Smartest Man in US Senate to Retire

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Jeff Bingaman.jpg
In just about 20 minutes, at 3:30 pm EST and 1:30 pm in New Mexico, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, is going to announce on KOAT that he will not run for his Senate seat again.
Jeff Bingaman was my former boss in a good chunk of the 1990s, and I’m very sad to see him leaving the Senate. He was in my estimation the most intelligent and deeply analytical US Senator in the lot. He hated media, and part of my job was to gin up policy stuff he was working on and get media for it — and force him to smile.
Bingaman knows the inside and out nuts and bolts of technology policy, innovation dynamics, health care policy issues, nuclear energy and weapons issues, actually everything. He’s so smart, has a wry wit, runs everyday.
He really is the living embodiment of Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith”, in all of the good ways and without the whining and theatrics.
Congratulations to Jeff Bingaman on this decision — but as a friend, former employee, and long time observer of his work — the Senate is losing someone who let lots of others take the credit while he did some of the only serious thinking.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

34 comments on “Smartest Man in US Senate to Retire

  1. DonS says:

    Thanks, guys, for commiserating with my struggles. Sometimes I get accepted at try number one; sometimes I’m accepted (with confusing “go back”) after try two; occasionally I’m accepted after try three. The instance I referred to above, which I’m probably glad wasn’t even received, was during that initial transition period when confusion seemed to be the order of the day.
    Not to worry, we’ll manage. Just watch the bouncing ball or, in this case, “thank you for commenting; being held for review etc”)
    I’m really hoping the new emphasis on reducing invective works; what I’ve enjoyed at TWN over the years is that the providers of rational argument and information, given a level playing field, provide lines of discussion that have real weight, and do not collapse into the need for invective. That shouldn’t really be a surprise since progressive thought has always had more substance than radical right wing reliance on bluster, paranoia, fear mongering and jingoism. It’s in those areas that the right excels, and it would be wonderful to have TWN be an arena immune from the full weight of the Murdoch/Fox approach to affairs.

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    DonS,
    When your post is rejected with a “you typed the CAPTCHA wrong” message, you have to repost. When you get the “Your comment is being held for moderation” message, then you’re fine.
    I second or third a flag for abuse thing — but I think it requires much more coding than this site does thus far. At that point, perhaps editing and html code commands? Ask for the moon and you might get a flashlight!

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Ah, now I see what you mean, Don. The following message
    shows up if your comment goes through the captcha in
    the “new system”:
    “Thank you for commenting.
    Your comment has been received and held for approval by
    the blog owner.
    << Go back to try again (you won’t lose what you have
    typed).”
    ——————————————–
    The “Go back to try again” suggestion is confusing and
    contradicts the fact that the comment “has been received”.
    I would suggest that the technical expertise at TWN should
    remove the last part of the message. It makes no sense,
    and will especially confuse new or one-time commenters.

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    DonS, when you klick on “submit”, the message popping up
    on the screen in the new system is either the old “error”
    message, or something like “thanks for posting” etc – In the
    latter case, your comment will show up when the host has
    accepted it. If you get the familiar “error” message, just
    repost it like in the good old days.

    Reply

  5. DonS says:

    I don’t know whether I got blocked, but I just did not repost after a first posting (as I usually do) because I didn’t want to seem like I was flooding the system. Anyway, that ‘testing the line’ phenomena Steve’s mentions is real — and disrespectful. But I also understand the impulse to respond in kind when one has felt violated or insulted. It’s all so anonymous. But, again, disrespectful (to the host), and destructive of the idea, of some, that a semblance of community exists. As Paul noted, that community has disagreed strongly at times and even integrated some contrary and very abrasive personalities.
    That said, and in view of the ‘civility’ post upthread (which I’m still pondering), what pisses me off, in my own egotistic way of course, is that the escalation of disagreement into invective has come in large part around the accusation of anti-Semitism. Such slander, built on conjecture, is not equivalent to other forms of argument. Never have been; the toxic nature of that slander has always been uniquely incendiary, protected, if you will, by a historical legacy that that is being abused. It is, beyond all else, not a form of argument, but a diversion from being able to argue based on reasonable facts, or the absolute unwillingness to accept degrees of argument.
    I would second the idea of a “flag” button, but expect it would be pretty hard to implement. It would certainly increase the likelihood of being able to ignore offensive comments, or at least reduce volatile response if one knew the comment would be removed. Goes against the idea of open commenting perhaps, but acknowledges the equally difficult expectation of unmoderated civility.

