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October 6, 2002
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Today is the day when massive war protests are scheduled to appear throughout the U.S. Are you going? Are you completely against them? Was the one near you bigger/smaller than expected? And remember, MetaFilter is fun, but like the war or hate it, this is your last chance to register to make your opinion really count if you haven't already. The election is officially 30 days away. The war.... we'll get back to you on that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (65 comments total)

 
No, I am not going. I also think that the demonstrations will do little, if anything, to change anyone's mind. And yes, Metafilter IS fun.
posted by davidmsc at 6:45 AM on October 6, 2002


I'm sure Bush et al will care.
posted by ac at 6:47 AM on October 6, 2002


"What? The people are protesting? Oh my god, call off my war immediately?"
posted by ac at 6:50 AM on October 6, 2002


I think it could send a strong message to the rest of the world about how the US people feel about the war...
posted by Stuart_R at 6:56 AM on October 6, 2002


"Massive?" I doubt it. Most likely it will be the same WTO/Free Trade folks everyone ignores. Also, who schedules a war protest opposite football?
posted by owillis at 7:41 AM on October 6, 2002


"No, I am not going. I also think that the demonstrations will do little, if anything, to change anyone's mind...."

"nah.. i won't vote, i'm sure that my one vote will do little, if anything, to change anyone's mind..."

hello, apathy.

in any case, i am going to the rally in new york city to listen, to take pictures, and to hope that one more person might just make someone in washington think.
posted by ronv at 7:43 AM on October 6, 2002


There's a world of difference between banging drums and protesting and voting. Politicians actually care about your vote.

Some are even willing to steal it.
posted by owillis at 7:47 AM on October 6, 2002


Uh, ronv, that wasn't the voice of apathy that I was demonstrating...I support President Bush in his quest to rid Iraq of Hussein, and I stand ready to actually deploy to Iraq to achieve that goal. And I did vote in the last election. Am I still "apathetic" in your view? I was merely pointing out that whatever demonstrations are conducted today (or tomorrow, etc) will have virtually no effect on U.S. policy.
posted by davidmsc at 7:49 AM on October 6, 2002


Are there any walks for the "Stop talking about the 'war on terrorism' and let's get on with it already"-crowd? I'd like to join that. Tired of all the huffin' and puffin' and seeing the terrorist still at large (possibly having attacked a French oil tanker as late as today).
posted by dagny at 7:54 AM on October 6, 2002


That should, of course, be terrorists.
posted by dagny at 7:55 AM on October 6, 2002


Egad, you mean there are more than one?!?
posted by rushmc at 8:11 AM on October 6, 2002


whatever demonstrations are conducted today (or tomorrow, etc) will have virtually no effect on U.S. policy.

Ah, democracy in full flower! Brings a tear to my eye, the limpid beauty of it.

Sarcasm aside, I must admit that I've always wondered a bit what the actual point of demonstrations are, realizing of course that the reason for joining a demo varies from person to person. The few in which I've been involved always felt to me to be more about registering disgruntlement than any real conviction that a change in government policy about issue X or Y would be the result...

Regardless, go go American protestors! Even if the days when protests could actually achieve anything may be long gone, and the bad guys have won, your conscience is still your own.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:13 AM on October 6, 2002


I was just in europe and took pictures of all kinds of anti-war protesters in Germany, England, and the Netherlands.

They really aren't into the idea of a war over there, I guess.
posted by ph00dz at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2002


I'm with stavros: I suppose one has to go to a demonstration (of any kind, anti-war or pro or whatever) because of his/her conscience. It's pretty hard to change govt policy with demonstrations (unless you can do some Velvet Revolution/Czech/Havel huge, history-changing stuff)

Voting can be the same: suppose you're a Dem in a heavily republican district/State (or the reverse): what are you going to do, not bother to go to the polls because the other guy is winning anyway? You can but it's kinda sad ( I respect a lot, say, Mississippi Democrats and Berkeley Republicans who actually bother to go to the polls)

dagny: NEWSFILTER ! NEWSFILTER! NEWSFILTER!

(just kidding)
posted by matteo at 8:32 AM on October 6, 2002


ronv, I'll be in Central Park at 2-see ya!

