Law and Legal

Court Rules that “Hoosick Falls” SOL exception applies to Hoosick Falls Litigation- Duh!

Sweener v. St.-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19893 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 7, 2018),  is the first reported decision interpreting CPLR  § 214-f-the 2016 amendment to the New York statute of limitations applicable to personal injuries or property damage resulting from latent effects of exposure to toxic substances.

This lawsuit is one of several lawsuits before the court arising from the contamination of groundwater with perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) in the Village of Hoosick Falls, New York.. The plaintiff alleged that contamination of the municipal water supply caused her to suffer personal injuries, including uterine cancer. The defendant moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint as time-barred under the state statute of limitations of § 214-c and the recently enacted § 214-f.

CPLR § 214-c  provides a three-year period in which to commence actions seeking damages for “personal injury or injury to property caused by the latent effects of exposure to any substance or combination of substances,”. The “clock” for initiating a cause of action for such damages begins to run from the date that the ‘injury’ was discovered or could have been discovered with reasonable diligence.

The statute also provides a limited exception where the cause of injury is not immediately known. CPLR § 214-c(4) provides that if a plaintiff discovers the cause of injury within five years of discovering its injury, The plaintiff may commence an action within one year of discovering the previously unknown cause, assuming the additional conditions are satisfied.

In her amended complaint, Plaintiff alleged her injury occurred in May 2016 when she learned that she had high levels of PFOA in her blood. However, the court ruled that under New York law, the “discovery of injury” occurs “when the injured party discovers the primary condition on which the claim is based. The court went on to say that the fact that there may be a delay before the connection between the symptoms and the time the plaintiff learned she was exposed to PFOA  did not delay the start of the limitations period.

Because plaintiff’s cancer was the “primary condition” for which plaintiff sought damages and she was diagnosed in August 2010, the court held her claims expired in August 2016 at the latest even- nine months before she commenced her action. Thus, the court explained, her claims were untimely even  under the unknown cause exception of CPLR § 214-c.

The court then turned to the applicability of § 214-f. Because this provision was added to CPLR § 214 in 2016 specifically in response to the PFOA contamination Hoosick Falls, it is commonly called the “Hoosick Falls” exception. This amendment provides that “an action to recover personal damages for injury caused by contact with or exposure to any substance or combination of substances contained within an area designated as a superfund site” under New York or federal law “may be commenced by the plaintiff within the period allowed pursuant  to [§ 214-c] or within three years of such designation of such an area as a superfund site, whichever is latest.”

The court ruled that the Hoosick Falls exception applies to this lawsuit involving the PFOA contamination at Hoosick Falls. I guess one cannot blame defense counsel for trying…………

The post Court Rules that “Hoosick Falls” SOL exception applies to Hoosick Falls Litigation- Duh! appeared first on Schnapf Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

OECD – Taxing Energy Use 2018

Taxing Energy Use 2018 – Companion to the Taxing Energy Use Database You do not have access to this content. 14 Feb 2018. Pages: 47. ISBN: 9789264289635 (PDF) ;9789264289437(print). http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264289635-en

“Emissions from energy use cause environmental and health damages and they also contribute to climate change. By charging for these damages, taxes on energy use can reduce excessive emissions, while raising revenue that can be used to fund vital government services. This report assesses the magnitude and coverage of taxes on energy use – carbon taxes and other specific taxes on energy use – in 2015, across different countries and selected country groups, six sectors and five main fuel groups. It also considers change in effective tax rates on energy use between 2012 and 2015. The analysis is based on the OECD’s Taxing Energy Use database, a unique dataset to compare coverage and magnitude of specific taxes on energy use across 42 OECD and G20 economies, which together represent approximately 80% of global energy use and CO2-emissions associated with energy use.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google Chrome ad blocking system – how it works

Chromium Blog – Under the hood: How Chrome’s ad filtering works – While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we’ve increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive. As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards. We’ve previously discussed some of the details surrounding how Chrome protects users from intrusive ads, but as we approach the launch date of February 15, we wanted to go under the hood and discuss how this feature works in more detail. What are the Better Ads Standards? The Better Ads Standards are the result of public consumer research by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group focused on improving users’ experience with online advertising. Over 40,000 internet users in North America and Europe participated in surveys where they were shown common ad experiences and asked to evaluate how intrusive the experiences were. The most intrusive ad experiences include prestitial ads (those full-page ads that block you from seeing the content on the page) and flashing animated ads. More details about the research and methodology can be found on the Coalition’s website. Although a few of the ad experiences that violate the Better Ads Standards are problems in the advertisement itself, the majority of problematic ad experiences are controlled by the site owner — such as high ad density or prestitial ads with countdown. This result led to the approach Chrome takes to protect users from many of the intrusive ad experiences identified by the Better Ads Standards: evaluate how well sites comply with the Better Ads Standards, inform sites of any issues encountered, provide the opportunity for sites to address identified issues, and remove ads from sites that continue to maintain a problematic ads experience…”

