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Midday Podcast

Today we continue our Conversation with the Candidates series with guest Allan Kittleman, county executive of Howard County, elected to that position in 2014, and also discuss the future of Old Ellicott City.  On July 30, 2016, Old Ellicott City was ravaged by what was called at the time a once-in-1,000-years flood.  The historic downtown was largely rebuilt. And less than two years later, on May 27 of this year, another deadly flood struck Old Ellicott City -- perhaps even worse than the 2016 flood.  A state of emergency for the historic downtown is still in effect. 

In May of 2015, a year before the first Ellicott City Flood, Gov. Larry Hogan made good on a campaign promise to repeal the law that required nine counties to charge residents and businesses a Stormwater Remediation Fee, to create a dedicated source of funding for stormwater projects.  Mr. Hogan and opponents of the law referred to it as a “rain tax.” 

Allan Kittleman was a vocal supporter of repealing the law.  A year later, a few months before the first flood, Mr. Kittleman proposed a reduction and the eventual repeal of the Stormwater Remediation Fee in Howard County, a proposal that was rejected by the County Council.  Nine days ago, Howard County residents received tax bills that included fees ranging from $15 to $90, depending on the amount of impervious surfaces they have on their property. 

Photo courtesy Floyd Abrams

(This program was originally aired on May 3, 2018)  

Today, a conversation about American exceptionalism when it comes to our cherished tradition of free speech.

Tom’s guest is the acclaimed legal scholar, Floyd Abrams, a distinguished constitutional lawyer who has litigated some of the most consequential 1st Amendment cases of our time, including the Pentagon Papers case and Citizen’s United. He is the author of the 2017 book, “The Soul of the First Amendment,” which is just out in paperback.

Floyd Abrams joins Tom on the line from New York, where he is  a senior partner in the law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel.

Photos by Shealyn Jae

It's time for another visit from our well-traveled theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us each week with  a review of one of the region's many theaterical offerings.  Today, she's spotlighting the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's new production of the Bard's romantic farce, A Midsummer Night's Dream, being performed on the outdoor stage at the PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City.

A Midsummer Night's Dream was written by William Shakespeare in 1595-96. The play portrays the madcap events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. These include the interconnected adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors who are manipulated by the Fairies who inhabit the forest in which the play is mostly set.

One of Shakespeare's funniest and most popular works for the stage -- and performed by theater companies around the world -- AMSND is directed for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company by Gerrad Alex Taylor.   He guides a 19-member cast that features guest actor Michael Toperzer as Theseus/Oberon, CSC member Elana Michelle as Hippolyta/Titania, and Imani Turner as Puck.

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream continues at the PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City, Maryland, through Sunday, July 29.  For ticket info and directions, click here.

On this holiday in which we celebrate independence and the courage of our revolutionary heroes, a word about a different kind of revolutionary, and her exercise of the free speech and religious practice the founders fought for.

Elizabeth McAlister has lived at Jonah House, on the West Side of Baltimore, for most of the last 50 years. She and her husband, the anti-war activist Philip Berrigan, founded Jonah House as part of a network of Catholic Worker Houses across the country. Philip was one of the Catonsville Nine, who burned draft records in 1968, setting-off a series of similar actions across the country. He died in 2002, but McAlister has continued to protest against violence and war, in particular, nuclear weapons.

In April, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, McAlister and six others cut through a fence and entered the King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base in Camden County, GA, which is home to a fleet of Trident Submarines, which carry nuclear war heads.

The group’s purpose was to commit what they call a Ploughshares Action, based on a phrase from Isaiah in the Bible:

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The first Ploughshares Action took place in 1980. Since then, more than 100 similar protests have occurred in the United States and around the world.  

This conversation with Derek Thompson originally aired on May 25, 2018.  

Today, Tom speaks with Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about business and technology, and hosts the new podcast Crazy/Genius. He is also the author of Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction.

In his best-selling book,  Thompson takes a scientific approach to understanding why certain things in our culture become "cool," at least for a while, and whether or not there are commonalities between them across creative and cultural disciplines. Thompson examines the hidden psychological and market forces that make a song, a movie or a politician popular, and how those forces are constantly reshaping our cultural landscape.

Joshua McKerrow

Today, in this installment of Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks, the Press and Public Trust.  For three years, since he announced his candidacy for President in 2015, Donald Trump has pounded a steady drumbeat of claims that major news outlets promulgate fake news. A recent poll indicated that 61% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans agree with him. 

