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S.C. House candidate is running to abolish his own job

Michael Stewart
Carolina News and Reporter

John Crangle, Democratic candidate for S.C. House District 75, has spent much of his adult life advocating for reforms in government, giving him a unique perspective on how to make the legislature better serve the people.

John Crangle is a Democrat running for the South Carolina House of Representatives, but he is already planning to wipe out his own legislative chamber if elected.

After spending decades rooting out corruption in the State House, the longtime face of the watchdog organization Common Cause in South Carolina, has seen first-hand what he considers to be incompetence at the highest level.

“I’ve been going over there since 1987 and most legislators don’t know anything about the actual process,” Crangle, 77,  said. “Whatever the majority leader tells them to do, that’s what they do.”

Crangle plans to tackle the problem with a radical solution. He wants to abolish the South Carolina House of Representatives and establish a full-time Senate as a unicameral legislature. He believes the House has become a training ground for future senators.

“Quite frankly, the quality of senator on average is higher than in the House,” Crangle said. “It’s kind of like the difference between Double-A baseball and Class A baseball, though in this case it may be more of Double-A to college.”

According to Crangle, combining that inability to perform the job, with what he says is a continued culture of corruption in the State House, results in an inefficient and wasteful legislature.

Adopting a unicameral legislature would mean South Carolina. would join Nebraska as the only other state with one legislative body. In 1934, Nebraska approved a constitutional amendment abolishing the House of Representatives and in 1937 “the Unicameral” met for the first time.

Nebraska’s legislature is made up of 49 senators, each chosen by a single-member district or constituency a nonpartisan election. What this means is the top two vote-getters in each primary are entitled to run in the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

John Hibbing, a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says that Nebraskans, on the whole, are happy with their form of state representation.

“It works pretty well and the differences are maybe less than they would appear to an outsider,” Hibbing said in a telephone interview. “I think if there was a proposal to change back to two-house legislature, it would probably fail.”

The Nebraska Legislature differs slightly from what Crangle hopes to accomplish in South Carolina. Nebraska senators still spend only 60 to 90 days a year in the capital, Lincoln, performing legislative duties, far from the full-time scenario Crangle envisions.

And the different demographics of the two states make it hard to project whether voters would be as pleased as they are in Nebraska.

“There’s a strong populist tradition here,” Hibbing said. “I think Nebraskans are a little bit proud of it, something unique as the only one in the union.”

To get to a one-house general assembly, Crangle will have to navigate the complicated process of amending the South Carolina Constitution. Scott Huffmon, professor of political science at Winthrop University, says that may look easier than it actually is.

“We do have one of the most amended constitutions of all the state constitutions in the United States of America,” Huffmon said. “But that is because we have one of the oldest, still functioning ones. It’s not technically among the easiest to amend.”

John Crangle’s proposal would dissolve the South Carolina House of Representatives, getting rid of what he considers as simply “a stepping stone” to becoming a Senator.

Phil Cheney, the only Independent candidate for governor, thinks Crangle’s idea is very interesting but he isn’t completely on board.

“A unicameral legislature sounds like a good idea to me, but I think the Senate was designed to be a part-time job in South Carolina,” Cheney said. “It was for those who were retired or had other sources of income, and I really think we need more retired folks to hold seats.”

Crangle’s reforms don’t stop at just abolishing the House. He’d also limit the influence of money on elections by banning campaign fundraising in non-election years. He says this would reduce a number of conflicts of interest within the legislature.

“It’s like an auction house over there when you have leadership that’s taking money from their own campaigns,”  Crangle said. “They’re taking caucus money too. It’s very easy to corrupt from the top down.”

While Crangle’s proposal has precedence in government, there is skepticism that it will get any traction.

“Oh, I don’t think the House is really going to like that very much,” Gov. Jim Hodges, who held office from 1999-2003, said in a phone interview. “Maybe John wants to get the idea out there so people will talk about it.”

Crangle may find that his plan to abolish the House of Representatives has resistance even inside the Democratic Party. Don Fowler, former national chairman of the Democratic National Committee doesn’t think it’s viable.

