Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Howard Lutnick at Horace Mann: That September Mourn

Give this video a click and listen to "the greatest Jewish entertainer after Billy Joel," to quote a recent comment posted there. The music will provide a soothing background to this blog, and I think you're going to need it. What---you want Barbra? If Cantor Fitzgerald's CEO, Howard Lutnick, was tasked with the synthetic simulation cover role of "taking his child to his first day of kindergarten" --conceived as a sort of symmetrical mini-me moment to George Bush's My Pet Goat---then he was under rehearsed or the script got rewritten. Either that or the state of American journalism is so poor it is difficult to reconcile the intention behind the "truth" anymore. Some bits of information are single-source, and found only in the foreign media. An article in The Spectator, Mar 15, 2003, by Inigo Thomas, for instance, provides the satisfying knowledge of a scheduled start time for school, when the locked gates are opened
"Howard Lutnick, like 11 employees who were sacked by Cantor the previous day, was lucky. On the morning of the 11th, he took his son Kyle to school; it was the first day of the fall term, and the gates of Horace Mann on the Upper East Side Manhattan's 'Gold Coast' - didn't open until 8.45. There's a photograph in this book of father and son just before Kyle goes to class: the caption beneath it begins, 'The last good day of my life.'"
This lucky fact saved Lutnick's life, and Meryl Gordon, writing in New York Magazine, expands upon this luck factor in Howard Lutnick's Second Life,
"The luckiest people in New York? The twenty Cantor Fitzgerald staff members let go on Monday, September 10, most of whom have loyally returned to the firm."
Lucky Lutnick has now been combined with loyalty, whatever the count. Is Thomas trying to pin things down here? Out of scores of media articles, nobody has clarified the usual start time to the work day at Cantor Fitzgerald. Was it 7:00am or 7:30 a.m.? Are the principles exempt? Why does Gordon report that 75 Cantor Fitzgerald technical-support-staff members were "alive only by luck; their workday at 1 World Trade Center started at 9 a.m." That wouldn't be luck at all, which implies divine chance, but rather, a schedule or routine implies fate at man's hands. Lutnick's first foray on Larry King Live on September 19th was an emotional and linguistic crap shoot
KING: ...Howard Lutnick. We began by asking Howard how many people he lost. HOWARD LUTNICK, CHAIRMAN & CEO, CANTOR FITZGERALD: It's over 17,000. I just can't -- actually can't look at the number. I can't get an exact number because I don't want to. KING: Now, tell us, you were supposed to be at work, but what happened? LUTNICK: It was my -- my 5-year-old had his first day of kindergarten, so I had dropped him off at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Kindergarten, and it was his first day of big-boy school. And then I went -- so I was a little late getting down to the office. KING: Where were you when all this hit? LUTNICK: Just leaving the -- just leaving the school. And... KING: How did you hear about it? LUTNICK: Just my phone rang, and they said, you know, the building was hit by a plane, and I was thinking it was sort of like a -- a small, like a Piper Cub or something like that. So I got in the car and started driving down the left side trying to get there as fast as I could. And I could see the smoke from downtown, and I was --I just had to get there. - Transcripts
I can see how saying 700 could be misheard for 1,700, but 17 thousand must be a transcription error. I can't check it since the actual interview tape can't be found anywhere on the web, which is odd in the age of YouTube. Lutnick's second go around on Larry King Live on February 22, 2002, was still drifty, but a bit more composed. He almost forgets the point of the question until he's prompted by King.
"First, for just a little recap, Howard, where were you that morning? HOWARD LUTNICK, CEO, CANTOR FITZGERALD: I took my son to his first day of kindergarten. It was his first day of school, so I took him up to school and dropped him off, and then was heading down to the office. KING: How did you hear about it? LUTNICK: Well, I had a call in the school that someone was looking for me, and then I -- and then someone said a plane had hit the Trade Center, so I went running downstairs and jumped in the car and started going downtown to the Trade Center. And then when I was in the car I could see the smoke coming out of the building on the way down. - Transcripts
His third appearance on Larry King, exactly one year later to the day, was a book tour interview of Lutnick and a hired hagiographer, his college tennis teammate, Tom Barbash. Larry King stays on message, repeating three times in one question. "first day of school."
