Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, August 13, 2017

out for blood

Used to be we would think that, as the old, racist fucks died off, things would get better, we could advance more rights, the GOP would gradually die out. So wtf is with all these young white guys in their 20's that are already so filled with hate? Where do they learn it? No one is born a racist Nazi skinhead asshole. They learn it from someone, or by watching too much Fox News. And with the internet these days, awesome information and total garbage are available in equal measure. Discernment, people! 

'Out for blood': Man arrested in plan to bomb Oklahoma bank

(in case the video doesn't work, go here.)

A 23-year-old man who was "out for blood" when he attempted to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van outside an Oklahoma bank in a plot similar to the deadly 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, authorities said Monday.
During a meeting with undercover FBI agents in June, Jerry Drake Varnell of Sayre, Oklahoma, said he held "III% ideology" and wanted "to start the next revolution," a reference to the "Three Percenters" patriot movement — begun in 2008, galvanized by President Barack Obama's election — and that has rallied against gun control efforts and pledges resistance to the federal government over the infringement of constitutional rights.
Ignorant hatemonger
Jerry Drake Varnell
Federal officials arrested Varnell early Saturday in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb in an alley adjacent to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. Varnell is charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in interstate commerce.
Varnell made an initial appearance before a federal judge Monday afternoon and remains in the custody of federal marshals. Court records do not indicate whether Varnell is represented by an attorney.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the allegations are a somber reminder that Americans must remain vigilant about home-grown extremism and radicalization in local communities.
A III% group said Varnell had joined their group less than a year ago but was never active and has been removed from its membership rolls. In a statement, III% United Patriots spokesman Dylan Hunter says the group condemns Varnell's alleged acts. "His claim about following the III% ideology are blatantly false as we do not condone acts of terrorism," Hunter said.
On Saturday, a rally by white nationalists and others opposed to a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Virginia, park turned violent and led to the death of a 32-year-old woman who was struck by a car allegedly driven by a man into a crowd of people protesting the rally. A Virginia State Police helicopter deployed in a large-scale police response to the violence then crashed into the woods outside of town and both troopers on board died.
A federal complaint filed on Sunday says a confidential informant told the FBI in December that Varnell wanted to blow up a building and "that Varnell was upset with the government and was seeking retaliation."
Officials said Varnell initially wanted to blow up the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., with a device similar to one used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more.
In a series of text messages with the FBI's informant, Varnell "claimed to have a bunker for when the world (or United States) collapsed" and indicated he was trying to build a team, the complaint states. "I'm out for blood," the complaint quotes Varnell's texts. "When militias start getting formed I'm going after government officials when I have a team."
But an undercover FBI agent posed as someone who could help Varnell build a bomb and the device used was actually inert, authorities said. Varnell's actions were monitored closely for months as the plot developed. 
"There was never a concern that our community's safety or security was at risk during this investigation," said Kathryn Peterson, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oklahoma.
The undercover agent met face-to-face with him on June 1 to discuss obtaining materials for an ammonium nitrate and fuel oil bomb similar to the one used in the Oklahoma City bombing, the complaint states. Varnell indicated at the meeting that he had previously made homemade explosives and that he "was of the same mind with people who wanted to use explosives and make a statement," the complaint says.
"Something needs to be done," Varnell said, but killing a lot of people was not a good idea, according to the complaint. During text conversations in July, Varnell stated he wanted to conduct the attack after closing hours to prevent casualties but conceded that some bank workers or custodians who were inside the building could be killed or injured in the blast, it says.
The complaint says Varnell helped assemble the device and load it into what he believed was a stolen van. Shortly after midnight on Saturday, Varnell drove the van by himself from a storage unit in El Reno, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the bank in Oklahoma City, and dialed a number on a cell telephone that he believed would trigger the explosion. The FBI and members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Varnell shortly before 1 a.m.
The complaint also states that Varnell prepared a statement to be posted on Facebook after the explosion which reads in part that the attack was "retaliation against the freedoms that have been taken away from the American people" and "an act done to show the government what the people think of its actions."
Both of Oklahoma's Republican U.S. senators said the alleged plot could have rivaled the devastation caused by the Oklahoma City bombing 22 years ago.
"It is chilling to think that a sympathizer of Timothy McVeigh would want to act on hate, as a tribute to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil before September 11," Lankford said. Sen. Jim Inhofe said law enforcement authorities "successfully prevented a hateful act of domestic terrorism."
If convicted, Varnell faces between five and 20 years in prison.