Mr. Trump and other political leaders have taken those claims one step further, asserting that the press is the enemy of the people.  Is there a link between that rhetoric and the kind of violence inflicted on the newsroom of the Capital Gazette last week?

Dr. Sheri Parks is the Vice President for Strategic Inititiaves at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She's the author of Fierce Angels: Living With A Legacy From Scared Dark Feminine to Strong Black Woman. 

Tom also talks to Joshua McKerrow, a photographer for the Gazette, and Courtney Radsch, the Advocacy Director for the Committee to Protect Journalists about the violence in Annapolis. 

Courtesy of the Comptroller's Office

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.

Tom's guest is Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot. He’s been the state’s fiscal chief since 2007, after first beating the incumbent, William Donald Schaefer, in the 2006 primary. 

As comptroller, Franchot is a member of powerful Board of Public Works in Annapolis. And he is vice-chair of the State Retirement & Pension System. Franchot is a Democrat who does not always toe the party line. His relationship with the legislative leadership in Annapolis -- fellow Democrats Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch -- has seemed increasingly frayed this year. Franchot does seem to have a close working relationship with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Before becoming Maryland’s top fiscal officer, Franchot served in the House of Delegates for two decades, representing the 20th District in Montgomery Co. That district reaches roughly from Takoma Park, north to Colesville.

He has been Maryland’s comptroller for 11 years, and he is seeking a fourth term. His opponent in the November election is a CPA from Worcester County, Republican Anjali Reed Phukan.

This conversation was livestreamed on the WYPR Facebook page. To check out that video, click here.

Associated Press photo

Today, several perspectives on the murders at the Capital Gazette Newspaper.  On Thursday afternoon, a 38 year-old man from Laurel shot five people dead and injured two others at the offices of the Gazette on Bestgate Avenue in Annapolis. 

A little later in the program, WYPR’s Dominique Maria Bonessi will join Tom on the phone with the latest on the investigation into the shooting.  Tom also speaks with security expert  Dr. Keith Williams, vice-president of Support Services at Admiral Security, a company that guards buildings like the one in which the Gazette is located.  We’ll hear from Jamie Costello, an anchor at WMAR 2 News whose own newsroom was attacked a few years ago; from Dr. Paul Nestadt, a clinical psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who studies gun violence; and from Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

But Tom's first guest is Indira Lakshmanan, a columnist for The Boston Globe, who holds the Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics at the Poynter Institute, an organization that provides training and resources for journalists around the world.

Wikipedia

Today it's another edition of the Midday Healthwatch, when Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City, joins Tom to talk about current issues in public health. 

What are the long-term health effects of the psychological trauma experienced by thousands of children separated from their immigrant parents by US border officials in recent months?

Following Tuesday's primary election, the political battle lines have been drawn in the race for Maryland Governor.  When it comes to health care, how do the actions of Governor Larry Hogan stack-up against the proposals of Democratic challenger Ben Jealous? 

The Trump Administration has proposed changes to federal Title X grant regulations that some are calling a gag rule, because they would restrict what physicians can tell their patients in conversations about contraception, abortion, and reproductive health services. 

Dr. Wen also discusses progress toward passage of the CARE Act, a new legislative assault on the opioid crisis proposed recently by Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Austin Barnes Photography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom each week with a review of one of the region's many theatrical offerings.  Today, she's spotlighting the new production of  Avenue Q at the Community College of Baltimore County's Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre.

Avenue Q is an American musical in two acts, featuring music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and a book by Jeff Whitty.  The coming-of-age satire tells the story of a hapless recent college grad named Princeton, who moves into a rundown New York City apartment located on the titular Avenue Q, in an edgy part of town.  While drawing lessons from the realities of his new neighborhood -- and shedding the idealism of his youth -- he and his new-found friends face the challenges of finding work, love and a purpose in life.

Originally conceived as a TV series, Avenue Q opened on Broadway in July 2003 and won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  Since its 6-year Broadway run of more than 2500 performances, it has been picked up for two national tours and a variety of international productions.

The Cockpit in Court production at CCBC in Essex is directed by Todd Starkey, and continues through Sunday, July 1.  Ticket and location info here

Flickr Creative Commons

In the end, the race to become the Democratic nominee for governor wasn’t very close. Ben Jealous won every county in Maryland except Prince George’s, the home base of County Executive Rushern Baker, and Calvert County, which Jealous lost by 48 votes.

