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Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

THE TRUTH CAN TAKE ALBERTA BACK FROM RALPH 

The need for strong voices stating the truth and the reality of politics in Alberta has become extremely urgent when, as we do now, we citizens face the possibility that the people of Alberta could, for the fourth time, be deceived into voicing approval for Ralph Klein. In fact such approval would really be support to the small legion of planners and plotters whose strategies and manipulations Ralph demonstrates every time he appears in public. We must believe that truth and respect for the citizens of this Province are more powerful than the half-truths, the doctored information and the outright lies that have enabled this one man to proclaim himself, even in jest, the supreme ruler of a world he alone has created.

Few things are more clear in today’s Canada than that Ralph Klein sees himself as the most powerful man in the nation. Far more serious, though, and more dangerous to Democracy, is his obvious delusion that when he makes his pronouncements he knows exactly what every man, woman and child in Alberta needs.

Protected from reality, as Ralph is, by what is probably the largest body of political game players surrounding any public figure in the country it’s not surprising that he has come to believe there is no power in Alberta greater than his own. So much had his head swollen by the evening of March 12, 2001, that he arrogantly renamed the whole Province as “Ralph’s World”.

Frankly, the words uttered that night by a blustering Ralph were a demeaning insult to the citizens of this Province. There is so much pretense and posturing in the politics he practices that Ralph’s World is as phony and artificial as the backdrop scenery in a Hollywood movie. Yet the dangerous part is that so many citizens aren’t informed enough or don’t care enough to see through the self-created illusion. Ralph really thinks he is the undisputed chieftain of a tribe of people he calls Albertans. There are few things I would more like to accomplish by writing than to expose the lies in this myth by calling on citizens to look behind the image of his power and take back the authority that belongs to the people. Right now we do not have democracy, what we have is a deceptocracy. You won't find the word "deceptocracy" in a dictionary but what it means is that modern propaganda machines have tremendous power to deceive as well as inform.

In reality the Alberta government is only one part of a much larger reality called Canada. Yet Ralph speaks and acts as if he and he alone knows what is good for the whole nation. Alberta is made up of men and women who are potentially capable of discriminating between half truths and lies; between fabrications and genuine articles. Yet Ralph constantly speaks to us and for us as if he and his cronies think we haven’t got the brains we were born with. They act as if we haven’t a clue as to what is worth valuing and preserving and what is worthless and should be eliminated without loss to society. So he can devastate our education systems, withhold money from our hospitals, treat teachers and nurses as greedy laborers who care only about money. He can push the poor, the elderly and the barely employed to the brink of starvation and no one can stop him.

The truth is this man’s power stands on the most expensive and carefully orchestrated advertising and sales campaign ever unleashed on the people of a Canadian Province. Except that it’s on a smaller scale, Ralph’s publicity machine uses all the components of the sales job George W. Bush employed recently to sell the American people on blasting Iraq to pieces. Ralph’s war against the deficit began with a phony consultation process through which anyone who has ever organized a public meeting knew before the first word was spoken what Ralph Klein was going to be told to say. Out of this pretense of Democracy came headline grabbing slogans like “Albertans have told us...” and “We have a spending problem not a revenue problem.”

Obviously backed by big money from powerful corporations, Ralph was already being taken all over the Province by the fastest machines money could buy. His professional advertising staff were so successful at getting his pictures taken, his name in the headlines and on the news that it seemed he was like Superman who could swoop down out of the sky at a minute’s’ notice. If there was a burger to fry or a pancake to flip or a ribbon to cut he’d be there exactly where the cameras were in focus. Like a traveling salesman he made the same pitch again and again so many times that, as happens with a TV commercial, people all over the place began to repeat slogans like “we have a spending problem not a revenue problem” and “that was then, this is now.”

Cleverly, like a traveling evangelist, Ralph convinced the masses that they were all guilty of the sin of overspending. The elderly, the social service recipients, the health care workers and the educators of our children were even more guilty than others for driving up the costs of government. Entrepreneurs and so-called business leaders who had wasted massive amounts of the people’s money, he implied, had just made little mistakes for which they should be forgiven without penalty. We the citizens were responsible, he claimed, for forcing him to raise the haunting specter of a great evil force called a deficit coming to rob our children of their future and take us all into the poor house.

