Tag Archive for: USA

‘My Son Hunter’: An imperfect but necessary indictment of media’s corruption

This satirical film reveals a disturbing truth about modern mainstream journalistic standards.


We all love the literary motif of the unwilling prostitute who, at the end of the story, does virtuous deeds to save herself and others. In Crime and Punishment, Sonya is instrumental in Raskolnikov’s redemption. Director Robert Davi uses the same formula to tell the story of President’s Biden son in My Son Hunter.

Grace struggles to pay for her college tuition, so she is a favourite escort of powerful men. As she encounters Hunter Biden in a world of cocaine, wild sex, and rampant corruption, she offers him a path to redemption — and of course, he rejects it.

Now, Davi is no Dostoevsky — nor does he intend to be. My Son Hunter is first and foremost political satire, all-too-frequently engaging in cheap shots. But it does take a stab at Dostoevskyan psychological profundity, and in that endeavour, it partly succeeds.

The shadow of successful Beau Biden — Hunter’s deceased brother — looms large over Hunter, who struggles to find meaning in life. Very much as Raskolnikov, he comes across as a pathological narcissist who engages in criminal activity as a way to prove to himself that he is so great so as to be above the law.

Overblown

Unfortunately, My Son Hunter often goes overboard and loses effectiveness. I lost count of the number of times Joe Biden sniffs the hair of women in the film. Is that necessary? That portrayal runs the risk of playing into the left-wing narrative that criticisms of the Bidens focus on petty things that can be easily dismissed.

The stakes are high, so a more focused and incisive portrayal was needed. Say what you want about Oliver Stone’s leftist politics and penchant for conspiracy theories, but he surely can strike an opponent in his films — Richard Nixon and George W. Bush being the most notorious cases.

The story of Hunter Biden lends itself to Stone’s sober cinematographic style, but My Son Hunter misses an opportunity, to the extent that it aims for low-hanging fruit. Yes, the Bidens are corrupt, but one is left wondering: can they be that corrupt? While the dialogues between Joe and Hunter are clever and amusing, the perversity defies credibility. Perhaps Davi was deliberately aiming more for Saturday Night Live’s lampooning style all along. If so, the film works at some level, but never entirely.

I would have personally enjoyed a more sober style because there is a far darker theme in the film. My Son Hunter is not about the moral failings of a privileged, corrupt drug addict. It is not even about crony capitalism and globalist elites. The real central theme is the media’s rot.

Media manipulation

Two scenes are particularly frightening. At the beginning of the film, Grace is at a Black Lives Matter protest, and records some of her comrades engaging in violent deeds. A fellow activist says: “You can’t post that video… it will make the protest look bad… Those people are too ignorant to understand complex moral issues. You have to withhold things for their own good. We choose truth over facts.” Grace acquiesces.

Towards the end of the film, Grace summons a journalist to expose Hunter’s corruption. The man tells her: “Even if what you are saying is true, it’s not news. We have the chance to take down a fascist dictator [Trump]… I’m sorry Grace, this one is not for me.” We now know that Twitter and Facebook — with their disturbing algorithms — were not the only ones trying to bury Hunter’s laptop under the sand.

As Mark Zuckerberg recently acknowledged, the FBI itself pressured him to do so, because they did not want the bad Orange Man to win the election — all with the excuse that the whole story was Russian disinformation. Later on, both the Washington Post and the New York Times had to reverse their stance and admit that, in fact, the laptop does contain compromising emails.

Plato infamously recommended telling people the Noble Lie. Very much as the Black Lives Matter activist in this film, Plato believed such lies were for people’s own good, as they were too stupid to understand things. In his seminal study of totalitarianism, Karl Popper persuasively argued that Plato’s plan became a central tenet of totalitarian regimes. That is the real fascism.

While being far from a perfect film, My Son Hunter provides meaningful insight on this issue, and hopefully it might become an important step towards much-needed media accountability in this woke age.

For the time being, we need to be realistic. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Hollywood to make an Oliver Stone-like blockbuster about the corruption and hypocrisy of the Left.

Rather, keep an eye out for low-budget productions like My Son Hunter that are bypassing the Hollywood production and distribution system. These include Uncle Tom I and II, various Christian films, such as Run, Hide, Fight.

They will not be great works of art, but at least they will be something. And from there, the quality of such films may gradually improve, until we again see mainstream studios portraying corrupt politicians from both sides of the political spectrum.

AUTHOR

Gabriel Andrade is a university professor originally from Venezuela. He writes about politics, philosophy, history, religion and psychology. More by Gabriel Andrade

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Secularism: The Forgotten Factor in Falling Fertility

The decline in faith has precipitated a drop in procreation.


James McHenry is a lesser-known American Founding Father. A Scots-Irish Presbyterian born in County Antrim, Ireland, he came to the colonies in 1771, just five years before independence.

McHenry eventually became a military surgeon, signer of the Constitution and Secretary of War for Presidents Washington and Adams. Fort McHenry, of Star-Spangled Banner fame, bears his name. James McHenry was of the early American elite. He wrote:

“The holy Scriptures… can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability, and usefulness.”

Holy Scriptures? How unwoke can you get?

Are we to assume that McHenry was racist, “homophobic,” nativist or a bigot? Can you imagine a member of the Biden cabinet referencing holy Scripture? Why, that would be a violation of “separation of church and state,” the Jeffersonian doctrine intended to prevent government from meddling in matters of faith. Today that doctrine has been wholly transmuted, weaponised to eradicate religious expression from the public square.

A different century

McHenry wasn’t the only American Founder whose words would get him cancelled today. How about the “father of our country” George Washington? Here is what Washington told a gathering of Delaware Indian leaders:

You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.

A compilation of religious sentiments by early American leaders would consume more terabytes than MercatorNet can handle. Needless to say, the Founders were people of faith. Back then, the West was commonly referred to as Christendom. As far as I know, no one found that offensive.

