POLITICS CORNER

Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 12 Feb 2017, 09:46

Thanks for the correction. I broke my own rule there - I used to tell students that if they're using a calculator always do a quick rough check in your head to make sure your result is in the right ball park. I've just done it again on the calculator to see how I got it wrong. It's giving results to one decimal place and shows 21433.5. I now know my eyes are no longer registering that little important decimal point on the LCD display unless I look more closely (or set it to do the calculation to the nearest whole number). Good job I'm not an accountant!

I heard a politician slanging John Bercow on the BH radio programme this morning. He's now being criticised heavily for `failing in his duty as Speaker to remain politically impartial'. But this is more than simple criticism, there's a movement to have him replaced for voicing his opposition to Trump addressing Parliament on his UK state visit. Which leads me to bring to your attention an article in the The Times on Saturday titled `Brexit-backing MPs plot their attacks on WhatsApp'. This is a group of Tory MPs which you can be sure will be behind the Bercow attack, they're the Brexit wolf pack. "Ministers say that the direction of the government is being shaped by what happens on a private WhatsApp message group for 59 members of the European Research Group (ERG), a little known organisation led by High Wycombe MP Steve Baker, a former RAF pilot." The ERG is coordinated through the message group which goes under the title `ERG DExEU/DIT Suppt Group', named so because it supports the two Brexit ministries, the Department for Exiting the EU and the Department for Industrial Trade. It's aim is to ensure a hard, clean Brexit with minimal or no payments to the EU, minimal reliance on EU judgements and maximum flexibility to work with the rest of the world. The group is attacking people who stand in the way of a hard Brexit and anyone who criticises the Brexit process. As well as attacking individuals they had a go at Deloitte for warning that there would be Brexit chaos in Whitehall. The group can also switch off comment by its members when that suits them best - then "members stop giving interviews, quotes to newspapers or complaining." The Times also says that IDS has started agitating about Bercow on the message group and that this should worry the Speaker's allies. One of the leaders of the group told The Times "We get everything we want". Are we becoming like Russia, with squads of troublemakers operating behind the scenes and with only tenuous connections to the leadership?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby PanBiker » 12 Feb 2017, 10:16

You can do mine Tiz, as long as you are rounding up! :grin:
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby David Whipp » 12 Feb 2017, 10:37

Going back a few posts...

My colleague Ken Hartley, who's a governor at Airedale, reports that the hospital has set up its own 'care home' where patients can be discharged to in the absence of residential places elsewhere.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby PanBiker » 12 Feb 2017, 11:04

Good, my idea would go a step further and have a halfway house in every reasonably sized town. This way patients could be accommodated near to or in their home town. This in itself would aid recovery out of the hospital environment.

None of this of course will work until sufficient funding is put back in place to make it happen. I say put back because the problem has been caused by years of under funding into both the health and social service sectors, problem is, the lords of the universe don't need to use any of these critical baseline services so it probably wont happen. We are getting nearer by the day to abandoning our old folk at the side of the road, it's a disgusting state of affairs.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Stanley » 13 Feb 2017, 05:18

I agree totally about the neglect of social care.....
Interesting that the existence of the Whatsapp group of hard line Brexiteers is known. The Whatsapp service is encrypted and totally private so there must be a member leaking for information to get out (unless there is some very sophisticated hacking going on!). As far as I can see Bercow is a totally adequate Speaker and although he's a bumptious little bugger does a good job in that he is not frightened when it comes to putting anyone down. (including Cameron as the clip in BH showed) This is a concert party and is a damned sight more undemocratic than Bercow telling students in a private session that he voted Remain. It strikes me that Westminster is full of self-regarding cabals like this and I include the Labour Party. Anyone who has read the Crossman Diaries knows that this has always been the case but in the present febrile atmosphere these plotters are damaging the proper functioning of parliamentary democracy and thereby harming the electorate.
At the moment the electorate is trying to fight back, this explains the weird result of the Referendum, the rise of populist politics and the uncertainty whenever there is a by-election. Totally uncoordinated but effective in that it is fracturing the old party system. The irony is that it is happening because the voters can see that something is badly wrong in politics and want 'a change'. These pressure groups and cabals are the reason why the public feels ignored and so in the end may be self-defeating. Question is where does that leave us. A UKIP landslide at the next election? That's not as daft as it sounds......
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 13 Feb 2017, 09:33

