Keeping the community safe is not manifestly unjust

Stuff reports:

A man who drove around two Bay of Plenty towns threatening people up with a sawn-off shotgun to take their shoes, watches and phones has been jailed for 14 years after clocking up his “third strike” offence.

This is excellent, as without three strikes he might have got a sentence of just a few years.

In the space of a few days he pointed a sawn-off shotgun at four different groups of people robbing them. He pulled people out of cars and and punched and kicked them. He rammed another car on purpose.

And this was not just him having a bad day. He has four previous convictions for aggravated robbery. He has never had a job and has been a patched member of two gangs.

But despite this the Judge thought it would be manifestly unjust to make the 14 years without parole, so he is eligible for parole in less than five years.

On the plus side, I can’t see the Parole Board releasing him anytime soon, so he may end up serving the full 14 years unless he changes.

Winston apologises

Stuff reports:

Former deputy prime minister Winston Peters has apologised for comments he made on national television alleging former Mongrel Mob member Harry Tam helped a Covid-positive case breach the Auckland border.

On Friday, Tam, a former senior civil servant who now works with gangs, sent the former deputy prime minister and NZ First leader a legal letter, calling for a public retraction and apology by 5pm on Tuesday.

If Winston hadn’t apologised, he would have lost badly in court and had to admit his highly reliable source was an anonymous facebook post!

A great FTA with the UK

Radio NZ reports:

New Zealand has agreed in principle to the United Kingdom’s second free trade deal since Brexit, eventually eliminating tariffs on all New Zealand exports to the country.

The deal, worth an estimated $1 billion over 15 years to the New Zealand economy, would eliminate tariffs on all New Zealand exports, including honey, wine, kiwifruit, onions, most industrial products and – crucially – a range of dairy and beef products.

It also includes provisions ensuring animal welfare, and commitments to address environmentally harmful subsidies like those for fossil fuels or overfished stocks.

More than 97 percent of tariffs will be removed as soon as it takes effect, but would take up to five years for dairy and 15 for sheep meat and beef tariffs to be completely removed.

This is a great agreement. I don’t really care that there is a long phase in time, so long as the eventual destination gets us the tariffs gone.

Charles Finny notes:

If you had told me 10 years ago that New Zealand would on 21 October 2021 announce agreement in principle on a comprehensive high quality free trade agreement with the UK, and that agreement, over time, would lead to full free trade in beef, lamb and dairy products, I would have asked what you had been smoking or drinking.  

This would never have happened had the UK remained in the EU.

The intellectual property agreement is interesting. New Zealand has agreed to extend the copyright term for authors, performers and producers by 20 years. This will make it easier for New Zealand to meet US demands, should the US seek to rejoin the big Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  

This is the only part I find disappointing, but a small price to pay for the overall deal. It takes copyright terms from life +50 years to life + 70 years. I think it should be at most life + 20 years so if a creator dies, their children will benefit from their works until they become adults. But I don’t see any benefits in works remaining in copyright for sometimes 140 years. No one is motivated to create more work in the hope it will earn revenue 70 years after they are dead.

The Prime Minister and Damien O’Connor and the negotiating team need full credit for what has been achieved so far, and it is great that Boris Johnson and his Government are prepared to deliver on their free trade rhetoric.

Yep full credit to our Government and to Boris, who has walked the walk.

How things have changed, for the worse

The Herald has an obituary for Peter Scherer, their editor from 1985 to 1996. It includes:

The editorial column was the only place in the paper he wanted to see a journalist’s opinion. He was a newspaperman of an age when reporters dealt strictly in facts and quotations, not impressions, descriptions, comment, analysis or anything that could be attributed to their opinion.

Bylines were a rarity when he was starting out and if readers never saw the editor’s name in the paper, that was exactly as he thought it should be. When he retired in 1996 he said, “In 41 years, I cannot remember writing for publication in the first-person singular.”

If newspapers still operated like this today, far more people would still read them.

Murupara’s decisions should affect them, not NZ

Maori TV reports:

A Murupara kaumātua says he and other local Māori don’t want the Pfizer vaccine and are waiting for other vaccines they think will be more effective.

