Mike Kueber's Blog

October 6, 2015

Pop honors John Carlos

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Media,Politics,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 10:09 pm
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The past two editions of the Express-News have contained articles concerning the Spurs’ Gregg (Pop) Popovich honoring John Carlos by giving him the opportunity to speak to the Spurs players at their training facility. For those of you who don’t recall Carlos, he and running mate Tommie Smith disrupted a medal ceremony in the 1968 Olympics by standing with heads down and black-gloved fists up (and shoes off) during the playing of our National Anthem. They asserted that their protest was to show support for the black-power movement. Their conduct resulted in them being kicked off the American Olympic team.

In the first article, Dan McCarney reported that Pop brought Carlos in to create a cultural opportunity for the team:

  • Bringing in a guest speaker of such stature is about what you’d expect from Popovich, who makes a concerted effort to push his players to expand their attention beyond the basketball court.

Shooting guard Danny Green seemed to appreciate the gesture:

  • We got a chance to interact with a legend. He paved the way for us. For us young guys, learning the history of where we came from is important. It was important to Pop. He felt the need to share it to us.

Huh? In what sense did John Carlos pave the way for Danny Green? Black athletes were already well established in 1968. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, et al.

I responded to McCarney’s article with the following online comment:

  • As Vince Lombardi famously said, “What the hell is going on out there?” Carlos’s claim to fame is a notorious attempt to politicize the medal-ceremony at the Olympics. By all accounts, that tactic has been thoroughly discredited and would be met by even more ugly reactions today. So why does Pop glorify the guy? Pop’s hubris is beginning to annoy.

Not surprisingly, my comment was not well received. One of the paper’s most prolific commenters weighed-in as follows:

  • Idiot. Hundreds of Mexican students protesting the extravagant spending by the government in the midst of staggering poverty and oppression were killed and arrested. The order to shoot and arrest came from a totally corrupt government and is well known as the Massacre at Tatelolci (plaza de las tres cultural) and those of us who witnessed the athlete’s expression of solidarity know the truth. All you are is a right wing mouthpiece who has no clue.

I thought that would be the end of the matter, but the newspaper decided to double-down on the matter by publishing a similar article the next day. In this article reporter Mike Monroe reported that the Spurs’ interaction with “civil rights icon John Carlos … continues to resonate with the team.” He also provided Pop’s explanation for the visit – “It’s just an effort to honor somebody who deserves to be honored, and to let our team know the world is bigger than basketball.”

Monroe provided two new examples of the continuing resonation:

  1. Starting forward Kawhi Leonard said Carlos’s talk to the team will be an inspiration throughout the season. “He’s an icon to America. Him coming in here and saying how much he likes your team, you get an enjoyment in your heart and want to keep fighting and make him proud.”
  2. Guard-forward Kyle Anderson was left with an indelible impression. “That was awesome, a great experience. For Pop to actually bring him in and give us a chance to interact with him and ask him questions and learn from him was great. That really meant a lot to us. I felt a lot of pride. When he did what he did he had people in 2015 in mind. He had his kids in mind; he had his grandkids in mind; the future in his mind.”

Do these basketball players know what Carlos did? Although Carlos was only known to me for his outrageous medal-ceremony protest, I decided to consult with Wikipedia to learn if he did anything else noteworthy. Wikipedia reported nothing of significance in Carlos’s life since the medal ceremony other than being kicked off the Olympic team, receiving death threats, failing to catch on in professional football, and writing a memoir.

I commented on Monroe’s article as follows:

  • Carlos’s memoirist complains that the sports world has long treated this medal-stand protestor as a toxic element for attempting to politicize black athletes. Are the Spurs attempting to revive this utterly, comprehensively repudiated concept? Some have suggested that the hiring of Hammon was a political statement; perhaps this is Political Statement #2 from Pop and the Spurs.

Not surprisingly, a guy name Alonso disagreed:

  • You complainers are missing the point. Coach Pop knew his players would like meeting him and he was right. The politics of the Spurs coach and players should not have any impact on whether we root for them on the court. At least it doesn’t for grownups anyway.

