Iowa’s delegation works to improve communication systems for severe weather


IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH – All four of Iowa’s U.S. representatives supported bipartisan legislation this week to modernize the National Weather Service’s communication networks.

The weather bill passed the House Wednesday with bipartisan support. The communication network known as the National Weather Service’s Chat provides information to the general public, broadcast stations and emergency managers regarding severe weather events.

“In March, South Central Iowa saw the deadliest storm to hit our state in more than a decade,” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said in an email response to Iowa Capital Dispatch. “As these disasters happen, we must ensure the National Weather Service is properly equipped to support communities across the United States to prepare for dangerous storms which are about to occur. This bill will give the National Weather Service the ability to update their systems to help keep our communities safe.”

In March, there was a computer glitch in the National Weather Services warning system during a tornado in Winterset, Iowa. Rep. Cindy Axne said this highlighted the need for multiple, modern communication systems during severe weather. 

“This legislation has the potential to save lives and will bring us one step closer to preventing communication issues and ensuring Iowans have the information they need to protect themselves,” Axne said. “I appreciated working with Rep. (Randy) Feenstra and the rest of the Iowa delegation to support this common-sense and important legislation.”

Feenstra originally introduced the National Weather Service Communications Improvement Act, which unanimously passed the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“When I was elected to Congress, I promised that I would get things done for our families, farmers, small businesses, and thriving communities in Iowa,” Feenstra said. “My two bills that passed the House represent my commitment to finding solutions to the problems facing our state and nation.”

Feenstra also introduced a bill to create new qualification requirements for chief scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Chief scientists will have to enforce higher scientific integrity standards for the administration. The legislation also would require the United States president to accept recommendations from scientific organizations during the chief scientist selection process.


Oskaloosa–The William Penn football team will come into the fall as a darkhorse as the 2022 Heart of America Athletic Conference Coaches’ Polls were released Friday.

The Statesmen, who were 3-8 (2-3 North) last year, are picked to finish fourth in the North Division with 14 points.

Grand View is slated to earn its fourth-consecutive North crown with 25 points and five first-place votes.  Culver-Stockton follows closely behind with 21 points and the final first-place vote.

Peru State holds at third with 15 points, while Clarke (8) and Graceland (6) complete the North standings.

After losing its first South crown in five years, Baker is expected to return to the top with 24 points and four first-place nods.  Benedictine is right there as well with 22 points and the final two first-place ballots.

Defending South champion Central Methodist is next in third with 14 points, while Evangel (13) and MidAmerica Nazarene (12) are fourth and fifth, respectively.  Missouri Valley rounds out the standings with five points.

Champions from both divisions earn at automatic berth to the NAIA Football Championship Series which will begin on November 19.

William Penn’s 2022 campaign begins in Atchison, Kan. on August 27 against Benedictine.  The navy and gold open their home slate on September 3 against Baker, one of six games at Statesmen Community Stadium.  Homecoming is set for October 1 against Central Methodist, while Senior Day will be November 5 versus Clarke.

2022 Heart North Division Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(First Place Votes)
1. Grand View–25 (5)
2. Culver-Stockton–21 (1)
3. Peru State–15
4. William Penn–14
5. Clarke–8
6. Graceland–6

2022 Heart South Division Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(First Place Votes)
1. Baker–24 (4)
2. Benedictine–22 (2)
3. Central Methodist–14
4. Evangel–13
5. MidAmerica Nazarene–12
6. Missouri Valley–5

Farm Accident Claims Life of Rural Wapello County Man

On Friday, July 29th, 2022, at approximately 10:40 am, members of the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office and the Mahaska Health Ambulance Service were dispatched to a farm pasture located in the 3300 block of James Trail, in rural Mahaska County. This call was in reference to a possible farm accident. Upon Law Enforcement’s arrival, it was discovered that a family member of the victim was administering CPR to an adult male. Law Enforcement Officials took over the CPR and assisted the ambulance service with treatment of the victim for the next 20-plus minutes. This medical treatment proved fruitless, and the victim was declared deceased at the scene. The preliminary investigation into this death indicated that the victim had been accidentally run over by his own Dodge flatbed pickup, hauling a large round bale of hay, within this pasture. The victim was identified as GS-year-old Duane Charles Davis of rural Wapello County. Davis’ body has been taken to the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny, Iowa where an autopsy will be performed at a later time. The investigation into this incident is continuing. In addition to the members of the Mahaska Ambulance Service, the Sheriffs Office was assisted in this investigation by members of the Mahaska County Conservation Board and the Mahaska County Dispatch Center.

