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Testimony For SB-1487 Iconic African Species Protection Act

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By: Sam Jojola

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Introduction

In 2011, the world’s population reached 7 billion and is now 7.6 billion.  Many stressed ecosystems leave larger mammals vulnerable like elephants, giraffes and both African rhino species. Serious trophy hunters seek quarry like black maned lions and rare African elephant tuskers.  Genetic viability can be impacted coupled with demand for body parts in traditional medicine.

Widespread corruption plagues Zimbabwe and South Africa with little or no jail time for most offenders.  My 2003 investigation on allegations of illegal lion hunting in Zimbabwe revealed their poorly written laws prevented federal prosecution of suspect U.S. trophy hunters, including a similar instance like Cecil the Lion.

Lesson in extinction

In the early 1800’s, Passenger Pigeon numbers were several billion and by 1900 none survived in the wild.  History does repeat itself with extinction.

Larger Species Vulnerable

Lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and hippo parts are exploited in the global online black market of illegal wildlife.  Large social media companies profit from the illicit wildlife trade of rhino horn, elephant ivory, including lion and tiger claws.  Stephen Kohn, renowned whistleblower attorney documented extensive illicit trade through sting operations detailed in this month’s WIRED Magazine.  These social media companies are reportedly at the center of the global trade in endangered species.

Trafficking in illegal wildlife parts is akin to taking a stolen vehicle and selling the parts individually that are worth more than the whole.

Growth of illegal wildlife trade

The illegal wildlife trade estimate ranged from $10 billion annually in 2011 to $23 billion in 2014 and now $115 billion after a recent month long crackdown in 92 countries.

Overnight parcel shipping venues have been a platform for decades that support trafficking a host of illegal wildlife parts and products including live reptiles shipped overnight from around the globe.

Wildlife Crime supports Transnational Criminal Syndicates and Terrorism

In 2015, my colleague, Bryan Christy in Nat Geo’s “Warlords of Ivory” chronicled the elephant ivory trade to transnational criminal syndicates and suggested evidence of ivory trafficking used to forge links between several African based terrorist groups.  Other independent reports support his assessment.

Think Globally Act Locally

With Jane Goodall’s support of SB-1487 and the supporting evidence of 21st century impacts on the illegal wildlife trade, California legislators have an opportunity to make a difference with this key legislation in a proactive unified effort.

Thank you all kindly for the opportunity to speak in support of this critical legislation.

Sam Jojola

 

Testimony For SB-1487 Iconic African Species Protection Act

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By:  Sam Jojola

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Summary

In late June, I was humbled when asked to testify before the California State Assembly in Sacramento in support of the above critical legislation initially proposed by Senator Henry Stern.  I am very thankful for Judie Mancuso, Founder, CEO and President for Social Compassion In Legislation (SCIL) who believed in me and asked me for my support in SB-1487.

Nicholaus Sackett, a Sacramento attorney who is instrumental in SCIL’s continued success with legislative issues also provided key testimony for SB-1487.

Two opponents who represented interests of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Safari Club International (SCI) also testified.

For years I have felt like a voice in the wilderness echoing concerns based on my professional expertise and opinion of the illicit wildlife trade’s continuous and unabated expansion across the globe. More

Smoke and Mirror Phone Scams (Part 3) Two Senate Letters with Conclusion

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Smoke and Mirror Phone Scams (Part 3)

Two Senate Letters with

Conclusion

Summary

Daily there are articles referencing the relentless attack on consumers by the epidemic of robocalls and telemarketers since my last posting last month. Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris both responded to my letter of concern on this issue. Coincidentally, Senator Feinstein was recently the victim of an anti-Semitic robocall that circulated in California in mid-May: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Robocall-attacks-Dianne-Feinstein-with-12914413.php

Although a recent large fine was levied against a Florida robocaller by the FCC, consumers still have to rely on robocall blocking technology to address the issue:

https://gizmodo.com/fcc-hits-robocaller-with-120-million-fine-but-the-call-1825941926

Senator Dianne Feinstein responds to robocall/telemarketing concerns on May 2, 2018

On May 2, 2018, Senator Feinstein e-mailed me her response to consumer concerns on robocalls and telemarketing issues plaguing our country. I have included her response below:

Senator Kamala Harris responds to robocall/telemarketing concerns on May 4, 2018

On May 4, 2018, Senator Harris e-mailed me her response to consumer concerns on robocalls and telemarketing issues plaguing our country. I have included her response below:

Conclusion

It appears that consumers will have to remain vigilant and explore a host of apps and options to address the ongoing and widespread expansion of robocalls and telemarketing schemes before Congress and the FCC can pursue continuous and sustained legal action against these menacing calls.

