MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!
President Trump opposes efforts to increase voting by mail in November. But that’s not the only challenge state officials face.
NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll tell you about the logistical hurdles involved.
Also churches are starting to meet in person again. But not all congregations will be singing a rousing chorus of celebration.
Plus Jenny Rough talks with families who have rediscovered the joy of eating at home.
And Cal Thomas on the danger of catch-all coronavirus cures.
BASHAM: It’s Thursday, May 21st. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
BASHAM: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Flood waters overtake Michigan dams » Record high flood waters have overtaken dams in central Michigan, sending a wall of water downstream and forcing 10,000 people to flee the area.
Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd told WJRT…
DODD: We have a substation at the mouth of Sanford Lake that leads into the Tittabawassee River and that is totally underwater.
The Weather Service urged anyone near the river to seek higher ground following “catastrophic dam failures.” The affected structures are the Edenville Dam, about 140 miles north of Detroit and the Sanford Dam, about 7 miles downriver.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer told reporters Wednesday…
WHITMER: Experts are describing this as a 500-year event. It’s going to have a major impact on this community and on our state for the time to come.
The Tittabawassee River crested in Midland County last night around 38 feet. That topped the previous flood record of 34 feet set in 1986.
Whitmer said the state will investigate Boyce Hydro Power, which operates the dams.
Pompeo says firing of State Dept IG was not retaliation » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged on Wednesday that he asked President Trump to fire the State Department’s inspector general. But he pushed back against allegations that his recommendation was retribution.
POMPEO: There are claims that this was for retaliation for some investigation that the inspector general’s office was engaged in. That is patently false. I had no sense of what investigations were taking place inside the inspector general’s office.
The probe reportedly centered on allegations that he may have mistreated staffers by instructing them to run personal errands for him.
President Trump fired Steve Linick on Friday. Pompeo did not provide specific reasons for his recommendation.
The secretary also took a shot at the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, saying leaks and allegations were coming from his office. He noted that Menendez was once prosecuted by the Justice Department on corruption charges, but his trial ended in a hung jury in 2018.
POMPEO: That’s not someone I look to for ethics guidance.
Menendez said Pompeo is trying to distract the public and that the secretary faces an investigation—quote—“into this improper firing and into his attempt to cover up his inappropriate and possibly illegal actions.”
India, Bangladesh slammed with powerful cyclone » A powerful cyclone slammed the coasts of India and Bangladesh Wednesday, and experts warn it could trigger a humanitarian crisis. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: More than two-and-a-half million people fled to shelters in a frantic evacuation made even more challenging by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cyclone Amphan is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Bay of Bengal. It pounded the shore with heavy rains, powerful storm surge, and winds greater than 100 miles per hour.
The region, with 58 million people, is home to some of the most vulnerable groups in South Asia: poor fishing communities and over a million Rohingya refugees living in crowded camps in southern Bangladesh.
Relief organizations say the one-two punch of the storm and the coronavirus could trigger a humanitarian crisis. Many are forced to huddle together in shelters, risking a wider outbreak of the virus.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Planned Parenthood affiliates reportedly received $80 million from Paycheck Protection Act » Planned Parenthood affiliates reportedly received $80 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program meant to help small businesses.
Affiliates of organizations with more than 500 employees are not eligible for the loans, which are part of the $2 trillion CARES Act.
The Small Business Administration is now asking each of those affiliates to repay the money.
And Republican Senator Marco Rubio is one of multiple lawmakers calling for an investigation into how Planned Parenthood was approved for a loan in the first place.
RUBIO: How did somebody at SBA approve this knowing that it violated the affiliation rules. It’s as simple as that. And that’s a question that we’re going to ask. Beyond the politics, they do not qualify for this loan.
Rubio said if Planned Parenthood, the local banks, or staff at the Small Business Administration knowingly violated the law—quote—“all appropriate legal options should be pursued.”
