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execfile and import not working

Hi, I am setting up Python 2.7 after an upgrade to Ubuntu 16.04, a 
thorough one, leaving no survivors. Everything is fine, IDLE opens, 
ready to go. Alas, execfile and import commands don't do my bidding, but 
hang IDLE. All I can do is kill the process named "python" from a bash 
terminal. IDLE then is still open, says "=== RESTART: Shell ===" and is 
again ready for action. It works interactively, but no imports . . . 
What could be the problem?

Thanks for ideas