The deportation of Julian Assange is an attack on Freedom of the press

British Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face criminal charges of violating the Espionage Act.

WikiLeaks released a vast trove of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables in collaboration with U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning that exposed US war crimes. The diplomatic cables were of critical journalistic importance and Assange is being punished for daring to blow the whistle on American war crimes.

Subjecting Assange to trial in the US is a threat to public interest journalism and will create a chilling effect on reporting in the public interest. Assange is the first journalist to have been charged under the First World War-era Act.

The Canadian Freelance Union condemns the extradition of Julian Assange to the US and calls for the dismissal of all charges against him. 

The CFU calls Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly to condemn the decision to extradite Assange. We also call on the Australian government to take swift action and stop the extradition of Assange.

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Request for interest: Website design and development May 2022

The Canadian Freelance Union (CFU) is seeking proposals to redesign and add enhanced features to the organization’s bilingual website and certain related online activities including monthly membership dues processing.

Proposals are due by end of the day on Monday, July 15, 2022. They may be submitted via email [email protected] Selection will occur in the following weeks. Only the person or team behind the successful proposal will be contacted.

To download the RFI click here.

 

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CFU condemns the killing of Sherine Abu Akleh, Al-Jazeera journalist

The Canadian Freelance Union (CFU) strongly condemns the killing of Palestinian journalist Sherine Abu Akleh, who was shot by Israeli forces while on assignment in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. She was killed while wearing a press vest and was standing with other journalists when she was killed.

The killing of a civilian journalist is an affront to media freedom everywhere and a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and international conventions and norms, which stipulate that journalists and media workers must be protected.

The CFU believes enhancing the safety of journalists, especially those working in conflict zones, has to be a global priority, as the protection of journalists is the only guarantee to support their work and carry out to reveal the truth to the world.

The tragic loss is a strong reminder of the daily dangers facing journalists and media men around the world and the need to enhance their safety.

The CFU is calling for a prompt, transparent, and comprehensive investigation into the killing of Al-Jazeera satellite channel’s veteran reporter and for those responsible to be held accountable.

We express our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. 

This year the theme guiding the United Nations Holocaust remembrance and education is “Memory, Dignity, and Justice.” The writing of history and the act of remembering brings dignity and justice to those whom the perpetrators of the Holocaust intended to obliterate. Safeguarding the historical record, remembering the victims, and challenging the distortion of history, often expressed in contemporary antisemitism, are critical aspects of claiming justice after atrocity crimes. The theme encompasses these concerns.

The Canadian Freelance Union honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance.


#HolocaustRemembranceDay

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Solidarity statement with Dominion Strikers

On October 27, 2020, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, acting upon unknown orders, brought in over 20 officers including those in riot gear to illegally break up a peaceful picket line of Unifor 597 who are striking against Dominion’s parent company Loblaws Companies Limited.

The RNC threatened these essential workers who have supported our province through the worst of the pandemic with arrest, for exercising their legally protected right to picket. Injunction orders against the strikers have failed, so why are police acting as strikebreakers? Whose orders are they acting upon?

The Weston family has increased their wealth by $1,600,000,000 over the course of the pandemic, in which they paid their employees an extra $2/hour -- dubbed ‘hero pay’ -- which they stopped paying in July, along with other grocery retailers. While those workers put the health and safety of themselves, their family, and their loved ones on the line, the Weston family still increased profits, and are unwilling to share that wealth with the people who provide them that income.

In 2019, Dominion stores have cut full time positions in order to further exploit their workers, leaving them without benefits or security. The only thing the company is offering the workers -- now primarily part-time employees -- is an additional $1/hour over the entire life of their three-year contract, according to Unifor National President, Jerry Dias.

The Canadian Freelance Union stands in solidarity with essential workers from Unifor Local 597 and condemns the harassment and intimidation by police. We demand accountability from the people who directed the police to respond in this manner, and are encouraged to hear that Loblaw has finally agreed to get back to the bargaining table.

