Demonstrators in Brazil Protest Against Crimes Committed by Police

Hundreds of demonstrates converged on the square in front of the Rio de Janeiro state government palace Sunday, protesting crimes committed by the police against black people in the Brazilian city’s poor neighborhoods, known as favelas. Protesters chanted, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” in reference to George Floyd, the black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.    “We are here today because we want to live. We are here today because we are tired of this genocidal state. We are here to say no more, no more!” activist Santiago said.  Protesters were holding signs reading in Portuguese “Stop killing us” and “Favela asks for peace.”Military police fire the shotguns at demonstrators during a protest against crimes committed by the police against black people in the favelas, outside the Rio de Janeiro’s state government, Brazil, Sunday, May 31, 2020.As recently as May 18, a 14-year-old black boy was killed during a Federal Police operation in the Complexo Salgueiro favelas. The teenager, Joao Pedro Pinto, was at home with cousins when police broke into his house, allegedly pursuing drug traffickers, and shot him dead. The protest in Rio de Janeiro called “Black Lives Matter,” was interrupted when police used tear gas to disperse people.  In 2019 Rio’s police, one of the deadliest law enforcement units in Brazil, killed 1,546 people during police operations. That was the highest number since 1998 in the country, and most of the killings took place in favelas. 

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Christo, Artist Known for Massive, Fleeting Displays, Dies at 84

Christo, known for massive, ephemeral public arts projects died Sunday at his home in New York. He was 84.His death was announced on Twitter and the artist’s web page. No cause of death was given.Along with late wife Jeanne-Claude, the artists’ careers were defined by their ambitious art projects that quickly disappeared soon after they were erected. In 2005, he installed more than 7,500 vinyl gates in New York’s Central Park and wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric with an aluminum sheen in 1995. Their $26 million Umbrellas project erected 1,340 blue umbrellas installed in Japan and 1,760 blue umbrellas in Southern California in 1991.The statement said the artist’s next project, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, is slated to appear in September in Paris as planned. An exhibition about Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work is also scheduled to run from July through October at the Centre Georges Pompidou.FILE – In this June 16, 2016, photo, artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff walks on his monumental installation ‘The Floating Piers’ he created with late Jeanne-Claude during a press preview at the lake Iseo, northern Italy.”Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it,” his office said in a statement. “Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories.”Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia before moving to Prague in 1957, then Vienna, then Geneva. It was in Paris in 1958 where he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon. They were born on the same day (June 13) in the same year (1935), and, according to him, “In the same moment” and would become partners in life and art.Christo was already wrapping smaller found objects, like cars and furniture. After he met Jeanne-Claude, their scale broadened. Within three years they were working together on an installation of oil drums and tarp on the docks in Cologne.Although their large-scale outdoor and indoor projects were collaborative, they were all credited solely to Christo until 1994, when they revealed Jeanne-Claude’s contributions. The decision, they said, was theirs and deliberate since it was difficult enough for even one artist to make a name for himself.The pair moved to New York in 1964, where they liked to say that they were illegal aliens in an illegal building in SoHo for a few years. They eventually bought that building and would call the city home for the rest of their lives.Jeanne-Claude died in 2009 at age 74 from complications of a brain aneurysm. After her death, Christo said she was argumentative and very critical and always asking questions and he missed all of that very much.In a 2018 interview with The Art Newspaper, Christo spoke about his signature wrapping aesthetic. In the instance of the Reichstag, he said, covering it with fabric made the Victorian sculptures, ornament and decoration disappear and “highlight the principal proportion of architecture.””But, like classical sculpture, all our wrapped projects are not solid buildings; they are moving with the wind, they are breathing,” he said. “The fabric is very sensual and inviting; it’s like a skin.”The two made a point of paying for all of their works on their own and did not accept scholarship or donations.”I like to be absolutely free, to be totally irrational with no justification for what I like to do,” he said. “I will not give up one centimeter of my freedom for anything.” 