I responded to Alonso:

  • The politics of the Spurs coach and players don’t have an impact if they keep those views to themselves. But if they want to start preaching to us, see what happened to the Dixie Chicks. Incidentally, Pop said he wanted to honor Carlos, but nowhere have I seen exactly what he is to be honored for. Disrupting a medal ceremony?

‘nuff said.

 

 

August 25, 2015

Letters to the Editor

Filed under: Media — Mike Kueber @ 11:45 pm
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I am a lazy person who prefers shooting from the hip instead of taking careful aim.  That is why I am more likely to dash off a quick response to a political posting on Facebook than I am to pontificate about something on my blog.  A post on my blog is not a work in progress; it is a final product.  A comment to Facebook is a stream of consciousness, almost.

Letters to the Editor used to be like a blog post – i.e., something fully thought-through and carefully articulated. Because these letters involved a lot of work, I rarely took the trouble unless I was highly motivated, such as when Darrel Royal was not given credit for the Longhorns’ going undefeated in 1977.  In our new digital age, Letters to the Editor have become, like Facebook comments, supremely easy, and this ease is just what a laggard like me needs.

My favorite forum for Letters to the Editor is the local San Antonio Express-News.  Almost daily I comment on an article, usually to criticize the reporter or the paper for taking a liberal position or failing to provide us readers with the necessary information.  To encourage comments, the paper ranks commenters according to a complex formula, and I am currently their #6 commenter, with 351 comments.  My most recent comment to the Express-News concerned the reporting on Jeb Bush’s visit to McAllen.  I was pretty hard on reporter Aaron Nelson:

  • Aaron, you state, “Children born to parents in the U.S. illegally are guaranteed citizenship under the 14th Amendment.” Is this your unlegal opinion, or are you relying on some legal expert to state this conclusion? If so, please cite the expert and refrain from making categorical statements without citing an expert. I challenge you, or any other expert, to cite any Supreme Court decision holding that children born to parents in the US illegally are guaranteed citizenship under the 14th amendment.
  • I find it interesting that Jeb now points to Asians (anchor babies) or Central Americans (border crossers) as the current immigration culprits, although it is undeniable that the vast majority of anchor babies and border crossers have been Mexican. That appears to be a personal bias of his. It seems that Rubio and Jeb want to redefine the concept of anchor babies as limited only to rich people who take advantage of this constitutional loophole. The rich are mercenaries, while poor people who cross the border into Brownsville to have their babies are acting out of love. Talk about populists.

My second favorite forum for making comments is the New York Times.  The power of that paper amazes me.  It is not unusual for controversial articles to receive thousands of comments even though the paper often stops accepting comments after a few hours.  For additional discouragement, the paper moderates comments (i.e., screens them), so that your comment may not appear for hours after you submitted it.

Because of these discouragements, I submit comments to the NY Times probably less than once a week, but yesterday the Times finally gave me some encouragement.  I submitted a comment about an article on an Ivy League analysis of school suspensions of blacks in 13 southern states.  Consistent with my modus operandi, I criticized the reporting as follows:

  • “Surely, we haven’t reached the point where we apply racial quotas to suspensions! I suspect that males are suspended more often than females, but no one suggests sexual bias there. I wonder if there is a racial imbalance in instances of resisting arrest, too. It’s too easy to casually imply causality when actually all we have is correlation.”

Boy was I surprised when only a few minutes later I received an email saying that my comment had been published.  Then when I looked at the published comment, I noticed that it was listed as a “New York Times Pick.”  This designation means that the Times moderator believed it adds value to the commenter discussion of the article.  Of the 262 comments, only ten received the NYT Pick designation.  If a person submits enough solid comments, that person becomes a “verified commenter” whose musings are published without going through a moderator.

I wonder why I feel so good about this seal of approval from this bastion of liberal politics.  Because I respect journalism as much as any profession.

