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Disease underlies Hatfield-McCoy feud
AP via Yahoo ^ | 4-5-07 | MARILYNN MARCHIONE

Posted on 04/05/2007 7:10:03 PM PDT by Dysart

The most infamous feud in American folklore, the long-running battle between the Hatfields and McCoys, may be partly explained by a rare, inherited disease that can lead to hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts.

Dozens of McCoy descendants apparently have the disease, which causes high blood pressure, racing hearts, severe headaches and too much adrenaline and other "fight or flight" stress hormones.

No one blames the whole feud on this, but doctors say it could help explain some of the clan's notorious behavior.

"This condition can certainly make anybody short-tempered, and if they are prone because of their personality, it can add fuel to the fire," said Dr. Revi Mathew, a Vanderbilt University endocrinologist treating one of the family members.

The Hatfields and McCoys have a storied and deadly history dating to Civil War times. Their generations of fighting over land, timber rights and even a pig are the subject of dozens of books, songs and countless jokes. Unfortunately for Appalachia, the feud is one of its greatest sources of fame.

Several genetic experts have known about the disease plaguing some of the McCoys for decades, but kept it secret. The Associated Press learned of it after several family members revealed their history to Vanderbilt doctors, who are trying to find more McCoy relatives to warn them of the risk.

One doctor who had researched the family for decades called them the "McC kindred" in a 1998 medical journal article tracing the disease through four generations.

"He said something about us never being able to get insurance" if the full family name was used, said Rita Reynolds, a Bristol, Tenn., woman with the disease. She says she is a McCoy descendant and has documents from the doctor showing his work on her family.

She is speaking up now so distant relatives might realize their risk and get help before the condition proves fatal, as it did to many of her ancestors.

Back then, "we didn't even know this existed," she said. "They just up and died."

Von Hippel-Lindau disease, which afflicts many family members, can cause tumors in the eyes, ears, pancreas, kidney, brain and spine. Roughly three-fourths of the affected McCoys have pheochromocytomas — tumors of the adrenal gland.

The small, bubbly-looking orange adrenal gland sits atop each kidney and makes adrenaline and substances called catecholamines. Too much can cause high blood pressure, pounding headaches, heart palpitations, facial flushing, nausea and vomiting. There is no cure for the disease, but removing the tumors before they turn cancerous can improve survival.

Affected family members have long been known to be combative, even with their kin. Reynolds recalled her grandfather, "Smallwood" McCoy.

"When he would come to visit, everyone would run and hide. They acted like they were scared to death of him. He had a really bad temper," she said.

Her adopted daughter, another McCoy descendant, 11-year-old Winnter Reynolds, just had an adrenal tumor removed at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Teachers thought the girl had ADHD — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Now, Winnter says, "my parents are thinking it may be the tumor" that caused the behavior. "I've been feeling great since they took it out."

Her adoptive father, James Reynolds, said of the McCoys: "It don't take much to set them off. They've got a pretty good temper.

"Before the surgery, Winnter, when we would discipline her, she'd squeeze her fists together and get real angry and start hollering back at us, screaming and crying," he said.

As for the older McCoys, "they just started dropping dead of the tumors," he said. "They didn't know what it was. A name wasn't really put on the disease until 1968. That's when one of my brothers-in-law had to have surgery, to have some tumors removed in his brain. They started to notice tumors occurring in each of the family members."

Dr. Nuzhet Atuk at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and geneticists at the University of Pennsylvania studied the family for more than 30 years, Rita Reynolds said.

"They went back on the genealogy and all of that stuff," she said. "They called it madness disease. They said that it had to be coming from the VHL. Our family would just go off, even on the doctors."

Now 85 and retired, Atuk said he could not talk about his work because of medical confidentiality.

Rita Reynolds had two adrenal tumors removed a few years ago. Her mother and three brothers also had them. So do McCoy descendants in Oregon, Michigan and Indiana, she said.

"When you have these tumors, you're easy to get upset," said Rita's mother, Goldie Hankins, 76, of Big Rock, Va., near the Kentucky-West Virginia border. "When people get on your nerves, you just can't take it. You get angry because your blood pressure was so high."

Still, many are dubious that this condition had much of a role in the bitter feud with the Hatfields, which played out in the hill country of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia for decades.

Some say the feud dates to Civil War days, when some members of the families took opposite sides. It grew into disputes over timber rights and land in the 1870s, and gained more notoriety in 1878, when Randolph or "Old Randal" McCoy accused a Hatfield of stealing one of his pigs. The hostilities left at least a dozen dead.

"The McCoy temperament is legendary. Whether or not we can blame it on genes, I don't know," said Ron McCoy, 43, of Durham, N.C., one of the organizers of the annual Hatfield-McCoy reunion. "There are a lot of underpinnings that are probably a more legitimate source of conflict."

