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The Cross-Continental Express (American Theatre Magazine)

Long-distance relationships aren’t easy. Lovers must keep romance alive through a variety of media (e-mail, phone, Skype), and in some instances there are time differences to contend with. One person’s late-night phone tryst is another’s early-morning wake-up call. Accordingly, forming a theatrical relationship across 12 time zones would seem next to impossible. But a recent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by students of the University of Maryland (UMD) and their counterparts at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing (NACTA) proved otherwise.

Google Awards Food Recovery Network Major Advertising Grant

A promising new student-run nonprofit called the Food Recovery Network (at the University of Maryland) is stepping onto the national stage with the help of a $120,000 per year advertising grant from Google. The student leaders behind FRN expect the grant to catapult the momentum of their simple mission to donate surplus prepared food from college dining halls to hungry Americans.

Maryland Ranked 5th Best Value by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

December 27, 2012

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

College Park, Md. – The University of Maryland has been ranked 5th in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s annual ranking of the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges 2012-13 – making it UMD’s second year in the top 5 and the fifth consecutive year in the top 10. Each year, Kiplinger’s collects data from 600 public four-year institutions and determines the top 100 by analyzing several measurable standards, such as academic quality – including SAT or ACT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four- and six-year graduation rates – financial aid and cost, with academic quality carrying the most weight.

 “At a time when broad access to the highest quality education is challenged, this recognition is truly significant,” said UMD President Wallace Loh. “With strong support from our state elected leaders, Kiplinger's ranking is validation that we are succeeding at our core mission of academic excellence, access and service.”

  “We applaud this year’s top 100 schools for their efforts to maintain academic standards while meeting the financial needs of their students,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.  

Click here to read more about UMD's impressive rise in the rankings.

Beyond the Fiscal Cliff: Public Policy Experts Talk Issues for 2013

December 21, 2012

Jennifer Talhelm 301-405-4390

School of Public Policy LogoCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Will Congress and the president avoid the fiscal cliff?  What new or lingering problems will policy makers tackle in 2013?  Experts from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy say plenty of prickly issues are facing the nation’s policy leaders in the new year.  Concerns ranging from tax reform and government downsizing to U.S.-Iran relations and the drawdown from Afghanistan will take center-stage, they say.  Read on for a selection of their predictions.
The UMD School of Public Policy has access to an in-house facility for live or taped interviews via fiber-optic line for television or multimedia content. Contact Jennifer Talhelm at (202) 870-4465 or for more information.
Domestic Issues
MSPP Dean Don KettlDon Kettl: Government Downsizing
“The fiscal cliff negotiations are leading toward tough decisions on taxes and entitlements.  But underneath the surface is a thicket of tough questions on government’s size.  How many departments should we keep?  How many regulations can we cut?  Do we have too many government employees – or, more important, do we have a good plan for matching the skills if government with the job we want it to do?  No matter what happens with the cliff, these will be mega-problems for 2013.”
Kettl, dean of the UMD School of Public Policy, specializes in the management of public organizations.  His dozen books and monographs include: The Next Government of the United States: Why Our Institutions Fail Us and How to Fix Them; On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina; The Global Public Management Revolution; and Leadership at the Fed.

Contact: 301-405-6356,

Kettl: Plan C: 'All Roads Lead Back to Boehner'
Professor Jacques GanslerJacques Gansler: National Security Funding

“A top issue for 2013 will be successfully addressing the broad spectrum of national security challenges (pirates, terrorism, cyber-attacks, nuclear proliferation, regional instabilities, etc.) with what we know will be fewer available dollars.  This will require a paradigm shift from the current belief that you always ‘have to pay more to get more’ to a new culture, stressing the use of innovation to continuously improve performance while reducing cost.”
Professor Gansler, who served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from 1997-2001, is the first holder of the Roger C. Lipitz Chair in Public Policy and Private Enterprise.  He directs the School of Public Policy’s Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, and heads the school’s new acquisition specialization, dedicated to preparing the 21st century government acquisition leaders.

