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The majority of European Union governments voted against a proposal to authorize two new strains of genetically modified (GMO) maize today.

The two varieties of maize, DuPont Pioneer's 1507 and Syngenta's Bt11, kill insects by producing its own pesticide and is also resistant Bayer's glufosinate herbicide.

If approved, the varieties would be the first new GMO crops authorized for cultivation in the EU since 1998.

However, as Reuters noted, the votes against authorization did not decisively block their entry to the EU because the opposition did not represent a "qualified majority."

A qualified majority is achieved when at least 16 countries, representing at least 65 percent of the European population, vote in favor or against. (Scroll down for the vote breakdown)

The majority of EU governments also voted against renewing the license for another maize, Monsanto's MON810, the only GMO crop currently grown in the EU. The votes against its renewal was not considered decisive either.

MON810 is banned in 17 EU countries and is grown on less than 1 percent of agricultural land, mainly in Spain and Portugal, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

The Brussels-based environmental advocacy group says the fates of the three crops now rests with the European Commission and is calling on Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, to reject the new GMO crops.

"Whether he likes it or not, the buck now stops at Jean-Claude Juncker," said Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, in a statement. "He can put himself on the side of the majority of countries, citizens and farmers who do not want genetically-modified crops, or he can back the mega-corporations behind the industrialization of our countryside."

Greenpeace EU explained that if the three authorizations are approved, they would only be valid in nine out of 28 EU countries, as well as in three regions (England in the UK, Flanders and the Brussels region in Belgium). The remaining 19 EU countries and regions in the UK and Belgium have used the EU's opt-out mechanism to prevent GMO crops from being grown in their territories.

Although GMO crops are grown in many parts of the world, the topic is fraught with contention in Europe. While many scientific reviews have concluded that the crops are safe for human consumption and the environment, there are many others that conclude the opposite. Many EU countries have strict laws against GMOs due to public health and environmental concerns. All 28 EU member countries require GMO labeling.

Friends of the Earth Europe has expressed safety concerns of these GMO crops, "especially whether they unintentionally kill butterflies and moths."

"There is no political or public support for genetically-modified crops; farmers don't even want them. It's time for President Juncker to pull the plug on this failed technology once and for all, and to focus on how we make farming resilient to climate change, save family farms and stop the destruction of nature. It's time to close our countryside to genetically-modified crops and move on," Schimpf added.

Similarly, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg commented that the European Commission should back away from supporting "risky" products.

"When he was elected, Commission President Juncker promised more democratic decision-making. This vote leaves no doubt that approving these GMO crops would break that promise," Achterberg said in a statement. "A majority of governments, parliamentarians and Europeans oppose them, and two thirds of European countries ban GMO cultivation on their lands. Instead of backing risky products peddled by multinational corporations, the commission should support ecological farming and the solutions it provides for rural areas, farmers and the environment."

Katherine Paul, associate director of Organic Consumers Association agrees. "President Juncker has an opportunity to do the right thing, by siding with the majority of EU countries that oppose the introduction of these new GMO crops," she told EcoWatch.

"To do anything less, would send EU leaders and citizens the wrong message—that corporations can buy the approval of crops that farmers and citizens don't want, crops that must be grown using chemicals that are toxic to humans and the environment. We hope Mr. Juncker will stand up to corporate pressure, and instead come down in favor of health, safety and organic, regenerative alternatives to chemical agriculture."

Ken Roseboro of the Organic & Non-GMO Report shared the same sentiment. "The European Union has remained steadfast in rejecting GM crops in their member states for nearly 20 years, and these votes reflect that anti-GMO stand," he said. "The European people don't want to eat GM foods, there is not market for them there, and yet the biotech companies continue to try to push their GMOs. Hopefully,Commission President Juncker will side with the wishes of the majority of the European people and reject approval of these GM crops."

