Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:
Applying past leadership lessons to the coronavirus pandemic
Working Through COVID-19 Together
McKinsey & Company, March 2020
The career of a manager can rise and fall on their ability to rally their teams, project confidence, take decisive action, and communicate effectively during a crisis. McKinsey spoke to three senior advisors about their stories and experiences of leadership in moments of disruption and upheaval. Hugo Bague was group executive of organizational resources at Rio Tinto during the Ebola crisis in 2015-16; Jeff Cava was chief human-resources officer at Nike during two major economic crises, and at Wendy’s in 2003 during the SARS outbreak; and Manley Hopkinson, served as an officer in the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War. The three senior advisors answer questions on delegating responsibility, collaboration, leadership messaging, and managing stakeholder relationships during a global crisis.
To read the conversation go to McKinsey & Company
Are You Leading Through the Crisis … or Managing the Response?
Eric J. McNulty & Leonard Marcus, Harvard Business Review, March 25, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it is useful to distinguish what ‘was’, ‘is’, and ‘will be’ during a crisis. The actions that executives and their decision-making teams make now, in the midst of the crisis, will significantly determine the fate of their organisation. Crises are filled with complexity and change; addressing the need of the present requires executives and crisis managers to lead and operate effectively. Leaders must also focus on what is likely to come next, and allocating resources to meet this. For nearly two decades, HBR have researched and observed public and private sector executives in high-stakes, high-pressure situations. They’ve learned that crises are most often over-managed and under-led. The most effective leaders energise organisations and inspire communities. The four leadership traps are explored in this article.
To read more about the four leadership traps go to Harvard Business Review
Coronavirus Emails From Companies May Not Be Calming to Customers
Chris Kornelis, The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020
Large and small businesses have been sending emails to reassure customers during the coronavirus pandemic of improved cleaning and social-distancing measures being used in their businesses. While some emails are warranted such as store closures, Soo Kim, assistant professor of marketing at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, said: “People don’t like to keep being reminded of information they don’t want to face.” Other commentators argue that by staying quiet during a global health outbreak, it presents its own risks as consumers now expect brands to take positions on political and social issues. For businesses today, finding the right balance is crucial. When Levis Strauss & Co. decided to close its stores, it sent a short email: “No one wants to get a bunch of emails from brands and stores saying what they are doing,” said Levi’s Chief Marketing Officer Jen Sey.
To view the full story go to The Wall Street Journal
Here’s how social media can combat the coronavirus ‘infodemic’
Joan Donovan, MIT Technology Review, March 17, 2020
Social media is becoming the most important tool for families, friends and coworkers, as society grapples with the massive and growing coronavirus pandemic which is causing countries to shut down. As the world becomes more isolated, social media and the internet will play an even more crucial role in the quest for information related to the virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) worries that in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also be fighting an infodemic, which is defined as “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidelines when they need it.” Without clear strategies to prevent the spread of bad information, a lot can go wrong. While assessing the impact of misinformation is difficult, social media companies have learned that doing nothing is harmful to society. The first way to tackle the infodemic is to sort, rank and prioritize true and reliable information. The second is to enable government emergency alert systems across social media platforms, to ensure critical information is prioritized. This is the only way to keep rumors from dominating the headlines.
For the full story go to MIT Technology Review
Communication Is More Important Now Than Ever Before: 9 Ways To Reassure And Re-Engage Your Team
Tracy Brower, Forbes, March 16, 2020
The situation being faced due to coronavirus and COVID-19 is causing uncertainty and is changing rapidly which is placing more importance on the way a business leader communicates. As a leader, how should you communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to have the right communication strategy. Forbes provides nine tips for business leaders to consider.
To view the full story go to Forbes
8 Questions Employers Should Ask About Coronavirus
Jeff Levin-Scherz & Deana Allen, Harvard Business Review, March 15, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up call for companies to carefully review their internal policies, and procedures that protect employees, customers, and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvard Business Review lists eight questions that companies should ask themselves as they deal with this crisis.
To view the eight questions that companies should ask go to HBR now
Crisis communication researcher shares five key principles that officials should use in coronavirus
Matthew Seeger, The Conversation, March 7, 2020
Crises are time-sensitive events that require quick decisions and actions to contain the issue, and telling people what to do during a crisis is critical to limiting and containing the harm it is causing. Matthew Seeger was part of the group of academics that helped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) develop their crisis and emergency risk communication materials for public health outbreaks. The CDC program and other effective crisis communication principles, are explained in the article.
