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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘dollar’

Woman Says Tzedaka Dollar Saved her Life in Bus Crash

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Eliana Siegal says she believes she survived unharmed a bus crash yesterday, Thursday, on Interstate 55, because her father gave her a dollar to give to charity, a Jewish tradition that she said helped protect her en route.

On Thursday morning, Eliana Siegal boarded a double-decker Megabus at Union Station in downtown Chicago, on her way to a concert in St. Louis that night.

Megabus is an intercity bus service providing discount travel services throughout the Northeast, parts of the Southeast, and Midwestern United States, and in southern Canada.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a few hours later, the 64-passenger bus she was sitting in blew a tire and skidded until it smashed into a concrete pillar of an overpass on Interstate 55 near Litchfield, Illinois, some 60 miles northeast of St. Louis.

Television footage from the scene shows crews on ladders reaching inside the smashed front end of the bus. Thirty ambulances and five medical helicopters responded, and I-55 was shut down in both directions from the Carlinville exit to the Litchfield exit.

One woman was killed and dozens of other passengers were injured, Illinois State Police said.

As many as half the people on the bus were injured, according to Illinois State Police Capt. Scott Compton. Five of the injured were trapped and had to be extricated, including the woman who died, Aditi R. Avhad, of Columbia, Mo.

“I flew forward, and my glasses were smashed into the back of the seat in front of me,” said Siegal, 16, of Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood. “People were panicking, and babies were crying. A woman across the aisle from me was screaming that her leg was broken.”

West Rogers Park is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Chicago, with a prominent Jewish population, dozens of synagogues and several Jewish day schools.

Siegal, who was riding on the top tier of the double-decker bus, said she and other passengers exited the bus quickly, afraid it might explode. She told the Tribune that the driver and some passengers were trapped.

Four people were airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, and another two were taken there by ambulance. Nineteen other passengers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries in local hospitals.

The Talmud (Pesachim 8.) cites Rabbi Eliezer who states: “Emissaries of a mitzvah will not be harmed,” suggesting that if a person is on a mission to fulfil a certain commandment in a dangerous environment (this was often applied to rabbis who labored to free fellow Jews from prison) enjoy a divine protection. This generated a custom in many Jewish communities of giving a person a small amount of money to give to charity at their destination, turning them into emissaries of a mitzvah.

Obama For Sale

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/obama-for-sale.html

Summer is traditionally a weak shopping season, but lately the bargains just keep on coming. First there was an offer to have dinner with Obama and now a chance to have him there in your family photo. You can bid on an opportunity to wish Obama a happy birthday in person with the present that he likes best… money.

The prices are reasonable, and there are so many ways to buy Obama. You can play the dinner lottery or ask your wedding guests to gift to Obama. The Barack Obama website accepts all payments, Visa, Discover, Master Card, foreign donations and stolen credit cards.

The opportunities are endless. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, major disasters; everything is just another reminder to give till it hurts. All you have to do is click one of the many buttons beneath the color-tuned hues of Instagram photos of Obama or his worse half smiling while the country slides deeper into poverty and debt.

There’s a reason that they call America “The Land of Opportunity.” Sure it’s gotten a lot harder to come here and make a fortune with your own business, but buying time with the man at the top has just gotten a lot more affordable. You may not have the big wallet of a Warren Buffett or a George Soros and you won’t cash in to the tune of a few billion dollars like they did; but for 25 bucks you might end up briefly exchanging pleasantries with the man who is slowly sending you to the poorhouse.

The designers are working overtime digging up retro fonts that summon up the image of a more prosperous America. There are so many Obama portrait shirts that they will be filling up landfills for generations. More likely, they’ll be shipped over to the Third World, along with all the other surplus clothes that people donate once the trend has passed or they no longer fit, and, somewhere in an African village, children in the year 2021 will run around playing in “Obama 2012″ t-shirts and Islamic terrorists in the Sahara will execute rebellious women while wearing “Forward” shirts.

