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Fake news you can use


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Nugget from our national poll coming out tomorrow- only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with Russians…
1:13 PM – 17 Jul 2017

I forget which LGM commenter used this analogy awhile back: The commenter is into DIY auto repair. He works on his car a lot. He compared elections to declaring one day per year DIY auto repair day for the populace as a whole.

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  • keta

    …and sighs of relief waft through the halls of Congress as elected Republicans note that, once again, not one ounce of integrity is yet required of them…

    • kaydenpat

      As if they would care if an ounce of integrity was required of them. They ignored polls which showed that a vast majority of Americans wanted gun control reform after Sandy Hook, they shut down the government costing the economy billions of dollars and they are now hellbent on passing Trumpcare despite its unpopularity.

      I really don’t believe that Republicans care about the opinions of regular folks — even ones on their side.

  • Mutaman

    ” He compared elections to declaring one day per year DIY auto repair day for
    the populace as a whole.”

    Plenty of folks who follow politics 24/7 who voted for Trump. Hell, bet plenty who voted for Stein.

    • NeonTrotsky

      Education is no defense against ideology unfortunately

      • CrunchyFrog

        The people in the right wing alternate reality bubble are on average actually far more well-verse in their “facts” than people outside the bubble. What they know is wrong – often incredibly, 180 degrees wrong (like thinking that the deficit goes up under Dems and down under the GOP). But they “know” these “facts” in far more detail.

        It’s not lack of education. It’s the greatest propaganda bubble in human history.

        • weirdnoise

          The nice thing about false facts is you can design them to be more self-reinforcing and convincing than actual facts. The world is a messy place, so if you present a picture that is artificially clarified, a subset of humanity will buy it whole-heartedly.

          • I like this formulation

          • fearandloathing

            I like to use the analogy of the food business. Something constructed in a lab by scientists expert in manipulating our taste buds is probably always going to be more appealing taste wise than natural unprocessed food. Of course, such stuff is quite frequently bad for our health. But Mother Nature really does have a hard time competing with Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds etc. Propaganda is basically just high fructose corn syrup for our ideological taste buds.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            With the right costumes and a fancy building, you can even pass around a collection plate!

        • BiloSagdiyev

          I dunno, 1933 to the spring of 1945 in Germany was pretty effing wacky, too. Reality eventually made itself clear. Thousand bomber raids. Russian hordes. Etc.

          Japan spent even more decades in a delirious, delusional fever, but they at least lived on an island and had an excuse. (Just kidding, once you start dropping plague rats out of airplanes over the Chinese countryside, there’s no excuse.)

          • Breadbaker

            Rwanda is a better analogy because the technology was closer to what there is today, only it was less pervasive or effective to disseminate virulent propaganda.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              When it comes to future internal chaos, yes, I think of Rwanda.
              But we sure have been running around the world making friends by sticking gun barrels in their faces, too.
              I am concerned.

        • ciocia

          And this makes arguing harder, because they are refering to conspiracy stuff you never heard of.

  • MikeG

    If you look at the percentage of Americans who believe in things like creationism, miracles, ghosts and angels, you’ll wonder why half of this country is allowed to cut their own meat.

    • wjts

      It’s not like the ghosts and angels are going to do it for them.

    • nominal

      You can be incredibly smart and reality-driven and still believe in miracles and angels. But creationism, in its strong forms? Not so much.

      • Deborah Bender

        Concepts of angels in the Hebrew Bible alone vary from material to purely spiritual phenomena, so lots of wiggle room there.

        The popular meaning of “miracle” these days is some hoped-for but unlikely event that comes to pass, no violation of scientific principles required. Our ancestors had less extensive knowledge of those principles, so for people in 2000 BCE to believe a story that the sun stayed up in the sky for an extra few hours by an act of deity wasn’t much more irrational than our believing that a baby can survive being buried in a collapsed building.

        I have never encountered a ghost, but the amount of anecdotal reportage of spectral phenomena from people who didn’t believe in ghosts, or at least weren’t expecting to encounter one, is pretty large, so I put ghosts in the same category as rocks falling out of the sky on a clear day, i.e., these witnesses aren’t delusional and there is some underlying explanation other than skeptical handwaving.