KING: There is an incredible photo in the book, taken at 8:45 a.m. 9/11. Howard has just taken his son, Kyle, to his first day at kindergarten at Horace Mann. The first day of school. At 8:46, American Flight 11 bound for L.A. from Boston tore into the north side of the WTC Tower. The picture was just a memento of his first day, Howard? LUTNICK: Sure. The classic first-day photo, my son with his, you know, wet hair around his ears, standing on his backpack right in front of the school. And I kneeled down next to him to take that picture, and basically that was the moment that saved my life, and my boys know that they saved my life by taking them to school. KING: And refresh our memory. How did you learn of the tragedy? LUTNICK: Well, as I walked him upstairs to his first day of kindergarten, my phone beeped, and you know, I couldn't get a signal. And then, the school administrator said, "Mr. Lutnick, there's a call for you." And I picked up the phone, and it was Jimmy Mayo, my driver who features in the book quite a bit. And he said, "A plane has hit the building." And I'm thinking Piper Cub. And so, I run down the stairs and get in the car, and we drive right to the building. And I get to stand in the door [?] of the building, grabbing people as they come out, and of course, then Tower Two falls. If Tower One falls, I'm not on this program, but because Tower Two fell, and I ran from that tornado of smoke and I was maybe 20 yards from it, and it engulfed me. And then, you know, all of this is in the book, but also everybody else's views of exactly what happened are in the book as well. - Transcripts
With Lutnick variously a trustee or on the board of directors of the Horace Mann school, these private conversations with higher level administrators sound entre nous and strictly sotto voce---and really suspicious to me. From one news article, I had pictured him with a earnest and well-born Princess Di from Armonk type perhaps---with all the parents sitting around a circle clapping hands, trying not to get sticky. Back in December 2001, in a New York Magazine article by Meryl Gordon, Howard Lutnick's Second Life, (which is strangely undated on either of its links; see the little dot? And the word "published?" That's where the date goes. Where is it?)
"Howard and Allison were perched on child-size chairs in their son's classroom when both their cell phones rang and then died. Howard was summoned by a school staff member to the lobby, where he learned from his driver, Maio, that a plane had hit the Trade Center. "I ran upstairs to Allison---'I got to go, I got to go.' "She ran with him to the car, saying, "Should I go with you?" "No," he insisted. "You stay."
Stay? How about "go home?" But I can't tell what's propelling this sequence forward. Is he afraid his cell-phone bill might be subpoenaed? It never bothered Ted Olsen! Lutnick forgets that he has photographed this moment, calling it "the last good day of my life," after which everything changes into horror and hysteria. We should be able to see the demarcation line then--with his voice quickening, as he recollects with ease, clarity and relief the moments to one side of the line, with his descent into pain and confusion when he moves over to the other side. As it is, he just sounds like daffy old George W. Bush all day long---and daffy never earned a dime his whole life. With Lutnick's 2007 compensation being $16,503,118.00, he could purchase quite a few trusteeships and board positions around town. Horace Mann Fundraising Campaign Update Then in an AP article, Cantor Fitzgerald Chief: Five Agonizing Years, from September 12, 2006, we can see Lutnick get another chance.
"This Sept. 11 happened to be the first day of kindergarten for his daughter, Casey."
Has Horace Mann made September 11th into a national holiday for launching the educations of scions and heirs? Well then---how appropriate. September 11 fell on a Monday in 2006, and on a Friday this year. Is there a standard start to the school year? Could somebody do an analysis, going back at least two decades, to see if the start dates and times haven't been altered or manipulated for some---unknown---reason. September 11 always falls after the Labor Day at least---anywhere from four to ten days afterward, if that spread is relevant. A very relevant fact is that Cantor Fitzgerald was in the process of downsizing its bond trading staff by 800 before 9-11 hit, as its proprietary digital technology was advanced. 500 bond traders had already been let go, with another 300 or so to go after the switchover to fully electronic trading took place, which happened on September 13, 2001. Coincidentally, the 800 figure was almost exactly the number who "died" on 9-11.
"Although much is made of the family-like nature of Cantor Fitzgerald, it was, and still is, a hard-nosed business. Nearly 500 people had lost their jobs before Sept. 11, and 300 more were about to be axed, made obsolete by the success of their electronic bond-trading network, said Peter DaPuzzo, co-president of equities." Knight Ridder
But were they laying off just bond traders in the restructuring before 9-11?
