Posts Tagged ‘Fast Track’

On Feb 4, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman  joined other trade ministers from throughout the Pacific Rim in signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in New Zealand. Signing is not the same as ratifying. What the signing means is that the negotiations are concluded; the text is done; and that the TPP can now be submitted for a Fast Tracked vote in Congress at almost any time. Because of Fast Track legislation pushed President Obama, Wall Street Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, Wall Street Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, and almost all the Republican Party except a few, such as US Senator Jeff Sessions.

The TPP is the largest international income redistribution treaty ever concocted. It will ship millions of US jobs to China and Vietnam, circumvent US law and the US Constitution, and raise prices for US citizens and citizens throughout the area of the Pacific on such things as medicines. The difference between the old higher US wages and the new lower wages, and the difference between the old lower prices and the new higher prices, will go straight into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate profits, rising share prices, and soaring dividends. The TPP will also drive millions of immigrants from Latin America to the USA illegally because their jobs will be shipped to Vietnam and China too, and they won’t have anyplace else to go.

Currently, the 1 percent steal about 37 percent of all the income produced yearly in the USA, up from 8 percent in 1980. Wyden, Obama, Clinton and almost the entire Republican Party intend to redistribute even more to the 1 percent with the TPP. And here we are facing the unfolding storm of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. I’ve been watching it unfold since last summer. It’s picking up steam, and officially should hit somewhere between September 2016 and June 2017. The entire US manufacturing sector has been in recession, for example, since November 2015.

It’s critical that Congress is hearing strong constituent opposition to the TPP right now. Please write your Members of Congress and urge them to come out publicly against the TPP.

For the better part of a decade, we have told our representatives we want a “Fair Deal or No Deal” on Trans-Pacific trade. Now that the text is finalized and changes are all-but-impossible, it’s clear that — while a handful of well-connected corporations got a more-than-fair deal for themselves — for everyone else, the TPP would be a disaster for the economy, the environment and public health.

The TPP Is Bad for Jobs & Wages
As you would expect from a deal negotiated with hundreds of corporate advisors, while the public and the press were shut out, if enacted, the TPP would offshore good-paying American jobs, lower wages and increase inequality by forcing Americans into competition with highly-exploited workers abroad paid less than 65 cents an hour.

The TPP’s much-touted new labor standards are so abysmally weak that countries could literally set their minimum wage at $1/day and their maximum hours of work at 24/day and still be in compliance. The pact simply does not do enough to protect jobs at home or human rights abroad. Instead, it would only accelerate the global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions.

On top of that, the TPP is so poorly negotiated that it contains a massive backdoor for products that are assembled mostly from parts made in third-party countries such as China, with no TPP obligations whatsoever, to enter the US duty free.

The TPP will also force China to manipulate its currency by at least 15 percent. This increases the profits of US corporations manufacturing products in China, and exporting them to the USA. This will compel many US companies to export jobs to China since the currency manipulation will increase the profits of these companies from 36 to 140 percent.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a massive new job-killing, wage-suppressing trade deal.

The TPP Is Bad for Food Safety
The TPP would flood the United States with unsafe foods. Going beyond previous trade deals, the TPP includes first-of-its-kind language allowing corporations to challenge both U.S. food inspection protocols and individual food inspection decisions.

Consumer advocates have warned the TPP could have a major chilling effect on efforts to keep out unsafe foods that don’t meet the same standards that U.S. farmers, ranchers and other producers are required to meet.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that jeopardizes the safety of the food we feed our families.

The TPP Is Bad for the Environment
The TPP would actually roll back environmental enforcement provisions found in all U.S. trade agreements since the George W. Bush administration, requiring enforcement of only one out of the seven environmental treaties covered by Bush-era trade agreements.

Beyond just failing to mention the term “climate change” in its thousands of pages, the TPP would also provide corporations with new tools for attacking environmental and consumer protections, while simultaneously increasing the export of climate-disrupting fossil fuels.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink and the future we leave for our children and grandchildren.