August 24, 2015

What to do with eleven million illegal immigrants

Donald Trump’s strong stance against illegal immigration continues to dominate the contest for the GOP presidential nomination.  Because Trump is the dominant front runner, some of his opponents have been taking potshots at him, but even more forcefully, the media went after him this past weekend.

The principal anti-Trump argument on the Sunday TV shows didn’t concern his bold argument against birthright citizenship, but rather the media asserted that it was not financially and logistically possible to remove eleven million illegal immigrants.  According to cited studies, it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take years.

When confronted with these numbers, Trump gave a fuzzy answer that this challenge could be met through his excellent “management.”  Although that answer generally quieted his questioners, I suggest that there is a better answer, which was developed by a man much smarter than Trump – i.e., Mitt Romney.

In 2012, Romney concluded that millions of illegal immigrants would “self-deport” (a) if an effective e-verify system prevented them from securing employing in America and (b) if an improved detection and apprehension process made living in America less safe and secure (no sanctuaries).  At some point, America’s laws could also be tweaked to deny birthright citizenship and educational benefits to illegal immigrants.

I realize these measures are draconian, but if America wants to end illegal immigration, then the magnets that attract illegal immigrants must be eliminated.  Of course, millions of America don’t think that illegal immigration is a big problem, and they will be willing to leave things pretty much as they are.

Elections matter.  I will be surprised if the GOP selects a nominee who is soft on illegal immigration (Bush, Rubio, Walker), but I will also be surprised if the GOP nominee who is hard on illegal immigration (Trump, Cruz, Carson) is able to win a general election.  I think I’m shifting my support from one Cuban (Rubio) to another (Cruz).

August 21, 2015

An open letter to Bill O’Reilly

Filed under: Law/justice,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 10:43 pm
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Bill, the word for the day is “sophomoric.”  Used in a sentence, “Your reportage this week on anchor babies was sophomoric.”

Why do I think your reportage was “conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature”?  The Bill of Particulars against you contains two items:

  1. False statements.  In your Trump interview on anchor babies, you paraphrased the 14th Amendment as saying, “If you are born in America, you are a citizen.”  Your omission of the critical middle clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” is flagrant journalistic malpractice.  Then you imperiously declared the sentence could have only one legal meaning.  Yes, the sentence you read could only have one meaning, but what is the meaning of the clause you didn’t read?  In law, there is a strong presumption against construing a clause to be redundant or irrelevant.
  2. Two days later, you attempted to buttress your legal opinion by interviewing two legal experts – one a conservative and one a liberal – who agreed with you. In law, a judge will pit two advocates against each other and then decide.  Couldn’t you find anyone to articulate an argument contrary to your position?  What about one of America’s most popular constitutional authorities, Mark Levin, who earlier in the week spoke out strongly against your position?  What about one of America’s most respected federal judges, Richard Posner, who opined about anchor babies in a 2003 appellate decision, “Congress would not be flouting the Constitution if it amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to put an end to the nonsense.  A constitutional amendment may be required to change the rule whereby birth in this country automatically confers U.S. citizenship, but I doubt it.”

It’s not too late to redeem your reputation by apologizing to your viewers and presenting them with a full-throated argument on the meaning of “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”  Is it directed narrowly at foreign diplomats or more broadly at anyone who has allegiance to another country?

August 19, 2015

Illegals

Filed under: Law/justice,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:26 pm
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The New York Times Magazine is publishing an article this weekend titled, “The Unwelcome Return of ‘Illegals.’”  The article points out that, despite longstanding efforts by the GOP to soften the way its leaders characterize illegal immigrants, the current crop of GOP presidential candidates are being drawn back to a harsher characterization, “illegals.”

When I googled the term “illegal immigration,” I quickly learned that the roiling argument over the proper way to describe illegal immigrants has never subsided.  Countless essays and articles nitpick between illegal and undocumented, with the term illegal preferred by those who think there is something fundamentally wrong with the individual’s status, while the term undocumented is preferred by those who think there is only a minor, correctible technicality wrong with the person’s status.