        None of this is true of strong form creationism.

      • fearandloathing

        What’s particularly irritating to me about creationism is smart religious people long ago came to the conclusion that interpreting Genesis non literally is perfectly compatible with maintaining your religious faith. So creationists seem determined to fight and die on this particular hill, not because, if they don’t then the only alternative is atheism, but because they are determined to defend Biblical literalism, no matter how absurd the conclusion. The only reason I can see why they are determined to defend Biblical literalism is 1) psychologically, they can’t handle complexity and need a very crude black and white view of the universe 2) they like all the other stuff in the Bible such as homophobia, patriarchy etc. and the only way to maintain a belief in all that is by sticking to Biblical literalism.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I’m not super concerned about this, honestly. I think that America’s biggest problem, by far, is a lack of compassion for one’s fellow human being. If people have that, it doesn’t much matter if they believe in angels or creationism. Frankly, I don’t think that scientific illiteracy is driving climate denialism so much as just not giving a shit if people are suffering under climate change.

      • Deborah Bender

        I think belief in angels is usually harmless or benign. Belief in creationism leads to bad policy.

        • weirdnoise

          Hardly benign in the case of fallen angels. There has been no end of evil committed from a belief in Satan.

      • fearandloathing

        I’ve always maintained that right wing alternative reality has less to do with just ignorance and that it’s more an intellectual character flaw. It’s not ignorance of reality as much a willful refusal to accept it. I think denialism is the right word to use for all sorts of this stuff. They conclude that they don’t like government so they reason backwards that they will not acknowledge the existence of any problem that requires government intervention .

  • aab84

    These trolly (not necessarily in a bad way) PPP polls are basically just partisanship tests, no? They’re mostly proof that about half of Republicans (and maybe Democrats too, though I think asymmetric partisanship is real) will answer literally any polling question in the way they think is best for their team.

    • Alesis

      That’s one interpretation. My personal experience with birtherism though suggests that we might be underestimating the popularity of conspiratorial thinking in the electorate. It’s just as possible that a the lamstream media is just making things up to attack Trump.

      • Joe_Bob_the_III

        My personal experience of birtherism is that it was a trope for racist assholes who were housebroken enough not to use the n-word in polite company. The fact you had to wonder if they were pulling your leg or not just made it more fun for them.

        • Shemp Marx

          No. I ran into an acquaintance at a large get-together. I knew she was a Republican, but other than that she seemed boringly normal and not particularly opinionated. I made an anodyne joke about how she was enjoying Obama since she’d moved back to the US, and she went from zero to frothing faster than you can say birth certificate. The delusions on the right might be built on tired racist, sexist and “got mine” tropes, but they’re weaponized for everybody to use.

          • bw

            I first read this comment as taking issue with the “racist assholes” part, but on a re-read I think I get it – you’re actually taking issue with the characterization of birtherism as just a “trope” – an insincerely held belief that, while people espoused it because they were indeed predisposed to be racist, was mainly expressed to troll liberals and serve as sort of in-group signaling.

            In a lot of ways this seems like one of the central challenges of understanding the Republican mind, and it’s weird how psychological authoritarians can fall into both types: the humorless true believers like your acquaintance, and the trolls for whom politics and political discourse are mostly huge meaningless games played for the lulz of annoying liberals. It’s also really strange that the second category isn’t even necessarily any more informed or self-aware than the first – it’s more that they just pay more attention to learning whatever will make Democrats mad, even if they don’t have a very clear understanding of why. Like, I think I can kind of understand why someone would act this way – they’re a combination of nihilist and sadist. What I can’t understand is why this second category of trolls very consistently take great care to conceal what their core political values even are.

            • Mark Tinberg

              > What I can’t understand is why this second category of trolls very consistently take great care to conceal what their core political values even are.

              I think I actually understand this one, as soon as you declare any solid opinion you open yourself up to criticism, so never be definitive, never take a “real” position and you can always deflect responses away, protecting your ego. If you never try to be right, you can never be wrong. I see a lot of this as creating a defensive perimeter around a fragile egol.

