Labor Day: “When Unions Are Strong, Everyone is Strong”

For Immediate Release

September 3, 2015
Contact: Kathy Mulady, communications director
kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org
(206) 568-5400 or (206) 992-8787 (cell) 

Celebrate Labor Day: Strong Unions Make a Strong Economy for All

It’s one of our basic values in the United States: If you work full-time and work hard, you should earn enough to support yourself. But we also know that it’s far from reality, when 1 percent of the country is taking home 22 percent of the income.

The Alliance for a Just Society has produced the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999, showing how worker pay is steadily falling further behind how much it actually costs to make ends meet.

“The fight for good pay, good health benefits, and paid sick days is an effort none of us can tackle on our own,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.

“Working together, with labor unions, as organizers, and as members of unions, we can push for economic justice – for all workers,” said Hall.  “We are proud to walk side-by-side with our labor partners.”

Nearly half of all new jobs don’t pay enough to make ends meet, according to our recent report, Low Wage Nation. Women and people of color especially face discrimination and harsh work conditions in workplaces that don’t have unions.

In October, the Alliance will release new research showing that in states nationwide, the living wage that’s needed to make ends meet is much higher than the federal minimum wage, and well above state minimum wages.

Bev DeLeonardis, Alliance Board chair, was a shop steward for Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T. Union members won better pay, sick leave and retirement plans, but also job protection, rights of seniority, and opportunities to continue their education.

“Labor Day is a great time to remember that because of labor unions, workers have a more level playing field and a stronger position when meeting with management,” DeLeonardis said.

“Our standards became the standards at other companies,” she said. “At some point, other businesses would realize they were losing good workers and had to pay them more. It puts more money into the economy. Unions bring up worker benefits – and that benefits society as a whole.

“When unions are strong, everyone is strong,” said DeLeonardis.

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The Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 15 state affiliates. The Alliance focuses on health, racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999.

LeeAnn Hall’s Statement on King v. Burwell (with Fred Azcarate and George Goehl)

Today is a major victory: the Supreme Court rejected King v. Burwell, an attack against the Affordable Care Act that attempted to deny quality health care to millions of people in the United States.

Together with Fred Azcarate, executive director of US Action and George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action, I would like to share this statement with you:

“Today. The Supreme Court rejected an attack on the Affordable Care Act, our country’s health care law. Now, more than 6.4 million people, many with health insurance for the first time, can rest assured that their health coverage won’t be stripped away.

Our work isn’t done. Many people – disproportionately people of color – are still shut out of health care because of cost, the language they speak, or state lawmakers’ refusal to expand Medicaid. It’s time to stop fighting over whether people have a right to health care – and time to make quality health care a reality for everyone.

We call on obstructionists in Congress to end their assault on health care once and for all. Stop trying to repeal, defund, and undermine the Affordable Care Act.”

The Alliance for a Just SocietyUSAction and National People’s Action led grassroots organizations nationwide to fight for health care for everyone in our country. The ACA was a major victory, overwhelmingly popular, and it’s here to stay.

Want to do more?

Click the Health Care for America Now petition to tell obstructionists “Hands Off ACA!”

The law is working – now it’s time to make sure everyone has access to quality health care.

AJS Statement on Charleston S.C. Shootings

The Alliance for a Just Society joins the world in mourning the brutal deaths of nine people murdered in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, SC this week. We have in our thoughts and prayers the families and lives of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Daniel L. Simmons, Ethel Lee Lance, Myra Thompson, Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.

We may not have known them, but we name them, and vow never to forget the personal victims of racist violence and their stories.

We are appalled by the racist violence and terror. We are angry that more than 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. last spoke in that same church that we are still unable to face racism in our country.

Racism dehumanizes and abuses people of color and reinforces vast inequality, while protecting those with power and privilege. Violence, terror and fear are essential pillars of racism – whether it’s the official violence at the hands of the police and military; vigilante violence by the mob, or the action of a “lone gunman.”

But there is no lone gunman. Anyone who has a hand in allowing racism to thrive in any corner of our society, in our homes, our living rooms or taught to our children, has to acknowledge that it must end now. We don’t need any more wake up calls. We have awoken.

The lost lives of the nine men and women, moms, dads, sisters, uncles, grandparents, brothers, children, friends, teachers, and all that they were and meant, cannot simply be mourned… they must be a catalyst for change – and we must be that change.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of Juneteenth Day, the first celebration of the end of slavery. Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that Texas can forbid people from putting the Confederate Flag on their state license plates, and yet, many Southern states still fly confederate flags. Our country still struggles to acknowledge that #BlackLivesMatter.

