City of Chicago

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 (


Hill, Catey. “Americans over 30 are more miserable than they’ve ever been.” MarketWatch. 9 Nov. 2015. ( 11 Nov. 2015.

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SP Intel Report- November 9, 2015


Nearly 1 Out Of 3 City Of Chicago Workers Made $100K Or More Last Year

Having lived in a northwest side neighborhood chock-full of City of Chicago employees prior to moving out to the ‘burbs, I wasn’t really surprised to learn of the following. Chris Fusco and Tim Novak reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

Nearly one out of every three workers on the city of Chicago payroll made $100,000 or more last year — a far higher percentage of six-figure employees than in state or Cook County government.

That’s according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis that for the first time combines city workers’ salaries, overtime and other extra pay.

Twenty-six city workers drew paychecks that eclipsed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pay of $216,210, the analysis found. They included a police detective, two fire department ambulance commanders and two water department operating engineers…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Fusco and Novak noted that there were 35,761 City of Chicago employees last year. And nearly 1 out of 3 made $100K or more? Nice gig if you can get it, right? Regrettably, I predict that when tough financial times finally arrive at the Windy City’s doorstep, even “clout” won’t be able to protect certain positions and salaries from getting slashed.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle To Tax Ammunition Sales?

Gun “control” (or gun “safety” as certain word wankers are now trying to call it) is on the march again in Cook County. From a County blog post Friday:

In an effort to reduce gun violence and improve public safety by creating new revenue for preventative actions, President Preckwinkle is also proposing a tax on rounds of ammunition sold in Cook County. The ammunition tax, either a penny or nickel per round depending on the category of ammunition, is aimed at addressing the costs of future gun crimes and the revenue generated will be dedicated to public safety initiatives.

President Preckwinkle, long an advocate of common sense gun laws, previously supported and passed a $25 tax on gun sales in Cook County. She has advocated for legislation that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require registration of existing firearms and require background checks on all firearms sales at gun shows — commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Tax law-abiding firearm owners in Cook County for the actions of criminals? Yeah, that makes a lot of “common sense.” You see, felons and other convicted criminals can’t purchase ammunition legally in Cook County, because they shouldn’t be able to get an Illinois State Police-issued Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. From the Illinois State Police, Firearm Services Bureau website:

Unless specifically exempted by statute, any Illinois resident who acquires or possesses firearms, firearm ammunition, tasers or stun guns within the State must have in their possession a valid FOID card issued in his or her name…

To be eligible for a FOID card, a person must be 21 years of age or have a parent or guardian sponsor that is eligible for a FOID card. An applicant must not be prohibited from possessing firearms in accordance with state or federal law. This requires the applicant is/has:

• Not been convicted of a felony…
• Not subject to an existing order of protection.
• Not been convicted within the past 5 years of battery, assault, aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection, or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction, in which a firearm was used or possessed.
• Not been convicted of domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction…
• Not convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence…

So what’s President Preckwinkle’s goal from a Cook County ammo tax then? My guess is gun “safety.” Something tells me we’ll be seeing the county in court if they decide to pursue this matter.


Illinois Open Range Program To Be Held On November 14

Speaking of guns and the Illinois State Police, it’s that time of year again in the “Land of Lincoln.” From the website of central Illinois NBC affiliate WAND 17 on Friday:

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with Illinois State Police to promote hunting safety through the annual Open Range Program on November 14.

Officials say hunters and observers will be invited to ISP ranges in order to check the sighting in their shotguns…

Ranges in Effingham, Pawnee, Pittsfield, Macomb, Joliet, and LaSalle will be open for the program from 8 AM until 4 PM this coming Saturday. For more information, head on over to WAND 17’s website here.


Greece’s Government Confiscating Contents Of Bank Safe Deposit Boxes?

Last week, I was working on my offshore asset protection-related projects quite a bit. And here’s something disturbing I noted Friday in a post on Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes that may interest you:

Just when the reputation of bank safe deposit boxes couldn’t get any worse comes this out of Greece. Anthee Carasavva reported on The Times (UK) website back on October 12:

Greece’s government is raiding savers’ safe deposit boxes to raise revenue and stamp out tax evasion.

Tryfon Alexiadis, the deputy finance minister, said yesterday that Greeks owing more than €150,000 in back taxes would be targeted. Those suspected of tax evasion would also come under scrutiny and their bank deposit boxes prised open without notice

“Safe deposit boxes across the country will be subject to these inspections immediately,” Mr Alexiadis told an Athens-based TV network…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It’s being reported that the tax inspectors could seize half of the cash found, and stocks, bonds, jewelry, and works of art. You can read the entire post in its entirety here on my other blog.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Fusco, Chris and Novak, Tim. “THE WATCHDOGS: A third of Chicago city workers make $100k or more.” Chicago Sun-Times. 7 Nov. 2015. ( 8 Nov. 2015.

