This is sterling work from John Pring’s indispensible Disability News Service.
It turns out that the government’s much-trumpeted changes to the list of those who qualify for blue disability badges were forced on the Tories by the courts – and they lied about it to cover up the fact.
The changes mean people with invisible impairments should find it much easier to get a blue badge, which gives concessions to disabled people when they have to pay for parking.
They were heralded as the biggest overhaul of the system in 40 years, following a public consultation – but nobody mentioned the fact that this had been ordered by the courts after a judicial review on behalf of an autistic man with learning difficulties.
According to DNS, the man, who has since died, “had had a blue badge for 30 years but was told by his local council that he no longer qualified because of new [Department for Transport] rules.
“His family took legal action against the government and his local council because of new guidance issued by DfT in October 2014, after the government had begun to replace disability living allowance (DLA) with the new personal independence payment (PIP) disability benefit the previous year.
“DfT was forced to settle the judicial review claim in 2016 by agreeing to review the new blue badge guidance.
“It was that review that led to this year’s consultation – which heard from more than 6,000 individuals and more than 230 organisations – and the announcement of changes to the scheme this week.”
The cover-up was aided by disability charities including the National Autistic Society (NAS), which was quoted in the DfT press release expressing its support for the government and saying it was “thrilled” with the move, according to DNS.
“The support of charities like NAS was then reported by mainstream media including the Independent, the Observer/Guardian online and the BBC, most of which repeated the government’s line that the announcement was the biggest overhaul of the system in 40 years,” the news site dedicated to issues facing disabled people stated.
There’s a big push, at the moment, to have social media sites labelled ‘fake news’, so the mainstream media – like the Independent, Observer/Guardian and the BBC can maintain their supremacy as “reliable” news sources. I wonder how many people would have realised these “reliable” news sources were in fact peddling fake news in this case?
DNS is currently struggling to remain financially viable – but without the site’s excellent work, the government would be able to keep hidden the facts about stories like this.
Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS by visiting the source article (link below) and clicking on the ‘Donate’ button at the bottom of the story.
Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are the Tory fools who have created the crisis in the English NHS. Tell them they are to blame. Tell them they should resign now.
The more I think about the unreasonable comments and demands made by Theresa May and her health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the less acceptable they seem.
We are told senior GPs could resign in huge numbers because Mrs May has irrationally chosen to scapegoat them for the humanitarian crisis sweeping the National Health Service in England. But why should they?
Surely we can all see where responsibility really lies?
The Conservatives aren’t responsible for the NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and those countries aren’t experiencing any crisis – except possibly where their services are reliant on facilities based in England.
The Conservatives are responsible for the NHS in England, and it is in England that the crisis has occurred.
Therefore Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are responsible for causing the current crisis; so Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt should resign.
Why are high-profile politicians and medical leaders not already demanding their heads on a plate?
Theresa May seems keen to blame anybody but herself – she tried to pin the crisis on the elderly before claiming that A&E departments are buckling because she thinks GPs are lazy.
Enough is enough.
Whenever Mrs May, Mr Hunt or any other Tory (with the exception of Dr Sarah Wollaston, who has spoken up for the NHS, thereby proving she is in the wrong political party altogether) tries to run down the NHS, its doctors, nurses, specialists, workers or users, let’s just tell them:
“No. You are to blame. Resign.”
It’s a simple message, and easy to repeat.
Put it out there a few times and even our Tory-loving mass media might get the hang of it.
“Let’s not rewrite history,” said NHS England chief Simon Stevens – but Theresa May has tried to do exactly that.
She knows perfectly well that he said the NHS in England would need between £8 billion and £21 billion in order to sustain the service up to 2020.
Her claim that, by giving the service £10 billion over six years, she is providing more than was requested is a lie.
That’s £8.4 billion over five years – the absolute lowest end of the scale presented by Mr Stevens.
It takes no account of cuts to social care, closed walk-in centres, closed pharmacies, limited availability of GP appointments – all caused by Tory mismanagement.
More money than the NHS requested would be at least £22 billion.
And the fact is that Tory cuts to the English health service will amount to nearly £40 billion – including the extra £8.4 billion – by 2020.
