Monday, April 27, 2015

The Duffy Tarsands Diaries

Never mind the Senate vagaries on where Duffy actually resides or whether other Senators  porking out at the public trough is criminal or just Senate-business-as-usual. Forget all that.  
Of the various narratives emerging from the Duffy trial, the story that should be getting a lot more attention is that Con Party fundraiser Senator Mike Duffy appears to have served as a behind-the-scenes go-between between Enbridge and Stephen Harper while simultaneously connecting up environmental charities attack dog Vivian Krausereferred to by Ezra Levent as Sun TV's "forensic environmental detective"for an energy sector speaking tour.

National Observer : Redacted diary reveals oil's hidden route to Harper :
"Redacted entries in Mike Duffy’s diary suggest he was in regular undisclosed contact with pipeline giant Enbridge during the height of the federal government's scorching attacks on environmental activists and charities in 2012.
The suspended senator’s journal shows a flurry of conversations and emails with or about top-level Enbridge executives, then PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright and the Prime Minister between January and June of 2012, just as the National Energy Board started its hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal."

CBC : "Duffy appears to be a fan of Krause's work, mentioning her at least 10 times in his daily diary and setting her up with an agent for speaking appearances."

Setting her up with an agent?
According to Krause, speaking fees for appearances before the resources industry now comprises over 90% of her income going back to 2012.

So what else we got on PMO/tarsands-related events which took place during just the first month of the Duffy Diaries' January to June 2012 time period.

January 6, 2012 G&M : Foreign money could gum up pipeline approval, Harper warns.
"The Prime Minister is threatening to prevent foreign environmental interests from delaying the approval of a pipeline that would take bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to the West Coast for shipment to Asian markets.
Kathryn Marshall, a spokesperson for said Canadians have much at stake in the construction of the pipeline and “must take a stand against foreigners and their lobbying groups interfering in our decision.”
Cue Ethical Oil's Kathryn Marshall that same month with her "foreign special interests and their deep pocket puppets" :

DeSmog Blog : Friends with Benefits: The Harper Government, and Sun Media Connection

Ethical Oil of course bragged about lobbying the Canada Revenue Agency for Krause-tagged audits of environmental charities critical of tarsands development. In the 2012 budget, the Canada Revenue Agency launched a special $8M program aimed at punishing environmental political activity, later topped up to $13.4 million.

On January 8, 2012,  Duffy's diary notes an email and phone call exchange with Ethical Oil author and SunNews *personality* Ezra Levant  "re: Vivian Krause". He then met with Krause on three occasions and had two telephone conversations.

On February 9, 2012 Krause testified before the Standing Committee on Natural Resources about "deep-pocketed supporters south of the border" funding campaigns against the Canadian energy sector.  Duffy was in attendance; his diary that day reads: "Lunch - Vivian Krause."

Also Feb.10 : The G&M, the Star, and Vancouver Observer all carry stories about environmentalists being understandably pissed at being lumped in with white supremacists among the listed "issue-based" terrorist threats in Canada's new counter-terrorism strategy -   Building Resilience Against Terrorism :
"...domestic extremism that is “based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism."
It's not like that's gone away. An RCMP report released this February raved on about “violent anti-petroleum extremists” and  “violent aboriginal extremists,” driven by an “anti-petroleum ideology." Particularly concerning in light of the new Anti-terrorism Bill C-51 with its new engorged mandate to act against “activity that undermines the security of Canada”, the RCMP report suggests pipeline opposition movements should be seen and treated as national criminal security threats. It is 44 pages long. To back up its position, a full nine of those pages, or 20% of the entire report, are quotes from articles by Vivian Krause.

Feb.17, 2012 - “PM asks “Send me a note on Enbridge Line #9 problems” 

Good on National Observer, local Vancouver Observer now gone National, for looking beneath the redacting pencil in the Duffy diaries to publish these PMO/Enbridge/Duffy/Krause/Ezra connections.

