A stumble in the rush to judgment

USDA official was an undeserving casualty in contrived racial spat

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There are two teachable moments to be brought away from the flap involving a U.S. Department of Agriculture official's racially tinged comments captured on video.

And people both black and white can learn from them.

It began with the NAACP's despicable resolution at its recent national convention July 13, condemning what they saw as "racist elements" in the Tea Party movement. That raised the hackles of conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, who wanted to counter that sorry slander.

So he managed to get his hands on a video that he said he had known about since April -- showing a March 27 NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet in rural Douglas, Ga. In it, Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia director of rural development for the USDA, told an audience that, when a farmer once came to her for aid to save his family's farm, she intentionally did not do everything she could to help him, because she felt he was condescending to her.

The farmer is white. Sherrod is black.

That was all Breitbart needed. He posted the video to his popular website, and the lightning speed of the Internet did the rest -- Sherrod fell under critical fire that forced her to resign.

End of story? Hardly. Under closer scrutiny, Breitbart's "evidence" isn't that damning.

It turns out that the video merely was an edited clip of her entire speech, clocked at 43 minutes. In fuller context, Sherrod actually was telling a story about how she realized her actions against the farmer were wrong. She meant her story to be an instructional tale from her days before she was with the USDA -- in 1986, when she was a Georgia field officer with the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

"And I went on to work with many more white farmers," she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution . "The story helped me realize that race is not the issue; it's about the people who have and the people who don't. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race."

Getting beyond the issue of race is a good place for your head to be at.

Roger and Eloise Spooner seem to feel the same way. They're the farmers in question from 1986. At no point did the Spooners think that Sherrod treated them unfairly. The Spooners even have told the media that she deserves her job back.

We mentioned two teachable moments that can be drawn from all this.

The first is this: Sherrod -- before rightly seeing the true nature of things regarding race -- is on record showing that black-and-white racism unfortunately can run both ways.

The second is this: Breitbart unwittingly put himself up as an ideal, ham-fisted example of someone so eager to swing a mace of justice that the unforeseen momentum of truth can bring the mace crashing onto the head of the wielder.

Shirley Sherrod is owed an apology -- which she already has received from the White House and TV pundit Bill O'Reilly, but she deserves more.

She arguably deserves restitution. She definitely deserves her job back.

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republicanblack
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republicanblack 07/22/10 - 10:24 pm
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I certainly lost respect for

I certainly lost respect for news organizations. I think they are almost equivalent to our intelligence community. But the greatest thing about this Shirley Sherrod debacle is that it is one part of a larger strategy. It's obvious. It is almost the same thing every time. The far-right has an agenda and they want Obama gone and the best way to do that is to bring up race, check out this article I just came across that looks at the big picture:

http://apleblog.com/2010/07/22/the-conservative-strategy-obama-is-a-racist/

TheFederalist
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TheFederalist 07/22/10 - 11:18 pm
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There are only two items here

There are only two items here of any interest, imho. The first is that Breitbart only did the same thing that thousands of others also do every day of the week. They post half truths and edited tapes to web sites, in an effort to further their agenda. The media, by the very nature of their calling, are supposed to fully investigate stories, before they form opinions and blast one side or the other. That also is true, even more so actually, in the case of the POTUS and the administration. Neither did that in this case. Perhaps, as I have stated before, the lamestream media is driven by agenda, not truth or accurate reporting, and this is a perfect example. Second, the NAACP had the video tape in it's entirety, and still they jumped the gun and followed, like lemmings, the lead of the mad rush to judgement by the press. Lastly, in my lifetime, I have never seen a POTUS or administration, so completely misguided, inept or reactionary, as has been demonstrated several times.....only when they think they have the high ground. Otherwise, if not something they like, they fritter away months before making a decision. I just can't even imagine how many more gaffes, mistakes, errors, and misguided decisions this POTUS will make in the next 2+ years, and I fear that one of these may actually cause harm to our nation.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 07/22/10 - 11:30 pm
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You chronicle, along with the

You chronicle, along with the coordinated effort of the white radical right fox news, beck, limbaugh, bretibart, hate radio, and the tea party are all responsible for this very ugly problem that has been raging for more than two years.

gijoe7898
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gijoe7898 07/23/10 - 12:32 am
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so graci, you have a problem

so graci, you have a problem with the truth being told? you'd rather, i take it, have the naacp version of the comments be publicized rather than the truth of what she said? typical liberal. well, you can't have half truths in today's society. the half truths that liberals need to kowtow thier minority sheep or not possible to pull off anymore. however, you can resdt assured that your minions of minority voters are mostly too ignorant to actually follow a news story and make a logical conclusion.