Sam Jojola

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Smoke and Mirror Phone Scams Part II

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By: Sam Jojola

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“Today’s news proves Congress has not their job.  Reports of 18 billion unwanted calls in 2017 by Seattle based tech company HIYA prove that.  Reportedly, over 4 million people complained last year to the federal government about robocalls.

Last month, a reported 2.7 billion robocalls were reported.  Consumer groups have complained the U.S. government is not doing enough.”

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Letter to Congress

Update

Last month, I sent correspondence to two Senators and a Congressman in California regarding the need for tougher penalties for robocallers and telemarketing fraud.  Though I have yet to receive a personal response to my letter below, I do believe other members of Congress have moved forward recently this month to introduce similar legislation that was never enacted in 2016:  https://bigislandnow.com/2018/04/18/senators-introduce-legislation-to-fight-illegal-robocalls/.

The Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2018 is the current legislation this month and the 2016 legislation that was never enacted was S. 3026 ROBOCOP Act mentioned in my letter dated March 23, 2018 to Congress below.

RoboKiller  App works for colleague who detailed positive personal experience

In late February, a colleague and major philanthropist in the wildlife world e-mailed me his following experiences with the RoboKiller App which I am passing on to readers:

“One way on minimizing these calls is using an app called RoboKiller.  It’s not free and cost $29 a year. The system has about 202,255 numbers in its database.  Any call from these numbers will be answered by a bot call from your phone without you even knowing.  The phone will not ring or vibrate. You can choose a random pre-recorded answer, or a specific one, or record your own.  If you are clever how you do it, they will take back your recording and will take them sometime to realize it. If rarely you get a call from a number not in the robocall list, you can add the number yourself, and help the community by adding a new number to the system.  You can also allow calls to come in if they were identified as spammer by mistake.” More

Smoke and Mirror Phone Scams

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Sam Jojola

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“On January 31, 2018, at 12:09 P.M. (PST), I received a 47 second message on my land line from a private number advising that a close family member they named was referred to their office for “legal action” including the “filing of a lawsuit or a “complaint” with “the court”. The articulate male caller said that “you” need to “immediately contact the legal department at (844) 744-7375 and reference file number 00-268”xxx. The caller concluded “this is a time sensitive matter” and “my calls are logged in, submitted as proof”.

“The court.” “The legal department.”… How stupid could they possible be?”

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Summary

Phone scams are getting more sophisticated with bogus debt collectors, fraudulent IRS calls, charity fraudsters, and bogus computer technicians claiming “your Windows program is infected”. Having experienced these calls prompted me to share my thoughts on what I learned from them, my response and how I will contact both the FTC and the California Attorney General’s Office with the most recent event.

I am also contacting Congressman Ted Lieu, along with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris and see if I get a response with any action they plan to take.

Cancer Charity Fraud

Google “cancer fraud telemarketers” and a disturbing series of pages appear that chronicle untold millions of dollars scammed from innocent victims:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/05/20/187-million-cancer-charities-scam-5-reasons-why-it-took-the-feds-so-long-to-catch-on/?utm_term=.dca79f762c55

My experience with a telemarketer claiming to raise money for cancer several years ago led me to contact the California Attorney General’s office with a detailed complaint after I obtained very specific information from the low level fraudster who told me too much about who was behind the fund he was working for, including who was running the scam and the address where they really lived and where they were calling from. I Googled the name of the cancer fund they represented and a host of fraud reports appeared that prompted me to follow through with my complaint.

Many weeks later, I did receive correspondence from the California Attorney General’s Office regarding this fraudulent organization and what action was taken.