            • fearandloathing

              One person can sometimes be both. I think Ann Coulter is both. On some things she’s clearly just self consciously being a jerk just to annoy liberals. I have no doubt though that say when it comes to Islamophobia and things like her defense of Joe McCarthy though she is quite sincere.

      • aab84

        The paranoid style is definitely real and important, but Don Jr. himself has admitted to the meeting, and even Fox has covered it. I genuinely don’t believe 50% of Republicans think the meeting didn’t happen. My guess is some of them think a Russian lawyer isn’t “the Russians,” while others think answering “yes” is some kind of admission.

        • FlipYrWhig

          ^ This. It just becomes “I know what the lying media wants me to say, but I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of hearing me say it.”

          • joel_hanes

            “I think I know which answer will make liberals unhappy, so that’s the answer I give”
            Cleeks Law FTW.
            Tribalism trumps reality every time.

            • SatanicPanic

              It is Cleek’s Law day, after all.

            • mausium

              Tell a spite-lie enough and it becomes the truth.

        • SamR

          Thoughts on the split?

          I personally think the majority of Republicans who answered this way honestly believe it.

          An interesting test would be adding the fact that Don Jr. released emails and confirmed the meeting. Do you believe his statement that he participated in this meeting?

        • I’m surprised the number is as high as 45% who do. But yeah, the 55% is broken down into: not following the news and don’t know what the evidence really is (i.e. honestly don’t know he confessed), unwilling to say bad things about “their” (i.e. an R) president, convinced there’s some kind of hair to be split, think what’s in the newspaper is made up and committed to “believing” what fits with their side’s aims.

        • mongolia

          i think the combination of deflection by their preferred media sources, and true believer syndrome where you don’t believe your lying eyes and you just trust your guy through thick or thin would mean that at least 50% of the people who state they don’t believe the meeting happen, so >25% of republicans, are being serious. the rest are just being team players, but this style tends to be common among right-wing types in non-us contexts from what i’ve seen, so it’s not surprising to me.

          • Deborah Bender

            Holocaust denial among Europeans seems to fit this description, no?

      • DaftPunkd

        As a bunch of educated, intelligent people, empowered with agency in their lives, it’s easy to underestimate how at sea in an ocean of forces beyond their control vast numbers of people are. Lacking the education or intellectual tools for seeking out the truth, conspiracy theories are but a small step further.

        • NewishLawyer

          But there are plenty of really successful people who also believe in dumbass and out there conspiracy theories. Many of these people can be formally educated. Look at how many teahardis are really good doctors. Now someone is going to chime in and say that you can be a medical doctor and/or engineer without being intelligent because X, Y, and Z but I always found this dangerous and more like a balm than an effective argument.

          I think people like conspiratorial thinking because it is much more fun than boring reality. There might also need to be a grand vision of why things are connected and ordained instead of random chaos.

          Excepting that much of life is random chaos is very hard.

          • LeeEsq

            Humans are pattern seekers and intelligent people tend to think systematically. This makes well educated open to conspiracy theories as a way to explain why things aren’t going for themselves or others the way that they should.

            • timb117


              Unless folks miss Louise and company, many lefties have told me there are sealed indictments of Trump lying around.

              I think and suspect, on the Right, Trump supporters will still back him when he fires Mueller and starts tossing around pardons. Otherwise, why are Manafort and Flynn still in the country? Both are guilty as hell.

              Somewhere I read among GOP rank-and-file Nixon’s approval rating was 59% the day he resigned. At the nadir or apogee (it’s all relative) of this scandal, Trump’s will be in 70’s. I guarantee it

          • woodrowfan

            I have an acquaintance who is (or seems) pretty smart who thinks the Port Authority blew up the World Trade Center on 9/11. Not Bin Laden’s bunch, not Bush, not the CIA, not “the Jews.” The Port Authority..

            • LeeEsq

              Why would the Port Authority want to blow up the World Trade Center?

              • Hogan

                Planned obsolescence.

                • LeeEsq

                  It was the only way to get rid of some hideous architecture and replace it with something more stylish.

                • Hogan

                  Fucking Rockefellers. Whaddayagonnado?

