Friday, November 16, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, NOV. 16, 2007 – 2:34 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Farm Bill Trapped in Senate Stalemate
  • War Funding Stalls in Pair of Senate Votes
  • Medicaid Issue Is Latest Sticking Point on Children’s Health Bill
  • Senate Judiciary Revisits Surveillance Bill
  • Senate Passes Terrorism Insurance Measure
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Today in Washington

The House  is in Thanksgiving recess; will reconvene at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4.

The Senate  failed to limit debate on competing Iraq War funding bills and a substitute amendment to the farm bill, then recessed until pro forma session Tuesday, Nov. 20. Resumes business at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3.

The President  meets with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda; holds a photo opportunity with recipients of the 2006 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring; and speaks on National Adoption Day.

In Washington,  the National Defense University Foundation holds its 2007 American Patriot Award ceremony, with Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo. 7:30 p.m. Reagan Trade Building.

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Top Stories

Farm Bill Trapped in Senate Stalemate

Senators were heading home for Thanksgiving Friday without any progress to report on a five-year farm bill that is important to many of their constituents.  [Read More]

War Funding Stalls in Pair of Senate Votes

On a pair of votes that broke largely along party lines, the Senate on Friday failed to advance legislation to provide more funds for war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  [Read More]

Medicaid Issue Is Latest Sticking Point on Children’s Health Bill

A dispute over Medicaid eligibility is now the major sticking point in negotiations on children’s health legislation, two Republican senators said Friday.  [Read More]

Senate Judiciary Revisits Surveillance Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a rare “do-over” vote Friday to clarify its desire to strip immunity for telecommunications firms from a proposed overhaul of the nation’s electronic surveillance law.  [Read More]

Senate Passes Terrorism Insurance Measure

The Senate passed a seven-year extension of the nation’s terrorism insurance backstop on Friday, after negotiators hammered out a solution to pay-as-you-go issues that had stalled the bill.  [Read More]

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Registration Fee: $595
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This training conference is sponsored by TheCapitol.Net, exclusive provider of Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences.

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Political Clippings

The Anchorage Daily News reports that Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is blaming overzealous reporters for continued interest in a federal corruption probe that has spread to him and his son, former state Senate President Ben Stevens, suggesting that it’s politically motivated. “I don’t see any reason why we should have had this massive press interest in what’s going on,” Stevens said in an interview. “It’s just an investigation of a federal agency. They go on all the time. No one else talks about them the way they talk about the one involving me.” He said he was unconcerned about Democratic efforts to use the scandal against him and made what the daily described as “vague threats” against his accusers. “When it’s all over, some people are going to have to account for what they’ve said and what they’ve charged us with,” Stevens said.

The Huntsville Times reports in an editorial that Democratic Alabama state House Speaker Seth Hammett is opposing attempts to redraw congressional districts for the 2008 elections. The daily said Republican leaders reacted warmly to Hammett’s declaration, saying “talk of the possible redistricting sent Republicans into a rage. They threatened to shut down the House in 2008 if such an attempt is made.” There had been speculation that the redistricting would make the 2nd District seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Terry Everett more competitive.

The Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports that one of the Democrats challenging Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., has objected to the candidacy of another Democrat, saying his nominating petition does not have enough valid signatures. Writer and activist Randi Scheurer filed a formal objection to fellow Democrat Jonathan Farnick’s candidacy. Farnick, a 39-year-old computer consultant who had a write-in campaign in 2006, criticized Scheuer’s objection, because her husband, Bill Scheuer, who ran for the seat as an independent in 2006, had problems with his own petition. The state Board of Elections will hear the objection Monday in Chicago.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
MARICOPA, Ariz.: County to Go Green with 2,000-Vehicle Fleet
LOS ANGELES: Police Scrap Muslim-Mapping Plan
SAGINAW, Mich.: Dioxin Discovery Brings Cleanup Order
SAN FRANCISCO BAY: Coast Guard Ousts Oil-Spill Commander
FLORIDA: Governor OKs Tribal Gambling Expansion
THE NATION: Governors Ally on Climate Change
HAWAII: Judge Clears Superferry to Sail

