President Obama Archives - Page 7 of 33 - Florida Politics

Mitch Perry Report for 5.18.16 — D.C. Republicans at odds with each other on Zika funding

The U.S. Senate advanced a $1.1 billion bill to help public officials battle the Zika virus Tuesday as it begins to threaten America.

That’s $800 million less than the $1.9 billion that President Obama has been calling for since February, but it is more than the $622 million that the GOP-led House passed on Monday. Much of it would come from money that was approved to fight the Ebola virus and that health officials say is still needed for that purpose.

That angered Florida House Democrats like Gwen Graham, Kathy Castor and Patrick Murphy.

“If this Republican-led Congress continues to ignore this public health threat, I’m very afraid and many across the business community are afraid for the disaster this could mean for our economy, jobs and Florida’s tourism-based economy,” Castor said Tuesday.

“There have already been more than 100 Zika cases reported in Florida, and as summer approaches, the situation will likely worsen,” said Graham. “Floridians can’t wait any longer — lives are at risk. It’s time for Republicans to quit stalling and end their political games. We must fully fund research, prevention and response efforts to fight this deadly virus.”

Marco Rubio is also calling on his colleagues in the House that they need to cough up more money, alienating him with some conservatives.

C.D.C. director Thomas Frieden tells The New York Times why he needs the higher figure to try to stem the virus.

“We’re scraping together dollars to try to move as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’re borrowing money from other programs. We’re writing short-term contracts. We can’t make long-term contracts with families to follow their kids. We can’t do long-term studies on how to stop the mosquito. We want to put together a whole package on how to kill inside, outside, how to kill larvae, how to do what works best. And it’s not possible under the House version.”

In other news …

There’s serious bad blood between Bernie Sanders and the rest of the world inside the Democratic Party. 

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to Tampa Tuesday to talk driverless cars. The region has received a grant to have the Selmon Expressway be a “test bed” for such vehicles.

GOP senate candidate Todd Wilcox sounds off in an interview conducted during last weekend’s Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting in Tampa.

New College political science professor and TV pundit Frank Alcock is now a candidate for the state Senate in the Sarasota area.

Alex Sink has endorsed Pinellas newcomer Jennifer Webb in the HD 69 race in Pinellas County.

Every major senate candidate has criticized Carlos Beruff for referring to President Obama last week as an “animal.” Well, almost every candidate.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.17.16 – Elizabeth Warren for VP momentum grows

Democrats in Kentucky and Oregon go to the polls tonight, and all indications are Bernie Sanders will win at least one those two contests. Not that it will make much of a dent in Hillary Clinton‘s delegate lead. The way the party apportions delegates, he’s simply not going to be able to catch up by next month in pledged delegates to overcome her lead.

Tensions continue to grow within the two camps, especially with Sanders supporters after the chaos that ensued in Nevada last weekend.

Since the whole world assumes Clinton will the Democratic nominee, let’s play along for a second and observe the all of a sudden surge in momentum for Clinton to ultimately name Elizabeth Warren to be her running mate.

The idea was first fleshed out in the Boston Globe last month. I initially dismissed the idea, if for no other reason, the fact that Massachusetts has a Republican governor who would replace Warren with a Republican. With the U.S. Senate at stake this November, surely the Dems wouldn’t want to hurt themselves there.

However, as the Globe’s Annie Linskey reports, that would pose only a short-term problem because Massachusetts law stipulates that a special election must be called between 145 and 160 days after a vacancy occurs — so Massachusetts Democrats would have another crack at the seat relatively soon.

Although putting another white woman on the ticket could be considered counterproductive, Slate’s Michelle Goldberg writes that Clinton isn’t going to persuade white men anyway to support her, so she should double down with Warren, who of course, can help her with the Bernie Bros and his intense contingent of supporters who do NOT trust Clinton.

“She will do it by turning out the Obama coalition, probably adding more married white women to it,” Goldberg writes. “Warren can help her do that. She’s shown that she’s eager to, leaping into the Twitter fray against Trump. If a vice presidential candidate’s job is to attack, Warren is ready. Watching her go after the short-fingered orange chauvinist from now until November will be a pleasure.”

