2009 in Focus: Best of Times photography

Memorable moments captured by Los Angeles Times photographers in 2009

U.S. Forest Service firefighters let the Station fire burn along Angeles Crest Highway in the early morning hours in La Canada Flintridge. Backfires were set to keep flames from the mammoth blaze away from the foothill communities, including La Canada and La Crescenta. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / August 29, 2009)
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More photos: Southern California wildfires
Panorama: A Tujunga neighborhood ravaged by the Station fire

R&B star Usher rests his hand on Michael Jackson's coffin as he sings Jackson's "Gone Too Soon" during the star's memorial service at Staples Center. Jackson died June 25. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / July 7, 2009)
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More photos: Michael Jackson | 1958-2009
Panorama: Memorial for Michael Jackson at Staples Center

Sgt. Maj. Leroy Walker lets his emotions show during a candlelight vigil at the Ft. Hood Army post in Texas for the 13 victims of a mass shooting on Nov. 5. An Army psychologist, Maj. Nadal Malik Hasan, is charged in the killings. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Army psychiatrist blamed in Fort Hood shooting rampage
Photos: Shootings at Ft. Hood

Kobe Bryant celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic, 99-86, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the 15th championship for the franchise. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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Video: Lakers on parade
Audio slide show: The Lakers' road to the Finals
Panorama: Lakers celebration, faces in the crowd
Story: Lakers are champions again

Kate Winslet goes backstage after her win for best actress at the 81st annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / February 22, 2009)
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Story: 2009 Oscar scorecard
Photos: Oscar Portraits by The Times
Photos: Oscars 2009 moments

President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20 accompanied by his family. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Related:
Photos: The inauguration of Barack Obama

Pavement buckled beneath a Los Angeles city fire truck in September, pulling the 42,000-pound vehicle into a massive sinkhole in Valley Village. It was one of the worst in a spate of water main ruptures this fall that have puzzled city officials and flooded city streets. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / September 8, 2009)
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Story: Crews work to free firetruck from Valley Village sinkhole
Photos: Sinkhole swallows firetruck in Valley Village

LAPD officers arrest a man in a Spider Man outfit after he allegedly assaulted a man on the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. The victim refused to press charges, but the Spider Man character -- one of several people in Spider Man costumes there at the time -- was nevertheless booked on outstanding misdemeanor charges. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Hollywood Spider-Man impersonator caught in legal web
Photos: Man in Spider-Man costume arrested in Hollywood

Wyb Kusters, right, visiting from Holland, sings along with Anthony Aquarius as he performs a Jimi Hendrix song on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. Aquarius is a particularly accurate Hendrix impersonator. He moved to L.A. from Ohio in 2008 to hone his act. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Multimedia: pop • u • LA • tion - Stories from the sidewalk
Audio slide show: A Hendrix experience

Magneto, left, and Jackson bail from their surfboards after a long ride during the inaugural Surf City Surf Dog competition, a fundraiser for animal welfare organizations. Each dog had 12 minutes to catch as many waves as possible. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / October 11, 2009)
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Story: Dogs compete for charity at Huntington Beach's Surf City Surf Dog event
Photos: How about those dogs surfing in Surf City?

A surfer spends Martin Luther King Jr. Day waiting for a wave as a golden sunset streams through a tree amidst warm temperatures at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / January 19, 2009)

Richie Igama, a certified nursing assistant, gently cradles Austin Rustrum, 4, during a pool therapy session at the George Mark Children's House in San Leandro. Austin, suffering from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and a rare birth defect, was visiting the hospice for respite care. The facility was in danger of closing as the economy took a toll on donations, which it relies on to meet expenses. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Related:
Story: Children's hospice in danger of closing
Audio slide show: George Mark Children's House

Ceaser Holguin, 8, holds a cross commemorating victims of gang violence during a rally for LAURA (Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts), an organization founded by Adela Barajas at Fred Robers Park. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times / March 21, 2009)
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Story: Promise and peril in South L.A.