I agree this sort of thing has gone on before but it's now reached a much greater intensity due to the availability of WhatsApp and the belligerent atmosphere in politics and in the country at large.You've only got to hear and see the flood of criticism of Bercow and know that character assassination is in progress. Anyone who disagrees with or obstructs this group is going to be eliminated. Putin would feel at home with this lot.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Bruff » 13 Feb 2017, 14:09

‘’……………hard, clean Brexit with minimal or no payments to the EU’’

Ah yes, the payments to the EU. This is the latest little softener being prepared. When the Brexit calamity actually hits, this is one of the things that we will be encouraged to blame on a malign EU. This bill will be the EU 'punishing us'. God forbid that the Brexiters would ever take responsibility for their own actions.

Because you see, there will be a bill (albeit a negotiated one). It’s not a punishment to land the UK with this bill. It’s simply monies owing. The bill will be a mix of the obvious like pension payments for all UK nationals who have worked in EU institutions that are in receipt or will be entitled in due course. But then there are other monies. For example, EU buildings have leases and these will have to be honoured. These leases often run for decades. We can’t just walk away from our obligated share of these. EU budgets are set for the coming years. These were based on our membership. Again, we can’t walk away from our obligated share. Tot it all up, against all items, and it will run to billions.

Now I know that standards in this country are not what they once were. The notion that an Englishman’s word is his bond is long gone. And the UK being a beacon of upholding the rule of law to the world went years back. But these are obligations and we will have to meet them. If we don’t, then any future trade partner for example would as a starting point assume that we can’t be trusted. And as we’d essentially default on our debts the markets would act accordingly.

But that won’t matter. The ‘payments to the EU’ are about blame. They are about the EU punishing plucky Blighty. So we’ll pay, but with recriminations and not through any sense of obligation. Or if you like, fair play. That requires decency. And it doesn’t exist here anymore.

In other news, surprise that the European Parliament has produced a report saying the status of UK citizens in EU member states post-Brexit will be a matter for each member state. This is obvious. The EU is not responsible for national arrangements to control the migration of non-EU nationals. When we leave, we will be non-EU nationals. Therefore the arrangements will be the same for us as for any other non-EU national. That is, you and I will be no different to the Paraguayan seeking to live and work in Denmark or the Togo national seeking to live and work in Estonia (and given that the EU is thinking about visas for holidaying non-EU nationals, we might have to go through these hoops too). Unless some agreement is struck – not with the EU though but with each member state.

This is what makes me laugh about the arguments on the ‘EU not agreeing to the status UK nationals’ (another good ‘blame’ deflection). They EU can’t agree anything! Member states are responsible for non-EU migration.

Reports in Germany last week that the German Defense Force might be beefed up as a part of their being a major arm of a shared 'European Defense Force'. Not unusual to share forces - the Dutch armoured brigade is under joint Dutch-German command as it's more cost-effective. The Dutch have no problem with this arrangment as they've moved on from seeing the Germans in their 1940's guise, unlike some other places. This is one of the benefits of Brexit perhaps - a more integrated European defense force. The UK was the major block to this.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Stanley » 14 Feb 2017, 04:28

Another dose of common sense Richard. Thank you. We have got so used to confrontational politics that we apply the same thinking to the EU. If they aren't with us they are against us! I have long argued for non-party management of major policies, confrontation and party DNA is the worst place to start when what is needed is sensible management. From the beginning the Referendum campaign was riddled with bigoted thinking and confrontation. No mention at any time of principles, ethics and the long term view of our place in the world.
News just in that Trump's National Security adviser Michael Flynn has been forced to resign as it became obvious that he had been lying about the substance of his conversations with the Russians. (LINK) A bit inept to say the least.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby plaques » 14 Feb 2017, 12:55

Ruminating on the on the current "no confidence" in John Bercow (speaker of the House of Commons) The roots of it are in the attempt by Mrs May to ingratiate herself with Donald Trump. Of course America is an important trading party and needs to be nurtured as much as possible but to invite him to a state visit on day one was going overboard. Pandering to his ego, you know the sort of thing, rides in state carriages to flag waving public, round of golf with the Queen, talks in the Connaught Rooms telling British industry where they are going wrong, more talks in the House of Commons explaining the meaning of democracy. So what did Bercow do wrong? Well he told the truth. This is something that you just don't do in British politics especially if it contradicts your Prime Minister. Mrs May is smart enough to stand aside in this argument, "it's up to Parliament" leaving it to her attack dogs to make the running. God knows what will happen when we get down to the really serious business of Brexit.