“I think there is wisdom in having two bodies,” Fowler said. “Every state but Nebraska has two, the U.S. Congress has two and I think the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787 was wise in creating a House and Senate with different tenures, different geographical areas and people that they represent.”

Don Fowler thinks John Crangle’s proposal of a unicameral legislature in South Carolina is interesting, but says that the history in America of a bicameral system points that it is the better way.

Just getting seated in the State House will be a challenge for Crangle. District 75 is solidly Republican, voting in Rep. Kirkman Finlay III, R-Richland, the last three election cycles. Crangle is also severely out-funded by his opponent.

“It’s an uphill struggle for me,” Crangle said. “It’s a gerrymandered, Republican district and I’m going up against a guy who is worth $50 or $60 million, so it’s a David-versus-Goliath situation.”

He’s not interested in mudslinging to get ahead.

“My campaign is not personal attacks,” he said. “I know Kirkman’s mother and I knew his father for years as well. This is strictly about reform ideas that I think have been needed for a long time.”

And his campaign is solely focused on those reform ideas. While he may have an opinion on other issues, Crangle believes the government must be fixed to streamline solutions to other problems.

“I’m not going to talk about distracters, like the Confederate flag or abortion,” Crangle said. “We’re spending $22 million in excess on the House a year, that’s money that could be used to solve things.”

That attitude is unsurprising to many of the people who are familiar with John Crangle’s past work.

“You can use any frank metaphor you want along the lines of an uphill battle to describe this election,” Huffmon said. “My guess is that he views this as a chance to get a broader platform to try and force those in power to acknowledge issues he cares about.”

But Crangle wants it to be clear that he is not running a sideshow campaign. He wants to win, but in order to do that he knows the political climate must be right.

“I think I have a chance because you don’t have a presidential election going on,” he said. “I’m going up in a year where I think the governor’s race is up for grabs more than most years and that will motivate a lot more Democrats to vote. It’s an uphill struggle, but if God’s on your side then it works miracles.”

For Crangle, this election is, hopefully, the culmination of a lifetime of work boring into the deep roots that corruption has taken in politics. He is the author of “Operation Lost Trust: And the Ethics Reform Movement.” It’s a 607-page magnum opus on the 1989 FBI sting operation in the South Carolina General Assembly, that saw multiple legislators indicted for accepting bribes.

After wading through that political dirty laundry and witnessing a similar scandal almost 30 years later, in which almost half a dozen current or former legislators were indicted in a special prosecutor’s investigation, Crangle knows that it’s one of the most difficult tasks to fully accomplish.

“The nature of the corruption has changed,” he said. “Corruption is like bacteria. You can treat it with an antibiotic, but eventually it builds a resistance.”

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Keeping the legacy of baseball’s “second man” alive

By Michael Stewart
Carolina News and Reporter

The U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp of Larry Doby in 2012, honoring his role in pioneering racial integration in Major League Baseball.

CAMDEN, S.C. – The small city of Camden, tucked away about 45 minutes northeast of the state capital Columbia, is the birthplace of an often overlooked pioneer in racial integration. Larry Doby, the second African-American player to play major league baseball, was born here and spent the first 14 years of his life in this place he always called home. 

Earl Benedict, a lifelong Camden resident, felt the influence of the game-changing second baseman as a child, even though he never saw Doby play in a game.

“Certainly, when I played ball, I thought of Doby as one of the main people to be,” Benedict said. “I don’t know if emulate is the right word, but he was in my mind at times.”

Doby, who died in 2003, was a phenomenon in his time but seemed to fall through the cracks of baseball history in comparison to Jackie Robinson, who broke professional baseball’s color barrier in  1947. Robinson’s story has been documented in hundreds of stories, books, documentaries and in the popular motion picture, “42.”

But the African-American Cultural Center of Camden is trying to pique interest in Doby’s story as the first black player in the American League.

On the field, Doby was a seven-time all-star, the first black player to get a hit and homerun in the World Series, and was the first black player to win the World Series in 1948 with the Cleveland Indians. Unlike Robinson, who spent a year in the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system, Doby went straight to the majors from the Negro League’s Newark Eagles. He made his debut on July, 5 1947, three months after Robinson played his first MLB game.

