Friday, September 22, 2023

Council members learn the facts of life.

by Rod Williams, Sept. 22, 2023- The Nashville Scene reports that on Thursday the new Council met for the first day of orientation, the first of several planned orientation sessions. In orientation, Council members will learn the nuts and bolts of how Metro government works and meet and mingle with each other and get to know department heads. They will learn about sunshine laws and learn about zoning and land use and budgeting and financial management constraints. 

For some members, I expect they will learn they cannot do the things they thought they might could do as a Council member. They will lean they can't actually ban AR-15's. Some, I am sure, thought they could simply stop development in their district or just refuse to allow rezoning in their district to occur or they thought they would stop "gentrification." They will learn they as not as powerful as they thought they would be and there are limits to what they can do. 

One good piece of advice that the Scene reports that Vice Mayor Angie Dickerson impressed upon the Council during Thursday's session was the judicious use of council meeting time. "If you're just kind of getting up to say what has already been said, that's not constructive and that makes the meeting go longer." she told members. 

Council meetings can sometimes last as long as six hours. It is frustrating to hear members drone on just to hear the sound of their own voice or be seen by their constituents when they have nothing to say of importance.  I hope Dickerson told them that the committee meetings are where the real hard work of the Council gets done. I hope that when Dickerson makes her committee assignments that she will make sure committees have a good diverse cross section of the Council represented, so members can be confident and put trust in committee recommendations. 

Having served in the Council myself and being a close observer of the Council for a long time, I think a lot of Council members think they are in the U.S. Senate or at least the State House, rather than the Metro Council. They want to legislate or expound on issues that are federal or state rather than local. Also, many seem to lack an understanding of the relationship between the different tiers of governments. The relationship of the Federal government to the state is not analogous to the relationship between the State and local government. States have sovereignty; cities do not. 

The Scene piece says council members were briefed on preemption. That is something they need to be briefed on. Preemption refers to the principle that certain matters are governed by federal laws, rather than any state or local laws to the contrary. This doctrine is based on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which specifies that federal law preempts inconsistent state law.

Council staff attorney Hannah Zeitlin explained Metro’s legislative authority in relation to state and federal law and addressed five categories of law: guns, inclusionary zoning, landlord-tenant relations, sanctuary cities and immigration, and discrimination.  She explained that the State had largely preempted local action in these areas.  

"Zeitlin referred to the Tennessee General Assembly’s preemption on local gun laws as 'one of the broadest preemptions in the Tennessee Code,' and thoroughly explained 2016 state law that has stymied Metro’s attempts to require affordable housing from developers," the Scene reports. “That is just outside our authority now," Zeitlin told the chamber. 

I hope the Council Members were paying attention. 

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On Eagles Wings Conference and Banquet, Oct. 21


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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Beacon Center Young professionals September Happy Hour and Networking Event, Sept. 26th.


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Nashville Conservative Breakfast Club on Sept. 23rd presents Aaron Spradlin of Mission America Foundation

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What to expect with Freddie O'Connell as mayor and a more radical Metro Council.

Freddie O'Connell
 by Rod Williams, Sept. 18, 2023- Nashvillian voters overwhelmingly chose Freddie O'Connell to be the next mayor last Thursday giving him 64% of the vote.  I was hopeful that Alice Rolli would win and thought it possible but was not terribly optimistic.  The reason I had a glimmer of hope that Rolli might win is that in opinion polls asking if Nashville was heading in the right direction or the wrong direction, 56% of Nashvillians said Nashville was headed in the wrong direction. This led me to believe that maybe Nashville would not want more of the same. With an unpopular 32% property tax hike, worst schools, and more crime, I thought Nashville may have been ready for a change. I was wrong.

Despite thinking Rolli had a chance, I was not especially optimistic. We are obviously a Democrat stronghold and partisanship is more intense than anytime I have ever observed. While the race for mayor is a non-partisan race, Alice Rolli was a Republican. Despite Rolli being a mainstream moderate Republican in the vein of Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam, Trumpism has so tarnished the brand, that many Democrats will never, under any circumstances, vote for a Republican.  Add to that, the State legislatures punitive war against Nashville and anyone with an "R" beside their name is toxic.

