The Acorn – 3


Number 3

In this issue:

  1. Tear gas and water cannon
  2. What is Elbit scared of?
  3. Reclaiming the fields
  4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge
  5. EDL fascists target Brighton
  6. Acorninfo

1. Tear gas and water cannon



Tear gas, water cannon and “flashball” rubber bullets have been fired at people protesting against police violence and against the destruction of the countryside brought about by the system the cops brutally defend.

Bank and shop windows were smashed and there were dozens of arrests in two cities on different parts of France on Saturday February 21.

The clashes were the latest episode in a growing wave of resistance in France against totalitarian capitalism and its environmentally-destructive infrastructure.

Two simultaneous protests were staged in Nantes and Toulouse, reflecting the struggle against the proposed new airport for Nantes and outrage at the murder by police of Rémi Fraisse, a student at Toulouse University.


The young environmentalist was killed by a grenade fired at his back at point-blank range by gendarmes during protests against a proposed new dam at Sivens near Le Testet in the south of France.

The call-out for the resistance in the two cities was “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns”.

The concreting of the countryside threatens to become even worse, with the French state confirming it will be pushing ahead with the airport at Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, protected by the long-established ZAD protest camp.

And, of course, the militarisation of the towns was in evidence at the protests, with the police as usual claiming they had been “forced” to deploy their frightening armoury against dissidents because a bit of paint had been lobbed in their general direction.

The French media reported that the notoriously violent CRS riot cops even attacked journalists with their batons.


Various video reports can be seen here:


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2. What is Elbit scared of?

The rooftop occupation in Kent in February 2015

Activists successfully shut down an arms company in Kent on Tuesday February 17.

They struck under cover of darkness, at 5am, at the premises of Instro Precision near Broadstairs, to protest against its sales to both Israel and Afghanistan. Four people took the roof with banners to shut the factory down, with ten more on the ground, one of whom locked herself to the front gate. See the video in this successful appeal for financial support.

Instro is owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, which makes drones that are used to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Optical and camera systems like those made at the Instro factory are also supplied by Elbit for use in drones flown over Afghanistan, as well as in Israel’s apartheid wall.

A wide range of groups came together to make the blockade happen, including: Brighton BDS, Brighton Palestine Action, Smash EDO, Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network, East Kent CAAT and Swansea Action for Palestine.

The blockade began before dawn
The blockade began before dawn

The occupiers stayed in place for nearly 13 hours and decided to leave after having shut the firm down for the whole working day. Kent Police put out a statement describing the protest as “lawful” and nobody was arrested, let alone charged.

Good news – but why would the authorities, presumably with the tacit backing of the firm affected, decide to take no legal action against people blockading a factory?

The answer can probably be found in the story of a previous factory occupation near Birmingham, in August 2014, when activists closed down another Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines Limited, for two days at the height of Israel’s summer military assault on Gaza.

After putting the factory out of business for two days, all activists were removed by police, arrested, charged with aggravated trespass and taken to court for preliminary hearings. However, all these charges were suddenly dropped at the end of January this year, a week before the case was due to go to trial.

It seems the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had to pull out at the last minute because company managers mysteriously decided to go back on previous commitments to testify against the nine.

Said a statement from London Palestine Action: “The decision taken by the CPS to drop charges against us shows us that either Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.”

The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack
The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack

*  Corporate Watch have published a briefing called Gaza: Life Beneath the Drones.

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3. Reclaiming the fields


Reclaim the Fields are holding a day of learning and network-building in Wales on Saturday March 7.

The event at the Red and Black Umbrella at 57-58 Clifton Street, Cardiff, will be built around the topics of growing projects, access to land and food sovereignty.

It starts at 1pm and will be followed in the evening, from 7pm, by a benefit gig in aid of the fight for the Yorkley Court Community Farm in the Forest of Dean, now facing eviction (see Acorninfo).

An article on Reclaim the Fields by Ed Hamer in The Land magazine says: “Taking its name from the road protest collective which swept the UK in the early 1990s, the movement intends to employ the same creative mix of political lobbying, networking and direct action in its objective to get the 21st century peasantry back onto the land.

“Just as the climate change debate has inspired a new generation to push the environment onto the political agenda, those of us who feel particularly passionate about food and farming have the potential to do the same for agriculture.”

On its website, Reclaim the Fields describes itself as a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume control over food production.

It adds: “We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs-oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.”