Theresa May is a liar and should resign because her lies are threatening people’s lives. Jeremy Hunt is a liar and should resign for the same reason.
The claim: The NHS is being given more money than it asked for.
Reality Check verdict: The amount that the NHS in England is being given over this Parliament is at the bottom end of the range that it asked for. It doesn’t take into account the knock-on effects of shortfalls in other areas such as social care.
“We asked the NHS to work out what it needed over the next five years in terms of… the funding it would need,” Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky News on Sunday.
“We gave them more funding then they required.”
But NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens denied this on Wednesday.
Mr Stevens has made clear that when he mentioned the £8bn figure, that was the minimum amount needed just to plug the funding gap.
But this figure is not enough to keep pace with rising demand, improve services or accommodate plans for seven-day services.
Speaking to NHS leaders last June, he said: “Let’s not rewrite history.
“In the Forward View, we actually said that the National Health Service would need between £8bn and £21bn by 2020 in order to sustain and improve.”
Even as the UK erupts in protest at the government’s neglect of the NHS, the Tory privatisation plan is working, it seems.
The crisis has created a perception that the public health service is unable to cope. Private firms can capitalise on this – and don’t forget that more private contracts are being offered up for NHS work, every day. Here’s the latest:
In the middle of an NHS Crisis, the Tories are still offering chunks of your NHS to private health. This for exmaple https://t.co/AdpD4hagsC
It’s for an ‘integrated urgent care service’ (whatever that may be), offered by Kernow CCG (in Cornwall?) and is worth nearly £50 million.
It should be remembered that private healthcare will not offer treatment for the most complicated, long-term conditions; the people who need it most. Instead, they take contracts that draw funding away from their treatment.
And the ‘crisis’ narrative gains momentum – but it lacks one major element.
The only reason there is a humanitarian crisis in the NHS is underfunding by the Conservative Party in government. They will have inflicted nearly £40 billion of cuts by 2020, and have already passed on around £20 billion of funding to private companies, much of which will be transferred to shareholders’ bank accounts as profit, rather than having anything to do with treatment of illness.
The bureaucratic cost of private involvement alone is astronomical.
Yet Theresa May tried to blame the crisis on the increase of elderly patients, in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
In fact, decades of ward closures have led to the bed crisis. Bed-to-population ratios are worse than in some eastern European countries. Funding of the NHS, in total, is well below the EU average. But Mrs May keeps rattling on about a “strong economy” being the answer. Didn’t Philip Hammond say our economy is the strongest in the developed world, during his Autumn Statement last year? Yes, he did.
I am sick of hearing Tories say a strong economy will help the NHS. Utter nonsense. It needs funding to the EU average @DLidington#bbcqt
Simon Stevens holds up a copy of the Daily Mail at a public accounts committee meeting focusing on the crisis in the health service [Image: Parliament TV].
The crisis in the English National Health Service is deepening while Tories, led by Theresa May, quibble over the amount of money it is getting.
Mrs May told Sky News on Sunday that, “when the government had asked the NHS what it needed for the next five years, it had been given ‘more funding’ than ‘required’.”
But Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, denied this point-blank in evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee yesterday (Wednesday).
Ministers had said NHS England had requested £8bn and been allocated £10bn. But Mr Stevens told MPs that was to cover six years rather than the five-year plan he had put forward.
“I don’t think that’s the same as saying we are getting more than we asked for over five years.”
He also held up a copy of a Daily Mail report showing that health spending in England is much lower than in other European countries.
In any case, as This Site has pointed out – £10 billion won’t cancel out the £20 billion of cuts inflicted over the last few years – or the £22 billion consigned to private healthcare firms that Conservatives have invited to raid the NHS for lucrative contracts, and the bureaucracy associated with it. Mr Stevens described cuts to capital expenditure as “robbing Paul to pay Paul”.
In many cases, the companies gaining from NHS contracts – which turn public money into profits for their shareholders – had financial links to Conservative politicians. It doesn’t take a lot of detective work to understand that the introduction of private companies into the NHS was about enriching these Conservatives rather than improving health outcomes.