Here is Monday's vote breakdown, according to Friends of the Earth Europe:

On renewal of GMO maize MON 810

8 Member States voted in favor, representing 34.45% of the EU population: CZ, EE, ES, NL, RO, FI, SV, UK.

6 Member States abstained, representing 22.26% of the EU population: BE, DE, HR, MT, PT, SK

14 Member states voted to reject, representing 43.29% of the EU population: BG, DK, IE, EL, FR, CY, LV, LU, HU, AT, PL, SL, IT, LT 14

On authorisation of GMO maize 1507

6 Member States voted in favor, representing 30.45% of the EU population: EE, ES, NL, RO, FI, UK

6 Member States abstained, representing 22.28% of the EU population: BE, CZ, DE, HR, MT, SK

16 Member states voted to reject, representing 47.27% of the EU population: BG, DK, IE, EL, FR, CY, LV, LU, HU, AT, PL, SL, SV, IT, LT, PT

On authorisation of GMO maize Bt 11

6 Member States voted in favor, representing 30.45% of the EU population: EE, ES, NL, RO, FI, UK

6 Member States abstained, representing 22.28% of the EU population: BE, CZ, DE, HR, MT, SK

16 Member states voted to reject, representing 47.27% of the EU population: BG, DK, IE, EL, FR, CY, LV, LU, HU, AT, PL, SL, SV, IT, LT, PT 47,27%

By Jude Lee

After five months of people-powered actions around the world, Samsung pulled its head out of the sand and committed to recycling the millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones it recalled. This is a huge win for the hundreds of thousands of people who took action.

Here's what Samsung's committed to do in a nutshell: Samsung will refurbish non-problematic components of the Galaxy Note 7, such as the camera and alarms, so they can be used and resold in future phones. For components that can't be repurposed, the company will extract and recycle the raw materials in an environmentally-sound way.

Samsung also announced it will participate in new research led by the European Union aimed at developing a new environmentally friendly technology to recycle smartphones. Let's see where this goes, but for now, it's good news.

If It Wasn't for You, These Phones Would've Been Wasted

But thankfully, hundreds of thousands of you signed the petition and sent messages to the company's CEO, demanding the company release a plan for recycling these smartphones and move away from its wasteful business model in making short lived devices. People also took action with us online, calling on Samsung to #SaveTheGalaxy and in February, activists in Barcelona took this message straight to the company, holding up banners inside and outside of Samsung's press conference at the Mobile World Congress.

Greenpeace protests outside the Palau de Congresos de Cataluña (Catalunya Palace of Congress) during the presentation of Samsung ahead of the Mobile World Congress.Pablo Blazquez / Greenpeace

This Win is Proof That Together, We Are Powerful

At present, electronics production and consumption is incredibly problematic.

Tonnes of precious raw materials go into making throwaway electronics that are impossible to repair and purposefully designed not to last, leading to millions of gadgets being bought and thrown away as e-waste every year. Electronics factories are mostly powered by dirty energy like coal, which contributes to global warming and most electronics are made by workers using hazardous chemicals, which have tremendous impacts on their health and on the health of the local environment.

Greenpeace activists create satirical scenes to show the explosion of the Galaxy Note 7 as well as how the device can be recycled at the front gate of the Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon.Jung Taekyong / Greenpeace

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way

As IT companies have shown again and again, technology and creativity can be used as powerful forces to transit from an outdated business model towards a more sustainable one. Leading IT companies can become the greatest advocates for a closed-loop production model and a renewably-powered future. The brightest designers can create toxic-free gadgets to last, be repaired and ultimately transformed into something new.

Samsung's announcement is the first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones starting with Note 7s. Greenpeace will make sure Samsung takes into account the voice of millions of our supporters and abides by its commitment.

It's time our gadgets are as innovative for the planet as they are for our lives. Greenpeace will soon score smartphone brands to see just how repairable they are—and we'll continue tracking how companies like Samsung live up to their promises. Stay tuned!

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Nearly a decade after it first applied for a presidential permit, TransCanada is getting the green light from the Trump administration for its $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline.

POLITICO reported Thursday that the U.S. State Department's undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, will approve by Monday the cross-border permit needed for the project to proceed.