Johnson & Johnson pulls talc off shelves in U.S., Canada » Johnson & Johnson is ending sales of its iconic talc-based Baby Powder in the United States and Canada. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Demand for Johnson’s Baby Powder has dwindled amid thousands of lawsuits claiming it causes cancer.
In a statement, the company said declining sales have been—quote— “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
The company faces nearly 20,000 cases alleging its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.
Of the cases that have been tried, the company has had 12 wins, 15 losses, and seven mistrials. All of the losses have either been overturned on appeal or are still being appealed.
The company insists talc baby powder is safe. And it will keep selling it outside the U.S. and Candian markets.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: states scramble to expand absentee voting despite presidential opposition.
Plus, Cal Thomas on today’s equivalent of snake oil.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Thursday the 21st of May, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: preparing for election day.
Most states still require a majority of voters to cast ballots in person. But this year, with fears of a second wave of coronavirus, that’ll be no easy task.
One way around all that is fraught with problems of its own: voting by mail. President Trump is firmly opposed to that because of the potential for voter fraud. On Wednesday, he threatened to withhold federal funding to Michigan and Nevada over their plans to send absentee ballot applications to every voter.
BASHAM: Some of the president’s Republican allies are fighting similar efforts in their own states. But on top of concerns about fraud, state officials face a host of practical and logistical issues as well. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has our story.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Kim Wyman has never been so popular. She’s Washington’s secretary of state.
WYMAN: I’ve been on more media outlets in the last, what two months than I have in my entire 20 years of being an elected official.
Washington is one of a handful of states that has been doing all vote-by-mail elections for years. Now, every other state is calling Wyman to find out how she does it.
WYMAN: I think people started with the point that everybody should just move to vote by mail, that would just be the easiest thing. Close all the polling places and move and, and we kind of said, Yeah, let’s slow down, because you have to put it in place well, for people to believe the results.
Wyman says voting by mail is an enormous logistical task.
Each ballot needs three envelopes: One for privacy, one to mail it in, and another for the voter to mail it back. Someone needs to stuff those envelopes. Someone also needs to track the ballots to make sure they don’t get lost in the mail.
It takes a lot of manpower, a lot of specialized tech and a lot of printing. Maybe seven to eight times more than a regular election.
WYMAN: You can’t just flip a switch and turn that on…so we’ve really been kind of encouraging states to think about where they’re at, kind of on the spectrum of absentee voting.
California already has a lot of voters who cast mail-in ballots. So it can probably make the switch to an all mail-in election pretty quickly. But in Tennessee, mail-in ballots account for just 3 percent of votes cast. It would be nearly impossible to make the switch by November. So many states in that situation are considering a hybrid approach: Keep in person polling places, but also expand vote by mail capacity.
Wyman says that’s also going to be tough.
WYMAN: You couldn’t do a full blown polling place election and do all of the vote by mail election that you’re doing for an absentee voter at the same time and do both of them well, it’s just resources and time and you know, having enough people.
Charles Stewart is a professor of political science at MIT. He says regardless of what states decide, they need to make a decision now.
STEWART: There’s already reports of equipment shortages…And so…if a local jurisdiction decides in August, September that “Gee, a lot of people are going to vote by mail and we haven’t planned for it,” they’re going to be stuck.
Joe Tirio is the county clerk for McHenry County, Illinois. He’s waiting for his state legislature to make a decision. No matter what, the election is going to cost more this year: Even simple things like extra hand sanitizer and protective equipment for poll workers. If the state expands mail-in voting, that adds another layer of cost on top of the usual price tag. Postage alone would be in the millions.
TIRIO: If the legislature comes back and says, We’ve got money…that’s great. They could come back and say, Here’s the thing you’re going to have to do, and you’re gonna have to figure that out yourself.
States also need to decide whether to make voters request a mail-in ballot or send one to every registered voter. That’s the way Washington does it. It makes the process more accessible, but Tirio has some concerns with that approach.