We believe that “no one is free until we are all free.” We’re still not free.

Report: Racial Health Disparities Magnified in California Under ACA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Contact:
Kathy Mulady, communications director
kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org
(206) 992-8787

Breaking Barriers to Health Care Access in California

“Obamacare didn’t cause the widespread racial disparities we found,
but neither did it solve them.”

More Californians than ever before have health insurance, but coverage isn’t care, and the Affordable Care Act has magnified the deep racial, ethnic and cultural disparities in accessing quality health care in California.

Latino and African Americans especially remain heavily uninsured and struggle to receive health care.

Language and cultural barriers, lack of Internet or an email address, a lack of experience in using health insurance, a shortage of doctors and clinics in poor and rural communities, and high costs are preventing many from receiving health care and medications.

A new report “Breaking Barriers: Improving health insurance enrollment and access to health care in California,” reveals a deep divide between social class, income, culture and ethnicity emerging under the state’s Covered Care.

“It’s unconscionable that so many have been left out of something as basic as the chance to enjoy good health,” said Gary Delgado, author of Breaking Barriers. “Lack of Internet access or speaking another language is not a reason to be locked out of a health system that purports to be open to all.

“Obamacare did not cause the widespread racial disparities we found, but neither did it solve them. Now we have to take them on directly,” said Delgado.

“Breaking Barriers” s a year long study that includes a survey of nearly 1,200 low-income people in 10 states in Spanish, Cantonese, and English. They were contacted at food banks, health clinics, and homeless centers.

Alfredo DeAvila did surveys and interviews for the Breaking Barriers California report.

“If the ACA is going to be successful, we need to help people transition not only into the health insurance system, but also into the health care system,” he said. “We must invest in public education about how to get ongoing preventive care.”

The Korean America community, especially seniors are struggling because of costs, said DJ Yoon, executive director of NAKASEC (National Korean American Service and Education Consortium.)

“California can be a leader in assuring quality health care for all people. We have let people of color again slip through the cracks in our system, we can do better – and here is a roadmap for how we get there,” said Delgado.

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Improve language access. Make provider directories available in multiple languages and list addresses, phone numbers, languages spoken, hospital affiliations, and specialties.
  • Simplify the insurance-shopping experience. Make cost information transparent and communicate clearly about deductibles, co-pays, and preventive services that are included.
  • Covered California should enforce and impose penalties on insurers who do not reduce racial health care disparities within required timeframes.
  • Assure that primary care providers are within 30 minutes driving or public transit time. Enrollees who must travel further should be offered free transportation.
  • Expand school-based health centers, especially in medically underserved communities.
  • Address underlying causes of poor health, especially in poor communities, (mold, infestations, domestic violence) Expand medical-legal partnerships as an avenue toward addressing poor health in low-income communities.
  • Reinforce the ACA-mandated “well-woman preventive” care and provide education about the value of preventive care for all. Ensure that all plans include reproductive health care services.
  • Require that new enrollees are offered a free physical exam, appropriate screening tests and other preventive care within 60 days of enrollment.

Here is the link to the full Breaking Barriers in California report: http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/BBReport_CALIF.pdf

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The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) brings a progressive voice to civil rights and immigrant rights issues and promotes full participation of Korean Americans in building a movement for social change.

The Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network focused on racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced pivotal reports for 20 years on state and national health issues including Medicaid, prescription drugs, and insurance industry practices.

 

Progressive Leaders Unveil Shared Populist Agenda

MEDIA ADVISORY CONTACTS:   Populism2015 logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jacob Swenson-Lengyel (jacob@npa-us.org), 312-316-3973

PROGRESSIVE LEADERS UNVEIL SHARED POPULIST AGENDA

Populism2015 Conference Will Bring 1,000 People From Across the Country Together in Washington, D.C. this Weekend

Washington, D.C. – Progressive leaders today unveiled a new shared populist agenda on a media conference call in advance of the Populism2015 conference. This agenda is galvanizing the progressive populist community and defining the debate going into the 2016 elections.

“There is a bottom-up progressive populist sentiment building in this country,” said George Goehl, Executive Director of National People’s Action, “It’s no secret that we are looking for political leadership, but we are also not waiting for that leadership. Populism2015 and the agenda we are organizing is one sign of that. The ideas in our agenda create a clear line in the sand for all candidates. At the end of the day the question is simple: do you stand with everyday people or do you stand with big-monied corporate interests?”

“This platform has been shaped by the key issues that determine the direction of our communities and our national economy,” said Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future. “We are taking the questions raised by our platform to the national political debate and to communities across the country.”