An article three years ago on CNN.com suggested a compromise based on a Supreme Court opinion by Justice Kennedy.  He used the relatively neutral term, “unauthorized migrant,” but the term hasn’t caught on, probably because most people are not relatively neutral on this subject.  Rather, they either want the migrants gone yesterday or want them welcomed with open arms.

Although I would be much more generous to illegal immigrants than my political brothers-in-arms (I would amnesty those who have been here at least 7-10 years), I have a major bone to pick with the media on its liberal coverage of this issue.  It is almost impossible to find a media article that doesn’t inaccurately conflate illegal and legal immigration.  Candidates like Trump are described as anti-immigrant when the accurate description would be anti-illegal immigrants.  Some pundits might be anti-legal immigration (e.g., Ann Coulter), but I have yet to hear of a GOP presidential candidate who wants to reduce legal immigration.  Indeed, the vast majority of them want to increase legal immigration.

Of course, if the GOP field is generally anti-illegal immigrant, that would mean the Dems could claim the mantle of pro-illegal immigrants, and I don’t think Hillary and the Dems would decline it.

August 11, 2015

The GOP debate, Megyn Kelly, and Carly Fiorina

Filed under: Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:11 pm
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Yesterday, I blogged that the Republican debate was “riveting” because each question “attacked the candidates at their most vulnerable point.”  Since then, however, I have been persuaded by conservative talk-show guy, Mark Levin, that I was wrong.

Levin has described the event as a National Inquirer debate because of its focus on embarrassing issues instead of on substantive policy.   His prime example of this conduct was the second question of the debate, by which Megyn Kelly suggested that poll-leading candidate Trump was a misogynist who was waging a war on women.  During a 30-minute expose on his show, Levin showed how the question was unfair and inappropriate.  How could Trump possibly explain in 60 seconds the context of each one of the charges?  Levin did take the time to defend/explain the charges relating to Rosie O’Donnell and the “on your knees” comment taken from an Apprentice show.  Levin pointed out that Kelly had been a practicing lawyer, and I wonder if this was her version of the famous legal question – “Yes or no, have you quit beating your wife?”

Aside from Trump and Kelly, the story of the Republican debate seems to be Carly Fiorina vaulting to the top tier.  I’ve never liked Fiorina and she is often described as colder and more calculating than Hillary Clinton, but I decided to watch a tape of the Happy Hour debate to see what all the fuss was about.  After watching, my position remains unchanged.  During my working career, I’ve encountered several people like her who give great briefings by sounding like they know everything, but over time they invariably fail miserably because they don’t know as much as they think and they don’t know how to work with others.

But aside from this substantive weakness, there is another reason why Fiorina did so well last Thursday – i.e., she participated in the Happy Hour debate, where the questioners allowed the candidates to address substantive issues, and this is her forte.  Imagine if, instead of substantive questions, she had been asked only embarrassing questions, such as:

  • You’ve been married twice, but never had any children.  Why?
  • Your claim to fame is being the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, but you were fired after six years, with the company losing 50% of its value.  Including your golden parachute, how much were you paid by H-P to lose 50% of its value and how does that compare to the pay of an average employee during that time?
  • Your only political race was a landslide loss to Senator Boxer in California.  What was your thinking in that such an electoral failure should lead to running for president?

I suggest that Carly Fiorina would not have vaulted to the top tier if those were her questions.

August 10, 2015

Donald Trump and the GOP debate

Filed under: Insurance,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 7:08 pm
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Although I hadn’t planned to watch the Republican debate on Thursday, I did record it while attending a Happy Hour at Big Bob’s Burger with a bunch of former co-workers.  Then on Friday afternoon, I decided to give the debate a gander, and after getting by the awkward 10-minute preliminary event, I found the entire debate to be riveting.  Each question attacked the candidates at their most vulnerable point, and the one-minute limit for responses inexplicably kept the candidates from glossing over the question and switching to a nonresponsive talking point.