Update : Our Oily Media - Media critic CanadaLand interviews National Observer founder Linda Solomon Wood on how the energy sector has flooded Canada's media with money, be it in ad dollars, speaking fees, charitable donations or "native content" partnerships. Rex. Mansbridge. PostMedia-CAPP partnership.

Btw, CBC, I see the pro-tarsands astroturf group "British Columbians for Prosperity" is still going strong in its campaign against the deep pockets of "foreign special interests". Is your frequent commentator Alise Mills still running the show at BC4P, as she told Vancouver Observer a year ago?

Good news - Bruce Livesey, canned from Global for his spiked report on the Koch brothers' influence in Canada, has joined National Observer and will rework the story there.

May 7 Update : National Observer : Duffy connected charity critic to lucrative industry cash

Friday, April 24, 2015

Omar Khadr, the "James Bond of Jihad", is granted bail.

National Post : "One way or another, Omar Khadr will soon be a free man.
On Friday, moments after judge J.M. Ross of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta granted the 28-year-old Toronto native bail from an Edmonton-area jail pending appeal of his war crimes conviction in the United States, the government announced — as predictably as day follows night — that it would appeal."

The government did not argue that Khadr posed any danger to Canada but rather that his release would show disrespect for the US justice system.  You know - this justice system.

It's difficult for those of us who are relatively sane to appreciate the pants-pissing opportunistic hysteria Omar Khadr apparently provokes in those who are not.

Two years ago, the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tacked a few additional "terrorism" charges onto Omar Khadr's Canadian file that were not in his original conviction, based on a *confession* written by the prosecution at the discredited Guantánamo Bay military tribunal :

"Ottawa’s file on Omar Khadr contains faulty information based on a memo prepared by a senior policy analyst for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews ... Among other things, the government alleges the late terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was an accomplice of a 15-year-old Khadr, and that the Canadian citizen killed two Afghan militia men.
You following along here?  -  the Canadian Public Safety Minister says Osama bin Laden was the accomplice of a 15 year old!
“Mr. Khadr engaged U.S. military and coalition personnel with small-arms fire, killing two members of the Afghan militia force. He threw and/or fired grenades at nearby coalition forces, resulting in numerous injuries to them.”
Presumably the Ministry of Public Safety's laughable embellishments were garnered from Ezra Levant's appalling book, The Enemy Within: Terror, Lies, and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr, published the previous year in 2012. Some selections : 

Levant describes the 16-year-old GWOT political prisoner as "the James Bond of Jihad", "the biggest, smartest, most deadly fish in a pond teeming with the most vicious, depraved men on Earth", "a degenerate Agent 007," and a “psychopathic” “degenerate” “gangster,” “deranged … every bit as demented as Paul Bernardo, Canada’s infamous schoolgirl serial killer” who "gave himself a licence to kill Americans and Jews." 

He wrote that Khadr's - as yet still unproven in any reputable court - act of throwing a grenade was part of his plan to rise to the top of AlQaida and become the "biggest, most brutal Godfather ever" and the "top dog of terror".

It's unhinged. 

How, as Boris is wont to ask, did we ever allow ourselves to be governed by such vile, vindictive, tawdry, incompetent, opportunistic fools?

More from Montreal Simon and Thomas Walkom

The silver lining for Khadr is that upon his release, after the government has exhausted all legal means of betraying common decency, he will be living with his lawyer Dennis Edney.
I know -you've seen Edney's 2010 speech before as I like to post it once a year as a reminder of what actual common decency looks like. 
Edney : 
"We cannot rely upon governments or others to help us make society better. Each and every one of us has to be our own leader."

Saturday Update : 
In their attempt to deny him bail, Dept. of Justice lawyers declined to make a case in court that Khadr is either a flight risk or a public safety risk. 
"Instead, they tried to argue that Canadian law - including his right to fundamental justice under the Charter of Rights and that most ancient human right in British jurisprudence, habeas corpus - didn't apply to Omar Khadr because of our treaty with the USA."
The judge didn't buy it.
Canadian Cynic : "Sadly, the Harper Gov't is in the enviable position of having a bottomless public treasury to keep funding stupid, doomed appeals."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Arrogant Autocrat: Stephen Harper's Takeover of Canada

New book coming out next week. From the presser:

"Passionate Canadian bestselling author and publisher Mel Hurtig calls upon Canadians to save our country, restore democracy, and adopt urgent measures to protect the future. 

