Start of a New World War

Propaganda about Russian and Chinese “aggression” has cloaked the reality of the U.S. and the West moving aggressively to encircle both countries, the start of a new world war, says John Pilger.

By John Pilger

I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, “Where is that?” If I offer a clue by referring to “Bikini,” they say, “You mean the swimsuit.”

Few seem aware that the bikini swimsuit was named to celebrate the nuclear explosions that destroyed Bikini island. Sixty-six nuclear devices were exploded by the United States in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958 — the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs every day for 12 years.

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

Bikini is silent today, mutated and contaminated. Palm trees grow in a strange grid formation. Nothing moves. There are no birds. The headstones in the old cemetery are alive with radiation. My shoes registered “unsafe” on a Geiger counter.

Standing on the beach, I watched the emerald green of the Pacific fall away into a vast black hole. This was the crater left by the hydrogen bomb they called “Bravo.” The explosion poisoned people and their environment for hundreds of miles, perhaps forever.

On my return journey, I stopped at Honolulu airport and noticed an American magazine called Women’s Health. On the cover was a smiling woman in a bikini swimsuit, and the headline: “You, too, can have a bikini body.” A few days earlier, in the Marshall Islands, I had interviewed women who had very different “bikini bodies”; each had suffered thyroid cancer and other life-threatening cancers.

Unlike the smiling woman in the magazine, all of them were impoverished: the victims and guinea pigs of a rapacious superpower that is today more dangerous than ever.

I relate this experience as a warning and to interrupt a distraction that has consumed so many of us. The founder of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, described this phenomenon as “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the habits and opinions” of democratic societies. He called it an “invisible government”.

How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.

In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons.” People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was all fake. He was lying.

The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over 30 years is more than $1 trillion.

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”

In the last 18 months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two — led by the United States — is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.

Ukraine – once part of the Soviet Union – has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian-speaking minority.

This is seldom news in the West, or it is inverted to suppress the truth.

In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — next door to Russia — the U.S. military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power is met with silence in the West.

What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel campaign against China. Seldom a day passes when China is not elevated to the status of a “threat.” According to Admiral Harry Harris, the U.S. Pacific commander, China is “building a great wall of sand in the South China Sea.”

What he is referring to is China building airstrips in the Spratly Islands, which are the subject of a dispute with the Philippines – a dispute without priority until Washington pressured and bribed the government in Manila and the Pentagon launched a propaganda campaign called “freedom of navigation.”

What does this really mean? It means freedom for American warships to patrol and dominate the coastal waters of China. Try to imagine the American reaction if Chinese warships did the same off the coast of California.

I made a film called The War You Don’t See, in which I interviewed distinguished journalists in America and Britain: reporters such as Dan Rather of CBS, Rageh Omar of the BBC, David Rose of the Observer.

All of them said that had journalists and broadcasters done their job and questioned the propaganda that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction; had the lies of George W. Bush and Tony Blair not been amplified and echoed by journalists, the 2003 invasion of Iraq might not have happened, and  hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today.

The propaganda laying the ground for a war against Russia and/or China is no different in principle. To my knowledge, no journalist in the Western “mainstream” — a Dan Rather equivalent, say — asks why China is building airstrips in the South China Sea.

The answer ought to be glaringly obvious. The United States is encircling China with a network of bases, with ballistic missiles, battle groups, nuclear-armed bombers.

This lethal arc extends from Australia to the islands of the Pacific, the Marianas and the Marshalls and Guam, to the Philippines, Thailand, Okinawa, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India. America has hung a noose around the neck of China. This is not news. Silence by media; war by media.

In 2015, in high secrecy, the U.S. and Australia staged the biggest single air-sea military exercise in recent history, known as Talisman Sabre. Its aim was to rehearse an Air-Sea Battle Plan, blocking sea lanes, such as the Straits of Malacca and the Lombok Straits, that cut off China’s access to oil, gas and other vital raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In the circus known as the American presidential campaign, Donald Trump is being presented as a lunatic, a fascist. He is certainly odious; but he is also a media-hate figure. That alone should arouse our skepticism. Trump’s views on migration are grotesque, but no more grotesque than those of British Prime Minister David Cameron. It is not Trump who is the Great Deporter from the United States, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.

According to one prodigious liberal commentator, Trump is “unleashing the dark forces of violence” in the United States. Unleashing them?