Reuters reported an update Friday saying President Trump will announce the approval of the tar sands pipeline at the White House today with the CEO of TransCanada.

Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, former ExxonMobil CEO, recused himself from the Keystone decision since Exxon stands to profit from the pipeline.

The Keystone XL was blocked by President Obama two years ago because the pipeline would "not serve the national interests" of the United States.

But the November election changed everything. On Jan. 24, President Trump signed an executive order that invited TransCanada to reapply for a presidential permit. The company did so two days later.

Environmental groups and grassroots citizens have long opposed the pipeline, painting it as a symbol of the threat of climate change.

Once complete, the 1,200-mile pipeline will carry Alberta tar sands to processing and export facilities in the southern U.S.

"Keystone carries Canada's oil through an unnecessary pipeline likely made of foreign steel, all while polluting our heartland, treading on the rights of Indigenous people and private landowners," said Greenpeace USA climate campaign specialist Diana Best in reaction to today's development.

"It isn't what this country wants or needs. President Obama rejected the Keystone Pipeline because of public outcry," she said. "We cannot let the Trump administration undo the progress that people all over the country have made to ensure we avoid catastrophic climate change."

Best suggested that the president should shift his energy policy to prioritize renewables instead.

"Instead of pushing bogus claims about the potential of pipelines to create jobs, Trump should focus his efforts on the clean energy sector, the key to America's future growth," Best said. "Trump's energy plan is more of the same—full of giveaways to his fossil fuel cronies at a time when renewable energy is surging ahead. Renewable energy is not only the future, but the only just economy for today. Keystone, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and fossil fuel infrastructure projects like them will only make billionaires richer and make the rest of us suffer."

"We will resist these projects with our allies across the country and across borders, and we will continue to build the future the world wants to see," she concluded.

Greenpeace is asking the State Department to provide documentation about the justification for Tillerson's recusal and any waivers obtained or requested.

Although TransCanada might have secured the permit, POLITICO noted that the company still needs approval from the Nebraska Public Service Commission to build the pipeline through the state.

Additionally, Jane Kleeb, the president of Bold Alliance and Nebraska Democrat Party chair told the publication that construction will likely be delayed from landowners in the state who are unhappy with TransCanada's use of eminent domain along the route.

"Trump's decision will galvanize Americans, and further stiffen resistance to Trump's campaign to sacrifice our planet for Big Oil profits," Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said. "The fight over Keystone XL is not over."

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard agreed. "It takes money to build a pipeline, and the opposition movement to stop fossil fuel projects like Keystone will do everything it can to deprive TransCanada of any new funding for this ill-fated and unnecessary pipeline," Leonard said.

"TransCanada may have a permit, but can they find the funding? Financial institutions should have learned by now that it's risky to hitch themselves to a project that already faces historic on-the-ground opposition from private landowners and Indigenous sovereign nations and could unlock a massive environmental, health and climate disaster. Keystone was stopped once before, and it will be stopped again."

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune shared the same sentiment. "This project has already been defeated, and it will be once again. The project faces a long fight ahead in the states, but the fact remains that the American people do not want more fossil fuels, we do not want our private and public lands destroyed by a pipeline carrying the dirtiest fuel around, and we do not want our future and our children's future to continue be threatened by climate change."

By Ryan Schleeter

The first 100 days in office are usually the height of a president's political power. It's the window in which they have the most credibility and clout to push their agenda forward.

But so far, President Donald Trump's agenda has met incredible resistance at every step. Thanks to you, his cabinet nominations were the most contested in history, his Muslim ban has been stopped in the courts at every attempt and the number of people showing up at marches and protests have dwarfed the crowds at his rallies.

For the sake of our climate and communities, we need to keep that momentum going.

To change everything, it's going to take all of us—especially when the stakes are high and President Trump's attacks on climate progress are never-ending. That's why I hope you'll join us on April 29 in Washington, DC (or a city near you) for the People's Climate March.