The Canadian Freelance Union is a community chapter of Unifor, focusing on advancing the rights and working conditions for freelancers in the communications and media industries.

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CFU statement on Anti Black Racism

The Canadian Freelance Union condemns the systemic racism and Anti-Black, Anti-Indigenous violence that is prevalent across the globe. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the subsequent response to the protests that have seen people--including journalists--maimed, injured, and harassed for exercising their right to assemble once more demands that we act, we educate, and we recommit to anti-racism solidarity.

The actions by the police, the state and various other bodies of authority have, by design, perpetuated a system of violence that has targeted Black, Indigenous and racialized people.

This systemic Anti-Black, Anti-Indigenous violence has deep roots in Canada. During the pandemic, at least nine Indigenous people have been killed during interactions with police.

Canada was built on genocide and the violence which is endemic has severe consequences for impacted communities, and all of us living on this land.

After years of peaceful protests, one of the largest civil rights movements has once again been launched by Black and Afro-Indigenous organizers and their allies. This movement has been created in response to a continuous lack of justice that has been left unaddressed for decades.

As most of our racialized members know, in both Canada and the United States, our police forces were created with the aim to control, through force, the Indigenous and non-white population. The RCMP was inspired by the quasi-military force--the Royal Irish Constabulary--that Britain was using to oppress the Irish.

Originally named the North-West Mounted Police, they were to ‘keep order’ in the North-West Territories. But Canada wasn’t going to just rely on policing to keep Indigenous people compliant. Canada also went after their source of food and furs--the buffalo--in order to starve the Plains and Métis peoples and make them reliant upon Canada, and less able to fight back, physically or spiritually. This made way for the continued and on-going efforts to strip non-white people on these lands of their culture, their belief systems, and their supports.

The National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls found Canada guilty of both historic and ongoing genocide. Black Canadians are nearly twice as likely as non-racialized Canadians to be considered low income. An Indigenous CBC reporter has resigned in protest of not just the lack of diversity in CBC’s staff, but also because the Journalistic Standards and Practices perpetuates systemic racism and prevents racialized journalists from adding their unique perspectives to the stories they report upon.

Visible minorities in Canada are 11% more likely to face discrimination in hiring than in the United States, and while statistics in Canada are lacking, there’s evidence that Black people are more likely to be a freelancer than white people. This means that creative Black workers work in more precarious conditions than white workers, with lower wages and no benefits. 

We can not let any more tragedies occur under our watch. We must fight for the just society we wish to live in, and we must fight against injustices in our society. This starts with each of us, calling out racism in our work and daily lives, educating others, and fighting for equity at every level of society. You can find Unifor’s Policy on Racial Justice here.

These are just some of the reasons why it is important that as a union we take a stand on anti-Black violence and work to stop anti-Black racism. The Canadian Freelance Union joins the call of impacted communities who are demanding the dismantling of institutionalized racism and oppression that endangers the lives of Black, Indigenous and racialized people in Canada and around the world. In a broad perspective, this means looking at new ways to keep communities safe, expanding our social safety nets, fighting for affordable, guaranteed child care, free post-secondary education, and ending cycles of intergenerational poverty and trauma.

There is a lot to do, and the Canadian Freelance Union commits to helping educate our members about what these calls to action mean, and why these changes are important to racialized people. If you see a call to action from #BLM, and you aren’t certain what it means or why they’re calling for it, please reply to this email and we will send resources.

The CFU Board represents freelancers from across Canada, yet we currently have no Black or Indigenous voices on our Board. We will engage in a process to identify ways in which racialized freelancers can become more involved in the work of their union and have their needs better represented. Not just through who represents them, but also in the priorities and campaign directions that we take on.

To that end:

  • We encourage our members to get involved in local organizing efforts;
  • The Canadian Freelance Union will donate to Canadian Association of Black Journalists in support of the organizing efforts beyond our statement;
  • We are re-upping our call for pitches, especially for racialized members. The topic does not need to be race or racism.

Black Lives Matter here, and we must all fight to ensure that Black Lives Matter everywhere.