This is the country where toddlers shoot their mothers and the police wage a murderous war against black Americans. This is the country that has attacked and sought to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and bombed from Asia to the Middle East, causing the deaths and dispossession of millions of people.

No country can equal this systemic record of violence. Most of America’s wars (almost all of them against defenseless countries) have been launched not by Republican presidents but by liberal Democrats: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

In 1947, a series of National Security Council directives described the paramount aim of American foreign policy as “a world substantially made over in [America’s] own image.” The ideology was messianic Americanism. We were all Americans. Or else. Heretics would be converted, subverted, bribed, smeared or crushed.

Donald Trump is a symptom of this, but he is also a maverick. He says the invasion of Iraq was a crime; he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia and China. The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted “exceptionalism” is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.

As presidential Election Day draws near, Clinton will be hailed as the first female president, regardless of her crimes and lies – just as Barack Obama was lauded as the first black president and liberals swallowed his nonsense about “hope.” And the drool goes on.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN.

Described by the Guardian columnist Owen Jones as “funny, charming, with a coolness that eludes practically every other politician,” Obama the other day sent drones to slaughter 150 people in Somalia. He kills people usually on Tuesdays, according to the New York Times, when he is handed a list of candidates for death by drone. So cool.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran with nuclear weapons. As Secretary of State under Obama, she participated in the overthrow of the democratic government of Honduras. Her contribution to the destruction of Libya in 2011 was almost gleeful. When the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, was publicly sodomized with a knife – a murder made possible by American logistics – Clinton gloated over his death: “We came, we saw, he died.”

One of Clinton’s closest allies is Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State, who has attacked young women for not supporting “Hillary.” This is the same Madeleine Albright  who infamously celebrated on TV the death of half a million Iraqi children as “worth it”.

Among Clinton’s biggest backers are the Israel lobby and the arms companies that fuel the violence in the Middle East. She and her husband have received a fortune from Wall Street. And yet, she is about to be ordained the women’s candidate, to see off the evil Trump, the official demon. Her supporters include distinguished feminists: the likes of Gloria Steinem in the U.S. and Anne Summers in Australia.

A generation ago, a post-modern cult now known as “identity politics” stopped many intelligent, liberal-minded people examining the causes and individuals they supported — such as the fakery of Obama and Clinton; such as bogus progressive movements like Syriza in Greece, which betrayed the people of that country and allied with their enemies.

Self-absorption, a kind of “me-ism,” became the new Zeitgeist in privileged Western societies and signaled the demise of great collective movements against war, social injustice, inequality, racism and sexism.

Today, the long sleep may be over. The young are stirring again. Gradually. The thousands in Britain who supported Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader are part of this awakening – as are those who rallied to support Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In Britain last week, Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally, his shadow treasurer John McDonnell, committed a Labour government to pay off the debts of piratical banks and, in effect, to continue so-called austerity.

In the U.S., Bernie Sanders has promised to support Clinton if or when she’s nominated. He, too, has voted for America’s use of violence against countries when he thinks it’s “right.” He says Obama has done “a great job.”

In Australia, there is a kind of mortuary politics, in which tedious parliamentary games are played out in the media while refugees and Indigenous people are persecuted and inequality grows, along with the danger of war. The government of Malcolm Turnbull has just announced a so-called defense budget of $195 billion that is a drive to war. There was no debate. Silence.

What has happened to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties? Where is the courage, the imagination and the commitment required to begin the long journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the theatre, literature?

Where are those who will shatter the silence? Or do we wait until the first nuclear missile is fired?

This is an edited version of an address by John Pilger at the University of Sydney, entitled “A World War Has Begun.” – the films and journalism of John Pilger.

24 comments for “Start of a New World War

  1. Richard Coleman
    March 27, 2016 at 18:44

    Um, what war was unleashed by Kennedy? He didn’t invade Cuba twice, he issued an order for the withdrawal of 1,000 advisers from Vietnam by the end of 1963 and all American forces by the end of 1965. Concluded a nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviets and proposed a joint space exploration program with them. Shut down American military bases in Europe. Gave the most magnificent speech urging world peace of any president up till now.

  2. Steve
    March 23, 2016 at 16:39

    This is an excellent article. There is a conspiracy of silence regarding U.S. actions and I’m glad to see someone pierce the veil. But Trump’s selection of Jeff Sessions as a national security adviser IMO pretty much cancels out any notion that a Trump administration would represent a departure from the current policy of encirclement and confrontation of Russia/China. Sessions is a big supporter of NATO expansion and is hawkish on countering what he believes to be “Russian aggression” in Ukraine.

