Trump tore out magazine picture of Justin Trudeau, scrawled odd message and mailed it to Canadian embassy

Donald Trump reportedly tore out a magazine picture of Justin Trudeau, scrawled a brief note about the Canadian prime minister “looking good”, and made White House officials mail it to the neighbouring country’s embassy.

The message – first reported by Axios – is said to have been written by the US president on the torn-out cover of a May 2017 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, which featured an image of Mr Trudeau alongside a caption reading “The Anti-Trump”.

On it, Mr Trump reportedly jotted a note reading something to the effect of, “Looking good! Hope it’s not true!” according to the US news outlet.

The Canadian ambassador considered the note so strange he thought it was a prank, but after calling US officials was told the note was genuine.

Although some White House staff reportedly considered the note inappropriate, the National Security Council ultimately decided it was done in good humour and would be considered by Ottawa to be friendly contact.

Another exchange in December of that year reportedly saw Mr Trump send Mr Trudeau a document purporting to show a US trade deficit with Canada.

Mr Trudeau reportedly responded by including in his letter a printout of a US government website showing America actually has a trade surplus over its neighbour when services are included with goods.

The Canadian prime minister reportedly included a smiley face alongside the document.

Months later, on Dec. 8, 2017, President Trump falsely told a rally crowd in Pensacola, Florida, that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada. Around that same time, Trump also mailed Trudeau a document purporting to show that the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, according to a source with direct knowledge.

  • Trump wrote in Sharpie on the document: “Not good!!” or something to that effect, the source recalled. Trump’s document only mentioned America’s deficit in the trade of goods and ignored its surplus in services (the two combined would gave the U.S. its overall surplus).

A few weeks later, Trump received a handwritten letter from Trudeau. The note, on Trudeau’s official stationery marked by the Maple Leaf, began with a friendly tone, but ended with a drop of acid.

  • “Dear Donald,” Trudeau wrote in the letter dated Dec. 20, 2017, according to a source with direct knowledge of its contents, which 2 other sources confirmed. “It’s been a busy year! Enjoy the Christmas holidays — you deserve it.”
  • “One thing,” Trudeau added. “You gave a great speech in Pensacola, but you were slightly off on the balance of trade with Canada. USTR says so! All the best for 2018, Justin.”

The second page of the letter brought the kicker. Trudeau enclosed a printout of Canada’s informational page from the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

  • Trudeau underlined the section on the USTR website, which at the time reported that “the U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.” Trudeau circled the $12.5 billion and drew a cheeky little smiley face next to it, according to a source with direct knowledge.

A Canadian government official responded to this reporting: “We’re not going to comment on whether or what paper was exchanged between our 2 countries. There was a lot of back and forth. That said, it is certainly true that there were disagreements between our 2 countries about the figures, and we repeatedly pointed to USTR and U.S. Commerce’s own figures. On your second point (the Bloomberg cover), no comment, but we don’t deny it.”

Why this matters: The U.S.-Canadian relationship is, in normal times, low-friction. But not under Trump, who views Trudeau as an irritant at best. In a conversation in the White House last year, Trump told aides he thought Canada was “the worst” country to negotiate with. “Who would think? Canada?” Trump said.

  • Trump now says very little about Trudeau, according to an adviser, and believes he and his trade representative Bob Lighthizer got the better of the Canadians in their trade negotiations.

Behind the scenes: Trump privately refers to Trudeau as a “wise guy,” per sources with direct knowledge. He describes Trudeau as young and cocky, and he resents it when Trudeau comments on American politics.

  • Trump has gleefully recounted to aides how he threatened the Canadians with auto tariffs. He says it got him a better deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
  • Trump has also privately described Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland as “very nasty,” according to senior administration officials.
  • Trump was pleased with the optics of the G7 last year, an adviser said. Trump says he dominated Trudeau there, the adviser added, and loves the viral photo of himself sitting with his arms crossed as world leaders hover over him. Trump also relished leaving the summit early — snub to Trudeau, who Trump said had treated him with disrespect.
  • The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The big picture: The president is in Year 3 of his relationships with foreign leaders, and in some cases they’ve changed substantially. Trump’s bromance with France’s 41-year-old leader Emmanuel Macron has faded, and Trump privately places Macron in a similar “wise guy” category as the 47-year-old Trudeau.