Friday, August 11, 2017

sky lanterns banned

Again, we see that one person can make a difference. This is good news.

S.A. man's petition helped end popular sky lantern festival on South Padre Island

Sky lantern releases have garnered plenty of popularity in the United States the last few years.
But one San Antonio man is on a mission to ban them for good. And last week he saw some success.
Mario Giacalone created a petition in December to put an end to Lantern Fest on South Padre Island. Last week, after hearing from Giacalone and other groups, the City of SPI voted 5 to 1 to deny the event's permit.
Lantern Fest would have celebrated its second year in September. Giacalone said the two-day event was expected to draw in a crowd of 3,000 to 4,000 people.
While he's the first to admit Lantern Fest and other events like it make for an "amazing, gorgeous sight," Giacalone also told the lanterns, especially when they are released by the thousands, are environmentally destructive. 
"But people don't realize that when those things land, it's not a gorgeous site. They are pretty, but that five to 10 minutes of beauty is not worth the amount of damage," he said.
"Basically people are lighting fires on balloons and letting them loose to fly away," Giacalone said. "A little fact on those balloons is they are designed to burn for 5 to 10 minutes. They can get altitudes up to 1,200 feet and have been known to fly to up to 5 miles away."
Giacalone said these ceremonies have led to dead livestock, injured children, wildfires, damage to sea life and more. The devices themselves are made from bamboo rigs, nylon material and chemically treated rice paper.
After a 8-week experiment, the Shoreline Department
of South Padre Island found that sky lanterns materials do not biodegrade. 
In the weeks leading up to the vote, an 8-week experiment was performed to determine the bio-degradation rates of sky lanterns in the Laguna Madre. The Shoreline Department of SPI found that a fully burnt lantern will take seven weeks to reduce to the bamboo ring and weathered string.
"If it doesn't burn out and it hits the ground, which they do by the hundreds, now you have this liquid device soaked in a flammable material," Giacalone said, adding, or if they don't burn out, they can go into the water and pollute the ocean. 
Even after South Padre Island banned the festival, Giacalone continues to work on spreading the word on sky lantern dangers. He is trying to reach other areas near San Antonio where these events take place. 
"They are trying to hold one outside of Bastrop which hasn't recouped yet from the major fire that almost burned the city down five years ago," he said. 
Giacalone said that if Texas adopted the international fire code, then sky lanterns would be banned statewide; however, even if adopted, the state could choose to not apply it in full. 
In the meantime, this San Antonian is taking matters into his own hands.
"My goal is to make citizens aware of the dangers of what these things can do, get the state involved and pass an ordinance to ban these devices," Giacalone said. "I'm not done." 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

scripted news

Yep, we may have a lot of TV stations in this country, but not that many owners. I just learned that KGBT-TV Channel 4 in the Rio Grande Valley is one of those Sinclair Broadcasting stations. I caught one of those "Bottom Line" reports with Boris Epshteyn and nearly threw up. Last time I will watch their local news.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

nuclear war?

Nothing will get your anxiety level up like a Trump-North Korea pissing match.

Monday, August 7, 2017

bloody sea mites!

Just when you thought it was safe to get in the water!! Let's hope this doesn't start happening all over the place! Yikes! Damn that intelligent design!

