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Bush Supreme Court Nominee Former Microsoft Lawyer 1036

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-thats-one-way-to-get-at-this-story dept.
DaveM writes "Bush's most recent Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, successfully argued that people who were sold defective software by Microsoft weren't "injured," and couldn't participate in a class action against the company. The case involved unstable compression features in MS DOS 6.0, which were corrected by a $9.95 update, MS DOS 6.2. Plaintiffs wanted Microsoft to offer the updates for free, but eventually lost to Miers' arguments."
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Bush Supreme Court Nominee Former Microsoft Lawyer

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  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @08:59AM (#13711956) Homepage Journal
    How long before people connect the "Gates" [lxer.com]? From the "Preston, Gates" firm connecting Abramoff [wikipedia.org] to the rest of the Republican indictment gang, to the "Gates" whose giant monopoly was released from liability by the Republicans?
    • by ad0gg (594412) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:30AM (#13713637)
      Why do people forget that BSA isn't just Microsoft. Apple, IBM,Dell and every other major software producer is a board member. Preston, Gates was lobbyiest for the BSA, i love how they connect it to Microsoft though.
  • by hanshotfirst (851936) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:01AM (#13711980)
    No bias here, oh no.

    CRISIS! DANGER!

    A former mail clerk in GWB's oil company once used Microsoft Windows to play minesweeper. Now that mail clerk is the Janitor at Google! Does this mean Google is evil?

    • by saintp (595331) <(stpierre) (at) (nebrwesleyan.edu)> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:05AM (#13712025) Homepage
      Uh, how is that a flame? It's a fact. Bush's latest nominee used to be a lawyer for Microsoft. Whoopty-doo. How would you prefer they put it? "Bush court nominee hugs fuzzy bunnies, gives flags to orphans"?
      • by stupidfoo (836212) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:08AM (#13712063)
        "Bush bans oil! All cars must run on skittles and drive on rainbows"
      • by hesiod (111176) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:30AM (#13712331)
        > Uh, how is that a flame? It's a fact. Bush's latest nominee used to be a lawyer for Microsoft.

        Just because someone can argue a point for someone (remember that was her JOB to give MS's argument, not her own preference) it does not automatically mean they believe it to be correct.
    • by allanc (25681) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:51AM (#13712598) Homepage
      And your mistake is assuming that it's pretending to be. It's a common mistake for some reason. Slashdot doesn't claim to be journalism, they don't claim to be original, and they don't claim to be unbiased.

      I don't know where people manage to get the impression that a site run by a guy calling himself "Commander Taco" should be held to the same journalistic standards as CNN.

      The Slashdot editors post stories that they'd want to read as Slashdot readers. Since the editors are heavily anti-Microsoft, pro-Apple, pro-Linux, pro-Unix, anti-Republican, etc, those are the sorts of stories that they post.

      Complaining about "hidden" bias on Slashdot is like complaining about "hidden" bias in a press release or at the Democratic National Convention.
  • by Viper Daimao (911947) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:02AM (#13711995) Journal
    What was she supposed to argue? "My client is guilty."?
    • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:09AM (#13712096)
      What was she supposed to argue? "My client is guilty."?

      And more importantly, if you read through other news articles about her, you'll see that many of her arguments are highly based on logic. In the mentioned Microsoft case, her argument was against the "class" that was chosen for the lawsuit. The plaintiffs chose everyone who bought DOS 6.0 as for the class, arguing that they had been harmed and shouldn't have to pay $10 for an upgrade. However, not everybody who bought the product was using, or intended to use the compression features, so it was difficult to justify including all of them in the class. Therefore, the class was decertified. The suit was dismissed and dropped because the lawyer representing the plaintiffs didn't want to bother with actually getting a more reasonable class determined for the suit.

      • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:23AM (#13712241) Journal
        It was dishonest "logic".
        You'll see that many of her arguments are highly based on logic. In the mentioned Microsoft case, her argument was against the "class" that was chosen for the lawsuit. The plaintiffs chose everyone who bought DOS 6.0 as for the class, arguing that they had been harmed and shouldn't have to pay $10 for an upgrade. However, not everybody who bought the product was using, or intended to use the compression features, so it was difficult to justify including all of them in the class. Therefore, the class was decertified.
        That would be like arguing that not everyone who has potentially defective silicone-gel breast implants should have them removed - you've got to wait until they burst and you get all sorts of auto-immune diseases, and THEN you can sue for the cost of getting them removed, and your damages. Otherwise, you're not a victim - just a "potential" victim. So no class action for you, baby! Speaking of babies ...
        Rock a bye baby on the tree top
        When the wind blows the cradle will rock
        When the bough breaks the cradle will fall
        WTF sort of parent leaves their kid in a treetop? No wonder kids are fucked up today! This is what you read them before they go to bed? They'll think you'll abandon them! They ... *smack*

