Friday, September 30, 2011

Bernie Sanders - On Wall Street protests

"Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of
Wall Street -- financial institutions generally -- has
caused severe damage to the people of the United States
(and the world). And should also know that it has been
doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power
in the economy has radically increased, and with it
their political power. That has set in motion a vicious
cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it
political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a
fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what
is sometimes called "a precariat" -- seeking to survive
in a precarious existence. They also carry out these
ugly activities with almost complete impunity -- not
only too big to fail, but also "too big to jail."
Noam Chomsky

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lawrence O'Donnell on Police Brutality at Occupy Wall Street

Tell Congress to Speak Up For Kids, Support the American Jobs Act

Arne Duncan's position on education and poverty

Arne Duncan's position on education and poverty –
Stephen Krashen and Susan Ohanian

"The way you end cycles of poverty is through educational opportunity …" (Arne Duncan, in "A conversation with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan," in the NCTE Council Chronicle, 2011).
The US Department of Education says that with better teaching, we will have more learning (higher test scores, according to the feds), and this will lead to major improvements in the economy. This is a core concept that drives US Department of Education policy.  It also suggests that our economic problems are because of low-quality education.
The US DOE philosophy is identical to Bill Gates' view: "There's a lot of uncertainty today about our nation's economy, but there is no uncertainty that a high-quality education is key to economic prosperity for all of our people--and for us as a nation" (Gates, 2011).
But there is good evidence supporting the view that the relationship is the other way around, evidence that agrees with Martin Luther King's position: "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.”            (Martin Luther King, 1967, Final Words of Advice).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trader on the BBC says Eurozone Market will crash

The Class War Argument

The Truth About “Class War” in America

By Richard D. Wolff
Republicans and conservatives have done us a service by describing federal policies in terms of "class war." But by applying the term only to Obama's latest proposals to raise taxes on the rich, they have it all backward and upside down. The last 50 years have indeed seen continuous class warfare in and over federal economic policies.
But it was a war waged chiefly by business and conservatives. They won, as we show below, and the mass of middle-income and poor Americans lost. Obama's modest proposal for tax increases on the rich does not begin a class war. On the contrary, it is a small, modest effort to reduce the other side's class war victories.
Big business and conservatives have worked to undo the regulations and taxes imposed on them in the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Then, an upsurge in labor union organization (the Congress of Industrial Organizations sweep across basic US industries) and in membership in both the socialist and communist parties gave Franklin Delano Roosevelt the support and the pressure to tax business and the rich. He took their money to pay for the massive federal hiring program (11 million federal jobs filled between 1934 and 1941) and to start the Social Security Administration etc. He regulated their business activities to try to prevent devastating capitalist depressions from recurring in the nation's future.
Since the end of the Great Depression - and especially since the 1970s - the class warfare waged by business and its allies (most conservatives in both parties) was successful. For example, at the end of World War II, for every dollar Washington raised in taxes on individuals, it raised $1.50 in taxes on business profits. In contrast, today, for every dollar Washington gets in taxes on individuals, it gets 25 cents in taxes on business. Business and its allies successfully shifted most of its federal tax burden onto individuals.

Wall Street Donated $41 Million to Supercommittee Members | Truthout

Wall Street Donated $41 Million to Supercommittee Members | Truthout

Saturday, September 24, 2011

NCLB Waivers, What about California ?

Re: the announced NCLB waivers.

It is important to know that the basic rules of school program improvement, the  take over, the use of yearly progress reports, the use of tests as the measure of reform, the 5 options for reform, the use of subgroups as a a measure ( ie. English Language Learners),  the claim to have only  well qualified teachers, etc.  I believe are all part of California state law.  The use of waivers to suspend aspects of NCLB does not change the California laws.  Until and unless California laws are re-written not much will change in the classroom. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The problem with Obama’s plan to issue NCLB waivers - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

The problem with Obama’s plan to issue NCLB waivers - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

Duncan Waivers of NCLB

Statement by Randi Weingarten,President, American Federation of Teachers,

On Waivers for NCLB Requirements

WASHINGTON—No Child Left Behind needs to be fixed. Reauthorization, which is Congress' responsibility, is the appropriate avenue to do so. We applaud Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) for their efforts to move that process forward, and we share their frustration that reauthorization is long overdue. In the absence of congressional reauthorization, we understand why the Obama administration is taking this action; we are keenly aware of the calls from parents, teachers and administrators for change—sooner rather than later. Waivers are an imperfect answer to the stalemate in Congress and, at best, can provide only a temporary salve.
Some of what the administration proposes is promising, some is cause for concern, and there are missed opportunities that could have enhanced both teaching and learning.
We are pleased that the administration's proposal includes more options prospectively for improving low-performing schools, recognizing that many of the remedies prescribed in NCLB were not flexible enough. The proposal also acknowledges the importance of adopting higher college- and career-ready standards, which could include the  Common Core State Standards, to prepare kids for a 21st-century knowledge economy.

