London Autistic Rights Movement - Free Garry McKinnon
US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. Sun 28 Sept 2008
Suporters call for Gary to be tried in the UK and for
equal rights with US citizens
The London Autistic Rights Movement demonstrated outside the US Embassy in
London on Sunday 28 Sept pleading for hacker Gary Mckinnon to be tried in
the UK or not at all rather than be extradited for trial in America.
McKinnon hacked into computers at the Pentagon and NASA looking for evidence
of UFO sitings he was convinced was being hushed up. The ease with which he
wandered around these top-secret secure systems has greatly embarrased the
US authorities and their reaction is to cry out for his blood rather than
asking the kind of awkward questions that demand to be asked about their security.
It was obvious from the start that McKinnon wasn't a spy but a relatively
harmless nerd with an obsession, and his recent diagnois as suffering from
Asperger's syndrome isn't suprising.
The 2003 extradition treaty pushed through in secret by David Blunkett behind
parliament's back is a travesty of justice. A reciprocal arrangement for US
citizens wanted for trial here would never have got through in the states.
Let's hope that Jacqui Smith decides to intervene on compassionate grounds
and the extradition order is dismissed - and, if thought appropriate, the
case tried in the UK. McKinnon is now 42, and a US trial, according to a BBC
report, could result in a jail sentence of over 45 years.
Al Quds Day March
Marble Arch and Piccadilly Circus, London. Sun 28 Sept 2008
The march started off from Marble Arch
The annual Al Quds Day march is supported by Crescent International,
FOSIS, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends Of Lebanon, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Innovative
Minds, Islamic Centre of England, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Muslim
Council of Britain, Neturei Karta, Palestine Internationalist, Palestine Return
Centre, Respect Party and Stop the War.
It has become a controversial event with groups including the United
British Alliance, March for England, International Alliance of Iranian Students,
the Worker Communist Party of Iran, Workers Liberty and a group waving
Israeli flags demonstrating against it at Piccadilly Circus.
The Iranian groups and Workers Liberty protest because Al Quds Day was started
by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, (and they allege some of the organisations
that support it receive support from the Iranian government. )They feel the
event bolsters up the Islamic regime in Iran.
Things got a little heated at Piccadilly Circus, and some demonstrators objected
to me taking pictures of them shouting and gesturing at the counter-demonstration,
pushing me out of the march. Doubtless some of the other demonstrators on
the other side didn't like me photographing them either, and the police certainly
wanted me back on the other side of the tape again. It is important to record
what's happening, and to stand up for a free press, so I kept taking pictures.
Hackney Wick Festival
Hackney Wick, London. Saturday 27 September, 2008
The Hackney Wick Festival was spread over several sites in Hackney Wick,
and unlike the day's Guardian Weekend Magazine who featured 'Hackney Wick'
in their 'Lets Move Too...' feature this week, they actually knew where Hackney
Wick was, although I find the description of the empty patch of grass opposite
St Mary of Eton church on Eastway as Hackney Wick Village Green more than
a little ridiculous.
I started at Leabank Square, a Campbell, Zogolovitch, Wilkinson and Gough
(CZWG) development from 1988 around a central grass square, already showing
its age, next to Gainsborough School. I think there was once a dye works on
the riverside site, though the map I saw was a little vague. It has its own
short bit of riverbank onto the Lea Navigation, where they were selling books
and also tea and scones. I also found some very thorny brambles growing there
by walking through them.
From there I took a short walk down to photograph a few buldings in Wallis
Rd again, took a look at the Gainsborough School Fete before going to visit
St Mary of Eton church. Years ago when I first saw it I thought it a strange
name for a church, and it was only later when I became interested in the Manor
Gardens allotments that I found out more of the story. It really does being
at the King's College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor, comonly known as
Eton school, where a vision of the BVM led to a decision to become involved
"in some charitable work in London" which became a mission in Hackney
The church that was built, remarkable as it is, was only a part of that mission,
which eventually included various sports clubs and some allotments that were
unfortunately recently destroyed for the 2012 Olympics. The link with Eton
hadn't stayed strong enough to save them, although Eton continue to be patrons
of the church.