        Burma Shave

  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theantipop (803016) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:03AM (#13711997)
    I can't say it's a great thing for America to have so many Republican justices, but I don't see how anyone can get wrapped up on this point? So she was good at her job. Is that something that we need to villify?
    • by Medievalist (16032) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:15AM (#13712159)
      Once appointed, Supreme Court Justices are pretty much free to rise above the (nearly invisible) Republican/Democrat split if they so choose.

      Individual Justices do tend to be either authoritarian or libertarian, and either punishment-oriented or goal-oriented, though; some people incorrectly assign these values to the parties (just because GWB is a punishment-oriented authoritarian doesn't mean those are the values of the people who are registered republicans).

      If it makes you feel better, Harriet Miers has been reported to be a Gore supporter by the mainstream media.

    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by moviepig.com (745183) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:34AM (#13712385) Homepage
      ...So she was good at her job. Is that something that we need to vilify?

      (No, apart from the fact that everything is something we need to vilify...)

      Moreover... who hasn't occasionally lamented that only Politicians seek office? Have you never wished that, say, a President could be "drafted" from a President pool, comprising (like a jury pool) people who are qualified and willing but not seeking? Well, at first glance, this latest Bench-warmer pick may approximate that.

  • by Animaether (411575) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:03AM (#13712001) Journal
    ...and she did it well. Well enough to win a case that at least on grounds of common sense (which typically doesn't apply to legal rulings) she should've lost.

    Are 'we' going to fault her for that ?
  • by hivemind_mvgc (823238) <hivemind@mvgc.net> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:03AM (#13712002) Homepage
    Most lawyers argue a case because they're paid to argue the case, not because they have some personal convictions involved in the case.

    Microsoft pays well.

    I fail to see any relevance to this story, beyond the usual anti-Microsoft rabble rousing.

    • by B'Trey (111263) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:07AM (#13712052)
      She's being nominated to the Supreme Court, where she will influence the direction of court cases in the US for likely the next few decades. She has never been a judge, so we have no history of judgements on which to evaluate her. If we don't use her previous work as a lawyer as a basis of judgement, exactly how should we judge her? Or should we simply confirm her as a Supremen Court Justice and hope for the best?
      • by dAzED1 (33635) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:17AM (#13712185) Homepage Journal
        Reinquist, among many others, had never been a judge before serving on SCOTUS.
      • by julesh (229690) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @10:09AM (#13712820)
        If we don't use her previous work as a lawyer as a basis of judgement, exactly how should we judge her? Or should we simply confirm her as a Supremen Court Justice and hope for the best?

        My suggestion would be to not appoint her until she has shown a record of some kind that will be useful in determining whether she is appropriate. Of course, I'm not an elected representative of the US people, so I have no choice in the matter. Probably what Bush is hoping is that as there is little useful past history that can be pointed out by the opposition, few will oppose her appointment. We really don't know what her views are on any of the important issues, and she might seem a more benign appointment than some candidates we know have outspoken views.
    • by at_slashdot (674436) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:26AM (#13712275)
      As someone pointed out she didn't work as a judge so we cannot evaluate her by a history of judgements. However, we can evaluate her by the choices she made: Did she defend poor people, did she defend somebody who was attacked by a corporate bully? I mean there are cases and cases, I think it matters for example if you choose to defend Microsoft or you choose to represent the people that use Microsoft products.(Of course that's only a personal opinion and preference and it doesn't have any legal weight)

      I guess my sig is very appropriate for this situation. Life is about choices, you show who you are by the choices you make.

      • by ifwm (687373) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:07PM (#13713949) Journal
        "Did she defend poor people"

        Why yes, as a matter of fact she did. She did pro bono work for Catholic Charities. I am assuming that it involved "poor people" as you so elegantly put it.

        Personally, I prefer my Judges have a well rounded idea of the Law, rather than some idealistic fantasy.

        "I think it matters for example if you choose to defend Microsoft or you choose to represent the people that use Microsoft products"

        Well, since she was an EMPLOYEE at a firm that represented MS, I think it doesn't matter one iota. YMMV.