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    “To others, I will take under advisement the notion that
    perhaps there will be times when we suspend the
    moderation and just let things go — ”
    Highly appreciated. My take is that the further from the
    Israel/Palestine conflict, the lesser the risk. Examples: If
    the Saudi kingdom falls – less ad hominem. If the
    Jordanian kingdom falls, or a civil war were to break out in
    Lebanon, more ad hominem. Serious events in Iran would
    trigger a lot of passion too. Myanmar less so, etc… I think
    it’s that simple – but then, most of the tumult
    unfortunately is taking place in Israel’s neighborhood.
    “…but at this point, I can’t do that because I dont have
    confidence that some of our regulars could hold back
    when some other person posted something quite bad…”
    To be honest, me neither. Wikipedia: “There is no cure for
    Tourette’s and no medication that works universally for all
    individuals without significant adverse effects.” A viable
    solution of the perpetual Israel/Palestine conflict would
    probably dampen the ideological symptoms though.
    Another solution could be to export some of the regular
    abusers to the new National Center for Civil Discourse at
    the University of Arizona, to spice it up a bit.
    “If these bad comments could either be ignored or
    highlighted to me in a way that could be removed before a
    flame war broke out, I would gladly go back to the old
    system.”
    Some blogs have a “flag” button (or (“report abuse”). I have
    no idea whether this would be a workable solution for
    TWN.

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Until I get ironclad commitments from the folks who offered most of the comments here, we will not go back”
    Well, you have mine, if only because it distresses me to see others punished for an atmosphere I had no small part in fostering.
    I am headed out for a jobsite this morning where I have no cell or computer access. I won’t be posting fior a coupla days. Two weeks ago, when there, I was gifted with a National Geographic moment, a mountain lion treeing a bobcat with a hearty and hair-raising scream of warning, occurred on the hillside just above the cabin I am working on. I had no idea that these two species of cats shared territories, much less interacted in such a manner. The bobcat stayed in the tree long after the big cat had trotted off and disappeared. It seems that the bobcat knows when to shut up and lay low. A lesson I could profit from. Its experiences like that, these once-in-a-life-time gifts, that remind a person just how petty some of our day to day interactions really are.
    Anyway, perhaps when I get back I can compose a post and see it appear faster than the greying hairs appearing in the already burgeoning population that inhabits my upper reaches. One can only hope.

    Reply

  8. Steve Clemons says:

    POA — you are right that not a single comment you have made has been blocked since setting up the system. Many thanks for helping to clean up the atmosphere here.
    To others, I will take under advisement the notion that perhaps there will be times when we suspend the moderation and just let things go — but at this point, I can’t do that because I dont have confidence that some of our regulars could hold back when some other person posted something quite bad, or an attack that didn’t belong. If these bad comments could either be ignored or highlighted to me in a way that could be removed before a flame war broke out, I would gladly go back to the old system.
    My back end web stuff is managed by another person in another time zone on another continent, so turning on and off the moderation is not super easy for me. I never wanted to do this — and will explore, as I have time, other options. As I have said repeatedly though, I write what I want and post on the blog — and the comments were supposed to help me get reactions and think out loud with others. Instead it became a cesspool of invective and mutual recrimination. Until I get ironclad commitments from the folks who offered most of the comments here, we will not go back. Too many get a thrill of violating my rules — and testing the line. I just won’t have it any more.
    All best — and thanks to those of you who have picked up your game here.
    best, steve clemons

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…as I have tried to see whether putting a cap on bad comments would prevent anyone from trying to make them, and that has not happened”
    Don’t look at me. Despite my part in this, I have not had any posts blocked from appearing since this “new system” has been in place.
    Weird. I post at a few sites that are actively and stringently monitored, and NONE of them have the CAPTCHA weirdidies and the time lapse irritations we find here. The “Palestine Note” comes to mind.
    “Yes, it slows things up – and yes, it may be less titillating”
    “Tittilation” might just be the right term here, Steve. Its less so for us, but hows it working out for you?

