Rocking the Vic

I agree with your opinion Commie, but I just like expanding my knowledge. Agree or disagree is your choice? You need to understand that all Thais look down on Cambodians, in the strange way that the poor bastards who live in Cleveland still look down on those losers from Detroit. Chinese food is widely available and adjusted to American tastes. Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia… A great cartoon of a sort, more than slight exaggeration skills though! I choose to emphasize rather than de-emphasize this bias — and I will sometimes even put it front-and-center.

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This precipitated revolution in and on 4 July , colonists from 13 colonies declared independence. Those still loyal to the British mostly fled north to what is today Canada , which continued to remain under British rule. Wrangling over the formation of a national government lasted until when a constitution was agreed upon. Its Enlightenment-era ideas about individual liberty have since inspired the founding decrees of many states. George Washington , the general-in-chief of the revolutionary army, was elected the first president.

By the turn of the 19th century, the newly-built Washington, D. New states were created as white settlers moved west beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The Native American populations were displaced and further harrowed by war and disease.

The Louisiana Purchase of French lands to the west of the Mississippi charted by the Lewis and Clark expedition effectively doubled the size of the nation, and provided "Indian Territory" in what is now Oklahoma for the many Native American tribes from the east that were forcibly relocated during the Trail of Tears of the s.

Further disagreements with British commerce policies arising from the Napoleonic Wars and Royal Navy impressment led to the War of There were over two years of dramatic action on land and sea that included an attempted invasion of Canada and the burning of the White House and public buildings in Washington, D.

The final stalemate saw virtually no changes of territory, but the war galvanized separate American and Canadian identities. The national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", was conceived during this war.

Western Native American tribes that had sided with the British suffered greatly as their territory was given to white settlers. After the war, industry and infrastructure were expanded greatly, particularly in the Northeast; see American Industry Tour. Roads and canals came first and helped people spread inland.

By the late s, railroads and telegraph lines connected the east and west coasts via the industrial hub of Chicago in the Midwest. In the early 19th century, a series of religious revivals, the Second Great Awakening, led to various reform movements that strove for goals such as temperance, the abolition of slavery, and women's suffrage. Spain sold Florida in after American military intervention, and an rebellion by American settlers in Mexican Texas founded an independent republic which was absorbed into the Union ten years later.

Native Americans were relegated to reservations and continued to be purged by treaty, military force, and disease from settlers on the Oregon Trail and other westward routes. See also " Old West ". Federal governance was light and the states were highly autonomous.

By the s, there was irreconcilable disparity between the industrialized and more urban Northern states, which had all outlawed slavery within three decades of the revolution, and the plantation-dependent rural South. Many in the North wanted to impose a national ban on the expansion of slavery, while the Southern states sought to expand slavery into new territories. Abolitionists operated an Underground Railroad leading fugitive slaves in the northern states to freedom in Canada.

In , eleven Southern states, fearful of marginalization and the avowedly anti-slavery President Abraham Lincoln , broke from the Union and formed an independent Confederate States of America. The ensuing American Civil War remains the bloodiest conflict on American soil and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

In , Union forces prevailed, firmly cementing the federal government's authority over the states. Slavery was abolished nationwide and the Confederate states were re-admitted into the Union during a period of Reconstruction. The former slaves and their descendants were to remain an economic and social underclass, particularly in the South. Russia sold its tenuously held Alaskan territory in , and independent Hawaii was annexed in Cuba granted independence a few years later , the Philippines granted independence shortly after World War II , Puerto Rico and Guam which remain American dependencies.

The boundaries of the United States took the form we know today in , when the territories of Alaska and Hawaii were granted statehood. In the late 19th and into the 20th century, Southern and Eastern Europeans, Russian Jews and Irish bolstered the continuing industrialization of the eastern cities by providing cheap labor.

Many Southern African-Americans fled rural poverty and racism for industrial jobs in the North. Other immigrants, including many Scandinavians and Germans, moved to newly opened territories in the West and Midwest, where land was given to anyone who would develop it. The United States' entrance into World War I in marked the start of an era in which it would become a world power. However, soon after the victory the U. Real wealth grew rapidly and in the Roaring 20s stock speculation created an immense financial "bubble".

It burst in , leading to the global economic havoc of the Great Depression. The resulting privation fostered a culture of sacrifice and hard work that would serve the country well in the coming conflict.

It also ushered in President Franklin D. His "New Deal" was a series of government programs that constructed thousands of buildings and bridges across the country while creating the basis of the American welfare state. By the end of the war, the United States had firmly established itself as the world's dominant economic power, responsible for nearly half of global industrial production.

During the ensuing Cold War , the United States and the Soviet Union jostled for power while courting their own mutually assured destruction with nuclear weapons. Although war between the two superpowers never occurred, both sides were indirectly involved in covert operations and military endeavors through various proxy states that continue to often negatively affect the view people have of the United States and its role in global politics.

For the century after the Civil War, black people, though ostensibly equal citizens under the post—Civil War amendments to the U. Constitution, suffered through strong social, economic, and political discrimination and state-sanctioned segregation, especially in the South. A movement fighting for full civil rights for black Americans gained strength following World War II, when returning black veterans who fought against racism abroad came home to find they were still being denied service at lunch counters, hotels, and many other establishments and facing discrimination in employment and housing.

The civil rights movement vehemently, but largely peacefully, vied for equal rights. With Martin Luther King, Jr. The landmark Civil Rights Act that was passed in outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, although such discrimination does still exist, mostly in less blatant forms.

It would not be until the election of Barack Obama 44 years later in that the country would have its first African-American president. A revived women's movement in the s also led to wide-ranging changes in American society. Postwar America was characterized by affluence and industrialization. People left agriculture and moved to the cities to become part of an increasingly technology-based economy.

American car culture emerged in the s and was supported by the construction of a comprehensive Interstate Highway System. These trends also led to the rise of suburbia and a decline in public transportation and rail travel, making touring the United States without a car particularly difficult to this day.

They also resulted in white flight to the suburbs in many American cities, leaving many black people behind in blighted inner city neighborhoods. The American consumer culture, Hollywood movies and many forms of popular music established the United States as a cultural superpower in the world. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has emerged as the world's sole superpower, and while its hegemony is increasingly being challenged by a resurgent China and Russia , it continues to play the dominant military, economic, political, and cultural role in world affairs.