  3. Joe L.
    March 23, 2016 at 15:03

    Mr. Pilger, a great article as usual. I believe that you are one of our greatest journalists and voices for peace in this world. Since I watched your documentary “War on Democracy” ( it has really opened my eyes to the deception by the US and our western governments. I then watched your documentaries on Vietnam, the Chagos Islands (“Stealing a Nation”) amongst others and it makes it so clear the lies told by our politicians and exposes the very clear hypocrisies espoused by them. Greed is what it all ultimately comes down to. I most appreciate this type of reporting from yourself, and people like Robert Parry, which exposes our sins, our imperialism imposed on the rest of the world, and makes more war unfathomable – so thank you. Myself, I refuse to let my government, or media, manipulate me in who next to hate to justify whatever geopolitical game that they want to play for profit. I don’t hate Russians, Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, or anyone else and I just want to live in a world where we work together. I look at things like the international space station where supposed enemies can be friends and work together – that is how we should view the world. I do believe that somewhere around 2020, China will be the world’s largest economy (it already is by PPP), but does that mean that there needs to be war over a changing of the guard – I don’t believe so. I think that if the large powers could learn to get along that not only could we avoid a devastating world war but we could tackle the threats that face us all such as global warming, droughts, clean energy etc. But if we are stupid enough to walk into another world war which will likely go nuclear then I hope that one of the nuclear bombs lands directly on my head because I don’t think that I want to see the world that comes after, if there is one. If we truly believe ourselves to be “civilized” then surely war is “unthinkable”. Cheers again Mr. Pilger and Robert Parry.

  4. Zachary Smith
    March 23, 2016 at 13:26

    I didn’t like this essay – because I couldn’t find any errors worth mentioning!

    That B61 bomb looks to me as if it’s merely an excuse to funnel money to Big Weapons. The thing has no practical use I could discover, and costs over twice its weight in gold. The Russians (and probably Chinese) are surely working on ways to neutralize it – if by no other means than shooting it down. Weapons systems designed to defend naval ships against supersonic cruise missiles ought to have little trouble engaging a freaking gravity bomb – no matter how “smart” it is.

    Because their national existence is at stake, the Russians work very hard to keep one step ahead of US weapons systems. For a long time I was puzzled about how they claimed they could defeat the US ballistic missile defense systems. (under the unlikely assumption those money pits could ever be made to work) Turns out that the big Russian ICBMs are now a hybrid.

    All the evidence is that US “Defense” is now much less about defending anything and more about making the super-rich even wealthier.

    “Military Admits Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is F**ked”


    The author says this admission comes out now because they figure it’s too late to stop the money-tsunami program.

    Finally, the Pentagon doesn’t want anybody watching its loony money-wasting.

    Ask the Department of Defense (DOD) how many Hotplugs it has on hand and the answer will require government employees to devote 15 million labor hours to the task at a cost of at least $660 million.

    A “hotplug” is a $549 computer device which appears to be the size of a small suitcase, but you’re not going to find out how many they’ve bought!


  5. jon vonn
    March 23, 2016 at 10:56

    The doctrine is called containment. It has been around since the end of WW2. It is an glaring ommission.

  6. Peter Loeb
    March 23, 2016 at 07:29


    A magnificent article by John Pilger.

    “What has happened to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties?
    Where is the courage, the imagination and the commitment required to begin the long
    journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the
    theatre, literature?

    Where are those who will shatter the silence?”

    They are probably at a parade somewhere. There is always a parade. Or perhaps
    they are honoring the veteran- of- the- month at an athletic event. Let’s
    all cheer if someone is injured…Today’s “fun”. And the price of the tickets for
    this “amusement”!!!

    Pilger’s writing skill (art, most certainly) just makes me jealous.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  7. AndJusticeForAll
    March 23, 2016 at 07:14

    After reading this article, I think that word nazi is not used enough. The regular suspects were listed n+1 time, but the new ones to blame were not assigned. I think Russia and China are peaceful and wanting only trade and prosperity everywhere. And one of russian outstanding politicians Vladimir Zhyrinovskij demonstrates that everyday. He fiercely fights on TV with listed suspects including evil America. For example, yesterday after Brussels bombings he expressed that these terror attacks are beneficial to russia and let europeans die. That is a good will right there. I would sleep better if we have a few more B61s just in case.