No More Fur March
Belgrave Square to Harrods. Saturday 27 Sept, 2008
The march outside Harrods
It's hard to understand why we still have fur on sale in fashion shops. I
suspect its a government mixture of incompetence, their fascination with the
fashion industry and other cultural froth and a lack of the guts needed to
grab nettles firmly. So although they brought in a law stopping the barbaric
practices of fur farming in the UK, fahsion shops - and Harrods - can still
sell garments trimmed with fur farmed under event more cruel and stressful
conditions in other countries.
The march, organised by the Campaign Against
the Fur Trade targeted the Knightsbrige shops of "Gucci, Prada,
Escada, Versace, Fendi, Joseph, Armani and Burberry, as well as the notorious
Harrods, the only department store in the UK still selling real fur."
It was a larger march than last year's event, with perhaps 4-500 people taking
part, and it also seemed to be a rather different group, with fewer of those
who looked likely to take part in direct action, and rather more who looked
likely to be able to boycott fashion shops (I've never bought anything from
Prada or any of the others, and the last time I shopped at Harrods was around
There was a very heavy police presence both in Belgrave Square, surrounding
the actual march and standing in front of all of the fashion shops that sell
fur items. I was several times impeded in my work by being pushed by police
as I took photographs and being refused permission to walk onto the pavement,
despite shoing a press card. Demonstrators were also prevented from going
to hand out leaflets to people on the streets. It doesn't seem to me to be
a democratic way to police a protest.
The march stopped outside each of the main shops for a short while and made
a lot of noise before moving on, coming to a halt outside Harrods. There was
a short speech there and a one minute silence before another avalanche of
Great Gorilla Run
City of London. Saturday 27 Sept, 2008
Gorillas at the start of the run
The Great Gorilla run is a charity fun run where the costume is linked to
the cause - saving mountain gorillas. The Gorilla Organisation (GO) estimates
that there are only around 700 left in the wild, the same number as the 735
runners dressed in gorilla suits for the 7km run which set a new world record.
Most of the runners didn't actually run too far, many walking most of the
course, but given the warm sun and the tog rating of a gorilla suit many sweated
off a few pounds in any case, as well as collecting large amounts of money
for charity - a minimum of £400 per runner - and having a bit of fun.
Two things that have perhaps been in short supply around the City lately.
Shi'ites Mourn Imam Ali
Marble Arch, London. Sunday 21 Sept, 2008
Beating of breasts in mourning at Marble Arch
Ali ibn Abu Talib was the son of Abu Talib and Fatima bint Asad
and was cousin and son-in-law of Muhammed. Ali was one of the first to accept
Muhammed's divine revelation and became the fourth caliph in Medina. For Shia
Muslims he is the first Imam and he and his descendants are the rightful successors
to Muhammad. He is widely revered for his bravery and wisdom as a great Islamic
ruler and thinker.
During Ramadan in 661, Ali was leading the morning prayers in the mosque
in Kufa, Iraq when an assasin struck his head with a sword, causing a deep
cut and he died a few days later.
Shi'ites mourn for Imam Ali every year in Ramadan, remembering his great
contribution to their religion and his tragic death. They come together from
all over England at Marble Arch to lament and beat their breasts and carry
a ritual coffin in a procession in his memory.
North Greenwich to Greenwich
Thames Path, Greenwich, London. Sat 20 Sept, 2008
Canary Wharf from the Thames Path at North Greenwich
I took advantage of the free ferry service provided for the Open House weekend
and crossed the River Thames from Trinity Buoy Wharf to North Greenwich, then
walked back along the Thames path to catch the DLR at Greenwich and make my
way home. Its a route I've walked and cycled quite a few times, but always
Open House at Container City
Trinity Buoy Wharf, Leamouth, London. Sat 20 Sept, 2008
Container City, Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Millenium
Dome across the River Thames
When I first photographed Leamouth, Trinity Buoy Wharf was still in use maintaining
buoys and I could only take pictures from outside of the site, although later
I was able to access it and photograph some of the buildings on the site,
and I've returned several times over the years, not least for the fine views
across the river of North Greenwich and the Dome as well as to visit exhibitions
and some of the artists' studios on the site and 'Longplayer' in London's
Container City is a set of artists studios built using containers, and has
grown considerably since I last saw it. Development in the surrounding area
has taken place relatively slowly but looked about to take off although it
may well be held up again by current financial problems.