"There was a lot of inter-marrying" that could have played havoc with the gene pool, he conceded.

Another relative, Bo McCoy, of Waverly, Ohio, said he had never heard talk of the disease although he has been diagnosed with a different adrenal gland problem — Cushing's syndrome.

Even Reo Hatfield, who drafted the "truce" the two families famously signed in 2003 to officially end hostilities, doubted the role of the McCoys' disease in the feud.

"I would be shocked" if doctors blamed it on illness, he said.

Altina Waller, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and author of a book about the feud, agreed.

"Medical folks like to find these kinds of explanations. Like the Salem witchcraft thing. That book came out about how that was caused by wheat that was grown that had this parasite or mold or fungus or something that caused everybody in Salem to go nuts," she said.

"How does it explain the other dozen or so feuds that I've looked at in other places?" she asked, citing disputes over coal and other issues. "The rage and violence as such was not confined to McCoys."

She acknowledges that an argument could be made for seeing the McCoys as the more aggressive of the clans.

"One of the reasons the McCoys don't like me as much in the Tug Valley as the Hatfields do is that I seem to suggest that Randal McCoy, the patriarch of the family, was sort of irrational and flamboyant and did jump to, into wanting violence more than, say, Anderson Hatfield," Waller said.

These days, the "feud" has taken a far more civil tone and all but disappeared, members of both families say. The last time it surfaced was in January 2003. McCoy descendants sued Hatfield descendants over visitation rights to a small cemetery on an Appalachian hillside in eastern Kentucky. It holds the remains of six McCoys, some allegedly killed by the Hatfields.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: feud; hatfield; health; mccoys; medicine; pheochromocytoma; vonhippellindau
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1 posted on 04/05/2007 7:10:07 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart

And so moonshine had nothing to do with it?


2 posted on 04/05/2007 7:11:32 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham (Veritas. Gravitas. Ohmygas.)
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To: Dysart
I saw a tee shirt the other day that read...

Paddle harder, I hear banjos.

3 posted on 04/05/2007 7:11:45 PM PDT by gov_bean_ counter ( Who is the Democrat's George Galloway?)
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To: gov_bean_ counter

I saw the same tee shirt, I think. It had sweat rings under the arms.


4 posted on 04/05/2007 7:14:02 PM PDT by unkus
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To: unkus

LOL!!


5 posted on 04/05/2007 7:15:14 PM PDT by gov_bean_ counter ( Who is the Democrat's George Galloway?)
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To: Dysart
Also generational membership in the Democrat Party.
6 posted on 04/05/2007 7:15:17 PM PDT by msnimje (True Conservatives will not support a pro-abortion candidate.)
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To: gov_bean_ counter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdzThgveHwQ


7 posted on 04/05/2007 7:15:54 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Peace without victory is a temporary illusion.)
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

Heck! Moonshine’s what gave them the disease, they were probably drinking it as it dripped out of the coil.


8 posted on 04/05/2007 7:17:00 PM PDT by jazusamo (http://warchronicle.com/TheyAreNotKillers/DefendOurMarines.htm)
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To: gov_bean_ counter

I’d love to see some pictures of these two clans.


9 posted on 04/05/2007 7:17:23 PM PDT by unkus
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To: Dysart
Hatfield: Wanna fight?

McCoy: Hey! Them's fight'n words!

10 posted on 04/05/2007 7:19:39 PM PDT by avg_freeper (Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga)
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To: unkus

11 posted on 04/05/2007 7:20:37 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: gov_bean_ counter

oh brother, more banjo jokes.


12 posted on 04/05/2007 7:20:43 PM PDT by Mercat
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To: Dysart
Where I live this is a common illness also known as Joe-Bob Syndrome.
13 posted on 04/05/2007 7:22:26 PM PDT by Brad from Tennessee ("A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.")
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To: cripplecreek

thanks for the link.


14 posted on 04/05/2007 7:23:23 PM PDT by gov_bean_ counter ( Who is the Democrat's George Galloway?)
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To: Dysart; stainlessbanner; Devil_Anse

Dixie ping, stainless? Interesting info related to the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

(Doesn’t explain “Devil Anse” Hatfield, though. Didn’t we have a FReeper by that name at some point?)

Iirc, the Ran McCoy family had 14 children, and the Anderson Hatfield family had 18, but it might be the other way around. They’re my idols :-). “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them. He shall not be put to shame when he confronts his enemies in the gate.”


15 posted on 04/05/2007 7:23:36 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever He tells you.' ")
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To: Dysart

Thanks. They look like they could put up a fight. Looks like a bullet-proof house too.


