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Class-action lawsuit claim French police often discriminate against French police

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Class-action lawsuits claim French police often discriminate against French police

Class-action lawsuits claim French police often discriminate against French police

 

On Wednesday, in a first for France, six NGOs launched a class action lawsuit against the French government for alleged systemic discrimination by police officers carrying out identity checks.

Organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International argue that in ID checks, French police use racial profiling to target Black people and Arab descendants.

In order to ensure that racial profiling does not determine who is stopped by the police, they served Prime Minister Jean Castex and the French interior and justice ministers with formal legal notice of demands for concrete steps and deep law enforcement reforms.

At a news conference in Paris, the organisations, which also include the Open Society Justice Initiative and three French grassroots groups, plan to spell out the legal initiative.

The issue of racial profiling by the French police has been discussed for years, including, but not limited to, the practise of officers conducting identity checks on young people who are often black or of Arab descent and live in poor housing projects.

In a two-stage lawsuit process, serving notice is the compulsory first step. The law allows four months for the French authorities to talk to the NGOs about meeting their demands. According to one of the lawyers, Slim Ben Achour, if the parties behind the lawsuit are left unsatisfied after that time, the case will go to court.

It’s France’s first class-action discrimination lawsuit based on colour or alleged ethnic origins. The NGOs are using a little-used French law from 2016 that allows associations to take such a legal step.

It’s revolutionary, because we’re going to be talking to hundreds of thousands, even a million people.” In a phone interview, Ben Achour told The Associated Press.” NGOs are pursuing class action on behalf of racial minorities, who are mostly French citizens of the second or third generation.

“The group is black and brown,” said Ben Achour.

If the talks progress, the four-month period for reaching a settlement could be prolonged, but if not, the NGOs will go to court, he said.

For many in France, the abuse of identity checks has served as an emblem of broader alleged racism within police ranks, with critics claiming that the authorities have left misconduct unchecked or whitewashed.

A video of a recent incident posted online drew a response from President Emmanuel Macron, who called “unbearable” racial profiling. Police officials say that when they appear in suburban housing projects, officers themselves feel under attack. Officers became trapped during a spate of confrontational incidents and had fireworks and other items thrown at them.

Instead of monetary damage, NGOs are seeking reforms, particularly changes in the law governing identity checks. The organisations argue that the law is too broad and does not allow for police accountability because it is impossible to trace the actions of the officers involved, while the individuals stopped are left humiliated and sometimes angry.

The organisations want, among other demands, an end to the long-standing tradition of assessing police success by the number of tickets given or arrests made, arguing that benchmarks will facilitate unfounded identity checks.

There are some 50 witnesses in the lawsuit, both police officers and individuals subject to abusive checks, whose accounts are excerpted in the letters of notice. The NGO cites one unnamed individual who has spoken for years about undergoing multiple police checks every day.

A police officer posted in a tough suburb of Paris who is not associated with the case told the AP that when he is wearing civilian clothes, he is often subjected to identity checks.

I’m a person of colour when I’m not in uniform,” said the officer, who asked to remain anonymous in accordance with police rules and because of the sensitive nature of the topic.” The police need a legal basis for their actions, “but they do checks (based on) heads 80 percent of the time,” meaning how a person looks.

The head of the Community House for Supportive Development, Omer Mas Capitolin, a grassroots NGO participating in the legal action, called it a “mechanical reflex” for the French police to stop non-whites, a practise he said is harmful to the person being inspected and ultimately to the relationships they are expected to protect between officers and members of the public.

“It lowers your self-esteem when you’re always checked,” and you become a “second-class citizen,” Mas Capitolin said. “Victims in this country are afraid to file complaints even if they know what happened is not normal,” he said, because they fear neighbourhood police fallout.

He credited the case of George Floyd, the Black American who, after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, died last year in Minneapolis, with raising his conscience and becoming a catalyst for change in France.

The NGOs, however, make it clear that they are not accusing individual police of being racist because, in a joint document, the groups said, “they act within a system that allowed these practises to spread and become installed.”

There is so much in that world. They never think that there’s a problem,’ said the lawyer, Ben Achour.

