Starting with the US . . .
#hackers going to attack US high profile sites on May 7 http://www.ehackingnews.com/2013/05/us-honolulu-police-department-and-990.html … #OpUSA V @TMEP_Official
Nerea Rial (New Europe) reports, "Hacking group Anonymous has launched OperationUSA (#OpUSA), a coordinated online attack against nine US government sites and more than 130 financial institutions for 7 May, according to a post published in Pastebin. The attack, according to Anonymous, would be a response to social and political injustices. 'America you have committed multiple war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently you have committed war crimes in your own country'." Rhonda Schwartz, Pierre Thomas and Lee Ferran (ABC News) add, "The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are cautioning American government and financial institutions that they could be targets of a wave of cyber attacks Tuesday from Anonymous-linked hacktivists in the Middle East and North Africa." Marshall Honorof (TechNewsDaily) reports that the specific government web sites said to be targeted are "the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the FBI and the White House." In other worries for the US government, there's been an arrest (which is not a conviction) of a high profile military officer.
David Martin (CBS News) reports that Air Force Lt Col Jeff Krusinski was arrested after he "approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks." Martin notes the alleged victim is said to have fought off Krusinski and his mug shot "shows signs of struggle on his face" -- cuts and scratches. Jennifer Hlad (Stars and Stripes) identifies the 41-year-old accused as "the chief of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response branch." Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Tracy Connor (NBC News) notes that Kursinski had held that position for two months. Luis Martinez (ABC News) quotes Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek stating the accused "was responsible for writing plans and programs that supported victims of sexual assault. He worked on prevention programs for sexual assault." Barbara Starr and Greg Seaby (CNN) add, "Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the woman did not know her alleged attacker." Jennifer Hlad notes the Air Force's other assault problem: James Wilkerson. In November, Lt Col James Wilkerson was found guilty by a military court of assaulting a woman. At the end of February, Lt Gen Craig A. Franklin gave an order releasing Wilkerson from prison and Franklin tossed aside the conviction. March 13th, he was mentioned in the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel hearing. It was noted in that hearing (by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand) that 2011 saw "an estimated 19,000 sexual assaults." Senator Clair McCaskill is a former prosecutor. We'll note this from that hearing.
Senator Clair McCaskill: Rape is the crime of a coward. Rapists in the ranks are masquerading as real members of our military because our military is not about cowards. Now our military does an amazing job of training. I am so proud of our military. But, unfortunately, I believe that this is not a crime that we're going to train our way out of because the crime of rape has nothing to do with sexual gratification, it has nothing to do with dirty jokes, and frankly there are a lot of studies that say it's not even connected necessarily with people who like to look at bad or dirty pictures. It's a crime of assault, power, domination. And I believe, based on my years of experience, that the only way that victims of sexual assault are going to feel empowered in the military is when they finally believe that the focus on the military is to get these guys and put them in prison. So I believe that the focus of our efforts should be on effective prosecution and what do we need to do to make sure that these investigations are done promptly and professionally, that the victims are wrapped in good information, solid support and legal advice.
At this point, no trial has been held. The legal system in the US is based upon innocent until proven guilty so that's what Jeff Krusinski currently is.
In DC today, the issue of Iraq came up in the briefing State Dept spokesperson Patrick Ventrell gave.
QUESTION: No phone calls at all?
MR. VENTRELL: He was in touch with President Maliki in Iraq, but I don’t have any phone calls with Israelis to readout.
QUESTION: What about this phone call with Mr. Maliki?
MR. VENTRELL: Okay. Sure. One second here. Secretary Kerry called Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki over the weekend to discuss events in Iraq as well as in the region. The Secretary welcomed the recent discussions between Baghdad and Irbil and the commitment to follow through on important matters critical to Iraqi stability. The Secretary expressed condolences for the lives lost in Iraq in recent weeks and pledged continued support to Iraq’s counterterrorism efforts.
The Secretary also expressed concern about the potential for renewed sectarian conflict in Iraq and recognized the danger that the ongoing conflict in Syria poses for the region. And he urged Prime Minister Maliki to show restraint and flexibility in discussions with protesters, and stressed the need for all parties to refrain from violence and address legitimate grievances peacefully, in a manner consistent with the Iraqi constitution.
