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Michigan Representative Dave Agema’s Ties to Islamophobes

Dave Agema

Dave Agema

Last week, the blog Imagine 2050 published a piece looking at Representative Dave Agema, a member of the Michigan House from the west side of the state. In it, Brian Schultz explores Agema’s support for anti-immigrant legislation directed at Muslims.

According to the blog post, Agema has ties to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which has longstanding ties with the white nationalist movement.

Schultz writes:

But the bill’s chief sponsor, Michigan State Representative Dave Agema (R-74), defends the bill in a characteristic manner, claiming, “It’s not anti-Muslim at all […] You can be a Muslim here and it’s fine [….] But if you’re trying to insert Sharia law and subvert our Constitution, that’s an issue.” For legislators like Agema, the bills are about legality and juridical decorum, and they hope to appeal to the citizenry’s “common sense”—after all, shouldn’t American laws be the only consideration in an American court?

Agema and his cohorts, though making “sensible” arguments, actually appeal to a deep-seated fear based on myths about Muslim culture’s inherent incapacity to grasp Enlightenment values like “liberty” and proclivity in favor of flaunting a higher-than-the-law loyalty. As much as they’d like us to think they’re unbiased servants standing up for “our Constitution,” legislators like Agema belong to an insidious and largely unrecognized network that seeks to exclude immigrants from aspects of American life.

Dave Agema is not defending democracy; he has an axe to grind with immigrants, and is using this latest legislation as a platform for his frantically nationalist ideology. He belongs to the State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), an organization that promulgates anti-immigrant legislation. SLLI was founded by Pennsylvania State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, who himself works closely with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that likes to populate for-profit prisons with immigrants.

Moreover, SLLI was founded under the auspices of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) as one of a number of anti-immigrant groups founded under the guidance of white nationalist John Tanton. Agema frequently utilizes FAIR’s irresponsible arguments and statistics about the purported ills of immigration, and has worked with FAIR state advisor Tamyra L. Murray. Murray remains well-connected within Tanton’s network, and has worked with its funding wing, U.S., Inc.

Posted in Misc. Rightwing Groups, People.

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FreedomWorks, the Tea Party Movement, the John Birch Society, and Michigan

The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has published a new study that looks at the links between the FreedomWorks faction of the Tea Party movement and the John Birch Society. It found that the FreedomWorks faction seems to have embraced the participation of John Birch Society members as a means of increasing its organizational size.

For those who don’t know, the John Birch Society is a long-time fixture in the far right in the United States. The new study summarizes the John Birch Society’s history and politics:

The Birch Society continued to grow in the 1960s, two of its strongest states being California and Texas.  Its official ideology was a well-tuned anti-communist conspiracy theory.  It opposed all civil rights legislation and attracted a number of racists and anti-Semites to its membership and national council.   University of Illinois classics professor Revilo P. Oliver was one of the most vociferous white supremacists on its first national council, regularly using Birch publications to rail against the “Rothschilds,” “Khazars” and “Zionists”–all code words for Jews. Oliver finally lost his perch in the Birch Society in 1966, after making a speech about how “…if all the Jews were vaporized at dawn tomorrow, we should have nothing to worry about.”  Other hardcore bigots stayed on, however, and helped define the Birch Society as beyond the reach of respectable politics.

The Birch Society went into abeyance in the early 1970s, as did most of the far right organizations.    Nevertheless, it was active in the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment in the late 1970s.  And it continued to have a presence, due primarily to its Congressman, Larry McDonald from Georgia, who had joined the society in the 1960s and became its president in 1983. (McDonald died in August 1983 in the plane crash of KAL 007.)

The Birch Society moved its headquarters from Massachusetts to Wisconsin in 1989, and picked up new members again in the mid-1990s, growing alongside the militias and the newly re-invigorated Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalist organization.

