Watch Now: George Wuerthner

Oregon didn’t get to recover from last year’s fire season before this year’s started.

Among other things, the early start to this summer’s season kicked a major controversy down the road: what to do with Oregon’s forests that were reduced to ashes last year.

Last spring, Oregon Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service started several logging operations to remove “hazard trees” in burned areas. Critics have called those operations overly aggressive, and in some cases, likely to increase fire risk.

Of those critics, George Wuerthner is one of the staunchest. The Bend-based author has written several books about fire ecology, including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. Recently, he penned an op-ed for Eugene’s Register-Guard about what the Forest Service gets wrong about post-fire recovery.

Mainly, they’re too focused on cutting down trees.

“What burns in a forest fire isn’t big trees,” Wuerthner tells WW. “It’s the fine fuels like grasses and shrubs and small trees, which are enhanced by [clear-cutting].”

This year’s large fire have been stoked by unusually hot, dry weather and strong winds. According to Wuerthner, Oregon’s only hope of preventing massive fires is dealing with climate crisis. And in the short term, out best bet is just to make our homes and communities, rather than our forests, more fire resilient.

“Right now, we’re planning to spend billions of dollars logging the forest under the presumption that that will reduce fires, whereas if we spent that money burying power lines, it might be more effective,” he says. “The chance of a fire encountering one of those thinned areas is really low.”

WW talked to Wuethner about the effects logging has on forest recovery, and where Oregon’s fire abatement measures need to go from here.

“Surface water is what makes our area thrive.”
Kim McCarty says Oregon’s social safety net is unprepared to handle even a fraction of the 80,000 people who owe back rent.
“It’s almost diabolical, the makeup of this system. If meteorologists sat around and talked about how can we make the most extreme heat event in Portland, these are all the ingredients we would put in.”
“I don’t know what it’s like in Portland still, but as soon as we left, the pandemic was not existing at all.”
“Some folks at the Regional Arts & Culture Council had a good guess and were able to confirm the identity of the artist.”
The resolution cites the Indigenous people whose land the state currently occupies, as well as Oregon’s Black and Chinese exclusion laws.
On Thursday, the team was eliminated from the NBA playoffs on their home floor.
“Do you see me? Do you see only white people?”
According to Brad Pugh of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, the coming months will bring “little or no relief.”
MusicPortland intends to use half of its proposed budget from the city to start an artist grant.
While most of the business seems to be betting that concerts will return in late summer and early fall, longtime talent buyer Matt King is more hesitant.
Prolonged drought contributed to last year’s megafires, and the state hasn’t recovered from last year’s dry spell.
That fact emerged while discussing the renewal of a five-year tax levy to fund the work of historical preservation and display.
She raised the caps on the number of outdoor diners a business can host from 50 to 100 people.
Jeff McNamee knows a few tricks.
The agency plans on nearly tripling the Santiam Forest’s annual logging areas.
She describes a memorable afternoon, courtesy of Detective Erik Kammerer.
Current state guidelines would allow venues to reopen at half capacity when a county is designated as “low risk.” But the details aren’t totally unclear.
If passed, the bill would effectively end such sweeps.
Out of all the tough subjects he’s tackled in his career, “Hunger Ward” was the hardest to bear witness to.
Known as much for its social media presence as its world-beating chicken sandwich, the cart swiftly became one of the most popular in the city.
In other words, she asks that Congress create a guaranteed universal income for every child in America, regardless of what their parents do for a living.
Located in Northeast Oregon, the Blue Mountains Trail connects some of the state’s most jaw-dropping scenery.
City Forester Jenn Cairo talks about the biggest tree that the ice storm toppled.
The small downtown theater has welcomed back guests for three weeks, albeit at greatly diminished capacity—admittance for each screening room is capped at six.
Blistered Feet chronicles the trip through 100 photographs from the (literal) road, including makeshift campsites and abandoned towns.
Like many businesses that sell material goods rather than experiences, the Fossil Cartel garnered new interest.
