Archive for June, 2016

Statement No. 1 by the PFLP Prison Branch leadership

Posted in PFLP, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 17, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

Source: PFLP

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At this time, our heroic comrade Bilal Kayed has announced that he is carrying out an open hunger strike, after the unjust decision of the occupation authority ordering him to administrative detention for six months on the day of his scheduled release, June 13, 2016, after the comrade spent 14 and a half years in captivity, the last year in solitary confinement.

We in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – Prison Branch announce that his battle is our battle, and the battle of all of the comrades of the PFLP and all of the Palestinian people. From the first day of the decision of the fascist occupation, we have opened the struggle and protest on June 14 and will continue throughout the month of June and early July, culminating in opening the second phase of the battle: an open hunger strike by all of our comrades in prison after July 7, 2016. We assure that we will not retreat from this battle until we have broken the arrogance of the occupation and its security institutions, and broken this decision, which puts all prisoners at high risk and endangers our people’s rights to freedom, dignity and humanity.

On this basis, we declare the following:

We are in this battle to stand as a historical moment in the prisoners’ movement struggles, to solidify a strong foundation to respond to the violations of the prison administration, and raise any issue for Palestinian prisoners to the level of a national task and a national struggle for the prisoners’ movement.

The decision of the occupation and its institutions to order Comrade Bilal to administrative detention after the expiration of his sentence is a serious threat to all Palestinian prisoners that we must confront early before it becomes a systematic policy of the occupation.

We in the Prison Branch organization have declared a state of emergency for all of our comrades in the prisons of the occupation, who are completely ready to struggle in this battle and to receive the direction of the leadership of the Prison Branch. We confirm that ending the administrative detention and immediate freedom for Comrade Bilal has become one of our main missions, and we will not hesitate a moment to carry forward this banner until victory.

We urge all of the Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine, all friends, and the Palestinian media to stand in this honorable battle through protests, activities, media events and actions throughout each day of this struggle.

Victory is inevitable.

The leadership of the prison branch
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Jarrar: We need a serious effort to link the issue of prisoners to the boycott movement

Posted: 16 Jun 2016 07:26 AM PDT

kj3All of the proposed international “initiatives” for settlement in Palestine are a “waste of time,” said freed prisoner and Palestinian leader Comrade Khalida Jarrar, in a Wednesday evening interview with Palestine Today satellite channel. “The continued reliance on bilateral negotiations…or other initiatives that differ slightly but remain on the framework of familed negotiations, without any political review required to replace it with a new political track to enhance Palestinian steadfastness and unity, is wasteful and destructive,” said Jarrar.

Jarrar said that the goal of these many initiatives is to cut the road in front of real political choice and political struggle, while diminishing the strength of the Palestinian case internationally, saying that the so-called “Arab initiative” is not a “serious option to support the Palestinian people and enable them to end the occupation.” She noted that a number of Arab countries are attempting to strengthen their relations with the occupation and using such initiatives in their interests in this regard.

Addressing the situation of Palestinian prisoners, she highlighted the imprisonment of Palestinian women, Palestinian children, and Palestinian elders – as well as “the arrest of Palestinian martyrs’ bodies,” saying the imprisonment of Palestinian bodies and refusal to return them for burial “demonstrates the fascist nature of the occupation.”

On the case of Bilal Kayed, Jarrar said that “two days ago, the struggler Bilal Kayed had a date with freedom after 14 and a half years behind bars, but the occupation ordered him to six months administrative detention. This is a very dangerous precedent.” She demanded the Palestinian Authority end security coordination with the occupation immediately, and called on international institutions to intensify their efforts to support Palestinian prisoners and hold the occupation accountable internationally.