It currently publishes The New American monthly magazine, has a field staff of 20 people, and is omnipresent in the Tea Party movement.  Congressman Ron Paul regularly speaks at its events.  And just this year, the Birchers broke into the ranks of those allowed at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

One of the study’s prime examples of the connections between the John Birch Society and the Tea Party movement comes from Michigan:

Since the launch of the site, FreedomWorks staff and the FreedomConnector web team have posted at least fifty-nine different announcements that advertised John Birch Society events across the country. (See list in Appendix). Even a cursory look at this list of meetings, forums and protests demonstrates quite clearly that this is not an isolated incident or simple mistake that can be easily dismissed. FreedomWorks staff and the web team have posted an average of ten Birch events a month since the launch of this site. They have advertised Birch events in California, Florida, Idaho, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

In addition to the fifty-nine added by FreedomWorks team members, another twenty-two Bircher happenings have been posted by FreedomConnector members like Dawn Epson, the Tucson facilitator for the John Birch Society.  Epson even has been allowed to create a Tucson Bircher “group”–a hub for area Birchers to gather on the FreedomConnector site.  In total, 80 different JBS events were advertised on the FreedomWorks FreedomConnector site between the site launch and June 1, 2011.

Tonya Woodruff, a Michigan activist, provided a perfect example of the problem of the missing firewall when she posted a question on FreedomConnector to a participant in the Ludington Area Tea Party: “I was at the John Birch Society Meeting last night and the Birchers wanted to know if the Tea Party was still interested in a presentation? I will send you an e-mail today about this topic.”  Opposition to the JBS presence inside the FreedomWorks social network has been virtually non-existent.  Instead, these posts have received a warm reception.

The study is an update to their larger study of “Tea Party Nationalism” that provided an in-depth look at the rise of the Tea Party movement, its values, and its links to the far right.

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White Supremacists Distribute Leaflets in Easter Eggs

Leaflets Distributed Inside Easter Eggs

Leaflets Distributed Inside Easter Eggs

Over the weekend, white supremacists in Fort Gratiot, Michigan distributed leaflets inside of Easter eggs. The Easter eggs contained leaflets and stickers from two groups: the Nationalist Coalition and the Northwest Front.

The Nationalist Coalition is an offshoot of the National Alliance which was at one point one of the largest white supremacist organizations in the United States. The leaflet from the Nationalist Coalition futures the image of a young white girl with the text “MISSING – A Future for White Children” and provides the contact information for the organization. The Northwest Front sticker provides contact information and describes itself as an organization working to create a “white homeland” in the Pacific Northwest.

Organizers with both groups praised the efforts. In a blog post, the Nationalist Coalition wrote: “Just a few days ago over the Easter weekend a few pro-White activists got together to distribute fliers in their local community. They did this despite the potential that the local media would attack their patriotic efforts.” Similarly, the Northwest Front’s Harold Covington wrote “Give this comrade an A for initiative and creativity.”

In 2010, a group undertook a similar activity in Auburn Hills.

Posted in Racist Propaganda.

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Holocaust Denier David Irving Planning May 12 Talk in Detroit

Prominent Holocaust denier David Irving is scheduled to appear in Detroit, Michigan on May 12 as part of his 2011 tour of the United States. The location for Irving’s talk isn’t public—and indeed there is a good chance it may be canceled given the protests that Irving’s appearances attract.

David Irving’s website posted the following information about the talk:

Who Is David Irving?

David Irving is the most prominent proponent of Holocaust Denial in the world. Holocaust Denial is a component of the white supremacist and fascist movement that involves casting doubt upon the Holocaust and advancing anti-Semitic theories. Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center writes:

“Holocaust denial is a political movement that is inherently anti-Semitic, meant, for the most part, to make national socialism more palatable — how many people, after all, want to support an ideology responsible for the industrialized murder of several million Jews? Many deniers cloak their hatred in academic language, seeking to give the appearance that they are honest, if skeptical, students of history. They prefer to call themselves “Holocaust revisionists,” a phrase hijacked from “historical revisionism,” a school of credible historians who offered new interpretations for the origins of World War I.”