These accomplishments, plus the immeasurable social contributions Doby’s presence in the league created made him a logical choice for National Baseball Hall of Fame honors. But he dropped off the ballot in 1984 after running out of eligibility.

Doby had to wait until 1998, when he was 74, to get the call that he was a member of baseball’s most prestigious club. The Veterans Committee, which looks at long-retired players, managers, umpires and executives, elected him.

Doby opened his induction speech by saying: “I’m from a little town in South Carolina called Camden.”

The free museum has been running a comprehensive exhibition of Doby since Feb. 24, complete with photos, memorabilia and an hour-and-a-half long documentary on his life, which ends Aug. 30.

Located on York Street, the African-American Cultural Center of Camden is showing an exhibit on the life of baseball great Larry Doby. It will run until Aug. 30.

The exhibit is open Monday, Wednesday Friday, 1-4 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Gwen Shannon volunteers at the Larry Doby exhibit on Monday’s and despite her aversion to baseball, she decided to donate her time to Camden’s most accomplished athlete in its history.

“I can’t stand baseball!” Shannon laughed. “It’s more about the history. I was really unfamiliar with him, but once they decided on the exhibit it intrigued me to come and see someone like Larry Doby, and I’ve learned so much about him.”

Elizabeth Robinson, a former middle school teacher, also volunteers at the African-American Cultural Center of Camden. She hopes it will raise Doby’s profile and fill in some of the historical gaps for school children who visit.

“It will be promoted through the schools but it will be hard to have field trips because they normally do whole grades at a time and this is such a small space,” Robinson said. “But what they can do is have small groups like gifted classes, special education classes and after-school clubs.”

Elizabeth Robinson volunteers at the African-American Cultural Center of Camden on Wednesdays and she says her time learning about Larry Doby has sparked her previously minimal interest in baseball.

Elizabeth Robinson, like Shannon, was not a baseball fan before she volunteered at museum. But after forgetting her phone and crochet needles one day while volunteering, Robinson toured the exhibit and found herself more absorbed than she thought she’d be.

“I am more interested in baseball now and I have more respect for Larry Doby,” Robinson said. “The other night I was flipping through the TV and I stopped at baseball and I never would have done that before.”

While he was not as well-known as other pioneering black stars of the mid-twentieth century like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Don Newcombe, Doby was a player of similar caliber and experienced the same level of racism as his counterparts.

Doby’s teammate from 1947 to 1955, Al Rosen told Cleveland Plain-Dealer columnist, Russell Schneider in his 2002 book, Tales from the Tribe Dugout, that Doby put up with everything Jackie Robinson did, and more.

“Jackie was a college-educated man who had been an officer in the service and who played at the Triple-A level. Jackie was brought in by (General Manager) Branch Rickey specifically to be the first black player in major league baseball,” Rosen said. “Larry Doby came up as a second baseman who didn’t have time to get his full college education, and was forced to play a different position in his first major league season.  I think because of those circumstances, he had a more difficult time than Jackie Robinson did. I don’t think he has gotten the credit he deserves.”

Even Earl Benedict, who has always called Camden home, says Doby was not his ball playing  idol.

“I was a fan of Monte Irvin and Willie Mays more than Doby,” Benedict said. “Because I liked the Giants and the National League.”

Larry Doby’s entire baseball career was marked by being second in line to break racial barriers. Not only was he the second black player in MLB,  he was the second black manager. Doby became the interim skipper of the Chicago White Sox June 30, 1978. This was almost three years after the Cleveland Indians named Frank Robinson their manager.

Bob Heere, associate professor of sport and entertainment management at USC, was born and raised in the Netherlands and didn’t know much about baseball until he moved to the United States. And he had never heard of Doby.

“I know Jackie Robinson. I’ve seen the movie, I teach him in my intro to sport management class, but here’s this other guy who entered the league just a few months later and who was arguably just as successful,” Heere said. “So holy crap. Why don’t I know about him?”