Just months from the general election, political activist Mel Hurtig now launches an extensively researched polemic, The Arrogant Autocrat. In it he argues that Stephen Harper's government has had a devastating impact on the country, radically altering its democratic and economic fabric. 

Hurtig catalogues a litany of abuses, from violations of parliamentary procedure; controlling and destroying information; hobbling or axing sources of information; undermining the rights of Canadians; the use of the federal tax agency to frighten and control civil society; and badly mismanaging the economy - despite loud claims to the contrary.

The Arrogant Autocrat is a shocking portrayal of an admired, democratic country under seige from a far-right prime minister. It is a must-read for all Canadians and a clarion call to take back our country and restore democracy before it is too late."

Publication date : April 30, 2015       154 pages       Available : TBA [right here] later today

An associate of Hurtig's advises there is information found herein not covered in the rest of our pre-election summer reading list compiled by Sandra Finley :

1. Mark Bourrie.  “Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your right to Know.” 2015
2. Michael Harris.. “Party of One. Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover” October 2014
3. Donald Gutstein. “Harperism, How Stephen Harper and his Think Tank Colleagues have Transformed Canada” . Sept 3 2014
4. Lawrence Martin. “Harperland : the Politics of Control”. October 5th, 2010
5. Christian Nadeau. “Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is Remaking Canada by Stealth”. 2010

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why are we in Viet Nam Ukraine?

and financing a Monument to the Victims of Communism?   Election 2015.

Cue Chris Alexander's fevered paeon to a new cold war with Russia to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress this past February, and Stephen Harper's remarks in his keynote speech at the Tribute to Liberty dinner for the monument in May last year 
"Nearly one quarter of all Canadians were either held captive by Communism's chains or are the sons and daughters of those who were."
Con MP Wladyslaw Lizon, who beat the former Lib MP by just 1½% of the vote in 2011, is one of three founding members of Tribute to Liberty. Which brings us to...
"Federal political parties have been staunchly showing support for pro-Western aspirations in Ukraine and condemning Russian aggression in the Crimean peninsula. The fact there are more than 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent may help explain this.
An Ottawa Citizen analysis shows that Canadians identifying themselves as being of Ukrainian represent a potentially game-changing voting bloc in dozens of federal ridings. The fact ridings with large Ukrainian-Canadian populations in Toronto, Winnipeg and parts of Saskatchewan were hotly contested in 2011 speaks to the importance of each party being active on Ukraine."

Berthiaume gives examples of the percentage of Ukrainian-Canadians in those ridings from the last election.  A few of them :

  • Yorkton-Melville, Sask. - 29.3%
  • Elmwood-Transcona in Winnipeg, won by 300 votes - 20.6%
  • Winnipeg North won by 44 votes - 13.3% 
  • Winnipeg South Centre won by 722 votes - 13.4% 
  • Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar - 13.7%
  • Palliser, Sask won by 766 votes  - 11.1%
  • Wascana, Sask - 13.1%
Royal Military College professor and Ukrainian-Canadian Lubomyr Luciuk argues that party affiliation mattered more than the individual MP’s identity in the last election, as when Con MP Ted Opitz in Etobicoke Centre beat Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who is of Ukrainian descent. The margin of victory was 26 votes.
"Before the election, the Conservatives accidentally released documents that confirmed they were targeting the riding’s Ukrainian-Canadian community, which numbers 7,955 and represents 7.1 per cent of the population.
“There were Ukrainian-Canadians working for Ted Opitz against a Ukrainian-Canadian because he was in the wrong party at that time,” Luciuk said. “Whereas the Conservative party was making all the right sounds about things Ukrainian.”
Making all the right sounds about things Ukrainian....  Ten days ago the Toronto Symphony Orchestra dropped Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa for her remarks on the conflict in Ukraine on twitter that offended "Ukrainian media outlets". TSO paid her not to play her scheduled concerts.