The TPP Is Bad for Access to Medicine
Many of the TPP’s intellectual property provisions would effectively delay the introduction of low-cost generic medications, increasing health care prices and reducing access to medicine both at home and abroad.

The TPP contains requirements that TPP nations allow additional 20-year patents for new uses of drugs already under patent, among other rules that would promote the “evergreening” of patent monopolies. Other TPP provisions may enable pharmaceutical companies to challenge Medicare drug listing decisions, Medicaid reimbursements and constrain future U.S. policy reforms to reduce healthcare costs.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that limits access to life-saving generic medications.

The TPP Is Bad for Human Rights
The TPP includes several notorious violators of international human rights, such as Brunei, where LGBT individuals and single mothers can be stoned to death under Sharia law and Malaysia where huge numbers of ethnic minorities are trafficked through the jungle in modern slavery.

Tell Congress we can’t afford to ignore the actions of notorious human rights abusers.

Too many Congress members have hemmed and hawed about the TPP, refusing to state their position. Now that the text has been public for months, and that the agreement has actually been signed, the time for fence-sitting is over. Please contact your Members of Congress now and urge them to oppose the TPP.

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From Arthur Stamolis of Citizen’s Trade Campaign

Hi everyone:

Congratulations on yesterday’s impressive victory! In case you missed it, the House voted to block Fast Track from moving forward — a huge win for Main Street over Wall Street, and a testament to your years of strategic organizing. Thank you!

Unfortunately, the offshorers, the polluters, the lobbyists and the profiteers haven’t given up quite yet, so we’ve got more work to do — and we need to get to back to work fast.

Here’s how Friday’s win went down: the House separated the Fast Track bill passed by the Senate into two parts. First was a vote on an inadequately-funded and exclusionary Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program for displaced workers. Then was a vote on the Fast Track process itself. Both parts needed to pass for the bill to pass. You can see how Reps voted on TAA  here and how they voted on the Fast Track process here. Bottom line: when TAA was voted down, the entire Fast Track bill was sunk.

After the vote, Speaker Boehner called for a re-vote on TAA. That vote is supposed to happen within two legislative days, so it’ll either be on Monday or Tuesday (although the Speaker may be able to find ways to extend that if he wants). Voting on Monday starts at noon Eastern, so that’s the earliest the re-vote could occur.

It’s critical that we are profusely THANKING those who voted against TAA and Fast Track and urging them to do so again. We also need to keep respectfully trying with those who voted for TAA, but against Fast Track — urging them to vote against TAA next week. (No-holds-barred with those politicians who voted for both.)

Unfortunately, there is still some confusion about the proposed TAA program even among our allies, and you’d better believe the White House, Republican leadership and others are working overtime this weekend to increase that confusion.

Here’s what you need to know about TAA. Normally, we’re all for it. It’s an important lifeline that provides job retraining benefits to people whose careers are shipped abroad as a result of bad U.S. trade policy. But nobody in their right mind would ever argue that a job retraining program is a smart trade-off for rubber-stamping massive trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will offshore jobs, drive down wages and more. That’s what a vote for TAA next week is. It’s a vote for Fast Tracking the TPP. The current TAA proposal is a cynical ploy that needs to be stopped.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the TAA program being offered isn’t even a strong one. It excludes public sector workers whose jobs are offshored and it is significantly under-funded. The $700 million in Medicare cuts made to pay for it may be partially addressed, assuming the Senate goes along, but even if that is fixed, another $250 million in cuts to a Medicare kidney dialysis program and a whole lot of political liability are still in there.

The good news is that Republican leadership and the White House face a heavy lift to win on TAA next week, as we destroyed the measure in a 126 – 302 vote on Friday. That said, the President wants this BAD. Speaker Boehner wants this BAD. We need to keep pushing so that we win that vote, and that we win whatever sorry plan Team TPP comes up with next to try to squeeze Fast Track through this month.