TIRIO: Even in a presidential year, you’re probably at about 50 percent turnout. So that would mean 50 percent of the people have ballots that they don’t have any interest in and that become subject to potentially unscrupulous people wanting to go ahead and take, you know, grandma’s ballot and vote it for her.
Kim Wyman says fraud does happen, but it’s not rampant. In one Washington election in 2018, Wyman found 142 people who either voted twice or voted on behalf of a family member who had died.
WYMAN: And that’s, you know, that’s terrible…142. But that’s out of 3.2 million ballots cast.
She has to find a balance between accessibility and security.
WYMAN: And the moment either of those things gets out of balance, that’s when people start making claims that the election wasn’t fair.
Another challenge is tabulation. Counting mail-in ballots is labor intensive. It takes days.
WYMAN: So that’s one more thing is messaging that we may not know election night who the president is.
Wyman says even in a state that has been voting by mail for years, it’s going to be interesting.
WYMAN: I love my job. I really do. [laughs] But this is really testing the limits.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: singing in church.
As churches plan to bring back corporate worship in person, it won’t be quite the same, not at first.
No more shaking hands, no hugs. No sitting too close. But at least we can still sing together, right?
MEGAN BASHAM: Well, maybe not. New recommendations from medical experts say choirs and soloists need to hold off at least until we have a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19. But the recommendations seem to implicate congregational singing as well.
WORLD correspondent Bonnie Pritchett has our report.
BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: Mark Williams is the parish musician at Christ Church Anglican in Savannah, Georgia. After learning about the new recommendations, he weighed his options.
WILLIAMS: The questions for me became where and when and how we might best move forward with any kind of future singing in Christian worship.
When Christ Church Anglican reopens in mid-June, services will not include public singing. No choir. No congregational singing. Williams says those will be among the last elements restored.
WILLIAMS: The science is pretty clear what would happen if we tried to get together and sing in a room.
Donald Milton is a researcher in respiratory epidemiology at the University of Maryland. He cites multiple studies that reveal the path of particles in exhaled air. The smallest respiratory droplets travel the farthest by drifting on air currents. A 1 micron-sized particle is 100 times smaller than a strand of hair. Milton said that one can carry 1,000 coronavirus particles.
MILTON: The better trained singer you are the more you are going to use all of your air capacity, your total lung capacity. And by using that last bit of air you’re going to collapse small airways and then take a deep breath for that next measure, open up those airways, and generate fine particle aerosols that are going to hang in the air quite effectively…
Lucinda Halstead is a physician specializing in voice and swallowing disorders at the Medical University of South Carolina and president-elect of the Performing Arts Medical Association. Based on Milton’s studies, she recommends choirs not rehearse or perform until we have a cure or a vaccine. And she recommends churches skip choral or congregational singing once they return to in-person worship services.
She says churches that insist on public singing must be willing to accept the risks. She cited incidents in Germany, South Korea, and the United States in which the coronavirus infected the majority of choir members who rehearsed and performed together.
HALSTEAD: The whole group has to agree what the risk is going to be. So, for example the Mt. Vernon choir where there were 65 singers and 45 of them tested positive or were ill with symptoms after the choir practiced. Three were hospitalized and two people died. So, that was two-thirds of the singers sustained infection and 3 percent of the choir died.
She said that risk is compounded in churches as congregations add their voices to the choir’s.
First Baptist Church Edmond, Oklahoma will resume in-person worship services May 31st with congregational singing but no choir. Fine Arts Pastor Keith Haygood says leaders did not make the decision lightly.
But asking church members to remain silent when their souls want to sing seemed impossible. Especially in light of the pastor’s recent sermons.
HAYGOOD: He’s been preaching in Exodus, and he spoke about the Song of Moses when they crossed over the Red Sea. And it even said they sang the Song of Moses, “the horse and his rider they have thrown into the sea.” And the whole point of the pastor’s message was God designed us to sing. And to praise him with our voices.