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Two suspects arrested for shooting death of Denver man in Adams County

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Two suspects arrested for shooting death of Denver man in Adams County

Two suspects have been arrested in the shooting death of a Denver man in an Adams County apartment complex parking lot.

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Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico

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Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico

WASHINGTON — Fossilized footprints discovered in New Mexico indicate that early humans were walking across North America around 23,000 years ago, researchers reported Thursday.

The first footprints were found in a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey recently analyzed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from around 22,800 and 21,130 years ago.

The findings may shed light on a mystery that has long intrigued scientists: When did people first arrive in the Americas, after dispersing from Africa and Asia?

Most scientists believe ancient migration came by way of a now-submerged land bridge that connected Asia to Alaska. Based on various evidence — including stone tools, fossil bones and genetic analysis — other researchers have offered a range of possible dates for human arrival in the Americas, from 13,000 to 26,000 years ago or more.

The current study provides a more solid baseline for when humans definitely were in North America, although they could have arrived even earlier, the authors say. Fossil footprints are more indisputable and direct evidence than “cultural artifacts, modified bones, or other more conventional fossils,” they wrote in the journal Science, which published the study Thursday.

“What we present here is evidence of a firm time and location,” they said.

Based on the size of the footprints, researchers believe that at least some were made by children and teenagers who lived during the last ice age.

David Bustos, the park’s resource program manager, spotted the first footprints in ancient wetlands in 2009. He and others found more in the park over the years.

“We knew they were old, but we had no way to date the prints before we discovered some with (seeds) on top,” he said Thursday.

Made of fine silt and clay, the footprints are fragile, so the researchers had to work quickly to gather samples, Bustos said.

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Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey out at Texans with hamstring injury

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Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey out at Texans with hamstring injury

HOUSTON — Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey left Thursday night’s game against the Houston Texans with a hamstring injury and will not return.

McCaffrey had a 2-yard run early in the second quarter and went to the medical tent on the sideline soon after that. The team announced he was out for the rest of the game later in the second quarter.

McCaffrey had seven carries for 31 yards and two receptions for nine yards before he was injured.

McCaffrey has been great in the first two games for the Panthers. He entered the game with 45 carries for 170 yards and 14 receptions for 154 yards.

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MLB, union send notices of intent to seek labor changes

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MLB, union send notices of intent to seek labor changes

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service letters of intent to seek new labor terms as the Dec. 1 expiration of the sport’s collective bargaining agreement approaches.

The notices, a formality under federal labor law required during every negotiation, were exchanged Aug. 26 by Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and Ian Penny, the general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Under federal labor law, a collective bargaining agreement may not be modified or terminated unless a side seeking to make changes notifies the other side more than 60 days in advance of expiration and tells the mediation service within 30 days of giving notice.

Baseball has not had a work stoppage since the 7 1/2-month strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series. The sides reached agreements without work stoppages in 2002, 2006, 2011 and 2016, but the relationship has become more strained in recent years as the salary escalation has slowed.

The average salary rose from $3.97 million in 2016 to just under $4.1 million in 2017, according to union figures, then dropped to $3.9 million in 2020 before accounting for a shortened season caused by the pandemic that reduced the figure to about $1.6 million.

Based on opening day figures, the 2021 final average is likely to be in the $3.6 million to $3.7 million range.

Negotiations have proceeded slowly, and both sides appear to be bracing for a lockout that could start either on Dec. 1 or when players are scheduled to report to spring training in February.

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House Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Trump advisers, associates

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House Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Trump advisers, associates

WASHINGTON -- A House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has issued its first subpoenas, demanding records and testimony from four of former President Donald Trump’s close advisers and associates who were in contact with him before and during the attack.

In a significant escalation for the panel, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., announced the subpoenas of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The four men are among Trump’s most loyal aides.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote to the four that the committee is investigating “the facts, circumstances, and causes” of the attack and asked them to produce documents and appear at depositions in mid-October.

The panel, formed over the summer, is now launching the interview phase of its investigation after sorting through thousands of pages of documents it had requested in August from federal agencies and social media companies. The goal is to provide a complete accounting of what went wrong when the Trump loyalists brutally beat police, broke through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory — and to prevent anything like it from ever happening again.