Billi Gordon, 55, weighed 701 pounds when he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with a massive growth on his right thigh. He needed an MRI to help diagnose the mass, but the machine for the exam had a weight limit of 530 pounds. So Gordon went on a diet, losing the weight he needed to get the test. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / September 25, 2009)
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Story: A body larger than life
Audio slide show: An outsized man in every dimension

In 1966, the commissioner of Indian Affairs, Robert Bennett, halted development on 1.6 million acres of tribal land in northeastern Arizona that was claimed by both the Navajo nation and the Hopi tribe. Bennett imposed the ban to stop either tribe from taking advantage of the other while they negotiated ownership. The ban became known as the Bennett Freeze. It meant that 8,000 or so Navajos living on the land couldn't erect homes, open businesses or even repair their roofs. The land dispute dragged on for 40 years, paralyzing residents in a state of poverty rarely seen in America. Because few Hopis lived on the disputed territory, the ban affected mostly Navajos like the Gordys, who deserted their ranch after it fell into disrepair. The tribes settled their differences in 2006 -- most of the land went to the Navajo -- and in May, President Obama cleared the way for federal funding to help rehabilitate the area, but no money has been earmarked yet. Tlaashchii Gordy, 6, a Navajo, plays in the foreground with sister Nizhoonii. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Trying to rebuild after 40 frozen years
Audio slide show: Frozen land, forgotten people

"The things he knows now about adult sexuality effectively separate him from his friends," says the mother of this boy, who the Los Unified School District concluded was molested by an aide. The boy, who searches for game controllers, is reflected in a television screen. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Accused of sexual abuse, but back in the classroom
Audio slide show: A boy's struggles

Edwin Shneidman worded his epitaph ("Lucky, Bright, Loving, Ambitious") to be as succinct as his wife Jeanne's ("Beautiful, Bright, Loving, Serene"). Schneidman, a pioneer in the field of suicide prevention, died in May. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / February 4, 2009)
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Story: Waiting for death, alone and unafraid
Audio slide show: Waiting for death

Robert Howard Bennett, 40, makes his way through a tent city near the American River where about 200 homeless people reside in Sacramento. The tent city, in existence for about a year, became a symbol of the U.S. financial crisis, appearing on such disparate television shows and networks as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and Al Jazeera. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times / March 16, 2009)
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Story: In Sacramento's tent city, a torn economic fabric
Photos: The vivid symbolism of Sacramento's tent city

A man known as "Raven" shoots at pigeons at his camp under the 7th Street Bridge next to the Los Angeles River in Long Beach. The gritty lifestyles and threat of violence along the river were highlighted by the killings of five people in November 2008. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / October 15, 2009)
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Story: Fear sets up camp on a stretch of the L.A. River
Audio slide show: 'Gimme Shelter'
Photos: Living under the 7th Street bridge

Within two weeks after her first surgery, Ana Rodarte looks in the mirror for the first time and is pleased with the large amounts of tumor that were removed by Dr. Munish Batra's team of doctors at his Del Mar office. Batra also removed the sutures and staples and reassured her that the swelling was typical after such procedures and only temporary. Ana's facial tumors were similar to the Elephant Man's. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / April 5, 2009)
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Story: Isolated by her appearance, she yearned for a place in the world
Audio slide show: Ana's story

Maria Bautista leads a prayer during a vigil in front of a Wilmington home where a couple and five children were found dead. The deaths came after the couple, Ervin and Ana Lupoe, had lost their jobs at Kaiser for allegedly falsifying income records to qualify for a child-care program. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / January 28, 2009)
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Story: Couple in Wilmington murder-suicide fired for alleged fraud
Photos: Five children, mother killed in Wilmington home

Bryan Bixler of Laguna Beach is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 84 pounds. The 39-year-old has anorexia and needs intensive coordinated treatment at an eating disorder center. Bixler's Medi-Cal insurance would pay for medical help and psychiatric or psychological treatment but not for the long-term care. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Starved for normality

A group of young men watch the Station fire from a hill overlooking Tujunga. The fire, which began Aug. 26 near the Angeles Crest Highway, killed two firefighters and burned more than 160,000 acres. The cause of the blaze, which burned 250 square miles of the Angeles National Forest, was arson, officials said. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / August 31, 2009)
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Story: Station fire claims 18 homes and two firefighters
More photos: Southern California wildfires
Panorama: A Tujunga neighborhood ravaged by the Station fire

Julie Garcia, 59, and her daughter Jessi, 19, share an emotional embrace after seeing their home gutted by wildfire. The Station fire that swept through their neighborhood on La Paloma Canyon Road in Tujunga destroyed about 90 homes, killed two Los Angeles County firefighters and burned more than a quarter of the Angeles National Forest. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / September 1, 2009)
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Story: Residents return to see burned homes in Big Tujunga Canyon
More photos: Southern California wildfires
Panorama: A Tujunga neighborhood ravaged by the Station fire