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Political Trivia

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., grew up in Seattle, where his father was a high school biology teacher and a coach. A star football and basketball player, Inslee plays in the annual congressional baseball game and in an annual geezer basketball tournament. He and a group of middle-aged friends who call themselves the Hoopaholics play basketball for three days straight to raise money for children’s charities. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, NOV. 15, 2007 – 2:35 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Former House Speaker Hastert To Resign This Year
  • Senate May Debate Tax Package Before Recess
  • Higher Education Act Renewal Approved by House Committee
  • Reid Threatens Sunday Senate Session for Vote on War Funding
  • Administration Threatens Veto of Surveillance Bill
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Today in Washington

The House  considers a bill to combat mortgage predatory lending, attempts to override President Bush’s veto of the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, and considers an overhaul of the law governing electronic surveillance.

The Senate  resumes debate on the farm bill; may consider Iraq war spending bill and possibly other measures.

The President  participates in presentation of the 2007 National Medals of Arts and the National Humanities Medals, makes a statement on aviation congestion, meets with Sudanese government officials and addresses the Federalist Society’s 25th anniversary gala dinner.

In Washington,  the National Geographic Society holds a gala to honor Andrew Skurka as its 2007 Adventurer of the Year, for his 6,875-mile trip through the American West. 7 p.m., National Geographic Society, 17th and M Sts., N.W.

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Top Stories

Former House Speaker Hastert To Resign This Year

Former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., reduced to minority party backbencher by the Democratic triumph in the 2006 elections, will resign from the House before the end of this year.  [Read More]

Senate May Debate Tax Package Before Recess

Senate Democrats are moving to consider a year-end tax bill before leaving for the Thanksgiving recess.  [Read More]

Higher Education Act Renewal Approved by House Committee

After a marathon debate, the House Education and Labor Committee on Thursday approved a five-year reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that would boost student aid and help families compare the costs of different colleges.  [Read More]

Reid Threatens Sunday Senate Session for Vote on War Funding

Democratic leaders are threatening to hold senators in Washington until Sunday, unless an agreement is reached to bring up an Iraq war funding bill before then.  [Read More]

Administration Threatens Veto of Surveillance Bill

The administration says that President Bush would veto a Senate bill on electronic surveillance if it reaches his desk with changes under consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQPolitics reports that Republicans see next year’s race in Florida’s GOP-leaning 16th District as one of their strongest opportunities for a pickup. They regard freshman Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney as a “fluke” winner who capitalized on the sudden downfall of his predecessor, Republican Mark Foley, forced from office by a congressional page scandal just weeks before Election Day 2006. But Democrats say Mahoney has a moderate record, strong fundraising and may benefit from a bruising primary among three contenders for the Republican nomination: Tom Rooney a lawyer and Army veteran who is of the Rooney family that owns the Pittsburgh Steelers football team; state Rep. Gayle Harrell; and Hal Valeche, a Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman and former Navy pilot.

According to Stateline.org, “some of the most popular politicians in the country are governors whose constituents are distinctly hostile to their party at the federal — and particularly the presidential — level. . . .In 2006, voters re-elected six of the incumbent Republicans in blue states, as well as six of the incumbent Democrats governing solidly red states. All but a few won by comfortable margins.” The secret to their continuing success? “Make friends with the other party . . . put your nose to the grindstone and avoid hot-button issues . . . and emphasize your personality.