Moments after Craig Mitchelldyer walked through the door on Feb. 12, the lights went out.
Portland-area parents and child welfare advocates warn that another spring away from classes could do untold harm to students.
Does this decision mean his career in politics is over?
“I actually stopped doing comedy for, like, eight months because I was under the assumption that when you bomb once, that’s your career.”
Samantha Vembu says teachers can't see how children are suffering on the other side of a screen.
According to Jennifer Hauge and Brian Posewitz of Stand Up to Factory Farms, Oregon hasn’t learned from the Lost Valley Farms incident.
An article in Forbes compared Portland to Pompeii. We asked an expert: How literal should we take that?
“I want to reassure the community that the U.S. Attorney’s Office takes these threats very seriously.”
The projects is still in the planning phase, but Jeremy Five Crows has high hopes.
Over time, the mural grew into a local and national symbol of the protests against the police killings of Black people that occurred across America last summer.
“Crying in H Mart” links Zauner's grief over the death of her mother with her love of Korean food and the isolation of growing up Korean American in a small, overwhelmingly white Oregon town.
Grant talks about her experience in the bubble, what to expect from her pop-up, and her opinions on the Portland food scene. And she answers the most obvious question: What is Carmelo Anthony's favorite thing to eat?
“This was just a virus. That’s what they told us. It’s just a virus.”
The company’s breakthrough game, “Illimat,” a collaboration with the Decemberists, was a huge hit.
To halt the virus, Oregon will need to vaccinate all but a few adults, even as many hesitate.
A few weeks ago, a team drove from Portland to Eugene, armed with vegetable sticks to lure the hundreds of tiny animals into transport cages.
The designs on the holiday masks ranged from 3D felt trees to a fluffy Santa beard with a gingerbread cookie hanging from the mouth.
Never before was this city as open to new voices and direction as when the old systems had so publicly failed.
To start his 13th year covering the team, Holdahl accidentally locked himself in a stairwell at Moda Center: “It gives you a sense of how different things are than they were eight months ago.”
During the pandemic, Lord has also become something of a health and safety ambassador for out-of-town productions.
Growing up in Northern California, Erin Yanke confronted neo-Nazism in her own scene, and she remembers being deeply shaken by the killing of Mulugeta Seraw in Portland by racist skinheads, even from afar.
One result of the large turnout? More than half the people enrolled in the trial are people of color.
This year, she chartered the first Oregon chapter of the Alliance of Black Nurses. “That was in February,” she recalls, “before the world exploded.”
And the president-elect should return the favor.
Reuter avoided donning the red-and-white suit until three years ago. “When I put it on myself,” he says, “I honestly felt myself change.”
Dewayne talked to WW about what delayed the album, and going viral for having the cops called on him while buying cat food at Walgreens.
Like everything else, Willis has had to adjust to fit the reality of COVID-19—namely, by manufacturing 400 tiny cloth masks.
In March, those “third places” closed—and Workfrom lost 95% of its business.
Hayes was at a loss—until her children reported to her that the school district wasn’t supplying hand sanitizer for their bus ride.
Dr. Louis Picker will review safety data for any COVID-19 vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
After three decades of having his career running essentially on autopilot, he’s relishing having to scramble to make stuff happen again.
The result? A product that perfectly fits the shopping moment and Portland environmental ethics.
The 40-year-old cafe, built inside an old Craftsman home in the Buckman neighborhood, has long been an attraction beyond its menu of coffee drinks and elaborate desserts.
For many American families, pay-to-play sports leagues essentially bar kids from joining a team.
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled his farewell season, including his final show.
People stuck at home play a lot of board games. Mox Boarding House sells them.
Animal surgeon Katy Townsend says operating on a lion isn’t all that different from a house cat.
Owner Ezra Ace Caraeff is voluntarily shutting down for winter as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket. He can’t promise he’ll reopen.
