Friday, January 15, 2016

Ananias, The Double Agent with Intent to Martyr the Apostle “Paul” and Undermine Messianic Judaism

Ananias, the Triple Agent with Intent to Martyr the Apostle Paul and Undermine Messianic Judaism

 

by Brendan Bombaci 


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
2016

ISBN: 978-1-365-77245-0

           
“Paul the Apostle,” whose name before Christian conversion was Saul of Tarsus, has been considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age.  He was a high council Pharisee Jew who fatally persecuted Christians before a day that he himself had a vision of Jesus that made him blind for days and led him to preach Christianity after being commanded by a man in Damascus.  That man may well have been a triple agent for the Pharisees and the already-standing apostles, and, ultimately, for the conquering Roman empire.  There is some evidence to this in the Bible itself.

            In Acts 5:5, a man named Ananias suddenly dies before Peter when he has been judged as “lying to God,” when he in fact merely lied to Peter, about withholding a certain amount of his wealth from charitable contribution to the Christian outreach.  This is a famous Biblical miracle – a great show of the power of the Christian God and the authority of his strictest adherents.  Yet, the name Ananias appears again later, in the same book of Acts, identifying the Christian disciple who hears a message from God that Paul is in Ananias' city of Damascus, sent there by a vision of Jesus to seek out his new mission in life (conversion from Pharisee executioner to Christian apostle).  He is the man who, in Acts 9:17, takes Paul in and heals his hallucination-related blindness with Jesus-like powers (an evangelical “laying-on of hands”) – another famous miracle.  Paul then begins traveling widely and preaching what Ananias blessed him to preach: about the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” of his vision.  This notion ran counter to Jewish (and common) knowledge about Christianity being a Sacarii, or neo-Zealot, cult amongst their population with aims to establish a permanent and widespread lineage-based authority in Mesopotamia with a militant messiah at charge, and the creed to do so formed by blessings given to the Abrahamic lineage from the holiest individual in the Bible aside from God, so described by both Peter and Paul: a priest-king named Melchizedek (Bombaci 2016).  In Acts 22:14, after being arrested for preaching at (“desecrating”) the Temple in Jerusalem, Paul recounts how he was told by Ananias to be the ‘witness’ of the “Righteous One” (a Christian moniker for Melchizedek) and to carry forth his mission as such.

            One would rationally think that this second Ananias character was a different man; however, in Acts 23:1, when Paul is taken in for questioning by the High Council at Jerusalem, he is addressed by the high priest there who turns out to also be named Ananias -- and the fact that Paul seemingly recognized this man and implied his surprise that he did not know Ananias to be the High Priest let alone a Pharisee, when addressed by him in persecution, suggests that he was, in fact, the same man.  Paul said: “I am sorry, brothers [i.e., the Pharisees, amongst whom he previously ranked]. I did not realize he was the high priest, for the scriptures say ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.”  He had converted to the faith crafted seemingly by pacific Christians rather than Pharisees, so only one of two meanings is possible by this.  It is implicit that either (1) he would not assume the self-proclaimed Christian, Ananias, to falsely represent Christianity via retaining the highest of Jewish High Council roles and thereby being a commander of Christian persecution and executions, which therefore marks Ananias as "speaking evil against his ruler," Jesus Christ, or (2) he is astounded at this double-agent deception and doesn't know what to do, but plays this part, in hope and trust, with his newer evangelical preacher/healer Ananias, toward whatever judgment is needed for the cause, by submitting that he instead was the one "speaking evil against his ruler” (i.e, Ananias).  After Paul’s fate was almost sealed by a murderous group of 40 leaders in the council, he was saved by a Christian (or at least a Christian-sympathizing) commander of the centurions, and then taken to “Governor Felix” (Acts 23:18-24).  The High Council learns of his whereabouts and, in Acts 24:5, petitions the Roman governor to prosecute because he “is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes” (a translation of the word Nazorean which means “branch of David,” and actually has nothing to do with Nazareth).  Felix hears Paul’s testimony against the accusation that he was trying to desecrate the temple, and is at first empathetic because he is apparently savvy to “the Way” (Acts 24:22) of Christian doctrine as it was known by the authorities (which could lead to a revolution they would have been glad to see, in that its volatility would have given them justification for a thorough quelling of any people deemed oppositional in the Jewish population so troublesome to Roman efforts at hegemony).  In Acts 25:25, however, Felix was somehow taken unawares and made frightened when Paul described the coming day of judgment and salvation of Christians alone – implying aims at global rather than merely Mesopotamian rule – something that denotes the notions laid out in what would become the Book of Revelations as being esoteric in the Christian doctrine as it was thus far popularly known.  In fact, it was likely around the later years of Paul’s and Ananias’ lives (60-70AD), around the rule of Vespasian, that the first version of the Book was completed (Burke 2002).

