Archive | July, 2011

Ugandan Homophobia Spreads to Ghana

31 Jul

For those of you following TSM, you have read several articles about the homophobia killing gays in Uganda.  Unfortunately, the brutal treatment of gays is now spreading to Ghana.  TSM is most fortunate to have Angel Mason as a contributor to report more on this horrific story.

A vicious immoral insanity has invaded Uganda like a biblical plague, and is now eating away at her soul and festering amongst her people like a virulent malignant disease. Moreover, this plague, if not stopped, excised and exorcised from Ugandan culture, will continue to incite more political oppression, more unjustified murders and more unwarranted and illegal imprisonments. This insanity that I refer to is extreme homophobia, which has been tragically and purposely imported into the country by Right wing Christian evangelical leaders, resulting in disastrous consequences for the people of Uganda. This intolerant mindset has been eagerly and cruelly embraced by Ugandan government officials, who have now codified this extreme form of homophobic genocide into their very country’s constitution…

These prophetic, compelling words grabbed the attention of the entire international community in an article penned by my personal assistant Asim (Editor, Author and Creative Writer) and I, entitled: An open letter to the architects of the Ugandan Gay Genocide.
Even though we both hoped these words would never come to fruition, and that somehow the human rights violations being committed against same-gender-loving people would at least taper off, if not stop all together, regretfully, they have not! In fact, on July 20, 2011, Paul Evans Aidoo, the Western Region Minister of Ghana, urged “landlords and tenants” to report suspected homosexuals and suggested gays should be rounded-up in an effort “to get rid of these people in the society.” These comments followed the announcement that 8,000 gay men have registered with AIDS charities in the area. Not long after this information was disclosed, Muslims and Christians began staging anti-gay protests and The Christian Council of Ghana called on Ghanaians not to vote for any politician who believes in the rights of homosexuals.

There are far more than just 8,000 LGBT people living in Ghana because it is a proven fact statistically that hundreds (if not thousands) of same-gender-loving people who live in areas where they are stigmatized and marginalized never disclose their sexual orientation to anyone! As an author, Civil Rights Activist, and AIDS advocate, I can personally attest to receiving countless emails from African same-gender-loving people who reach out to me all the time. I am often overwhelmed by their numerous requests for advice and reading materials, so I know firsthand that 8,000 is only a drop in the bucket! I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve spent agonizing over the plight of my brothers and sisters in Africa because they are so severely oppressed, jailed, abused and murdered because they are gay!

This heinous mandate (to round up the gays and kill them) bares a chilling resemblance to the recent proposed Ugandan Gay Genocide and the evil mandate issued by Adolph Hitler and his monstrous regime before the Enlightenment, when Jews (like same-gender-loving people) were hated because they were different and refused to assimilate. The word, “GENOCIDE” seems to be the theme of Africa, known also for the horrific Rwandan holocaust, where an estimated 800,000 people in the small African nation of Rwanda were brutally murdered!

You may recall that not long ago the Obama administration introduced its first statement calling for the United Nations’ top human rights body to combat discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world, implementing a U.S. reversal from years of ambiguity on the subject during the presidency of George W. Bush.  “We are very concerned that individuals continue to be killed, arrested and harassed around the world because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Suzanne Nossel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations.  This statement sends a strong message from across the globe that such abuse should not be tolerated. Again, I can only applaud the Obama administration for championing equal rights for all same-gender-loving people across the globe, especially in view of the recently proposed gay genocide in Uganda!

Both Ghana and Uganda and other surrounding countries’ inhumane acts of violence and overt discrimination directed at same-gender-loving people have blinded them to truth and compassion which subsequently has clouded their good judgment and sense of self-preservation. It now also threatens to undo 30 years of progress made against the spread of the virus as previously stated in the aforementioned article.

We are already seeing signs of these repercussions, since thousands refuse to seek medical care, fearing that doctors, nurses and practitioners will disclose their sexual preference–something mandated by both Ghanaian and Ugandan’s Legislators. The daunting reality is that millions more will die, not only in Ghana, but all throughout Africa needlessly because of fear, ignorance and intolerance.