The church will have three services instead of the usual two. That will allow for social distancing and hopefully reduce the spread of particles in the air.
Both Haygood and Mark Williams are resigned to the fact that Sunday morning worship services will be different for a time.
WILLIAMS: You know, it’s been helpful for me to place this whole difficulty in the context of more eternal verities, or principles, than just COVID -19. Those eternal principles for me are that the saints are still singing around the throne of God through eternity no matter what happens here on Earth…
Halstead understands the reaction her recommendations have provoked within the choral community and among people of faith. But she says the medical advances made in only a few months offer hope that restrictions won’t last too long.
HALSTEAD: Being able to worship and express your soul and express your spirit and join with other people is so vitally important. But we don’t want to lose any of those people. That’s why I speak out of an abundance of caution and an abundance of appeal for patience because its coming we just have to be patient.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett.
NICK EICHER: Will the restaurant industry bounce back as the economy starts to reopen?
A little bar and grill in Ocean City, Maryland, is doing its part. And it’s using giant, bouncy inner-tubes to do it.
The restaurant is “Fish Tales” and it hired an event-planning company to come up with the idea. So picture this:
Imagine bumper cars at the state fair. Except these are bumper tables: Giant inner tubes surround the tables and stand about waist high. The tables are propped up with metal legs and patrons pop up through a hole cut right in the middle of the table. One person per table, voilà, distancing. But wheels, so it’s social.
AUDIO: [Sound of wheels skittering around]
So you can hear patrons skittering around, safely six feet apart, but still enjoying the party atmosphere, not to mention fresh seafood.
So far, the new tables have been a big hit and the restaurant is hoping for a big bump in revenues, so to speak.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, May 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: eating together.
COVID-19 has changed mealtimes for a lot of people. But even with shuttered restaurants and empty grocery store shelves, it’s not all bad. In some households, families are coming together around the table again. WORLD reporter Jenny Rough talked with people who have rediscovered the joy of eating at home.
JENNY ROUGH, REPORTER: Before the coronavirus, the hours between school and bedtime were hectic for the Faris household, a busy family of five living in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
SHANNA FARIS: Tyler plays the bass in orchestra. Graham plays the trumpet and Olivia plays the flute. Tyler has soccer.
Shanna’s husband, Brad, is a partner at a law firm. His long hours and frequent travel threw another monkey wrench in the schedule. If everyone was home at 6, the family ate together. But most nights, dinnertime was unpredictable.
Now with the coronavirus? No more conflicts. Everybody is home.
SHANNA FARIS: Hey, Tyler! Dinnertime!
BRAD FARIS: Who needs water cup?
FARIS: It’s always a good time for us to, kind of, check in with each other. If you’re playing a game or watching a movie those are really great too but sometimes you’re not having as much conversation.
Whitney Pipkin can relate.
AUDIO: [PIPKIN FAMILY DINNER]
She used to spend “hangry hour” in traffic picking up her 5-year-old from school and 2-year-old from daycare.
WHITNEY PIPKIN: And so we’re all hungry, starving … they’re like gremlins nipping at my heels.
Now under Virginia’s stay-at-home order, the 5 o’clock runaround disappeared. She can do something else at dinnertime. Like … make dinner.
AUDIO: [CHOPPING AND SCRAPING]
She loves Instant Pot soups. But even more? Talking together.
WHITNEY PIPKIN: I mean, that is where the bulk of our spiritual conversations happen with the kids is at the dinner table.
The pause button of coronavirus has taught her family a lesson.
WHITNEY PIPKIN: I think it is a reminder that for those of us who are fortunate enough to live with other people who maybe don’t get our attention as often as they should that they are our first order of hospitality. So even if my meal doesn’t get Instagrammed, or shared with someone, to have it be eaten by … all four of us is a big deal right now.