They know the clock is ticking on the TPP, and they’re going to keep trying — at least for a while. We are winning. Here’s what we need to keep it going:

* If you represent an organization, please make sure to call any Reps who voted against Fast Track and the TAA this weekend and early on Monday to thank them and urge them to do so again.

* If you haven’t yet, please send a personal email now thanking or spanking your representative for their votes on Friday.

* Take a moment to look up your your Reps Twitter and Facebook accounts, and spend a couple moments on social media today urging them to vote against Fast Track and the cynical TAA ploy next week.

Be ready for any rapid-response action requests that come early next week. Again, we could see new voting as soon as Monday.

Together, we’re going to keeping riding this wave of success. Thank you again for everything you’ve done to get us this far.

In solidarity,

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director

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The time to stop Fast Track is now or never.

This terrible trade-negotiation policy recently passed in the Senate. Now that members of Congress are back from vacation, they’re expected to bring Fast Track to a vote any day now. Some of our lawmakers already have committed to stand with their wealthy campaign donors and support Fast Track. But many of our elected officials still can be moved—especially if we remind them that we vote.

Call and ask your representative to oppose Fast Track right now.

This week, people across the country are making calls to their lawmakers to let them know that working folks absolutely cannot afford another bad trade deal.

We need to let them know we’ve got the facts and we don’t support Fast Track. In the past, deals that were passed using the Fast Track process deepened our trade deficit, weakened our manufacturing sector, lowered wages and gave the 1% more control over our economy. More of these bad policies will shrink our paychecks and stifle middle-class growth.

Not only does Fast Track encourage the passage of bad trade deals, but it will tie the hands of Congress, preventing lawmakers from improving bad deals or telling negotiators the deal won’t get a vote unless they go back to the drawing board. We deserve better than a policy that limits Congress to a simple up-or-down vote on trade deals that will affect working families everywhere.

I believe we can win this, but we have to act now.

Contact your representative now and tell her or him to stand up for workers and democracy by opposing Fast Track.

To call your Member of Congress:
US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121

To locate your Member on-line:
U.S. House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov
U.S. Senate: http://www.senate.gov

In Solidarity,


Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

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“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), on Friday May 15  declared his presidential campaign that began in late April is running to win, and he says the United States will need a “political revolution” to do it. After the Democrats caved on fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Bernie’s political revolution may actually happen, but only if he abandons the Democratic Party and continues his campaign as an Independent.

Last week, Senate Democrats caved in an unprecedented 24-hour period on fast-tracking the maligned Trans-Pacific Partnership – the largest global Income and Political Power Redistribution of all time, falsely marketed as a free trade deal. Tuesday, Democrats in the Senate appeared to have thwarted President Obama’s pressure to ram through the top secret classified treaty that corporate attorneys have spent the last several years writing behind closed doors.

Bernie Sanders opposes this scam.

Check out the rest of the story at:

Bernie Sanders’s “Political Revolution” Can Only Come About if He Abandons the Democrats.

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According to the Sierra Club, if the Trans Pacific Partnership become public policy, it will role back the Bush negotiated environmental regulations of the Colombia and South Korea Income Redistribution From the 99 to the 1 Percent Agreements, falsely marketed as free trade agreements. The TPP will, according to the Sierra Club, leave President Obama with a worse overall environmental record than President George W. Bush. wall Street Congressman Blumenauer is once again standing with his Wall Street buddies in destroying the environment for profits that benefit only the 1 percent, and the 99 percent will bare all of the expense in this income and environmental redistribution agreement.

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If Wall Street President Obama, and Wall Street Senators Ron Wyden and Mitch McConnell really wanted to protect US workers, and ensure that United States participation in international trade results in rising tides lifting everybody, how about including a minimum wage of say $7.50 an hour within the treaty. That sure beats Vietnam’s .28 cents per hour minimum wage. And it would do what international trade is supposed to do; create prosperity for most, if not all, members of the human race. Some of those Vietnamese workers might then be able to purchase products made in the United States, and some of them might be able to buy the Nike shoes and clothes they make, but are forced to export to the USA, because they currently can’t afford to buy that stuff, no matter what Nike executives, or US trade representatives, claim to the contrary.