What I find amazing is that the use of laws to arrest, prosecute or imprison individuals for consensual same-sex relations in private or on the basis of their gender identity or expression is a violation of Ghana’s international human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The rights enshrined in these international treaties include the rights to privacy, freedom from discrimination, equal treatment under the law, freedom of expression, association and assembly. The Ghanaian government has obligations under these standards to promote, respect and protect the human rights of its population without distinction or discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ghana’s own constitution recognizes the right to freedom from discrimination in Article 17. Furthermore, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified by Ghana in 1989, affirms the equality of all people. Article 2 affirms the right to freedom from discrimination, article 3 guarantees equality before the law and article 26 outlines the duty of all individuals not to discriminate, and to “maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.”

It is well known globally that many African nations depend heavily on outside support from other countries because of the severe poverty ravaging the continent. This is why the threat of proposed sanctions against the Uganda government was effective and helped to neutralize and dismantle the “Kill the Gays Bill.” These distasteful, inhumane acts grieved the international community to such an extent that humanitarian activists united with an unrelenting resolve, driven by the spirit of justice, vowing never to rest until Uganda was forced to eschew, foreswear, and permanently renounce all efforts to imprison gays for life or kill them.
Often, international advocates warn that global pressure could be misconstrued and have an adverse effect. However, even though some caution that international sanctions could be seen as an attempt to impose foreign values on a sovereign country, we  cannot sit idly by and do nothing lest we also be found just as guilty as the crazed homophobic abusers, who beat, rob, rape, unjustly imprison, and even murder innocent same-gender-loving people in these oppressive nations. There is no doubt in my mind that despite the possibility of a backlash from African countries who may resist global intervention; international pressure is essential, necessary and needful in order to send a message to  reactionary African nations  that any such type of horrific  genocidal legislation will never be tolerated, nor condoned! Moreover, we, the civilized nations of the world community, must send these purveyors and architects of such cruel inhumane bigotry and genocide a clear strong, unambiguous, and resounding message! A message that proclaims such blatant and overt contempt and willful disregard for the rights and safety of its citizens will always be met with moral outrage, international censure, and financial sanctions, without question or hesitation.

It is important to note that even though American Right Wing Evangelicals were not directly responsible for inspiring this travesty of injustice in Ghana, still, they cannot be completely absolved of responsibility for it, since for decades they have infused African people with a spirit of intolerance and homophobia that has even grieved the heart of the very Creator Himself!!! While many discount the accuracy of the Holy Scriptures and multitudes flee legalistic driven houses of worship (and rightfully so) because of narrow-mindedness, homophobia and gay bashing from the pulpit, still I can’t help but wonder (as a proud same-gender-loving believer) if the following particular scriptures have accurately and historically framed this overt insane expression of hatred, when they foretold of a time when men would kill each other in the name of the Messiah, foolishly thinking that they are doing God a service; a time when the love of men would grow cold and men would be fierce despisers of those that are good, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, and extremely brutal?  Even so, I am encouraged because I know that these same scriptures declare that perfect love casts out fear, and that the power of love always triumphs over injustice!  While the mills of justice may grind slowly, ultimately justice will prevail if you and I will boldly step up to the plate and take aggressive action! We must never forget the words of Edmund Burke who said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

In conclusion, we should all turn our attention towards beautiful New York harbor, to Ellis Island, where stands The Statue of Liberty. This icon of Human Rights continues inspiring, illuminating, and enlightening the world. This wonderful gesture of kindness and symbol of freedom was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. This is why I call on all democratic nations of the world, the United Nations, Congress and President Obama to emulate and duplicate the heroic and compassionate example of The U.K. and likewise offer political asylum to the persecuted same sex community of Ghana and Uganda. Surely, these famous words inscribed upon the Statue of Liberty which I now quote, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” should include them as well!

Thank you, Angel. TSM readers hope we can look forward to more of your articles here. We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes.  Let us hope that President Obama’s latest move towards equality for the LGBT community will help the rest of the world.