  • Last week, Trump chided Macron on Twitter for “purporting” to represent the U.S. in conversations with Iran.
  • Trump has also hammered China with escalating tariffs and increasingly tough rhetoric — a significant change from his more frequent emphasis on his close personal relationship with President Xi Jinping in Year 1.

[Yahoo News ,Axios]

Trump blasts Scaramucci as ‘incapable’

President Trump on Saturday slammed former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci as having been “incapable” of the job.

“Anthony Scaramucci, who was quickly terminated (11 days) from a position that he was totally incapable of handling, now seems to do nothing but television as the all time expert on ‘President Trump.'” Trump tweeted Saturday night. 

Trump’s tweets came after Scaramucci said Trump’s visit to survivors of a Texas mass shooting was a “catastrophe.”

He added that Scaramucci “knows very little about me…other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence.”

Trump also wrote that his former aide “should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!” 

Scaramucci was ousted from his White House position after he made insulting comments to a reporter about fellow White House staff in an interview with the New Yorker.

Scaramucci on Thursday said on MSNBC that the president “didn’t do well on the trip” to El Paso, Texas. “Maybe he’ll tweet something negative about somebody for saying he didn’t do well, but the facts are he did not do well on the trip because if the trip is being made about him and not the demonstration of compassion and love and caring and empathy for those people, then it becomes a catastrophe for him, the administration, and it’s also a bad reflection on the country,” he added. 

[The Hill]

Reality

Donald Trump took time out of his 10-day vacation to blast his former employee Anthony Scaramucci as “incapable” and the only reason he is on TV is because Trump hired him.

Donald Trump hired Scaramucci after watching him as a pundit on CNBC!!!

Trump blasts Bill Maher for ‘so many lies’ after El Paso visit

President Trump called comedian Bill Maher a “wacko” Saturday and accused him of lying in remarks he made about the president’s trip to visit mass shooting victims in El Paso, Texas, earlier this week.

“Got to see, by accident, wacko comedian Bill Maher’s show – So many lies. He said patients in El Paso hospital didn’t want to meet with me,” Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon. “Wrong! Had really great meetings with numerous patients.”

“Said I was on vacation. Wrong! Long planned fix up of W.H., stay here rather than cause big disruption by going to Manhattan,” he continued. “Working almost all of the time, including evenings. Don’t have to be in W.H. to do that…And sooo many other false statements. He is right about one thing, though. I will win again in 2020. Otherwise, he pays 95% in taxes!”

Trump’s remarks came after Maher took aim at the president during his opening monologue for his network show on HBO the night before.

During the program, Maher said “none of the eight patients in the El Paso hospital would agree to meet with Trump, isn’t that something?” 

“They were, they were all asked would you like to meet the president they all said, ‘I’ll Paso,’ ” Maher joked.

Maher was referring to a recent report from The Washington Post, in which a spokesperson for the University Medical Center in El Paso said that none of the eight patients being treated for injuries from the recent mass shooting agreed to meet with Trump during his visit Wednesday.

“This is a very sensitive time in their lives. Some of them said they didn’t want to meet with the president, some of them didn’t want any visitors,” UMC spokesman Ryan Mielke told the newspaper at the time.

Later during his comedic routine on Friday night, Maher also claimed that the president would be off soon for a “well-earned two-week vacation,” which he jokingly added will be “different from working, how?”

“They want you to know president will be available at all times if there is an emergency that needs to be made worse,” he also jabbed.

Maher appeared to be referring to a recent report from The Associated Press that said the president would be leaving for his yearly August vacation to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for about 10 days starting Friday.

Maher responded to Trump’s comments later on Saturday over Twitter.