Interesting to note, by the way, how the seemingly can’t miss top VP prospect, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, is reportedly going to announce changes to a controversial HUD program to sell bad mortgages on its books. “Castro’s actions could potentially defuse an issue that activists have been using to question his progressive credentials — and he’ll be doing it at the moment the running mate search has begun to get serious at Clinton campaign headquarters,” wrote POLITICO on Monday.

My sleeper pick is actually Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. But enough about that. The time to speculate about a vice-presidential nominee is when Clinton actually has the nomination, which she doesn’t have yet, so why rush the conversation?

In other news …

As we said we would do on Monday, this reporter contacted every Senate candidate who hadn’t weighed in on Carlos Beruff’s remarks last week when he called President Obama “an animal.” All but one responded.

In an interview with WFLA-NewsChannel 8 on Sunday, David Jolly ripped into Beruff’s business background.

Jolly shared the dais with Minnesota Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan to speak about Jolly’s Stop Act at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday.

Tampa attorney Sean Shaw picked up another endorsement in his race to win the House District 61 seat.


Three more of Carlos Beruff’s U.S. Senate opponents speak out on his “animal” remark

Three more opponents of Florida GOP Senate hopeful Carlos Beruff are criticizing him after it was reported Sunday that he referred to President Obama as “an animal” while speaking in front of a group of St. John’s County Republicans last week.

“Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president, because he’s an animal, OK — seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretary of defenses,” Beruff said last week when discussing the president. “And they’ve all written books about it.”

“Sooner or later, you’re going to find, this was a plan, he wants us to be just another country. I don’t want to be another country. I want to be the United States of America, the greatest country in the world,” he added.

David Jolly issued a statement on Sunday night calling on Beruff to apologize. On Monday, Todd Wilcox and Ron DeSantis weighed in as well.

“This president has failed us and undermined the intent of our founders for the last seven and a half years. We can win the debate of ideas without sounding like schoolchildren,” said Wilcox. “Name calling the president of the United States for shock value isn’t going to keep us safe from terrorist threats or tackle our skyrocketing debt.”

“It’s clear that Carlos Beruff will say just about anything to try and distract from his record of supporting liberals like Charlie Crist,” added DeSantis’ spokesman Brad Herold.

On Sunday, Jolly said that “Like many Americans, I believe with the strongest conviction that the president’s policies the last seven years have weakened our leadership on the world stage and have weakened us economically here at home, but referring to the president of the United States as an ‘animal’ is an alarming insult of questionable intent and has no place in American politics. Carlos should immediately apologize.”

Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline says that “Carlos was making the point that President Obama has destroyed our country’s strength abroad.”

The rest of Hartline’s remarks were directed towards Democratic hopeful Patrick Murphy, who said that “Mr. Beruff’s statement is not only offensive but extremely disrespectful to President Obama’s incredible service to our nation. I’m proud to stand by President Obama and his commitment to fighting for Florida families, and I call on Mr. Beruff to immediately apologize for his disrespectful comments. In the U.S. Senate, our diverse state deserves better than Mr. Beruff’s clear record of bigotry.”

Murphy’s response was quoted in the same Huffington Post story that first reported on Beruff’s remarks. It generated more response from Beruff’s spokesman Hartline, who said that when liberals like him cannot defend their views “they resort to name-calling and the politics of racial division. ”

He went on to say that “Congressman Murphy and the rest of the career politicians in Washington should apologize for aiding President Obama in making America weaker.”

“Carlos Beruff’s racist code words are not hard to crack,” said Orlando area Democratic representative and senate candidate Alan Grayson. “Whether he’s referring to President Obama, ‘secure’ borders or Muslim bans, Beruff employs the same hate-filled politics that Donald Trump used to destroy the Republican Party nationally. It’s not only morally repugnant, it’s political suicide in a state as diverse as Florida.”