Hopes that after the fall of America's chief rival, expensive and sometimes disastrous wars such as the Vietnam War were a thing of the past sadly haven't proven true. Recent administrations have all had to deal in one form or other with what they call the threat of "rogue states", terrorism, and a rapidly changing global political landscape.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, , are still very much an open wound and influence the political debate to this day, with heightened security measures at airports being just one way in which terrorism or the fear of it has affected travelers.

Economically, the "Great Recession", triggered in by the collapse of the housing market bubble, came to an end in , but the average American continues to feel the negative effects several years on. Still the overall living standards in the U. The United States is a federal republic. Its major constituents are the 50 states and the District of Columbia Washington D. Many of these territories are within the U.

The federal government derives its power from the U. Constitution, which is the oldest written constitution in continuous use. Within the overarching federal laws, each state maintains its own constitution, government and laws, and so retains considerable autonomy within the federation. State laws can vary in their details but are, for the most part, fairly uniform from state to state.

The President is elected every four years and is the head of the federal government and head of state. He and his administration form the executive branch. The bicameral Congress comprising the lower House of Representatives and the upper Senate is also popularly elected, and constitutes the legislative branch. The Supreme Court tops the judicial branch.

State governments are organized similarly, with governors, legislatures, and judiciaries. Two major political parties have dominated at state and federal levels since the end of the Civil War: Since the s the Republican Party has become generally the more right-wing or "conservative" party whereas the Democratic Party is usually the more left-wing or "liberal" of the two parties.

While smaller political parties exist, the winner-take-all electoral system means that they rarely succeed at any level. Although in much of the world red and blue indicate left- and right-leaning parties respectively, they are reversed in the U. S so that Republicans are red and Democrats are blue. Despite this difference, there exists a strong sense of national identity and certain predominant cultural traits. Generally, Americans tend to believe strongly in personal responsibility and that an individual determines his or her own success or failure, but there are many exceptions.

You will find Mississippi in the South to be very different culturally from Massachusetts in the North. Many businesses and institutions are closed on Sundays, and a number of areas in the South and Midwest forbid certain activities to take place on Sundays, while some Jewish businesses close on Friday nights and Saturdays for the Sabbath.

Although officially a secular state, the United States is in practice more religious than other Western countries such as Australia , Canada and most European countries. However, this trend varies greatly by region, with the West Coast and Northeast being largely secular and the American South being heavily Evangelical Christian. Differences in religiosity often correlate with politics, so the Northeast, West Coast, Hawaii and Chicago metropolitan area are generally progressive and Democratic; most of the South and heavily Mormon states like Utah, Idaho and Wyoming are very conservative and Republican; and much of the rest of the country e.

However, even this can be misleading, as many conservative states have college towns and major cities that are very liberal, while liberal states often have rural areas that are very conservative. A trend of the last few decades is one of increasing geographic political polarization.

Whereas most countries celebrate Labor Day on May 1 to commemorate the Haymarket affair of , the U. November 11, which is Remembrance Day in Europe and Canada, has been expanded to celebrate all veterans of the U.

There are no nationwide, mandatory public holidays. Federal holidays are the most centrally coordinated holidays, but they are only mandatory for the federal government and banks. All federal offices, post offices and banks close on federal holidays, but private businesses may freely choose whether or not to observe them. Nearly all states and localities observe the federal holidays; most also observe an additional handful of their own.

If a federal holiday falls on a weekend, the observance will be shifted to the nearest weekday either Friday or Monday , with closures similar to Presidents Day in February. The festivities and major retail closings will occur on the annual date, even if it's the weekend.

The time between Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November and January 1 has such a high concentration of major holidays that it is often simply called "the holiday season. Airports, Interstates, bus stations, and train stations will be very crowded near the major holidays.

If you must travel, allow extra time to check in and clear security. This is also a major gift-giving season: As in most other countries where alcohol is legal, be careful on the roads at and around major holidays, such as New Year's, Memorial Day, or Independence Day, as there are higher concentrations of drunk drivers on the roads then. In the list below, federal holidays are listed in bold italics. In addition to federal holidays, the following list includes holidays that may inconvenience travelers, and nationwide celebrations of other events that may be of interest to travellers:.

The United States is the only industrialized country that eschews the metric system. Instead it uses "customary units" feet, miles, gallons, pounds, etc. Road distances are given in miles and speed limits in miles per hour 1 mile is 1. One of the more confusing things is that an "ounce" can be either a measure of weight or as a "fluid ounce" a measure of volume. Gasoline and other liquids are usually sold per gallon, quart, or fluid ounce a U.

Beverages such as soda are sometimes sold by the liter and other times sold by the fluid ounce, with just under 34 ounces to a liter. Most cars' speedometers show both miles and kilometers per hour good for trips to Canada and Mexico , and almost all packaged foods and other products are labeled in both systems.

Outside of science, medicine and the military, there is little day-to-day exposure to the metric system, so Americans will assume you understand the U. There is no government regulation of clothes or shoe sizes. There are ill-enforced informal standards, and the only thing you can count on is that sizes tend to be consistent within the same brand. Therefore, trial and error is required for each brand to determine what fits, because you cannot count on any two brands' sizes being equivalent.

Taking into consideration even the small territories in the Pacific Ocean some of which cannot be easily accessed the U. Just four time zones are used in the contiguous 48 states, with an additional two covering Alaska and Hawaii. Time zone borders do not always correspond to state borders. Most parts of the U. Speakers of British English will find many terms which differ in American English. Here are a few:. See the article English language varieties for more words that differ across both versions.

Almost all Americans speak English. Most Americans speak in accents that are recognizably similar to one another and to one traditionally associated with the Midwest, which was popularized in the 20th century by American radio, TV and movies. Although many Americans can discern differences between quite a few accents, the ones most likely to be heard as distinctive by foreign visitors include those commonly spoken in the South and Texas, the Boston area, the New York City area, the upper Midwest and Hawaii.

American English differs somewhat from the English spoken in other parts of the English speaking world. These differences are mostly minor, and primarily around minor spelling and pronunciation differences.