As it stands now, however, the economics of most nations is dominated by publicly traded limited liability corporations. The purpose of management is to drive the share prices of their corporations higher, and they do this by driving their profits and dividends higher and higher, and labor rates lower and lower.

A relatively tiny group of well rewarded CEOs manage these companies; and these corporations spend tons of money every year in the political markets to ensure that political conditions are ripe for keeping the wages of the financially ordinary people down so that more and more earnings accrue to the 1 percent.

That’s precisely what the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been negotiated to do. This is an international income and political power redistribution scam falsely marketed as a trade agreement.

If passed by congress, the TPP will force US workers to compete with Vietnamese workers and their .28 cents per hour minimum wage. This will bring downward pressure on US federal and state minimum wage standards, as well as wages in general. US jobs will be shipped to Vietnam, creating an abundance of unemployed US labor, and pushing wages downward.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, perhaps millions, in the Latin American Maquiladora zones will also lose out to Vietnamese workers and their low pay via the TPP. That means those workers and their families, meaning millions of people, will be driven into the United States illegally, like Nafta drove millions into the USA. See (how-the-trans-pacific-partnership-will-destroy-american-jobs-by-destroying-us-exports–Johnhively.wordpress.com . This will bring additional downward pressure on wages in the United States, and this will occur when there is upward and constant pressure caused by corporations on prices, which is called inflation. The difference between the old higher wages and the new lower wages will go straight into the pockets of the wealthy via rising profits, surging dividends and soaring share prices.

In other words, the TPP means the rich will get wealthier by draining the rest of us financially dryer because the provisions of the TPP that we know about from leaked documents show this to be true.

If the TPP were simply about trade, rather than redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent, a simple remedy is at hand.

Negotiate a higher minimum wage in Vietnam, even to something as low as $3.50 an hour, and have enforceable rules placed into the TPP. That means the workers at the bottom will be brought up, and less pressure will be brought to bear on US and Latin American wages.

But that won’t happen because the TPP isn’t about using trade to improve the living standards of the 99 percent. It’s about redistributing income and political power from the 99 to the 1 percent. It’s about increasing income and wealth inequality. It’s about keeping corporate share prices rising in what can only be described as a financial market Ponzi scheme.

Otherwise, a minimum wage like that above would be negotiated into the treaty.

President Obama knows this. Senator Wyden knows this. Senator McConnell knows. Everybody in congress who supports the TPP in any way know this. Wall Street and the rich; that’s who they represent; not you and not me.

Now think about this; if the US federal minimum wage had kept up with productivity growth since 1969, it would be over $18 an hour nowadays. But so-called trade agreements have brought downward pressure on all wages since then. $18 minus $7.50 is $11.50 an hour the middle class isn’t getting. Instead, that money is going to the uber wealthy, and this is one of the ways the 1 percent has gone from stealing 8 percent of all income produced in the United States to 37 percent today. That means the rest of us have gone from earning 92 percent of all income to 63 percent today.

That’s why the US economy is undergoing its weakest economic expansion in history by all measurements. The demand for goods and services by the 99 percent isn’t there anymore because the rich have rigged the political and economic game and stolen too much money. And this is largely, though not completely, a function of fake trade agreements.

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Oregon middle class Congressman Peter DeFazio blasted Fast Track Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the story below the congressman expresses dismay that there is a Monsanto Protection Act inserted into Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden proposed Fast Track legislation that will override local and state labeling laws, something Wyden said in his press releases his fast track proposal will not do.

In the video, DeFazio also explains why he is opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive income and political power redistribution from the 99 to the 1 percent scam falsely labeled as a free trade agreement. In other words, the Obama administration and his Republican and Democratic allies are trying to rig and already economic and political game against the 99 percent even more than is currently the case.

