Why I Know Ron Richard Will Run For Missouri Governor In 2016

Joplin’s Ron Richard, I guarantee it, will run for Missouri governor in 2016, after the departure of Democrat Jay Nixon.

Right now he is doing time in the Missouri Senate, after being elected to a four-year term in 2010.  He previously served as the speaker of the Missouri House until term limits forced him to jump, and jump rather easily since he had exactly no opposition, into the upper chamber, where he now holds the number two leadership post for the Republicans.

Some of you may recall that more than three years ago, Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Richard, who started his now permanent political career on the Joplin City Council, had his long-term eyes on Missouri’s top prize:

Speaking to the Political Fix at Lincoln Days, Richard said that he has pondered a possible run for governor in 2016. That would be midway through a possible second term in the state Senate, and the scenario assumes that current Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, wins a second term in 2012, where he is likely to face Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican.

“I’d like to be on the short list and see what happens,” Richard said.

Even though Richard later denied being interested in running for governor in 2016, Messenger stood by his reporting, saying that Republican Lt. Governor Peter Kinder “was a little miffed when he read of Richard’s political plans,” which led to Richard backing away from what he said. Today, though, Peter Kinder’s political stock in the state has fallen considerably, mostly at the hands and, uh, other body parts, of an exotic dancer.

So, it appears Richard can run conscience-free in 2016 for the vacant governorship. But that’s not why I am certain he will run. It was the nice and cozy piece I saw in the Joplin Globe today that convinced me. It began this way:

State Sen. Ron Richard on Thursday said he has started drafting a new gun rights bill to replace a controversial measure that failed Wednesday when it fell one vote short of a veto override in the Missouri Senate.

Richard, R-Joplin, the Senate majority floor leader, was one of two Republican senators who voted against the override in the Legislature’s veto session. 

Obviously, even though Richard was stupidly in favor of the bill before he was wisely against it, no Republican candidate can be caught voting against a “gun rights” bill—even a machine-gun rights bill—and live to tell about it, so Richard is fast at work on repairing the damage:

His goal in the new legislation, Richard said, will be a bill that “protects the First and Second amendments, doesn’t hinder law enforcement in doing their jobs, and doesn’t end up challenged in court as soon as it’s enacted.”

The would-be governor also noted to the Globe that the National Rifle Association—yep!—has offered to help write the new version of the bill.

I rest my case.

An Inspired Idea For Putting “A Human Face” On Mittens

A regular commenter, John McNight, recently offered Republicans a brilliant idea:

The upcoming Republican National Convention plans to reintroduce Mitt Romney to America; an effort will be made to put a human face on the nominee. I hope this staged endeavor features Mitt, Hank Williams Jr. and Donald Trump lounging around a cracker barrel, cracking ‘birther’ jokes with Sheriff Arpaio. After the laughter has died down they can then display genuine sadness that America has an illegal alien in the Oval Office. Even though drinking whiskey is against Mitt’s religious beliefs — as are releasing income tax documents — maybe he’ll send the Tennessee delegation into a flag waving frenzy when accepting Hank’s offer to take a pull. It’s too bad Sarah Palin won’t be in attendance. Having her jump over the old country store stage set on a red, white and blue motorcycle would undoubtedly set off a thunderous chorus of USA! USA!

My response:

John,

Now that I think about it, what better way to “put a human face” on Mittens than, “A Relaxing Evening With Three Rednecks,” featuring a conspiracy-drunk fake billionaire from New York City, a washed-up country singer from Nashville nicknamed after a ventriloquist dummy, and a fascistic xenophobe-with-a-badge from Phoenix? That undoubtedly classy presentation of a real cross-section of Republican America would be one that Democratic convention planners could only hope to top.

As for Sarah Palin, there is a good reason she won’t be part of the act in Tampa and thus will not be jumping over “the old country store stage set” on a patriotically dressed hog, her Arctic-warming cleavage presented with all the on-air tastefulness of a Fox “News” “info-babe.”