He’s following up his graphic novel about the Mueller report with an educational children’s comic about fighting the coronavirus.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: an annual contest for Oregon students to build robots that complete tasks. But of course it’s more than that.
Itzel Chavez Gomez explains how you can help—and how you already are.
Why farm indoors? To save the planet, owner Ken Kaneko says.
“No one is wearing pants anymore because of Zoom, I'm convinced of it.”
The gluten-free cracker company experienced a boom over the summer.
Jennifer Nolfi says the prospects aren’t quite so bleak as they appear.
Kristi Balzer is making sure that no girl or trans youth is ever turned away from camp because they can’t afford it.
The zoo typically hosts up to 14,000 people a night walking amid the twinkling lights each holiday season.
Botanist hopes that the promised protest will prompt Salem to call a special session to make to-go cocktails legal before Thanksgiving. But if that doesn't happen, the stakes are high.
“I wanted to flip the script from me being uncomfortable in my environment to people having to think about and internalize their racial identity.”
The Wild is a technology platform that lets people collaborate in virtual reality.
Part of their task is to discourage would-be investors who see funding Black-run companies as philanthropy.
“It’s such an awful concept,” she says, “but yes—I think, frankly, that’s where we need to be right now.”
Other West Coast cities—Seattle and Los Angeles—persuaded voters to spend on projects with far more eye-popping price tags.
When someone reports one of the hundreds of strandings that happen each year in Oregon, it’s Rice who gets the call.
It all makes sense in hindsight.
Women found ways to keep boxing even when they couldn’t go to gyms, much less spar.
“I think the wave of innovation we’re going to see over the next couple years is going to be completely off the chain."
Plenty of us could use some reassurance this week.
That’s an unpalatable prescription. But Sidelinger, the state epidemiologist, points out that COVID is exploiting our love for each other.
Even with state-mandated reopening requirements in place, making an indoor space truly safe for employees and customers is a case-by-case process.
In Oregon, the adorable sea otter can only be found in captivity.
Nov. 1 marked the launch of Give!Guide, WW’s annual fundraising drive to benefit 174 Portland-area nonprofits.
With four days left until Election Day, 6 in 10 Multnomah County registered voters have returned their ballots.
No students were cursed in the taking of John Ott's medieval history class—that we know of.
Visiting an amusement park by yourself: That’s the dream. Running one without patrons? It’s a nightmare.
Precolonization, many Native American tribes mapped the land through stories, ceremonies and song. Now, the United States’ borders, and most of its state lines, bisect the ancestral lands of Indigenous tribes.
The contest will soon become the most expensive congressional race in Oregon history.
The newly formed Oregon Glacier Institute says we only have about a decade to stop the state's year-round slabs of snow from vanishing completely from our mountains—and if we don't, there’ll be dire consequences.
More than 18,500 news articles have featured Portland’s nightly protests and the resulting police brutality.
Dr. Shimi Sharief also says adults should reconsider their Halloween parties, too.
House parties, occurring against public health advice and despite the pleas of elected officials, are the most prominent symptom of a phenomenon called “pandemic fatigue.”
The documentary "Horror Noire" was part of the inspiration for the project.
Until this summer, Kristin Calhoun, director of public art for the Regional Arts & Culture Council, never had to remove a statue knocked down by Portland citizens. Now, it’s become an almost regular occurrence.
To say Bowler is optimistic about the future of Portland nightlife would be pushing it.
"The Blair Witch Project," the little movie about a documentary film crew lost in the woods he co-produced, both confused and traumatized filmgoers upon release in 1999.
It seems as if Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president's alleged entanglements with the Kremlin happened a century ago. But Duin argues its relevancy has not dulled.
Choo says she started speaking up about Trump’s health because the actions of the president’s doctors didn’t match their words.
The acclaimed restaurateur says the economic fallout of the pandemic is hitting downtown Portland differently than other parts of the city.
Could the president sow doubt about the validity of the election results by claiming mass voter fraud?
Keisling is among the architects of Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, which he championed as secretary of state more than two decades ago.
