Russian agency offers fake restaurant reviews ahead of World Cup

first_imgA Russian marketing agency has offered to help restaurants in cities hosting the FIFA World Cup use fake reviews to bump up ratings on review site TripAdvisor, the agency’s owner has confirmed.Marketing company Bacon Agency says it can circumvent TripAdvisor’s algorithm for detecting fraudulent posts and publish reviews in foreign languages ahead of an influx of fans from abroad.“What can you do if no Serbs and no Swedes have ever been to your venue and left a review?” Bacon Agency asks, in a brochure received by a restaurant in Yekaterinburg, which hosts Egypt and Uruguay in their first round matches.“You write it yourself!” the agency says.For 35,000 roubles ($570), the agency promises a spot in TripAdvisor’s top 10 list. “We are offering to help tourists find you, and to leave their money specifically with you,” it writes.“We oppose any attempt to manipulate a business’ ranking,” TripAdvisor said. “Our dedicated investigations team is proactive and extremely effective at catching those trying to solicit fake reviews for money.”Fake reviews are widespread, but it is unusual for a company involved in the practice to discuss it so openly, or to link it explicitly to a sports event.The World Cup has created lucrative opportunities for businesses in the 12 host cities hoping to benefit from well-to-do foreign fans at a time when Russians are feeling the pinch from a fragile economy and Western sanctions.FAKE REVIEW INDUSTRYContacted by Reuters, Bacon Agency confirmed it had offered the service, but said it only wanted to act as the middleman between restaurants and freelancers posting fake reviews.“We understand that all this is illegal in the sense that TripAdvisor is against it,” said Bacon Agency’s owner Roman Baldanov.“We were just testing this niche, because we see high demand. It’s not because we’re bad guys who came in and said, look, you’ve got to start swindling … All restaurants know that reviews are ordered, and many use this service,” Baldanov said.He said nobody had yet taken up his offer. “The response we got was: thanks, but we are already doing this ourselves.”SCALE-UP IN SCAMSReuters tracked restaurants in six World Cup host cities over two months, noting an uptick in suspicious-looking posts.An event like the World Cup increases incentives to post such reviews, said Stanford University’s Jeff Hancock, an expert in detecting fake reviews.“Any time you start seeing reviews come in all at once, look sort of similar, have the same kind of language, then alarm bells should start going off,” Hancock said.At least six restaurants in the TripAdvisor top 30 list for Kaliningrad, which will host Croatia and Nigeria, appeared to fit this description.Peperonchino, a cafe serving Italian cuisine 20 minutes’ drive from the World Cup stadium, used to get around one review a week.But two weeks ago reviews began to flood in – 45 in total – the majority from accounts with stock photos, created this year, and rating the cafe five stars. Peperonchino rose from 28th place to 2nd on TripAdvisor’s list.Sister cafe Peperonchino 2 also received a flood of reviews in the past fortnight, also 45 in total, 32 from such accounts.“All our reviews are real and are left by our customers,” Peperonchino said. “It’s just we have a big loyalty system, a mobile phone app, and so on.”AVOIDING THE ALGORITHMIn a strategy document seen by Reuters, Bacon Agency explains how to avoid detection by TripAdvisor.“The issue is that TripAdvisor has developed algorithms which monitor user activity and when they spot an attempt to manipulate the numbers, they sanction the venue,” the agency writes.To trick the algorithm, fake reviews are published using different IP addresses, devices, browsers and operating systems. Each account has a “back story” of earlier posts.The reviews will be “full of real details about the menu and decor, as well as ‘real’ photographs, which we will ask you to take.”last_img read more

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Liverpool team is my best ever in a final, says Klopp