To read more about effective crisis communication principles go to The Conversation
COVID 19: Confidently navigate through the coronavirus crisis
PwC, March 2020
Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) brings together a list of responses to improve the situation that has been affected by COVID-19. The list includes: creating a dedicated crisis team, verifying the facts, internal and external collaboration, and produce an inclusive stakeholder communications strategy.
For the full story go to PwC
The CIO’s moment: Leadership through the first wave of the coronavirus crisis
McKinsey Digital, March 2020
Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are playing a crucial role during the coronavirus outbreak as they grapple with the economic and social implications. McKinsey Digital spoke with more than 100 CIOs at global companies about what the function should focus their energies on in the next 60 to 90 days.
To view the ten actions CIOs should focus on go to McKinsey Digital
Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges
McKinsey & Company, March 2020
McKinsey & Company provides five leadership practices that can be used by executives to help respond effectively to the coronavirus pandemic.
To view the five leadership practices go to McKinsey & Company
Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis
Martin Reeves, Nikolaus Lang and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Harvard Business Review, February 27, 2020
Harvard Business Review details 12 lessons that is based on analysis and evaluation which can be used to respond to unfolding events, and communicating, and extracting and applying learnings to future crises.
For the full list go to the Harvard Business Review
With the COVID-19 coronavirus threatening to become a pandemic, HKS Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem says globalization has changed the nature of the crises we face — and that crisis managers need to respond.
Juliette Kayyem, Harvard Kennedy School, February 25, 2020
Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem – who played a crucial role in managing the US’ response to the H1N1 virus (swine flu) pandemic in 2009, speaks to PolicyCast about how crisis managers can respond to the global coronavirus pandemic. “The nature of the crises we’re facing on a global scale is that they are very hard to limit,” she says. Kayyem goes on to tell PolicyCast that there is already a well-established playbook for responding to a local, regional and global crisis but planning ahead for a “black swan” event is often complicated. In preparing for a world embattling a pandemic, Kayyem says measuring success sometimes means being happy that things could have been worse.
To listen to the podcast now go to Harvard Kennedy School
Summary of discussions: How corporations are managing COVID-19 crises and issues, Webinar March 19, 2020 ND
Summary of discussions: How corporations are managing COVID-19 crises and issues, Webinar March 19, 2020
How ‘ordinary’ people became heroes during the bushfires
Fiona Smith and the Ethics Alliance, Ethics, March 2, 2020
The Australian bushfires which lasted for several months over the 2019-20 summer were an unforgettable reminder about what leadership in a crisis looks like, with “ordinary” people becoming the unforeseen heroes. Leadership can include “ordinary” people as many jumped into action, into their cars and boats as a means to protect their families and escape the ravaging bushfire that was quickly approaching them. These informal leaders took the initiative when the authorities were absent. NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance described the situation: ““There were community relief centres that were set up immediately after that fire event, without the involvement of government. That was what was heartening.” The Centre’s Executive Director, Wayne Burns lost his house at Lake Conjola to the fires and he reflected on the difference between authority and leadership during the crisis in his op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald: “Leadership is an art exercised and practised deliberately. It is about influencing, encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes pushing and cajoling without being asked,” he writes. In speaking to The Ethics Centre, Burns says the government and emergency services were unable to step beyond their authority which created a power “vacuum”. Ordinary citizens put themselves into positions of informal leadership, “there is no personality type, there are no natural-born leaders – they don’t exist – people just decide to act,” Burns explained.
For the full story go to The Ethics Centre
Facebook Needs Regulation to Win User Trust, Zuckerberg SaysND
Natalia Drozdiak, Bloomberg, Tuesday February 17, 2020
Facebook is now pleading for governments to introduce new rules that will help it win back user trust after years of lobbying against any legislative efforts to impose new regulations. "If we don't create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won't trust institutions or technology," said Facebook's Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in an op-ed in the Financial Times. Zuckerberg’s statement comes shortly after Facebook published a white paper that called for a “new type of regulator” to oversee regulatory enforcement of the internet. Silicon Valley firms have suffered user backlash over how web platforms profit from data, with Facebook’s user growth stagnating in its most important markets. Zuckerberg went on to say companies shouldn’t be in charge of making decision on competing social values, hoping new laws will provide the guidance the industry needs. “People need to feel that global technology platforms answer to someone,” said the Facebook CEO.