    • ??????? ?????
      March 25, 2016 at 16:57

      You are right, most Nazis have escaped to the US and Canada and lived happily there, unpunished. Every nation has a Zhirinovskiy with the only difference that your Zhirinovskiys possess nuclear bombs and weapons near other states ‘just in case’, abuse and destroy other nations and call for WW III. We don’t see people like you protesting against it, do we? Even in kitchens, even to yourself. Please, continue to dream about the ‘Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Canadian (why else would you need a wall with Canada?) aggression’. Your government will reward you with more debt, more blood and more hate overseas.

      Best wishes, your Russians.

  8. Mark A. O'Blazney
    March 23, 2016 at 04:33

    We wait until the third one is fired.

  9. Chuck
    March 22, 2016 at 23:03

    Nixon and Kissinger’s absence in this polemic is glaring. They may not have “started” their dirty little war but they sure knew how to bomb civilians back into the Stone Age, not to mention shooting those damn hippies! And Reagan was such a pacifist, he never accelerated the modernization of the US nuclear arsenal. No. Not St. Ronnie. And who launched the first Gulf war? Oh yeah. Bush I. And the article somehow managed to whitewash over Bush II’s maniacal crazies; the Rumsfeld/Cheney/Wolfowitz triumvirate. And the disgraced Dan Rather is now a journalistic hero icon? Or was that crap about Rather only meant sarcastically? Do not misunderstand. I am well aware of the atrocities of the Democrats. I just can’t help wondering why so-called independent news like Consortium cannot, at the very least, attempt a more even handed approach?

    • LEE LOE Grandmother for Peace
      March 25, 2016 at 21:54

      Thanks so for this statement! I feel the same way, altho I do so respect Mr. Pilger, but this is only a partial review of our present dangerous situation.

  10. John
    March 22, 2016 at 22:54

    It’s all about banking and market share….The entire US armed forces are just hit men……

  11. Andrew Nichols
    March 22, 2016 at 22:21

    Today, the long sleep may be over. The young are stirring again. Gradually. The thousands in Britain who supported Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader are part of this awakening – as are those who rallied to support Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    I’m heartened by this awakening but I fear it will be too late to save us from HR Clintons coming war. The woman is a totally dangerous idiot – a hybrid Bush/Cheney in skirts. We’ve had it.

  12. lacey morton
    March 22, 2016 at 21:09

    Great article by John Pilger. Everything he says is right on the money, but unfortunately 99.999% of America will never read anything of this nature. One of our founding Fathers said the government is not your friend. And the media isn’t your friend either. Hillary is a war criminal and has committed multiple felonies and should be in shackles in a Federal prison or worse. I don’t see a good ending to this. Who’s going to stop the Neocons and people like Clinton? I think Russia and China should sign a military pact before it’s too late and support each other in the S. China Sea and E. Europe. Our gov’t isn’t going to stop the aggression and China and Russia can only take so much. I have tremendous respect for Mr. Pilger for telling the truth to as many people who will listen. Thank you John Pilger.

  13. Dr. Ip
    March 22, 2016 at 20:44

    Depressing indeed.
    With so many guns in so many hands in the USA, it’s surprising that there hasn’t yet been an armed insurrection against the elite. Instead, kids kill kids and, like you say, the police kill indiscriminately.
    If Trump actually manages to get nominated, which is not at all certain given the backroom boys and their long knives, and if he actually defeats Hillary because people on the left stay away in droves, then we may finally see the military come in and put their beloved David Petraeus on the throne in order to avoid a guy who says he would be even-handed in dealing with Palestine and who wants to close American bases around the world and be friends with the Russians.
    Military men took over the Roman Empire that the USA believes it is a continuation of (the fasces and the eagle being prominent symbols). However, if it turns out that General Breedlove is at the helm of the coup, then forget it. Put on your hazmat suit and stock up your 1950s H-bomb bunker because it will be a long cold nuclear winter.

    PS: I am not a Trump fan at all, but he really is starting to look like the lesser of two disasters.