And while I don't think it'll actually change this administration's policy, I retain general hope that things can change thru protest & demonstration from my Act-up/Queer Nation days.
posted by amberglow at 8:33 AM on October 6, 2002


The US anti-war protesters need to get more creative. In some countries, people protest by massing outside legislative buldings and banging pots and pans. I like this style of protest; but in the US, on the scheduled "day of protest", half the country will be watching the football game. Maybe the protesters should take their protest there. Think of it. A protest at a football game. People would be appalled, shocked, outraged. But maybe, just maybe, it would jolt some Americans out of their media induced trance.
posted by troutfishing at 8:42 AM on October 6, 2002


Protest and disrupt a football game and you're gonna get the everloving shit kicked out of you. That's like a Critical Mass riding staight into the middle of the Daytona 500.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:00 AM on October 6, 2002


it would jolt some Americans out of their media induced trance.

Maybe they just don't care
Or, they like the idea of kicking Iraqi ass
posted by matteo at 9:04 AM on October 6, 2002


(both are perfectly legitimate and understandable positions, by the way)
posted by matteo at 9:09 AM on October 6, 2002


Over the past few days, I have seen several congressmen say that anti-war letters are outnumbering pro-war letters to them by 6 to 1 and higher. These protests might have a strong less-active base supporting them.
posted by mblandi at 9:19 AM on October 6, 2002


I know my opinion, and a protest won't change my mind. The only thing this will do, is give the rest of the world a false idea of how most Americans feel.
posted by mkelley at 9:21 AM on October 6, 2002


Unless the demonstrations are truly massive, they seem to do little good. The only demonstrations that I have personally seen that worked were the 1987 anti-government demonstrations in South Korea. I guess it helps when there are millions on the streets willing to give everything they have for the cause. Remembering this, the demonstrations of today seem rather weak.
posted by Plunge at 9:23 AM on October 6, 2002


I'm sure the congressmen citing those letters have no interest in playing up opposition. Also, there's not a lot of need to write pro-war letters when the administration and most of Congress is already on your side.
posted by chris24 at 9:30 AM on October 6, 2002


whatever demonstrations are conducted today (or tomorrow, etc) will have virtually no effect on U.S. policy.
this is true because only those with enough guts to be so vocal are around in small groups, depending on where it is you talk about. but there are the huge numbers of people calling their Representative/Senator and registering their opposition directly with the government that way. unfortunately, with this more expeditious manner, there is no huge media show to encourage those other people who think the same to be as vociferous. then maybe our administration might realize how out of place their plans are.
since i can't post articles yet, i have to list this here. so the government is already trying to plant the idea that they are having nothing to do with assassination attempts. and how come the internal and external intelligence experts can figure out what is going in his government now, when they couldn't figure out that the attacks were gonna happen on September 11th, 2001?
posted by memnock at 9:33 AM on October 6, 2002


Writing letters to your senators and representatives, talking over things with co-workers, attending demonstrations, voting, writing letters to the editor...sure, doing one or all of the above is not going to change the world. But if you are against the upcoming war and you don't do anything, say anything, or write anything to that effect, you might as well be a tree stump. Whether or not our voices are heard by anyone, at least we live in a country where we can speak out in protest.
posted by kozad at 9:48 AM on October 6, 2002


The point of "demonstrating" is to "demonstrate" one's opposition to the war - if you're in favour of it, by all means stay home and watch football - betcha just can't wait till ya'll score a "touchdown" all over those damn Eye-Racky children - serves em right for being born in such an "evil" place.

however: if you think infinite war, with it's attendant sacrifice of all the freedoms your forefathers fought and died to protect, is an infinite lie - *get your ass into the streets* and let everybody know how you feel. It's 30 days till the mid-term elections - control of both houses is at stake, and more importantly crucial votes will take place *before the election*. Let your representatives know that if the vote for war, you'll vote their asses out.
posted by dinsdale at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2002