Russia and Ukraine trade blame for shelling of POW prison


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia and Ukraine accused each other Friday of shelling a prison in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine, an attack that reportedly killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war who were captured after the fall of a southern port city in May.

Russia said Ukraine’s military used U.S.-supplied multiple rocket launchers to strike the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic. Separatist authorities and Russian officials said the attack killed 53 Ukrainian POWs and wounded 75.

The Ukrainian military denied making any rocket or artillery strikes in Olenivka, and said it only aims for Russian military targets. It accused the Russians of shelling the prison to cover up the alleged torture and execution of Ukrainians there.

Neither claim could be independently verified.

The Russian claims are part of an “information war to accuse the Ukrainian armed forces of shelling civilian infrastructure and the population to cover up their own treacherous action,” Ukraine’s military said.

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the internationally unrecognized Donetsk republic, said the prison held 193 inmates. He didn’t specify how many of them were Ukrainian POWs.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson, Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, described the strike as a “bloody provocation” aimed at discouraging Ukrainian soldiers from surrendering. He said Ukraine used the precision High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to hit the prison and eight guards were wounded.

Ukrainian forces are fighting to hold on to the remaining territory under their control in Donetsk, which together with neighboring Luhansk province makes up Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region.

For several months of the war in Ukraine, Moscow has focused on trying to seize parts of the Donbas not already held by the separatists. Ukrainian authorities in the Donetsk region accused Russia on Friday of shelling civilian targets in Ukrainian-held areas.

“The fighting in the region has been intensifying by the day, and civilians must evacuate while it’s still possible,” Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said. “The Russian army doesn’t worry about civilian casualties. They are pummeling cities and villages in the region.”

Kyrylenko later said one person was killed and five injured in Russian rocket strike on the city of Kramatorsk on Friday.

The POWS at the Donetsk prison included troops captured during the fall of Mariupol. They spent months holed up with civilians at a giant steel mill in the southern port city. Their resistance during a relentless Russian bombardment became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance against Russia’s aggression.

More than 2,400 soldiers from the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian national guard and other military units gave up their fight and surrendered under orders from Ukraine’s military in May.

Scores of Ukrainian soldiers have been taken to prisons in Russian-controlled areas such as the Donetsk region, a breakaway area in eastern Ukraine which is run by Russian-backed separatist authorities. Some have returned to Ukraine as part of prisoner exchanges with Russia, but families of others have no idea whether their loved ones are alive, or if they will ever come home.

In other developments on Friday:

— President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited one of Ukraine’s main Black Sea ports a week after a deal was struck with Russia, Turkey and the United Nations to create safe corridors for ships to export grains that have been trapped in the country since the war began five months ago. Workers were seen preparing terminals for grain exports, which are relied on by millions of impoverished people worldwide facing hunger. Zelenskyy said the shipments would begin with the departure of several vessels that were loaded but could not depart Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

— The Ukrainian presidential office said that at least 13 civilians were killed and another 36 were wounded in Russian shelling over 24 hours. In the southern city of Mykolaiv, at least four people were killed and seven others were wounded when Russian shelling hit a bus stop. The Russian barrage also hit a facility for distribution of humanitarian assistance, where three people were wounded, officials said. Ukrainian officials also said at least four civilians were killed and another five were wounded in the eastern town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.

— An appeals court in Kyiv on Friday reduced to 15 years the life sentence of a Russian soldier convicted in the first war crimes trial since Russia invaded Ukraine. Critics had said the sentencing of Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was unduly harsh given that he confessed to the crime and expressed remorse. He pleaded guilty to killing a civilian and was convicted in May. His defense lawyer argued that Shishimarin shot a Ukrainian man on the orders of his superiors.


Follow the AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Pella Police Department to Host Citizens Public Safety Academy

The Pella Police Department announced that they will be hosting the Citizens Public Safety Academy beginning in September. The Citizens Public Safety Academy will incorporate components from the Pella Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Pella Community Ambulance. This class is free to attend and will be held on Wednesday evenings at 6pm beginning on September 7th. To register, or for more information, contact the Pella Police Department at 641-628-4921 or email Sergeant Shawn Veenstra at sveenstra@cityofpella.com.