Horrifying News on the Gay Agenda: Another Cautionary Tale

30 Jul

The Gay Agenda at Work

Thank you to my friend Jenny Paget for inspiring this story. In the past two months I have noticed that “How to stop the gay agenda” keeps showing up as a search term that directs people to my blog.  While I am sad to see this as a search engine term, I take some comfort knowing it takes people to this story–not exactly a story on how to stop the gay agenda.

I cringe when I learn that people really do believe we, the LGBT community, have an agenda.  If we do, it must be one of charity, peace, civil rights, and social justice. If we really do subscribe to the absurd notion of the scary Gay Agenda, I have you yet another example of it.

Married lesbian couple Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen were some of the first to help victims in the shooting massacre in Norway.  You will remember that Anders Behring Breivik  went on a shooting rampage at a youth camp and then set off a bomb in Oslo.  Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen made repeated trips in their small boat rescuing injured and bloodied kids. The couple endangered their own lives in rescuing the youth:

Dalen and Hansen drove the boat to the island, picked up from the water victims in shock … the young and wounded, and transported them to the opposite shore to the mainland. Between runs they saw that the bullets had hit the right side of the boat. Since there were so many and not all fit at once aboard, they returned to the island four times. They were able to rescue 40 young people from the clutches of the killer.

Here we see the gay agenda is about charity and helping out your fellow human being as we all have to share this planet together. The gay agenda shows us how similar we are as humans, rather than how different.  Who one chooses as a spouse is immaterial to how one chooses to live one’s life, with integrity and character.

Hero of the Week Award: July 28, Margaret Atwood

29 Jul

Hero of the Week

Margaret Atwood has been a personal hero of mine for at least 25 years.  Her outspoken feminist belief that women should be treated equally and their reproductive rights be respected earned her a permanent place in my heart. Now Atwood has taken up the torch to save libraries in Toronto, thus earning her this week’s HWA.

Much to the disdain of Councillor Doug Ford, (idiot at large) Atwood has waged an on-line campaign to save Toronto’s libraries from budget cuts. Her outreach to her Twitter followers was so successful that the respsonse briefly overloaded web servers. The hypocritical and quite foolish Ford said in response to Atwood’s efforts:

Well, good luck to Margaret Atwood, I don’t even know her. If she could walk by me I wouldn’t even have a clue who she is…But she’s not down here, she’s not dealing with the problems, and if she did, tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected and we’d be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood.

Sorry Ford, but you are a raging idiot.  You are an elected official. You work for Atwood and the rest of your constituents.  Your job is to listen to the people.  If I did not know better, I would say he is one of the many misogynistic character’s in an Atwood novel. Click here to see the full article.

Brava, Margaret Atwood. You are a treasure for Canada and much beloved here in the States.

Bigot of the Week Award: July 28, Senator Scott Brown

29 Jul

Bigot of the Week

How incredibly wonderful that ALL of the Senators and Representatives from the state of Massachusetts released a It Gets Better video.  Well, all except one bigoted Republican known as Scott Brown.  Brown’s refusal to participate in the It Gets Better campaign and his mindless adherence to party lines, as a typical sheep, earn him this week’s BWA.

Brown was invited to participate but declined. In fact, when asked about the message he thought his lack of participation sent to LGBTQ youth, Brown responded with a bizarre ad hominem attack on It Gets Better founder Dan Savage:

It’s truly reached a new level of desperation in their efforts to tear down Scott Brown, but we look forward to hearing whether state and national Democrat leaders agree with Dan Savage’s long history of lewd, violent and anti-Christian rhetoric. Given their press conference call today, one has to presume at this point that they do.

One can only hope the good people of Massachusetts will vote for a person with stronger leadership skills and a stronger character in 2012. As a tonic to Brown’s bigotry, I encourage you to watch the video that the elected officials of Massachusetts made.

