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("Quid coniuratio est?")
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Two "titans", Congress and the President, have clashed in Washington, DC, during late 1995 and into 1996. To understand the epic confrontation, let's go back several centuries and look for antecedents.
Henry II was king of England from 1154 A.D. to 1189 A.D. He was "lord of an empire stretching from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees [northern border of Spain.]" [Morgan, 122] Henry helped raise Thomas Becket to Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. But to the king's surprise, Becket began to oppose him and a Church-State battle ensued -- a clash of titans.
In January of 1164, King Henry summoned a council to Clarendon. He presented the bishops with a clear statement of the king's customary rights over the Church -- The Constitution of Clarendon. At first, Becket gave in and accepted this kingly decree, but he later changed his mind. Conflicts between King Henry II and Thomas Becket finally led to the assassination of Becket by four of the king's knights.
Richard I (1189-1199) was Henry's son. His brother, John, was lord of Ireland. In November of 1187, Saladin had a victory at Hattin. Richard rushed to assist the kingdom of Jerusalem. The outcome of King Richard's crusade was the Treaty of Jaffa in 1192. During Richard's absence from England there had been disturbances in that "emerald isle", but on his return they got straightened out.
Richard the First's death in 1199 left the succession in dispute. The battle was between John, Richard's brother, and Arthur, son of Geoffrey (brother of Henry II) and nephew of John. But Arthur at that time was just 12 years old. John won control of the kingdom and was probably responsible for the murder of young Arthur in April of 1203. 
But John as king "constantly suspected that men were plotting against him." [ibid.] High inflation put many into financial trouble. The king was blamed. (After all, if there is a bad harvest, who is to blame? The king. Ditto with financials.) The economic inflation also eroded the value of royal revenues. King John "levied frequent taxes and tightened up the laws governing the forest (a profitable but highly unpopular source of income)." [ibid.]
July 1214 saw the start of rebellion. Rebels would normally have a leader who was a member of the royal family around whom to rally, but no good candidate was available to them. "So the rebels devised a new kind of focus for revolt: a programme of reform. In June 1215, after they had captured London, the rebels forced John to accept the terms laid out in a document later to be known as Magna Carta. In essence it was a hostile commentary on some of the more objectionable features of the last sixty years of [English] rule." 
Richard II was king from 1377 to 1399. In 1397-8 he exiled the earl of Warwick, executed the earl of Arundel, murdered the duke of Gloucester, and then exiled the earl of Derby.  King Richard II "demanded oaths of loyalty... placed subjects' lands and property at his mercy... and terrorized [the] population with [a] private army." [Haigh, 109] But when Richard visited Ireland in 1399, this gave Henry Bolingbroke, the exiled earl of Derby, the chance to slip back into England and recover the duchy of Lancaster estates and his position. Bolingbroke landed at Ravenspur, gained the support of the northern lords, and eventually captured Richard II. [ibid.] Richard was deposed, imprisoned in the Tower of London and soon thereafter was secretly put to death. [Weir, 14]
Henry IV (i.e. Henry Bolingbroke) had dubious title to the throne, but held onto it just the same. His son and successor, Henry V, was ruling well, but he died unexpectedly in 1422. His heir, Henry VI, was just a baby at the time. When Henry VI finally reached adulthood, he proved to be a weak ruler; he may even have been mentally defective. [ibid.]
The father of Richard, Duke of York, was executed in 1415 by Henry V (father of Henry VI) when Richard was 4 years old. Richard of York was restored to his inheritance in 1425. "Faction feuds" -- a.k.a. "the clashes of titans" -- led, in 1450, to the eruption of the 30-year "War of the Roses". Two of the factions were the Houses of Lancaster, including the inept Henry VI, and York. In September 1460 Richard of York marched on London and claimed the crown. Queen Margaret, wife of the simple-minded Henry VI, incensed at Richard, sent her forces against him and his allies and on December 30, 1460 "[Richard of] York, his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and [the Earl of] Salisbury were slain at the battle of Wakefield." 