Iowa High School Softball All-State Teams Announced

The Iowa high school softball all-state teams were announced yesterday, and here were the area athletes who made the cut:

1A First Team

Sigourney sophomore Carly Goodwin

Twin Cedars junior Rylee Dunkin

Twin Cedars senior Grace Bailey

Twin Cedars senior Ali Mockenhaupt

1A Second Team

Lynnville-Sully senior Reagan McFarland

North Mahaska senior Zoe Deucore

Sigourney freshman Josephine Moore

1A Third Team

English Valleys senior Gwen Mews

Twin Cedars sophomore Jillian French

1A Honorable Mentions

English Valleys sophomore Kennedy Axmear

Moravia junior Destiny Nathaniel

North Mahaska senior Morgan Hudson

Sigourney junior Courtney Hemsley

The 1A State Coach of the Year was Twin Cedars’ Zack Dunkin.

2A Second Team

Cardinal senior Caitlyn Reber

Pella Christian junior Emri Agre

2A Third Team

Cardinal sophomore Emma Becker

Pella Christian senior Natalie Harrill

2A Honorable Mentions

Cardinal sophomore Nicoa McClure

3A First Team

Albia sophomore Sydney Hoskins

3A Third Team

Albia junior Addy Halstead

PCM junior Riley Johannes

4A First Team

Knoxville junior Ashlyn Finarty

4A Second Team

Pella sophomore Ava Curry

5A Third Team

Ottumwa junior Ashlynn Sheets

Ottumwa senior Amber Shotts

Miller sues tobacco companies over $133 million in withheld payments

DES MOINES – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller accuses Philip Morris, USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and 16 other tobacco companies of defrauding Iowa of more than $133 million, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The lawsuit stems from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, which requires tobacco manufacturers to pay billions annually to participating states in exchange for the states agreeing not to sue for health-related damages to citizens. The motion, filed in Polk County District Court, alleges that the companies have withheld a portion of their annual payments to Iowa in bad faith and “through a scheme of false claims and feigned ignorance.”

The tobacco companies demand that Iowa must go to arbitration to recover each year’s withheld payment. It has taken years to litigate each dispute, creating a long backlog and a growing amount of withheld payments. Iowa has prevailed in every dispute, most recently in September 2021, but the companies still refused to pay the amount they withheld from Iowa.

“We have fought, and won, these legal battles for years, and there is no end to these disputes in sight,” Miller said. “We now must escalate the matter and force the tobacco companies to pay what they owe the state of Iowa.”

The lawsuit seeks to recover actual and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees and other costs. Under Iowa’s False Claims Act, the state seeks three times the amount of actual damages.

MSA brings in millions each year

In the last 24 years, Iowa has received $1.41 billion in payments under the Master Settlement Agreement. The agreement obligates each participating company to make a payment each year, subject to certain adjustments. Under Iowa law, tobacco companies selling in Iowa either must join the MSA or deposit a certain dollar amount per unit sold in an escrow account.

The continuing dispute is over the Non-Participating Manufacturer Adjustment, which allows tobacco companies participating in the Master Settlement Agreement to reduce their annual payments under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include having experienced a loss of market share to non-participating competitors, and showing that a state failed to “diligently enforce” state laws against tobacco companies that did not sign the MSA.

The defendants have repeatedly, and without evidence, alleged that Iowa has not diligently enforced its law. In September 2021, an arbitration panel ruled unanimously that Iowa had indeed “diligently enforced” its state laws.

Iowa has prevailed in arbitration over the withheld amounts for 2003 and 2004, but the victories took years. The 2003 dispute was arbitrated for seven years, and Iowa finally received the withheld portion that payment in 2014. The 2004 dispute was resolved in September 2021 but Iowa has not received the payment of approximately $7 million.

Each time, the arbitration cost the state approximately $3-4 million. The state is currently in arbitration for years 2005-2007.

‘Pay us what they owe us’

“Iowa and other states who signed on the MSA have lived up to their end of the bargain. It’s time tobacco companies do the same,” Miller said. “They should pay us what they owe us.”

The state of Montana filed a similar lawsuit against the tobacco companies in 2020 and reached a $100 million settlement later that year. The former Montana attorney general, Tim Fox, is assisting with Iowa’s lawsuit. In January, the Executive Council of Iowa approved the hiring of outside law firms to assist in the litigation against the tobacco companies.

The defendants in the lawsuit are:

Philip Morris USA; R.J. Reynolds; Commonwealth Brands, Inc.; Farmer’s Tobacco Company of Cynthiana, Inc.; ITG Brands, LLC; Japan Tobacco International USA, Inc.; King Maker Marketing, Inc.; Kretek International, Inc.; Liggett Group, LLC.; Peter Stokkebye Tobaksfabrik A/S; Premier Manufacturing Incorporated; Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc.; Scandinavian Tobacco Group Lane Ltd; Sherman 1400 Broadway N.Y.C., Inc.; Tabacalera del Este, S.A. (“TABESA”); Vector Tobacco Inc.; the Von Eicken Group; and Wind River Tobacco Company, LLC.