What does any of this have to do with demography?

Well, according to the World Atlas, “American women reaching child-bearing age in 1800 had on average of seven to eight live births in the course of their reproductive life.” In 1800, America was mostly rural and practising Christian.

In the early 1800s, two overarching factors influenced family life. The first was faith. The Biblical injunction “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.” (Genesis 9:7, KJV) was taken quite seriously.

Also, having children was sound economics. Children meant more hands on deck at the farm and family business. That was early American family planning.

From 1800, however, US fertility steadily declined, bottoming out in the 1940s. Then the postwar “baby boom” brought a 60% bump. The decline has since resumed, attributed to better public health (lower infant mortality), urbanisation, industrialisation, higher incomes and women in the workforce.

However, one tremendously significant reason for fewer children is usually omitted from demographic analyses: secularism.

What is secularism?

The term was coined c.1850 to denote a system which sought to order and interpret life on principles taken solely from this world, without recourse to belief in God and a future life. It is now used in a more general sense of the tendency to ignore, if not to deny, the principles of supernatural religion.
— The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

According to Merriam-Webster, secularism is indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.”

The US is today’s secularist imperium. Secularism is a major contributing factor, usually overlooked, for persistent below-replacement fertility worldwide.

It is no secret that, on average, religious folks have more children than the non-religious. Why? Quite often, people of faith seriously follow the Biblical injunction to go forth and multiply. They believe in salvation and are usually somewhat less egocentric and materialistic than the average modern Joe.

But today we are in the age of Economic Man, defined by Merriam-Webster as

… an imaginary individual created in classical economics and conceived of as behaving rationally, regularly, and predictably in his economic activities with motives that are egoistic, acquisitive, and short-term in outlook.

By adopting the model of Economic Man, Western societies abandoned believing that humanity’s intellectual, spiritual and moral essence were in the image of God, a view that had sustained them for at least 18 centuries. This stone-cold secularism would eventually lead to Communism and the many other atheistic ideologies we suffer from today.

Major General JFC Fuller, in volume 3 of his Military History of the Western World, posited that “the myth of Economic Man [was] the fundamental factor in Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism.”

We are also addicted to the Idea of Progress, defined by the web’s Conservapedia as

… a worldview mainly promoted by globalists and liberals that argues “that the human condition has improved over the course of history and will continue to improve.”[1]

It is closely associated with the concept that man is perfectible and at some point in the future will, in fact, be perfect. While popular in contemporary culture, this idea has several serious flaws.

Flawed indeed. Shallow belief in the inevitability of human progress and unlimited temporal advancement disregards the transcendent, giving rise to the “prosperity gospel” and rank materialism.

Many prosper, but post-World War II affluence is proving to be ephemeral. Something is lacking. That is why China popularises Confucius, Russia subsidises Orthodoxy and Hungary promotes Catholicism in hopes of boosting birthrates. The US mandates wokeism and relies on immigration.

Today politicians rarely invoke religious faith except in throwaway lines for public consumption. People made of sterner stuff like James McHenry and George Washington are vilified and cancelled, their names expunged and statues removed. What will tomorrow’s children know of their heritage?

Yes, we’re oh-so-modern, high tech, sophisticated and secular. Having children is uncool. Modernity is slowly but surely killing us. The idea of progress that venerates Mammon, radical environmentalism, egocentrism and wokeism has Homo sapiens on the path to extinction. But as the old saying goes, “Fish are the last to notice the water.”

AUTHOR

Louis T. March

Louis T. March has a background in government, business and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family… More by Louis T. March

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Why Do The Woke Hate Clarence Thomas So Much?

Justice Clarence Thomas, being African American, is seen as a traitor to the woke cause.


After the overturning of Roe v Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas has been a particular target of venomous attack from the woke mob. Why do they hate him so much? One might be forgiven for thinking that it is due to his staunch anti-abortion views. But that explanation does not work.

Pope Francis has long expressed that opposing abortion is “closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right”, and yet, the Left is not obsessed with him (in fact, many even take a liking). At some point, even Joe Biden supported letting States overturn Roe v Wade, and again, the Left did not go ballistic on him.

Not behaving as expected

So, why the animus against Thomas? There can only be one explanation: race. In 1991, as he was accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, Thomas countered that he was the victim of “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you.”

This was loose talk, as it trivialised the suffering of real lynching victims in America’s troubled history of race relations. But Thomas did have a point in arguing that in the United States, any black person who dares to deviate from the official narrative of how blacks are supposed to act, will face severe harassment.

In 1991, he anticipated a trend that would become mainstream in our times: if you are born with a particular skin colour, you are supposed to behave in a certain way, and uphold a specific ideology. If not, you are a race traitor. As Biden so neatly phrased it:

“[I]f you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Any competent scholar of the history of racism would immediately recognise this as race essentialism. As Angelo Corlett explains in his book Race, Racism and Reparations,
“proponents of race essentialism define human races by a set of genetic or cultural traits shared by all members of a ‘racial’ group.”

Who are the neo-Nazis now?

In the first half of the 20th Century, this view was popular amongst proponents of so-called “racial science”. They believed that racial biological traits determine how people behave. Hitler believed that no matter how much a person with Jewish ancestry tried to assimilate to German society (even converting to another religion), he or she would still be a dangerous Jew, because it was in his or her essence.

Race essentialism is abhorrent, and one might think that after 1945, the world learned a lesson. And yet, race essentialism is alive and kicking, but this time, under the guise of woke progressivism. As per today’s woke rules, if you are black, you must embrace the whole woke mindset.

White people (such as Pope Francis) may occasionally be forgiven for having anti-abortion views, but if you are black and you deviate from the woke line (such as Clarence Thomas), you are a race traitor, an Uncle Tom. Unsurprisingly, Thomas has been called “Uncle Clarence” multiple times.