Vengeful, Richard's 19-year-old son Edward captured London and had himself proclaimed king on March 4, 1461. Henry VI was a fugitive until he was finally captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1465. Edward was formally crowned King Edward IV on June 28, 1465. [ibid.]
On May 21, 1471 Henry VI was secretly murdered. Officially, it was given out that Henry VI "had taken 'to so great despite, ire and indignation that, of pure displeasure and melancholy he died.' This fooled no one."  Centuries later, when the remains of Henry VI were examined, the medical report confirmed his violent death. [ibid.]
Earlier, Edward IV had secretly married someone beneath his station, Elizabeth Wydville. He had been "led into wedlock 'by blind affection and not by the rule of reason.'"  The secret marriage, when revealed, was not well-received and caused divisions within the royal family -- i.e. factions.
George, Duke of Clarence, was Edward's brother. He had a "weak, discontented and vicious character."  Clarence "burned with resentment because [Richard, Duke of] Gloucester had received so much of the Warwick inheritance." 
Elizabeth Wydville -- Queen Elizabeth -- headed the Wydville faction. On November 2, 1470 she gave birth to the future Edward V. Prince Edward was raised by the Wydville faction. On August 17, 1473 was born her second son, Richard, Duke of York.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother of Edward IV, held power in the north of England.  "At court, the Wydvilles held sway, and in Wales, that other potential power base, their influence was paramount." [ibid.] But Clarence, though wealthy, was isolated from power. Not liking this, he struck out at the Queen by, without any warrant, arresting one of the Queen's servants, seizing her valuables, and jailing her. Three days later, after having been found guilty by an intimidated court of poisoning and witchcraft, the servant was hung. [43-44] The Wydvilles retaliated with a charge of sorcery against Clarence. Two persons linked to Clarence, Dr. John Stacey and Thomas Burdett, were executed on May 20th, 1477.
The feud escalated. Clarence publicly denounced King Edward IV as a bastard and a necromancer.  But Edward showed tolerance. However a final act of lese-majeste was the last straw. Clarence was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Indicted for high treason, Clarence was found guilty and executed on February 18, 1478. Richard of Gloucester secretly blamed the Wydvilles for Clarence's death. 
From 1472 through 1483 Gloucester governed England north of the River Trent for his brother Edward.  In the South, and at court, the Wydvilles dominated.  Edward's heir was being raised by the Wydvilles. "It was... Edward IV's failure to envisage what the consequences would be to his kingdom and his heir if he were to die young and leave a minor on the throne that led directly to the tragedy of the Princes in the Tower." 
How's this for a war? Mary, Duchess of Burgundy and wife of Maximilian of Austria, is thrown from a horse and dies. She leaves behind two children: Philip, her heir, and Margaret. Louis XI of France then concludes a new treaty whereby Elizabeth of York is dumped as future match for the Dauphin in favor of Margaret. Edward IV "hits the ceiling" when he learns that "his daughter had been ignominiously jilted" and he has Parliament declare war on France.  The King did not get to see, though, how his war might turn out: he died shortly thereafter, on April 9, 1483.  So the stage is set. Richard of Gloucester rules the North and is at odds with the Wydvilles, powerful in the South.
Edward V was proclaimed king on April 11, 1483. Richard of Gloucester had been named Protector of the Realm by Edward IV in a deathbed ordinance. "It appears that Edward intended that Gloucester should govern the kingdom while the king was a minor."  But the Wydville faction was determined to resist Edward IV's deathbed ordinance. They wanted to use Edward V as a puppet, with them pulling the strings.
It was argued that if Edward V were to be crowned king immediately, this would cause Gloucester's role of Protector to expire. Yet Edward V was not then in London. At this point, the young prince was the key to power. Whoever possessed Edward V would control England.
Both sides feared and hated each other. If the Wydville clique ruled, Richard of Gloucester's very life would be in danger. Gloucester, argues Weir, "had no choice but to act to bring about the overthrow of the Wydvilles and seize the reins of government himself."  Gloucester and his forces caught up with Edward V fifty miles north of London and took the young prince in their charge. Edward V was then separated from his ministers, his escort, his attendants and servants. 