Thompson says in letters to each of the witnesses that investigators believe they have relevant information about the lead-up to the insurrection. In the case of Bannon, for instance, Democrats cite his Jan. 5 prediction that ”(a)ll hell is going to break loose tomorrow” and his communications with Trump one week before the riot in which he urged the president to focus his attention on Jan. 6.

In the letter to Meadows, Thompson cites his efforts to overturn Trump’s defeat in the weeks prior to the insurrection and his pressure on state officials to push the former president’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

“You were the president’s chief of staff and have critical information regarding many elements of our inquiry,” Thompson wrote. “It appears you were with or in the vicinity of President Trump on January 6, had communication with the president and others on January 6 regarding events at the Capitol and are a witness regarding the activities of the day.”

Thompson wrote that the panel has “credible evidence” of Meadows’ involvement in events within the scope of the committee’s investigation. That also includes involvement in the “planning and preparation of efforts to contest the presidential election and delay the counting of electoral votes.”

The letter also signals that the committee is interested in Meadows’ requests to Justice Department officials for investigations into potential election fraud. Former Attorney General William Barr has said the Justice Department did not find fraud that could have affected the election’s outcome.

The panel cites reports that Patel, a Trump loyalist who had recently been placed at the Pentagon, was talking to Meadows “nonstop” the day the attack unfolded. In the letter to Patel, Thompson wrote that based on documents obtained by the committee, there is “substantial reason to believe that you have additional documents and information relevant to understanding the role played by the Defense Department and the White House in preparing for and responding to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

Scavino was with Trump on Jan. 5 during a discussion about how to persuade members of Congress not to certify the election for Joe Biden, according to reports cited by the committee. On Twitter, he promoted Trump’s rally ahead of the attack and encouraged supporters to “be a part of history.” In the letter to Scavino, Thompson said the panel’s records indicate that Scavino was “tweeting messages from the White House” on Jan. 6.

Thompson wrote that it appears Scavino was with Trump on Jan. 6 and may have “materials relevant to his videotaping and tweeting” messages that day. He noted Scavino’s “long service” to the former president, spanning more than a decade.

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Major Case Squad called to St. Clair County for investigation

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Major Case Squad called to St. Clair County for investigation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Some Missouri senators want to give the Department of Social Services the ability to block abortion providers from Medicaid funding for unethical behavior. 

After a special session over the summer to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA), the tax from health care providers that funds Missouri’s Medicaid program, Senate leaders formed a committee to address some members’ concerns over Medicaid funds going to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood. 

The Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection met for a third time Thursday since July. The focus during the hearing was to discuss a committee report that made changes to the state’s Medicaid system. Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, is the committee chairman and he read the six-page report. 

“The state has the authority in Medicaid programs to establish qualification standards for Medicaid providers and to take action against providers that fail to meet those standards,” White said.

One of the proposals would allow joint investigations into Medicaid providers from the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). This regulatory proposal would need to be approved by members of the committee and then sent to the department. 

“The committee urges DSS and DHSS to collaborate in modifying and expanding the existing rules to incorporate consideration by DSS of any state law,” White said.

“These violations of state law may include failure to ensure informed patient consent, failure to retain medical records, failure to cooperate with DHSS during an investigation, failure to ensure adequate facilities and sterilized equipment, and failure to provide required printed materials to women referred to an out-of-state abortion facility.”

White and other members are asking DSS and DHSS to draft emergency rules and put them into effect as soon as possible. Under this change, DSS would be able to consider revoking or denying a license based on DHSS reports. 

Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, is concerned the language could affect more health care providers than what’s intended.  

“If this is a backdoor attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, I do worry about the impact it would have on health care access,” Arthur said. “It doesn’t seem like there’s solution for who would feel that gap.”

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Couer, told the committee she’s worried the investigations could cause a gap in health care coverage for Missourians. 

“I’m concerned about what we are pushing ahead and trying to move forward quickly in a process that ends up perhaps taking away necessary healthcare from our recipients,” Schupp said.

“I’m not sure how that’s beneficial to the state or to the recipient. I think this has the intention of allowing DSS to have more control without having to do their own investigation.”