Ralph’s message “start tightening your belts and stop consuming (his word) services like hospital care, old age benefits, children's education and help for the poor of society. Begin instead asking teachers, nurses, welfare workers to take pay cuts and do less caring for the children, the sick the weak and the elderly. “Turn things over to me, Ralph said, and I will lead you out of debt and into the freedom of a market place where business people and entrepreneurs look after everything and where the government is hardly even necessary.”

A carefully crafted image was developed around Ralph during the courtship phase of election campaigns. During the first, the words “He Listens and he cares” were plastered on billboards, heard on radio commercials and seen in full color TV and newspaper ads always near his smiling face. The implication was that this grinning, congenial man was above politics and commercialism. When he became the leader they inferred he would place people and their needs at the top of his system of values. Skillfully projected onto the public screen was the fantasy that “Ralph’s Team” would undo everything former premiers had done wrong. He would restore the citizen’s faith in politics by keeping his promises. Ralph’s cure for all Alberta’s ills was marketed in precisely the same way that cures for bad breath and body odors had been sold for ages.

Klein’s elevation to Premier of Alberta turned out to be proof of what powerful advertising can do toward influencing the public to buy a product they know little about. As in most sales campaigns, when that product showed up on delivery it was far different from what it looked like as it was being promoted. When Ralph arrived in the Legislature a significant portion of Alberta citizens soon realized they’d been like a too-trusting and ill-informed woman who’d been seduced into marrying a man who turned into an angry and controlling bully the day after the wedding. It was clear from the beginning of his leadership in the House that even those, like the leader of the opposition who also tried to represent the people who voted for him, were going to be shouted down and demeaned by Ralph’s arsenal of put-down word weapons. Scorn, ridicule and vituperation were ready for use on anyone who dared challenge his attitudes or ideas. The public soon knew that any idea that wasn’t Ralph’s was a “no-brainer” or “stupid”. Anyone who spoke up to protect the vulnerable would be written off as member of a “special interest group.” No one it seemed, except Ralph, was capable of speaking for the people o Alberta unless they were told to do so by some suspect enemy of the state.

This was a very different Ralph from the carefully crafted image of a smiling, benevolent, good natured depression-raised uncle-type man who was only doing what Albertans were making him do. He went on to play the role of a tough but good hearted dictator as he siphoned money out of school and hospital budgets, bullied teachers and nurses into taking pay cuts and pushed the button that imploded a Calgary hospital. At that time, he was still just plain old Ralph an Alberta boy who drank beer with his buddies, often to excess, and sometimes said stupid things like calling people from other provinces “Eastern creeps and bums.” Now, he told us, he knew what was best for us and was just doing what he had to do for our own good.

An impressionable public was led to imagine that he still drove a pick up with a rifle in the back window like oil field workers did at the time. All the while, of course, he was being jetted around the Province in corporate or government planes, dining with the rich and well-to-do, golfing in private resorts and entertaining at government expense. What became painfully clear to any citizen who wasn’t totally blinded by Ralph’s publicity system was that Ralph had always seen the welfare of persons and their needs as the very lowest of his priorities. Corporate Alberta had always been the audience to which he played.

Playing with reporters looking for an easy way to get their faces on TV or their names in print, Ralph knew the game. It’s called the “I’ll feed you quick quotes and sound bites (wink wink) if you’ll get my name into headlines and my face on the evening news.” So long as the media kept his personal behavior from the public and didn’t report some of the bizarre things he said when behind the scenes, Klein fed them a constant stream of easy quotes designed to prove that he was doing everything right. Instead of listening and caring he was now talking and blaming. Just too bad, he now said, for those becoming victims of his cold calculating money-driven policies. After all to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs was the dehumanizing attitude of his government. All of his government’s actions were dominated by money, corporate profits and forcing the workers who provided human care into lowering their wages.

