Impact of Money as Free Speech in America and the World

Are corporations people?  Do constitutional guarantees of free speech apply to corporations spending money to shape public policy? The United States Supreme Court has answered both of these questions in the affirmative in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission case.



Even before the  US Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, the United States government and various interest groups have been spending vast sums of money to promote "free speech" and buy influence around the world for a long time. This money is given to non-government organizations (NGOs) and various think tanks, either directly by the USAID or through various private American foundations with the blessings of Uncle Sam.

Funding of Hate Groups' "Free Speech": 

Free Speech is a useful cover for many hate groups that are spewing venom against minorities. Such groups, particularly anti-Muslim groups in the United States, are very well funded. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group, estimates that these groups have raised and spent over $100 million in recent years.

Spending on Islamophobia is having a significant effect on Americans perception of Muslim Americans. Results differ by political party, with the majority of Republicans holding negative views of both Arab-Americans and Muslims. Democrats gave Arab-Americans a 30 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 33 percent unfavorable rating, while Republicans gave Arab-Americans a 54 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 63 percent unfavorable rating, according to public opinion survey conducted by Zogby Analytics.


US Support of NGOs, Think Tanks:

There has been extensive documentation of US government funding of NGOs for the purpose of pushing US agenda around the world. The most detailed description of it became public with revelations contained in "Who Paid the Piper" by Frances Stonor Saunders. More recently, an investigative reporter Robert Parry has documented the role played by US-funded National Endowment for Democracy in destabilizing Ukraine in a piece titled "A Shadow of US Foreign Policy".

In "The Mask of Pluralism", author Joan Roelofs describes certain CIA-designated organizations, using the funds from the “dummy” foundations, funding pro-American NGOs to advance US policies.

Many countries, including India, have made several attempts to regulate foreign funding of NGOs. Just recently, Modi government has frozen the accounts of Green Peace India and put Ford Foundation on its watch list.

There are hundreds of foreign-funded NGOs operating in Pakistan. Many of them provide much needed service but some are likely being used as cover to push foreign agendas. It has been established that the CIA used one such organization to fund a fake polio vaccination campaign in Abbotabad as part of its hunt for Usama Bin Laden.

Role Reversal:

In a strange twist, Americans are now complaining about foreign funding of Washington NGOs and Think Tanks. New York Times has named several foreign governments from Asia, Europe and the Middle East providing tens of millions of dollars to American think tanks to push "United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities".

Since 2011, at least 64 foreign governments have contributed to a group of 28 major US-based think tanks and NGOs, according to disclosures by the institutions and government documents.

As the New York Times puts it: "The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research."

Foreign-Funded US Think Tanks:

Here are three of many examples of foreign government funding of think tanks cited by New York Times:

1. Japanese government is a major donor to Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for the purpose of promoting free trade treaties, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership, in recent years.

2. United Arab Emirates is a major donor to the Atlantic Council. Michele Dunne was forced to resign the head of its center for the Middle East after calling for the suspension of military aid to Egypt in 2013 after the military coup that overthrew the democratically government of President Mohammad Mursi.

3. Norway has given at least $24 million to several Washington think tanks over the past four years, according to a tally by The New York Times, transforming these nonprofits into a powerful but largely hidden arm of the Norway Foreign Affairs Ministry. Documents obtained under that country’s unusually broad open records laws reveal that American research groups, after receiving money from Norway, have advocated in Washington for enhancing Norway’s role in NATO, promoted its plans to expand oil drilling in the Arctic and pushed its climate change agenda.

Summary:


"Free Speech"is extensively being used as a cover to promote special interests and spew hate speech in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Foreign funding of NGOs and Think Tanks is a reality.  This fact must be acknowledged.  As Saleem Ali, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, put it to New York Times: “If a member of Congress is using the Brookings reports, they should be aware — they are not getting the full story.”  Ali said he had been told during his job interview that he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government in papers. “They may not be getting a false story, but they are not getting the full story.”

The Clinton Foundation, headed by former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary, the former secretary of state, has come under severe criticism for accepting millions of dollars from foreign contributors. American media are demanding full disclosure and transparency from the couple. Shouldn't it also apply to foreign donations flowing into NGOs in Pakistan?


With growing Pakistan-China cooperation, trade and investment, Indian and western governments and spy agencies will try and ratchet up the pressure on the two countries by further fueling the insurgency in Pakistan. The issue will be played up by western and Indian media and some foreign funded NGOs in Pakistan as the work on China-Pakistan corridor proceeds and Chinese investment in Pakistan materializes.  This cynical effort could claim more innocent and well-meaning victims like Sabeen Mahmud who get caught up as pawns in the cross-fire of  international geopolitics. Pakistani leaders and people need to be aware of it and be prepared to deal with it intelligently.