See the article on English language varieties for a detailed discussion. Generally, if you are not African-American, you should not try to speak AAVE, even if it's spoken to you; it would be considered odd and possibly offensive. Spanglish — an admixture of Spanish and English — is similarly commonplace in many areas with large Hispanic populations, and code-switching between Spanglish and standard American English is similarly commonplace.

Visitors are generally expected to speak and understand English. While many Americans study a foreign language in school overwhelmingly Spanish followed by French , few progress past the basics.

Popular tourist sites often have signs and information available in other languages. Americans have a long history of immigration and are very accommodating towards foreign accents, and will sometimes take the effort to help you by speaking in a more standard accent. Spanish is the first language of Puerto Rico and a large minority of residents on the mainland with the fifth-largest Spanish speaking population in the world.

Spanish speakers in the United States are often Puerto Ricans or first- and second-generation immigrants from Latin America.

As a result, the Spanish spoken is almost invariably a Latin American dialect. Many of these areas have Spanish-language radio and television stations, with local, national and Mexican programs. Most publications from the federal government, and those of some state and municipal governments are available in Spanish. Many establishments and government offices in major commercial and tourist areas have Spanish-speaking staff on duty, and it is possible with some difficulty to get by in the major cities and main tourist attractions speaking only Spanish.

These are covered in regional articles. When events are interpreted, they will be interpreted in ASL. Closed-captioning on television is widespread, but far from ubiquitous.

Many theaters offer FM loops or other assistive listening devices, but captioning and interpreters are rarer. For the blind, many signs and displays include Braille transcriptions of the printed English.

Larger restaurant chains, museums, and parks may offer Braille menus and guidebooks, but you'll likely have to ask for them. The United States has exceptionally onerous and complicated visa requirements.

Read up carefully before your visit, especially if you need to apply for a visa, and consult the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Travellers have been refused entry for many reasons, often trivial. Canadians and Bermudians are normally allowed to visit for up to six months. Permanent residents of Canada are not eligible for visa-free entry, unless they are also citizens of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, or one of the separate provisions for a few other countries.

Citizens of the Bahamas may apply for visa-free entry only at the U. Customs pre-clearance facilities in the Bahamas, but a valid police certificate that was issued within the last six months is required for those over the age of Attempting to enter through any other port of entry requires a valid visa. Citizens of the Turks and Caicos Islands may enter the U. Attempting to enter from any other country requires a valid visa. Cayman Islands citizens, if they intend to travel directly to the U.

A valid police certificate that was issued within the last three months is required for those over the age of Attempting to enter from any other country will require you to have a valid visa. A criminal record will likely revoke any right to visa-free travel to the U. Although there are exceptions e. Anyone with a criminal record, including Canadians and Bermudians, should seek advice from a U. The program is open only to travellers who are in the United States for tourism or business purposes.

You cannot be coming to the U. The day limit is not extendable. A short trip to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean will not allow a fresh 90 days upon return to the U.

An extended absence to the neighboring countries may reset the limit, particularly if your first trip to the U. Take care if transiting through the U. Having a criminal record, having been refused entry, or having been denied a U. ESTA approval covers multiple trips and is valid for two years unless your passport expires earlier.

This requirement is waived if entering by land. All passports must be biometric. If your passport is an older one that was issued before biometric passports were available, you will need to obtain a new passport to travel to the U. Entry under the VWP by air or sea requires travel with a signatory carrier.

Any commercial scheduled services to the U. Flying your own personal aircraft, or sailing your own personal yacht to the U. Travellers entering by air or sea should also have a return or onward ticket out of the United States.

This requirement is not necessary for residents of Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean. Entry under the VWP does not allow you to change your immigration status, and if you are denied entry, the decision can't be appealed and you will immediately be placed on the first flight out. This is called a reciprocity fee and is charged by the U.

The Immigration and Nationality Act states that all persons requesting entry into the U. Applicants also need to demonstrate that they are genuinely entitled to the visa they are applying for. Face-to-face interviews at the nearest U. Embassies are closed on U. You should start planning your trip far in advance, as the application process is known to take up to six months. Do not assume anything. Check on documentation requirements with the U.

State Department or with the nearest U. Your visa is generally not tied to your permitted length of stay; for example, a year visa does not allow a stay of 10 years. On the other hand, you can enter the country on the last day of validity of your visa and still be allowed to stay, for example, up to days as a tourist. America's overseas possessions have slightly different rules.

See each destination's article for details. In brief, Guam , Puerto Rico , the U. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands all have the same entry requirements as the 50 states.

However, Guam and the Northern Marianas apply the visa waiver program to a few additional countries, while the U. Virgin Islands also allows visa-free entry to citizens of the British Virgin Islands. American Samoa lies outside the federal immigration jurisdiction and has separate entry requirements. On arrival, you will be questioned briefly at immigration to determine if your purpose of entry matches your visa class.

If you are unable to convince immigration officers that you intend to abide by the terms of your visa, you will be refused entry and deported. Once they decide to let you in, you are fingerprinted and a digital photograph is taken. Entry will be denied if either of these procedures is refused. At selected airports, Canadian and VWP nationals may be able to use automated passport control APC kiosks to record their passport and biometric details. Household members traveling together can do this at once.

If successful, the traveller gets a receipt and goes to the designated CBP desk to continue the inspection process. Canadians and other selected nationals may be eligible to participate in various trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry and NEXUS , which allow pre-approved passengers to use a designated kiosk for the inspection process. Unlike APC, these programs require prior application, background checks, an interview, and an application fee, but allows the passenger to bypass intense questioning and skip the lines at immigration for up to 5 years.

Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, if you have consumed marijuana or invested in the marijuana industry, you can be banned from entering the United States. This is true even if marijuana is legal in your country and even if it's also legal in the state you're trying to enter. Border officials don't usually ask about marijuana, but if they see a reason to ask, they might. Even a single copy of "High Times" magazine or anything similar is enough to draw suspicion.

If you admit to having used marijuana or any other drug illegal under U. Those eligible for Mobile Passport Control also do not need to fill out the form, provided they have completed the app's questions and have a QR code ready to go. Detailed and up-to-date information on prohibited and restricted items can be found at the relevant government website.