There really had never been a question of where Ralph’s loyalties and priorities were. When finally revealed to the public people had trouble believing anyone could be so duplicitous. Many seemed to reason, that this smiling jovial fellow who had promised to take care of everything for us couldn’t be doing what he’s doing. The truth was, and still is, that If Ralph listens to anyone, it is only to the already rich and well healed, those enablers who feed his addiction to power. If Ralph cares at all about anything besides gaining more and more power for himself and his buddies he most certainly doesn’t expect it to come from the poor, the elderly, the ill or the educators of the children of society.

I repeat: it is extremely urgent, before it gets even worse, for the real Alberta citizens stand up and take back the power that belongs rightfully to us.


Submitted by Sandy

Monday, September 29, 2003

Democracy in Canada? How about Alberta? 

Every time I hear someone from Alberta say that the federal government is dictatorial, I have to remind myself that I live in Alberta, and that this is often standard fare in the coffee shops and at the water coolers. I have to agree with much of the criticism leveled at the federal government. With issues like lack of funding for the military, the Human Resources Department scandal, the gun registry, Senate reform, let alone Western alienation, it is tough to argue. I’ve often heard that, “the federal government doesn’t believe in Western views, or democracy.” What baffles me is when the subject turns to democracy in Alberta, these same critics often fall silent. Why is it that Ralph Klein’s government avoids similar wide scale criticism? We have municipalities not being adequately funded, government caused electricity hyper-inflation, natural gas rebates only when elections are in sight, a crisis in education, and elected health care officials being sacked. There is no doubt that we hear about these issues in our newspapers and on the radio and TV, but these stories never seem to generate widespread disgust with provincial decision making; at least a big enough feeling when it comes to voting. It begs the question-why? Is it that the provincial media machine of 300 employees is able to counter every negative article or new story?

Take Senate reform as an example of where the feds are criticized and the province gets off the hook. The provincial Conservatives have long advocated the election of Senators to the upper chamber with some reasonable arguments. The fact that this has not happened has been a rallying call “proving” that Western Canada doesn’t count in federal decisions. Well, what about those people who live in parts of Alberta that feel alienated by our provincial government? How about an elected provincial senate? I have never heard this idea come up before, yet it is precisely what we are asking from the federal government. If the Klein conservatives wanted to lead on this issue, and many others, they should set the standard for all else to follow. Likely? Only in our dreams!


Mr. Ed Needs to Show Us the Magic 

CBC Story - 'Private' highway gets OK': "Stelmach estimated the project would cost about $300 million under the current system. He estimated savings of about 10 per cent, or $30 million, if the road is privately built and leased back to the province."

Transportation Minister Ed Stelmach has estimated that he can save the Alberta Taxpayer $30 million dollars by having an 11 kilometer section of the Anthony Henday ring-road built under a Private Public Partnership (P3). The savings will be realized by building the road as one project rather than piecemeal as money becomes available. Further savings will come from "new innovations and construction, mobilization, the ability to manage the project" says the Minister.

The implication here is that only under P3 will the construction contractors use new innovations and construction, mobilize properly, or manage the project." I can hear the conversation now as Minister Ed chats with Contractor Chuck.

Ed: Look. You have to give me some reasons why this thing is going to be cheaper under a P3.

Chuck: Well Ed it's like this. If we do it the old way we won't be able to use any of our new innovations like bulldozers and steam shovels. It would be pretty much a pick and shovel job. What's more, "mobilization" would be pretty much out of the question. As for project management, forget it. We only do that for P3 projects.

Ed: What do you mean by "mobilization"?

Chuck: It's a kind of complicated construction word Ed, don't worry about it.

Ed: OK. Can I drive the golf cart on the next hole?

Keep your eyes on the money folks. Make sure that Mr. Ed provides a clear explanation of how we are going to magically save $30 million on this project.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

WHAT A LINE OF ___ 

A few months ago a federal poobah, and later a CANDU representative, suggested that the Ft. McMurray area should be considered as a site for a nuclear reactor. Some or all of the power generated could then be used in the processing of the tar sands with a resulting decrease of consumption of the natural gas currently being used for this purpose.

Ah - NO ! replied an Alberta MLA (Murray Smith?). Not in our backyard. Such a reactor, he stated, might be considered if it was located in some unimportant place - say northern Saskatchewan.