You can get a “This is Change” shirt that lists all the things that Obama has done on the back, but the text is too small to read on the website, so, like ObamaCare and Obama 2012, you will have to buy it to find out what’s in it and on it.

There’s a collar for cats that says, “I Meow for Michelle” and an 85-dollar Vera Wang tote bag with Obama inside a scrawled heart. There’s an Obama-themed dog collar, to express the relationship between the administration and its lapdogs, and a t-shirt with an all-red American flag that has a distinctly Soviet feel to it. There’s a 65-dollar polo shirt designed by rapper and Farrakhan supporter Russell Simmons; which is just a generic polo shirt with a small Obama logo.

A Joe Biden cup holder sits next to a knit Obama dog sweater, a silver Obama brooch, an Obama basketball jersey, an Obama University hoodie, which has a seal but no motto, along with beanies, keychains, more dog collars, water bottles, tumblers, lanyards, cuff links, duffel bags, tube socks and a dog bowl with the Obama logo inside for your dog to drink out of.

Obama isn’t just a politician; he is a Walmart of useless crap. A one-man Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and Fitch and Ed Hardy with enough t-shirts, polo shirts and bandanas to outfit a small army of young men and women with more credit card limits than taste. And upstairs on the third floor of his cyberspace Target, you can find a plethora of 90-dollar reusable canvas bags from major designers that have become the stamp of consciously responsible consumption.

You can buy Obama and wear Obama all over your body. You can read Obama at the beach, stick him on your toddler, your dog and your cat. You can cover your car, your house and your barn with his stickers. And, if you are truly lucky, you may even win a chance to spend 72 seconds in his presence before you are firmly ushered out to go back to your Obama 2012 car and drive back to your Obama 2012 yard sign where your dog is barking for food in his “Obama Best Friend” collar and then sit down to read through the Help Wanted ads in the paper while wearing an Obama Hope Lapel Pin.

Personalize It – Crystallize It!

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Whether you are staying home for Pesach or going away, it is nice to have something new to enhance this special Yom Tov. With rhinestone monograms now so readily available you can turn many household items from ordinary to extraordinary. Enhance bath and hand towels, aprons, oven mitts, etc. with simple to use “Crystalique” iron on transfers. Do it yourself and present your hostess with a magnificent basket of monogrammed fingertip towels. Their elegant and easy and so affordable – you’ll want to treat yourself as well!

Supplies “Crystalique” iron-on transfers made by etched in stone (etchedinstoneusa.com) Towels, aprons, oven mitts, etc (Available at Target, Walmart, Marshalls…some of the towels and mitts I used were purchased in dollar stores.) An Iron

Directions 1. Preheat iron to the hottest setting (No steam) 2. Place fabric item on a flat, firm surface 3. Remove white backing from iron-on transfer 4. Place transfer face side up on the fabric 5. Press firmly, without moving, directly on to the clear film for 12-15 seconds 6. Let cool to room temperature and gently peel off plastic 7. If there are stones that have not bonded to the fabric, repeat steps 5 & 6 8. Press again directly on top of the stones for 10 seconds

Do the stones stay on; do they fall off while washing or drying?

Personally, I have never had a problem with the Crystalique iron on transfers. If you follow directions they should stay on beautifully wash after wash.

Tip – A friend of mine enjoys putting together towel baskets for simchos. She buys simple washcloths and adds a lace trim on one side.

 

Thumbing its Nose at SWIFT Ban, Iran Relies on Alternative Methods to Continue its International Banking

Friday, March 16th, 2012

On Sunday, May 27, 2012, Iran announced that they have successfully bypassed the SWIFT ban, and have an alternative financial network setup.

On March 16, 2012, JewishPress.com described the system that Iran had set up in anticipation of the SWIFT ban in the article below.

 

Five years ago, the SWIFT clearing system ban on Iranian banks, which goes into effect Saturday, would have yielded satisfactory results. But nowadays Iran is relying on rogue financial systems created by South-American countries, and on its trade with India, China, Russia, Brazil and Turkey, to maintain the flow of money, goods and services for which it continues to pay with oil.

The Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, a clearing system used by the world’s major banks, announced Thursday that as of Saturday it will obey the European Union’s ban on blacklisted Iranian financial firms, including some 40 Iranian banks.

The SWIFT ban is an inconvenience

But an article by Otto Reich and Ezequiel Vazquez Ger in the Miami Herald suggests the SWIFT ban will present nothing more than an inconvenience for Iran, because the latter has prepared for just this occasion, utilizing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to set up reliable alternative connections for money transfers by Iranian financial institutions.

Essentially, Iran will continue to trade internationally, with the support of ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América – Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas) countries: Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

The ALBA countries have created SUCRE (Sistema Único de Compensación Regional – Unique System of Regional Compensation), which is a virtual currency unit which makes it possible for ALBA members to bypass foreign banks’ supervision.

Ahmadinejad has been preparing for this scenario for years

This system has been used effectively by the belligerent Iran, practically since its inception. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a frequent traveler to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador, making more than half a dozen trips to the region since his election in 2005.

Reich and Vazquez Ger cite confidential bank reports dating back to November 2008, which suggest that the Central Bank of Ecuador authorized the establishment of “a mechanism for deposits and payments to facilitate foreign trade” with Iran. The two authors say that the Central Bank of Ecuador approved in closed sessions a system that would allow the confirmation and payment of letters of credit for foreign trade transactions between it, the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) and the International Development Bank in Caracas, Venezuela (BID).

Both the EBDI and the BID are on the U.S. Treasury’s blacklist of companies doing business with Iran’s military, but the Central Bank of Ecuador chose to ignore this fact when jumping into bed with Iran and Venezuela. Immediately after signing the agreement, the Iranian bank opened up for BID a lavish credit line of $40 million for “importation of Iranian goods and services to Ecuador.”

Reich and Vazquez Ger point out that the fact that Ecuador uses the US dollar as its currency means that once Iranian money gets into the country it is automatically injected into the economy.

But some believe that in the end the ban may work

But a high-placed Israeli financial officer told the Jewish Press Friday that any country that chooses to cooperate with Iran would be blocked sooner or later, as the need for trade with the West inevitably arises. This means that the rate of flow of Iranian money out of Iran will remain limited, despite Iran’s publicized South American rogue connection. “Any country that wants to avoid a direct confrontation with the US would opt out of a cooperation deal with Iran, including even Venezuela. Should the US at some point threaten Venezuela, it, too, would drop Iran like a hot potato.”

India-Iran avoid the dollar for rupees

Another venue for uninterrupted Iranian trade has been cultivated over the past few years with the government of India. Earlier in March the semi-official Mehr news agency reported that Tehran and New Delhi have announced that they are planning to hit $25 billion in annual bilateral trade over the next four years, with payments for Iranian oil made in rupees.

J.E. Dyer, a retired US Naval Intelligence officer who served around the world, afloat and ashore, from 1983 to 2004, told the Jewish Press in an email:

“I have been watching this for a while. India and Iran have arranged to increase trade, including Iranian oil, outside of SWIFT. They are dealing in rupees, but the point for Iran is that she can buy things she needs with her rupees. Long-term value isn’t the issue right now. China and Russia dropped the US dollar as their trading currency a while back, and China in particular has been essentially importing Iranian oil on a barter basis, for goods. No need for SWIFT.

“The Latin American countries have been helping Iran evade US/EU sanctions for a while, and so has Turkey.

The SWIFT ban may backfire by causing economic realignments

“I predicted weeks ago that excluding Iran from SWIFT wouldn’t bring Iran to her knees. Instead, it will give a world in flux new reasons to coalesce differently for power and influence. I don’t think North America and the EU have the economic power now to make Iran holler Uncle! What we can do is force a realignment that has a strong probability of rebounding to our disadvantage.