Another bit coming to the surface is the so called 'gig' economy. Applauded for the ability to empower those with entrepreneurial spirit to get on their bikes and make millions in their spare time. Not only does it give people the opportunity to work the hours that's convenient to them it helps the employer to expand with the minimum of overheads. But best of all it reduces the unemployment figure and increases GDP. Now it appears that there is a down side to this. The wages / earnings are absolutely abysmal with virtually no taxable income. Combined with the fact that the employer does not pay any National Insurance contribution the overall tax take is billions of £'s down. The race to the bottom is now on.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 14 Feb 2017, 15:51

I don't know what `unemployment figure' means these days in the debate about the `gig' economy. The ONS says: "The level and rate of UK unemployment [is] measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) using a definition of unemployment specified by the International Labour Organisation. Unemployed people [are defined] as those without a job who have been actively seeking work in the past 4 weeks and are available to start work in the next 2 weeks. It also includes those who are out of work but have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next 2 weeks." ONS (I've had to add some words in brackets because otherwise the ONS statement doesn't make sense.) On the other hand, this gov.uk page distinguishes between `workers' and `employees'. gov.uk So do our `employment' figures include both workers and employees or only employees?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby plaques » 14 Feb 2017, 19:32

I've no problem with the logic of measuring unemployment. Roughly.. If you have been looking for work for 4 weeks and you will still not be earning, even if you have a job lined up, for the next 2 weeks you are in the count. What always baffles me is this statistic is based on a sample. Ref.' Each quarter the LFS covers 100,000 people in 40,000 households chosen randomly by postcode. That's about one in 600 of the total population.'. Link.. Accurate to + / - 3%. Any movement within 6% could be within the statistical error. The problem here is that any movement is based on the last count but which in itself could be fundamentally wrong to start with. How do you get 100,000 people to answer this type of question? Possibly the most accurate statistic is the job claimant count which is taken directly from the Job Centres.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Stanley » 15 Feb 2017, 04:47

P. Two things..... Another penalty of the current race to the bottom in the job market is the fact that if an employer pays a (legal) low wage, the taxpayer makes the wage up in benefits. The actual number is not straightforward, many people aren't covered by the statistics and basically the figures are massaged towards the lower end. In addition 'employment' no longer means security and a living wage. This is why personal debt is rising and at the same time inflation creeps steadily upwards as the pound loses value against the other currencies. There will be a reckoning.....
Trump is finding out now that his problem isn't his lying general, it's the Watergate question; "When did the President know?". He is surrounded by critics and enemies and some of his other appointments are under attack as well, not just from the Democrats but the GOP itself. 'When you're up to your arse in alligators it's sometimes difficult to remember that the object of the exercise was to drain the swamp!' At the moment many see him as adding to the swamp by his naivete and inexperience, he thought he could run the US like a dodgy business..... Then there is the lurking question of his business interests and what if anything they have to do with his weird love affair with Putin. None of this is good.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 15 Feb 2017, 09:39

plaques wrote:How do you get 100,000 people to answer this type of question? Possibly the most accurate statistic is the job claimant count which is taken directly from the Job Centres.

And the results of such surveys are only really applicable to that part of the population that answers surveys. Those who don't answer might have very different characteristics. I wonder what proportion of the population is like me and doesn't answer them?

This is a useful background article on Trump and Russia. What was the quid pro quo when Flynn promised the Russians that Trump would make life easier for them? You can bet they are already evicting residents and clearing sites in Russian cities to build Trump Towers. There are a lot more links between trump's team and the Russians. And remember, Trump is the one who invited the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's email server.
`Russia: The scandal Trump can't shake' LINK

Two news reports on the front page of the FT that should be read by all those who think our economy is racing ahead....
`Nuclear policy hit as Toshiba reduces role in Cumbria plant'
`Peugot's talks to buy Opel from GM trigger alarm over Vauxhall factories'
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Stanley » 16 Feb 2017, 05:00