Correlation Between Bachmann’s Homophobia and LGBT Suicides

28 Jul

Ramifications of Bachmann's Homophobia

Thank you to friend and ally Jennifer Lockett for inspiring me to write this story.  For those that follow TSM, you will remember the article about the increase in violence against the LGBT community.   TSM also published an article about the correlation between bullying of LGBT youth and suicide, so it should come as no surprise that there have been nine reported suicides of youth that were either gay or perceived as gay, due to bullying, in Michele Bachmann’s district.

Of course, there is going to be bullying of LGBT youth and gender non-conforming youth in Bachmann’s district. Parents and students in her district are very aware of the homophobia and damage done by the Bachmann family.  Fortunately, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights are investigating the schools in Bachmann’s district.

I worry about all of the kids that see the lack of leadership from Bachmann and how her bigoted views work to deny the civil rights of other humans.  I worry even more that her bigoted views inspire others to bully an already targeted group of kids.  We clearly have not learned how dangerous bigotry can be.

20 Million Dollars to Attack Democrats This Summer

27 Jul

Tragic Piece of Work

While brushing my teeth this morning, (lest we forget the dental hygiene ritual as part of the Gay Agenda) I saw a horrific commercial on the television attacking my congressman Kurt Schrader. The spin on reality and the specious arguments being made were enough to make me spit up. I’m left wondering if people really believe this garbage.

Crossroads, the conservative anonymous-money giant, also known as Karl Rove’s political action committee, has spent $20 million for a summer attack on Democrats to control the political dialogue in the country.  Yes, the spin doctor is at work again.  One of those democrats being attacked is Kurt Schrader. While we talk about raising the debt ceiling and about unemployment, social security, and medicare, big money Republicans are spending 20 million to spread lies and instill fear in the hearts of the American people.  Does this tactic sound familiar?  Remember “The War on Terrorism” and “The Gays Attacking America”? Rove and Cheney helped move the country into a state of Fascism.  If you did not support W. and the war in Iraq, you were called unpatriotic. Now we see Rove using the current budget crisis to use fear again.  Rather ironic, given the architects of the current budget crisis were those in the George W. administration.  Am I the only one that thinks Rove is a complete sociopath?

The commercials accuse Democrats of “out of control” spending and refusing to exercise restraint.  The reality is that Schrader voted against extending the tax cuts enacted by former-President Bush and he has returned $180,000 in unused funds from his own congressional account.  He has also been an outspoken critic of government spending. Exactly how are our elected officials to be responsible stewards of tax dollars when they refuse to increase taxes on corporations and on the top 2% of the  richest Americans?

There does not seem to be a lot of room for negotiating when Republicans say they refuse to look at increasing taxes and then blame the President for doing what they have instructed him to do.  Let us remember that increasing the debt ceiling does not allow for more spending, but it only makes it possible to pay the debts that have already been agreed upon, by both parties, to pay. I hope the American people have grown tired of scapegoating women and the LGBT communities. Please tell me that the absurd lies being told by Crossroads/Karl Rove are not being consumed by the public at large.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Social Justice In Our Time

26 Jul

Social Justice in Our Time

(Spoiler Alert for those that have not read or seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)  We finally went to see the last Harry Potter movie last night.  I had been putting it off because it is the last of the movies and a painful reminder that I have finished reading all seven books. (While I have read most of the books at least twice, I have read book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, at least five times). The movie was absolutely brilliant and very close to the book.  Watching the movie made me reflect on an era I shall refer to as the Harry Potter times.

As an important part of my reflections, I am compelled to thank J.K. Rowling for getting an entire generation reading and engaged thinking about issues around social justice. My introduction to her wonderful books was as reluctant as I imagine it was for some young readers. We had just started a new century and a new millennium and my husband and I just bought our first house together.  I was also in the process of helping to start a new school, The Atlanta Girls’ School (AGS).  Lots of new starts and lots of hope in the air.  My husband and three specific students of mine at AGS hounded — and I do mean hounded — me to start reading the Harry Potter Series! I protested for well over six months.  “I’m not into fantasy,” I said. “It is just not my type of book,” I implored. Oy! Finally, I acquiesced just to placate my husband and the students, all of whom I love.

