US refuses to let money matters affect military buildup in Asia - DAWN Group US refuses to let money matters affect military buildup in Asia - DAWN Group

Monday, June 4, 2012

US refuses to let money matters affect military buildup in Asia - DAWN Group

US refuses to let money matters affect military buildup in Asia - DAWN Group

JAKARTA: Proclaiming its fate to be strongly tied to Asia, the United States unveiled on Saturday detailed plans to build and strengthen its military presence in the region. Time will tell whether the growing US presence becomes a positive force for the peace, development and prosperity of Asia, or simply heightens the tensions in a region already convoluted by an arms race.

Asia is increasingly caught in the paradox of prosperity: as countries become more prosperous, they spend proportionally more of their new wealth on defence. They go on massive shopping sprees not only because they can afford to but mostly because they want to protect their economic interests to ensure sustainable growth and development.

Budgetary constraints dictated that US President Barack Obama draw down on the US military operations and presence in the Middle East and Europe but not in Asia, where China’s military is increasingly challenging US power and influence, though not necessarily yet its dominance.

In a much anticipated speech, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday that the US would deploy more aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, submarines and combat ships, carrying the most advanced technology and weapons, in Asia as part of what he called the rebalancing of the US military to Asia.

If the US naval deployment in the past had been equally divided between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the Asian “pivot” will shift it 60/40 in the Pacific’s favour. The new policy not only calls for more frequent port calls and military exercises in the Pacific but also for beefing up the presence in Japan, Guam and northern Australia and for securing more access to military facilities in other friendly countries.

Under the plan, the US military will have the ability to project its forces anywhere in Asia. Washington has a vested interest in securing the safety of commerce and access to natural resources and has called on countries in Asia to respect freedom of navigation.

The new US policy seeks to strengthen ties through traditional alliances, such as with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines, and also through partnerships with countries like Indonesia and India. Panetta also said the US was seeking to build military-to-military relations with China and Myanmar.

With the centre of global economic gravity shifting to the Asia-Pacific region, the US interests are inextricably linked to the fortunes of this part of the world. But Asia is also home to some of the world’s potential flashpoints: the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and across the Taiwan Strait, the Kashmir dispute between nuclear-powers India and Pakistan, the overlapping territorial claims involving China in the South China Sea and the North China Sea. The ongoing arms race has only intensified some of these tensions. Almost all the littoral states are investing heavily in strengthening their naval forces, taking their lead from China, signifying their intention to secure their maritime interests, from the safe passage of commercial vessels to the control of or access to the potentially big prize of rich underwater natural resources, including oil and gas reserves.

The new US policy comes amid growing tensions between China and the Philippines as both seek to assert their claim over the gas-rich Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Responding to a question at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Panetta said the US would not interfere in any territorial disputes but it would insist that such disputes and any others be resolved in a peaceful manner and in accordance with international laws.

In spite of the military buildup by the US and the arms race among Asian countries, their governments profess to put diplomacy first in resolving their disputes. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China are currently working on a binding code of conduct to address conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea. Besides the Philippines, China also has disputes with Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam in the region.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in his keynote address to the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday noted the evolution of a new security architecture in the Asia Pacific, not so much by design as by the proliferation of bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements among countries in the region. He described these and the many joint military exercises as important confidence-building measures that would also help to eliminate the distrust often sowed by disputes and the rising tensions. They have certainly helped to keep peace in the region.

Yudhoyono repeated Indonesia’s proposal for a joint military exercise involving Indonesia, China and the US for humanitarian operations, recalling the massive international military deployment in the largest peacetime military operation in the wake of the deadly tsunami in Indonesia in 2004.

Asia-Pacific countries are also engaging actively even as virtually everyone is building up their military capability. In the absence of the equivalent of Nato, Asia has several forums in which the member states have addressed their common security problems and challenges, such as the Shangri-La Dialogue organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Asean Regional Forum, the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting Plus and the East Asian Summit that involves 18 countries, including the US and Russia.

While the military buildup by countries in the region, including the US, seems the inevitable outcome of Asia’s rising economic prosperity, few are contemplating ever using their sophisticated and deadly weapons against their enemies, knowing full well that if anyone fired the first salvo, it could completely derail and undo all the progress of the entire region.As ironic as it may seem, in this context, many countries in the region welcome the stronger US military presence in Asia to further guarantee their peace and prosperity.

By arrangement with The Jakarta Post/ANN

Financial regulators agree to coordinate on Dodd-Frank rules - The Business Journal

For all the memorandums of understanding regulators have levied on banks in recent years, there's something a little poetic about regulators giving themselves an MOU.