Meanwhile, at an event in Orange County on Monday, Marco Rubio punted when asked if he had any comments regarding Beruff’s comments, saying, “I didn’t hear that comment. I haven’t read about that. So I don’t want to comment about something I haven’t heard about.”

The only candidate not to return a request for comment regarding Beruff’s comments has been Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

In local TV interview, David Jolly blasts Carlos Beruff’s business background

Slowly but surely, the GOP Senate candidates are taking more shots at each other in advance of the Aug. 30 primary.

Carlos Beruff has yet to respond directly to David Jolly’s criticism that he should apologize for referring to President Obama as “an animal” in a speech last week before St. John’s County Republicans. Earlier on Sunday, however, Jolly took a major shot at Beruff’s past in a TV interview.

The context was Jolly responding to criticism of his congressional proposal in the House to ban federal officeholders from fundraising, something all four of Jolly’s opponents have said in reaction to his proposed Stop Act. But when WFLA News Channel 8’s Candace McGowan referred to Beruff’s criticism of the Stop Act in a Sunday morning interview, Jolly went nuclear.

“Cynicism is not leadership,” the Pinellas County congressman began. “Particularly coming from one of the most prolific donors in the state, someone who sought to destroy our coastlines, our mangroves, simply for the sake of his personal profit. Who built homes with Chinese drywall, chose not to compensate his victims. That is not someone who I’m going to suffer questions of integrity.”

Jolly went on to say that his legislation — which has earned him oodles of free media, including a scheduled appearance Monday at the National Press Club in Washington — has started a “national movement.”

“When you’re in politics, you say silly things, and I think that’s what we probably saw from him,” Jolly said in reference to Beruff’s criticism of the legislation.

Let’s take a look at Jolly’s charges.

Public records show Beruff and his wife, Janelle, have donated more than $600,000 to state and federal political campaigns since 2002.

Beruff’s role as a developer was controversial long before he entered the race earlier this year. Along with other development partners, Beruff sued Manatee County after the county commission rejected what was known as the Long Bar Pointe project, a 500-acre development environmentalists say could cause irreparable damage to the shoreline.

Manatee County commissioners settled a lawsuit with Beruff and the other partners regarding that project last month.

Beruff was a member of the Southwest Florida Management District when that board voted to allow his friend and fellow developer Pat Neal a permit to tear down mangroves and build a family compound in what is known as Harbour Sound.

Jolly also got in a reference to Beruff’s Medallion Homes company back in 2010, when it was discovered that at least a half-dozen homes built by the company used contaminated Chinese drywall.

At the time, Medallion’s attorney, Alan Tannenbaum said the reason Medallion was not repairing the affected home was that they did not have the money to do so. The company was part of a class action lawsuit resolved in 2012 that ordered the supplier of the drywall and companies that used it to remediate the damage the drywall caused.

“Jolly has perfected his craft as a professional Washington politician as a lobbyist, a congressional staffer, and a congressman, so it’s no surprise to see him slinging mud,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the Beruff campaign.



Ron DeSantis slams White House over the “marketing” of Iran nuclear deal

Ron DeSantis says that while he always opposed the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran last year, he thought at worst they were simply naive about the Iranian regime.

But after comments made last week by a top White House adviser on the marketing of the proposal, “it was all a fraud,” he said.

“Basically this deal was initiated with Iran’s hardliners, negotiated with Iran’s hardliners, and is empowering Iran’s hardliners,” the Ponte Vedra Beach GOP Congressman and 2016 Senate candidate said early Friday evening while addressing members of the Republican Party of Florida at their spring quarterly meeting in Tampa.”What this deal has done is a boon to the Ayatollah, it’s been a boon to the Iranian regime, and they are emerging as the dominant power for the Middle East. That is not going to be good long term for America’s security,” he said.

Congressional Republicans like DeSantis are enraged by comments made in last week’s New York Times Magazine by Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications for U.S. In the piece, Rhodes is quoted as boasting about creating an “echo chamber” of experts and journalists supportive of the deal.