            • N__B

              While it’s true that the Port Authority is more evil than Bush, the CIA, and “the Jews,” (a) it’s less evil than Bin Laden et al and (b) not competent to demolish a building on the first try. Occam’s Razor says the PA is innocent of 9-11.

              • wjts

                It may not have been the New York Port Authority. The one here runs the buses and the trains for some reason – who knows what else they run?

          • patrick II

            Either random chaos or an order that we don’t understand. Accepting that we can’t understand something is also very hard.

            • this is how we get Creationist engineers and doctors

        • Origami Isopod

          Yeah, no, this is some pretty classist thinking. Anti-vaxxers tend to be wealthy and well-educated. Same with most other people who buy into some form of sciency woo-woo or another.

        • Deborah Bender

          I have read reportage that conspiratorial beliefs are very widespread among the Egyptian population (this is reporting from before the coup), mostly along the lines that Israelis and Jews are responsible for all their troubles. That would tie in with DaftPunkd’s observation.

          It’s a combination of having very little control over the conditions of your day to day life, having no personal experience of participating in any democratically organized group (such as a social club), limited education and widespread availability of media that propagate conspiracy memes. I think lack of control over one’s own life and lack of any direct experience of how decisions are made in non-authoritarian organizations are more important indicators for receptivity to conspiracy theories than lack of education or the amount of conspiratorial ideas circulating in popular culture.

          I also think that ordinary white Americans feel more helpless and have far less personal experience in participating in any kind of small-d democratic organization than their counterparts in 1850 or 1950.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            When it comes to places like Egypt, I think regular people are somewhat rational in thinking their elites are plotting, conniving, and scheming! Even, say, conspiring!

            What drives me bananas about American conspiracy theorists is that they’re blind to the actual, occasional ongoing scams (Social Security is broken! Let me fix that for ya!) and then instead focus on Alex Jones’s horsehockey. These are the people who were unaware of the LIBOR scandal _until_ they found a distant connection between it and Adam Lanza (the Newtown shooter.)

            • Deborah Bender

              Good points.

              • BiloSagdiyev

                PS Of course, thinking that shark attacks at your beach resorts are “Israeli spy sharks!” (shake fist) is kookoobananas.

                • Cheap Wino

                  “PS Of course, thinking that shark attacks at your beach resorts are “Israeli spy sharks!” (shake fist) is kookoobananas.”

                  True. If you say that in front of the microwave while they’re watching they’ll send in men in white to take you away pronto.

        • Gepap

          Huh…..wait, you think there are people who aren’t at sea in an ocean of vast forces beyond their control?

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      I think a decent number of the people who say they don’t believe the meeting happened do believe that he met with the Russians. And furthermore there’s nothing wrong with favoring Russian interests over American interests as long as it means defeating the liberals and propping up white/male supremacy and/or class warfare.

      But they won’t admit that because that would undermine their team. The purpose is not to make Republicans appear reasonable to people like us, it’s to obscure the facts and the motivations of their team to people who can’t figure it out on their own.

    • ASV

      Yes and no. We shouldn’t discount the extent to which conservative media obfuscate and lie about things that are admitted elsewhere. There probably is a certain segment of Republicans who really don’t believe Jr met with Russians, because they’ve been told enough pieces of information to allow them to reach that conclusion. I met a flat earther last night; some people just legitimately believe ridiculous things.

      But the real service that the range of these polls provide is to help us understand where the edge of partisan motivated reasoning lies. A question like this one, I would argue, is qualitatively different than most beliefs that PPP polls. No one involved contests that this meeting took place! Most of the partisan questions they look at are contested, and in many cases don’t have a consensus “correct” answer. So it’s worth seeing how much motivated answering there is on this question when, for example, there seems to be no partisan motivated support for Trumpcare.

      And to broaden the context a bit, this survey question is no more trolly or ridiculous than asking whether Obama was born in the US, which pollsters continued to do well after his birth certificate was released. At the time of the release, birther belief among Republicans dropped from the mid-40s to the mid-30s; a year later is was back to the mid-40s. If it’s not a conscious lie, and it seems unlikely that so many people are consciously lying about things like this, it’s a form of belief that it’s worth understanding at a population level.