So now the Cons are sending 200 soldiers off to Ukraine to win an election for them in Canada in October.

Walkom : "Deep in his secret heart, Stephen Harper should whisper a quiet thank you to Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Scott Taylor writes in Harper shoots first; asks questions later
"Far from a democratic institution, the current Ukraine government is a collection of in-fighting oligarchs — some with their own private armies and neo-Nazi militias. With a ranking of 142 on the Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is unsurprisingly the most corrupt country on the European continent. 
If the Harper government is truly seeking to garner the Ukrainian-Canadian vote in advance of this year’s election, it would do better to leverage economic relief for Kiev’s crippling debt load in exchange for implementing truly democratic, progressive reforms."
Yeah, well, "leveraging economic relief for Kiev's crippling debt load" doesn't really cut it on the Cons' new cold war election messaging front.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

World ass oil spill response in Vancouver harbour

Say, remember last year when Rachel Maddow was absolutely gob-smacked to learn that Kinder Morgan had included the economic benefits of oil spills in its National Energy Board application to triple the size of the Trans Mountain pipeline?


Well, funny story there ....

Kinder Morgan-owned company called in to clean up oil spill in English Bay

That would be 2,700 litres of this toxic gunk.

So I guess we owe KM an apology here. 
They were right - there are economic benefits if you're a KM shareholder. 
KM would have liked to get that apology last year, claiming that they were obligated to mention the upside of oil spills in their pitch to NEB. 

Unfortunately NEB said that was crap.

Federal government describes response to fuel spill as “world class”  Conservative MP James Moore

To which Press Progress replied  :On what fucking planet does this look like a "world class" oil spill response?   (I might be paraphrasing slightly here)

World assness in progress.... 
Spill reported at 5 pm by a sailor. 
Nine hours later at 2am there was a boom in place around the leaking bunker fuel now wending its way to the beaches of Kitsilano and West Van.
And finally, 12 hours after the leak was first spotted, someone remembered to let the City of Vancouver in on the secret. 

So how could it possibly have taken so long to get their shit together?

Ok here's a clue. The Cons shut down the key responders in 2013.

We had a marine safety response purge when the Kitsilano Coast Guard base - 6 minutes away from the bunker fuel spill  - was shut down to save $700K a year, and the special pollution response boat with its 300 meters of self-inflating oil- containment boom was moth-balled off to Richmond.

Gotta balance that world class ouroboros budget. 

Volunteers were out cleaning up the gunk off the shoreline themselves and putting up home-made signs warning to keep dogs and children out of the oily water. Good on them. Still, sea birds are notoriously poor readers and some had to be rescued when they got soaked in the gunk after not obeying the signs. 

CBC reports the leaking vessel was on its maiden voyage after being launched from a Japanese shipyard in FebruarySo - a brand new vessel then.

According to Tanker Free BC, the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project "would see an increase from the current 80 tankers a year to over 400 tankers a year carrying primarily tar sands bitumen which is more likely to sink in the marine environment potentially causing significant harm."

Too bad we don't have some kind of ocean traffic control tower to co-ordinate emergency response communications for the next one. ..... Wait for it .....

Fun fact : "Vancouver will also have to deal without a marine traffic communications centre (the ocean's equivalent to an air traffic control tower). The Conservatives shut that down last month, consolidating the Pacific Coast's operations to Victoria and Prince Rupert."


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

"What is Plan B?"

asked Armine Yalnizyan of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on CBC's The Current this morning. "What if your plan is not oil?" 

I'll get back to Yalnizyan's Plan B in a moment, but preceding her on the program was TD Bank VP and chief economist Craig Alexander. He spoke to that Bank of Canada survey of 100 executives that came out this week, 62% of whom called for diversification to reduce Canada's dependence on the energy sector as oil prices collapse.

"Energy plus metals and minerals mining amounts to less than 10% of Canadian economy but 25% of the entire Albertan economy," he said, where loss of oil jobs and stagnant wages will also affect retail spending despite a projected $900 saving per family per year at the pumps. So no growth for Alberta and Saskatchewan this year and under a 3% increase for BC and Ontario.  