Not only have we elected a progressive Democrat to be mayor, but the Council also underwent drastic changes. Women won 22 of the 40 council seats making this the first time ever that the Council will be majority female. All five at-large council members will be women, assuming you count as a woman a biological male who is transgender. 

Olivia Hill became the first transgender person elected to public office in Tennessee, winning one of four open Metro Council at-large seats. I do not know how many of the council members are openly gay, but there are several.

More important that the sex and sexual orientation of the Council is that the Council is ideological much further to the left. The Nashville Justice League is a political entity comprised of the Central Labor Council of Nashville & Middle Tennessee, TIRRC Votes and The Equity Alliance Fund. It saw 13 of the 15 candidates it endorsed win seats.  

So, what does all of this mean for the future of Nashville? I expect higher taxes, worst schools, and more crime. In other words, more of the same.

The mayor nor the Council have much to do with schools unless the mayor should choose to make improving education an issue and do battle with the school board. Three out of four Nashville third graders are not reading on grade level. This is considerably worse than the state average. Statewide, 88.7% of high school students graduate on time. In Nashville, only 81.8% do.  Another indication of our failing school system is that despite increased population in Nashville and increased funding for schools, school enrollment continues to decline.  Freddie O'Connell has not indicated he is ready to do battle with the school board and in debates with Alice Rolli he defended the status quo. We can expect continuing decline in the quality of public education in Nashville. 

The crime rate in Nashville is 5,114 total crimes per 100,000 people while the national crime rate is is 2,346 total crimes per 100,000 people. The violent crime rate is 1,073 violent crimes per 100,000 people, compared to the national crime rate of 388 per 100,00 people. In Nashville one has a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of crime (link). In a list of the 30 U.S. Cities With Highest Violent Crime Rates, Nashville ranks 28th

Not only do statistics and rankings show Nashville has a crime problem, people feel it. Police response times are noticeably longer, and police do not even bother investigating petty crimes such as car break-ins and theft of packages from one's front porch. In the campaign for mayor, Alice Rolli had the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, and she advocated fully staffing the 200-officer-short police department. O'Connell did not make funding the police or combating crime a campaign priority. 

In addition to worst schools, more crime, and higher taxes, I expect an increase in homelessness and for the city to spend more on affordable housing and not have much to show for it. Is there any way to put a good spin on this? I'll try.

Despite Freddie O'Connell having the endorsement of The Nashville Justice League and being a progressive, he is not the worst kind of progressive.  He is not a Ginny Welsch or Sean Parker. Freddie O'Connell certainly has a progressive ideology, but he appears to me to be a smart, pragmatic, nerdy sort of guy. He probably will want things to run efficiently and smoothly. 

In his campaign O'Connell made criticism of Nashville's lower Broad entertainment district a key part of his campaign. He had a slogan of "More 'Ville, Less Vegas." He said "Broadway would be less obnoxious and the beer would be cheaper" if the many bars owned by Steve Smith were closed. Smith owns more of the bars than anyone else, including the iconic Tootie's Orchid Lounge, Honky Tonk Central and a bunch of others. Despite all of this, I don't expect much to change on lower Broad. Much of it is beyond the power of the mayor to do much about and O'Connell is too pragmatic to kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs. He may tone down Broadway a little by lowering the volume and imposing more controls on entertainment vehicles, but any changes I suspect will be modest.

Another reason not to freak out about a more progressive council is that we have a weak council. The metro charter makes it that way.  While the council could do mischief, the council is limited in what they can do. It may require "equity" in contracts and membership on boards and commissions and it may fund more gang "violence intervenors" and give money to woke non-profits, but the ability of the Council to do much harm is limited. Most of what the Council can do that reflects their radicalism is pass meaningless resolutions that no one reads or cares about opining on abortion or trans rights or some other state or national issue.  