This writer has mixed feelings about a CANDU plant, especially with the problems of disposing of spent fuel rods. But, the potential reduction of the amount of natural gas being used is a big plus.

SO - why is there a proposal to build power lines from Ft. McMuray to the south of Alberta and from there see some (most) of the transmitted power exported to the USA ? As the writer understands the proposal, our free-enterprise government, through the utilities board, will allow this line to be built and , surprise, we Albertans will be on the hook to supply the financing.

The obvious question is why could not this excess electricity be used at the oil sand plants so as to cut down on the use of non-renewable natural gas ? Is it technically non-feasible ? Is this excess electricity produced as a by-product from the combustion of natural gas ? Whatever the reason/excuse, it seems that there should be some way to use this power to reduce, if not eliminate, the consumption of natural gas at the plants.

But, as we have become to expect, our Kleinites are just too happy to export anything and have their friends and supporters make the big bucks. All this with little apparent benefit to Mike and Nora Citizen except for the privelege of subsidizing this “free market” enterprise.

Whoopee - the Alberta Advantage keeps raising its sly little head.

Yours in indignation - Jackie Kenny

p.s. Where is Steve West and what is he doing ??

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Welcome to "Ralph's World" 

Well, now Bill 43 is up for "debate". Bill 43 will remove the 30% cap to education costs for post secondary education, which will affect all of our young people who want to continue their education past grade 12.

We can be confident, I think, based on past experience, that this, too, will be rammed through the legislature. Democracy? I don't think so.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

SALESMAN'S MOUTH 

As a Citizen and fighter for Democracy, I resist, resent and even despise it when politics becomes a matter of pitting personalities against personalities. Yet in today’s Alberta we no longer elect representatives who search out accurate information and bring it to bear on issues like educating our children and caring for the sick and the elderly. Government today is dominated and controlled by a very small group of men and women who “forsaking all others” have committed to cleaving only unto Ralph Klein until death do them part.

These are the men and women who earlier got themselves voted into power as members of “Ralph’s Team.” Later others got themselves voted into the Legislature by claiming that, once inside Ralph’s party, they would have “Ralph’s Ear”. Most recently, claiming to give Edmonton a voice in the inner circles of government, still others managed to get voted into a majority seat. So well did Ralph’s disciples do in the last election that, as Rudyard Kipling put it in a poem about the British Empire, Klein became “..drunk with sight of power” and “loosed wild tongues” as he boasted “Welcome to Ralph’s World.”

Distasteful as it is to me, then, I see no other way to express concern for Democracy than to join with others to expose the pretense, the deceitfulness the manipulativeness, the vindictiveness and the downright inhumanity that characterizes this present Alberta Government.

The latest example of Ralph's’ “wild tongue” is of course his plunge into the manure of the mad cow controversy. But far more serious is the way he has for years been able to sell the unthinking public in Alberta on the idea that he’s keeping his promise to have smaller government. What, in fact, has happened is that the power of government has been pulled away from the citizens and into the hands of an extremely small but information-manipulating, money-controlling handful of Klein-appointed deputies. In no area is that more clear than in Education where Boards have been emasculated and Municipalities are impotent to do anything other than that dictated by a Klein appointed and approved agent named Oberg. Only when and if the people of this province begin to stand up and take back control of their own government will there be anything but a phony pretense at Democracy in our Province.

Sadly what we really have now is a deceptocracy not a democracy.

Friday, September 19, 2003

SUN Not Shining on Ralph and Stan 

CBC Report: Seniors demand attention: "Edmonton - About 500 seniors attended a rally Wednesday, demanding the provincial government restore benefits they took away a decade ago."

In addition to a mad cow problem, Ralph and his Minister for Seniors Stan Woloshyn have a mad seniors problem. These folks are very serious and are getting organized through an organization called Seniors United Now or SUN. Their website can be found here. The CBC link has an audio interview with SUN organizer Grahame Blundell which is well worth listening to.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Duct Tape Needed 0n Ralph's Lips.  

National Post Report - Ralph's quote. "This was in northern Alberta, and the farmer was a -- I think he was a Louisiana fish-farmer -- who knew nothing about cattle ranching. And I guess any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled and shut up, but he didn't do that. Instead he took it to an abattoir and it was discovered after testing in both Winnipeg and the U.K. that this cow, this older cow, had mad cow disease."