Columbus Dispatch reports a new poll indicates that Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland wouldn’t help his party ticket in the crucial swing state if he were tapped as a vice presidential candidate. A Quinnipiac Poll shows that “about half of the voters surveyed don’t think Strickland is qualified to become vice president, and more than two-thirds say that if he does become a running mate they won’t be any more likely to vote Democratic.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
MARICOPA, Ariz.: County to Go Green with 2,000-Vehicle Fleet
LOS ANGELES: Police Scrap Muslim-Mapping Plan
SAGINAW, Mich.: Dioxin Discovery Brings Cleanup Order
SAN FRANCISCO BAY: Coast Guard Ousts Oil-Spill Commander
FLORIDA: Governor OKs Tribal Gambling Expansion
THE NATION: Governors Ally on Climate Change
HAWAII: Judge Clears Superferry to Sail

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Political Trivia

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., got an early glimpse of the gambling world, though it was hardly a glamorous one. His mother, who raised Ensign and his two siblings by herself, worked a $12-a-day job at Harrah’s casino as a “change girl,” doling out quarters to slot-machine players. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, NOV. 14, 2007 – 2:44 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Iraq War Funding Bill Awaits House Vote
  • Congress Ready to Clear Head Start Policy Overhaul
  • House Moving Toward Passage of Final Transportation Spending Bill
  • Tussle Over Amendments Stalls Senate Action on Farm Bill
  • Operational Issues Loom for Capitol Visitor Center
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Today in Washington

The House  adopts the conference report on Head Start reauthorization; expects to vote on a supplemental war funding bill and the Transportation-HUD spending bill conference report.

The Senate  continues work on the farm program authorization bill; expected to clear Head Start bill for the White House.

The President  attends a ceremonial swearing in for Attorney General Michael Mukasey and holds photo opportunities with the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery and the National Troopers’ Coalition.

In Washington,  the White House Historical Association sponsors a lecture, “Transitions and Traditions in the President’s House,” with former White House curator Betty Monkman. 6 p.m., Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Iraq War Funding Bill Awaits House Vote

The House was preparing to tackle a $50 billion Iraq War “bridge fund” bill Wednesday, with passage likely. But the bill faces a murky future in the Senate and a presidential veto threat.  [Read More]

Congress Ready to Clear Head Start Policy Overhaul

For the first time in nearly a decade, Congress is poised to overhaul policy guidelines for Head Start, the early childhood development program for low-income preschoolers.  [Read More]

House Moving Toward Passage of Final Transportation Spending Bill

The House was moving toward a vote Wednesday on a conference report on the $105.6 billion fiscal 2008 Transportation-Housing spending bill that faces the same veto threat as other domestic spending measures this year.  [Read More]

Tussle Over Amendments Stalls Senate Action on Farm Bill

Despite days of negotiations, Senate leaders remain at odds over which amendments to the 2007 farm bill should be considered.  [Read More]

Operational Issues Loom for Capitol Visitor Center

As contractors put the finishing touches on the long-delayed Capitol Visitor Center, lawmakers are beginning to confront complicated operational questions, such as how many additional police officers will be needed to safeguard the new facility.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

CQ Politics reports that party primaries for the U.S. House seat of Louisiana Republican Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal will be held March 8 in the 1st District. An April 5 primary runoff will follow if no one wins a majority in one or both parties, with the general election set for May 3. Jindal will vacate the seat Jan. 14, when he is inaugurated as governor, and the heavily Republican district in suburban New Orleans is strongly favored to stay in GOP hands.

According to the Portland Oregonian, Democrats Steve Novick and Jeff Merkley, rivals for the nomination to oppose GOP Sen. Gordon H. Smith next year, are engaged in “an intraparty snipe-fest. And die-hard Democrats — the only ones paying much attention to the May primary at this point — are a bit freaked out. . . . The underlying concern is that the two candidates could become their own worst enemies, handing campaign ammunition to Smith, which he can then use against the winner.” But Novick, a liberal activist seen as the underdog, “needs to show voters why they should pick him instead of the more politically experienced House Speaker Merkley, D-Portland. And that means going on the attack now and then.”

