The Evening Blues - 10-9-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Larry Davis


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues singer and guitarist Larry Davis. Enjoy!

Larry Davis - Whole World Down On You

"Experience has already shown that the impeachment the Constitution has provided is not even a scarecrow."

-- Thomas Jefferson


News and Opinion

White House refuses to comply with impeachment inquiry

Donald Trump pushed the United States towards a constitutional crisis on Tuesday when his legal counsel said the White House would refuse to cooperate with Congress’s impeachment inquiry.

“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it,” the counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives.

The eight-page missive came after the Trump administration abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from appearing before the congressional impeachment inquiry and sets up a clash between the White House and Congress – the executive and legislative branches – in the weeks ahead. The letter appeared to put the emphasis on political rebuttal rather than structured legal argument – perhaps marking a new strategy to counter the impeachment threat with stalling and counter-attacking. ...

Trump’s supporters in the House endorsed the letter. The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, said: “House Democrats have wanted to undo the results of the 2016 election for three years, and now they’re rushing a sham impeachment process. “President Trump is right to call out this rushed process because Democrats refuse to protect the transparency and basic fairness that have been integral to previous impeachment proceedings.”


Russian social media debate: clickbait or information warfare?

Long, but worth a full read:

The Real Cover-Up: Putting Donald Trump’s Impeachment in Context

From the time of Donald Trump's election, American elites have hungered for this moment. At long last, they have the 45th president of the United States cornered. In typically ham-handed fashion, Trump has given his adversaries the very means to destroy him politically. They will not waste the opportunity. Impeachment now—finally, some will say—qualifies as a virtual certainty. ... As this process unspools, what politicians like to call “the people's business"will go essentially unattended. So while Congress considers whether or not to remove Trump from office, gun-control legislation will languish, the deterioration of the nation's infrastructure will proceed apace, needed healthcare reforms will be tabled, the military-industrial complex will waste yet more billions, and the national debt, already at $22 trillion—larger, that is, than the entire economy—will continue to surge. The looming threat posed by climate change, much talked about of late, will proceed all but unchecked. For those of us preoccupied with America's role in the world, the obsolete assumptions and habits undergirding what's still called “national security"will continue to evade examination. Our endless wars will remain endless and pointless.

By way of compensation, we might wonder what benefits impeachment is likely to yield. Answering that question requires examining four scenarios that describe the range of possibilities awaiting the nation.

The first and most to be desired (but least likely) is that Trump will tire of being a public piñata and just quit. ... The second possible outcome sounds almost as good but is no less implausible: a sufficient number of Republican senators rediscover their moral compass and “do the right thing,"joining with Democrats to create the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump and send him packing. ... The third somewhat seamier outcome might seem a tad more likely. It postulates that McConnell and various GOP senators facing reelection in 2020 or 2022 will calculate that turning on Trump just might offer the best way of saving their own skins. ... At the moment, however, indications that Trump loyalists out in the hinterlands will reward such turncoats are just about nonexistent. Unless that base were to flip, don't expect Republican senators to do anything but flop.

That leaves outcome number four, easily the most probable: while the House will impeach, the Senate will decline to convict. Trump will therefore stay right where he is, with the matter of his fitness for office effectively deferred to the November 2020 elections. Except as a source of sadomasochistic diversion, the entire agonizing experience will, therefore, prove to be a colossal waste of time and blather. Furthermore, Donald Trump might well emerge from this national ordeal with his reelection chances enhanced. ...

Let me suggest that, while Trump is being pursued, it's you, my fellow Americans, who are really being played. The unspoken purpose of impeachment is not removal, but restoration. The overarching aim is not to replace Trump with Mike Pence—the equivalent of exchanging Groucho for Harpo. No, the object of the exercise is to return power to those who created the conditions that enabled Trump to win the White House in the first place. Just recently, for instance, Hillary Clinton declared Trump to be an “illegitimate president."Implicit in her charge is the conviction—no doubt sincere—that people like Donald Trump are not supposed to be president. People like Hillary Clinton—people possessing credentials like hers and sharing her values—should be the chosen ones. Here we glimpse the true meaning of legitimacy in this context. Whatever the vote in the Electoral College, Trump doesn't deserve to be president and never did.

For many of the main participants in this melodrama, the actual but unstated purpose of impeachment is to correct this great wrong and thereby restore history to its anointed path. In a recent column in the Guardian, Professor Samuel Moyn makes the essential point: Removing from office a vulgar, dishonest, and utterly incompetent president comes nowhere close to capturing what's going on here. ... “For all their appeals to enduring moral values,"Moyn writes, “the centrists are deploying a transparent strategy to return to power."Destruction of the Trump presidency is a necessary precondition for achieving that goal. “Centrists simply want to return to the status quo interrupted by Trump, their reputations laundered by their courageous opposition to his mercurial reign, and their policies restored to credibility."

Rachel Maddow Blames RUSSIA For Ukraine-Gate

Turkey dismisses US threats, amasses troops on Syrian border

US cuts Turkey’s access to north-east Syria airspace ahead of military campaign

The United States (US) military has severely limited Turkey’s access to the airspace over north-east Syria, making the upcoming Turkish military operation into the area difficult without the benefit of air cover.

The US has taken a series of actions since yesterday which would potentially hinder the operation, with Pentagon spokeswoman Carla Gleason informing reporters that the Combined Air Operations Centre has removed Turkey from the anti-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) coalition’s air tasking order, through which it coordinates the flights of member nations.