“In 18 months, we will go to the polls and choose a new president. Those candidates and all the others on the ballot in 2016 will have choices to make,” said Fred Azcarate, Executive Director of US Action, “Will they stand with working families and advance bold ideas that create an economy and a democracy that works for us all? Or will they side with the rich and Wall Street?”

“When you organize, you can win. Our power is in our numbers,” said LeeAnn Hall, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Just Society. “Our organizations have worked together on many issues to put the powerful on notice and to demand accountability from corporations ­– and from Congress.  We will use that strength to wrest our nation back from the corporate class, from the bankers and billionaires who put profits ahead of people.”

“Collectively we bring together a team of 600 organizers who will fight to move these ideas into the national conversation,” said Goehl. “They will be working in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and beyond to make sure candidates of both parties have to articulate where they stand on these issues.”

Populism2015 is sponsored by National People’s Action, Campaign for America’s Future, USAction, and Alliance for a Just Society, four organizations that collectively employ more than 600 professional organizers, with on the ground operations in 32 states, and a network of more than two million activists. For more information visit https://populism2015.org/

What:         POPULISM2015: BUILDING A MOVEMENT FOR PEOPLE AND THE PLANET

Who:        National People’s Action, Campaign for America’s Future, USAction, Alliance for a Just Society

When:     Saturday, April 18 – Monday, April 20, 2015 Registration 3 p.m. April 18 | First session: 6 p.m.

Where:     Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington D.C.

Highlights:
Plenary: Sun. April 19, 1:30 pm with Rep. Keith Ellison and Vien Truong of the Greenlining Institute
Rally: “Don’t Trade Away Our Future,” Mon. April 20, 12pm at 600 17th Street NW, Office of the US Trade Representative, Opposing Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership featuring Senator Bernie Sanders, CWA President Larry Cohen, National Radio Commentator Jim Hightower

Website:     populism2015.org

Social Media:  #Populism2015, #PeoplePlanet1st

Leaders Available for Interviews Before Conference

  • Robert Borosage, Campaign for America’s Future

  • George Goehl, National People’s Action

  • LeeAnn Hall, Alliance for A Just Society

  • Fred Azcarate, USAction

    To arrange interviews with the conference leaders and grassroots activists contact Isaiah J. Poole (ipoole@ourfuture.org), 202-641-1414 or Jacob Swenson-Lengyel (jacob@npa-us.org), 312-316-3973.

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“Breaking Barriers” Research Uncovers Disparities in Health Care Access

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2015
Contact: Kathy Mulady, communications
kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org

(206) 992-8787

“Breaking Barriers” Research Uncovers Disparities in Health Care Access

Health Coverage Doesn’t Translate to Health Care in Communities of Color

As more families get health insurance, it’s becoming clear that despite the many advances of the Affordable Care Act, we must do more to fundamentally change our health care system. The doors of quality health care are still closed to many people of color, families in rural communities, the poor, and those with language and cultural barriers. 

“Breaking Barriers: Improving health insurance enrollment and access to health care,” is a year-long study that includes a survey of nearly 1,200 low-income people in 10 states in Spanish, Cantonese, and English. They were contacted at food pantries, health clinics, homeless centers, and other locations.

“The Alliance for a Just Society works with partners nationwide who have low income members directly impacted by our health care system, “ said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, which released the report today. “We will continue to fight to see that disparities are addressed and that these recommendations are put in place.”

Report author Gary Delgado is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Social Change and a longtime civil and human rights leader.

The report details continuing barriers to enrollment and the glaring racial disparities in receiving health care that are magnified as more people gain health insurance. Significant changes need to be made to the system. “Breaking Barriers” includes 20 specific recommendations.

“The Affordable Care Act is a big, new house built on the old foundation,” said Delgado. “We’re still not serving people of color. We need to build a more inclusive health care system.”

While failure to expand Medicaid in 22 states is the biggest barrier to ending disparities in health care, it’s not the only obstacle. For many, cost, lack of technology, language access, and the complexities of health insurance make both enrolling and getting care difficult.

Of those surveyed, 45 percent said they live with a chronic condition. In addition, 54 percent of people of color said they use the hospital or clinic for their primary care.

“One woman told me it sometimes comes down to deciding between medication and food. Her credit is bad because of her high prescription costs,” said Adriann Barboa, of Strong Families New Mexico.

Especially in communities of color and in rural towns, a lack of Internet service is a significant barrier, to signing up for coverage, receiving updates and notices about plans, and paying premiums.

In the “Breaking Barriers” survey, 41.6 percent of Latinos and 47.7 percent of African Americans said they have Internet at home, compared to 77.5 percent of white people asked.