Bogus IRS Treasury Tax Scam and a link to report IRS scam calls More

Daylight Saving Time Debacle

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Sam Jojola

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“In the interim, Congress or the President could roll back DST to stop on Labor Day and/or for once have the President and Congress agree to eliminate this forced campaign that reportedly cost the U.S. 1.7 billion dollars annually http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2144.

Ultimately, voters in each of their respective states should have the final say if their respective legislators sink in a bureaucratic quagmire of self-serving political debate.”

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The debate of DST continues every year here and around the globe. Why can Congress act with warp speed when it comes to certain issues, like H.J. Res. 69 to eliminate the regulations that banned certain predator control hunting methods for bears, wolves and coyotes in Alaska in 2017? Or resolve DACA and the security of our nation going forward without shutting the government down?

The government shutdown reads like a scene out of Ron White’s “You can’t fix stupid.”

When it comes to anything beneficial for the public at large, Congress always exhibits paralysis by analysis. Many opinions abound for and against DST.

Personally, falling back means it is an hour earlier and I have a choice of getting more work done or sleeping an extra hour. The days seems longer and more productive. Maybe it’s just me getting older and wiser. Everyone is different, but we need change.

Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker, PhD reveals Sleep Loss Epidemic & Health Issues

Recently I listened to Dr. Matthew Walker on a news channel discuss the epidemic of sleep loss in the U.S. There are many factors that contribute to this epidemic and he goes into great depth about these issues into this fascinating book. On page 169, he mentions how “1.5 billion people are forced to reduce their sleep by one hour or less for a single night each year” and details impacts of changing the clock that results in more heart attacks and traffic accidents.

Dr. Walker refers to DST as a “global experiment”. I believe its time to eliminate the experiment imposed on society.

Google “DST Health Problems”

There are many articles and studies that detail the detrimental health issues caused by Daylight Saving Time. When one finds such compelling documentation, evidence and studies, why then has Congress, the current President and former Presidents failed to make a change for the benefit of everyone, including themselves?

Indecision and a paralyzed government seems to prevail in these times of discord and dissension. The public is tired of it and they want decisiveness. More

Decades of Political Meddling Threaten GYE Grizzlies

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Sam Jojola, USFWS Special Agent (retired)

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Research Illuminates Historical Threats for Grizzlies in the GYE

The 23 years covert experience in federal wildlife law enforcement always reminds me to look deep behind the curtain of puppet master politics that often manipulate the strands of negative decisions that hamper long term protection of key wildlife species in our country and around the globe. Recent research has further illuminated past and present political threats of oil, gas, with alliances from SCI and the NRA that appear to be a multi-prong threat. This detailed 2014 report describes these alliances and how they can work to compromise key biological and wildlife resources:

https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/IndustryInfluenceReport.pdf

Foreign mining interests are looming over the GYE. Google “mining opportunities in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” and a host of articles appear. Gold mining interests have friends in “high places”. When states are left to take the lead in managing these interests, the “golden rule” will often apply. “He who hath the gold rules”, and ecosystems and wildlife will suffer by political meddling. Déjà vu all over again reminds me of my experience in the 1980’s in Nevada with foreign precious metal corporations and migratory bird deaths from cyanide heap leach operations.

Trophy hunting Grizzlies in the GYE could be the coup de gras with oil, gas and mining interests contributing to the “big picture” of multiple ongoing serious threats.

Recent court decision reveals flaws with delisting GYE Grizzly

The recent court decision based on a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the United States revealed serious flaws behind the Grizzly delisting in the GYE:

https://www.courthousenews.com/wolf-ruling-has-agency-wrestling-with-grizzlies/

I strongly believe the HSUS decision that affects the GYE grizzly bear final rule should require the Service to re-evaluate the delisting of the GYE grizzly bear population and examine this species as a whole across the remaining U.S. grizzly bear ecosystems. This court decision shows USFWS is acting in haste to separate listed species into distinct populations and delisting them. The GYE Grizzly delisting exposes the blatant hypocrisy of this bizarre and reckless strategy that goes against the long term protection of all grizzly bear populations. More

Dynamics of Wildlife Conservation between Oppositions & Donations to Nonprofit Organizations

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Sam Jojola

USFWS Special Agent (retired)

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SCI the NRA and other alliances

These are very strong alliances that have had considerable historical and present influence over Congress regarding their unified agendas. Other lesser known organizations that support hunting and trophy hunting with SCI and the NRA are the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Wild Sheep Foundation.

