Tag Archives: Friends

Conservative cronyism rampant as contract awarded to colleagues of Cummings and Gove

Buddy money: The Tories are using emergency procedures to bypass proper tendering procedures and give huge amounts of public money to their friends.

It’s jobs for the boys, the Old School Tie, and every other example of favouritism you can imagine in the Tory government during the Covid crisis!

They’re using emergency regulations, that allow services to be commissioned quickly, to pass huge amounts of money to their friends.

And apparently there’s a conflict of interest as it seems to involve Eurosceptics working on focus group research related to Brexit – although a Cabinet Office spokesman said this was a bookkeeping issue. Do you believe that?

The Tories are using the Covid-19 crisis to funnel public money away from vital services and into their friends’ bank accounts:

The Cabinet Office has awarded an £840,000 contract to research public opinion about government policies to a company owned by two long-term associates of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings, without putting the work out for tender.

Public First, a small policy and research company in London, is run by James Frayne, whose work alongside Cummings – the prime minister’s senior adviser – dates back to a Eurosceptic campaign 20 years ago, and Rachel Wolf, a former adviser to Gove who co-wrote the Conservative party’s 2019 election manifesto.

The government justified the absence of a competitive tendering process, which would have enabled other companies to bid, under emergency regulations that allow services to be urgently commissioned in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

However, the Cabinet Office’s public record states that portions of the work, which involved focus group research, related to Brexit rather than Covid-19, a joint investigation by the Guardian and openDemocracy has established.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said this was because of bookkeeping methods, and insisted that, contrary to government records, all the focus group research done by Public First was related to the pandemic.

Source: Firm with links to Gove and Cummings given Covid-19 contract without open tender | Politics | The Guardian

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Coronavirus: Wales starts easing the lockdown – one rule at a time

The Welsh government has announced that it is easing lockdown restrictions – but only one part of them, and for a very good reason.

From Monday, people from two different households in the same local area will be able to meet up outdoors. They must continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

As a general rule, people will not be allowed to travel more than five miles for these meetings – which comes hard for those of us in rural areas who have friends more than five miles away that we haven’t seen in nearly three months.

There will be exceptions including travelling to work, shopping for essentials that aren’t available locally, and to seek care.

That last exception seems to be an attempt to legitimise behaviour like Dominic Cummings’s trip from London to Durham, which caused a hugely embarrassing scandal that the Tory government has been trying to silence for the last week.

The reason for lifting just one rule at a time is simple, as First Minister Mark Drakeford was told:

“Making more than one significant relaxation was too dangerous because if the infection rate went up, it would not be clear what had caused it.”

Contrast that with Boris Johnson’s idiotic rush to get everybody back to work as soon as possible, and damn the consequences!

Is it any wonder that this decision has been followed by another one – to stop showing the daily number of Covid-19-related deaths?

Source: Why the Welsh Government is only making one major lockdown change | Wales – ITV News

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‘Zionism’ remarks: Burgon urged to apologise – to supporters of atrocities

Richard Burgon: He has no need to apologise.

I can’t say I’m impressed with Richard Burgon’s rationalisation of his remarks about Zionism, that were caught on video five years ago.

Investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin posted a video showing Mr Burgon denying having made the comments to the BBC’s Andrew Neil, followed immediately by proof that he did:

Interesting clip, that.

It’s from 2014, when the Israeli government had launched Operation Protective Edge, a hugely-controversial offensive against Palestinians in Gaza in which it was estimated that more than 2,125 Palestinians were killed and more than 10,500 wounded, compared with 67 military and six civilian Israeli deaths, with 469 Israeli soldiers and 87 civilians wounded.

It is known that Israeli government policy is to deprive the Palestinian people of their land and – if they resist – of their lives. We have seen that in action but if you would like evidence of their behaviour, here’s some:

According to Maureen Murphy, “The Israeli military killed one Palestinian child in the West Bank and Gaza per week on average last year, typically injuring them in their upper body and head. You can’t blame Hamas for Israeli snipers training their guns at children’s torsos and heads, however hard you try.” She supported this with a link to evidence. Read it here.