Contact: 301-405-4794,
Professor Philip JoycePhilip Joyce: Tax Reform
“If there is a fiscal cliff agreement by the end of the year, it will be necessary to translate the path included in that plan into specific detailed legislation.  The need to do this will provide an opportunity to reform our complicated and inefficient tax code.  Virtually every tax economist agrees that a more simplified, straightforward tax system would be dividends in the form of greater economic growth and productivity.  The fact that there is general agreement on tax reform, however, should not lead anyone to conclude that it will be an easy thing to do.  Many thorny dilemmas await, including which tax preferences to eliminate, whether to make the rate structure more or less progressive, and more generally how the burden of financing government should be apportioned.  Any changes will create winners and losers, who will use their voices – and their wallets – to try and influence the debate.”
Professor Joyce is the author of The Congressional Budget Office: Honest Numbers, Power, and Policy Making.  Prior to his academic work, Joyce worked for 12 years in the public sector, including five years with the United States Congressional Budget Office.  

Contact: 301-405-4766,
Professor Robert GrimmRobert Grimm: Government Reform and Reductions in Spending on Nonprofits
“While there has been a good deal of concern in the nonprofit community about changes to the charitable deduction, the real 2013 story for the nonprofit and philanthropic sector will be how it deals with reductions in government spending that are coming in one way or another.  The recent focus on proposed reforms to the charitable deduction are important given the broader value philanthropy provides society as a driver of innovation and diversity, but government is by far the largest funder of the nonprofit sector and reductions in government spending will be something that nonprofit and philanthropic leaders will be confronting in the new year.”
Grimm is professor of the practice and director of the School of Public Policy’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, making him the first director and professor of a center focused on creating a new culture of philanthropy through developing more effective and innovative citizens and leaders committed to improving our world.  Grimm previously served as the Director of Research and Policy Development and Senior Counselor to the CEO at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Contact: 301-405-2186,
Professor Chris ForemanChris Foreman: Immigration Reform
“Having been pivotal in the Obama re-election, Latinos will surely expect to see action, especially after having sat patiently through the first term and loyally delivered millions of votes.  Our challenge of millions of unauthorized residents continues, and I would predict considerable griping directed the president’s way unless we see concrete movement.”
Foreman is professor and director of the School of Public Policy’s social policy program where he teaches courses on political institutions and the politics of inequality.  His book, Signals from the Hill: Congressional Oversight and the Challenge of Social Regulation, won the 1989 D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress.

Contact: 301-405-0442,
Professor Nate HultmanNathan Hultman: Climate Change and U.S. Security
“Hurricane Sandy underscored the fundamental link between our own national well-being and climate-related hazards.  In 2008, both presidential candidates agreed on the science of climate change and the need for some risk management actions.  While the salience of climate change receded in the polarized politics of the past few years, bipartisan interest is now re-emerging to address the real risks that we as a country are facing today from weather events and climate change.  Senator Boxer, for example, has called for a “climate change caucus” and notable Republicans have issued statements calling for a renewed evaluation of our own domestic climate risks and their relation to national security.  U.S. action on climate change is more likely in 2013 than any time in the past four years.”
Hultman is associate professor, director of the School of Public Policy’s environmental policy program, and associate director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration of UMD and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  His research focuses on international climate policy, decisions about climate risks in policy and investment, and the emerging markets for carbon and greenhouse gases.

Contact: 301-405-3429,
International Issues
Professor Phillip SwagelPhillip Swagel: U.S.-China relations
“For China, 2013 will be a year of small steps toward a needed large economic reform.  The agenda for China includes allowing more currency flexibility, increasing the openness of trade and financial flows, rescuing banks from problems with bad loans, strengthening pension and health care systems, tackling pollution, and dealing with endemic corruption.  Progress on these dimensions is vital for China and beneficial for the United States, since it would boost business and consumer spending in China and thereby support U.S. exports and economic recovery.”
Swagel is professor of international economic policy and co-author of the recent book, Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century.  He served as an assistant Treasury secretary in the George W. Bush administration. Before that, he served as chief of staff and senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and as an economist at the IMF and the Federal Reserve Board.