By May of that year (1483), 12-year-old Edward V was lodged in the Tower of London. Basically a prisoner therein, he underwent increasing isolation. In June, his 9-year-old brother and also possible heir to the throne was brought to the Tower and "...day by day [they] began to be seen more rarely..." 
There now occurred other judicial-type murders of powerful allies of the Wydvilles. Richard of Gloucester, by now in actual power, began acting more and more as if he were king. He postponed the scheduled coronation of Edward V indefinitely.  By June 26th, 1483, Richard III had succeeded in being proclaimed king. He was crowned on July 6th, 1483.
But the Princes in the Tower yet lived and stood as "a potential focus for rebellion..."  So Richard III had them murdered as they slept, on or about September 3rd, 1483. 
Two factions, two "titans", clashed -- the Wydvilles and the allies of Richard III -- and "sparks" flew -- many were murdered. Those who allied with Richard found themselves well-rewarded..... or at least they stayed alive.
We have had to step down, as time has gone by, in our opinion of ourselves. Finding out that it was not the sun which revolved around the earth, but the other way around, was more than some people could deal with. Then, when it was found that we weren't much different from apes, that too was hard to face. So too with our rulers: The pharoahs were not just rulers, they were gods. Centuries passed, and the rulers, though not gods exactly, still were God's chosen ones -- they ruled by the so-called "divine right of kings." Then, here in America, it went a step further and power was said to emanate from the people, from the consent of the governed.
Samuel F.B. Morse, the recognized inventor of the telegraph in America and pioneer in the use of Morse code, took a hard look at the titanic power known as the Catholic church. In his book, Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States, he argued that there was a "Holy Alliance, a 'union of Christian princes'", determined to extinguish the good example of liberty here in the U.S. [Morse, 18] He claimed that Austria, through its secret funding of the St. Leopold Foundation, was sending Jesuit emissaries, "organizing themselves in all our borders, actively passing and re-passing between Europe and America." [22-23]
While cautioning that he has no quarrel with the purely religious aspects of Roman Catholicism, he yet warns that "every religious sect has certain principles of government growing out of its particular religious belief, and which will be found to agree or disagree with the principles of any given form of civil government." [33-34] Although Austria, the Catholic Church, and America all agree, says Morse, that the authority to govern derives from God, opposition occurs regarding to whom on earth this authority is delegated. Austria, then subscribing to the concept of the divine right of kings, would say authority on earth is delegated to the Emperor. The Catholic Church, arguing from its own version of divine right, claims the authority belongs to the Pope. But the United States holds that the Sovereign power resides in the people themselves. And so, says Morse, the Catholic Church, in its civil aspect, is inimicable to that of the United States.
Says Morse: "This is the slavish doctrine taught to the Catholics... The people, instead of having power or rights, are according to this catechism mere passive slaves, born for their masters, taught by a perversion of the threatenings of religion to obey without murmuring, or questioning, or examination, the mandates of their human deity, bid to cringe and fawn and kiss the very feet of majesty, and deem themselves happy to be whipped, to be kicked, or to die in his service... Protestantism, on the contrary, at its birth, while yet bound with many of the shackles of Popery, attacked, in its earliest lispings of freedom, this very doctrine of divine right. It was Luther, and by a singular coincidence of day too, on the fourth of July, who first in a public disputation at Leipsic with his Popish antagonist, called in question the divine right of the Pope." [39-40]
You see, it was a clash of titans from whence we can trace American anti-Papism. The Pope and his agents, one faction, versus Martin Luther, having on his own side nothing more than the power of an idea. So too in the clash between Henry VIII and the Catholic Church can be seen the roots of American distrust of "Popery." These misgivings extended right up to the 1960s, when it was questioned whether John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, ought to be President of the United States.