Another reason to not be too terribly destressed about the state of Metro is that the State keeps Metro on a short leash. When Metro tried making Nashville a sanctuary city, the state stepped in and stopped it from happening. When Metro tried to force developers to build affordable housing by passing "inclusionary zoning" the State forbid it. In 2019 when Metro allowed our fund balances to get dangerously low and attempted to pass a budget that didn't balance, the State Comptroller stepped in and forced Metro to get its financial house in order. I expect the State to rein in Nashville should we move in too radical a direction.

While I wish Nashville would have elected Alice Rolli and while I wish so many radicals had not been elected to the Council, there is no such thing as a gay or straight pothole or a liberal or conservative pothole.  Most of what the council deals with is the equivalent of filling potholes. 

Also, things change slowly. Systems are in place that cannot easily be changed.  While leadership from a mayor with support of the council could improve things, absent that leadership they do not noticeably decline. The city keeps running even with a Bill Boner or Megan Barry distracted with sexual affairs and asleep at the wheel. The city could hum along on autopilot even without a mayor. While I expect things to get worse with an O'Connell administration and a radical council, they will get worse slowly. For most people, they will not notice. 

Most of the violent crime is disproportionately a Black problem and occurs in the Black part of town or is among the lower socioeconomic classes among people who know each other. Even if crime does get worse, most of us will not notice. People may gradually get more cautious and avoid certain convivence markets after dark, for instance, and add security doorbells and motion detector lights to their home and be more careful to make sure their car is locked. People will adjust but more crime will not be a major impact on the lives of most people. There are many cities, such as Memphis or New Orleans for instance, that have much worse crime than do we in Nashville, and yet people chose to live there and still think those cities are a great place to live.

As for worse schools, unfortunately for low-income people who may not be able to provide transportation for their child to attend a better school, they will be stuck with worse schools. Within metro public schools there are good schools and parents who are involved and make the effort and can provide the transportation can often get their child in a better school than the one to which their child is zoned.  Of course, not all parents can get their child in a better school and for those parents, the choice is often to put their child in a private school or leave Davidson County for a neighboring county.  With declining enrollment rates that is happening now. It will continue to happen.

While I expect things to get worse, I love Nashville and will not be leaving.  I like living in a vibrant city with opportunities for lots of diversions, good places to eat, a city with nice parks, the music scene, and opportunities for political engagement. I do not have children in school. I have a grandson whose education I care about but when the time comes his parents will make the right decision and figure out an alternative to a failing metro school. If crime increases, I will hardly notice. If taxes are increase, I can afford it.  While I wish I did not live in a woke progressive city, I like so much about Nashville, that I am not going to let us having a progressive mayor and radical council ruin it for me.  I will be aware of how things change because I am a political junkie and write this blog; I doubt most people will notice much of a difference. 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

This is sad and detestable, but is it a "Hate Crime?"

by Rod Williams, Sept. 10, 2023- Someone has been throwing anti-Semitic flyers in driveways in Sylvan Park and The Nations neighborhoods and maybe in other parts of town but people living in these two neighborhoods have been posting about in on the Nextdoor website. 

On this page, I have posted some of the pictures people posted on Nextdoor of what was left in their driveways. These flyers are detestable. I, like all decent people, absolutely condemn anti-Semitism. A lot of people commented and denounced it and expressed their disgust. Several called it a hate crime and a few responded and said, while is it disgusting, it is probably not a hate crime. Here is a sample of what people on Nextdoor are saying:

Denise Black of Charlotte Park: Please report this to the police. If you haven’t already, do not touch it with your hands. Take pictures of where you found it and if you don’t have a property camera, ask your neighbors if they do. Maybe they picked up the person or vehicle that left it. I’m sorry this has happened to you. It seems Sylvan Park has been a target for hatred lately. It’s such a same because I grew up in Sylvan Park. It was never like this.

Amy Martin writes, "People, complain to the mayor instead of each other and maybe something in happen."

Kristi Walker of The Gulch: I hope everyone is reporting this to MPD. Maybe someone has ring video of who is leaving this.