If you are black, not only do you have to act a certain way, but you must also have a special sexual preference. The woke pay lip service to interracial relationships, but amongst them there is a sense of unease when they contemplate a successful black man marrying a white woman.

For example, when Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, USA Today columnist Barbara Reynolds wrote: “Here’s a man who’s going to decide crucial issues for the country and he has already said no to blacks; he has already said if he can’t paint himself white he’ll think white and marry a white woman.” Russell Adams, chairman of African American studies at Howard University, said that Thomas “marrying a white woman is a sign of his rejection of the black community.”

Truly racist

Frantz Fanon is a figure beloved by the Left. In 1952, he published Black Skin, White Masks, a canonical text of wokeness. In that book, he also scorns black men who fall in love with white women. Fanon castigates himself for, at some point, having had these thoughts: “Out of the blackest part of my soul, across the zebra striping of my mind, surges this desire to be suddenly white. I wish to be acknowledged not as black but as white… I marry white culture, white beauty, white whiteness.” The implication of this passage is that loving a white woman is an act of racial treason.

Fanon felt disdain for black people who embraced Western values. He claimed they were wearing white masks, as if somehow, they were deviating from their real essence, and were therefore living an inauthentic life. Therefore — so Fanon believed — Western civilisation must be rejected entirely. As he explained in The Wretched of the Earth“When the colonized hear a speech on Western culture, they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close to hand.” He who admires Western values is a sellout.

Ever since Fanon, racial essentialism in the name of progress has only grown worse. People of color are now encouraged not to honour punctuality, because being on time is part of whiteness. Black kids who are academically talented run the risk of being told they are “acting white”. Analysing things objectively is an act of white supremacy. And so on.

Consequently, Clarence Thomas is not allowed to have anti-abortion views. Nobody cares about his anti-abortion arguments, because he is not supposed to make them in the first place. Other jurists, philosophers or theologians will be allowed to oppose abortion, but only if they are white. Thomas is hated not because of his views, but because of his skin colour. He upsets the arbitrary racial classifications that the woke are so eager to embrace.

As per woke taxonomy, black people cannot be conservative, and if they are, they are only wearing a “white mask”. To paraphrase the late Christopher Hitchens, “identity politics poisons everything”. We can no longer have a meaningful discussion about anything as vital as the ontological status of a fetus, because the race of the discussants will determine who is allowed to uphold a particular view. It’s time to push back against this madness.

AUTHOR

Gabriel Andrade

Gabriel Andrade is a university professor originally from Venezuela. He writes about politics, philosophy, history, religion and psychology. More by Gabriel Andrade

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

$30K a year, and my kid can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl

Parents must hold their local school systems accountable for what is taught to their children.


Everything has a price.

Like every American family, our family runs a constant cost/benefit analysis on our lives. There are the small decisions: is it worth the time to drive to Target for the cheaper diapers? Or should I just get the pricier ones at the grocery store? And there are the bigger ones: like, should I live in the suburbs and pay lower taxes but more for car expenses and gas? Or flip that decision?

For our family, one of the toughest decisions was where to send our kids to school. We could send them across the street to the poorly performing public school for free. They’d meet a wide variety of kids and learn some valuable self-advocacy skills, but they would not be academically challenged. For $30k, I could send them to the nearby private school, where they’d benefit from engaged teachers, kids, and families. We’d have to drop the music lessons and fancy trips, but hey — I don’t like Disneyland anyway.

So, with some scholarships, sacrifices, and family assistance, we made the choice to send our kids to a fancy private school. The benefits have been great: warm, caring, patient teachers; outstanding academics; beautiful buildings; even a pretty good lunch. But there’s been a hidden cost, beyond the incredibly painful tuition bills: my kids can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl.

This seems shocking, I know. How can a concept so obvious, so instinctual that nearly every 2-year-old on the planet can master it, be an idea that my very expensively-educated children don’t understand?

Simple-minded educators

Because some teachers don’t understand it. Because some administrators don’t understand it. And this is where I have to remind myself of something true: half the world is dumber than average.

I know this sounds incredibly snobby. I know this sounds judgmental and awful, but this is true. And this fact helps me take a breath, find some compassion, and slow down.

These teachers are good people. They are kind. They like kids, and want the best for children. They believe that education can make the world a better place. And additionally, they were hired for their people skills: they are empathetic, good communicators, patient, and open-minded. Those are exactly the skills my tuition dollars are paying for.

But these teachers are not well-trained critical thinkers. They were not hired for their ability to analyse complex research studies, nor to follow the various paths of different complex scenarios. They are not philosophers, ethicists, or religious scholars. They are not lawyers or developmental psychologists. They are not endocrinologists or pediatricians. They are experts at connecting to kids and explaining the types of K-12 content that kids should learn. Thank god for teachers and their talents and skills. Our society needs them. But they are not the experts here. They are just trying to do their jobs.

So when faced with the concept of “gender identity” — the idea that “people have an innate feeling of being female or male,” the typical teacher will say “Sure — that makes sense. I’m female, I know it. That’s not a controversial idea.”

When faced with the diagnostic definition of “gender dysphoria”, the idea that “some people have great distress with their biological sex, and wish they were the opposite sex,” these teachers say, “Sure — I know about Jazz Jennings and Caitlyn Jenner. That’s a real thing.”

When faced with the fact of “Disorders of Sexual Development” (formerly known as Intersex conditions), the scientifically observed and natural phenomena of various biological sexual characteristics and markers, teachers say, “Yep — I learned about that once.”

And when urged to consider the negative impacts of the difficulty of being an outlier, and the impacts of social isolation and/or ostracism, the teachers say, “Not on my watch. My cousin was gay and poorly treated. I won’t let any of my kids be bullied or left out.”