And finally the Secretary affirmed commitment of the United States, under the strategic framework agreement, to help all sides work toward sustainable compromises that will be essential to Iraq’s long term stability.
Iraq's long term stability? What Secretary of State John Kerry should have expressed was outrage over the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija when Nouri's federal forces stormed it. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. In response to the assault getting covered by the press, Nouri attempted to shut down several satellite channels.
Barbara Serra: On April 28th, this past week, the Iraqi government revoked the operating licenses of ten satellite channels -- nine of them domestic, the tenth one being Al Jazeera Arabic. The national Communication and Media Commission -- or the CMC -- accused the broadcasters of inciting and escalating the violence. All but one of the channels are aligned with Sunni financial backers and the government's move is being seen as a crackdown on dissent by prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's majority Shia government.
That was Barbara Serra on Saturday's Listening Post (Al Jazeera), introducing a segment by Flo Phillips in which Dahr Jamail explains, "There's a very clear division between what the government wants people to say in response to government policies and government actions and that which is reported by so much of the rest of Iraqi media. If you look at recent events with the government crackdown on the protesters -- specifically killing of unarmed protesters Baghdad and Sharqiya, if you watch their coverage, they're going to have demonstrators on camera talking about what happened, being killed by Iraq forces. This is exactly the message the Communication and Media Commission does not want these outlets to be broadcasting because it refutes the government's claims that these people are all terrorists."
Of this attempt at censorship, Sharif Nashashibi (Al Arabyia) points out:
This is brazen hypocrisy, and a classic example of shooting the messenger. It is unsurprising that those targeted do not include state media or pro-government news outlets. So much for the CMC’s laughable claim that its decision is not political.
“If the Iraqi government is truly committed to ending violence and sectarianism, it should reform the criminal justice system, hold the security forces accountable for attacks on protesters, and stop blocking elections in provinces in which it has little support,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director.
I doubt that even the authorities believe their own rhetoric. This is an act of desperation, in the wake of anti-government demonstrations that have grown considerably in frequency and size since last December, amidst the wider Arab Spring.
It is hard to fathom that Maliki would be so delusional as to think there would be no protest movement without these news organizations. Indeed, demonstrations have continued and intensified despite the authorities blocking journalists’ access to them since December.
The fact is that they are reporting events on the ground. That is their job, but the CMC is trying to ensure that they can no longer do so, because it is deeply damaging and embarrassing to the government. As such, the suspension has been widely condemned by media organizations, watchdogs and advocacy groups. “This draconian and disproportionate decision has seriously endangered freedom of information,” said Reporters Without Borders.
So it's a real shame that, based on the State Dept's read-out of the phone calls, John Kerry didn't bring this issue up.
It's also a shame that the US government can't call out the massacre. The slaughter of the peaceful protesters in Hawija was already bad news. Saturday it managed to turn into even worse news. That's when UNICEF issued the following:
BAGHDAD, 4 May 2013 – “UNICEF has received substantial and credible information that up to eight children have been killed and up to 12 others seriously injured during violence in Hawija, near the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, on 23 April 2013.
“Among those reported to have been injured – all boys between the ages of 14 and 17 – several were said to have received severe gunshot wounds.
“UNICEF is extremely concerned about these reports and has requested the Government of Iraq to urgently investigate these cases.
“Children must be protected against all forms of violence and the Government needs to do more to actively promote and establish effective child protection policies, laws and systems.
“Children and their families in Iraq continue to bear the brunt of the violence and instability currently escalating across the country.”
Nouri's forces killed 8 children and "seriously injured" twelve more. Human Rights Watch noted Saturday:
A preliminary parliamentary committee report based in part on witness interviews and given to Human Rights Watch claims top Iraqi officials ordered a raid on a demonstrators’ camp on April 23, 2013, in Haweeja.