[The Hill]

Reality

El Paso UMC officials say none of the eight victims being treated there agreed to meet with Trump, per @BobMooreNews scoop. Two victims already discharged were brought back to the hospital to see Trump.

Trump Slams U.S. Military Exercises, Helps Kim Jong Un Blame America for Missile Launches

President Donald Trump released some details of the “beautiful letter” that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sent him recently, which apparently included a “small apology” for the recent missile tests, which Kim blamed on the U.S. military exercises that Trump called “ridiculous and expensive.”

During an impromptu press gaggle on the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Trump told reporters that he “got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un yesterday,” and while he gushed about the beauty and three-page (“right from top to bottom”) length of the letter, Trump would not reveal its beautiful contents.

But on Saturday morning, Trump did reveal some of Kim’s letter, writing that the dictator mostly complained about our country’s military exercises, and promised to end missile tests once those exercises stop. Trump called the exercises “expensive and ridiculous.”

Since Trump announced receipt of that beautiful letter, North Koreas has reportedly conducted another missile launch, its fifth in recent weeks. Trump has been a consistent critic of the U.S. military’s joint military exercises with South Korea, which Trump and the North Koreans call “war games.”

Watch Trump describe the beautiful three full page, right from top to bottom, feat of correspondence above, via CBS.

[Mediaite]

Trump snarls at NYT’s reporter for exposing his hospital visits as a ‘debacle’ in a Twitter meltdown

Donald Trump is already taking time out from his vacation to rage on Twitter, this time launching an assault on the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman who revealed on CNN on Friday that White House aides consider his trip to see victims of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso a “debacle” that was hidden from the public.

Kicking off Saturday morning’s usual flurry of tweets, the president raged, “Maggie Haberman of the Failing @nytimes reported that I was annoyed by the lack of cameras inside the hospitals in Dayton & El Paso, when in fact I was the one who stated, very strongly, that I didn’t want the Fake News inside & told my people NOT to let them in. Fake reporting!”

[Raw Story]

After watching Lou Dobbs, Trump attacked Google for firing an apparent white nationalist sympathizer

President Donald Trump spent part of Tuesday morning tweeting about a segment from Fox Business host Lou Dobbs’ show which championed Kevin Cernekee, a former Google engineer who claims he was fired because of the company’s purported anti-conservative bias. “All very illegal,” Trump concluded of the company’s purported actions, adding, “We are watching Google very closely!” This is at least the third time Trump has publicly suggested he would take action against Google based on what he’s seen on Fox.

Right-wing media have trumpeted Cernekee’s story over the past few days, with outlets fitting him neatly into their narrative that tech companies have it in for Republicans. But the story is more complicated than that: While it portrays him as a rank-and-file conservative, Cernekee appears to have repeatedly defended white nationalists on internal Google message boards.

How Cernekee’s story ended up on the president’s Twitter says a lot about the right-wing media ecosystem, their obsession with finding supposed conservative martyrs of tech companies, and Trump’s reckless consumption and promotion of whatever Fox News happens to put in front of his eyes.

The cautionary tale of “Republican engineer” Kevin Cernekee

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal’s Rob Copeland profiled Cernekee, portraying him as a “Republican engineer” fired from the company for the conservative views he expressed on the company’s internal message boards.

“Google told Mr. Cernekee in a termination letter that he was let go for multiple violations of company policies, including improperly downloading company information and misuse of the remote-access software system,” Copeland reported. “Mr. Cernekee, who hasn’t spoken publicly before about his status at Google, denies that. He says he was fired for being an outspoken conservative in famously liberal Silicon Valley.” 

Copeland largely paraphrased Cernekee’s message board posts or accepted his explanations of them rather than quoting their content. This made it impossible for readers to assess precisely what his views were. But the story’s 28th paragraph provides a tantalizing detail: A fellow conservative engineer “internally circulated a dossier describing Mr. Cernekee as ‘the face of the alt-right’ at Google” (that engineer was also later fired).

