The Reliable Source Live

May 15, 2013

Washington Post columnists Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts were online Wednesday, May 15, at noon ET to discuss your favorite gossip, celebrity sightings and their recent columns.

Past Reliable Source chats

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Reliable Source web chat. Much to discuss.

Angelina Jolie surprises the world — and galvanizes the cancer advocacy community — by announcing her preventive double mastectomy.


“Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie announces her engagement to the Beltway’s own Mike Feldman, who promptly gets hazed by Kathie Lee and Hoda.


The two sexiest people in America, Alex Trebek and Susan Lucci, came to the Smithsonian to donate daytime TV artifacts to the Smithsonian.


Prince Harry breezes through Washington, as do his distant cousins, the Swedish royals.


Another McDonnell family wedding, this one much more quiet. And preparations for RGIII’s wedding get underway.


So many sightings: Amanda Knox; Val Kilmer, Wynonna Judd — and Chris Evans and ScarJo filming on the Mall.


Finally, won’t you help Newt Gingrich find a better name for this thing you call the cellphone?


Looking forward to your questions.

but that's what it means being a Caps fan - watching them excel in the regular season and fall apart in the play-offs. Anyway, one of my sorority sisters from Pittsburgh sent me this joke: Sidney Crosby walks into a bar and orders an Ovechkin. "What's that," asks the bartender. Crosby replies, "A white Russian with no ice and no cup."

Ouch. But funny.

Has he cut that ugly hair? Or do you just have old photos?

We have old photos, I'm afraid. However, Kilmer helpfully tweeted some images of his current hair situation.

"New hair do for my new job as lobbyist"

And here: "Better hair."

You can decide.

was appalled, but guess I shouldn't have been, by some of the crass comments on the boards after her op-ed (thanks for summarizing it in RC gals!). What a tough decision, and good for her that she got it out there and can (hopefully) move on.

There are crass comments everywhere these days. Best advice: Don't read the comments.

What' happening with the Today show? It used to be fairly informative. Now it's not even close There are a few "news stories and more fluff, stupid gimmicks and idiotic promotions. It must have something to do with poor ratinggs.

I don't know. I watched for years and still turn on some mornings by habit, but it's dumbed down so much I can barely watch. I don't mind feature stories in the mix, but the smart is gone. It's one thing to target women; it's another to assume we're only interested in cooking, diets and shopping.

Remind me again -- he he the one that looks like Charles or is he the one that looks like the guy Diana had an affair with?

Aw. Last week, I thought the consensus of the chatters is that he's looking very Windsor lately. But, you know, in a good way.

Poor, irrelevant Newt....they're called smartphones, dear.

Wow, did you coin that? That's good!

As a breast cancer survivor, I want to sa that I appreciated Ms Jolie's column for its well reasoned and gracious discussion of the difficult decision she chose given her risk factors. It was thoughtful and brave to share this personal story and raise awareness about genetic testing for those with a strong family history or other risk factors. It was also good that she took control of releasing the information herself, rather than letting tabloids ferret it out with a salacious spin. Bravo Angelina!

Thanks for your thoughts.

from a journalist's perspective, how you see the AP phone records story. I'd like to know, honestly.

I'll let the rest of you weigh in. I honestly have not had enough time in the past couple days to do a deep reading on this.

He was in the Delta terminal at DCA on Friday afternoon. Button down shirt, "blue jeans" as he'd say, and fluorescent/lime green sneakers. He looks like a billion bucks, even dressed down. He was traveling by himself and no one approached him for a while. Then a couple people said hello and one took a picture with him. He was friendly and cracked a joke about running for president, but I think he wanted to be alone because he said something about a long line (presumably that he had to go get into one) and he left.

Nicely observed, thanks.

Good thing you ladies don't work for the AP - we can't have celebrity sources scared off by Big Brother. No news = no chat and no column.

Well, if it happened to them, it could happen to any of us, right?