So when teachers combine all these ideas and impressions and blend them into their natural “be nice” personalities and “open-minded” natures, they are primed to become believers and advocates of transgender ideology. If Johnny likes skirts and thinks he’s really a girl inside, who are we to judge? We really can’t blame the teachers. They were born this way.

So our society has laid yet another burden of expectation on teachers. They must educate kids, they must socialise kids, they must address and resolve the emotional and behavioural dysfunctions of these kids. And now they must be responsible for nurturing, protecting, and advocating for the “internal feeling of being female or male” for a kid, otherwise they’ll be held responsible for the kid’s ostracism.

This is nuts. These teachers don’t stand a chance.

To the top

So we can’t fight the teachers. We’ve got to get the administrators and school boards to stop, listen, and think. These people were hired to be critical thinkers, to balance different opinions, to consider the different consequences of different choices. They still aren’t likely to read the studies or think through the ethical or philosophical consequences of different complex scenarios, but they are primed to consider one thing above all: legal threats.

Right now, principals and school boards are hiding behind the guidelines that WPATH (an activist-led organisation), the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals have created. These organisations have good intentions, but they are also human and flawed (and remember — half their members are below average). Even the ACLU seems to have lost its mind on this topic.

I suggest American parents adopt the “Maya Forstater Approach.” This strategy, based on the case in England, relies on fundamental and constitutional American legal rights: free speech and free religion. I don’t care if you haven’t been to church ever. This is what you say to your school board:

“For scientific, religious, and social reasons, I do not believe that you can change your sex, and I do not want my children to be taught “gender identity”, the belief that you have a gendered soul, and that your gender soul feelings trump your biology. How is your school protecting my family’s religious beliefs and our right to be free from compelled speech?”

Ask your school’s principal this question every Fall. Send it as a statement to your kids’ teachers every fall. Tell them to inform you of any lesson on gender identity before it happens so that your children can have a substitute lesson. Ask them what their policy on requesting pronouns is, so that your child does not feel compelled to use certain speech. Ask them how they balance different opinions on this topic in the community.

I can guarantee you they do not see this as a religious issue, but as a social justice issue. Say the magic words “freedom of religion/freedom from religion” and “freedom of speech” and see if that works. We’ve got a long history of protecting underdogs in this country, and right now the culture glorifies the status of victim. Use this knowledge wisely.

And here’s the thing: this is going to cost you. Be ready. Do the cost/benefit analysis. Whether your kids are getting a free public education or an expensive private one, when you ruffle the feathers of the principal, the winds blow. Then again, if you remain silent, your kid may not understand that sex never changes. Be prepared. Everything has a cost.

This article has been republished from Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans (PITT).

BY

Anonymous author

In exceptional circumstances, MercatorNet allows contributors to publish articles anonymously. Sometimes the author’s privacy or safety might be at risk. More by Anonymous author.

RELATED ARTICLE: “Without Logos, the West is lost”

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Scale of the Chinese Lockdown — What to make of these scary figures?

The official death toll from the Covid-19/coronavirus now stands at over 2,500 people. There are over 80,000 cases worldwide.

The people I’ve talked to about this epidemic fall into two camps.

Those in the first camp say that this needs to be put into perspective, the number of people who die each year from the flu dwarf the number of coronavirus deaths and it is likely that survival rates will be much better in a first-world, Western health system where the doctors aren’t in fear of the secret police when they say that there is something wrong.

Those in the second camp say that we can’t trust any of the numbers coming out of China, that it is worrying that there seem to be cases cropping up in countries around the world, and that China would not lock down half of its country for a disease that is less deadly than the flu.

“But Marcus!” I hear you say, “Don’t use hyperbole for effect! China hasn’t locked down half of its country!”

Well, according to this report from CNN, I am not exaggerating that much. Almost half of China’s 1.3 billion-strong population remain subject to varying forms of travel restrictions and other quarantine measures. Or, to put it another way, some 780 million people are living under some form of restrictive movement. This is an unbelievably large number.

These restrictions are in place across all of Hubei, the northeastern province of Liaoning, as well as Beijing and Shanghai. Now, these restrictions are not uniform and range from self-quarantine (also known as my normal Friday night … thank you, yes I’m here all week – try the veal) to limits on who can come and go from neighbourhoods.

Some of the restrictions are very strict: Wuhan, Huanggang, Shiyan and Xiaogan (the four cities at the epicenter of the outbreak in Hubei province) have completely sealed off all residential complexes and communities and the use of non-essential vehicles is banned. Residents have food and other necessities delivered to them because they are not permitted to leave their homes. (Apparently online gaming is surging in China at the moment…)

This is all having a massive effect on the Chinese economy. I saw a graph based on shipping that showed that imports to China were down a third and exports from China were 50 percent below their post-Chinese New Year historical averages. For a country that is heavily dependent on its economic growth to distract its citizens attention from its horrific human rights abuses, restricting half of its citizens’ movements in some degree seems an overreaction to what is apparently less deadly than the flu.

But let us have some optimism!

China has announced that some of the restrictions in Wuhan have been lifted…oh wait, no, it has renounced that announcement and the officials that prematurely announced that easing have been “reprimanded” (and their families have been invoiced for the 5.8mm “reprimand”).

What a wonderful country we have economically bound ourselves to hand and foot.

COLUMN BY

Marcus Roberts

Marcus Roberts is co-editor of Demography is Destiny, MercatorNet’s blog on population issues.

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PODCAST: What You Need to Know About New US-China Trade Deal

Will the new deal boost the American economy? Is it normal for a trade deal to demand one party spend a certain amount? Will it curb China’s theft of intellectual property from U.S. companies? Riley Walters, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation who focuses on Asia’s economy and technology, has answers. Read a lightly edited transcript of the interview, posted below, or listen on the podcast:

We also cover the following stories:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the seven impeachment managers.
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler, one of the impeachment managers, dismisses calling Hunter Biden as a witness.
  • As Russian President Vladimir Putin makes moves to secure his control after 2024, the prime minister and entire Cabinet resign.