DeFazio Blasts ‘Monsanto Provision’ in Fast Track Legislation

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US Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama has come out against the Wall Street wings of the Republican and Democratic Parties by opposing giving Wall Street President Barack Obama Fast Track Trade Authority, which is known simply as Fast Track. Fast track would provide little debate over trade agreements, call for an up and down vote in congress over any trade agreement, eliminates any amendments to the agreement, and eliminates any filibusters in the senate when it comes to trade agreements.

The looming Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive income and political power redistribution corporate power grab falsely being marketed as a trade agreement by such Wall Street senators as Ron Wyden, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, as well as the president.

The TPP is a knife into the heart of the middle class and the American dream.

On his website, Sessions gives five reason for his opposition to fast track.

1. Fast track consolidates power in the executive branch of government, although, while true, fast track cedes and consolidates federal political power to Wall Street investment banks, unregulated hedge funds, and other major corporations, through the president. This is why Wall Street senators Wyden, Hatch and McConnell are behind this boondoggle.

2 The TPP will increase trade deficits. Sessions seems to have a good understanding of this, although he doesn’t mention that the US trade deficit will increase because more US jobs will be shipped overseas via the TPP, and the products formerly made in the US will be exported from Vietnam to the US, and this will increase the US trade deficit.

Think about this; when was the last time you purchased something from a Chinese company? Probably never. But you have bought plenty of things “Made in China” by US companies like Nike, Apple, and Microsoft, just to name a few.

3. Ceding Sovereign Authority To International Powers.

4. Currency Manipulation. The biggest open secret in the international market is that other countries are devaluing their currencies to artificially lower the price of their exports while artificially raising the price of our exports to them.

5. Immigration Increases. There are numerous ways TPA could facilitate immigration increases above current law—and precious few ways anyone in Congress could stop its happening.

Check out Sessions website by clicking on the link below for greater explanations on why he opposes giving the president Fast Track Authority.

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Finland has the highest performing K-12 students in the world, year after year.

“Finland’s schools weren’t always so successful. In the 1960s, they were middling at best. In 1971, a government commission concluded that, poor as the nation was in natural resources, it had to modernize its economy and could only do so by first improving its schools. To that end, the government agreed to reduce class size, boost teacher pay, and require that, by 1979, all teachers complete a rigorous master’s program.

They also banned all standardized testing, as they figured out this takes too much time and too much money out of learning; and now they only give standardized exams to statistical samples of students to diagnose and assess school progress.”

For every 45 minutes of study, Finish students get 15 minutes of free time recess.

In the United States, recess has been curtailed, and in some cases, eliminated.

The average class size in Finland is 19. Teachers are highly respected, highly paid, and highly unionized. So what can the United States learn from Finland?

Absolutely nothing.

That’s because education reform in the USA has nothing to do with education. It’s all about corporate profits, campaign contributions, government corruption, and ever rising profits for the publishing industries. Public K-12 students are merely victims in the profit production process through which these aims can be achieved.

This is why the US has the most tested students in the world. The more tests they complete, the more profits for the publishing corporations, such as Pearson Limited and McGraw-Hill.

This is why educational test standards are always raised in the United States. The higher the standards, the more students fail to pass. Then they must retake another profitable test over and over again until they move up a grade or pass it. The more students fail these tests, the more profitable they are for the testing industry.

Tests are changed every few years because it’s more profitable than retaining them. When school districts change tests, each district must purchase new testing materials from the publishers. In the United States, students are part of the production process for producing profits, and keeping share prices of the publishing giants rising constantly, quarter after quarter.

So don’t expect any real educational reform in the US anytime soon since real educational reform by definition means lower profits for the publishing corporations, which means less money with which to corrupt government. So don’t expect anything to change in education in the US anytime soon. The corruption of government at all levels is far too massive.