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Simmering Racial Tensions Reach Boiling Point as Unrest Consumes US

Peaceful protesting has descended into looting, arson and other violence across the United States following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, despite curfews and an increase in law enforcement on the streets of most major U.S. cities, simmering racial tensions have reached a boiling point. 
Produced by: Kane Farabaugh 

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‘No Justice, No Peace’ Protests Resume in NYC for 4th Day

New York City officials were looking for a peaceful way forward as the city entered a fourth day of protests against police brutality that have left police cars burned and led to the arrest of hundreds of people.Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had no plans to impose a curfew Sunday, unlike other major U.S. cities, and smaller cities throughout the state.De Blasio said city police showed “tremendous restraint overall” during the weekend’s protests, but promised an investigation of video showing two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators on a Brooklyn street. He was appointing two city officials to conduct an independent review of how the protests unfolded and how they were handled by the police.”We all better get back to the humanity here,” de Blasio said at a Sunday morning briefing. “The protesters are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect. The police officers are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect.”Hours after he spoke, demonstrations resumed. Hundreds of people gathered on a plaza in downtown Brooklyn, chanting “No justice, no peace,” and “Black lives matter,” while making occasional insulting hand gestures at a line of police officers protecting the arena where the NBA’s Nets play. Marchers chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” — a rallying cry that originated from the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — during a separate rally in Queens.  Police detain protesters as they march down the street during a solidarity rally for George Floyd, May 30, 2020, in New York.Largely peaceful protests around the city Saturday gave way to scattered clashes between police and protesters later in the evening. Demonstrators smashed shop windows, threw objects at officers, set police vehicles on fire and blocked roads. Graffiti was scrawled on Manhattan’s famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.There were multiple complaints about police unnecessarily shoving or bludgeoning protesters and spraying crowds with chemicals.New York City police said 345 people were arrested, 33 officers were injured and 27 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed by fire. There were no major injuries reported. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said some peaceful demonstrations were “hijacked” by people with violent intent.”We’re going to make sure that everyone has the right to peacefully protest and assemble,” Shea said said at a briefing with the mayor. “But we are not going to tolerate destruction of property, having our officers put into harm’s way or any civilians put into harm’s way.”Similar protests flared around the nation in response to the Minnesota death of George Floyd. Floyd, who was black, died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. Elsewhere in New York, shop windows were shattered in Rochester and demonstrators set fire to a tractor trailer in Albany. In Buffalo, a person threw a flaming object though a city hall window.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the National Guard is on standby and that hundreds of additional troopers are being made available in Buffalo and Rochester, where hundreds of people showed Sunday to help clean up the damage.”We expect additional protests tonight and we’re preparing for such,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.The governor also said state Attorney General Letitia James’s investigation into actions by NYPD officers and protesters will include any protests held throughout the weekend.Protesters clash with New York police officers during a demonstration, May 30, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.Cleanup was under way Sunday morning in New York City, which is still under a lockdown enacted two months ago  when it became the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.At least five burned-out NYPD vehicles that remained near Manhattan’s Union Square were towed early Sunday afternoon. People walked around broken glass on the street to take pictures of the vehicles.A handful of protesters rallied peacefully in the square, holding Black Lives Matter signs and giving speeches denouncing police violence while families were picnicking nearby.  Ken Kidd, who lives a few blocks south of the park, was among the people inspecting the damage to the vehicles and had witnessed Saturday’s demonstrations. He said protesters and police tried to remain peaceful at the start before the stress of a city heavily hit by the coronavirus came out.”I think a community can only say ‘Enough’ so many times and the words aren’t heard so then they got to take action and that’s what happened last night. That’s what I watched happen last night,” Kidd said.The independent review ordered by de Blasio will be conducted by New York City Corporation Counsel James Johnson, who is the city’s chief lawyer, and Margaret Garnett, commissioner of the Department of Investigation, which typically investigates suspected wrongdoing and fraud by city employees.

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Chicago Limits Downtown Access After Night of Violent Protests