The resulting erotic commotion among the Viagra-needy “sock monkey-waving social conservatives” (nice phrase you came up with, by the way; have you ever thought of blogging?) in attendance would be too much for local security to contain, what with SKIN Tampa—the city’s “only upscale Full Nude Ultra Lounge” and “home of the $10 lap dance“—a mere five minutes from the convention center. A thunderous herd of hopped-up, manly Palinistas seeking less wholesome titillating entertainment is not part of the contingency plans of Tampa’s finest, I’m sure.

And speaking of SKIN Tampa, the laissez-faire entrepreneurial spirit, so much celebrated by the Republican Party, is alive and well in Florida. Not letting an obvious profit opportunity pass it by, SKIN Tampa has an unassailable bidness strategy. It is offering:

FREE transportation and complimentary VIP for RNC Attendees and Press

How many times, do you suppose, that Bible-totin’, social conservative good ol’ boys get a chance to play VIP for a night, uh, for a night or three, in the presence of butt-nekkid small bidness gals as they freely advertise their best God-given assets?

From SKIN Tampa‘s website, you can see how much thought went into attracting patriotic teavangelicals:

My guess is that the jacked-up SUV in the picture above will spend a lot of time shuttling male folks hanging around the Elect Peter Kinder tent, or, when it is up and running, “curious” guys trolling near Dick Morris’ Free Pedicure booth.

Duane

Legal Darkness

For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

—Jesus

f you think national campaign finance rules are screwed up, Missouri’s are worse.

Today I received in the mail campaign literature from an outfit known as Missourians for Conservative Values PAC.  Here is a shot of one page:

I wondered who this group was and, more important, where it got its dough to finance such a slick and nasty ad. I found it also had a video out:

Now that’s pretty rough stuff and you all know I don’t care at all about Peter Kinder’s political career, except to see it end as soon as possible at the hands of a Democrat. But this ad was not, obviously, financed by any Democratic group. The point here is that whoever is behind the ad ought to have a face.

So, who is behind the financing? Beats me and good luck finding out in this state. From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Editorial: Trail of dirty money continues to pull Missouri into the mud

This is what democracy looks like in Missouri:

Last Friday, Denise Young of High Ridge formed a nonprofit corporation, Better Government for Missouri.

Later that day, Better Government for Missouri gave $100,000 to Missourians for Conservative Values, a St. Joseph-based political action committee.

On Tuesday, Missourians for Conservative Values posted a political video on YouTube recounting Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s dalliances with a former East St. Louis stripper. It’s the sort of negative and nasty ad that builds on the arguments made by state Sen. Brad Lager of Savannah, Mr. Kinder’s opponent in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.

Mr. Lager’s campaign, of course, said it had nothing — nothing — to do with the ad. Politics ain’t beanbag, as they say, but politicians generally want plausible deniability when their friends and allies throw mud on their behalf.

Here’s the rub: There is no way of knowing who spent the $100,000 to slime Mr. Kinder.

The “sleaziness,” as the Post points out,

is not a result of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United ruling. It’s purely a Missouri problem.

In 2005, when Missouri politicians, Republicans and Democrats, started pushing to get rid of campaign donation limits in the Show-Me State, their main argument was that it would bring transparency to campaign finance in the state.

If donors could give whatever they wanted, the logic went, there would be no incentive to launder money through multiple committees, as long had been the practice. The flaw in the argument was clear: There would be no transparency if lawmakers didn’t also pass measures to ban committee-to-committee transfers, like the example above.

Now we have limited transparency and unlimited money. It’s a dangerous combination.

The editorial notes that failure at the federal level to enforce rules that were designed to limit groups like Better Government for America from “active involvement in electoral politics” is also partly to blame for the problem. Such negligence allows “dirty tricksters” to pretty much “operate in the dark” here in Missouri.

It turns out that in addition to the initial $100,000 which went to the sliming of Peter Kinder, there was more, according to Randy Turner:

Five days after Better Government for Missouri was formed, it gave another $200,000 to Missourians for Conservative Values for a direct mailing against Kinder, according to the eight-days-before-election report filed with the Ethics Commission.

Prior to the formation of Better Government for Missouri, the St. Joseph PAC only had $5,140.01 in the bank. After spending the $300,000 and an additional $115 for expenses, the PAC is left with $5,025.01, according to the report.