Kayleigh Clark of 12 South: Please report this to MNPD. They are currently investigating this as this is a hate crime.

Mary Spencer of South Green Hills: Why can the police not stop this? This is happening way to often. With all the security cameras someone must have pictures of who is doing this.

So, is it a hate crime? Below is what the Department of Justice says about Hate Crimes:


The term "hate" can be misleading. When used in a hate crime law, the word "hate" does not mean rage, anger, or general dislike. In this context “hate” means bias against people or groups with specific characteristics that are defined by the law.

At the federal level, hate crime laws include crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

Most state hate crime laws include crimes committed on the basis of race, color, and religion; many also include crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability.


The "crime" in hate crime is often a violent crime, such as assault, murder, arson, vandalism, or threats to commit such crimes. It may also cover conspiring or asking another person to commit such crimes, even if the crime was never carried out.

Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, people cannot be prosecuted simply for their beliefs. People may be offended or upset about beliefs that are untrue or based upon false stereotypes, but it is not a crime to express offensive beliefs, or to join with others who share such views. However, the First Amendment does not protect against committing a crime, just because the conduct is rooted in philosophical beliefs.

Why have hate crime laws?

Hate crimes have a broader effect than most other kinds of crime. Hate crime victims include not only the crime’s immediate target but also others like them. Hate crimes affect families, communities, and at times, the entire nation.

Why report hate crimes?

The Hate Crimes Reporting Gap is the significant disparity between hate crimes that actually occur and those reported to law enforcement. It is critical to report hate crimes not only to show support and get help for victims, but also to send a clear message that the community will not tolerate these kinds of crimes. Reporting hate crimes allows communities and law enforcement to fully understand the scope of the problem in a community and put resources toward preventing and addressing attacks based on bias and hate.

Experts estimate an average of 250,000 hate crimes were committed each year between 2004 and 2015 in the United States. The majority of these were not reported to law enforcement.


Hate Crime: At the federal level, a crime motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

Bias or Hate Incident: Acts of prejudice that are not crimes and do not involve violence, threats, or property damage.

So, what I think we have here is not a hate "crime," but a hate "incident." I would not botther reporting it to the police. 

It appears the leaving of these flyers in driveways is happening cities other than Nashville.  That does not mean it is a big operation. One person could go from town to town and do this. One person, or a small group, on a mission can make it appear it is a movement. 

In Palm Beech County Florida, a Maryland man was distributing these flyers and was arrested, not for a hate crime but for refusing to identify himself to police. "We can’t stop them from distributing; however, littering is littering. And we wanted to cite him for that. That’s not an arrestable offense. However, when he failed to identify himself so we could issue the citation, that is an arrestable offense," Atlantis Police Chief Robert Mangold told WPBF 25 News at the time of the arrest. 

I myself have a problem with the whole concept of hate crimes. Actions should be punished not thoughts. If someone commits vandalism and spray paints "BLM" on a property it should carry the same punishment and be investigated just as vigorously as if someone spray painted "KKK."  If someone kills you, you are just as dead if they scream, "give me your money," or they scream, "give me your money faggot." 

What happened in Sylvan Park and The Nations was littering. 

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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Republicans acting like Democrats: Josh Hawley Proposes Bill to Cap Credit Card Interest Rates.

Senator Josh Hawley saluting Jan. 6 rioters
by Rod Williams, Sept. 12, 2023- More and more it is hard to distinguish a Republican from a Democrat on any but social issues.  There was a time when it was Republicans who knew economics was a science and Republicans knew economics.  I am no longer sure that, that is the case.  

U. S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri had introduced a bill to cap credit card interest rates at 18%. Some banks are now charging interest rates as high as 30% and the average credit card interest rate is 24%. Hawley would also ban new fees to prevent credit card companies from using fees to evade the cap, and he would impose penalties on credit card companies that violate the cap.  