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SP Intel Report- October 26, 2015

Welcome to the inaugural post of the “SP Intel Report.” On October 15 I blogged big changes were coming to Survival And Prosperity starting October 19. I wrote:

Each day will begin with an “SP Intel Report” (if it’s warranted), where I’ll be focusing on current events locally (Chicagoland area), nationwide, and overseas which I think readers should be aware of…

As luck would have it, my computer crashed October 19, delaying the implementation of these changes.

One week later, I’ve managed to repair my laptop, and I’m back in the saddle again.

So off we go then…


“If City Hall ‘loses’ downtown to the bad guys… you lose the tourists, their money, revenue… you get the point.”

Survival And Prosperity, May 4, 2011

The Chicago news media is reporting that two tourists from Minneapolis were robbed at knifepoint by three men near Oak Street Beach late Saturday evening. The male victim was stabbed during the holdup while trying to protect his girlfriend. Two of Chicago’s more upstanding residents have been charged with the crime (police are still looking for a third individual).

The last time I blogged about a tourist getting knifed downtown was back during the 2012 holiday season. Even though it’s been a while, I fear we’ll be hearing of similar incidents with increased regularity as the city’s financial health deteriorates and the Chicago Police Department keeps receiving lip service but not bodies (meaning manpower).

There will probably be plenty of the other based on recent trends.

Note to self. Study up on defense against knives.


Speaking of deteriorating financial health, the State of Illinois was hammered by two of the major credit rating agencies in the past week. On October 19, Fitch Ratings announced in a press release:

Fitch Ratings has downgraded the rating on $26.8 billion in outstanding Illinois general obligation (GO) bonds to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-‘.

In addition, the ratings on bonds related to the state based on its appropriation have been downgraded to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+’…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Three days later, Moody’s Investors Service stated in a release:

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the State of Illinois’ $26.8 billion of general obligation bonds to Baa1 from A3, while also lowering ratings on the state’s sales-tax (Build Illinois) bonds to Baa1 from A3, and on the state’s subject to appropriation bonds (issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and for the state’s Civic Center program) to Baa2 from Baa1. The outlook for all of these obligations remains negative…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Keep in mind the following observations by Karen Pierog over on the Reuters website on October 22:

Both general obligation bond ratings are now just three steps above the “junk” level… The downgrade by Moody’s marked the 17th by major credit rating agencies for Illinois since 2003… Even before this week’s downgrades, Illinois had the lowest credit ratings among the 50 U.S. states. Ratings histories from the three major credit rating agencies indicate few states have ever had their GO ratings fall below the A level…

Faced with a $105 billion unfunded public pension liability and a bill backlog of around $7 billion, I suspect Illinoisans will be on the hook for some sort of tax hike(s) in the near future.


Any Survival And Prosperity readers skeptical about the future existence of the Internet? Personally, I won’t be surprised if it goes kaput one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m somewhat of a techie (driven by needs, not wants) and love the Internet. But I’m not sold on its staying power due to frailties with its infrastructure. A couple of years ago I remember reading about an elderly Georgian woman accidently cutting off neighboring Armenia’s access to the World Wide Web for up to five hours- using only a spade. And now there’s this from The New York Times website this past Sunday. David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt reported:

Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So the Russians could switch off the Internet. Or a rogue Uncle Sam could do it and blame the Russkies.

I told my girlfriend her brilliant nephew should get into the BBS game. Wave of the future?

“Apple II on a BBS in 2014!”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Sobol, Rosemary Regina. “$500K, $950K bails set for 2 accused of robbery, stabbing near Oak Street Beach.” Chicago Tribune. 26 Oct. 2015. ( 26 Oct. 2015.

Pierog, Karen. “UPDATE 2-Illinois bond rating cut again over budget impasse.” Reuters. 22 Oct. 2015. ( 26 Oct. 2015.

Sanger, David E. and Schmitt, Eric. “Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort.” The New York Times. 25 Oct. 2015. ( 26 Oct. 2015.

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Chicago’s Property Tax Hike To Hammer Small Business, Renters?

Looks like my girlfriend and I may have dodged yet another bullet moving out of our Chicago rental when we did (no pun intended). Hal Dardick and Bob Secter reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday morning:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has framed his record $588 million property tax hike plan around the notion that it will include breaks for those of modest means, but hundreds of thousands of renters who fit that description are still likely to pay more because they can’t benefit from the mayor’s safeguards.