Contact: 301-405-1914,
Professor I.M. "Mac" DestlerMac Destler: Iran
“I’m afraid the top international issue of 2013 will be Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. efforts to negotiate an understanding that will avoid either (1) Iran’s obtaining nuclear weapons or (2) a military attack, plausibly by Israel, to prevent (1) from taking place.  President Obama is likely to launch serious bilateral conversations, perhaps negotiations, with Iran.  He faces a daunting international challenge – winning binding Iranian commitments and managing the coalition of nations (U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) whose cooperation is essential.  He also faces serious challenge at home – any deal will involve easing of U.S. sanctions, but this will require action by a skeptical Congress.”
Professor Destler specializes in the politics and processes of U.S. foreign policymaking.  He is co-author of In the Shadow of the Oval Office, which analyzes the role of the President’s national security adviser from the Kennedy through the George W. Bush administration.  His American Trade Politics won the Gladys M. Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association for the best book on U.S. national policy.

Contact: 301-405-6357,
rofessor John SteinbrunerJohn Steinbruner: Iran
“A range of international security issues will be important in 2013, including global climate change, managing the transition of security in Afghanistan, and resolving international tensions about Iran’s nuclear program.  It is hard to separate these issues from one another, but if I were to give immediate priority to one, it would be Iran.  Tensions about the Iranian nuclear program are bound to rise in the first part of the year and calls for military action will grow louder if the potential for a diplomatic solution doesn’t gain standing.  Regular negotiations between the United States, Europe, and Iran – without preconditions – would be the critical sign of the parties’ seriousness of purpose, but this has not yet occurred.  The broad outlines of a diplomatic solution are widely acknowledged, but the necessary specifications cannot be worked out under an imposed deadline.  Adequate time and sustained effort are necessary to work out the details and overcome belligerent political opposition on all sides.”
Professor Steinbruner directs the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland.  His work has focused on issues of international security and related problems of international policy, and he has authored and edited a number of professional books and monographs, including, The Cybernetic Theory of Decision: New Dimensions of Political Analysis; Principles of Global Security; and A New Concept of Cooperative Security.  In 2010, he chaired the Committee on Deterring Cyberattacks of the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council.

Contact: 301-405-4578,
Assistant Professor Madiha AfzalMadiha Afzal: The U.S. and South Asia after Afghanistan
“The drawdown of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and its implications for the South Asian region – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India – will be a top issue in 2013.  The U.S. will need to decide what kind of presence it wants to retain in Afghanistan, as both Pakistan and India vie for a role in the country.  The stability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan lie in the balance, given that the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban both remain significant threats.  All this will take place in the context of a fraught but necessary relationship with Pakistan, and a steadily growing strategic partnership with India.”
Afzal is an assistant professor.  She has been a consultant to the World Bank and conducted fieldwork and participated in survey design and analysis for a qualitative gender study in Pakistan.  Her research interests range from studying elections to the functioning of the bureaucracy, to examining ethnic violence, community participation, decentralization and corruption in South Asia.

Contact: 301-405-8676,
About the UMD School of Public Policy
The School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland is an internationally renowned program dedicated to improving public policy and international affairs.  It is the only such school in the capital area embedded within a major public research institution.  The school prepares knowledgeable and innovative leaders to make an impact on the profound challenges of the 21st century.  Faculty include the 2005 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics; former officials who have held key positions in Democratic and Republican administrations, including U.S. trade representative, undersecretary of defense, commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect; and leading researchers in a host of public policy disciplines.