Former Conservative Health Secretary Steven Dorrell has supported Mr Stevens’ comments, and said the government “should be addressing the evidence about what is happening on the ground rather than engaging in a rather high-profile discussion about, frankly, what sound to the public like telephone numbers of public expenditure”.
In other words, the NHS needs action, not pointless arguments.
Meanwhile, more than 20 hospitals in England have had to declare a black alert this week after becoming so overcrowded that they could no longer guarantee patient safety and provide their full range of normal services.
A black alert is defined as as a “serious incident”. It means the system is under severe pressure and is unable to deliver certain actions and comprehensive emergency care.
At least 23 hospital trusts have declared they cannot cope since Monday. Theresa May described this, at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, as “extra pressures on the NHS”. Do you think that is a fair description?
Labour MP Toby Perkins – whose father reportedly died in his arms after being mistakenly sent home during the last major NHS crisis in July last year – might take a different view.
Remember the NHS crisis last July? Nor do I. Apparently everybody was too busy to notice, as they were being whipped up against junior doctors, who were threatening industrial action over the danger to patients posed by a new contract introduced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Hunt’s contract, which he later forced on junior doctors in spite of their concerns, demanded more work from them in conditions that were less safe. And here we are.
Do we believe Mrs May, who has lied about more money going into the NHS? Or Mr Hunt, who forced an unsafe contract on junior doctors that has almost certainly contributed to the current crisis?
Or do we believe junior doctor Rachel Clarke, who has made it absolutely clear that she believes the Conservatives are covering up the crisis and putting savings before safety.
She writes: “First-hand testimony from frontline doctors backs up the scale of the crisis, depicting almost unimaginable conditions of squalor and indignity up and down the country. “It’s an absolute war zone” said one junior doctor, “completely out of control” said another.
“Hunt’s denial of frontline reality has left doctors like me feeling utterly terrified for our patients. Two deaths on trolleys are two too many.
“Just how many more are required before the Government acts?”
I asked much the same question, days ago, after it was revealed the Red Cross had stepped in and called this a “humanitarian crisis”.
Dr Clarke writes: “Hunt condemned the ‘times when it might feel easier to conceal mistakes, to deny that things have gone wrong and to slide into postures of institutional defensiveness’, vowing instead to foster ‘a climate of openness, where staff are supported to do the right thing and where we put people first at all times.'”
“So why, at this time of crisis for NHS patients, has the Government spin machine cranked into overdrive, denying the seriousness of doctors’ concerns and promising the public that all is well? That is the precise opposite of what the nation was promised,” writes Dr Clarke.
“Everyone who works in the NHS has a duty of candour, and no Health Secretary should be exempt from that. If Hunt really cares about patients, then when frontline staff are clamouring to warn of crisis conditions that we know are costing lives, he owes it to patients to listen.”
Well, here’s a possibility: Perhaps Mrs May and Mr Hunt are holding on because they know their job is nearly finished. With NHS trusts facing a 21 per cent increase in tax next April – thanks to Tory changes – and the healthcare it provides in crisis – thanks to Tory changes – perhaps they think they only have to wait a while before being able to claim the NHS has had its day and it is time for an expensive private insurance system to take over – meaning more profit for them.
Theresa May set up a blind trust arrangement when she became prime minister, allowing her to hold on to shareholdings or other investments without disclosing what they are to the public. Does she have shares in private health? It is in the public interest to know, but she has refused to surrender the facts. Why?
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” That was the mantra when Mrs May – the same Mrs May – was pushing her Snooper’s Charter through Parliament against the will of the public. She is clearly afraid of divulging the details of her shareholdings. What does she have to hide?
He said a regular meeting of NHS chiefs discussed “at what point does public confidence in the NHS model of care, delivered free at the point of use based on clinical need not the ability to pay, come into question” – and the conclusion was that “What we are doing at the moment is not sustainable.”
One has to question this man’s attitude. Rather than fight for the NHS, he is ready to give it up – exactly as Mrs May and Mr Hunt must want.
But the people of the United Kingdom aren’t having it.
The NHS is our most precious possession – one that we know Conservatives hate and want to end. That is why we must fight them for it – all the way to the ballot box.