Apprentice Boys of Derry March
Temple, London. Sat 20 Sept, 2008
ready for the march on the Embankment
People should be proud of their community and traditions and happy to be
photographed when they celebrate these. And most of those whose pictures I
took were happy to be photographed "having a fine day out and enjoying
But at one point I found myself being pushed backwards by a large man in
dark glasses and instructed very fimly to leave. This kind of intimidation
certainly isn't acceptable and of course I continued to take pictures of the
event. But it was a reminder of the darker side of Loyalist Ulster, which
I hadn't expected to see on the streets of London.
Stockwell Festival - Pineapple Parade
Stockwell, London. Sat 20 Sept, 2008
The colourful parade comes up to Stockwell station
It was good to see so many people enjoying themselves, having fun by taking
part in something with other people. Community festivals such as this have
an important role in building the kind of relationships that lead to healthy
But among the dancing and fancy dress I also found a reminder of violent
death, Stockwell is probably best known for the brutal shooting by police
of an innocent unarmed Brazilian man who had just boarded an underground train
at Stockwell Station in 2005. The inquest on Jean Charles de Menezes opens
at the Oval on Monday. The shrine to him at Stockwell station is in the background
of a number of my images - and I also took some closer images.
The Peoples March
Kennington Park, London. Sat 20 Sept, 2008
Members of bereaved families line up for the start of
Last year, 2007, there were
26 teenagers killed on the streets of London.
So many of those marching in 'The Peoples March' against gun and
knife crime were the families and friends of young people whose lives were
ended prematurely by violent death, and the grief felt by many of those I
photographed was impossible to miss. They were stricken and angry and demanding
that something was done to stop the killing.
But it is hard to see what can be done, and how marches like today's event
really contribute to this. Effective action would involve huge cultural shifts
and a direction of change that would reverse much of what we have seen over
the past 50 or so years. The liveliest part of the protest was a Christian
group; black-led churches have played an increasingly important part in the
community over the last 50 years but don't seem to have had a great effect
in stopping the growth of gun and knife crime.
This march from Kennington Park, organised by the Damilola Taylor Trust and
other organisations and supported by the Daily Mirror and Choice FM came at
the end of London Peace Week. It turned out to be on a slightly smaller scale
than the publicity suggested, with perhaps around a thousand marchers leaving
Kennington Park, to join other marchers from Camden for a rally in Hyde Park
- which, according to the Mirror was attended by 5,000 people. I left the
marchers as they walked out of Kennington Park to make my way to a festival
in Stockwell which I hoped would cheer me.
Hands Off Latin America
US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. Wed 17 Sept, 2008
Demonstrators call for a stop to US backing for coup
attempts in Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and elsewhere
More than 50 activists turned up for an emergency picket of the US Embassy
in Grosvenor Square London on Wednesday 17 Sept called at short notice by
the Boliva Solidarity Campaign and Hands of Venezuela, with the support of
Equadorians in the UK, Colombia Solidarity Campaign and Global Women's Strike.
As George Bush's term as President comes to a close, US agencies have stepped
up their efforts to overthrow left-wing governments across the Caribbean,
Central and Latin America. A new Fourth Fleet of the US Navy has been formed
to intimidate the area, Venezuelan journalists have discovered a US-backed
plot to get rid of Hugo Chavez, and in Bolivia the US has been found backing
right-wing violence that has killed more than 30 supporters of President Evo
Morales. Both countries have expelled their US ambassadors in response.
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear was one of the speakers at the picket,
which was followed by a rally held at the NUJ offices, where the speakers
were expected to include the Bolivian ambassador and Venezuelan deputy ambassador,
MPs and others - but I was unable to attend.
TIV and Eisenhower
US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. Wed 17 Sept, 2008
Pictures from around the US Embassy
Apparently the Met has a number of these heavily armoured vehicles, based
on a Ford F350 truck chassis with bullet-proof windscreens & blast-proof
flooring, using them around Heathrow and to carry the specialist firearms
officers of CO19 - they can hold around 6-8 officers. These Jankel armoured
Guardian TIV (Tactical Intervention Vehicles) come from a firm based in Weybridge,
Surrey though it also has strong connections with Jordan. Company founder
Robert Jankel, who died in 2005, was earlier noted for his sports and luxury
There is something about the black paint and boxy lines of this vehicle that
seem rather sinister to me. I didn't like to ask any questions about what
the men at the back were doing, but it seemed to be connected with the new
defensive landscaping around the US Embassy, which has also given the area
around the statue of Eisenhower a facelift, although at the moment some gardening
is clearly overdue.