From a lakeside dock in Yucaipa Regional Park, the McHenry family cheers as a Sikorsky S-64 Sky Crane firefighting helicopter goes in for another load of water. The parents and their son spent the night camping in the park after being ordered to evacuate their nearby home as the Pendleton and Oak Glen fires raged. By about midday, half a dozen aircraft were dousing hot spots and the blazes were all but extinguished. Together the two fires charred nearly 2,000 acres. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / September 1, 2009)
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Story: Huge wildfire shows little sign of slowing down
More photos: Southern California wildfires
Panorama: A Tujunga neighborhood ravaged by the Station fire

A pyrocumulus cloud caused by super-hot air over the Station fire towers nearly 20,000 feet above Angeles National Forest north of downtown Los Angeles. Contained after six weeks, the suspected arson fire killed two firefighters, destroyed 90 dwellings and burned 250 square miles of land. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / August 31, 2009)
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More photos: Southern California wildfires
Map: Los Angeles fire photo map

Drew Gallagher, 23, says a prayer for singer Michael Jackson at a memorial near the Jackson family home on Hayvenhurst Avenue in Encino. Jackson's death June 25 at age 50 came a month before his comeback concert series in London was to begin. The death is still under investigation, and Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, remains the focus of the probe. (Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times / June 26, 2009)
Related:
Past coverage: www.latimes.com/michaeljackson

Engaged couple Robert Franco and Shawn Higgins embrace and kiss as police observe anti-Proposition 8 demonstrators at Grove and Van Ness in San Francisco. Hundreds of people gathered at the steps of the California State Supreme Court building to hear the court's decision on Proposition 8, an amendment passed by voters to make same-sex marriage illegal in California. The 6-1 ruling upheld the ban on gay marriage. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: California high court upholds Prop. 8
Photos: Prop. 8 decision

Hikers return from a trek over the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska, an active glacier that is 24 miles long and two miles wide. Conservationists worry about the ice's future amid increased shipping in the Arctic that could triple ozone pollution in the region and accelerate melting. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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Photos: Alaska's Matanuska Glacier

Researcher Lawrence Plug sets up a camera and tripod as the aurora borealis shifts and sparkles above the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Plug is part of an ambitious two-year study, funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA, that is examining thawing permafrost in Alaska and Siberia and how it relates to climate change. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Bubbles of warming, beneath the ice
Graphic: Arctic source of global warming

Border Patrol agents near Rodeo, N.M., picked up the trail of these suspected drug smugglers. After capturing and handcuffing the six men, the suspects were made to carry their packs of contraband to a road about a half-mile away. The six backpacks held a total of about 275 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of $220,000. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Pursuing smugglers, border agents become trackers
Audio slide show: Tracking smugglers

Hussein, left, gets help shooting heroin, with a clean needle, from fellow addict Anwar at an abandoned building in Kabul. With them is Jaffer, who later joined a 30-day rehab program. With the increase in opium poppy production, Afghanistan has seen a sharp increase in drug addiction, even though most of the opium is shipped to Europe. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times / July 31, 2009)
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Story: Afghanistan faces growing addiction problem
Photos: Addicts in the land of the poppy

A man is among dozens of Taliban suspects arrested in the town of Khwazakhela, in Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley. Pakistan launched a major military offensive against the Taliban in the northwestern region, driving them out of major towns. Read more about the offensive in Swat. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times / June 14, 2009)
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Story: Pakistan troops battle Taliban in the Sakhra Valley
Audio slide show: Pakistan battles Taliban in Swat Valley

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times / May 31, 2009) Ten-year-old Anwar Khail tries to get a block of ice at a refugee camp in Pakistan. The camp held about 20,000 people, among nearly 2 million who fled the fighting in Swat, where the military launched a major offensive against the Taliban.
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Story: Pakistan's struggle against militants
Photos: Pakistanis make do in refugee camps
Photos: Pakistan campaign's toll
Photos: In Pakistan, return to a ravaged town

Augustine Beyai, from Gambia, was brought to Quinhamel Center, said to be Guinea-Bissau's only drug rehab facility, by his family. Guinea-Bissau, a small, unstable West African nation, has become the ideal stop for gangs smuggling drugs from South America to Europe. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / August 5, 2009)
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Story: Guinea-Bissau: Cocaine's traffic hub
Photos: Guinea-Bissau drug trade

At Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Theresa Mattia, 19, is about to undergo an emergency C-section in an operating room illuminated by small generator-powered lights. The public health system in the West African nation of Sierra Leone is a shambles and the government teeters on the edge. Some fear it could become another Somalia. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / July 28, 2009)
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Story: Sierra Leone's crises have global reach
Photos: Healthcare in Sierra Leone