That the idea of globally-affective Armageddon and Rapture was apparently novel, and not common gospel, is corroborated by what Paul told Agrippa, later (Acts 26:16-18), of his original vision that directed him to see Ananias in Damascus (a testimony or account of which that was for some reason omitted from earlier verses in Acts).  So, being as Ananias told Paul to be Melchizedek’s “witness,” after Paul told Ananias all that was supposedly miraculously revealed to him, Ananias must have known about the Judgment Day doctrine and informed him about it.  Either way, it appears that Ananias wanted this information, along with that which claimed the living Jesus to be peaceful and immortal, to be preached widely and then known of through Paul’s eventual “imprisonment or death” (Acts 27:30), which seemingly would have been his fate.  So perhaps being “witness” to Melchizedek meant “martyr,” as is one translation of that very term.  This would have been (1) a way to popularize a rather anti-militant image of the living Messiah - a figure antithetical to the prophesied messiah by the otherwise volatile Sacarii (neo-"Zealot") force erupting from the Jewish population, while (2) altering Jesus’ original prophesied Messianic purpose of uniting and redeeming the people of Judah and Israel alone under the line of David and Zadok (that is, Jacob and Aaron) to one of a powerful and incontestable perpetuation of Abrahamic monarchical rule in the region and well beyond (actually a Damascus document promise), and (3) convincing non-Christians of a contrary religious supremacy in Christianity and a destructive nature in Jesus' purportedly pacifist and forgiving New Covenant-abiding father and judge of all creation, the "progressed" but foundationally Judaic god Yahweh, or now, "God."  Such contradictions could easily create dissent amongst Christian groups, both (a) stirring up further Sicarii uprisings by some, in antagonism of such image-softening propaganda, thereby bringing harsher retaliation upon Zealots by the Roman forces to the point of diminishment and total subjugation, and (b) simply quelling the volatility of any less confident Zealots who waivered on the militancy of their goals.  It would also paradoxically serve the cause of the Pharisees’ Old Testament interpretations, in opposition to that of the Saducees: that angels and spirits, as well as resurrection, are all real phenomenon (Acts 23:8), so that their form of Judaism, then, would be the one with more legitimization whether or not Christianity did become a formidable popular faith of the region.  We may have, in this collection of accounts, real evidence of religio-political psychological warfare being conducted at the outset of widespread Christian communal development.  Grinningly, it is even in plain sight.