For his part, David Irving is one of the most well-known Holocaust Deniers in the world. He has no professional training as historian and never graduated from college. Despite this, he gained prominence as a writer on World War II and published many well-regarded (at the time) books on the topic and enjoyed mainstream success throughout the 1960s. However, by the 1970s serious historians began to raise questions about Irving’s methodology and claims that Hitler did not order the Holocaust. Most of this criticism came following the publication of the book Hitler’s War in which Irving claimed Hitler did not know about the Holocaust until 1943.

By the 1980s, Irving’s anti-Semitism had morphed into full fledged Holocaust Denial. He appeared at the trial of Ernst Zundel–another prominent Holocaust Denier—and testified that the number of Jewish people killed in the Holocaust is much lower than traditional historical claims:

“I am not familiar with any documentary evidence of any such figure as six million… it must have been of the order of 100,000 or more, but to my mind it was certainly less than the figure which is quoted nowadays of six million…”

Around the same time, he began making more explicit statements denying the Holocaust. These led to charges in Austria—where Irving denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitze—and in Germany where a court found him guilty of Holocaust Denial. He has since been banned from Australia and New Zeeland for his Holocaust Denial.

One example of such statements came from a quote in the Institute for Historical Review when he said:

“the holocaust of the Germans of Dresden was real. The holocaust of the Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers is a fabrication.”

By the 1990s, Irving would become a regular on the Holocaust Denial lecture circuit.

Since being imprisoned for 13 months in 2006 for violating Austria’s law barring Holocaust denial, Irving has undertaken some rather disgusting business ventures: selling Nazi memorabilia online and leading tours of Holocaust sites in Poland. Irving also has bizarrely claimed that Hitler appointed him as his official biographer.

Associations With Organized Racists And Fascists

Like most organized racists, white supremacists, and fascists, David Irving has frequently tried to saying he isn’t a racist and/or that he doesn’t actually deny the Holocaust. While it’s easy enough to call his bluff and support it with a mountain of proof to the contrary, Irving was embarrassed back in 2000 when he lost a lawsuit and a judge in England declared Irving to be an “active Holocaust denier” who “displays a distinctly pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish bias” who has “deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence.”

Over the years, Irving has associated with a variety of organized racists. These include racists connected to the Institute for Historical Review (the leading Holocaust Denial organization in the world), David Duke (a former member of the Ku Klux Klan), and the National Alliance (who sponsored seven lectures by Irving in the 1990s).

David Irving in Michigan

In addition to his 2011 tour, David Irving has previously appeared in Michigan. He spoke in Detroit during his 2009 tour. That tour was on the topic of “Re-writing history, using the decoded Nazi messages.” The anti-racist group One People’s Project wrote that:

“The re-writing of Third Reich history–especially in relation to the Nazi “Final Solution” for Europe’s Jewish population–is a major item on the agenda of modern neo-Nazis and neo-fascists, who correctly believe that memory of the Holocaust is a significant barrier to the mainstreaming of their beliefs. The Holocaust is denied so that, paradoxically, it can be repeated. Wherever Irving appears, he is backed and promoted by virulent anti-Semites and fascist organizers.”

Nationwide protests have been called for by Anti-Racist Action (ARA), with the Southside Chicago chapter writing:

“David Irving… and all other proponents of holocaust denial, have a very specific agenda that, upon further examination, has less to do with spreading their distorted fantasies, and more about Nazi sympathy, scapegoating Jews, and legitimizing racism. Holocaust deniers are attempting to lift the taboo off the holocaust in order to make Nazism a more accepted mass political ideology; in other words, they deny the holocaust so that it can happen again. Even some Nazis, such as William Pierce, find this to be absurd, claiming that holocaust denial proves one to be incapable of living up to the duties of white nationalism. Pierce and those who recognize that the holocaust happened believe it is something to be proud of and feel it should be understood as something necessary.”