In Baltimore County, it couldn’t be more close. Three Democrats, former Del. Johnny Olszewski, Jr., Sen. Jim Brochin and County Councilwoman Vicki Almond are within a few hundred votes of each other, in a race that won’t be settled until next week, at the earliest. On the Republican side, Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer beat Del. Pat McDonough by 10 points. McDonough has said that this will be his last campaign.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby won with 50% of the vote in one of the most acrimonious races in this campaign season.

Today: What it all means with Andy Green, the Editorial Page Editor of the Baltimore Sun and Jayne Miller, an award-winning investigative reporter at WBAL Television.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  To check out that video, click here. 

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[It’s Primary Day in MD.  We’ll have complete coverage of the results of today’s election tonight at 9:00, with the WYPR News Team deployed throughout the region at various campaign headquarters, and analysis with Jean Marbella of the Baltimore Sun, John Willis of the University of Baltimore, and political strategist Catalina Byrd.  Tomorrow, we’ll break-down the results with Jayne Miller of WBAL Television and Andy Green of the Baltimore Sun. 

But today on Midday, a little break from politics.  Coming up in just a minute, it’s another installment of Tube Talk.  But before we begin talking some tube, let’s check in with Dominique Maria Bonessi of the WYPR News Team.  She’s at a polling place in Baltimore on this primary day…]

And now, as promised, another installment of Tube Talk Our tube talkers are Bridget Armstrong, producer of Vox.com's pop culture podcast I Think You’re Interestingand Jamyla Krempel, WYPR's digital producer.  They stay in the know about what’s hot and what’s not on TV. 

By day they are mild mannered producers.  By night they are protectors of the pop culture landscape.  For hours, they toil, shrouded under duvets,  their faces bathed in the magical glow of Light Emitting Screen Diodes.  With remotes at the ready, a cup of tea in hand and significant others ignored, forgotten, and shunned, our tenacious tube talkers ingest hours of Television, as a public service, to bring us news and reviews of the good, the bad and the utterly unpalatable.

Archbalt.org

And now, it’s time for The Afro Check-In, a regular feature here on Midday where we sit down with our colleagues at The Afro-American Newspaper to talk about some of the important stories of the day.  

St. Frances Academy is a high school in East Baltimore that over the past few years has become a football powerhouse. Ranked 4th in the country, they finished last season with a perfect 13-0 record and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship.  They’re good.  And now, most of the teams in the MIAA contend that they’re too good, and they’re refusing to play them next season.  

The other Catholic and independent schools in the area frame their decision to take St. Frances off of their schedules as a safety issue.  Others see it as an attempt to isolate the area’s only predominantly Black Catholic school. 

Perry Green joins Tom.  He’s the Sports Editor at The Afro-American Newspaperand he's been following this controversy.

Ivan Bates Campaign

Tomorrow is Primary Day in Maryland, and here in Baltimore, the race for State’s Attorney features three Democrats who are conducting vigorous campaigns. 

Our original plan was to pause our series of Conversations with the Candidates once early voting had begun.  A week of early voting ended last Thursday.  But given that the race for Baltimore City State’s Attorney is one of the most contentious in the city’s history, we decided to have a conversation with the candidates for that office on this election-Eve. 

The winner of the Democratic primary for State’s Attorney will not face an opponent in November, so the person who will hold the position of the city’s top prosecutor for the next four years will be elected tomorrow. 

The incumbent, Marilyn Mosby, is being challenged by two local attorneys, Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah, who join Tom today in Studio A. 

Ivan Bates has worked as a defense attorney and a city prosecutor.  He worked in the Juvenile Crime Division and later, the Homicide Division, in the City State’s Attorney’s Office.  He is 49 years old.

Thiru Vignarajah is a former city and federal prosecutor.  His tenure in the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office included heading the Major Investigations Unit.  He also served as the Deputy Attorney General for Maryland.   Thiru Vignarajah is 41 years old.

Today's Midday Newsmaker is Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who joins Tom in Studio A to answer his questions, and yours, for the hour.

Yesterday was the first official day of summer.  Violence in our city, as in cities around the country, sometimes spikes in the summer months.  The Mayor recently announced plans to address that possibility, and she'll discuss the city's continuing violence reduction efforts.  Mayor Pugh also talks about the search for a new police commissioner, a new grant program targeted to locally-driven community development efforts, and city immigration policies. 

A reminder of some great Baltimore events coming up that Tom mentioned during the show:

On Saturday and Sunday, it's the 38th LatinoFest in Patterson Park, a celebration of Baltimore's Hispanic culture, music and art, produced each year by the non-profit Educational-Based Latino Outreach (EBLO).