The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement was a significant public health achievement: It created restrictions on the advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes, including a ban on targeting children through advertising.  It also includes prohibitions on outdoor advertising of cigarettes and the advertising of cigarettes in public transit facilities, as well as the use of cigarette brand names on merchandise, and a host of other restrictions.

A recording of a press conference detailing today’s action can be found on the Iowa Attorney General’s Office website.

Kim threatens to use nukes amid tensions with US, S. Korea


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned he’s ready to use his nuclear weapons in potential military conflicts with the United States and South Korea, state media said Thursday, as he unleashed fiery rhetoric against rivals he says are pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war.

Kim’s speech to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War was apparently meant to boost internal unity in the impoverished country amid pandemic-related economic difficulties. While Kim has increasingly threatened his rivals with nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely that he would use them first against the superior militaries of the U.S. and its allies, observers say.

“Our armed forces are completely prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to mobilize its absolute power dutifully, exactly and swiftly in accordance with its mission,” Kim said in Wednesday’s speech, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

He accused the United States of “demonizing” North Korea to justify its hostile policies. Kim said regular U.S.-South Korea military drills that he claimed target the North highlight U.S. “double standards” and “gangster-like” aspects because it brands North Korea’s routine military activities — an apparent reference to its missile tests — as provocations or threats.

Kim also alleged the new South Korean government of President Yoon Suk Yeol is led by “confrontation maniacs” and “gangsters” who have gone further than previous South Korean conservative governments. Since taking office in May, the Yoon government has moved to strengthen Seoul’s military alliance with the United States and bolster its own capacity to neutralize North Korean nuclear threats including a preemptive strike capability.

“Talking about military action against our nation, which possesses absolute weapons that they fear the most, is preposterous and is very dangerous suicidal action,” Kim said. “Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our powerful strength and the Yoon Suk Yeol government and his military will be annihilated.”

South Korea expressed “deep regret” over Kim’s threat and said it maintains a readiness to cope with any provocation by North Korea in “a powerful, effective manner.”

In a statement read by spokesperson Kang In-sun, Yoon’s presidential national security office said South Korea will safeguard its national security and citizens’ safety based on a solid alliance with the United States. It urged North Korea to return to talks to take steps toward denuclearization.

Earlier Thursday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry repeated its earlier position that it’s been boosting its military capacity and joint defense posture with the United States to cope with escalating North Korean nuclear threats.

In April, Kim said North Korea could preemptively use nuclear weapons if threatened, saying they would “never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent.” Kim’s military has also test-launched nuclear-capable missiles that place both the U.S. mainland and South Korea within striking distance. U.S. and South Korean officials have repeatedly said in the past few months that North Korea is ready to conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

Kim is seeking greater public support as his country’s economy has been battered by pandemic-related border shutdowns, U.S.-led sanctions and his own mismanagement. In May, North Korea also admitted to its first COVID-19 outbreak, though the scale of illness and death is widely disputed in a country that lacks the modern medical capacity to handle it.

“Kim’s rhetoric inflates external threats to justify his militarily focused and economically struggling regime,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are in violation of international law, but Kim tries to depict his destabilizing arms buildup as a righteous effort at self-defense.”

Experts say North Korea will likely intensify its threats against the U.S. and South Korea as the allies prepare to expand summertime exercises. In recent years, the South Korean and U.S. militaries have canceled or downsized some of their regular exercises due to concerns about COVID-19 and to support now-stalled U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear program in return for economic and political benefits.

During Wednesday’s speech, Kim said his government recently set tasks to improve its military capability more speedily to respond to military pressure campaigns by its enemies, suggesting that he intends to go ahead with an expected nuclear test.

But Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said North Korea won’t likely conduct its nuclear test before China, its major ally and biggest aid benefactor, holds its Communist Party convention in the autumn. He said China worries that a North Korean nuclear test could give the United States a justification to boost its security partnerships with its allies that it could use to check Chinese influence in the region.

North Korea recently said it is moving to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak amid plummeting fever cases, but experts say it’s unclear if the country can lift its strict restrictions soon because it could face a viral resurgence later this year. During Wednesday’s event, Kim, veterans and others didn’t wear masks, state media photos showed. On Thursday, North Korea reported 11 fever cases, a huge drop from the peak of about 400,000 a day in May.