It remains contested whether Cernekee’s views triggered his termination. But the Journal’s framing of Cernekee as simply a “Republican” with “conservative take[s]” who stands up for other “right-leaning employees” created the impression that it is open season on anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton. That makes his actual opinions relevant. 

The Daily Caller, which has its own complicated history with the alt-right, pulled on that thread a few days later (though only after producing multiple stories amplifying Cernekee’s claims). Deputy Editor J. Arthur Bloom reported that Cernekee had “suggested raising money under the auspices of the company’s free speech listserv for a bounty to identify Richard Spencer’s assailant.” 

After Spencer, one of the nation’s most prominent white nationalists, was punched while giving an interview in January 2017, Cernekee suggested putting together a group donation to support the search for the puncher through racist troll Charles Johnson’s website.

Cernekee identified Spencer only as a “well known conservative activist.” When other Google employees pointed out that Spencer is “a prominent, vehement racist and anti­-Semite,” Cernekee defended him. 

The Daily Caller story was subsequently confirmed by BuzzFeed News tech reporter Ryan Mac. 

Bloom also reported that Cernekee had criticized a media description of the “Golden State Skinheads” as a neo-Nazi group, and he praised the organization for “[standing] up for free speech and free association.”

“Conservatives angry at big tech may view such postings as a cautionary lesson in the importance of vetting their cause célèbres,” Bloom concluded. 

Indeed.

Conservative media made Cernekee a cause célèbre

Right-wing media outlets have spent the last several years trumpeting complaints that social media platforms are biased against conservatives. This behavior is consistent with conservatives’ decades-long strategy of decrying the news media as biased against them in order to influence media coverage. But it is inconsistent with the facts.

“There is no evidence that Google, Facebook, or any other major tech company is biased against conservative employees or conservative content,” Recode reported in response to Cernekee’s allegations. “While it is true that most tech employees lean liberal in their personal beliefs, that doesn’t mean that their employers discriminate in the workplace, or in the products they build and maintain.”

Cernekee’s story echoed the conservative narrative about tech companies’ bias, and it rocketed through the right-wing media after Thursday’s Wall Street Journal profile. He was treated as both a conservative martyr and as a credible source for information on Google’s operations.

Notably, these aggregations portrayed Cernekee as a typical conservative, with only the Post mentioning that Cernekee had been linked to the “alt-right.”

By Friday night, Cernekee was being feted on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, a regular home for both deceptive attacks on tech companies and white supremacist talking points. After providing the former engineer the platform to repeat his allegation that he was fired for being a conservative, Carlson turned his attention to Google’s influence on the 2020 election. 

“Do you believe that Google will attempt to influence the election outcome or will attempt to try to prevent Trump from being reelected?” Carlson asked. 

“I do believe so. I think that’s a major threat,” he replied. 

“And yet, Congress, including Republicans are just sitting back and acting like it’s not happening,” Carlson responded. “It’s disgusting. Kevin, thank you for sounding that alarm.” 

That appearance launched a new wave of aggregations by conservative media outlets.

Fox’s morning show Fox & Friends hosted Cernekee on Monday where he repeated his allegation that Google intends to prevent Trump’s reelection. 

That interview, in turn, became the basis for a segment on the Monday night edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, which aired several hours after the Daily Caller published its story detailing Cernekee’s postings. 

“That is nasty stuff,” the host commented of Cernekee’s allegations, “and by the way, it’s illegal.” He later added that the Justice Department “should be sitting right inside the Google complex” to prevent “a fraud on the American public.” His guest, Breitbart.com’s Peter Schweizer, added that DOJ should be “monitoring what Google is doing in real time now.”

Dobbs’ show attracts fewer than 400,000 viewers on average. But Trump is often one of them, and he was apparently watching Monday night. 

Cernekee’s allegations enter the Trump-Fox feedback loop

Trump is obsessed with Fox, watching hours of its programming every day and frequently tweeting about segments that catch his attention. This Trump-Fox feedback loop regularly influences the Trump administration’s policy, personnel, and political strategy. 

