SP Intel Report- November 11, 2015


Moody’s Predicts Chicago’s Unfunded Pension Liabilities Could Grow For At Least Another Decade

Regrettably, the City of Chicago’s pension crisis is far from being resolved. From a press release out of Moody’s Global Credit Research division Tuesday:

New York, November 10, 2015 — Today, Moody’s Investors Service released a scenario analysis of the City of Chicago’s (Ba1 negative) possible pension funding paths. The scenarios incorporate the city’s recently adopted property tax increase as well as the outcomes of two key decisions pending with the State of Illinois (Baa1 negative) and the Illinois Supreme Court. The analysis indicates that, despite significantly increasing its contributions to its pension plans, Chicago’s unfunded pension liabilities could grow, at a minimum, for another ten years.

“Chicago’s statutory pension contributions will remain insufficient to arrest growth in unfunded pension liabilities for many years under each scenario,” Moody’s AVP-Analyst Matthew Butler says in the new report, “Chicago’s Pension Roadmap: A Scenario Analysis.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for empashis)

You can read the entire press release on Moody’s website here.


U.S. Adults Over 30 Are Less Happy Than Their Predecessors

I spotted the following yesterday on the MarketWatch website. Catey Hill reported Monday night:

It all goes downhill after 30 — at least when it comes to happiness.

“Adults over 30 are less happy than their predecessors,” concludes a study published online Thursday in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, which examined happiness data from more than 50,000 adults, gleaned from the General Social Survey, carried out by NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan, independent research organization, which has collected information about American adults since 1972.

From 2010 to 2014, adults over 30 had an average happiness score of just 2.18, compared with 2.24 a decade ago. That’s significant considering happiness scores were measured on a tiny scale from just 1 to 3, with 1 being “not too happy” and 3 being “very happy.” (The data used five-year cohort periods so that single year fluctuations were smoothed out.)

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A graph within the article depicted happiness scores by age over time. Something stood out right away for me looking at the measure for the “30 or older” crowd. Happiness scores rose from around 1993 until 2001- then plummeted ever since. In 1993, I remember older classmates of mine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign saying the job market was pretty rough (but better than recent years where graduate school was a popular option). Lots of bad economic news as well back in 2001. Hill added later:

What’s perhaps even more interesting is that, for the first time ever, adults ages 18 to 29 were happier than adults over 30

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The authors weren’t sure why “younger adults are happier than older ones for the first time in at least 40 years.” I’d like to offer up one possible explanation for some in that demographic:

“Cartman sends his mother to the store”
YouTube Video

In all seriousness, I come across a lot of miserable stuff on a daily basis while conducting research for this blog and other projects. I try to keep upbeat by remembering:

1. While I still see a financial crash in store for us, I don’t envision the end of the world taking place. Although it could be the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI).
2. Life ain’t fair. Nobody’s perfect. Just do the best you can.
3. God’s got my back. And I’ll try to be the best Christian I can.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Hill, Catey. “Americans over 30 are more miserable than they’ve ever been.” MarketWatch. 9 Nov. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/americans-over-30-are-more-miserable-than-theyve-ever-been-2015-11-09). 11 Nov. 2015.

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Good Article On British Preppers

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
Advice on the looming crash, No. 1: get hard cash in a safe place now; don’t assume banks and cash points will be open, or bank cards will work”

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
“Crash advice No. 2: do you have enough bottled water, tinned goods & other essentials at home to live a month indoors? If not, get shopping.”

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
“Crash advice No. 3: agree a rally point with your loved ones in case transport and communications get cut off; somewhere you can all head to.”

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
I’m presuming the Central Banks will intervene to stop this market slide but that will just make the eventual, inescapable crash even worse.”

-Tweets from Damian McBride, former special adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as global stock markets continue to plunge this week

Earlier this evening I came across a good article about British preppers on the website of the Mirror (UK).

One of the reasons I call the piece “good” is that the author, Jeff Parsons, reported on prepping without the typical bias and ridicule found in most other mainstream media works on this subject.

The Mirror Online met with a “survival expert that tells it like it is”- Steve Hart of the British prepping website ukpreppersguide.co.uk- who proceeded to explain the activity as:

Prepping itself is just another form of insurance. People have life, car or pet insurance for the “what ifs” – this is just looking at a “what if” from a slightly different perspective.

What if a serious earthquake hits? Or a tsunami or a volcano or even a bio-terrorism attack?