Categories: Law and Legal

guardian – German cities to trial free public transport to cut pollution

The Guardian: ““Car nation” Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines. The move comes just over two years after Volkswagen’s devastating “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal unleashed a wave of anger at the auto industry, a keystone of German prosperity. “We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars,” three ministers including the environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, wrote to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella in the letter seen by AFP Tuesday. “Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany,” the ministers added. The proposal will be tested by “the end of this year at the latest” in five cities across western Germany, including former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim…”

Categories: Law and Legal

NBC – Twitter deleted 200,000 Russian troll tweets. Read them here.

NBC News is publishing its database of more than 200,000 tweets that Twitter has tied to “malicious activity” from Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. These accounts, working in concert as part of large networks, pushed hundreds of thousands of inflammatory tweets, from fictitious tales of Democrats practicing witchcraft to hardline posts from users masquerading as Black Lives Matter activists. Investigators have traced the accounts to a Kremlin-linked propaganda outfit founded in 2013 known as the Internet Research Association (IRA). The organization has been assessed by the U.S. Intelligence Community to be part of a Russian state-run effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential race. And they’re not done.”There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday…”

Get the data:
Categories: Law and Legal

At least 100 White House officials served with ‘interim’ security clearances until November

CNN: “Nearly a year into President Donald Trump’s administration, senior-level staffers — including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Rob Porter — remained on interim clearances even as other senior advisers were granted full security access, according to information obtained by CNN from a US government official. Having interim clearance can hamper a staffer’s ability to perform essential functions of the job, a former administration official said. It requires those with full permanent clearances to remain vigilant about what information is shared with those still operating on an interim basis. There were more than 100 staffers in the Executive Office of the President who were operating on interim clearances more than a year after Trump was elected, according to the information…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Poll reveals Americans are hitting their breaking point on the environment

ThinkProgress: “Americans’ dissatisfaction with the quality of the environment is at an all-time high, Gallup reported Monday. In a poll of 1,024 Americans conducted last month, 45 percent said they were satisfied with “the quality of the environment in the nation,” while 52 percent said they were dissatisfied. This is the lowest level of satisfaction and the highest level of dissatisfaction in Gallup’s 18-year trend. It’s also the first time more than half of Americans were dissatisfied…”

Categories: Law and Legal

GPO Issues Digital Release of Federal Register for the 1960s

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) digitally release historic issues of the Federal Register from 1960-1969. The complete collection of issues of the Federal Register from 1960 to the present is now available digitally on GPO’s govinfo. https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/FR. This project is digitizing a total of 14,587 individual issues, dating back to the first Federal Register in 1936. Nearly two million pages are being digitized. The 1960s era of the Federal Register covers the Administrations of Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon, and includes such highlights as:

  • The first executive order of the Kennedy administration expanded food aid to needy families: January 24, 1961
  • Proclamation by President Johnson of a national day of mourning for President Kennedy: November 27, 1963
  • Notice of an establishment of a quarantine period for extraterrestrial exposure for the astronauts on the Apollo 11 space mission: July 25, 1969

“Access to the Federal Register on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers from 1960 to present is another example of how GPO is meeting the technological needs of the public,” said Acting GPO Director Jim Bradley. “I look forward to GPO and the Office of the Federal Register digitizing all issues dating back to the Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

Categories: Law and Legal

U of M crowdsourcing project transcribes Supreme Court justices’ handwritten notes

University of Minnesota News: “…If you have ever wanted to be a fly on the wall during deliberations by U.S. Supreme Court justices or travel back in time to witness Supreme Court decisions, a new crowdsourcing project led by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University allows you to do just that. The project, named SCOTUS Notes, is the newest citizen science project under the Zooniverse platform originated at the University of Minnesota. Zooniverse, the world’s largest and most popular people-powered online research platform, runs on support from volunteers that now number more than 1.5 million. These volunteers act as armchair scientists and archivists helping academic research teams with their projects from the comfort of their own homes. In this project, members of the public transcribe handwritten notes from U.S. Supreme Court justices. Unlike members of Congress, justices cast their votes in complete privacy during weekly conference meetings. Only justices are allowed in the Chief Justice’s conference room when they discuss, deliberate, and make initial decisions on cases that focus on some of the nation’s most pressing legal issues. The only record of what has been said, and by whom, is provided by the handwritten personal notes the justices themselves take during conference. These crucial documents detail the discussions and debates that took place in thousands of cases spanning multiple decades…”