Charles I was King of England from 1625 until 1649. Charles faced strong opposition from his Parliaments. In 1628, the Parliament "complained about forced loans, illegal levying of customs duties (known as "tunnage and poundage"), and forced billeting of soldiers in households. In particular they protested that the King had no right to imprison his subjects without showing cause why he did so. The [House of] Commons set out their various grievances in a constitutional document known as the Petition of Right, to which the King was obliged to give his assent..." [Encyclopedia Americana, 301]
In 1628, King Charles tried to adjourn the upcoming Parliament, but this was prevented by members who "held the speaker of the House of Commons down in his chair while they voted three resolutions condemning the actions of the monarchy as illegal. Charles retaliated by dissolving Parliament, and for the next 11 years he governed without calling another one." [ibid.]
Putting the conflict between the King and the Parliament into the context of our current clash between "King Clinton" and the Congress, I can give no better analysis than the following, offered by one of Conspiracy Nation's many readers in response to speculation put forward by Mr. Sherman Skolnick of the Citizens' Committee to Clean Up The Courts. [See CN 6.91, "Sinister Consequences"]
"Much as I affectionately respect Sherman Skolnick, I must confess that I found his speculations concerning Clinton's presumed power to prorogue Congress because of a sovereign 'right' inherited from England's King Charles I somewhat 'exotic' to say the least. I also found it disturbing, because Clinton may actually be persuaded that he has such a right, based on precedent, or -- just as bad -- seek to persuade others to believe at some future time that he has such a right. So before this becomes a full-fledged rumour or a 'fact' by default, I hope you'll permit me to apply a corrective."
"The power to prorogue, as a residual power vested in the Crown (or its representative Governor-Generals in the old Dominions) now only permits the dissolution of Parliament because the government is acting ultra vires or unconstitutionally. (As, for example, in Australia in the 1970s, when the Governor-General dismissed Parliament because the then-government flouted the Constitution by continuing operation without a necessary money bill being passed by Parliament to fund it.) The Crown may then only issue a writ for a new election and appoint an interim administration. It may not govern directly, suspend Parliament indefinitely, or impose by fiat a permanent replacement Administration of its choice."
"Quoting Charles I's conflicts with Parliament and his proroguing of it (and extending this by historical descent as a precedent for American Presidents) is fallacious in the extreme. Charles wished to govern as an absolute autocrat; he made free use of the Star Chamber to ruin and imprison those who opposed him; he sought to replace Parliamentary money bills with innovations like 'ship money'; he personally interfered in political debate in Parliament; and he finally sought to arrest forcibly six leaders of the Commons, in the Commons, on charges of 'treason.'"
"Charles had previously dismissed Parliament several times because they wouldn't give him what he wanted: he then had a problem, because without Parliament's approval of a money bill he had no funds with which to govern or pursue his policies. The only two options were to recall Parliament, which he did on each occasion, or to make war upon it. Ultimately, he did make war upon it, and lost."
"The principle was well understood then, however: the King has the power to dismiss, but not to govern dictatorially. If he wished to execute his purposes, he had to gain the consent of Parliament, which was elected by the people who paid the bills -- the original 'no taxation without representation.' No Parliament, no money!"
"Now, interestingly enough and directly to the point here, Charles had already been compelled by Parliament to agree to regular triennial Parliaments. In January 1641, a private member's Bill was introduced 'to prevent the dangers and inconveniences happening by the long intermission of Parliaments.' The House, in committee, directed that triennial Parliaments be held; to guard against the statute becoming a dead-letter, they directed that the issuing of writs at the fixed times be the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor; that, if he failed, the House of Lords should issue the writs; if the Lords failed, then the Sheriffs were to do it; and, if the Sheriffs neglected or refused, then the people were to proceed to elect their representatives without any writs at all. Now, if you're looking for a precedent, that's the one you should be taking note of, not the Sovereign's power to dismiss!"
"And, as an additional pointed reminder to the King of where the true power lay, he was compelled by this law to agree not to dismiss or adjourn Parliament without its own consent within fifty days of its commencing its session."