Theresa May and her cabinet cronies will stop at nothing to win this battle. They don’t care if your friends or relatives die on hospital trolleys after waiting unendurable times for treatment.
They don’t care that we know the NHS is only failing because they have deliberately crippled it.
They don’t care that three-quarters of the UK’s population didn’t vote for them and even most of those who did are supporters of the NHS.
They want their private system. They want their massive profits. They want to ruin your health forever, because you’ll never be able to afford their prices.
You cannot afford to lose the fight for the National Health Service.
He can run, but he can’t hide: Jeremy Hunt tries to escape a news reporter as she demands answers about the deepening crisis in the NHS – a crisis he has caused [Image: Sky News].
The following transcript from BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours is shocking – not only because it shows that Theresa May has been trying to cover up the humanitarian crisis in the English National Health Service, but because it was reported by the diligently pro-Tory BBC:
So, “Theresa May, the Prime Minister, didn’t want any of this to get out”:
That the average ambulance wait is currently 40 minutes at a major NHS trust in the north of England;
That a man who had a heart attack waited five hours on a trolley for treatment;
That patients had been shut out of the hospital;
That cancer treatments might have to be cancelled because low staffing made them unsafe;
That nursing staff had expressed concern to their unions about unsafe working practices;
That calls on the 999 emergency number may be a waste of effort.
The last point is particularly corrosive; the 999 emergency number has been a quality standard that British people have considered almost sacred since it was introduced, and now the Conservatives have rendered it useless.
And people are still being left to die on trolleys in corridors.
No wonder Theresa May – the prime minister of the United Kingdom, don’t forget – wanted to stop the public from finding out about this.
But it seems the BBC is now well and truly on the case. Having failed to kill this story over the weekend, the Corporation seems to have decided it may as well jump in with both feet, so we got the following:
Record numbers of patients are facing long waits in A&Es as documents leaked to the BBC show the full extent of the winter crisis in the NHS in England.
Nearly a quarter of patients waited longer than four hours in A&E last week, with just one hospital hitting its target.
And huge numbers also faced long waits for a bed when A&E staff admitted them into hospital as emergency cases.
There were more than 18,000 “trolley waits” of four hours or more last week.
18 thousand trolley waits of four hours or more. Wasn’t Jeremy Hunt saying there were only a “handful” of these, only yesterday?
And where was Mr Hunt, exactly?
He was filmed running away from a TV news reporter – and embarrassingly having to U-turn after heading off in the wrong direction.
After making a speech to the King’s Fund think tank, in central London, he was chased by Sky News reporter Beth Rigby, who asked him whether he was scrapping four-hour waiting times or just watering them down (to include only patients he describes as being in genuine need of A&E treatment).
He refused to answer her questions, but had to double back, as he searched for his expensive chauffeur-driven ministerial car.
It is clear that the Conservatives have no answer to the facts that are being revealed.
They are also refusing – mark that word: refusing – to do anything at all about the crisis other than to deny its existence, try to redefine national standards so they conform with that denial, and run away from the facts while people continue to suffer.
In the past, health secretaries would have resigned long before any situation reached this point.
In fact, given the magnitude of the disaster, prime ministers would have resigned as well.
Isn’t it time we told Mr Hunt and Mrs May that their services are no longer needed?
The new documentary provided less focus on the South Yorkshire Police, paid more attention to the misconduct of the West Midlands Police, the much-neglected Hillsborough Justice Campaign was given more recognition than the Hillsborough Families Support Group and there was more of an outlet for traumatised survivors of the Disaster and not only for the bereaved families.
Mr Odoni writes:
The only detail I want to dwell on for now though is the interview with Ray Lewis. He was the referee for the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, and was famously the man who blew the whistle and ordered the players to clear the pitch six minutes into the game when fans spilled over from the overcrowded terrace.
Lewis reveals that he gave a verbal statement to Superintendent Barry Mason of the West Midlands Police after the Disaster. During the statement, he described the crowd outside the stadium on the day of the tragedy as ‘mixed’, by which he meant that he saw Liverpool and Nottingham Forest supporters mingling freely, peacefully and in good spirits.
