Shiva Ayyadurai comments ‘were inappropriate’

Civics teachers send a letter to parents after his recent appearance.

Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, an engineer, entrepreneur, and vaccine skeptic live streamed a conversation with MVRHS students without the school’s permission. — Screenshot

Several teachers at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional sent a letter to parents of students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School after a video chat with Shiva Ayyadurai, known as Dr. Shiva, calling some of Ayyadurai’s comments “inappropriate.”

Born in India, Ayyadurai holds four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including a Ph.D. in biological engineering, but he’s best known for his right-wing views and as the self-proclaimed inventor of email.

According to Politico, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Boston Magazine, Right Wing Watch, and others, Ayyadurai has spread conspiracy theories about President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election and his own defeat in the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts on Twitter before the social media platform suspended his account.

He also controversially claims to have invented email as a high school student in New Jersey in the late 1970s. 

According to the New York Times, Ayyadurai has claimed that 4.2 percent of Trump’s votes were taken away by fans of the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which features the number 42 throughout the book.

During his talk with MVRHS students, Ayyadurai, who was invited as an independent guest speaker, said he wanted to focus on a conversation “beyond left and right.”

Reading from his biography, social studies teacher Joellen Meuse, who moderated the talk, introduced Ayyadurai as an inventor of email, a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur, and Fulbright scholar.

“He’s beyond left and right, that’s what independent means,” Meuse said to the over 150 students and teachers listening to the talk. “Truth knows no party. That is what Dr. Shiva is about. That is from his bio.”

She added, “You may be the first non-Democrat in our building in a long time, so I think this may be interesting.”

The video also featured a ticker banner that read “Get Educated or Be Enslaved.,” which leads to Ayyadurai’s website.

Ayyadurai posted the video talk on his Facebook page, unbeknownst to school staff, and clearly shows students and teachers from the civics course.

The talk covered a wide range of topics, including the economy, health, vaccines, pharmaceutical companies, abortion, and systems biology.

Ayyadurai criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, calling him a “complete government bureaucrat,” and “not really a scientist.”

He also voiced skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine. “To simply say, ‘I’m going to give you this one little jab, and then once you get this you’re fine,’ is just nonsense,” Ayyadurai said. The Centers for Disease Control website states that COVID-19 vaccines reduce “the risk of COVID-19 and its potentially severe complications.” The COVID-19 vaccines do not cure COVID-19, or prevent it.

Addressing student comments in the Zoom chat, Ayyadurai called a message racist that said “We all know you didn’t invent email.”

“It’s a very ignorant statement that ‘You didn’t invent email,’ because I did invent email. I never wanted credit for it, but we need to address it, because it goes to the heart of racism,” Ayyadurai said. “The elites in this country have created an environment that all great innovation must come from people who go to Martha’s Vineyard, people who go to MIT, people who go to Harvard. That it surely could not come from a 14-year-old boy working in Newark, New Jersey.”

He also called Wikipedia a racist organization. Wikipedia lists Ayyadurai as “an Indian-American engineer, politician, entrepreneur, anti-vaccine activist, and promoter of conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and unfounded medical claims.”

On marriage, Ayyadurai said he did not believe in the modern concept of marriage. “I think it’s hard enough for two people to come together. I don’t want a third person in my life. If the definition of marriage is having the state issue a marriage certificate, I’m personally not into it, and it creates a lot of issues,” he said.

He also spoke about racism: “The way we overcome racism, the way we overcome any of these issues of our modern times, is to take a systems approach, where we start going to the heart of the issue beyond left and right,” he said. 

At the end of the talk, Meuse said she was not aware the talk was being live-streamed on Facebook. In his Facebook post, Ayyadurai said he answered “15 profound questions from high school students at an elite high school in Martha’s Vineyard, MA.”

In a letter to parents, the civics and current issues teachers said the second theme of the class engages students on government, politics, and viewpoint diversity, with the goal of providing students with multiple viewpoints from across the political spectrum.

The letter says the course is designed to push students’ thinking in a way that “respects the dignity of our community.”