Photo courtesy of Jalani Morgan, Untitled, 2015

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Organizing & running a union digitally

The COVID-19 virus is forcing organizations and their members to work virtually as much as possible. Due to the abruptness, some organizations are ill-prepared for this transition.  In order to be productive, there are common requirements that both organizations and members need. The Canadian Freelance Union has been functioning remotely since our founding. Here’s some time tips to support organizations and members when working remotely. 

EXECUTIVE MEETINGS:

Our executive team has virtual monthly meetings. Meetings are formal (quorum required) and mandatory to allow for operational business as usual. It's important that dates are set in advance, allowing people to block dates far in advance.  We meet using the video conference software, Zoom (more below). If you do conference calls, consider using video chat so that you can see each other (and if you do utilize video chat for conference calls, remember to maintain the same etiquette as you would for an in-person meeting).  

SUPPORTING MEMBERS: 

The CFU provides member support with grievance issues. This is all done virtually, and starts with the members filling out an online form. This information goes directly to the support team. Once the information is reviewed, we host a Zoom meeting  with the impacted member. The goal of that meeting is to clarify any questions and set expectations on possible actions/outcomes. We compile a Google document which we share with the member to help us draft an appropriate response.  

COMMUNICATING WITH MEMBERS: 

The CFU communicates with its members on a regular basis using a variety of methods.  We have an email list-serv that goes out regularly to inform members of the ongoing work of the union. We use social media tools such as twitter, Facebook etc to communicate more frequently with members. Finally, we also have chat tools like Slack that allow for instant communication to each other and members.  With Slack, you have the ability to create lots of different channels, so your conversations can be organized by topics and/or teams.

HAVING THE RIGHT TOOLS: 

It’s important that everyone in your organization uses the same tools as much as possible so there is seamless integration. There are a lot of tools out there ranging from free ones to ones with monthly packages and enhanced features.  

VIDEO CONFERENCE TOOLS

Zoom is one of the more popular video conferencing tools. Under the free plan you have access to run video meetings up to 40 minutes with up to 100 participants. Zoom’s biggest advantage is that participants do not need an account. A link is sufficient. The paid plan is relatively cheap especially when you buy the annual plan.

Google announced that it would be rolling out free access to “advanced” features for Hangouts Meet to all globally through July 1st. Organizations can host meetings with up to 250 participants, live stream to up to 100,000 viewers within a single domain, and record and save meetings to Google Drive. 

Microsoft is offering free access to Microsoft Teams with up to 250 video meeting participants and live streams of up to 10,000 viewers. 

CHAT TOOLS

Slack is an instant communication app that integrates with Google DriveMicrosoft OneDrive and Dropbox.

WhatsApp is a mobile app for group messaging connected to a phone number and has no storage limits.

BACKUP/SYNC FILES

Syncing and backing up files as often as possible is key. For example, individuals can duplicate information from a laptop to an external hard drive, the cloud, another computer or a flash drive. 

Organizations can use cloud-managed backup services which don’t require on-premise infrastructure and can be checked from anywhere.

There are several cloud resources available and it's important that everyone use the same service. 

Google Drive allows for up to 15GB of free space on their servers. 

Dropbox, provides a central hub for teams to access all of the content they need from anywhere, on any device. The contents of these folders are synchronized to Dropbox's servers and to other computers and devices where the user has installed Dropbox, keeping the same files up-to-date on all devices. 

SECURITY

If you don’t have internet at home and have to use public wifi, take some precautions and only login to sites that have HTTPS in the address bar. 

Don’t use unsecured wifi networks, as they are prime spots for malicious parties to collect confidential information.

It’s as important to ensure that all accounts are protected with strong passwords and set up two-factor authentication. Two -factor authentication (2FA) and two-step verification (2SV) involve an additional step to add an extra layer of protection to your accounts.

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CFU stands in solidarity with Coop refinery workers

Post by David Hogben

Solidarity is frequently talked about and sometimes taken for granted in the labour movement.

