Sam Johnson’s view: Cut spending – and starting in the U.S. House

By U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson

The American people made it abundantly clear in November; they were fed up with out-of-control government spending and voted for change. Cutting back on wasteful federal government programs is critical to protecting freedom and ensuring national prosperity.

In the last two years with Democrats at the helm of the House, Senate and White House, the 111th Congress spent more in its short tenure than the first 100 Congresses combined, adding $10,429 in new debt for every man, woman and child. It’s no wonder that the national debt recently hit $14 trillion and continues to grow at an alarming rate – and will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy.

To get our fiscal house in order, we must balance budget, pay down the debt and shrink the deficit. Each week the U.S. House will cast a vote to slash government spending in some form or fashion. In the coming year, the Congress will drastically cut government spending with the goal of returning to 2008 spending levels — before the bailout culture took hold in Washington. Before the Wall Street rescue. Before the housing bailout. Before Government Motors. Before the so-called stimulus enacted to keep unemployment below 8% …and before budget-busting Obamacare became law. It’s no wonder Americans have what’s been dubbed, “bailout fatigue.”

Republicans pledged to cut spending and get our fiscal house in order and we are leading by example. The House has cut the operating budgets of House committees, leadership offices, and lawmakers’ offices by five percent. To resurrect financial sanity, sacrifices will be required throughout the federal government, and the House is leading the charge.

While only a first step, these cuts provide real savings for the American people and demonstrate our commitment to ending the culture of spending in Washington. This $35 million serves as just the first installment of savings produced by the new majority, and our work to provide oversight and ferret out waste here in the House will continue throughout the 112th Congress.

House Republicans also adopted a “Cut-As-You-Go” plan. Under “Cut-As-You-Go,” if a Member of Congress creates a new government program or advocates new spending, he or she must also terminate or reduce spending on an existing government program of equal or greater size – in the very same bill. Combined with other ideas to break up massive spending bills into smaller, more manageable parts and limit spending on an annual basis, “Cut-As-You-Go” will play an important role in forcing the federal government to cut costs.

These are strong first steps – but only first steps – toward making difficult decisions to balance the budget, pay down the debt and shrink the deficit. Together we can get our economy back on track and create the smaller, smarter government that Americans want, need and deserve.

Make no mistake – Republicans are sharpening the budget knives and vow to make a cut a week to balance the budget, pay down the debt and reduce the deficit. Everyone knows that when you’re in a hole, stop digging!

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McKinney bridal show Saturday at MPAC

Take a walk down the aisle of history at a bridal show at the McKinney Performing Arts Center (MPAC) on Saturday, Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This bridal show is sponsored by Chestnut Square Historic Village, 97.5 KLAK, El Dorado Motors and Coldwell Bankers McKinney and highlights the unique options Collin County wedding professionals offer to brides to ensure their wedding is a day to remember.

“McKinney is quickly becoming the wedding destination of North Texas, thanks to the wide variety of quality options brides have in our community,” said MPAC Director Dave Taylor. “Brides have so many decisions to make for their big day, and this expo brings all of the experts together in one place to help them with every detail.”

Admission at the door is $3 for one and two for $5.

Attendees will meet experienced wedding professionals and enjoy specialty goodie bags for the first 300 brides, raffles with prizes for the entire bridal party, live demonstrations and samples. For more information or questions, please call 972-547-2650 or visit http://www.walkdowntheaisleofhistory.com.

Family profile: George & Maylee Thomas Fuller

By J.B. Blocker
Parents and partners, builders and developers, artist and musicians, civic leaders and humanitarians, they are passionate and vocal about loving life.
George Fuller is the builder of McKinney’s Adriatica and was recently recognized in D Magazine’s Best Builders in Dallas for the fourth time. Adriatica is a Croatian-inspired village being built in the heart of Stonebridge.
Q: How unique is the Adriatica development?
George answers: First, I was enamored by the vision of Jeff Blackard, the developer. His vision was to go beyond the aesthetic appeal and create a true village, which by definition is a more green development. A resident of Adriatica, without getting in their car or crossing a main street, can buy groceries, shop, dine, bank and go to Starbucks. They can swim, play tennis or golf, rent movies, and fish. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants and other neighborhood professional are a walk, bike ride, or golf cart ride away. Additionally, our choices of materials and construction methods in Adriatica are focused on using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient while architecturally building a community that grows in aesthetic appeal with age. Ultimately, Adriatica will be a nice complement to our great Historic Downtown and other communities in our city.