Time to Celebrate: Winter Commencement

December 20, 2012

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

Crystal Brown (Day-Of) 301-789-6915

Commencement Banner


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - It's time to celebrate as 2,800 University of Maryland students get ready to graduate this December. They'll be joined by 1,322 August graduates.  The main winter commencement exercise takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19 in the Comcast Center. Individual schools and departments will hold their own ceremonies on Thursday, December 20 at various times and locations. Please see the commencement website for details.

August graduates include 543 Terps winning bachelor's degrees, 527 master's degrees and 252 doctoral degrees. Candidates for December Degrees include 1635 bachelor's degrees, 830 master's degrees and 335 doctoral degrees.

The most popular undergraduate degree remains Criminology-Criminal Justice followed by Economics, Psychology, Accounting and Government & Politics. The most popular graduate degrees include Business & Management, Education-Curriculum & Instruction, Public Policy, Library-Information Science and Telecommunication. Ph.D. degrees lead with Education-Counseling and Personnel Services, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Education-Curriculum & Instruction and Electrical Engineering.

Guests are encouraged to arrive at least 45 minutes early to observe the traditional procession of students and faculty.

Updated Streaming and Live Broadcast Information

An archive of the main commencement exercise can be found online (requires the Silverlight plug-in) or you can watch the complete commencement event here:


The University of Maryland also streamed and broadcast live on UMTV the Robert H. Smith School of Business commencement exercise on Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. (Commencement Speaker: Barry P. Gossett).  All streaming events can be viewed on a smart device including phone and tablet devices.

Featured Commencement Speaker

Former NASA Astronaut Ken Reightler is the Fall, 2012 Commencement speaker at the University of Maryland.As a freshman at the U.S. Naval Academy, Kenneth S. Reightler, Jr. wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life - until he watched the Apollo 11 moon landing. That historic event helped make "a lot of things" in his mind click. Reightler went on to become a test pilot and the chief flight instructor at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. In 1987, he joined the NASA astronaut program and piloted two shuttle missions. Upon retirement, he worked for Lockheed Martin before heading back to the Naval Academy to serve as the Robert A. Heinlein chair in the academy's Aerospace Engineering Department.

Reightler says the position lets him share his expertise and experience with another generation. "It provides me an opportunity to give back,” he says. “I can explain, ‘This is possible and this is how you do it.’ I have the operational knowledge in addition to the theoretical. I’ve built it, tested it and flown it.” Read more about Ret. Navy Capt. Kenneth Reightler on UMD Right Now.

Student Speaker

Zainab Hosseini, born in Tehran to Mexican-American and Turkish Iranian parents, speaks three languages. She entered college at age 15, she’s worked with refugees in Iran and volunteered with indigenous children in Mexico.

University of Maryland student Zainab Hosseini is the student speaker during the main commencement exercise at the University of Maryland, December 19, 2012.“Since I was a child, my mom got us involved in our community,” she says. “Even in summers when I went back to visit family, I would go out and find places to help.” A family science major and black women’s studies minor, Hosseini says the course “Race and the Juvenile Justice System,” followed by her family’s move to inner-city Baltimore, helped solidify her desire to work in underserved communities. It was was then Hosseini was able to see the inequities she’d studied in class.

Hosseini designed a study abroad program through La Universidad de las Americas in Mexico last spring. She had a great experience teaching English and volunteering in an organization for families in crisis. Locally, she helped young people as a team leader for America Reads*America Counts and as a mentor in Prince George’s County elementary schools. She plans to enroll in a joint master’s of social work and law degree program after taking time off for spiritual studies and to travel. Hosseini may not be sure of her specific career path, but knows it will reflect her upbringing.

Shuttle and Parking Information

UM ShuttleShuttle bus service will be available from the College Park Metro station to the Comcast Center between 5 and 7:30 p.m. and back to the station between 8:30 and 10 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19. Shuttle service will be available to and from the College Park Metro station on Thursday, December 20 throughout the day.

If you require accessible transportation for a disabled guest the day of commencement, please make arrangements by calling dispatch services at 301.314.0318. If you have parking questions, please call 301.314.PARK. Please see the winter commencement website for maps and driving directions.