JAFI Bosses Making Record Salaries While Employee Pay Is Cut

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky is a heroic figure in anyone’s book, a survivor of Soviet repression who rose to a position of influence in the Jewish state. As head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Sharansky presides over a markedly increased aliyah, and an effort to stand ready “as the Jewish world’s first responder to crises both in Israel and around the world” (as the JAFI websire declares). In addition, “these days, the Jewish Agency is redirecting its primary focus toward the greatest challenge we currently face as a people – strengthening the Jewish identity of young Jews in both the Diaspora and Israel.”

Add to that another, less frequently discussed mission: making a lot of money for JAFI officials – not Goldman Sachs kind of money, but way more than most anyone else in the world of Jewish not-for-profits.

According to Haaretz, the unofficial arrangement at the Jewish Agency for Israel of matching the pay of the agency’s head with that of the prime minister of Israel, has been broken by Natan Sharansky, who in 2010 made $214,000, compared with Benjamin Netanyahu’s $164,000 in the same year.

But Sharansky was only number four on the list of high earners in what is officially a Jerusalem-based, Israeli institution. The CEO and president of Jewish Agency International Development (JAID ), the agency’s chief fundraiser, Dr. Misha Galperin who is based in New York, earned $478,000 in 2010, according to JAFI’s IRS report. And that sum was his pay for only seven months, having begun to work for the agency in June of 2010. Galperin’s annual remuneration, including expenses and benefits, should reach $750,000.

Except that a major decrease in donations from the US – due to the financial crisis and the dollar devaluation – supposedly caused the Jewish Agency to take drastic measures earlier this year. The Jewish Agency’s management, together with the employees committee, decided to send all the employees out on mandatory leave for two weeks in August, four days of which were at the expense of the employees’ vacation fund and six days were be taken without pay.

In order to finance the planned mandatory leave the agency is taking cuts from each employee’s monthly salary – one day a month for six months. And the employees’ committee decided to donate $500,000 of its budget to the Jewish Agency.

The Jewish Agency management released a statement last summer, saying: “Many not-for-profit organizations in Israel are collapsing due to the weak dollar which has decreased the extent of contributions. The fact that we work with the poor sectors of society means that we can’t make cuts in our activities.

“The Agency was forced to choose between layoffs and no layoffs and chose, together with the employees’ committee who are also on board, not to lay off employees. We expect an increase in income over the next few years.”

Sources close to the negotiations that took place in early 2010 over Galperin’s pay package explained to Haaretz that Sharansky had agreed with Galperin that he would not lose out financially due to his move from Washington to JAFI’s North American headquarters in New York. But Galperin almost doubled the salary of about $400,000 he was due to make that year as head of the Washington federation. While the base for Galperin’s JAFI salary is half a million dollars, it was padded with an $11,000-a-month rent for his 2,880-square foot townhouse in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood, tuition for his two children at the Hannah Senesh private day school, a car and his pension fund.

According to Haaretz, Galperin’s supporters claim that his salary reflects the norm for CEOs of big U.S. Jewish organizations, but according to The Forward’s annual salary survey of Jewish communal leaders, only one head of a national organization makes more than $750,000, Yeshiva University President Richard Joel, who earned $848,000 in 2010. Next on the Forward’s list is Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who made $722,000. Eight senior executives in Jewish organizations made over half a million dollars in 2010.

College Cafeteria Angel

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I was on a city bus as it stopped for a young boy frantically waving his arms, fearful the bus might not stop for him on this snowy February afternoon. As the boy, wearing a thin jacket, boarded the bus, he searched his pockets for bus fare, found nothing, and told the bus driver he had left his money at home. “Could you please let me ride this bus?” he asked.  “I promise to give you the money tomorrow. It’s so freezing outside, and it’s such a long walk home.” The bus driver refused, ordering the boy to leave the bus immediately.

The intensity of the snow increased. The thought of this young boy, clutching his schoolbooks, walking home through a freezing snowstorm, compelled me to give the boy a dollar for bus fare. None of the other passengers, sitting stone-faced, seemed to care about the boy’s plight – nor did anyone offer to help him. “Thank you, lady, so much!” he responded with a big smile. “If you give me your address, I’ll mail a dollar to you.” “That won’t be necessary,” I replied. “I’m just glad you’re going home in a warm bus.”