One proposed law change in the report allows the state to deny or revoke Medicaid funding to MO HealthNet providers, like abortion facilities which in Missouri is only Planned Parenthood, for unethical behavior. 

“That Missouri has an interest in protecting unborn children throughout pregnancy and ensuring respect for all human life from conception to natural death,” White said. 

This law change would require approval from the General Assembly when members return in January. Arthur said she can’t support the language because she’s worried it could affect the entire state’s Medicaid funding. 

“Until there is that assurance that we are in compliance, I think we are taking a gamble that I’m not comfortable with,” Arthur said.

Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using Medicaid funds for abortions. Another key part of the proposal means if an abortion facility, like Planned Parenthood, fell out of compliance in another state, Missouri could force the location in the Central West End in St. Louis to close. 

White said members are expected to sign off on the report in the coming days with the report being sent to the departments by early next week.

The committee will meet again Oct. 4 to hear from MO Healthnet about transparency issues. 

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Where do the bulk of Missouri’s medical marijuana Missouri patients reside?

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Missouri veterans fund receives $6.8M from medical marijuana

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Some Missouri senators want to give the Department of Social Services the ability to block abortion providers from Medicaid funding for unethical behavior. 

After a special session over the summer to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA), the tax from health care providers that funds Missouri’s Medicaid program, Senate leaders formed a committee to address some members’ concerns over Medicaid funds going to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood. 

The Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection met for a third time Thursday since July. The focus during the hearing was to discuss a committee report that made changes to the state’s Medicaid system. Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, is the committee chairman and he read the six-page report. 

“The state has the authority in Medicaid programs to establish qualification standards for Medicaid providers and to take action against providers that fail to meet those standards,” White said.

One of the proposals would allow joint investigations into Medicaid providers from the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). This regulatory proposal would need to be approved by members of the committee and then sent to the department. 

“The committee urges DSS and DHSS to collaborate in modifying and expanding the existing rules to incorporate consideration by DSS of any state law,” White said.

“These violations of state law may include failure to ensure informed patient consent, failure to retain medical records, failure to cooperate with DHSS during an investigation, failure to ensure adequate facilities and sterilized equipment, and failure to provide required printed materials to women referred to an out-of-state abortion facility.”

White and other members are asking DSS and DHSS to draft emergency rules and put them into effect as soon as possible. Under this change, DSS would be able to consider revoking or denying a license based on DHSS reports. 

Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, is concerned the language could affect more health care providers than what’s intended.  

“If this is a backdoor attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, I do worry about the impact it would have on health care access,” Arthur said. “It doesn’t seem like there’s solution for who would feel that gap.”

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Couer, told the committee she’s worried the investigations could cause a gap in health care coverage for Missourians. 

“I’m concerned about what we are pushing ahead and trying to move forward quickly in a process that ends up perhaps taking away necessary healthcare from our recipients,” Schupp said.

“I’m not sure how that’s beneficial to the state or to the recipient. I think this has the intention of allowing DSS to have more control without having to do their own investigation.”

One proposed law change in the report allows the state to deny or revoke Medicaid funding to MO HealthNet providers, like abortion facilities which in Missouri is only Planned Parenthood, for unethical behavior. 

“That Missouri has an interest in protecting unborn children throughout pregnancy and ensuring respect for all human life from conception to natural death,” White said. 

This law change would require approval from the General Assembly when members return in January. Arthur said she can’t support the language because she’s worried it could affect the entire state’s Medicaid funding. 

“Until there is that assurance that we are in compliance, I think we are taking a gamble that I’m not comfortable with,” Arthur said.

Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using Medicaid funds for abortions. Another key part of the proposal means if an abortion facility, like Planned Parenthood, fell out of compliance in another state, Missouri could force the location in the Central West End in St. Louis to close. 

White said members are expected to sign off on the report in the coming days with the report being sent to the departments by early next week.

The committee will meet again Oct. 4 to hear from MO Healthnet about transparency issues. 

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Home explosion in Cahokia Heights

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Home explosion in Cahokia Heights

CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, Ill.– There was an apparent home explosion in Cahokia Heights with smoke and flames darting out of the roof.