This is the time when we need to raise our voices and let President Trump and his administration of climate deniers and fossil fuel shills know that our people-powered resistance isn't going anywhere.

From the Women's March in January to the Native Nations March earlier this month, we have already seen how mass mobilization can change the conversation and reassert the power of people in our democracy. That's why on April 29, day 100 of the Trump administration, we're marching for:

  • Jobs. A fossil fuel-based economy doesn't just pollute our environment and wreak havoc on the climate. It also hurts American workers. We're marching for a clean energy economy that expands access to jobs and opportunity—especially for the communities of color, Indigenous peoples and balue collar workers hit hardest by our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Justice. As we shift away from fossil fuels, we need to take care not to leave anyone behind. We're marching for a just transition, one that protects working people and their livelihoods as we move away from the dirty energy sources of the past to the clean power of the future. That also means uplifting the stories of those on the frontlines of climate change and environmental hazards.
  • Our climate. This one might seem obvious, but right now there is more at stake than ever in the fight against climate change. We're marching for a future that invests in clean energy, climate resilient cities and equitable development. We're marching to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which science tells us is the only way to ensure a livable planet. We're marching for a chance to avoid a climate catastrophe that future generations will have to pay for.

The first People's Climate March in 2014—when 400,000 people took to the streets of New York City—was larger than anything the climate movement had ever seen. But today, we're bigger, stronger and more motivated than ever before.

Let's show President Donald Trump the movement that he's up against. Join us this April as we resist attacks on our climate, jobs and justice.

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By Andrea Germanos

A New York State judge on Wednesday ordered ExxonMobil to turn over a year's worth of emails it now admits it lost from an alias account used by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was CEO of the company—a "bombshell" revelation, according to a lawyer for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who's investigating the oil giant's climate cover-up.

Schneiderman's office discovered Tillerson's 2008-2015 use of the email alias "Wayne Tracker" to discuss climate change and other matters as part of its ongoing probe.

Exxon previously blamed the email loss on a technical glitch.

"Exxon has failed to produce management documents from critical time periods when Exxon is known to have been formulating and publicizing key policies and related representations regarding the company's resilience to the impacts of climate change and climate change regulations," Schneiderman said in a letter to the court, according to Bloomberg.


Justice Barry Ostrager of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan "ordered ExxonMobil Corp. to work with New York's attorney general to recover lost emails" and gave the company until the end of the month to produce the documents, Reuters reported.

Ostrager also "ordered Exxon to deliver sworn statements and records from its staffers responsible for monitoring the 'Wayne Tracker' emails, so state investigators could determine how they were lost," the New York Post wrote.

Greenpeace USA said the order was "a step in the right direction."

"Exxon has withheld information from the public for long enough. It's time for the oil company to come clean in the courts about what it knew about climate change and what it withheld from the public and shareholders," said Greenpeace USA climate liability campaigner Naomi Ages.

"Justice Barry Ostrager took a step in the right direction by asking Exxon to be transparent with Attorney General Schneiderman," she continued. "This country needs more attorneys general who, on behalf of the people, are ready to face off with one of the biggest polluters in the world."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

The global coal boom took a nosedive in 2016 as construction starts on coal-fired power plants fell to nearly two-thirds of 2015 levels, according to a report, from Coalswarm, Sierra Club and Greenpeace.

"Markets are demanding clean energy, and no amount of rhetoric from Donald Trump will be able to stop the fall of coal in the U.S. and across the globe," said Nicole Ghio, senior campaigner for the Sierra Club's International Climate and Energy Campaign.

The updated Boom and Bust report, which is released annually, finds that China and India were responsible for some of the largest demand cuts in 2016, with policy and investment shifts causing those countries to freeze more than 100 project sites representing 68 GW of construction.

"2016 marked a veritable turning point," said Lauri Myllyvirta, senior global campaigner on Coal and Air Pollution at Greenpeace. "China all but stopped new coal projects after astonishing clean energy growth ... Closures of old coal plants drove major emission reductions, especially in the U.S. and U.K., while Belgium and Ontario became entirely coal-free and three G8 countries announced deadlines for coal phase-outs."