"So, if thereafter he dismissed it, writs were automatically issued for election to a new Parliament -- whether he agreed or not -- at the next stated time; if this process failed, or was neglected, the people met and elected their own representatives. And that Parliament could not then be dismissed by the King for at least fifty days."
"So if Clinton wants to draw on residual powers to prorogue passed down from Charles I, that's the package he'd be getting!"
"However, the modern evolution of this doctrine has gone beyond that. The Crown can only now prorogue Parliament for good constitutional reason; it must then immediately take steps to call a new election for a new Parliament. If it was wrong, the Parliament so elected would reflect the wrath of the voters, which might well result in the legislative demise of the Crown or sharp abridgement of its powers. It's for that reason that the royal right to prorogue is residual and rarely used."
"Not much to comfort Clinton in that, I'm afraid."
"And the exercise of an arbitrary "right" to prorogue, unfettered, ultimately cost King Charles his throne, then his head."
"Another precedent King Clinton would do well to consider." [Whitley]
Here in America, Andrew Jackson fought against the Bank of the United States.
"Specie" was a gold and silver bimetallic system "established by Congress in the Coinage Act of 1792. This act provided for 'full-bodied' money, that is full-weight gold and silver coins whose commodity value equaled their exchange value." [Remini, 25] But favored by Alexander Hamilton and others was a "Bank of the United States." Chartered in 1791 amidst fierce controversy, the "B.U.S." had assets of $10 million, four-fifths of which came from private investors who bought stock in it. Buyers of its stock offerings "were concentrated mainly in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, but in a short time foreign investors snapped up its stock."  Because the operation of the bank was primarily under the control of its private investors, this meant that the nation's fiscal policy was greatly controlled by wealthy private citizens and even, apparently, by foreigners. Although the charter of the B.U.S. was allowed to expire in 1811, the subsequent Second Bank of the United States, begun in 1816, was basically more of the same.
Although Jackson had, from the start, planned to restrict the Second Bank, the so-called "Portsmouth incident" pushed him even further. After reviewing serious charges that the B.U.S. had in some localities actively opposed Jackson's election, Nicholas Biddle, president of the Bank, informed Jackson that his board of directors "[acknowledged] not the slightest responsibility of any description whatsoever to the Secretary of the Treasury touching the political opinions and conduct of their officers."  This exacerbated the looming confrontation.
From Jackson's point of view, there was no constitutional authority for the Bank of the United States.  Furthermore, Jackson contended "that the Bank was dangerous to the liberty of the American people because it concentrated enormous power in private hands and used this power to control legislation, influence elections, and even manipulate the operation of government to get what it wanted."  To Jackson, the B.U.S. was "a monopoly with special privileges granted by the government." [ibid.] So Jackson, not part of the eastern establishment, was determined to pull the plug on this cozy operation.
But Biddle and his cohorts had some tricks up their sleeves. They used their considerable forces to manuever a bill through Congress granting recharter of the Bank. Jackson fired back with his historic Bank veto of July 10, 1832, which concluded as follows:
"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society -- the farmer, mechanics, and laborers -- who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles." 
The Second Bank of the United States spent hugely in the presidential campaign of 1832. They hoped to at all cost defeat Jackson's bid for re-election. Democrats charged that the Bank was bribing government officials and citizens to promote Jackson's defeat. Warned one newspaper, "If the Bank, a mere monied corporation, can influence and change the results of our election at pleasure, nothing remains of our boasted freedom except the skin of the immolated victim." 
Jackson won re-election and stock in the United States Bank immediately dropped six points, from 120.5 to 114.5.  During his second term, the President sought to remove government deposits from the B.U.S. and place them in state banks. Nicholas Biddle retaliated by curtailing loans. This sent the nation into a financial panic.  "Biddle's squeeze caught the country at the worst possible moment... [It] staggered the commercial and manufacturing centers of the country... Every major city sustained a string of business failures; wages and prices declined; and workingmen were discharged in distressingly large numbers." [127-128] Yet Jackson would not yield in his "struggle to maintain a government of the people against the most heartless of all aristocracies, that of money." 