Corroborative to my theory herein, recently published exegetical research by Joseph Atwill cogently suggests that the entire New Testament itself was a historically attentive but fictional work commissioned by Titus Flavius for the sake of legitimate appropriation of messianic Judaism by the Roman Empire -- and literarily composed by Josephus, a prodigiously influential Jewish polysectarian and once the army commander of Maccabee Zealots who became willfully adopted into the nemesis Holy Roman family of Flavians by the Roman general Vespasian, after Vespasian sacks Galilee and Josephus prophesies him as becoming "Lord of all mankind" upon his imperial coronation.  Notably, as mentioned above, it was likely during Vespasian’s rule that the first version of the Book of Revelations was written.  Josephus was the same author who wrote Wars of the Jews and Jewish Antiquities, both of which are the faithfully trusted works that provide Biblical scholars with any context for the period whatsoever.  Such an Imperial power play founded on Josephus' clever penmanship would, of course, lead to swift and syncretizing cultural hegemony - a position over which Rome enduringly ruled after the New Testament was canonized.  And Paul plays right into this.  As Atwill puts it, in his book Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus (Flavian Signature Edition),
"The tradition connecting early Christianity and the Flavian family is based on solid evidence, but has received little comment from scholars.  The best known of the "Christian Flavians" was (Pope) Clement I.  He is described in the Catholic Encyclopedia as the first pope about whom "anything definite is known" and was recorded in early church literature as being a member of the Flavian family.  Pope Clement was the first pope who was referred to by individuals known to history, and who left behind written works. [...] Thus, Clement is of great significance to the church's history.  In fact, while the Catholic Encyclopedia currently lists Clement as the fourth "bishop of Rome," or pope, this was not the assertion of many early church scholars.  St. Jerome wrote that in his time "most of the Latins" held that Clement had been the direct successor of Peter.  Tertullian also knew of this tradition; he wrote "the church of Rome records that Clement was ordained by Peter."  Origen, Eusebius, and Epiphaneus also placed Clement at the very beginning of the Roman Church, each of them stating that Clement had been the "fellow laborer" of the Apostle Paul." [Atwill, pp 38-39]
Altogether, it appears that Paul may well have been a converted double agent, for both Christianity and (unknowingly) for the Roman Empire; with Ananias being a cunning triple agent, but ultimately serving Rome.

But none of this can truly come as a surprise to someone informed of the fact, outlined in multiple Christian documents, that the power of the messiah was really about the consolidation of familial agency, from the priesthood of Melchezidek and the royal line of David, in one man (Bombaci 2016).  That such influence would be coveted by other powers is intuitive.  Appropriating that influence, for Rome, was probably just an initial matter of adequate monetary persuasion, and a secondary matter of concentrated alt-history authorship.  And who but the specially positioned person of Titus Flavius would be keen to execute this, in that "while emperor, he received the title of Pontifex Maximus, which made him the high priest of the Roman religion and the official head of the Roman college of priests - the same title and office that, once Christianity had become the Roman state religion, its popes would assume" (Atwill, p35).  Other than quelling the militant messianic Jews, "Titus had another, more personal reason for creating the Gospels - being that the Zealots refused to worship him as a god. Though he was able to crush their rebellion, Titus could not force the Zealots, even through torture or death, to call him Lord" (Atwill, p28).  But indeed, his legacy of the Christian religion made it so that all popes receive the title of "Vicar," literally meaning "stand-in" or "replacement for" Christ.  While "36 of the 60 emperors from Augustus to Constantine and 27 members of their families were apotheosized and received the title of diius [god]" (Atwill, p37), with this act they finally secured for themselves that title as respected, or at least acknowledged, by some of the most resilient and rebellious of those whom they conquered.


References Cited


Atwill, Joseph.  2011.  Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus: Flavian Signature Edition.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 

Bombaci, Brendan.  2016.  Of Jesus the “Messiah” (Anointed One), and “Melchizedek” (Prince of Righteousness): Rebutting the Trinity Doctrine.  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brendan_Bombaci/contributions.  Lulu Press.


Burke, Delbert.  2002.  An Introduction to the New Testament and the Origins of Christianity.  Cambridge University Press.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Empathy as the Basis of Delusion, and Yagé as a Potential Treatment

Empathy as the Basis of Delusion, and Yagé as a Potential Treatment
By Brendan Bombaci


Copyright Brendan Bombaci 2016
Lulu Press

ISBN: 978-1-365-08866-7



Introduction

As indicated by the behaviors of mammals in contrast to non-mammalian animals, neocortex size evidently relates to capacities of empathy and organization.  Dunbar’s Social Brain Hypothesis notes that, in primates, bigger neocortices are correlated to humanlike friendship relations rather than solely mating or hierarchy relations seen in other animals; and, Dunbar's Number rationally relates sizes of neocortices to those of social networks (Dunbar 2009, Dunbar 1992).  This may be due to the fact that more memories can be stored about individuals, allowing for more individuals to be well known.  For humans, the theory holds that we can each relate well to nearly 150 other humans (Gonçalves, Perra, and Vespigniani 2011; Hernando et al. 2010; MacCarron, Kaski, and Dunbar 2016).  Such “others” do not have to be known to be considered: to know 150 other individuals fairly well is to be able to predictively assess or even imaginatively synthesize unknown people – by calculating potential personality trait permutations of known individuals who share certain recognizable traits with them – hence, “social intuition.” 