    • Brad Owen
      March 23, 2016 at 07:16

      We’re just one “False Flag” away from Martial Law. Trump will severely disappoint you, as will Hillary. I think Petraeus is in Trump’s “baggage train” of advisers, cheer-leaders, camp-followers, etc. We desperately need a “Smedley Butler” to counter-coup a Petraeus and his Deep State masters. THAT is possibly the more realistic “Politics” to consider at this late date: Who will we get as a “Cincinnatus” for our times?

    • dahoit
      March 27, 2016 at 10:34

      Don’t believe the hype that the military are all Zionist traitors.There has to be SOME patriots left.
      Though of course Yankee come home means less opportunities for death,destruction and prizes.

  14. Rhisiart Gwilym
    March 22, 2016 at 16:28

    John is a true, great journalist; an essential truth-teller. Keep going, good brother!

  15. Thus cometh Elysium
    March 22, 2016 at 15:17

    Trump is being demonized by the media now just like Putin because he refuses to get on the World War III bandwagon. Every day there are more humans in the world, but fewer natural resources, less clean water, less food, fewer jobs, more hatred, more fear, more violence… Robotics, digital information processing and storage, miniaturization, global surveillance, genetic engineering of plants, animals, pathogens and humans, weaponization of every aspect of human culture reaching even into outer space, will make these trends worse in the future, not better. In 30 years, the planet will be burdened with several billion humans far beyond its carrying capacity. Russia is being encircled as part of a plan by the Western oligarchs to steal the last major undeveloped cache of resources on Earth. China is being encircled to choke off a major human drain on planetary resources. Don’t think there are not additional plans in the works to deal with the “excess” populations of India, Africa and South America. World War III is an incipient planet-wide war of the rich against the poor. Incidents will be confected and excuses made for what will be described as “necessary” actions to save the virtuous “exceptional” people, the ones rich enough to have been genetically-engineered with good health and extended life spans, the ones with title to the robotic, AI-driven machines that will make the life of the privileged even more luxuriant than it is today.

  16. Drew Hunkins
    March 22, 2016 at 15:16

    Dynamite piece by Mr. Pilger.

    What’s disconcerting about this new Cold War (and this paradigm played out essentially the same during the “old” Cold War) is that so many bright liberals are falling for all the vilification and demonization of Russia and China. It’s as if they’re completely incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of the other party, the myopia is breathtaking. Washington’s pivot to Asia, Washington’s expansion of NATO eastward, Washington’s anti-ballistic missile systems in Eastern Europe, none of this matters to the ‘know-everything’ liberal readers of the New Yorker, Washington Post, New York Review of Books and NPR listeners.

  17. BO terror victim
    March 22, 2016 at 14:47

    Take direct action on April 15th.

    STOP paying ‘your government’
    to torture you and your kids.

  18. Ecosutra
    March 22, 2016 at 13:44

    I was on twitter….. Exactly…. Permaculture movement where we turn living soil into fungi, bio char, green energy conversion using nature. Elements kept pouring in for innovation. The kind of design that would lead to free time full of bio diversity, growing food holding water and using it over and over with Aquaponics. The problem is ecological illiteracy. America is sick. And Hollywood feeds domination constantly funneled into the TV> Not one film with synergy. The men are weak and the women beat up the man. This is the play of the Oligarchy, they even want us all sodomizing each other. This is a dark cabal. I wonder if life on this planet will rise up and see it before extinction.Fracking water away from life. slow kill eugenic GMO glyphosphates. Gluten, Corn syrup, we are being poisoned.

  19. Joe Tedesky
    March 22, 2016 at 12:54

    Today on the View, Joy Behar made the comment, that with this attack in Brussels we may need a Hillary Clinton. Everyone on the show agreed. Why is no one questioning just why are these people attacking western societies? It is interesting how when violence occurs people seem to call on the powers of the very people who got to this point. Ironic doesn’t define this atmosphere well enough, as much as ill informed, and stupid does. This era isn’t going to end well, that’s for sure.

    • Airbrush2020
      March 24, 2016 at 11:31

      The US always says it is protecting it’s interests around the world. The primary interest is energy (i.e. Oil). To that end, the US supports monarchies, shiekdoms, dictators, military juntas, crooks, and whoever. The US is very keen to prevent a united pan-arab state that would likely nationalize the oil fields on behalf of a liberated Arab people. Factor in our unwavering support for Israel and you have a hated entity. Europe is easier to travel to, immigrate to, and set-up shop in. So, Europe bears the brunt of the attacks. But, Islamists would love to seize any opportunity to attack the US as well.

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