    Reply

  10. Steve Clemons says:

    Dear Paul Norheim, Carroll and others:
    I just want to remind that the last thing I wanted to do with the little spare time I have is moderate comments. I wanted instead responsible behavior and commentary here. Some of your other commenters found themselves unable to avoid turning this place into a constant battlefield where personal defamation, insults, ad hominem attacks and the like were the norm.
    I have blocked about 10 highly incendiary comments since this process started — and had any one of those been posted, I know that others would have felt justified in attacking back or going to the same level. I just can’t permit that any longer.
    There are a number of posters here who are an odd combination of highly intelligent, passionate, and unwilling to contribute to a positive and constructive comment culture. It’s too bad — and as I have said, I am irritated about it.
    Paul, you have always been constructive — but Carroll, to be honest, there are times when you have really gone over the line. So, that’s where we are. Unless there is responsible posting by the regular posters here and a culture here that everyone helps hold up, then moderation is the only way to deal with it. Yes, it slows things up – and yes, it may be less titillating. But that was the problem as well — people were getting addicted and feeding the POA-Nadine battles but at some point, they deserve their own blog.
    Moderation will stay for some time – as I have tried to see whether putting a cap on bad comments would prevent anyone from trying to make them, and that has not happened. And were those bad comments to make it to the blog, I have zero confidence that some of you could ignore them, restrain yourselves, and comment responsibly.
    Sorry folks. Onward and upward.

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    With all due respect, Steve, I have to say that picking the
    15th of February 2011 as the day to start moderating your
    blog was, historically speaking, an extremely untimely
    moment.
    It often gets overheated here, and I understand your
    anger. But seeing this in perspective – after commenting
    here for 3-4 years – I remember many times when the
    atmosphere in the comment section has been much more
    ugly than in the days or weeks before you chose to
    moderate the blog.
    You may have forgotten the debates about Palin when
    McCain picked here as his VP candidate? The ad hominems
    floating around during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza?
    The ugly atmosphere during the endless debates on anti-
    Semitism a couple of years ago?
    As a matter of fact, our comments on the Tunisian and
    Egyptian revolutions in the couple of weeks before the
    moderation was implemented, were among the most civil,
    generous, and calm discussions I’ve ever experienced here
    since I started to comment on your blog. Those who
    regularly cross the red line were for the most part silent –
    except for when you wrote an occasional post about the
    implications for the I/P conflict. The strict focus on what
    was going on in Egypt and Tunisia (and the collective
    efforts during those discussions) was actually a school in
    civil discussions in itself.

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    Libya: according to Al Jazeera – A massacre taking place on Green
    Square in Tripoli tonight, after Saif Gaddafi’s speech, by
    mercenaries with hand grenades, anti-aircraft equipment etc.

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    In the meanwhile, some randomly chosen headlines/excerpts
    from the Jerusalem Post tonight:
    “Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it stands ready “with all its
    capabilities” to shore up Bahrain’s ruling royal family if a standoff
    with the Shiite-led opposition is not resolved soon (…) Some
    regional experts have long warned that a concerted Shiite
    challenge to the monarchy in Bahrain might prompt intervention
    from Saudi Arabia, which has its own restive Shiite minority
    population. The two countries are connected by a causeway.”
    ——————–
    ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    So what do you think, Steve: If the Libyan regime hasn’t
    collapsed already, is what we’re witnessing now, especially
    Saif’s speech a couple hours ago on Libyan State television,
    a sign of a power struggle within the Gaddafi “franchise”,
    especially between Saif (whom I believe you met a couple of
    years ago?) and Mutassim Gaddafi – with the former
    currently having the upper hand?