As well as removing Turkey from US coordination, it has also halted Turkey’s access to surveillance information, crippling its ability to accurately conduct aerial cover during its campaign. Gleason refused to directly declare that the air space was shut off to Turkey, but stated that “if you’re not on the air tasking order, it’s really hard to coordinate flights in that area.” ...

In addition to limiting access to airspace, the US has also threatened to make Turkey an “extremely decimated economy” if its military forces harm any American troops throughout the operation. Warning of the use of his “unmatched wisdom”, Trump referred to his previous affect on the Turkish economy and the devaluing of its currency last year, during the incident in which Turkey was refusing to release a detained American pastor and was purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defence system which the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was staunchly against due to security concerns.

The military operation that is set to take place is the third Turkish incursion into northern Syria, following on from Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in 2018, and fulfils Erdogan’s statement last week that Turkey must take its own course in setting up a safe zone in Syria.

Turkey vows to press ahead with attack on Kurdish-led forces in Syria

Turkey has signalled its intent to press ahead with an attack on US-backed Kurdish-led forces in north-east Syria despite confusion over US policy after officials appeared to backtrack on Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from the area. The vice-president, Fuat Oktay, said Turkey would execute its own plans regarding national security and would not be “controlled by threats”.

“Turkey will not accept a terror corridor or terror state right next to its borders under any circumstances, whatever the cost,” he said. ...

The SDF said late on Tuesday night that Turkish forces were already attacking near the border. “The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on SereKaniye Border with Turkey,” it said in a tweet, referencing the key border town of Ras al-Ayn. It was one of the places from which US troops withdrew on Monday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “There were no injuries to our forces. We didn’t respond to this unprovoked attack,” the SDF said.

Turkey’s military also struck the Syrian-Iraqi border on Tuesday to prevent Kurdish forces using the route to reinforce north-east Syria. ...

The Republican senator Lindsey Graham warned Turkey that Congress would impose sanctions if Ankara went ahead with its offensive. “Any incursion into northern Syria by Turkey creates a nightmare for the region & US national security interests,” he said on Twitter. “It will be met with most severe sanctions against Turkey’s military and economy – by Congress – at a time we should be working together to solve common problems.” ...

With his rhetorical U-turns and mixed messages, Trump has been publicly coming to terms with policy dilemmas that constrained his predecessor, Barack Obama. The US cannot afford to worsen its already poor relationship with Turkey and cannot contemplate a military clash with a Nato ally. On the other hand, there is considerable US support, particularly in the Republican party, for standing by the Kurds.

Court rules FBI surveillance violated Americans' rights

The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruled last year that some FBI surveillance violated the targets’ constitutional rights, the intelligence community revealed Tuesday. The ruling, a rare loss for the government on surveillance matters, found that the FBI may have violated the law, as well as constitutional protections against unreasonable searches, as it searched through databases connected to its a warrantless communications surveillance program.

Judge James Boasberg, who sits on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, found last year that the FBI's efforts to query the sensitive databases and purge unnecessary results were "inconsistent with statutory minimization requirements and the requirements of the Fourth Amendment."

The ruling identified tens of thousands of improper FBI searches of intelligence databases in 2017 and 2018, according to the ruling, which found these searches may have been used to vet personnel and cooperating sources. It also found that the FBI was not properly identifying and documenting which searches were connected to people in the U.S. ... The ruling found improper use of the database by individuals, including at least one FBI contractor who searched an intelligence database for information on himself, relatives and other personnel.

For years, civil liberties advocates have argued that the law at the center of the dispute – Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — violates constitutional rights as it allows the government to collect data on Americans without a warrant.

Indigenous-Led Anti-Austerity Protests Shut Down Quito Forcing Ecuadorian Government to Move Capital

Indigenous protesters converge on Quito as Ecuador president moves out

Thousands of indigenous protesters have converged on Ecuador’s capital after anti-government demonstrations and clashes prompted the president to move his besieged administration out of Quito. On Tuesday afternoon, one group of protesters burst through security lines and briefly surged into the country’s National Assembly, before they were forced out by police firing tear gas. The legislature was not sitting at the time.

Elsewhere, masked and stick-wielding protesters hurled stones and battled with security forces, who responded with tear gas. The South American country of 17 million appeared to be at a dangerous impasse, paralyzed by a lack of public transport and blockaded roads that were taking a toll on an already vulnerable economy.

Violence has persisted since last week when Lenín Moreno’s decision to cut subsidies led to a sharp increase in fuel prices. Several oil wells ceased production totaling 65,000 barrels daily because protesters seized installations, the energy ministry said. On Monday, police abandoned an armored vehicle to protesters who set it on fire. Elsewhere, rioters smashed car windows, broke into shops and confronted security forces who fired tear gas to try to disperse swelling crowds.

Some video footage has shown police beating protesters on the ground. Opponents have accused the Ecuador president’s government of human rights abuses in its attempts to quell disturbances.

Moreno met with cabinet ministers in Guayaquil on Tuesday after moving government operations there from Quito because of security problems. In comments broadcast by the Ecuavisa television network, he said he had the support of Ecuador’s institutions and thanked them “for their defense of the democratic system”. In a televised addressed late Monday, he said he had been the target of a coup attempt, but would not back down from his decision to cut the subsidies. ... Several military commanders in uniform stood behind Moreno during his address, underscoring the armed forces’ support.