“The occupation is chasing the Palestinian people and its strugglers wherever they are,” Jarrar said, referring to the case of Omar Nayef Zayed, found dead in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia on 26 February. She noted that there must be accountability for the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria, in particular Ambassador Ahmad Al-Madhbouh. “It is necessary to take steps against both weakness and collusion in the case of the martyr Omar Nayef Zayed….for the killing of a struggling Palestinian within the embassy itself, there must be serious accountability. We do not absolve the ambassador, the embassy, the Foreign Ministry or the Palestinian Authority,” said Jarrar.

Jarrar emphasized that the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions has made great achievements internationally and that it is necessary to intensify efforts linked directly with the prisoners’ movement for real results for Palestinian prisoners. “There must be a serious effort to link the issue of prisoners to the boycott. The boycott movement deeply troubles the occupier and there are attempts to issue decisions and laws to prosecute boycott activity.”

Jarrar was released from occupation prison on Friday, 3 June, after 15 months in prison.

Barakat: Majdalani’s participation in the Herzliya Conference is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people

Posted: 16 Jun 2016 07:25 AM PDT

barakatThe participation of Ahmad Majdalani, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in the 16th Zionist Herzliya Conference requires accountability, said Comrade Khaled Barakat, Palestinian leftist writer.

In a press statement, Barakat noted that the monopolistic leadership of the PLO not only has approved of the participation of Majdalani and others in the conference but also markets this approach of negotiations and normalization projects that have brought the national cause to a point of retreat and despair.

Majdalani accomplished nothing from this participation except to add his name to a list of shame of those who participate in the Herzliya Conference, on “Israeli strategy” for hegemony and control over Palestine and the region, since 2000 until today.

Majdalani and his ilk cannot attend such conferences and also claim to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, especially a conference like this that are designed to study the most effective strategies for protecting the Zionist racist project in the region, said Barakat. The resistance forces must learn from the Palestinian Authority’s long-time polcy of justification and half-positions; all resistance forces must expose these people and forces before the Palestinian and Arab masses.

Barakat said that the wave of normalization by some official Palestinian parties, formally and informally, is in full swing and is being supported by the Palestinian leadership, saying that it is a trend that must be stopped and those responsible held accountable.

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Suicide Clustering in Ireland

Posted in Community, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 13, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars
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(The symptoms highlighted above are not just the preserve of teenagers)

A Suicide Epidemic

It is now an accepted perception that a suicide ‘epidemic’ among young people has visited Irish working-class areas of high deprivation  in particular.  So much so that academic studies and community outreach groups have been established as a response. These tragic suicides tend to manifest themselves as clusters within working-class communities. Many families have experienced the trauma of the suicide epidemic and all attest to the ripple effect within the wider family and communities.  Established international research indicates that is the case and that there is a distinct correlation between Capitalism’s economic slump, rising unemployment and increased suicide levels among young males. For instance, around 50 of the 242 people registered in 2007 in the North of Ireland alone, as taking their own lives were young men in this age group, according to statistics collated by the 6 county statistics research office, NISRA. That does not mean that we are powerless to do anything.
Particular to the 6 counties would be imperialism’s impact and the post-conflict factor. During the 40 + year conflict, doctors were more than happy to prescribe anxiolytics and similar meds on a long-term basis for post-traumatic symptoms, as quite simply, it was a problem beyond their power to treat. Past prescribing practice by family doctors in Ireland will confirm that in comparison to similar areas of economic deprivation in Europe, rates of Benzodiazepine reliance were significantly higher. Prescribing guidelines and practices have changed significantly with Doctors much less willing to prescribe anxiolytics.