Here's a video discussion on this subject:




https://vimeo.com/126093896



Who killed Sabeen Mahmud? NA-246 Results prove what. Yemen from WBT TV on Vimeo.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2o3uj0_who-killed-sabeen-mahmud-w...


Who killed Sabeen Mahmud- What do NA-246... by faizan-maqsood

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Views: 337

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 8, 2015 at 11:01am

Geller gets paid pretty well to demonize Muslims. I’m talking to the tune of $200,000 a year. True, that might be walking around money for Donald Trump (who actually bashed Geller this week for her draw the Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest) but that puts her in her top 5 percent of all Americans in terms of annual income. Now, $200,000 doesn’t make a person rich these days (although the $9 million in combined divorce settlement and life-insurance payments she reportedly got certainly qualifies her). But for what she does, it’s handsome pay.

In fact, many of the people identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Center for American Progress (CAP) as the leaders of anti-Muslim industry in America are well paid for their efforts. I’m talking so much money I almost want to start hating on Muslims-and I’m Muslim.

In Geller’s case, her salary is paid from her organization the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a group listed by the SPLC as an active “anti-Muslim organization.” In 2013, the AFDI reported $958,800 in gross receipts and paid Geller a base salary of $192,500 plus $18,750 in other income (PDF).
Not bad for a group created, per AFDI’s tax returns, to act “against the treason being committed by the national, state and local government officials, the mainstream media and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic Supremacism.” This is truly one step removed from tin foil hats and claims that the government has bugged your cheese.

---

Well, Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP) in 2012 reported $3.2 million in revenue. And Gaffney, as president, paid himself $300,000 a year for his work in demonizing Muslims.

Then there’s David Horowitz, a man described by the SPLC as “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement” He has also been denounced by the ADL for his work that ”promotes anti-Muslim views and features events with anti-Muslim activists.” (PDF)

---
Being “the godfather” of anti-Muslim hate appears to pay well. Horowitz’s Freedom Center in 2013 saw over $7.2 million dollars in gross receipts and Horowitz was paid $525, 000 in salary (PDF). And Horowitz even bankrolls Robert Spencer, another other well known Muslim-basher with a $167,000 a year salary.

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And who can forget Brigitte Gabriel, another Fox News staple who demonizes Muslims at every turn. Gabriel runs Act for America!, which the SPLC has noted is part of the “anti-Muslim inner circle.” Gabriel has given us such anti-Muslim classics as “America has been infiltrated on all levels by radicals who wish to harm America. They have infiltrated us at the C.I.A., at the F.B.I., at the Pentagon, at the State Department.”

How much does Gabriel get paid to offer that type of garbage? Per Act for America’s 2012 tax returns, she was paid $132,000 base salary and $84,090 as a bonus (PDF). I wonder if she earns that bonus by dishing out such off-the-wall claims as “tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America…attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government.”

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The most notable are the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Scaife Foundation which have donated over $5 million dollars each (PDF) to the David Horowitz’ Freedom Center. The Scaife Foundation also donated over $3 million to Frank Gaffney’s CSP.

Why do they fund these groups is a big question. Duss explained that in his view it’s “because a group of hawkish conservative funders clearly see a political benefit to stoking Americans’ fears and suspicions of their fellow citizens who are Muslims.” This means we may see even more money flowing to these anti-Muslim advocates in the 2016 presidential race.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/08/muslim-bashing-can... 

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 12, 2015 at 9:43am

#UN removes two anti-#Pakistan #NGOs from its roster in spite of no votes by #India #Israel #USA. #Balochistan http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Jun-2015/un-removes-two-anti-pakis... …A UN committee has voted to withdraw the roster status of two Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOS) -- African Technology Development Link and African Technical Association -- which were engaged in anti-Pakistan propaganda, especially about the situation in Balochistan.

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organization, which has 19 members, vets applications submitted by non-governmental organizations, recommending general, special or roster status on the basis of such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime.
Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend meetings of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and issue statements, while those with general status can also speak during meetings and propose agenda items.

A recorded vote was held on a proposal by the delegation of Pakistan to withdraw the roster status of two accredited non-governmental organizations, African Technology Development Link and African Technical Association, with 13 members voting in favour of the withdrawal of the latter to 5 against (India, Israel, United States, Greece and Uruguay) and one member absent (Burundi).