Chicago officials took extraordinary steps Sunday to patrol and restrict access to the city’s downtown in the hopes of preventing further chaos after a night of tense protests over the death of George Floyd that included violent clashes, hundreds of arrests and smashed windows at stores and banks.Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who had already ordered an indefinite nightly 9 p.m. curfew, said the Illinois National Guard had been requested to help keep order. She said only essential workers would be allowed into the central business district, city trains and bus service would be suspended, major streets would be blocked with city sanitation trucks and Chicago River drawbridges allowing pedestrians and vehicles into downtown would remain lifted.  “Seeing the murder of George Floyd sickened me and it still does,” Lightfoot said at a news conference, taking several breaks to compose herself. “But rather than respond to his death as we should and focus our energy toward doing the hard work to create the change that we need, we have instead been forced to turn our focus and energy toward preventing wanton violence and destruction”  She called for a 5 p.m. moment of silence for Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died last Monday  after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving. That officer, Derek Chauvin, and the three others who were arresting Floyd have been fired, but only Chauvin has been charged — he faces counts of third-degree murder and manslaughter.Floyd’s death and the broader issue of the treatment of black people by police inspired protests in dozens of cities throughout the country, including other Illinois communities such as Peoria and Rockford.A pedestrian looks into a 7-Eleven store early Sunday morning, May 31, 2020 in Chicago, after a night of unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis.More protests were planned for Sunday in Chicago and Lightfoot said city officials were working with activists to find alternate locations to downtown where they could demonstrate. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he would activate 375 Illinois National Guard soldiers to assist local law enforcement.  The downtown Chicago demonstrations that drew thousands started peacefully Saturday afternoon in a plaza, with protesters reading the names of black people who have died at the hands of police. But that gave way to violence and destruction that continued overnight Sunday in Chicago and elsewhere.Police used batons to beat back demonstrators as police cars were set ablaze and windows were smashed at businesses ranging from neighborhood convenience stores to high-end Michigan Avenue shops.  At least six people were shot, one fatally, in four shootings during the chaos. A 26-year-old man was shot and killed after getting into a verbal exchange with a suspect who got out of a car.  There were 240 arrests, according to Police Superintendent David Brown. He said 20 police officers were injured, including two who will require surgery.  City officials suggested that the vandalism had been a coordinated effort, which required the city to take the extra steps to prevent further destruction.  “This was not a First Amendment protest,” Brown said. “‘This was a synchronized strategy to loot and burn and destroy.”Still, some protesters questioned certain restrictions, saying Lightfoot’s late Saturday curfew didn’t allow enough time to safely exit downtown because many streets were blocked and public transportation had been restricted. The American Civil Liberties of Union of Illinois said an indefinite curfew raised “serious constitutional questions that need to be remedied” and said it was considering taking legal action.Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, defended her response as necessary for safety.  City officials said they were still assessing the damage and didn’t have a monetary estimate ready. Among the businesses burned in the chaos was Central Camera, a family-owned store that has been operating downtown since 1899.  “I’m going to rebuild and make it just as good or better, so I’m not depressed at all,” owner Don Flesch told WBBM-TV.Volunteers swept up broken glass and cleaned debris Sunday. Among them was Michelle Eleby, who was cleaning up outside a downtown Macy’s store where several windows had been broken.  The 42-year-old biracial woman said Floyd’s death was “enraging” particularly as she lives in fear of racial profiling for herself and family members. Her father is black and her mother is white.  “I needed to do something,” she said of her motivations to clean up. “We can’t sit back and hope the solution is going to come.”___Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen

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Top US Official Condemns Lack of Police Intervention in Black Man’s Death