“These speakers are mostly mainstream party members, but our speaker today was not. We understood that his views are far outside the mainstream, but we also expected that, as a professional, he would follow basic standards of decorum,” the letter reads in part. “Students were very engaged, with lots of questions and interest. However, toward the end, some of his comments were inappropriate. In addition, he streamed the presentation on Facebook without our knowledge and permission. It has also come to our attention that he has previously expressed views that are offensive.

“We sincerely want to push students’ thinking — but always in a way that respects the dignity of our community. We view this as a ‘teachable moment,’ and will devote Friday’s class to unpacking student questions and feedback.”

Speaking to The Times by phone, MVRHS Principal Sara Dingledy said the conversation with Ayyadurai went off the rails toward the end of the talk: “Up until everything went off the rails when he got annoyed. That is exactly what we don’t want modeled. That is not effective discourse, and I attribute that to him,” Dingledy said. “That’s honestly the part that disappoints me the most, plus the lack of permission in posting a video that he did without the consent of the students or the school.”

Dingledy said some parents and students were concerned. “They were concerned about the vetting of sources, they were concerned about whether or not this person should have been given a platform, and they were concerned about the posting,” she said. 

On Friday, Dingledy said students and teachers discussed the talk, and unpacked how to check sources, limits of free speech, and appropriate discourse.

Dingledy added the school is going through its lawyers to explore having the video removed from Facebook. A review of Ayyadurai’s Facebook page showed the video has been removed.

“Given his own self-bio, how he responded to teenagers pushing him on issues is what I think is the absolute wrong lesson. There’s discourse, and then there’s going off the rails, and being unprofessional, and being offensive,” Dingledy said. “What I hope doesn’t happen is looking at this like we shouldn’t do it, and move in a different direction. Hopefully we can regroup, reflect, and bring the students along in the learning.”


  1. …..what? I’m all for kids hearing different opinions but..wasn’t there anybody right wing and credible available?

    • Jessica – could not agree more. Opinion is one thing but this is lies. Doesn’t the school have some responsibility to introduce credible speakers to this age group?

      • Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai is a biological engineer who specializes in the human immune system. I would say that’s a credible source.

    • Jessica, the point wasn’t to have a speaker who was right wing and credible, we have a speaker like that visiting next. If you were to read the article, the teacher who got him to speak and have a discussion with us billed him as “beyond left and right.” Let me clarify that I am not trying to defend him, I am one of the students who was there on the zoom.

  2. ‘Beyond left or right.’

    Ayyadurai is only slightly to the left of Atilla the Hun.

    What a disgusting mockery of American civics…

  3. This is exactly the kind of thinking we should be exposing our kids to. Not mainstream. Not comfortable. Not what is politically correct. This enables students to dig further into his comments and learn for themselves the validity of his comments. This is how students learn to have an objective view of society. Students need to be inquisitive, not just take everything as fact.

    • Are you advocating to exposing our kids to packs of lies, of the dangerous variety, and expecting them to wade through it?

      • Elizabeth, we’re 17 and 18 year olds. We are at the age where we have already formed our own ideals and are able to recognize when someone has dangerous/wrong ideas. We should in fact be exposed to people like Ayyadurai because people like him exist in our country and it is important to recognize that!

  4. Congratulations to MVHS and it’s teachers for allowing someone from the extreme right to speak to the students. That was a rare opportunity indeed. It’s too bad the guest was too sensitive on some issues but that is also a big part of the lesson. I would hope that when speakers are brought to the students from the extreme left, that the students are just as challenging and aggressive at getting to the truth. The truth is rarely found at the extremes and the students should experience that.

  5. Civics class does not mean you bring in QAnon. Did ANYONE vet this guy first? And for the record, the entire video is still up on his website. What was the administration thinking????

    • Trying to present both sides when one side is clearly off the rails is not teaching about civil discourse. How about sticking to demonstrable truth and not giving credence to “alternative facts”.

      • In your humble opinion which side is clearly off the rails?
        What has led you to this conclusion?
        Your facts?

      • These kids are past the age of “predigested” food.

        For thought, that is.

        Give up on trying to do their thinking for them.

        Or anyone’s, for that matter.