The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, Apple PodcastsPippaGoogle Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at letters@dailysignal.com. Enjoy the show!

Kate Trinko: On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a new trade deal with China. … Joining me to discuss this deal today is Riley Walters, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation who focuses on Asia’s economy and technology. Riley, thanks for joining us.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


Riley Walters: Thank you for having me.

Trinko: Before we get into the new trade deal, I actually want to roll back the clock a little bit. We’ve seen a lot of tension between President [Donald] Trump and China over trade during his presidency. How intense have the negotiations and the fights been? And does that color how we should look at this new deal?

Walters: I think if you look at the last couple of years of negotiations between Washington and Beijing, you see a lot of back and forth. There was certainly some times when it seemed like negotiations were going well, both sides seemed to have been making progress. But there were clearly some times where things fell out of line. During those turbulent times you’d see exculpatory efforts on both sides by imposing new tariffs and such like that.

Last year, I think it was last year around May, we saw probably the biggest dispute between the two sides and it almost seemed like negotiations fell apart completely, almost as if they weren’t going to go anywhere from there.

So I think what we see today is a complete 180. I mean, we have a deal now, right? And so this, I think, marks the point where we sort of returned to some sort of level of normalcy between the United States and China on economic and trade issues. And so I think it’s good.

Obviously, this is just phase one of a two-phase deal and so over the next year we should hopefully see a lot more progress.

Trinko: OK. So, our listeners won’t know this, but when Riley came to the studio, he had a huge sheath of papers with all the details, so obviously this trade deal is very complicated. But could you break down for us, what are some of the highlights and key things that people should know about the trade deal?

Walters: So, it’s almost a 100-page document. It gets into some very technical trade and legalese issues. It touches on a variety of issues.

I mean, there are roughly eight chapters in this text … touching on everything from the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets [to] reducing technology transfers from American companies to Chinese entities. It touches on exchange rates and increase in trade efforts. It touches on a whole variety of things.

Throughout the document there are new metrics, dates by which certain government officials need to have certain reports. There are certain trade measures. For example, China needs to purchase over the next two years an additional $200 billion worth of a variety of American goods.

And, of course, there are communications that are set up, dialogues that are making sure that this agreement goes into force, that every part of the agreement is disputable to some extent, and, of course, this has been agreed to on both sides.

So what is in this document right now is the new policy. I would actually say this is probably the most comprehensive trade agreement we’ve had with China since their joining of the WTO [World Trade Organization] 20 years ago. So this is pretty significant.

Trinko: You mentioned that the deal requires China to buy $200 billion worth of additional goods over the next couple of years. I am not an expert on trade deals. Is it normal for a deal to include this kind of mandatory buy with it? And what do you think about this provision?

Walters: This is not normal. This is certainly something new generally. So I think this is actually probably one of the few things that’s covered regularly in the news, is this $200 billion in additional purchases by China over the next two years.

What they’re supposed to do is buy $200 billion in addition to what they bought in 2017, which was roughly $190 billion worth of goods and services from the United States.

So, for the rest of this year and all of next year, they need to buy roughly $390 billion worth of goods and services, and those break down by industries, manufactured goods, agricultural energy, etc.

But again, this is not normal. This is not something you usually find in trade agreements because trade agreements are usually about removing barriers. It’s about removing the tariffs or taxes on imports that countries maintain. It’s about removing regulatory barriers.

… For example, biochemical restrictions or chemical or scientific restrictions on agricultural products, removing those so that the goods that we trade are free from restriction.

This is different. This sets up a sort of a mandatory “you must buy,” and there are going to be a lot of questions about how China does this.

Who in China is actually going to start buying these goods, right? Is it through state-owned enterprises? Is it “private Chinese companies” at the behest of the Chinese government? And, of course, the question of whether the United States can actually provide these goods.

There’s going to be a lot of, I think. questions about just the way that this is actually implemented.

Trinko: OK. So the deal reduced some tariffs. It also eliminated some other potential tariffs that could have been coming down the pipeline. Overall, did you think what the deal did for tariffs made sense or didn’t, and if so, why?

Walters: As a part of this deal, there will be some tariffs that remain in place by this administration. They are going to keep a 25% additional tariff or import tax on roughly $250 billion worth of goods and a 7.5% tariff tax on roughly $120 billion worth of imports from China. So all those will roughly remain.

The president said he’s more than willing to get rid of those as part of a phase-two deal. We don’t know when the phase-two deal could happen. Some suggest 10 months, it could be longer, especially things could change if the election outcome changes. And so those will remain in place for at least the next year or so.

There’s been no reports about how China will be decreasing its import taxes. Obviously, they too have been implementing their own tariffs over the last couple of years in retaliation to the United States. But that’s going to be, I think, what to expect for at least the next year.

Trinko: Did this deal address intellectual property concerns at all? Obviously, there’s been a lot of concern that China is taking intellectual property from U.S. companies. Does this address that?

Walters: It does. The first two chapters are 21 pages long. They address intellectual property protection or trade secret protections and technology transfer.

Not to get too much into detail, but basically it says China will protect American intellectual property, our trade secrets, the things that actually make companies profitable and want to invest in and do business. And they won’t require American companies or entities to transfer their sensitive technology to Chinese entities for any reason.

Sometimes in China you hear stories of American companies who want to get into China, they are by law sometimes required to enter into a joint venture with a Chinese company. And then the Chinese company says, “Well, if you want to make the deal, we need to have access to your intellectual property.”

So that’s supposed to no longer happen. We will see, of course, over the next a year or so whether that’s true or not.

