mike DeWine’s home to arrest him for “tyranny.” Local news station WTOL reports that the Piqua Police Department received a report on Oct. 16 from a man who said he got a phone call from another man seeking to recruit him to arrest DeWine. The plan, which resembles an alleged kidnapping plot against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month, apparently hit a wall after the man who received the call refused to join in and went to the police instead.

Seventh news item

Because not everyone thinks alike, even if they have similar skin tones:

Due to the power of identity politics, this critique is viewed as more credible and authentic coming from a person who is not white. But I do not speak for black people. Among those who believe in universal humanism, on the left and the right, none of us should be playing this identitarian game of claiming to speak on behalf of this or that racial group. Everyone, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, should be able to say what they believe to be true and challenge those they believe are wrong in a free and open way.

One of the central flaws of so-called anti-racist activism today is its prioritisation of what is termed ‘lived experience’ over empirical evidence. Lived experience, as it is understood by left identitarians, is not merely a retelling of events. It is the suggestion that your ‘positionality’ (where you stand in relation to dynamics of power and privilege) determines the authenticity and importance of your interpretation of a given situation. This shift has not led to better dialogue and understanding about race, gender and sexuality. It has led, rather, to the creation of new hierarchies determining who can and cannot speak on certain subjects, and whose voice is worthy of being heard.

Eighth news item

Eh, I think it’s called a lie:

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed that he “never said I oppose fracking” when pressed by President Donald Trump on the issue during Thursday night’s presidential debate.

“You said it on tape,” Trump replied.

Facts First: It’s false that Biden never said he opposed fracking. In two Democratic primary debates, Biden made confusing remarks over fracking that his campaign had to clarify. In 2019, Biden said “we would make sure it’s eliminated” when asked about the future of coal and fracking; in 2020 he said he opposed “new fracking.

Just 10 days until the election.

Have a great weekend.



New Presidential Campaign Ads

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

A little Friday fun for you. Here are some new Trump and Biden campaign ads for your consideration. Let us know what you think in the comments.

From the Trump camp:

From the Biden camp:



WSJ News Side: No Evidence of a Role for Joe Biden in Bobulinski Venture

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:18 pm

The Wall Street Journal news side has an article refuting the nonsense the opinion side has been spouting over the last 24 hours:

In a statement to reporters Thursday, Anthony Bobulinski said that in 2017 Hunter Biden consulted his father about a planned venture with Chinese oil company CEFC China Energy Co. to invest in the U.S. and elsewhere. Mr. Bobulinski was also a partner.

The venture—set up in 2017 after Mr. Biden left the vice presidency and before his presidential campaign—never received proposed funds from the Chinese company or completed any deals, according to people familiar with the matter. Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden.

“Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever. He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him,” said Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates in a statement.

. . . .

Text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.

Mr. Gilliar, told the Journal: “I would like to clear up any speculation that former Vice President Biden was involved with the 2017 discussions about our potential business structure. I am unaware of any involvement at anytime of the former Vice President. The activity in question never delivered any project revenue.”

Losing presidential candidate Donald J. Trump hardest hit.

(Final) Presidential Debate Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:41 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Tonight’s the big night. The final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. We have been informed that Biden has been doing some serious prep work for tonight’s event, while Trump has reportedly been so casual about preparing that he’s done even less of it this time than with the previous debate.

Anyway, here’s how the microphone muting will work:

“Under the agreed upon debate rules, each candidate is to have two minutes of uninterrupted time to make remarks at the beginning of each 15 minute segment of the debate. These remarks are to be followed by a period of open discussion,” the commission said in a statement. “Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule.”
The statement continued: “The Commission is announcing today that in order to enforce this agreed upon rule, the only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules. For the balance of each segment, which by design is intended to be dedicated to open discussion, both candidates’ microphones will be open.”

Both microphones will be unmuted after each candidate delivers their two-minute answer.

This will obviously be a problem for both candidates who are frequently afflicted with verbal diarrhea and an inability to Just. Be. Quiet. Trump aggressively talks over Biden in an effort to drown him out, provoke him, and frankly, wear him down. Meanwhile, Biden knows his stuff, but if Joe isn’t hopping mad and rambling, he is confused and rambling on, and on, and on, and oh my God, I’m already nodding off.

The topics for tonight’s debate are:

“Fighting COVID-19″
“American Families”
“Race in America”
“Climate Change”
“National Security”

Each segment will last about 15 minutes, and the candidates will have two minutes to respond after the moderator, NBC’s Kristen Welker, opens each segment with a question.