The central North Island town has the lowest vaccination rate in the country despite the push to increase Māori vaccination rates. More than 90 per cent of its residents are Māori.

But Pem Bird of Ngāti Manawa says they won’t be getting the jab just yet.

“We’re not following the Crown’s directive. That has been our position for a while,” he said. “We won’t jump when we’re told to. We want the freedom to choose. We want a different vaccine.”

The majority of Murupara have every right to decline the Pfizer vaccine. That is their right. I think it is a stupid decision that will lead to many in their community getting sick or dying, but that is their decision.

But their decision, should not hold the rest of NZ hostage. New Zealand should lift lockdowns based on everyone having had the opportunity to get the vaccine, not based on a specific percentage. If the Government says that 95% of over 12s must be vaccinated to lift the lockdown in Auckland, then the decisions of people in places like Murupara will effectively hold Auckland hostage.

There is no longer any supply constraints on the Pfizer vaccine. The Government should say that everyone who wants their first jab has until say 1 November to get it. With three weeks wait for a second job, that is 22 November for second jabs and around 6 December for the vaccines to be fully effective.

Why were opposition MPs banned from the vaxathon?

Jason Walls writes:

But there was something the vaxathon did lack – the presence of Opposition MPs.

The event organisers were able to get US-based former pro-wrestler Chavo Guerrero to deliver a “get vaccinated” message to the people of New Zealand, but not a single National or Act MP made an appearance.

This is despite Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi both showing up for live crosses.

It is understood that both Act and National made MPs available for the vaxathon, but were not given the opportunity to meaningfully participate.

This came as a shock to both camps, especially given comments made by Ardern when announcing Super Saturday earlier this month.

“Our political parties have different views on aspects of the Covid-19 response, but we are all united in one thing: vaccination.

“So Super Saturday will be an opportunity for all of us to put aside our political differences—just for 24 hours—and work together for a cause that we all support.”

Her comments couldn’t have been clearer, which is why the backrooms of both parties were confused as to why they had not been contacted about participating in the event.

Their confusion turned to frustration when they ran into brick wall after brick wall, trying to get the likes of David Seymour and Shane Reti into the run sheet.

Even Judith Collins – who was quarantining in Wellington after spending a few days in Auckland ahead of attending Parliament this week – didn’t get to pass on so much as a video message.

Having politicians from across all political parties involved in promoting a single, strong “get vaccinated” message could have only helped the event.

As much as the Government’s tried, there are still more than a few vaccine-hesitant people across the country who won’t listen to the Government.

They might have listened to a Seymour, a Reti or a Collins.

It was a missed opportunity. People whose politics lean right and are vaccine hesitant are more likely to respond to messages from MPs whose politics are closest to them. The vaxathon did well, but if they hadn’t banned opposition MPs, it may have done even better.

Can Trump save the Democrats?

The Herald reports:

Former US president Donald Trump has issued a strange threat, saying Republican voters will boycott the nation’s next two election cycles unless his claims about widespread fraud in 2020 are “solved”.

Trump made the declaration in a brief, two-sentence statement after a judge in Georgia dismissed a lawsuit from his supporters, who were seeking to inspect 147,000 mail ballots.

Eleven months on from his defeat to Joe Biden, Trump still insists he actually won.

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” he warned yesterday.

It is highly likely the Democrats will lose the House and the Senate in the 2022 midterms. It seems the only thing that could save them is Trump telling Republicans not to vote as the elections are rigged.

Trump’s election rhetoric was widely blamed for the poor turnout among Republican voters for a pair of close Senate elections in January, which resulted in Biden’s Democrats claiming total control of Congress.

Yep, he handed Georgia and the Senate to the Democrats with his claims. So he may save the day for them again.

Sir Ray Avery on a Path Forward (shared from Linkedin)

ARE WE THERE YET ?
                   PRIME MINISTER TIME TO TURN ON THE SAT NAV


The Governments Covid mitigation plan is akin to the old days where Jacinda Adern would be holding up an A-Z roadmap ,looking for street signs and telling Ashley Bloomfield which turn to look out for on the road ahead.

The reality is we were lost ,day one, by starting off on the wrong road to Covid elimination.