On the domestic front I agree with you Tiz about the possible dangers in Peugot taking over the old GM interests in the car industry. Remember that the French government has a significant stake in Peugot. Can you see France leaning over backwards to preserve employment in the UK? On the contracts that Toshiba was involved in in Cumbria the Blessed May assures them that the work will go forward and lead to a bright future for the region.....
Funnily enough, Trump may be on to a good thing vis a vis Israel in seeming to reject the two state solution that has been the goal in the region for so long. This has been a Gordian Knot for as long as I remember and his blunt rejection of the present negotiations might trigger new thinking and new partners. The key could be the need for other Arab States in the region to counter Iranian influences.
On the Putingate front..... Trump is still digging himself into a hole. he is raging on Twitter about the illegal actions of the intelligence community and the 'false news' being propagated by the media while it looks as though he has lost his Labour Secretary, a billionaire who admitted he had employed an illegal immigrant as a household servant. He was also known for not being a friend of the workers so American Labour may be heaving a sigh of relief but they may still find that Trump's promise to fight for the workers was an empty election bribe. He's getting to the stage where he has antagonised everyone!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 16 Feb 2017, 10:29

This sounds like a lack of `joined up thinking'...
`Whitehall’s identity crisis: HMRC and Verify' LINK
Verify is the flagship of the Government Digital Service (GDS). It's an online identity system designed to let citizens securely access all sorts of public services with ease. But now it has competition from another branch of government, HMRC. This week, HMRC revealed that it was working on its own "identity solution" for individuals and businesses, while mentioning in an offhand way that "other departments will use gov.uk Verify for all individual citizen services". But only last week, when the government's digital masterplan was published, the cabinet office minister Ben Gummer announced that Verify was central to the transformation of public services. Its rollout was going to be accelerated, with a target of 25 million users by the end of 2020. Now the GDS and HMRC are involved in a bitter turf war, and there is a danger that we will end up with public confusion over which identity service to use, and a much higher bill for the public purse than necessary.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Stanley » 17 Feb 2017, 04:52

But hasn't that always been the case? In medieval times we had rivalry at court for favour, today we have inter-departmental rivalry where departments fight each other for budget and advantage the driver usually being not greater efficiency but more power to protect their own jobs. It seems obvious that there should be an overall authority to run IT services and impose common standards across government. We have a 19th century structure failing to deal with the modern world.
Trump says the White House is functioning like a well oiled machine..... How long is this farce going to be allowed to continue? There are checks and balances in their political system but the way things are going they are moving too slowly, only the Justice System has reacted correctly at the moment. We are seeing signs of Republicans and Democrats working together against what they see as a common threat, their own President. it will not end well and in the meantime is destabilising not only the US but global affairs. Later we get news that the well oiled machine has faltered again, Trump's second choice for national security adviser has said no thank you. Sounds like a wise decision to me, who in their right minds could want to be in a team like this?
One thing that occurred to me yesterday was that I can remember when a pound sterling was worth $4, when I was travelling a lot to the States it was around $1.80, Ten years ago the normal rate was around $1.60 and I heard yesterday that it is now $1.50. I know that exchange rates aren't an infallible measure but over the last 60 years it has been a constant decline. This is dismissed these days as meaning nothing.
It's coming to something when our local MP Andrew Stephenson issues a chart 'proving' that most schools in Pendle won't suffer under the recent re-allocation' (Cuts) of funding for schools and is immediately attacked by Tony Greaves for lying. Evidently Stephenson has regurgitated the official Tory figures which have been spun by leaving out some vital facts. The true picture is that 150 teaching jobs are at risk in Pendle. Why should I believe Tony Greaves and distrust Stephenson? I think that's a no-brainer and says something about our representation in Parliament!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Sue » 17 Feb 2017, 08:41

How can Donald Trump get away so blatantly with his racist and sexist comments. I don't understand what is happening over there.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby PanBiker » 17 Feb 2017, 09:24

To add to the grim reality of the times I noted today that PM May, writing in a French newspaper and reported in the media over here is already preparing us (as if we didn't already know) for the "Oh S..t" moment. She has written that she is not going to cherry pick the best bits from the EU! but just go for a beneficial trade deal. Too right that she won't cherry pick, she will get what she is given. I wonder if the trade deal includes the decimation of the Ellesmere Port Vauxhall plant which is being eyed by Peugeot? The French have already said that they can absorb the whole capacity of the plant within the existing car manufacturing infrastructure in France.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Sue » 17 Feb 2017, 16:15

Yes and Rennes could do with the work too, I am not advocating that, just making a statement
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 17 Feb 2017, 16:43

A polite French politician on the Today programme this morning referred not to Theresa May or Mrs May but to Madame May. I like that. I think that's what we should call her from now on, Madame May!