witness the late Sen Robert Byrd, KKK member.. witness the southern Dem governors that sent their police and national guard to beat civil righrts marchers in the 60's. witness GOP Pres Eisenhour who sent US troops to force school integration in the south against Dem Governors. witness Bill Clinton's self proclaimed mentor, William Fulbright, filibustering the '64 civil rights act in the Senate. Witness Al Gore SR, alongside Fulbright. Witness LBJ needing and getting GOP support to pass the '64 civil rights act, overcoming Democrats in Congress.
Where have these facts gone? Who is teaching this? I realize who is ignoring the facts. You, sjgraci, are among them. Go back and learn USA history. Understand who supports the US Constitution and who aims to undermine it. Learn who uses racism as a tool to scare voters. Learn which party rants with "emotions" versus the party that debat5es with fact.
Your vaunted Pres was on TV with a token sample of unemployed on the stage with him. Instead of pledging to find them jobs, he promises to extend welfare to them to ingratiate them as a voting block. Your Messiah is a failure. He can't accept blame or failure. It's always Bush's fault, isn't it?

gijoe7898
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gijoe7898 07/23/10 - 12:37 am
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and i'll tell you something

and i'll tell you something else. this woman sherrod is not without her skeletons. She is part of a $1 billion dollar USDA payout to black farmers. A particular group she and her husband are part of are due $13 million . leave no stone unturned when dealing with these people. specifically, she and her husband are due $150k each. our tax money. she's been in charge of 100's of millions of tax dollars that have gone to numerous non-agricultural things, like municipal police cars. we really don't know much of what is going on, do we?

carcraft
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carcraft 07/23/10 - 06:02 am
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Briatbart did to Obama and

Briatbart did to Obama and the NAACP what they tried to do to the TEA PARTY! How does it feel to be slandered? This on top of the Journolist revelations is interesting. It seems you can disqualify the argument if you can slander the individual enough. Blackrepublican..ACORN was caught in several offices demonstrating a willingness to subvert the law..Wright didn't just say GD America he said a bunch of ugly things about America many times..Van Jones admits he is a communist..Obama wrote in his book he would hang with the muslims in a crises and that he liked communist best. Obama, by his actions, seems very much to favor wealth redistribution. The journolist revalations indicate that there was a conspiracy to hide the truth about Obama and who he associated with and how radical they were..please explain that!

justus4
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justus4 07/23/10 - 06:26 am
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The article mentions
Unpublished

The article mentions "teachable moments" but my interests is in how Ms. Sherrod's Father was killed and what investigation took place during that time. This woman deserves answers in a so-called civilized country on who possibly could have been involved in that southern town. The DoJ should dispatch investigators and get those answers before all the evidence is gone. This woman and her family has live in silence for all these yrs with such a horrible event and a complete failure of local officials to abide by human decency..and the nat'l printing opns yapping about nothing, they should be sampling DNA from residents. What a pitiful example of law enforcement and citizen protection. And how many other possible unsolved murders of minority citizens are out there?

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 07/23/10 - 06:30 am
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First, when Breitbart posted

First, when Breitbart posted the edited version of Sherrod's comments, it included the moral to the story, not just the damning opening lines that became the reason the USDA was told to fire her immediately.
Second, Sherrod was also condemned by the NAACP for her comments on the video, and it was THEIR video. The pressure on the white house was a result of the Breitbart post, but the NAACP had all of the information to begin with.
Third, the USDA and white house over reacted before researching all of the facts. What kind of management skills are those?
Fourth, Sherrod made half a dozen insulting and racist comments in her speech. I don't think any of them were any more mean spirited than most racist comments, they were just politically incorrect .... a standard set by the hard left. While this doesn't justify the over reaction by her bosses and their bosses, it shows who Sherrod is.
And finally, for all of you sadly misinformed people, FOX NEWS didn't cover the story until AFTER Sherrod was fired, so they could hardly be responsible for the actions of the USDA and the white house.

Rhetor
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Rhetor 07/23/10 - 07:59 am
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There is nothing unusual here

There is nothing unusual here except that someone--in this case, a middle-aged woman--finally had the guts to stand up against the lies and distortions and libels that are business as usual on Fox News. Everyone has egg on their faces, although Fox News--which publicized this smear in their usual manner, that is, without checking the facts, deserves special blame. Lessons to learn: 1. never trust the right-wing media and 2. stand up against the lies routinely spread on the right wing media.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 07/23/10 - 07:59 am
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Now Mike ("How sad") Ryan is

Now Mike ("How sad") Ryan is all bent out of shape over the NAACP calling on the Tea Party Movement to rid itself of "racist elements." But just last week, Ryan admitted the TPM unfortunately does have what he called "rogue elements" or "unseemly elements." [Go ahead, read his piece.] He chose not to further identify these rogue and unseemly elements. Neither did he say whether he thought the TPM should be concerned about these "elements," though of course any organization, or movement, should be concerned, unless it "tolerates" rogue or unseemly elements in its midst because it secretly believes these elements help its cause in some perverse way. And Ryan, of course, was being coy in his use of the words "rogue" and "unseemly." Of which TPM elements could he possibly have been talking unless it is the racist elements which show up at almost every TPM event? The NAACP was right: the TPM should rid itself of these elements. Ryan, in trying hard not to appear to agree with the NAACP, simply revealed his own dishonesty.

