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Archive for March 2017

The Trump Era

Will Trump’s Border Wall Be a Self-Sufficient Solar-Paneled Energy Producer?

March 22nd 2017

Solar panels


The Race for Natural Gas

Israel and Lebanon on Gas Tender Collision Course

March 21st 2017

Med Natural Gas

Israel has asked the US and the UN to pressure Lebanon to change the oil and gas exploration tenders being planned by the latter in five maritime blocks. Three of these blocks are within Israel's marine border and overlap the 800 sq.km. of marine territory disputed by the two countries. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice is promoting a marine areas bill that has been proposed for years, which among other things determines Israel's marine territory, including the disputed area.

After many years of preparations and postponements, the Lebanese government published six weeks ago a call to oil and gas exploration companies to submit their candidacy for the preliminary stage of the new tender. The filing deadline for the preliminary stage is the end of March. If it goes ahead, it will be the first such tender for Lebanon. Read more ..

The Edge of Film

Alone in Berlin: The Virtues of Quiet Resistance to the Nazis

Hitler Sepia

Alone in Berlin. Directed by Vincent Perez. Screenplay by Vincent Perez, Achim von Borries, Bettine von Borries. Starring Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Brühl, Mikael Persbrandt. 97 minutes.

Berlin, 1940. Anna and Otto Quangel receive the news of their soldier son’s death in France. Up to then, they had tried to survive life under the Nazis by minding their own business and not meddling in politics but their loss stirs them to a quiet rebellion.

Based on a 1947 novel by Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone, and inspired by a true story, this film draws its strength from the performances of Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson, who portray the two protagonists of an instinctive and silent resistance, apparently useless and on the losing side, but in the end incredibly significant, against the Nazi regime.

The Quangels choose an odd form of protest: they write postcards criticising the regime and the war and they leave them, risking their lives, in public places in the hope that someone will find them, read them, and begin to think.
This resistance does not involve weapons or secret organizations, or even foresight (Otto starts on its own and Anna follows him later). But, perhaps without even knowing it, it resembles the gesture of the sower from the parable, casting his "revolutionary” seed on many different patches of soil, leaving its fate to providence and individual freedom.

The Edge of Terrorism

Justice for American Victims of Palestinian Terrorism

March 21st 2017

Supreme Court Lady Justice

On Thursday, February 18th, while shopping for groceries in a neighborhood store, 21-year-old Tuvia Yanai Weissman was murdered by Palestinian terrorists, leaving behind his beautiful, young wife, Yael, and his 4 month old daughter, Netta. That makes Tuvia the 65th American, not including two unborn babies, who has been murdered by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accord on September 13, 1993.

How much pain can a single heart hold? In each one of these 65 cases, the pain is immeasurable and extends throughout families, friends and communities. For the survivors and their family members, it leaves an irreparable void in one of the chambers of their hearts that simply can never be filled. As Arnold Roth, whose beautiful 15-year-old daughter, Malki was killed by a suicide bomber when she went to eat pizza at the Sbarro restaurant, had told me, “Graduations, weddings, births…even looking at the slippers next to Malki’s bed that she will never again wear….The way you look at things will never be the same.” Read more ..

The Edge of Science

Paper-based Thermometer Wraps around Objects Monitoring Temperatures on All Sides

Test Tubes

Researchers from the Renmin University of China have devised a very cheap and scalable temperature sensor made out of paper and traces of gold (for the electrodes) joined by a line of inkjet printer-ready ionic ink as the thermistor.

Publishing their results in the ACS Sensors journal under the title "Ultrafast Paper Thermometers Based on a Green Sensing Ink", they detail a very simple implementation where they leverage the benefits of paper as a flexible substrate and the ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide ([EMIm][Tf2N]) for its non-volatile and hydrophobic nature.

Transferred to regular A4 paper by pen writing or inkjet printing, the ionic liquid holds onto the paper through the capillary effect, showing no leakage during bending and folding. The electrical conductivity of the ink trace is measured between two sputtered gold electrodes (5mm wide and 1.5cm long in the experiment) connected to an external power supply.


The Economy on Edge

Where the Fed Goes, Other Central Banks May Not Follow

March 20th 2017

$1B US Currency

It has been a busy couple of days for the world's central banks. Since the U.S. Federal Reserve made its decision to hike interest rates, rate announcements have followed from the People's Bank of China, the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of England. This confluence of activity from most of the key guardians of the global economy provides a good opportunity to take stock of where things stand.