U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday that it was an “absolute outrage” that three policemen in Minneapolis, Minnesota, stood by and watched without intervening last week as another policeman pinned a black man to the street with a knee to his neck as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was handcuffed and lying on the street after he was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, died in the incident last Monday. Derek Chauvin, the white policeman who held him down for minutes, was charged Friday with third degree murder in the case.Video of the incident was aired widely on social media and network newscasts, sparking five days of protests in the United States in dozens of cities. The demonstrations have often erupted in chaos, with protesters setting police cars and government buildings afire and clashing with authorities in riot gear. Looters have ransacked stores and run off with high-priced consumer products.This photo provided by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office shows former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was arrested Friday, May 29, 2020, in the Memorial Day death of George Floyd.Chauvin and his three police colleagues at the scene were all fired from the city’s police force. The three policemen who watched the incident unfold are under investigation, but no charges have been filed against them.“What were they thinking?” O’Brien asked on ABC News’ “This Week” show. O’Brien said he was not prejudging the case against the three former policemen, but said, “I can’t imagine they won’t be charged.”O’Brien said the U.S. government mourns Floyd’s death and prays for the Floyd family.“That should never have happened in America,” he said.In an interview on CNN, O’Brien questioned why Chauvin, whom he called a “dirty cop,” was still on the Minneapolis police force at the time of the Floyd incident after multiple complaints had been filed against him in recent years.“We love our law enforcement” in the U.S., O’Brien said. He rejected the suggestion there is “systemic racism” in U.S. police forces, while acknowledging that “there are some bad cops that need to be rooted out. We’ve got a few bad apples that give law enforcement a bad name. I think they are the minority.”A person runs while a police vehicle is burning during a protest in Los Angeles, over the death of George Floyd, May 30, 2020.Some U.S. authorities have blamed both far-left and far-right provocateurs for the violence in cities from coast to coast, some of the worst in the country since perhaps the days of extended protests against the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the 1960s.While O’Brien told ABC, “We’ll keep our eyes out for anyone,” he blamed the radical leftist group Antifa for the violence.“This is Antifa, they’re crossing state lines,” to foment violence against police and destroy property, he said.“This has to stop,” he said. “This Antifa violence has to stop.”A top Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said she has been told 80% of those arrested in the protests in Minneapolis were not local residents, but came from other places outside Minnesota, an upper Midwestern state.In the adjoining St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter told CNN it became obvious that some people rioting and looting in his city were “not driven by a love for our community.”O’Brien said on CNN, “Who know where they come from,” but vowed, “We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”FILE – An Atlanta Police Department vehicle burns during a demonstration against police violence, May 29, 2020 in Atlanta.Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” show that some of the protesters in her southern city also were unknown to her.“You know, I can’t say who they are,” Bottoms said. “It looked differently racially in our city than our normal protests looked. And it was — it was just — it was a different group. So, we don’t know who they were, but many of them were not locally based. I’ll say that.”O’Brien named four countries — China, Russia, Zimbabwe and Iran — that have cast the U.S. in unfavorable terms because of the death of Floyd and the ensuing violent demonstrations — all coming in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and economic turmoil it has created. More than 40 million workers, about a quarter of the U.S. labor force, have been laid off.But O’Brien said the U.S., where peaceful protests remain a bedrock of the nation’s democratic principles, is not like authoritarian countries where police often arrest even non-violent anti-government demonstrators.“That’s what makes America different from other countries,” he said.O’Brien said other countries casting aspersions on the U.S. “aren’t going to take advantage of us. We stand with the peaceful protesters. We want peaceful

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Volunteers Clean up After Some Arizona Protests Turn Violent 

Volunteers were using shovels and brooms on Sunday to clean up broken glass outside at least five stores at an upscale mall in a Phoenix suburb damaged after a day of peaceful marches turned into a night of sometimes violent protests that included vandalism and an attack on a police station. Protests have erupted in U.S. cities in the days after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. On Saturday night, people knelt with their hands up in the streets outside Phoenix police and municipal buildings, chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter.” Officers used flash-bang grenades and dispersed the crowd shortly after 10 p.m., telling people it was an unlawful assembly. In the upscale Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, some people smashed windows at stores including Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters, grabbing goods and damaging buildings. Police had tweeted at 10:52 p.m. Saturday that an unlawful assembly had been declared after large groups appeared to damage and loot a number of stores in and around Scottsdale Fashion Square. On Sunday morning, TV station video showed large holes punched in some store windows with the glass completely shattered in the front windows of other stores. There were no immediate report of any arrests made or damage estimates. Protests during daylight were largely peaceful in Phoenix and Tucson. Friday’s protest unfolded after a vigil for Dion Johnson, a 28-year-old black man who was fatally shot Monday during an encounter with state trooper along a Phoenix freeway. Around 15 downtown Phoenix buildings, including the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse, sustained broken windows, according to authorities. Protesters also slashed the tires of seven police SUVs and attempted to set one vehicle on fire. Two people were arrested. Cleanup crews spent Saturday sweeping up broken glass and power-washing spray-painted buildings after Friday night protests. Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement that he and the state Department of Public Safety director respected protesters’ rights to assemble. “We will not, however, tolerate rioting, looting, violence, destruction of property or any behavior that endangers the safety or rights of other individuals,” said Ducey, who made no mention of the deaths of Floyd or Johnson. Johnson was shot during a struggle after a trooper found him passed out in his vehicle, authorities say. Phoenix police are investigating. Johnson’s mother, Erma, told the Arizona Republic that her son never would have engaged in a struggle with police, and she questioned the police account. “It’s a lot of things that I want to know that happened to my son in the last minutes of his life,” she said. 