The story depicts Rhodes as leading an effort to create a false narrative about the nuclear deal — that it would empower Iran’s moderates at the expense of Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei and other hardliners.

The deal sets limits on Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon, while freeing the Middle Eastern nation of international sanctions.

“I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” Rhodes said in the piece. “But that’s impossible.”

DeSantis says that the warning lights should have been flickering when Rhodes called the Iran nuclear deal the “Obamacare of the second term.”

Noting how several promises made by Obama regarding the Affordable Care Act crumbled when enacted, DeSantis said the same thing was happening with the Iran deal.

“The myth of the moderate and the opening and the ability to change the world for the better. They knew that wasn’t the case, they knew exactly who they were going to be empowering,” he said.

Members of the House Oversight Committee want Rhodes to testify early next week to elaborate on his comments in the Times. So far, he reportedly has resisted the request.

DeSantis also blasted Hillary Clinton regarding her email issues while serving as secretary of state. He says that as somebody who dealt with classified material while serving in Iraq for the Navy as a JAG officer, he would be in serious trouble if he did what Clinton is accused of doing.

Having said that, he told the group of Republicans they shouldn’t  “hold your breath” regarding the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails.

Referring to how President Obama recently said that while the White House doesn’t get involved in such cases, he’s sure that Clinton didn’t betray national security, DeSantis says it’s obvious what will happen.

“That’s sending a signal to (Attorney General) Loretta Lynch to say, “hey, no go on this, go ahead and pass on the prosecution.”

49% of Floridians disapprove of Marco Rubio’s Senate performance

Marco Rubio appears to be in free fall in Florida when it comes to how the voters feel about him, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday.

Less than two months after registered Republicans repudiated his presidential candidacy in the state’s presidential primary, 49 percent of all Floridians disapprove of his performance in the Senate, with just 42 percent supporting him. Among independents, 56 percent disapprove of his performance.

Rubio is in the twilight of his first term in the Senate, having declared a year ago when he ran for president that he would not run for re-election to the seat he won spectacularly in 2010. He’s maintained that stance, despite overtures after his presidential dreams crumbled when Donald Trump crushed him by 19 percentage points in March.

Rubio’s Senate colleague, Democrat Bill Nelson, has a 47 percent approval rating, with 26 percent disapproving, and 28 percent not answering.

Meanwhile, although Gov. Rick Scott was able to garner enough votes to beat Alex Sink in 2010 and Charlie Crist in 2014, he consistently has been underwater in public opinion polls since being elected, and the Q poll released Wednesday is no exception, with 49 percent disapproving of the job the Florida governor is currently doing, and 40 percent supporting him. Sixty-five percent of Republicans support Scott, while 73 percent of Democrats oppose him. Independents come down similar to the entire poll, with 51 percent disapproving, and 39 percent supporting him.

President Barack Obama is underwater as well, with 48 percent supporting him and 50 percent disapproving of his performance. Like Scott, Obama has often been underwater in Quinnipiac polls over the years, despite the fact that he won the Sunshine State twice when he was up for election.

However, Floridians back the president in his attempt to get his Supreme Court Justice nominee, Merrick Garland, an up-or-down vote from the U.S. Senate. By a 51 percent to 33 percent margin, Floridians support Garland’s nomination to the high court, and by a 54 percent to 40 percent margin, Floridians say the Senate should consider his nomination now, and not wait until the next president is elected in November, which is the current attitude of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Quinnipiac survey was conducted from April 27-May 8, 2016 throughout Florida. Responses are reported for 1,051 self-identified registered voters with a margin of sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.10.16 -Rick Scott needs to address House GOP when it comes to unlocking Zika funds

Rick Scott takes his act to Washington on Wednesday, where the Florida governor hopes to rally members of Congress to approve President Obama‘s request for $1.9 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus.

So what is the hold-up? The virus seems only to be getting greater penetration into the U.S.  On Monday, the Florida Department of Health announced two new travel-related cases of Zika in Florida. The new cases — found in Orange and Pinellas counties — bring the total number of cases in Florida to 107. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 470 cases in the continental U.S., all associated with travel to Zika-affected areas.