Two and a half years ago and before the collapse of oil prices, he was calling for investing in childcare and early education in his TD report :
“It is very much an economic topic,” said Alexander. "If you are concerned with skills development, productivity and innovation, you should really care about this subject."

"For every dollar invested, the return ranges from roughly $1.50 to almost $3. For disadvantaged children, the return runs into the double digits ...  it follows that more focus should be put on investing in, and improving the system,” the report says." But later, when we can afford it.

CCPA's Yalnizyan says that time is now :
"In our global economy we need our best and brightest to be our best and brightest. We can ill afford to discount Canadians who cannot afford to upgrade their skills at any point in their lives, not just when they're getting out of high school." 
We are part of global economy in which Canada has fallen from 8th to 11th place while current government policy is directed at "ripping and stripping our natural resources," she said, despite those collapsing oil prices and the coming expense of population aging.

Plan B? Mission-oriented public policy is required, she said, because without it we will just get higher healthcare costs without necessarily any improvement.
Taking your hands off the wheel won't necessarily deliver what we need so how can we make life cheaper for the people who, unlike our corporate hoarders, spend every dollar they earn in the economy? 
"The global economy is transitioning and pivoting away from fossil fuels to renewables and we should be contributing to this fight to find the most energy-efficient ways of using and generating energy .
Focus on healthcare costs in a different way. Spend on social determinants. What causes all round good health?  Better housing, public transportation, education, even income redistribution. Population health-based intervention. 
While 10% of the economy is in the energy sector, 11% of our economy is in the health sector. Use that engine of the economy to improve peoples' lives and get a better bang for the buck.
We spent $14-billion on dental care for children in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in late 70s and early 80s. The mouth is the only part of healthcare that isn't covered."
$14B sounds like a lot to have spent on childrens' health until you consider that the government already spends $13B a year in taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil and gas industries. 

The program wrapped up with Stephen Gordon, economist at LaValle University. 
Shorter and presumably not ironic Gordon : "Oil is our precious. Why can't we just leave the markets a-l-o-o-o-o-o-n-e?"

Monday, April 06, 2015

Edward Snowden and "dick-pics"

Funny, sad, brilliant. 

John Oliver has done a very clever thing here ... and that's all I'm gonna say - just watch it.

Bonus: Ex-CIA John Kiriakou on Canada's intelligence safeguards: "You're kidding me."

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati, whose privileged conversations with his clients were wiretapped three years ago : "It’s all a smokescreen. SIRC isn’t there to do anything but make it look like it’s doing something to oversee CSIS. Nobody is doing anything to oversee CSIS. They’re out-of-control renegades."

 "If CSIS can get away with bugging a lawyer’s phone calls with his client, imagine what the spy service will do when Bill C-51 becomes law."
Update :  Anon in comments : The photos of your junk will be publicized 
and also Boris' brilliance from comments below, reposted here. :
"2015 turned out to be a bizarre year for the surveillance state. 
In April, John Oliver interviewed Edward Snowden about the spy agencies spying and used a "dick pic" to make his point. Later, the Canadian government passed Bill C-51 giving its spy agency free reign. 
The "Dick Pic Revolution" began shortly thereafter and by December googling "dick pic" brought up over 500 trillion hits. It was estimated that 25-35% of all the penises in the world were now digitized and that fewer than 1% of searches would now be free of dick pics within the first 25 hits. 
Rebel hacker group Anonymous joined the fray by hacking into government and corporate email programs and installing a virus, later made available freely for any disgruntled government or corporate employee to install at their workplace, that would attach a random dick pic to every email sent from those addresses."

Friday, April 03, 2015

One minute against austerity in Montreal

A one minute time lapse of yesterday's student strike against austerity in Montreal. 
Austerity - that's when your government impoverishes its citizens by decimating public services like education and health in order to balance its lining of corporate pockets with tax breaks.