A quarter of a century later, Lewis finally got to see the type-up of his words, and to his consternation, he found that the word mixed had been substituted with the word pissed. An investigator from the Independent Police Complaints Commission discussed the alteration with Lewis, and apparently concluded that it was probably just a typographical error.
I reckon this is a classic IPCC excuse for being too lazy to investigate. To my mind, the odds on the change-of-words being an error are pretty remote.
Judge for yourself:
[Image: The Critique Archives.]
Mr Odoni admits – as had Mr Lewis – that the handwriting was poor, but it seems clear that the first letter in the word is not a ‘p’.
Also – and he puts it very well:
Is it not just a bit too much of a coincidence that the word the officer chose as a substitute ‘just happened’ to be slang for drunkenness? Of all the possible substitutes the typist could have chosen, and there must be dozens, (s)he ‘just happened’ to choose the one that emphasises the impression of drunk-and-disorderly behaviour, which ‘just happened’ to be the very impression that officers in both West Midlands and South Yorkshire had been trying so very hard to convey.
I agree, and can only echo his concluding sentiment: “Not for the first time when discussing the Hillsborough Disaster, I find myself asking the question, ‘Do the British police really think the public are that stupid?’”
Dominic Raab: An overprivileged, lazy rich boy who wants to bully minorities including the sick and disabled.
More Conservatives have voiced their indignation at comparisons between their attitude to the disabled and that of the Nazis in Germany during the 1930s and 40s – despite the fact that there are clear parallels.
The latest outburst was in response to claims by Sioux Blair-Jordan at the Labour Party conference, that if David Cameron enacts plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a Bill of Rights, the disabled and sick “might as well walk into the gas chamber today”.
As explained in a Vox Politicalarticle yesterday, Ms Blair-Jordan’s criticism is accurate; clear comparisons can be made between the Conservative attitude to illness and disability and that of the Nazis.
Three examples are the adoption of ‘chequebook euthanasia’ in the work capability assessment ‘medical’ test, with people who have mental illnesses being asked if they have ever considered suicide – those who answer in the affirmative are then challenged over why they did not go through with it, provoking the claimant to consider suicide again; the fact that, after visiting the Auschwitz extermination camp, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith adopted the slogan over its gate “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes you free) and has used it several times since, to sum up his attitude to claimants; and the fact that, despite many Freedom of Information requests for the number of people who have died under the Conservative Party’s current benefits regime, the Tories – like the Nazis – have hidden the full effects of their policies from the public.
In the light of these facts, the indignation professed by some Conservatives at Ms Blair-Jordan’s comment can only be regarded with contempt.
Look at Dominic Raab. This creep co-wrote a book entitled Britannia Unchained a few years ago, in which he claimed that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”. At the time, his record of attendance at Parliament was among the worst of all MPs, at a meagre 79.1 per cent.
It seems Mr Raab is the one who prefers a lie-in to hard work – but he would clearly reopen the workhouse for the sick and disabled, given half a chance. It’s just one step from there to turn it into a concentration/extermination camp.
Yet he wants us to accept that “It is delusional, and shows extraordinarily bad taste, for Labour conference to applaud the delegate who equated the government’s common sense human rights reforms to Nazis sending innocent people to the gas chambers. Jeremy Corbyn should apologise immediately for embracing rather than distancing himself from the delegate. It points directly to his unfitness to lead.”
On the contrary – it is Mr Raab who is delusional. Let’s face it, he even describes his government’s fascistic plans to eliminate our human rights as “common sense”. It is hard to accept protestations that the Tories are not behaving like Nazis from someone who is upholding a policy demonstrating that they are.
Bizarrely, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism got on this bandwagon:
“Sioux Blair-Jordan’s reference to gas chambers was gratuitous and offensive. Over six million Jews as well as others, including the disabled, were murdered during the Holocaust, many of them in gas chambers.”
That is precisely the point. Perhaps this person should be joining Ms Blair-Jordan in opposing the Conservative Party’s behaviour, rather than siding with the oppressors. Perhaps this person should be reminded of the now-too-often-quoted words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, before the Tories come for him, and he finds out there is nobody to stand up for him.