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Pope Greets People in St. Peter’s Square 

Pope Francis cheerfully greeted people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, as he resumed his practice of speaking to the faithful there for the first time since a coronavirus lockdown began in Italy and at the Vatican in early March.“Today the square is open, we can return to it with pleasure,’’ Francis said.Instead of the tens of thousands of people who might have turned out on a similarly brilliantly sunny day like in pre-pandemic times, perhaps a few hundred came to the square on Sunday, standing well apart from others or in small family groups.Until June 3, people aren’t allowed to travel between regions in Italy or arrive from abroad for tourism, so the people in the square came from Rome or places in the region.Francis cited those who have been infected by the virus or who died in the Amazon region, especially the “particularly vulnerable” indigenous people. He prayed that no one in the world lack medical assistance, especially due to economic priorities.“Persons are more important than the economy,” Francis said.Noting this was the first time he could greet people in the square for weeks, Francis said that “one doesn’t emerge from a crisis the same. You either come out better or you come out worse.” He said he’d be back to greet them next Sunday in the same place at noon, smiling and pointing down to the vast square far below his studio window. 

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Protesters in Some Cities Target Confederate Monuments  

Protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck, targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities.As tense protests swelled across the country Saturday into Sunday morning, monuments in Virginia, the Carolinas and Mississippi were defaced. The presence of Confederate monuments across the South — and elsewhere in the United States — has been challenged for years, and some of the monuments targeted were already under consideration for removal.The words “spiritual genocide,” along with red handprints, were painted on the sides of a Confederate monument on the University of Mississippi campus Saturday, The Oxford Eagle reported. One person was arrested at the scene. Ole Miss administrators, student leaders and faculty leaders have recommended moving the statue — installed in 1906 and a rallying point in 1962 for people who rioted to oppose the university’s court-ordered integration — from a central spot to a Civil War cemetery that’s in a more secluded location on campus, but the state College Board has delayed action.Critics have said its display near the university’s main administrative building sends a signal that Ole Miss glorifies the Confederacy and glosses over the South’s history of slavery.In Charleston, South Carolina, protesters defaced a Confederate statue near The Battery, a historic area on the coastal city’s southern tip. The base of the Confederate Defenders statue, erected in 1932, was spray-painted, including with the words “BLM” and “traitors,” news outlets reported. It was later covered with tarp, photos show.In North Carolina, the base of a Confederate monument at the State Capitol was marked with a black X and a shorthand for a phrase expressing contempt for police, according to a photo posted by a News & Observer journalist to social media. The word “racist” was also marked on the monument, the newspaper reported.The question of Confederate monuments has been especially contentious in North Carolina, where such monuments are generally protected by law.A nearly two-year battle was waged over the fate of the “Silent Sam” statue after it was toppled by protesters at the University of North Carolina’s flagship Chapel Hill campus in 2018. A legal agreement reached last November handed over the statue to a group of Confederate descendants, keeping it off campus. A Confederate statue outside a Durham courthouse was also torn down by protesters.Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had asked for the three Confederate monuments on the grounds of the Capitol to be moved to a nearby battlefield; a state historical panel voted in 2018 to keep the statues, but add context about slavery and civil rights. Statues in Winston-Salem and Chatham County were removed last year in rare moves.But the state where the debate over Confederate monuments has perhaps attracted the most attention is Virginia, where a 2017 white nationalist rally over Charlottesville’s proposed removal of such monuments turned deadly.In the coastal city of Norfolk, protesters climbed a Confederate monument and spray-painted graffiti on its base, according to photos posted by a Virginian-Pilot journalist. Norfolk is among the Virginia cities that have signaled intent to remove their Confederate monuments. In February, state lawmakers approved legislation that would give cities autonomy to do so.A commission in Richmond, the state capital and what was the capital of the Confederacy, recommended removing one of five Confederate statues along the city’s famed Monument Avenue. Photos posted to social media late Saturday and early Sunday showed the bases of at least two statues — those of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart — almost entirely covered in graffiti.Nearby, a fire burned for a time at the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group responsible for erecting many Confederate statues and fighting their removal. The building, too, was covered in graffiti, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.In Tennessee and Pennsylvania, statues of people criticized for racist views, but without Confederate ties were also targeted.Protesters in Nashville toppled Saturday a statue of Edward Carmack, a state lawmaker in the early 1900s and newspaper publisher who had racist views and wrote editorials lambasting the writings of prominent Tennessee civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells, The Tennessean reported.Protesters sprayed graffiti on a statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, tried to topple it and set a fire at its base. Rizzo, mayor from 1972 to 1980, was praised by supporters as tough on crime but accused by critics of discriminating against minorities. His 10-foot-tall (3-meter-tall) bronze statue across from City Hall has been defaced before and is to be moved next year. 

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