“Our services are worth more than your profits” is the slogan of the march.
Quebec police declared the march illegal before it began - itself an illegal move on their part in Quebec - highlighting why the Cons' didn't want to fix that bit about *illegal* strikes in Bill C-51.

Ricochet : Everything you need to know about Quebec’s latest student strike

Flashback to G&M last May : Canadian businesses accumulating ‘dead money’ faster than other G7 countries :
"Statistics Canada data shows Canada’s corporate cash hoard was $626 billion in the last quarter of 2013, a jump of six per cent over the previous quarter — more than the federal debt and almost a third of the country’s gross domestic product."
Let's hear that once again : "Canada’s corporate cash hoard was $626 billion ... more than the federal debt and almost a third of the country’s gross domestic product."
"The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has found that CEO pay for Canadian public companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange has ballooned by 73 per cent between 1998 and 2012, the latest figures available."
So naturally we really really need to bring in a half a million temporary foreign workers who will eventually have to join the underground workforce as Canadian graduate students intern for free and the many of the rest of us struggle to make ends meet with several part time jobs with no benefits.

Think the Quebec student strikes aren't about you?

We will now go to our corporate sponsored media who will interview someone stuck in traffic whining about being inconvenienced by the strike, followed up by Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, whining about how expensive TFWs are.

Meanwhile I'm trying to remember when 75,000 people showed up in the streets of any other Canadian city for something other than a funeral. 

h/t Kev @ Trapped in a whirlpool for G&M and Ricochet links

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"New shit has come to light, man"

is Glen McGregor's Big Lebowski summation of the latest Jason Kenney follies regarding Canada smart bombing Syria.

Last week DefMin Kenney justified why Canada was about to start bombing Syria at all :
"There are only five coalition partners doing airstrikes against ISIL terror targets in eastern Syria. The United States is the only one of those five that has precision guided munitions. That is a capability the Royal Canadian Air Force has so one of the reasons our allies have requested we expand our air sorties into eastern Syria is because with those precision-guided munitions our CF-18s carry we can be more impactful in the strikes we make against ISIL."
However, in Gen. Tom Lawson tries to dig Jason Kenney out of a bomb crater of his own making, David Pugliese noted that  
"both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, part of the current five country U.S.-led coalition bombing targets in Syria, have precision guided weapons and have already used them against Islamic extremists."
So the DND then trotted out a statement from Lawson defending Kenney :
"As stated by the Minister of National Defence, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s precision targeting capabilities make Canada a valuable partner in the fight against ISIL. ... Currently, only the United States uses these advanced precision-guided munitions in Syria..."
... which Kenney happily waved about in the House on Monday as his vindication against Pugliese's column. Note no mention of coalition partners either having or not having them - a good part of Kenney's justification for pursuing the US into the IS quagmire.

Now today we get to Glen McGregor's Big Lebowski quip as General Tom sends his regrets: Gen. Tom Lawson :
"Since the publication of the letter below, in which I stated that the United States was the only nation that used advanced precision-guided munitions in Syria, new information has come to light,” Lawson explained in a statement. “A coalition ally has in fact used advanced precision-guided munitions in Syria ... "
Department of National Defence sources say Lawson was pressured by Kenney’s office to issue his original statement supporting the minister."
Kenney wasted no time blaming the Defence Department for his own mistake about coalition partners having smart bombs in the House today : 
"I did not receive accurate information in briefings about that. But I have to take responsibility for all of the information provided by my department, including that so I regret that inaccurate information was provided. As soon as more accurate information came to the attention of the military, the CDS issued a clarification."

So either Gen. Tom knew Kenney was full of shit but tried to back up his bs to the public anyway after being leaned on, or Canada's Chief of Defence Staff actually had no clue as to the current military capabilities or actions of our "coalition allies" Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, and the UAE in bombing Syria, or our DefMin just bussed the Chief of Defence.

Not sure which is the worse possibility here really.

Thurs. night update : Michael Den Tandt: Bumbles make the once all-star Jason Kenney seem more like a reflection of Tories’ worst traits
Edited to add quote to pic and Kenney's remarks in the House today.

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