Requesting Information From People Whom We Fund

Posted in Action at 7:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

John F. Kennedy

Summary: How the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) helps unmask misconduct, for which people who hide behind the veil of secrecy are responsible

IN THE FOSS world there is belief in the value of sharing, which generally increases trust through collaboration and peer review. Open Data is said to be the recipe for advantage [1], not disadvantage, and more and more people now use FOIA to impose Open Data principles on their government [2]. The surge of FOIA requests has pushed the FBI into a corner [3,4]. It is struggling to deny or hide wrongdoing.

“The surge of FOIA requests has pushed the FBI into a corner.”A FOIA should be trivial; in fact, it oughtn’t be necessary in the first place. People who say they work in the public’s interest should work publicly and transparently. The CIA, NSA, DHS, FBI etc. give the illusion of transparency and the illusion of compliance with FOIA requests. To them, FOIA is like light to a vampire. When it’s done in larger volumes it becomes somewhat of a DDOS attack which the liars are unable to keep up with (some agency recently said it would take several years merely to prepare, i.e. redact, the document requested by a FOIA request).

Well, very recently, the assassination of John F. Kennedy reached a crucial anniversary and a lot of material got released to the public, not only bringing back memories [5] but also reinforcing people’s opinion that he was assassinated by secret agencies [6-9]. The father of Kennedy’s newphew thought the CIA was involved in this assassination [10] and most US citizens seem to think so too [11]. The secrecy only helps reinforce those opinions; but if the secrecy really does hide confirmatory evidence, then it’s clear that secrecy is the real enemy. Kennedy wanted to crush this secrecy and at one point he said he wanted to “splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”

In the world of software, secrecy seems to be giving us noting but back doors and endless surveillance. Proprietary software (i.e. secret code) needs to become a thing of the past.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Open Data and Competitive Advantage

    Yesterday, the Deputy CTO of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a press release highlighting the efforts (and success) of the Obama Administration in getting data compiled at public expense into the hands of the private sector for commercial repurposing. The release refers to a McKinsey & Company report that estimates that making such data publicly available “can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in seven key domains of the global economy, including education, transportation, and electricity.”

    If you are American, the phrase “open data” may not have a familiar ring. If you’ve been following IT policy news in Europe, though, you’ll be aware that for the last year or so the EU in general, and some constituent countries in particular (notably, Great Britain), have been focusing not just on open standards and open source software, but on open data collected at any level of government as well. As in the U.S., such data can cover an almost infinite range of information, from demographics to geospatial to economic to integrations of all of the above – and more. Obviously, such data can have enormous value to the private sector, and especially so if it is made available in a form that can be efficiently utilized by private sector companies.

  2. Huge jump in FOIA requests to NSA
  3. Meet the Punk Rocker Who Can Liberate Your FBI File

    Ryan Shapiro has just wrapped up a talk at Boston’s Suffolk University Law School, and as usual he’s surrounded by a gaggle of admirers. The crowd­, consisting of law students, academics, and activist types, is here for a panel discussion on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a 2006 law targeting activists whose protest actions lead to a “loss of profits” for industry. Shapiro, a 37-year-old Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, contributed a slideshow of newspaper headlines, posters, and government documents from as far back as the 1800s depicting animal advocates as a threat to national security. Now audience members want to know more about his dissertation and the archives he’s using. But many have a personal request: Would Shapiro help them discover what’s in their FBI files?

  4. FBI Stops Responding To The Most Prolific FOIA Filer, Because He Might Actually Learn Something

    Mother Jones has an interesting profile of Ryan Shapiro, a punk rocker turned animal rights activist turned MIT PhD student, who is officially the “most prolific” filer of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the FBI. At a high point, he was filing an average of two per day. In fact, he filed so many FOIA requests so successfully, that the FBI is now refusing to respond and is giving the courts a secret explanation which they won’t share.