Daniel Mensher says the Santiam Canyon fires weren’t just a byproduct of climate change, a result of poor forest management, or an act of God.
We asked a criminal defense lawyer.
Multnomah sheriff Mike Reese has now donated $1,000 to Biden.
Photographer Aaron Wessling has been indulging a hobby he started a year before: growing humongous pumpkins.
What’s .gay? “It’s a domain, just like .com or .edu or .org, but way more fabulous,” says Logan Lynn.
Nguyen talks about the challenges of teaching through a screen, and the existential struggle of exercising during a pandemic.
Lee is one of four plaintiffs who on Sept. 25 sued Alan Swinney and two other Proud Boy associates.
The Proud Boys are rallying in North Portland and vowing revenge on anti-fascist protesters.
Federal aid doesn’t cover many of the people who need help.
The Portland artist is keeping monster season alive by populating his lawn with a wooden menagerie of cryptids, from Bigfoot to the Jackalope to something called a Squonk.
Veterinarians like Kate Schoenhals have been treating horses, llamas, cows, rabbits and even a couple of emus displaced by the Oregon wildfires.
Today’s episode of Distant Voices is up close. 
The city’s top reason for issuing the ban: The software is racist.
The immense wildfires consuming Oregon’s Cascade Range this September are fueled in part by pristine Douglas fir forests that haven’t been touched by fire in decades.
TBA organizers Erin Boberg and Kristan Kennedy discuss the logistics of putting on a festival in a time of multiple crises.
Nearly the entire state is experiencing historically bad air quality. But Tom Roick of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality says it’s part of a pattern.
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"The Dark Divide,” the director’s new film, is arriving at an unfortunately timely moment—it could even be called prophetic.
Steve Pedery says that raises urgent questions about how Oregon manages the forests around its cities.
He voted to eliminate the bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team. Here, he explains why it was the right decision.
This state has rarely seen a wind event like the one that occurred Sept. 7.
By 7 am this morning, the Urban Forestry Division's tree emergency hotline had already received about 45 calls for help. By 2 pm, it had received 218.
Karabaic's radio show, "Oh My Dollar!," began with the goal of making personal finance more accessible to the average millennial. The pandemic reinvigorated that aim—and gave her a lot more to think about.
The executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center explains why he wants the mayor to resign, and what he and others mean when they say Portland is under the thumb of a “rogue police force.”
"Portland has become a proxy for a reelection campaign, and for alt-right and white nationalist paramilitaries and vigilantes who want to live out their fantasy of racial war."
“Are you tired of white supremacy? Bitch, welcome to the club.”
Kuske makes a convincing spokesperson for legalizing psilocybin therapy—mostly because he doesn’t fit the profile of someone who'd find relief from trauma in hallucinogenic mushrooms.
In 2010, Webley, a native of Northeast Portland, cast Boseman in his debut feature, “The Kill Hole,” about an Iraq war veteran who goes AWOL in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.
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If Measure 109 passes, it would make Oregon the first state to sanction psilocybin therapy.
This week, Steve Herring joined 10 other independent theater owners across Oregon in signing a petition arguing for Gov. Kate Brown to allow cinemas to open in counties still in Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan.
Daniel Cortez is legislative director for the Portland local of the American Postal Workers Union. That’s a branch of organized labor that’s gotten plenty of attention lately.
Working with a director like Cole Bennett is a career-defining moment for an artist who’s just getting his start. But for the 18-year-old rapper, the achievement is mostly personal.
So many people donate to the Low Bar Chorale they can pay the backing musicians the fee they would make playing live.
With galleries closed or only open in a limited sense, Galluzzo has been dealing with Instagram censorship and the lack of real-time, artist-to-audience interaction.
Xander Almeida is a Republican, but he arrived in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The lack of spending options in an antisocial era led to a rise in people paying off personal debt and a drop in bankruptcy filings.
When Boquiren takes his ride out, he's not huffing on flaming bagpipes, or otherwise performing for the amusement of others. He's training.