According to the Associated Press, Republicans from states at greatest risk, such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, have been reluctant to endorse Obama’s request for $1.9 billion to battle the virus. “GOP lawmakers said they haven’t heard from many constituents, though they said that could change.”

Not every Florida Republican feels that way.

“There’s a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington — and this is the latest example,” Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan said last week. “Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat.”

Among the reasons Republicans are balking is that the request for the $1.9 billion is “supplemental” funding — that is, an emergency request that goes outside of the regular process for appropriation bills, and generally not subject to budget caps. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last month the administration could use some of the leftover money in existing accounts to combat Ebola to address immediate needs with Zika, saying, “there is enough money there, especially to deal with this year.”

The White House has already moved to redirect $589 million in existing funds to Zika, most of it from Ebola response programs. Funds were also taken from other emergency preparedness programs, which has state and local jurisdictions warning that they may be unable to address other non-Zika threats. But their request for $1.9 billion has gone nowhere in both the House and the Senate.

In other news …

Meet Joseph “JB” Benshimen, a new resident of Pinellas County, who is running as a Republican for the HD 68 seat.

Gene Siudut becomes the second candidate to file officially for the special District 7 Tampa City Council election later this year.

Kathleen Peters reported her fundraising total for April for her HD 69 reelection bid.

The Florida SEIU has endorsed Patrick Murphy in the U.S. Senate race.

And a host of advocacy groups, led by Equality Florida, is calling on the Marion County School Board to repeal its controversial bathroom bill regarding transgendered people.

On World Asthma Day, a new digital ad goes after Pam Bondi and other AGs opposing clean power plan

Tuesday is World Asthma Day, a day to raise awareness about the impact of asthma on the daily lives people, including over 23 million in the U.S. who suffer from the ailment.

Seizing on the moment to make a political statement marking the occasion is the group, who released a digital ad directed toward Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and the 25 other Republican attorneys general challenging The Clean Power Plan, an EPA rule which limits carbon emissions from power plants.

The ad, called “Harder to Breathe,” features a soundtrack of children coughing through the entirety of its 28-second duration.

“The Republican AG’s challenge to the Clean Power Plan is really about exonerating the dirty energy giants from their leading role in polluting our air and the related illnesses it causes the public,” says spokesman Blake Williams. “The only question is: if these AGs who are supposed to be public servants are instead fighting to protect the bottom line of the polluters who fill their campaign coffers, who’s left looking out for the best interests and public health of the most vulnerable communities in their states?”

Americans United for Change charge that the Republican attorneys general who oppose the EPA’s plan “are bought and paid for by big polluters,” saying they have taken in more than $2.4 million in contributions from electric utilities, coal mining and the oil and gas industries.

A New York Times investigation published in December 2014 found that Republican attorneys general formed an alliance with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda.

In joining the lawsuit last October, Bondi said the plan would “result in dramatically higher electricity bills and significantly less reliable services for families, businesses, hospitals and schools across the country.”

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt the Clean Power Plan until at least the final months of President Obama’s presidency.

Watch the video below:


Mitch Perry Report for 5.3.16 – Only six more months of hearing about Hillary vs.The Donald – every day

Well today’s the Indiana primary, and aren’t you all excited about that?

I didn’t think so. A CNN/ORC poll released yesterday shows more than eight of 10 Americans believe Hillary Clinton will challenge Donald Trump for president in November. That was taken before Indiana votes today … or Nebraska next week … or California and New Jersey next month.

But it’s still more fun to talk about a contested convention than start talking every day about a Hillary vs. Donald confrontation, since that’s still a full half-year away!

OK, enough of this: Will this be it for Ted Cruz tonight? It’s been over for quite awhile for the Texas Senator. But you wouldn’t believe that if you tune into cable news — and why would you, since it’s all about ginning up interest (The Sanders/Clinton race tonight could be close, we should add).