Do not attempt to import items originating from countries against which the U. An exception to this rule is cigars and alcoholic beverages mainly rum originating from Cuba. With the ongoing thaw in U. The United States has very strict biosecurity laws, and imposes restrictions on the types of food that may be brought into the country.

In general, fresh food may not be brought into the country, though some types of processed, commercially packaged food may be allowed, depending on the country of origin. All food and plant items being brought into the country must declared and inspected by customs, even if permitted.

Failure to declare agricultural products can result in a fine, or in serious cases even prosecution. If you're 21 years of age or older, you may also import limited quantities of tobacco and alcohol products duty-free:. If you are over the alcohol exemption by a small amount e. Anything more than this, or any hard spirits over the limit will likely result in duty and tax being assessed, the amount of which depends in part on the state you're entering to and the country the goods are from.

Customs officers do not show this leniency with tobacco products ; expect to pay if you are even one cigarette over! A reasonable quantity of perfume or cologne can also be imported provided the brand is not under a "Trademark Restriction in the United States". There is no restriction on the amount of money you can bring into or out of the U. Checks, bonds and other financial instruments must also be declared.

Virgin Islands are outside the federal customs jurisdiction and each have their own separate requirements. Travel between these regions and the rest of the U. There are some differences mostly larger in duty exemptions for U. If you overstay for compelling reasons such as medical emergencies and flight delays or cancellations, you will need to keep immigration officials informed of your situation in order to avoid any of the above sanctions. Unlike most countries, the U. As such, your airline or shipping company will document your departure and report it to the U.

The CBP then updates your immigration record. Aliens who arrived in the U. If you fall into one of the following categories, you may need to take further action to actively prove that you left the U. In any case, on future visits, consider bringing the necessary documents to prove you left legally.

Customs and Border Protection has information about what to do if your slip is not collected. If you take a side trip to Canada or Mexico by land and return within 30 days or the allowed time of your stay whichever is shorter , you may re-enter the U.

This can also be done even if you entered the U. However, you will only be admitted for the remainder of your original allowed time; the deadline to leave the U. If you return the I while on the side trip, you will have to apply all over again to enter the U. Try to avoid re-entering the U. Even if you don't overstay, planning several U. Most visitors from outside Canada and Mexico arrive in the United States by plane.

While many medium sized inland cities have an international airport, there are limited flights to most of these and most travelers find themselves entering the U. In general, major cities on the east coast have the best connections to Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, while major cities on the west coast have the best connections to East Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Most sizeable cities would be served by at least one flight to a major Canadian city, while New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Houston generally provide the best connections to Latin America.

Unlike most other countries, the U. The "big three" legacy carriers, United Airlines , American Airlines and Delta Air Lines , are among the largest airlines in the world, and operate flights from various cities around the globe into their respective hubs.

Most major European and East Asian airlines also fly from their respective countries into several of the major hubs, with British Airways in particular having one of the most comprehensive networks into U. If you normally need a visa to visit the U. If you are transferring to a domestic flight, you will need to go through customs and immigration at your first U. Most airports have near the exit a wall of "courtesy phones" with the description and the prices of motels in the area.

You can call these motels free of charge and ask for a room and a pick up shuttle will come to fetch you at the airport. It is very convenient and mostly free of charge but you are supposed to tip the driver. Allow plenty of time at least 15 minutes, sometimes more than 1 hour and pack as lightly as possible. Security is handled by the Transportation Security Administration TSA , although details can vary slightly at each airport. When connecting from an international flight, all passengers must go through security screening to continue on the onward flight, after clearing immigration and customs inspections.

That means all liquids and prohibited items per TSA rules that were purchased in a Duty Free shop or allowed through as carry on from a foreign airport must re-packed into checked luggage after coming out of the customs area and before re-checking luggage.

In most airports there is a check-in desk outside or conveyor belt outside of customs for transiting passengers to re-check their luggage. Items cannot be re-packed or re-arranged before customs inspections in the luggage reclaim area. Adults must show approved picture ID. All passengers must remove shoes and outerwear and submit personal belongings to X-ray screening.

Full body scans using millimeter wave or X-rays are becoming increasingly common, and are now standard for most U. Refusal to submit to a full body scan is permitted, in favor of a pat-down, though you may have to wait a few minutes for an agent to be available to do the pat-down. Should you opt for a pat-down, the TSA agent will offer to do it in private, and you also have the right to demand that it be conducted by an officer of the same sex, but no clothing other than shoes and belts will normally be removed, although the agent will feel some private areas through your clothes.

Random passengers may also be selected for additional screening. This may include an "enhanced pat-down. There are limitations on liquids including gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes in carry-on baggage.

Liquids must be in individual containers each no bigger than 3. Only one such bag, with however much liquid, is allowed per passenger. Liquids in excess of these limits will be confiscated. Liquids in checked baggage are not restricted. Medications including saline solution for contact lenses and infant and child nourishment formula, breast milk, and juice for toddlers are exempt but subject to additional testing; notify TSA agents if you are carrying these items, store them separately from your other liquids, and if possible clearly label them in advance.

These locks can be opened by TSA officials using a master key should they wish to inspect the contents of your bag. If your lock is not one of the TSA-approved locks, the TSA will break it open and you will not be entitled to any compensation for the damage.

Passengers whose journeys begin in major Canadian airports and involve either U. These flights are treated the same as U. Some airports such as LaGuardia Airport in New York City that don't have customs and immigration facilities receive pre-cleared flights from Canada.

However, even if you pass through these airports, make sure that your papers are in order to allow you to enter Canada: This arrangement does not apply in the reverse direction, meaning that you must pass through Canadian customs and immigration on your flight out. Average wait times are up to 30 minutes, but some of the busiest crossings encounter considerable delays—approaching 1—2 hours at peak times weekends, holidays.

There is a special horror attached to the Third Reich, because those were 20 th century Europeans, Christians, and in many ways the smartest, most civilized people on Earth. But the Holocausts do not prove that Whites are worse than other people, just that they are no better.