The Conflict/Suicide Relationship

Academic studies suggest strongly that experience of the conflict in the North is associated with decreased mental health. (Miller et al.,2003; O’Reilly and Stevenson, 2003; Muldoon et al.,2005) and Mike Tomlinson’s “Suicide and Young People: the case of Northern Ireland”examined the issue in depth. The Tomlinson article asserted that:

“there is a lack of qualitative research exploring how families and local potential sources of help vary. An important aspect of this is ‘suicide contagion’, or imitation, which researchers claim may account for up to ten per cent of suicides, and possibly more amongst younger people (Gould et al., 1989; McKenzie et al., 2005). Very little is known about the processes that lead to suicide clustering: apparently linked chains of suicide within families, friendship groups and local communities.”
Tomlinson confirmed the poor state of mental health provision for young people in the North of Ireland in particular and concluded that:

“similarly, it is only recently that researchers have begun to ask questions about the role of popular culture, new communications and the Internet in mediating ideas about suicide (Gill, 2007). While a start has been made in understanding how the NI conflict has affected the registration of suicides, the recognition of the suicide problem and the speed and nature of the responses to it, there is a long way to go before children and young people are brought fully into the picture.”

Lifeline, Suicide Prevention Ireland and The Samaritans are support groups that offer a confidential, advice-based helpline to at risk groups. A mere few seconds of web based research by those who are genuinely concerned by the issues, will confirm that most helplines are free to mobile phone users who would not have access or feel comfortable using family landlines. These much needed services continue to deal with a high level of demand for their outreach services. Over 240,000 calls have been received by Lifeline since the service was established in February 2008, and urgent interventions are required on behalf of 15% of all callers.

Capitalism’s Role

The nature of the Capitalist system which creates few winners but many economic ‘losers’ is a significant factor and successive studies indicate that unemployed people are two to three times more at risk of suicide. The suicide epidemic is a distinctly working-class issue in Ireland. There is a commonality in the reported substandard experiences of young working-class people who have presented at local A&E departments seeking help or who have survived serious suicide attempts, para-suicides or have been morbidly depressed. This less-than-satisfactory gap in adequate health care provision has been confirmed by many families who have accompanied suicidal children or siblings to A&E departments seeking psychiatric referrals. In one reported case, a parent was told that due to their distressed and suicidal teenage son being within an age group that is not catered for by psychiatric services, he could neither be admitted nor treated!

Suicide clustering in Ireland, raises more questions than answers. The impact of imperialism is a significant factor that can not be underestimated, with the high rates of economic emigration often being the escape route of choice for the more economically mobile and skilled young workers. The unrealistic heightened expectations of a ‘peace dividend’ in the North of Ireland especially, did not materialise for working-class people, as like all attempts at cosmetic re-brandings of the Capitalist system, there are few winners.  No doubt the Bourgeoisie who are invariably ideologically Malthusian will do absolutely zero about the problem..

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Alex Mcguigan

A 17 Year Old Girl Who Fought Off A Rapist Is Now The One Getting Charged!

Posted in Uncategorized, Womens' Rights with tags , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

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Source: Counter Current News

A 17-year-old girl is being charged with a crime after fighting off a would-be rapist.

The incident occurred in the center of the small town of Sonderborg in southern Denmark at approximately 10 p.m. local time last Wednesday.

The girl explained to police that an English-speaking man had knocked her to the ground. He then tried to unbutton her pants and undress her.

That’s when she decided she had no choice but to fight.

The girl pulled out pepper spray and used it against the man, who escaped the scene and hasn’t been charged.

Police say that the girl is facing a fine.

“It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,” local police spokesman Knud Kirsten said, as explained by TV Syd.

The Local reports that the fine the young girl faces could be about 500 kroner, which while only about $72 in U.S. dollars, is an insult. That potential fine has sparked outrage on social media.

Readers of the story on TV Syd’s website said they were ready to pay the girl’s fine.

“It is so completely and terribly wrong with the Danish system… Self-defense is a human right,” wrote one user, while another ironically added: “Perhaps the offender must seek compensation…Have we become mad in Denmark?”  

In the meantime, local police spokesperson Helle Lundberg told reports that officers found neither “the attacker, nor any witnesses.”

“We do not know who he is, and we do not know if he might be an asylum seeker. The girl has described him as English-speaking. That is all we know,” she explained further the spokesperson added.

Sonderborg, along with other Danish cities, recently appeared in the news in connection with sexual assaults against women by migrants.