This turned out to be a cul-de -sac and we are back  where we were nearly two years ago in Lockdown still trying to flatten the curve to prevent our failing Hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by Covid patients.

Millions of dollars has been spent on University academics who have no practical experience in the prevention of infectious diseases and who use theoretical models to predict how many Covid infections will occur is like asking a blind man for directions.

We need to get out the Sat Nav and key in a destination because the Sat Nav has a plan and can provide the safest and quickest route to our final destination.

The key objective for any leader is to look after the health and wellbeing of their people and in this regard our Prime Minister has failed her people.

Implementing one of the most draconian Global lockdown strategies to attempt to reduce Covid numbers and not factoring in the effects of these strategies on the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders is a road to disaster.

None of the Covid modelling strategies or the Governments Covid prevention plans have included long-term strategies to minimize the negative flow on effects that ongoing lockdowns have on the health and wellbeing and ongoing financial security of our people.

By way of example 84,991 Hospital patient procedures have been cancelled since lockdowns began. Tens of thousands of breast and bowel cancer screenings will not take place because the Government has not invested in Hospitals as part of its Covid mitigation strategy. The Government has no plans to address these problems.

Every day NZ police file around 450 domestic violence reports.

Foodbanks abound in our new NZ.

Our domestic violence and mental health agencies are overwhelmed as families are pressed together with increasing financial and emotional pressures and no sign of relief on the road ahead.

New Zealand has one of the lowest Covid Case Related Mortality rates in the world. This has nothing to do with the Governments Covid strategy but is due to being an island nation with a small population, low population density and social and environmental conditions which prevent high viral loads of Covid being transmitted in the community.

We need a holistic long term science based Covid plan that looks after the overall health and wellbeing of our people rather than taking directions from someone with an outdated map and no plan for the journey ahead.

Because otherwise in 2022 we will still be saying ARE WE THERE YET?

Sir Ray

National’s targets to end lockdowns

Judith Collins announced:

“We would put an end to lockdowns, reopen our economy and reconnect to the world when we hit 85-90 per cent vaccination, along with district health board and age-based milestones, or on December 1, whichever comes earlier.

For those who think 1 December is too early, by then Auckland will have spent 106 days or 15 weeks in lockdown.

How is Labour doing four years in?

Jacinda Ardern in 2019 declared that to be the year of delivery, so at the two year mark of her Government I assessed how their delivery had gone. I did the same at the three year mark and am delighted to do so again now they have have four years to deliver on their promises.

In summary their delivery is:

  • 1.2% of the way to their 100,000 affordable homes goal
  • 4.3% of the way to their one billion trees goal
  • 2.4% of the way to their emission free government fleet goal
  • Homelessness increased 463%
  • Net greenhouse gas emissions increased 0.99%
  • Child poverty rate has reduced by 0.4 percentage points
  • Has not yet started construction of Dunedin Hospital, promised to commence by 2020
  • Has not yet started construction of Auckland Light Rail, promised to be finished by 2021
  • Has decreased the proportion of the public sector outside Wellington by 5.6%, despite promising to relocate Government to the regions
  • The share of renewable electricity has declined from 83.4% to 78.8% despite promising 100% renewable
  • Said free tertiary frees would boost tertiary enrolments 15%, but they have dropped 3.9%

I will of course do another update in October 2022 and October 2023. We have a bit of left over money from the 2020 advertising, so can look to promote these again.

RIP Colin Powell

Colin Powell has died aged 84. He is one of those rare people who could have been President, but never ran for the office.

He grew up in the South Bronx as the son of immigrants from Jamaica. In 1958 he joined the Army, training in Georgia, where many establishments refused to serve him because he was black. His ranks were:

  • 1958 – 2nd lieutenant
  • 1959 – 1st lieutenant
  • 1962 – Captain
  • 1966 – Major
  • 1970 – Lieutenant Colonel
  • 1976 – Colonel
  • 1979 – Brigadier General
  • 1983 – Major General
  • 1986 – Lieutenant General
  • 1989 – General

He served and was wounded in Vietnam. He later served as National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan where he helped negotiate arms treaties with the USSR. He was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to George HW Bush and Secretary of State to George W Bush. He became famous as Chairman during the first Gulf War,.