first_imgLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his team who take on Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday’s Champions League final are the best he has ever managed in such a game.Klopp has appeared in seven finals with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool but has lost the last six after winning his first one in the 2012 German Cup with Dortmund against Bayern Munich.“I don’t like to blame my other teams. I love them all. They all gave everything but I have never been part of a final with a better team than this,” Klopp told a news conference on Tuesday.“In different times, for different reasons my teams were good as well. But I am not so surprised because our boys mix our potential with attitude in the best way I have witnessed. That is brilliant,” he said.Klopp said his side’s semi-final comeback against Barcelona, where they overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit with a stunning 4-0 victory at Anfield, showed what his players are capable of.“These boys did it for the chance of being there, gave us a lot, showed us a lot and in the five-six days between Barcelona and Barcelona, nobody believed more than the team themselves,” he said.“That is why we are here. It is a sensational situation,” he said.Klopp has lost all three finals he has reached with Liverpool, in Europe and domestically, and he also tasted defeat in two German Cups and a Champions League final with Dortmund.The German said last year’s loss to Real Madrid in Kiev had “hurt” and that memory had spurred the team on in this campaign.“It had a big influence on us. I remember that situation. When we stood in the queue in the airport in Kiev, all in tracksuits, heads down. There were a lot of different emotions,” Klopp added.“But the plan was, we come again, we will be there again and now we are there, that is just incredible.“I think pretty much each team that loses the final things we will put it right but they don’t all have the chance. It was the kickstart for the development of this team, 100 percent. This team is not even to compare with the team of last year.”Asked if reaching the Champions League final for the second straight year was the highlight of his managerial career, Klopp gave a surprise answer.“If I win it, yes. It would be different to the last finals. Is bringing the team to the Champions final again the biggest moment in my career? No, that was 2004, getting promoted (to the Bundesliga) with Mainz. If you had known the money we had, the circumstances we had, nobody needed us in the first league,” he said.last_img read more

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Jamaican umpire to stand in English County matches

first_img “We see it as a vital part of the process as our regional umpires look to broaden their on-field experience in foreign conditions, as well as gain an appreciation for the cultural differences which exist among the playing nations.” He added: “The programme is now in its eighth year and we have seen great benefits. It is a clear demonstration of the WICB’s intent to develop all aspects of cricket in the West Indies and we hope to see our umpires grow and improve.” Earlier this year, English umpire Graham Lloyd stood in matches during the regional first class championship, as part of the programme. ST JOHN’S, Antigua, (CMC): Regional umpire Patrick Gustard is set to stand in matches during the ongoing English County Championship as part of the umpire’s exchange programme between the West Indies Cricket Board and the England and Wales Cricket Board. The 45-year-old Jamaican will spend two weeks in Britain between this month and next month, and follows in the footsteps of fellow Caribbean officials Joel Wilson, Gregory Brathwaite, Nigel Duguid and Leslie Reifer Jr, all of whom have participated in the programme in England, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. “The exchange programme is an important step in the umpires’ development pathway at the WICB,” said Rawl Lewis, the WICB’s cricket operations officer. VITAL PARTlast_img read more

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Social Cohesion Ministry is more divisive than bringing people together

first_imgDear Editor,In a country like ours that is racially divided, the need for social cohesion is essential for long-lasting stability and growth. Long before the Ministry of Social Cohesion was established by the Granger Administration, I have been a strong advocate for the promotion of social cohesion. Years ago while living in New York, I designed and printed thousands of bumper stickers with the words “My race does not matter… I’m Guyanese and proud of it.” These were brought to Guyana for distribution.Historically, our two main ethnic groups have been divided by racial conflicts and mistrust for each other. So uniting our people will be nothing short of a herculean task that requires real commitment and dedication. It requires leadership who is perceived to be fair, objective, and who truly understands the importance trust plays in bringing these ethnic groups together. For this reason, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) was established under the PPP/C Administration in 2003. It is a constitutional bi-partisan body established as an undertaking by the Herdmanston Accord and by Constitutional Amendment (#2) Act of 2000. Its members require a two/thirds majority vote by Parliament to serve on that Board.It is intended to serve all Guyanese and persons living or working in Guyana, including those who believe they were discriminated against based on their ethnicity and persons who believe others were discriminated against because of their ethnicity. It also has as its mandate the promotion of harmonious relations between races and the powers of sanction against persons who discriminate.The distribution of busses, bicycles and boots to aid school children could easily have been done through the Ministry of Education. Instead, taxpayers’ money is wasted on the establishment of a brand-new ministry which many are convinced, mirrors the infamous Ministry of National Mobilisation that was setup by the PNC under the late Forbes Burnham as a slush fund to finance PNC activities and garner public support for their re-election campaign. This seems to be the sinister ploy behind the creation of the Ministry of Social Cohesion, and putting a hard-core PNC faithful as the minister makes perfect sense.Minister Amna Ally is indeed hard-core, vintage PNC who still holds a strong resentment for the PPP and its supporters. Amna Ally is the worst choice to head that ministry. For in addition to her PNC activism, she lacks the personality and finesse to skilfully realise this objective. And so I often wonder if President Granger is really serious about social cohesion.For social cohesion to work, we must be colour-blind in the way we see each other, not as Indian or African or Amerindian, but as fellow Guyanese. We must develop a higher level of tolerance for each other’s culture and religion.We must learn to respect each other’s views and opinions more so when we differ. We must also be made to feel that despite our differences in ethnicity, we all have equal opportunities to realise our God-given potential to better ourselves and families without being discriminated against.How this is achieved is the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Cohesion. But to date, I’ve seen no evidence that the Minister of Social Cohesion has the ability to achieve this goal. Members of Parliament are yet to see the “5-year strategic plan” that Minister Ally keeps promising to produce. Time is running out.The Minister of Social Cohesion should be most concerned about the image she portrays to the public at large. The very nature of her job depends on it.In Parliament, Minister Amna Ally is not only the Government’s Chief-Whip, but she has designated herself “Heckler-in-Chief” as well.Last Wednesday during the 2017 Budget presentation, the Minister of Social Cohesion referred to PPP Member of Parliament, Alister Charlie, from Region 9 as “stupid.” Upon hearing this, the former Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai took offence to this word being used to describe a fellow Amerindian, and a heated exchange ensued which attracted the attention of the Speaker. Dr Barton Scotland enquired of Minister Ally whether in fact she used that word (considered to be unparliamentary), and if she did, to withdraw it.So what was the response of the Minister of Social Cohesion? For the second time that day, she deliberately misled the Speaker of the National Assembly. It was her ability to tell this barefaced untruth with a straight face that prompted me to write this letter.As a Member of Parliament, I have always shown respect to all my colleagues, including those on the Government side, Amna Ally included. But after this is published, I can expect some ‘tongue-lashing’ for having the courage to speak-out against ineptitude and arrogance, the type that has made the Ministry of Social Cohesion more divisive than bringing people together.Sincerely,Harry Gill, MP (PPP)last_img read more