Maylee Thomas Fuller is a well-known local musical talent with a newly produced 6th CD called ‘Raining Grace.’ The Maylee Thomas Band is a DFW favorite and her gutsy, bluesy and soulful sound is a reflection of the artist.
Q: Your newest album is a worship recording. Is that your new direction?
Maylee answers: Really, that’s a journey we’ve always been on. This is just the first time we captured our faith on an entire album. Our next record, called “Texas Home,” will be a collection of songs that reflect our deep Texas soul.
Q: George is a guitarist in your band. How’s does that relationship work?
George answers: Let me answer that! I went to see Maylee perform at the West End [in downtown Dallas], and I knew she was a real talent! My wife and I have a creative connection in music. I’m one of the lucky ones who get to play in her band. How cool is that! I get to play behind my favorite singer!

Q: Your latest endeavor is the Guitar Sanctuary and Music School in McKinney on Virginia Parkway in Adriatica. That must be a dream for a guitar and music family.
George says: It seems we use the word passionate a lot, but passion drives us both. Whether it’s enjoying our family and faith or inspiring next generation musicians. Opening the Guitar Sanctuary was definitely an indulgence. I wanted to create an intimate environment where people could experience both the instrument and instruction in a fulfilling way, specifically, not in a big box retail store. Sharing the world of guitars with our community, and its children, is fulfilling, especially on the teaching side.

Q: George made a strong run for the mayor of McKinney even with a late entry. What do you say about that campaign?
George: First, let me say that I am very proud of Brian Loughmiller who won that election. He is a great mayor for McKinney, and it was his time to lead. He has my confidence and support. I was really humbled by the highly committed support that rallied behind me. We learned from the dedication it takes to offer your voice and take a lead in your community. We have talented leaders in this community and they need to all lend their talents in the present for the benefit of our future.

Q: You are now serving as the vice chair of the McKinney Community Development Corporation, how are you involved?
George: As a builder in McKinney for nearly 20 years with a very active family, I am extremely sensitive to the relationship between McKinney and its residence. We are one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, certainly that is in large part a product of our appeal and roots as a small and family community. Maintaining that integrity is vital, and my involvement in MCDC allows me to be part of that process.
George and Maylee’s oldest son Austin [jersey No. 35] just played in the Orange Bowl as a sophomore starter for Virginia Tech. The youngest, a fourth-grader, Layla Grace is active in theatre and music and wants to be a performer like her mommy. 12-year-old son Raine is an avid reader and adventurous animal lover. He and his horse Jesse make quite a pair.
The newest member of their family is Milyan Hope. The adopted her in Ethiopia. George was on a mission trip to restore damaged orphanages when a young, fragile girl stole his heart. Milyan is now a fifth-grader who also loves music, soccer and life.

Q: Tell us about the Love Life Foundation.
Maylee says: Love Life is our mantra. It had a humble beginning when our band played at a fundraiser for a family in need back in the early 90s. We realized then we could use our music to raise money for other charitable causes and formed “The Love Life Foundation.” Since then, and with the expansion of other endeavors, we have raised close to $2 million dollars to help and support at risk women and children in our community and abroad. Over the holidays, we created the “Love Life Gift Wrapping” that took only donations for the benefit of local shelters and collected care packages for the troops. You should have seen the overwhelming support of our community that made it a huge success! … Even Santa showed up a few days!

J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Historic Downtown McKinney, Texas.