Hong Kong Is Threatening to Roll Out the Chinese Military if Protests Get Worse

Hong Kong’s leader warned Tuesday that if protests continue to escalate, she will be forced to ask the Chinese military to intervene. The message is a chilling warning to the tens of thousands of protesters who have flooded Hong Kong’s streets every weekend for the last four months and whose pro-democracy demonstrations have brought the city to a standstill on multiple occasions. ...

“I still strongly feel that we should find the solutions ourselves,” Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, told reporters at a news conference. “That is also the position of the central government that Hong Kong should tackle the problem on her own but if the situation becomes so bad, then no options could be ruled out if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance.”

The comments came after another weekend of mass protest marches that descended into violent clashes between riot police and protesters. To date over 2,000 people have been arrested for taking part in the demonstrations. The government last week enacted emergency legislation for the first time in almost 50 years to crack down on the wearing of face masks at protests and have so far arrested 77 people. Critics worry that the emergency legislation, which gives Lam unlimited powers, could be used to further crackdown on civil liberties, with authorities already floating the possibility of curfews and internet censorship.

Beijing has been taking a back seat in relation to the protests in Hong Kong so far, fearful that military intervention would further damage the city’s reputation as a financial and commercial hub.

Israel Is Accused of Torturing a Prisoner Until His Ribs Were Broken. Palestinians Are Demanding Answers.

Samir Arbeed was arrested by Israeli forces outside his workplace in the West Bank on September 25 in connection with a bomb attack that killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl. Two days later, the 44-year-old Palestinian and member of the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was rushed to the emergency room, unconscious. Six of his ribs were broken and his kidney had gone into failure.

What happened between his arrest and hospitalization is now a topic of fierce interest for Palestinians, who argue that Arbeed’s injuries are physical proof of a dark reality they’ve long known to be true: Israel’s security forces routinely torture and abuse Palestinian prisoners with impunity.

“This isn’t about two or three interrogators who have gone insane. It’s not about rotten apples. This is a whole system,” said Rachel Stroumsa, head of the Public Committee Against Torture, an independent rights watchdog based in Tel Aviv. “What we see here with Samir Arbeed is unusual in its consequences but not unusual in any other sense.”

Since 2001, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has filed over 1,200 torture complaints on behalf of Palestinians to the Israeli Attorney General. The vast majority of cases have never seen the light of day, let alone result in any charges. ...

Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of the FBI, has long been accused of using torture tactics such as sleep deprivation, beatings, extreme pressure on the back, consecutive, periodical crouches on a suspect’s toes — known as the “frog position”— and psychological threats, including threats of rape. These tactics are typically reserved for Palestinians suspected of involvement in militant activity.

Brexit deadlock: Talks between Brussels, London close to collapse

Boris Johnson's Brexit deal appears doomed as deadline looms

Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan appeared to be all but dead on Tuesday night as the government admitted there was little prospect of a deal before 31 October, following a day of furious recriminations. The prime minister spoke to the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, on the phone after a stormy 24 hours of briefing and counter-briefing, as concerns about his tactics were even raised in Johnson’s cabinet.

In Brussels, a further extension that could be as long as next summer is now considered almost inevitable, despite Johnson’s continued insistence that the UK would leave on 31 October, with or without a deal.

A blame game erupted on Tuesday morning as the cabinet gathered in Downing Street when an anonymous source briefed selected journalists about a private call between the prime minister and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The unnamed figure in No 10 claimed that Berlin’s insistence on keeping Northern Ireland in the EU customs union made a Brexit deal “essentially impossible, not just now but ever”.

That message infuriated Donald Tusk, the European council president, who tweeted directly at Johnson: “What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke. Quo vadis? [Where are you going?].”

That sentiment was echoed by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who said “nobody would come out a winner” in a no-deal scenario. “I do not accept this ‘blame game’ of pinning the eventual failure of the negotiations on the EU. If that’s the case, the explanation is actually in the British camp,” he said. Juncker said Johnson’s Brexit proposals would leave the UK with a relationship with the EU that was “less intimate than with Canada”.

LA police search black drivers most – even though white people have more drugs, report finds

Los Angeles police officers stop and search black and Latino drivers at significantly higher rates than white people, even though white residents are more likely to be carrying drugs and weapons, a new report shows.

Traffic stop data from a recent 10-month period across LA revealed that black drivers and passengers were four times more likely to be searched by police than white people, and that Latinos were three times as likely to face searches, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

In stops across the city, 24% of black drivers and passengers were searched, compared with 16% of Latinos and 5% of white people. White drivers were found with drugs or other contraband 20% of the time, a higher rate than other groups; the contraband rate was 17% for black people and 16% for Latinos.

The analysis of Los Angeles police department (LAPD) data comes the same week that an activist coalition is launching a campaign demanding an end to these kinds of stops and reparations for people who have been wrongly searched and racially profiled.

“These stops lead to the death of our people,” said Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, which is part of the coalition launching Wednesday, called Promoting Unity Safety and Health in Los Angeles (Push LA). “For anybody who lives in communities like mine, the data is not a surprise. It’s a validation of what we already know.”

After Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Flouts 2018 Ruling, Judge Reminds Her of Consequences—Including Jail Time

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday was told in no uncertain terms that her refusal to abide by a 2018 order stopping her department from collecting on student loans made to predatory for-profit Corinthian College had the potential to land her in jail, though Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim made clear that was, for now, an unlikely outcome.

"At best it is gross negligence, at worst it's an intentional flouting of my order," Kim told lawyers from the education department in court Monday. "I'm not sure if this is contempt or sanctions."

"I'm not sending anyone to jail yet," Kim added, "but it's good to know I have that ability."