While the report cautions that more drastic cuts must be made to keep warming below 2°C, the global slowdown in coal construction brings that goal "within feasible reach."

"The shift from fossil fuels to clean sources in the power sector is a positive one for health, climate security and jobs. And by all indications, the shift is unstoppable," Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm, said.

For a deeper dive:

AP, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Vox, Climate Home

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

For more than three months, an underwater pipeline has been spewing hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of processed natural gas per day in Alaska's Cook Inlet, possibly threatening critically endangered beluga whales, fish and other wildlife.

The 8-inch pipeline, owned and operated by Hilcorp Alaska, is leaking more than 210,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The gas is 99 percent methane and provides fuel for four platforms in Cook Inlet.

A notice from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) revealed that Hilcorp knew about the leak as early as December but did not report the leak until Feb. 7 after a helicopter spotted gas bubbling to the surface of the water.

PHMSA said that the natural gas discharge could pose a risk to public safety, the environment and marine mammals and has given Hilcorp until May 1 to permanently repair the line or shut it down.

But conservation groups warn that waiting until May could allow the release of another 16 million cubic feet of gas. Seven groups have submitted a letter to the Trump administration urging for an immediate shutdown of the 52-year-old pipeline.

"This dangerous leak could stop immediately if regulators did their job and shut down this rickety old pipeline," said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center for Biological Diversity oceans program director. "We're disgusted with the Trump administration's lack of concern about this ongoing disaster. Every day the leak continues, this pipeline spews more pollution into Cook Inlet and threatens endangered belugas and other wildlife."

The letter was signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, Greenpeace and the Eyak Preservation Council.

Hilcorp contends that Cook Inlet's heavy ice cover and strong tides has made it too risky for divers to immediately fix the problem and is waiting until at least late March or April for the ice to clear.

The ice cover has also made it impossible to survey the leak's risks to environmental and wildlife. But scientists have already warned that the impact could be disastrous.

"There are three potential impacts that we worry about," Chris Sabine, a chemical oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), detailed to InsideClimate News.

First, methane exposure could be harmful to fish, potentially disturbing its main functional systems—respiration, nervous system, blood formation, enzyme activity and others. Secondly, Sabine explained that bacteria metabolizing the methane-saturated water could produce additional carbon dioxide and deplete oxygen levels in the water, creating a hypoxic zone. Lastly, this extra CO2 can cause the water to become more acidic, which can cause shells of some animals to weaken.

Sadie Wright, a NOAA marine mammals specialist, added that the hypoxic zone could impact the food supply for Cook Inlet's estimated 340 belugas.

The the noise coming from the leak could also be a "potential stressor," she said, as excessive noise can cause belugas to abandon their habitat.

"We don't have any idea how loud the leak might be," said Wright.

Not much is known about what is happening under Cook Inlet's icy waters. State regulators only issued a preliminary approval of Hilcorp's sampling and environmental monitoring plan on Tuesday.

So far, aerial surveys of the leaking gas field has not uncovered any injured birds or marine mammals, including beluga whales, state officials reported.

To slow the leak, the company lowered pressure in the affected line on March 4, estimating that leak was reduced to 210,000 to 310,000 cubic feet of gas daily. It again lowered the pressure on Monday and estimated the line is leaking 193,000 to 215,000 cubic feet daily.

As for why Hilcorp hasn't just shut down its line, the company said that an oil spill could occur because the line was once used to carry oil.

Shutting down the pipeline would risk it "taking in water, freezing and potentially rupturing," Lori Nelson, external affairs manager at Hilcorp Alaska, explained last month to Alaska Dispatch News. Nelson also said that the line needs to be kept pressurized or else it could fill with water, allowing residual crude oil to escape from what was previously used as a crude oil pipeline.

The Center for Biological Diversity has sent a notice of intent to sue Hilcorp under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Homer, Alaska nonprofit Cook Inletkeeper has sent a similar notice to sue.