16 posted on 04/05/2007 7:24:09 PM PDT by unkus
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To: bmwcyle

Ping for tomorrow.


17 posted on 04/05/2007 7:25:19 PM PDT by Apple Blossom (...around here, city hall is something of a between meals snack.)
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To: Dysart

Judging from this photo, it appears that firearms safety wasn’t high on their list of concerns.


18 posted on 04/05/2007 7:25:33 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham (Veritas. Gravitas. Ohmygas.)
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

Guy on the far right looks just like a young Sam Elliot.


19 posted on 04/05/2007 7:26:45 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever He tells you.' ")
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To: Dysart
If it were biological, how would it stop as described? The medical explanation misses a few things, I think.
20 posted on 04/05/2007 7:27:56 PM PDT by elhombrelibre (Al Qaeda knows Iraq's strategic value, yet the Democrats work day and night for our defeat there.)
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To: Brad from Tennessee

I love your tagline!


21 posted on 04/05/2007 7:28:19 PM PDT by Nea Wood
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To: unkus
No problem. It’s the only photo I could locate...this feud has long intrigued me for some reason, and I had to post this regardless of the validity of the medical explanation being offered here. I suppose it’s possible that it could be a contributing factor.
22 posted on 04/05/2007 7:28:39 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: unkus

Recent (2000) reunion photos:

http://hatfieldmccoyreunion.cyberriver.net/

(Click “Gallery” for recent pics.)


23 posted on 04/05/2007 7:29:02 PM PDT by LibFreeOrDie (L'Chaim!)
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To: Dysart

Hatfield here. It was definitely the McCoys! BWAHHAH!!


24 posted on 04/05/2007 7:30:38 PM PDT by lawgirl (She comes on like thunder and she's more right than rain)
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To: Dysart

The disease lives on in hundreds of commuters on our nation’s freeways.


25 posted on 04/05/2007 7:35:04 PM PDT by Nachoman (Tagline input error. Redo from start.)
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To: unkus

http://www.libby-genealogy.com/mccoy_articles.htm

http://www.madisonavenuejournal.com/images/hat8.gif


26 posted on 04/05/2007 7:37:06 PM PDT by LibFreeOrDie (L'Chaim!)
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To: Dysart

Okay, enough with the hillbilly incest jokes, everyone.

There is a serious side to this:

Consider the reasoning of the left regarding homosexuality: they’re born that way, there may even be a gene that causes it, therefore it’s morally neutral, not a sin.

Apply the same reasoning to the McCoys. Shall we therefore conclude that wrath and murder are not sins because we have identified a genetic condition that predisposes some of us to wrath and murder?

No?

Then why apply that reasoning to sodomy?


27 posted on 04/05/2007 7:41:52 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Nachoman
The disease lives on in hundreds of commuters on our nation’s freeways.

No kidding. I was cautioning one of my new delivery guys who just moved here from another state about the dangers of driving the DFW area freeways, and to lookout for the bad-ass Bubbas and big rigs. I'm not sure he fully appreciates (yet) my earnest little speech.

28 posted on 04/05/2007 7:44:31 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart

Medical condition? Hardly.

I have a source that establishes their muslim background.

Jihadis before jihad.


29 posted on 04/05/2007 7:45:25 PM PDT by petertare (--)
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To: Dysart

The book I read on the subject suggested that the Hatfields were the aggressors and the McCoys were the ones on the defensive, for the most part. That said:

1. The writer admitted that he was doing his best guess of the facts and had to deal with a lot of contradictory accounts.

2. The McCoys definitely broke the law on a few occasions, although not as often as the Hatfields.


30 posted on 04/05/2007 7:46:37 PM PDT by Our man in washington
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To: Dysart

I was born in that area of the country - my people have inhabited that area since the early 1800s. My grandfather used to tell me his great-grandfather came over here from England because they wouldn’t let him grow a beard. My ancestors came here from places like Ireland, England and Scotland to get away from people telling them what to do, they high-tailed it up into the hills because they were independent, hard-headed people.

Hot tempers come naturally to these people (myself included).


31 posted on 04/05/2007 7:52:28 PM PDT by alicewonders (I like Duncan Hunter for President in 2008!)
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To: lawgirl

My Mom is a McCoy, and they believe it was the Hatfields that started the feud, and we ended it, when Roseanne McCoy married a Hatfield.


32 posted on 04/05/2007 7:57:17 PM PDT by girlangler (Fish Fear Me)
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham
And so moonshine had nothing to do with it?

Naw. Nothing at all.

33 posted on 04/05/2007 8:03:43 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: Mercat
oh brother, more banjo jokes.

Well, at least no bagpipe jokes - yet.

34 posted on 04/05/2007 8:06:32 PM PDT by don-o (Fight, fight. fight to drive the GOP to the right!!!!)
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To: Nea Wood

Thanks.