Heidi Olson, now chief administrative officer for equities, had left Cantor when the firm downsized just before the attacks; she came back to work the next day. Barbash
Although Tom Barbash doesn't specify, I believe the high-level Olson was let go on the Monday, and rehired on the Wednesday. Business Wire reported on Nov. 6, 2001, that 'Cantor Continues to Appoint New Senior Management,' naming Stephen M. Bliss as a co-head of the NASDAQ/ OTC stock trading business. Informing readers, without apparent self- consciousness, that
"Mr. Bliss rejoins Cantor's equities business after leaving in May 2001...Steve's rejoining the firm gave the team a sense of continuity in Cantor's relationships and way of doing business," said Philip Marber, head of Cantor's U.S. equities business.
Did he quit in May, or was he laid off? What did Bliss do for those three summer months between May and September? In a November 12, 2001 USAToday article, Cantor battles back from tragedy, by Noelle Knox, Lutnick plays his new hand, telling us God dealt it to him
"Bond trading had been shifting to electronic trading even before the attacks, and Lutnick says it is "unlikely" he will replace his bond brokers. "We are not going to try to get back to who we were," he says. "We are going to take the cards that have been dealt to us. Take the assets we still have, which are incredible, and just play a different way."
It was fortuitous that since the future pointed to eSpeed, Cantor's electronic trading program, the right people were spared
"Six of eSpeed's top technology executives, including [Matthew] Claus, [chief technology officer] had planned to go on an annual, 1-day fishing trip that day. The trip was canceled because of bad conditions on the Atlantic — but not until 8 a.m. All six were on their way to the office when the planes hit the towers, killing President Frederick Varacchi and 125 other eSpeed employees. "The six executives headed straight to the firm's New Jersey location and started rerouting the trading network. They worked around the clock, napping on the floor. One slept with his head propped on an upside-down coffee cup. When the bond markets reopened Sept. 13, eSpeed was up and running."
It was also lucky that Richard Breeden, the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, served on the board of eSpeed, lest the government bond market, vital to national security, be disrupted.
"To the awe of Wall Street and government regulators, Cantor was able to get the company's U.S. eSpeed operations---a crucial link in the Treasury markets---up and running two days after the attack. "eSpeed---the publicly traded division of the privately held Cantor---is actually expected to be profitable in the fourth quarter [of 2001.] That day, eSpeed stock soars more than 20 percent, almost reaching its pre-September 11 level." Gordon
Writing on September 30, 2001, less than a month after the attacks, Maureen Fan of the Knight Ridder Tribune chain, proves she has a good ear for business dynamics:
"It's a funny group of people in the sense that they're hardened," said Peter Ryan, a managing director at Credit Lyonnais Securities. "It's a tough business and you have to have a thick veneer to survive in that environment." "The company's backup system in Rochelle Park, N.J., kicked in almost immediately after the attack and would have continued to hum if bond trading had not been suspended. Two days later, Cantor's electronic-broker system was up and running an hour before the bond market cranked up again, thanks to the all-night efforts of the company's surviving technology whizzes. "Cantor Fitzgerald was not the only hard-hit firm, but few were as tightly knit. A private partnership, the firm often hired the friends and family of existing employees. "This is such a close-knit firm, the salesmen usually knew the color of their client's houses," DaPuzzo said. "We have many sons of standing members of the Security Traders Association working for us," he added. "Nepotism makes our industry work because we know that if the father or mother is good, you know the son or daughter is good in this business." "Former employees have returned to help out." 'Victimized company tries to get on with business,'
To give other names to this power phenomena: mafia family [the Department of Defense comes to mind,] band of brothers, [firemen,] closed-shop construction companies [Pentagon contractors, Tully et al,] secret societies [Skull and Bones, Trogdor] affinity groups [BCO, VLV, Williamsboard] fraternal initiation orders, [Freemasonry, spoonies,] Clansmen, Amalgamated or Benefit Association, Oddfellows, [politicians] or Order of Mutual Protection League [I'll dump federal workers in here.] All of these centers of power are based on the keeping of the immoral immortal secrets, thus are diametrically at odds with the general application of the Golden Rule. I'd like to see them deconstructed since they corrupt and spoil our society's future. [I haven't yet mentioned "the Jews," who also have tribal loyalties down to a art form.] We have no more journalism left today. Let a decent enough interval go past and you can just get the original CIA guy they brought in to write the official insider-version of the truth, write for the business magazine: A Tale Of Renewal 9/11 FIVE YEARS LATER Tom Barbash, Howard Lutnick's college buddy and tennis teammate, doesn't have much of a literary resume, but he sure can land good academic jobs. He only published his first novel in 2002, as he neared 40. He was free to start work on the Cantor story as soon as the airspace reopened and allowed him to come to New York. The reviews for both books were often similar---in three words: rushed and ill-edited. But like the Gordon profile in New York Magazine, which comes with a particularly Jewish appreciation, which alternately protects and reveals Lutnick the subject, the narrative duties Barbash is tasked with come with a particular point of view. [See other blog] Gordon quotes Lutnick as saying his credibility is based on
"Two things allow me to communicate with my employees," he says. "I was there, and I lost my brother."