The MOU, issued Monday, lays out a plan for how the nation's financial regulators will coordinate their supervision of banks and credit unions with at least $10 billion in assets in light of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which has new rules for large financial institutions.

Locally, that includes McLean-based Capital One Bank  , Vienna-based Navy Federal Credit Union  and Alexandria-based Pentagon Federal Credit Union    .

The newly minted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  , the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System  , the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency  and the National Credit Union Administration  jointly issued the MOU. The aim is for greater uniformity and efficiency, and to lessen the regulatory burden on banks and credit unions that answer to multiple regulatory masters.

The agencies will coordinate on things like scheduling examinations, conducting simultaneous examinations and sharing draft reports of examination for comment.

The agencies also must share information about compliance with consumer laws, consumer compliance risk management programs, and things like underwriting, sales, marketing, servicing and collections that are related to consumer products.

Bryant Ruiz Switzky covers banking, finance and corporate accountability.

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Financial Reforms Approved in Portugal Bailout - Benzinga

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the officials from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund conducted their fourth evaluation of the country on Monday. According to Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar, in his speech after the proceedings, the 78 billion euros bailout program is on track and doesn't need any adjustments.

The fiscal adjustments have been pushed forward along with the stringent financial reforms demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for the loan.

The reforms targets are supposed to make Portugal's deficit meet the target of 4.5% of gross domestic product in 2012 and 3% of the GDP in 2013. The next stage of the package for Portugal is 4 billion euros, which according to Mr. Gaspar is needed to fulfill the financing requirements and fulfill the program's adjustment progress.

In an article of the WSJ, “Mr. Gaspar said that the Portuguese financial system is stronger than a year ago, and its banks will be the most capitalized lenders in Europe following capital injections by the state.”

So far the government is on track with the EU and IMF demands but the predicted growth of GDP is dismal and unemployment has risen to 15.2 percent which is a record, according to The Seattle Times.

Also from the Seattle Times, Portugal has profited from the political consensus in enacting the bailout program which was signed by three separate political parties. The Socialists have been calling for more policies focusing on growth because the bailout program has created the highest unemployment rate on record in Portugal.

The Seattle Times provided an announcement that the Finance Ministry will be injecting more than 6.6 billion euros into three of the largest banks in Portugal, these banks need the money to meet the new capital requirements. Some of the much needed aid will come from government recapitalization funds and the issuance of self-financing bonds.

The laws that European banks are required to follow have become more complex and demanding in lieu of the cascade in economic recessions and bailout aid requested. The ratio between capital-to-risker assets held is up to 9 percent, according to The Seattle Times.

This required cushion is like the U.S banks, which are holding more capital in their vaults than they have in years.

Tags: euro zone, portugal

Posted in: News, Politics, Global, Economics, General, Best of Benzinga

Big Money: Stuffing The Ballot Box? - NPR News

You wouldn't think politicians would have any trouble raising enough money these days. The presidential race is expected to be a billion-dollar affair, and spending records have been shattered at the congressional level.

But many candidates are being outgunned by superPACs and other outside groups with nearly unlimited funds at their disposal. Those dollars have swayed primaries in states such as Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio. More than $500,000 in superPAC cash from a 21-year-old college student helped decide the winner of a contested GOP primary last week in Kentucky.

With billionaires dashing off multimillion-dollar checks to superPACs, political scientists and some politicians themselves are worried that candidates have become mere bystanders in their own campaigns.

"Those on the ballot are much more of an afterthought than they ever were before," says Jon Erpenbach, a Democratic state senator in Wisconsin. "In some cases, candidates don't even matter."

Is The System Broken?

All of this has triggered debate about whether it makes sense to have a system in which campaign finance limits apply mainly to political parties and candidates. Opinion on how best to fix the problem remains split roughly along party lines.

An increasing number of Republicans want to close what they consider the opposite of a loophole, saying it makes no sense to handcuff candidates when money is otherwise flowing so freely.

"The problem is the limits," Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander said at a recent Rules Committee hearing. "These new superPACs exist because of the contribution limits we've placed upon parties and candidates. Get rid of the limits on contributions, and superPACs will go away."

So, You Want To Create A SuperPAC? Fill In The Blanks

Comedian Stephen Colbert got permission from the Federal Election Commission last summer to launch his super political action committee.
Enlarge Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Comedian Stephen Colbert got permission from the Federal Election Commission last summer to launch his super political action committee.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Comedian Stephen Colbert got permission from the Federal Election Commission last summer to launch his super political action committee.