The success of “Bitter Root”—an indie comic about a family of monster hunters set during the Harlem Renaissance—has been something of a surprise, especially since Walker never intended for the series to win everyone over.
Of course, many questions remain about the Blazers as a whole. But ask Quick, and there’s not much left to say about Lillard.
Aanen Trelstad owns two coin-operated laundromats and he struggles to find enough quarters to keep them running.
Consumer spending, which flatlined in March, has rebounded, but in new and unexpected shapes.
The pediatrician and Democratic nominee for House District 36 on Portland’s westside wants bars closed and schools open.
Dubbed “the No Drama Llama," the camelid was meant to act as a calming presence for demonstrators in the midst of a tense situation.
The director talks crashing, the challenges of directing and biking at the same time, and what she listened to in order to make it up the ride’s biggest climb.
Oregon doctors seek a full-court press against the virus. They want Gov. Kate Brown to follow the same strategy she’s used to control COVID’s spread but intensify it.
“I think in American Western culture, the separation from your parents is an achievement,” Valderrama says. “In our culture, it's almost the exact opposite.”
The affluent Portland suburb has a long history of racist incidents, which prompted Poinsette’s mother to co-found the community action group Respond to Racism in 2017.
"All I know is one hell of a boom," he recalls.
So far, the projects range from rebuilding a porch for a recently unemployed grandmother to overhauling the interior of a house in Lents and providing the family with a new fridge.
For fans of his work, it might sound like Bors is living out the ultimate liberal fantasy of fleeing America’s death spiral for the land of maple trees and single-payer health care up north. But his reasons for leaving are much more practical.
Peter Walters says residents of Pendleton think the outbreak is more of a Hermiston thing.
Though much of his work vibrates with rage, he’s found equal inspiration in the community that’s formed around the demonstrations.
The lawyers discuss whether they get discouraged by how little regard federal agents pay to court rulings while defending the courthouse.
Last week's Frontline Drumline was hardly the first time Christian Burke has danced between clouds of tear gas.
We asked him: Is there a place for white Portlanders in the streets? He answered, with one precise example.
The founder and namesake of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider was hit with federal crowd control munitions at point-blank range. He promises they’ll both be back.
He’s become the national media’s go-to contact for palindromic content.
He doubts a restraining order is actually restraining anybody.
"You don't actually help anyone. You just stand there and enable the system to go around you.”
Brunberg considers the funding from the CARES Act a life-saver. But for many arts venues, the future remains uncertain.
Unsettling Toys mostly started as a goof. But it didn’t take long for the public to take it seriously.
The head of the Oregon Historical Society weighs in on the renaming of schools, the removal of monuments, and the Oregon historical figure who has an entire county named after him, and probably shouldn't.
An uprising in the streets demands deep change to many institutions—and Arteaga believes that must include schools.
The results can be catastrophic, leaving patients with limited speech and motor function.
While many comics are just now waking up to social justice issues, it’s been part of Miller's act since she started—sometimes to the detriment of her career.
“To be honest, we’re right back where we started,” he says.
For the past few months, much of the Chanti Darling frontperson's public-facing creative output has come in the form of recipes for zesty pesto pasta salad, pear and mandarin chutney, and cactus and chickpea tacos.
She’s been studying the effects of COVID-19 on children’s health—and its effects on others more vulnerable to the disease.
“When you have masses of people who are enraged due to historic brutality, oppression, hate, terror, you’re going to see things breaking, you’re going to see things burning.”
She’s just started doing outbound sessions again—clients must fill out a waiver and submit to no-touch temperature checks, and certain “cuddle poses” are now off limits.
It isn’t every day the Oregon Court of Appeals affirms your right to identify as who you are.
When it launched in January, the organization’s focus was on entrepreneurship. With the onset of COVID-19, feeding those in need jumped to the top of its priority list.
He had a bad feeling four months ago. He’s got the same feeling now.