    Later in the article, Shapiro admits that as he got more and more responses, it certainly allowed him to fill in many blanks (and also point him to where to file other requests). This, it seems, is exactly what the FBI fears the most: Shapiro has outsmarted them. While, normally, FOIA responses are done in a manner to limit what information is shared and to never, ever suggest a slightly different query that might be useful, it appears Shapiro has more or less figured out a way around that, in part via bulk requests which lead down other paths of inquiry. No wonder the FBI has stopped responding. Shapiro just plays the game better than they do, and they’re used to a world where the house always wins.

  5. Where I Was Then; Where we Are Today
  6. Kennedy killed by CIA conspiracy for acting weak with Cuba, claims Maduro
  7. CIA suppressed Kennedy facts, ‘but there was no conspiracy’
  8. JFK Assassination: Just Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?
  9. CIA lies start the era of doubt

    The CIA has concealed its connections with Lee Harvey Oswald and hence has provoked speculations on the agency’s possible involvement in a conspiracy against President Kennedy, states Anthony Summers, Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Irish journalist and writer. In his book “Not In Your Lifetime” Summers reveals the results of his own investigation of the assassination of JFK. The author shared his ideas and conclusions in an exclusive interview with “Voice of Russia”.

  10. JFK nephew: My father thought CIA was involved

    Robert Kennedy Jnr has told ITV News that his father’s first instinct after JFK was shot was to wonder whether the CIA was involved.

    Robert Kennedy Snr asked then CIA Director John McCone about it but was reassured that it wasn’t the case.

    However Kennedy Snr – JFK’s brother – always felt Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone.

  11. How Bobby Kennedy immediately suspected the CIA in his brother’s death as the majority of Americans still believe the conspiracy theories

New Reports Link Wall Street to the CIA

Posted in Finance at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Petraeus

David Petraeus, former CIA head, is now Chairman of the newly-created New York-based KKR Global Institute, the investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

Summary: Surveillance and radical classification of “Occupy Wall Street” (by all means necessary, even through mercenaries like Stratfor — a privatised CIA extension) is beginning to make more sense while alternatives to the current economic system are sought

LAST week there were numerous reports (in the corporate press even) about how the CIA, which is supposed to serve national interests in secret/covert means, actually sort of colludes with the biggest domestic criminals (those causing the most damage). “Jamie Dimon And Lloyd Blankfein Love Being Romanced By The CIA’s Top Spies” is how one article put it [1].

The economy is not really in shambles. It is said, based on hard evidence, that there are around 30 trillion dollars in (mostly) illegal offshore havens and this money belongs to people who tell us that we have no choice but to vote for austerity now, i.e. punish the poor. The NSA (CIA) knows about all those tax evasion crimes and it has all the evidence needed for conviction. Instead, the NSA helps IRS et al. go after those who oppose the aforementioned corruption. There are black budgets that drain trillions of dollars per year and someone is pocketing that money (it is not the middle class). The solutions are really quite simple [2], but top executives won’t pursue these solutions. They contribute a great deal to growing disparity and they mock the poor [3], whom they themselves make poor.

It should be no surprise that given these injustices more and more people look for alternatives to the mainstream economy (e.g. Bitcoin [4]). It should be no surprise that secret agencies are eager to shut down Bitcoin and the likes of it (some have already been shut down). The state-protected system, which facilitates greedy banks (that take risks at taxpayers’ expense) and runs corporate-leaning spooks like the CIA, is losing credibility and it’s easy to see why. When the state and the banks are inseparable, then banks are the law.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. REPORT: Jamie Dimon And Lloyd Blankfein Love Being Romanced By The CIA’s Top Spies
  2. Capitalism and Unemployment

    An alternative option would manage unemployment by reducing everyone’s work week by 7.5 per cent, or roughly 3 hours out of a week’s 40 hours. Every worker would then have 3 hours of extra leisure for which no pay would be received. Instead, the saved money would be used to hire the 7.5 percent of workers who no longer need to be fired. Their work would substitute for the 3 hours lost from every other worker’s week. In this way, unemployment would be shared by everyone and not imposed on a minority selected by capitalists.