  • tsam100
    • N__B

      I’m a-standing in the rain
      Tears are falling and I feel the pain
      Wishin’ you were here by me
      To vote for Hillary
      I wonder
      I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder
      Why, why, why, why, why
      She ran away

  • kaydenpat

    Donny Jr. said that he met with Russians so are Trump voters saying that Donny Jr. is a liar? Not sure if that is good for their side.

    • mausium

      You’re thinking way much more about this than they are. He exists in both states.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        DJT Jr has bridged the wave-particle duality?!

  • Joe_Bob_the_III

    “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
    ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    I read this book in its entirety after Nov. 9, 2016. I don’t laugh at this stuff much anymore because it scares me more than it disgusts or amuses me.

    • NewishLawyer

      And she was writing well before cognitive science and psychological advances in things like motivated reasoning.

      Still I don’t think she is quite right. But I also don’t think the U.S. is going to become authoritarian in the mold of Nazi Germany or North Korea. The most likely model for us is a soft-authoritarian country where there are theoretically competitive elections but one party manages to maintain control and people are largely free to go about their business and enjoy things.

      Most people are just too busy with their lives and friends and families to want to spend a lot of time thinking about politics in a deep and systematic way. There are lots of countries where you can find a lot of stuff that you would find in the U.S.: Relatively to very explicit popular music, pornography, memoirs dealing with sexual abuse and other frank subjects, PSAs warning about the dangers of stigmatizing ex-felons and their families but are still one-party rule states.

      • NeonTrotsky

        I forget if it was someone here, or at Vox or something who compared Trump to the various South American dictators who have won elections as champions of the people, only to turn into corrupt pro-business strongmen, but the description grows more accurate by the day.

        • NewishLawyer

          That also works as a comparison.

        • LeeEsq

          Most of those Latin American dictators had stronger nerves than President Trump.

        • sigaba

          in Origins of Totalitarianism Arendt also wrote that the actual mechanics of repressive rule in totalitarian systems were based on the tools the great nation-states used to rule their imperial holdings. Germany and Russia effectively re-imported imperial domination and enforced it on their own people instead of subject foreign peoples.

          For European empires, the tools were concentration camps, complex race codes, military government, pales of settlement, all that jazz that had immigrated Africa and Asia minor through the 19th century. When the US did it in the rest of the Americas, it meant subversion of local elections, pervasive propaganda, infiltration and espionage of anti-US political movements, and the propping-up of, as you say, pro-business strongmen.

          • LeeEsq

            I never brought this theory. Neither the Russians or the Nazi Party perceived the Jews as their people. The methods Russians use to oppress Jews also started decades before the Scramble for Africa. The Pale of Settlement started during the late 18th century under Catherine II. So did using forced decades long military conscription as a way to erase Jewish identity. The Tsarist empire also bore little resemblance to the European overseas colonial empires. Everything was seen and administrated as part of Russia. Russians did not see themselves as having colonies in the same way the British, French, and other European nations did.

            Germany lost her colonial empire over a decade before the Nazis gained control. Most Nazis were way too young to have any effective memory or experience in the German Empire and were from the wrong social strata. The Nazi administrative apparatus and system of oppression had little resemblance to the German colonial empire.

            • sigaba

              “Most Nazis were way too young to have any effective memory or experience in the German Empire and were from the wrong social strata.”

              Nobody remembers being a cowboy either, but for some reason frontier iconography and mores (gleaned almost exclusively from John Ford and Walt Disney) essentially dictates the worldview of half the country.

              It’s not so much about the actual people as the cultural values and moral rot that empire does to the metropole.

              • LeeEsq

                Also, the two European countries with the biggest colonial empires, the United Kingdom and France, never implemented those techniques at home. There is no real straight forward connection between colonialism and totalitarianism.

                • sigaba

                  You should read the book. It’s kinda thick but it’s very rewarding, Arendt is a blogger’s writer rhetorically.

        • mongolia

          charles pierce was calling him “el caudillo de mar a lago” or something like that in late 2015 iirc, so this example has been around a while.