Heere, coming from a different background on how society views success in sports was able to offer a theory on why Doby has been left behind in the history books.

“America is obsessed with individualism so they’re looking for that great individual and they attribute so much to him,” Heere said. “We all know who was the first man on the moon but we don’t even care about the second man. Anyone outside of the United States would just name the three astronauts collectively.”

While he was living, Larry Doby never complained about the lack of attention he receive during and after his playing career, despite his stunning accomplishments. Ten years after his death, Camden unveiled a statue in his honor in front of the city’s archives. 

Larry Doby was honored as a distinguished native of Camden with this road sign on November 24, 2002. The road marker stood at U.S. 521 and I-20.

“I was never bitter because I believed in the man upstairs. I continue to do my best. I let someone else be bitter. If I was bitter, I was only hurting me,”  Doby told Fay Vincent, former commissioner of MLB, in a 2003 article published in the New York Times.

One thing Doby was firm on was his South Carolina heritage and he never let anyone mistake his Southern origins.

Jerry Izenberg, journalist for the Newark-Star Ledger, followed Doby throughout his career and on multiple occasions he saw him correct reporters on his hometown.

“Larry made sure they knew,” Izenberg said in Pride Against Prejudice: The Larry Doby Story, the film on display at the African-American Cultural Center of Camden. “One time I heard him stop a reporter before an interview and say ‘I’m not from Paterson, I’m from South Carolina.’”

Larry Doby’s pride in his hometown of Camden is being reciprocated by the efforts of volunteers like Elizabeth Robinson. She hopes that Doby’s story, and his relative lack of fame can teach young African-American athletes how past sacrifices shape today’s society.

What the students have got to learn, she said, “is what they (black baseball players) went through to make your life what it is today.”

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“A higher loyalty” by Stuart Neiman

“A higher loyalty” by Stuart Neiman

“Morning News” from The Times and Democrat

“Morning News” from The Times and Democrat

“Mueller Tap” from The Times and Democrat

“Mueller Tap” from The Times and Democrat

“Need a shower” from The Times and Democrat

“Need a shower” from The Times and Democrat

Living on Purpose: There are real heroes all around us

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We hear a lot about heroes in this day and age. Accomplished athletes are seen as idols for throwing around a ball along with blockbuster fantasies that portray individuals who can fly and use their incredible super-powers to save the universe. However, in the real world, it’s encouraging to know there are humble and hardly noticed heroes all around us. These selfless individuals have no desire to be praised or even recognized. They are a special group of human beings that are not only determined to accomplish what God has called them to do but sincerely willing to sacrifice their life so that others can live. The following story is an example of one of these heavenly secret-agents.

Irena Sendler was a Polish nurse and social worker who worked in the Warsaw health department during World War II. In a short window of time between 1942 and 1943, she along with a small band of co-workers led a courageous effort within the Warsaw ghetto to secretly smuggle at least 2500 Jewish babies and children from facing the certainty of the German concentration camps. She and her team were members of the Zegota, an underground organization established in 1940 by the Polish government for the purpose of rescuing Polish Jews. With permission from the Nazi’s to enter the ghetto to help segregate the city’s 380,000 Jews, she came up with a plan to secretly smuggle babies and young children to safety. They used every idea possible to rescue the innocent, which included hiding them in toolboxes and under gurney’s, sneaking them into ambulances, taking them through sewer pipes or other underground passageways, wheeling them out in suitcases, and leading them out through an old courtyard which led to the non-Jewish areas. She carefully recorded the names of the children on cigarette papers and sealed them in glass bottles which she buried in a colleague’s garden. After the war the jars were dug up and the lists handed over to Jewish representatives. Attempts were made to reunite the children with their families but sadly most of the parents had perished in the Treblinka death camp.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Scott Pruitt EPA Ethics” by Stuart Neiman