  3. McDonald’s Tells Workers: Eat Less and Sell Your Christmas Presents

    Fast food chain criticised for ‘offensive’ advice to US workers demanding living wage of $15 an hour

  4. Authorities See Worth of Bitcoin

    Mystery still surrounds Bitcoin. Its creator -– or creators -– has remained anonymous and specific details surrounding the history of the virtual currency remain fuzzy. Still, buzz is growing. Here’s a rough timeline of the Bitcoin evolution.

Crushing of Dissent and Diversity Goes Domestic

Posted in Action at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Think about the children”… and “terrorists”… and “terrorist children”…

Japanese Americans
Children at the Weill public school in San Francisco pledge allegiance to the American flag in April 1942, prior to the internment of Japanese Americans.

Summary: Crushing of non-conformity or a diversity of views (or races) is no longer a cross-border issue but a domestic one

THE Bush and Obama reign symbolises an increase in state-sanctioned torture. People like Dick Cheney played a role in it, but that’s just part of history that’s not too relevant to this article. The matter of fact is, torture is typically outsourced to other countries or islands. It’s a legal loophole. The CIA has some ‘interrogation’/torture sites in Europe [1] (we wrote about this before, and even shared dozen of links about it since last year) and the same facilities and laws are set to become applicable to US citizens also [2,3] (we have shared hundreds of links about it since last year). Putting assassinations by drone aside (it’s a subject for another day), it becomes increasingly clear that the domestic population is increasingly seen as a threat, not a collective to defend. Just see who the NSA is profiling. The same algorithms they ran on the Soviet Union they now apply to US citizens. What seems like racist and aggressive policing [4], abandoning common principles [5], ought to remind us of the possibility of racial profiling used for internment (like Japanese Americans in the 1940s). This is probably scary and it may sound far-fetched, but the legal foundations for it are being put in place. Profiling is not just the business of advertising companies.

Here in the UK, where it is becoming common to crush students [6] because students have the power to engage in activism (they are only starting to become debt-saddled but are not yet profoundly encumbered/imprisoned by debt), we are already learning that secret courts exist because the government is trying to hide torture, which is illegal (so in essence they hide their illegalities/injustices). The torture targets particular races.

Torture has certainly made a comeback here in the Anglo-Saxon territories and in addition to it we have large-scale, wide-ranging assassination strategy, where we simply assume that because it’s done by flying robots in a so-called ‘rogue’ nation, then it’s somehow okay (even if this violates international law). We will deal with the subject next week.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Poland must wrap up long-running CIA ‘Black Site’ probe

    Poland must wrap up a long-running probe into an alleged CIA jail on its territory where suspected Al-Qaeda members were purportedly tortured, and hold those involved accountable, UN monitors said Friday.

  2. Oxford, Mass., Adopts Anti-NDAA Resolution

    On November 8, senior Democratic Whip Representative James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) sent a letter to leaders of the town of Oxford, Massachusetts, praising them for their passage of a resolution repealing sections of the NDAA that permit the president of the United States to order the indefinite detention of American citizens, denying them their constitutionally protected right of due process.

  3. Rockefeller attaches cybersecurity bill to NDAA 2014

    The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee submitted on Thursday an already-approved cybersecurity bill to be considered as an amendment to next year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

    If the amendment manages to stay intact as Congress prepares to approve the 2014 NDAA, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia)’s Cybersecurity Act of 2013 may finally be codified into law.

    Rockefeller’s proposal, S.1353, was unanimously approved by the Commerce Committee in July but has stayed relatively dormant ever since. On Thursday he submitted that bill as an amendment to be considered as part of an annual Pentagon spending plan that could fast track his attempts to land his proposal on President Barack Obama’s desk after attempts in Congress to adopt cybersecurity legislation have largely proven to be futile.