The history of the Third Reich also proves that with the right formula of economic blowup, misery and humiliation, sparked by charismatic evil, no people are immune to such horror, at no time. Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer sends his translation of an article and interview with two respectable high-profile Muslim leaders in Oslo, who have strongly negative opinions about Jews and the worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

A new trend seems to have developed in the Islamic community in Norway: It should also be pointed out that this is the same mosque that the Norwegian police apologized so profusely to last year for the fact that we have freedom of speech in Norway. The translated article from Dagsavisen:. Many Norwegians have a negative view on Islam due to Jewish domination of the media. We are visiting Central Jamaat-e Ahl-e Sunnat, the mosque with the largest member base in Norway, to talk to its spiritual leader.

The mosque was founded in and currently has more than 5, members. The Imam begins by explaining that all three heavenly religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are sacred to them. Many people are unaware of this fact, says Sarwar. Both of them believe that the school visits confirms their views that Norwegians in general have an inaccurate impression of Islam and Muslims. People are ignorant because they get their information from the media, and the media only write negatively about Islam.

Only a handful of people were behind the movie about Mohammed in the U. So who was financing them, who was backing them? A big tip of the Bodissey pickelhaube to our commenter Jolie Rouge, who has provided us with a brand new acronym. Note the aggressor is not named other than by geographical location e. North Africa, Afghanistan and surprisingly the inclusion of Turkey.

I think JIM could have great utility for our enterprise: Who will be the first major Western politician not counting Geert Wilders to break the greatest cultural taboo of our time, and mess around with JIM? Yesterday a group of Al Qaeda terrorists assaulted a natural gas plant in Algeria and killed two foreigners while taking 41 other hostage.

Today Algerian special forces staged a helicopter raid on the plant, killing a number of the hostages — between six and 34, depending on whose figures you believe — in the process of taking out the terrorists. Among the foreign hostages were American, British, French, and Japanese nationals. In other news, Germany has begun repatriating its foreign gold reserves, which are stored in vaults in Paris, London, and the United States.

The following article tells a brief tale about immigrant-on-immigrant violence in Cologne, with Muslims of immigrant background dealing it out and Russian immigrants as victims. It shows the attempts by a Turk to protect a Russian family and being killed for his trouble.

The translated article from Quotenqueen:. Two criminal foreigners, free to terrorize their neighbors despite drug-related and violent crimes, killed a Turkish husband and father who tried to get them to behave. It happened in a sector of the city called Bickendorf — a district notorious for years for immigrant violence and bordering on the thoroughly Islamized Ehrenfeld. But no one was killed. The Spanish government recently revoked his status as a political refugee in Spain, and he is due to be deported to Pakistan, where he will face the death penalty for blasphemy.

There is currently a push to persuade the Canadian government to grant him and his family political asylum. Firasat was interviewed recently on Alerta Digital TV. The video below shows the third part of the interview, and includes segments in English of a statement by Terry Jones. Part 1 , Part 2. Many thanks to our Spanish correspondent Hermes for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:. That means I am watching big, fat flakes accumulating on everything — though the driveway is still clear.

Prior to that, we awoke this morning to heavy rains. It is our good fortune that there was never any period of transitional ice. Why am I talking about the weather, you ask? Because this heavy wet snow may well eventuate in a power outage.

Should that happen we would have no way to tell you why when, once again, no one seems to be home. And thanks to the generosity of our donors several years ago, we installed a gas cook stove so we can cook and have — thank heavens, again — hot coffee during the outage. Yes, we are careful regarding the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning if we were to use the stove for heat. Yesterday we reported on a group of young Muslim men who accost pedestrians in certain parts of east London.

The original post included an embedded video taken by the group and posted on their YouTube account. As you all know by now, our blog was suddenly removed last night between 8 and 9pm EST for no apparent reason.

Blogger never provided any explanation before, during, or after the outage. Tickets are expensive and can be tough to get, but shows destined for Broadway like The Producers often make their debut here.

For the cost-conscious, the League of Chicago Theatres operates Hot Tix [77] , which offers short-notice half-price tickets to many Chicago shows. One theater to see, regardless of the production, is The Auditorium in the Loop. It's a masterpiece of architecture and of performance space. Designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, who were on a commission from syndicate of local business magnates to bring some culture to the heathen city, it was the tallest building in Chicago and one of the tallest in the world at the time of its opening in , and it's still an impressive sight, inside and out.

The University of Chicago's Gothic campus is in Hyde Park , which is, famously, "home to more Nobel Prizes per square mile than any other neighborhood on Earth. Chicago still loves Carl Sandburg and his poems, but the city shucked off the hog butcher's apron a long time ago.

In terms of industry, there's little that distinguishes Chicago from any other major city in America, save for size. The Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange are among the biggest employers, with stables of traders and stock wizards.

Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago amid much fanfare a few years ago; United Airlines , Abbott Laboratories , and AbbVie are other international companies with headquarters in town. The Big Five consulting firms all have one or more offices in the Loop. And there's always construction work in the city; the city has a strong union presence.

For younger workers, the museums in the downtown area are always looking for high-enthusiasm guides, and the retail outlets on the Magnificent Mile and State Street are also good options.

And with so many colleges and universities in the city, study abroad opportunities abound. Whatever you need, you can buy it in Chicago, on a budget or in luxury.

It includes many designer boutiques, and several multi-story malls anchored by large department stores like N Michigan and Water Tower Place. Additional brands are available from off-strip shops to the south and west of Michigan. State Street used to be a great street for department stores in the Loop , but it's now a shadow of its former self, with Carson Pirie Scott's landmark Louis Sullivan-designed building now a Target store, and invading forces from New York holding the former Marshall Field's building hostage under the name Macy's Most locals still insist that it is "Marshall Field's".

Even Filene's Basement, the famous discount location, is now closed, though a few other discount shops persist. For a classic Chicago souvenir, pick up a box of Frango Mints , much-loved mint chocolates that were originally offered by Marshall Field's and are still available at Macy's stores.

Although no longer made in the thirteenth-floor kitchen of the State Street store, the original recipe appears to still be in use, which pleases the loyal crowds fond of the flavor — and too bad for anyone looking to avoid trans-fats.

However, for a more unique shopping experience, check out the fun, eclectic stores in Lincoln Square , or the cutting-edge shops in Bucktown and Wicker Park , which is also the place to go for music fiends — although there are also key vinyl drops in other parts of the city as well.