The ideology that informs these atrocities is Zionism. It is an ethno-political belief that a Jewish nation in what is now Israel should be established and – now that it has been – developed and protected. It should never be connected directly with the Jewish people as a whole; they are separate and many Jews reject Zionism, especially as it is practised by the Israeli government and its supporters.

It is an ideology of hatred. Before Israel was established, it was considered by many to be anti-Semitic. Think about it: anyone saying they support the migration of Jewish people away from their current home to a foreign land (that was already occupied, remember) could open themselves up to accusations that they hate Jews because they are Jews – the classic definition of the anti-Semite.

Now Israel has been established, anybody supporting the Zionism practised by its government and soldiers is supporting the theft of Palestinian land and the displacement – or genocide – of Palestinian people. And it could still be said to be anti-Semitic as the behaviour of the Israeli government and its soldiers is likely to breed opposition against them that develops into hate. That hate could then be spread to apply to all Jews.

Oh, and it turns out there are many Jews who don’t support Zionism. Many do, but if anyone tries to tell you they speak for all Jews in supporting this ideology, they are lying.

In this context, it is clear that Mr Burgon’s comments in 2014 were reasonable expressions of opinion, based on the facts. As they continue to be. It’s just a shame he felt he had to backtrack on his words about Zionism as practised by the Israeli government.

His critics – defenders of Zionism like The Board of Deputies of British Jews (who don’t represent a huge number of British Jews at all – secular Jews represent a third of the population in the UK and have nothing to do with the BoD), Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council, Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber and Jewish Labour Movement chairman Mike Katz – have tried to equate peaceful opposition to their hate-filled ideology with hatred of all Jews and that is nothing but a lie. It’s a despicable lie, at that.

Why have they done it? Well…

Another commenter, Phil Vanes, suggested: “Do remember me saying some time ago that because Corbyn is untouchable, his opponents will instead concentrate on picking off his close supporters one by one. Well guess what? It looks like it’s Richard Burgon’s time now.”

One more point: In the clip of him attacking Zionism, Mr Burgon calls for Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) resign from that group “to show support for all humanity” instead of supporting the atrocities carried out by the Israeli government and its soldiers, yet we have seen LFI’s Jennifer Gerber, and Mike Katz of the Jewish Labour Movement, condemning those words.

Logic dictates that they must therefore support the atrocities in the articles to which I have linked above.

LFI and the JLM support the theft of Palestinian land.

LFI and the JLM support violence against – and the murder of – Palestinian people.

Their outbursts against Mr Burgon prove it.

Or are we about to see a protestation of opposition to these Israeli atrocities? I won’t hold my breath waiting.


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Watson’s warnings over anti-Semitism would have more weight if he hadn’t taken Israeli money

Rubbing shoulders: Tom Watson and Jeremy Corbyn.

It all looks very bad, doesn’t it?

Here‘s Tom Watson on The Andrew Marr Show, claiming Jeremy Corbyn should “make a ‘personal intervention’ to tackle anti-Semitism claims – revealing he had sending a dossier of 50 cases to the leader.

“He blasted new Labour general secretary Jennie Formby over the anti-Semitism row, saying her reforms had ‘very patently… not been adequate’.

Bad for Jeremy Corbyn?

No.

Bad for Tom Watson.

His zeal against alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party seems to be fuelled with cash from the Israeli government, which is believed to want Mr Corbyn’s removal from the Labour leadership because he opposes that government’s oppression of the people of Palestine.

We know that Israel gave £1 million of funding to Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), to support “fact-finding” visits to Israel for Labour MPs.

That now-infamous conspirator against UK democracy – and now-former officer of the Israeli embassy to this country – Shai Masot was secretly filmed telling LFI chair Joan Ryan he had secured the money, at Labour’s party conference in September 2016.