Polls showed that if had stood in 1996 against Bill Clinton, he would have won by a landslide 12%. Later as Secretary of State he had an almost unprecedented 88% approval rating.

Colin Powell was a stellar example of the American Dream – the son of immigrants who ended up with some of the highest offices in the land.

Game-changing housing reform

Judith Collins announced:

National has worked constructively with the Government in support of a new Bill to amend the Resource Management Act to make it easier for New Zealanders to build more houses, says Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins.

“New Zealand is facing a housing emergency with a severe shortage of homes and runaway house price inflation driving increasing inequality and locking too many out of home ownership.

“In January, I wrote to the Prime Minister proposing that National and Labour work on a bipartisan and urgent solution to the housing crisis.

“As I said then, our resource consent process makes it too difficult to build more housing in New Zealand. I suggested a special Select Committee be established to develop emergency legislation to open up housing supply, in advance of longer-term reform of the RMA.

“In April, I presented a draft Bill that would have required  local authorities to zone more space for new housing, drastically cutting consent requirements for those wishing to build new dwellings whether through intensification or greenfields development. My Bill was based on proven measures National took in Canterbury following the earthquakes which led to a surge in house-building.

“In June, Ministers Megan Woods and David Parker wrote to National confirming they saw merit in my proposal to increase the supply of residential housing.  They welcomed National’s contribution to further development of policy to allow a serious uplift in new housing in urban areas.

“National has appreciated the opportunity to contribute constructively to this development process.

“While Parliament is an adversarial place by nature, it is important that politics can be put aside in emergency situations – be it responding to terror attacks, getting the message out on vaccinations, or addressing our housing emergency.

“National sees the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill as a step forward. The changes it contains will allow New Zealanders to do more on their land without needing a resource consent, reducing the time, cost and complexity that too often greets those who want to build new dwellings.

“I see these measures as being consistent with National’s commitment to cutting red-tape, freeing-up options for where new dwellings can be built, enhancing the rights of property owners and effectively creating a ‘right to build’ in existing urban areas.

“It is important to note that nothing in the Bill forces people to build more density. This is simply about removing barriers that can get in the way of sensible development.

“I am pleased that in addition to measures supporting intensification the Bill will also allow local authorities to fast-track private-plan changes for new greenfields development.

“National believes Kiwis need a variety of choices when it comes to buying or building a home, whether it be a classic house and garden, a modern townhouse, or a granny-flat out the back of an existing dwelling. Choice is important.

“Today is truly a historic moment for New Zealand: a time when our two major political parties stepped up together to give Kiwis the Right to Build. It is a positive reflection on our democracy and our system of government that, when the time requires, National and Labour can work together to tackle the big issues facing New Zealand.”

“National welcomes a Select Committee process for this Bill, and looks forward to continuing to play our part in making this as a robust and helpful a piece of legislation as possible.”

This is exceptionally pleasing – both for the substance of the bill, and to have National and Labour work together on this.

We do have a housing crisis, and the changes announced will increase the supply of houses – and this is critical to reining in house prices.

It isn’t a silver bullet by itself, but a very important step.

Credit to Nicola Willis, Judith Collins, Megan Woods and David Parker for their work together on this issue.

Are there no film crews in Auckland?

The Herald reports:

Seven Auckland-based crew were flown to Wellington to film Saturday’s vaxathon.

The staff belonged to Pango productions and NEP. All tested negative before flying to Wellington.

Are there no film crews in Wellington. Wellington is the film capital of New Zealand. Why on earth was it necessary to use an Auckland based company to film in Wellington?

So how many ICU beds do we have?

Tracy Watkins writes:

When Health Minister Andrew Little claimed ICU beds had increased by more than 100 in the 15 months since Covid, Wellington ICU specialist Paul Young did a very unusual thing. He went on the public record to call BS on the minister’s numbers.

“I challenge you to visit any ICU in the country and find one clinician (just one) who can show their newly staffed beds,” Young tweeted.

You can either believe the minister or you can believe the people who are working at the coalface. I know who I believe.

Presumably Andrew Little meant that they had purchased 100 additional mattresses!

The truth is, it has been almost impossible to penetrate the spin surrounding ICU capacity for months now. I first started asking in the middle of winter when an RSV outbreak put hospitals under severe strain.