Australian teenager in hospital after sea bug attack

An Australian teenager is recovering in hospital after being bitten by multiple "mite-sized sea critters".
Sam Kanizay, 16, found his feet and ankles covered in blood after soaking his legs in Melbourne's Brighton Beach on Saturday evening.
Jarrod Kanizay said his son arrived home with what "looked like a war injury" and that his legs would not stop bleeding. The family are seeking expert opinion to identify the flesh-eating bugs.
Marine biologists have said they were likely to have been sea fleas, tiny scavenging marine animals.
After a tiring football game on Saturday evening, the 16-year-old decided to soak his legs in the cold bay near his home. Speaking to the BBC's World Update radio show, Sam described feeling pins and needles in his legs after standing waist-deep in dark cold water for about half an hour.
After shaking off what he thought was sand coated around his ankles, he walked across the beach before looking down and realising that his feet were "covered in blood".
"It bled for ages, and it's still seeping blood now," he said.
"It looked like a war injury... like a grenade attack. It was really bloody," his father told BBC News.
"We got him in the shower but as soon as we did that the blood kept re-appearing," said Mr Kanizay. "It wasn't clotting at all. It just kept bleeding and bleeding."
After two local hospitals could not identify the cause of the multiple pin-prick injuries, the Melbourne father decided to investigate and went back to the beach.
"I collected these strange creatures from the same spot last night by trapping them in a net and standing in the water myself," he said. "We got thousands of these little mite-type bugs and they've been sent on to experts."
Mr Kanizay said he hoped the sandy-coloured mites would not scar his son, and he is expected to make a full recovery.
"We are just waiting on the experts to tell us what they are and how they behave and why this happened."
Marine biologist Dr Genefor Walker-Smith, who saw some of the samples, told Australia's Herald Sun newspaper that the bugs were probably lysianassid amphipods, or sea fleas.
"It's possible he disturbed a feeding group but they are generally not out there waiting to attack like piranhas," she said.
Experts have said such cases are very rare and that there is no reason for alarm.
No, of course not! Original.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

border wall bullshit

Trump's stupid border wall, which Mexico is refusing to pay for, of course, is now planned to cut right through several wildlife areas in deep south Texas, including the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, and the National Butterly Center in Mission, Texas, among other areas. They feel like, since these refuges are technically government property, they can do whatever they want without those pesky property owners complaining and filing suit.

If I ever pulled up to our Llano River ranch road to find a work crew, heavy machinery, pink flagged survey stakes, and trees slashed to the ground, I’d likely grab my husband’s shotgun.