        Now, if this was HER firm, founded and operated by HER, you might have a point.

        And once again the mods give out a +5 insightful to a post with no real insight at all.
  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:04AM (#13712005) Homepage Journal
    Lawyers argue for what their clients pay them to argue.

    Exactly what is the story here? Both sides had lawyers. Are you going to tell me that all the lawyers on the other side are shining knights of glory?

  • Key phrase (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deanj (519759) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:04AM (#13712019)
    Rather that turning this into a political farce, for someone that has an axe to grind with this new nominee, let's cut to the chase here, and look at the key phrase in that article:

    "Microsoft believed that only people who actually lost data had a right to sue; that those merely with faulty software hadn't been injured."

    I hate Microsoft as much of the next guy, but I don't see what's wrong with this. It's basically saying "If you lost data, you can sue. If you didn't, you can't".

    Sounds like the people that wanted to sue Microsoft, but didn't have anything go wrong for them, got caught.

    Besides, there are plenty of other defects in Microsoft software they probably could have sued for instead.
  • by justanyone (308934) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:04AM (#13712022) Homepage Journal
    I'm not ready to disqualify a supreme court nominee based on their having had as a client one of the richest corporations on the planet. She was head of the largest law firm in (Texas? Dallas?) and thus had available lawyers to devote to a case; Microsoft had money to pay them; that's normal.

    I would object to this nominee based on her:
    * committing unethical acts while representing them;
    * arguing a totally untenable or specious position or otherwise demonstrating gross incompetence;
    * obviously agreeing with her client in her private speech (indicating a personal position, not a professional representation of her client's position), where that client's position was representative of unethical behavior or attitudes, etc.;
    * use of legal arguments based far outside of conventional legal mainstream thought (the Bork-Wacko factor).

    It seems to me we should pay attention to ethics, competence, and political leanings that don't represent the broadly accepted norm, or if she's in the past said she will legislate from the bench (which I highly doubt given her lack of being a judge previously).

  • oh god (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:07AM (#13712055) Homepage
    What stupidity. There are a bunch of reasons to criticize her: no judicial experience or constitutional scholarship; hell, she's just a Bush flunky. The fact that she was hired as an advocate for Microsoft isn't one of them. I mean, get some goddamn perspective.
  • Both sides (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skydude_20 (307538) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:08AM (#13712069) Journal
    Miers argued for Microsoft and the new chief justice John Roberts argued for the states against Microsoft, so at least we know the discussions between the two will be lively behind the scenes of the courtroom.

  • Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:11AM (#13712108)
    I'm no fan of Bush and could give a flip about Meirs, but isn't this reaching a bit? If this is the worst anyone can come up with... or were you just looking for a tech angle?

    I was hoping he would nominate Janice Rogers Brown, a black female conservative Christian libertarian and daughter of a sharecropper, if only for the fun in watching the media and politicians desperately try to pigeon hole her. Thousands and thousands of exploding heads guaranteed with that one. Oh well...

    • Re:Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eslyjah (245320) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:53PM (#13714424)
      Brown would make a fantastic Supreme Court Justice, and not because she's a minority of a minority of a minority. She would be outstanding because she is a true scholar, and because she has been at the forefront of articulating conservative-libertarian judicial philosophy.

      Miers is bad, not because of this stupid tech angle and not because she's never been a judge, but a) because she has no demonstrable scholarly credentials whatsoever, and b) her nomination sends a message to bright young conservative lawyers: don't write anything contraversial, don't join the Federalist society, don't vocally challenge the logic of popular cases, and don't express doubts about the permissiveness of the Commerce Clause, because if you do, you will never be nominated for high-scrutiny positions.
  • Not very telling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:11AM (#13712113) Homepage
    Lawyers are hired to win cases. Lawyers frequently champion causes they don't personally support. It's their job to win their clients' cases. The job of a lawyer is not to be impartial or fair minded. You can't fault her for doing her job.

    What concerns me more is that she has no experience being a judge so there's nothing really to base a judgement of how impartial or fair minded she would be as judge. You can't really know how she'll interpret the law until she's judged cases.

    This goes back, in my opinion, to Bush hiring completely unqualified people for important positions, like Mike Brown at FEMA, only the consequences of this choice will reach much further into the future.
  • Short Version (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neoshroom (324937) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:18AM (#13712192)
    Short Version:

    1. MS DOS 6.0 has bad compression software that doesn't work and can destroy your data.
    2. Microsoft is sued because people bought something, didn't get what they thought they did and are forced to pay more to just get what they should have already had.
    3. Supreme court nominee argues based on the technicality that the mere presense of the fault isn't enough to count as an "injury" but you need to actually have destroy data and since the suit wasn't brought forth on that basis, calls for dismissal.
    4. Microsoft wins. Lawyers win. People loose.