RTF - heathrow

Reclaim the Fields emerged in March 2011 from a small gathering at Grow Heathrow, a land squat set up to resist the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

RTF also supports the policies of Via Campesina, an international movement founded in 1993 by farmers’ organizations from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America and Africa, which currently has its HQ in Jakarta, Indonesia.

via campesina

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4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge

Boxal Bridge
Boxal Bridge in West Sussex – in the way of fracking

Nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of the fracking industry and the authorities will do all they can to clear its path.

As we reported in Issue 2 of The Acorn, the new Infrastructure Act is designed to allow corporate interests to trample all over communities and the environment.

One small example of the way the authorities will bend over backwards for the extreme energy business comes from the West Sussex countryside between Wisborough Green and Kirdford.

In July 2014 an application by fracking firm Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration was refused by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee at a meeting in Horsham.

One of the cited reasons for the refusal was “unsafe” road access for the fracking traffic. Committee chair Heidi Brunsdon admitted: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.”

One of the biggest issues involved Boxal Bridge, a beautiful rural structure dating from the 1850s, which was clearly too narrow to cope with hundreds of fracking lorries.

But where there’s a will there’s a way – and West Sussex County Council has helpfully come up with a plan to get rid of this particular obstacle to the path of ecocidal profiteering.

Two months after refusing Celtique’s plans, it commissioned a “feasibility study” on Boxal Bridge and of the six options recommended it chose number six – to demolish the bridge and build a two-lane crossing suitable for heavy industrial traffic.

This was despite the two local parish councils of Kirdford and Wisborough Green, and many local residents, opposing the demolition.

Once again, here is capitalism showing itself in physical form – as the infrastructure of the cancerous growth known as industrial civilisation.

A petition has been set up to demand that the bridge is not demolished.

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5. EDL fascists target Brighton

Anti-fascists block the racists' route in 2012
Anti-fascists block the racists’ route in 2012

Anti-fascists in Brighton are preparing for action after notorious extreme-right group the EDL announced plans for a march through the Sussex city on Saturday April 18 2015.

It was looking like being a quieter April than usual for Brighton, after the racists of the March for England announced they would be heading to Blackpool instead.

Previous years have seen dramatic scenes on the streets, with police attacking and arresting numerous anti-racist protesters in order to try to clear a way for the dwindling fascist contingent.

In recent years, mobile steel barriers have been used by the authorities to create a sterile area near the seafront where the nazis can parade away from the hostility of the Brighton public.

Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012
Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012

News that the EDL is stepping into the breach left by their friends in the MFE will come as a surprise to many – the EDL usually hangs its protests on the excuse of opposing “islamification” of certain areas.

Rather than merely diverting popular dissatisfaction with the capitalist system against minority scapegoats, the EDL here seems to be fulfilling the other classic fascist function of physically threatening radical opponents of the capitalist system.

Anti-racist website EDL News reports: “Due to the fact that there is not a large Muslim population in Brighton, it is thought that the demo has been called to confront what they see as a left wing city who do not put up with their politics of racism and division.”

To confirm this, it shows a screenshot from a social media conversation between EDL supporters, one of whom declares that “its time the left wing gets whats coming to them”.

With local anti-fascists already spreading the word about their intentions, the EDL may once again find it difficult to turn its belligerent online boasting into reality on the streets.

Outnumbered - the March for England in 2013
Outnumbered – the March for England in 2013

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6. Acorninfo

Land activists at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean are this week facing eviction. For the last two and a half years, they have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm, but a local millionaire property developer has other ideas and filed a claim for possession of the land. Said an update posted on the activists’ website on Thursday February 26: “News just received, Judge Harrington has ruled in favour of Brian Bennett for possession of Yorkley Court. We have 24 hours’ notice for the farmhouse, 3 days for the back field and the area surrounding the farmhouse, and 14 days for the bottom strip. Support will be appreciated during this stressful time, materials, bodies, hearts, minds and all. Keep an eye out for updates and ways to help.”

* * *

The theft of a local Sussex beach by a private company has been upheld by the legal authorities. Locals have been trying to stop Newhaven Port and Properties from excluding the public from West Beach, a sandy spot traditionally used and loved by townsfolk. But their latest attempt failed on Wednesday February 24) after the Supreme Court said the area could not after all be registered as a village green, overturning a decision by the Appeal Court in March 2013. NPP has now announced plans to expand its operations into part of Tide Mills beach. Newhaven mayor Judith Ost told local press: “The Supreme Court has today found that the beach has been used by local people for generations by permission of the port authority – and we see no reason why local people cannot continue to do so.” Warned Nicola Hodgson of the Open Spaces Society: “This judgment comes on top of the pernicious change in English law, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, which outlaws applications to register greens where land is threatened with development.  With the courts and parliament working against us, the future of our precious open spaces is increasingly perilous.”