And this coming Monday, June 25th,  from 6-8pm at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, you can join Mayor Catherine Pugh for an intimate conversation with Aaron Henkin,  the award-winning co-producer of WYPR's Out of the Blocks  and director of new local programming at WYPR.  It's another in the new series, Conversations with Mayor Catherine Pugh, produced by the Mayor's Office of Special Events.

image courtesy aact.org

Today, a conversation about cultivating start-up businesses in Baltimore.  What does it take in terms of money and people to bring an idea for a new product or service to the market?  A recent survey of 40 cities with the most start-up activity ranked Baltimore near the bottom.  Cities like San Francisco and New Yok continue to attract young entrepreneurs.  How can we get them to bring their talent here? 

Tom's three guests today help us answer those questions, from a variety of perspectives:

It's Thursday, and that means our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck,  joins us with her review of a little musical you might have heard of:  Hamilton. The popular show, now on stage at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., uses rap, hip-hop, R&B, and a variety of other musical styles to tell the story of the American Revolution through the lens of one its most charismatic and ill-fated architects.

Winner of 11 Tony Awards and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (among other honors), the musical by playwright, actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired by Ron Chernow's best-selling 2005 biography of the founder, Alexander Hamilton.  Miranda's three-hour-long musical rendition premiered on Broadway in August 2015.

It's time for another edition of Smart Nutrition with the Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel.  If you are looking to improve your eating habits, perhaps the most important first step is to track what you’re eating.    If you are tracking what you eat with an app, the New York Times recently featured four apps that do a good job.  We’ll talk about those. 

A report about one of the most well-known and popular diets out there, the Mediterranean Diet.  It appears that a big study that evaluated the Mediterranean Diet was flawed.  Also, a new study suggests a link between calcium supplements and colon disease.  Lots of folks take calcium supplements.  But how big is the upside of doing so?

Finally, we hear about kids experiencing summer slides, losing ground academically when school is out for the summer.  For lots of kids, summer is also a time when their nutrition habits slide.  Monica has tips about keeping them on track for a healthy hiatus.

Photo by Ron Aira, Creative Services GMU

Tom’s guest today is General Michael Hayden.  In more than 40 years in the Air Force and the Intelligence Community, the retired four-star General served as the Director of the National Security Agency from 1999-2005, during the George W. Bush Administration.  He also served for about a year as the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and in 2006, he became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, until President Obama appointed Leon Panetta to that position in 2009.  

The thesis of General Hayden’s latest book is disconcerting and frightening.  Given President Trump’s proclivity to lie about what he knows to be true, and the danger that there are things he should know to be true, but doesn’t, Michael Hayden paints a picture of an intelligence community at risk, whose efficacy is directly affected by the President’s refusal to acknowledge facts, and his harsh and undisciplined rhetoric. 

If the intelligence community cannot effectively do its job, then the country is at risk, as are the basic institutions that make-up our democracy.  General Hayden is no stranger himself to controversy surrounding intelligence.  It was under his watch at the NSA during the Bush administration that reports surfaced of warrantless wiretapping of Americans in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.   

ACLU of Maryland

Early Voting began last Thursday and continues through this Thursday. As of today, about 30,000 more people have voted early than had done so at this point in the last election.  Election Day is a week from tomorrow.

Please be sure to vote. Or as the American Civil Liberties Union is fond of saying: Vote like your rights depend on it. Because they do. Indeed, the right to vote is one of the civil liberties at the heart of the ACLUs’ work -- along with the right to free speech, the right to privacy and the right to a fair trial, to name a few.

Today on Midday: a changing of the guard at the Maryland ACLU. Susan Goering joins Tom in Studio A. She has just stepped down after leading the ACLU of MD for 33 years, first as its legal director, and then, since 1996, as the organization’s executive director. Before her tenure at the ACLU Goering was an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Later in the show, Dana Vickers Shelley joins Tom. She is the Maryland ACLU’s new executive director. She previously held senior positions in public affairs and communications with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She was a senior advisor for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and has advised many nonprofits and foundations on social justice issues and strategic communications. Most recently, she was on the faculty of Morgan State University’s School for Global Journalism and Communication.

This conversation was livestreamed on the WYPR Facebook page. To see that video, click here.

Photo Courtesy Flickr

It's the Midday International Newswrap: the President returned to Washington this week after histrionics at the G7 meeting in Canada, and history-making in Singapore.

Mr. Trump had great things to say about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and stunningly negative things to say about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, one of America's greatest allies. Is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula more possible this week than it had been in many months? 

photo courtesy The New School

Now, a conversation about a unique classical choral concert that’s happening tomorrow night in Towson, and the unique chorus that will be performing. 