“We must say that a large number of the male guests who come from the local asylum center have a very hard time respecting the opposite sex.

“In my eyes, it is harassment when one or more men continue to touch a young woman after she has said ‘stop,’” Glenn Hollender, from the Sonderborg club Den Flyvende Hollænder, said in an interview with TV Syd earlier in January.

Source: Counter Current News

 

The Plough and The Stars Editor’s opinion

This brave girl deserves a medal not criminal charges!  Just a pity that she had nothing more lethal to hand than pepper spray.  Like most decent people I despise predators and those who prey on weaker people.  I am quite sure that this travesty of justice has made people very angry and rightfully so.  Personally, I’m livid.  This girl could be your daughter, your partner, your wife, your mother….

Please share

Alex Mcguigan

 

 

Dandelion Salad – A Blog Well Worth Reading!

Posted in Dandelion Salad, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 10, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

 

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Quite by chance I came across the excellent blog ‘Dandelion Salad’ and was happily amazed at the variety of Left-wing and anti-imperialist topics it covers.  It’s coverage of issues from a variety of authors are professionally written with wordsmithing that I could only hope to achieve! A list of issues that enjoy comprehensive coverage include the:

Dandelion Salad is now a blog that I check daily and it can honestly be treated as an independent news source that is a breath of fresh air in a world of media monopolisation and manipulation.  Dandelion Salad’s self description reads:

“News from around the world and videos, editorials, creative writing, photography and more. All volunteer staff and writers contribute to this blog. No one makes any money, no ads*, nor solicitations for money, all work done out of dedication to bringing news and politics from around the world not covered well in corporate run media.

* This free blog is hosted at WordPress.com and they always post ads but do your best to ignore them or drop by more frequently and they won’t show up. If you log into a WordPress account, the ads do not show up. Any ads which do occur we do not support nor gain in any manner. Use Ad Block on Firefox or Chrome to not see ads on any website”.

 

Definitely check Dandelion Salad out, there are underlined links to the blog throughout this article!    

Alex McGuigan, Sallybrook.

 

Justice For The Craigavon Two -Fight This Miscarriage of Justice

Posted in Alex McGuigan, Belfast, campaigns, Collusion, Community, History, Human Rights, Imperialism, Internationalism, Internment, Ireland, Police brutality, Political prisoners, PR, PSNI/RUC, RUC/PSNI, Sectarianism, Solidarity, Stormont, Supergrass Trials, Sureveillance, The Craigavon Two with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

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By now the gross miscarriage of justice visited upon two men, John-Paul Wooton (who when arrested was merely 17 years of age) and Brendan McConville should be reverberating around the world.  Both were hastily arrested following the shooting of a member of the local paramilitary police force, the PSNI/RUC.  Both were held illegally over the maximum limit of time of detention for questioning that the British government supposedly legislates for.  Both men, during detention following arrest, at their trial and post-conviction, that saw them both imprisoned for life, have consistently denied any involvement in the ‘crime’ they have been accused of.  Add into the mix the significant involvement of the shady operatives of the British intelligence agencies, flawed electronic surveillance and highly dubious witnesses and we have all the ingredients of yet another ‘fitting up’ of Irish people by the British establishment seeking a hasty arrest and conviction for their satisfaction.

As we have seen in the not too distant past, the British judiciary who along with the Legislature and Executive constitute ‘Government’ in the so-called Liberal Democratic model, although supposedly independent of each other, they are very far from it, not least their use of Diplock political trials.  A casual glance at Hansard, where one can read Lord Denning’s legal opinion regarding overturning clear miscarriages of justices, in the following quote he is referring to the Birmingham Six:

“Just consider the course of events if this action is allowed to proceed to trial. If the six men fail it will mean much time and money will have been expended to no good purpose. If the six men win, it will mean that the police are guilty of perjury, that they are guilty of violence and threats, that the confessions were invented and improperly admitted in evidence and the convictions were erroneous.

“This is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say that it cannot be right that these actions should go any further.”