I was following up on an April 2020 press release on the Ministry of Health website that said ICU capacity was supposed to have been “urgently tripled” to 550 by July that year.

Yet in July 2021 when I first approached the MOH for an update on progress towards those 550 beds, they queried it as a number that they didn’t recognise as coming from the ministry.

So the Government promised to triple capacity to 550, then denied it had promised it!

They added that there were currently 284 ICU beds. That seemed to suggest a drop of around 60 beds on the previous year.

But that figure of 284 is different again from the one that Little quoted on Radio New Zealand last week of 340.

Yet according to an audit by the Australia New Zealand Intensive Care Society released just last week, none of those numbers are correct – the actual figure is just over 172 fully staffed adult ICU beds, and 14 fully staffed paediatric beds, a total of 186.

A big difference between 186 and 550.

Inflation at almost 25 year high

Inflation is great for the Government and awful for families. High inflation pushes people into higher tax brackets so every household will end up paying more in terms of their average income tax rate and more in terms of GST. So the Government gets more money, but households are left with less real after tax income.

Stats NZ reported:

The consumers price index rose 2.2 percent in the September 2021 quarter, the biggest quarterly movement since a 2.3 percent rise in the December 2010 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Excluding quarters impacted by increases to GST rates, the September quarter movement was the highest since the June 1987 quarter, which saw a 3.3 percent rise.

Annual inflation was 4.9 percent in the September 2021 quarter when compared with the September 2020 quarter. This was the biggest annual movement since inflation reached 5.3 percent between the June 2010 and June 2011 quarters.

Excluding periods impacted by changes to GST rates, the September 2021 annual inflation was the highest since it reached 5.1 percent in the September 2008 year.

So excluding periods when GST changed (which saw compensating tax cuts) the annual inflation is at a 13 year high and quarterly inflation is at an 24 year high.

This is not surprising with all the extra money the Government has printed and borrowed.

Now that’s a devaluation

Reuters reports:

Venezuela on Friday launched its second monetary overhaul in three years by cutting six zeros from the bolivar currency in response to hyperinflation, simplifying accounting but doing little to ease the South American nation’s economic crisis.

Good to see socialism continuing to do so well there.

Guest Post: The Great Facebook Calamity of 2021

A guest post by Melissa Lee:

This month across the world but particularly here in New Zealand, a great calamity struck millions of netizens with the fall of Facebook’s platforms due to internal network issues. Gone was the Facebook App, gone was Messenger, MessengerLite Instagram and WhatsApp. Even Pokémon Go was affected by the sudden and dramatic disruption on the way so many of us now engage online.

It was a shock to the systems of many and shock is the right word, because, Facebook has now become one of the primary tools for communications and information dissemination within global culture. Facebook and its platforms have, whether they intended or not, become an archive of human history and endeavour as digital photo albums and Facebook posts replace hard bound leather bundles, diaries and scrapbooks of our parents’ generation or the oral histories of our ancestors

The effect of the Facebook outage is still unknown at the time I write this but it is amazing to think of how much of our lives could be lost if Facebook were to permanently disappear overnight. How many late night messages between friends and loved ones could vanish into the ether of the digital abyss? We simply have no clue as to the societal damage but I imagine it would be likened to a mesh of the Fires of the Alexandria Library mixed with the personal feeling of a cherished family home burning down. How many of you have backed up your Facebook data and how many of you will be doing so the moment the platform is restored?

Today’s event, I hope, is a wakeup call to those who have their lives tied to one digital platform, to those that may have forgotten the subtle art of writing a letter or reading a long-form article in one of the great literary journals from Time to North & South. It is a (hopefully) temporary chance to reconnect ourselves with the other options for content dissemination and for the direct inter-personnel connection with others. The latter of course, being a barely permitted thing in the Auckland and Waikato regions for the time being but for the rest of New Zealand, the question remains as to how many of you last saw your best friend from High School or your flatmate from your University days. I bet it was on Facebook and you gave it a like even though they may live only a few kilometres away.