I suppose I should say something about the moderator, but I really don’t know too much about her, and I really can’t gin up any interest. Half of America is convinced she’s top drawer, the other half have condemned her as a biased hack. Previous presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace certainly struggled to stay in control during the previous debate melee and he has far more experience than does the 44-year old Welker. So good luck there.

And given that both candidates tested negative today, there will be no plexiglass separating them. I guess if tempers flare, and everything goes to hell, there really could be an actual throw-down between these two rich, old white guys because unfortunately, this is where we’re at. America!

President Trump wants you to know he is on his way:

Joe Biden wants you to know this is it:

And the inimitable P.J. O’Rourke wants to talk Biden and pixie dust rainbows, and Trump, the toddler-in-chief:

It can only get better, people. Right??


Trump: I May Fire Wray for Doing the Opposite of What I Supposedly Fired Comey For

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am


President Trump and his advisers have repeatedly discussed whether to fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray after Election Day — a scenario that also could imperil the tenure of Attorney General William P. Barr as the president grows increasingly frustrated that federal law enforcement has not delivered his campaign the kind of last-minute boost that the FBI provided in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter.

The conversations among the president and senior aides stem in part from their disappointment that Wray in particular but Barr as well have not done what Trump had hoped — indicate that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden or other Biden associates are under investigation, these people say. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal discussions.

In the campaign’s closing weeks, the president has intensified public calls for jailing his challenger, much as he did for Hillary Clinton, his opponent in 2016. Trump has called Biden a “criminal” without articulating what laws he believes the former vice president has broken.

Bob Woodward’s Rage (affiliate link) gave the fullest account I had read to date of Trump trying to use Rod Rosenstein’s memo about Comey as a justification for firing Comey. Rosenstein (who was clearly a source for the book) was called into Trump’s office, where Trump told him he had been working for days on a long (and, as it turns out, completely crazy) letter that would justify a decision he had made days earlier to fire Comey. Rosenstein mentioned that he believed Comey’s handling of the Clinton matter was against law enforcement standards and justified his firing. Trump was thrilled to hear that and told Rosenstein to write it up. Rosenstein stayed up all night to write his memo justifying the firing of Comey. He gave it to the White House in the morning and Trump immediately fired Comey. Then the White House said it was Rosenstein’s idea and told him to hold a press conference saying so. Rosenstein said he was not going to do a press conference because he would have to tell the truth at such a conference, and that would directly contradict the version of events being put out by the White House.

Rosenstein’s memo concentrated primarily on Comey’s decision to announce the Clinton declination himself — a clear usurpation of prosecutorial prerogative — as well as his decision to hold a press conference disparaging Clinton although she had not been charged. This runs counter to all law enforcement traditions in the federal government. Rosenstein did, however, also criticize Comey for his decision to make a public announcement in October 2016 that the investigation had been reopened:

Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would “speak” about the FBI’s decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or “conceal” it. “Conceal” is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information. In that context, silence is not concealment.

Although Rosenstein’s criticism of Comey ultimately centered on the July 2016 decision and not the October 2016 decision to announce the investigation had been reopened, he clearly disapproved of both decisions. Rosenstein’s criticism of Comey’s October 2016 can be seen as part of the justification for the firing that the memo all but recommends. And Trump cited (falsely) Rosenstein’s memo as the justification for firing Comey. (Which nobody believed, and which he ultimately revealed was not true, in an interview with Lester Holt.)

As implausible as it sounds, it’s fair to say that Comey’s announcement that the FBI had reopened a criminal investigation of Trump’s political opponent was part of the justification Trump offered for firing Comey. Sure, nobody believed it, but it was part of the public justification.

Now Trump is reportedly considering firing Christopher Wray for not giving an October announcement that the FBI is investigating his political opponent. In other words, the precise opposite behavior Comey engaged in.

Trump’s dishonesty is on full display here, and the nose can detect his desperation from over a thousand miles away.


Obama Hits the Road On Behalf of Slow Joe

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:20 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Dear Leader Emeritus is stumpin’ for Joe in Philly, with Pennsylvania being an important swing state. You know he’s serious this time, because he’s using his black accent again.

But the best part is a line that he may have poorly ad-libbed, or perhaps simply butchered:

[Joe is] living by the words that his parents taught him: ‘No one’s better than you, Joe, but you’re better than nobody.’

Here’s a crappy video version, just so you don’t think I’m making this up:


Media Not Necessary: Trump Provides His Own Bad Publicity

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:56 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Jim Geraghty over at NRO posits that Trump has a record worth defending, if only he were interested in doing so. Instead, Trump is more focused on…attacking Dr. Fauci, whom he, just days ago, described him as a “disaster”:

Yesterday, President Trump told his supporters on a conference call, regarding the pandemic, “People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing [Dr. Anthony] Fauci and all these idiots.” And then he added a few tweets, “Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons. Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”

The president and his team could do a much better job defending their record; but you cannot make a president take actions he doesn’t want to take.