Funny. That’s pretty much how I’ve come to describe prepping as.

The article is an interesting look at preppers “across the pond”- with some basic prepping tips thrown in.

You can read the entire piece over on the Mirror website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Magazine Article On Area Preppers

This morning I read an article on the Chicago Magazine website that focused on Chicago-area preppers- particularly those in the suburbs. Rod O’Connor spoke to preppers residing in Downers Grove, Glenview, and on the North Side for his piece, in which he observed:

The prepper movement has climbed out of the bunker and established itself, quietly, along affluent streets in Chicago, its suburbs, and beyond…

The article is a pretty good read. Finding it difficult to get a suburban prepper to interview, O’Connor wrote:

Preppers are, not surprisingly, a paranoid bunch. Locating people willing to speak with me about their habits was more challenging than finding vegans at a gun range…

Obviously, a little bit of discretion with such matters goes a long way in protecting preppers and their loved ones in a SHTF scenario. But O’Connor also needs to realize that preppers are only too familiar with the numerous hack-jobs perpetrated by the mainstream media at their expense.

From my experience, it’s rare that these individuals are given a fair shake by the press. Instead, ignorance, inherent bias, and sensationalism often shine through in the various MSM articles/segments.

By the way, if you do read the piece on the Chicago Magazine website, I penned the following comment in response to a blanket claim by another commenter that preppers are “selfish” and “paranoid”:

A popular misconception. As a regular observer of the prepping “movement,” there’s no shortage of preppers who have adopted a “give until it hurts” mindset when it comes to helping out neighbors/strangers in a poop hits the fan scenario. It’s discussed often in various prepper forums (“What should I be stocking up for my neighbors/others?” and “What’s the best way to get my neighbors/others food and supplies without putting myself and loved ones in danger?” are pretty common questions). In addition, those in public safety might disagree with the notion that preppers as a whole are “selfish.” In a neighborhood-wide or larger emergency, police, fire, and other public safety agencies might not have to aid citizens (preppers) that had the foresight and follow-through to prepare for such an incident, thereby freeing up responders to help others in the community who for some reason or another weren’t prepared. Selfish? How about carrying out their civic duty? Like “L O” points out, Ready.gov and other emergency preparedness-related government initiatives implore Americans to sock away at least 72 hours of emergency food, water, and other supplies. When it comes to prepping, plenty of practitioners look at it this way. Americans insure their health, their vehicles, their residences, etcetera. Why not insure one’s standard of living, at least as best one can in a significant emergency/disaster? Not such a “paranoid mindset” if you ask me.

Like I said, the Chicago Magazine article is a decent read- particularly if you’re from the Chicagoland area. You can view the entire article on the publication’s website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 34: Food Garden And Survival Seeds

In the last “Project Prepper” post, I blogged about starting a food garden. Progress has been slow (then again, frost warnings are still going out around here in the Chicago suburbs), but at least the fruit and vegetable seeds are on their way. I purchased heirloom seeds put together by My Patriot Supply, an affiliate marketing partner of Survival And Prosperity (discussed here). In particular, I purchased a flagship product of theirs called the Survival Seed Vault. From the website of the now Salt Lake City, Utah-based “Patriot Owned Survival Store”:

The Survival Seed Vault contains only the highest quality heirloom vegetable survival seeds. These Patriot Seeds are 100% Non-GMO, open-pollinated and placed in specially sealed packets allowing for long term storage…

• 20 varieties of hardy heirloom survival seeds passed down from our forefathers.
• Survival seeds rated for 5+ years of storage at 75F, longer at lower temperatures.
• No hybrids, GMOs, or outdated survival seeds. All harvested seeds are reusable.
• Each seed bank is hand-inspected and packed by our American staff to ensure quality.
• Includes detailed survival seed saving guide.