    Reply

  15. Paul Norheim says:

    Since my last comment (not yet published), Gaddafi’s son Seif al
    Islam Gaddafi has held a desperate, not to say apocalyptic
    improvised, but prerecorded speech on Libyan TV; people in
    Tripoli are celebrating in the streets, believing rumors that
    Gaddafi has left the country; no security forces or soldiers in the
    streets of the capital…the regime could be collapsing right now…

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    I’m waiting for Steve to write a post about the Gaddafis in Libya – a “franchise”, if
    there ever was one:
    “According to unconfirmed reports the repression in Benghazi in eastern Libya is
    being led by his son Khamis, the Russian-trained commander of an elite special
    forces unit. Another son, Saadi, is there too, with Abdullah al-Senussi, veteran
    head of military intelligence.
    Like Mubarak, the Libyan leader has no designated successor. Gaddafi’s advice is
    likely to be coming from his son Muatassim, his national security adviser and
    leading contender to succeed him. Two years ago Muatassim tried to set up
    another special unit to rival the one commanded by Khamis.
    In recent months both have seemed more powerful than another brother, the
    reformist Saif al-Islam. Saif focused on civil society and political and economic
    reform but has taken a back seat in the face of opposition from the old guard and
    the revolutionary committees. “Creating the appearance of useful employment for
    Gaddafi’s offspring has been an important objective for the regime,” reported the
    US ambassador in a cable released by WikiLeaks.
    Other sons have embarrassed their father. Saadi is notoriously ill-behaved, with a
    record of scuffles with police in Europe, abuse of drugs and alcohol. Hannibal’s
    misbehaviour in Geneva caused a long rupture in Swiss-Libyan relations.”
    More here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/20/libya-protests-muammar-gaddafi

    Reply

  17. questions says:

    nadine, debunking the doctors notes meme…. ugh:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/19/947285/-Conservatives-ginning-up-fake-doctors-excuse-handout-story-at-Wisconsin-protests-
    I agree with everyone that the lack of instantaneous posting makes it less fine…..

    Reply

  18. Cee says:

    Carroll,
    Like now with the new events in China.
    Citizens were urged to shout: ‘We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness’ – a slogan that highlights common complaints among ordinary Chinese.
    Protests: Chinese police were deployed to quash the Jasmine Revoltion protests
    Many activists said they didn’t know who was behind the campaign and weren’t sure what to make of the call to protest, which was first posted on U.S.-based, Chinese-language website Boxun.com.
    China’s authoritarian government has appeared unnerved by recent protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Libya.
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358834/China-quashes-pro-democracy-Jasmine-Revolution-force.html#ixzz1EXIZuthy

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    I have to say this new system is boring.
    One of things I always looked for here besides Steve’s articles was commenters offering facts or information in support of their theory or opinion or others being devil’s advocates.
    Now it’s so slow that by the time anything new appears we have all moved on to something else.
    This would have been terrible during the time we were following the fast moving events of Egyptian protest. The collective information found and offered for consideration by commenters was more than any one of us individually would have the time to seek out.
    Maybe it should be suspended in certain circumstances.

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    UN Security Council..and their vote on Palestine resolution
    Five permanent members:
    China ………………..Pass
    France………………..Pass
    Russian Federation……..Pass
    The United Kingdom……..Pass
    The United States………Veto
    Ten non-permament members (with year of term’s end):
    Bosnia 2011……………Pass
    Herzegovina (2011)……..Pass
    Germany (2012)…………Pass
    Portugal (2012)………..Pass
    Brazil (2011)………….Pass
    India (2012)…………..Pass
    South Africa (2012)…….Pass
    Colombia (2012)………..Pass
    Lebanon (2011)…………Pass
    Gabon (2011)…………..Pass
    Nigeria (2011………….Pass
    I don’t think finding even 7 SC members to pass this on to the General Assembly would be hard, considering who the members are and that even Germany and India voted to pass the Palestine resolution.