Mr Watson took advantage of that funding to go on just such a junket the very next month, it seems. The £4,875 cost of the trip was funded using £4,500 from LFI (part of Mr Masot’s contribution?) and £375 from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After his return he has strongly supported the smear campaign that claims Mr Corbyn has allowed anti-Semitism to run rife in the Labour Party – despite evidence that shows it has reduced under the current leadership.

If there really is a “crisis for Labour’s soul”, as Mr Watson described it, then it seems clear that he – not Jeremy Corbyn – is causing it.


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There may be another motive behind the resignations of all these Labour Friends of Israel

Collaborators: Joan Ryan MP was recorded meeting then-Israeli embassy officer Shai Masot. He offered her £1 million to procure support for Israel from Labour MPs. Was this tactic successful?

Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, and Chuka Umunna, of the new Independent Group in Parliament, all split from the Labour Party claiming dissatisfaction with its handling of allegations of anti-Semitism.

They have all also been members of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), as is Pat McFadden, who is said to be expected to join the group in the near future.

And long-standing LFI supporter Tom Watson was quick to issue an ultimatum to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, demanding a stronger response to allegations of anti-Semitism – or more Labour MPs will leave.

LFI works within the Labour Party to promote the state of Israel; fighting anti-Semitism is not one of its express intentions. It is the policies and philosophy of the Israeli government – whatever they may be – that LFI exists to support.

Jeremy Corbyn is a known critic of the current government of Israel – and his views have wide support at a time when there is a wealth of evidence showing that government persecuting the people of Palestine, stealing their land, shooting and bombing their children, and starving them of services and supplies.

We have documentary evidence of LFI chair (and now Independent Group member) Joan Ryan being offered £1 million by then-Israeli embassy officer Shai Masot; the money was to be used to send Labour MPs on trips to Israel, to enjoy that government’s hospitality. At the same time it was revealed that Ms Ryan smeared a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as an anti-Semite; video evidence conclusively proved that she was lying.

The Independent Group organises itself as a limited company, which means there is no legal way to compel its members to reveal who is funding them.

When I wrote an article asking whether Mr Masot’s claim to have people working for him – in LFI, the Jewish Labour Movement and other Labour-related organisations – would be investigated, I was smeared as an anti-Semite, suspended as a Labour Party member, and eventually expelled. To the best of my knowledge, no such investigation has taken place by the time of writing, two years after I asked the question.

The proportion of anti-Semitism known to have happened in the Labour Party since Mr Corbyn became leader is calculated to have involved less than 0.1 per cent of party members. Considering the behaviour of Angela Smith on television immediately after the formation of The Independent Group, it is likely that the amount of racism in general within Labour has fallen because of these MPs’ departure.

Put it all together and it is worth asking the question:

Is it really anti-Semitism that these MPs are fighting – or opposition to an oppressive, apartheid foreign government?


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If Joan Ryan is responsible for Labour data breach it could have international consequences

Joan Ryan MP: This shot is taken from the Al-Jazeera documentary series The Lobby, in which Ms Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, is told by Shai Masot, the Israeli embassy’s then-political officer, that his government was providing a £1 million slush fund for her organisation to undermine people considered to be enemies of that country. Now she has been accused of data theft, is she more of a Liability To Israel?

Labour has reported former party MP Joan Ryan to the Information Commissioner for an alleged misuse of data.

Ms Ryan denies it but there is strong evidence against her – as the Skwawkbox stated a few days ago. It seems to have been excellent information.

Certainly, it seems someone connected to Ms Ryan, if not Ms Ryan herself, must have used Labour’s Contact Creator and Organise software to create and send an email to party supporters – after she had resigned the Labour whip.

But Ms Ryan’s claim, as quoted in The Guardian – that “neither I nor my office have accessed or used any Labour party data since I resigned the Labour whip and my membership of the Labour party” – means that she cannot be absolved of guilt if it turns out to have been one of her staff.

And if the crime is traced back to her, there could be international repercussions.