35 posted on 04/05/2007 8:10:02 PM PDT by Brad from Tennessee ("A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.")
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To: Dysart

Most interesting.


36 posted on 04/05/2007 8:19:03 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Is the American voter smarter than a fifth grader?)
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To: alicewonders

My brother’s best friend growing up was a McCoy. He was a descendant of the clan and he had a terrible temper. One time he got mad at my brother and blew up our mailbox with cherry bombs. Sadly, he committed suicide in his early 20’s.


37 posted on 04/05/2007 8:24:18 PM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we write in marble. JHuett)
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To: unkus; gov_bean_ counter; Dysart; kalee
Here's an interesting story about recessive genes, and this seems like a good thread to post it:

THE BLUE PEOPLE OF TROUBLESOME CREEK
(The story of an Appalachian malady, an inquisitive doctor, and a paradoxical cure.)

38 posted on 04/05/2007 8:48:26 PM PDT by Slump Tester ( What if I'm pregnant Teddy? Errr-ahh Calm down Mary Jo, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it)
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To: Slump Tester
Thanks a lot for the link—I’ll absorb it this wkend.
39 posted on 04/05/2007 8:55:16 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart

I remember reading that story when it was first published in 1982 - I’ve posted it several times over the years.


40 posted on 04/05/2007 9:00:15 PM PDT by Slump Tester ( What if I'm pregnant Teddy? Errr-ahh Calm down Mary Jo, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it)
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To: alicewonders
Hot tempers come naturally to these people (myself included).

Hector St John de Creve'Coeur an observer of revolutionary America referred to the "back settlers"(Pioneers) among them the "Scotch Hebrideans" about whom he wrote, "He who would wish to see America in its proper light...must visit our extended line of frontiers...where men are wholly left dependent on their native tempers and on the spur of uncertain industry....There, remote from the power of example and check of shame, many families exhibit the most hideous parts of our society....prosperity will polish some, vice and the law will drive off the rest, who, uniting again with others like themselves, will recede still further, making room for more industrious people, who will finish their improvements....Such is our progress; such is the march of the Europeans toward the interior parts of this continent. In all societies there are offcasts; this impure part serves as our precursors or pioneers; (Letters from an American Farmer: Letter 3: What is an American?)

41 posted on 04/05/2007 9:02:18 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: Slump Tester

Thanks for the link. I have read about the blue Fugates before.


42 posted on 04/05/2007 9:07:03 PM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we write in marble. JHuett)
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To: hinckley buzzard
There, remote from the power of example and check of shame, many families exhibit the most hideous parts of our society....prosperity will polish some, vice and the law will drive off the rest, who, uniting again with others like themselves, will recede still further, making room for more industrious people, who will finish their improvements....

Sounds like one of our family reunions! ;-)

43 posted on 04/05/2007 9:30:10 PM PDT by alicewonders (I like Duncan Hunter for President in 2008!)
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To: freedomfiter2; SWEETSUNNYSOUTH; BnBlFlag; catfish1957; afnamvet; StoneWall Brigade; L98Fiero; ...

Dixie ping - there’s history in them hills


44 posted on 04/05/2007 9:44:05 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Dysart
The photo was a staged picture for a magazine.

A good part of the feud started over timber rights and coal deposits claimed by Anse Hatfield as I understand it.

45 posted on 04/06/2007 4:34:41 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: Dysart

I had a sister who suffered from Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome. It is a terrible disease that caused her to lose her sight, and resulted in 10 brain tumors in about 25 years. Before she died, she was confined to a wheel chair because of tumors on her spine, and could barely speak because of tumors in her vocal cords.

I had never heard of the hot temper issue though. I can understand how that could happen to people, although my sister didn’t have that problem.

On a side note, I have a neighbor who is a McCoy, but so far I’ve never heard of him having a bad temper.


46 posted on 04/06/2007 4:47:15 AM PDT by deaconjim (Because He lives...)
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To: Dysart
Why didn't the Hatfield's build a wall to just keep the McCoy's at bay?


47 posted on 04/06/2007 6:21:45 AM PDT by Daffynition
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To: The_Reader_David
Okay, enough with the hillbilly incest jokes, everyone.

It's not like we have a presidential candidate who was married to one of his cousins or something.

Oh, wait...never mind.
48 posted on 04/06/2007 11:29:54 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: Slump Tester

Well, they must be american blue bloods!


49 posted on 04/06/2007 11:38:57 AM PDT by OldCorps
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To: Dysart

Perhaps both families were “sick” of living next to each other.


50 posted on 04/06/2007 11:51:12 AM PDT by U S Army EOD (Support your local EOD Detachment)
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