It may be that quantity increases and/or amplified transmission efficiency of dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters, caused by monoamine oxidase inhibitor chemicals (MAOIs), mostly known for their use as antidepressant drugs in the West, promotes broadened and intensified access to and mentation upon interpersonal memories.  Hyperactivation of such neurotransmitters seems to lead to an uncontrollable, unhampered, and sometimes delusional consideration (or auditory hallucination) of others, as seen in bipolar and schizophrenic psychoses.  Underactivation seems to lead to social withdrawal.  The unique activities of antidepressant MAOIs and antipsychotic drugs, respectively, corroborate this psychiatric polarity.  In as much, empathy appears on the same spectrum as delusion, but is simply lower in intensity, incidentally controllable, and, in effect, more accurate.

Differences in culture appear to be the foundational factors behind whether or not delusions are detrimental, and this is partly due to the contrasting effects of prohibition to embrace and expertise with certain plant chemicals that alter consciousness in various ways.  These are MAOIs, and also various “psychedelic” or “entheogenic” serotonin agonists – I prefer Winkelman’s (1996) term psychointegrator for this latter chemical class because of the way that such substances unify and awaken brain areas for heightened learning and performance (Carhart-Harris et al. 2016), nonlinear thought processes (Petri et al. 2014), and the promotion of neurogenesis as well as resolution of fear conditioning (Catlow et al. 2013).  The two-fold combination of these chemical classes (MAOI + psychointegrator), such as found in the sacred medicinal Amazonian tea Yagé (also and most popularly called Ayahuasca, though that is actually just the name of the MAOI-bearing liana ingredient alone) can make visually tangible the afflictions that are otherwise internalized or invisible yet auditory in psychotic episodes.  Given the profound worldview modifications that can be made with the utilization of such substances (Bombaci 2012), it may be that the generally implicit or subconscious neurological mechanism by which the human brain learns and enacts social intuition (Lieberman 2000) shares an equal impact with the typically less effective explicit or intentional mode as well, during such ASC.  In a scientific clinical set and setting, this can be leveraged to potentially ameliorate feelings of guilt, self-loathing, and paranoia in such sufferers, by way of persuading patients via logic and manipulation of hallucinations, to recognize the actually subconscious and transmutable rather than typically static and spuriously perceived supernatural or extraterrestrial origins (APA 1994:273-317) of such delusions.  Such a Westernized form of Yagé therapy (with either organic or pharmaceutical compounds) would be a major step forward for the field of psychiatry.

Theory

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) have been linked to decreased capacities for comprehension, and even negative perceptions, of emotional tone in others (Emerson et al. 1999, Kan et al. 2004, Murphy and Cutting 1990, Perón et al. 2011, Uekermann et al. 2008, Quadflieg et al. 2008, Quadflieg et al. 2007) – an ability that is normally acculturated by a young age, and key to empathetic socialization (Kirmayer 2008:459).  In that social engagement declines with increases in symptom severity in these disorders, which can create recursive attentional, emotional, and attributional symptom amplification or looping (Kirmayer and Sartorius 2007:836), such a connection highlights the fact that humans are still socially dependent primates, and tend to pine for recognition of worth when under duress.  MAOI-A chemicals (different from MAOI-Bs), whose effective pharmaceutical effects are classified as “antidepressant,” boost levels of endogenous and dietarily active serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine.  It can be inferred that depression is the chemical and social-engagement opposite of an MAOI-altered state when experienced by a psychiatrically normal personbeing that for them it is a literally sensational, socially sensitizing experience, made apparent by the original name for the plant-sourced MAOI harmine alone, that is, “telepathine."  Hence, MAOIs can facilitate approximations of psychiatric baseline for depressed people.  However, it can precipitate or exacerbate mania and delusions, as well as auditory hallucinations, in sufferers of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia both, because these people already have either an active overabundance of those neurotransmitters and/or malfunctioning receptor sites (Howes and Kapur 2009, López-Figueroa et al. 2004, Mueller 2007, Preisig 2000).  This is suggestive that those detrimental mental states are merely amplified versions of what stable people experience with MAOIs.  In as much, there would appear to be a sort of threshold where MAOI-enhanced empathy, energy levels, euphoria, and saturated imagination become delusions, mania, and auditory hallucinations.  