But when hundreds of labour activists came from across Canada to picket with locked out refinery workers in fierce winds on the frigid Saskatchewan prairie, its power was real, and appreciated.
That’s exactly what happened after about 730 Unifor Local 594 workers were locked out last December by the Federated Co-operatives Ltd.
“People I don’t even know came here, and it touched us all,” explained Crystal Brittner, wife of one of the locked out workers.
“I have never met these people before and I have come down and walked the picket line with them. I have talked to them,” Brittner said on a bitterly cold afternoon when she and another spouse Jennifer Shupe, handed out hand made thank you cards with wild seeds for the out-of-town pickets to take home and plant to remember the gratitude of their Unifor sisters and brothers.
“I said thanks for coming and not one said you are welcome. They said It’s my pleasure to be here, or it’s where I need to be,” said Brittner while explaining how difficult the lockout has been for her family, especially her children who did not fully understand the sacrifices they were making as a family.
“I don’t have words to explain how all of that made me feel and how much I appreciate having these people come and do that.”
Shupe said the cross-Canada show of unity meant a lot to the locked out workers and their families, especially as they dealt with the deep, difficult divisions in the community that the lockout brought.
“This has divided our families. It has divided our communities,” Shupe said.
“We just wanted to say thank you to everybody for everything you have done for us, for our spouses, and for our families, because it has been an incredibly hard time for us.”
                                                      
Local 594 members knew they were in for a fight. Federated Co-operatives had built a scab village inside plant gates before the the contract expired. The provincial government turned a deaf ear to workers’ demands for a mediator. And, Regina police seemed more like a company security force than public police force. They towed locked out workers’ cars from the side of the highway, removed warming trailers and toilets while temperatures reached minus 30 Celsius. Police Chief Evan Bray called pickets “borderline terrorists”.
Union leaders — national President Jerry Dias, Local 594 president Kevin Bittman and Lance Holowachuk — were arrested on the picketline. More Local 594 were arrested as well.
The company, that was making about $3 million a day before the lockout, sought massive fines and jail terms through the courts in attempts to cow Local 594 members.
The Federated Co-op, Regina police and even the courts all seemed stacked against Local 594 members’ fight to retain their pension plans, and their jobs when Unifor put out the call for help.
Unifor members from all over Canada responded. Some 900 union activists grabbed their cold-weather gear, left their own jobs, their own homes and families and joined the picket lines on the frozen prairie on the outskirts of Regina.
                                             
Out-of-town pickets came from across Canada to walk eight to 12-hour shifts with their locked out sisters and brothers.

Luc St-Armand, a member of Unifor Local 29, skipped his son’s birthday and travelled all the way from Edmunston, New Brunswick where he worked at the Twin River Papers pulp mill to support the locked out refinery workers.
“It’s a big country. We are all brothers. We work to keep our pensions going. If they start doing that everywhere, we are going to loose the little bit of our pension that we have,” St-Armand said.
“It’s cold, but everyone is happy. We talk to all the members.
I am happy to be here and give them a hand.”

Rachel Duncan, an autoworker from Local 4451 in Stratford, Ontario, said she was there, because “Unifor is my union as well as their union. We have joined with the rest of our country and the rest of our membership to come out here and support them to show the rest of the world what our union is capable of so they don’t end up getting pushed around.”
Duncan said Regina was “cold,” but it was all worthwhile.
“The experience has been that of camaraderie. The people who have come out here have shown a lot of solidarity. If they are coming for you now, they are coming for us next.”

Bryan Jones, a pulp mill worker from Local 855 in Hinton, Alberta, spent more than 25 days on the line.

“This battle though it’s deeper for Local 594 members goes far deeper for the labour movement in Canada. If a bastard employer like FCL is allowed to run rampant over pensions, working conditions, membership and every little thing that they want to, they will set a precedent that is terrible for everyone in Canada,” Jones said.
After almost a month on the line, Jones was still enthusiastic about the experience.
“It’s great. I have met people from all over Canada right from one end to the other, from Newfoundland right to B.C., and it’s been awesome.”