And there are some other interesting changes in how American companies can sort of fight their legal case in China when they feel that their intellectual property has been stolen. So some real interesting stuff there. Again, we’ll have to see whether it actually produces anything of substance. But I think on paper at least it’s a positive step.

Trinko: I know you don’t have a crystal ball to see America’s economic future, but how would you guess this deal would or wouldn’t affect the U.S. economy?

Walters: One of the couple of things that are a drag on the U.S. economy right now, not, of course, pushing us into recession, I mean, there’s a lot of positive economic activities that the Trump administration has helped with over the last couple of years, but a couple of the drags are the fact that tariffs will be remaining on over $300 billion worth of goods.

The silver lining is that U.S. trade with China only makes up roughly 3% of our GDP [gross domestic product] so it’s not that significant. I mean, it is hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods. The Trump administration has collected roughly $43 billion in new taxes from Americans who import from China. So that is a cost.

But I think one of the biggest gains from this, and it’s going to be harder to actually quantify, is the uncertainty it removes. I think the trade deal today brings back a lot of certainty. I think anyone who thought the Trump administration’s goal is to decouple from China, with this deal, I think that idea is dead.

This deal is building a new U.S.-China economic relationship, I think for good cause, too. And so this will bring a lot of certainty back to our economic relationship.

Trinko: And how do you think it might affect China’s economy?

Walters: Again, same way. I think perhaps marginally, a positive marginal.

They themselves have a lot of domestic issues that they need to take care of. Looking forward toward the way that debt is accumulated in China, the way that their demographics are shaping up, the fact that, as a part of phase two, we’re going to have to negotiate a lot of sensitive issues like state-owned enterprises and the support that they get from the government and how those not just affect the U.S. economy, but how they negatively affect the Chinese economy as well.

Trinko: OK. Riley Walters, thanks so much for joining us.

Walters: Thank you.

COLUMN BY

Katrina Trinko

Katrina Trinko is editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal PodcastSend an email to Katrina. Twitter: @KatrinaTrinko.

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VIDEO: Islamic State will attack America — 100% Guaranteed!

Day of the Dead Book Two AmericaLt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified on Capitol Hill in May of 2016 that the Islamic State, “will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated, “ISIS leaders are determined to strike the homeland.”

In a shocking new book Day of the Dead: Book Two – America by Dan Gordon, a Major Hollywood Award winning playwright and veteran of several military encounters with terrorists, details how such an attack will occur.

“They will use Mexican Drugs tunnels from Tijuana and the attack will most likely occur in San Diego, California,” Gordon recently told TheUnitedWest.org a counter-intelligence expert based in Florida.

“San Diego is a target rich environment and federal authorities, local law enforcement and the military will be unable and ill-equipped to respond in the timely fashion to prevent a mass casualty attack from ISIS,” Gordon stated.

The United West recommends you read Captain Gordon’s book Day of the Dead: Book Two – America

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Civil War: America’s Enemies Hiding in Plain Sight

Russian born American writer and novelist Ayn Rand wrote, “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.”

Janie Johnson posted the above photo of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors on her Twitter page. Janie wrote, “On [the] bottom of the signs is the inscription: revcom.us. To see who printed them, go to: .”

The organization that printed these BLM posters is the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP-USA). The stated strategic approach of the RCP-USA is to:

“Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution…to take up a revolutionary viewpoint and revolutionary values and morals as they join with others to resist this system’s crimes and build up the basis for the ultimate all-out revolutionary struggle to sweep this system away and bring in a whole new way of organizing society, a whole new way of being…to become emancipators of humanity.” [Emphasis RCP-USA]

The RCP-USA signs brought to mind several banners carried by BLM protestors in Ferguson, Missouri.

FergusonPalestine

Robert Spencer in his November 2014 column Islamic supremacist groups connect their jihad to Ferguson riots wrote:

In the photo above (thanks to Kay), Leftist demonstrators relate the strife in Ferguson to the “Palestinian” jihad. And Pamela Geller has a great deal of information on how Islamic jihadists and supremacists, including the Hamas-linked terror organization CAIR, have tried to co-opt the Ferguson riots as part of their own jihad. Most noteworthy is the active presence in Ferguson of “Palestinian” jihad activist Bassem Masri.

The connection between Ferguson and “Palestine” (and the global jihad in general) is clear: both the Islamic supremacists and the Ferguson rioters think that the American system is corrupt and must be brought down.

isis banner ferguson

Islamic State banner carried by Black Lives Matter protestors in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: CNN

In a November 2014 column Ferguson: The beginning of an American Intifada I wrote:

This spiral of death and destruction scenario is used across the globe to incite riots, mayhem and violence. It is used to recruit those with real or perceived grievances against those in authority. It is being used by the Islamic State to recruit in Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson is the beginning of the American intifada in the black community. This same strategy is being used by terrorist organizations like HAMAS, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and al Qaeda. Grab the headlines and make your point via political violence. The problem is the narrative is routinely false, even based upon lies, but by the time the facts are presented it is too late. The damage has already been done.

Lessons learned from Ferguson:

  1. Appeasement of the protesters leads to more violence.
  2. Coalitions of outside organizations including radical homosexual, Muslim and minority groups makes for a deadly mix.
  3. The targets are the law and law enforcement. The demand is for two legal systems, one for minorities and one for whites.
  4. The creation of no-go zones where police and firefighters cannot or will not go due to the threat of violence.
  5. The manipulation of the media in the name of “equality” and “social justice” to create a scenario where a radical agenda may be furthered that denies both.
  6. The use of violence even when blacks, like President Obama, call upon their fellow blacks to be non-violent.
  7. The creation of a atmosphere where law enforcement officers will hesitate to enforce the law or ignore the law in order not to become a target.
  8. Lawlessness with an anarchist’s political objective – to destroy the status quo.

A race war is upon America because some minorities want it more than they want to be Americans.