The Des Moines Register reports that Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, in an interview yesterday, said “he does not expect to endorse a candidate before the 2008 caucuses in part because no GOP candidate has emerged as a clear favorite to beat Hillary Clinton, if she captures the Democratic nomination.” Grassley, Iowa’s senior GOP officeholder, told the paper, “I guess I’ve got some faith in the primary system sorting it out so that the strongest candidate will float to the top - and I haven’t picked that strongest candidate.” The senator did not rule out an endorsement before the Jan. 3 caucuses, but “he also suggested he might be of more value uniting the party after a nominee is chosen.”

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Political Trivia

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., graduated from the Marine officers’ school in Quantico, Va., finishing first in his class of 243. As an infantryman during the Vietnam War, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts. Webb’s third wife, whom he met long after his service, is Vietnamese, and he speaks the language fluently. Member Profiles)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, NOV. 13, 2007 – 2:03 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush Vetoes Domestic Spending Bill, Signs Defense Measure
  • House Poised to Tie Strings to Iraq War Funds
  • Senate Nears Solution to Terrorism Insurance Budget Issue
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Today in Washington

The House  considers dozens of measures under suspension of the rules, including measures promoting Internet safety, a nationwide survey of broadband service and a ban on exports of elemental mercury.

The Senate  continues work on farm programs legislation.

The President  vetoes the fiscal 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill but signs the Defense spending bill; delivers remarks on the budget in New Albany, Ind.; hosts a dinner at the White House in honor of America’s Promise -The Alliance for Youth.

In Washington,  South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu gives a lecture, “The Spirituality of Reconciliation, 7:30 p.m., Washington National Cathedral.

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Top Stories

Bush Vetoes Domestic Spending Bill, Signs Defense Measure

President Bush on Tuesday triggered a long-awaited showdown with the Democratic Congress over fiscal 2008 appropriations bills, signing the annual Defense spending measure while vetoing the bill funding health, education and labor programs.  [Read More]

House Poised to Tie Strings to Iraq War Funds

The House is expected to take up a bill Wednesday providing $50 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for a few more months, setting up another Senate showdown over Iraq withdrawal provisions later this week.  [Read More]

Senate Nears Solution to Terrorism Insurance Budget Issue

Key senators are close to resolving budget issues that have dogged an extension of the nation’s terrorism insurance backstop in both chambers.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Rapid City Journal, in an editorial this morning, questioned whether Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is capable of serving a third Senate term. “We’re thankful that Sen. Tim Johnson is recovering well from brain surgery for an arteriovenous malformation that nearly killed him in 2006, but his health is still an issue in his upcoming re-election campaign for the U.S. Senate,” the paper said. “His mobility is not what it once was. He cannot speak as well. His stamina is returning, but he does not have the strength he once did. . . . Having said that, there still may not be a better candidate,” whose seniority “is certainly a strong argument for his re-election,” the Journal said. “Time, and the coming campaign, will tell.”

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Robert Wagner, an Ohio State University economics professor “who spends most of his time as a portfolio manager, said “he will file his petitions Thursday to run against state Sen. Steve Stivers, a Columbus Republican and former bank lobbyist who announced his candidacy last week” for the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce in the 15th District. “The Republican nominee is expected to face Democratic Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, who narrowly lost to Pryce in 2006.”

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that President Bush is expected in Nebraska on Dec. 5 to boost the Senate campaign of Mike Johanns, his former Agriculture secretary. The daily said Johanns’ campaign would not confirm the visit, “but plans appeared to be under way.” Johanns, a former governor, resigned in September to seek the seat being vacated by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. Bush’s appearance at a fundraiser for Johanns would be an unusual intervention by a president in a primary campaign — Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is also seeking the GOP nomination.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SAN FRANCISCO BAY: Oil-Spill Ship's Crew Subpoenaed
PORTLAND, Ore.: City to Tax, Reward Developers for Energy Efficiency
THE NATION: Report: States Gaming 'No Child' System
THE NATION: Six States Compete for Livestock-Disease Lab

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Political Trivia

Before he got into politics, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., made a living in the oil and gas exploration business. Right out of high school and starting with nothing — just a truck-mounted rig and a dream — he and his brother went looking for oil in Texas and actually found some. Today, Liberty Petroleum Corp. — with Franks’ two brothers at the helm — is going strong with exploration projects around the world. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Monday, November 12, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, NOV. 12, 2007 – 2:22 P.M.