For the full story go to Bloomberg
UK aviation industry vows new zero carbon by 2050ND
BBC News, Tuesday February 4, 2020
The United Kingdom’s aviation industry is pledging to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. According to the industry group Sustainable Aviation, it said it will do this with cleaner engines, new fuels and planting trees. Under the plan, airlines can cut down pollution even as passenger numbers grow by an expected 70 per cent over the next 30 years. Sustainable Aviation says it can reduce its emissions of CO2 without restricting growth. British Airways, which is a member of the industry group, is investing in a project to make fuel from rubbish. “Biofuels will give us a greener alternative and we are attracted by that,” said Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways. But campaigners say the only way to cut airline pollution is by reducing air travel all together and cancelling the construction of new airports. “We need to restrict flying,” said Muna Suleiman, from Friends of the Earth.
For the full story go to the BBC
YouTube Says It Will Ban Misleading Election-Related Content ND
Davey Alba, The New York Times, Monday February 3, 2020
YouTube plans to remove misleading election-related content, laying out for the first time how the platform will handle such viral falsehoods with the November election around the corner. YouTube outlined its full plan on the day of the Iowa caucuses, where voters will select their preferred Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in 2020. In a blog post, YouTube said it would ban videos that gave users the wrong voting date or spread other false information during the election campaign. This move is the latest attempt by a large tech company to grapple with online disinformation, after Facebook said it would remove videos that were altered by artificial intelligence and Twitter has banned political ads entirely. Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of government affairs and public affairs said: “Over the last few years, we’ve increased our efforts to make YouTube a more reliable source for news and information, as well as an open platform for healthy political discourse.”
For the full story go to The New York Times
CAA: Microsoft boss calls India's new citizenship law 'sad'ND
BBC News, Tuesday January 14, 2019
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has called India’s controversial new citizenship law “sad”, amid ongoing protests against the law that have become violent around India in recent weeks. Thousands of protesters have marched the streets of some of India’s biggest cities against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), criticising it for being discriminatory against Muslims as it only fast-tracks citizenship applications by non-Muslims from India’s neighbouring Muslim-majority nations. While speaking at a Microsoft event in New York, Mr Nadella said he envisages a different India: "I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the next CEO of Infosys," he said. Following the event, Microsoft India issued a statement quoting Mr Nadella: “My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefitting Indian society and the economy at large.”
For the full story go to the BBC
Exxon wins New York climate change fightND
BBC News, Wednesday 11th December 2019
ExxonMobil has won a court battle in New York, after being accused of misleading investors about the costs of addressing climate change. The state argued the oil giant used two figures to calculate the risks of climate change, and thus misrepresented the cost in public disclosures. Exxon said the two figures served two different purposes, and a New York judge said the evidence supported this claim. Exxon had called the suit politically motivated, and hailed the victory. “Today’s ruling affirms the position ExxonMobil has held throughout the New York Attorney General’s baseless investigation,” it said. “We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change.” New York Attorney General Letitia James said that despite her loss in court, the case had forced Exxon to “answer publicly” about its decision-making related to climate change. “We will continue to fight to ensure companies are held responsible for actions that undermine and jeopardize the financial health and safety of Americans across our country, and we will continue to fight to end climate change,” she said in a statement.
For the full story go to the BBC
Nike employees stage protest as company reopens Alberto Salazar buildingND
The Guardian, Tuesday 10th December 2019
Hundreds of Nike employees staged a walkout in Beaverton, Oregon on Monday as the company reopened a building named after controversial athletics coach Alberto Salazar. Mr Salazar has been accused of humiliating and belittling female athletes, and last month admitted he had made “callous remarks” to athletes. “On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training,” he told the Oregonian newspaper. “If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry.” Despite the controversy surrounding Mr Salazar, Nike kept the coach’s name on the building during its renovation, and his image still features strongly around the facility. According to the Willamette Week, around 400 Nike employees marched through the Nike campus on Monday with signs reading “Just Do Better”, “Nike is a woman” and “We believe Mary”.
For the full story visit the Guardian
Green lawyers launch complaint over BP ad campaign amid ‘climate emergency’ND
Emily Beament, Belfast Telegraph UK, Tuesday December 3, 2019
Environmental legal charity ClimateEarth has triggered an official complaint against BP, claiming the company is misleading consumers about its low carbon credentials in advertising campaigns in the UK and elsewhere. The lawyers behind the complaint also said fossil fuel adverts should be banned unless they carry a planetary and person health warning, similar to those forced on the tobacco industry. “BP is spending millions on an advertising campaign to give the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner, and that it is part of the climate solution,” said Sophie Marjanac, ClientEarth climate lawyer. “While BP’s advertising focuses on clean energy, in reality, more than 96 per cent of the company’s annual capital expenditure is on oil and gas.” In a statement, a BP spokesperson said: “We have not seen this complaint, but we strongly reject the suggestion that our advertising is misleading. BP has clearly said that the world is on an unsustainable path and must do more to reduce emissions. We support a rapid transition of the world’s energy system.”