Where’s the money coming from? Who is behind it? Apparently, here in Missouri the public’s right to know is strictly limited to those who need to know, which doesn’t include you and me.

Not only is all this an affront to Missouri democracy, such secrecy, which is also going on at the national level, undermines our cultural confidence  in the realization of Lincoln’s majestic prayer for our form of government:

that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

What a shame that should American democracy perish, it just might be at the hands of wealthy Americans who can do their nastiness in a very creepy—and legal— darkness.

Get The Plunger!

Just how far down the crapper has Missouri’s Republican-dominated state legislature gone? A couple of items in Wednesday’s Joplin Globe give us some idea:

A bill that proposes allowing school districts to sell advertising on school buses has passed the Missouri House and has been referred to the Education Committee of the state Senate.

You see, here in Missouri we have a problem. The state is not following the law, in terms of funding Missouri schools. So, rather than raise any kind of tax (our cigarette tax—a mere 17 cents a pack!—is the lowest in the country) to help with the funding problem, we would rather sell some ads!

Maybe in St. Louis, the schools could sell ads to Verlin’s Bar and Grill, which was Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s favorite strip bar—and the main reason he is not running to be the real governor of Missouri. The bar certainly needs to get the word out that is has moved:

This Soulard establishment recently relocated to Vandeventer, but never fear, the ladies behind the bar are as scantily clad (read: not wearing pants) as ever. It’s a destination bar for dudes…With dollar longnecks, Saturdays are a sure bet. And keep your eyes peeled for Missouri politicians: A little birdie told us they like the view at Verlin’s, too.

That ad ought to be easy to explain to the kids!

Come to think of it, since our Lt. Gov. is seeking another term, perhaps he could put up a campaign ad next to the Verlin’s ad. Imagine seeing the following on the side of your kid’s school bus:

The idea is growing on me.

The second item that gives us a clue as to how far down the toilet our legislature has gone is this one:

The Missouri House endorsed legislation Tuesday that would make it a crime for undercover activists to produce videos portraying poor conditions at livestock farms or other agricultural facilities.

Get that? Small-government Republicans (with some Democratic help, for God’s sake!) are hell-bent on creating a brand new crime: reporting on the sometimes deplorable conditions along our food chain! Can’t have that!

More:

The Missouri legislation would apply to a wide variety of agricultural entities, including livestock and poultry farms, processing facilities, markets, exhibitions or even the vehicles used to transport the animals. It also would apply to fields of crops, orchards, greenhouses, gardens, grain elevators, barns, warehouses or any other land or buildings that are part of a commercial crop enterprise.

This breathtakingly un-American law—called an “ag-gag” law—should raise the hackles of anyone in Missouri who may want to know the whole story about how food gets to our tables, or anyone who thinks the government ought to be supporting more food-industry transparency not less.

As About.com pointed out, Republican-controlled Kansas—gasp!—was the first to enact such a law (there are now other states that have them), and here is a brief description of what’s wrong with them generally:

These bills are troubling not only to animal protection activists, but also to those concerned with food safety, labor issues, free speech, and freedom of the press. The bills would apply equally to journalists, activists and employees. By prohibiting any type of undercover recordings, a farm’s own employees would be prohibited from attempting to record food safety violations, labor violations, sexual harassment incidents or other illegal activity.

What is there to hide that would make industry lobbyists press Republicans for such a law? Ah, just shut up and eat!

What’s next? How about a law to shut down journalism altogether? Get all those reporters out of the state capitol! Mustn’t see what’s going on in there! No more uncomfortable facts in the newspaper or on television. No more nasty scandals for politicians to worry about.

Maybe Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder would support that idea:

Remarks and Asides, Missouri Edition

An update on Missouri politics, mostly courtesy of FiredUp! Missouri:

Republicans in the Missouri House are about to put a crezzyman in charge.  From Sean at Fired Up!:

Missouri’s House Republicans tonight selected Tim Jones to be their Speaker Elect.  