Jeremy Corbyn is to be applauded. He is standing up for the sick, the disabled, and anyone else facing oppression from the overprivileged, spoilt brats who have conned their way into control of the UK.
If The Guardian‘s story yesterday is correct, it seems the Conservative Government of the 1980s was perfectly happy to protect child abusing cabinet members, because the harm they caused to “small boys” was deemed to be less important than “the risks of political embarrassment to the government”.
In fact, the risk posed to children was not considered at all; the only concerns set out in correspondence between then-director general of MI5, Sir Anthony Duff, and then-Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong were dangers to security (national security?) and political embarrassment for the Conservatives.
If that does not make you physically sick with disgust at the attitudes that pervaded the top level of government in the United Kingdom, read it again until it does.
Implicated in the papers are the recently-deceased former Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, along with Margaret Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary, Sir Peter Morrison, former diplomat Sir Peter Hayman and former minister Sir William van Straubenzee.
Note carefully the fact that everybody implicated had a knighthood – indicating just how institutionalised child abuse appears to have been.
The other connection between them is that they are all dead – meaning that, if they did commit crimes against children, all of them escaped justice because they were connected with a Conservative government.
The papers came to light months after an official review concluded that claims the Home Office covered up child abuse allegations in the 1980s – including when Lord Brittan was Home Secretary – were “not proven”, and also several months after the sudden death of Lord Brittan himself – it was claimed he had succumbed after a long battle with cancer but, if so, it is strange that nobody seemed to have heard of it before.
The Cabinet Office is saying that the papers have only come to light now, because they had been kept in a store of “the Cabinet Secretary’s miscellaneous papers” at the National Archive where they had lain, largely uncatalogued and unregistered, with others accumulated over several decades up to 2007.
Do you believe that cover story?
Cabinet Office permanent secretary Richard Heaton wrote to Peter Wanless, head of the NSPCC and author of the official review, in May apologising for a “flaw in the way the Cabinet Office initially responded” to his, and fellow review author, barrister Richard Whittam’s, request for documents, and confirming that three categories of papers had since been identified as potentially relevant.
In a supplement to the review, released online yesterday, Wanless and Whittam said: “We are concerned and disappointed that the Cabinet Office was aware of the separate Cabinet Office store of assorted and unstructured papers, yet informed us that the searches covered all records and files held.”
So there it is. A previous Conservative Government hid evidence of child abuse among its ranks.
And the current Conservative Government obstructed investigations into these historic abuses until after all those involved were dead.
Blocked for 11 months: The Mail on Sunday describes how the Conservative-run Cabinet Office tried to hide information about paedophilia in the corridors of power.
According to Labour’s Simon Danczuk, the government is refusing to publish at least four files on historic child abuse because it is worried about what information may be revealed ahead of May’s general election.
Oh really? This suggests that the facts must be more damaging than any speculation. We all know that leading Conservative MPs, including at least one cabinet minister from the Thatcher era, have been implicated in the ongoing paedophile investigation.
And the Daily Mirror, together with investigative news site Exaro, has revealed that police have raided the London and North Yorkshire homes of the late Leon Brittan as part of Operation Midland – set up to investigate historic claims of child abuse by a group of powerful men.
The Mail on Sunday report states that the Cabinet Office – run by Conservative Francis Maude – repeatedly blocked attempts to see documents about Cyril Smith, and only relented under threat of High Court action.
It said David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both been accused of colluding in the cover-up.
Mr Danczuk told the paper: “Nick Clegg and David Cameron have colluded in covering this up. It involves their people and we should not have to learn about this piecemeal because of journalists pestering for information.
“Both men need to come clean and make a personal commitment to revealing everything that is now held by Government departments.
“The Prime Minister promised there would be no stone unturned into the inquiry of historic sex abuse in Westminster. But the Cabinet Office seems to be doing the opposite.
“Clegg, who sits in this department, has already written to me refusing to carry out an investigation into who knew what about Cyril Smith in his party and it’s disappointing to see the Cabinet Office continuing this unhelpful approach.”
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