There are 450 superPACs currently registered with the Federal Election Commission. If you want to create your own superPAC, you have to fill out two forms. And it's really, really easy.

First comes the "Statement of Organization," FEC Form 1. Every PAC must file this within 10 days of raising or spending more than $1,000 on a federal election. And crucially, it's where you provide the FEC with the name of your committee.

Choosing a name is one of the main ways you can define your superPAC's purpose. And many of these names appear to have tongue planted firmly in cheek — see comedian Stephen Colbert's superPAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Other names already in use: "Bears for a Bearable Tomorrow" and the "Peeps PAC," which raised more than $1,000 in a two-and-a-half month period.

At least 11 existing superPACs, in fact, use the word "tomorrow," and several use it more than once, including Colbert's group and "Cats for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow." Another popular word choice is "future." It's used by 18 superPACs, including the pro-Romney group, Restore Our Future. Other top choices are "action," "America" and "super." But none can measure up to the superPACs' superword: "liberty," used by 71 registered groups in all.

OK, so once you've filled out Form 1 listing the name of your superPAC, your treasurer and your custodian of records, there's only one more thing the FEC needs from you. It's a letter that officially defines your group as a superPAC and announces your intent to "raise funds in unlimited amounts" and not coordinate with a party or candidate. There's even an FEC-approved template that provides you with fill-in-the-blank spaces for your committee name, the date and the treasurer's signature.

— Padmananda Rama

Abolishing those limits would only open the door to outright influence peddling, according to those who advocate keeping the rules in place.

"To suggest that the solution to the problem is for candidates to raise the money themselves would just double down the possibilities for corruption," says Josh Orton, political director of Progressives United, a liberal political action committee that favors campaign finance limits. "Can you imagine the kind of conversations that could happen if we lifted the restrictions on corporations giving to candidates themselves?"

Newt Gingrich, who was targeted by pro-Mitt Romney superPAC ads before ending his presidential bid, says he favors a system in which individuals give directly to campaigns instead of superPACs.

"We would be better off with a system that says any American can donate any personal amount of income after personal taxes as long as they report it online that night, and they give it to the candidate," Gingrich said Thursday. "And then the candidates would have to be responsible for the advertising. You would have a cleaner, more positive, healthier system."

Individuals are limited to donations of $2,500 per candidate per election, which means they can contribute that amount for both primary and general election campaigns. Limits on gifts to parties are higher; for instance, an individual may give a national party $30,800 per year and a state party $10,000.

The limits on what outside groups can spend on campaigns have largely been eroded since the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010. That decision has been hailed — and derided — for ushering in a new era of campaign finance law. But it was an earlier Supreme Court decision, in Buckley v. Valeo, that made it hard to make campaign finance restrictions stick.

That case found that money in politics is protected as equivalent to free speech. Ever since the 1976 Buckley decision, money has been like water, finding its way into the political system through new means, regardless of what restrictions have been enacted.

Here Today, But Maybe Not Tomorrow

"Right now, you have the worst of all worlds — unlimited contributions to third-party entities, with some, but certainly not instant, disclosure," says Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state from Kentucky who now directs the Harvard University Institute of Politics.

Grayson says he'd rather see money put in the hands of candidates and parties, who are more accountable to voters than campaign committees that may disappear after the election.

Currently, messages from candidates themselves in a contested race are likely to make up only a "small sliver" of total campaign advertising, says Ed Goeas, a Republican consultant who favors lifting limits while requiring disclosure of donors.

Great Moments In Campaign Finance

Limits on what outside groups can spend on campaigns have largely been eroded.
Enlarge Charles Mann Photography/

2012: SuperPACs become a primary feature of presidential campaigns in both the Republican primary and general election.

2010: The Supreme Court strikes down the ban on direct corporate spending in campaigns in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, while the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that contribution limits for independent groups violate the Constitution.

2002: Congress enacts the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, known as McCain-Feingold, which bans so-called soft money fundraising by political parties and federal officeholders and candidates.

1996: Soft money, unlimited funds raised by parties for voter turnout and education efforts, emerges as a major component of the year's presidential race.

1976: In Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court upholds limits on contributions but strikes down limits on campaign spending.

1974: After Watergate, the Federal Election Campaign Act is amended to limit spending and contributions to campaigns. The law also creates the Federal Election Commission.