It appears that some posters/people feel that their support of, or participation in, a demonstration should somehow magically & instantly change U.S. policy.
posted by davidmsc at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2002


dinsdale, your assumptions about those who do support going into iraq are ludicrous. I feel sorry for those Iraqi children and the suffering they've had for decades under a dictator, who has already demonstrated his lack of concern for humans...let alone his own people : Kurds, etc. But that doesn't mean, I want the US to sit back and do nothing.
posted by mkelley at 9:56 AM on October 6, 2002


I'll be in the park. Bush is just about to get a carte blanche to make war however the hell he pleases. Since voting has already been shown not to matter, what else are people supposed to do? March, or call 202-225-3121, the number of Congress' switchboard, and tell your representative what you think. Here are more anti-war resources.
posted by muckster at 9:58 AM on October 6, 2002


(sarcasm) Oh, wait...I just noticed that Casey Kasem opposes the war, and has signed the "Not In Our Name" petition! Gosh, maybe it's time that I signed up, too! (end sarcasm) Sorry, but the celebrity-oriented nature of anti-war protesting has always rankled me.

Other notables who have signed: Eve Ensler, Ed Asner, Noam Chomsky, blah, blah, blah...

Question: why does the list of "famous" signatories have descriptions for some (Ed Asner, Actor), but no descriptions for others (Chomsky)? I think more people could identify Asner, either by photo, name, or voice, than they could Chomsky.
posted by davidmsc at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2002


At the time of this posting, more Americans favor a war with Saddam than oppose one. But then, looking back to the Viet Nam era, the protests started in a fairly small way and gradually built up over time till it became clear even in Washington that most Americans wnated an end to the war. And so it came to pass.
posted by Postroad at 10:09 AM on October 6, 2002


IMHO its quite important to put your money where your mouth is regarding your beliefs... so, yes, I am going and did.

The thing that bothers me the most about all of this is the blatant use of the word "terrorism" pasted to whatever cause our government wants the population to rally behind.

I'm afraid we are continuing a tradition of imperialistic tendencies...
posted by FilmMaker at 10:26 AM on October 6, 2002


The only thing this will do, is give the rest of the world a false idea of how most Americans feel.
posted by mkelley.

Actually, after reading what our non-USA fellow metafilterites have been posting in the war threads, I think the rest of the world already has the false idea that we all support Bush 100% and are ready for war. The demonstrations will give some idea to the rest of the world that -- on the contrary-- there is a small minority who are opposed to war.

I have to use the word small because there won't be millions in the street, there will be thousands.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2002


No Justice! No Peace!
posted by HTuttle at 11:20 AM on October 6, 2002


It appears that some posters/people feel that their support of, or participation in, a demonstration should somehow magically & instantly change U.S. policy.
i don't think anyone has this expectation. especially not with G.W. Bush's ego-maniacal focus on his war. i think the people who are protesting are trying to wake up others to the fallacies in this policy of never-ending war, especially when he accuses them of things we are responsible for or have had a hand in.
posted by memnock at 11:33 AM on October 6, 2002


"I feel sorry for those Iraqi children and the suffering they've had for decades under a dictator, who has already demonstrated his lack of concern for humans...let alone his own people : Kurds, etc. But that doesn't mean, I want the US to sit back and do nothing."

Would that be the very dictator the US created and funded *even AFTER* the gassing of the Kurds? What kind of concern for humans does *that* show?
posted by muppetboy at 12:21 PM on October 6, 2002


Demonstrating and showing opposition is absolutely part and parcel of a democracy. That's the ostensible reason for fighting a war - defending democracy. Defending the freedom of everyone to espouse their views on anything. To gather in public and make their feelings known.

Anyone on this board who's thinking that people attending an anti-war demo are wasting their time may as well pack their bags and head for Iraq, or another nearby dictatorship - because if you can't appreciate how lucky you are to live in a democracy, perhaps you need a break from it for a while.
posted by skylar at 12:34 PM on October 6, 2002


this is your last chance to register to make your opinion really count if you haven't already. The election is officially 30 days away.

I'm already registered, but that hasn't always been the case. Fortunately, my state allows you to register at the polls. Takes less than a minute and is oh so convenient. Too bad not every state has that.

(Now if only we can work on getting instant runoff voting.)
posted by kayjay at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2002


who schedules a war protest opposite football?
I've been wondering why the rally in Portland, OR was on saturday!