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Johnson appeals against six-year jail term

first_img0Shares0000Adam Johnson (r) walks out of court with girlfriend. PHOTO/FILE.LONDON, April 12 – Former England footballer Adam Johnson has launched an appeal against his six-year prison sentence for sexual activity with an infatuated teenage fan, it was announced on Tuesday.Johnson, once a winger with Sunderland and Manchester City, was jailed last month following an incident with a 15-year-old female supporter in his Range Rover in County Durham, north-east England, last year. 0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today) A statement on the Adam Johnson’s Appeal Fight page on Facebook, run by his sister Faye, said: “Adam’s appeal against his sentence has now been lodged!”“Thanks everyone for your support it means a lot! X”Judge Jonathan Rose, passing sentence, said the victim — who cannot be named for legal reasons — had been a Sunderland fan who would wait after matches to take pictures of her “favourite player”, Johnson, who had known her age.“That was known to you to put it another way she had only just turned 15 when you began grooming her, because as you were to admit you found her sexually attractive,” said the judge.British media have reported that Johnson, 28, will soon be moved from Armley Prison in West Yorkshire to a jail closer to his home in north-east England.However, a Prison Service spokesman said: “We don’t comment on individual prisoners.”Johnson was sacked by Sunderland in February as the Premier League strugglers terminated his £60,000 ($84,675, 75,909 euros) per week contract.The fall-out from the case saw Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne resign on March 8.Byrne said she had made “a serious mistake” in being party to the decision to let Johnson play on for the club for nearly a year despite knowing he had admitted to kissing a 15-year-old girl.last_img read more

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Local incumbent Democrats re-election all but guaranteed

first_imgReps. Grace Napolitano and Linda Sanchez were leading their opponents in early returns Tuesday, poised to return to a Democratic-majority House of Representatives. For Napolitano, D-Norwalk, it could mean a subcommittee chairmanship. She is now ranking member of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee. Sanchez, D-Lakewood, who doesn’t have as much seniority as Napolitano, also entertains hopes of landing a subcommittee chairmanship in the Small Business or Government Reform committee. Napolitano was first elected in 1998; Sanchez was first elected in 2002. In the 39th Congressional District, Sanchez’s Republican opponent, James Andion, couldn’t even vote for himself because he doesn’t live in the district. Andion spent only about $15,000 on his campaign. Both districts are overwhelmingly Democrat. mike.sprague@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The national election returns also will mean that the third Whittier-area congressional member, Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, might lose his chairmanship of the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee of the Financial Services Committee. Miller was unchallenged this year. Napolitano and Sanchez didn’t have much of a challenge either. In Napolitano’s 38th Congressional District, Republican Sidney Street had little money, but did focus his campaign on illegal immigration. Street’s answer is to seal the borders. last_img read more