Categories: Law and Legal

290 School Shootings In America Since 2013

Again, again, again – it pains me no end to have to post news of yet another shooting in a public school, yet not to do so lets the silence speak volumes, which is not now, nor will it ever be, acceptable. These are our children America – they are in our schools. And please, do not forget for a moment the teachers and other professionals who help to educate them, and keep them safe, often sacrificing their own safety, and their lives, to protect America’s children against gunfire from assault weapons in their classrooms and within their campuses.

Via Everytown: “Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week. How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives? Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That’s unacceptable. We should feel secure in sending our children to school — comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe. Consistent with expert advice and common sense, Everytown uses a straightforward, fair, and comprehensive definition for a school shooting: any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and, when necessary, confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement or school officials. Incidents in which guns were brought into schools but not discharged, or where the firearm was discharged off school grounds, are not included. The database is updated as new shootings occur or as new evidence emerges about prior incidents. When it comes to American children being exposed to gunfire, these shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. A report by the Urban Institute showed that in the single school district of Washington, DC, there were at least 336 gunshots in the vicinity of schools over a single school year. And school shootings have long-term impacts on the school community as a whole: a recent analysis of school shootings found that those involving a homicide reduced student enrollment in the affected schools, and depressed students’ standardized test scores by nearly 5 percent.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Teaching the Art of Reading in the Digital Era

Pacific Standard – As the art of close reading has declined, a cohort of experts has emerged to reverse the trend and encourage stronger reading habits – James McWilliams.

“…Perhaps the oddest aspect of reading is that, for all the pleasures of the text, we must be taught to do it. Recognizing symbols and signs, as well as the ability to assign them meaning, might be innate to the human brain, but directing these abilities to follow words on the page—a relatively new skill in human history—requires instruction. Like a child learning to ride a bike without training wheels, the magical moment comes when the parent lets go and the child pedals off—and keeps going. “The most significant kind of learning,” writes the Stanford University reading specialist Elliot Eisner, “creates a desire to pursue learning in that field when one doesn’t have to.” The wonder of experiencing a novel (or the sensation of coasting on two wheels) can be habit-forming. Unfortunately, considerable evidence suggests that Americans are both reading less and reading with less intensity. It’s not unusual to hear well-educated adults who once read regularly now lament the decline in their bookish habits. In a widely circulated 2015 Medium article (“Why Can’t We Read Anymore?“), Hugh McGuire, who founded Librivox, which distributes public-domain audiobooks, highlighted the frenetic nature of digital life as the primary reason for why he was “finding it harder and harder to concentrate on words, sentences, paragraphs. Let alone chapters.” According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, the typical American adult now reads only four books a year. Twenty-seven percent didn’t read a single book in 2015, and a 2016 report from the National Endowment for the Arts found that reading had dropped, as the Washington Post summarized it, “to at least a three-decade low.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The world’s worst money launderers are the UK, Switzerland and the USA

BoingBoing: ‘The USA has moved up in the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index to number two, behind Switzerland; in reality, though, the UK is the world’s worst money-laundry, but because its laundering activities are spread out over its overseas territories — taken as a whole, the UK leads the world in helping criminals and looters hide their fortunes. America’s role in money-laundering is well-documented; the ease of incorporating anonymous shell companies has been key to making fortunes disappear — and they also constitute the wide end of the funnel for dark money in US politics. One notable feature of the Financial Secrecy Index is how different it is to official government indices of money-laundering states; the EU’s index, which put 17 nations on notice last December, consists primarily of small, largely impoverished nations that account for a tiny fraction of the world’s money laundering (the exception being the UK overseas territories, which are mentioned independent of the UK itself). Somehow, the EU list doesn’t include its own member-states’ prolific money-laundries, nor the money laundering in its major trading partners…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Great Recession’s Impact Lingers in Hardest-Hit Regions