As journalist Sarah Jaffe noted on Twitter, "Betsy DeVos is in trouble."


Mississippi, land where the blues began:

He Was Sentenced to Only Two Days in Jail, a Lawsuit Says. Three Months Later, He Killed Himself in His Cell.

Robert Wayne Johnson was allegedly sentenced to two days in a rural Mississippi jail for not paying a fine. Three months later, still in his cell, Johnson strangled himself with his shoelaces. Now, his widow, LaToya Johnson, is suing the county, the sheriff’s office, and several correctional officers. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit in a Mississippi federal court on September 30, alleging that he was unlawfully held past his release date, not provided with mental healthcare, and not properly monitored after he became suicidal.

Robert Wayne Johnson, a father of five, was given two days in jail and 199 hours of community service as punishment for not paying money he owed to a Meridian municipal court, according to the suit. In the complaint, LaToya says he wasn’t able to pay the fine because he had lost his job and couldn’t afford it. He was jailed in Kemper Neshoba Regional Correctional Facility, under the Kemper County Sheriff's Office.

Robert Wayne made another suicide attempt while jailed before his death, the complaint says. LaToya alleges that the jail ignored her husband’s mental health issues and other inmates’ repeated warnings that he had been tying shoelaces around his neck in the days leading up to his death on Jan. 9, 2018. In the hours before he died, he slit his wrists as well, the suit says.

The complaint says that Johnson was transferred to an unmonitored segregation cell with all of his belongings, including the shoelaces, after a “scuffle” with another inmate over Johnson being upset his fellow inmates had alerted a guard to his suicide attempt. Johnson killed himself approximately 14 minutes after being placed in isolation.

Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Staff Pushed Philadelphia Inquirer to Be More Critical of Larry Krasner: Emails

Officials working on behalf of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro pitched the Philadelphia Inquirer to be more critical of local District Attorney Larry Krasner, according to emails revealed through an open records request. Several stories published by the Inquirer after Shapiro’s office reached out to the paper, drawing on some of the same arguments that Shapiro’s office had made to the paper, were heavily criticized by criminal justice experts after its publication for painting a misleading picture.

The emails shed light on an ongoing power struggle between two of the area’s top law enforcement officials, pitting the more moderate Shapiro against Krasner, a leading figure in the movement to roll back mass incarceration by taking power at the district attorney level.

On June 18, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Krasner’s office had actually increased the number of gun cases approved for prosecution despite criticism that his approach to criminal justice reform was too lenient. The coverage appeared to rankle officials at Shapiro’s office, who swapped emails criticizing the story and indicating that they subsequently facilitated an off-record phone call with the paper, in which they suggested that future coverage should show that Krasner’s policies were actually linked to increased crime, shootings, and homicides in the city. ...

It’s common practice for officials in question to push back against certain aspects of stories they might find inconvenient, and for reporters to take calls out of courtesy as part of maintaining relationships with the agencies they cover. But the move by the attorney general’s office to attempt to portray their counterpart as having a role in making Philadelphia the state’s most violent city is evidence that Shapiro sees Krasner as a rival and is willing to undermine his office publicly.



the horse race



What does Bernie need to do now?

Sanders returns home after heart attack but will 'change the nature of campaign'

Senator Bernie Sanders indicated that he will “change the nature of the campaign a bit” after suffering a heart attack last week. Venturing outside his Vermont home on Tuesday, the 78-year-old senator is slowly easing back into the 2020 presidential race, telling reporters he “should have listened to those symptoms”.

“I must confess, I was dumb,” Sanders said. “During this campaign, I’ve been doing, in some cases, three or four rallies a day, running all over the state – Iowa, New Hampshire, wherever. And yet I, in the last month or two, just was more fatigued than I usually have been.”

Sanders’ campaign has said he will be at next week’s Democratic presidential debate in Ohio. It has not said whether he will resume campaigning before that. ... As Sanders continues to recover, surrogates including Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, have taken Sanders’ place on the campaign trail.

Sanders has been active in recent days communicating with his staff and his broader network of longtime supporters. Those who have spoken to him say that he is quick to shut down questions about his health, insisting that he’s fine, and that he vowed to remain in the 2020 race during a Monday conference call with his entire campaign staff.

“It wasn’t a major heart attack. He had a minor heart attack. The stents will be extremely helpful in terms of blood flow. I assume he’ll be far more vigorous,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, a Sanders confidante and former executive director of National Nurses United. “Heaven help the opposition.”

Tim Black explains why Bernie is the front runner

The pundit class continues to misunderstand Bernie Sanders

A new unofficial Bernie Sanders ad, made by a fan, is making a lot of viewers tear up. It contrasts dismissive and disparaging comments about Bernie from TV pundits with the warmth felt towards him by his supporters across the country. It movingly shows how Sanders inspires people and gives them hope – but also just how insulated the “pundit class” is from the reality of people’s lives. ...

The media not only treat Sanders as a humorless fringe demagogue, but they also understate his popularity. Katie Halper has documented the various ways in which media organizations have subtly fudged the numbers to make Bernie seem less successful than he is, and there is still a narrative that his campaign is failing even as it hauls in giant quantities of small donations from all over the country. Even as he shatters fundraising records there will be stories of him “struggling to attract new supporters, and even keep some of the old ones”.

In part, the media underestimates Bernie because it can’t understand Bernie. The new ad quotes CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson saying it’s “really hard to imagine who the Bernie Sanders voter is at this point”. And it’s true: if you are, like Henderson, a Yale graduate living in Washington DC, or you are, like the New York Times’ Sydney Ember, a former financial analyst for an investment bank, the source of Bernie’s appeal must be mystifying. That’s because Sanders returns again and again to issues that are of little interest to the political media, like environmental policy, social welfare, and education.