I promised myself I would stop criticizing Klein on his handling of the BSE crisis in Alberta but his last utterances are insane. He thinks when he speaks that his audience is Alberta voters who are universally sympathetic to the plight of the Cattle Ranchers here in Alberta. He forgets (even though his interview is with a US radio network) that others are listening. People like US and Japanese public health officials. They might think Hmmm. He says any self-respecting rancher would have just buried the sick animal and shut up about it. I wonder if these Albertans are hiding something else? Can we trust them? Maybe we better go very slowly here? Going slow on getting exports flowing again is not what this industry need.

Various officials (Ben Thorlakson, chairman of the Canada Beef Export Federation, Rod Scarlett, executive director of Wild Rose Agriculture Producers) have said that Ralph is just frustrated. Cindy McCreath, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association couldn't bring herself to comment. They are in a tough position. They have to stay in Ralph's good books because their members need a sympathetic government ear when it comes to financial compensation. Yet they must wince whenever they see him approaching a microphone.

This is a time for Rod Love or Peter Elzinga or whoever it is who has any influence on this man to ask him nicely not to help out with the BSE issue anymore. Our livestock industry can't afford it.

CBC reporting of this story has a link to the audio interview at (CBC Report)

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Klein's support for the homeless is contemptible 

"In total, the province spends $15 million a year on the homeless. " Read the full article

The above quote is from an article in today's Calgary Sun by Licia Corbella. It shows the contempt that the Klein government has for the homeless in this province. Considering the fact that the governments spends $33 million a year subsidizing horse racing in this province, the homeless would be better off heading for their local track and seeing if they could bed down with the ponies.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Ralph's Education Policy is Only About Money 

Gary's posting "Education is the fuel for any economy" lays out a number of reasons why the Klein government wants to break the public education system in Alberta. In my way of thinking it really just boils down to money. Not just how much it costs but who pays for it. Here's Ralph's long range scenario, step by step.

  1. Reduce total cost of the public school system by laying off teachers, reducing money for school maintenance and by slowing funding for new schools. This creates overworked teachers, under-stimulated students, all brought together in crumbling, overcrowded facilities. This is bad. This is the phase we are in now.

  2. Use money saved in (1) above to reduce personal income tax. This is excellent for the well-heeled because they get lots of $$ back. It is so-so for most of us because we just get a few $$ back. It is useless for the poor because they get nothing back.

  3. Solve the now dismal education problem by encouraging private charter schools. The well-heeled can spend a portion of their big tax break they got in (2), send their kids to a private school, and have money left over. Good for the well-off and Ralph is a hero.
    Most of us will have a decision to make. Take the small tax break we got in (2), transfer some extra over from the food or vacation budget, and send our kids to private school - or - keep our kids in the eroding public system because we can't afford the private system. This is bad for the middle class but Ralph will call it good because it offers "choice".
    The poor get their usual - zippo.


So who pays. Well, the total cost of education, both private and public goes up as new private schools are built and staffed. The big tax break the well-off get pays for their kids private school so they don't pay. The poor don't pay because they can't. Guess who's left? Guess who pays?

Welcome to two-tier education - brought to you by Ralph's World.

Education is the fuel for any economy 

It seems to me that somewhere along the way Ralph and the boys forgot one of the basic lessons of economics- that education, not oil, is what fuels an economy.

So many other jurisdictions around the world are trying to improve faltering educational systems (as evidenced by a recent article in the Edmonton Journal which states that Edmonton's public school board is a model to follow). Ralph, it seems, is trying to break our system. Where does this come from? It certainly doesn't come from his predecessors. Don Getty and Peter Lougheed both made education a priority. I attended university when Getty was premier, and costs were fairly reasonable. I remember specifically hearing Peter Lougheed speak on the issue. His reasoning for making education a funding priority? During the great oil boom, Alberta became very dependent on oil, and that when oil prices fell, or oil dried up, Alberta would be left to rely on its people.