  4. Pennsylvania cops Taser handcuffed 14-year-old in the face ‘for his safety’
  5. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address changed the American psyche, KU professor says

    Jennifer Weber can’t read the Gettysburg Address to her students at the University of Kansas without taking a risk.

    She chokes up a little, though she’s a Civil War author and historian. “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” She starts losing it right about there.

    “I’m not much of a crying person,” she said.

    But whenever she steps inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington and starts reading the words of the address carved in stone, the tears well up again.

    She doesn’t choke up when she tells the president’s story, though.

  6. Police are cracking down on students – but what threat to law and order is an over-articulate history graduate?

    Why are some of the most powerful people in Britain so terrified of a bunch of students? If that sounds a ridiculous question, consider a few recent news stories. As reported in this paper last week, Cambridge police are looking for spies to inform on undergraduate protests against spending cuts and other “student-union type stuff”. Meanwhile, in London last Thursday, a student union leader, Michael Chessum, was arrested after a small and routine demo. Officers hauled him off to Holborn police station for not informing them of the precise route of the protest – even though it was on campus.

When Hypocrites Speak Out Against Censorship

Posted in Deception, DRM, Google at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A Protestant Allegory
A Protestant Allegory: The four evangelists stoning the pope, together with hipocrisy and avarice

Summary: The definition of hypocrisy matches some of those (high-profile figures) who claim to be against censorship

IF someone criticises censorship and promotes free speech, then it is imperative to see that someone’s own response to speech s/he does not like. A lot of people say that they are for free speech only when they defend the rights of those with whom they agree; a lot of people complain about censorship only when their own views are being suppressed or banned. One can only be a champion of free speech when he or she can tolerate uncomfortable messages, sometimes even libel (for which there are solutions other than censorship).

The other day we saw DRM apologist [1, 2, 3] Tim Berners-Lee expressing concern about censorship and lack of privacy [1,2], two things which DRM pretty much assures. So who is he to speak out for free speech and anonymity while promoting DRM? In similar news, see Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt speaking out about the end of censorship [3] — a problem that Google is a part of [1, 2]. Then there’s Neelie Kroes, whose “think about the children” mentality and betrayal of net neutrality [4] (which is necessary for free speech) cannot be forgotten when she speaks about “online safety” (common excuse for imposing censorship) [5].

Here in the UK things aren’t getting better. There are fresh attacks on free speech in universities [6] and this can be seen a lot more frequently these days when it comes to journalism which touches GCHQ et al. — meaning software vandals, crackers, and saboteurs from the NSA and its ilk (people who break the law under the veil of secrecy and immunity by affiliation with statism). Those in power are also using legal threats in an attempt to silence voices by proxy (via site maintainers) [7], so even those who defend free speech are increasingly being threatened with lawsuits. It is horrifying.

This state of affairs is ill-gotten and we need to find a way out of it. For a start, let’s name defenders of free speech who aren’t. They’re just posers. Sadly, some FOSS sites are also hypocrites on the subject of free speech (we won’t name them to avoid embarrassment or infighting).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Tim Berners-Lee: UK and US must do more to protect internet users’ privacy

    ‘Tide of surveillance and censorship’ threatens future of democracy, says inventor of world wide web

  2. Tim Berners-Lee warns against government surveillance
  3. Google’s Schmidt predicts end of censorship within a decade

    Google Inc (GOOG.O) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has a bold prediction: Censorship around the world could end in a decade, and better use of encryption will help people overcome government surveillance.

    In a lecture at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, the executive of the world’s biggest web search company made a pitch for ending censorship in China and other countries with restricted freedom of speech by connecting everyone to the Internet and protecting their communication from spying.