The Federal Reserve had telegraphed its intent to raise its benchmark rate well before Wednesday's announcement, so it came as no surprise. In the past few weeks, various Fed governors had conducted a coordinated speaking campaign to prepare the markets, and Friday's report showing strong U.S. jobs numbers removed its last impediment to action. With recent U.S. economic data generally robust, the Fed wants to give itself room to boost rates two or possibly even three more times during the year.


The Edge of Terrorism

EMET Issues Praise for DOJ Tamimi Extradition Request

March 19th 2017


The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) praised the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to publicly charge Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Tamimi. Ahlam Tamimi planned and implemented a bombing that killed and injured American citizens in a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001. The group issued the following statement.

"On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, the DOJ’s criminal complaint was unsealed, charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, also known as “Khalti” and “Halati,” a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S., resulting in death. Also unsealed was a warrant for Al-Tamimi’s arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. The DOJ charge is related to Tamimi’s planning and implementing of a suicide bombing at a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001, that killed 15 people. Read more ..

Individual Rights

The Impropriety of Property Rights in Wisconsin

March 17th 2017

Scales of Justice

Each day government is stripping Americans of their rights to private property.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

Nearly 60 years ago, William and Dorothy Murr bought an acre of land along Wisconsin’s St. Croix River. They built a cabin on it.  It became a family gathering point each summer.

A few years later they purchased the adjacent lot as an investment to either sell or develop. The Murrs have passed away.  But their children continue the tradition of summer gatherings.

In 2004, the Murrs’ children attempted to sell their second lot to fund repairs to the cabin. But local authorities blocked the sale claiming the two contiguous lots were now one single-property.  Sell the whole thing or nothing at all.  According to an appraiser, the Murr’s property value has plummeted. Read more ..

Europe and Turkey

Europe's Turkish Awakening

March 17th 2017

Turkey students

Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal that would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks' choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party -- all at the same time -- is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image with which he portrays himself finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture. Read more ..

Jewry on Edge

American Liberal Jewish leaders Fuel anti-Semitism

March 16th 2017

Isi Libler

The crass political exploitation of their Jewish identity by American leaders of purportedly “nonpartisan” mainstream Jewish organizations is unprecedented. Today, in what must be described as self-destruction, a substantial number of irresponsible leaders of the most successful and powerful Jewish diaspora community seem to have gone berserk and are fueling anti-Semitism.

Nobody suggests that Jews should not be entitled, like all American citizens, to engage in political activity of their choice. As individuals, they may support or bitterly criticize their newly elected president, but as leaders of mainstream religious and communal organizations, they are obliged, as in the past, to assiduously avoid being perceived as promoting partisan political positions.

What has taken place in leading mainstream American Jewish organizations during and since the elections can only be described as a self-induced collective breakdown. What might have been regarded as a temporary aberration has in fact intensified in recent weeks.

Let us set aside the fact that many of these liberal Jewish organizations have also distanced themselves from or even abandoned Israel. They have done so even though the Trump administration has the potential of restoring the U.S.-Israel alliance that then-President Barack Obama undermined in a vain effort to appease Muslims. It is also clear that, for many assimilated liberal Jews, Israel is no longer a priority, especially now that President Donald Trump has signaled his intentions to renew the alliance.

The facts are that liberal Jewish leaders have declared a hysterical war against the Trump administration. Led initially by the Anti-Defamation League but rapidly joined by the Reform and Conservative wings of the Jewish community, many Jewish community leaders have exploited their positions to endorse a vicious campaign in which Trump is portrayed as a satanic anti-Semite promoting fascism and racism, representing the antithesis of Jewish values. This, despite the reality that his presidency highlights an unprecedented acceptance of Jews at the highest levels of government. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Recharge EVs from Under the Roadway

March 16th 2017

Traffic Jam

As more and more electric vehicles hit urban streets across the world, better battery-recharging solutions are desperately needed to improve range, keep costs low and boost user confidence.

Oren Ezer (CEO) and Hanan Rumbak (CTO) cofounded ElectRoad in 2013 to develop their unique twist on the concept of underground electric coils that recharge vehicles as they travel on the road.

In a few months, ElectRoad’s dynamic wireless electrification system is beginning a pilot project in Tel Aviv involving a short public bus route.

“The idea of electrifying vehicles from the road is trendy right now and you can see several companies trying to do a similar concept to us, but our technology is totally different, from the coils under the asphalt to the transfer of energy to the bus,” Ezer tells ISRAEL21c. Read more ..

The Calipgate

Who Will Dominate Iraq and Syria after ISIS?