“The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data today released our Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for the fourth quarter of 2017. Along with this report, we have posted an update of state-level data on balances and delinquencies for 2017. Overall aggregate debt balances increased again, with growth in all types of balances except for home equity lines of credit. In our post on the first quarter of 2017 we reported that overall balances had surpassed their peak set in the third quarter of 2008—the result of a slow but steady climb from several years of sharp deleveraging during the Great Recession.  Notably, however, mortgage balances remain 4.4 percent below their previous peak in nominal terms. The data also reveal considerable regional heterogeneity. Some regions of the country have long surpassed their earlier peak, while the areas hit hardest during the Great Recession—those with the largest home price declines and highest foreclosure rates—have aggregate mortgage balances far below their previous peaks, even as home prices have largely recovered. The Quarterly Report, state data, and this analysis are all based on the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, which is based on Equifax credit report data.  Mortgages are the largest form of household debt and have historically dominated the liability side of the household balance sheet. The map below depicts the percent change in aggregate mortgage balances by state since their peak in the third quarter of 2008. Although for the country as a whole mortgage balances remain slightly below their 2008:Q3 peak, on the state level the change in mortgage balances has been very mixed. Some states such as Texas, North Dakota, and Delaware, shown in dark blue below, have balances more than 10 percent above their previous peak. There are eight states with balances still at least 10 percent below their earlier peak. Most of these states—among them, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and California—were severely impacted during the Great Recession.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Evolving Assessments of Human and Natural Contributions to Climate Change

CRS report via EveryCRSReport.com – Evolving Assessments of Human and Natural Contributions to Climate Change, February 1, 2018.

“As Congress continues to deliberate whether and how to address climate change, a key question has been the degree to which humans have influenced observed global climate change. Members of Congress sometimes stress that policies or actions “must be based on sound science.” Officials in the Trump Administration have expressed uncertainty about the human influence, and some have called for public debate on the topic. To help inform policymaking, researchers and major scientific assessment processes have analyzed the attribution of observed climate change to various possible causes. Scientific assessments of both climate change and the extent to which humans have influenced it have varied in expressed confidence over time but have achieved greater scientific consensus. The latest major U.S. assessment, the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR), was released in October 2017 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). It stated: It is extremely likely [>95% likelihood] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th Century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence. This CRS report provides context for the CSSR’s statement by tracing the evolution of scientific understanding and confidence regarding the drivers of recent global climate change. Climate change science can be traced back to the early 1800s. Through the 20th century, academic institutions, federal and state agencies, foreign governments, and other entities invested significant time and billions of dollars in climate research. This investment has led to substantial advances in empirical observations, atmospheric and ocean physics and chemistry, climate and economic simulation models, statistical methods, and other achievements. As a result, scientists have increased their confidence in their detection and understanding of climate change and attribution of observed changes to their causes. There is now high scientific confidence that the global climate is warming, primarily as a result of increased human-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other activities. This confidence has evolved from nearly two centuries of research and assessments. This report describes a chronology (in the Appendix) of 200 years of major scientific statements, selected to represent views at each time, regarding the human contribution to global climate change. The chronology demonstrates how scientific views and confidence in those views evolved over time. That GHGs, including carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, and other gases, warm the Earth’s climate is not a recent concept. The greenhouse effect, as it is sometimes called, was deduced as early as 18279 with relatively little dispute since the 19th century among scientists about the role of GHGs: Some level of GHGs in the atmosphere is necessary for maintaining a temperate climate on Earth. Instead, the debate that unfolded involved whether the climate had been warming overall10 and, if so, to what the changes may be attributable (such as industrial releases of GHGs, volcanoes, solar activity, or other natural variations).

Categories: Law and Legal

Net Worth of the American Presidents: Washington to Trump

24/7 Wall St: “Though the presidency of the United States is a prestigious job, it does not pay as well as one might think. The annual presidential salary is $400,000, While this is still within the top 1% of American earners, it is very little when compared to the typical compensation given to America’s CEOs and executives. However, many men who have occupied the highest office in the land did not need any salary at all. The presidency has long been a position held by men who had already inherited fortunes or earned them during their lifetimes. In America’s early days, only property-owning white men were allowed to vote. Consequently, only the wealthy first participated in American politics, meaning the first presidents were all extremely well off. With time, voting restrictions loosened, campaign finance regulations tightened, and people with more modest backgrounds began to rise to the presidency. Several U.S. presidents were either poor or in debt when they were elected president. However, even as all these things have changed, the fact remains that the majority of presidents are independently wealthy, and only a very small number could have been fairly called poor at any point in their lifetimes. Fame and wealth continue to have an outsized impact on public perception. Wealth and the influence that can accompany it have not lost relevancy. President Donald Trump was able to leverage his personal wealth and fame to fund the majority of his successful political campaign. 24/7 Wall St. examined the finances of every American president, from George Washington, to Donald Trump. For the purposes of comparison, we provided net worth figures for each president in current dollars. Because a number of presidents, particularly in the early 19th century, made and lost huge fortunes in a matter of a few years, we only provided each president’s net worth at their peak…”

