Saturday, July 30, 2005

Jimmy Carter: Gitmo Detentions Disgraceful 

So our peanut-farmer former prez and world-traveling election monitor says the detentions of illegal combatants at Guantanamo are a disgrace to the United States and provide an excuse to the terrorists to launch more attacks.

If Jimmah says it's bad, we must be doing the right thing.

Seriously, it would be hard to find a more incompetent president than Jimmy Carter, certainly not since WWI. It continues to astonish me that Mr. Carter pronounces elections that are most certainly rigged as legitimate and denounces just about every step the United States takes to defend itself against terrorism. I have no idea what thought processes must take place in the mind of this man.

What I do know is that Mr. Carter, by virtue of being a former president, has harmed the interests of the United States time and time again by his ridiculous pronouncements. I just wish he'd restrict his activities to peanut farming and building cheap houses for poor people, and stop meddling in politics, both domestic and international. All he's doing is reminding people what a horrible president he was.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bad Guys Case Tinker AFB 

Michelle Malkin posted this item on her blog today, about 3 men of middle eastern appearance who were evidently pointing a shoulder-fired rocket launcher at a B-1 bomber on approach to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. Michelle says in her column that she confirmed the authenticity of the story with an Air Force public affairs officer.

Michelle links to a Battle Staff Directive prompted by the incident, which can be viewed here. Follow the link and read it, I'll wait.

Welcome back. I hope you especially read and noted the things to watch out for under the "Task" heading in the BSD. That is good advice for all of us to follow, in these days of terrorists blowing up skyscrapers and subways. (In fact, it's also a good recipe for preventing ordinary crime, especially the "Suspicious Persons Out of Place" bullet.) If anyone notices the kinds of activity described in the BSD, call law enforcement IMMEDIATELY! Don't be afraid of being thought of as a kook or alarmist. People who live near military installations or obvious targets like civilian airports, power plants and bridges would be wise to be particularly alert.

As complacent as we have become due to the lack of terrorist activity within the US in the four years since September 11, we as a society are leaving ourselves open to another attack. Governmental agencies "get it" -they appreciate the danger, and are doing what they can to forestall a new attack, but they can't be everywhere, and they can't see and hear everything. Law enforcement and Homeland Security need the help of ordinary citizens. Keep your eyes and ears open and report suspicious activity! Your vigilance could save hundreds, even thousands of lives.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005


I just walked into the other room to hear Sen. Schumer (D-NY), in the context of discussing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts on Fox News, say something like, "I'd be happy to vote to confirm [Roberts] if I can be convinced that he's going to apply the law and not legislate from the bench and impose his views on the Nation." (Not a totally accurate quote, but the gist of it is right.)

That's risible, since almost all the issues that Mr. Schumer champions (e.g., no restraint on abortion) have their present status because some left-leaning judges legislated from the bench and imposed their views on the Nation.

I don't know how Sen. Schumer can look at himself in the mirror every morning and not break out laughing.

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Scumbag Politician Alert! 

If something like this were to happen at a funeral of a family member of mine, I would probably be in jail for assault and battery. This kind of behavior is absolutely inexcusable, and I pity the people of Pennsylvania who didn't vote for Catherine Baker Knoll, who is obviously a waste of perfectly good oxygen. Those who did vote for her ... well, they deserve her. Talk about a political tin ear! Ugh!

If this is the kind of candidate the Dems are fielding, it'll be a cold day in Hell before they get a national majority.

Credit: Instapundit and Mudville Gazette

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Judge John Roberts 

This is the first of what will probably be many posts about Supreme Court candidate Judge John Roberts.

I never heard of the man before his nomination by Pres. Bush. I haven't read up on him very much as yet, but what I have seen, I like. Excellent resume, lots of experience as a practicing lawyer, both on the public payroll and in private practice. Seems to have solid values. The conventional wisdom as of this writing is that he seems to be an "originalist" in his thinking about how to interpret the Constitution, but there's not enough of a track record from his time on the bench at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to be sure.