Ms Ryan was (and may still be, by all accounts) the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, in whose name she has already been found to have acted dishonestly, in smearing a Palestine Solidarity Campaign member as an anti-Semite.

Her position has made her the strongest ally of the Israeli government in the UK’s Parliament, as the manufactured “anti-Semitism” crisis has allowed LFI to push pro-Israel policies onto Labour in ways that have not been possible with other parties, like the Conservatives.

But that work will be for nothing if she is found to be connected with data theft – which is a crime.

Such a revelation would cast doubt on every comment and claim she has made in her role as LFI chair. It may even give rise to uncomfortable questions about her relationship with the government of Israel.

(It would certainly create doubt about the validity of any claims she has made about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.)

And at a time when many citizens of the UK are starting to ask serious questions about the amount of involvement Israel may have in our affairs, I wonder of that country’s government would be able to tolerate such a blow to its credibility.

Joan Ryan’s ugly outburst after losing constituency ‘no confidence’ vote over faked anti-Semitism claim

Members of Joan Ryan’s own Enfield North constituency party have supported a vote of ‘no confidence’ in her.

There could have been no better illustration of the reason the Chair of Labour Friends of Israel lost the confidence of her constituency party members than her vitriolic outburst in response to it.

The decision casts further doubt on the validity of accusations of anti-Semitism against Labour Party members.

Joan Ryan had faked an accusation of anti-Semitism against a Palestine Solidarity Campaign supporter called Jean Fitzpatrick. Speaking to an undercover reporter who she thought was a pro-Israel activist, she claimed the PSC activist had said Labour Friends of Israel was a route to getting a job at a bank in the City.

“You heard her say … ‘join you lot and you get into Oxford’ or ‘you get into working in the bank,’” Ms Ryan said in the resulting documentary, The Lobby. The film shows that Jean Fitzpatrick had said no such thing, but Ms Ryan reported the campaigner to the party’s disciplinary system.

Ms Fitzpatrick, 71, provided a statement to local members on what really happened, attached as an appendix to the motion. She stated that “the strain of the whole case took its toll on me psychologically and emotionally… It would be true to say that it is only in the last year I have begun to recover my health and equilibrium”.

As a Labour member who is going through a much more lengthy experience with Labour’s disciplinary procedure, I can personally confirm its effect on victims’ mental and emotional balance. And I use the word “victims” deliberately.

It has also been revealed that Labour Friends of Israel works “really closely” and “behind the scenes” with the Israeli embassy – including raising accusations of anti-Semitism against other members of the Labour Party.

https://twitter.com/SocialistSki/status/1037780144432316417

Ms Ryan has been one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most bitter opponents since he was elected leader of the Labour Party, and the motion cites this long-running campaign as its basis, stating that she has written and contributed to many articles in a “press unjustly hostile to Jeremy Corbyn. By doing so our MP has smeared his character.” A constant theme has been baseless allegations of anti-Semitism against the party under Mr Corbyn – made under the direction of the Israeli Embassy?

It has been alleged that Ms Ryan is in contact with an Israeli Embassy agent every day.

And Enfield North constituency party members were angry that Ms Ryan’s 2017 general election campaign was “all but abandoning Labour and sought to publicize herself as an independent in all but name.”

At the time, Ms Ryan sent out letters claiming that “many” local people had told her “they have more confidence in Theresa May as prime minister than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn.” Despite “your misgivings about the Labour leadership,” she wrote, “I hope that you will consider voting for me as your local MP.”

Yesterday’s constituency party meeting was packed, according to those who attended. But look at the way her supporters tried to intimidate members:

Obviously, voting against a transgressing MP is not anti-Semitic, but the accusation does show how poisonous claims of anti-Semitism have become – that those making such claims are doing so, not to reveal genuine issues, but simply to silence critics.

The meeting itself was decisive:

And how does this representative of the people respond?

“Trots, Stalinists, Communists and assorted hard left”? What a disgusting way to respond – by disparaging the politics of her fellow members of the UK’s largest political party!