That evening, my daughter called me from her college dorm room to share an uplifting account of a kindness extended to her earlier in the day by a stranger.

“I was standing in line in the college cafeteria, with a sandwich on my tray, as I approached the cashier. ‘That will be two dollars’ she said. All I had in my pocket was one dollar, as I realized I had left my wallet in my dorm – and with only about 10 minutes until my next class, and my dorm room a seven-minute walk, I realized there wasn’t any time for me to return to my dorm for the money. I asked the cashier if she would let me give her the dollar after my class, and she refused. ‘I have to follow the rules,’ she said.”

My daughter told me how dejected she felt because if she had no lunch, she would not eat anything until evening, when her last class would end. “Mom, I’d feel so starved; the last time I ate was 7a.m.!” My daughter continued: “Just when I felt there was no hope, and I was about to return my sandwich, a lady suddenly appeared in my line and offered to give me the extra dollar I needed for my lunch. I hadn’t noticed her before, and she didn’t look like a student. As she handed me the dollar, I promised to pay her back, and asked her for her name and address. She smiled. “Don’t worry about paying me back, just enjoy your sandwich. I’m happy to help you.”

I mentioned to my daughter how I had helped a young boy on the bus earlier that day by giving him the dollar he needed to avoid a long walk home through a snowstorm, that he had offered to repay me, and that I said that I was happy to help him. Suddenly, I realized that my giving the boy a dollar and the lady giving my daughter a dollar were parallel events of kindness. “What time was it when the lady gave you the dollar?” I asked my daughter. “Oh, about 2:30 p.m.,” she responded. I realized that it was also at 2:30 p.m. that I had helped the boy. We were both amazed. I didn’t realize that at the same time I had helped the boy, a kind stranger had helped my daughter.

Hineni founder Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, who provides great spiritual inspiration through her books and talks, stresses the Torah belief that every time you do a good deed, you create a good angel who walks with you throughout your life, guarding and protecting you. She states that the Hebrew word for good deed, “mitzvah,” means “connection”: “Every time you do a mitzvah, you connect to G-d.”

We Must Have Faith

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I live at Scharf’s Ateret Avot, a residence for seniors. I get around via a motorized wheelchair. This gives me the independence to go where I choose.

On a recent sunny morning, I decided to ride and do a little shopping. Most important I took my small canvas tote bag, in which I put the things necessary to go shopping. Included among these things were my charge card, my purse with money, and my cell phone. As usual I slung the tote over the arm of my chair, did my shopping, and happily rode back to Ateret Avot. In the lobby I reached for my tote bag to get my keys. Calamity! The tote bag was gone.

Panic set in. Where can it be? Moses Scharf saw my agitation and asked what was wrong. I told him, and said I would retrace my steps. His response was, “Don’t panic. Put a dollar in the pushka and say a prayer to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness.”

Mr. Scharf had to give me a dollar because my money was in the missing tote bag. I recited the prayer for lost articles. I wasn’t sure that this would work, but figured that prayer never hurts.

I left the lobby and saw that Mr. Scharf left right after me. I later found out that he walked into every store on my route to inquire if anyone had found the bag.

I returned to Ateret Avot feeling dejected. I took mental inventory. I would have to notify my cell phone company, my charge card company, etc. All my IDs were gone. I entered the lobby with tears rolling down my cheeks. Iris, the receptionist, greeted me. “Phyllis, smile.” I answered, “I have nothing to smile about.”

Then I saw this young man holding my tote bag. I could not believe my eyes. This wonderful yeshiva bachur, Dovid Lipschutz, had found my bag. It was in the middle of the street and a car had just run over it. He picked it up and ingeniously called a number listed in my cell phone. My son answered and gave him my address.

Also amazing is the fact that the only damage was to a plastic pillbox. My purse, cell phone, etc. were the way I left them. Mr. Scharf smiled as he said to me, “I told you Rabbi Meir Baal Haness would help you find it.” There is no question in my mind that Mr. Scharf had advised me properly.

We must have faith.