And while we know that Trump was fanning the flames of his base, it really doesn’t say much about the caliber of those supporters on the call with him, nor the President’s view of them. Of course, this sort of attack on Fauci is nothing new, and we’ve already seen how petty, insulting and even retaliatory Trump can be toward those (with far more experience in a specific matter) who publicly disagree with his often uninformed and unfactual opinions. This is really nothing new. But two weeks before an election does not seem like an opportune time for a sitting president to go after a popular American figure and infectious disease specialist who is clearly working around the clock to get a pandemic under control.

Geraghty goes on to suggest that Trump should focus on what he has accomplished rather than going after Fauci, and provides a list of what he views as Trump’s accomplishments. You can read the list at the link. I will simply say that I have a few issues with his list (or how certain items are presented), but the point in writing this post is to point out a specific time when Trump has provided his own bad publicity and that we should let him be responsible for such and not blame the media for it.

Geraghty, after listing what he regards as Trump’s accomplishments, then makes a final, rueful observation of Trump:

But the president really, really thinks he’s got Fauci nailed on that wild first pitch at the Nationals game, so he’ll focus on that.

Trump is his own worst enemy (and it’s true that most of us are our own worst enemy too). However, to my recollection, Trump has never displayed any observable recognition or understanding of that and therefore makes no effort to get out of his own way. This, of course, also makes it easier for him to blame others for his disasters, P.R. and otherwise.

These were Trump’s comments about Fauci two days ago:

“Dr. Tony Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope,” Trump tweeted, referring to the legendary comedian.

“All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said ‘no masks & let China in.’ Also, Bad arm!” he continued, mocking the opening pitch that the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases threw way off the plate at the long-awaited 2020 MLB season opener in June.

Trump, who has shunned wearing a mask, also accused the ardent Washington Nationals fan of wearing an ineffective facial covering.

“P.S. Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons. Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!” Trump went on.

And on Monday, Trump also said this to his staff:

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots, these people that have gotten it wrong. Fauci is a nice guy,” Trump said, indicating he wanted to fire the Brooklyn-born director of the NIAID but couldn’t because of potential public outrage.

“Every time he goes on television there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. Fauci’s a disaster. If I’d listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” Trump said.

[Ed. I shouldn’t have to say it but I will say it as a pre-emptive strike: This does not in any way absolve major media outlets from any unprofession bias against Trump in their reporting.]


Civility in Action in Utah

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

I love this so much.

The kneejerk partisan response to this, from both sides, is “well, you can’t be civil because the other side is so bad!” (Prediction: there will be plenty of that in the comments to this thread, and all of the people saying it will be Trump supporters — or anti-anti-Trump types.) I also got this response when I retweeted it:


That tweeter seems to have a really good handle on the essence of fascism: two people who disagree on politics but can personally get along. That was, coincidentally, the core of Mussolini’s philosophy. It’s history! You can read up on it!

David French has a new book out, which I just finished, about our divisions and how they could lead to the country coming apart politically. I owe you a real review of it, but for now suffice it to say that we could use more of the example of the Utah gubernatorial candidates and less Trumpism or radical leftism.

Before the Ahmari-French wars, I was excoriated for telling my daughter two presidential candidates were good men doing what they believed best for the country. How dare I! Didn’t I know one of them was trying to ruin the country? I spent another several months being raked over the coals for disagreeing with a talking head who wanted the president to “fail.” It took until 2016 for me to leave the Republican party, because it took until 2016 to establish that the group that opposed me had taken over the party, but I have opposed this “the other side is the enemy and must be crushed” mentality for as long as I can remember. It’s rare to see politicians rise above it. When they do, I say we should applaud them.


Trump Irritated By Interviewer’s Questions, Walks Out

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:18 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hm, 14 days away from the presidential election, and Trump thinks it’s in his best interest to go after a veteran journalist during an important interview because he didn’t like the line of questioning? That leads me to believe that Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes was asking direct questions of Trump. Questions that he needs to answer fully and without equivocation (you pick the subject, there’s any number from which to choose):

President Donald Trump reportedly walked out of his interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl on Tuesday, according to CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. “Apparently there was some drama while President Trump was taping his 60 Minutes interview today,” Collins tweeted, adding that the president “abruptly ended his solo interview after around 45 minutes” and “did not return for a scheduled walk & talk he was supposed to tape” with Vice President Mike Pence.