John Harding, a retired autoworker from Mississauga, Ontario, said he could not stay home and enjoy retirement while FCL attacked Local 594 members’ pensions.
“I came here to support our brothers who are struggling to get a contract. If they do not get a contract other companies are going to follow the same suit,” Harding said.
“We are freezing here, but it’s worth it.”

Pressure from Local 594 and Unifor workers across Canada finally persuaded the Saskatchewan government to appoint special mediator Vince Ready to try and resolve the dispute.

Picture of David Hogben

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Journée internationale des femmes

Les femmes* ont toujours été, et ont toujours eu leur place dans le monde du travail. Les mouvements syndicaux et les révolutions ouvrières ont commencé à cause des femmes: les émeutes du pain, la Révolution française, la Révolution de février, les grèves dans les usines textiles. La Journée internationale des femmes travailleuses a pour but de mettre en lumière le travail des femmes et les droits du travail pour lesquels elles se sont battues et sont mortes. C'est une fête socialiste qui s'est répandue dans le monde entier à partir du début des années 1900, axée sur la discrimination en matière d'emploi, les disparités salariales entre hommes et femmes, et l'autonomisation financière et politique des femmes

En l'honneur de cela, je veux parler des formes de travail plus invisibles que l'on attend des femmes en silence. Le type de travail que la plupart d'entre nous ne reconnaissent même pas se produit, mais en raison des normes de genre et des pressions sociales, il revient généralement aux femmes. Il est donc naturel de ne pas avoir pensé ou remarqué ce comportement dans sa propre vie, quel que soit son sexe, et bien que cela soit plus évident dans les relations hétérosexuelles, cela existe dans toutes les relations sous une forme ou une autre.

L'un des types de travail invisible les plus insidieux est la « charge mentale » des tâches et de la gestion d'un foyer ou d'un bureau

Comme de plus en plus de familles ont besoin de deux revenus, les hommes cisgenres font plus pour les travaux ménagers et sont fiers de répartir les tâches de manière égale. Mais même si c'était vrai (ce qui n'est pas le cas selon les études), c'est toujours à la femme qu'il incombe généralement de gérer le travail qui doit être fait. Cela signifie qu'une femme doit demander à son partenaire de faire les tâches, doit lui demander d'être parent, ou demander à ses collègues masculins de faire leur travail, ce qui la met dans une position de servilité. Les femmes sont censées se souvenir des anniversaires, des préférences, jongler avec les calendriers et répondre aux besoins émotionnels de leur entourage.

Cela est lié au travail émotionnel et à la manière dont nous attendons des femmes, en particulier, qu'elles se comportent de manière agréable, compatissante et attentionnée.

En URSS, l'une des expériences sociales qu'ils ont menées a consisté à repenser l'immeuble d'habitation moderne. Ils ont décidé que, pour que les femmes soient égales, il fallait faire quelque chose pour le travail non rémunéré. Entre la cuisine, le ménage, la lessive et toutes les autres tâches qui incombent souvent aux femmes, les Soviétiques ont reconnu que l'égalité des genres était loin d'être acquise et que cela commençait à la maison.

Pour y arriver, ils ont retiré les cuisines des appartements individuels. À la place, ils ont créé une grande cuisine centralisée dans laquelle les résidents préparaient à tour de rôle les repas pour l'immeuble. Elles espéraient que cela permettrait non seulement de créer un sentiment de communauté, mais aussi de libérer le temps des femmes, en leur permettant de se consacrer à des passe-temps, de passer plus de temps avec leurs amis et leur famille, et de travailler en dehors de la maison et d'avoir un pouvoir économique.

J'aime le fait qu'ils étaient prêts à expérimenter des moyens de contribuer à une société plus équitable, mais je ne peux pas m'empêcher de me demander qui s'est chargé du travail invisible de gestion des espaces communs. Tant que nous ne pourrons pas nous attaquer aux attentes sous-jacentes à l'égard des femmes et à la manière dont on attend de nous que nous travaillions, trop de ces changements ne constituent que des apparats, déplaçant simplement le problème d'une pièce à l'autre.