March 16th 2017


On the surface, the wars in Syria and Iraq are continuing at full intensity. The fight between Iraqi government forces and Islamic State in western Mosul is proving a slow, hard slog.

This week, government forces captured the police directorate and the courts complex in the city, moving toward the denser warren of the Old City. The jihadists are fighting for every inch of ground.

Further west, the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) succeeded in cutting the last road from the Islamic State capital of Raqqa to its stronghold in Deir al-Zor.

In the fight between the Assad regime and the Sunni Arab rebellion against it, a rebel attempt at a counterattack in the city of Deraa has led to renewed bloodshed. The regime is continuing its attacks on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta east of Damascus, despite a new Russian-brokered cease-fire. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Iranian-Backed Militia Forms "Golan Liberation Brigade"

March 16th 2017

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Equipped with Russian-made tanks (via the Syrian army), Iranian rockets and operating as an elite unit trained by the Islamic Republic, a brigade formed by the Iraqi Shiite militia declared that its target is to liberate the Golan. This brigade is the reason behind the message Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed in Russia, according to which Israel will not tolerate permanent Iranian presence in Syria.

"The declaration regarding the formation of the liberation of the Golan brigade is not only a media campaign, but the real goal of the movement," said the secretary general of the militia, Akram al-Kabi. So who is this militia? Intelligence researcher Ronen Solomon, owner of the Intel Times blog, traced this significant branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.


The Edeg of Terrorism

DOJ Charges Hamas Member For 2001 Jerusalem Attack That Killed Americans

March 15th 2017

Hamas Terrorists


Jewry on Edge

From Noble to Ignoble: Quaker Relations with Israel

March 15th 2017

boycott Israel t-shirt

Unwittingly, Friends' Central School in Wynnewood, PA, a well-regarded Quaker establishment, has once again come under fire for its ties to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement supported by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

The school operates in accordance with the Quaker philosophy of "simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. Underlying all facets of School life is the belief that 'there is that of God in everyone.' Meeting for Worship is central, providing time for connections among members of the community and between individuals and their spiritual sources. Peaceful resolution of conflicts, seeking truth and collaboration are key aspects of a Friends' Central education."

The Quakers have cultivated their image as peaceful and supremely benign. Few suspect, much less know, that one of their central missions is promoting the BDS movement that opposes Israel's existence. Read more ..

The Edge of Physics

The Quest to Crystallize Time

March 14th 2017

Taurus Molecular Cloud

Christopher Monroe spends his life poking at atoms with light. He arranges them into rings and chains and then massages them with lasers to explore their properties and make basic quantum computers. Last year, he decided to try something seemingly impossible: to create a time crystal.

The name sounds like a prop from Doctor Who, but it has roots in actual physics. Time crystals are hypothetical structures that pulse without requiring any energy—like a ticking clock that never needs winding. The pattern repeats in time in much the same way that the atoms of a crystal repeat in space. The idea was so challenging that when Nobel prizewinning physicist Frank Wilczek proposed the provocative concept in 2012, other researchers quickly proved there was no way to create time crystals.

But there was a loophole—and researchers in a separate branch of physics found a way to exploit the gap. Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park, and his team used chains of atoms they had constructed for other purposes to make a version of a time crystal. “I would say it sort of fell in our laps,” says Monroe. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Truth in Wine: The Politics of Wine in Israel

March 14th 2017

Golan Heights

On Sunday, March 26, I will have the honor of leading a seminar discussion and wine tasting at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. The seminar is called “The Politics of Wine in Israel.” I will be joined by Israeli winemakers Yaacov Berg (Psagot Winery) and Nir Pelter (Pelter/Matar Winery). Also with us will be wine importer Jay Buchsbaum, from Royal Wines, the largest importer of Israeli wine in the U.S.

In a recent blog, I wrote about Israel’s wine renaissance. It truly is a rekindling of a distant time when Israeli wine was considered to be among the best in the world, circa 2,500 years ago! Our own California winery, Covenant, has invested in Israel since 2013, when we began making wine there as well.

The current crop of modern-day Israeli wineries is a testament to Jewish winemaking heritage and tradition. In the last 20 years, we have seen a rise in wine quality as well as the number of Israeli wineries, which number well over 300 today. Yet Israel’s wine culture remains besieged by a foreign amalgam of meddlers. Read more ..

Book Review

Ike Bio is a 'Page Turner'

March 14th 2017

Dwight D Eisenhower

When Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute told me he's writing a book on President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Middle East policy, I nodded politely, wondering why someone engaged in current policy issues would devote himself to a topic of mainly antiquarian interest. Well, having now read Ike's Gamble, I know the answer: his topic is both fascinating in itself and has continuing relevance for U.S. foreign policy.

Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power about the same time in Egypt as Eisenhower and, as the leader of pan-Arab nationalism, dominated the Middle East during the president's entire eight-years in office. In light of their intense competition with the Soviet Union, American leaders had a choice of two basic approaches to Nasser: build him up to win him over or treat him as an opponent to reduce his influence.

Focused primarily on finding allies against Moscow, Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, decided to woo Nasser; that's the gamble of the title. Doran follows this implausible effort in painful but nearly novelistic detail, revealing the full extent of its faulty premises, tactical blunders, and strategic errors. In brief, American support turned Nasser into the dictator of Egypt, wildly popular pan-Arab nationalist hero, invaluable Soviet ally, and global anti-American chieftain. Finally, in 1958, after the particularly bruising Suez War experience, the realist core in Eisenhower and Dulles wised up.


Palestinians on Edge

PA Law "Murders Women Twice"

March 14th 2017

Arabs Smoking

Palestinian women's rights groups are demanding the revocation of an article of Palestinian Authority law that they say allows criminals to get away with murder. According to Article 99 of Penal Law No. 16 of 1960, the family of a murder victim is permitted to "waive its personal right" to justice and forgive the crime. In such cases, the length and severity of punishment is significantly reduced.
However, given that the vast majority of violence against Palestinian women is domestic, the family of the murder victim is often the family of the murderer as well. Thus, the Palestinian Director of the Women's Courts Project in the TAM organization Victoria Shukri explained, "In 95% of the murders of women in Palestine, the [victim's] personal right is waived."

The Battle for Syria

Kurdish Factions Turn Guns on Each Other in Yazidi Homeland

March 14th 2017

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

Yazidis living in Iraq's Sinjar region are on edge in the wake of fighting last week between rival Kurdish factions. Some Yazidis joined in the fighting against Peshmerga belonging to Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Some Yazidis, who are ethnic Kurds, believe the KRG failed to protect them from marauding ISIS fighters in 2014, leading to a genocide.

The KRG denies deliberately abandoning the Yazidis, emphasizing that ISIS simply overran the Peshmerga's positions, and affirming that it supports the Yazidis.

The Yazidi-dominated Shengal (Sinjar) Constituent Assembly released a statement Monday asking the United Nations and other "benevolent" states to intervene and end the fighting. Read more ..

The Trump Era

Of Baseball and Boxing

March 13th 2017

baseball glove bat ball

American politics is becoming a blood sport, more like boxing than baseball.  The goal is no longer to defeat the opposition but to knock it out.  Very large segments of the American public, elites, and media believe in one or more of the following propositions:
     *The Democratic candidate for president in 2016 was a threat to the national security of the United States.
     *The Republican candidate, now president, is guilty of treasonous negotiations with a foreign country.
     *The election was stolen.
     *The Republican campaign was spied upon by the previous administration, which continued to do so after the election in the period before the inauguration.
     *The Intelligence community of the United States is engaged in a concerted effort to undermine the new administration.
     *The new administration is dedicated to undermining American democracy and all its institutions as well as dismantling the social safety net as well as the entire structure of civil rights. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Molecular 'Leaf' Harvests Sunlight Without Solar Cells

March 13th 2017


An international team of scientists have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide that could replace solar cells.

The team, led by Liang-shi Li at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) with researchers from Nanchang University and the University of Science and Technology of China, used a nanographene-rhenium complex connected via an organic compound known as bipyridine to trigger a highly efficient reaction that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.

"If you can create an efficient enough molecule for this reaction, it will produce energy that is free and storable in the form of fuels," said Li, associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Chemistry.


The Trump Era

How Government Funds Leftists and How Trump can Stop Them

March 12th 2017

Bundles of Cash

Long before the Obama administration, the federal government has funneled billions of dollars to progressive causes and activist organizations such as the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League, through a series of grant programs. In addition, during the Obama years, the federal government induced corporations to kick in money to a so-called “slush fund” for progressive political organizations, according to Judicial Watch -- a nonprofit watchdog group. Donations to progressive groups by corporations that had been sued by the government allowed them to reduce the level of fines owed to the government.
In cases when the Department of Justice sues financial institutions for alleged racial discrimination and mortgage abuse, those institutions can settle their cases with the federal government by donating funds to non-government third-party institutions, such as La Raza. The government does not specify how the funds are to be used.