Click here to see the net worth of every American President.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Categories: Law and Legal

Record 21 States See Decline in Well-Being in 2017

Nearly half of U.S. states saw their well-being scores decline by a statistically significant margin in 2017, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. And, for the first time in nine years of tracking changes in state well-being, no state saw statistically significant improvement from the year before. The 21 U.S. states that saw their well-being drop in 2017 shattered the previous record set in 2009 amidst the Great Recession, when 15 states had lower well-being than the year before. The large number of states with declines in well-being in 2017 is particularly notable given that Americans’ confidence in the economy and perceptions of the job market are substantially better in 2017 than they were in 2009…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Gallup – 3 Daily Actions That Set the World’s Best Managers Apart

Gallup blog, February 8, 2018: How You Can Commit to Being a Better Manager Every Day – “Being a better manager every day sounds like a tall order, but it doesn’t have to be. If you don’t know how to get started, that’s OK. Just like a new exercise routine, the first step is to start with small changes. As you master each new level, add more challenges. Gallup has spent decades studying the behaviors of the world’s best managers. We’ve identified what great managers do to get the most out of their teams every day. The following ideas will help you begin. They’re simple — yet powerful enough that you and your employees will see an immediate impact on performance…”

Categories: Law and Legal

As Ice Sheets Melt Faster, Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating Every Year

Yale Environment 360: “The melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is speeding up the pace of sea level rise a little bit every year, according to a new analysis of satellite data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If the current pace continues, the study estimates, seas could rise more than 2 feet by 2100.  But the authors note that sea levels could increase at a much more rapid rate if, as expected, the melting of polar ice sheets intensifies this century…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Integrity: Without it Nothing Works

Jensen, Michael C., Integrity: Without it Nothing Works (April 6, 2014). Rotman Magazine: The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management, pp. 16-20, Fall 2009; Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 10-042; Barbados Group Working Paper No. 09-04; Simon School Working Paper No. FR 10-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1511274 – “Note: This paper is an interview of Michael Jensen by Karen Christensen on the topic of integrity. This version of the document has been updated to incorporate new material.”

“There is confusion between integrity, morality and ethics. In our much longer (and as yet incomplete) paper on the topic (see “Integrity: A Positive Model that Incorporates the Normative Phenomena of Morality, Ethics and Legality” (available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=920625)) my co-authors, Werner Erhard and Steve Zaffron and I, distinguish integrity, from morality and ethics in the following way. Integrity in our model is honoring your word, as we define honoring your word. As such integrity is a purely positive phenomenon. It has nothing to do with good vs. bad, right vs. wrong behavior. Like the law of gravity the law of integrity just is, and if you attempt to violate the law of integrity as we define it you get hurt just as if you try to violate the law of gravity with no safety device. The personal and organizational benefits of honoring one’s word are huge — both for individuals and for organizations — and generally unappreciated.”

  • An abridged version of the full paper “Integrity: A Positive Model that Incorporates the Normative Phenomena of Morality, Ethics and Legality — Abridged” is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1542759
  • For a full one-day workshop on integrity see: “A New Model of Integrity: The Missing Factor Of Production (PDF file of Keynote and PowerPoint Slides)” available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1559827
  • For our paper arguing for putting integrity into finance see: “Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach” available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1985594
Categories: Law and Legal

Poynter – News researchers lead on big stories

David Beard: “This era’s great journalistic diggers include Julie Tate, Kitty Bennett, Alice Crites, Margot Williams and Sheelagh McNeill. Often underappreciated and not as visible as TV-familiar leading journalists, these news researchers and others have been the bane of Rob Porter and Judge Roy Moore in recent months, finding key documents and evidence that led to one’s resignation and throttled another’s U.S. Senate run. Last week’s departure of Porter, a senior White House official, was tied to an interview with an ex-wife of his and images of her, apparently battered, that were obtained and published by a coordinated reporter-researcher team from The Intercept. That prompted us to seek out Lynn Dombek, a longtime research leader at The Associated Press and TIME and now research director of The Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media…” [h/t Barclay Walsh – who should also be included in this constellation of outstanding news researchers/journalists]

Categories: Law and Legal

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