Consider MSNBC. Combing through their home page a few days ago, I found that nearly every story was about Trump, Ukraine and impeachment. The one headline about climate change, an issue so important that it should be dominating every day’s deadlines, was “Watch London climate change protest involving 1,800 liters of fake blood go horribly wrong,” hardly a substantive discussion of science or policy. ... If you see MSNBC as “the left” and Fox as “the right”, then Bernie Sanders must be some strange aberration that doesn’t make sense. In fact, he’s just a person with a well-refined sense of what matters and what doesn’t. Sanders has been accused of mirroring Donald Trump in his scathing attacks on the media. But while Trump’s objection to the media is that they spend too much time exposing his crimes and lies, Sanders’ objection is that they don’t elevate the voices of ordinary people and they don’t inform the public about the most important issues. ...

The reason the media doesn’t understand Sanders, then, is in part that they do not understand the problems he is speaking about or why they matter. To cover him fairly would require them to re-examine their entire values and priorities. And that wouldn’t be good for ratings.

Why Biden has dropped from front runner status?

'Good!' Says Sanders as Lobbyists Lash Out at Proposal to End Corporate Domination of US Politics

Sen. Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign late Monday enthusiastically welcomed lobbyist backlash over the senator's new proposal to dramatically curb the power of corporate money in politics and bar the Democratic National Committee from taking cash from big business.

"Good!" Sanders tweeted in response to a story in The Hill that quoted several lobbyists opposed to the senator's plan, which would ban corporate donations to the Democratic Party Convention in Milwaukee if Sanders becomes the presidential nominee. As Politico reported last month, Democratic operatives have already begun seeking lobbyist help with financing the event.

Stewart Verdery, CEO of public affairs firm Monument Advocacy, warned that "telling companies who would like to partner with the party to take their ball and go home will easily feed into an anti-capitalist motif."

"On the substance side, hosting a convention is a major endeavor that can strap the budgets of parties and cities—the money has to come from somewhere and cutting off corporate donations may further depress interest in hosting a convention," said Verdery. "On the image side, the Democrats always have to balance their populist rhetoric with quieter outreach to the business community."

The Hill also granted anonymity to a Democratic lobbyist who bashed Sanders's proposal as a "desperate" attempt to outdo Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) anti-corruption plan. "This is simply a game of one-upmanship from a desperate campaign that doesn’t have the ability to draft a 27-page thesis like Warren," said the lobbyist.

The Sanders campaign—which proudly touts a list of "anti-endorsements" on its website—was unmoved by the lobbyists' criticism. In fact, as deputy campaign manager Ari Rabin-Havt put it, lobbyist outrage over the proposal "is not a bug—it's a feature."

Warren Gunnels, Sanders's senior adviser, tweeted: "We welcome their hatred."

Intercept Journalist: How Republicans caught Democrats asleep at the switch on gerrymandering



the evening greens

There's an 'Ecocide' Happening in the Fires at the Edge of the Amazon

A few months ago, few people knew the Dendropsophus rozenmani existed. Scientists only just discovered the tiny, brown-striped tree frog — in a swath of forest that’s now largely been burnt to a crisp on the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest. The frog’s habitat is a 57 million-acre tropical ecosystem in Bolivia known as the Chiquitano dry forest. It’s host to a number of endangered species, and, likely, many undiscovered ones. The forest isn’t any richer in biodiversity than the Amazon, but it’s unique. Some species, like the tree frog and the Chiquitano Orchid, are only known to exist there and nowhere else. The fires may have permanently damaged the forest that these unusual creatures call home. ...

Since August, about 7 million acres — about a sixth of the Chiquitano dry forest — have burned, and scientists are concerned the ecosystem could be irreversibly altered. The Bolivian government said Monday that rain had finally extinguished the fires, but an estimated 2 million animals died. Researchers believe the flames threatened some 4,000 plant species and 1,600 species of animals, including jaguars, tapirs, and giant anteaters. Compared to its neighboring regions, the Chiquitano also has more species of mammals, a third of which are threatened or endangered, like the giant otter, the giant armadillo, and the maned wolf.

The fires in Bolivia, researchers and advocates believe, are largely set by people. They’re clearing forest for pasture because of a push to increase agricultural production for exports. In August, the country sent its first shipment of beef to China where an outbreak of African swine flu has decimated the pork supply and pushed the country to import from abroad. ...

Back in 2013, Bolivian President Evo Morales announced that he’d aim to triple the amount of arable farmland in Bolivia to 32 million acres by 2025. In practice, that means clearing forests. And this summer, Morales made good on that promise by passing laws that allowed farmers to legally slash and burn more land for agricultural use. “This happened in July,” said Alfredo Romero-Muñoz, a doctoral researcher studying the Chiquitano forest. “And in August, the fires started. So these are direct outcome of these policies.”

In Santa Cruz, a city in the same province as the Chiquitano forest, people took to the streets Friday to protest the government’s lack of response to the fires. The opposition party has called on Morales to declare a national emergency, which would streamline international aid money. But his administration hasn’t declared one over concerns that international cash could lead to foreign meddling in Bolivia.

I guess this makes a good case for solar panels on your roof and a battery in your basement. Power to the people.