Media on Edge

Media Misfeasance Exposed in "Eyeless in Gaza" Documentary

March 11th 2017

Hamas head

Hamas operatives burst into the Associated Press (AP) Gaza bureau during the 2014 war with Israel, angered by a picture shot by an AP photographer. Gunmen threatened the AP staff, which never reported the incident.

The incident shows that Hamas can control what journalists report, and what they don't, former AP Middle East reporter Matti Friedman says in a new documentary, "Eyeless in Gaza."

Producer Robert Magid's 50-minute film, which is screening via pay-per-view online, examines the flaws and challenges in reporting on the 50-day war.

Magid said he wanted to "set the record straight and provide context," after being appalled at news coverage that ignored Hamas' practice of launching rockets from civilian areas. That omission allowed the media to push a false narrative that "Israel was callous in their bombing." Read more ..

Europe on Edge

The EU May Bend to Keep From Breaking

March 10th 2017

euro flags

The European Commission is taking a clear-eyed look at Europe's future. On March 1, the institution presented a report proposing five different visions for what the European Union might look like in 2025. The report will doubtless take center stage at the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday between discussions of such issues as migration, security, defense and the economy. Along with suggesting that member states could integrate at different speeds, the white paper raises the possibility that EU member countries may regain control of some prerogatives currently under Brussels' authority.


The Legal Edge

Legal Standing at Standing Rock

March 10th 2017

Scales of Justice

Sometimes the courts get it wrong. This becomes obvious when two different courts reach different conclusions on similar issues. Such as who has legal standing.

Take the case of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Last month, the Standing Rock Sioux filed a joint motion with the Cheyenne River Sioux. The motion dealt with the legal battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline.  According to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the tribe had legal standing in the matter.

But back in 2012, the U.S. District Court for North Dakota ruled the Standing Rock Sioux and the Spirit Lake Sioux had no legal standing in a different court battle. Read more ..

The Anthropological Edge

Australia was Colonized by a Single Group 50,000 Years Ago

March 9th 2017

Neanderthal man

There are two central mysteries about human history in Australia. First, when did people arrive on the world's southernmost inhabitable continent? And second, how did they colonize it? A paper in Nature offers new answers, based on an extensive analysis of decades-old DNA.

The Race for EVs

Bosch Takes Big Leap towards Electromobility

March 9th 2017

Toyota Prius PHEV

In anticipation of the electromobility breakthrough, automotive supplier Robert Bosch GmbH has announced to reorganize its powertrain activities. Expecting production of almost 20 million hybrid and electric cars in 2025, Bosch has launched a business unit dedicated to electromobility – and to combine it along with existing combustion engine activities in the new Powertrain Solutions business field which will be launched 2018.

The idea is offering all technologies related to any type of powertrain through one central entity. To prevent the impression of disruption, the company assures that it will continue to further develop conventional powertrain technology, because even in 2025, internal combustion engines will be mainstream; Bosch expects combined production of diesel and gasoline engines in the area of 85 million units. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Iran Is Progressing Towards Nuclear Weapons Via North Korea

March 9th 2017

Simurgh booster

While the Vienna Nuclear Deal (VND) is focused on preventing (or at least postponing) the development of nuclear weapons (NW) in Iran, its restrictions are looser with regard to related delivery systems (particularly nuclear-capable ballistic missiles) as well as to the transfer of nuclear technology by Iran to other countries. Moreover, almost no limits have been placed on the enhancement of Tehran's military nuclear program outside Iran. North Korea (NK) arguably constitutes the ideal such location for Iran.

The nuclear and ballistic interfaces between the two countries are long-lasting, unique, and intriguing. The principal difference between the countries is that while NK probably already possesses NW, Iran aspires to acquire them but is subject to the VND.


Iran's Nukes

Israeli Experts Claim Iran and North Korea Working On Nuclear Warheads

March 9th 2017

Iran Long-Range Missile

Iran is using its strategic relationship with North Korea to advance its nuclear weapon program, two Israeli experts of the Begin Sadat Center revealed in a study published Tuesday. Lt. Col. (ret.) Dr. Refael Ofek and Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham say that Iran is circumventing the restrictions on its nuclear program under the nuclear agreement with the P5+1 countries by collaborating with North Korea on missile development and modifying missiles for nuclear weapons. They also work together on programs meant to upgrade gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the Israeli experts claim.

“This kind of strategic, military-technological collaboration is more than merely plausible. It is entirely possible, indeed likely, that such a collaboration is already underway,” the two Israeli experts wrote. The pair also noted the two countries have developed almost identical ballistic missiles which can carry nuclear warheads. Read more ..

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