        • Katherine, why do you always take the antivaxer side— the side that lies and pushes conspiracy theories and then goes off the rails when called out? You also argued against mandated vaccines for Howes House, remember?—even though old people most at risk congregate there. You got very angry then, too, at people trying to protect others from the lies and disinformation of those against the proven effective covid vaccines.

        • Good one Katherine,

          MV HS teachers and its docents need to hear some outside voices. Dr. Shiva is mainstream, not right wing at all. It is the school system and it’s teachers who have gone so far left that anything less than the views Mao, Stalin or or the ideas of Angela Davis in Cuba are “right wing”. Take the blinders off and let the students discover the truth for them selves. Maybe he did invent e-mail. Dr. Shiva is the very essence of discover, find, test and present the truth. Misrepresentation about anything in the physical world is simply not in his character.

          • I’m all for presenting challenging speakers to MVRHS students, but this fella is a libelous huckster. Of course, he probably looks centrist to someone who thinks “use someone’s preferred pronouns” is a form of Maoism.

        • Ms Scott, ”demonstrable truth” is whatever they want it to be. Lets suppose an Evangelical Priest came and spoke about the atonement of Jesus for sins. Would the athiests or agnostics claim this is a pack of lies and shouldnt be presented. Would they say ”its one thing to have opinions but another to have lies”?

          • Andy– when I, an ordained minister within the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster can go to the high school and tell the students that if they are horrible people that they are going to spend eternity in hell, and that in that hell they will be forever condemned to drinking flat beer, you can have your evangelical priest talk about atonement.
            Until then, I think we should abide by the first amendment of the constitution, and keep religious nut cases , regardless of their beliefs out of the schools.

          • ENGELMAN, that would be a violation of the Constitution and students’ rights. Proselytizing in public schools has been banned for decades. It would also be a disgusting thing to do to Muslim and Jewish students who have enough Christianity jammed down their throats without having to contend with this sort of arrogant abuse of power in our public schools.

  6. Ummmmm, why was he invited to speak? Is he friends with Al Gore, the inventor of the internet? What other lunatics are on the speaking agenda, sounds like this should have been open to the public with ticket sales…

        • ok Janice — Lyin flyin Ted wasn’t available . Would that be better ?
          And in case you haven’t noticed , right wing politicians have been comparing Fauci, the “squad”, Biden, and anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to get vaccinated to the aforementioned sociopathic dicktater and the Holocaust.

        • Anti-vaxers are responsible for spreading lies about the safety and efficacy of the covid vaccines. Supposedly educated people like this crackpot here are responsible for many deaths among those who failed to get vaxed but, on their deathbed, wished they did. They believed the lies and died for it. Anyone who spreads this garbage is, in my view, on the immoral level of a Jim Jones, a Hitler, a Trump. Trump suggested people inject Clorox and not wear a mask, so yeah, Hitler wasn’t available. Neither was Jim Jones. Neither was Trump.

      • When it came to race and religion Hitler was very Conservative.
        He thought the mixing to be harmful.
        Some Conservatives still think he was Right.

  7. I cannot fathom how anyone with one functioning brain cell could have thought this guy was a legit representation of “opposing” conservative views. He’s a well known crackpot, despite his degrees and pedigree. He peddles debunked conspiracy theories and presents himself as an authority on everything with zero evidence of any of his claims. Those poor kids were spoon fed a dose of his lunacy. This has to be filed under “what the hell were they thinking?” Apparently there are no sane conservatives left to invite, so this is what you end up with. Note to the Principal: getting banned from Twitter should be a big red flag.

    • “Those poor kids were spoon fed a dose of his lunacy.”

      These teenagers are not being “spoon-fed” anything. They can think for themselves.

      It is people like you who are treating high school students like toddlers with your efforts to ensure that they will be “spoon-fed” according to your version of the Overton Window.

      • Antivaxers can try to pretend that their deranged, conspiracy theory, wrong “opinion” is okay to introduce to growing minds, but our kids really don’t need these lies any more than they need to hear a neo Nazi bill of sale in class. This Shiva crackpot was kicked off Twitter because he spreads dangerous lies and people believe him. Peddling BS is not okay in the classroom, especially when these are teens with brains still developing.