In the home: Time to step up

By Carrie T. Brazeal

If you decided to be more active this year, good for you! Being physically active is an important aspect of getting and stay healthy.
You know the benefits of exercise: a healthier heart; increased endurance; healthy muscles, bones and joints; improved burning of calories; more energy; reduces stress; and improved ability to fall asleep and sleep well. These should motivate us to incorporate physical activity into our daily lives.
It doesn’t matter what type of physical activity you decide to do.
Just make sure that you are active at a moderate intensity to gain health benefits from aerobic activity. But what does it mean to be moderately intense? It means you need to get your heart rate up to a certain level called your target heart rate. There is a formula for determining your target heart rate but you have to stop your activity to take your heart rate. There are some other easier ways to help you decide if you are working at moderate intensity level.
Take the talk test. If you can easily talk while performing the activity, you are working at a light to moderate level. You may want to increase the rate of exercise slightly to make it more moderately intense. If you become out of breath quickly and find it very difficult to talk while performing the activity, you are probably working more vigorously. Slow it down slightly to be at moderate level of intensity. Remember, exercise does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial. The idea of “no pain, no gain” is not true. It may not be easy at first, but exercise should not be painful.
Take the sweat test. Regular, repetitive physical activity for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity level will probably induce sweating. Everyone is different. Some people sweat more and others less, but if you begin to work up a sweat, you are probably working at least at a moderate level intensity.
Consider a brisk walk. Walk at the level you would consider to be a “brisk walk.” Moderate activity is anything that makes you breathe as hard as you do during a brisk walk. A brisk walk at 4 miles per hour is considered a moderate intensity activity. For an extensive list of moderate-level activities, see http://www.cancer.org.
If you are just beginning to exercise, it is important to start slowly and pace yourself. People are all different shapes and sizes. They are also at many different fitness levels. It is important to work at a pace/intensity level where you are comfortable.
A recent study found that activity was considered more laborious and less pleasant among overweight adults when its intensity was prescribed at a level just 10 percent higher than what the individuals self-selected. Don’t impose an intensity level on your activity that makes the activity unenjoyable.
Select a pace that works for you; otherwise, you may find your enjoyment, motivation and adherence to exercise diminishing over time.

Good luck with your exercise program!

Carrie T. Brazeal is the County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer
Sciences with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. She may be reached at
c-brazeal@tamu.edu or 972.548.4233 or metro 972.424.1460, Ext. 4233.

Yablon’s view: Standing for Straus no way to pick a Speaker of the House

By Mark P. Yablon
The Republican Caucus earned an “F” for the final semester grade Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Austin. Based on its abysmal method of conducting the Texas Speaker’s race, many Republican leaders need to return to high school to learn civics and how to conduct a valid vote.
House Republican leaders acted more childish conducting the crucial business of selecting the Speaker than our kids do at a high school pep rally.

According to insiders, Republican House leadership asked those who supported incumbent Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, to stand instead of holding a secret ballot as we teach our children. Shouldn’t there have been a recorded, written ballot in such a highly-charged vote?
Even in high school, I recall using a recorded, private ballot for student council.

The public may never fully know the truth from this caucus vote. House leadership forbade all outsiders from observing. The whole process was unfortunate. Once the loyalist Straus faction stood on the called vote for only incumbent Straus, group think prevailed to the detriment of our shared values.
No vote was ever called for Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, or Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa.

I don’t know Straus personally. It would be wrong to attack him personally because I disagree with him and believe most voters picked a conservative Texas Legislature, which Paxton would best lead.
Texans elected the largest freshman class of representatives (22) in about 50 years and elected the largest Republican majority (101) in more than 100 years, or more than two Republicans to one Democrat.

The 2010 election cycle was a clear and convincing victory for tea party activists, social conservatives, economic conservatives, patriots and red-blooded Americans. They are concerned citizens humbly and respectfully wanting to take back our political system and restore Constitutional law. Texans voted with a heart for “is it beneficial to all concerned,” as we say at Rotary each week.