During the operation, scores of protesters and some soldiers died. The report provides evidence that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the defense minister, and senior defense and interior ministry officials may have ordered the raid, although it does not address what orders they issued concerning the use of force. It does claim that the defense minister and senior defense and interior ministry officials did not respond to warnings of excessive use of force by the security forces. The committee gave Human Rights Watch the preliminary findings of its investigation. Members of a separate ministerial committee named by Maliki to investigate the episode told Human Rights Watch that they seriously doubt they will be able to complete their work. The ministerial committee is inadequately resourced, stymied by lack of cooperation from security forces, and unlikely to lead to prosecutions or publish its conclusions, committee members told Human Rights Watch.
“The people of Iraq aren’t going to be fooled by a Potemkin inquiry into the killings at Haweeja,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “As the country teeters on the brink of further violence, the government is wasting a critical opportunity to restore confidence in its ability to achieve justice for the civilians and security forces who died on April 23.”
Dirk Adriaensens (BRussells Tribunal) reports on the Parliament's preliminary findings:
The parliamentary investigative committee in the Hawija massacre, that left more than 50 peaceful protesters dead, revealed on Tuesday 30 April that 90% of the victims of the Iraqi SWAT team raid were shot in the head, abdomen and chest. Some protesters were shot while their hands were tied behind their backs. The report affirms that the protest area was free of weapons. This confirms the claim made by the demonstration organizers, who assured the peaceful nature of the protest and vehemently denied possessing weapons or inciting violence.
Chairman of the Iraqi Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, MP Salim Al-Jabouri, revealed that “senior Iraqi military officers” were involved in the Hawija army raid. He claimed that these officers had “issued kill orders” to soldiers. “The issue does not stop at an army raid, but it goes beyond this to include executions and murder; while some of the wounded were specifically targeted. This represents a crime against humanity,” he added.
Minister of Industry & Minerals Ahmad Nasir Dilli al-Karbuli, Education Minister Muhammad Tamim, and Minister of Science & Technology Abd al-Karim al-Samarrai resigned as a reaction to the incidents.
And let's just repeat one more time that twelve children were seriously injured in this slaughter and 8 other children were killed.
Yesterday, AFP reported on the puppet Nouri tries to pretend is in charge of the Ministry of Defense (Nouri is in charge). That would be Saadun al-Dulaimi and he was calling the protesters terrorists and foreign agents or in control of foreign agents -- Basically, he was calling them everything but Iraqi citizens exercising their legal right to peacefully protest. His crazy did not go unnoticed. Alsumaria reports that the Parliament now wants al-Dulaimi to answer some questions about the Hawija massacre.
NINA adds that he's been called out by the protesters in Anbar Province for those remarks as well. Mohammed al-Dulaimi is quoted stating, "The recent remarks by Saadoun al-Dulaimi reflect the government's hostility toward the protesters and Yards sit-in." He calls the accusations malicious and says the judiciary should hold Saadoun accountable for the remarks.
BRussells Tribunal carries an open letter from Iraqi protesters to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
H.E. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations - New York,
S/Ambassador Martin Kobler,
Iraqi People masses protester in the streets of Iraq presents its compliments to H.E. the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon and has the honor to mention the following:
The Iraqi people masses protesting Touched clearly that the representative of the United Nations Mission in Iraq, Mr. Martin Kobler has Indiffer
ence with what is happening of events in Iraq, especially the crimes against demonstrators in Hawija,
and in all the streets of the protest. He did not show interest in
executions by government authorities in Iraq and what is happening of
large and severe violations of human rights guaranteed by the Iraqi
simplest rules of national and international legal. He did not announce
denunciation and condemnation of what is happening practices arrest,
torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners.
The Iraqi People masse protesting in the streets would like to show it considers that the Ambassador Martin Kobler is persona non grata in Iraq, demanding drag and appoint someone else instead of him to be more interested in issues of the oppressed Iraqis, and not to be a follower of the wishes of the Iraqi government , curse openly criticizing and denounced the actions characterized by hatred and sectarianism, and raise the legitimate demands of the demonstrators to the General Secretariat of the United Nations and other international forums relevant quickly in a timely fashion without delay.