The mayor has vowed to make sure “that the burden is borne by those who can best afford it,” evoking images of thriving downtown businesses and fancy high-rise condominiums. But also in the crosshairs of the tax hike would be mom-and-pop businesses and a large number of apartment dwellers whose landlords typically build property tax expense into the rent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m not going to steal Dardick’s and Secter’s thunder, so head on over to the Tribune website here to read the entire article (registration required).

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Thursday, October 8th, 2015 Business, Debt Crisis, Government, Housing, Taxes No Comments

Chicago’s North Side Hit By Tire Thieves

Squatters. Fake construction zone robberies. Virtual kidnappings.

Criminal antics which one might think are more representative of a “Third World” country that have taken place in Chicagoland recently.

Now add a rash of vehicle tire thefts in a “nicer” area of Chicago (DePaul/Lincoln Park) to the mix. From Chicago’s CBS 2 News Monday:

“Wheels Flying Off Pricey SUVs”
CBS 2 Video

The Chicago Police Department is recommending the use of locking lug nuts to counter the thefts.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 Crime, Government, Public Safety, Security, Vehicles No Comments

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Proposes $712 Million In Tax And Fee Hikes

Chicago’s long-dreaded “financial reckoning day” officially arrived on Tuesday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled his $7.8 billion budget for 2016 before the Chicago City Council, which was higher than originally expected concerning the property tax hike and overall spending plan. Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website Tuesday morning:

To confront the pension crisis and eliminate the structural deficit he inherited, Emanuel’s $712 million package of tax and fee hikes includes: a four-year $588 million property tax increase for police and fire pensions and school construction; a $9.50-a-month garbage collection fee; $13 million in higher fees for building permits; a $1 million tax on e-cigarettes and $48 million in fees and surcharges on taxicabs and ride-sharing services that have siphoned business away from them.

The phased-in property tax increase would be the largest in Chicago history…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Oh, but there’s more. Spielman added:

The mayor also warned that he’s not done raising property taxes. He reaffirmed his support for a $170 million property tax increase for teacher pensions provided teachers accept the equivalent of a 7 percent pay cut and the state agrees to pick up “normal” pension costs…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Personally, I think there’s a really good possibility new and higher fees, fines, and taxes are still on their way as the city’s financial health continues to deteriorate.

After all, based on historic economic cycles, a recession probably isn’t that far off.

I’ve blogged about the arrival of Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” for a couple of years now.

I’m sure more than a few Chicagoans thought I was a loon for doing so.

Personally I don’t give a crap about that. My goal in issuing those warnings was to wake my now-former neighbors up to the tough financial times that could be headed their way.

It is my hope those alerts didn’t fall entirely on deaf ears.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Spielman, Fran. “Rahm pitches tax hike: ‘Now is the time. This is the Council.’” Chicago Sun-Times. 22 Sep. 2015. ( 22 Sep. 2015.

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Chicago Police Reassigning 319 Officers From Desks To Streets

Even before suffering it’s second-worst weekend of 2015 for gun-related violence, Chicago announced the rollout of a new measure to try and combat the carnage. Frank Main and Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last Saturday:

The Chicago Police Department will soon move hundreds more officers out of desk jobs and onto the streets to battle the city’s surging violence — the latest in a series of transfers of cops from administrative jobs to patrol in recent years under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The department is reassigning 319 sworn officers from administrative positions to boost manpower on the streets without breaking the bank, said Adam Collins, a spokesman for the mayor. Those sworn officers include nurses, detention aides, property custodians and others whose jobs will be filled by lower-paid civilians, Collins said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

This latest initiative by the City has been tried before. Main and Spielman added later in the piece:

Since the mayor took office in 2011, the police department has previously shifted at least 770 sworn police officers from desk jobs to patrol work

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A couple of questions come to mind here:

1. Why weren’t those 319 administrative positions shifted to the street earlier?

2. At the same time, how will this move affect administrative efficiency at the Chicago Police Department? Should Chicagoans expect a reduced quality of service from the CPD going forward?

3. If this latest reassignment action doesn’t succeed, will CPD middle management be looked at next time around?

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Main, Frank and Spielman, Fran. “319 more cops to be moved from desk duty to streets.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Sep. 2015. ( 22 Sep. 2015.