As for African Technology Development Link, the Committee voted 12 in favour to 5 against (India, Israel, United States, Greece and Uruguay), with two members absent (Burundi, Sudan), to withdraw roster status.

Pakistan had called for consensus, not a vote but since US opposed the move, it went to a vote.

The decision will be confirmed when ECOSOC holds its session next month.

Diplomats noted that all African countries voted against these so-called African NGOs, whose credentials were dubious.
In fact, Guinea's delegate announced from the floor that the NGO "African Technology Development Link" was not registered in his country.

Taking the floor prior to the first vote, the Pakistani delegate said that the organizations in question were “maligning the good name of Africa”, as they had made false statements against other member states.
China and Sudan also supported withdrawing the consultative status of the organizations.
The Chinese delegate said that, while he was in favour of increasing the voice of civil society from developing countries at the United Nations, the organizations in question had conducted activities that smacked of political intentions and had launched “wanton political attacks” against other member states.

But the Indian representative said that a more detailed consideration was required.
“We still don’t know much about these organizations,” he said.
Every organization should follow the principles of the United Nations Charter, and India was against any organization that engaged in “naming and shaming”.
However, every group should be given a fair chance to respond to the queries of the Committee, and no decisions should be taken in a hasty manner.

The US delegate agreed that much was not known about the two organizations in question, but said withdrawing the status of two organizations from Africa — which was underrepresented — was a “drastic step”, and she wished to see the process undertaken in a more transparent manner.
The representatives from Greece, Israel and Uruguay said they shared those concerns.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 27, 2016 at 5:48pm

"Dark Money" is the textbook for understanding that insight. Large checks to presidential candidates by billionaires may get headlines. But this cash is just part of the broad mission the Koch brothers and other mega-buck funders represent throughout America. The mission is to plant anti-tax, anti-regulation sentiment firmly at the top of American political discourse.

Proposals to address climate change through regulations of the fossil fuel industry illustrate a successful sortie by the Kochs and their allies in coal, oil and natural gas. Nowhere have they been more effective in writing the scripts for politicians, many of whom previously had acknowledged climate change and the need for government action.

With direct or indirect aid of the Kochs and the fossil fuel industry, a few cooperative scientists, op-ed writers and conservative radio talk show hosts created enough doubt to make climate change denial eligible to be one side in "fair and balanced" reporting.

When Obama was elected in 2008, 71 percent of Americans believed the planet was warming. By 2011, it had dropped to 57 percent, according to a poll Mayer cites from Yale University and George Mason University. "Opponents of climate change reform got their wish," she writes.

Another successful thrust matched billionaires with scruffy denizens of state capitals around the country. Inspired by Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, Mayer found, mega-donors aimed unprecedented sums of cash aimed at races for state legislators and governors in 2010. After President Obama's 2008 victory, Gillespie's scheme revitalized a despondent conservative movement.

"He knew that 2011 was a year in which many state legislatures would redraw the boundaries of their congressional districts based on a new census, a process that only took place once a decade," Mayer writes. "While the mechanics of state legislative races were abstruse and deadly dull to most people, they were key to a Republican comeback."

Thanks to GOP victories in 2010, state legislators drew maps that concentrated Democratic voters in a few congressional districts while leaving the rest in Republican control. The results were scores of House districts where Republicans could not lose, unless challenged by even more conservative opponents in primary elections. Dozens of GOP House members had no reason to obey House leadership in Washington if cooperation would draw the ire of far right donors back home.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-dark-money-ja...

https://books.google.com/books?id=X5nrCgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontco...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 4, 2017 at 10:25am

THE UAE SECRETLY PICKED UP THE TAB FOR THE EGYPTIAN DICTATORSHIP’S D.C. LOBBYING

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/04/egypt-lobbying-uae-otaiba-trump...


WHEN EGYPT WENT to work to establish the credibility of its repressive government in Washington, it had help from the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba.

Emails obtained by The Intercept show that Otaiba and the UAE essentially picked up the tab for Egypt’s lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

Egypt in 2013 enlisted the Glover Park Group, a top D.C. public relations and lobbying firm founded by former Clinton White House and Democratic Party officials, to be one of its public faces in the U.S. capital.

In a September 2015 memo to Otaiba, GPG described its work for Egypt as designed to influence both the U.S. government and the “echo chamber” of Washington think tanks and news media in order to influence American policy. The email exchanges provided to The Intercept were discovered in a cache of correspondence pilfered from Otaiba’s Hotmail account, which he used regularly for official business.