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          Trevor Noah has done at least two segments comparing video & speeches of Trump with those Mugabe and other African strongmen-rulers.

      • Sly

        “The most likely model for us is a soft-authoritarian country where there are theoretically competitive elections but one party manages to maintain control and people are largely free to go about their business and enjoy things.”

        For narrow definitions of “people.”

        Every black person over the age of 60 knows very well what kind of authoritarian state the U.S. could become, as do a not insignificant number under the age of 60. The reason why should be abundantly clear; the U.S. was every bit the fascist state, complete with its own master race, as anything from a dystopian nightmare – for some people. And the fact that it was only that way for some people is what permitted it to exist as long as it did and what would undoubtedly permit its reemergence.

        • NewishLawyer

          True but the point still holds.

      • mausium

        “The most likely model for us is a soft-authoritarian country where there are theoretically competitive elections ”

        We’re already beyond this point.

  • MariedeGournay

    Or they’re simply saying this because they know it will drive liberals nuts.

  • JDM

    That 45% is/are the stupidest people on earth.

    Of course we should be changing whatever of our positions we need to to get them onboard with us.

    • NewishLawyer

      Something something Winston Churchill average voter something something.

    • sigaba

      The whole point is we don’t HAVE to change our position, they’ll happily ignore our stated positions if we give them a good reason! :)

    • RovingYouthPastor

      Aren’t the 45% the ones who do believe? You’re giving them too much credit. It’s 55%.

    • Drew

      If we just throw a chunk of our own coalition under the bus and agree with them that people of color are subhuman, we’ll never lose another election!


      • N__B

        We could do it just in certain areas. Maybe below the Mason-Dixon line…we could cede the Southland to them to appease them.

  • Kevin

    OT: TPM reported that McConnel was telling moderates the the cuts to Medicaid would never happen. Now, after seeing this report, Ron Johnson said he is pulling his support from the bill (he confirmed with the moderates).

    Also OT, CNN just did another “While he’s unpopular, his base still supports him, let’s talk to these dumbfucks” segments. I wonder why they never talk to the other 56% who don’t support him?

    • sigaba

      I wonder why they never talk to the other 56% who don’t support him?

      Dog bites man = Voter hates Trump.

      • Kevin

        Dog Bites Man = Trump Voters still love Trump, to be fair. It’s not even a story anymore.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      We all must bow down to the RealMurkins, for their Murkinness is so much more Murkin than us American-hating latte-sippers etc etc x 300.

    • busker type

      I forget who coined the term “Heritage Uncertainty Principle” which refers to the fact that the closer you get to a republican healthcare plan the more fuzzy the details become. It was in effect when GOP house members claimed that the bill they were passing was not the real plan, which would come from the senate, and it is in effect now, with McConnell disavowing the plan he is trying to get passed by claiming that it will be changed later, before it takes effect.

    • John F

      “I wonder why they never talk to the other 56% who don’t support him?”

      The dumbfucks who still support him are fascinating to the CNN folks who interview them in the same way uncontacted New Guinea tribesmen were fascinating to anthropologists 50+ years ago, “hey look ritualized warfare, they shoot arrows at eachother until someone is killed, and one side declares victory… then they all eat the dead guy and his family!” Fascinating!

  • BiloSagdiyev


    Yes, that was my analogy. And it hardly needs stating that I predicted “everybody repair your own car!” day would have… disastrous results.

    • Hogan

      Kudos. That was good stuff.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Thanks. And it’s not to say there aren’t frightening things being done by shadetree mechanics out there, or hackish and crude things done by “professionals” out there, too… and come to think of it, a lot of the people fixing the vehicles in this country are… Trumpite! They’ve devoted a lifetime, often since childhood, developing this expertise.. but informed citizen skills? Meh.

        (And on another tangent to other threads, maybe if I hadn’t been reading car magazines and military history I wouldn’t have flunked out of law school.)

  • LeeEsq

    45% believing that Don Jr. met with the Russians is a lot higher than I expected from Trump voters. Good for them.

    • RovingYouthPastor

      I bet at least 75% of them had difficulty parsing that the question wasn’t about Don Sr. directly.

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