Just look at Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden who betrayed the voters of Oregon on behalf of Monsanto and Wall Street when he co-sponsored Fast Track legislation in the senate for the massive income redistribution scam called the Trans Pacific Partnership which Wyden falsely markets as a trade agreement. Wyden once wrote a constituent who wrote to him to complain about the Common “Very Profitable” Core Standards. Wyden wrote back, “Please rest assured that I will continue to do all I can on the federal level to ensure Oregon students receive the highest quality education….” Wyden’s letter shows he supports the Common Very Profitable Standards, which demonstrates how corrupt he is in all areas in which income is redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent. See Wyden’s letter at, http://oregonsaveourschools.blogspot.com/2014/06/sen-ron-wyden-doesnt-get-it-on-common.html .

Wyden’s idea of students receiving “the highest quality education” is to increase the profits of the publishing corporations, which is another way of enriching the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent. In other words, less recess, more tests, and higher standards, which is another way of saying the senator wants all students to be on a college track, even if they had no desire to be on such a track.

Income redistribution from the 99 to the 1 percent; that’s precisely what Wyden does as much as anybody ever has in the US senate. That’s why he supports standardized testing of public school students, as well as Fast Track and the Trans Pacific Partnership. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/06/how-finland-keeps-kids-focused/373544/

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By Kelly Conklin

Thirty-seven years ago, my wife and I founded Foley Waite, an architectural woodworking company based in Kenilworth, New Jersey. My high school woodshop teacher, Mr. Thomas, instilled in me the pride of making things with my hands, and I’m incredibly lucky to have turned that passion into a successful small business.

We started with just the two of us working in a tiny shop, and now we have thirteen employees who are also highly skilled in our trade, allowing us to provide a very high level of quality and detail in each custom project we install across the tri-state area.
But like many others, our small business struggled through the Great Recession. And although we’ve slowly rebuilt, and we’ve been able to restore wages to their pre-recession levels, we are watching very nervously as Congress considers again making it harder for American small businesses to compete.

Even with the economy as fragile as it is, apparently some Congressmen and President Obama think it’s a good idea to “fast track” another bad trade agreement, this time with many low-wage countries in Asia that undercut businesses like mine. As a business owner, I think it’s a bad idea to give the President a blank check to negotiate another bad deal for the American economy.

For decades, we’ve heard that so-called “free trade” agreements will lead to higher wages, new jobs and more economic development. Free trade was supposed to be the panacea that will cure our nation’s economic ills.

But small business owners like me know better. These trade agreements have been anything but free, and they’ve given the advantage to huge corporations that make cheaper, low-quality knock-offs, costing me business and holding down wages for employees in my industry.

Outsourcing American jobs overseas doesn’t make our economy stronger. Instead, unbalanced trade agreements tip the scales against workers and employers who want to do the right thing and create jobs at home.

In my case, it’s because fast-tracked agreements like NAFTA – and the newly proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – devalue the work we do. We pride ourselves on family-supporting wages and high-quality work, but overseas companies can ignore wage standards, environmental rules, and labor laws, and end up paying their workers a fraction of what my employees earn. That puts downward pressure on prices and wages, which hurts both business and workers.

What this nation needs is smarter trade deals that lift up both business and workers. Trade agreements that get other countries to live up to our standards, rather than force us to compete downward, will be how my business grows and our economy grows. I want to value the individuals who make my community strong.

For me, this isn’t about “fairness” or “leveling the playing field.” After four decades building a small business, I know life isn’t fair, and that the playing field is never level. But going down the same road of previous failed trade deals challenges common sense.

The question is crystal clear: do we need another bad trade deal? The answer is a resounding, “no!” Congress should reject fast track and move towards an economic policy that values American work, American manufacturing, and American jobs.

Conklin is the co-owner of Foley Waite in Kenilworth, NJ. He is also on the National Executive Committee of The Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business coalitions working to build a new voice for small businesses on important public policy issues.

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