Southport in Lakeview and Armitage in Lincoln Park also have browser-friendly fashion boutiques. For art or designer home goods , River North is the place to go. The entire area is walkable and makes for fun window-shopping. Goods from around the world are available at the import stores in Chicago's many ethnic neighborhoods; check See for descriptions and district articles for directions.

If you are the type that loves to browse through independent bookstores , Hyde Park has a stunning assortment of dusty used bookstores selling beat-up-paperbacks to rare 17th century originals, and the world's largest academic bookstore.

Printer's Row in the Near South is also a great stop for book lovers. In addition, the nation's three largest discount store chains Walmart, Target, and Kmart have several stores in Chicago as well. The Walgreens drug store chain which is based in the city are also ubiquitous throughout Chicago with many locations open twenty four hours a day.

Competitor CVS also has many locations in the area. Due to its huge expat and immigrant population, Chicago also features a large variety of ethnic grocery stores, including Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, and Mexican.

Chicago is one of the great restaurant towns in America. If you're looking for a specific kind of cuisine, check out the neighborhoods. Greektown , the Devon Ave Indian corridor, Chinatown , and Chatham 's soul food and barbecue are just the tip of the iceberg. Other areas are more eclectic: If you're interested in celebrity chefs and unique creations, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park have plenty of award-winners.

River North has several good upscale restaurants, but don't waste your time on tourist traps like Rainforest Cafe, Cheesecake Factory, or the Hard Rock Cafe. In fact, you should never submit to standing in line — there are always equally good restaurants nearby. No matter what you enjoy, you'll have a chance to eat well in Chicago, and you won't need to spend a lot of money doing it — unless you want to, of course. But while Chicago has a world class dining scene downtown, it is the low-end where it truly distinguishes itself.

No other city on earth takes fast food so seriously; for those who don't concern themselves with calorie counting, Chicago is cheap, greasy heaven. Head northwest and you'll find sausage shops and old-style Polish restaurants that carry on as if health food and celebrity chefs never happened in Jackowo - Chicago's Polish Village , as well as at Belmont-Central - an Eastern European culinary heaven. The suburb of Des Plaines on the northwest side of the city near O'Hare is where you can find the world's first McDonalds.

Quite a few other local "culinary specialties" in particular deserve further description. The city's three most iconic dishes are Chicago-style hot dogs, deep dish pizza, and Italian beef. However, there are other unique fast foods that are local favorites particularly in the South Side. These lesser-known include the Maxwell Street Polish a grilled kielbasa served on a hot dog bun with grilled onions , the pork chop sandwich a tender pork chop with grilled onions and hot pepper on a hamburger bun; be advised, this tasty sandwich has a bone in the pork chop , and Chicago-style thin-crust pizza which has a much crispier crust than that of a New York thin-crust pizza.

Maxwell Polishes and pork chop sandwiches are available throughout "Maxwell"-style eateries in the city, but are much more prevalent in the West Side and the South Side; the three most popular Maxwell-style eateries are Jim's Original S. Chicago-style thin-crust pizza is available in almost every pizzeria in the South Side. Chicago's most prominent contribution to world cuisine might be the deep dish pizza.

Delivery chains as far away as Kyoto market "Chicago-style pizza," but the only place to be sure you're getting the real thing is in Chicago. To make a deep dish pizza, a thin layer of dough is laid into a deep round pan and pulled up the sides, and then meats and vegetables — Italian sausage, onions, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, and more — are lined on the crust.

At last, tomato sauce goes on top, and the pizza is baked. It's gooey, messy, not recommended by doctors, and delicious. When you dine on deep dish pizza, don't wear anything you were hoping to wear again soon.

Ask around — people won't be shy about giving you their opinion. But deep dish is not the end of the line in a city that takes its pizza so seriously. Chicago also prides itself on its distinctive thin-crust pizza and stuffed pizzas. The Chicago thin crust has a thin, cracker-like, crunchy crust, which somehow remains soft and doughy on the top side. Toppings and a lot of a thin, spiced Italian tomato sauce go under the mozzarella cheese, and the pizza is sliced into squares. If you are incredulous that Chicago's pizza preeminence extends into the realm of the thin crust, head south of Midway to Vito and Nick's, which is widely regarded among local gourmands as the standard bearer for the city.

The stuffed pizza is a monster, enough to make an onlooker faint. Start with the idea of a deep dish, but then find a much deeper dish and stuff a lot more toppings under the cheese. Think deep-dish apple pie, but pizza. Allow 45 minutes to an hour for pizza places to make one of these and allow extra notches on your belt for the ensuing weight gain.

Arguably the best stuffed pizza in town is at Bella Bacino's in the Loop , which somehow is not greasy, but other excellent vendors include Giordano's, Gino's, and Edwardo's. This may come as a surprise to New Yorkers, but the Chicago hot dog is the king of all hot dogs — indeed, it is considered the perfect hot dog. Perhaps due to the city's history of Polish and German immigration, Chicago takes its dogs way more seriously than the rest of the country. A Chicago hot dog is always all-beef usually Vienna beef , always served on a poppy-seed bun, and topped with what looks like a full salad of mustard, tomato slices, a dill pickle spear, sport chili peppers, a generous sprinkling of celery salt, diced onion, and a sweet-pickle relish endemic-to-Chicago that is dyed an odd, vibrant bright-green color.

It's a full meal, folks. Ketchup is regarded as an abomination on a proper Chicago-style hot dog. Self-respecting establishments will refuse orders to put the ketchup on the dog, and many have signs indicating that they don't serve it; truly serious hot dog joints don't even allow the condiment on the premises.

The reason for Chicago's ketchup aversion is simple — ketchup contains sugar, which overwhelms the taste of the beef and prevents its proper enjoyment. Hence, ketchup's replacement with tomato slices. Similarly, Chicagoans eschew fancy mustards that would overwhelm the flavor of the meat in favor of simple yellow mustard. And for the hungry visiting New Yorkers, the same goes for sugary sauerkraut — just no.

At most hot dog places, you will have the option to try a Maxwell Street Polish instead. Born on the eponymous street of the Near West Side , the Polish is an all-beef sausage on a bun, with fewer condiments than the Chicago hot dog: In a tragic, bizarre twist of fate, the areas of Chicago most visited by tourists i. If you are downtown and want to experience a Chicago hot dog done right, the nearest safe bet is Portillo's.