OK, so I'm going to be the negative Nellie here and just point out that 1) Women with a close family history of breast cancer are often well aware of that fact and hypervigilant in screening (unless they're in denial). Many don't need Angelina to point that out to them. 2) While Angelina did have a double mastectomy, she also had highly-successful reconstructive surgery. So it is probably relatively easy for her to still feel "feminine" etc as she says because she now has fake boobs - which are extremely common in society, especially in Hollywood. It's not really the same thing as a woman - like my mom - who has a flat, scarred chest from her mastectomies or a woman who has one breast because she had a single mastectomy. For many women, reconstructive surgery isn't an option, even today, and it doesn't always work. Finally, it's *very* offensive to me that Angelina writes how happy she is that her body doesn't "scare" her kids. I saw my mom's scars as a child and while I was curious, I didn't find my mom scary or off-putting. I was glad she was okay. Bah- I didn't realize how mad Angelina's "courageous" admission made me feel until I started writing this.

Listen, I think any A-list celebrity is going to get tons of press when writing something like this and anything they do to help women facing breast cancer is all to the good. But -- as you point out -- there is always the problem of rich movie stars forgetting that most people don't have the resources they do. What will be interesting to watch is whether Jolie throws her celebrity into raising funds for women who can't afford the surgery or reconstruction.

Don't they look inept, having spent the last few months speculating on whether Jolie and Pitt were getting wed momentarily when she was instead having a very intense series of medical procedures carried out?

That kind of speculation will always be going on. I'm more impressed by the fact that Jolie and Pitt were able to keep this so quiet. It suggests that, for all the reporting about them, the tabloids are not very deeply sourced in their camp.

Three weeks ago I had a double mastectomy for breast cancer. (Before Angelina made it cool.) Yesterday I was flooded with mixed emotions as I read her story. It will help de-stigmatize mastectomies, which is a plus. But I envy her...she was able to release the story on her own terms, when her breasts had been surgically restored. Meanwhile, I returned to work yesterday minus my breasts, which will be restored over the coming months. Thank God I'm not 25 any more, but it was rough to walk back into work looking very different then when I left and I wish I could have had the luxury of a delayed announcement. Still, more power to her.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Points well taken.

Bryce and RGIII need to stop throwing themselves at walls and other hard objects in pursuit of a ball - they won't have functioning bodies or lengthy careers if they keep this up.

It's so scary what happens to the athlete body. Sally Jenkins and Rick Maese had a compelling story on this, from the perspective of retired NFL players.

Seth Meyers leaving--meh. Bill Hader leaving--OH.NOES. Who will carry on his cheeky brand of comedy?

He is easily my favorite on that show currently.

Sorry Jennifer Aniston -- game, set, match -- Angelina wins.


I always thought he was a very talented guy, and seemed like he would have been an entertaining governor -- it is a shame he sort of dropped off the map at one point. Here's hoping he hangs out around DC more.

I endorse that suggestion. He was here a lot three years ago while mulling a bigger step into politics. Seems like he's financially secure and has a lot of time on his hands. Why not?

It has been months since those ads in the Super Bowl rocked my world. For the love of god, when is that movie coming out?

Just nine more days. I'm worried I might die before then.

I was floored that Jeanine McDonnell put a bed on her bridal registry. Who does that, or am I behind the times? The request for a set of pots and pans is funny considering the family scandal.

Yeah, that was kind of weird. I assume they just bought a house or moved in togther and are starting fresh --- which means they need everything. Chatters, did any of you put furniture on your wish list?

Status of the poor little guy?

I think German customs set Friday as his deadline for taking action. But let's face it: We all know this is an abandoned monkey.

Since the late 70s, I have watched it when Pat was on and during the presidential campaigns only. It astonishes me that this show persists in its horrifically unfunny, un-groundbreaking state

Oh, it's fine. It's about as funny as it ever was. We alwasy remember the old days as being flawlessly funny, but they were patchy and inconsistent too.

With Hader and Meyers leaving, the only thing they could do to further ensure I will never watch that show again is bring back Will Farrell.

You really have a problem with Farrell, don't you? Want to discuss?

The news has not communicated this, but here is federal law when a woman has a mastectomy, health insurance must pay for reconstruction surgery. I believe this also goes for Medicaid. There are some cases in which reconstruction is not possible for medical reasons, but that is rare these days. (Not so when my mother had hers 25 years ago.) Almost everyone who has a mastectomy can have reconstruction today. While insurance co-payments apply, the service itself is covered by law.

I didn't know that.

But he sure isn't Ice Man quality anymore.

Well, who is?