Constitutional law is not Republican or Democrat

Rule of law infused by our Texas and U.S. Constitutions is not conservative or liberal. It just is.
Texans bestow upon elected officials the responsibility and duty to right wrongs, to protect hard-working citizens from all predators and to give us freedom to “pursue” happiness under constitutionally-mandated limited government to stay out of our lives except when needed under “limited” circumstances.
As stated earlier, many of our Republican representatives failed their first test in the 2011-12 Legislature. Let’s pray to God they immediately end this foolhardiness.
What to do?
*Vigilantly stand for our children’s’ and grand children’s benefit and all living Americans today.
*Easily move to the next crisis or more entertaining project.
*Don’t even try; takes too much effort with no guaranteed success.
*Don’t bother. Why risk being on the losing side. You can’t change “city hall.”
How will you hold our “citizen” legislators accountable for their actions or inactions? Will you support the good ones and encourage them even against the odds?
Congratulate Rep. Paxton for taking truly, bold principled action on behalf of the public at large at significant jeopardy to his own self-interest. His supporters state he is unlike most politicians in that respect.

Same is true of our respected friend Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, who tirelessly worked to elect Paxton for Speaker at her own peril.
Seasoned politicos, bureaucrats and lobbyists are watching us, too, with earnestness (and skepticism). They postulate that conservatives are temporarily excited and advise, “Wait them out or give them a bone, and they’ll go away as always.”
They will give us more — or less — taxes, personal freedoms, liberties, protecting the vulnerable, bringing sanity to our civil and criminal legal systems and so on.
Warning: “Say what you mean, and do what you say!”
Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011—when the entire Legislature formally voted for Speaker Straus — is a seminal moment in returning our government to its roots – the grass roots – of citizens. We are not going to accept politics as usual!
Too many Republicans pretend to be conservative during elections to receive the grass-roots support and hard work, but later vote for liberal leaders and laws and cut deals for their own self interest. These Rinos (Republican in name only) are becoming a rallying cry for long-time and new voters, alike. Many constituents are now proclaiming they will replace unreliable incumbents, especially those who misrepresented their true selves just to get elected.
Today’s conservative movement is primed to expand beyond anything former President Ronald Reagan, my political hero, would have envisioned.

It’s hard now to comprehend that Reagan lost to President Gerald Ford, the moderate incumbent, in the 1976 Republican primary.
Liberal Jimmy Carter creamed Ford in the general election.
Reagan returned stronger than ever to win the presidency in 1980 and 1984. Reagan still dominates political thought from the grave as the United States of America’s beloved conservative standard bearer.
Reagan said in his Jan. 25, 1974 speech The Shining City Upon a Hill: “The man who has nothing which he cares about more than his personal safety is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
What are you willing to do to end politics as usual and restore America’s greatness for your family’s future generations to enjoy?

Mark P. Yablon is an entrepreneur in Historic Downtown McKinney.

He leads (well, tries to) his four beautiful daughters in various community and church activities, including pro-American, pro-family and pro-business causes. He was a delegate to Republican State Conventions from his hometown in Harris County, as Baylor University student in McLennan County and in 2010 from adopted hometown in Collin County.

PICTURED BELOW: A White House photographer captured this picture of President Jimmy Carter using his paddle on a fishing trip. The rabbit, which had been swimming near his boat, attempted to hop on board the President’s fishing boat near Plains, Georgia, despite President Carter’s efforts to shoo it away with his paddle.

24-year-old Plano woman pleads guilty

“Guilty” is how 24-year-old Anna Fermanova of Plano pleaded Friday in a federal court room in Brooklyn, N.Y., after she was charged with trying to smuggle three night-vision rif

le sights to Russia without proper export licenses.
Fermanova pleaded guilty to a single felony count of violating the Arms Export Control Act.

Out today on bail, the 2004 Richardson High School grad faces up to 57 months in prison when she’s sentenced April 29.

Born in Latvia and raised in Texas, she went to the Ogle cosmetology school and is licensed in cosmetology. She was under house arrest in Plano in her parents’ home before she had to go to New York to face the judge.