  8. I interviewed with Shiva to be his Chief Financial Officer during the dot com era in 2001, when any internet company could raise easy money. Nice offices right in Harvard Square, and on paper he had a good story. I ran from Cambridge with my hair on fire. I’m amazed he’s still spinning the same fables 20 years later.

  9. They’re seniors. They’ll be voting. They need to develop BS detectors, stat. Seems like some already have them, pushed back, and that pushed this jerk’s buttons. A good learning experience.

  10. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Enough with the cancel culture. What happened to allowing people to think freely and for themselves? Cancel culture is the ultimate form of censorship.

    • Just because you think that there was voter fraud does not mean that there was.

      Should Hitler have been censored, canceled?

    • Mike– I agree entirely.
      I recently discovered that my grandmother was on the ‘Minnow” in 14 42 when it crossed the Atlantic and discovered the new world 42 years before Columbus allegedly did. She was the cook, and they all would have starved had she not discovered that fish were edible. That was good, but then she invented the “Gladys string on a stick with a hook” in order to catch the fish. She saved the crew and thereby discovered the America’s ( which is what the natives called it at the time.)
      Columbus would have never ventured more than 42 meters off shore had he not heard about this from his friend “K”.
      It is terrible that this story ( a lot of people are saying it’s true) has been suppressed by the Merpeople, who want all the fish for themselves.
      I think this historical fact needs to be taught in the school.
      I propose that next April second be celebrated as “Gladys” day.
      I have 142% indisputable evidence and a video of grandma Gladys catching her first fish on april 2nd 1442.
      I will reveal the ENORMOUS amount of evidence I have in 4 months and 2 days .

    • Mike is correct. The cancel culture mob is wrong. We must not let the hatters turn America into a woke, neo-north Korea.

  11. Left wingers always use the phrase ”opinions are one thing but lies are another and shouldnt be allowed”. This is the card they play to sound equitable, to sound fair. But actually they are simply denying free speech.

    • Absolutely no one said he doesnt have the right to speak his nonsense. He just shouldnt be invited to present as a legit voice of opposing ideas. What’s next? Inviting someone to present an opposing view of the Holocaust? A 9/11 denier? A flat Earther?

    • Andy, would you encourage the Island’s most famous seasonal resident to address our students as to the real truth in politics?
      Just to be fair?

    • What differentiates a lie from an opinion?
      Who gets to determine which is which?
      The person with an opinion?

      • The demonstrable facts. Ex. Fact: Joe Biden won the election. Fact: vaccines save lives. Fact: the Holocaust happened. Those things are not up for debate or opinion. Because they are true.

          • The earth is a sphere. Children were murdered at Sandy Hook, Millions of Jews were tortured and murdered by Nazis. There is no “mind of the beholder” here. To suggest otherwise is delusional and dangerous.

    • Andy, meaning you endorse lying to the public? On the chance you do not, how would you prevent it from happening? As a start, why not let qualified educators decide rather than political leaders?

  12. Geraldine Brooks, your first three sentences are spot on. (Also, kids are definitely not the only ones who need to develop BS detectors these days! ) Never underestimate students today. Their minds are ready, willing, and able. An experience like this , when unpacked and guided in discussion afterward, can be invaluable. One cannot hide from different views, but one can develop the ability to look for fact and truth and recognize BS when it appears.

    • It’s too bad that Zach Utz is the only high school student who has commented here (AFAIK), but perhaps other high school students have read this thread. I suggest that it be integrated into the civics curriculum as a feedback element, to be discussed in the next civics class.

  13. I am also baffled that the school did not properly vet this crackpot. His views and claims are so far fetched no reasonable would take him seriously. His outrageous musings are well known to anyone who is a member of the Islanders Talk group on Facebook.
    Who was the faculty member that thought this was a good idea?

  14. It is clear that the school’s vetting system leaves a lot to be desired. That being said, if a Conservative wants to make a fool out of themself, let them. And if a Liberal wants to make a fool out of themself, let them. There are plenty of fools on both sides of the aisle. Adolescents need to learn how to recognize them at an early age. Otherwise they will be taken advantage of for the remainder of their lives until they learn how to do so.

    • Chris– I don’t think a proper education is one in which students are sometimes knowingly lied to and sometimes told the truth.
      How would they learn to distinguish between the truth and the lie ?
      Many adults here can’t even distinguish an opinion from a fact.