The candidates were mostly exemplary, but the 800-pound gorilla in the room was Donald Trump (a bull in the china closet).  He had a commanding lead in all of the polls and received the lion’s share of the media’s pre-debate attention.  In responding to the pointed debate questions, however, The Donald took a different tack.  To use a fencing analogy, his nature is not to bother with parrying the questioner’s attack; rather, he immediately responds with a riposte.  While the other candidates try to think of the questioners as merely doing their jobs, Trump sees it as an ad hominem attack.  Thus, the other candidates answered substantively while Trump stormed and blustered.

Even before the debate, I considered Trump to be a novelty and not a serious contender.  Surely, most Republicans would gravitate toward one of the other serious candidates.  The debate made this scenario even more likely.

But Trump’s treatment after the debate makes me want to defend him.  The media’s major post-debate criticism of Trump is that he made a childish suggestion that Megyn Kelly’s hormones caused her to ask him such nasty questions.  He said the following on CNN to Don Lemon:

  • “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

The media almost universally assumed that Trump was suggesting that Megyn might have been on her period.  Since the media wasn’t in Trump’s mind, it should have at a minimum said that it was “inferring” that Trump was referring to her period.  Then the question could shift to the media to explain why it was inferring such nonsense.  Trump argued that only a deviant would infer such a thing.

Because I hadn’t heard the actual interview of Trump by Don Lemon, I went to You Tube and listened to it.  The quote pretty much speaks for itself, but a minute or two later on the interview, Trump shifted his pique to Chris Wallace, and charged that he, too, seemed to have blood coming out of his eyes.  I believe this second usage of blood coming out of the eyes of a questioner supports Trump’s assertion that he was using some obscure idiom involving blood coming out of a head without a misogynist intent.

Although I would never consider voting for Trump for any leadership position, I plan to speak up for him whenever the establishment treats him unfairly.

July 31, 2015

Cecil the Lion and Chris Duel

Filed under: Facebook,Law/justice,Media — Mike Kueber @ 1:37 pm
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Cecil the lion and Chris Duel

Chris Duel is a local media personality who works well in both the political and sports arena.  I met him to do an on-line interview when I ran for the City Council and I then I bumped into him at this year’s Rock and Roll Marathon.  He has always seemed a thoughtful moderate, so I was a bit surprised this week when he posted on his Facebook wall some over-the-top support for the liberal hang-wringing/anger over Cecil the Lion:

  • Amazing how late night comics like Kimmel, Stewart & Colbert catalyze opinions & national consciousness while mainstream news usually fails.

I decided to pour some cold water over this ode of love:

  • People whose views are catalyzed by Stewart and Colbert are a small subset of America. They are creatures of cable. There’s a reason they aren’t mainstream.

One of Chris’s friends decided to put me in my place:

  • Michele Autenrieth Brown: It’s a fact: more people get their news from Facebook than any other source. And, most people don’t watch Colbert, Stewart or any others on live TV. They stream it… or watch clips on social media. They are mainstream and a result of a lack of fair and balanced coverage. They poke fun…but if you watch Stewart with frequency, you will see some fantastic interviews with the leading news makers of the day. I will miss his sense of humor and calling BS when it is so desperately needed.

After a little research on the subject, I tried to put Michele in her place:

  • Me:  Michele, Fortune magazine may have recently reported that more people get their news from Facebook, but the magazine went on to say, “Still, for most people on social media, neither Facebook nor Twitter is terribly important for their news consumption. Just 4% of Facebook users and 9% of Twitter users call their platform ‘the most important way I get news.'” I do watch Stewart frequently, and he more often than not does challenging interviews of politicians, but the first two segments of the show are almost always directed at eviscerating conservatives and conservative causes. He is an unabashed liberal and a proponent of liberal causes.