I was completely hooked by the time I finished the first book.  Rowling had cast a spell upon me and catapulted me into a world where issues of social justice, racism, misogyny, discrimination, classicism, ageism, and homophobia would dictate a tumultuous and finally triumphant 11 year journey, a journey that in many ways reflected both the joys and heartbreaks of my life over the course of the past decade.

In book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we see the issues of racism and classism addressed through the treatment of house elves. Our Hermione works to set up a quasi civil rights movement to free the house elves.  To the reader’s great relief we see Dobby become a free elf.  For those detractors of Rowling and her books, I say shame on you. Don’t we want children’s literature to be didactic in nature? Do we not want our children to learn right from wrong, about discrimination and oppression?

I remember reading book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, during some of the darkest days of the George W. Bush years.  When no one was allowed to questions or criticize W. Questioning him resulted in being labeled “unpatriotic.”  This was also the time when W. and Cheney started their vilification of the LGBT community, so as to take our focus off of the war in Iraq, or the start of the never-ending recession. It was a time when taxes were cut and W. sent checks to the American people and told us to spend our way out of the recession–so much for that brilliant idea.  Reading about the Ministry of Magic and seeing our Dolores Umbridge as the Head of Hogwarts was such a mirror of what was happening in the political landscape in the United States.  When Sirius Black dies at the end of book five, I mourned for Harry, but was also mourning for a country that was scaffolding the architecture of a nefarious government that was in practice a theocracy–a government that made Ronald Reagan look like a Marxist. Incidentally, I had to re-read book three after I finished book five.

Rowling’s moral compass inspires great courage, integrity, and a heart that recognizes the greater good for the greater cause in books six and seven. With the death of the patriarchal/matriarchal Dumbledore, we witness phenomenal courage and sacrifice in none other than Severus Snape. In the Harry Potter series, we see people banding together to help one another.  While we see the dark side of humanity in Voldemort and his minions, we also see the humanity at its best in Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Snape and the rest of the cast of characters who put aside their respective egos and work for the greater good.

Who will the next writer be that inspires millions of us to read and to be engaged in the world we live in; to inspire us to leave the world a better place than how we found it?

“Do They Have to Throw It In Our Faces?”

25 Jul

Does this strike fear in your heart?

I was talking with my friend Mary, a wonderful LGBT ally, the other day, and she was recalling a conversation she had with her heterosexual nephew.  Mary was actually talking to him about me and about equality for the LGBT community.  Her nephew gave a typical response that I am afraid I have grown quite tired of hearing: “I don’t mind the gays, but do they have to throw it in our faces?”

Fortunately, Mary gave the retort of, “If you want to talk about throwing it in people’s faces, look at us heterosexuals.”  Brava, Mary!  Just what is it that we are throwing into people’s faces?  That we are tired of being treated as second class citizens? That we, tax-paying citizens, want our civil rights–the same civil rights that tax-paying heterosexuals receive?  Or is it just exceedingly threatening to think about when you chose to be straight? Or my secret weapon of mass destruction–the big Gay Agenda? Or perhaps we are just tired of the double standard of affection between heterosexuals and homosexuals!

Yesterday marks a great turning point in history.  New York celebrated many same gender couples’ marriage equality–a huge moment for civil rights.  While the media showed many pictures of the very mean spirited bigots from NOM holding up their signs of hate, there were also some really quite lovely signs of couplesthat had been together for decades that were finally allowed to marry.  My friend and LGBT ally “Voice From the Trailer” sent me a dear picture of Phyllis Siegel and her now legal spouse, Connie Kopelov, with the sarcastic caption: “I wish these two would quit throwing their “Lifestyle” in my face….damn.”  Yes, I’m sure the picture of Phyllis (age 76) and Connie (age 84) must strike fear into the hearts of our heterosexual brothers and sisters.  They have waited 23 years to be legally married–just part of the Gay Agenda.

For those of you who believe Phyllis and Connie and the rest of us in the LGBT community are “throwing it your faces,” I have to ask why are you so consumed with LGBT people? It seems to me that if one is secure in one’s own sexual orientation, one is not bothered by marriage equality.  If you don’t want same sex couples getting married, then please don’t marry someone of the same sex, but do not deny others the civil rights you take for granted. Thank you to all of our heterosexual allies, for progress is made with your support, love, and courage.