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Step up climate action or face catastrophe, says UN reportND
Barbara Bibbo, Al Jazeera, Wednesday 27th November 2019
Countries must cut their greenhouse gas emissions well beyond current pledges in order to prevent catastrophic climate change, according to a United Nations report released on Tuesday. The annual Emissions Gap Report points out the United States and China, Russia and the European Union particularly as doing too little to tackle the climate crisis. "Emissions need to go down by 55 percent by 2030," said the report's colead author, John Christensen. "There is no way we are going to make it if we don't step up action as of next year with ambitious plans." The report states that even if all Paris commitments were implemented, temperatures would likely rise up to 3.2C this century, which would bring with destructive climate change. "Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions, over 7 percent each year," said Inger Andersen, the UN Environment Program's executive director.
To read more click here
Activists Build a Grass-Roots Alliance Against AmazonND
David Streitfeld, The New York Times, Tuesday November 26, 2019
Athena, the grass-roots alliance formed to influence and rein in Amazon’s power, is now looking to unify the resistance movement against the tech giant. The coalition comprises three dozen grass-roots groups that are involved in issues like digital surveillance, antitrust and working conditions in warehouses. Pressure on Amazon’s practices have been mounting after a report from the Economic Roundtable – a non-profit research group from South California – investigated the impact of Amazon’s warehouses on communities. It calculated that Amazon trucks last year created $642 million in “uncompensated public costs” for noise, road wear, accidents and harmful emissions. Daniel Flaming, co-author of the Economic Roundtable report said: “Our conclusion is that it’s time for Amazon to come of age and pay its own way.” Previous grass-roots efforts led by labour and immigrant organisations to restrain Amazon’s power are now joining under Athena. “We’re learning from what makes Amazon back down and looking to replicate that as much as possible with as many people as possible,” said Dania Rajendra, Athena’s director.
For the full story click here
Easyjet to offset carbon emissions from all its flightsND
Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, Wednesday 20th November 2019
Easyjet announced on Tuesday it would offset carbon emissions from all its flights, becoming the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its network. The British budget airline said its plan would cost about £25m in the next financial year through schemes to plant trees or avoid the release of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “We recognise that offsetting is only an interim measure, but we want to take action on our carbon emissions now,” CEO Johan Lundgren said. “Aviation will have to reinvent himself as quickly as it can.” Pressure has been mounting for some time for the aviation industry to address its environmental impact, and EasyJet’s decision is a big step in maintaining the industry’s social license by one of the industry’s major players. “Customers increasingly expect companies to do something about it and it is fundamentally the right thing to do,” said Mr Lundgren.
To read the full story click here
TikTok’s Chief Is on a Mission to Prove It’s Not A MenaceND
Raymond Zhong, The New York Times, Monday 18th November 2019
In recent months, TikTok has emerged as the refreshing weirdo upstart of the American social media landscape, reconfiguring the culture in its joyful, strange wake. But to some in the US government, it is a menace – namely because of the nationality of its owner, a seven-year-old Chinese social media company called ByteDance. Some in the government fear TikTok is exposing America’s youth to Communist Party indoctrination and smuggling their data to Beijing’s servers. This is what brought the company’s head, Alex Zhu, to Manhattan last week. In an interview – his first since taking over at TikTok this year – Mr Zhu denied key accusations levelled at the company: that TikTok censors videos that displease China, or that it sends data to China. He said all data is stored in Virginia, with a backup server in Singapore. But China is a murky place for companies, and many in Washington remain deeply suspicious of Chinese tech companies to a degree that can feel like paranoia, and that will continue to be an issue for companies like TikTok.
To read the full in-depth report click here
'Responsible thing to do': Qantas pledges zero net emissions by 2050ND
Patrick Hatch, The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday November 11, 2019
Qantas has pledged to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, making it the second airline group in the world to make this commitment. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the goals of the airline group – which includes budget carrier Jetstar – will cap net emissions at their current levels of around 12 million tonnes from 2020. Mr Joyce said airlines around the world have a responsibility to cut emissions as nine European Union (EU) states called for an aviation tax to make airlines pay a “fair price” for the pollution they produce, in a letter sent to the EU’s executive last week. Alternative jet fuel can cut emissions by as much as 80 per cent but currently it only makes up 0.01 per cent of global industry fuel use. Qantas has said it will spend $50 million on research and investment over the next 10 years to help develop a biofuel industry in Australia. "It won’t be a straight line to zero simply because the progress on biofuel and other technology won’t be linear, either. But there will be clear progress," Mr Joyce said.