Antron McKay-West, with Upgrade Mississippi, grew up in the Mississippi Delta.

“It is so rural, most people can’t imagine life there. Most people don’t have Internet, if they do, it is very slow, it’s not the technology most are used to,” he said.

“During enrollment, some people were told to just go to the library and use the Internet. In the neighborhood where I grew up, the library is 15 miles away,” said McKay-West.

Nearly 200 organizations from around the country have joined with the Alliance for a Just Society in endorsing recommendations in the report for making sure everyone has access to quality health care.

Recommendations include:

  • Expand Medicaid in the 22 states that have refused to accept federal funding, leaving millions of low-income workers with out health insurance.
  • Expand the role of navigators to help people move from coverage to care.Navigators will teach those with coverage about personal doctors, routine tests, annual checkups and other aspects of health care.
  • Measure results: Require plans to track health outcomes, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, primary language, gender, disability, and sexual orientation.
  • Strengthen community-based health care. Expand school-based health centers in medically under-served communities. Support community providers including clinics, individual physicians, and small community practices.
  • Expand medical-legal partnerships to address issues that lead to poor health in low-income communities such as mold in housing, contamination, and industrial pollutants.
  • Enforce access to preventive care. Ensure that all health plans cover yearly check-ups, immunizations, and screenings at no out-of-pocket cost.

Alliance for a Just Society is a national organizing and research network that has produced pivotal reports for 20 years on state and national health issues including Medicaid, prescription drugs, and insurance industry practices.

 

 

 

 

Alliance Statement on Immigration Ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Contact:  Kathy Mulady, Communications

kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org

Alliance for a Just Society Joins Organizations Nationwide, Confident That

the Politically Motivated, Anti-immigrant Ruling Will be Quickly Overturned

WASHINGTON – The ruling today by an anti-Obama, anti-immigrant judge in Brownsville, Texas, is disappointing, but it is only a temporary setback. Immigrants and immigrant advocates have fought long and hard, and will not give up now.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the start of the new immigrant deferred action programs, and pushes back the Feb. 18 start date for young immigrants to apply for work permits.

“We are deeply disappointed that legislators, and even a judge, continue to play political games with people’s lives. It’s inexcusable, but at this point, no longer surprising,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.

“This is one more bump in the road as we build a sturdy path and permanent solution that includes citizenship for all 11 million immigrants in our country. We are so close, we must continue our march,” said Hall.

Legal experts throughout the country agree that President Obama’s executive action on immigration is well within his authority. We are confident that the legal system will overturn the money-wasting and time-wasting lawsuit.

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Alliance for a Just Society is a national research, policy and organizing network focusing on economic, health and social justice issues.

In Seattle Feb. 26? Attend our Panel on Health Care Disparities

Join us on February 26!

What Will it Take to End Racial Disparities in Health Care in Washington State?

Panel Discussion in Seattle’s Columbia City on Feb. 26

Insurance coverage alone can’t overcome the histories of neglect, poverty and discrimination that created poor health outcomes for people of color in Washington. Improved access to health care and environmental intervention – especially for low-income families – are critical.

The Affordable Care Act includes initiatives to fight racial and cultural disparities in health care, it’s up to Washington to put them to use.

Lead paint, cockroach infestations, mold, pesticides and a many other environmental contaminants have been linked to illness. Many environmental causes of illness can be addressed under Medicaid. Details are available in this new report.

Join us for a discussion of the problems, and recommendations on how we can assure that everyone in our state has access to fair and equitable health care, and to healthy lives.

Panelists:

                   Moderator: Jill Reese, Associate Director, Alliance for a Just Society.

 

When: Thursday, February 26, 2015

Time: 9:30 a.m. to noon

Where: The Commons, 3518 South Edmunds Street, Seattle WA 98118 (Columbia City neighborhood – take the Link light rail!)

Audience participation will be encouraged.

For more information: Bill Daley, Alliance for a Just Societybill@allianceforajustsociety.org

Or call (206) 568-5400

Alliance for a Just Society has produced pivotal reports for 20 years on state and national health issues including Medicaid, prescription drugs, and insurance industry practices.

“A Full-Time Job Should Lead to Financial Stability, Not to Poverty”

For Immediate Release     January 27, 2015

“A Full-Time Job Should Lead to Financial Stability, Not to Poverty”

Most of America’s job growth is taking place in low-wage occupations

 WASHINGTON – Half of all new jobs nationwide don’t pay enough for a full-time worker to live on – much less a single parent with a child. And there are long lines of job-seekers for the few jobs that do pay a living wage.