Clear And Present Danger

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Anyone wanting to walk in the shoes of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff was in luck, as thousands of belongings from his New York penthouse, including pairs of designer shoes, recently went on the auction block, and often sold for far more than the pre-bid estimates.

Madoff loved footwear. He owned about 250 pairs of designer shoes, mostly European imports. Ten pairs of Madoff’s used designer shoes sold at this auction for the steep price of $900, well exceeding the $250 minimum.

Madoff was also fond Italian house slippers and possessed numerous embroidered sets. The slippers, bundled with a shirt and some other items, went for $6,000, against a pre-sale value of $110. The purchaser said he would never be able to wear the slippers because his shoe size is 13, far larger than Madoff’s 8.

Other noteworthy items for sale included a 10.5-carat diamond engagement ring that belonged to Madoff’s wife, Ruth. The winning price was for $550,000. Bernie’s vintage steel Rolex watches sold for $67,500.

Madoff was arrested two years ago for running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme in which he used billions of dollars in cash from new investors to pay old ones, cheating charities, celebrities and institutional investors, many of whom were Jewish. The disgraced 72-year-old is behind bars for life in prison; his wife was unceremoniously ordered to leave their homes. Advertisement

I am fascinated by the continued enthrallment with Madoff and so I sought to identify basic motivating factors that likely played a central role in the frenzied, top dollar purchasing of his belongings.

On the simplest level, the auction gave people the opportunity to establish a connection with the rich and famous, to enter a realm (albeit vicariously) that is seldom experienced by even some of the world’s most affluent individuals. Despite the fact that many items comparable to those that were auctioned could have been purchased for less elsewhere, the idea that they once comprised a segment of the once-glamorous Madoff estate motivated buyers to pay top dollar for a piece of someone else’s past glory.

Others, such as John Rodger, were motivated by their chance to be part of history. Rodger, an 81-year-old Long Island real estate executive, purchased a 1917 Steinway grand piano at the auction for $42,000. “I’ve got loads of pianos, but this one has history,” he said. “It’ll make an interesting conversation piece.”

Still, I suspect that at least some of the bidders were attracted by a desire to connect with the fantastic, debased nature of the Madoff scandal.

We are all aware that each person is born with a capacity for good and the ability to stray down the path of evil. For the most part, we stay somewhere within a normative range of behavior and thought, and choose to conduct a life that is either generally righteous or moderately sinful.

In every generation, however, there also exist individuals who achieve lives of notable piety, or, conversely, descend to the depths of extreme decadence. Such people garner our attention due to their unique status on the moral continuum, and typically either earn our collective adulation for their noble character and deeds or are the source of our shared disdain for their sinful, wicked conduct.

Yet sometimes the exact opposite occurs. Instead of admiring the righteous for their goodness, we allow the evil side within us to overtake our intellectual awareness and belittle their pious achievements. Conversely, there are times when we are confronted with evil and instead of reacting to the murderer or swindler with abject disgust and anger, an unexplainable sense of admiration creeps in, suggesting an element of regret that we were unable to achieve that same degree of vice ourselves.

Our sages (Sifri 32) inform us that when we are instructed to love Hashem “with all [of our] heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5), it means we must “love Him with [our] two inclinations [the good and the evil].” Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch suggests that this obligation places a tremendous moral obligation on every Jew, one that forces us to be in complete control of all our impulses.

To “love God with all your heart,” with both yetzer tov and yetzer hara, means to consecrate all of our thinking, together with all of our tendencies and impulses, all of our potentialities and endeavors without reservation to the fulfillment of God’s will, and to control and use them in His service in such a manner that will bring us nearer and nearer to Him. [Hirsch Siddur, Feldheim, pg. 116]

Certainly this can be a great challenge, especially as we witness those who have lived sinful lives and repeatedly tasted the sweet benefits of their illicit labors. In fact, American society routinely glamorizes such individuals, despite the tragic turns that their lives often take, such as life imprisonment and seizure of their many possessions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/clear-and-present-danger/2010/12/08/

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