Fire crews worked to knock out the flames and Bommarito Automotive Skyfox is over the scene.

This incident happened on St. Bartholomew Street in Cahokia Heights. Occupants of the home made it out safely with no injuries.

The family’s two cats and hamster are missing.

This is a developing story and we will update this story as new information becomes available.

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Powerball jackpot climbs to an estimated $523 million prize

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Powerball jackpot climbs to an estimated $523 million prize

The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $523 million, according to Colorado Lottery officials.

The estimated cash value is $370 million and the next drawing is on Saturday. Odds of winning the jackpot prize are 1 in 292 million.

Earlier this week, the Mega Millions jackpot was an estimated $432 million. A jackpot winning ticket was sold in New York for the Tuesday Mega Millions drawing.

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CDC advisory panel backs COVID-19 booster shots for high-risk adults

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CDC advisory panel backs COVID-19 booster shots for high-risk adults

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19 stood on the verge of a major new phase as government advisers Thursday recommended booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans — despite doubts the extra shots will do much to slow the pandemic.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.

But deciding who else might get one was far tougher. While there is little evidence that younger people are at risk of waning immunity, the panel offered the option of a booster for those 18 to 49 who have chronic health problems and want one.

Still, getting the unvaccinated their first shots remains the top priority, and the panel wrestled with whether the booster debate was distracting from that goal.

All three of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. still are highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death, even amid the spread of the extra-contagious delta variant. But only about 182 million Americans are fully vaccinated, just 55% of the population.

“We can give boosters to people, but that’s not really the answer to this pandemic,” said Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot of Vanderbilt University. “Hospitals are full because people are not vaccinated. We are declining care to people who deserve care because we are full of unvaccinated COVID-positive patients.”

Thursday’s decision represented a dramatic scaling back of the Biden administration plan, announced last month, to dispense boosters to nearly everyone to shore up their protection. Late Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration, like the CDC, signed off on Pfizer boosters for a much more targeted slice of the American population than the White House envisioned.

It falls to the CDC to set final U.S. policy on who qualifies for the extra shot.

Still, even a limited rollout of boosters marks an important shift in the nation’s vaccination drive. Britain and Israel are already giving a third round of shots over strong objections from the World Health Organization that poor countries don’t have enough for their initial doses.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky opened Thursday’s meeting by stressing that vaccinating the unvaccinated remains the top goal “here in America and around the world.”

Walensky acknowledged that the data on who really needs a booster right away “are not perfect.” “Yet collectively they form a picture for us,” she said, “and they are what we have in this moment to make a decision about the next stage in this pandemic.”

The CDC panel stressed its recommendations will be changed if new evidence shows more people need a booster.

The CDC advisers expressed concern over the millions more Americans who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots early in the vaccine rollout. The government still hasn’t considered boosters for those brands and has no data on whether it’s safe or effective to mix-and-match and give those people a Pfizer shot.

“I just don’t understand how later this afternoon we can say to people 65 and older you’re at risk for severe illness and death but only half of you can protect yourselves right now,” said Dr. Sarah Long of Drexel University.

But for most people, if you’re not in a group recommended for a booster, “it’s really because we think you’re well-protected,” said Dr. Matthew Daley of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “This isn’t about who deserves a booster, but who needs a booster.”

The CDC presented data showing the vaccines still offer strong protection for all ages, but there is a slight drop among the oldest adults. And immunity against milder infection appears to be waning months after people’s initial immunization.

Among people who stand to benefit from a booster, there are few risks, the CDC concluded. Serious side effects from the first two Pfizer doses are exceedingly rare, including heart inflammation that sometimes occurs in younger men. Data from Israel, which has given nearly 3 million people — mostly 60 and older — a third Pfizer dose, has uncovered no red flags.

The panelists also wrestled with how to even tell when a booster is needed. While an extra dose revs up numbers of virus-fighting antibodies, those naturally wane over time and no one knows how long the antibody boost from a third Pfizer dose will last — or how much protection it really adds since the immune system also forms additional defenses after vaccination.

The U.S. has already authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. Other Americans, healthy or not, have managed to get boosters, in some cases simply by asking.

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