“Americans are being crushed under the weight of record credit card debt—and the biggest banks are just getting richer," said Senator Hawley. "The government was quick to bail out the banks just this spring, but has ignored working people struggling to get ahead. Capping the maximum credit card interest rate is fair, common-sense, and gives the working class a chance. (1)” 

The rhetoric even sounds like that used by Democrats ever since I have been observing politics.  Rather than favoring sane rational policies and looking to fix a problem, it appeals to placate the whine of "its-not-fair." This is the populist appeal; someone else is gaming the system and I want to too. 

I understand the criticism of bailing out the big banks, but everything does not come out of the same pot of money and bailing out California's Silicon Valley Bank has nothing to do with credit card interest rates. Price controls never work, and price controls lead to shortages and rationing. If banks can only charge 18% interest on credit cards, then only people's whose credit worthiness justify an 18% credit card rate will get a credit card. 

Hawley is not a dummy; he graduated with honors from Stanford University and went to Yale Law School where he was the president of Yale's Federalist Society. He has an impressive resume. That, however, may not mean he understands basic economics. Or, it could mean he Justs tells people what they want to hear. There is a cynical tongue-in-cheek saying that a true leader finds out which way the mob is running and works himself to the head of the pack. Hawley may be that kind of leader.

In 2021, Hawley joined President Donald and Trump and Senator Bernie Sander in his call for increasing the initial $600 coronavirus relief checks provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to $2,000. Hawley attempted to force a vote to increase the checks, but it was blocked by other Republican senators. (2) Like many Democrats, a new breed of Republicans, including President Donald Trump, apparently think there is no limit to how much money the federal government can spend. 

Hawley is considered by most to be a very conservative Senator. New Republic named him as one of "America’s Worst Right-Wingers." Real Clear Politics profiled him in a piece titled, "Senator Josh Hawley is a True National Conservative." 

Hawley has been one of Trump's staunches supporters and propagators of the big lie of the stolen election. He was one of the first senators to announce that he would object to the certification of the 2020 election. 

When the Senate voted 95-1 to approve the expansion of NATO by allowing membership of Sweden and Finland, the only Senator to vote “no” was Senator Josh Hawley. 

This is what passes for a staunch conservative these days: opposing our successful long-term security arrangement that has kept the peace and contained aggressors, oppose the peaceful transfer of power, and support economic policy indistinguishable from Democrat economic policy such as price controls, and spending money like it grows on trees and there is not tomorrow. 

I am not that kind of conservative. 

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Nashville metro had second-highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2022, report says

by Kirsten Fiscus, The Tennessean, Sept. 13, 2022- Seven hundred and fifty four people died by drug overdose in the Nashville area last year, a number that makes Davidson County the second-deadliest major metro in the country.

Fentanyl was linked to over 77% of those cases.

Overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2017, according to data kept by the Metro Public Health Department.

Davidson County has the second-highest rate in the country, behind Baltimore, for overdose deaths in metros over 500,0000 people, according to 2022 data compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle. (link)

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Are Guns the Leading Cause of Death for Children in the US?

by Rod Williams, Sept. 5, 2023- If you do a search engine search for "Guns the Leading Cause of Death for Children in the US," you will get page after page of articles repeating the assertion that guns are the leading cause of death of "our kids," or "children," or 'kids."  I just accepted it as true. 

Today I was reading a post from the Pamphleteer and read this: 

It's not advisable to make permanent policy decisions motivated purely by emotions. One talking point designed to push the emotive dial up a few notches is the oft-parrotted line "Guns are the leading cause of death for children in America."

But that depends entirely on how you define the word children. For those aged 17 and under, the number one cause of death is infant-specific abnormalities unique to children under the age of 1.

But if we define children as being between the ages of 1 and 18 or 1 and 19, firearms are the leading cause of death, indicating that most firearm deaths cluster at the edge of whether someone should be titled a teenager or a young adult.

The problem for "teens" at the upper end of this age spectrum is the sort of gun violence that proliferates in urban, majority-black neighborhoods —a kind of violence most protesters at the Capitol seem to either tokenize or ignore entirely.  