Although, if you're up for a little hot dog adventure, you can eat one right at the source, at the Vienna Beef Factory deli. Sadly, both baseball parks botch their dogs, although the return of Vienna Beef as the official hot dog of Wrigley Field is a step in the right direction.

The Italian Beef sandwich completes the Chicago triumvirate of tasty greasy treats. The main focus of the sandwich is the beef, and serious vendors will serve meat of a surprisingly good quality, which is slow-roasted, and thinly shaved before being loaded generously onto chewy, white, Italian-style bread. Two sets of options will come flying at you, so prepare yourself: The dip, of course, is a sort of French dip of the sandwich back into the beef broth.

If you are in the mood, you may be able to get an Italian Beef with cheese melted over the beef, although travelers looking for the "authentic Italian Beef" perhaps should not stray so far from tradition. The Italian Beef probably was invented by Italian-American immigrants working in the Union Stockyards on the Southwest Side , who could only afford to take home the tough, lowest-quality meat and therefore had a need to slow-roast it, shave it into thin slices, and dip it just to get it in chewable form.

But today the sandwich has found a lucrative home downtown, where it clogs the arteries and delights the taste buds of the Chicago workforce during lunch break.

Beef in the Near North , while the Portillo's chain is another solid option. Four fried chickens and a coke With the Great Migration came much of what was best about the South: Harold's Chicken Shack, a. The Chicago-style fried chicken is considered by many connoisseurs to be some of the nation's best certainly in the North , and it is fried in a home-style mix of beef tallow and vegetable oil, then covered with sauce hot or mild. Crucially, it is always cooked to order — ensuring that essential layer of grease between the skin and the meat.

Initially, the fried chicken chain spread throughout black neighborhoods, which were ignored by other fast food chains, but in later years the franchise has extended its greasy fingers to the West and North Sides, as well as downtown. While chances are you will not find better fried chicken outside of Harold's walls, the quality, pricing, and character vary between individual locations.

Your safest bets are on the South Side — if you are served through bullet-proof glass under signs bearing a chef chasing a chicken with a hatchet, rest assured you are getting the best.

Chicago is a drinking town, and you can find bars and pubs in every part of the city. It is believed that Chicago has the second highest bars-per-capita in the U. Chicagoans have their choice of the hottest clubs or the best dive bars in town.

Most areas that thrive on the bar culture do so for the variety, and bar hopping is quite common. Grab a drink or two, have a good time, and then try another place. It is all about variety. Be prepared to be asked for identification to verify your age, even at neighborhood dive bars. Smoking is banned in Chicago bars and restaurants. The best places to drink for drinking's sake are Wicker Park and neighboring Logan Square and Bucktown , which have a world-class stock of quality local breweries and dive bars, which can be reached by the CTA Blue Line.

These two areas are where the majority of Chicago's hipsters live, with the effect that most of the bars are considered Hipster Bars. North Center and Roscoe Village are also great destination for the art of the beer garden. These bars are crowded on weekends and whenever the Cubs are playing. One block to the East of the Addison stop on Halsted Street, is the center of Chicago's gay community, known as Boystown. Clark Street runs at an angle through the area.

This district is filled with many trendy shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants. Housing is at a premium rate in this area. Boystown is busy most nights of the week and very busy on weekends. Just to the south, the Lincoln Park neighborhood has bars and beer gardens, and some trendy clubs for the neighborhood's notorious high-spending Trixies.

This is another very expensive neighborhood. Tourists and locals also converge upon the nightclubs of Rush and Division St. This area remains very popular although other areas of the city are becoming increasing popular as nightlife destinations as well.

For the last few years the West Loop's warehouse bars were the place to be, but more recently the River North neighborhood has become popular. Streeterville, immediately adjacent, exchanges the dance floors for high-priced hotel bars and piano lounges.

Although good dance music can be found in Wicker Park and the surrounding area, the best places to dance in the city are the expensive see and be seen clubs in River North and the open-to-all except perhaps bachelorette parties clubs in gay-friendly Boystown , which are a lot of fun for people of any sexual orientation. Take the Redline train and get off at Belmont station. See The Jazz Track for a wealth of information about current and historic jazz clubs in Chicago. Chicago, though located far away from the valley, has both.

Former New Orleans and Memphis residents brought jazz and blues to Chicago as they came north for a variety of reasons: The blues were in Chicago long before the car chase and the mission from God, but The Blues Brothers sealed Chicago as the home of the blues in the popular consciousness.

Fortunately, the city has the chops to back that up. Maxwell Street [78] Near West Side was the heart and soul of Chicago blues, but the wrecking ball, driven by the University of Illinois at Chicago, has taken a brutal toll.

Residents have been fighting to save what remains. Performance venues run the gamut from tiny, cheap blues bars all over the city to big, expensive places like Buddy Guy's Legends Loop and the original House of Blues Near North. But don't let yourself get too wrapped up in the past, because Chicago blues is anything but. No other city in the world can compete with Chicago's long list of blues-soaked neighborhood dives and lounges. The North Side's blues clubs favor tradition in their music, and are usually the most accessible to visitors, but offer a slightly watered down experience from the funkier, more authentic blues bars on the South and Far West Sides, where most of Chicago's blues musicians live and hang.

If one club could claim to be the home of the real Chicago blues, Lee's Unleaded Blues in Chatham-South Shore would probably win the title. But there are scores of worthy blues joints all around the city many of which are a lot easier to visit via public transport.

A visit to one of these off-the-beaten-path blues dives is considerably more adventurous than a visit to the touristy House of Blues, but the experiences born of such adventures have been known to reward visitors with a life-long passion for the blues.

If you are staying downtown, the Velvet Lounge will be your best bet, as it is an easy cab ride, and its high-profile performances will rarely disappoint. Both take place in Grant Park Loop. Wicker Park and Bucktown are the main place to go for indie rock shows: The Near South has become an underrated destination for great shows as well. The Park West in Lincoln Park has light jazz, light rock, and other shows you'd sit down for; so does Navy Pier Near North , particularly in the summer.