Newhaven West Beach
Stolen – Newhaven’s West Beach
How it used to look
How it used to look

* * *

The interface between anarchism and art is explored in Herbert Read: Art and Idealism by Michael Paraskos. Reviewer Paul Cudenec says the book “makes no futile attempt to flatten out Read’s work and life in order to make it fit into some pre-determined category” and encourages readers “to step off the well-trod road of narrow thinking and forge their own path of empowering intellectual discovery”. Full article at

Read book

* * *

Some basic tips for community campaigning have been set out by local anarchist website The Hereford Heckler,which started life in early 2008, originally as the bimonthly paper of Hereford Solidarity League. The Heckler stresses: “Remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area; don’t be a missionary!”

Hereford Heckler

* * *

Acorn quote: “Faith in the fundamental goodness of man; humility in the presence of natural laws; reason and mutual aid – these are the qualities that can save us. But they must be unified and vitalized by an insurrectionary passion, a flame in which all virtues are tempered and clarified, and brought to their most effective strength”. Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Anarchism.

NPG P1681; Herbert Read by Rollie McKenna
Herbert Read

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The Acorn 2

The Acorn 1

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The Acorn – 2


Number 2

In this issue:

  1. Fracktion stations in Sussex
  2. Fracking’s far from finished
  3. Infrastructure is the enemy
  4. M18 – gatecrashing the Euro-bankers’ party
  5. Smart spies in our homes
  6. Acorninfo

1. Fracktion stations in Sussex

Sinister: Celtique's heavily-defended drilling site near Billingshurst in West Sussex
Sinister: Celtique’s heavily-defended drilling site near Billingshurst in West Sussex

Razor wire lines the top of the 15-foot high fence surrounding the concreted compound in the heart of the West Sussex countryside between West Chiltington and Billingshurst.

It looks for all the world like some ghastly concentration camp, but here the fortifications are designed to keep “miscreants” out rather than in.

Oil and gas firm Celtique Energy has permission for an exploratory oil and gas borehole at Wood Barn Farm, Adversane Lane, Broadford Bridge – work on the site between Prince’s Wood and Pocock’s Wood off the B2133 is nearly complete and drilling could start any time now.



The formidable defences around the drill compound betray the business’s knowledge that their activities are highly controversial and liable to meet opposition. There are some “enemies of progress” out there who strangely don’t welcome the prospect of contaminated water, soil and air, of devastated countryside, of lorry-congested roads, of a night sky constantly lit up by flares and of the occasional frack-induced earthquake.


But so far things have been fairly quiet in this corner of the Weald. Perhaps locals are happy to take Celtique at their word when they insist that their aims here are purely “conventional“ and will not involve fracking?

That’s certainly not a claim being taken too seriously by Frack Off, the extreme energy action network, who have exposed what they call the “Celtique borehole deception”.

Cynics suggest that Celtique’s non-fracking line was merely what they needed to get drilling permission from West Sussex County Council – and to try and keep the protest wolves at bay for as long as possible.

Inside the compound
Inside the compound

It just happens that in boring down 10,000 feet in supposed search of conventional fuel, their drill will pass through the both the Kimmeridge Clay and Lias shale layers, giving them a coincidental chance to assess the fracking potential.

Celtique’s joint investment partner Magellan Petroleum was certainly selling the shale side of the West Sussex operations in a letter to its American shareholders in May 2013.

It boasted: “In the UK, we maintain a large acreage position in the Weald Basin, which we believe is a very promising unconventional play.  In recent months, it appears that the regulatory and political climate has warmed considerably to unconventional production onshore UK.

“The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently lifted its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and the government is exploring new tax incentive proposals to encourage unconventional drilling onshore.  We believe that these developments should have a favorable impact on the perceived value of our acreage.

“In order to substantiate this value, we, together with our partner Celtique Energie, plan to drill one or two evaluation wells at the end of 2013, through which we will gain a better understanding of the shale potential of our acreage.  In the meantime, Magellan remains one of only three publicly traded companies to offer significant exposure to this emerging UK shale play.”

The Celtique Energy site at Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst


And Celtique itself somewhat gave the game away on a page that has now mysteriously disappeared from its website, but has been preserved on the Frack Off site.

The firm is more or less rubbing its hands together in greedy delight as it details the profits to be made by despoiling the Central Weald area “located in countryside south west of London, close to the large south east UK energy market and proximal to major gas trunk lines and refineries.”