I fear that these groups will once again come together in Cleveland to disrupt the Republican National Convention and Donald Trump’s nomination. This Red/Green/Rainbow alliance has already showed itself at Trump rallies. The Red/Green/Rainbow alliance is emboldened and becoming more violent.

These protestors want to bring a civil war to America in order to fundamentally transform the country. 

America is a land of laws and requires order. Protest if one wishes but to become violent demands police action and people, organizations and institutions to be held accountable.

We shall see what happens in Cleveland. Stay tuned.

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Predicting Earthquakes. Not.

The president of the Space and Science Research Corporation, John Casey, is also the author of “Cold Sun: A Dangerous ‘Hibernation’ of the Sun Has Begun!” and has called attention to a meteorological cycle that until the global warming hoax occurred, was largely unknown to many people and, to a large degree still is.

Nature has not cooperated with the charlatans who made claims about a dramatic warming of the Earth. Since 1998 the planet along with the Sun has been in a solar cycle distinguished by very few, if any, sun spots—evidence of solar storms—and a cooling of the Earth that has some predicting a forthcoming new Little Ice Age.

As Wikipedia reports: “Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. It is the current solar cycle, and began on January 4, 2008, but there was minimal activity until early 2010. It is on track to be the Solar Cycle with the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750.” These cycles occur every eleven years.

I was surprised to receive a news release from the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) on Monday with the headline “Earthquake and Volcano Threat Increases” because, frankly, I could have put out the same release and, if such activity did increase, I could claim credit for predicting it and, if not, few if any would recall I had made such a claim. While earthquake activity has been studied for decades, even the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) makes no claim to being able to predicting when or where one will occur.

What the USGS can tell you is that their scientists (and others) “estimate earthquake probabilities in two ways: by studying the history of large earthquakes in a specific area and the rate at which strain accumulates in the rock.” A translation of this is that they have only the most minimal clues when and where one will occur. A recent International Business Times article reported that this may change as the introduction of “big data analytics” kicks in to provide “a leap of accuracy of quake predictions.”

The SSRC news release was about a letter that Casey had sent Craig Fugate, the Administrator of the Federal Management Agency which “disclosed that we are about to enter a potentially catastrophic period of record earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout the United States.”

Casey’s letter outlined “how the ongoing dramatic reduction in the Sun’s energy output will not only plunge the world into a decades-long cold epoch, but at the same time bring record geographic devastation in monster earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.”

Other scientists have come to similar conclusions, but after years of sorting through all the claims about global warming and “climate change”, one might want to tread lightly before embracing them.

I asked my colleague at The Heartland Institute, Science Director Jay Lehr, for his reaction and he was quite candid. “I have read it and am extremely skeptical. It sounds like the agency is looking for some press and, of course, when they turn out to be wrong no one will be upset. No harm. No foul. Being ready for earthquakes in known quake zones makes sense; creating unwarranted fear does not.”

Dr. Lehr summed up my own reaction. I would recommend his skepticism to everyone.

Will there be earthquakes here in the U.S.? Yes. The New Madrid earthquakes were the biggest in the nation’s history, occurring in the central Mississippi Valley and so large they were felt as far away as New York and Boston, Montreal and Washington, D.C. President James Madison and his wife Dolly felt them in the White House. They lasted from December 16, 1811 through March of 1812 and there were more than 2,000 quakes in the central Midwest, and between 6,000-10,000 in the boot-heel of Missouri where New Madrid is located near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

When will new earthquakes or volcanic eruptions occur? I doubt anyone knows the answer to that.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

The Iran Framework Disagreement and 50/50 chance of U.S. China War

Last week we anticipated that no deal would be better than a bad deal. But this week it seems hard to know exactly what deal has been agreed. Each of the parties in the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capability seems to have a different interpretation of what the much-heralded framework deal contains or means. But what is clear is that the framework is not only bad, but sloppy.

As HJS’s new briefing out this week makes clear, there is not even any single agreed upon framework proposal in the deal. Indeed, as our briefing outlines, the joint Iranian-EU statement made on 2 April had a number of differences to the one made by President Obama on the same day. Indeed the French fact-sheet on the framework contradicts the U.S. version, with the U.S. one appearing more stringent and implying sanctions relief would be staged – a claim that is, in turn, denied by Iran.

There seems to be an ongoing dispute over what has been agreed in regard to inspections. There is an ongoing lack of clarity on what this all now means for regional proliferation (in particular now that every other country will want to get their own nuclear assurance). And there is a deeply disconcerting anomaly about the number of centrifuges Iran needs. The framework deal seems to allow Iran to have 6,000 centrifuges, when it is generally agreed that the country would require no more than 2,000, if this were truly about the country’s search for nuclear technology limited solely for civilian use.

In all of its negotiations, Iran appears to have played a steady and consistent hand. But this is in stark contrast to the shifting moves by the P5+1. Only eighteen months ago President Obama agreed that the Fordow facility, its heavy water reactor and advanced centrifuges, were not necessary for the development of a civilian nuclear capability. Under the framework that seems to have been agreed in Switzerland, all of these capabilities remain in place.

So why the anomalies and why the uncertainties? Because it seems at present that the P5+1 agreement in Lausanne is aimed more at instilling confidence back home in the West than it is about coming to the best deal to prevent Iranian enrichment and development beyond civilian levels. There has been a steadily rising opposition to this deal from the general public in the U.S. and at the highest levels of experienced policy-makers, bolstered this week by the intervention of Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. The administration in Washington appears to be trying to placate this position while also trying to placate the Iranians. If there is a reason why the framework so far seems such a fudge it is because these two positions cannot be reconciled.

But neither can they both be danced around for long. The end aim of this process should not be to buy off critics of the Obama administration in Washington, but rather to prevent Iran from ever acquiring weapons grade nuclear capability. From the reaction to the agreement so far it seems that the Obama administration has achieved the impressive feat of failing in both these objectives.