  15. My name is Zach Utz and I’m a senior at MVRHS. Let me begin this by clarifying that I am NOT attempting to support Shiva Ayyudurai. I was in the classroom when this zoom happened and I saw everything go down. I believe this article would be given a completely different response if actual students were interviewed about what happened.
    I am 17 years old, I have my own thoughts and opinions, and a one hour long zoom meeting isn’t going to flip those opinions on their head and turn me into a conspiracy theorist. The zoom meeting started our normal, Ayyudurai made some points that seemed more sane then you’d expect. Most of those points were in regard to how the government keeps protecting big pharma (not related to covid-19) and big banks, and how that my be a bad thing for our economy. After that he went completely off the rails. When the email question came up, obviously a soft spot for him, he became completely unprofessional and brought too much emotion into what was before a discussion on civil discourse from a viewpoint not similar to our own. He was the adult in the room and he should’ve kept his temper, but he didn’t and that was where to conversation went wrong and he began to spout out complete conspiracy theories.
    I believe though that something like that was important to watch. There’s a reason he’s not in the “mainstream” and we witnessed it. The sad fact is that there are so many people in this country like him, and despite how utterly loony most of them are, we cannot just ignore them.
    For me, what happened on Wednesday was a necessary teaching moment for our class, and should not be regarded as a failure on part of the school and history department. What I’m trying to get at is though a lot of bad came out of the situation, some good did too.

    • You sound incredibly level-headed, Zach, and I commend you for having the level of maturity to make your own conclusions. But not all 17-18 years old are like you and many of Shiva’s comments are dangerous if people believe them. You all are still up on his website – which adds credibility to his statements, even though that clearly was not your goal.

      • Elizabeth, I agree that the videos still being up is dangerous but the school is actively working towards taking them down. I must ask you though, do you say this (“not all 17-18 years old are like you”) after having a discussion with an MVRHS senior who seems to have been indoctrinated by Ayyudurai’s nonsense? From first hand account I’ve seen that this experience has had the opposite affect on my classmates and I from what you believe.

        • Zach– Thanks for joining the discussion.
          When I was in high school, we had to watch a movie called “reefer madness”. It showed actors taking one hit of the dreaded drug and being turned into crazy eyed zombies assaulting each other and driving off cliffs. It was a classic pile of lies that no one believed for a second. We treated it like a comedy, and is still thought of that way today. Here’s the 2 minute trailer for all you boomers to laugh about !!!

          The problem today is that some students will go on their computers and find echo chambers that have people who think he is right. There seems to be some sort of national psychosis that allows unfounded rumors and outright lies to be rationalized.

    • Zach, where will our nation go with people who think like you?
      Level headed thinking is the path to disaster.
      It will diminish partisan behavior.
      Then what?

  16. The MVRHS civics teacher clearly did not due adequate due diligence on this individual before inviting him to address her students.

  17. Meuse says Shiva first non democrat in the building in a long time. Is that by chance or by choice. Shouldn’t both political ideals be taught without bias?

    • Why are informed, educated people under any obligation to present lies as valid ideology? The unflinching depiction of conservatism as it presently exists in this country would be deeply unflattering. Unflattering enough that I am sure people would lose their jobs over it. Because, despite being various permutations of wrong, evil, and stupid, modern conservatives still comprise a sizable portion of our population, even on MV.

  18. Well said Zac. Actually better said than most of the “adult” comments. You give me hope in our youth. Fact: There is lunacy coming from both ends of the political spectrum. So as you suggested, let’s all do more listening and less cancelling so we can all learn more truths.

  19. This class did more to inoculate the students against irrational crackpot points of view than any woke hectoring from the pearl-clutching, finger wagging virtue shrills in the community. The kids are fine- it’s the leftist moralists who are inconsolable.