North Korea has rejected U.S. and South Korean offers for medical relief items. It has also said it won’t return to talks with the United States unless it first abandons its hostile polices on the North, in an apparent reference to U.S.-led sanctions and U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Invasive spotted lanternfly found in Dallas County


RADIO IOWA – An invasive bug that could threaten many of Iowa’s fruit crops and trees has been found in the state — but a top Iowa insect expert says there aren’t enough of them at this time to pose an immediate threat to Iowa’s agriculture.

State entomologist Robin Pruisner says a person found the first spotted lanternfly on a maple tree in Dallas County and the second a week later in the same area. Both were immature – black with white spots.

“We do not call what we’ve found so far in Dallas County and infestation,” she says. “it appears that we’ve got hitchhikers — not a reproducing population at this time.” The spotted lanternfly can jump from plant to plant and feed on sap. It leaves behind a sticky substance that can develop a sooty mold which blocks photosynthesis and can kill the plant.

Pruisner  says she’s disappointed the bug has been found here. ” The closest known infestations of spotted lanternfly are in the Indiana-Ohio area, so I didn’t expect them to make such a large jump into Iowa,’” she says. Spotted lanternflies can attach their egg masses on vehicles or firewood and hitch a ride for a long distance.

Pruisner is encouraging people to send photos to the Ag Department if they think they’ve seen the insect.

(By Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)



IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa linebackers Seth Benson (senior), Jack Campbell (senior) and Jestin Jacobs (junior) have been named to the Butkus Award preseason watch list.  Senior defensive back Riley Moss was named to the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award watch list.

Presented annually the Butkus Award goes to the nation’s most outstanding linebacker. Iowa is the only school with three linebackers selected. The Thorpe Award is awarded annually to the best defensive back in college football.

Benson (6-0, 232 pounds) was voted third-team All-Big Ten by Phil Steele last season and was named honorable mention all-conference by league media in addition to being an Academic All-Big Ten selection. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native was second on the team in tackles (105), notched a pair of sacks and registered an interception. He earned Iowa’s Team Hustle Award and Coaches Appreciation Award for special teams. Benson was a second team preseason All-Big Ten selection by Athlon Sports.

Campbell (6-5, 246 pounds) was a second-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Phil Steele in 2021. In addition, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was second in the Big Ten with 143 tackles – the fifth-most ever in a single season at Iowa. He earned Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors following a career-best performance with 18 tackles in Iowa’s 24-14 win over Colorado State. A native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Campbell was the recipient of Iowa’s Roy Carver Most Valuable Player (Defense) award last season and served as a permanent team captain. He has also been named to the Athlon Sports 2022 preseason All-Big Ten First Team, as well as being named a preseason first-team All-American by Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, and Sporting News.

Jacobs (6-4, 238 pounds) saw action in all 14 games for the Hawkeyes in 2021. He totaled 53 tackles and added an interception and forced fumble. Additionally, Jacobs had two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. The Englewood, Ohio, native earned Iowa’s Next Man In Award for defense.

Moss (6-1, 193 pounds) was a first-team All-America selection by Sporting News a season ago and was voted the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. Additionally, Moss was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by both league coaches and media. The Ankeny, Iowa, native was a recipient of Iowa’s Team Hustle Award and is second all-time at Iowa in career interception return yards (239). Moss is one of three players in program history with three interception return touchdowns. He has been named to the Athlon Sports 2022 preseason All-Big Ten First Team. Moss was selected to both the Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s preseason All-America First Teams.

Campbell was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award a season ago. Former Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell was a finalist for the Butkus Award in 2016 and a semifinalist in 2017.

Iowa’s Desmond King won the Thorpe Award in 2015 and was a semifinalist the following season. Josh Jackson was a finalist for the award in 2017. Moss was a semifinalist in 2021.

The Hawkeyes open the season with three straight nonconference home games, each featuring a different start time. The season-opener, Sept. 3, against South Dakota State is slated for an 11 a.m. (CT) kickoff. The annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game against Iowa State will follow on Sept. 10, with a 3 p.m. start time. Iowa’s final nonconference contest is an evening contest against Nevada beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Questions concerning the purchase of 2022 football tickets, including general public and UI faculty/staff, should be directed to the UI Athletics Ticket Office. UI student season tickets are sold out. Iowa’s games against Iowa State, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin are completely sold out. The office telephone number is 1-800-IA-HAWKS and ticket information is available at hawkeyesports.com/footballtickets.

All tickets to 2022 home games will be mobile. Fans may access tickets via the Hawkeye Sports App, a link via email, or account login at hawkeyesports.com/myaccount. These tickets are optimized for display on your smartphone device and should not be printed. Fans can review additional information on mobile tickets by visiting hawkeyesports.com/mobiletickets.


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