I have to say that I'm surprised that demonstrating is uncool, or 'out.' Meanwhile apathy is very 'in.' Many people have objections to the war campaign Bush et all have been pushing. How, exactly, are they supposed to express their ideas? Buying another bumper sticker for the VW isn't enough. The government has made sure that the war, as important as it is, isn't an issue Americans get to vote on. (I'm sure somebody has pointed out the irony of Germany's election hinging upon the war issue.) The only way I see to express one's anti-war, or rather pacifist, viewpoint is to attend a mass rally, and yesterday, I did.

I marched with an estimated 10,000+ people of all ages, races and genders. I saw punk rockers, hippies, housewives, businessmen, college students, elderly folk - it was the most diverse crowd I've seen in awhile. That diversity says something. Peace isn't a niche issue, it's an issue that concerns us all. Demonstration is an element of the American political system and has been for all of US history.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:54 PM on October 6, 2002


one of the things about american apathetic conservatism today...."who schedules a war opposite football"....is that, a la George the second, the the worthless talk that passes for communication is so obviously devoid of content that any attack on it seems to be that of an adult (who takes the world seriously) on a child (who needs to be dealt with tenderly). in other words, a critic is de facto criticized of being waaaay too serious, pompous, arrogant ....... and.... educated. god, no!! and there i thought we eradicated the education system back in the reagan years.

and the fact that celebrities are participating in the event could be an argument against participating is a very interesting notion. as if it is treachery for the celebrity, mass market media (american top 40) (which is supposed to be a place to retreat to, blissfully unaware) to contain any real-world meaning. certainly, casey kasem is allowed to have opinions about pop songs, and people listen to them all day long. why is it so wrong for him to have an opinion on the war? in real life, he's a voter too. celebrities are used to sell all kinds of ideas to the american public. it's called social conscience. i respect both sides of the coin on this issue, but all you punters out there who think a football game is more important than a war are truly pathetic examples of the lowest kind of immorality. your vote counts, your mouth counts, your presence counts. deal with it by making your fucking mind up and having an opinion and letting people (including us) know about it.

that said, it seems to me that, yes, saddam and his sons are truly not good people. and they probably do have very dangerous weapons at their disposal. but in the end i really don't think that the strategic importance of this war involves keeping nuclear weapons out of iraq's hands. nor is it ultimately about george II settling a score for his "dad".
the hawks in the american government are seizing on a strategic moment, and aim to use it to make clear to the world, and particularly the middle east, that there is one power in the world, that will act however it damn well sees fit, regardless of that little old UN, or any ammount of disagreement it engenders amongst its allies. and we all can guess that after a five minute war, there will be a fifty year occupation.
and thus, as far as the above-mentioned war on terror goes, the message becomes very clear. those who are ready to hear the bin laden point of view (and there's a lot of them out there, read arabicnews.com sometime) will feel vindicated in their belief. because we do want to destroy islam. not because it's a bad religion, and not because it's not christian. because it's bad for business, and we need some new markets fast.
posted by alpha60 at 2:29 PM on October 6, 2002


Skylar, I don't think anyone is arguing about one's right to demonstrate for peace; I think the disagreement is over its efficacy. You have the right to pray for peace, too, and I'm guessing there'd be even greater disagreement over its efficacy.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 2:54 PM on October 6, 2002


How many million muslims did Saddam slaughter again?
posted by ZupanGOD at 3:07 PM on October 6, 2002


alpha60: one of the things about american apathetic conservatism today...

Conservatism = Apathy? The conservatives I know are very involved -- it's just that (1) their guy is in power so they don't need to get involved the same way, say, these folks do, and (2) that form of involvement is not really their style anyway.