Revitalizing our Roots, Raising the Bar: Creating the Campus Farm of the Future

December 20, 2012

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

College Park, Md. -- In the middle of a bustling, expanding, urban university, the University of Maryland campus farm serves as a small patch of rustic tranquility and a constant reminder of UMD’s heritage as an agricultural college. Now, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) is embarking on a bold mission to turn this working farm into a teaching facility for the future. With help from experts at Blackburn Architects, the College of AGNR has developed a Campus Farm Master Plan, which it recently unveiled to the public. 

“The University of Maryland is one of the only land grant universities with a working farm actually located on its campus,” said Cheng-i Wei, Dean of the College of AGNR. “Current national trends and emerging interests in topics like urban agriculture, buying locally grown products, micro-farming and food security make this the perfect time to invest in upgrading what is already a major asset for our College and university.”

Proposed improvements to the campus farm include expanding and renovating current structures, creating indoor teaching spaces, streamlining the layout to more efficiently move animals throughout the site, improving accessibility and increasing the farm’s visibility on campus – all while preserving its bucolic charm.  

Campus Farm Renovations

Although it sits on just 4.3 acres, the campus farm is used for hands-on instruction in a variety of undergraduate courses offered through the Department of Animal & Avian Sciences, ranging from livestock management to equine nutrition and small ruminant parturition, affectionately known as “lamb watch” at the university.  One of the major goals of the Campus Farm Master Plan is to expand curriculum to better meet emerging agricultural industry trends.

The College of AGNR is currently in the process of securing funding to make its dynamic vision for the campus farm a reality. In a show of confidence and enthusiasm for the project, Dean Wei announced the College will match any monetary gift donated specifically toward revitalizing the campus farm. Blackburn Architects estimates the total renovation could cost between $5 million and $7 million.

To learn more about the Campus Farm Master Plan, please contact Brian Magness at (301) 405-9235

Top Lockheed Martin Innovation Award Goes to University of Maryland Research Scientist

December 19, 2012

Ted Knight 301-405-3596

Dr. Benedict's Award Winning Turbin DesignRevolutionary wind turbin design could be used to generate power for roof top farms and other urban projects

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A University of Maryland research scientist in the A. James Clark School of Engineering has won the grand prize in the Lockheed Martin 2012 "Innovate the Future Challenge." Aerospace Engineering's Moble Benedict won the prize for his concept of a "highly efficient, vertical axis wind turbine design for clean energy generation in urban environments." The award comes with a $25,000 prize.

The Innovate the Future Challenge is sponsored by Lockheed Martin as part of its centennial celebration. The international competition seeks to encourage and nurture innovative technologies that will lead to a secure future for our planet.

A Highly Efficient Turbin Design

While at Maryland, Benedict has conducted pioneering research on next-generation Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) concepts, Cyclocopter and Flapping-wing aircraft.

His award-winning technology for the Lockheed Martin competition (right) involves an efficient small-scale, stand-alone wind turbine design. A key advantage is that the turbine is self-starting at speeds as low as 3.3 mph, can capture energy regardless of fluctuations in wind direction, and is highly efficient even at low tip speed. The wind turbine design was developed after eight years of intensive research in cycloidal-rotor design, development, and testing led by Benedict in the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center at the University of Maryland.

Benedict says applications could include small roof-top farms using micro wind turbines that generate wind power efficiently in urban environments, where energy needs are very high and wind-conditions are extremely unpredictable.

As part of the grand prize, Benedict will also receive an incubation contract with University of Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) to advance his design toward commercialization.

Earlier this year, Benedict won the 2012 Hal Andrews Young Engineer/Scientist of the Year Award.