The Iraqi People masse peacefully waiting to respond to their legitimate demands, take this opportunity to express its thanks and great gratitude and appreciation.
Violence continued today in Iraq with a rocket attack on a Falluja military base, 2 different roadside bombings left 1 Iraqi soldier and National Alliance Office guard dead and seven other people injured, a grenade attack on worshipers of Ihsan Mosque in Mansour (western Baghdad) left 5 dead and ten injured, two of Kurdish MP Shorsh Haji's bodyguards were wounded in a suicide car bombing attempt on Haji, 2 Baghdad car bombings left 2 people dead and seven injured, a Baji bombing claimed the lives of 1 man and 2 women and left two more people injured, 1 "staff member in Nineveh Health Department" was shot dead in Mosul, a Tikrit bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left a third injured, and 1 person was shot dead in Kirkuk. For the first four days of the month, Iraq Body Count counts 64 deaths.
Over the weekend, it rained in Wasit Province. Heavy rains. What does that mean? All Iraq News explained displace families as a result of the flooding: "Dozens of families were forced to evacuate their residences leaving their livestock behind, heading towards Sheikh Saad district of southern Wasit province since their villages and their mud-hut houses were swept due to rain floods." As we were noting Friday, "Anytime heavy rains are forecast, various areas of Iraq have to worry about flooding because Nouri's failed in his seven years as prime minister to fix the sewage system." Alsumaria noted that the International Red Crescent Society has helped over 200 families Saturday in Maysan Province who also saw the heavy rains flood their streets and homes. Alsumaria reports that the Iraqi Red Crescent Society was conducting air relief missions in Diyala Province while Nouri's Cabinet allocated 100 million dinars each for flood relief in Wasit, Maysan and Dhi Qar Provinces. (That's roughly $86,000 for each province in US dollars.) Al Rafidyan reports that a natural damn has collapsed in Maysan Province and led to 61 villages being flooded while yesterday, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society announced, 4 people (two of which were children) died in Wasit when their homes collapsed due to flooding. Over 50 other homes have collapsed in Wasit and Maysan due to flooding in the last days.
Back to the US, some people just hate. Who knows why? Maybe because they're miserable. Take Riverdaughter at The Confluence who comments as Goldenberry at Corrente. Libby Liberal did a post on war resister Kim Rivera (at Corrente). Disclosure, I'm not a Confluence fan. I'm rarely a fan of woman who praises Atrios in a post, a male writer at Rolling Stone (long before he became Riverdaughter's pin-up we agreed not to mention him here at the request of one of his family members), and Greg . . . And on and on it goes and never ends.
I don't get it. I'm a woman so one of the things we do here? We reference women writers, women reporters, and women artists. The bulk of the songs quoted here -- at least 98% -- are written or co-written by women. What is now the rock canon? I saw it built. I saw women excluded. I saw male writers and male artists reference their own over and over and ignore women repeatedly. It's why there are so many men in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and so few women. There is no way in hell that I would or will ever do a website that treats the male as norm or standard. But it's not like a woman never gets a positive shout-out from Riverdaughter. If you go all the way back to April 3rd, you'll find her writing that Judge Ruth Ginsburg is right. Today's May 6th and you have to drop back to April 3rd . . .
I should disclose that Third was linked to by The Confluence. This was a problem because Riverdaughter was promoting a pig (male -- did you have to ask?) who was posting nude photos of women -- excuse me, nude stills of actresses. The discussions were the smutty sort you'd expect. I can't be associated with that. As disclosed before, I've been unclothed on camera (completely nude). I can't be a part of -- even by linkage -- ridiculing some woman for appearing nude in a film. Ty asked Riverdaughter nicely to delink from Third and it turned into this huge drama.
So I have little respect for her and that's before you get into the issue of her, as Marcia has pointed out, using terms she thinks she knows the meaning of but doesn't. She thought she knew about war resistance but she didn't as her comments at Corrente demonstrate.
She states that all Kim had to do was ask for CO status. That's not true. Once again, Riverdaughter has spoken of things she knows nothing about.