"If Hilcorp cannot or will not stop polluting our public resources, then it should have no right to operate in our waters in the first place," Cook Inletkeeper executive director Bob Shavelson wrote in a blog post. "Hilcorp has put forth various excuses why it cannot shut down the leaking pipeline in Cook Inlet's icy conditions—including that water would infiltrate the gas line and other reasons—but the fact remains Hilcorp simply wants to maintain production and profits without interruption."

By Perry Wheeler

Following global pressure on pet food companies, industry giants Mars and Nestlé have announced that they will take steps to ensure their pet food supply chains are free of human rights abuses and illegally caught seafood. Their commitments to act on transshipping at sea increase the need for global seafood giant Thai Union, a supplier for both companies, to eliminate any outstanding risks of human rights abuses and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in its own supply chains.

Nestlé has committed to a full ban on transshipment at sea in its supply chains, while Mars has committed to suspend the use of transshipped products in its supply chains if its seafood suppliers cannot adequately address the human rights and illegal fishing issues associated with the practice in the coming weeks.

"Pet owners and activists have demanded that companies eliminate human rights abuses from their pet food supply chains. This move toward stopping out of control transshipment at sea means we're finally seeing results," said Greenpeace USA oceans campaigner Graham Forbes.

"These are the two largest pet food companies in the world and their commitments to address transshipping at sea will put significant pressure on suppliers like Thai Union to show the leadership needed to clean up their own seafood supply chains. We'll be closely monitoring Mars' and Nestlé's progress to ensure these policies lead to real changes on the water," added Forbes.

Greenpeace launched a campaign in 2016, Cats vs. Bad Tuna, to demand that Mars ensure its supply chains were free of any potential human rights abuses. A Greenpeace Southeast Asia report, Turn the Tide, demonstrated the unacceptably high risk of tainted seafood entering numerous supply chains throughout 2016, including Nestlé and Thai Union's. Nestlé immediately committed to address the concerns when they were raised in the report. Mars committed to tackle unchecked transshipment at sea in its pet food supply chains this month.

"Over the past several years, Nestlé and Greenpeace have worked together to strengthen Nestlé's policies governing the procurement and responsible sourcing of seafood," said Nestlé Purina PetCare head of sustainability Jack Scott. "In light of Greenpeace's research findings, Nestlé has committed to a ban on all transshipments at sea."

Transshipment is a process through which companies move fish from one vessel to another, enabling them to remain at sea for extended periods of time to plunder the oceans, dodge regulations and keep fishers as a captive workforce. In addition to its connections to human rights abuse, transshipment at sea provides an opportunity for illegal fishing vessels to unload their illegally caught loads into supply chains, away from port authorities. In 2015, an estimated 40 percent of these transfers happened on the high seas, outside of the jurisdiction of national authorities. Transshipment at sea has also been linked to other organized crime, including drug, weapon and wildlife trafficking.

Mars' and Nestlé's commitments send a strong message to Thai Union to address transshipment in its supply chains. Greenpeace is currently pressuring Thai Union to make sweeping changes for workers and our oceans across its seafood supply chains. Greenpeace has campaigned on Thai Union since 2015 and is asking the company to lead the seafood industry by ending transshipment at sea, addressing overfishing and destructive fishing and increasing traceability from sea to plate.

"Mars recognizes the risks of transshipment at sea. We want to see human rights respected and the environment protected in our seafood supply chains" said Isabelle Aelvoet, global sustainability director at Mars Petcare.

"The current problems associated with transshipment are serious and demand urgent attention. We are committed to working with our suppliers to remedy these problems, but if we cannot resolve these issues to our satisfaction quickly, we will seek to end the use of transshipped products in our supply chains until these serious problems are fixed."

Thursday's news follows a new report from Global Fishing Watch highlighting the problems with transshipment at sea. The report found that from 2012-2016, refrigerated cargo vessels participated in more than 5,000 likely transshipments. Concerns were raised about Mars and Nestlé supply chains in a 2015 New York Times investigation into human rights abuses at sea.

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