--------

THE EMAILS OBTAINED by The Intercept also show Otaiba lecturing journalists and think tank staffers on the benefits of repressive leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rule, acting as a sort of de facto second ambassador for the country.

Sisi, as chief general of the Egyptian army, led a 2013 coup against then-President Mohamed Morsi. The military man was elected president with 97 percent of the vote in a 2014 election that was largely decried as undemocratic. The UAE and Saudi Arabia were chief backers of the military takeover, providing billions of dollars in support to Egypt.

When Politico’s Michael Crowley penned a piece titled “Trump to welcome Egypt’s dictator” in April 2017 with quotes from human rights experts about Sisi’s brutal crackdown, Otaiba wrote him an email accusing him of having “something against Sisi,” despite being “one of the smartest and most thoughtful journalists in the business.”

He specifically objected to Crowley’s citation of Tom Malinowski, a former Obama administration diplomat who also served as Human Rights Watch’s Washington director from 2001 to 2013. (Human Rights Watch has issued several damning reports about Egypt in recent years, including one that called for an investigation into Sisi’s role in the 2013 mass killings of more than 1,000 protesters in what “probably amounts to crimes against humanity.” Sisi was Egypt’s minister of defense at the time of the killings.)

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 14, 2017 at 7:53am

Pakistan orders expulsion of 29 international NGOs

https://www.ft.com/content/15d38124-de54-11e7-a8a4-0a1e63a52f9c

“In Pakistan, India and Nepal, space is closing in which NGOs are able to operate,” said Binaifer Nowrojee, head of Asia-Pacific for Open Society Foundations, one of the groups banned by Pakistan.

“It comes along with a growing national pride and economic confidence in these countries. They feel that the era of being dictated to by the west is coming to an end.”

A doctor in Pakistan who helped track down bin Laden told investigators he had been introduced to the CIA by a senior Save the Children official. The charity said it had never employed the doctor but the organisation was thrown out of the country in 2012.

Pakistan’s government two years ago announced a registration regime for all international NGOs and cancelled agreements with 15 of them.

However, the latest expulsions are different because many of the organisations affected are not involved in promoting human rights or good governance — activities that frequently irritate authoritarian governments.

Officials at Pakistan’s home ministry said some of the groups had attracted the government’s attention because they operated in parts of the country where militancy was high and where Pakistan suspected western intelligence agencies also operated.

One senior government official told the Financial Times that the government had also grown suspicious of the high salaries paid by some organisations, and wondered whether they were being used to fund intelligence work on behalf of foreign governments. All the charities contacted by the FT denied this was the case.

The Pakistani move follows a similar push by its neighbour India to restrict NGOs that receive foreign funding.

In 2015 New Delhi put the Ford Foundation on a watch list and suspended Greenpeace India’s licence. This year it banned foreign funding for the Public Health Foundation of India, a group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, saying it used foreign donations to “lobby” for tobacco-control policy issues.

Human rights campaigners say the moves to hamper foreign NGOs are part of a broader move against civil society across the region, which includes what campaigners say are forced disappearances of activists who upset governments.

In Pakistan hundreds of activists have disappeared over the past few years. But while the disappearances were previously mainly limited to restive areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they now appear to be spreading into the country’s big cities.

Raza Khan, a peace activist who has advocated a rapprochement with India, went missing from Lahore this month.

Similar disappearances have occurred in Bangladesh. The most recent case involves Mubashar Hasan, an assistant professor at a Dhaka university who researched terrorism. His friends say they suspect he is being held by security forces — a claim authorities deny.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 14, 2017 at 8:42am

Stephen Kinzer, author of "The (John Foster and Allan Dulles) Brothers", says the brothers preferred " open society" in foreign lands because is "very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it". 

https://www.npr.org/2013/10/16/234752747/meet-the-brothers-who-shap...

On the Dulles' ability to overthrow regimes in Iran and Guatemala but not in Cuba or Vietnam

They were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it's very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it.

Actually, one of the people who happened to be in Guatemala at the time of the coup there was the young Argentine physician Che Guevara. Later on, Che Guevara made his way to Mexico and met Fidel Castro. Castro asked him, "What happened in Guatemala?" He was fascinated; they spent long hours talking about it, and Che Guevara reported to him ... "The CIA was able to succeed because this was an open society." It was at that moment that they decided, "If we take over in Cuba, we can't allow democracy. We have to have a dictatorship. No free press, no independent organizations, because otherwise the CIA will come in and overthrow us." In fact, Castro made a speech after taking power with [Guatemalan President Jacobo] Árbenz sitting right next to him and said, "Cuba will not be like Guatemala."