Posted in People.

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Active Racist and Fascist Groups in Michigan

The Southern Poverty Law Center—an organization dedicated to fighting racism—has published its annual “Hate Map” that lists active racist and fascist groups around the United States.

As part of its mapping project, the group lists several active groups in Michigan. These include:

  • American National Socialist Party – Neo-Nazi
  • American Nazi Party – Neo-Nazi
  • Aryan Nations 88 – Neo-Nazi
  • Battalion 14 – Neo-Nazi (Jackson)
  • Blood and Honour America Division – Racist Skinhead
  • Brotherhood of Klans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan
  • By Yahweh’s Design – Christian Identity (Stevensville)
  • Charles Darwin Research Institute – White Nationalist (Port Huron)
  • Council of Conservative Citizens – White Nationalist (Caledonia)
  • Crew 38 – Racist Skinhead (Detroit)
  • Firm 22 – Racist Skinhead
  • Gallows Tree Wotansvolk Alliance – Neo-Nazi (Grand Rapids)
  • National Socialist Aryan Order – Neo-Nazi (Davison)
  • National Socialist Movement – Neo-Nazi (Wyoming)
  • National Socialist Movement – Neo-Nazi (Detroit)
  • Northern Hammerskins – Racist Skinhead (Detroit)
  • Social Contract Press – Anti-Immigrant (Petoskey)
  • United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan (Battle Creek)
  • United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan (Gladwin)
  • United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan (Fraser)
  • United White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan (Monroe)
  • United White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan (Detroit)
  • United White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan
  • Vinlanders Michigan – Racist Skinhead
  • Volksfront – Racist Skinhead (Detroit)
  • Yahweh’s Truth

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s map should be seen as a starting point, as they have a tendency to miss smaller groups and those that function without seeking media attention.

In addition to their listing of racist and fascist groups, they have also compiled state-by-state list of “Nativist” and “Patriot” (i.e. militia groups).

As always, if you have information about organized racist and fascist activity, please contact Michigan Racism Watch.

Posted in Racist Groups.

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Anti-Muslim Pastor Terry Jones Planning to Appear at Anti-Islam Protest in Dearborn this Month

Florida Pastor Terry Jones—who gained international notoriety last year when he announced plans to burn a Quran live on television—is planning to appear at an anti-Islam rally in Dearborn, Michigan later this month. The rally will take place at a mosque on April 22nd.

Jones is well-known for his “International Burn a Koran Day” protests a year ago (they were cancelled) and has been a visible example of the rise in anti-Arab racism in the United States. Jones’ Dove World Outreach Center has circulated signs and other printed material claiming that “Islam is of the Devil.” They organization was recently spotlighted by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-gay politics.

His actions have resulted in violent protests around the world, most recently in response to his organization’s burning of a Quran in Florida.

Michigan-Based “Order of the Dragon” Behind Jones’ Visit

Jones is not actually organizing the protest, rather he is billed as a “guest” at a protest organized by a Michigan-based group called “The Order of the Dragon.” They claim that they exist to “protect our country from the rise of radical Islam and the implementation of Sharia law.” The organization’s website is full of anti-Islam and anti-Arab statements, many of which focus on the issue of Palestine. It is staunchly pro-Israel absolves Israel of any wrong-doing with regard to the Palestinian people. Members of the Order of the Dragon are apparently involved in the Detroit punk scene, with one member singing in a band called Crude Legacy. Crude Legacy’s song “Mosque of Terror” is featured on the Order of the Dragon website.

Protests Planned

According to an article published on The Arab American News website, several different efforts are being planned to oppose the anti-Muslim rally. These include a community vigil, a press conference, and a letter writing campaign urging Florida pastor Terry Jones not to come to Dearborn.