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Faf du Plessis sees long future for SA pace sensation Lungi Ngidi

first_imgDebutant Lungi Ngidi starred on Day 5 and took six wickets as South Africa defeated India by 135 runs in the second Test Centurion on Wednesday and also claim the series with an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series on Wednesday.Seamer Ngidi, 21, recorded figures of 6-39, his best in first class cricket, as South Africa bowled India out for 151 in their second innings just before lunch, as the youngster completed match figures of 7-90.And here’s are his match figures – what a performance by this young 21-year-old @NgidiLungi #ProteaFire #SAvIND #SunfoilTest #FreedomSeries pic.twitter.com/Tm07onGU7s— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 17, 2018The Durban-born fast bowler was adjudged Man of the Match for his performance and his outstanding effort was hailed by Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis.”Special performance by (Lungi) Ngidi. He’s a great guy and we welcome him into the team. Amazing future that lad has. I look at the person’s personality the first thing and he’s a wonderful human being. I see him carrying this national attack for a few years,” du Plessis said at the post-match press conference.Look at that smile Man of the match on debut. Take a bow @NgidiLungi you champion #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/41H9tdUJPG— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 17, 2018Du Plessis also hailed his team for the way they fought throughout this Test match against the top-ranked team in the world.”It took a lot of hard work over the last five days. We were on top pretty much most of the times. One of the harder Tests, given batting and bowling was tough. We were amazing in the field. After Day 1, we were very disappointed.advertisement”In that last 45 minutes of Day 1, we gave India a sniff and the chat after that was that we are gonna need a bit of character over the next four days. We were short in the first innings. We needed to get 400, especially from the position we were in.”But for me the vital part was in the second innings when we kept pushing what they needed to get. We knew anything above 250 would be tough and that’s why our batsmen grinded,” du Plessis added.A superb career-best display by @NgidiLungi of 6/39 has bowled SA to victory at SuperSport Park. They have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match #FreedomSeries #ProteaFire #SunfoilTest pic.twitter.com/fCRu5bLhcq— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 17, 2018India are the top-ranked side in Test cricket according to the International Cricket Council rankings with South Africa second, though the Proteas will not be able to overhaul the sub-continent side even with a 3-0 series win.The third Test starts at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on January 24.last_img read more

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Report: Atletico Madrid 2 Eibar 2

first_imgAtletico Madrid 2 Eibar 2: Torres bows out with a double Patric Ridge Last updated 1 year ago 02:25 5/21/18 fernandotorres - Cropped Getty Images Fernando Torres brought the curtain down on his Atletico Madrid career with a double in the 2-2 draw with LaLiga minnows Eibar. Fernando Torres’s double on his final Atletico Madrid appearance was not enough to secure victory for Diego Simeone’s 10-man side as Ruben Pena’s stunner earned Eibar a 2-2 draw.Captaining a second-string Atleti side – playing four days on from their Europa League triumph against Marseille in Lyon – at a celebratory Wanda Metropolitano, Torres netted either side of the interval in Sunday’s clash.Having cancelled out Kike Garcia’s opener just before the break, Torres edged Atleti ahead on the hour, rolling back the years with a fantastic run and delicate finish. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! 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Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now Any hopes Torres had of making way to a standing ovation were ended shortly after he netted his second, though, as Jose Gimenez entered the fray for Atleti’s third change after Lucas Hernandez had seen red.And Eibar were quick to make their numerical advantage count, Pena hammering in a thunderous long-range strike to haul the visitors level with 20 minutes remaining.Antoine Griezmann could well be leaving Atleti during the off-season, and he looked set to mark his would-be final appearance with an assist late on when he teed up Torres, but his hat-trick goal was denied by the offside flag as Simeone’s men settled for a share of the spoils in their final LaLiga game of the campaign.Legend. #AúpaAtleti #AtletiEibar pic.twitter.com/jWXFYpfb6F— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 20, 2018Torres should have got his farewell game off to a great start inside 10 minutes, but the veteran dragged his effort wide after getting in behind Eibar’s line in trademark fashion.Saul Niguez was the next to go close as Atleti upped the pressure – the Spain midfielder curling wide from the edge of the area.Desperate to set Torres up, Filipe Luis did brilliantly to get down the left and pick out the striker, who was unable to turn home at the near post, and Atleti would soon be made to pay for that miss.Jan Oblak’s hesitation allowed Kike to latch onto Joan Jordan’s throughball, the former Middlesbrough forward making no mistake with a cute first-time finish into the bottom-right corner.Eibar’s lead would be short-lived, though, as Atleti’s man of the moment stepped up.Angel Correa beat Eibar’s offside trap and, having drawn Marko Dmitrovic off his line, squared coolly to Torres, who duly slotted into an unguarded goal.43’ | 1-1 | FERNAAAAAAAAAAND @Torres! FERNAAAAAAAAAAND @Torres! FERNAAAAAAAAAAND @Torres!#AúpaAtleti #AtletiEibar pic.twitter.com/073bzgSyiF— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 20, 2018Simeone responded to a sluggish start to the second half in aggressive style, introducing Griezmann and Diego Costa from the bench as Atleti hunted a second.Those changes swiftly paid dividends, Costa threading a pass into Torres, who burst clear of his marker before lifting a neat effort over the onrushing Dmitrovic.61′ | 2-1 | YESSSSSSS! HE’S DONE IT AGAIN. IT HAD TO BE FERNANDO @Torres! #AúpaAtleti #AtletiEibar pic.twitter.com/0HPEnQp9kb— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 20, 2018Hernandez could have conceded a penalty for handball early in the second half, but his luck ran out when Atleti were reduced to 10 men in the 63rd minute – the France youngster receiving his second booking for a clumsy tackle on Ivan Alejo.Eibar wasted little time in restoring parity, Pena lashing a venomous half-volley into the top-right corner.Griezmann proved his quality with a sublime touch and pass into Torres in the closing stages, but the linesman’s flag dashed the former Liverpool forward’s hopes of bringing the curtain down on his Atleti career with a hat-trick.That did not detract from Torres’ farewell celebrations, though, as he received a guard of honour from his team-mates and the Atleti coaching staff after the final whistle. Key Opta stats:- With his first goal, Fernando Torres scored his 128th goal for Atletico in all competitions, 6195 days after his first one against Albacete in June 2001 in the Segunda Division. – Torres has finished his Atletico career as the club’s fifth all-time top-scorer with 129 goals, five fewer than the fourth (Jose Eulogio Garate, 134). – Against Eibar, Fernando Torres has scored his 100th for Atletico in all competitions (6th February 2016) and his last one (a brace today). – Torres is the only Atletico player to have scored two braces at Wanda Metropolitano this season in all competitions. – Atletico have conceded four goals in their last two La Liga games at Wanda Metropolitano, as many as they had in their previous 17 (four). – Lucas Hernandez has been sent off for the first time in his Atletico career (88 games in all competitions). read morelast_img read more