The digital revolution has shaped our lives so much for the better. It has allowed us all to keep in touch in seconds not in the months of the mail steamers of previous generations. Rather than families holding live Wakes for those emigrating overseas in the knowledge it was a near universal truth their brothers, daughters or cousins would never be seen again. Today, we can pop them a quick note on Facebook.

Well, not today.

For now we may have to think of another way to make them know we are thinking about them dearly instead. Stay positive and, just maybe, use today to make plans for that Level 3 picnic tomorrow.

NB: Melissa wrote this on the day of the outage. I’ve only got around to publishing it today as have been snowed under.

I’m on Jacinda’s side on this one

The Herald reports:

Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her wedding venue and the angry owner says the Prime Minister won’t pay a $5000 fee.

Unless the fee was documented and agreed to at the time of booking, there is no obligation to pay it.

Pierson said the couple had requested their friend, celebrity chef Peter Gordon, do the catering.

“Jacinda told me, ‘Peter Gordon has always said he wanted to be involved in my wedding’ to which I said, ‘I’ll have a free cooking lesson any day,’ thinking it would be a collaborative effort and we would be working together.

“My food is nothing like what Peter Gordon would do. I’m sure Clarke wouldn’t be bragging ‘Robin Pierson did our wedding’. I don’t think that cuts the mustard,” Pierson said.

I would have thought the sensible thing to do is explicitly ask if Peter Gordon would just be providing the menu and overseeing the kitchen, or doing all the catering himself. If someone told me they wanted to use my venue but say have Rith Pretty do the catering, I’d assume that would mean she is providing all the food, staff etc.

Pierson said Barbara Ward, Ardern’s electorate secretary, visited the Bushmere Arms to assist the couple with their wedding plans in early May.

Presumably this was on her own time, and not as part of her job.

“A week later I got sent a proposed menu from Peter Gordon’s ‘man’, which had been worked out with the bride and groom. It was then I suddenly realised I wasn’t involved in the catering at all and that Peter Gordon had clearly been contracted to do the food.

“The day they were here they should have been upfront and said, ‘I’m contracted to do the food now,’ but I don’t think he wanted to share the limelight with anybody.

Pierson was asked by Gordon to provide lettuce leaves from his garden, plums, homemade shortbread, and some mini pizzas for late-night snacks.

“It was insulting and I told them that too. In a cover letter with the menu, they thanked me for my hospitality. They were working on pricing for the event for the staff labour and the venue only.

“Peter Gordon was invoicing them separately for the food he was creating. I emailed back to say how insulted I was and told them the venue would cost $28,000.

So he got the pip and the demanded an outrageous amount for venue hire.

“Barbara sent me an email saying she was sorry I was insulted and that everything had gone ‘pear-shaped’. She then asked for a price and menu for Peter Gordon as a guest only. I emailed an outline and said the cost would be $100 to $110 per person, depending on the final menu,” Pierson said.

So he said the venue would be $28,000 by itself but if he did the catering the entire cost would drop to around $15,000. I’m sorry, but seems unprofessional to me.

Pierson said he was now in dispute over a $5000 cancellation fee.

He claimed he had been accommodating with the wedding date being changed several times because of Covid–19 and the couple’s hectic schedule.

“They have offered me $1200 and I’ve yet to get back to them. They say my fee is ‘unfounded’ but It’s not up to them to tell me what my cancellation fee is,” Pierson said.

Actually it is. You can’t unilaterally decide what a cancellation fee is. It needs to be stated in writing and agreed to by the party making the booking.

Midwives refusing vaccination

Newshub reported:

Midwives who would rather quit their jobs than get vaccinated against COVID-19 are urging the Government to rethink its vaccine mandate for the health workforce.

But COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins isn’t budging, saying it’s essential that people who work with children are vaccinated in order to keep them safe. 

Ten of Taranaki District Health Board’s 63 registered midwives have said they won’t be getting vaccinated against the deadly disease, effectively ending their careers. 

This may in fact increase the safety of maternity services in Taranaki.

Don’t get me wrong. The vast majority (over 95%) of midwives are great and do a superb job. But there is a small fraction who regard medical intervention as “unnatural” and don’t call for assistance in time when a birth becomes complicated, and this often has tragic results. I suspect there is a big crossover between that small fraction and the small fraction who refuse to be vaccinated.

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