What if an event like the Boston Marathon bombing could've been prevented that way? Kinda ironic -- some of the politicians blaming the administration for failing to detect it beforehand are the same ones now demagogically condemning the administration of the AP phone records story. Guess they're trying to have it both ways.

That's the constant balancing act: protecting citizens and freedoms. Every administration wants it both ways.

The NY Daily News and People are now reporting that she will have her ovaries removed also. The survival rate for ovarian cancer is very low relative to a lot of other common cancers because it is very hard to detect and there are no good screening techniques similar to mammography. In some ways, this is a bigger deal for her - you can easily have biological children after a preventive double mastectomy, but once the ovaries are removed, the body goes into menopause very quickly. It also makes additional biological children much more complicated. She would have to undergo fertility treatments, and either freeze her harvested eggs, or use harvested eggs to create embryos, which can be implanted or frozen and implanted later. At 37, she's probably nowhere near menopause, but with her mother's early death from ovarian cancer, this is a wise step to take.

People reports that Jolie is now preparing for ovarian surgery -- which she sort of implied might be her next step in her Times op-ed. . . . Of course, we don't know her family plans, but it's possible that with six kids in rapid succession, she's already done with having more.

Did Alex Trebek donate his mustache to the Smithsonian?

He must have, because he's sure not wearing it anymore.

I thought there was talk of having a Top Gun sequel

Seems to have fallen apart since Tony Scott's death.

Congrats to Savannah. Here is hoping the wedding will take place before she gets replaced on the Today show

Then she should elope to Vegas. The show is in trouble and they want to fix it before the Winter Olympics next year -- so only a few months out.

I have to say that the first thing that popped into my head when I read Angelina Jolie's story was that she was so very lucky that she didn't have to worry about whether she would have sufficient sick leave to cover her absences from work, whether her insurance would cover the reconstructive surgery, whether she could afford the genetic testing, and whether she could afford to pay for household help while she recuperating. She had the luxury of focusing only on recuperation. I hope that she creates a foundation to assist less wealthy women with the very considerable expenses associated with this kind of surgery. That would be a great testament to her and her mother.

In her Times op-ed, she acknowledged that her circumstances are different than those of many women, and that she'd like to see the very expensive genetic screening made more accessible to more people. How exactly you do that, I'm not sure.

I like to sit on a sofa and gab with people in a nonsensical way that perhaps only I find entertaining. Where should I drop off my Today Show resume?

I say just join the crowd outside the studio and hold up a big sign: "Will work for millions."

These website and twitter feeds talking about how dreamy the Boston Marathon Bomber is and how he must be innocent because he's SO CUTE. Teenage girls are a menace!

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I am always shocked when kids are shocked --shocked --that their random musings can come back to haunt years later.

Well, even if she can't give birth to another child, they could always consider adoption.

Three of the six kids are adopted, so that's always been an option for them. But six is already a lot.

Take a breath. This is one woman's journey through breast cancer. Your mother had another. Please DON"T bash. It is not constructive. How would you feel if your mother had told her story and people belittled her "good fortune" to have doctors available to perform the surgery - something many parts of the world don't have. And don't diminish the fact that the news was going to get out one way or another; her story, her timing. Good on her.

This is obviously a very sensitive and emotional topic, all the more so if you have a personal history with cancer, and different people are going to react differently. I know some cancer survivors who were moved to tears by Jolie's announcement. As to the earlier chatter's assertion that people with a family history are already aware and don't need a celebvocate to warn them -- I discussed this with Karen Kramer of FORCE, asking the same question. And she argued that, in fact, while some families are aware of this, many are not -- in part because the candor and awareness about cancer is a relatively new thing; it was much less discussed two generations ago, so many people are in fact oblivious about what exactly killed their grandmother, etc. And if something like this gets them wondering, well, that's all for the good. Thought that was an interesting point.

Roxanne: Is Carl ok? We worry. Especially when Peter says he's "under the weather." But what a bonus: Bill Kurtis channeling Barry White!

Carl says he's fine, no big deal, so I'll take his word for it. But yes -- Bill was outstanding.

No, the Smithsonian didn't get it. I did. And as a woman that sucks. Okay, kidding...


Do you know what I think would be awesome: if John Stewart replaced Alex Trebek (who I understand they are doing a long no-set-time replacement search for).