But there is no proof Lutnick was where he says he was, covered in white dust after the first tower's collapse. The two talking points that are repeated in every interview---"I lost my brother," and, "I was taking my son to his first day of school," are here joined by a third credential---"I was there." In an interview Lutnick gave the New York Times on September 15, 2001, is the most in-depth, first-person reporting of his experience at the base of the towers that morning. Lutnick says he "was standing by the door as people were streaming out," but he doesn't say which door. Then as the south tower started to crumble, he was running past Trinity Church graveyard. The climactic moment, when what he calls the "smoke" cloud catches up with him, seems marred by something beyond just Jewish self-consciousness:
"I crawl under a truck---no, it's smaller than a truck---it's like an S.U.V. I don't crawl all the way underneath because I'm afraid that something will fall and crush me under the truck. Of course, I don't think that if something falls and I'm not under the truck I'll get crushed anyway. This is not like a clever thing. So I'm halfway under the S.U.V."
This is poor story telling and bad lying and it's not off-the-cuff at that. In a Feb. 2, 2003, review by Rob Walker in the New York Times of the Lutnick/Barbash Cantor history, On Top Of the World, this all seems anticipated, as we are told Lutnick walks uptown to the Upper West Side apartment of the newly widowed wife of his best friend Doug---Jennifer Gardner
Lutnick understood, Tom Barbash writes in "On Top of the World," "that the fact that he wasn't in the building, even if it was to bring his son to his first day of kindergarten, will be a complicated thing for some people to accept." Lutnick is still covered with dust, and "he needs for her [Jennifer Gardner] to see him this way---not when he's cleaned up, and not when his mind is occupied with saving the company."
Walker points out the oddity of this attitude
"It's worth pausing, then, over the presence of mind that Barbash attributes to his college friend -- just hours after the disaster, Lutnick is thinking about how he "needs" people to see him, and about the business."
"Presence of mind" is a fair euphemism for foreknowledge. But in any case, this narrative is in conflict with the story Lutnick told in different New York Times article on September 15, 2001, 'Flinty Bond Trader Leads His Firm Out of the Rubble,' by Diana B. Henriques, and Jennifer 8. Lee
"Armed with that news, Mr. Lutnick walked on---44 blocks in all---to Mr. Merkel's home on Jane Street, a quiet old lane just south of 14th Street near the Hudson River. Another survivor was found, David Kravette, 40, who had gone to the lobby just before the attack to escort a visitor. Together, they walked more than two miles to Mr. Lutnick's apartment on the Upper East Side and immediately began making and receiving calls to try to trace missing workers."
So, no side trip to the West Side? There isn't much room for plausible deniability when you're yoked to your fellow Musketeers. For the official history to have failed to reconcile the plot with this early, primary-source storytelling is a gaff of gargantuan proportion. Gordon's December 9, 2001 New York Magazine article tells us pointblank the reason why Lutnick cut off the widow's paychecks on September 15: it was "to assure the bankers of his sangfroid."
"I needed my bankers to know that I was in control," Lutnick says. "That I wasn't sentimental and that I was no less motivated or driven to make my business survive."