My Husband Married Maude

23 Jul

Me Giving the Look!

When I first started dating my husband, the librarian, I was not certain we could be married. He was a white Presbyterian WASP who had been married to two different women before dating me.  He was truly god’s frozen chosen.  I, on the other hand, am a cross between a “big black bitch” as one of my former students referred to me, and a loud-mouthed liberal Jewish/Catholic who looked and sounded like Maude with a southern accent.

Oy! My poor husband!  Who knew that 12 years later we would make each other so happy, or as he puts it: “We are stuck with each other.”  My poor husband has to endure my tireless political tirades against bigots like John Boehner, Michele Bachmann and her “straight” husband and the rest of the misogynistic, homophobic bigots that get me so angry that I start to spit fire.  Yes, my husband, the calm ever wise librarian, married a strident feminist, LGBT/Black activist Bitch.

Right now we are at our favorite Inn on the Oregon Coast.  We are having a perfect evening, despite the ugly turn our lovely dinner took. You see, the wonderful restaurant at the Inn now has the most horrific homophobic waiter. He refused to come to our table, so the rest of the staff had to do his job. When we talked to the Chef, whom we love, and praised his culinary triumph (I do not exaggerate here) we also had to give the unfortunate feedback that the waiter  was so homophobic that he would not even come to the table.  The Chef was not surprised in the least, but was clearly sad to hear our feedback. We dined at our favorite Inn in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  We will continue to go to this Inn because everyone else there is quite lovely to us. I do hope they take the waiter to task and give him some sensitivity training.  You can’t “catch” gay, just as you can’t “catch” straight.  If he were to walk into any library, he would be attended to regardless of his religion.  He has a job–he is a waiter, as in wait on people. He needs to be able to do his job regardless of people’s sexual orientation!  Just as I would hope a pharmacist would fill a prescription for a woman, regardless of his religious beliefs and not allow her to bleed to death.

Honestly, we had a lovely evening and my husband was quick to remind me that we would not allow the behavior of one homophobic bigot ruin our time.  God will get you for that Walter!

Stalwart Sanders Stands Strong

22 Jul

A Man of Wisdom and Courage

While there are a plethora of elected officials I have great disdain and even contempt for currently, I rejoice that Senator Bernie Sanders is one of those elected officials who makes me smile and take consolation that he is working for the American people. He is a true civil servant!  Of course, I feel the same way about John Lewis of Georgia. I will not mention the misogynistic, homophobic, bigots, like John Boehner, Michlele Bachmann, and Tim Pawlenty–no, I will not mention those who do not understand what it means to have courage and show leadership as a civil servant.  Don’t ask me to name them.  I simply won’t.

I would rather focus on Bernie Sanders and how this courageous and marvelous man has become an icon for the Champion of the American people. I love him for calling out bad behavior and exposing hypocrisy, for naming names!  Here is the voice of Sanders, a hero of the 21st century:

One of the long-term deficit reduction plans came from the so-called Gang of Six. We do not know all of the details of that proposal. In fact, we never will know because a lot of the decisions are booted to committees to work out the details.

It is fair to say, however, that Senators Coburn, Crapo and Chambliss deserve congratulations. Clearly, they have won this debate in a very significant way. My guess is that they will probably get 80 percent or 90 percent of what they wanted. In this town, that is quite an achievement, but they have stood firm in their desire to represent the wealthy and the powerful and multinational corporations. They have threatened. They have been smart. They have been determined. And at the end of the day, they will get almost all of what they want. That is their victory, and I congratulate them.

Unfortunately, their victory will be a disaster for working families in this country, for the elderly, for the sick, for the children and for low-income people.

Unfortunately, the “gang of 6” is not working in isolation.  This gang of super-rich white bullies, has the full support of the Fecal Five!   I implore you to share the message of Bernie Sanders!  We can save America.  Click here to see the full article.

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