As for the kinds of seeds contained in the “Vault,” My Patriot Supply says on their site:

Included Patriot Seeds

• Blue Lake Bush Bean – over 150 heirloom seeds
• California Wonder Bell Pepper – over 70 heirloom seeds
• Marketmore Cucumber – over 150 heirloom seeds
• Scarlet Nantes Carrot – over 800 heirloom seeds
• Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce – over 900 seeds
• Golden Acre Cabbage – over 530 heirloom seeds
• Detroit Dark Red Beet – over 260 heirloom seeds
• Lincoln Shell Sweet Pea – over 100 heirloom seeds
• Black Turtle Bean – over 70 heirloom seeds
• Beefsteak Tomato – over 180 heirloom seeds
• Champion Radish – over 320 heirloom seeds
• Green Sprouting Broccoli – over 500 heirloom seeds
• Waltham Butternut Winter Squash – over 100 seeds
• Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach – over 260 seeds
• Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion – over 145 heirloom seeds
• Golden Bantam Sweet Corn – over 250 heirloom seeds
• Hales Best Cantaloupe – over 70 heirloom seeds
• Snowball Cauliflower – over 285 heirloom seeds
• Black Beauty Zucchini – over 50 heirloom seeds
• Crimson Sweet Watermelon – over 60 heirloom seeds

As I mentioned in that last “Project Prepper” post, I plan on starting small with the food garden (remember- I’m new to all this). As such, I doubt I’ll be using many of the varieties of seed at first, let alone every seed contained in a pouch. Which is one of the reasons I chose the Survival Seed Vault. Their pouches are mylar, triple-layered, and resealable, where I should be able to use a few seeds at a time and put the rest back in storage.

“My Patriot Supply, Survival Seed Vault”
YouTube Video

I’ve had my eye on the Survival Seed Vault for a few years now in case the poop ever hits the fan. By purchasing one and trying to grow some of the seeds now instead of just socking away the unopened container for long-term storage, I’ll be able to evaluate the quality of these heirloom, non-GMO seeds from My Patriot Supply, start my food garden, and have the remaining Vault seeds at my disposal should a SHTF-scenario arise.

In the next couple of days, my girlfriend and I will decide which fruit and vegetable seeds from the Vault to plant this spring, taking into account their specific requirements and our ability (inability?) to meet them.

(Editor’s note: Product added to “Gear And Supplies” page)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Camp Independence 2015 To Take Place On May 16 In Winamac, Indiana

Last night, I informed Chicago-area readers that I knew about two preparedness/survival-related shows planned for May next door in Indiana. The first of these is the Indiana Prepper & Survival Expo (May 2-3, Valparaiso), which I blogged about late Tuesday. Today, I’m going to talk about the second gathering. From the Live Free USA, South Town Chapter, Meetup.com page for the event:


Americas Oldest And Best Preparedness Gathering!

Tippecanoe River State Park, Winamac Indiana
Tepicon Hall

Survival, preparedness and self-reliance classes, workshops and outdoor programs for the whole family conducted by some of America’s best instructors in this beautiful state park.

Set up camp and stay for the weekend with us!

You will find many people arrive Friday evening, and stay through Sunday morning. The group campfire is a great way to socialize and network with the many other members of Live Free USA chapters.

Tent sites are available through the DNR website. Look for sites near Tepicon Hall, if possible, for easiest access. Cabins are available on a first come basis. Lunch is available at reasonable prices. Reserve your spot NOW, before the sites fill up! The last 2 years of this event we have completely filled the park!

Advanced Registration Before May 5th: Individual $20.00*, Family $25.00.
Registration after May 5th or at the site: Individual $25.00*, Family $35.00*

LIVE FREE MEMBERS RATE: $10.00 Individual, $15.00 Family (for Live Free Member Rate, you must be a PAYING MEMBER of Live Free USA. Memberships are at a nominal cost (see below), with many benefits available for the small annual fee.

See us, or visit Live Free USA

Mail checks directly to: Live Free USA, P.O. Box 3295, Munster Indiana, 46321…

Reading that Meetup page, this year’s Camp Independence- which started in 1968- is scheduled to take place from 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, May 16. Tippecanoe River State Park is located 58 miles south/southwest of South Bend.

For more information about the event, head on over to that Meetup.com page here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Indiana Prepper & Survival Expo To Be Held May 2-3 In Valparaiso

Chicago-area blog readers- I know of two preparedness/survival-related shows planned for May next door in Indiana. The first of these is the Indiana Prepper & Survival Expo, billed as the “largest preparedness and sustainable living event in Indiana.” From the Prepper Shows USA website:

Porter County Expo Center
Valparaiso, Indiana
May 02 – May 03

Live Free USA is proud to announce the first major preparedness expo in NW Indiana since the 1980s. This event affords the opportunity for regional vendors to display and sell their products and services. Preparedness and self-reliance practitioners will be able to purchase a wide variety of equipment while building their skills and networking with like-mined families. A full schedule of speakers on disaster preparedness, emergency response, and sustainable living will be available.