But Marianna TreviƱo Wright, director of the National Butterfly Center, has more self-control than me. She peacefully, but forcefully, ordered five contractors off the 100-acre private property owned by the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas along the U.S. Mexico border. Then she took to the media.
Wright told local reporters that the National Butterfly Center received no notices or requests for access to the property–even though “no trespassing” signs were prominently displayed. According to a story in the local Mission, Texas paper, the crew wielded chainsaws, two mechanized brush cutters and other pieces of heavy machinery. They told her they were on assignment from the Tikigaq Construction LLC firm in Point Hope, Alaska. Their job: mark a 150-foot clearance for President Trump’s border wall.
“Just about every type of wildlife is here,” Wright told Progressive Times reporter Jose de Leon III. “This habitat is rich and diverse….What will happen to them if the wall is built here?”
The stretch of South Texas destined to host Trump’s border wall includes at least three wildlife areas. Photo via National Butterfly Center
Next door to Wright at the 2,000+ acre Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, planning for Trump’s border wall has been underway for months. According to a July 14 story by Melissa del Bosque in the Texas Observer,  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have been meeting quietly with private contractors to plot out the first piece of Trump’s border wall here for half a year. Plans call for 28 miles of a new levee wall system in the Rio Grande Valley and 32 new miles of border wall system here. An 18-foot levee wall will stretch for almost three miles right through the Santa Ana wildlife refuge. Construction could begin at Santa Ana as early as January 2018, a federal official who asked to remain anonymous told the Observer.
Designated by the federal government in 1943 as a sanctuary for migratory birds and managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Santa Ana straddles the Rio Grande and is considered one of the most diverse ecosystems left in the United States. Along with the NBC and the Bentson State Park, the natural areas collectively provide habitat for the endangered ocelot, the jaguarundi, coyotes, bobcats, armadillos and 400 species of birds. See video below.
Known as one of the top birding destinations in the world, Santa Ana is being sacrificed precisely because of its federally protected status. Since the U.S. government owns it, they won’t be subjected to pesky lawsuits from private landowners like Marianna Wright and the National Butterfly Center. As another story in the Texas Observer noted in June, a third or more of 320 condemnation suits filed against private landowners to build a wall in 2007 are still unresolved.
In contrast, the National Butterfly Center (NBC) is a project of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), a privately funded, nonprofit organization. Like its Santa Ana neighbor, NBC is devoted to the conservation of wildlife–specifically wild butterflies in their native habitats. NBC features a native species garden, offers walking trails, observation areas, educational exhibits and a plant nursery.
In a four-and-a-half minute video posted on on July 22,  Wright describes the flagrant disregard for the rule of law exercised by the work crews.
“They flat-out  ignored the private property sign and began work clearing trees along our road and the Rio Grande River,” she says in the video, as the South Texas breeze blows across the microphone.
According to the American Immigration Council, approximately 650 miles of border fence already exists as of early 2017. We have 350 miles of primary pedestrian fencing, 300 miles of vehicle fencing, 36 miles of secondary fencing behind the primary fencing, and 14 miles of tertiary pedestrian fencing behind the secondary fence. These barriers run the gamut from tall metal and concrete posts to solid corrugated steel walls, metal fencing, and combinations thereof. Then there’s the surveillance tools–towers, cameras, motion detectors, thermal sensors, stadium lighting, ground sensors, drones. This montage of deterrents comprises the existing infrastructure aimed to stop the unauthorized entry of people, drugs, and arms into the United States.
But as former Department of Homeland Security Secretary under Obama Jeh Johnson said in a November 2016 speech: “We can spend billions of dollars to build a 10-foot wall on top of a 10,000-foot mountain. But if you’ve come all the way from Central America, it’s not going to stop you.”
Last weekend, as Wright posted her video, dozens, perhaps hundreds of illegal immigrants who tunneled, hiked, swam or waded across our border were discovered packed in an unairconditioned semi truck in a San Antonio Wal-Mart parking lot. The temperature climbed to 104 degrees here on Saturday, and was likely higher on hot asphalt.
When a Wal-Mart employee noticed people streaming from the back of the truck, he rushed 
over to provide assistance and dialed 911. Several people were already dead; more than 20 were sent to local hospitals with extreme dehydration, asphyxiation and other health issues. By Monday 10 people had perished.
Wright is right: It’s NOT just about the butterflies. Nor is it just about property rights. It’s about much much more than that.
Find the National Butterfly Center’s Stop Trump’s Border Wall Legal Defense Fund campaign here.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

if Obama said it

Bill Maher had a pretty funny bit on his show, Real Time, Friday night. How many times have we wondered "what if Obama had said what Trump said"? Bill found a comedian that looks amazing like Obama to try it out. Maher was pretty damn hyper during that show. He had to be on some kind of drug. He did not appear normal. Perhaps 45 is getting to him.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Devil's Elbow

The following is a column written by Steve Hathcock. He publishes an occasional historical piece in the Port Isabel-South Padre Press. He seems to be the unofficial "historian" of South Padre Island. When we were changing the locks on the house we bought on South Padre Island, he was also our locksmith. His columns are usually very interesting.

The Devil's Elbow of Padre Island

The Loop Current flows through the straits of the Yucatan into the Gulf of Mexico and then splits. The main current loops southeastward flowing through the Florida Keys (where it is called the Florida Current), and then into the Atlantic. Another, lesser current, called a “Loop Current Eddy,” which is a clockwise rotating ring of warm water, bulges out into the northern Gulf of Mexico and drifts west towards Texas or Mexico.

As early as 1519, Spanish navigators recognized the value of this flow as an aid to navigation. The combination of prevailing winds and current, determined the course of the Spanish treasure fleets on their entire round-trip voyage to Europe. 