On Monday morning, Trump promised to “honor the sacred memory of those we have lost” during mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH, by “acting as one people.” That night, he tweeted three clips from Dobbs’ show. Two of the president’s tweets dealt with the program’s discussion of Cernekee’s claim that Google is biased against him. 

The next morning, after tweeting two quotes from the morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, Trump returned to the issue of Google’s bias. 

In a tweetstorm, the president contrasted what he said he had been told by Google CEO Sundar Pichai with what he had heard on Dobbs’ show the previous night, including from Cernekee.

The Trump-Fox feedback loop is particularly salient in giving the president targets for his ire, and the network’s obsession with tech platform bias has repeatedly resulted in angry Trump tweets. This is at least the third time Trump has responded to Fox segments by tweeting that his administration would take action against Google.

In August 2018, in response to a conspiracy-minded Dobbs segment, the president accused Google of illegally “suppressing voices of Conservatives” adding that his administration would address the situation. 

And last month, Trump tweeted that his administration would review whether Google has committed “treason” after he saw a Fox & Friends news brief in which one of his supporters baselessly floated that claim. 

Conservatives have a political and financial interest in ginning up claims that the tech platforms are biased against them, and right-wing media eagerly amplify their claims for their own interests. This pattern will continue and such issues that don’t hold up to scrutiny will be thrust into the mainstream discourse because the president of the United States loves to watch Fox News.

[Media Matters]

Trump Ratchets Up U.S.-China Trade War With More Tariffs; Stocks Slide

President Trump announced Thursday that the United States will impose a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of products imported from China, saying Beijing had broken some of the promises it made in trade negotiations.

The new tariffs, which are set to take effect Sept. 1, represent another ratcheting up in trade tensions between the countries and sent stocks falling sharply. 

Major U.S. stock indexes fell about 1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 280 points. Oil prices tumbled about 8% after Trump’s announcement on concerns that the tariffs would hurt demand.

The move comes days after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin traveled to Shanghai for a brief meeting about trade with Chinese officials.

The White House said the meeting was “constructive” and negotiations were scheduled to resume in September in Washington, D.C.

But Trump indicated he was disappointed by the lack of progress in the talks, saying China had failed to follow through on promises to curb the sale of fentanyl and buy more products from U.S. farmers.

“Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!” Trump said in a tweet.

Still, the president tried to strike a more positive tone than he has in the past, saying, “We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!”

The president has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. In May, Trump had threatened additional tariffs but suspended them at the last minute.

Now, he is going ahead with tariffs after all, though at a lower rate than before.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time since 2008 amid signs that the economies of the United States and other countries are slowing. The central bank also cited the uncertainty created by the standoff with China.

“Certainly, we’ve seen … that when there’s a sharp confrontation between two large economies, you can see effects on business confidence pretty quickly and on financial markets pretty quickly,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a news conference after the interest rate announcement.

Industry groups said the new tariffs will hurt shoppers and threaten jobs.

“We are disappointed the administration is doubling-down on a flawed tariff strategy that is already slowing U.S. economic growth, creating uncertainty and discouraging investment,” David French, vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. “These additional tariffs will only threaten U.S. jobs and raise costs for American families on everyday goods.”

Matt Priest, head of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in a statement: “President Trump is, in effect, using American families as a hostage in his trade war negotiations. Tariffs are taxes and this move will noticeably raise the cost of shoes at retail and will have a chilling effect on hiring in the footwear industry.”

Trump has lately indicated that the U.S. can win a trade war with Beijing, pointing out that China’s economy has been slowing after a long period of rapid growth.

U.S. officials want China to address the theft of intellectual property, stop subsidizing its companies and open its markets to more U.S. goods.

[NPR]

Trump Claims He’s ‘Least Racist Person’ While Calling Don Lemon ‘Dumbest Man’ On TV

President Donald Trump lambasted CNN’s Don Lemon as “dumb” and “stupid” after the Democratic debate moderator asked questions about the president’s “bigotry” on Tuesday.