Bleh. NO ONE can replace Trebek.

I had the same surgery as Angelina for the same reason (well, I have BRCA2, but whatevs) and I am mostly impressed that she kept it a secret for so long. My recovery after the initial mastectomy was a solid three weeks -- I was flat on my a**. That fourth week off from work was needed so I could figure out how to walk to the store and back by myself. (Side note: Angelina probably had the best plastic surgeon in the world and this isn't something she is facing, but my fake boobs are quite uncomfortable. I hate them. I'd probably make the same decision but seriously, I hate these plastic boobs.)

Thanks for sharing. I'm sorry about the plastic boobs. There are just so many angles to this issue, aren't there?

Perhaps NBC should put Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers on the sofa for the Today show? It wouldn't be any more of a train wreck than what they're peddling now.

THAT  I would watch... for a few days. What I really want is more news in the morning, which is why I'm flipping to cable more an d more.

Thoughts on Jack Bauer's comeback? Wasn't there already a season where Jack had to fight against cancelation and sinking ratings as terrorists tried to blow up Union Station (it was largely unsuccessful because the bomb was actually on an LA subway train, making damage to Union Station tough)

I can't remember -- was Jack dead at the end of the series? Not that that's a problem -- they were always bringing people back from the dead -- but I just want to keep this straight. I'm good with whatever they plan on, as long as Tony Almeida is in it.

"Three of the six kids are adopted, so that's always been an option for them. But six is already a lot." Ask Mia Farrow if she agrees.

She probably won't -- which is fine. Six seems like a lot to me, but I come from a small family.

Sorry. I forgot to add the emoticon for sarcasm. But I do wish her and her family well.

What is that emoticon anyway?

I think OP's comment was mean to be ironic ....


Please tell me that Myers and Hader leaving doesn't mean that Fred Armisen is going to get more airtime.

Those of you who complain so much about SNL sure do seem to watch enough of it to have some strong opinions. You're like our commenters that way.

So she played shows Saturday and Sunday -- no sightings/ideas how she spent her time in our lovely nation's capital?

Didn't hear a peep about her out on the town. Room service, I'm guessing.

That is such a sad little phrase.

Someone (alleged, probably incorrectly, to be Ernest Hemingway) once said that the saddest six-word novel would be: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." I'd like to see you top that, using the phrase "abandoned monkey."


That is very sad that teenage girls are finding him attractive after he committed such a heinous crime. What is even sadder is that he will probably develop some sick female admirers who will write/visit him in jail. Isn't there a high rate of notorious killers getting married in jail?

I don't know the statistics but there have been a few high-profile cases. Not my cup of tea.

Part of the reason for the expense of the genetic screening is that Myriad, a company in Utah, was allowed to patent the tests for the BRCA-1 and -2 mutations. Myriad is the only company that does the screening, as a result. This subject in general (the legality of patenting part of human biology) is the subject of a Supreme Court case this session.

Will be interesting to follow.

I'm hoping for Tom Bergeron. He's unflappable!

No, no, it's not right for Bergeron either. You have to understand: Trebek is THE MAN. He just owns the room. You'd need to get someone more Jim Vance-like to fill those shoes, but I doubt he'd be interested.

Health insurance pays for genetic screening for the BRCA genes when it is indicated by personal or family history. But most people have no need of those tests. For those with significant history it makes sense. But a negative result can make you complacent about breast checks and screenings (only 10% of breast cancer is genetic), and a positive one can scare the hell out of you. This isn't a test for everyone, and to test everyone would be a waste of health care resources when such testing costs over $3000.

Thanks for your thoughts.

or she should get married on the show and let all the viewers make the decisions...

Right? Why not? For next year's May sweeps?

Just wondered why we barely heard your voice this week. It seemed like they didn't ask you any question. Also, Charlie Pierce has the best laugh. that is all.

No, I got my share. Sometimes they edit out panelists' questions and spend more time with a Not My Job guest. No complaints from me. And Charlie has a great laugh.

What's the verdict -- great or not so great?

Haven't seen it. Seems like it would it would be a kitschy so-bad-it's-good kind of pleasure, at least.

I am not the guy who sent in the previous Will Ferrell remark but of all the SNL big stars I never got the Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell movie star thing. Sandler is not funny and Ferrell seems little more than quirky funny.