Jones is an unapologetic birther who sued Barack Obama in federal court with Orly Taitz, Cynthia Davis and a few dozen other lunatics from around the country in 2009, alleging that Obama is an illegal immigrant from Kenya who has also committed all sorts of other crimes.  Jones also believes the Missouri Hospital Association is a “Marxist” organization that wants to “screw Missouri voters.” He is a hot head who had to be physically restrained by his own colleagues on the House Floor in 2010. He believes global warming is “voodoo science.” He believes that Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are unconstitutional. He also has a demonstrated record of referring to fellow Republican legislators as “terrorists” when they don’t do what he likes. 

I’m so proud to be a Missourian.

_________________________

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is coming to Missouri for a Republican fundraiser in St. Louis County.  Area buffets are on high alert.  If we’re lucky, the food-loving governor will mistake Speaker-to-be Tim Jones for an hors d’oeuvre and eat him.

_________________________

A proposed Missouri ballot measure that would cap at 36% (as opposed to 1,500%) the interest and other charges for “payday,” car title and installment loans, is being challenged in court. The lawsuit challenges the ballot summary approved by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office and the cost estimate made by Tom Schweich, state Auditor.  

The Kansas City Star explains the reason for the ballot measure:

…the legislature has refused for several years to take on substantive reform of the loose laws that make Missouri’s payday lending industry the most plentiful and permissive in the nation.

Oh, yeah.  The current speaker of the House, Steve Tilley, just picked up $8,200 from a payday loan company, the same one suing over the proposed ballot measure.

Welcome to Missouri politics.

____________________________ 

Charles Koch, half of the famous right-wing bankrolling Koch brothers, recently honored Joplin’s own Humphreys family as one “of our great partners” and for giving “more than a million over the last 12 months.” 

At that same twice-yearly event, which has normally been kept a secret, Koch allegedly referred to President Obama as Saddam Hussein (Koch credibly disputes it), but definitely said the next election would be “the mother of all wars.”  

Well, we knew that, didn’t we?

_____________________________

Speaking of the Humphreys family, Peter Kinder, our family-values Republican Lt. Governor with a Penthouse Pet stripper problem, still hasn’t resolved how or if he is going to pay David Humphreys back $125,000, which the right-wing donor has reportedly asked be returned.

My guess is that Humphreys will get his dough in the form of G-string-ready one-dollar bills.  Make it rain, Pete, make it rain.

________________________________

Via ThinkProgress, we find that Missouri workers lost 63 cents per hour over the last decade (dominated by Bush II and Republicans in Washington and in Jefferson City) in inflation-adjusted median wages.  During the 90s (when Democrats were in the White’s House), the median wage went up a whopping $2.37.  During the 80s (Reagan and Bush I) the median wage declined by 44 cents.

You figure it out.

_______________________________

Finally, the Springfield News-Leader reported some stunning wisdom from the lips of Colonel Ozark Billy Long, on the eve of President Obama’s jobs speech::

Long said that he would support “any kind of a tax break,” including an extension of the payroll tax cut. He was unsure about extending unemployment benefits beyond the current 99 weeks.

“It seems like there are jobs available if people want to get out and look,” he said. “If we shorten that string, then they’ll be out there quicker looking for jobs.”

Why didn’t I think of that! Why didn’t Obama think of that! There are plenty of jobs out there if the lazy folks would only get out and look!  Billy Long has solved the job crisis!

Another Family-Values Republican Gone Down

David Humphreys, who lives in Joplin and owns Tamko Building Products, has given a lot of money to Republicans over the years.  He and his family are nationally-known donors to conservative candidates and causes, including the Republican aspirant for Missouri governor, Peter Kinder.

According to FiredUp!Missouri, the Humphreys family has given Peter Kinder $766,903 since 2008. Man, what I could do with that kind of money. I bet I could talk and write like a teapartier for that kind of dough.

Anyway, Kinder, in case you forgot, is currently our state’s Lt. Governor.  I have largely avoided writing about him because a) I don’t like him, and b) I never thought he had much chance of defeating Democrat Jay Nixon, for a lot of reasons that pale in comparison to the one that currently has him in deep, family-values doo-doo.