Trump called Lemon, who is black, “the dumbest man on television” on Twitter Wednesday, an insult he has used against the CNN anchor in the past.

The president also insisted he is “the least racist person in the world,” appearing to quote himself. In the last month, he has unleashed racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color, as well as Rep. Elijah Cummings and the predominantly black city of Baltimore.

Lemon asked a series of questions regarding the current administration and race during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate on CNN.

He asked former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and later former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, about Trump’s race baiting: “President Trump is pursuing a reelection strategy based in part, on racial division. How do you convince primary voters that you’d be the best nominee to take on President Trump and heal the racial divide in America?”

O’Rourke responded that we should “call his racism out for what it is, and also talk about its consequences.”

“It doesn’t just offend our sensibilities to hear him say ‘send her back,’ about a member of Congress, because she’s a woman color, because she’s a Muslim-American, doesn’t just offend our sensibilities when he calls Mexican immigrants ‘rapists and criminals,’ or seeks to ban all Muslims from the shores of a country that’s comprised of people from the world over, from every tradition of faith,” said the Texan.

Lemon also asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar what she’d “say to those Trump voters who prioritize the economy over the president’s bigotry?”

Klobuchar responded that “there are people that voted for Donald Trump before that aren’t racist; they just wanted a better shake in the economy. And so I would appeal to them,” before adding: “I don’t think anyone can justify what this president is doing.”

Trump’s attack on Lemon echoed comments from right-wing commentators, including Fox News’ Howard Kurtz and Laura Ingraham, who questioned why Lemon would say Trump “traffics in racial division.”

O’Rourke tweeted Wednesday that “Donald Trump is a racist,” alongside a video of his response to Lemon’s question.

[Huffington Post]

In C-SPAN Interview, Trump Hits Fox News and John Roberts for Covering Protester at Speech

President Donald Trump once again complained tonight about Fox News covering a protester at his Jamestown speech this morning.

A Virginia state legislator interrupted the president’s speech in protest of Trump’s “racism and bigotry.”

Trump complained directly to Roberts during a Q&A with reporters this afternoon. Roberts subsequently responded to the president on air saying, “In my 1:00 report, we did not show anything from the president’s speech because we were focused in that report on the ongoing feud between the president and Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland and the fallout from that, but it should be pointed out that in our 11:00 hour the Fox News Channel carried that speech in its entirety.”

Whether or not Trump saw that from Roberts, he’s clearly still steamed.

Trump was asked by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully about his tweets on Baltimore and whether he is a uniter as president.

Trump went from talking about the “tremendous divide” between the parties to decrying the “Russian hoax” and defending Mitch McConnell to touting his administration’s accomplishments.

“But they read the tweets,” Scully said. “Do they think you’re a uniter as president?”

Trump said he “wouldn’t need to” tweet if the press covered him fairly.

And then he complained about Fox:

“There was one protester who stood up… he held up a sign and he said whatever he said. Something… I don’t need publicity, Steve, at all, but I just thought it was so terrible, and it was on Fox with John Roberts. He talked about the protester for almost an entire segment of that. And I said isn’t that a shame. One guy stands up, not an impressive person, he stood up and he got all of this –– he took the whole thing away. One person.”

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump Rips NBC for ‘Negative’ Coverage: ‘I Made a Lot of Money’ for Them With The Apprentice

President Donald Trump sat down with C-SPAN’s Steve Scully for an interview that ended up touching on the media in a few different ways.

As Scully asked the president about his Twitter habits and whether he regrets it, Trump talked about using Twitter as a tool to communicate directly with the people and hit back at the “dishonest” news.

He called CNN “100 percent negative” and then went on a tear against NBC:

“NBC is negative. I made a lot of money for NBC with The Apprentice. It was a tremendous success at a time when they didn’t have any successes. But they forgot about that very quickly. And they wanted to extend me… I wanted to run for president, I think I’ve done a great job.”

[Mediaite]

Media

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