    Reply

  21. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Feb 19 2011, 3:08PM – Link
    ‘that was supported by all 14 of the other members of the UN Security Council. The resolution was also sponsored by 130 member countries before being presented to the Council.’
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Eventually if the US keeps on with it’s forked tongue policy it’s possible we won’t be able to strong arm the other SC and UN members..it would only take 7 SC members ‘or’ a majority of GA members to send a SC veto to the General Assembly.
    Fewer and fewer countries have anything to lose by pissing off the US.
    UN Resolution 377
    ‘Under the resolution 377A(V),

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I regret linking to the “Veterans Today” site. The viral anti-semitism expressed in the comment section belittles Falk’s essay. I should have linked to Falk’s website instead….
    http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/the-united-states-stands-alone-with-israel-in-the-un-security-council-or-how-honest-is-the-honest-broker/#comment-809
    I hope that the comments at the “Veterans today” website are not what one can expect to find there on a regular basis.

    Reply

  23. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry… forgot to provide a link to my last post:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LTPRJqt2z4

    Reply

  24. Paul Norheim says:

    What can I say? Once again Amy Winehouse and her
    boyfriend got stoned and pissed; and as a consequence the
    entire TWN commentariat is now on rehab, trying to smile
    politely while distracted by the noises from the wildest party
    on the planet taking place right outside the gate.
    Saturday night, 10.00 PM, (Norwegian time).

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    RICHARD FALK: The United States Stands Alone with Israel in the UN Security Council
    How Honest is the Honest Broker?
    By Richard Falk
    Ambassador Rice UN Resolution Veto
    In what appears to be as close to a consensus as the world community can ever hope to achieve, the United States reluctantly stood its ground on behalf of Israel and on February 18, 2011 vetoed a resolution on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that was supported by all 14 of the other members of the UN Security Council. The resolution was also sponsored by 130 member countries before being presented to the Council.
    In the face of such near unanimity the United States might have been expected to some respect for the views of every leading government in the world, including all of its closest European allies, to have had the good grace to at least abstain from the vote. Indeed, such an obstructive use of the veto builds a case for its elimination, or at least the placement of restrictions on its use.
    Why should an overwhelming majority of member countries be held hostage to the geopolitical whims of Washington, or in some other situation, an outlier member trying to shield itself or its ally from a Security Council decision enjoying overwhelming support. Of course this American veto is not some idiosyncratic whim, but is an expression of the sorry pro-Israeli realities of domestic politics, suggesting that it is Israel that is the real holder of the veto in this situation, and the U.S. Congress and the Israeli Lobby are merely designated as the enforcers.
    Susan Rice, the American chief representative in the Security Council, appeared to admit as much when she lamely explained that the casting the veto on this text

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well. I’d like to apologize to all affected by my part in Steve instituting this new “system” of comment moderation. Only an idiot could fail to note that this is almost entirely my fault.
    Most of you certainly do not deserve this cumbersome process that prevents timely comment and discussion of daily events.
    Having the urge to comment on another’s contribution, I find myself not bothering, as the thought “Shit, by the time my comment appears, it will be irrelevent, dated, or simply no longer of interest as a new topic will have emerged” comes to mind.
    The recent veto at the UN is one such example, with Clinton foreshadowing the veto with the tepid assertion that the settlements are “illegitimate”. It is truly depressing that we cannot discuss this in a “real time” manner, instead having to comment belatedly as events and reactions unfold in the Middle East at breakneck speed.
    Saturday morning, 10:26, Feb 19. (Perhaps I should note the year, as well????)
    Again, I sincerely apologize to those of you affected by my own posting style.

    Reply

  27. pat says:

    I am sorry to see Senator Bingman from New Mexico retire from the Senate. Senator Bingman is one of those rare politicans that lobbyists could not buy and corrupt. He stayed true to his principles, morals and ethics. He was a true friend to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque. He supported the vets and Veterans Affairs. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with him and his office on a number of occasion
    He was a big supporter of the DOE’s WIPP project in Carlsbad NM.