Dr Alan MendozaFROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK

There is a 50:50 chance of a war between the USA and China in the next 15 years. Not my words, but those of Professor Christopher Coker, the world’s leading international relations academic and a visiting speaker at HJS this week.

It would be fair to say that despite its size and growing importance on the world stage, China is a subject under-discussed in the UK. There are very few Sinologists located here, and political and media opinion on the subject tend to be dominated by the economic relationship – with the odd nod to human rights concerns when our leaders think they can get away with pointing out China’s many abuses without incurring its wrath in the form of trade restrictions in return. This is a pattern witnessed across Europe, where the relationship with China has become completely unbalanced in China’s favour, and our leaders are wary of speaking the truth for fear of offending a vital trading partner.

But as Professor Coker reminded us, ‘in times of peace, prepare for war’. China is the only real global challenger to the U.S., and therefore to our own liberal democratic and economic system, but it sees the international system today as made in America. This does not fit with the vision of a nation which was the world’s dominant power before 1820 and sees itself as returning to that trajectory.

Nothing is predetermined of course, and there are doves as well as hawks within the Chinese leadership. But the latter will have been emboldened and even inspired by Russia’s example of remaking the international system in its neighbourhood. Given the many tinderbox situations in East and South East Asia which have China as one of the potential protagonists, is it so far-fetched to assume that China will not at least try to probe the U.S. commitment of security guarantees for many of its neighbours in a bid to start supplanting U.S. influence in its own backyard?

As we have seen over the past few years, our leaders are often fixated by short-term threats rather than the ones just over the horizon. Coker’s analysis reminds us of the importance of vigilance in international affairs. And it deserves to be taken seriously.

Dr. Alan Mendoza
Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society

Follow Alan on Twitter: @AlanMendoza

Judicial Watch Uncovers USDA Records Sponsoring U.S. Food Stamp Program for Illegal Aliens

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released documents detailing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal aliens in the U.S. food stamp program.

The promotion of the food stamp program, now known as “SNAP” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance.  Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, “You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.”

The documents came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made to USDA on July 20, 2012.  The FOIA request sought: “Any and all records of communication relating to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals, and migrant communities, including but not limited to, communications with the Mexican government.”

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that USDA officials are working closely with their counterparts at the Mexican Embassy to widely broaden the SNAP program in the Mexican immigrant community, with no effort to restrict aid to, identify, or apprehend illegal immigrants who may be on the food stamp rolls. In an email to Borjon Lopez-Coterilla and Jose Vincente of the Mexican Embassy, dated January 26, 2012, Yibo Wood of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) sympathized with the plight of illegal aliens applying for food stamps, saying, “FNS understands that mixed status households may be particularly vulnerable.  Many of these households contain a non-citizen parent and a citizen child.”

The email from Wood to Lopez-Coterilla and Vincente came in response to a request from the Mexican Embassy that the USDA FNS step in to prevent the state of Kansas from changing its food stamp policy to restrict the amount of financial assistance provided to illegal aliens.  In a January 22, 2012, article, the Kansas City Star had revealed that the state would no longer include illegal aliens in its calculations of the amount of assistance to be provided low-income Hispanic families in order to prevent discrimination against legal recipients.

The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch in August 2012, include the following:

  • March 30, 2012 – The USDA seeks approval of the Mexican Embassy in drafting a letter addressed to consulates throughout the United States designed to encourage Mexican embassy staffers to enroll in a webinar learn how to promote increased enrollment among “the needy families that the consulates serve.”
  • August 1, 2011 – The USDA FNS initiates contact with the Mexican Embassy in New York to implement programs already underway in DC and Philadelphia for maximizing participation among Mexican citizens. The Mexican Embassy responds that the Consul General is eager to strengthen his ties to the USDA, with specific interest in promoting the food stamp program.
  • February 25, 2011 – The USDA and the Mexican Consulate exchange ideas about getting the First Ladies of Mexico and United States to visit a school for purposes of creating a photo opportunity that would promote free school lunches for low-income students in a predominantly Hispanic school. Though a notation in the margin of the email claims that the photo op never took place, UPI reported that it actually did.
  • March 3, 2010 – A flyer advertises a webinar to teach Hispanic-focused nonprofits how to get reimbursed by the USDA for serving free lunch over the summer. The course, funded by American taxpayers, is advertised as being “free for all participants.”
  • February 9 , 2010 – USDA informs the Mexican Embassy that, based on an agreement reached between the State Department and the Immigration & Naturalization Service (now ICE), the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) food voucher program does not violate immigration laws prohibiting immigrants from becoming a “public charge.”

As far back as 2006, in its Corruption Chronicles blog, Judicial Watch revealed that the USDA was spending taxpayer money to run Spanish-language television ads encouraging illegal immigrants to apply for government-financed food stamps. The Mexican Consul in Santa Ana, CA, at the time even starred in some of the U.S. Government-financed television commercials, which explained the program and provided a phone number to apply. In the widely viewed commercial the Consul assured that receiving food stamps “won’t affect your immigration status.”

In 2012, Judicial Watch reported that in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions questioned the Obama administration’s partnership with Mexican consulates to encourage foreign nationals, migrant workers and non-citizen immigrants to apply for food stamps and other USDA administered welfare benefits. Sessions wrote, “It defies rational thinking,” Sessions wrote, “for the United States – now dangerously $16 trillion in debt – to partner with foreign governments to help us place more foreign nationals on American welfare and it is contrary to good immigration policy in the United States.”

“The revelation that the USDA is actively working with the Mexican government to promote food stamps for illegal aliens should have a direct impact on the fate of the immigration bill now being debated in Congress,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These disclosures further confirm the fact that the Obama administration cannot be trusted to protect our borders or enforce our immigration laws. And the coordination with a foreign government to attack the policies of an American state is contemptible.”

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