Undoubtedly the Dems will try to bork him, but they probably won't succeed, and if they do, it will do them much more harm, in my judgment, than they could do to Bush. In any event, if they remain true to form the Leahys and Schumers will come across as dog-in-the-manger obstructionists; Ted Kennedy will come across as full-on bozo (apologies to Bozo the Clown).

As for myself, I'd be happy with a Justice Roberts (or any other Justice, for that matter) who:

(1) understands and respects the concept of separation of powers among the three equal branches of the US government as spelled out in the Constitution. Many judges nowadays seem to think that the concept applies only to the Executive and Legislative branches, leaving the Judicial branch as the ultimate arbiter of all things -- both a superlegislature and a superexecutive.

(2) understands the difference between the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, which restrict the exercise of power by the government against the people, and the so-called "rights" currently being demanded by this or that pressure group, which are usually affirmative in nature (i.e., they require the government to do something rather than prevent the government from doing something) and which usually result in practice in "some being more equal than others" -- another way of saying "unequal treatment before the law."

(3) understands and respects the concept of federalism, as expressed by the long-underapplied Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. (The Tenth Amendment reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the Staates respectively, or to the people."

(4) understands that the Constitution is not a suicide pact, and that the government is not required to extend the same kind of due process to a terrorist whose goal is to destroy the United States as it must to an ordinary criminal who commits ordinary crimes for personal gain or satisfaction.

From the very little that I have read about Judge Roberts, he seems to fill the bill.

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Thoughts on London -- 7/21 

The following is 100% speculation. I have no expertise in antiterrorism except what I have picked up from reading Tom Clancy books and books like "The Cobra Event" by Richard Preston.

Fox News is reporting that there have been "incidents" in three subway stations in London, and one on a bus. Eyewitness reports are filtering in that a backpack exploded in the Warren Street tube station, but so far the crawler says only one injured. Reuters reports that the Warren Street explosion was a nail bomb, but with only one injured, that doesn't sound right.

A hazmat team has entered the station. That does sound right. If an explosion goes off but few people are injured by the blast, I would immediately think of chemical or biological agents. Since few people seem to be having symptoms of chemical attack, then biological goes to the head of the line.

A bomb blast in a subway would be an effective way to disperse an infectious biological agent. Crowds of people would be exposed, and they would disperse in a hurry. Since they would have no obvious injuries, they probably wouldn't be stopped by the authorities. If they were contaminated with a bio agent, they might disperse it even more as they make their way home or to work. Once at their destinations, the blast victims might disperse more agent to their families or co-workers. A few days later those exposed would get sick, and if the bio agent was infectious they'd infect others. Nasty situation!

Although it's known that AQ was working on bio agents in Afghanistan, and suspected that Saddam was doing so in Iraq, there's no indication that AQ or any other terrorist group has acquired a weaponized bio agent or the ability to use it. If this turns out to be a bio attack, it'll be a dark day for the good guys.

Another possibility is a "dirty bomb" used to disperse radioactive material that would render the subway useless until decontaminated, and might prove deadly to anyone who might have inhaled or ingested any radioactive dust. In a way, it might be much easier to pull off a radiological attack than a bio attack, but the radioactive substance would be easier to detect and I can't believe that the London tube system has sensors to detect such substances.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

"Phantom Epidemic" 

This is a very long post, but it's a complicated subject. It was also the subject of the lead editorial in the dead tree edition of The Wall Street Journal on July 14, 2005.

In the "suspicions confirmed" department:

A Texas federal judge has sanctioned one of the nation's best-known plaintiffs' tort lawfirms in a 249-page (double-spaced, typed) order issued in a huge multi-district-litigation case involving silicosis. Judge Janis Graham Jack, a former nurse, stopped just short of accusing the plaintiffs' counsel of fraud in connection with the 111 lawsuits involving more than 10,000 plaintiffs.