Watch a video about Dr. Benedict's research and the potential of the vertical axis wind turbin:


Fiscal Cliff, Slow Progress Darken Housing Forecast: UMD Expert

December 19, 2012

Greg Muraski, 301-405-5283 or

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After its greatest collapse in 80 years, the housing market appears to be bottoming out with stabilizing home prices and many markets experiencing price gains. Still, “it may be premature to call this a ‘real recovery,’” says Cliff Rossi, Tyser Teaching Fellow and executive-in-residence for the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “Looking into 2013, the ‘fiscal cliff,’ regulatory reform and other factors could put a drag on markets through the year.”

Despite historically low interest rates, potential buyers face a lot of questions before jumping in on what is their largest investment. For sellers, conditions continue to build on 2012’s nascent recovery. But will credit be readily available for first-time and repeat homebuyers?  Will there be additional efforts to help struggling homeowners under water on an existing mortgage?  

Gauging the Market

The Fed recommitting to low interest rates through 2013 should yield one bright spot in below-4-percent mortgage rates. Coupled with continued shedding of debt and increased savings by consumers, mortgage affordability will remain high based on home prices increasing 4 percent between the third quarters of 2011 and 2012.

Still, the average home price remains well below its 2007 peak. Its continued recovery hinges on increased credit availability, plus a continued decline in vacant homes and continued growth in the economy and employment, says Rossi, who has held senior risk management positions with likes of Citigroup, and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

But the economy is expected to remain sluggish – as signaled by the Fed’s December announcement to continue purchasing mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries, he adds. “In that case, demand would curtail and home prices would increase 2-3 percent instead of four.”

Momentum for Sellers

The glut of properties in distress or in foreclosure continues to decline, 2.6-to-2.3 million (10.2 percent) in the past year, leaving a six-month shadow inventory supply. “Couple this with a continuing decline in new-building activity, and the gap between demand and supply should continue to narrow, helping to further stabilize home prices and reducing the time it takes to sell a home,” Rossi says. “New home permits and housing starts were down last year and new home inventories were at record lows.”

Another sign of a shrinking supply backlog is the decline in vacancy rates, now at 2.1 percent.  The rate, normally about 1.5 percent, peaked at 3 percent at the height of the housing crisis. “With 1.5 million housing units needed to accommodate population growth and household formation, the 600,000 single-family and multifamily units built last year clearly put less pressure on supply,” says Rossi.

Prospects for homeowners looking to sell should be “at least as good as 2012,” Rossi concludes. “But don’t look for it to revert to a seller’s market any time soon.  And since all housing markets are local, your home may sell faster if it is in a desirable location, on a good commuting route and has exceptional curb appeal and amenities.”

For Buyers: Tight Reins on Borrowing

As credit remains accessible to borrowers with strong credit history, stable income and employment, “expect to bring a 10-20-percent down payment to the closing table – or more – as lenders continue to maintain high underwriting standards for this important risk factor,” Rossi says. “And with recent FHA trouble caused by its insurance fund showing an actuarial loss, there may be fee increases and tighter lending standards ahead for first-time buyers.”

The market in 2013 also could absorb the effects of government plans to reduce the impact of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he adds. “This could spell higher fees and rates for borrowers. And with new rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defining the characteristics of qualified mortgages, some tightening in lending standards may also occur.”

‘Fiscal Cliff’ Factor

The wild card is the “fiscal cliff” – the end-of year legislative puzzle of expiring tax cuts and dramatic spending cuts established by Budget Control Act of 2011. “I expect the political brinksmanship to come to a solution that will bring a modicum of stability to financial markets,” says Rossi.

However, concessions could reduce or eliminate historically important tax deductions such as that for mortgage interest. Plus, expiration of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007, which has facilitated short sales and thus has helped move distress inventory off the market, “could have more than just a chilling effect on a weak housing market.”

“All of this suggests that housing in 2013 will not emerge from its struggles in 2012, but the trends should be at least as good as last year unless we go over the ‘fiscal cliff.’”

Video: Cliff Rossi summarizes 2013 housing market forecast:
Contact Rossi: at 301-908-2536 or



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