Shortly after the interview, the president apparently tried to create a diversion by tweeting a six-second clip of Stahl “not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me,” adding, “Much more to come.” Like Trump, Stahl was hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic.

And because we’re apparently operating at a junior high level, ooh, look at this burn

Man, this guy has a really weird campaign strategy going on…

Anyway, here’s Popehat recalling his personal encounter with Leslie Stahl. Hey, we were all young once!


Big Trump Money Burned A Hole In Campaign’s Pocket

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:18 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here’s the AP report:

Trump bought a $10 million Super Bowl ad when he didn’t yet have a challenger. He tapped his political organization to cover exorbitant legal fees related to his impeachment. Aides made flashy displays of their newfound wealth — including a fleet of luxury vehicles purchased by Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager.

Meanwhile, a web of limited liability companies hid more than $310 million in spending from disclosure, records show.

Now, just two weeks out from the election, some campaign aides privately acknowledge they are facing difficult spending decisions at a time when Democratic nominee Joe Biden has flooded the airwaves with advertising. That has put Trump in the position of needing to do more of his signature rallies as a substitute during the coronavirus pandemic while relying on an unproven theory that he can turn out supporters who are infrequent voters at historic levels.

So how did they mismanage so much money? Well, according to one Republican consultant, by living large:

“They spent their money on unnecessary overhead, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff and vanity ads,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant who advised John McCain and Jeb Bush and is an outspoken Trump critic. “You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly.”

Trump’s camp insists they are financially solvent with nearly three times as much as they had in 2016.

Here’s a look at advertising spending, and frankly it doesn’t look good:

On Monday, the firm Medium Buying reported Trump was canceling ad in Wisconsin; Minnesota, which Trump had hoped to flip; and Ohio, which went for Trump in 2016 but now appears to be a tight contest.

It’s a reversal from May, when Biden’s campaign was strapped for cash and Parscale ominously compared the Trump campaign to a “Death Star” that was about to “start pressing FIRE for the first time.”

The ad campaign they unrolled over the next three months cost over $176 million but did little to dent Biden’s lead in public opinion polling.

Here is a compilation of the “questionable” expenditures of the Trump campaign:

— Nearly $100,000 spent on copies of Donald Trump Jr.’s book “Triggered,” which helped propel it to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.

— Over $7.4 million spent at Trump-branded properties since 2017.

— At least $35.2 million spent on Trump merchandise.

— $38.7 million in legal and “compliance” fees. In addition to tapping the RNC and his campaign to pay legal costs during his impeachment proceedings, Trump has also relied on his political operation to cover legal costs for some aides.

— At least $14.1 million spent on the Republican National Convention. The event was supposed to have been held in Charlotte, North Carolina, but Trump relocated it to Jacksonville, Florida, after a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic governor over coronavirus safety measures. The Florida event was ultimately cancelled, as well, with a mostly online convention taking its place.

— $912,000 spent on ads that ran on the personal Facebook pages of Parscale and Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson.

— A $250,000 ad run during Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, which came after Trump was booed by spectators when he attended Game 5.

— At least $218,000 for Trump surrogates to travel aboard private jets provided by campaign donors.

— $1.6 million on TV ads in the Washington, D.C., media market, an overwhelmingly Democratic area where Trump has little chance of winning but where he is a regular TV watcher.

As far as deep-pocket donors go, there seems to be a shift in priority:

“The Senate majority is the most important objective right now,” he said. “It’s the bulwark against so much bad policy that the Democrats want to do if they sweep the elections.”

Trump’s campaign is now spending a whole lot to get a dollar in contributions:

President Donald Trump’s campaign found it harder to raise money from small-dollar donors in the final months before the election, spending 77 cents of each dollar it received in the third quarter on future fundraising efforts, according to federal disclosures that highlighted the funding gap with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Spending by the campaign’s grassroots fundraising arm, Trump Make America Great Again, to pursue small donors was far higher than throughout his re-election campaign, when it spent 47 cents per dollar raised.

Over the last three months, TMAGA paid $181 million of the $235.7 million it raised from small donors to vendors for more fundraising expenses, the organization’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission shows.

The need to reinvest such a high percentage of donations into raising even more money suggests that Trump is having difficulty getting contributions from his existing base and so is working to expand his reach to other small-dollar donors.

It looks like the Trump campaign not only loves big money as much as Trump but also has the same trouble managing it and spending it wisely. I guess that should not be surprising. If anything, we’ve learned that Trump attracts “like-minded” people to his camp.


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