— Alan Greenblatt

"Money is now at the end that's furthest away from the candidates and furthest away from the parties," Goeas says. "The money is with these other groups that are having more impact on the campaign than the campaign itself."

SuperPACs are not supposed to coordinate their messages or strategies with candidates, but many campaign finance advocates concede the line often gets blurry.

Still, they say erasing the line entirely would do great damage to the political system. Having politicians directly receive large or unlimited funds from entities they might regulate would be a surefire recipe for corruption, they say.

"We're in pretty bad shape right now, but there are still some lines," says Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. "By funneling large amounts of money to politicians, what you would actually have is just more candidates elected who are beholden to a small elite."

Genie May Be Out Of The Bottle

Supporters of such limits point to possible models to stem the tide of money. Public financing systems in Maine and Arizona, as well as one being bandied about in New York State, for example, give politicians incentive to raise small amounts of money from constituents.

Earlier this month, Connecticut's Legislature passed a bill that would require corporations to be more transparent about their election spending. It's not clear whether Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy will sign it, due to concerns about its constitutionality.

And next month, the Supreme Court may decide to take up a Montana case that would determine whether corporations can be banned from contributing to state-level campaigns. But unless there's a change in the court's voting makeup or proclivities, it's unlikely any restrictions will remain in place to prevent large funds from pouring into campaigns in one form or another.

In a speech Wednesday, former Justice John Paul Stevens, who dissented in the Citizens United case, suggested the court would at some point have to revisit the logic of the 2010 decision. The court concluded that corporate donations amount to protected free speech but did not address whether the same holds true for foreign corporations. "It will be necessary to explain why the First Amendment provides greater protection of some nonvoters than to that of other nonvoters," Stevens said.

Even those who would seek to level the playing field by allowing candidates and parties to raise more money directly believe that the genie may already be out of the bottle. Many rich donors have come to like superPACs, which allow them to control their own messages.

"I do think the current system will get worse until we have significant reforms," says Nick Nyhart, president of the Public Campaign Action Fund, which favors fundraising limits.

"As bad as things are in 2012, they will continue to get worse in 2014 and 2016 unless we have some change," Nyhart says. "The current system cannot hold.

Money-Transfer Fees: Profits Come From Immigrants Sending Money Home - The Ledger

Both resent having to pay Western Union a $10 fee to send money abroad and an additional cut to convert dollars to pesos. But these charges have fueled the company's record profits and made it a relative outlier in the financial services industry. As billions of dollars in fee income have evaporated at the nation's largest banks because of regulations passed in the wake of the financial crisis, the money-transfer industry has escaped the crackdown.

Soon, however, the companies, which are largely regulated by states, will be subject to new federal rules. Starting in February, they will have to disclose more to customers about transfer fees and currency exchange rates. The rules, part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, will also require companies to give customers up to 30 minutes after a transaction to get a full refund.

But consumer advocates are raising alarms that money-transfer companies face fewer restrictions because the rules do not touch the pricing of services.

"You still have a situation where customers are subjected to these predatory products with no cap on fees or exchange rates," said Oscar Chacon, the executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities in Chicago.

Money-transfer companies say that they offer an invaluable service for customers who might not have access to traditional banks and who would otherwise have no way of transmitting money to their families.

"The money-transfer industry is very competitive, and consumers have a range of choices for sending money," said Tom Fitzgerald, a Western Union spokesman.

Western Union, which dominates the money-transfer market, notes that it already discloses the amount of money being submitted, the exchange rate and the amount that the recipient will receive. It also tells customers that "in addition to the transfer fee, Western Union also makes money when it changes your dollars into foreign currency."

Esparza, who sends money to his children in Mexico City, said that the $10 fee would not be onerous if he were sending a larger amount, but that it seemed exorbitant for $50.

Gonzalez said that even though $10 might not seem like a lot, "In Mexico, that money goes farther."

Aside from the transfer fees, Western Union and other similar services profit as they buy batches of currencies at a wholesale rate. The money-transfer companies do not disclose the spreads they benefit from when they set exchange rates.

"It's a big profit center for these companies, borne on the backs of the people who can least afford it," said Matthew Piers, a lawyer in Chicago, who successfully brought a lawsuit on behalf of Mexican immigrants against Western Union in 2000 that accused the company of misrepresenting exchange spreads.

Western Union did not admit or deny wrongdoing, but agreed to pay more than $400 million to settle the claims.