The CO process is not automatic. Nor is it uniform. Private A and Private B can have the same basic written responses on their CO applications but, due to who looks at them, one can be granted the status while someone else won't be. This has to do with military law and how it's interpreted -- and Riverdaughter's never understood the law.
She also doesn't understand what a Conscientious Objector is. Here she is spewing:
When Rivera enlisted, she was not ingorant of the dangers of the war in Iraq and throughout her training, she was familiarized with what would be expected of her. She had an opportunity at that time to get out. She didn't.
I'm sorry, when was the time during the training that they asked her if she wanted to leave? Riverdaughter doesn't "buy" a change of heart. Displaying even more stupidity.
CO status is not today supposed to require a religious reason. Historically, it has required that. Most religious faiths allow for conversions -- that's where the non-believer has -- yes, Riverdaughter -- a change of heart. Equally true, a religious person can have a deepening of faith. To argue otherwise goes against the history of COs in this country -- not to mention the history of religion since the beginning of time.
Also true, what people who enlisted often faced in Iraq wasn't what they signed up for. Their oath is to the Constitution. The Nuremberg Trials made clear that there are "lawful orders" and "unlawful orders." What Libby's charting in her article is Kim's revulsion at orders she found inhumane and, yes, unlawful. The Iraq War is an illegal war. Some veterans, not all, will tell you that in Iraq they were surprised to discover they weren't there to bring 'freedom' but to police/suppress the Iraqi people. Some veterans experienced even worse than that. (And some didn't experience anything like that.) Here's Amnesty International on Kim:
According to a statement made by Kimberly Rivera, shortly before her unit was ordered to deploy to Iraq in October 2006, she began to have doubts about participating in the conflict after studying the teachings of the Bible on violence. While in Iraq, she began to seriously doubt the justification of the war, her participation in it, and being part of the US army.
While she was on leave in the USA in January 2007, Kimberly Rivera says she decided she could no longer morally participate in the war in Iraq or any other conflict, and began researching ways to obtain release from her military obligations. She decided there was no other option than to go absent without leave (AWOL), as she understood that she would not have been granted conscientious objector status, and feared being returned to Iraq while an application for conscientious objector was being processed.
Libby Liberal did her part to get the word out on Kim Rivera. Riverdaughter did her part to flaunt ignorance.
She can't tell us about, for example, Kevin Benderman because she never bothered to learn a damn thing (some people wallow in ignorance like pigs in mud). Kevin applied for CO status and what happened? You can read about it in Letters from Fort Lewis Brig. Camilo Mejia tried for CO status, what happened there, Riverdaughter? The issue there isn't even that Camilo didn't get CO status. The big issue there is that the US government broke the law. Camilo wasn't a citizen of the United States. The law only allows the stop-lossing of US citizens. Camilo never should have been stop-lossed. When he reached his termination date, he should have been let go. But Riverdaughter's not interested in that either because she knows everything.
What about Stephen Funk, who was the first Iraq War resister to go public? Funk's CO application was never reviewed. And let's not forget Funk wasn't closeted -- meaning the military always knew he was gay -- his recruiter even knew. It's not as simple as Riverdaughter believes but few things are ever as simple as the simple-minded think they are. What happened with a lot of people is that they filed CO status and then they were informed that their CO application would be considered . . . after they deployed to Iraq for a second time -- see, for example, Mark Wilkerson. Dropping back to December 4, 2006:
Mark Wilkerson self-checked out of the US military for approximately eighteen months before, August 31st, announcing at Camp Casey III that he would be turning himself in. Speaking with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints the same day, Wilkerson explain that he had applied for c.o. status but been denied and told that he could not begin the rebuttal process until after he completed his second deployment in Iraq.
We can do this on a plethora of war resisters because, unlike Riverdaughter, we covered them -- we covered them repeatedly. Kim Rivera, for example, was not in Canada for one month before we had noted her here.
Here's a little rule of thumb for Riverdaughter in the future: When you're dealing with a topic you know nothing about, keep your mouth closed unless you're asking questions. People neither need nor require an opinion on everything -- certainly not with regards to topics upon which you're completely ignorant.