  4. Will the EU Parliament Enable Discrimination Online or Uncompromising Net Neutrality?

    The rapporteur Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP – Spain) has concluded her draft report on Neelie Kroes’ proposal for a Regulation on the Telecom Package. Despite numerous criticisms1 made against the unacceptable anti-Net neutrality provisions in the proposal, del Castillo Vera has chosen not to correct them. Before it is too late, citizens must contact the rapporteur and Members of the ITRE committee, and urge them to ensure the European Parliament guarantees a genuine and unconditional Net neutrality principle.

  5. Teaching online safety: I go “back to school”

    hildren now go online at a very young age. This is good thing: they can benefit from better digital and media literacy; and explore creative and educational online content. This is why Androulla Vassiliou and I launched the Opening up Education initiative.

    The Internet is a fantastic opportunity for young people. But they need to act responsibly too: and in particular to be aware of and able to cope with potential dangers. They must understand that our digital footprint is ever growing, and information put on the web can be misused.

  6. Universities should be the last place to ban free speech

    The censorship of an atheist bookstall at freshers’ week is just another example of heavy-handed repression in our universities

  7. Appeals Court To Explore If A Site With ‘Dirt’ In The URL Loses All Liability Protections For User Comments

    We’ve covered the bizarre case of Sarah Jones vs. Dirty World (operators of the website “thedirty.com”) for quite some time. If you don’t recall, this former professional cheerleader/school teacher got upset when a user of thedirty.com posted some statements about her that were potentially defamatory. Rather than go after the actual person who made those claims, Jones sued the site. Well, technically, she and her lawyers first sued the wrong site, which made for quite a mess at the beginning. Eventually, though, she sued the right site, which correctly pointed out that they were protected from liability for their users statements under Section 230 of the CDA. Every court that has taken on a Section 230 case like this has ruled the same way — that sites are not responsible for the statements of their users. E

Trusting Trust and Trusting Red Hat et al.

Posted in Microsoft, Red Hat, Servers at 5:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even Red Hat’s logo does not inspire confidence

Red Hat logo

Summary: Why companies which are based on the United States cannot be trusted as US law requires them to provide access to personal information (or even back doors) without ever disclosing this

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 has just come out [1,2,3]. Red Hat targets the so-called 'cloud' (surveillance-friendly) market with it, quite frankly as usual [4]. Cutting-edge RHEL prototypes like Fedora 20 are to be released soon, and Scientific Linux (not just CentOS) will need to catch up by rebranding RHEL (they are being compared in terms of performance in [5]). Some people are remixing [6] Red Hat’s distributions, not rebranding them. But few people actually audit RHEL code line by line. Disassembling RHEL binaries is an even greater challenge, so nobody knows for sure what RHEL does. It’s a vast body of software and it is deployed in many mission-critical operations, not just in the United States.

“Trusting Trust” is an old concept, coined by some of the earlier UNIX folks. This subject happened to have been raised during business lunch earlier this week and it speaks on the degree of trust we must place on compiler developers, chipmakers, high-level software companies, and even Free software developers whose code we never personally audited (or continue to audit every time a new release is made available). Verifying the security of a small piece of software like a CMS (as Germany currently does) is feasible, but for entire operating systems it is virtually impossible and then there’s the peril of checking chip designs, their fabrication process, and the same for software (compilers). IBM et al., those who infect computers with TPM (NSA connections) only lead to mistrust. We are talking about a “special surveillance chip” here. And yes, there is history to it. Slashdot published this bit of analysis a few months ago. Read the comments too. One says: “I work for Red Hat…. The NSA asks me to put code in the Linux kernel and I pass it to Linus.” (see the context for more interesting information of this kind).

There is currently a discussion in Diaspora about this. It is argued that Red Hat will need to appease the government — especially the Pentagon/DOD — in order to keep winning major contracts that are derived from black budgets sometimes. There are stories I am aware of (but cannot share) about the role spies play in procurement for government. They can veto and influence decisions. This is a very ugly side of procurement which many people are simply not aware of. It only makes sense for Red Hat to try to appease the NSA and perhaps attach code from the NSA, with or without sufficient scrutiny (it goes well beyond involvement in SELinux, which is not the NSA’s only role in Linux). Well, some in Twitter wanted more information about this, so I reminded them that several years ago I wrote about how RHEL goes through the NSA before release; the same is true for SUSE. Now we know for sure that Linux was the target of NSA back doors [1, 2, 3, 4]; more new reporting on this [7-10] is starting to appear (people are catching up) and a new report tells us that “NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software” [11].