    • Why do your scolding, dismissive comments, always using the same buzzwords, sound so misogynistic? Why scold commenters for discussing in a discussion? The STUDENTS, not the class, did more to expose what’s wrong with lunatic conspiracy theorists and their ideas. We adults don’t need to invite these lunatics into a class for a confrontation, as the students so clearly demonstrated. I’m proud of our students for exposing the nature of this crackpot. We know who the liars and crackpots are without inviting them into a class and without electing them to hold office to destroy our democracy and cause more angry upheavals among the uneducated who fall for this garbage. We need more 17 year old clear minds in this country. It’s the cult and culture of Trump sycophants that make stupid conspiracies acceptable, even inviting them for discussion in a classroom these days—What’s to discuss? Throw the bums out, which basically is what the kids did. The invitation only gives credence to an insanity that our kids want no part of. Seriously, what crackpots are next before they get tossed out by our students? Neo-Nazis? Proud Boys? Half-naked, traitorous insurrectionists wearing horns? This was a terrible and stupid choice for a speaker, as dumb as inviting a school shooter into a classroom to give his side of why he’s a murderer. How did anyone think our kids would react? The answer is that the planners of this stupidity did not THINK.

      • Jackie, you would find the old typing slogan “The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over The Lazy Dog” misogynistic, as well as transphobic as racist to boot. It’s hard not to laugh at your hyper-reactivity.

        • Alex, I guess you’re not familiar with calling women “hypersensitive” as a typically sexist response when someone dares notice misogyny. (“Crazy” has gone out of fashion with sexists because it’s so blatant.) Maybe you need to type “shrill, finger wagging, and pearl clutching” a few more times before you realize your own give-aways.
          Your thinking is defensive and unoriginal—like a Donald Jr tweet. Your contribution to the discussion adds an arrogant, dismissive, angry bitterness to an otherwise mostly intelligent discussion. Did I mention it’s also sexist?

          • Alex, “Sexism is impossible when gender is just a fictional construct” is another way for misogynists to deny feminism, equal rights for women, and abortion rights. Every denial of the sexist remarks you can’t stop digs deeper into the hole you’ve made for yourself.

    • A ruckus? Like you and your “sheeple” remark in another thread about getting the flu vaccine, Shiva is an antivaxer spreading lies about the proven efficacy of vaccines. He’s a crackpot.

  20. Shiva, like so many other Bannonesque ‘conservative’, ‘own the libs’, ‘stir things up’ wise guys did his job; Islanders are at each other’s throats arguing over demonstrable lies.

  21. As an aspiring politician myself, I look forward to learning more about Mr. Shiva. He inspires me to be unapologetically myself. he doesn’t stand for the BS that the government force feeds to us American citizens. PLEASE-LISTEN!!!! We are not alone in this fight for liberty and justice for all. I wake up and say the pledge of allegiance. Follow my lead. All hail Shiva.

    • Watch video of American school children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance side-by-side with those of Hitler Youth attending summer camp. Then tell me our Pledge isn’t political indoctrination.

  22. Let anti-vaxxers set up their own school system. As you don’t support taxation for the public good (any of you going to argue for taxes?), fund it yourselves, issue diplomas for education based on right-wing lies, learn your graduates have nothing to take home a living wage.

  23. When it comes to the spread of false information, people with certain mental health conditions are more likely to be susceptible and less likely to be vaccinated. This harm is frequently overlooked. Not everybody is able to separate fact from conspiracy. Our schools and politicians have a duty to communicate responsibly.

    Learning to critically assess is worthwhile, of course, and I’m glad local students were able to do so. Still, by inviting him to speak and noting his educational background, MVRHS strongly implied that Ayyadurai is credible. That he seems to believe The Hitchhiker’s Guide played any part in the election should settle that pretty easily. Truth may know no party, but it can differentiate between data and confirmed works of fiction. I’d typically assume the 42 reference must be a joke, but given the rest of his comments, that seems too optimistic.

    • “When it comes to the spread of false information, people with certain mental health conditions are more likely to be susceptible and less likely to be vaccinated.”

      This comment thread is a perfect example of why Martha’s Vineyard needs a shake-up. I am glad that the civics class is delivering it. I was really worried that only “official narratives” would get past the classroom door.

      It is hilarious to see the display of agony and outrage and general hurt by the Ministry of Truth spear carriers.

  24. I believe Lord Shiva of the Hindu folks, and apparently the good Doctors namesake, was responsible for the destruction of the Universe…. just sayin’

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