One small tribute "from an English rose" was still there below
the statue, rememberering 9/11.
Nigerians Boycott BA
Harmondsworth, London. Wednesday 17 Sept, 2008
On the verge of the A4 outside BA's HQ near Heathrow
The Respect Nigerians Coalition called for a boycott of British
Airways following an incident in which over 130 Nigerians and other passengers
were forced off a plane bound for Lagos in March 2008 when they objected to
the brutal mistreatment of a Nigerian being forcibly deported on the flight.
One of them, Ayodeji Omatode, was assaulted by police, arrested
and held for 8 hours. He has been charged with threatening behaviour towards
a member of the aircraft crew, and his case was due to be heard at Uxbridge
Magistrates Court on 18 Sept, but has been postponed.
A small group of protesters came to the Harmondsworth HQ of BA at lunchtime
on Wednesday 17 Sept. They were not allowed on to the BA site at Waterside
but set up on the main road just outside the offices. Their placards accused
British Airways of being insulting, bullying and racist and they called for
a full apology to all the Nigerian passengers and compensation for Mr Omatode,
as well as a withdrawal of the statements made against him and a change in
the company's attitude towards its passengers.
Barrio Fiesta in London
Lampton Park, Hounslow. Sunday 14 September 2008
ice cream seller
This was apparently the 24th London Barrio Fiesta and is the largest such
event in Europe, with some 40-60,000 expected over the two days. Some of the
past events, organized by the Philippine Centre in London, have proved controversial
in the Filipino community here. I don't know what they made of this year's
event, but the comment from 2005 that "event was dominated far too
much by private Filipino food vendors,... the usual real estate brokers, housing
developers, and Western Union and associated remittance companies, [and] there
was little in the way of cultural stall holders" seemed to be a
pretty fair description of what was on offer in most of Lampton Park.
But perhaps I just missed the cultural performances in this two-day cultural
Lewisham Country Fayre
Cornmill Gardens, Lewisham. Sunday 14 September 2008
to Bex Marshall band play
So far as I know, Bex Marshall is no relation, but if you like some good rock
with a country flavour and some nice guitar you could do worse than listen to
her 'Kitchen Table
'. I stayed
long enough at Cornmill Gardens to look at all the stalls and listen to most
of her set before running off in case Chas ‘n’ Dave were next on
The Mayor's Thames Festival
Southwark, London. Saturday 13-14 Sept, 2008
This young lady is about to cover me in straw
The Thames Festival was started by Ken a few years back, but as yet Boris
hasn't got round to cancelling it - too busy putting up fares on public transport
and blaming Ken for the fact that he, Boris, has cancelled the contract for
cheap oil out of political pique and decided to waive the extra money he could
have collected from charging gas guzzlers more in London.
There were a lot of people around, and quite a few things going on, although
most people seemed to be spending most of their times walking up and down
along the riverside path. And of course it is a pleasant walk - or at least
it is on every other weekend of the year when it isn't so crowded.
I went when the tide was low, and for one section it was simply easier to
walk along the foreshore than the path. Where people seemed to be having most
fun was on Southwark Bridge where everyone was throwing straw at each other,
an activity that didn't seem to get a mention in the programme. I'm not sure
if I'll ever get all of the straw out of my camera and bag.
Sunday I was too early to catch much as I walked through Jubilee Gardens,
but I did see the 'Barclaycard Freerun Zone' and feel thoroughly depressed
by it. Why? Read my piece 'Money Running'
Ace Cafe 15th Reunion
Ace Cafe, Stonebridge Park, London. Sat 13 Sept, 2008
Miss Dynamite' in the ring with the camera
As well as being the 15th Ace Cafe Reunion, this was also the 70th anniversary
of the cafe itself. It was an extensive gathering devoted to "the
traditions of motorcycles, cars and rock 'n’ roll."