California utility will shut off power to 800,000 people to prevent wildfires

A California utility has announced it will shut off power to more than 800,000 customers in an effort to prevent new wildfires, in the largest preventive outage in state history. With windy, dry weather in the forecast and warnings of extreme fire danger, Pacific Gas & Electric utility said it will start turning off power to 34 counties in northern and central California after midnight Wednesday.

It may take several days to fully restore power, Michael Lewis, senior vice-president of PG&E’s electric operations, said in a statement.

Separately, the Southern California Edison utility website said more than 106,000 of its customers in parts of eight counties could face power cuts. The affected regions include an area of wine country north of San Francisco where several fires two years ago killed 22 people and destroyed thousands of homes. ...

The outages will also affect portions of the agricultural Central Valley, the state’s northern and central coasts and the Sierra Nevada foothills, where a November wildfire blamed on PG&E transmission lines killed 85 people and devastated the town of Paradise. In Butte County, where Paradise is located, people lined up at gas stations Tuesday morning to fill up their cars and portable containers with fuel for generators. They also rushed to stores to buy flashlights, ice chests and batteries.

Stay away from astroturf and don't drink water from sources that have had runoff from it. Lots more detail in the article:

Toxic PFAS Chemicals Found in Artificial Turf

PFAS chemicals have been identified in synthetic turf, according to lab tests performed on several samples of the artificial grass that were shared with The Intercept. The presence of the chemicals, members of a class that has been associated with multiple health problems, including cancer, adds to growing concerns about the grass replacement that covers many thousands of acres in parks, schools, professional sports stadiums, and practice fields around the U.S.

In one set of tests, the PFAS chemicals were detected in the plastic backing of two samples of the turf. In another, in which the “blades” of the artificial grass were analyzed, scientists measured significant levels of fluorine, which is seen as an indication of the presence of the chemicals. ...

Any threats posed by the PFAS in the blades and backing of turf add to questions that were already swirling about the crumb rubber sprinkled over it. In 2014, soccer coach Amy Griffin realized that an alarming number of goalkeepers had developed cancer after playing on turf fields and began tallying all the athletes she could find in the same situation. By January 2019, her list included 260 young football, baseball, lacrosse, and soccer players with cancer. Griffin has repeatedly called for more research. But so far, scientists have focused on the chemicals in the crumb rubber spread over turf and not on the other components of the plastic grass. ...

The rubber, which is used in huge amounts (some 40,000 tires are shredded to cover a single artificial turf field), contains heavy metals and other chemicals shown to pose serious health risks. Environmental groups have taken issue with the health risks of turf. And the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai deemed the fake grass so dangerous it called for a moratorium on new artificial fields in 2017.

In July, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued the first of two reports on the recycled crumb rubber, which found dozens of metals and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in the black rubber specks. Several of these compounds — including cadmium, benzene, nickel, chromium, and arsenic — are known carcinogens.


Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

From the US to Hong Kong, the right to protest peacefully is under attack

The New Yorker’s Partisan Attempt to Refute Its Claim of Partisan Disinformation on Biden and Ukraine

Trump Turned His Back on Syrian Kurds. Here’s How They View Their New Precarious Position.

Despite U.S. Asylum Ban, Honduran Women Fleeing Violence Remain Undeterred

Two years after California wildfires, survivors poised to lose housing funds

The Trump Administration Is Fighting at the Supreme Court to Let Employers Fire Queer and Trans Workers

Neil Gorsuch Might Just Be the Supreme Court Justice Who Saves LGTBQ Workers' Rights

Ocasio-Cortez Takes Aim at Crowley and Kennedy For Challenge to Green New Deal Co-Champion Ed Markey

In European First, Proposed Constitutional Amendment in Sweden Would Enshrine Rights of Nature

Guitarist Robbie Robertson helped to change music history with Bob Dylan’s backing group the Band. He remembers how the ‘brotherhood’ ended in heroin addiction and self-destruction


A Little Night Music

Larry Davis - Got To Be Some Changes Made

Larry Davis - I've Been Hurt So Many Times

Larry Davis - Woke Up This Morning

Larry Davis - The Years Go Passing By

Larry Davis - I Tried

Larry Davis - Angels In Houston

Larry Davis - Little Girl

Larry Davis - Down Home Funk

Larry Davis - 102nd St Blues

Larry Davis - Texas Flood


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ggersh's picture

Speechless Dash 1Dash 1

https://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/

"They didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy," Trump said of the Kurds. He added, "With all of that being said, we like the Kurds."

John Haltiwanger, Business Insider, Trump defends abandoning the Kurds by saying they didn't help the US in WWII

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9 users have voted.

trump will be amerika's last president

ameriKa's been crapified and yes that
has trickled down

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

trump's grasp of history is quite poor. there's a summary of the kurds' "usefulness" to the u.s. empire in this article that i posted the other day.

short memories, no gratitude.

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6 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

So this happened yesterday:
Anti-impeachment rally in Tucson
It was obvious to me that this impeachment bullshit was going to rile up the loonies, probably hand Trump the election.
I thought this was good, from The Nation: Against the Pundits’ Class

Beyond death, taxes, greed, and gravity, there’s little we can count on to remain constant in this world. But as sure as the day is long, you can bet on this: The elite assholes and self-interested charlatans who flood so many of our media channels will always jump at the chance to tell you that they know what “ordinary” working people are about.

...

“As a working-class person, a working-class family, I can tell you the group of people I feel the most patronized and annoyed by as we go about our daily struggles in our workplaces: it’s the professional ‘liberal middle class.’ It’s the people who are ostensibly our ‘allies,’ who support our plights in words but don’t understand our struggles. Stop feeling sorry for the ‘poor class’ and pretending like your words will change anything in our lives. The truth is, we know you don’t really want anything to change that might also change your lives."