Can you imagine what would happen if any one of those people had responded with some well-known words or claims about people of Jewish ethnicity? The two behaviours are equally abhorrent, are they not?

And she got the reaction she deserved:

With her own constituency party calling for a new candidate to represent them at the next general election, focus now turns to Labour Friends of Israel, which lies at the heart of this matter.

I disagree. Cutting LFI out of the party is not enough because the MPs and party members who support the organisation will remain. Labour needs to investigate every single member of LFI, to ensure that nobody who is willing to work for the Israeli government, rather than the British people, is allowed to continue as a Labour representative.

It is also worth adding that another Labour MP lost a ‘no confidence’ vote:

This was a much more decisive choice, with Mr Shuker losing by a margin of 11 to one.

These are both victories for the movement to increase democratisation of the Labour Party.

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Let’s name and shame some anti-Corbyn liars

The faked-up controversy about Jeremy Corbyn’s criticism of Zionists who “deliberately misinterpreted” (read: perverted) a Palestinian representatives words in order to distort their meaning has really brought the nasties out from under their respective rocks.

It seems the malicious and misanthropic are queuing up to malign Mr Corbyn, who was perfectly correct to criticise Zionists for their apparent failure to “understand English irony”.

Some of his critics, it seems, also need to try to grasp this point – as they have distorted his words for their own purpose. This is exactly the same misdemeanour that Mr Corbyn pointed out in the 2013 clip that has sparked the current wave of pointless outrage.

It’s a common tactic – many of us have fallen foul of it.

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Here’s an example – coupled with the put-down it deserves:

Gregg Carlstrom is the Middle East editor of The Economist. If that is an example of his journalistic accuracy, he should be facing the sack (or at least receive a verbal warning).

According to the Daily MailStephen Pollard, Gentile editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said: ‘This shows the reality of what Jeremy Corbyn thinks of Jews, somehow a breed apart from “normal” English people.’

Pollard added that he believed the Labour leader ‘used the word “Zionist” obviously to mean “Jews”.’

Neither the Mail nor Mr Pollard provided any evidence to support this claim. Mr Corbyn is on record as saying he used the term Zionist in an “accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people”.

It is well worth noting that the complaint by these alleged Zionists has not been published by the Mail, lending credibility to Mr Corbyn’s statement. What has the newspaper got to hide?

Also quoted in the Mail was Jonathan Sacerdoti, a founder of the pro-Israeli-government pressure group that masquerades as a charity, the Campaign Against Antisemitism. He said: “The idea that British Jews somehow haven’t absorbed British values is outrageous.” It is indeed. And he really should not be putting it about and claiming Jeremy Corbyn suggested it.

Gideon Falter, current chair of the vile CAA, stated: “It is precisely this euphemistic use of the word ‘Zionist’ to refer to Jews and direct smears at us which used to be the preserve of anti-Semites amongst the aristocracy.” “This” being the use of the word “Zionist” by Jeremy Corbyn? Where’s this liar’s proof that he did so?

Here’s Joan Ryan of Labour Friends of Israel, determinedly mixing “Zionist” with “Jew” to present a false impression – and a takedown from John Clarke:

How about Emily BennTony Benn is probably spinning in his grave at this disgrace:

Eddie Marsan – an actor:

Now, how about some voices of reason?

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Even full acceptance of the IHRA examples of anti-Semitism won’t stop Labour’s backstabbers from attacking Jeremy Corbyn

Joan Ryan MP: This shot is taken from the Al-Jazeera documentary series The Lobby, in which Ms Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, is told by Shai Masot, the Israeli embassy’s then-political officer, that his government was providing a one million pound slush fund for her organisation to undermine people considered to be enemies of that country’s administration. Mr Masot was shipped back to Israel after the documentary series revealed that he was conspiring with Britons to undermine the UK government.

Why are Labour’s leaders agonising over this? We have an admission that the row over the party’s definition of anti-Semitism is artificial, courtesy of The Jewish Chronicle.