I had not considered that.  I looked further and found this from Snopes in answer to the question, "Are Guns the Leading Cause of Death for Children in the US?":

Key facts:

  • The latest available data pertinent to this claim covers 2020 and 2021. As of this writing, there is no data available for 2022 and 2023.
  • The claim that guns were the leading cause of death for U.S. children in 2020 and 2021 is true only if the selected age range is 1-19 years old. This range excludes infants under one year old, who have a unique risk of age-specific causes of death.
  • Similarly, capping the age range at 17, instead of 18 or 19, also alters the result, as children aged 17 and under have a greater risk of dying of vehicle-related injuries. 

...  The most important caveat is that this conclusion derives from data that excludes infants below the age of 1, who are uniquely impacted by other causes of death. Adjusting the parameters in other ways also affects the result.

... if we were to calculate the number of motor vehicle deaths between the ages of 1-17 in 2021 using only "Motor Vehicle Accidents" as a category from CDC's "ICD-10 113 Cause List," the number of deaths would be 2,561, which would be slightly less than the number of deaths from guns, which totaled 2,565. If we were to make the same calculations within the same parameters from the ages of 1-18, it would be 3,588 number of deaths from firearms, and 3,397 deaths from motor vehicles.

... Looking at data from the CDC and the Gun Violence Archive, The New York Times found that, in 2021, Black children represented half of these gun deaths, and two-thirds of all gun-related homicides involving youths. In other words, Black children were overall six times as likely to die from gun violence compared to white children. Children in big cities were three times more likely to die from gun violence compared to children in small towns.    

When I think of "kids," or "our children," the picture that comes to my mind is a 8- or 9- or 10-year-old girl. If you look at the above and do the math, the primary problem of "kids" being killed by gun violence is primarily the problem of 17-year-old Black inner-city males shooting each other. 

The above data in no way minimizes the severity of the problem of gun violence, but the truth should matter. When former President Barack Obama said, "We are failing our children. Guns are now the leading cause of death for children in the U.S," that is misleading. 

One may conclude that if there were fewer guns in circulation, there would be fewer people killed with guns, but gun confiscation is not going to happen in America. There are already more guns in America than people and I don't think that will change. 

When one says, "guns are the leading cause of death of children in America," it would be more accurate to say, "guns are the leading cause of death of people between the age of 1 and 18 and it would be more informative to add, "and of those gun deaths the largest portion are the result of Black 17-year-old boys killing each other."

We have a gun violence problem in America, but mass school shootings are only a small fraction of the number of people killed by guns. On average, fewer than 35 children and teens are killed a year as a result of mass shootings (1). I support taking sensible measures to makes schools more save and efforts to temporarily remove guns form people who may be a danger to themselves or others.  However, the problem of children being killed by guns is not the same problem as the problem of school shootings. Most "children" killed by gun violence die as a result of Black youth street violence.

If we wish to address the problem of "children" being killed by guns, we need to think clearly and identify the problem. The primary problem is that Black culture in America is dysfunctional, and violence is a norm. Fear of being called racist, or being too polite to tell the truth, or too politically correct to name the problem means we just ignore the real problem of children dying by gun violence. 

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Two-Thirds of College Students Think Shouting Down A Public Speaker Can Be Acceptable

Harvard University obtaining the lowest ranking in the survey's history
—and gaining the first ever "abysmal" speech climate ranking from the group. 
by EMMA CAMP, Reason, Sept 6, 2023 - According to a new survey, only one-third of college students
say it's never acceptable to shout down a controversial campus speaker. And one-quarter think using violence can be acceptable in at least some circumstances to stop someone from speaking on campus.

This week, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a First Amendment nonprofit released its fourth annual College Free Speech Rankings. The survey polled more than 55,000 students from nearly 250 colleges and universities.

The survey asked students about a wide range of speech-related issues, ranging from how students perceive their administration's support for free expression to whether speakers on controversial subjects, like abortion and transgender rights, should be allowed to speak on campus. ... (link)

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