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Mary Kom, Bhaichung Bhutia in 12-member selection panel for national sports awards

first_img Press Trust of India New DelhiAugust 8, 2019UPDATED: August 8, 2019 15:45 IST MC Mary Kom is part of the 12-member selection committee named for national sports awards. (Twitter/@BFI_official)HIGHLIGHTSMC Mary Kom and Bhaichung Bhutia will be part of selection committee for national sports awardsThis committee will handpick all the winners of National Sports AwardsThe awards will be given away on August 29, the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Major Dhyan ChandIn a departure from convention, the national sports awards for athletes and coaches this year will be decided by a single 12-member panel, featuring the likes of six-time world champion boxer M C Mary Kom and former football captain Bhaichung Bhutia.The awards will be given away on August 29, the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand which is celebrated as the National Sports Day.”This year we are trying out a new idea of one selection committee for all the awards. We feel too many committees are unnecessary as they only make things difficult and create controversies,” a Sports Ministry source told PTI.The 12-member committee is headed by Supreme Court judge Justice (Retd) Mukundakam Sharma and comprises Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Jhulaniya, Sports Authority of India Director General Sandeep Pradhan, Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) CEO Commander Rajesh Rajagopalan, Mary Kom, Bhutia, ex-women’s cricket team captain Anjum Chopra, celebrated former long-jumper Anju Bobby George and table tennis coach Kamlesh Mehta among others.Besides, the committee also features two mediapersons in Chief Editor of Times Group (Digital) Rajesh Kalra and renowned sports commentator Charu Sharma.Unlike previous editions, this committee will handpick all the winners of National Sports Awards — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award (for coaches), Dhyan Chand Award (lifetime achievement) and Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Award.After considerable delay, the selection committee was finalised on Wednesday.”Yes, we know we are little late in forming the committee but we have ample time in our hands to select the awardees,” the source said.advertisementThe official further said the first meeting of the selection committee will be held early next week. By the end of the week, the award winners are likely to be announced.Also Read | Sports Ministry rejects nominations of Dutee Chand for Arjuna Award and Harbhajan Singh for Khel RatnaAlso Read | Could have won Khel Ratna if Punjab government had sent my nomination on time: Harbhajan SinghAlso SeeFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byAnita Jat Tags :Follow Mc Mary KomFollow Bhaichung Bhutia Mary Kom, Bhaichung Bhutia in 12-member selection panel for national sports awardsThe national awards will be given away on August 29, the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand which is celebrated as the National Sports Day.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

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