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Google sued by the ACCC over alleged misuse of personal dataND
Stephen Letts, ABC News, Tuesday 29th October 2019
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has become the first regulator in the world to take on Google, as it sues the company over allegations it has been misleading consumers about the personal location data it collects, keeps and uses. In documents lodged with the court, the ACCC said Google misled consumers when it made on-screen representations about the location data it collected, and about continuing to collect and use personal data against consumers’ wishes. As such, the ACCC said, Google breached Australian law. "We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers' location without them making an informed choice," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
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Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political AdsND
Mike Isaac, The New York Times, Monday 28th October 2019
In a sign of growing internal resistance at the world’s biggest social network, a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, signed by more than 250 employees, decrying the company’s position on political advertising, has been publicly visible on Facebook Workplace for the past two weeks. Employees are unhappy about Mr Zuckerberg’s decision to let politicians post any claims they want – even if they are false – in ads on the site. Facebook has already been under increased scrutiny from US lawmakers in recent weeks, but the employee actions show that even employees are divided over Facebook’s policy. “Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” Facebook spokeswoman Bertie Thomson said in a statement. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”
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Exxon accused of misleading investors on climate changeND
BBC News, Tuesday October 22, 2019
American oil giant Exxon is set to face an unprecedented climate change lawsuit in New York this week after years of investigations into the company’s corporate practices. The state of New York is bringing forward a lawsuit in accusing the company of misleading investors about the potential costs of climate change regulation on its business. In a statement the state of New York said: "by representing that it was applying higher projected carbon costs than it was actually using, ExxonMobil made its assets appear significantly more secure than they really were, which had a material impact on its share price." Exxon does not dispute this claim but argues the calculations were "proprietary" and investors were not misled. "Reasonable investors who reviewed ExxonMobil's disclosures understood that climate risks factored into ExxonMobil's decision-making, which is all that could have mattered to them," the company said. Analysts said this case demonstrates the kind of methods governments are now using to keep firms accountable on prominent issues such as climate change.
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BHP boss Andrew Mackenzie most outspoken CEO on social issues, analysis findsND
Dominic Powell, The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday October 21, 2019
BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie’s stance on climate change makes him the most vocal corporate leader in Australia, according to media researcher Streem. The research – tracked from October 2018 to September 2019 – has Mr Mackenzie as the most quoted CEO in the media with 156 mentions with 112 of these relating to climate change. Some of the issues analysed included climate change, domestic violence, equality, sexual harassment, human rights, mental health, Indigenous issues and LGBTIQA issues. Mr Mackenzie has been an advocate of climate action for some time now. Just recently, BHP announced it would devote $500 million towards reducing its own emissions and customers' emissions. He also urged the government to put a price on carbon. Following him on the list of vocal CEOs was Qantas’ Alan Joyce and Woodside’s Pete Coleman. Climate change was also an issue frequently raised by Mr Joyce, while mentions of LGBTIQA issues ranked highest. In a speech to the National Press Club last month, Mr Joyce said companies refraining from weighing in on social issues was 'bad for democracy'. The survey comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison told chief executives not to be "distracted" by issues such as climate change.
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Bank of England boss says global finance is funding 4C temperature riseND
Richard Partington, The Guardian, Wednesday October 16, 2019
The governor of the Bank of England has delivered a stark warning to international capital markets over the financing of carbon-producing projects that will lift global temperatures by more than four degrees this century. Mark Carney, the governor of Britain’s central bank suggested companies had secured financing from investors in the market worth around US $85 trillion for stocks and US $100 trillion for bonds that will raise the planet’s temperature well above the two degrees agreed on in the Paris Agreement. Governor Carney’s intervention comes after some investment companies have analysed the effects of carbon-linked assets in their portfolios. The risks associated with this dramatic rise in temperatures include a 9-metre rise in sea levels which will affect up to 760 million people. “The contribution of manufacturing or an industrial company in terms of lowering their carbon footprint over the next decade, a big reduction in that, can be as significant if not more significant than further development in the short term on renewables,” Governor Carney said to MPs on the Commons Treasury committee.
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