As noted in the "Background" section of the order, silicosis is a relatively rare lung disease caused by inhalation of silica dust. Those who suffer from it have usually been exposed on a daily basis to silica dust over long periods of time, exceeding 5 years if the exposure is high, and longer at lower exposures. An acute form can develop after exposures of a few months to extremely high concentrations of silica dust.

To quote from the order:
Silicosis is one of the oldest recognized occupational
diseases, with cases recorded as far back as the 16th century. In
the early 1930’s, the Tennessee Valley Authority built the “Hawk’s
Nest Tunnel” through Gauley Mountain in West Virginia to build a
hydroelectric facility. In order to accomplish this, the workers
drilled though one mile of almost pure silica. Five thousand
people worked on this project; no safety precautions were taken to
prevent respirable-silica exposure. Approximately 1,200 workers developed silicosis, and approximately 400-600 of these workers
perished from the disease. This is known as the “Hawk’s Nest
incident,” and it is considered America’s worst industrial
The judge noted that the expected incidence of silicosis for the United States would be in the neighborhood of 1,200 new cases each year. The number of silicosis claims in Mississippi alone exceeded 10,000 in 2002. Quoting again from the order:
This explosion in the number of silicosis claims in
Mississippi suggests a silicosis epidemic 20 times worse than the
Hawk’s Nest incident. Indeed, these claims suggest perhaps the
worst industrial disaster in recorded world history.
And yet, these claims do not look anything like what one would
expect from an industrial disaster. One would expect an industrial
disaster to look like the Hawk’s Nest incident: presenting cases of
acute silicosis (with relatively brief incubation periods),
emanating from a single worksite or geographic area with an
extremely high concentration of silica. To the contrary, virtually
all of these silicosis claims are for chronic or classic silicosis
(with incubation periods in excess of 15 years). The claims do not
involve a single worksite or area, but instead represent hundreds
of worksites scattered throughout the state of Mississippi, a state
whose silicosis mortality rate is among the lowest in the nation.
Moreover, given the sheer volume of claims–-each supported by
a silicosis diagnosis from a physician–-one would expect the CDC or
NIOSH to be involved, examining and responding to this enormous
epidemic. One would expect local health departments and physician
groups to be mobilized. One would expect a flurry of articles and
attention from the media, such as what occurred in 2003 with SARS.10
But none of these things have happened. There has been no
response from OSHA, the CDC, NIOSH or the American Medical
Association to this sudden, unprecedented onslaught of silicosis
cases. By contrast, the CDC and NIOSH issued an outbreak alert in
1988 for 10 cases of silicosis in Ector County, Texas, and for a
single death from acute silicosis in Ohio in 1992. (Feb. 18, 2005
Trans. at 234.) The OSHA field office in Jackson, Mississippi has
had no reports of any silica problems in recent years and has had
no requests for any silica-related investigations. (Feb. 18, 2005
Trans. at 237.) Officials from the Mississippi State Department of
Health, the Mississippi Medical Association, the Mississippi Board
of Licensure, and the University of Mississippi Medical School all
were unaware of any increase in silicosis cases in Mississippi.
(Feb. 18, 2005 Trans. at 237-41.) Likewise, Mississippi’s apparent
silicosis epidemic has been greeted with silence by the media, the
public, Congress and the scientific communities.
After 20 months of proceedings, Judge Jack smelled a rat. It turned out that 99% of the claimants in the case had been diagnosed by the same 12 doctors!

What had happened was that the plaintiffs' law firms had set up a silicosis diagnosis assembly line and solicited people to be screened and added to the list of plaintiffs. Many of these people were in the law firms' "inventory" of plaintiffs in asbestos cases that the firms had prosecuted, notwithstanding that it is extraordinarily rare for one patient to have both asbestosis and silicosis, according to testimony from doctors in the case.

I have long suspected shenanigans such as this in connection with many of the mass tort cases, e.g., asbestos and silicone breast implants, to name two. Now we have documentation in a case, which has a "script" very similar to the asbestos cases.