A “Meet up Tent” will afford great ways to network or join regional groups. A farmers market will also be on-site.

Live Free USA has worked hard to bring this event to NW Indiana. We will have major exhibits and speakers there and opportunities to join and attended additional events and training.

For full information go to: WWW.Wisconsinpreppersexpo.com
or call 920-573-5903

There’s a typo in that website address. The expo website is actually located here.

The event also has a Facebook page, where I learned admission is free.

I’ll talk about that second Indiana prepper show tomorrow…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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The Green Suite Of Chicago Offering DIY Solar Electricity, Window Farming, Zombie Survival Training Classes In February

Here’s the latest instruction being offered by Nick Conrad over at The Green Suite in Chicago (first blogged about here in January 2014). From the Dabble website:

Window Farming for Beginners with The Green Suite
Gardening Classes in Chicago

Class Info

Have you always wanted to start a garden but don’t have the space or knowledge? Window farming is inexpensive and easy way to grow your own food right in your window! Constructed from recycled materials, window farms are perfect for small apartments with limited space.

The class consists of a 1hr introduction to the basics of hydroponics, window farming and seed cultivation followed by a thirty-minute workshop. In the workshop you will make a small hydroponic planter to take home with you. Each student should bring one empty plastic bottle. (12-32oz is best)

Anyone can learn how to grow fresh, organic food, hydroponically. Enroll today and you’ll learn how to grow your own food, save money and turn trash into treasure!

What to bring

Each student should bring one empty plastic bottle. (12-32oz is best)

What will be provided

Hydroponic Supplies

The class is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, from 7 to 9 PM at The Green Suite (3958 N. Fremont, Apt. 3, Chicago). As I type this Sunday afternoon, there’s 10 spots still left. Cost is only $30 to attend.

In addition to window farming, The Green Suite is also offering instruction on solar electricity. From the Dabble website:

DIY Solar Electricity with The Green Suite
Sustainability Classes in Chicago

Class Info

Wouldn’t it be awesome to harness your own electricity from the sun? Solar energy is green, silent and a lot easier to build than you think.

This DIY class will cover the basics of electricity as well as how to design, build, and install your own solar panel system. In addition to solar electricity, we will discuss other sources of renewable energy such as wind and geothermal power. The class concludes with hands-on experience assembling part of an actual solar panel.

You will walk away from this course with the basic knowledge needed to start generating your own solar energy at home…and for a lot less money than you thought!

The class is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, from 7 to 9 PM at The Green Suite. There are 9 spots left as I type this. Cost again is only $30 to attend.

Finally, Nick has brought back Zombie Survival Training in February. From the Dabble site:

Zombie Survival Training with The Green Suite
Disaster Survival Classes in Chicago

Class Info

If the zombie apocalypse happened right now, would you be ready? Do you even have a plan?

This course is designed to teach you how to survive the worst disaster imaginable, even a wide-spread pandemic of flesh-eating zombies. Using the zombie apocalypse as the worst case scenario, we will discuss survival strategies, food and water preparation and improvised weapons. Class consists of a one hour lecture followed by a thirty minute hands-on workshop. This unique experience is perfect for zombie lovers and survivalists alike.

After this class you will know where to go, what to eat and how to defend yourself when the unthinkable happens. Join us for good food, cold beer and life-saving survival tips.

What to bring

Two empty, uncrushed beverage cans. (Needed to make survival stove.)

What will be provided

building materials.

The class is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, from 7 to 9 PM at the Holiday Club, 4000 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago. There are 11 spots left as I type this, and the cost is- you guessed it- a measly $30.

If you’re interested in any of this instruction, head on over to the Dabble website here for more information and to register for a class.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Resource Of The Week: 122 Of The Best Prepper Websites On The Internet

Back on February 1, 2013, Michael Snyder, publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream blog, and The Most Important News website, named Survival And Prosperity one of “50 Of The Best Prepper Websites And Blogs On The Internet.”

I was grateful to hear that someone thought so highly of the blog.

I was humbled again recently when I learned Mr. Snyder designated it one of “122 Of The Best Prepper Websites On The Internet.” He wrote on December 18, 2014:

Getting prepared for the chaos that is coming to America in the years ahead is not that complicated. Help is out there – if you know where to look. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. In this article, I have put together a list of 122 of the best prepper websites on the Internet that will teach you how to prep for free. The great thing about the prepper community is that there are always highly skilled people that are willing to freely share their knowledge and experience with the general public…

Snyder is right- The great thing about the prepper community is that there are always highly-skilled individuals willing to freely-share their knowledge and experience with people like you and me.