It was never my scene - if anything I was rather more of a mod and a Miles
Davis fan, but I can't deny a certain thrill at the roar of Ace Cafe Racer
'Little Miss Dynamite', the latest Stonebridge special on display at the event,
ridden in and then swung backwards and forwards at a camera rather like a
bull facing the matador.
And who could resist the charms of the London Rocking Rollers?
The Peace Concert
Trafalgar Square, London. Saturday 13 Sept, 2008
'The Peace Concert', in Trafalgar Square was part of the London
Week of Peace, endorsed by Gordon Brown, Jacqui Smith, David Cameron
and Ian Blair.
It's a misleading name as it not about peace in the wider sense but concerned
with community cohesion, promoting justice, equality and respect between people,
particularly Londoners, from all backgrounds. It may also be about defusing
the kind of grass-roots movements we've seen in some parts of London about
civil rights and in particular about knife and gun crime and channeling them
into something more easily controlled.
De Gaulle and more about London
Saturday and Sunday 13-14 Sept, 2008
The Blue Plaque is for Lord "Your country needs
Some of the various scenes in London as I travelled around it this weekend,
including plaques to Kitchener, Ho Chi Minh and De Gaulle, a very Pineapple
pub and a Golden Lion, More London, City Views, an innocent van, the National
Gallery, the city across the Thames, some ageing roadside warehouses and anything
else that took my fancy!
RATB protest - Free the Cuban 5
Trafalgar Square, London. Saturday 13 Sept, 2008
Chalking on the pavement - Free the Cuban 5
Because of 'The Peace Concert' in Trafalgar Square, RATB's Free the Cuban
5 demonstration couldn't be held on the North Terrace in front of the National
Gallery and they had to set up in a rather less prominent location on the
pavement to the east, a traditional site for demonstrations.
The case of the Cuban 5 has led to the United Nations Commission on Human
Rights and Amnesty International criticsing the US government, and to movements
in over a hundred countires around the world calling for their release,
The demonstration in Traflagar Square by Rock around the Blockade was one
of a number of events around the world to mark the 10th anniversary of their
arrest, including in East Timor, Spain, Japan, Australia and the United States.
Shame on Cyprus - Lying Builder
St James's Square, London. Saturday 13 Sept, 2008
Conor O’Dwyer has been sleeping rough in a tent
opposite the Cypriot High Commission since Aug 3rd
Conor O’Dwyer has been sleeping rough in a tent opposite the Cypriot
High Commission in London since 3rd August 2008 in a continous protest against
the Cyprus authorities for their lack of action over property frauds. O'Dwyer
lost his life savings buying a house in Cyprus that was then unlawfully sold
to someone else.
When he went to Cyprus he was badly assaulted by the developer (putting him
in hospital for a week) and his camcorder was damaged by the builder's son.
Both father and son were arrested, but the case is still awaiting trial. O'Dwyer's
attempts to get the Cypriot authorities to take action over the fraud case
have so far met with no success.
O'Dwyer's case is apparently one of many similar frauds that have occured,
although more serious than most. You can read the details of his case on his
Lying Builder web site http://www.lyingbuilder.com/ as well as about his current
protest on http://shameoncyprus.com/ Shame on Cyprus.
CAAT 'Merchants of Death' walking tour
Westminster, Saturday 13 Sept, 2008
about Lockheed Martin outside their London office
Members of the London branch of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT)
led a tour around the Westminster offices of some of the world's leading suppliers
of arms and of mercenaries. They included Lockheed Martin who will
apparently be the main profiteers from the completely illogical and unecessary
replacement of our Trident missiles, QinetiQ whose bargain basement
sell-off by the MoD benefitted guys like George Bush Sr and others in the
Carlyle Group and companies with more soldiers in Iraq than the British Army
- much of our wars are now privatised.
One thing these companies seem to have in common is a desire to hide. I don't
think a single one of them had its name on the outside in letters more than
half an inch high next to a doorbell, and several didn't have that. Unless
you've been searching on the web you wouldn't know whether the companies in
these offices was selling fruit gums or cluster bombs.