AUDIO: [SIZZLING SOUND]
STEVE KUAN: I think about food a lot. Like, after I eat, an hour later, I think about what I want to eat next.
Steve Kuan lives in Rockville, Maryland. The lockdown gave him the chance to focus on something he’s been meaning to do for years.
STEVE KUAN: So for breakfast today I’m going to make some sourdough pancakes.
He followed a recipe from a flour company to grow the sourdough starter from scratch. Initially, he experimented with biscuits.
STEVE KUAN: The first time was a total disaster. Like, the biscuit was like hard as a rock. It was like you can’t even eat it.
The second batch was much better. And now he’s moved on to pancakes.
AUDIO: [WHISKING BATTER AND CLANGING UTENSILS]
KUAN: Now I’m just pouring some blueberries, frozen blueberries, into the mix.
Trying new food is fun, Kuan says. But again: The best part is family time at the breakfast table.
KUAN: I definitely enjoy, personally, the time when we all get to see each other, be with each other, you know? Sharing meals is pretty personal stuff.
Rosemary Amabile is a widow. Her husband died a few years ago.
When New York’s PAUSE order went into effect, safe social distancing meant her daughter, Kelly, couldn’t even visit.
KELLY MCGLYNN: When we figured out I wouldn’t be able to see her for a while because of the virus, we set up a lunch two different lunch dates.
Big fans of the New York Times’ weekly News Quiz, they played the game while eating a virtual dinner together. It meant a lot, especially to Rosemary.
ROSEMARY AMABILE: For me it was really nice because I eat so many meals by myself. Like actually seeing each other, and then having our salads. I think Zoom works pretty well with two people.
In yet another household—near Washington, D.C.—newlyweds Alaina and Josh Benedict are working out the kinks of kitchen duties. They married eight months ago. For a while, they passed the chef’s hat back and forth. If one cooked, the other did the dishes.
Then the coronavirus hit.
ALAINA: I would say one big change for me, personally, is having more time. I’m in the kitchen more, and so that’s a definite big change, and I’ve sort of loved, or like I’m learning to love cooking a little bit more.
With Josh also working at home, the two are discovering ways to be creative in the kitchen, cooking together.
ALAINA: So today we’re actually trying a new recipe that I found on Pinterest and it’s called skillet Italian sausage and peppers with pasta.
It’s been a restful break from the bustling city life of D.C. The Benedicts appreciate the spiritual component of slowing down and eating together. It brings to mind Acts 2:46.
JOSH: Where it says they broke bread in their homes and ate together with happy and sincere hearts … And so I think it’s pretty evident that you see that there’s this idea of table fellowship throughout scripture and the idea of sharing a meal.
But one thing everybody misses? Eating with friends they aren’t in quarantine with. Christ made shared meals a priority and modeled food and fellowship for his followers.
JOSH: Jesus breaking bread and feeding 5,000 people. So there’s something meaningful behind meals.
For Whitney Pipkin, not being able to extend hospitality to neighbors with food—has been hard. Looking out her window, she says:
WHITNEY PIPKIN: Well, we have somebody moving in like right now across the street. And I don’t know how to meet the new neighbors because I have to distance from them. So I can’t throw them muffins.
Alaina and Josh, the newlyweds, came up with one solution.
JOSH: We go through the drive-thru and then we sit in the parking lot and we eat together. And I know that if someone’s single, that might be a great way for them to meet up with somebody else. Everybody has to have their own risk tolerance, they have to follow their own state guidelines. But there are ways in which we can get creative and find ways to talk to people over food.
For WORLD, I’m Jenny Rough, reporting remotely from Alexandria, Virginia.
NICK EICHER: Next up on The World and Everything in It: a preview of this week’s Listening In.
MEGAN BASHAM: Dallas Jenkins is the creator, director, and co-writer of “The Chosen.” It’s a streaming series about the life of Christ. I liked it quite a bit. We’ll link to my review in the transcript of today’s program on worldandeverything.org.