Check out Michael Snyder’s “122 Of The Best Prepper Websites On The Internet,” starting with his sites. Not only do I read a number of them on a regular basis, but I’ve also met a few of their publishers in person. Good people who really care about America, if you ask me.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Sky News Investigates Preppers

Our cousins across the pond are taking a particular interest in preppers these days.

Last week, it was the folks over at The Economist (UK).

This week, it’s Sky News.

Dominic Waghorn investigated preppers for a report entitled The Doom Boom which aired on Britain’s Sky News last night. The U.S. correspondent started with:

I’ve reported from around the world on countries coping with adversity. In America, I’ve witnessed terrorist attacks, extreme weather, civil unrest. But I’ve never felt society here is on the brink of collapse. And yet it seems, an increasing number of Americans do. I want to find out why, and what they’re doing to get ready.

Waghorn then met with several preppers (a few of Doomsday Preppers-fame), including:

• Holly Blevins
• Jay Blevins
• Catherine Bryson
• Jamie Bryson
• Braxton Southwick
• Colton Southwick
• Kara Southwick
• Rylee Southwick

Sky News did a pretty good job with the report. It wasn’t the usual hit piece many have come to expect from the mainstream media with regards to preppers.

Sky News: The Doom Boom
YouTube Video

However, some in the preparedness industry who viewed the production may have been a little irked with the association of fear and providing goods/services to the prepper community. Consider the following from Waghorn:

And for those who trade on fear, business has never been better.

Larry Hall has made a name selling to people with a lot of money, and a lot of fear.

Fear is big business in the U.S., but doom and bloom has spawned an industry worth millions.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Finally, there was this exchange between Larry Hall of Luxury Survival Condo (who also featured in a Doomsday Preppers episode) and Waghorn:

WAGHORN: Because there’ll be people I suppose who look at this and think, well, the whole prepping industry has become an industry and you presumably have made a fair amount of money out of this. And in a sense, what people like you are doing is peddling fear and profiting from it. What do you say to people like that?
HALL: Well, again, I don’t think it’s fear. I think it’s awareness. I think that fear has a negative connotation. I don’t think I’m peddling fear. I think I’m peddling preparedness. And there’s a big difference.

“I’m peddling preparedness. And there’s a big difference.”

Nice. And that may be the case with Hall and a lot of other vendors in that industry. But no doubt there are those “peddling fear” these days, so it pays to be aware of that.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 31: How Much, How Long For Survival Needs?

The other week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I talked about where the project stood after two years in the works. I blogged:

I decided my preparedness education and activities will focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). This includes:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

I went on to discuss the status of each “need.”

While working the past two years on meeting these “needs,” questions arose about “how much?” and “how long?” For example, concerning water- do I settle for just having 72 hours of an emergency supply on hand (like what Uncle Sam recommends)? Or do I aim higher, taking into consideration potential emergencies I might realistically encounter living here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago?

I knew settling for “just enough” wouldn’t cut it. As I wrote the other week concerning water:

At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

And regarding emergency food:

Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Mountain House Classic Buckets

Mountain House Classic Buckets– breakfast/lunch/dinner for 3.5 days per bucket

Thankfully, after listening to the November 19, 2014, episode of The Survival Podcast, I now have a better idea of “how much?” and “how long?” might be required to tackle those needs. Incorporating Spirko’s suggestions from episode 1468, “The World Won’t End but Your World Could,” with his six “innate survival needs,” we have:

1. Security

2. Water- 30 days for all needs (drinking, cooking, bathing, etcetera)

3. Food- 30 to 60 days without complete boredom (variety of food that we already eat and actually think is tasty)

4. Shelter- Ability to keep home “sound” after suffering non-catastrophic damage

5. Sanitation and Health- Ability to deal with wastes for 30 days. Ability to treat basic injuries and illnesses.

6. Energy- Ability to deal with initial power loss in 5 to 10 minutes. Then, power for 14 days to cover basic needs and comfort.

I’m a lot more comfortable with these targets. I just have to remember that any preps will have to be for two adults (girlfriend and me).

Still, I want to review potential emergencies/disasters we realistically face here in the Chicagoland area/Midwest/United States, and “tweak” the above accordingly.

More next time…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Survival And Prosperity
Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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