It was a shock-and-awe war plan, but Lutnick got sentimental real quick when the negative publicity threatened to sink his, and his banker's, newly restructured enterprise. But even in advance of December, 2001, one banker seem happy
"He schmoozes on the phone with a pleased major investor, then takes a call from an Orthodox Jewish family distraught over their son's missing remains. "I know, I know, I'm just like you," he says, his voice cracking. He is still waiting for DNA tests to tell him that his brother, Gary, is really gone."
An article titled "47 Hours," in Baseline Magazine December 2001, tells an in-depth story of Cantor's rush to return their online business to service within two days, working out of their Rochelle Park, New Jersey backup facility. A problem presents itself here however, inasmuch as one of the authors of the piece is Edward Cone, who was one of the Four Musketeers from Lutnick's Haverford College days, the other two being the recently deceased Cantor colleagues Calvin Gooding and Douglas Gardner, and so Cone was an even closer friend of Lutnick's than Tom Barbash. In a piece apparently written up for the Greensboro NC News & Record, and now found on his personal radio weblog 'Word Up', Cone writes
But Howard Lutnick, Cantor's chairman and chief executive, was alive. He had taken his son to kindergarten and was running behind his usual schedule. Being a good dad saved his life on a morning when 658 of his employees died, including his brother, Gary, and his close friends Calvin and Doug. Calvin and Doug and Howard and I went to Haverford College. Doug became a vice-chair, Calvin a partner. A former colleague of mine at Forbes, who wrote a scathing article about Cantor a few years ago, appeared on "20/20" this fall to question Howard's integrity. Before he went on the air he called me to ask if I thought Howard was faking his tears. This about a man fresh from his brother's funeral, who stood up to eulogize his best friend, Doug, just five days after the attack. I shared the lectern with him in front of 1,100 mourners at Calvin's funeral, and I felt the genuine emotion in his words. People don't read about the time he spends with Doug's 5-year-old son, and the comfort he and his family provide for Calvin's widow. It seems absurd to have to defend the notion that this man who had lost his partners and his staff and the fairy-tale life he had willed into being is sincere in his grief.
It's funny to read that you don't read about something as you're reading about it. It would be easier to trust Cone's veracity if he didn't work so hard at defending Lutnick---especially when the facts are difficult to digest. Like the jaw-dropping altruism on display by eSpeed's competitors, in the Baseline Magazine article:
"The second problem, of fulfilling trades, was more difficult to resolve. Although Noviello's team was able to restore some of the applications that handle the financial back-office functions of the trading system, it was unable to reproduce the settlement system for all of eSpeed's products at the Rochelle Park site. Without being able to clear or settle transactions, eSpeed would be unable to open for business. "Here, help arrived in the form of one of eSpeed's competitors, ICI/ADP, [Automatic Data Processing, Inc./Information Catalysts Incorporated,] another electronic trading company, offered to take care of eSpeed’s clearing and settling of transactions through its own connection to banks. By Wednesday night, the eSpeed team had mapped its financial back-office system to ADP’s system, and had successfully sent test transactions to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and other banks. "ADP got the back-office component hooked up overnight, Compaq delivered 100 desktop computers at 2 a.m. on Wednesday and Verizon expedited the installation of voice lines and the transfer of some of eSpeed’s digital circuits."
I think this scenario is illogical in the extreme, not only in that ADP would do it, but that they could effect such a maneuver without advanced knowledge and planning. From the Gordon (December 10, 2001) New York magazine article:
"They are furiously fighting off competitors who would feed on the firm's misfortune." "The business of bond traders is people fighting for one hundredth of a penny," Breeden says."
The reference above to Forbes Magazine may refer to an article by Paul Maidment, 'Electronic Future Of Cantor Fitzgerald' from October 5, 2001, which has a few scathing things to say about Lutnick:
"Howard Lutnick, who is eSpeed's chief executive officer and Cantor Fitzgerald's chairman, confirmed to analysts on Oct. 4 that the group's electronic technology platform was "completely intact," but that most of its telephone brokers did not survive the devastation. "As a result, Cantor Fitzgerald, which operates the leading interbroker-dealer exchange for U.S. Treasuries, has halted its traditional voice trading of bonds and is conducting its business for now through its electronic arms: eSpeed for fixed income products and TradeSpark, which deals in energy products. "While the Cantor Fitzgerald voice brokerage operation has ceased, eSpeed's fully electronic market for U.S. Treasuries has been virtually unimpaired," Lutnick said. "ESpeed, which was spun off from Cantor Fitzgerald in December 1999--six months after being set up--and lost $3.3 million in revenue of $66 million in the six months to June 30, will also not replace its lost World Trade Center data center, but operate instead from its other existing centers in London and Rochelle Park, New Jersey."