For Javaid Tariq, a taxi driver in New York City who sends money monthly to his family in Pakistan, the exchange rate is particularly infuriating because of how much money he loses. When he sent $300 to his family in April, he received 89.2 rupees for every dollar, less than the 91.2 exchange rate that he checks each morning, he said. For his family, that means 599 fewer rupees, or more than a week's salary in Lahore.

Frustrated, Tariq said, "They are taking this money from the people who can least afford it."

Analysts expect the market for money transfers to grow. The value of cross-border transfers is expected to reach $437 billion in 2012, up from $387 billion in 2009, according to the Aite Group, a research and advisory firm. In the United States, this is led partly by a growth in transfers to China and India and an influx of immigrants from western and eastern Africa, said Larry Berlin, an analyst with First Analysis in Chicago.

Western Union and rival companies are poised to profit. Western Union, with the largest share of the market at nearly 18 percent, recorded $4.2 billion in transaction fees last year, up 4 percent from 2010. The fees accounted for more than 75 percent of the company's total revenue last year.

Financial sector contributes the least to universal equity -

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New Delhi: Unitaid promotes access to treatment for patients of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, mainly in low-income countries. One of its main funding sources has been the introduction of a levy on air tickets in some countries that endorsed the ...

Delta Reports Financial and Operating Performance for May - Yahoo Finance

ATLANTA, June 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (DAL) today reported financial and operating performance for May 2012.

(Logo: )

Delta's consolidated passenger unit revenue (PRASM) increased 6 percent for the month of May as compared to the prior year.  While lower than recent guidance by one point, May's performance is strong when viewed in the context of an exceptional May performance in 2011. The variance to recent guidance is due primarily to the impact from competitor fare actions in the second half of the month. Delta expects strong peak season revenue performance.

System load factor increased 0.2 points on a 0.9 percent reduction in capacity.

The company's fuel price per gallon was $3.37 for the month. 

Delta had strong operational performance during the month. Delta's completion factor of 99.7 percent was 0.2 points higher than prior year, and its on-time performance improved 3.7 points to 86.4 percent.

The company's financial and operational performance is detailed below.


Note: Fuel price includes taxes, transportation, settled hedges, and hedge premiums, but excludes mark to market adjustments on open hedges.

Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year. During the past year, Delta was named domestic "Airline of the Year" by the readers of Travel Weekly magazine, was named the "Top Tech-Friendly U.S. Airline" by PCWorld magazine for its innovation in technology and won the Business Travel News Annual Airline Survey. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to nearly 350  destinations in 65 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. A founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance, Delta participates in the industry's leading trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 13,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-LaGuardia, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. The airline's service includes the SkyMiles frequent flier program, a world-class airline loyalty program; the award-winning BusinessElite service; and more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. Delta is investing more than $3 billion through 2013 in airport facilities and global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and review flight status at

Forward-looking Statements

Statements in this press release that are not historical facts, including statements regarding our estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections or strategies for the future, may be "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  All forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections and strategies reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements.  These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the cost of aircraft fuel; the impact of posting collateral in connection with our fuel hedge contracts; the impact of significant funding obligations with respect to defined benefit pension plans; the impact that our indebtedness may have on our financial and operating activities and our ability to incur additional debt; the restrictions that financial covenants in our financing agreements will have on our financial and business operations; labor issues; interruptions or disruptions in service at one of our hub airports; our increasing dependence on technology in our operations; the ability of our credit card processors to take significant holdbacks in certain circumstances; the possible effects of accidents involving our aircraft; the effects of weather, natural disasters and seasonality on our business; the effects of an extended disruption in services provided by third party regional carriers; our ability to retain management and key employees; competitive conditions in the airline industry; the effects of the rapid spread of contagious illnesses; and the effects of terrorist attacks.  

Additional information concerning risks and uncertainties that could cause differences between actual results and forward-looking statements is contained in our Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2011.  Caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements, which represent our views only as of June 4, 2012, and which we have no current intention to update.


Reconciliation of GAAP Financial Measures to Non-GAAP Financial Measures

May 2012

Delta sometimes uses information that is derived from its Consolidated Financial Statements, but that is not presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S. ("GAAP"). Certain of this information are considered "non-GAAP financial measures" under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules.  The non-GAAP financial measures should be considered in addition to results prepared in accordance with GAAP, but should not be considered a substitute for or superior to GAAP results.

  • Delta adjusts for mark to market ("MTM") adjustments for fuel hedges recorded in periods other than the settlement period in order to evaluate the company's financial results in the period shown.


MONEY MARKETS-Funding cost rises on Europe worries - Reuters UK

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