Posted in People, Racist Rallies.

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Former MSU Young Americans for Freedom Member Publishes Book

A few years ago, Kyle Bristow was arguably the most well-known racist in Michigan. Bristow’s student organization at Michigan State University (MSU)–Young Americans for Freedom–was getting national attention and was bringing a regular slate of racist speakers to the campus (along with other events such as a “Koran desecration” competition and a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day”). His actions drew repeated protests from students, attention from anti-racist watchdogs, and an investigation from the university.

Bristow has since moved on from MSU and now attends law school at the University of Toledo. He resigned from Young Americans for Freedom back in 2008, but has remained active on the racist right. Later that year he helped organize a talk for Canadian Neo-Nazi Paul Fromm in Lansing. When removing the organization’s blog (The Spartan Spectator), Bristow recommended that readers keep up-to-date with events in the world by following the websites of a number of racist organizations.

Now Bristow has moved into new territory and has written a novel titled White Apocalypse. It has drawn praise from a number of prominent white supremacists: Billy Roper of White Revolution, James Edwards of “The Political Cesspool,” and Kevin MacDonald all contribute blurbs on the book’s back cover. The book is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a being full of “anti-Semitism and racist venom” with a focus on Bristow’s enemies. A portion of the book focuses on a fictional organization called “The Center for Diversity and Multiculturalism” and the hero’s efforts to silence the organization. It‚Äôs a stand-in for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the novel features a prominent scene where a spokesperson for the organization is assassinated.

In a press release for the book (posted on the American Renaissance website), Bristow summarized the plot:

“…a rogue anthropologist teams up with a proponent of the Solutrean Hypothesis and a fiery lawyer in order to reveal to the world the shocking truth that carries immense cultural, political, and racial significance: 17,000 years ago, white people immigrated to North and South America from Europe, and when the Amerindians arrived from the Orient by crossing the Bering Strait roughly 12,000 years ago, the latter subsequently and systematically murdered the former. As the reader soon realizes, the powers that be will do everything that they can to prevent this controversial theory from being espoused by the trio…

The Southern Poverty Law Center writes that the Solutrean Hypothesis is an archeological theory that has been praised by white supremacists in recent years as giving a historical basis for their racism. The theory claims that European Americans migrated to the Americas before Native Americans and that thus Europeans are the “real” Native Americans. The theory doesn’t have wide acceptance and two of its prominent proponents have objected to the ways in which people like Kyle Bristow have attempted to use it to support white supremacist arguments.

Posted in People.

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Background on the White Supremacist Movement: Revealing Hate Documentary

For those looking for a quick introduction to the white supremacist movement, a recent documentary called Revealing Hate is now viewable online.

Given that it is only an hour long movie it necessarily leaves a lot out, but in it viewers get an introduction to the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-nazi segment of the movement (particularly the National Socialist Movement), and the terrorist wing of the white supremacist movement. The different topics explored in the film are presented historically and in their present manifestations (i.e. the decline of the Ku Klux Klan from its high point to its current state).

For those of us in Michigan, the film is interesting because it makes use of footage from the National Socialist Movement (NSM) rally in Lansing back in 2006.



Watch the full movie here:


Posted in Racist Groups.

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New Social Contract Press Leader Renews Call for “Ban on Muslim Immigration”

Last week, we wrote about John Tanton—the Michigan-based man who in many ways founded the modern anti-immigration movement.

This week there is more news concerning Tanton and his Petoskey, Michigan-based organizations. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that after years of running his anti-immigration network, Tanton is stepping back.

The organization reports that a man named K.C. McAlpin has moved to Petoskey to run the most racist of Tanton’s organizations: The Social Contract Press. The Social Contract Press distributes a number of anti-immigration books and publishes the journal The Social Contract that regularly runs contributions from white supremacists.