The truth scathes if you let it. Like when you have an over-abundancy of redundancy with three data centers. Then when one is lost, and you still stick with just the two, to me, by not replacing the third center, it implies foreknowledge of the upcoming loss of one of them. I don't know how much more evidence the American public will require in order to be able to face the ugly truth here. The 300 bond traders who disappeared on 9-11 were facing a zero-sum future, as technology made their roles obsolete, at the same time a very big player with an extreme need was making them a covert offer they couldn't refuse. Surely the dividing line between these 300 workers and the 500 who were previously "downsized," was the demarcation between those who chose to forge new careers with minimal severance, and those who accepted a buy-out agreement---an early retirement package, if you will, surely more robust then anything they could have hoped to achieve on the outside---but one that came with a stiff personal cost---oblivion. Rendered into anonymity, their pained families half-knowing, briefed perhaps about some far-off date in the future, part of the tough-skinned Cantor family, trusted to keep a secret. Cone's co-author of the Baseline Magazine article, Sean Gallagher, was the magazine's technology editor. More recently, he has worked as the editor of Defense Systems, a monthly print publication and an internet news site for members of the Defense Department community involved in information technology and net-centric warfare, particularly C4ISR. Writing in-depth features on topics ranging from software-defined radio to cyberwarfare, and maintained a weblog on defense issues. It is surprising what survives in this world and what disappears. A CBS News piece about the Lutnick and Barbash history, 9/11 Book Follows Hard-Hit Firm, from Feb. 6, 2003, the interview background is described as:
"Lutnick and Barbash spoke at Cantor's temporary headquarters in midtown, where Lutnick's office decor includes fragments of Rodin sculptures salvaged from the trade center ruins, relics of the collection amassed by the firm's founder, Bernie Cantor."
In a disaster leaving no bodies, or body parts even, where not a single file cabinet was to be found afterward, collectible fragments of bronze art works could be salvaged and put on display. Even more incredible, the New York Times tells us a nearly complete work of art was located. In Born of Hell, Lost After Inferno; Rodin Work From Trade Center, a 28"-cast of Rodin's "Dante's: The Thinker," was found
"There's extraordinary symbolism, isn't there," said John L. Tancock, a vice president at Sotheby's auction house and the former curator of the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. "They have survived in this state, and it can be viewed as an inspirational story."
But the Times' reports that city investigators believe the sculpture may have been stolen, after having been recovered by a firefighter at the disaster site late last year. But since
"the Cantor Fitzgerald bond trading firm and its chairman, Howard W. Lutnick, have refused to discuss in any depth the loss of its art collection."
it is difficult to pin down whether this is a case of a firemen looting, or of art collectors indulging in insurance fraud (and double-dipping in the bargain, if the art had been rescued in advance of September 11th, which would be my theory.) This would be a good place to end the story for now. Cantor's city survivors are temporarily housed on a floor in a Warburg building on Park Avenue
"Practically twice a day for weeks, the building has been evacuated because of bomb scares phoned in by some apparent wacko targeting Warburg. It's not helping Cantor's traumatized employees, though it has produced some darkly funny moments."
Somebody's got a hard on for Howard---not Warburg. If you think my analysis is too far out to be true, let me say---you haven't seen anything yet. Be prepared for when the face of evil shows itself. It is far worse than anything you can imagine. That's why we were willing to sleepwalk for so long, and like little children, pull the covers over our heads and cry. More 9/11 Cantor Fitzgerald, Goldman Sachs, Federal Reserve, UST, Bush et al 'Financial Terrorism,' By: V.K. Durham Mark Carter posting on the Let's Roll forums, 'The Cantor Fitzgerald mystery?' November 18, 2008, has a truly ambitious conspiracy---the parameters of evil are quite grand! Give it a shot. The Federal Reserve system, the takeover of the Banking system, and the Rothschilds. USAToday ______________________________________________________________________________

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