“Scott Pruitt EPA Ethics” by Stuart Neiman

“The Low Down” from The Times and Democrat

“The Low Down” from The Times and Democrat

“Split Country” from The Times and Democrat

“Split Country” from The Times and Democrat

“Gun Chatter” from The Times and Democrat

“Gun Chatter” from The Times and Democrat

Living on Purpose: Being reunited with our parents forever

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I went for a quiet walk the other day, to relax and sort my thoughts like the stacks of messages and notes on my desk. While gazing at the clear sky and breathing in the cool air, it dawned on me that it’s been almost two years since my dad passed away. Honestly, it seems like yesterday. I realize that many people grew up without a father and I’m very sympathetic about that. Thank God, there are great step-dads and step-moms that have stepped into difficult situations and have been a much needed tower of strength and stability in the life of a child. Then I realized, that everyone who manages to enjoy a normal life expectancy will eventually outlive their parents. This means that most of us will be required to go through the heartbreak of saying goodbye to those who were always the center of our universe. Whether you have already walked through this valley or if this event has not yet happened, we will most likely be left to continue in our winter years without our mom and dad.

When my wife Cheryl and I were married, our parents were in their early forties and everyone seemed so young and filled with dreams and expectations. I guess this is why we were in shock when her dad passed away four years later from cancer at the age of 48. She remembers as a tom-boy, crawling under cars and watching him work on them. She did not have a clue what he was doing but just enjoyed spending quality time alone with him. Working on an old car was probably aggravating to him, but to her, it was exciting as she was like a nurse trying to figure out what type of wrench to hand him next or more than likely what size hammer he needed. Soon after we married, we rented a little house in town and on Saturday mornings after I left for work, her dad would stop by with donuts and they would have some coffee and talk. Through the years I’ve listened to her mention about how much she misses him and what a large part of her security and safety disappeared. Now I understand.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Busch Holds Off Kevin Harvick To Win O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 At Texas

By: Camille Jones/

FORT WORTH, Tex. – Kyle Busch held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick to earn the win in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota earned his first victory and sixth top-10 of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season after leading 116 laps of the 334-lap race. In the closing laps, Kevin Harvick attempted to chase Busch down, but he came up just short. The win is Busch’s fifth consecutive top-three finish.

“(Winning) means a lot,” said Busch. “It just kind of solidifies your Playoffs and solidifies us in being the points leader and the way we’ve been running this year. My guys were just so good. I can’t say enough about everybody on my team and you know, we’ve just got everything clicking right now. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) does a great job. He leads these guys really really well. We all communicate so well and we do what we need to do inside the hauler to make sure that we have a good race car and get good feedback and things like that to be able to have fast race cars on race day.”

Harvick’s second-place finish was a tough battle after issues on pit road. The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Busch Light Ford entered the weekend coming off a fifth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway. On Sunday, Harvick started on the outside of the pole and led 87 laps throughout the afternoon.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Pollen Season” from The Times and Democrat

“Pollen Season” from The Times and Democrat

“Point Making” from The Times and Democrat

“Point Making” from The Times and Democrat

“Gun Mind” from The Times and Democrat

“Gun Mind” from The Times and Democrat

Leaving Your Mark

By Tom Poland

Photo by Tom Poland

Of all the trees down South, beeches and white birches gets picked on the most. The love sick, the egotistical, the passerby, and all manner of folk love to carve sentiments into the trees’ vulnerable white bark. Arboreal graffiti I call it. The temptation’s just too much. People feel compelled to leave their mark. I’ve yet to do that, though if I have I don’t recall it.

In my sojourns across Georgialina I’ve come across beeches and birches with many a name, initials, and whatnot carved into them. I suppose if a tree can have tattoos, then many a beech and birch do. Tattooed trees. Some are lightly scarred. Others heavily. I recall a tree standing near the path to Badwell Cemetery covered with carvings. Seems if a tree is isolated … somewhere in obscurity, the more likely it is to provide a canvas for knife-wielding folk. A bit of privacy is essential to do your work. Of course, trees aren’t the only place people leave their mark. Sit at a railroad crossing and watch the cars roll by … lots of graffiti … often quite clever. People leaving their mark.