It seems to me that Ralph may have other reasons for wanting to break public education. The idea of more and more charter schools is something that has received lots of attention since Ralph became premier. Charter, and private schools are cheaper to run, because the public has to dish out more money for their kids to attend (although they have yet to do as well as public schools when it comes to results). Could this be the reason that public education is almost at breaking point? They are not profitable? Schools don't make any money, they are supposed to be an investment in the future of our province. Maybe, as a friend of mine stated, Ralph wants to ruin the public system, claim it is broken and then move to private schools...these make money, afterall.

Could there be other reasons yet? Is Ralph taking personally, some of the criticism, that he doesn't have a high level of formal education? I would hope that he would remember that he has won 3 elections; fairly impressive for a guy with little formal education, whether you agree with him or not. I would hope that he wouldn't be making decisions about the education of thousands based on his ego.

Finally, public education is tied closely to democracy. For the poor and the underprivileged, schools are a way to improve their lives and the lives of their families. This is a fundamental part of democracy; that all people have a chance to succeed, and not just those who can afford it. With 74 seats in the legislature, Ralph doesn't often have to worry about democracy and a just society.

The simple fact about education in today's world is that the more one has the better off a population is. The ideas that we produce in Alberta need to be better than they ever have been because we compete with the world more closely than ever before.

Our children and our province deserve a whole lot better.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Madness, Stupidness, Ridiculousness, Ignorance 

(see full Globe and Mail story): "And now I see the madness ... and the stupidness, the ridiculousness and the ignorance that surrounds this affliction,' Mr. Klein said, 'and the absolute overreaction to something that has the possibility of afflicting, you know, a person who eats ten billion meals of spines and brains and other awful parts".

Hmmm. Seems to me that these words could be used to characterize Ralph's public statements about the Mad Cow crisis that afflicts our province and to a lesser extent the rest of the country. He continues to insult the very people that we need to work with in order to get this problem resolved; that being the Americans and the Japanese. (See previous insults here)

We would be much further ahead if he would let representatives from the Cattle Producers or from his own Alberta Agriculture department make public statements. They would be able to describe the lack of risk to beef consumers using calm, rational words. That's what is needed at a time like this, not childish insults. They might also come up with a more grown-up word for what Ralph calls the awful parts.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Post Secondary Students work hard enough 

In one of the wealthiest provinces of one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the typical post secondary student still has problems making ends meet in University life without making substantial sacrifices.

At the University of Alberta, students in the faculties of Law and Medicine recently sustained the infamous tuition hike. This well-publicized tuition hike isn't good for anybody - and the Minister of Learning did nothing to avert it. Huge government surpluses continue to line the taxpayer purse, but a viciously conservative tory lion continually thwarts our attempts to compromise with the money that these students deserve.

Does it really have to be this way? If the provincial government is responsible for the education sector, why aren't they being responsible with the education sector? Believe me, I'm realistic. I know that money doesn't pop out when special people fart, and that big bucks already support the post-secondary education sector. What I also know, however, is that if somebody needs first-aid - giving half your effort to saving their life just isn't enough.

Maybe Ralph'll come and stop by the campus food bank to see what things are like in the world of a starving student.

He probably shouldn't though.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Ralph. Please keep your remarks about Japan to yourself. 

Edmonton Journal - Story - canada.com network: "Klein labeled Japan's safety program, which tests every slaughtered cow for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, an overreaction and called it 'absolutely useless.'"

One of the first lessons that they teach you in Marketing 101 is not to insult the customer. If you do, they may think you arrogant and rude and decide not to buy your stuff. I though Ralph understood this when he chastised a couple of our Federal politicians who had called our American friends "stupid" because of their Iraqi war adventures.

Calling Japan's beef safety program 'absolutely useless' was - (how shall we say this nicely; how about) absolutely stupid. It is insulting and it isn't the first time Ralph has insulted the Japanese over this issue. Japan only buys about 3% of Canada's beef exports but their demand that Canada and the US separate their beef supply is a major factor in preventing the US border from being opened and until this happens this industry is in deep trouble.

Do Albertans a favour Ralph and go up to your hunting lodge until this thing is fixed. The beef producers can't afford your help at a time like this.

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