The venerable Chicago Theater in the Loop is better-known for its sign than for anything else, but it has rock, jazz, gospel, and spoken-word performances by authors like David Sedaris. You'll find musicians from the CSO doing outreach all over the city, along with their counterparts at the Lyric Opera. Both are in the Loop. The Petrillo Bandshell in Grant Park and the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park , both in the Loop , tend to host big, eclectic shows and festivals in the summer, which are sometimes free.

You'll also have to head out to the suburbs for Ravinia , which features upscale classical, jazz, and blues outdoors throughout the summer. See Chicagoland for details on suburban venues. Chicago hosts many major conventions each year and has plenty of places to stay. If you want to explore the city, aim for downtown — a hotel near O'Hare is good for visiting one thing and one thing only, and that's O'Hare although the CTA Blue Line is walking distance from most of them, so access to the city is easy, aside from 30 minutes.

However, if you have a specific interest in mind, there are hotels throughout the city, and getting away from downtown will give you more of a sense of other neighborhoods. You'll appreciate that if you're in town for more than a couple of days. Make sure that where you're staying is within your comfort level before committing to stay there, though. More far flung transient hotels will be suitable for those seeking to relive Jack Kerouac's seedy adventures around the country, but may alarm and disgust the average traveler.

Budget-priced places are usually pretty far from the Loop , so when you're booking, remember that Chicago is vast. Travelers on a budget should consider accommodations away from the city center which can be easily reached via any of the several CTA train lines. There is a hostel in the Loop , a hostel in Greektown within walking distance to Union Station, a hostel by Wrigley Field and three others near the universities in Lincoln Park , Rogers Park and in Wicker Park, all of which are interesting neighborhoods in their own right, and close to the L for access to the rest of the city.

For deals on mid-range hotels, there are good options far out from the center by Midway and in North Lincoln. As in almost the entire United States, dial to get emergency help. Dial for all non-emergency situations in Chicago. Chicago is sometimes portrayed as an active war zone, under the moniker of "Chi-raq". A lot of this is media hype, but some of it is not. As of , Chicago is experiencing elevated rates of violent crime following a spike in , placing it many "top ten" lists for violent crime in cities.

This is compounded by protests against a police force who have various public scandals of their own. Combined with constant construction forcing sidewalks and streets to close or divert in unexpected ways, is it not unusual for travelers new to the city to feel a little uneasy.

The majority of Chicago is no different from any other major American city. Taking normal safety measures will see you through. It is noteworthy that crime tends to be confined to parts of the South Side and some particular hotspots such as the now-famous homeless encampments sometimes concentrated near viaducts and overpasses. People coming into the city via popular tourist routes- including major transit hubs such as Union Station near downtown , or those choosing to walk the Magnificent Mile- are likely to be confronted by Chicago's homeless beggars who are for the most part harmless.

Some sell a local newspaper called Streetwise to make a living. These people should be wearing a badge of some kind to indicate they sell the newspaper and they keep all the profits they make. If you're feeling generous but want to be safe, those selling Streetwise are your best bet. Otherwise the safe method is to avoid eye contact and if necessary take the first possible turn toward a more populated street or business. While on the South Side one should avoid, or at the very least be extra vigilant when passing through Englewood, Washington Park, Woodlawn, and Grand Crossing since these are the most run-down and violent neighborhoods in this part of the city.

On the West Side, Garfield Park with the exception of the observatory , Lawndale, and Austin are also some of the most violent and run-down neighborhoods in the city. Even in an area with a bad reputation, you might still have a perfectly good time, as long as it falls within your comfort level. Take caution in the Loop at night; after working hours, the Loop gets quiet and dark in a hurry west of State Street, but you'll be fine near hotels and close to Michigan Avenue and the lake.

When disembarking a crowded CTA train, especially in the downtown-area subways, be wary of purse snatchers and Apple pickers thieves who snatch your smart phone--iPhones are a particular favorite--out of your hand and exit the train just before the doors close. In general, common sense will keep you safe in Chicago: Dress appropriately for the weather. Chicago's winter is famously windy and cold, so cover exposed skin and wear layers in the winter.

Heat exhaustion is an equal risk in the summer months, especially July and August. Stay off the road during a snowstorm. Chicago's streets and sanitation department generally does a good job clearing the major roads in the center of the city, but the neighborhoods can take longer, and the construction-littered expressways are anyone's guess.

If you happen to be driving in Chicago during or right after a snowstorm, be aware that certain areas have a tradition of parking "dibs" where residents place debris on the street to mark their cleared parking spots when their cars aren't present.

If you see broken furniture or wooden crates covering up a potential parking spot, don't move the debris to park as this might result in a serious altercation with residents or deliberate damage to your vehicle eg slashed tires, broken windows, key scratches, etc. Chicago has a reputation of being a segregated city, yet this image has finally started to erode somewhat.

In many ways, it is like any other city: What may be okay behavior on one side of the city may get you into trouble on another side of the city. Homosexuality, accepted through downtown and the North Side, and parts of the South Side, may not be as well received elsewhere.

There are many neighborhoods in Chicago where various races live in harmony, and race isn't an issue whatsoever. There are also neighborhoods that are mainly white, black, or latino and outsiders may be looked at with a curious eye. If you get lost, it is recommended that you try and flag down a police officer, as the Chicago Police Department can be quite helpful.

You should also have a map with you of the city or area of the city that you intend to explore in case you get lost, so you don't have to bother someone for directions. The first Internet cafe in the United States was opened in Chicago, but they never really caught on here.

There are still a few, though; check individual district articles. If you have a computer with you, free wireless Internet access is now standard-issue at coffee shops throughout the city including major ones like Starbucks. Most hotels above the transient level offer free Wi-Fi, too.

The good news is that all branches of the Chicago Public Library system offer free internet access , via public terminals and free, password-free, public wireless.

If you do not have a Chicago library card, but you have a photo ID that shows you do not live in Chicago, you can get a temporary permit from the library information desk. If you are from Chicago and don't have a library card, though, all you can get is a stern look and a brief lecture on how Chicagoans need to support the library system. The most centrally located branch is the giant Harold Washington Library in the Loop , but there are branch libraries in every part of the city — again, see individual district articles.

There are places of worship all over the city; the front desk of your hotel will almost certainly be able to direct you to one nearby. Otherwise, the following are centrally located in either the Loop or the Near North , unless otherwise noted.

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