These groups are completely unified in their focus and cause. Other opposition animal and wildlife conservation organizations could be more formidable and much more influential if they worked more closely together as a coalition if they followed the template that works for SCI, the NRA and other related entities.

It is an example of the “United we stand, divided we fall” philosophy that makes them so successful in their endeavors whether you support or don’t support these agendas.

Conservation NGOs should focus on coalition concept on key wildlife issues

It is often mentioned in articles over the years that SCI and the NRA are a very small special interest group and how can they be so successful in pushing through their unified agenda in support of trophy hunting across the globe. It appears they often advance ahead of those conservation groups that collectively have greater numbers.

Opposing conservation organizations could really learn from that concept to pursue long term protections for animals and wildlife across the globe. Some are working together on certain wildlife issues, but more need to unify collectively to make a difference if imperiled wildlife resources are going to have future protection, particularly in the legal arena. More

Trophy Hunting Threatened Species Travesty

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by: Sam Jojola

Post updated 11/18

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  1. “The proposal is a monumental waste of money due to Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) who has helped push five (5) bills from the Natural Resources Committee that would conceivably dismantle the Endangered Species Act over a period of time. The ESA plays a major part of wildlife conservation. It would make more sense to form a council to fight these destructive proposals that would destroy the ESA or have the Secretary of Interior request Rep. Rob Bishop to resign. If Rep. Rob Bishop has his way to “invalidate” the ESA, imagine trying to protect wildlife and regulate hunting. Dismantling the ESA in any form or fashion is destroying large fragile ecosystems at the expense of wildlife resources for future generations.”

 

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

On November 8, 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council. The devil is in the details and what will follow in days, weeks and months to come will shape this Council and their priorities. Since the Council involves aspects of conservation, hunting and law enforcement, I wonder if Council heads will be selected from recognized leading experts in those three areas of focus. I am particularly concerned how the Council will deal with the ESA’s foreign listed species and import permits that are mentioned in this press release: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-zinke-announces-creation-international-wildlife-conservation-council

I believe the creation of this Council comes at a very bad time given the recent news of Zimbabwe’s regime shakeup and the most recent proposal for the U.S. to lift the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zambia and Zimbabwe. I hope now that President Trump has moved to keep the ban in place, that he and Secretary Zinke will consider keeping the ban given the current developing instability of Zimbabwe over the past several days: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/trump-puts-decision-allow-elephant-hunting-trophy-imports-hold-022152590.html

Five illegal Leopard trophies entering U.S. in 2008 detail Zimbabwe’s corruption

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WAN Investigator Goes Indepth About Former Undercover Campaigns & Proposal Of Federal Wildlife Agency Name Change

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By Sam Jojola

Original article appears HERE

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Sam Jojola, former Deputy Resident Agent-in-Charge for U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) Office of Law Enforcement, on wildlife trafficking, trophy hunting, Safari Club International, poisoning of birds by the mining industry and kill permits for the wind energy industry (Wild Horse & Burro Radio, Wed., 10/4/17)

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painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 More

WAN Undercover Investigator Sam Jojola Talks Rhino Horn Trafficking, Irish Gang Under Investigation For Killing White Rhino In French Zoo & Solutions

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By Sam Jojola

Originally posted at WAN

 

In 1990, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent colleague and I worked in Nevada on a mid-west based suspect offering to sell a Black Rhino horn for $20,000.  In a covert capacity I secured his knowledge and agreed to meet him at a new casino in Las Vegas for the transaction. My colleague and Special Agents from Legacy U.S. Customs leased an adjacent room to the suspect and wired me up.

The horn was genuine and I agreed to purchase it for $20,000.  But only after debating the suspect’s friend who handed me a National Geographic Magazine with an article showing a single Black Rhino horn was worth $25,000 on the black market.  After paying a $1,000 deposit to hold the horn, I promised to return with the balance ($19,000 I never had). I opened the door and my colleague and U.S. Customs Agents entered to detain and fully identify the seller and his two colleagues and seize the horn and the $1,000 deposit.