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 14, 2017 at 10:13am

#Pakistan to Shut Down @georgesoros' #Opensociety Foundation Along With 28 Other #NGO Groups. Soros gave away $37 million to various groups to promote "open society". #Espionage read more:

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.828930

Move comes as Pakistan cracks down on non-profit human rights groups, accusing some of secretly engaging in espionage
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.828930

Pakistan has told at least 10 foreign-funded aid groups to close, an umbrella agency said on Wednesday, including a charity founded by hedge fund billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, the group said.

Pakistan has toughened its stance towards domestic and international non-governmental groups in recent years, accusing some of using their work as a cover for espionage.

In January, it ordered about a dozen groups working on women’s issues and human rights to halt their operations.

A representative of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), which represents 63 international aid groups, said the Ministry of Interior had issued 10 of its members “letters of rejection”, meaning their applications to register had been rejected.
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.828930

“We obviously find what has happened both disappointing and surprising, and are urgently seeking clarification,” the executive director of the Open Society’s Pakistani office, Saba Khattak, said in a statement.

The group had spent $37 million on grants and relief assistance in Pakistan since 2005, she said.

The interior ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

However, the ministry, in a letter to one of the 10 groups and seen by Reuters, said its registration application had been denied.

“Wind up operations/activities of above said INGO within 60 days,” the ministry said in the letter.

It did give a reason why the group had to stop its work.

The ministry lists 139 international non-governmental organizations (INGO) on its website that have submitted registration applications, of which 72 are still being processed.

There is no list of those whose applications have been denied.

“During the lengthy INGO registration process we provided all the information and documents required and are confident we comply with all necessary rules and regulations,” ActionAid country director Iftikhar Nizami said in a statement.
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.828930

This year, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres was ordered to stop work at three facilities in violence-plagued ethnic Pashtun areas bordering Afghanistan, although the interior ministry lists the group as an approved INGO.

The Save the Children aid group fell afoul of the government in 2011, when it was linked to a Pakistani doctor recruited by the CIA to help in the hunt that led to the killing of al Qaeda militant leader Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad.

Save the Children’s foreign staff were expelled from Pakistan soon after the accusations surfaced, but more than 1,000 local staff continued to operate.

The charity denied any links with the doctor or the CIA.
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.828930

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 23, 2018 at 5:09pm

US funding for Pakistani journalists raises questions of transparency
US State Department funding, supplied through a nonprofit intermediary, supports the presence of two Pakistani journalists in Washington. Some observers say the relationship should be more transparent.

By Issam Ahmed, Correspondent SEPTEMBER 2, 2011

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2011/0902/US-fun...

Two Pakistani journalists filing reports home from Washington are quietly drawing their salaries from US State Department funding through a nonprofit intermediary, highlighting the sophisticated nature of America’s efforts to shape its image abroad.

Neither of the two media organizations, Express News and Dunya News, discloses that their reporters are paid by the nonprofit America Abroad Media (AAM) on their websites or in the reports filed by their correspondents. Though the journalists have worked under the auspices of AAM since February, AAM only made their links to the news organizations known on their website Wednesday, after being contacted by the Monitor.

The lack of transparency by the Pakistani organizations involved could heighten Pakistani mistrust of the US government, which is seen as having an undue level of influence in their country’s affairs.

“If an American journalist working as a foreign correspondent in Pakistan was paid in a similar manner, would it be morally or professionally acceptable for his news organization or audience?” asks Badar Alam, editor of Pakistan’s prestigious English-language Herald magazine.


The amount currently allocated for the project is some $2 million over two years from the public diplomacy funds allocated by the State Department, according to State Department officials in Washington familiar with the project. That includes salaries for the two correspondents – Huma Imtiaz of Express News and Awais Saleem of Dunya News – and a bureau for both TV channels.

Aaron Lobel, president of AAM, says his organization receives donations from a number of private funders, too, which it mainly spends on its programs on international affairs that run on Public Radio International in the United States.

The timing of AAM’s website disclosure – after contact from the Monitor – was a coincidence and the update had been planned for “several months,” he says. “We are a small organization with two web guys. They are really working hard on the new site – not just about the Pakistan project but on everything we do. Yes, it would have been better to have a lot of information [before]. We have been preparing this site for a long time to provide that information.”

“The content production is done first and foremost [by] Pakistanis who are here and work with their channels back home to produce content,” says Lobel.

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