The journal’s most recent issue was a special feature on “The Menace of Islam.” While racist statements on the pages of a racist publication are nothing new, The Social Contract’s focus on Islam is a change from their usual targeting of immigration in the Americas. In the introduction to the issue Wayne Lutton (a man with involvement in the larger white supremacist movement) declares:

“What benefit do Americans derive from having Muslims settle here? The costs have far outweighed any benefits in terms of terrorism, violent crime, and other social costs. What evidence is there that Muslim “integration” is possible? It seems clear to us that it is (past) time to halt Muslim immigration to the United States.”

In a defense of the magazine’s call for such a ban (and a response to critics), K.C. McAlpin writes (“A reply to critics of The Social Contract’s call for a ban on Muslim Immigration to the U.S.”):

“A ban on Muslim immigration, therefore, is not only constitutional, but a practical and necessary way to defend ourselves against the growing threat of homegrown terrorism the U.S. faces in the 21st Century.”

While Tanton may be moving on, it is clear that Petoskey, Michigan will remain home to racist views as long as The Social Contract Press continues operating out of the city.

Posted in People, Racist Groups, Racist Propaganda.

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FAIR’s John Tanton Tried to Form Coordinated White Supremacist Group

John Tanton of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)Unbeknownst to many Michiganders, Michigan is home to one of the more influential anti-immigrant racists in the United States: John Tanton. Tanton is the founder of numerous anti-immigration organizations. Tanton’s creations include the well-known Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), as well numerous lesser-known organizations. Moreover, for years he has run the Social Contract Press out of Petoskey, Michigan that publishes a journal featuring writings from the racist movement.


FAIR and John Tanton himself have been tied to racism for years, whether it be in the funding it has received from the Pioneer Fund (which funds eugenics research) to its involvement with the racist movement or Tanton’s own racist statements. Tanton has also kept up an extensive personal correspondence with leading members of the racist movement.


Tanton’s correspondence—which is housed in a university library here in Michigan—has led to many revelations about his beliefs and his anti-immigration work.


Most recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center discovered that Tanton was involved in a project in the 1990s to form a white supremacist organization. They report that Tanton was working with Sam Francis of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, and Wayne Lutton of the Council of Conservative Citizens and the New Century Foundation—all of whom are influential in the white supremacist movement. The group was to be called “the League for European American Defense, Education, and Research” and would have been dedicated to defending the interests of the white majority.


Tanton writes:


“[T[here is currently no socially acceptable umbrella organization to which persons of European ancestry can belong to defend and promote their common interests… “Absent such an organization in a highly organized society, European-Americans will continue to see their history rewritten, their character and accomplishments denigrated, and their faults magnified. They will steadily lose ground and position to other groups… . For those not resigned to this gradual or not so gradual decline, a new organization tailored to the needs and interests of European-Americans as a group is essential.”


Moreover, the discussions about this group—which never came into being—firmly indicate that Tanton’s anti-immigration views are rooted in racism.


Tanton’s Michigan Roots

Despite the fact that Tanton has made his home in Michigan, he has made little effort to get involved in local issues. Sure, he’s used his home city of Petoskey as an example of how a majority white city can get along without immigrants:


“When people say, `What about those jobs Americans won’t do?’, my favorite answer is the city of Petoskey… We have virtually no immigrant population around here and the garbage gets picked up, the streets are swept, we have all the functions of any city or urban area and they get taken care of just fine.”


But aside from that, he hasn’t weighed in on local matters much.


However, there are a few instances when Tanton’s FAIR group has gotten involved on the ground in Michigan. During the 2000 election, FAIR ran ads against Arab American Senator Spencer Abraham that associated him with Osama Bin Laden. In 2006, FAIR had a presence at an anti-immigration rally in Grand Rapids organized by the Michigan chapter of white supremacist the Council of Conservative Citizens. Tanton also donated $200 to the anti-affirmative action Proposal 2 in 2006.

Posted in People, Racist Groups.

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