Ships entering the Gulf through the Yucatan Channel, rode the prevailing wind and current westward to the port at Vera Cruz. These currents changed directions along the Mexican coast, carrying homebound ships north and east into the Straits of Florida and the Bahama Channel. 

The same current used by ships entering the Gulf from the east, also brings trash from afar. Sea-beans and flotsam, from near the equator, washes up on Padre Island. These shore currents act like a giant vacuum cleaner, scouring the floor of the Gulf, depositing debris, and sometimes shipwrecks along the Texas Coast. The prevailing southeasterly wind produces wave-trains that strike the beach at an angle. Fifty miles to the north of the City of South Padre Island, lies the infamous Devil’s Elbow. Here, shore currents meet a north-flowing current driven by opposing winds; in the ensuing maelstrom, the impeded flow deposits its flotsam upon the shore. This effect is perhaps most noticeable on North Padre’s Big Shell Beach where the confluence of currents and wind have created a natural flea-market for the discerning beachcomber. One can find a constantly changing array of sea-borne driftwoods and a multitude of brightly colored shells. 

The only way to reach Devil’s Elbow by land is to cross from Corpus Christi to North Padre Island then drive south along the beach about 40 miles. You will need a four-wheel drive vehicle and a full tank of gas. This is a desolate area so bring along spare water and a shovel just in case you get stuck in the heavy shell deposits of Little Shell Beach. From there, it is only a short distance further. You will know when you arrive. The beach will be littered with driftwood, oil workers hard hats, bottles, possibly an occasional glass float and trash of every description, much of which has been carried great distances by sea currents. But driftwood and flotsam are not the only treasures to be found. If you continue your drive south, another 10 miles or so, you will come upon the remains of a 600 ton steamer, the Nicaragua, which ran aground during the Hurricane of 1912. Controversy surrounds the details of the ship and the cargo she was carrying on that fateful night. Some even argue she was carrying contraband to the Revolutionaries in Mexico. 

Farther on, about 5 miles, are the remains of the San Estaban, one of three Spanish galleons wrecked on Padre Island in 1554. The remains of the second ship, the Espiritu Santos, lies two and a half miles further south, while the third ship, the Santa Maria de Yicar, lies directly in the Mansfield Cut itself. It was discovered in 1957 by workers of the Willacy County Navigation District who were dredging the channel. Reportedly, the hoses from the dredge spewed silver coins and treasure along both sides of the manmade channel before anyone realized what was happening. Coins from this wreck are still being found by lucky beachcombers to this day. 

But, a word of caution; do not metal detect along this area. It is illegal in Texas to hunt known wreck sites and you run a good chance of being fined and having your metal detector confiscated. (Metal detectors are forbidden in the National Seashore, which encompasses all of North Padre Island). 

Happy Beachcombing!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


We have a ton of dragonflies here on South Padre Island, especially when we put the sprinkler out. The birds and dragonflies get all excited and have a party. In the latest issue of the Port Isabel-South Padre Island Press, occasional contributor Javier Gonzalez (who works at the SPI Birding Center) has a lot to say about dragonflies. Javi knows his stuff.

Wetland Dragons
by Javier Gonzalez

One of the things I personally look forward to seeing as I walk the boardwalk in the hot summer months are dragonflies. Their colors and their flight movements are mesmerizing as they swoop around the wetlands, and to see one skim over the water and perch perfectly balanced at the end of a bare stick just gives me a great sense of peace for some reason. 

Dragonflies are beneficial insects and indicator species that are symbolic of wetlands. They are extraordinarily designed and are able to fly in all directions and even hover in mid-air as they are capable of controlling each wing independently. They also have big compound eyes that let them see almost 360 degrees around them, powerful spiny legs that enclose their prey, and strong jaws to chew through exoskeletons and other tough food! These are just a couple of the amazing morphological traits that have made dragonflies extremely efficient and successful hunters on this earth for the past three million years! 

When we see dragonflies around the wetlands here at the South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center, we take it as a sign that our habitat and water are healthy. Dragonflies are indicators of clean water; they cannot tolerate polluted waters, so dragonflies are reliant on healthy wetlands for survival and reproduction. 