In some cultures, these extremes, seeming on first objective glance to arrest or overtake a person’s self-control, are not frightful conditions for the experiencer or those around them, but are rather accepted because they occur at a frequency of and to a degree of social manageability, and are even informative for the collective.  This cultural difference likely has to do with a variety of factors including societal power hierarchies and acceptable levels of individualism in contrast to collectivism (Johnson and Johnson 2014:1114-5), less dramatizing family relations (Watters 2010:152-153), and an absence of iatrogenic “looping” (amplifying) effects caused by both societal stigmas and the limitations of caregiving service and political-economic treatment options (Kirmayer and Sartorius 2007:836).  Complex shamanic practices, in all likelihood the origin of medical systems worldwide, stem from such extreme altered states of consciousness (ASC) or the reverent mimicry thereof, i.e., actual mania and psychotic episodes (Polimeni and Reiss 2002:246), similar experiences evoked by carefully considered endogenous or exogenous overdose of psychoactive substances (Dobkin de Rios et al. 1974:152, Rätsch 2005), or even the ritual act of performing tasks under such influences by a sane person in an unaltered state (Lewis 2003:161-172, Vitebsky 2001:52-92).  Cultures that appreciate and explore the deep relationship between both the ASC below and above the control threshold may be those best able to handle them.  For them, externalized voices that are given to Westerners’ familiar “angels and demons” within may instead be perceived as benevolent environmental spirits or ancestors who comment on or guide us through activities and decisions.  To see those entities as “beyond the veil,” potentially being in control of our interpersonal charisma, care, and scrutinizations, is fundamental to both animism and concepts of the soul, which led many societies from animistic belief to theistic religion (Winkelman and Baker 2010:135-148), and then, for some, to the scientific method.

The MAOI-bearing plants known as Ayahuasca (“vine of souls”), caltrops (“goatheads”), mimosa hostilis, malabarica (found in the Tibetan and Nepalese incense Nag Champa), and Syrian Rue (a royal red fabric dye and medicine), are all originally sourced from disparate locations in the world and have historical and modern use.  It is not a leap between associating such potently psychoactive plants with spirits, and, in consistency, associating all natural beings and objects with spirits as well.  Importantly, the difference between MAOI and psychointegrator experiences may be the difference between speaking with angels and demons and actually bringing their realms visually to our own.  This resonates with the proclamation by many Amazonian Yagé shamans (ayahuasqueros) that, in the psychoactive beverage Yagé (actually containing an admixture of various plant extracts), the MAOI-bearing liana ingredient Ayahuasca, Banisteriopsis caapi, is “the power” (providing access to the spirit realm), while one of the DMT-bearing leaf ingredients Chacruna, or Psychotria viridis, is “the light” (providing the ability to see said realm).  This relationship may have been recognized in Mesopotamia during Biblical times as existing in a similar way between Syrian Rue and Acacia (Shanon 2008) – the latter being a common architectural and craft wood, but incidentally the “burning bush” that spoke on behalf of Jehovah to Moses – revealing the known utility of a Yagé analogue half a world away.  This is quite possible, given strong arguments for an as-yet unadmitted but evidenced use of other psychointegrators in the spatiotemporality of Biblical accounts (Irvin and Herer 2009; Irvin, Rutajit, and Zervos 2009; Moleiro 2005).