    Reply

  28. The Pessimist says:

    Off topic:
    Anyone want to comment on Hillary Clinton’s passive approval and indirect authorization in the unconscionable beating of Ray McGovern?

    Reply

  29. Sand says:

    Wiggers: “…To make matters worse, the Democrat in charge of recruiting Senatorial candidates and raising money for their campaigns is the cluelss Patty Murray. It’s hard to imagine what the Democratic caucus was thinking when they selected her.”
    The “Cluelss (sic)” and turncoat Murray. Well I can’t argue with you there.
    AIPAC Crew visiting Patty Murray
    http://www.h-nt.org/rosenbaum0406.htm
    So what should we expect when our “cluless (sic) Patty Murray” coordinates and collude with our “clueless Tim Kaine” to continue the pathetic strategy of replacing all Democrats with Isreali-friendly placeholders like “Mark Kirk” — oh what’s new on our Orwellian Front?

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Smart enough to have sucked up more than his fair share of AIPAC “donations”. He has literally swam in AIPAC money.
    But hey, there’s this too….
    “The intelligence that our officials was given regarding W.M.D. was either
    defective or manipulated…….”

    Reply

  31. susan says:

    PPP polled this race in mid-February and found two non-Bingaman Democrats, Reps Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, solidly leading two potential Republican opponents (former Reps. Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson) and trailing only former Gov. Gary Johnson, who appears to be pursuing a Presidential bid:
    Public Policy Polling. 2/4-6. Registered voters. MoE 4.2%.
    Martin Heinrich (D) 50
    Heather Wilson (R) 39
    Ben R. Lujan (D) 48
    Heather Wilson (R) 40
    Martin Heinrich (D) 53
    Steve Pearce (R) 38
    Ben R. Lujan (D) 49
    Steve Pearce (R) 37
    Gary Johnson (R) 44
    Martin Heinrich (D) 43
    Gary Johnson (R) 45
    Ben R. Lujan (D) 40
    Pretty strong numbers for the Dems, assuming Johnson’s delusions of Presidential grandeur continue. Still, it’s one more headache for Senate Democrats looking to preserve the majority.
    Other possible Democratic candidates include State Auditor Hector Balderas, State Treasurer James Lewis, and former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who lost her 2010 gubernatorial race.
    dailykos

    Reply

  32. wayne glass says:

    First thing Jeff Bingaman said to me when I began working for him was, “Great suggestion, Wayne, how are we going to get it done?” That was the clue. Jeff Bingaman has been about “getting it done” since he entered the Senate in 1982. He shunned the spotlight and avoided the talk shows. His priority was to “get it done”. He’s among the most respected Senators on either side of the aisle because everyone knows that Jeff Bingaman is a man of integrity and savvy—-no cheap shots needed. New Mexico and the nation are losing one of the very best when Jeff Bingaman steps down.

    Reply

  33. WigWag says:

    The Democratic Party is pretty strong in New Mexico but this is still terrible news for the Democrats. At a time when there are twice as many Democratic seats that will be contested in 2012 as Republican seats, the last thing they needed was for a shoo in for reelection like Senator Bingamin to retire.
    The last go around New Mexicans elected the great Tom Udall but there must be a strong libertarian leaning population in the state. The conservative Pete Domenici represented New Mexico for years.
    To make matters worse, the Democrat in charge of recruiting Senatorial candidates and raising money for their campaigns is the cluelss Patty Murray. It’s hard to imagine what the Democratic caucus was thinking when they selected her.
    Before Bingamin’s retirement the Democrats had little chance of maintaining control of the Senate; now their chances have imploded. Whether Obama wins or loses it is now a virtual certaintly that the Republicans will control both houses of Congress in 2012.
    Leftists disappointed with Obama should reflect on the implications of that before they decide to support a third party or sit on their hands in 2012.

    Reply

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