NBCDFW.COM STORY WHEN SHE WAS CHARGED:

FROM THE SMOKINGGUN.COM

Photos from the smokinggun.com

She also appeared on Channel 33 in Dallas as a commentator. Go to:
http://www.the33tv.com/news/kdaf-anna-fermanova-ashton-demi-story,0,5083519.story

Fake crisis over a fake drug

By Curtis Rath

Across our nation, elected officials and the media are lamenting the latest scourge plaguing our nation, K2. Introduced in 2000, K2 is a blend of herbs, sprayed with synthetic marijuana and sold as incense printed with the warning “Not for Human Consumption.”
Although there have been no official studies of the product, Professor John W. Huffman, who first synthesized these chemicals says, “People who use it are idiots” and “It’s like playing Russian roulette. You don’t know what it’s going to do to you.”

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley gave an impassioned speech before Congress in August, claiming that we must “halt the spread of the problem before it consumes families and communities” and K2 use has “spread quickly throughout Europe and the U.S.”
In a recent Dallas Morning News’ editorial, two elected officials claim that their efforts to ban K2 will give “school districts the legal means to discipline students who are in possession of the drug” and it “gives policy makers and experts the chance to educate citizens about the dangers of these drugs.”
It is difficult for me to understand how this action does anything, effective, beyond publicizing the substance, consequently increasing its popularity and potential danger. The K2-related calls to U.S. poison centers skyrocketed from 13 in 2009 to over 2,500 in 2010. As a result, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made an emergency declaration that “possessing and selling these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the U.S. for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals and products should be permanently controlled.”
In the DMN editorial, the two Texas officials strongly imply that the death of 30-year-old Ryan Justice was a direct result of smoking K2 stating, he “had been drinking alcohol and smoking a synthetic drug known as K2” and “his wife had taken his K2 away, and a fight ensued”. Mr. Justice was shot and killed, when he pointed an unloaded rifle at arriving officers.
The truth is that Mr. Justice showed up at the home of his ex-wife after proclaiming his desire to “die at the hands of the police,” just like his best friend, Joe Vinson Thornton. Thornton was killed by police in 2006, fulfilling his childhood wish to “go out in a blaze of glory.”
In addition to the synthetic marijuana, Mr. Justice’s blood showed traces of prescription anti-depressants and a Blood Alcohol Level of .28, which is nearly four times the legal limit and near the fatal level of .35. It seems unlikely that K2 played a significant role in this tragedy.
Mr. Justice is not the only person whose death was falsely, attributed to K2. Last August, WFAA’s Janet St. James reported that a “Dallas teen’s death could be linked to K2 use” and quoted officials, that the teen had a “history of K2 use.”
Sen. Grassley said “This last August, a recent 19-year-old Lake Highlands High School graduate in Dallas, Texas, passed away after smoking K2. The medical examiner confirmed that this boy had K2 in his system at the time of his death.” This is false. The official autopsy report attributes his death to “natural causes” and he had no synthetic marijuana in his bloodstream.
The DMN editorial notes the potential K2 side effects of “hallucinations, vomiting, panic attacks, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, pallor, numbness and tingling, disorientation, loss of time awareness and, in some cases, tremors and seizures.”
K2 is not unique in having side effects. ”Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black or bloody stools; confusion; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; hearing loss; ringing in the ears; severe or persistent stomach pain; unusual bruising; vomiting” are the side effects from the drug, known on the street, as aspirin.
K2 is not the only “not for human consumption” product that is being abused. The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) estimates that one out of five children will get high off of some kind of inhalant, before the 8th grade.
There are literally thousands of potential products that can be abused, such as typewriter correction fluid, air-conditioning refrigerant, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane and even cooking spray.
If the NIPC estimates are correct, these common households products are a much greater problem than K2.
Will these new laws be effective cutting the consumption of illegal substances among our young people?
Doubtful, if you look at the studies. According to a 2010 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study, the use is increasing and “21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes.” The same study show that the number of high school seniors who had used alcohol in the last year dropped from 43.5% to 41.2%.
When compared to the prevalence of marijuana and alcohol, all of this bluster about K2 seems akin to trying to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun.
These local laws, bans, task forces and regulations will do nothing to protect us, or our children.
The DEA has done the only thing that has a chance of being effective and any effort at the state or local level is a complete waste of time.
If making new laws is not the answer, what is? My suggestion is education. Our parents and schools do not need more government intrusion to teach our kids about the dangers of drugs (both legal and illegal).
I have the faith that most kids will make good decisions, when they have all the facts. It is the adults, who are having trouble keeping their facts straight.
You can reach Curtis at Rathpack@gmail.com