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snoopydawg's picture

@Azazello

The truth is, we know you don’t really want anything to change that might also change your lives."

And not seeing how bad previous democratic presidents have been for the rest of us.

"Vote for me and nothing will change" - ByeDone

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7 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Azazello's picture

@snoopydawg

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

yep, the democrats have been ignoring the working class for years. the reps have been paying lip service to them and exploiting their social issues for years, too, but the dems still pretend to be the champion of the working class, while the republicans have always been pretty clear that they stand with business.

unless the dems put up an authentic candidate that the working class can support, they are going to get their asses handed to them again. regardless of whether they impeach trump. perhaps even moreso if they impeach trump.

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poll_0.PNG

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6 users have voted.
Wally's picture

@gjohnsit

. . .who constituted 42% of the electorate in 2017. The trend was upward so it's probably even higher now

11% among nearly 50% of the electorate is gd awful.

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8 users have voted.

@Wally
I think we are getting fed bullshit

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11 users have voted.
QMS's picture

@gjohnsit
Presenting polls as if a rational mind should swallow it?
The truth is nowhere near that gruel.

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6 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

Wally's picture

@gjohnsit

. . . where independents can vote in the primaries.

I think a big reason for Bernie getting slightly under 20% in national polls is they have no clue how to account for independents voting in Democratic primaries even if they claim to have a handle on it.

But I don't think they are too upset about it.

And bottom line in a general election is that Bernie will do much better than Warren among independents.

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8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@gjohnsit

well, that should help the chattering classes to see that biden's ship has sailed. i guess that's a good thing.

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5 users have voted.
Not Henry Kissinger's picture

A California utility has announced it will shut off power to more than 800,000 customers in an effort to prevent new wildfires, in the largest preventive outage in state history. With windy, dry weather in the forecast and warnings of extreme fire danger, Pacific Gas & Electric utility said it will start turning off power to 34 counties in northern and central California after midnight Wednesday.

'800,000 customers' actually = millions of people, but the corporate media protects its own.

Gavin Newsome is his typically useless self - telling people they should be outraged but also saying that a five day blackout dropped on half the state with less than 24 hours notice is 'best practices' and that they we all should have known all summer this was coming.

Luckily I'm just outside the cut off zone for now. Who the hell knows for how long....

People are going to die from this.

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10 users have voted.

Peace Sells

joe shikspack's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

the only good thing that i can see coming of this is that it will allow people to see the need for independence from the grid. the less that people are plugged into the grid, the less power the corporate state has to screw them.

it should also alert policy wonks and environmentalists to the fact that transmission lines are dangerous and to be avoided, which might limit the demand for industrial-scale solar and wind farms run by giant energy corporations and incline policy towards smaller, local solutions.

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6 users have voted.
Not Henry Kissinger's picture

@joe shikspack

the greedheads may have just handed California to Bernie on a silver platter.

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6 users have voted.

Peace Sells

joe shikspack's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

yep, the greedheads are making socialism and a serious climate change policy look pretty good about now.

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4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

The reasons why the Dems and their friends in the PTB want Trump gone. How many times have we seen them bring out the knives for Trump's actions only to find that they had been Obama's first?

“For all their appeals to enduring moral values,"Moyn writes, “the centrists are deploying a transparent strategy to return to power."Destruction of the Trump presidency is a necessary precondition for achieving that goal. “Centrists simply want to return to the status quo interrupted by Trump, their reputations laundered by their courageous opposition to his mercurial reign, and their policies restored to credibility."Precisely.

Misfud started the whole damn Russia Gate nonsense when he told Papadopoulus that Russia had dirt on Hillary so why wasn't he the first person the FBI talked to? Oh yeah..they were entrapping Papadopoulus on false pretenses. That so many people followed the democrats down the rabbit hole still just stuns my mind. And their putting faith in the intelligence agencies after they lied to us about everything does too. Wouldn't it be something if Barr was allowed to take the investigation to where it goes. The chances of that happening are....? But it would give Trump some leverage if he needs it. He should slip a copy to Rachel Moscow and see if that shuts her up.

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7 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

Wouldn't it be something if Barr was allowed to take the investigation to where it goes. The chances of that happening are....?

i'd guess that the chances are nil. they will do everything in their power to stonewall and bury whatever truth barr and the doj is able to uncover. this is an information war in a post-truth environment.

He should slip a copy to Rachel Moscow and see if that shuts her up.

doubtful. the current narrative sells. it wouldn't pay to roll out a confusing, new product line in the midst of a major campaign.

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5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Same sex marriage is the law now and gays are entitled to the same laws that straight people are, but some are still arguing that they can be fired just because of who they are.

“At the end of the day, should he or she take into consideration the massive social upheaval that would be entailed in such a decision?” Gorsuch asked the lawyer, apparently referring to himself in the third person. The better remedy, he suggested, might be found through the legislature, not the judiciary.

“It’s a question of judicial modesty,” Gorsuch said.

Consider the massive social upheaval, Neil? Not saying that they are in a class separate from others? You think the government should legislate who goes into which class? Isn't that what the equal rights law did over a century ago? If they rule in favor of Trump this will be a absolutely heinous decision.

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6 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

gorsuch might be recognizing that the forces of evil anti-gay activists are in court to achieve what they would never be able to win in a legislative action and that a decision in the anti-gay activists favor would be counter to the prevailing direction that society as a whole is going. hence, a decision in their favor would make the court's name mud and would not be durable.