It seems that Mr. Kinder, with his family values in tow, has, shall we say, parked his Winnebago in the wrong campground a time or two or, well, we don’t know how many times, really.  The campground was a bar-place in St. Louis called Verlin’s, a hot spot famous for—I am told—”pantless parties.” 

Now, if you are a family-values Republican, you sort of don’t want your name and “pantless parties” in the same sentence, let alone have a photograph of you and a hottie floating around for all to see.

Anyhow, pantless entertainment is not that prevalent around these parts, but then this part of the country isn’t exactly sexy Las Vegas.  Just about the most exciting pantless time around here for a guy is in the change-rooms at Wal-Mart, just after the latest shipment of Genuine Dickies comes in.

But despite its lack of excitement, this is where David Humphreys lives and this is how Politico reported what the GOP donor had to say about Mr. Kinder:

David Humphreys, a southwest Missouri businessman and major GOP donor who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the party, is abandoning his support for Peter Kinder’s gubernatorial bid and calling on him to resign.

Humphreys tells POLITICO in an email that he has asked the lieutenant governor to forego a 2012 campaign, requested his donations be returned and warned he will support Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon if Kinder is the GOP nominee.

Humphreys’ move is a devastating blow to Kinder and the strongest signal to date that the lieutenant governor’s support is beginning to erode in light of a story that detailed his interactions with a former Penthouse Pet.

“If I had known this about him I would not have supported him in the past,” Humphreys told POLITICO.

Humphreys, a deeply conservative and private man, also conveyed he believes Kinder should step down from his current post immediately as a matter of principle and “so that he is not a liability to other Republicans in the upcoming elections.”

That pretty much ends Mr. Kinder’s political career, but before he goes, if you want all the details of what led up to Mr. Humphrey’s statement, Sean at FiredUp! has thoroughly documented the saga, so start here and ENJOY!

Ron Richard For Governor–Whoops!

**UPDATED BELOW**

Although I haven’t seen one word on this story in our own Joplin Globe—hometown paper of Ron Richard—some locals might be interested in something that happened over last weekend.

According to the Political Fix, Tony Messenger’s blog for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ron Richard has higher ambitions beyond the Missouri Senate:

Speaking to the Political Fix at Lincoln Days, Richard said that he has pondered a possible run for governor in 2016. That would be midway through a possible second term in the state Senate, and the scenario assumes that current Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, wins a second term in 2012, where he is likely to face Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican.

“I’d like to be on the short list and see what happens,” Richard said.

Read about that in our local paper?

How about Richard’s later retraction reported by the St. Louis Beacon:

Missouri House Speaker Ron Richard on Saturday stepped away from comments he’d made earlier  about possible interest in running for governor in 2016.

Is he looking at a gubernatorial bid? “No,” Richard said firmly, when queried as he participated in Saturday’s Lincoln Days offerings.

“My goal is to help Peter Kinder,” he added. Kinder, now the state’s lieutenant governor, is widely expected to make a bid for governor in 2012 against the Democratic incumbent, Jay Nixon.

My thanks goes out to Fired Up! Missouri and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Beacon for keeping track of Joplin politicians.

UPDATE: Tony Messenger has written a piece today over the whole Richard for Governor, Richard Not For Governor, thing.  Saying that Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, “was a little miffed when he read of Richard’s political plans,” Messenger sticks by his original reporting and speculates that, “it got a little hot around the collar in the back rooms at the St. Charles Convention Center,” where the Republican Lincoln Days “celebration” was held last weekend.

He also mentions that Richard likes being in Jefferson City:

The affable country politician from Southwest Missouri has found a niche in the Capitol, a place he holds in tremendous esteem. And he’d like to stay around a little while longer.

Since it appears that Richard will not have much reason to spend a lot of the $400,000 in campaign cash he has stashed away–Messenger says that Richard, “expects to ease into the Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Gary Nodler“–and since Richard will have plenty of time to raise even more money, don’t count Richard out for the 2016 governor’s race, even if it means stepping on Peter Kinder’s sensitive toes.

[photo credit: AP, top; St. Louis Beacon/Jo Mannies, bottom]

Missouri Republicans Suggest “Opting Out” of Medicaid

The Joplin Globe published an editorial today that attempted to reveal some of the ideas of our “Republican House leadership” on the issue of pending health care reform legislation and its effects on Missouri.