Governor Perry’s emergency items

By Ken Paxton
Capitol Steps
This past Tuesday, Jan. 11, marked the first day of the 82nd Legislative Session. The Legislature has a number of high priority issues to address this session, such as redistricting and passing a balanced budget with a multi-billion dollar projected budget shortfall.
Additionally, Governor Perry added two emergency items to the list for the 82nd Legislative Session: 1) Protecting the private property rights of Texans / addressing eminent domain issues; and 2) abolishing sanctuary cities in Texas. Additionally, he reiterated his commitment to balancing our State’s budget without raising taxes by prioritizing and cutting government spending.
Including eminent domain issues and the ban of sanctuary cities on the list of emergency items allows members of the Legislature to consider these issues during the initial 30 days of the legislative session.
Balancing the budget while strengthening Texas’ job-friendly climate (maintaining low taxes, implementing predictable regulations, providing a fair legal system and offering a world-class workforce) is a priority I share with the Governor and is vital to the future of our State.
In order to ensure state agencies continue to use taxpayer dollars prudently, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House have already directed state agencies to identify savings of five percent in the 2010 – 2011 biennium, an additional 2.5 percent for the 2011 fiscal year, and 10 percent for the 2012 – 2013 biennium.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor on these important issues this legislative session.
Attorney Ken Paxton represents McKinney and Collin County in the state legislature.

Capitol steps: Healthy habits for 2011

By Ken Paxton, Capitol Steps
January 1 often serves as the day when Americans decide to embrace a healthier lifestyle. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service (a part of the Texas A&M system) offers services focused on health, wellness and nutrition to help Texans reach their goals.
If you are interested in sharing your knowledge with others to help them achieve their health goals, then becoming a Master Wellness Volunteer may be right for you.
Receive 40 hours of training in nutrition, health, childhood obesity, public speaking, wellness, food safety, and other topics and pay back 40 hours of community service sharing the knowledge you’ve gained with others.
Teaching small groups, manning booths at health fairs, testing recipes and coordinating special projects are just a few ways that volunteers are currently involved.
Applications and a $65 registration fee are due by Jan. 21, 2011 for individuals interested in serving as Master Wellness Volunteers. All prospective volunteers will be asked to schedule a phone interview. Training classes will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, February 3, 10, 17; Friday, Feb. 25; and Thursday, March 3, at the Texas AgriLife Urban Solutions Center, 17360 Coit Road. This facility is located south of the Bush Turnpike and north of Campbell Road.
For more information, contact Carrie T. Brazeal, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, at c-brazeal@tamu.edu or 972.548.4233 or metro 972.424.1460, Ext. 4233.
The Texas AgriLife Extension Service also provides a service that offers recipes for quick yet nutritious meals that are budget-friendly. This program, Dinner Tonight!, is designed for busy people who want to prepare healthy meals for themselves and / or their families. To receive weekly updates for recipe ideas, log onto http://healthyliving.tamu.edu for a short video demonstration of various recipes. A new video is released each week. You can also print recipes and view past demonstrations. Dinner Tonight! may also be found of Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dinner-Tonight/166292650049036?v=wall.
If you want to be reminded each week about the new recipe and video, email Carrie Brazeal, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, at c-brazeal@tamu.edu and ask to be added to the distribution list.
Ken Paxton of McKinney is the Conservative running for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. http://www.paxtonforspeaker.com

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