“Low Wage Nation,” released today, is the newest report in the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series produced by the Alliance for a Just Society. The report paints a sobering picture of just how hard it is to find a living wage job.

“This new report clearly illustrates the low-wage crisis in our country,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of Alliance for a Just Society. “A full-time job should lead to financial stability, not to poverty.”

The top four occupations with the greatest number of projected job openings are in retail and food service. Those jobs pay between $8.81 and $10.16 an hour.

The Alliance was joined by executive directors from Good Jobs First and Washington Community Action Network for a live webinar today to discuss the findings of the report. A recorded version of the webinar is available here. 

“The reality is that we are living in a low wage nation, a country of workers putting in long hours, but still failing to make ends meet. And this report is the evidence,” said Ben Henry, senior policy associate and one of the report authors.

Some of the report findings:

  • Nationwide, 48 percent of job openings pay less than $15 an hour. (That percent ranges from 35 percent in Massachusetts to 61 percent in South Dakota.)
  • Nationally, there are seven times more job seekers than jobs that pay enough for a worker to make ends meet.
  • Two of the top five occupations with the most projected job openings are also in the top five in lowest pay.

What Is a Living Wage?

A living wage is one that pays high enough for a full-time worker to cover basic living needs for herself and her family, without having to rely on public assistance to get by.

“A living wage is not a poverty wage, and it is not simply ‘scraping by.’ A living wage provides a modest living, with a little left to set aside for emergencies,” said Allyson Fredericksen, policy associate and co-author of the Alliance report.

It’s a Jobs Crisis, Not a Worker Crisis

“This is about workers who show up every day and put in a full day so that their employer can make a profit,” said Jill Reese, associate director of the Alliance. “These workers should not be living in poverty, they should be able to afford – at the very least – to cover their basic needs.”

Recommendations from the “Low Wage Nation” Report

  • Increase minimum wage to a living wage
  • Eliminate the tipped minimum wage (stuck at $2.13 an hour for 24 years)
  • Establish work supports, like paid sick days and paid maternity leave.
  • Strengthen federal and state safety net programs
  • Increase federal and state revenue
  • Invest in good paying jobs, like those in the health care industry

“Jobs that once were good family-wage jobs are becoming poverty-wage jobs, and economic development programs are too often indifferent,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First.  “States giving out tax breaks usually fail to even disclose actual jobs created or actual wages paid.

“Low Wage Nation reveals the tremendous cost of those policies to our workers and their families,” said LeRoy.

The full report is available at thejobgap.org

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Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 15 state affiliates that focuses on health, racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced Job Gap studies since 1999.

Ferguson Tragedy is a Mandate to Change Police Policies and Practices in Our Country

For Immediate Release

November 24, 2014
ALLIANCE FOR A JUST SOCIETY
Contact: Kathy Mulady,
Communications Director
(206) 992-8787
or Libero Della Piana,
Senior Organizer
Ferguson Grand Jury Decision in the Killing of Michael Brown

The Alliance for a Just Society joins with millions of people who are outraged and incredulous that no indictment was made of officer Darren Wilson for killing the unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014.

An indictment is not a verdict, it is simply the acknowledgement that a life was wrongly taken and that a trial is necessary to review the evidence and to determine whether the officer is guilty of murder, manslaughter, or is innocent.

No indictment means no pursuit of the truth, and little chance of justice.

“The tragedy that happened in Ferguson is a mandate to change the policy and practice of policing around the country,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.  “Let’s end a system that allows police to take the lives of young black men, any person of color, or anyone’s child without facing the consequences.”

There have been far too many distortions, reversals and changed stories from the Ferguson Police Department about the incident. The public still doesn’t know everything that happened that day, nor do we know Darren Wilson’s version of events.

We are also disturbed by the preparation for violent conflict and confrontation by the local police in Ferguson and the State of Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a State of Emergency last week in advance of the Grand Jury decision and ahead of predicted “violent protest.” The fact is that protests in Ferguson, the surrounding area, and around the country have been largely peaceful. The governor’s decision and stockpiling of riot gear sets a dangerous tone for police.

Tension rose in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing in large part due to police violence and excessive response towards protesters. Journalists, local clergy, bystanders and protesters were locked up, tear-gassed, beaten, harassed and arrested over the past three months.

In this moment of miscarried justice we must all take action.

  • We call on the police and other authorities to respond responsibly and peacefully to the legal and rightful protest of the Grand Jury decision. We have a right to march, protest and to call attention to the prevalence of police violence and brutality in communities of color in this country.
  • We call for demilitarizing the police and a stop to federal programs that provide subsidized or free military equipment to local authorities.
We cannot let Michael Brown’s death be in vain.
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