    So remember, if a contractor ever builds your house out of paper mache instead of bricks like he promised, sue only AFTER it collapses.
  • by ifwm (687373) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:18AM (#13712193) Journal
    Let's see

    "Bush nominee Former microsoft lawyer..." Who once knew someone who represented SCO, while allowing her son to be friends with a kid whose parents had heard about Intelligent Design.

    Oh, and she knows someone that thinks Linux isn't ready for the desktop.
  • So What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:19AM (#13712206) Homepage Journal
    Has she ever suggested that it might be OK to wire up a guy's testicles to a car battery to get answers out of him, so long as he's not a USA citizen? Working for Microsoft isn't where this administration has set the bar. Shocking people's testicles is where this administration has set the bar. I just want a justice that won't have everyone's testicles wired up and ready to go 20 years from now! Who cares about the fetusses? Who cares about prior Microsoft experience? The testicles are where it's at!
  • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:20AM (#13712219)
    Isn't the idea to fill the supreme court with people who have a proven record of fighting in the interest of the people?

    How does she qualify? Because she saved a corporation lots of money?

    I hate to sound biased, but if that is here claim in deserving this job, then it truly IS a sad day for the American people.
  • by lseltzer (311306) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:34AM (#13712384)
    IIRC, there wasn't really a bug in the disk compression; the issue was lazy writes. Users who, for example, shut the system down precipitously, might have had written data lost, but the same is true of any modern OS. I think all 6.2 did in this regard was to shut off lazy writes by default.

    You might remember that Infoworld ran a major page 1 review reporting that the compression had bugs that resulted in lost data, but in fact it was their faulty testing procedures that caused system resets without flushing the cache that was the cause of the lost data. Infoworld ran a page 1 correction not long thereafter, but that wouldn't stop trial lawyers from trying to form a class.
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:56AM (#13712663)
    The new nominee seems completely unqualified for the job, whatever her past lawyering cases were, Microsoft or no. She's never even decided a traffic ticket case. How can she possibly be qualified to decide cases which will set legal precedents for the next umpty-ump years? There is an enormous difference between being a lawyer and being a judge. Her only qualifications for the job seem to be 1) friend of Bush, 2) lawyer, and 3) a woman. I think a supreme court justice should have more qualifications than those.
  • by ageoffri (723674) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @10:19AM (#13712927)
    I've seen a lot of Microsoft bashing here and even more Republican bashing, but this has to take the cake. The Senate needs to look at issues that apply to the Constitution.

    Does she respect the 2nd Amendment

    If yes then she is a very good nominee for the Supreme Court.

    Does she respect Wade vs. Roe?

    If no then I would have a problem with her being appointed.

    Since she wasn't a judge, I'd like to know how much she used precedence in arguing her cases.

    If she is very traditional in her use of precedence then that is a very good sign regardless if you are Conservative or Liberal

    Did she ever argue any Civil Rights cases?

    This is the most complex question I have. Without knowing how she argued these sorts of cases and the details of the cases I can't even begin to say what would be good or bad

    So I urge /.'ers to pull the rope down from the tree and give her a fair chance to be evaluated before you hang her for having been a lawyer on a Microsoft case.

  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @10:21AM (#13712957) Homepage
    Look, I know /. readership is overwhelming left-of-center, but to post an article about Bush's lawyer being "related to Microsoft" is kind of silly. At some point the Bush-bashing just becomes pointless partisanship. So she made an argument for Microsoft back in the DOS 6.2 days. She also used to be Democrat and contributed to Al Gore's campaign fund. Big deal. Is this what passes for "News for Nerds"?
  • mathematics degree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @10:38AM (#13713131)
    One thing that differs about Miers from most of the court -- her undergraduate degree (mathematics).

    The others are Roberts (liberal arts), *O'Connor (economics), *Rehnquist (political science), Breyer (liberal arts, math, science), Ginsburg (government), Kennedy (liberal arts, economics), Scalia (history), Souter (liberal arts), Stevens (english literature), Thomas (seminary, english).
  • by adturner (6453) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @10:44AM (#13713189) Homepage
    I'm amazed at the ignorance on slashdot. I've lost count of how many people have said, "How can she qualified for SOCTUS if she's never been a judge?"