Public opinion slowly turned against the Bank. By 1834, a resolution urging that the B.U.S. not be rechartered was adopted by Congress. This and other resolutions "spelled the doom of the Bank."  The Second Bank of the United States "died a slow demeaning death... With each election the people reaffirmed their desire to have done with the monster." [173-174] The Bank wound up its affairs and closed shop. With the expiration of its charter in 1836, the B.U.S. ceased to exist.
While all this was going on, the "secret ideology of international finance... aimed at eventual rule over all the world by the British Government" [Knuth, 86] was seething at a perceived affront to its plans as promulgated in the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine, "America for the Americans," was in conflict with British plans to maintain and advance the worldwide British empire. But at the time of its inception during the 1820s, the British were then preoccupied with problems in the Mohammedan world. [88-89] By 1856, however, Great Britain turned its attention to America. A close business connection existed between cotton manufacturing England and the cotton aristocracy of the American South. The southern states "were swarming with British agents."  These agents acted upon the business connection between the South and Great Britain to help foment rebellion. The British also provided indirect aid to the Confederacy which "brought the fortunes of the North to a very low ebb; and every indication at this stage was that Britain was preparing to enter the war." [ibid.] "In December, 1861, a large British, French and Spanish expeditionary force was landed at Vera Cruz [Mexico] in defiance of the Monroe Doctrine." [ibid.] Things looked bad for the Union. However the North itself received timely assistance from Russia  and that, combined with other factors, resulted in eventual Union victory.
(The question arises as to whether John Wilkes Booth, a known agent of the Confederacy, really was a "lone nut" when he assassinated the victorious Abraham Lincoln. This editor does not believe that it was Booth who perished on or about April 26, 1865 at the Garret barn in Virginia. Support for this opinion can be found in, among several works, Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth by Finis L. Bates. Memphis: Pilcher Printing Co., 1907)
We have seen a sampling of past faction fights and the effects they have on the common people are either implicit or described. Now, in Washington, D.C., it appears that another "Clash of the Titans" is underway. What can be said about this current battle?
The first thing that comes to mind is what puny "titans" these are. The old-time titans were GREAT -- not in the sense of being good, necessarily, but in the sense of being big, "larger than life." The current episode of political collision could be better called "Plots of the Lawyers," or "Tricks of the Statisticians," or "Food Fight of the Frat Boys." What crummy titans we get these days.
Following from this it can be argued that perhaps these guys, Newt and King Clinton and the other suits and ties are not the real titans. That would be why these "titans" are all so boring: they are not the real thing. They are bought-off stooges, puppets on a string, owned and operated by the likes of Arkansas billionaire Jackson Stephens, Goldman Sachs, and God knows who else. Aiding the magic lantern show are the so-called "news" sources, owned and operated by the same folks who own the politicians. The final player is the deceived public, still trusting the major "news" outlets, that gets caught up in the fake drama. Tricked and misled by masters of illusion, the American people get sucked into passionate arguments over chimeras.
But what is really going on? We are told that there is a budget battle occuring between the Congress and the President, that it has as its basis a "philosophical difference" between the two giants. One thing is certain: powerful forces are acting, behind the scenes, that we know nothing about.
Bates, Finis L. Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth Memphis: Pilcher Printing Co., 1907
Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition. Danbury: Grolier, Inc., 1993
Haigh, Christopher, ed. The Cambridge Historical Encyclopedia of Great Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-521-25559-7
Knuth, E.C. The Empire of "The City" 1946. Torrance, CA: Noontide Press, 1983.
Morgan, Kenneth O., ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-19-822684-5
Morse, Samuel F.B. Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States 1835. New York: Arno Press, 1977
Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Bank War New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1967.
Weir, Alison. The Princes in the Tower New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. ISBN 0-345-38372-9
Whitley, John K. Electronic mail to Conspiracy Nation. Jan. 4, 1996
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