Watch the scrap between the BBC's Evan Davis and a trump aide on this Newsnight video clip! LINK
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Stanley » 18 Feb 2017, 04:46

Sue, it's no wonder you and many others are confused because that is the way the 'Big Lie' works. You are meant to be confused and the way they do this is by targeting fear. I have never seen a time when there was so much insecurity in ordinary people's lives, Fear of unemployment and poverty, fear of 'terrorists' and even fears about health. Trump is not the only source of the lies, it extends from vote-seeking politicians to retailers of vitamin supplements. Some of these fears are genuine, we were right to be afraid of Hitler, a young family is right to be afraid of redundancy and homelessness. The politicians and others stoke these fears by using 'facts' which are often downright lies but we can't all check everything. Their aim is to promote confusion and with confusion comes baffled anger and this is what they can use to sway public opinion. I could go on and on. You are also quite correct to mention that car workers in France will be all in favour of taking over the work of the old GM plants in the UK. It's called economic warfare and we have been practising it for centuries.
Tiz, a good clip and illustrates the worst of the bigoted and manipulative behaviour we see in all governments although I will admit this bloke is particularly egregious.... What he is really saying when he talks about going directly to the public on Twitter and social media is that they are by-passing debate, mediation and investigation in order to get their 'message' through to the public unscathed by the opinion of journalists or any other form of control.
There is another form of manipulation which is more insidious, can any of you remember THIS? The IRA planted a small bomb at Gravelly Interchange and the police closed the M6 all day. You might think that this was totally reasonable but I'm afraid I didn't. I remembered that during the war we never closed any roads because there 'might' be an explosion. (and remember I am talking about 1000kg bombs not a couple of pounds of plastic) The government itself promoted an unreasonable fear because it suited the political agenda, IRA Bad! The correct course would have been to say that there was a small chance of an insignificant bomb somewhere so people should be aware and use their own judgement, in other words allowed them to decide. Instead they went for the nuclear option and closed the M6.
There could be a clue here. Allow the public to make their own assessments and stop bombarding them with messages promoting fear. But they won't, because it works. How do you think the great unwashed were persuaded to vote to leave the EU? So my advice is use your common sense, the best antidote to all these strategies.
Tony Blair is shameless. He's been thrown out of his role in the Middle East and no doubt the speaking engagements are getting thin on the ground so what to do to get him on the front page and massage his ego? Start a campaign to Remain of course. He is of course deluded and desperate. Why can't he back away and find a hobby......
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 18 Feb 2017, 11:31

As much as I dislike Tony Blair and understand the futility of trying to turn back the clock, I agree with some of his comments on the EU Referendum and Brexit such as that many people voted without having been given sufficient understanding of what a Leave vote would entail. We're rushing into a stupid course of action, all because Cameron and his government failed to do their duty, consult experts, take advice and decide on our behalf. If we can use a referendum to decide something as critically important as leaving the EU then I suppose in the future we'll be holding referendums on everything; get rid of the government and parliament, just let folk vote online. But in one of his books Terry Pratchett writes: `Democracy doesn't work unless you teach people how to do it'.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Stanley » 19 Feb 2017, 05:03

I agree, the Referendum was incredibly flawed in concept and the campaigns on both sides were a disgrace. But even so, Blair should go back to massaging his tan and augmenting his bank balance in some other way.....
Besides.... in practical as well as political terms the damage has been done, there i s no going back now. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube! I regret this as much as anyone but there it is.....
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tizer » 19 Feb 2017, 10:49

There's a report in The Times about how Leave campaigners were able to get extra funds for their leafleting by channeling it through Northern Ireland. Apparently the rules there are different.

In recent months I've listened to Trump's ranting speeches and thought how he increasingly sounds like Adolf and Benito in the 1930s. But today I heard some of his Florida speech and realised he's moved on and now sounds more like North Korea's `Supreme Leader' Kim Jong-un. Everything he says gets a cheer from his supporters. And the press were corralled behind metal fences at the speech. Perhaps he'll begin to style himself Supreme Leader instead of President. Beware Trump supporters carrying needles!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Postby Tripps » 19 Feb 2017, 12:04

I watched his latest speech last night - a bit like you slow down to see an accident on the motorway - he reminded me a lot of Jimmy Swaggart. Not sure if he can sing but - he looks a bit like him.

I must say however - I quite liked his idea of getting Saudi Arabia to pay for the welfare of all Middle Eastern refugees until their own countries become stable again. Don't hold your breath though. . . :smile:
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