However, the editorial succeeded only in revealing the idea that our Republican “leadership” is contemplating “opting out” of the Medicaid program.

The editorial began:

Last week, Lt. Gov. Pete Kinder estimated that if national health care reform as currently envisioned in Washington is passed, it will require additional funding from Missouri in the range of $450 million.

During a Globe editorial board meeting Monday with the Republican House leadership, those attending were asked if they thought that was an accurate assessment of potential impact on the state and how it would find the funds to meet that challenge. The answers were startling.

Startling is right.

Among the more startling was the following:

The board was also told that Medicaid is a voluntary program for states and the federal government to “share” costs of health care for the low-income. States have the option to not participate. It was suggested that if federal health care requirements for additional state funding reached unmanageable levels, the state would have to consider “opting out” of Medicaid.

The editorial did not reveal just who made the “suggestion” that opting out of Medicaid was a possibility, nor did the paper indicate that abandoning Medicaid was a consensus view of those legislators present.  And I have not seen a news story account of this “startling” bit of news.  So, we are left to imagine who said what and just what would trigger such a drastic move on the part of our elected leaders. 

Where’s the story?

The Globe needs to report to us the details of the discussion between the editorial board and the legislators who attended the meeting, particularly the details surrounding the fear mongering related to the Medicaid program.  Such reporting would be of major interest around our state, and people need to know just what our “leaders” are thinking.

Since Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has already suggested that closing prisons and universities were among the possible Republican responses to health care reform legislation, I suppose it’s not so far-fetched to imagine Republicans would now threaten to punish people on Medicaid.

But we at least should know who it was that brought it up, and exactly under what circumstances it might become a reality.

And the Joplin Globe has the responsibility to find out and then inform its readers.

A Kinder, Not Gentler Warning

Peter Kinder, for those of you who may have forgotten, is Missouri’s Missourah’s Lieutenant Governor.  He’s also a Republican.  And he’s also damn mad about what Obama and the Democrats in Congress are going to do to those of us who live in Missourah.

In a video statement, released obviously as a public service to alert us to the otherwise secret plan to destroy Missourah’s economy, Kinder said:

The state of Missourah simply does not have enough money to pay for government run health care without making drastic cuts to fundamental services.

Forget for a moment the fact that there is no plan for the federal government to “run” health care.  Focus instead on Kinder’s implication that health care is not a “fundamental service.”  Think about that, and how revealing it is, as Mr. Kinder allows us this short visit inside his conservative mind.

He tells us that the Dem’s health care reform plan “could not have come at a worse time for our state,” and that it will cost Missourians $450 million every year.  Then the obligatory Republican fear mongering begins:

How much is $450 million dollars? It’s about the same amount we spend annually to run every prison in the state of Missourah.  It’s about half of what we spend every year on higher education.  So how will we pay for this “health care experiment”?  Will we release all the prisoners and fire more than 11,000 correction employees?  Will we close our state’s universities?  Or will you be forced to pay more of your hard earned dollars in higher taxes?  These are exactly the kind of choices we will have to make if congress passes this so-called health care reform. 

So, there you have it. Missourians are impaled on Morton’s Fork: Either we will have to pay for health care reform or we will have to let murderers and rapists and unemployed college professors roam our streets, terrorizing, torturing, and tutoring our children.

All the while, Kinder does not explain exactly what he or his party proposes to do about the escalating costs of health care.  He complains about the alleged cost to Missourians of the Democrats’ plan, but typically, he doesn’t explain the cost of doing nothing.

He finishes with this flourish:

It is simply unconscionable to think that our senator, Claire McCaskill, would support dumping this economic nightmare in the laps of every taxpaying Missourian. Respectfully, I believe it is time for Senator McCaskill and Governor Nixon to fully explain and answer to Missourians where they stand on this proposal.  Because the time for silence is over.

Yes. The time for silence is over.  It’s time for Republicans to tell us what they would do about the increasing costs and declining benefits offered by the profiteering insurance industry, and how Republicans would reform the most expensive health care system in the world.

Here is Kinder’s statement:

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