    The simple fact is that she would not be the first justice to never have sit on the bench before. Most recently Chief Justice Rehnquist was never a judge before he served http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Rehnquist [wikipedia.org]. (Contrary to another poster, http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/122/hill/marshall.htm [gmu.edu] Thurgood Marshall was a judge before he served.)

    Of course, as some of you have pointed out, for a lawyer, what matters not are these cases where the laywer is paid for their work. Everyone (even rich companies) have the right to a solid defense. And in this case I actually agree with the decision- M$ should only be liable for data corruption that actually occured, not which might someday occur.

    What does matter is what pro bono work she's done. This is where you find out what issues are important to her and gives better insight on how she would rule and write her opinions. Apparently she has been actively involved with trying to get other laywers to do pro bono work, so either she has a stack load of cases we can examine or she's a hypocrite.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @10:59AM (#13713355) Homepage Journal
    Instead of the citizen. Could have guessed that one considering she was appointed by a politician..

    Or could it be she was just defending her client? She was being PAID by microsoft, it doesnt mean she actually supported the decision. Attorneys are not paid to make moral judgements, they are paid to defend their client and try to win. ( and of course to make money for themselves.. )

    Perhaps now her client is 'the people', and she will fight for us.
  • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:33AM (#13713667) Homepage
    I hereby declare her to be an evil baby-eating witch, who must NOT gain any Democratic votes for confirmation.
  • So... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by th3space (531154) <.moc.suoicufdarb. .ta. .darb.> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:46AM (#13713778) Homepage
    The most troubling thing about this is that she once represented Microsoft when she worked at a law firm? She represented Disney and a few other large corporations too, it's what lawyers are paid to do.

    Have we perhaps overlooked the fact that she was appointed by then Texas Governor Bush to head up the oft-maligned Texas Lottery Commission and dispatched two commissioners who happned to be democrats, one of whom claimed to be instrumental in getting Bush discharged from the Air National Guard? How about the fact that when running for Dallas City Council, she considered herself to be a reformed pro-choicer (aka: anti-choice) due to a born again situation? Or the fact that she lobbied the ABA to change its stance from pro-choice to nuetral or pro-life, only to rebuffed? Then she was the one who claimed that the ABA rankings weren't valid measures of performance and standing when trying to identify nominees for the appelate court?

    Don't be fooled here, she's a wolf in sheeps clothing...Dubbya's sleeping giant. He's trying to put through someone with no real paper trail so that he can establish his real legacy, shifting the opinion of the court to 'repair' the moral fiber of America. Being from Dallas, a city that she called home for a good long while, I've already heard a good deal from Texas republicans (which I, myself, used to be) about how she is more like Sandra Day O'Connor than people realize, and she'll fit that mold well, but I don't buy it. She won't play 'swing vote' in any form or fashion. I hope she gots blocked, and hard.
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:03PM (#13713918) Journal
    Lawyers have a job, so do judges. A lawyers task is to argue any point, philosophy and set of facts and precedents that he/she thinks will favorably impact the outcome of the case for the client. They are essentially sales men. No sales person ever came to you and said "Hey I think this product is a pice of total crap personaly but anyway you should by one." No they keep the discussion focused on the virtue of the product. Working for Microsoft ment she had to convince those she was asked to speak with, be they judges, officials, customers or whoever, that Microsofts positions were sensible and legally correct, not that she personally felt that way. The fact she worked for Microsoft means only she was paid to do a job.
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:33PM (#13714210)
    Justices generally recuse themselves from cases involving possible conficts of interest. Since she was Microsofts attorney, any case of theirs that reaches SCOTUS will likely trigger her recusing. So if she is pro-microsoft, even indirectly such as supporting the rights of large corporations, the balance of the court shifts against MS. On the other hand, if working with MS left a bad taste for corporations, having her off the case is a plus for MS.
  • by KillShill (877105) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @01:19PM (#13714683)
    thing is a red herring.

    it has nothing to do with software.

    she's the person who helped wipe bush's national guard records.

    it's called cronyism. just about everyone in the current administration is there because of donating to the GOP or is a close friend of the bushs.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/frank10042005.html [counterpunch.org]

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/miers-l ed-law-firm-repeat_b_8277.html [huffingtonpost.com]

    http://www.globalnewsmatrix.com/modules.php?name=N ews&file=article&sid=2835 [globalnewsmatrix.com]

    http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/attytood/archives/ 002383.html [pnionline.com]

    just some interesting links.

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