Celtique declares: “Several material size conventional prospects and major shale oil and shale gas unconventional resource potential have been established within the boundaries of the licences. The shale oil and gas resource position provides a low risk and very significant up side to the conventional prospects.”

“In the Weald Basin, it is believed that the oil shales in their acreage which cover an area of 1,000 sq. kms (123,000 acres) could hold up to 200 mmbbls of recoverable oil resources, with a mid-case estimate of 125 mmbbls”.

Anyone still tempted to believe that Celtique’s drilling plans are strictly conventional might also want to take a look at the IGas conventional site at nearby Cootham. No sign of any barbed wire, let alone razor wire, on top of the modest fencing around that compound… So what’s so different about Broadford Bridge?

Compare and contrast: no sign of any razor wire on top of the gate or fences at this conventional drilling site at nearby Cootham
Compare and contrast: no sign of any razor wire on top of the gate or fences at this conventional drilling site at nearby Cootham


Celtique's prison-camp style front gate - note the second line of defence inside!
Celtique’s prison-camp style front gate – note the second line of defence inside!

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2. Fracking’s far from finished


The temporary drop in crude oil prices, drops in fracking firms’ share prices and the talk of fracking moratoriums in Scotland and Wales, is in danger of lulling some opponents into a false sense of security.

But there is absolutely no reason to imagine that the threat is over or even diminished.

As Frack Off point out succinctly in a new poster, the much-heralded protection for certain parts of the English countryside has failed to materialise, Scotland has no moratorium, just a 12-week “public consultation” period and Wales has no power to halt fracking even temporarily.

The Infrastructure Act (see below), which some naively imagined might rein in the frackers, in fact leaves them stronger than ever.

Meanwhile, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) due to come into effect later this year will further boost corporate power.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses in the EU-US (TTIP) and EU-Canada (CETA) agreements would allow corporations to sue governments for damage to profits as a result of measures taken to protect the environment, public health, etc. This means that even if fracking bans were introduced, they could be overturned by the industry, via closed tribunals outside the control of any national or European court.

And, of course, the British state continues to deploy large numbers of its hired thugs to intimidate fracking protesters and deter all opposition.

Democracy is a sham anyway and business interests have always ruled behind the scenes. What we are now seeing is the rapid abandonment of even the pretence of democracy – welcome to the new era of totalitarian capitalism!

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3. Infrastructure is the enemy


In the first issue of The Acorn we mentioned the position of The Invisible Committee, which has recently described localised battles against infrastructure – like the NO TAV campaign in Italy – as the front line in the global struggle against capitalism.

It is appropriate, then, that the latest capitalist assault on our communities and environment in the UK should come in the form of the new Infrastructure Act!

The legislation unleashes yet another new wave of neoliberal insanity upon us.

*  It will turn the Highways Agency into an “arms-length” government-owned company, Highways England, charged with funding a £15 billion programme of more than 100 road schemes between now and the end of the next Parliament.

* It will promote the selling-off of publicly-owned land and property to private developers, via the Homes and Communities Agency, cutting the “red tape” holding back business profiteering.

*  It will allow property developers to avoid some planning conditions with a new ‘deemed discharge’ provision to “help speed up house building”.

*  And, of course, the Infrastructure Act represents a significant intervention on the side of the fracking industry, as set out in detail on the excellent Drill or Drop website.

Fracking flare

The frackers are delighted, with Marcus Pepperell, spokesperson for Shale Gas Europe saying: “The UK has taken a decisive step in embracing the shale gas opportunity. We may now start to see the emergence of Europe’s first commercial shale gas industry.”

Most significantly, the Act actually makes it a principal objective of the government to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum and grants the right to drill underground someone’s land without their consent.

There are hardly any restrictions on fracking, with firms allowed to leave land in a different condition than they found it and to leave any infrastructure or substances in the land. Despite all the talk of National Parks being protected, it even allows fracking companies to drill horizontally under national parks from outside their boundaries.

The official government statement on the Act makes it clear as to what it is all about, for all those capable of translating Capitalese into plain English.

It says: “These powerful new measures will drive investment, making it easier, quicker and simpler to get Britain building for the future”. This means: “These draconian new laws will pander to our global corporate paymasters, making it easier, quicker and simpler for them to walk roughshod over the concerns and interests of the public and carve up the country for their own profit.”

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4. M18 – gatecrashing the Euro-bankers’ party


Anti-capitalists from all over Europe are converging on Frankfurt in Germany on March 18 to gatecrash the opening party of the new European Central Bank (ECB).