And yet: They are movie stars. If anyone can ever mange to crack that formula, you're a genius.

Ummm, it would still be unconstitutional. It never fails to amaze me that folks still want to trade my consitutional guaranteed right to privacy so they can feel safer about the 0.00000000001% chance that they'll be a victim of some perceived terrorist threat. Sorry folks, it doesn't work that way, And not to get cliched, but, if it did, then the terrorists have won.


Is there anything Jennifer could do to make this a fair competition again? This is becoming one of those Harlem Globetrotters v Washington Generals types of rivalries, but from a PR/public reaction standpoint.


Admittedly having not read the whole story, but my current thought is that it bothers me more that a judge granted the subpoena than it bothers me that Justice asked for it. That's why we have subpoenas and warrants--so another branch of government can say "No" when one tries to push the envelope too far. Our government is designed to protect the peoples' rights by being obstructive, not cooperative.

Good point.

Burger King is stealing the McRib???

You'd be surprised what people with cancer in their families don't know. On my father's side, I have lost close female relatives in three generations - we're one of those families that gets studied, partly because no one has the usual genetic mutations. For years - decades, actually - I thought I couldn't get ovarian cancer because it was on my father's side. I found out last year that I definitely can, with a nearly 50% chance of developing it. I had an elective oophorectomy (removal of ovaries.), Lucky for me, I'm over 50, so the questions of more kids and early menopause were not issues in my case. I don't know what I would have done had I known throughout my 20s, 30s and 40s that my ovaries were (potentially) ticking time bombs.

The interesting thing about technology is that allows us to know and do more -- which isn't always easy and presents a long list of challenges previous generations never had. But I don't think most people believe we were better off not knowing. 

And when you get to 19, you're crazy baby lady.

Crazy is a little harsh.

While I respect the decision Angelina Jolie made about her personal situation, I'm not at all sure why it merited a NY Times essay. As I understand it, the BRCA gene is not that common, so it wasn't like doing a PSA for standard cancer tactics such as regular self-exams. Seems like it wasn't really necessary for to make such a public splash about her personal choice?

I don't know -- how common does a disease have to be to merit raising some concern? Plus, breast cancer in general is quite common and there is such a wide range of strains and survival rates; if I had breast cancer, I'd be as eager to know if it's the kind that's more likely to kill me or the kind that's less likely to kill me. Did Angelina Jolie owe it to the world to talk about this? No. But she no doubt feels strongly about what she went through, and was no doubt aware that this news would get out eventually, and why not discuss it herself in some kind of positive way. In the meantime, here are some BRCA stats from the government.

I didnt get my invite to the RGIII wedding, it must have gotten lost in the mail

It's early yet.

When the show ended, was he a good or bad guy? I totally forgot.

Me too. Good, I think --but pretended to be bad for a while. Triple agent or something like that. 

You more concerned about the DOJ getting your phone records or Bloomberg News reporters knowing how often you log into your computer? I'm getting my different big brothers mixed up.

Let's just all get off the grid right now, shall we? I'm thinking about getting rid of my cable for this very reason. Electricity is next.

His new movie Star Trek: Into Darkness opens today. I wonder if he would be willing to play the Frumious Bandersnatch in Once Upon a Time Wonderland in the fall?

I always thought of the frumious Bandersnatch as more of a Michael Shannon type role, but you know, with the name in common, they got to consider it.

Someone with swagger. Hmmm, how about Richard Trumka?

You're just nostalgic for the return of a Jeopardy host mustache.

Being Jeopardy host requires a certain air of arrogance that gives the illusion you knew all the answers off the top of your head. If anyone has to replace Alex Trebek, I think Anthony Bourdain would be good choice.

Hmmm. Okay. I'm not convinced, but we'll let him try out.

When is it technically OK for me to wear white pants again? Is Memorial Day weekend, or do I have to wait until after Memorial Day is actually over? The last thing I want is to wear them Saturday -- so close to the line -- and then get laughed at.

Take a breath: Memorial weekend is not this coming weekend, it's the one after -- so you've got almost two weeks to get advice. I vote for the Friday before Memorial day, which kicks off the weekend festivities. And it's white shoes, not pants, which should be approached with caution every month of the year. 