Berkshire Choral International is an organization that for more than 30 years has brought choral singers together from all over the world, to perform in venues all over the world.  Tomorrow night, the BCI will be at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium in Towson, performing Haydn's The Seasons.  For ticket and location info, click here.  

Joining Tom in Studio A to talk about the performance, and about the BCI's mission of building a global choral community, is Frank Nemhauser, who has been the group's Music Director since 1993.

Last month, Valerie Ervin shook up the Democratic primary race for Maryland governor when she announced her candidacy to replace her former running mate, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died suddenly on May 10th.  Yesterday, Ms. Ervin shook up the Democratic gubernatorial race for the second time, when she announced her withdrawal from the contest, and her decision to support Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in his primary bid to challenge Governor Larry Hogan in the general election in November.

Valerie Ervin joins Tom Hall on the line from Silver Spring to discuss her recent moves, and how they might impact the Democratic race to win back the Statehouse.

In this installment of Conversations with the Candidates, Tom Hall is joined in the studio by Sheldon Laskin, a Democratic candidate for the Senate in Maryland’s 11th district, which includes Pikesville, Owings Mills, and Hunt Valley in northwest Baltimore County. 

Photography by Shealyn Jae

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us now with her regular Thursday review of one of our region's many thespian offerings.  Today, she spotlights playwright Mark Scharf's The Quickening, now getting its world premiere at Baltimore's Fells Point Corner Theatre, in a co-production with the Collaborative Theatre Company.

The Quickening is a modern ghost story about a pregnant woman and her husband who move into a Richmond, Virginia, home that appears -- at least to the women in the play -- to be seriously haunted. The home's strange energies, and a succession of bizarre events, spark growing tensions between the wife and her skeptical, distracted husband, and remind us of the mysterious space between open and closed minds, and between science and folklore. 

Frederick Board of Elections

Early voting in the Maryland Primary begins tomorrow (June 14th).   Marylanders can vote early, at locations around the state, for a week, until June 21st.  Then, there’s a four-day break in voting until Election Day on Tuesday, June 26th.  A reminder that if you are not yet registered to vote, you can register and vote on the same day -- if you vote earlyYou will not be able to register on Election Day. 

The last time Maryland held a primary election for important offices like Governor, County Executive, or State’s Attorney was in 2014.  In the primaries that year, barely more than 24% of eligible Democrats participated in the election, and even fewer Republicans cast a vote in their primary.  The turnout in the General election was also very low.  Let’s hope that isn’t the case again this year.  

Flickr Creative Commons

Maryland’s primary election is two weeks from today.  Early voting begins on Thursday.  And so, today, we’re talking about voting.

Americans vote at much lower rates than citizens of other advanced democracies.  And while voting is the central tenet in a strong democracy, many states have enacted laws and voter requirements in recent years that actually make it harder to vote. What can be done to encourage and enable voting? Is there the political will to get it done?

marilynmosby.com

Today we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates with Baltimore City State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby.  She is running for re-election in the Democratic primary that takes place on the 26th of this month.  Early voting begins on Thursday.  She is opposed by two other candidates, Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah.  The winner of the primary will run unopposed in the general election.   

Marilyn Mosby drew international attention when she indicted six Baltimore police officers in the police-custody death of Freddie Gray in 2015.   None of those indictments resulted in a conviction, but Ms. Mosby points to a 95% conviction rate to date for her office overall.  The State’s Attorney’s office prosecuted more than 41,000 cases last year.

Copyright Andrew Duncan

Tom’s guest today is Jennifer Palmieri. She was the Communications Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the White House Communications Director for President Barack Obama. She is also a former national press secretary for the Democratic Party, the press secretary during John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign, and she served in the Clinton White House, as well.  Jennifer Palmieri is now the president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Her new book is a reflection on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and a shout-out to the women who will do what Secretary Clinton was unable to do: break the glass ceiling at the White House. It’s called "Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World." 

Photo by Mary Gardella

Norma Pera is a dancer and dance teacher who has trained generations of young dancers in Baltimore at the Baltimore School for the Arts, where she has led the dance department since 1992.

She joined BSA’s dance faculty in 1979, 39 years ago, when the innovative pre-professional public school for the arts first opened. Many of her students have gone on to illustrious careers in dance or the arts, and many other fields. She joins Tom in Studio A.

Ms. Pera is retiring this week from the School for the Arts. The school will celebrate her career and her legacy tomorrow afternoon, June 9, at 4 pm. For more information and to reserve tickets for that event, click here.

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