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Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 Debt Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Government, Public Safety No Comments

Chicago’s Violent Weekend: 8 Dead, 45 Wounded

A headline on the Chicago Tribune website this afternoon said all that needs to be known about how bad the shootings were around Chicago this past weekend:

“2nd worst weekend of 2015 for Chicago gun violence: 8 dead, 45 wounded”

According to the accompanying article, the worst weekend (to date) was from July 3 to 6, with 7 dead, 50 wounded.

Labor Day weekend saw 7 dead, 46 wounded, in the city.

There’s a pretty good chance Chicagoans will see the following by the end of the calendar year:

• 2015 will be a “banner year” for shootings in Chicago
• Most of the incidents won’t stem from law-abiding gun owners
• “Assault weapons” won’t be used in the majority of cases either
• Despite all the above, the politicians and their ilk will call for yet more gun “control” that does nothing to curb the violence or stop criminals from perpetrating such crimes, yet punishes firearm owners who follow the law

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


“2nd worst weekend of 2015 for Chicago gun violence: 8 dead, 45 wounded.” Chicago Tribune. 21 Sep. 2015. ( 21 Sep. 2015.

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Monday, September 21st, 2015 Crime, Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Legal, Self-Defense No Comments

Chicago Falling To Fourth-Largest U.S. City?

Really not surprised to read of the following. Jon Herskovitz reported on Sunday:

Within eight to 10 years, Houston is forecast by demographers in the two states to pass Chicago, which has seen its population decline for years, as the third-largest city.

Houston is projected to have population of 2.54 million to 2.7 million by 2025 while Chicago will be at 2.5 million, according to official data from both states provided for their health departments. New York and Los Angeles are safe at one and two respectively…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Herskovitz added Chicago officials weren’t immediately available for comment about the forecast.

Perhaps too busy working out the details for that huge property tax hike that looks to be on its way? According to Greg Hinz over on the Crain’s Chicago Business website earlier today:

City Hall insiders say the goal is to completely exempt the lower half of Chicago homeowners from paying any of the roughly $500 million in higher property taxes the mayor is expected to propose on Sept. 22 in his annual budget speech. The upper half of homeowners would get a partial break, but still pay somewhat more.

If it moves forward in its current form, the plan would whack commercial and industrial property owners with a double shot. They would have to pay their normal share of the $500 million but also pick up what homeowners aren’t paying…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Like the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop said yesterday:

Here a tax, there a tax, everywhere a tax tax.

That “tax tax” could soon be arriving at the doorsteps of commercial/ industrial property owners in the “Second City.”

Or soon-to-be “Fourth City” if that prediction pans out.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Herskovitz, Jon. “America’s city rankings set for Texas-sized shake up; Houston to edge past Chicago.” Reuters. 13 Sep. 2015. ( 14 Sep. 2015.

Hinz, Greg. “Who gets socked—and who doesn’t—in Emanuel’s latest tax hike plan?” Crain’s Chicago Business. 14 Sep. 2015. ( 14 Sep. 2015.

SCC. “And Another 9%.” Second City Cop. 13 Sep. 2015. ( 14 Sep. 2015.

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Analysts: Massive Chicago Property Tax Hike Just The Beginning

“And if Chicagoans think this major tax increase is some sort of one-off, well, I know of a certain bridge for sale out east.”

Survival And Prosperity, September 3, 2015

Chicago readers of this blog have been warned the last couple of years that the City of Chicago’s poor financial health means a sustained hunt for much more revenue (new and higher fees/fines/taxes) for the foreseeable future.

And Tuesday, this grim-yet-likely scenario was the focus of a City Club of Chicago luncheon.

Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday afternoon:

A $500 million property tax increase will not be enough to solve Chicago’s $30 billion pension crisis or rid the city of the junk bond rating that has saddled the taxpayers with tens of millions in penalties and borrowing costs, analysts concluded Tuesday.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall and Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics, offered the grim assessment during a lively panel discussion on city finances before a packed house at a City Club of Chicago luncheon…

Fabian’s conclusion was that, as tough as it will be for homeowners and their aldermen to swallow a $500 million property tax increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council need to bite the bullet even harder

Msall agreed that a $500 million increase that would be Chicago’s “largest in modern history” is “not the full answer and it’s not going to be enough because we’ve dug the hole so deeply” by underfunding pensions and granting benefits that taxpayers cannot afford.

“We are going to have raise taxes very significantly just to pay the interest on the debt we have built up and it’s not going to be enough to save the city of Chicago,” he said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Still interested in that bridge?

Head on over to the Chicago Sun-Times website here to read- no, digest- what looks to be in store for the “Windy City” in the coming years.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Survival And Prosperity
Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA

Successor to
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