 

Many weeks later after the suspect was indicted and later pled guilty, the end result was a federal judge assessing the suspect a meagerly fine plus court costs. After all that expenditure of effort, time, and money, not to mention the profit to be made. The judge just orders a fine and court costs for the life of an endangered rhino? They should be worth more alive than dead.

A colleague with another federal agency later quipped that his co-worker had several unpaid parking tickets in his government vehicle glove box that was more than the fine levied in this rhino horn case.

My colleague was shocked at the failure of justice and said it was impossible for the judge to be that stupid.

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Fighting Wildlife Crime amid Bureaucracy and Solutions

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Sam Jojola

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Background

“This article was originally published for World Animal News in November, 2015 and titled “Wildlife Crimes: Why Is It So Difficult to Enforce Laws”. This is an updated version that includes reference to a 2016 GAO report detailing the shortcomings and successes of combating wildlife trafficking. It often seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are some positive changes, but they are slow.”

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Global Anti-Poaching Act of 2015

The passage of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494) through the House on June 25, 2015 was long overdue and very encouraging news for wildlife law enforcement. It will greatly assist in addressing the rapid expansion of wildlife criminal syndicates and terrorist groups globally. Finally, after decades of “paralysis by analysis” there is some political motivation in the U.S. to deal with the exponential growth of wildlife crime here and around the world. Why has it taken so long?

The most recent GAO report dated September, 2016 titled Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Agencies are taking a range of actions but the task force lacks performance targets for assessing progress: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/679968.pdf

Perhaps there will be another GAO report this year to show measurable progress.

Layers of bureaucracy and political meddling

When one examines the primary agency responsible for investigating wildlife crimes on the federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS/OLE) has been and is the lead entity to do so. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is primarily a biological entity under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior that oversees a host of at least nine (9) agencies, like the U.S. Park Service (USPS), the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to name a few. The USFWS/OLE is just one of fifteen (15) National programs managed by USFWS. In essence many layers of government within the Department of the Interior which is not a law enforcement entity like the Department of Justice. Other law enforcement agencies like the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE, and the Secret Service, are not under the umbrella of a non-law enforcement entity that can sometimes run political interference and impede wildlife investigations and protection. More

Grizzly Bear Reintroduction vs. Multiple Conflicts and Political Land Grab

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samJ

Counterpunch:

Reintroduction alternative to delisting

Reintroduction of the grizzly into other ecosystems is the best option to expand the gene pool of the limited population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and keep the current protection intact. In March, 2000, USFWS plans were underway to implement a reintroduction to several ecosystems, including the Selway-Bitterroot area. Specifics of the reintroduction of the grizzly from the GYE and other ecosystems are detailed in this wonderful plan 16 years ago.

USFWS plans to initially reintroduce the grizzly into this area in 1996 and 2000 were dismissed in 2001 when George W. Bush took office and the plan was never implemented.

In December, 2014, The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition requesting USFWS again pursue reintroduction of the grizzly into the Selway-Bitterroot in Idaho and Montana with over 16 million acres of viable bear habitat to support up to 300 bears. Still nothing transpired. Wildlife bureaucrats would have a better argument for delisting if they took the initiative 16 years ago. Misguided priorities and biopolitics impeded this great plan.

Conflicts in the 1980s

In the mid to late 1980s I worked a few federal wildlife investigations with grizzly bear conflicts in Idaho with fellow USFWS Special Agents.

Back then there were a number of USFWS law enforcement investigations from colleagues in Idaho involving grizzly conflicts with the sheep industry in Idaho and Montana. There were reports of illicit shootings and occasional poisonings with a highly toxic carbamate insecticide known as Aldicarb or Temik illegally used to lace sheep carcasses and kill predators.

One covert investigation involved foreign sheep herders in Idaho where a colleague and I tried to document their knowledge of who told them to lace a sheep carcass with a toxic poison left for a predator like a coyote or grizzly to ingest. We were investigating a bald eagle that fed on the laced sheep carcass and died. Forensics proved poisoning as the cause of death.

How evil was that.

Another incident in Idaho involved a foreign sheepherder accused of killing a grizzly at night. The sheepherder never confessed or turned in the sheep rancher who was suspect in the crime.

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