We really need to thank Riverdaughter, her stupidity allows us the excuse to note Kim again. I told a friend I'd try to work in Kim this week to note Free Speech Radio News. They reported on Kim last Tuesday. I didn't hear about it until Wednesday night -- by which time we had covered Kim repeatedly.
Dorian Merina: War resister Kimberly Rivera pleaded guilty to desertion this week. She was sentenced to 14 months in military prison, though under a pretrial agreement that was reduced to 10. After serving as a Private First Class in Iraq for a year, Rivera sought asylum in Canada in 2007 when faced with a second tour of duty. She was denied refugee status but won a stay of removal that enabled her to remain in Canada until last September, when a Canadian Federal Court judge ordered her deportation. Rivera was arrested three days later upon re-entering the United States. Peace activists and veterans groups say Rivera's case highlights the persecution soldiers face when they speak out against war and the barriers they encounter in seeking Conscientious Objector status. FSRN contributor Anna Simonton has more.
Anna Simonton: When Private First Class Kimberly Rivera sought counseling during her 2006 tour of Iraq, she told a military chaplain she was not capable of killing anyone even though it could be required of her. Rivera said she was never informed that she could apply for Conscientious Object status. So when she faced a second deployment one year later, Rivera opted to desert to Canada. Michelle Robidoux with the Canadian organization War Resisters Support Campaign said it is not uncommon for the military to withhold information soldiers need to negotiate the terms of their service.
Michelle Robidoux: Many of the people who develop questions or objections or issues with the mission they've been asked to participate in are not given access to any kind of alternatives. It's very much you have two options, you suck it up and you do what you are told or you're going to jail.
Anna Simonton: Rivera, who was sentenced this week is currently pregnant and could deliver her baby in prison. The ten month prison term also means Rivera's husband [Mario] won't have her support in caring for their four young children who are now living in Texas. During her five years in Canada, Rivera was a vocal critic of the war in Iraq speaking to the media and university classes about her role as a soldier. Matt Howard of Iraq Veterans Against the War says that her activism was likely a factor in her prison sentence.
Matt Howard: In our experience and the legal counsel that we have received from allies of ours that kind of work on these cases is that once you start to speak out, once you become public about it, the military responds in kind, they don't appreciate it. And as a result, they make it more difficult on the people that have done that.
Anna Simonton: Not all soldiers charged with desertion are court-martialed or sentenced to jail time. Some face only administrative punishments like a dishonorable discharge. But Robidoux with the War Resisters Support Campaign says the US military tends to target soldiers who seek refuge in Canada.
Michelle Robidoux: Soldiers who did come to Canada and then either voluntarily returned or were deported back to the US have faced unusually harsh punishment and, in fact, the prosecutor at the court-martial yesterday made it very clear that he felt Kim should be punished harshly to send a message to other war resisters who are in Canada.
Anna Simonton: When Rivera lost her provisional status in Canada last year, she applied for a stay of removal and received overwhelming public support. Nearly 20,000 people signed a petition protesting her deportation and Archbishop Desmond Tutu advocated on her behalf. Buoyed by this global support network, Rivera's lawyer may pursue a clemency bargain which could reduce her sentence. Anna Simonton, Free Speech Radio News.
Kim's case has now received worldwide attention. In Iraq, for example, the Iraq Times covered her court-martial last week. But you know where she didn't get that kind of attention? In the US. The Colorado press covered it (that's where the court-martial took place) and AP grabbed that and syndicated it (while failing to send their own correspondent to cover). NPR 'covered it.' National Public Radio? Well National Public Webpage. They grabbed at others coverage and pretended that was reporting in a blog post. In the US, Free Speech Radio News reported on it.
If you appreciate FSRN covering the stories that MSNBC and CNN don't make time for -- even though they broadcast 24 hours a day -- you should know that FSRN is attempting to raise $100,000 between now and the end of June in order to stay on the air. No one needs to give anything. No one who doesn't have it to give needs to feel guilty. But an FSRN friend did ask if I would note this so I am noting that they are in fundraising mode and it is serious. To donate, you can find information at the FSRN home page.
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