The walk wandered briefly into the SOCPA zone to visit Aegis Defence Services,
opposite New Scotland Yard at 39 Victoria St. We'd been there almost 10 minutes
before two police officers rode up on bicycles. They seemed very relieved
to be told we were a walk and not a demonstration and jumped back on their
bikes and rode away almost before they arrived!
Most of the time nobody bothered us. At some sites security men came to take
a look but nothing more. The police at Buckingham palace were worried by the
placard and insisted it wasn't held up high while we were in the area.
It was an interesting walk, and certainly made me much more aware of how
much the international arms trade is an integral part of the British establishment.
It also brought home some of the widespread abuses that these companies are
There is much more about these companies and the immoral trade in arms on
both the CAAT
on Want websites.
'Picnic Warfare' at the Ministry of Justice
Westminster, London. Thursday 11 Sept, 2008
ready for the picnic in Petty France
A small group of demonstrators handed out leaflets and held a picnic outside
the Ministry of Justice in Westminster on Thursday 11 September 2008.
The protest, organised by Mark Barrett of 'People
in Common' called on the government and those working for the Ministry
of Justice in particular to end the abuse of power which is increasingly curtailing
In particular the leaflet demanded the scrapping of plans for ID cards and
a database state and an end to abuses of power such as the use of anti-terror
law against peaceful protesters. It called for a repeal of the sections of
SOCPA that prevent peaceful demonstration and an end to the powers that enable
local councils and other bodies to snoop on individual and for an end to the
Counter Terror bill which will greatly increase the powers to collect information
on peoples' lives.
The protesters called for a new approach to civil liberties and human rights
that will allow democracy to flourish, encouraging rather than treating those
engaged in peaceful protest as dangerous terrorists.
The first response of the security guards at the Ministry was to tell the
press photographers present that they were not allowed to take photographs,
which we didn't reagard at all seriously. After some short discussions, the
protest continued on the wide pavement outside the Ministry with both security
and police taking a sensibly relaxed attitude for the hour I was there.
People in Common started at the Parliament Square protest in August
2005 against the restrictions on our freedom imposed by the SOCPA act
where demonstrators went on to hold another illegal demonstration on Waterloo
Bridge, a 'Wesminster
Tea Party' in which tea bags were thrown into the River Thames in a protest
calling for a 'Tobin Tax' on currency speculators.
No forced removal - Kurds in Home Office Vigil
Home Office, Marsham St, London. Thursday 11 Sept, 2008
One of the more animated speakers at the vigil
Around thirty demonstrators held a lunchtime vigil outside the London Home
Office organised by the Coalition Against Deportations
to Iraq on Thursday 11 Sept, 2008 to oppose the unfair detention and forced
removal of Kurdish Iraqi asylum seekers from the UK, which has resulted in
an unknown number of deaths.
Many asylum seekers face impossible demands for evidence from our immigration
authorities - and are then labelled as 'failed.' Some Kurds have accepted
voluntary return to Iraq, often forced on them because they are prevented
from working in this country and have to rely on charity of friends and a
few small groups supporting them.
In their obscene haste to get higher figures for the number of asylum seekers
sent out of this country (often not actually sent 'home'), our government
is returning people to situations where they may face death or mistreatment
- and even shipping out those who are terminally ill. The lawyer for Mohammad
Hussain, who died from cancer on 3 August, successfully challenged an order
to send him back in May.
Hussein Ali came here seeking asylum in 2002. Last month he was forcibly
returned to Kurdistan and three days later he committed suicide there. He
was just one of around 500 Iraqi asylum seeks forcibly sent home to a country
where many of them face persecution, imprisonment and possibly torture or
death. Our government consider it 'safe', and have even begun to send people
Among those present at the protest were members of the families of Mohammad
Hussan and Hussein Ali. There were speeches in English and also in Kurdish
by Kurds who have sought asylum here, speakers from various groups supporting
asylum seekers and a PCS trade union rep whose members work in the Home Office.
Two police watched the demonstration, although they showed more interest
in the two photographers present, asking for our details and carefully noting
them down. It was perhaps ironic that the demonstration was taking place on
the site of an art-work with words inscribed on the pavement about the freedoms
of the British "Because I am British I am free..." while
at the same time here was further evidence of the way that our British freedoms
are being eroded and that Big Brother's eye sees and records ever more of
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