(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / June 23, 2009) A Mexican soldier and officers from the Ciudad Juarez police cover the body of Daniel Chavez, one of six victims of violent crime that day in the bullet-riddled border city south of El Paso. Chavez reportedly was a member of the Aztecas drug gang and was gunned down in a drive-by assault. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
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Multimedia: Mexico under siege

Trevor Ariza gives an all-out effort and dives into the crowd at Staples Center in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Houston. Ariza helped the Lakers win the NBA championship, then signed with the Rockets after the season. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Kobe Bryant holds up four fingers to show how many NBA championships he has won with the Lakers after they defeated the Orlando Magic in June. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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Video: Lakers on parade
Audio slide show: The Lakers' road to the Finals
Panorama: Lakers celebration, faces in the crowd
Story: Lakers are champions again

Lakers guard Derek Fisher yells to fans along the route of the team's victory parade in June, after the Lakers won the NBA Finals, four games to one. It was the team's 15th title. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Best moments in Lakers championship parade history
Video: Lakers on parade
Audio slide show: The Lakers' road to the Finals
Panorama: Lakers celebration, faces in the crowd

Angels catcher Mike Napoli writes in the dirt in front of the mural of pitcher Nick Adenhart before a July 28 game at Angel Stadium. Adenhart was killed in a car accident in April and served as an inspiration to the team as it reached the American League Championship Series. (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: For the Angels, a promising young arm arrives -- and then is lost
Photos: Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart killed in car crash

The Dodgers' Mark Loretta gets a lift from Matt Kemp, and Russell Martin joins the celebration after Loretta delivered the winning pinch-hit against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League division series. The Dodgers swept the series, then were eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies for the second year in a row. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: Padilla, Ethier help sweep Dodgers into NLCS
Photos: Dodgers-Cardinals in Game 3

USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley gets fired up in the Coliseum tunnel before the Trojans faced Oregon State in October. USC had an up-and-down year and didn't win the Pacific 10 Conference title for the first time in eight seasons. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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Story: USC football: Trojans 42, Oregon State 36
Photos: USC 42, Oregon State 36

Hugh Jackman opens the show at the 81st annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / February 22, 2009)
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Story: The Oscars show itself was puttin' on the fritz
Photos: Oscar Portraits by The Times
Photos: Oscars 2009 moments

Actress Kate Winslet, winner of the best actress Golden Globe for "Revolutionary Road" and best supporting actress for "The Reader," is photographed at the Greenwich Hotel in New York City. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / January 16, 2009)
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Story: The academy does Kate Winslet no favors
Photos: Oscar Portraits by The Times
Photos: Oscars 2009 moments

Rock icon Bruce Springsteen, photographed at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., before he began touring with his new album, "Working on a Dream." (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / March 23, 2009)
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Story: Bruce Springsteen, working on a dream

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the L.A. Philharmonic for the first time as music director in the inaugural gala and opening-night concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / October 8, 2009)
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Story: L.A. Phil embraces a new generation with Dudamel
Photos: Gustavo Dudamel, day one in photos
Photos: Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic inaugural gala

Architect and former punk rocker and studio artist Robert Stone stands in the outdoor living room of his one-bedroom desert dwelling, Rosa Muerta, on the outskirts of Joshua Tree. The low-slung black pavilion's living room is appointed with a large spa, fire pit and free-standing barbecue. "I'm not interested in big unconventional approaches to architecture," Stone says. "I think there is room in architecture for capturing the moment and local situations -- something both cultural and site specific." (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times / March 19, 2009)
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Story: The Rosa Muerta near Joshua Tree is an inspired 'glamping' spot
Photos: Stone's indoor-outdoor dwelling on the outskirts of Joshua Tree

Red is hot for fall footwear, and designers are offering it in pumps and boots with impossibly tall heels. Clockwise from top left, Casadei open-toe heels with straps, Christian Dior lace-up high-heel ankle boots and Valentino D'Orsay peep-toe pumps with bow. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / November 3, 2009)
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Story: Women's shoes turn up the volume this fall

Every morning before the Monterey Bay Aquarium opens, its resident penguins swim and play while their habitat is cleaned by staff and volunteers. The aquarium, one of the state's leading tourist attractions, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times / September 28, 2009)
Related:
Audio slide show: Monterey Bay Aquarium turns 25

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