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5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

How would that pertain to abortion rights? Would it be better if congress passed legislation making it legal with all the same restrictions? But didn't the equal rights protections do that for LGBT? And was it the 8th or 14th for abortion that the religious wackos keep attacking?

People say that LGBT dudes and dudettes want special rights, but can't see how they still don't have equal ones now.

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3 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

i think that it can cut both ways. on the one hand, it absolutely should be the right of women to control their bodies universally in the u.s.

however, individual states are (in anticipation of a wave of religion-inspired stupidity) creating remedies to prevent a supreme court full of religious morons from harming their citizens. this might ironically diminish the fervor of people to set things straight.

i dunno.

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3 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

Me either. It will be interesting to see if they reverse the decision made by another court. Kavanaugh said that he thought it was settled wrongly, but I don't remember the details. But if it's not your body then you shouldn't get to decide what women do with theirs. And of course it's this great huge hypocrisy hole that the "life is precious" folks fall into when they vote to gut the programs some those babies need to rely after they are birthed.

Thanks

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3 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Unabashed Liberal's picture

Miracle Photo.JPGMiracle.JPGMiracle 2.JPGMiracle 3.JPG

Miracle takes a few nibbles of food Friday afternoon at Big Dog Ranch Rescue. He was found emaciated and dehydrated in the Bahamas over a month after Hurricane Dorian wreaked devastation on the small town of Marsh Harbor. [WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com]

A month after Hurricane Dorian, a miracle is pulled from the rubble by Big Dog Ranch Rescue

By Wendy Rhodes, The Palm Beach Post, Fla. 5 days ago

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES - Rescue workers did not see him — nobody did.

They couldn't hear the little dog either — starving, dehydrated, too weak to even whine.

He was buried, trapped in the rubble under a broken air-conditioner amid piles of debris that lay sad testament to the strength of the Category 5 hurricane that in September virtually destroyed Marsh Harbor in in the Abacos.

But against all odds, Friday morning around 9:30 a.m. — more than a month after Hurricane Dorian blew through with unprecedented fury — the little dog was found.

By a drone.

Workers from Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves waded through broken appliances, sharp nails and glass until they reached the location where the drone detected a tiny patch of heat.

They were just in time.

"There was a dead dog next to him that didn't make it," said Big Dog founder Lauree Simmons through tears. "It's amazing he's still wagging his tail."

But he was alive. Maybe not exactly wagging his tail, but at least swishing it a little.

The little dog's head looked huge on his skeletal frame. He was emaciated, starving, dehydrated, lethargic.

He was too weak to stand. Rescuers picked him up and rushed him to the makeshift pet trauma unit located where the Bahamas Humane Society used to stand. They gave him an antibiotic injection and a bit of water. He was in bad shape. . . .

Hopefully, this will lift a few folks spirits, as it did mine.

We've got too much on our plates to listen to the Debate (intently, probably as background noise, though) next week, but, if anyone should run across a transcript, would appreciate if they'd share it. (Will take time to speed read to see what, if anything is discussed about Medicare.) Just hoping we can get outta here, and under a new health care system, before Medicare is converted into a public option, resembling the Medicare Advantage managed care plans. More on that and Part D plans, but, will have to wait under finger heals. It's just too difficult to type, until this huge bandage can come off. (Taking long time, due to constant use of/pressure on my hand/finger.)

Unless something drastic changes, we figure that we'll write in our former Senator (Gravel). Still, sorta disappointed that TG has ruled out a third party run, but, not particularly surprised. (Of course, DT will probably take the state by a near landslide, so, doesn't really matter how we vote.)

Cooling off nicely--about time. We're getting a huge covered kennel put up to supplement fenced backyard, and, trying to get it squared away before it turns cold.

Everyone have a nice evening, and enjoy the lovely weather!

ByePleasantryMollie

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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5 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

thanks for the dog story.

i don't know if i will listen to the debate, either. i may, out of morbid curiosity. but then again, i may not due to the disgust and revulsion.

i'll keep my eyes out for a transcript to post. best of luck with the healing!

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4 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack

keep my eyes peeled for a debate transcript--but, don't subscribe to NYT or WaPo, so, don't expect to have much success.

Mollie

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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2 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Mate' made great points, all of which were missed and dismissed by the Russiagater. A perfect example of why Russiagate persists beyond the Mueller report. How does one speak reasonably to a stump?
I had an exceptionally good day in court. I got better rulings from the Judge than I even pled for, (my evidence/testimony the Judge requested took everyone's breath away!)and my family, consisting of me and a brother, had not only sustenance, but a few extra amenities.
I am beginning to look at the day, or the day ahead, not the decade ahead, or beyond.
That is selfish, and I know it, but my efforts today are the exemplar of what I can do for the kids.
I protected 2 kids from parents on hideous drugs.
That does not protect the kids from pollution, from a world on fire, or give them health care or an education.
All it did was give them a chance not to be killed by a drugged parent.
The judge's rulings gave them a chance to just not die young.
That, joe, is all I can do.
A baby step.

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

How does one speak reasonably to a stump?

um, imitate a chainsaw? Smile

in some arguments, one has to accept that one's interlocutor is (probably intentionally) impervious to reason and has to pitch one's message to the audience, in hopes that they will see through the shabby attempts of the interlocutor to dodge and deflect.

congratulations on todays courtroom success. i hope it works out similarly in the real world.

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