I would hope that the appropriate medical and legal licensing agencies will take note of the evidence cited in Judge Jack's order, and act appropriately, but sadly, I doubt that they will.

I echo the WSJ in shouting hurrah for Judge Jack -- unless this kind of gross unethical behavior by lawyers is stopped, the public's esteem for the legal profession and the courts will continue until the whole system is seen as nothing more than a bad joke. And that would be tragic for our whole society.

For those of you who are still interested, some telling excerpts from Judge Jack's order follow (the numbers in parentheses are the page numbers of the .pdf file linked above)
As discussed above, on a number of different levels, the
claims in this MDL defy all medical knowledge and logic. The
United States has enjoyed a steady 30-year decline in silicosis
rates and mortality. And yet Mississippi, a State ranked only 43rd
in the U.S. in silicosis mortality, recently experienced a crush of
new silicosis lawsuits, many of which are now before this Court.
As Dr. Friedman testified, there simply is no rational medical
explanation for the number of alleged diagnoses of silicosis in
this MDL. (Feb. 18, 2005 Trans. at 221.) That, however, does not
mean there is no explanation at all for the cases.
If searching for an explanation in the legal field, one might
focus on the fact that most of the cases were filed just prior to
the effective dates of a series of recent legislative “tort reform”
measures in Mississippi. One might also focus on the decline in
asbestosis lawsuits, leaving a network of plaintiffs’ lawyers and
screening companies scouting for a new means of support. (116)

A review of all of the submitted Fact Sheets is telling. In
the approximately 9,083 Fact Sheets submitted in this MDL as of the
date of the Daubert hearings, approximately 8,000 treating doctors
are named. (Feb. 18, 2005 Trans. at 257.) But when it comes to
the doctors who diagnosed these Plaintiffs with silicosis, 12 names
appear. (Feb. 18, 2005 Trans. at 259.) Twelve doctors diagnosed
all 9,083 Plaintiffs. This small cadre of non-treating physicians,
financially beholden to lawyers and screening companies rather than
to patients, managed to notice a disease missed by approximately
8,000 other physicians–-most of whom had the significant advantage
of speaking to, examining, and treating the Plaintiffs. (144)
Instead, these diagnoses were about litigation rather than health care. And yet this statement, while true, overestimates the motives of the people who engineered them. The word “litigation” implies (or should imply) the search for truth and the quest for justice. But it is apparent that truth and justice had very little to do with these diagnoses–-otherwise more effort would have been devoted to ensuring they were accurate. Instead, these diagnoses were driven by neither health nor justice: they were manufactured for money. The record does not reveal who originally devised this scheme, but it is clear that the lawyers, doctors and screening companies were all willing participants. And if the lawyers turned a blind eye to the mechanics of the scheme, each lawyer had to know that Mississippi was not experiencing the worst outbreak of silicosis in recorded history. Each lawyer had to know that he or she was filing at least some claims that falsely alleged silicosis. The fact that some claims are likely legitimate, and the fact that the lawyers could not precisely identify which claims were false, cannot absolve them of responsibility for these mass misdiagnoses which they have dumped into the judicial system. (150-151)