This attitude is still clearly prevalent within the British judiciary and structurally the British government, which in short means that it is better to have innocent people imprisoned than for the public to become aware of miscarriages of justice.  So much for Liberal-Democracy’s supposed in built ‘checks and balances!’

 

Justice For the Craigavon Two Website

Perhaps the best resource for learning more about the gross miscarriage of justice against young John-Paul Wooton and Brendan Mcconville is the excellent campaigning website Justice for the Craigavon Two which has excellent details regarding the entire case, the PSNI/RUC abuses, the deviant involvement of British intelligence agencies, the farce of a trial and the latest in the campaign to free these two innocent men.  I have included an article from the website in the form of a letter from The Craigavon Two, which everyone should read closely and please share this appeal from two innocent men:

We Are Innocent!

On the 30th of March 2012 we, Brendan Mc Conville and John Paul Wootton, were convicted, and sentenced to spend the rest of our lives in prison, for the fatal shooting of Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2010.

While We fully understanding and empathise with the grief of the Carroll family and with no desire to exacerbate that grief, we wish to take this opportunity to state publicly that we have been convicted of something that we had nothing to do with, we are innocent and we do not believe that we received a fair hearing at our trial under a diplock court.

Further to this we also believe that Justice Girvan erred in his judgement of the information presented and convicted us more on the emotional and political furore created by the case than on the evidence presented. For this reason we have instructed our legal teams to appeal our convictions.

This appeal will centre on the following pieces of evidential information that were never fully dealt with by Justice Girvan, they are;

  • The prosecutions’ key witness, witness M, despite having a prescribed impairment of his sight, claimed that he seen Brendan Mc Conville at a distance that would be medical impossible,
  • It took witness M almost a year to come forward with this information and since that date he has been given anonymity and provided for in protective custody.
  • Witness M’s eye-witness account described Brendan as wearing a coat of a different style and colour from that presented by the prosecution,
  • This coat, recovered within hours of the shooting, was dry yet the weather conditions at the time  were rainy,
  • The forensic examination of this coat and the fire-arm recovered after the shooting did not match,
  • Although multiple sources of DNA were found on the coat only Brendans’ were followed up on,
  • A tracking device that had allegedly been planted on John Paul’s car by MI5 and was used as evidence to place us at the scene of the shooting, went ‘missing’ for a period of time, only to be returned in an altered state and “with data missing”,
  • Although the assault rifle and several rounds of ammunition used in the shooting were recovered no forensic link was made with either of us.

In short a case that placed us at the scene and attributed any role to us was never made, let alone proven. Rather, because the PSNI/MI5 were under so much pressure to obtain a conviction, evidence was constructed and altered to ‘fit the case’ and not examined as pieces of information that could prove or disprove our innocence.

Hopefully this miscarriage of justice can be over turned at our appeal and this nightmare of suffering for us and our families ended. However, after the experience we have already had we do not have a great deal of confidence in the criminal justice system, hence, we are asking you, the public, to follow the course of our appeal and to see for yourself the manner in which information is dealt with and how ‘justice’ is being administered in your name. Let’s not wait 15 – 20 years to deal with a miscarriage of justice, let us do so now,

Yours

Brendan Mc Conville and John Paul Wootton.

Maghaberry Jail Co. Antrim

 

 

Please share, visit the campaign website and ask what you can do to help!  You could be next!

Alex Mcguigan

 

 

 

 

Why Fracking endanger us and only benefits Corporate Gangsters!

Posted in Fracking, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

 

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Directed by Josh Fox. Winner of Special Jury Prize – Best US Documentary Feature – Sundance 2010. Screening at Cannes 2010.

Top Environmental Concerns in Fracking

As a result of recent technological innovations improving the ability to extract oil and natural gas from shale and other rock formations, the popularity of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has surged, leading to new investment opportunities and positive growth for the domestic gas and oil production industry. With the expansion, however, has come risk and scrutiny.[1]

To help quantify and qualify those potential risks, and in response to escalating public concern, Congress directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to conduct a study into the potential impacts of fracking on drinking and ground water. A first report of results is expected by the end of 2012, with a final report to be released in 2014.