Les solutions, comme toujours, commencent par nous. Regardez votre espace de travail et demandez qui accomplit des tâches invisibles. Qui nettoie les tasses de café à la fin de la journée? Qui nettoie le four à micro-ondes? Si vous travaillez ou vivez dans un lieu où travaillent plusieurs personnes, qui est chargé de veiller à ce que les factures ou les décomptes soient envoyés, reçus ou payés?

Qui doit demander aux autres de donner un coup de main?

Pour obtenir de plus amples informations sur la Journée internationale des femmes, veuillez consulter ce communiqué de presse d’Unifor avec la liste des événements locaux.

*Comme toujours, j'utilise le terme « femmes » pour inclure les femmes cisgenres et transgenres, mais dans le militantisme syndical en particulier, ces questions s'appliquent souvent aux personnes de tous les sexes qui subissent une oppression patriarcale. Cette situation est encore aggravée par la race, l'orientation sexuelle, le statut de migrant et l’incapacité.

 

 

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International Women’s Day

Women* have always been, and always belonged, in the workforce. Labour movements and revolutions have started because of women -- bread riots, the French Revolution, the February Revolution, the Textile Mill strikes. International Working Women’s Day aims to shed a light on the work that women do, and the labour rights they’ve fought and died for. It is a socialist holiday that spread across the globe beginning in the early 1900s, focused on employment discrimination, wage disparities between men and women, and women’s financial and political empowerment.

In honour of that, I want to talk about the more invisible forms of work that women are silently expected to do. The type of work that most of us don’t even recognize is happening, but because of gender norms and social pressures, usually falls to women. Because of the prevelence of this, it’s natural to have not thought about or noticed this behaviour in your own life, no matter what gender you are, and while this is most apparent in heterosexual relationships, it exists in all relationships in some form.

One of the most insidious types of invisible labour is the ‘mental load’ of the chores and running a household or an office.

As more families require two incomes, cis men have been doing more in regards to housework, and pride themselves on splitting the chores evenly. But even if that’s true (which studies say it’s not), it still usually falls to the woman to manage the work that needs done. That means a woman has to ask for their partner to do chores, has to ask them to parent, or ask their male colleagues to do their job, which puts them in a subservient position. Women are the ones expected to remember birthdays, preferences, juggle the calendars and the emotional needs of those around her.

This ties in to emotional labour and how we expect women, especially, to behave in a pleasant, compassionate and nurturing manner.

In the USSR, one of the social experiments they ran was to rethink the modern apartment building. They decided that, for women to have equality, that something must be done about unpaid labour. Between cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and all the other things that often fell to women, the Soviets recognized that gender equality was a long way off and it started in the home.

To achieve this end, they took kitchens out of the individual apartments. In its place they made a large, centralized kitchen in which residents would take turns preparing meals for the building. They hoped that this would not only build a sense of community, but free up women’s time, allowing them the pursuit of hobbies, more time with friends and family, and allow them to work outside of the home and have economic power.

I love that they were willing to experiment on ways to help make a more equitable society, but I can’t help but wonder who it was that took on the invisible labour of managing the communal spaces. Until we can tackle the underlying expectations on women and how we’re expected to labour, too many of these changes are window dressings, simply moving the problem from one room to another.

The solutions, as always, start with us. Look at your workspace and ask who it is that’s doing invisible tasks. Who is cleaning up coffee cups at the end of the day? Who cleans out the microwave? If you work or live in a place with more than one person, who’s in charge of ensuring invoices or bills are sent, received or paid?

Who is it that has to ask others to help out?

For more on International Working Women’s Day, please check out this release from Unifor with a list of local events.

*As always, I use women to include both cis and trans women, but in labour activism especially, these issues often apply to people of all genders that experience patriarchal oppression. This is further compounded by race, sexual orientation, migrant status, and disability.

 

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