Says the Blockupy network, which has been staging protests against institutional European capitalism since 2012: “On March 18th 2015 the European Central Bank (ECB) wants to open its new headquarters in Frankfurt. A dizzying 1.3 billion euros was spent on a 185-meter-high fortress-like twin tower building, surrounded by a fence and castle moat. This intimidating architecture of power is a perfect symbol of the distance between the political and financial elites and the people.”

Adds the call-out on the M18 site: “The ceremony will allow the representatives of the European member-states to pat themselves on the back for their crisis-solutions whilst using the celebrations to prepare themselves (and us) for the next round of austerity programmes. They want to institutionalize the state of exception.

”But a lot of people are going to crash the party – because the solutions for the crisis that is capitalism are a catastrophe for the people. Hence the spring of 2015 will hopefully also see a landmark of resistance against the European crisis regime as thousands of different people from all over Europe and beyond travel to the action days against the ECB-party. We call for the antiauthoritarian movement to participate in these actions and discussions. Let’s use this possibility to promote transnational self-organisation in the fight against state and capital and turn this party of domination into our party.”

At a previous protest in November 2014, some 2,000 protesters climbed over barbed wires and threw stones and bags full of coloured water at the ECB’s new building.

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5. Smart spies in our homes


The new privacy policy for Samsung’s smart TVs allows the company and its partners to listen in on everything their users say, it has been revealed.

The policy states: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

Similarities have been widely spotted with George Orwell’s novel 1984, in which telescreens listen in to people’s conversations, ensuring they do not criticise the police state personified by “Big Brother”.

The issue goes further than merely listening to conversations – the webcams fitted to the latest TVs for internet use can be activated to secretly spy on people in their own homes, as hackers have demonstrated.

This all goes a lot further than specific companies or equipment, of course. The whole new generation of “smart” devices are designed to build an “internet of things”, where privacy, freedom and, indeed, humanity will be consigned to the past and we will all be reduced to the status of permanently monitored and controlled slaves to a techno-industrial global state that will make Orwell’s nightmare look like a whimsical daydream.

That is, if we don’t bring it down first.

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6. Acorninfo

A new article by Nafeez Ahmed, published by Insurge Intelligence,  a crowd-funded investigative journalism project, explores the dystopian implications of Britain’s new Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, and the efforts to rush it through without public scrutiny. He writes: “In the name of fighting terror, the UK government, hand-in-hand with the US, is leading the way to turn freedom of speech and dissent into mere formalities that, in practice, have no place in societies that will function, effectively, as full-fledged police-states.”

* * *

The anarchists of Class War have restarted their campaign against separate doors for rich and poor residents at a London development, with a protest held at Aldgate East on Thursday February 12. They had paused their efforts at One Commercial Street after new owner Taylor McWilliams promised to discuss the ending of the socially divisive arrangement. Writes Daniel Brett of the controversial development: “Included within its heavy shaft is 70 units of affordable housing. Generosity? They have apartheid doors to prevent the socially transmitted disease of class awakening. One door for the Rich, one door for the Poor. The Rich have concierge service, executive kitsch and chandeliers, while the “poor” scurry round the back to an ill-liturine-smelling alley. Segregated refuse areas, segregated parking, segregated post: a barrier that sterilises society.”


* * *

An eco-activist journal that inspired a generation has now been archived online. Do or Die, the world’s biggest English-language anarchist journal, was published in the British Isles from 1993-2003, crammed with reports and analysis from the world-wide ecological frontlines. The voices collected here are not those of outsiders, journalists or academics, but of those involved in the struggles themselves. In these times of concrete alienation these voices shine hope from movements that took action to defend nature, create revolution and re-wild humanity.

Dor or Die

* * *

A guide to the Euro Zone Crisis has just been published in English by Corporate Watch and is available to read online, as well as to buy in printed form. The work by Christina Laskaridis, called False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide to the Euro Zone Crisis, has a particular emphasis on what has been happening in Greece and shows how to debunk common myths about the crisis, and counter arguments justifying austerity . It asks who profits from the crisis and provides information on grassroots resistance and alternatives.

* * *

Animal rights activists around the UK campaigned against “The British Heartless Foundation” on Saturday February 14. Says the campaign: “The British Heart Foundation are huge funders of sick animal experiments. A quick look on PubMed, a publicly accessible archive of research papers, reveals over 1,500 papers documenting cruel research funded by BHF involving animals on this website alone. Despite their claims of transparency and openness, BHF do not make public a list of which animals and how many are killed in the course of the research they fund. What have they got to hide?” More info at

BHF demo

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The Acorn 1

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