Before we see the colorful adults flying around, the larvae, called “nymphs,” are swimming underwater, preying like tiny dragons on mosquito larvae, other aquatic invertebrates, and even small fish and tadpoles! Most of a dragonfly’s life is spent in water as nymphs. Unlike a butterfly that has a 4-stage lifecycle, dragonflies only have a 3-stage lifecycle, or an incomplete metamorphosis. 

Once they have eaten and grown enough, the nymphs crawl out of the water on emergent vegetation. This is where the last event in their metamorphosis takes place. They skip the pupa stage and go right from larvae to adult. Once the nymphs are out of the water, their exoskeleton cracks open from the back and the dragonfly emerges and unfolds as an adult. This usually happens in the early morning hours just before dawn. At this point the adult dragonfly is vulnerable to predators as it sits and waits for its wings and body to straighten up and harden so it may fly. Once they can fly they are formidable predators that are harmless to humans and extremely beneficial!  

Dragonflies can eat 30-100 mosquitoes in a day, greatly reducing the population of these pesky and annoying insects that are potential vectors for different types of illnesses. Here at the birding center we’ve recorded more than 17 species! Most of the species we see here are “skimmer” types that come in a variety of bright colors and have some have really cool names like Eastern Pondhawk, Thornbush Dasher, and Variegated Meadowhawk! 

Seaside Dragonlet Dragonfly
Since most dragonfly species can’t reproduce in water that’s highly saline, most of the dragonflies we see along the boardwalk are in greater numbers along our freshwater wetlands, but we do have one species which is special to our area and environment that we see quite frequently along the boardwalk which goes through our saltmarsh. The beautiful Seaside Dragonlet is the only North American dragonfly capable of reproducing in saltwater and one that you don’t see far inland away from the coast. This is a small dragonfly species and the males are a dark navy blue while the females are orange with black stripes. They are beautiful and a delight to see as they perch on the mangrove pneumatophore roots. 

Late summer is the peak time for dragonflies and every week it seems like we are seeing new species and greater numbers! Come August they will be swarming around our wetlands! It is an incredible sight to behold! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August stargazing

Full Moon - August 7
New Moon - August 21
Solar Eclipse - August 21

Look up! Look out!

The Great American Eclipse

The skywatching event of the decade here in the United States takes place August 21, when a total solar eclipse will darken the skies along a path from Oregon to South Carolina. The rest of the country will see a partial eclipse. We have full coverage in the July/August issue of StarDate magazine, the August 14-21 episodes of StarDate radio, and on our special eclipse coverage on our website. Enjoy the show, but be safe! It's safe to look at the Sun only when it's fully eclipsed, but at no other time.

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July 31-August 6: Canals. Mars put on a great display 125 years ago, and some astronomers took advantage of it to map the Red Planet's "canals." Join us for Martian canals, plus a giant canyon on an icy moon and much more.

August 7-13: Giants. The giant Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory is returning to service, and we'll have details. And an even bigger telescope is taking shape in Chile. Join us for giant telescopes and much more.

August 14-20: Eclipse week. The most spectacular of all skywatching events is almost here: a total solar eclipse. It'll streak across the United States next Monday, and we'll get you prepared with tales of this and other eclipses all week long.

August 21-27: Swallowed star. A black hole in another galaxy may have swallowed the star that gave it birth, and we'll have details. We'll also talk about a bright light in the lunar night, and new moons for a giant planet. Join us for this and much more.

August 28-31: Zone of death. If a supernova erupts within a few dozen light-years of Earth, it could be bad news for life on our planet, and we'll tell you just where the danger zone is. Join us for exploding stars, plus a distant discovery and more.

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The year may be more than half over, but plenty of stargazing adventures are still ahead. Find out about all of them in our 2017 Sky Almanac issue, which offers skywatching tips, charts, Moon phases, and much more. And we've reduced the price to $4, which is almost half off the cover price. Order online or call 1-800-STARDATE during regular business hours.

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