Earlier in the day, Chris addressed the Cecil the Lion matter by attacking those who had apparently challenged the shrill Cecil defenders of having screwed up priorities:

  • Chris:  As some criticize Jimmy Kimmel for criticizing the killing of Cecil, Paul Alexander posted this brilliant reply to those who are angry that Kimmel isn’t showing anger at what they’re angry about: “Let me explain something to you. Jimmy Kimmel was pissed about Cecil….because he was pissed about Cecil.  That doesn’t mean it’s the only thing he’s pissed off about….or that it’s the most important thing he’s pissed off about….or that he’s suggesting it’s the only thing YOU should be pissed off about.  It was what he was pissed off about at the moment…..so he got pissed off about it. This notion that if he’s not pissed off about exactly the same thing you’re pissed off about at exactly the same moment you’re pissed off about it that he is somehow therefore dissing you and your personal cause of the moment is ridiculous.  This notion that he shouldn’t have been pissed off about Cecil because it would have been more appropriate for him to be pissed off about what you’re pissed off about is juvenile, arrogant, illogical and is a reflection on…….YOU….not him.  You’re pissed off about something else? Fine. Go get your own network tv show and get pissed off about it. But Kimmel is under no obligation to carry your water.  It’s the Jimmy Kimmel show. It is not the “Oh, yeah, well what about (fill in the blank)?” show.  If you think his jokes fall flat, light him up. He’s far from my favorite comedian.  But this criticism he’s facing about his reaction to Cecil is bullshit.”

I’m not sure what Paul Alexander does for a living now, but when I came to San Antonio he was a TV broadcast sports anchor.  And because I occasionally see pompous posts from him on Facebook I liken him to MSNBC talk-show guy Ed Schultz, who was a TV broadcast sports anchor in ND before I moved to Texas.  Although I was tempted to call out Alexander for his ad hominem comments, which he is wont to do, I decided to keep it civil and challenge him on substance:

  • Me:  I’m not sure what unspecified complaint is being made against Kimmel because the only one I’ve heard is abortion. That isn’t some random thing to be pissed at. Rather it is closely associated with the Cecil killing because it relates to the value that we put on life. No one complains when liberals chastise conservatives for their self-proclaimed love of life while at the same time promoting capital punishment. Hypocrisy, they yell. Well, this is basically the same thing in that conservatives are charging liberals at being excessively concerned with animal life while sanctioning the termination of human fetuses. Kimmel put the dentists face and name on national TV. What would you think of putting the face and name of abortion doctors on TV?

Neither Chris nor Alexander responded.

July 25, 2015

Colin Cowherd

Filed under: Media,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 1:20 pm
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Earlier this week, radio talk-show guy Colin Cowherd was making an argument about how simple the game of baseball was when he offered as supporting evidence the fact that most of the major leaguers were from the Dominican Republic, a country noteworthy for its weak education system.

I believe Cowherd’s statement, although irrelevant, is true, and Cowherd has since provided objective proof of it.  But it is also, in the mainstream media, something that is not said in polite company.  Therefore, ESPN has taken Cowherd off the air.

I don’t envy being a radio talk-show guy, especially those employed by politically-correct corporations.  These guys are supposed to be edgy, but their livelihood is at risk if they say anything that offends an important stakeholder of the corporation.

p.s., if I had a dollar for every time I heard a northeast liberal make a snarky comment about the intelligence of southerners, I could retire 🙂

Playing reporter

Filed under: Media,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 1:14 pm
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There were a couple of items in the news this past week in which I think the media completely missed an important angle to the stories:

  1. Border sieve.  Kate Steinle was a young woman killed in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant.  The media has focused on the fact that San Francisco is a sanctuary city, so even though the killer was a felon who had been deported multiple times, the city had shortly before the murder released him from an custody instead of turning him over to ICE.  Although the sanctuary-city issue is an important one, I also think the incident does serious damage to the Obama administration argument that our border security has improved.  Rather, the fact that this guy was able to illegally cross our border at least six times shows that the border remain a sieve.
  2. Pre-game preparation.  One of the big story angles leading up to the British Open was whether Jordan Spieth should have gone to Scotland a week early to get acclimated instead of competing in the John Deere Classic in America.  When Spieth competed strongly in the British Open, the argument seemed to have died a quiet death.  But I think the argument should have ended with an exclamation mark because the man who defeated Spieth by one stroke in the Open was Zach Johnson, another golfer who played the John Deere Classic before catching a chartered red-eye to Scotland.  The John Deere Classic should have an easier time filling its field next year.
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