Seriously, I’m sure everyone reading this watches their fair share of CNN, Fox and/or MSNBC. I’m telling you I’m trying to walk away from the flat-screen though, because there’s nothing really that new to learn.

I felt a little wistful watching John Heilemann try to keep the excitement up on his Bloomberg show, “With All Due Respect.” Heilemann was a great writer/reporter for New York magazine for years. Now he makes $1 million acting like every other pundit on cable. Good for him. Bad for us.

However this race, thanks to Donald J., has been great for everyone’s ratings (and clicks).

Since the start of the year, CNN’s prime-time audience has more than doubled to 435,000 viewers a night in its target demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, according to Nielsen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the fourth quarter last year, CNN’s average price for a 30-second prime-time spot was about $7,000, up from about $5,000 a year earlier. Fox News and MSNBC also have raised prices.

Thank God Trump survived, and Cruz didn’t, those network honchos are believing. Also a lot of political reporters.

But if it ain’t new, is it really news?

And before we go to the other news of yesterday, a quick shoutout to my sister Michele out in Richmond, California.  Happy Birthday!

In other news …

David Jolly, a former lobbyist, said on Sunday that he doesn’t believe ex-members of Congress should go back into the lobbying game, prompting a response from one of his GOP senate opponents, Todd Wilcox.

Although the business establishment supports the Tampa Bay Express toll lanes project, they’ve kept that support relatively close to the vest in recent months. Not anymore, as they announced the creation of a coalition with a website backing the $3.3 billion proposal. Meanwhile, TBX opponents howled upon learning the news.

Tampa attorney Bob Buesing becomes the first (and only, presumably) Democrat to enter the Senate District 18 seat in Hillsborough County — where he’ll likely face Dana Young in the fall.

Defying his leadership, Sarasota area Congressman Vern Buchanan says he doesn’t care — and is calling for the Congress to fully fund President Obama’s $1.9 billion request to combat the Zika virus.

And while Hillsborough County Commissioners dream up new ideas on where to come up with funding transportation that won’t include a sales tax, County Administrator Mike Merrill just shakes his head.

Defying GOP leadership, Vern Buchanan calls for full funding to eradicate Zika virus

Unlike some of his GOP colleagues, Sarasota-area Congressman Vern Buchanan is calling on the House of Representatives to support an additional $1.9 billion in funding requested by the Obama administration in February to contain and eradicate the virus.

“Zika’s shadow is spreading too quickly in Florida, which has one-quarter of all the Zika cases in the United States,” Buchanan said. “The rest of the country should keep in mind that summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. Congress needs to act quickly.”

Buchanan said he is basing his decision on recent developments, including the first fatality on U.S. soil and new research revealing that Zika eats away at the fetal brain and destroys the ability to think. Researchers also say they have learned that up to 29 percent (not 1 percent as originally believed) of pregnant women infected with Zika showed fetal abnormalities. New evidence also shows that the disease can be sexually transmitted in addition to being carried by mosquitos.

The White House has already moved to redirect $589 million in existing funds to Zika, most of it from Ebola response programs. Funds were also taken from other emergency preparedness programs, which has state and local jurisdictions warning that they may be unable to address other non-Zika threats. But their request for $1.9 billion has gone nowhere in both the House and the Senate.

Two weeks ago there appeared to be a deal among Senate appropriators in which a smaller sum, about $1 billion, would be provided in emergency Zika funding as an amendment to one of the 2017 spending bills. But the Washington Post reports that plan collapsed, partly due to an unrelated issue regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

Among the reasons Republicans are balking is that the request for the $1.9 billion is “supplemental” funding — that is, an emergency request that goes outside of the regular process for appropriation bills, and generally not subject to budget caps. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last week the administration could use some of the leftover money in existing accounts to combat Ebola to address immediate needs with Zika, saying, “there is enough money there, especially to deal with this year.”

That argument isn’t resonating with Buchanan.

“There’s a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington — and this is the latest example,” he says. “Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat.”


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