For weeks, supporters of the Israeli government have been pressuring the Labour leadership to accept the full IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism, with all the examples including those that forbid any criticism of Israel and Zionism (I’m paraphrasing for brevity; you can look them up for yourself).

But now we see Labour MP and Israeli government poodle Joan Ryan (she is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, so I believe the implied criticism is justified) saying attacks on Mr Corbyn will not stop, even if Labour adopts the full IHRA definition with examples.

So Labour has nothing to gain from doing so.

The definition and examples of anti-Semitism in Labour’s code of conduct are better than those put forward by the IHRA. The only people suggesting otherwise are those who have a vested interest in silencing criticism of the Israeli government and its genocidal ongoing eradication of the Palestinian people (and those who have been duped by their claims).

And let’s face it: The attacks on Mr Corbyn have been pathetically ridiculous. He was at a wreath-laying ceremony in a cemetery where none of the terrorists involved in the Munich attack on Israelis were buried; he was at the wedding of a man who said something anti-Semitic four years later, and had no way of knowing.

Other party members have been attacked with equally specious, unevidenced claims.

I’m one of them! To help me take legal action against those who have made false claims against me, please visit my JustGiving page.

See for yourself what Ms Ryan has said:

Even after all that has happened over the past four weeks, the leadership appears to be desperately trying to wriggle out of accepting IHRA. Instead it seems determined to protect the rights of those who wish to call the Jewish people’s right to self-determination a “racist endeavour”.

That some have decided to put this right over the express wishes of Britain’s Jews is beyond arrogant and insensitive. IHRA needs no additions, deletions or qualifications.

Nor should we pretend that even full acceptance of IHRA ends the battle against antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Ms Ryan’s article could have been written by an Israeli government propagandist.

Particularly offensive is her statement that Mr Corbyn claims to be willing to talk with anyone who wishes to bring about peace, and her outraged assertion that he will not talk with Israelis.

Of course, we have only her word for that. But if true, doesn’t that indicate that the representatives of the Israeli government have no interest in peace – at least until they have wiped all traces of Palestine off the world map?

Source: Jeremy Corbyn appals me – and his behaviour will get no better – The Jewish Chronicle

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Warsi’s demand on IDF volunteers won’t gain traction with Israel-supporting Tories

Baroness Warsi: A voice in the wilderness?

Baroness Warsi is right to highlight the privileged status Israel seems to enjoy for no very good reason.

Why should people who leave the UK to join the Israeli Defence Force – and who may therefore take part in the appalling massacres of Palestinians that we have witnessed over the last few years – be immune from the prosecution that faces those who join other foreign military groups?

But he attitude suggests a schism with other Tories – Priti Patel, for example.

Ms Patel, formerly Secretary of State for International Development, was forced to resign after she was found to have been carrying out her own foreign policy.

This included around a dozen meetings with Israeli officials, discussing official UK government business, alongside the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel, a group listed by conspirator Shai Masot as being in the pocket of the Israeli government during the Israeli embassy scandal.

She also called for the UK to give financial support to Israeli hospitals in the Golan Heights – an area of Syria that Israel has occupied.

Perhaps they treat, or have treated, UK citizens who have joined the Israeli Defence Force?

If I recall correctly, the Conservative Party has a policy that all new Tory MPs automatically join the Conservative Friends of Israel.

So it seems Baroness Warsi is unlikely to find a foothold for her reasonable suggestion. Or will the Tories prove me wrong?

British citizens who volunteer for the Israeli army should be prosecuted like others who fight for foreign forces, according to Baroness Warsi.

The former Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said people should only be legally allowed to fight for the state they are a citizen of.

It is currently possible for anyone to join the Israel Defence Force (IDF) through the “Mahal” program if they meet specific background and age requirements.

But while people fighting for various foreign forces have faced prosecution upon there return to the UK – including some who claim to have been opposing the Assad regime in Syria – those who temporarily join up with the IDF have not.

Source: UK citizens who fight in Israeli army should be prosecuted, Baroness Warsi says | The Independent

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