EICHER: In this excerpt of his conversation with Warren Smith, Jenkins explains how his creative team imagined the parts of the story we can’t know from Scripture.
DALLAS JENKINS, GUEST: It’s not difficult to take what’s there and apply it to the screen. That’s been done many, many times before, and it’s been done well. So, I don’t need to do that again, alone. Meaning, I don’t need to do just that. That’s been done.
And what we’re doing is taking these characters and taking these stories and filling in a lot of the backstory. Like you said, we know, for example, that Simon Peter was married. But we don’t know anything, Scriptures didn’t see fit to tell us what his married life was like when he was home. We really want to explore that because we believe that if we can identify with and get to know these characters, then their Jesus moments and their Jesus experiences are that much more impactful.
So, how do we do it so that we’re not just inventing something or violating the intentions of Scripture? Well, it starts with Scripture first. So, you go in and you read everything you can about Simon, for example, or Andrew, or Matthew. And you can pick up a lot of things, even in these small moments. You can pick up personality traits that are not difficult to ascertain.
And so we’re very careful with it. But it’s not quite as inventing out of whole cloth as you said, as it may seem. So as we get to know these characters before they meet Jesus, we’re drawing from the Word, we’re drawing from historical context, we’re drawing from the socio-political information we have about that time. And then, yes, one of the other things that really factors into it is our own real-life experience. These were human beings.
EICHER: That’s Dallas Jenkins talking to Warren Smith. To hear their complete conversation, look for Listening In wherever you get your podcasts.
NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, May 21st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Cal Thomas now on the dangers of trusting in catch-all cures.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: On Monday, in an off-the-cuff comment following a White House meeting with restaurant industry leaders, President Trump said he has been taking the anti-Malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for “about a week and a half now.”
Asked why, the president said he has heard from a number of people, including a doctor from Westchester, New York, that it is a good preventative. He said he had checked with the White House physician who said he does not object to his taking the drug.
Asked what evidence he has that the drug is effective, the president responded: “Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it.”
The Food and Drug Administration has warned against using hydroxychloroquine “outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.” The National Institutes of Health has also advised that doctors use caution when prescribing it.
On Fox News, host Neil Cavuto interviewed Dr. Bob Lahita, chairman of medicine at St. Joseph University Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey. Dr. Lahita said he has seen “no effect whatsoever” when hydroxychloroquine is used to treat the coronavirus. In fact, said Dr. Lahita, if taken in combination with certain other drugs, it could cause arteries to expand, which could be fatal.
WORLD’s medical correspondent, Dr. Charles Horton, has also written about the potential risks of hydroxychloroquine.
There are indeed drugs showing promise—like preliminary results released this week by American company Moderna. But hydroxychloroquine isn’t one of them.
It is always dangerous to believe anecdotal information. The president said the unnamed doctor wrote him in praise of hydroxychloroquine. He also said thousands of front-line health workers are taking the drug as a prophylaxis.
Throughout history there have been so-called snake oil salesmen. A National Public Radio story broadcast in 2013 asked—quote—”So how did a legitimate medicine become a symbol of fraud? The origins of snake oil as a derogatory phrase trace back to the latter half of the 19th century, which saw a dramatic rise in the popularity of ‘patent medicines’. Often sold on the back pages of newspapers, these tonics promised to cure a wide variety of ailments, including chronic pain, headaches, ‘female complaints’ and kidney trouble. In time, all of these false ‘cures’ began to be referred to as snake oil.” End quote.
Don’t fall for it, Mr. President. Stay in your lane and let the medical professionals handle the coronavirus treatments.
I’m Cal Thomas.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: What are the biblical ground round rules when Christians debate? That’s on Culture Friday.
And, we’ll have a review of a new documentary series about the impact the media have on the justice system.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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