It is important to emphasize that this is not a normal circumstance where a plaintiff’s expert is disqualified after a Daubert hearing. Simply proffering an expert who fails Daubert is not enough to warrant sanctions. But requiring a court and the defendants to undergo a Daubert hearing when the plaintiff has no reasonable basis to believe that the expert can pass muster under Daubert can result in plaintiff’s counsel being liable for the defendant’s Daubert hearing fees and expenses. (Citation omitted.) Here, O’Quinn should have realized its diagnoses were fatally unreliable based upon the statistics referenced above, as well as the Martindale, Hilbun and Cooper depositions. This is especially true because O’Quinn itself provided the inadequate occupational and exposure histories underlying the purported diagnoses. Once O’Quinn donned a lab coat and injected itself into the diagnostic process, it is reasonable to charge them with knowledge both of what is required for a medically-acceptable diagnosis, [fn.179] and of how far their diagnoses strayed from that standard.
Moreover, the clear motivation for O’Quinn’s micro-management of the diagnostic process was to inflate the number of Plaintiffs and claims in order to overwhelm the Defendants and the judicial system. This is apparently done in hopes of extracting mass nuisance-value settlements because the Defendants and the judicial system are financially incapable of examining the merits of each individual claim in the usual manner. (237-238)
The Court does not doubt that complying with discovery orders
related to thousands of Plaintiffs can be an overwhelming
undertaking. But the reason it is overwhelming is that Plaintiffs’
counsel, and the screening companies and physicians they employ,
have taken steps to inflate the number of silicosis claims beyond
the true number of people with silicosis. In other words, at the
root of the unwieldy nature of this MDL, including the difficulty
in responding fully to discovery, is the fact that Plaintiffs’
counsel such as O’Quinn filed scores of claims without a reliable
basis for believing that their clients had a compensable injury, thereby “multipl[ying] the proceedings ... unreasonably and
vexatiously.” 28 U.S.C. § 1927. (241-242)

Credit: Instapundit for pointing to the linked article.

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More on "Plamegate" 

So now it appears that the "evilgeniusKarlRove" didn't tell reporters that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, he heard it from them. And according to an analysis by Clifford May at National Review Online, it was lefty pundit David Corn who first outed Valerie Plame in an article in The Nation on July 16, 2003, two days after the infamous Novak column ran.

Many of the well-known bloggers are following this story. I think that this post by Tom Maguire is the best one I've read on it to date.

Meanwhile, the Democrats continue shrieking for Rove's head. My advice to them: better soft-pedal that a bit, people -- think about what happened when you tried to bust Tom DeLay for sponsored travel.

Credit: Instapundit; Michelle Malkin; Captain Ed; Power Line.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Skunk Says the Stump Stinks 

I read this morning that Joseph Wilson, former ambassador in the Clinton administration, famous tourist to Niger and husband of the notorious Valerie Plame of the CIA, wants Karl Rove to be sacked.

Hardly a disinterested party, I'd say.

The Dems are having a field day with this story, primarily because they have selective hearing. I can't count the number of Dem politicians, spokespersons and consultants who have been on TV in recent days claiming that Bush said he'd "fire anyone who disclosed" the name of a CIA covert operative.

What Bush actually said, according to CNN, is, "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."

You don't have to be a lawyer to see the substantive difference between what Bush said and what the Dems claim he said. I'm sure that Bush will in fact fire Rove if in fact it is determined that he broke the law, or even if he's indicted. But so far, nothing of the sort has occurred. What's really going on here, IMHO, is that the Dems are desperate for anything that will make them look better vis a vis Bush, and they're jumping the gun on Rove. They may live to regret being so quick on the trigger.

The real mystery to me is, why is New York Times reporter Judith Miller willing to sit in jail to protect her source? I don't think she's protecting Rove. The Times is certainly no friend of the Bush administration, and it makes no sense that she'd go to jail to protect Rove, who evidently has waived any pledge of confidentiality, at least as regards Time reporter Matthew Cooper. See this story in Newsweek (another publication not exactly known for its friendliness to Bush) for background and details. So, if not Rove, who? Maybe she's claiming First Amendment privilege when she should be citing the Fifth.

UPDATE: National Review Online's Byron York has posted an informative piece on this matter here.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Oliver Stone to Make 9/11 Movie? 

I'm not a big fan of Mr. Stone in any event, but after reading Mickey Kaus' piece at Slate today, I can assure you that I won't be spending a cent to see any movie about 9/11 that Stone has anything to do with.