One poster asked whether the Boston bombing could have been prevented by the government accessing the AP phone logs. But preventing terrorism wasn't the issue here; finding who had leaked information was, which is very, very different. If the government anti-terrorism agencies need to rely on AP phone logs to prevent death and mayhem, we are in much deeper trouble than we think. Personally, I agree with the 52 media organizations that have protested the sub poena to the White House.

Thanks for weighing in.

It was never a fair competition. Aniston has always clearly been the underdog. I don't like Angelina, but she's definitely striking. I've never understood why people find Jennifer's mousy-brown looks attractive. Acceptable, like a regular woman, but nothing special. She'll have to actually battle some dreaded disease or undergo a horrific tragedy to come out on top. And really, does anyone want that? Let it go, people.

Let's just hope the tabloids are wrong and Jennifer finds wedding bliss with what's-his-name.

Maybe Jack Bauer can come back in time to find the mole in Scandal?

I think you're referring to one of those "plot lines" in Scandal I'm supposed to be paying attention to instead of the pretty coats and the inert Tony Goldwyn line readings and the cheap green screens of the White House.  I know, I know, everyone watches for different reasons.

It means that any celebrity can maintain some semblance of privacy if they really want to. Hats off to her, and I've never been a huge fan of hers before.

Seriously, this is one of the aspects of the story that fascinates me the most.

SARCASTIC not ironic (my pet peeve!)


Bill Kurtis?

I'm not realy familiar enough with his work. Also, he's about the same age as Trebek.

I'm actually streaming the old 24 shows on Netflix. I get such a huge kick of seeing Jack and company save everyone from nukes and terrorists using huge cell phones with fixed antennas and Palm Pilots. I actually had to explain to my nephew what a Palm Pilot was.

Oh, that's great. I should go back and watch season one for that reason.

I'll take Famous Vodkas for 600, Alex!


He's OK, but he's no Art Fleming.

He did have a mesmerizing gravitas.

I'm betting Anderson Cooper gets the job. He has the time now that his daytime show has been replaced. And he can do the all-knowing quizzmaster schtick. He was the best part about The Mole.

Hmmm. We'll see. I might be able to get on board with this. The best option, of course, is a 10-year contract extension for Trebek.

Do the panelists write their own "Stump" pieces, where two are fake news stories? Or does the staff write at least the basics for you?

The panelists write their own bluff stories. One of us randomly assigned the real news story and asked to write it up; the other two see the real story and have to come up with something in the same wheelhouse that would be crazy enough to be on WWDTM. I personally think many of my fine fake business bluffs would have been real moneymakers. Investors?

Bill Clinton, but the answers will need to be a lot longer.

That's not a terrible idea.

My best friend and his wife, who were my foodie buddies, moved out of town last week. I have no interest in developing new "dining out" friends at this point in my life, so Tom Sietsema's chat is now irrelevant to me. I know you've always said it's not a contest, but, congrats, ladies, you win.

Well, we knew you'd come around finally. Sorry about the loss of your IRL friends.

How about a woman--say, Helen Mirren? Or Judi Dench? I could picture the way she'd look at you if you missed a question. And she was very imperious as M and Queen Elizabeth I!

How about Susan Lucci?

I lived through the 90s and still never understood what a Palm Pilot was. Any help?

I think it was like a BlackBerry without email or Web access.

It looks as though Prince Harry may be keeping his pants on during this visit. Why couldn't you score an interview with him?

Eh, who wants an interview with him if he's going to constantly keep his pants on?

I am a survivor. I had the screening for BRCHA 1 and 2 (home I spelled it correctly). My insurance covered the screening. Maybe because I'm a survivor or maybe because I am an Eastern European Jew and might get it. Cheaper for the insurance company if I don't need chemo someday.

Good to know.

[end chat]

And yet, Jack's cell phone never runs out of juice. He's just THAT  good.

Chatters, we are out of time: Must. Write. Column. Send your ideas, tips and sightings to Next week (but no white shoes yet.)  

Two words: Ricky Gervais


electronic calendar

I think Newt Gingrich would tell us that "Palm Pilot" was a misleading name, then.

Amy, what's an "IRL friend"?

"In Real Life."

Okay, now we're really done!

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