            So it would appear that the Yagé users of the Amazon, and perhaps officially undisclosed users of Yagé analogues elsewhere, are in a unique position to differentiate between (1) the visual and euphoric effects of serotonin analogues such as DMT (aforementioned), psilocybin (found in certain mushrooms of Europe and the Americas), and lysergic acid (found in plants of Mexico and South America as well as in the chemically transformed beverage made from ergot used by the ancient Greek hierophants [Webster, Perrine, and Ruck 2000]); and (2) the reward-sensation increasing, empathy amplifying, and potential auditory hallucination inducing effects of dopamine and epinephrine flooding that occurs with consumption of plant-sourced (or synthetic antidepressant) MAOIs.  They are also in a unique position to understand and navigate their combined effects.  As noted already, the fact that ayahuasqueros are animistic rather than theistic may explain why instead of envisioning angels, demons, aliens, and multidimensional (rather than solely entoptic) geometric forms – all so ubiquitous in Western ideological, artistic, and technological undercurrents – they envision self-aware jaguars, serpents, birds, butterflies, people, plants, and elements.  For them, these entities, in contrast, impose no pressure or moral judgment upon them, allowing them a bravery of the unknown that fosters learning and engagement rather than fear.  For them, auditory hallucinations from MAOI overdose are learned to be associated with visual hallucinations as well.  So, even when just using the MAOI-containing Yagé ingredient Ayahuasca, they are likely to be comfortable with and experientially analytical towards disembodied voices even without their associated visual representations.  They are still recognized as tangible – people have a sense of knowing where they come from and are therefore on equal ground with them.  If someone in a village experiences unwarranted and therefore confusing psychoses, ayahuasqueros are therefore in a great position to counsel them.  However, their popularly acclaimed ability to successfully counsel those from other cultures (rather than administer a purely exotic catharsis or psychological placebo) is questionable, in that (1) tribal Amazonian culture is immensely distant from the West in norms, philosophies, linguistic devices, and archetypes, and (2) there doesn’t appear to be any literature on research that has controlled for psychiatrically normal versus delusion-prone people that have sought Yagé therapy and benefitted from it.

Proposal

            The everyday framework of culture is integral to both individual and group perceptions, feelings, and beliefs.  Yagé could be powerfully therapeutic for mentally unstable Westerners prone to delusion and psychoses, in the right set and setting, and with logic-based cosmological counseling that decimates their subconsciously or intentionally acculturated notions of supernatural judgment or extraterrestrial intervention.  Such suggestion should be familiar to them, because it has been promoted by many academic philosophers, lay skeptics, and now scientists, ever since The Enlightenment.  DMT is a serotonin (5HT) analogue but is not serotonin itself, and there are very particular 5HT molecules that cause mania in some people but not in others (hence why one serotonin antagonist antipsychotic will work for one sufferer but not for another).  As such, there are likely some sufferers of psychosis who can safely use DMT in a supervised and medical intervention-ready setting.  This would have to be clinically confirmed, of course, with safety protocols such as dose-stepping experimentation for each potential Yagé therapy subject to ascertain the risk of and be aptly prepared for psychological crisis.  The Ayahuasca vine or other MAOI source will likely cause delusion and/or auditory hallucinations, but the DMT, causal of general visual hallucinations, would potentially offer visual form to these as well, lending leverage to the counselor over both the subconscious and objectively conscious processes of the patient.

Acculturation mechanisms, and therefore the weavings of the subconscious – the schema with which we make associations between people, places, things – are a human universal even if particular symbolism, ideas, and knowledge classification systems are not (Bombaci 2012:3-8).  Through suggestion and environmental alteration, that is, manipulation of the short term “set and setting” for familiar comfort, safety, and learning – known in the literature as integral to the quality of the psychointegrator experience (Bombaci 2012:19-22) – a psychointegrator therapist could intentionally transform Yagé-induced visual hallucinations; and, due to schematic relationships, there is great potential for such transformations to alter concomitant delusions and auditory hallucinations into visually tangible and familiar representations, and thereby into less mysterious and omnipotent or “stealthy” entities (traits that may be the root cause of their seeming malevolence).  If the transformations are at least preferable to what the patient has experienced prior to psychointegrator therapy, rhetorical counseling would likely help them understand that such hallucinations are of subconscious rather than supernatural or alien nature, originating from a hyperactivation of empathy processes that under normal circumstances are meant to provide the predictable and useful mechanism of social intuition.  They may thereby gain power over them, and recursively over delusional thoughts as well, increasingly softening their symptoms.  Proven that such sessions are safe and effective, there is hope that they can affect remission, or at least self-control to the degree of functional self-sufficiency.  In the process, the patient would necessarily gain a heightened capacity for empathy and become better equipped to assess others’ mental schema, capable of living a good social life, as well, and, in potential, as counselors or mediators, professional innovators, or community leaders.

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