In This Issue

  • New Mexico’s Rep. Udall Joins Senate Contest
  • Candidates in Vacant Virginia House District Face Quick Race
  • Gore Joins Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firm
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session in honor of Veterans Day; resumes legislative business at 2 p.m. Tuesday, considering non-controversial bills under suspension of the rules.

The Senate is not in session; reconvenes at 10 a.m. Tuesday, to vote on a U.S. District Court nominee and resume debate on the farm bill.

The President returns to Washington from his Crawford, Texas, ranch.

In Washington, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and others host a discussion, “Science and Society: Grand Challenges,” dealing with global energy demand, with John Holdren of Harvard University and director of the Woods Hole Research Center; Lori Ryerkerk of ExxonMobil and others. 6 p.m., AAAS auditorium, 12th and H Sts. N.W.

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Top Stories

New Mexico’s Rep. Udall Joins Senate Contest

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who is joining the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Pete V. Domenici, has released internal polling indicating he would lead either Republican Rep. Heather A. Wilson or her colleague Steve Pearce.  [Read More]

Candidates in Vacant Virginia House District Face Quick Race

Virginia Republican Rob Wittman and Democrat Philip Forgit will wage an abbreviated and intense campaign in Virginia’s vacant 1st District for a Dec. 11 special election.  [Read More]

Gore Joins Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firm

Al Gore, former member of Congress, vice president, presidential candidate, filmmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner, now has a new career: venture capitalist.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

In an editorial, the Jackson Clarion Ledger speculates on whether Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., will seek a sixth term in 2008, citing the fact that he turns 70 in September and has only $1.1 million in his campaign account, a “puny” amount by national campaign standards. The daily said the issue “looms large in D.C. due to the razor-edge Democratic Senate majority, and the fact that Cochran is a major hitter in seniority . . . If he runs again, he’ll probably win. That could account for his hesitation. Six years is a long time.”

The Tuscaloosa News reports that the Alabama state House is considering redrawing its state’s U.S. House districts this year, in advance of the federally-mandated post-2010 census redistricting. The net effect? A potentially more competitive 2nd District, which has been in GOP hands since 1964 but is open this cycle with the retirement of Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala. But Republican House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard has warned House Speaker Seth Hammett that Republicans will “lock everything down” if the majority Democrats push ahead with their redistricting plans.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., “still has no Republican opposition, and as more and more time passes, the chance that he’ll have a viable challenger grows smaller and smaller. The last time a U.S. senator in Arkansas had no major-party opposition was 1990, when Pryor’s father, David Pryor, also a Democrat, won a third term.” Mark Pryor said: “I still think someone will run. I’ll just be waiting and find out who it is.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SAN FRANCISCO BAY: Criminal Probe Underway in Oil Spill
DENVER: Veto Override Backs Bigger Pay Hike
NEW YORK CITY: Ex-Police Commissioner Vows to Fight Charges
TEXAS: Retired Teachers to Get One-Time Windfall
THE SOUTHEAST: Florida Backs Away from Water Truce
ALABAMA/MARYLAND: Man Who Shot Governor Is Freed

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Political Trivia

As a lifelong resident of the Upper Peninsula (known by locals as the U.P.), Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., prides himself on his “Yooper” background. While serving as an Escanaba police officer, he earned an undergraduate degree in criminal justice. He then got a law degree while working as a state trooper. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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