Rhetor
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Rhetor 07/23/10 - 08:02 am
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Slander, carcraft? The right

Slander, carcraft? The right wing media has accused the Democrats of death panels, communism, treason, and many other outrageous falsehoods. Conservatives have called the President a Muslim (as if that were an insult), a monkey, a communist, and a Nazi. There is no excuse. American conservatism has a long and sometimes honorable history, and it is high time for America's conservatives to clean up their act. Grow up.

OnlyinAgs1
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OnlyinAgs1 07/23/10 - 08:09 am
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The NAACP is correct in their

The NAACP is correct in their resolution and those who REFUSE to see that there isn't any element of racism within that movement, has selective vision and hearing. One thing is for sure about FALSE news this will not be the last time they run with stories like this. I would SUE Breibart and FALSE news and actually I hope she does.

chascush
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chascush 07/23/10 - 08:13 am
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republicanbblack, you MAY be

republicanbblack, you MAY be a republican but you are not a conservative.
Here is very good post from that web sight by MD Penny.
‘The Great Right Wing conspiracy didn’t put words into Reverend Wrights mouth for 20 years. The Great Right Wing conspiracy didn’t put words into the mouth of the ACORN workers who tried to teach total strangers how to screw the system. The Great Right Wing conspiracy didn’t plant the New Black Panthers in front of voting precincts with clubs in their hands, the Great Right Wing conspiracy didn’t say “So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” because the same thing could be said about East Los Angeles, or Detroit but it isn’t. It’s said about white people. You left wing sheeple really are Liberal kool Aid drinkers. Mindless, talking point repeaters who wouldn’t look deeper than the first ten words of much of anything. You folks are the eternal victims, it’s always someone else’s fault, someone else is always to blame.’

OnlyinAgs1
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OnlyinAgs1 07/23/10 - 08:16 am
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As far as the tea party

As far as the tea party caucus, if this movement is made up of Democrats, and independents like they say, why aren't any high profile democrat senators joining? This movement is a republican oriented and backed organization. I can't wait until the next major tea party event, I'm looking forward to seeing signs/shirts depicting the NAACP in many hateful racist ways by the partiers.

chascush
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chascush 07/23/10 - 08:19 am
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OnlyinAgs, ‘I would SUE

OnlyinAgs, ‘I would SUE Breibart and FALSE news and actually I hope she does.’
Ha, Ha, HA, you are going to sue someone for showing a tape of what you are said. HA, HA

OnlyinAgs1
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OnlyinAgs1 07/23/10 - 08:25 am
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Yep sue them for everything

Yep sue them for everything they have, this is SLANDER what's funny is NONE of it is true about Mrs. Sherrod. She should SUE and SUE now. If I was a lawyer I would do it probono. That way, when Briebart and the likes (even with libral bloggers) do this kinda of stuff they would THINK before doing so. You know how the KKK kept getting sued and now they hardly have any money and are scared to act out openly like they have in previous years before being SOCKED with law suits. Sue em Mrs. Sherrod.

OnlyinAgs1
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OnlyinAgs1 07/23/10 - 08:27 am
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Hmmm if Mrs. Sherrod starts

Hmmm if Mrs. Sherrod starts the proceedings to sue FALSE news and Briebart, I wonder which FALSE news personality is going to start a defence fund for Briebart. Oh and Laura Ingraham is trying to blame the Obama Administration for her accusing Mrs. Sherrod of racism LOL. OMG these people.

chascush
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chascush 07/23/10 - 08:28 am
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The chronicle and most

The chronicle and most everyone is missing the main point which why Breitbart posted something he had for months.
Most ALL of the audience at the NAACP meeting that was listening to Ms. Sherrod’s speech WERE CHEERING VERY TIME SHE MADE A RACIST REMARK. The NAACP is a RACIST group and they teaching racism in the black communities and churches.

chascush
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chascush 07/23/10 - 08:31 am
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The whole episode just proves

The whole episode just proves once more how a community organizer is not qualified to be president. Hussein made another knee jerk decision without all the facts just as he did in the Prof. Gates case.

chascush
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chascush 07/23/10 - 08:38 am
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OnlyinAgs, ‘Yep sue them for