Credit: Instapundit.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Required Reading 

Everyone needs to read this, no matter their politics. It is probably the most well-reasoned and well-expressed analysis of the connection between Islam and Islamist terrorism, and the dilemma facing moderate Muslims, that I have read. And it rings very true.

Credit: Instapundit.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

What To Do With Gitmo Detainees 

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has a must-read post on why we don't need to free or to charge and try the detainees at Guantanamo (or anywhere else).


[A]s a matter of law and of morality, it's perfectly proper to keep an enemy soldier detained (again, I set aside the separate questions related to conditions of detention, and related to confirming that the person is indeed an enemy soldier) until he is no longer dangerous to us, even if that means he'll be locked up for the rest of his life. It's that; killing them on the battlefield; or letting them go so they can kill us.

Credit: Instapundit

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Observation About London Bombings Reportage 

The Fox News folks are referring to the London attacks as a "crime," as are many of the guests and analysts they have on. Well, I guess it is a crime, but to me, the use of such terminology is one more indication that we aren't taking the situation seriously enough.

AQ is fighting a war against the West (and even those parts of Islam that they deem not Islamic enough), and they aren't paying much attention to the Geneva Convention. We (i.e., the liberal democracies), on the other hand, are still treating this sort of thing as "crime." The news organizations who refuse to use the word "terrorist" are assisting mightily in minimizing the nature of the struggle we're engaged in.

I fear that unless and until the West wakes up and starts fighting the war as a real war, things will go badly for us. At least the US Government (as currently led) understands the reality. Heaven help us if we ever elect a John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid as President.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

On Brian Williams - Yet Another Nail in MSM's Coffin 

The NBC News anchor Brian Williams posted the following on his blog yesterday:
Many Americans woke up to a curious story this morning: several of the former Iran Hostages have decided there is a strong resemblance between Iran's new president and one of their captors more than 25 years ago. The White House and most official branches of government are ducking any substantive comment on this story, and photo analysis is going on at this and other news organizations. It is a story that will be at or near the top of our broadcast and certainly made for a robust debate in our afternoon editorial meeting, when several of us raised the point (I'll leave it to others to decide germaneness) that several U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England. (Italics mine.)

By all reports (I don't watch any broadcast network news programs), he did in fact make that point in an exchange with Andrea Mitchell during the evening newscast. The all too predictable uproar ensued, and today Mr. Williams posted this:

And on this busy day I'm compelled to throw in a personal note of my own... it's about a question I asked Andrea Mitchell on Nightly News last night. Coming out of the story alleging that Iran's President-elect may have been among those who kept 52 Americans hostage for 444 days in Tehran, I asked Andrea the following question:

"What would it all matter if proven true? Someone brought up today: The first several U.S. presidents were certainly revolutionaries... and might have been called "terrorists" at the time by the BRITISH CROWN, after all..."

Today, apparently, on some radio talk shows and blogs, my friends in the media have accused me of labeling George Washington a terrorist. They apparently missed my point: That the BRITISH CROWN might have viewed American revolutionaries that way.

I for one don't see how the attitude of the British Crown toward the Founding Fathers is relevant to a story about the new president-elect of Iran and whether he was involved in the hostage taking at the US Embassy during the Carter years. But that aside, it seems clear that: (a) "several of us" at NBC News find a moral equivalency between the sort of people who perpetrated that hostage taking, September 11 and beheaded civilian captives in Iraq, and the likes of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, the Adamses and Hamilton; and (b) Mr. Williams agreed to the extent that he found it worthy of mention both in his blog and on the air. If such an equivalency exists, I guess we are all (except those enlightened few at NBC News) in the dark about it because facts were suppressed by all those biased historians who spiked the stories of wholesale torture and indiscriminate murder of women and children by the Continentals. (/sarcasm) As for today's "clarification" of his point, (1) it's lame and (2) his "clarified" point is still not relevant to the story.

Sometimes, there are no words that can describe the kind of person who thinks like that better than "F**king idiot!"

Credit, Instapundit, Michelle Malkin and many others.

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