Back in March, my brother-in-law, Joe, and I were checking out some aquatic plants growing in the family pond. Or beaver pond. Or mine hole, which it is. Manganese. We walked the edge of the water and as we did I asked Joe if the old birch tree still stood, the one with initials in it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: What would it take for us to believe?

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When the holidays of Christmas and the holy week come around, I cannot help but wonder what the general population thinks about the spiritual significance of these events. I realize that Christians are more involved with these celebrations because of their personal connection with Jesus Christ, but we must also admit there are many different levels of commitment and enthusiasm. In the last few years, the big screen has produced several Christian based movies and however you feel about them, at least someone is trying to relay the life of Christ when He physically walked the earth. I saw the movie, “Risen” the other night and after it was over, I thought about some key moments within the film. I’m encouraged whenever I see someone believing when they see a miracle, but I’m also reminded that everyone will not believe in Jesus whether they see one or not. Jesus declared in John 20:29, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Yes, Jesus spoke divine truth and in only three years made a huge impact, but His message was generally not embraced by the masses and neither is it today. Why? Well, the most disturbing reason which is also revealed in this movie, is that many individuals will absolutely never allow themselves to surrender their will to God.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Laura takes a vacation” by Stuart Neiman

"Laura takes a vacation" by Stuart Neiman

“Laura takes a vacation” by Stuart Neiman

Content marketing is undermining true journalism

In one of my darkest moments, I considered entering the content writing market. I even reached out to a company and they offered me an assignment. They said 1,500 words in 48 hours on a topic I knew nothing about, complete with multiple interviews over the weekend. I told them no.

One, there was simply no way I could line up all the interviews. Two, I’m an extremely fast writer, but two days for a 1,500 word assignment is insane.

Third, it occurred to me that this would be setting a precedent, one that was by no means sustainable and, quite honestly, cruel.

I also knew that whatever they were paying it wouldn’t reach the 10 to 20 cents a word professional journalists gets paid.

Sadly, far too many young, desperate writers are eager to do this in the name of getting exposure, experience, and clips.

However, it’s a losing racket … for everyone.

Across the nation, writers are being taken advantage of by these content farms, and their low pay is driving down pay for quality journalism.

Even worse, the public, in particular younger readers, are increasingly unable to tell the difference between actual reporting and an ad.

Equally as troubling, content farms, certain news sites, and some writers have come to believe that this new paid-content writing is journalism.

Some experienced publishers will even tell you that times have changed and the walls of separation between advertising and editorial no longer apply.

But the rules of journalism haven’t changed. The standards we have to keep have not been altered. And true reporters have not given up the values that we hold dear and which allow us to function as the so-called Fourth Estate.

Even in these desperate times, I’m glad that so many of my colleagues across the state are unwilling to trade their honor and integrity for a pithy paycheck.

And yet I’m saddened that an entire generation doesn’t care that the vast majority of editorial content they consume is not the work of journalists but of marketers and PR agents. For this new generation, the promise of having your byline or your face on a video for a piece of pay-to-play content trumps any sense of journalistic independence.

As columnist who has written about politics for 15 years, I find this deeply disturbing even though my skill set as a writer is opinion writing.

Yes, I’m taking a side. Yes, I’m trying to win you over. Yes, I want to throttle those who I believe are doing wrong.

But those opinions are mine. No one paid me to have them. No one asked me to say something I didn’t believe. This is in stark contrast to this new breed of writer, the one who writes glowing profiles about an advertiser, who pens a must-do list dominated by a news site’s clients, who cuts buzz-worthy videos commissioned by the local conventions and visitors bureau, the dominate hospital system, the city government itself. These writers have mistaken pride of place for prostitution.

For a community to thrive, someone must be willing to tell the facts as they are, not as a client wants them to be. For a community to survive, columnists must be free to express their seasoned, experienced opinions, not write slobbering love letters to the sales team’s clients, complete with doddle hearts and lipstick kisses..

Journalism matters. Independent columnists matters. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Those of you who believe that, keep fighting. We can’t let these marketers and content farmers win.

Give ’em hell.

Chris Haire is a political columnist for the Charleston City Paper and a writer for various other outlets.

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