OnlyinAgs, ‘Yep sue them for everything they have, this is SLANDER what's funny is NONE of it is true about Mrs. Sherrod.’
If someone can sue for LIES the Tea party needs to sue the congressman that accused them of using the N word when they and the idiot Pelosi tried to provoke after the passing of Obamacare. They are many films and they all show the congressmen are telling bald face lies.

carcraft
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carcraft 07/23/10 - 08:39 am
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Rhetor-Obama was mentored by

Rhetor-Obama was mentored by a sexual pervert named Frank Marshall Davis who was a communist. In Obama's book"Audacity of Hope" (title from a speach by Rev Wright) Obama admits to hanging around communist and finding them more interesting. Obama stated in the book he would hang with Muslims in a crises. Obama's policies have been dictatoral (read Milkin's column in todays paper)The NAACP ran the ad about George Bush and the lady whose father was dragged to death and infered Bush condoned lynching (findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3827/is.../ai_n8927120/ - ).So PLEASE Rhetor -grow up and tell the left to quit the racist BS when their arguments fail-the race card is losing the power to trump..

chascush
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chascush 07/23/10 - 08:40 am
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OnlyinAgs, ‘They were NOT

OnlyinAgs, ‘They were NOT cheering and applauding’
‘None are as blind as those that will not see.’ If everyone could be sued for lying you would in a lot of trouble.

chascush
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chascush 07/23/10 - 08:49 am
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carcaft, ‘Rhetor-Obama was

carcaft, ‘Rhetor-Obama was mentored by a sexual pervert named Frank Marshall Davis who was a communist’
It goes much further than just that. As I have said before Hussein is a very troubled person, you have to feel a little sorry for him. His mother was a person of very loose morals; his father deserted him when he was small. His mother took him to Indonesia where he was trained as Muslim then dumped him on his grandparents. His grandfather should have sorted out professional help for him but instead introduced him to the radical communist Frank Marshall Davis as a mentor.
It is small wonder Hussein has mental problems but what concerns me more is the intelligence of the people that vote for him. Our country can survive 4 years of Hussein but can it survive having a large % of citizens that would vote for a mentally disturbed community organizer?

slippery 25
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slippery 25 07/23/10 - 08:57 am
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For the most part America has

For the most part America has move past racism, we are a diverse country. I think it is time for the Dems and the President to do the same.

Rhetor
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Rhetor 07/23/10 - 09:07 am
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Notice that the right-wing

Notice that the right-wing posters are responding to the accusations of slander by posting more slanders. Point made, point proven. Thanks, guys.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 07/23/10 - 09:14 am
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Yea, because the left-wing

Yea, because the left-wing posters on here could never be accused of slandering anyone. They are so pure and innocent.

OnlyinAgs1
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OnlyinAgs1 07/23/10 - 09:29 am
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Rachel Maddow was correct

Rachel Maddow was correct FALSE news has em hook line and sinker.

1941
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1941 07/23/10 - 09:30 am
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7898;''Help them find jobs??

7898;''Help them find jobs?? Where in the hell is he going to find them jobs, when the companies are not hireing because they want the president to look bad!!! Those people the president had with him, lost thier jobs, through no fault of thier own. When thier unemployment ran out, what do you think they are susposed to do? You must have been blessed to maintain a job all your life, and never needed unemployment. I hope the day come when you have no job,unemployment, or anything else to see your butt through the tough times, and then speak on something you have been through!!Also you sound like you just found out that ''OUR'' taxes pay for all things government decide to spend it on , like two wars at the same time!!! Was the government spending our taxes when George Bush was in the white house!!!!

Chillen
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Chillen 07/23/10 - 09:44 am
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1941 "the companies are not

1941 "the companies are not hiring because they want the president to look bad"

Here's a lesson for you (from a business owner who is not hiring).

1. Companies are not hiring because the economy sucks and they don't have enough revenue to pay for more employees.
2. Companies are not hiring because they don't know how high their taxes will be in 2011. It would be mean to hire someone and then lay them off next year because they can't afford them.
3. Companies will not hire because they cannot get business loans to expand their business.
4. Companies will not hire because they do not know what the coming liberal regulations mean for them. Will they deal with cap & trade, VAT tax, healthcare mandates? Again, fear of unknown.

Your accusation that they want Obama to look bad is way off base.

Chillen
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Chillen 07/23/10 - 09:52 am
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Back to the article.

Back to the article. Federalist hit the nail on the head. Breitbart posted clips from a video (which by the way started out by saying she'd learned not to be racist from her past experience). That is exactly what every other news outlet does.

How about the tea party video of the guy who is wearing a gun. It portrayed the party participants as gun-toting racists. That is until you see that the guy with the gun is black! It was edited to show the sheeple what that news outlet wanted them to believe.

Nothing new here (including Obma's knee jerk reation). Next story please.

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