A few weeks ago, a left-leaning film company asked if it could use a 2-year-old song by him in an anti-Trump ad. Now his inbox is flooding with offers from agents and bookers.
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Two weeks ago, a friend asked her if she wanted to move to Oaxaca. She said, “Why not?”
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The Old Gold’s reopening was a logistical feat.
She now finds herself running Meyer at a pivotal and complicated moment.
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“History is rife with instances where things that were owed to us were taken.”
Do you feel like you live in “New Portland,” a place that’s long on artisanal doughnut shops and short on parking? Well, Warren Pash wrote a song you might like—and another you might recognize.
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The pressures that generated the idea have only increased.
The former Blazer is concerned that bringing basketball back now might distract the public from what’s happening in America's streets.
This city’s veteran civil rights leader sees little progress for black citizens.
Even though he’s literally written a book about broaching complex issues with children, that doesn't mean it’s been easy for Memory to explain to his own kids the realities of police brutality.
Interim CEO Beth deHamel is concerned about the impact of the virus in places like Central America, Afghanistan and refugee camps.
The local restaurants that make Portland a foodie destination? Likely to close by the thousands.
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For five consecutive nights, he’s been at the front lines. If he’s lucky, he gets four hours of sleep a night.
“It was like being under surveillance in my apartment for five hours.”
Each movie is full of strange, striking images and strays far from Hollywood's readymade narrative structures and tidy resolutions—and none of them are on major streaming services.
His ranks are growing during the pandemic.
“Y’all backwards, scavengers/Buying up all the tissue going batshit/Diarrhea ain't even one of the symptoms/Why the fuck you buying that shit?”
They were as precious to him as personal protective equipment was for nurses.
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He underestimated the appeal of Mingus Mapps, the political newcomer who sped past former Mayor Sam Adams to make a runoff against Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
She authored an historically bleak jobs report.
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The technology and tools to diagnose and monitor clinical health remotely have been around for some time. What’s been missing are a couple of things.
She also found a wall where she can practice her shot.
It was a bombshell in the typically go-along, get-along world of party politics in Oregon.
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Julia Niiro is on a mission to save family farms.
"Everyone’s just gotten a slap of reality. Our overprivileged society is suddenly, vastly going to change. I think our art is going to reflect that.”
Kate Sokoloff knows she has it good, while others have it very bad.
Most of her life, McKenna Dempsey has battled depression, anxiety and severe mood instability. A single conversation changed her understanding of herself—and she wants to use tech to impart that idea to teenagers.
Peter Graven built a model to see what would happen if the state took no social distancing precautions.
His analysis flies in the face of high-profile protests demanding a quick return to normal.
His biggest mistake of quarantine, though? Joining TikTok.
“I can’t think of what can be more essential and timely than accessing an abortion.”
Berge co-founded Help Make [Better] 50, a nonprofit dedicated to producing medical isolation gowns—a significantly more involved process than facial coverings.
Jake Silberman quit his job to go on a comedy tour. Joke’s on him.
“I struggled to walk from my bathroom to my kitchen, and that is probably 15 feet,” says Marchelle Watson.
Of course, we couldn’t interview him and not have him read us a story.
“I’m not sure I want to give blood to get on an airplane.”
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The point isn’t to watch famous guests like Michael Rapaport and Ricki Lake get stoned out of their gourds—not the whole point, anyway.
When you toss your ballot in the mailbox next month without hunting for a postage stamp, thank Samantha Gladu.
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Tim Duy doesn’t see any scenario in which the effects of COVID-19 aren’t worse than the Great Recession.
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It’s an awkward time to make a living talking about sex when physical contact is practically against the law. But for that reason, Gretchen Leigh’s job could be considered essential.
In the short term? It doesn’t look great. But eventually, she says, Oregonians could benefit from upheaval.
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Suvada wrote the first Mortal Coil book in 2017, when few people outside of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knew what a coronavirus was.
Quarantine gave him time to ponder what common household items could be converted into facial protection without any cutting or sewing.
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