Conservatives aren't apathetic, they're just getting their way.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 3:09 PM on October 6, 2002


heironymous, i'm sorry if i didn't say what i said clearly enough, i didn't mean to say that at all. i did in fact say i respect people with opinions on both sides of the issue, and in fact people on both sides of the issue could be either conservative or liberal. what i meant to say by "apathetic conservatism" is that apathy is a basically conservative practice (it resists change) and a lot of people justify conservatism (as they did above) with apathy. for instance, saying that a protest is useless, is in my mind both apathetic and conservative. but i certainly don't find conservatism apathetic. and i greatly prefer and have more respect for a non-apathetic conservative to an apathetic one....because at least that sort has a viewpoint, that can be discussed. and ultimately, they bring something to the table for society, whether liberals find that something productive or not.
posted by alpha60 at 11:33 PM on October 6, 2002


zupan: i don't think anyone is saying he's a good ruler, or a good neighbor. most arabic leaders find him despicable. and not only because he's slaughtered so many muslims....but that doesn't mean we should act unilaterally to attack him.....IMHO.
posted by alpha60 at 11:37 PM on October 6, 2002


My girlfriend and I didn't feel like schlepping to San Francisco for Sunday's rally, so we donated to Peace Action instead.

Voting, donations, letters, and demonstrations can all have an impact on public policy. It takes a massive effort, and I'm pessimistic about preventing a pre-emptive war against Iraq. Still, protest movements include some major successes, such as the Civil Rights movement in the US and the protests against Communism in Eastern Europe.
posted by JulianA at 12:06 AM on October 7, 2002


Ohh...now I'm wondering who all the Mefis were at the rally...

Sorry, but the celebrity-oriented nature of anti-war protesting has always rankled me.

Yes. I was disappointed to see people rushing down to the front of the stage to take photos of Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Martin Sheen today. And what they said wasn't that great--Robbins was completely forgettable, Sarandon was eloquent but forgettable, and Sheen just quoted Martin Luther King, which was eloquent and memorable but cheating.
posted by hippugeek at 1:01 AM on October 7, 2002


And that little girl--there was something fundementally disturbing about hearing a nine-year-old parrot objections to the "war for oil."
posted by hippugeek at 1:03 AM on October 7, 2002


ZupanGod - i'd love to believe that america acts overseas for egalitarian reasons, but that would fly in the face of the evidence. it seems that america will spend any amount on destabilising any regime seen as left wing and/or not cooperative with us requirements, at the cost of the freedoms of the countrys inhabitants. saddam hussein has a pretty despicable record as regards human rights, but is in now way the 'worst in the world', or indeed the middle east region. look at the members of TWAT and try to find the differences on human rights with the AXIS of eeeEvil(tm).
posted by asok at 3:07 AM on October 7, 2002


Really, if they want a successful anti-war protest effort, they should try to encourage everyone who is opposed to US involvement in the war to call in sick on Monday, or just participate in a general work slowdown.

Will it hurt businesses? Sure... but they're the only ones who seem to be heard in Washington anyway. Besides, any damage that protests of that nature could inflict would pale compared to the over $200B cost of a war against Iraq.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:21 AM on October 7, 2002


protesting never works.

Hey hey LBJ how many kids have you killed today.
posted by johnnyboy at 4:43 AM on October 7, 2002


Massive? This post is the first I heard of these protests, and as of Monday morning, I haven't seen any news of them. I've said it before, these grass roots efforts really have no idea how to handle public relations and advertising.
posted by mischief at 5:13 AM on October 7, 2002


There's a world of difference between banging drums and protesting and voting. Politicians actually care about your vote.

Doh! Owillis beat me to the punch. I've never understood the value of public protest, at least not in the form it's taken on in my lifetime. I remember seeing protests downtown during lunch break back in 1991, right before the Gulf War began, with most signs a variation on the themes of "Give Peace a Chance" and "No War for Oil." I had two thoughts at the time, probably neither of which were what the protesters had in mind to communicate:

1) These protesters seem to have a very simplistic and unrealistic view of the world, and

2) Don't these people have jobs?

I suppose an argument could be made that public protests are a good way of publicizing a particular cause or point of view, but I doubt that the sight on TV of a bunch of shouting or chanting people waving signs (that are necessarily about as nuanced as a bumpersticker) has caused many minds to change on any topic ever.
posted by deadcowdan at 8:03 AM on October 7, 2002


asok: Wonderful links. I gave them each a quick look and will do a more intense one later.

I would only add a few words if I may. I'll be the first to say that this upcoming conflict with Iraq is by no means going to be fought because of humanitarian reasons alone. The consequences of the war, if done properly, will be the greatly increased freedom of the people of Iraq, IMO.