Although the evolving industry offers many potential benefits, there are a number of environmental issues leading to increased federal and state regulation of the industry.

(1) Water Issues: Contamination of Groundwater.  There is considerable concern that fracking can lead to contamination of groundwater as a result of spills, faulty well construction, or other means, including disposal into underground injection wells. In 2010, residents of Pavillion, Wyoming complained about the condition of their well water. In December 2011, EPA released a report finding that compounds associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath the community and health officials advised residents not to drink the water.  EPA did emphasize, however, that its findings are specific to the area due to the fact the fracking activities in Pavillion occurred below the level of the drinking water aquifer and close to water wells, unlike other locations where drilling is more remote and fracking occurs much deeper than the level of groundwater that would normally be used. In January 2012, EPA began testing water supplies for 61 homes in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and provided replacement drinking water supplies to four homes where water tests raised health concerns. Both the state Department of Environmental Protection and the driller active in the area are cooperating with the agency.

(2) Air Quality Issues. Fracking activities can lead to emissions into the air of methane, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, and greenhouse gases.  EPA, the Department of the Interior, other federal agencies and states are currently working to better characterize and reduce the air emissions from fracking and their associated impacts. For example, through the Clean Construction USA program, EPA is promoting newer, more efficient technology and cleaner fuels to increase the ways in which hydraulic fracturing equipment and vehicles reduce emissions.  Emissions from fracking may also contribute to global climate change, according to a study performed by a group of researchers at Cornell University.  However, another group of Cornell researchers recently released a competing report claiming the previous research overestimated leaks from fracked wells.

(3) Water Issues: Stress on Existing Water Supply. According to EPA’s senior policy counsel Robert Sussman, the strain that heavy-volume surface and groundwater withdrawals of freshwater used in the fracking process may be placing on water resources is one of the top concerns related to the process.  However, EPA has little authority to address such issues and regulation will be largely left to local and state governments.

(4) Water Issues: Management of Wastewater.  The wastewater associated with shale gas extraction can contain high levels of total dissolved solids, fracturing fluid additives, metals, and naturally occurring radioactive materials. Unfortunately, many municipal water treatment plants are not designed to remove some of these contaminants.  Methods for disposal of such wastewater include deep well injection, surface impoundments for storage or disposal, recycling methods and discharge to a properly-licensed treatment facility.  However, these disposal methods are not without criticism.  Following a series of earthquakes clustered in an area less than one mile from a deep-injection well used mostly used for oil and gas fluid waste disposal, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources began investigating.  The Ohio DNR concluded the seismic activity was likely induced by the deep injection well and, on December 31, 2011, the governor ordered a moratorium that is still in place on six Class II deep injection wells.  The Ohio DNR also announced new regulations for the transportation and disposal of the wastewater, requiring operators to supply extensive geological data before drilling (including the existence of known geological faults) and to implement monitoring devices.  Currently, oil and gas operators are generally not required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for stormwater discharges from fracking sites unless there is a reportable quantity spill or the discharge causes or contributes to a water quality violation.

(5) Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals. Five states—Colorado, Montana, Louisiana, Texas and North Dakota—require operators to post data regarding the chemicals used in fracking with an online database, the FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry.  It is expected that one potential result of the EPA study into the effect of fracking on water supply could be federal requirements for disclosure. Given this potential, operators are well advised to maintain records regarding the usage of chemicals on a well-by-well basis.


[1] In the event a definition is needed: Hydraulic fracturing is the gas extraction process of injecting large volumes of chemically treated water and sand underground to break apart gas-bearing rock formations. Source:  http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/top-environmental-concerns-fracking/

Published on May 11, 2014 Written and Directed By: Josh Fox.

 

 

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