“he law in the US has become somewhat incompatible with freedom-respecting software.”We already know that the NSA worked closely with Microsoft and got a widely-used platform (internationally) with back doors it has exclusive access to, which basically means that Microsoft Windows is a Trojan horse for the NSA. Just remember where Linux is being developed. It’s the same country as Microsoft and Apple. Projects like Debian inherit some code from Red Hat, which complicates things further. The chain of trust is undone.

After the new report from the New York Times [12,13] (published to make huge impact this weekend) perhaps it’s time for Torvalds to withdraw his newly-acquired US citizenship and move back Linux development to Finland. With all sorts of National Security Letters, gag orders, oppressive laws like PATRIOT Act etc. we just know that those based in the US can be forced to facilitate surveillance (without ever speaking about it publicly). This may sound like a radical solution, but when companies like Red Hat and the Linux Foundation need to comply with US laws we just simply cannot have any trust. Torvalds pretty much lied to us (in a clever way) about NSA request for back doors in Linux, but his father, who is a European politician based in Europe, told us the truth.

In the past we argued that Red Hat should move to Europe because of software patents (I asked Red Hat’s CEO about it and he dismissed the possibility). Now we have another reason to suggest relocation. The law in the US has become somewhat incompatible with freedom-respecting software.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 Delivers Precision Timing
  2. Red Hat Launches Latest Version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
  3. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 arrives
  4. Red Hat and eNovance to accelerate adoption of Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack platform

    Red Hat Inc. and eNovance, an emerging European leader in the open source cloud computing market, are collaborating to deliver OpenStack implementation and integration services to joint customers. The companies made the announcement at the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong.

    The collaboration between Red Hat and eNovance is aimed at accelerating enterprise adoption of OpenStack globally. According to a new report from 451 Research, OpenStack-related business revenue is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2015 as the enterprise market for OpenStack evolves.

  5. Fedora 20 Beta vs. Ubuntu 13.10 vs. Scientific Linux 6.4
  6. Update on x2go

    I’ve been playing with / using x2go more lately and I sure do like it. I originally learned about it by reading the Fedora 20 ChangeSet and saw that it will be a new feature in the upcoming Fedora 20. I started using Fedora 20 shortly before the alpha release came out. Fedora 20 Beta was released on 2013-11-12… and I’ve been building my MontanaLinux remix about once a week.

  7. NSA wanted a backdoor in Linux, confirms Linus’ father
  8. Did NSA contact Linus for a backdoor in Linux? [updated]
  9. Linus’ father confirms NSA attempt at backdoor in Linux
  10. Mastering Linux, Backdoor’d, & openSUSE 13.1
  11. NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software
  12. N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power

    In a February 2012 paper laying out the four-year strategy for the N.S.A.’s signals intelligence operations, which include the agency’s eavesdropping and communications data collection around the world, agency officials set an objective to “aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age.”

    Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as “the golden age of Sigint,” or signals intelligence. “The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.’s mission,” the document concluded.

    Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” The agency also said it would try to decrypt or bypass codes that keep communications secret by influencing “the global commercial encryption market through commercial relationships,” human spies and intelligence partners in other countries. It also talked of the need to “revolutionize” analysis of its vast collections of data to “radically increase operational impact.”

  13. Latest Snowden leak reveals NSA’s goal to continually expand surveillance abilities

    In a mission statement last year the US National Security Agency described how it would continue to expand its power and assert itself as the global leader in clandestine surveillance, according to a new report based on the Edward Snowden leaks.

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