I look at this like the doctor getting ready to perform open heart surgery. It doesn't matter to me if he is doing it because he wants to save humanity one person at a time, or because of the huge pay check at the end of the day. It just matters that the result is the one I was looking for.

Yes, that's a bit simplistic and a bit flawed, but it is the best I can come up with as I run out the door this AM. My hope and prayer is that Iraq will become a shining example of freedom in the Middle East.
posted by Plunge at 8:12 AM on October 7, 2002


mischief: Well, let's see, there's the NY Times and Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle... I could go on, but I'm sure you can find your own news sources. If you find one that doesn't mention the protests, let me know.
posted by languagehat at 9:18 AM on October 7, 2002


hippugeek: ... and Sheen just quoted Martin Luther King ...
Actually, Martin Sheen misattributed this poem by Rabindranath Tagore to Martin Luther King, Jr.
posted by lassie at 10:32 AM on October 7, 2002


Although we don't get to vote often, and we don't get to vote on most issues that affect our lives, we can protest - and politicians definitely do take notice of protest.

At least in the UK I know for certain that the Prime Minister and his team take notice of opinion polls, count letters for and against various issues and take into consideration the number of people who attend at a given protest. If we do nothing, Government does nothing. If we complain, Government hears - and may do something. Without a shadow of a doubt, the UK Government is taking notice of the overwhelming antipathy in this country towards a war in Iraq.

Now as for your point, Deadcowdan... if this impending war on Iraq isn't about oil, then I'm sure the US will be happy to promise that Iraq's oil will become the property of the Iraqi people, not to be sold to outside interests for the next 10 years while democracy establishes itself in Iraq.
posted by skylar at 10:44 AM on October 7, 2002


Heh, I'd definitely go to a "Stop talking about the 'war on terrorism' and let's get on with it already" protest.

I think the problem with the anti-war protesters is that they aren't able to come up with realistic rational opposition to war in Iraq. It all tends to come down to easily disproved rhetoric. And often boils down to just "war is bad, so let's just hold hands and sing together. that'll solve everything".
posted by wrffr at 10:50 AM on October 7, 2002


I think the problem with the prowar chickenhawks is that they aren't able to come up with a realistic rational reason to go to war in Iraq. It all tends to come down to easily disproved rhetoric. And often boils down to just "Saddam is bad, so let's just blow some shit up. that'll solve everything".
posted by euphorb at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2002


Aha--many thanks, lassie.
posted by hippugeek at 12:55 PM on October 7, 2002


skylar: I didn't say anything one way or the other regarding the causes or motivations of any future US attack on Iraq. I was talking about protesters I saw more than 10 years ago. My point was (and I think you could apply this to any protest in this country in the last 20 years) that the protesters were communicating on such a simplistic level that no minds were going to be changed by them. If you believe that Activity X shouldn't be happening, and meet someone who disagrees with you, simply painting "X is bad" on a placard and shouting "Stop X!" 20 or 30 times is probably not going to have much of an effect on them.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:46 PM on October 7, 2002


I agree with wrffr. And with euphorb.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:47 PM on October 7, 2002


I took photos at the march in seattle and posted on my site. There were about 5,000 marchers.
http://www.idixon.com/pages/recent01.html
posted by idixon at 2:21 PM on October 7, 2002


Deadcowdan, you make some interesting points. In a way, though, I feel a democracy is rather like a series of negotiations exactly as you describe. One side says "X and Y is bad, Z is good". Another says "X is good, Y is bad, Z is bad". Eventually some common ground is found.

Just as most business negotiators don't need to resort to violence to get their way, the global democracy shouldn't have to either - except in the most extreme cases, or to defend itself from a clear and tangible offensive. Right now we have a debate going on in Europe where the "war is bad" protesters are beginning to outnumber the "war is good" hawks. Success.
posted by skylar at 2:29 PM on October 7, 2002


the one in NYC was pretty damn massive. estimates range between 10,000 on the lowest side to 50,000

I would guess around 20,000 myself
posted by Babylonian at 9:32 PM on October 8, 2002


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