The Math Behind "Class Warfare" And A Middle Class Under Attack | California Progress Report

The Math Behind "Class Warfare" And A Middle Class Under Attack | California Progress Report

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Boycott of Arizona is not over

Boycott Against Arizona Is Not Over, Say Grassroots Groups

By Valeria Fernández
The decision by the Hispanic advocacy group National Council of La Raza to call off a year-long boycott of Arizona for its passage of one of the nation’s toughest anti-immigrant pieces of legislation is being met with opposition by grassroots organizations determined to keep up the pressure.
“This is a decision they took without consulting all the people affected,” said Salvador Reza, organizer of PUENTE, a pro-immigrant rights movement. “SB 1070 still affects us and it is disrespectful not to consult with the community.”
SB 1070, passed by state lawmakers last year and approved by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, sought to criminalize undocumented immigrants by making it a crime to remain in the state without proper papers. A federal judge blocked that and other key provisions of the bill, however, in response to a legal challenge from the Obama administration.
Activists like Reza argue that despite the injunction, local-police are still enforcing aspects of the law and that the overall effect has been to create a hostile climate towards undocumented immigrants in the state.

More California Children Live in Poverty

CBP report on Children living in poverty.

Census Bureau data released today show that the share of Californians with incomes below the federal poverty line rose in 2010 for the fourth straight year. The state’s 2010 poverty rate rose to 16.3 percent, the highest rate since 1997 (Figure 1). More than 6 million Californians – nearly one out of six – had incomes below the federal poverty line. In addition, 2.2 million of the state's children – nearly one out of four – were living in poverty in 2010 (Figure 2).  Read the report.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We stand with Paul Krugman

We stand with Paul Krugman
Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman is being targeted by the same people that went after the Dixie Chicks for speaking out against the Iraq War - and we need to get his back.

Krugman had the courage to tell the truth on his New York Times blog:

What happened after 9/11 â?" and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not â?" was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

Paul Krugman was right during the Bush years, and he's right now. Paul Krugman told the truth about those who manipulated the aftermath of 9/11 for political purposes - but now the professional distorters want him to pay the price.

ENOUGH. We stand with Paul Krugman - join us if you've got Paul's back too:

US poverty numbers hit record high - Americas - Al Jazeera English

US poverty numbers hit record high - Americas - Al Jazeera English

Robert Reich Debunks 6 Big GOP Lies About The Economy

Protecting Teachers jobs

President Calls for Billions to Save Educator Jobs and Modernize Schools

President Obama's American Jobs Act calls for $60 billion to save teacher jobs and modernize the nation's schools as part of his $447 billion plan to boost the lagging economy and reduce the stagnant unemployment rate. But despite the president's assertion that every component of his plan has a history of bipartisan support and won't add to the deficit, such measures face an uphill battle in a divided Congress where many Republicans are skeptical that more spending will improve the economy and create jobs.
The American Jobs Act includes $30 billion to prevent up to 280,000 teacher layoffs by supporting state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire early childhood, elementary, and secondary educators. The funds can be used for not only teachers, but also guidance counselors, classroom assistants, afterschool personnel, tutors, and literacy and math coaches. The hope is that in addition to saving educator jobs, such efforts will address the ballooning class sizes, shortened school days, and reduction of afterschool activities that many districts are facing this school year as a result of state budget shortfalls.
The plan proposes an additional $30 billion to modernize at least 35,000 public schools?$25 billion for K-12 schools and $5 billion for community colleges. The money can't be spent on new school construction, but it can be used on a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and upgrade school technology. Local districts would also be able to use the funds to help schools become centers of the community?from improving outdoor learning and play areas to upgrading shared spaces for adult vocational and job development centers.
 From: ASCD. Education Advocates.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Italian, Spanish Unions Mobilize Against 'Austerity' Plans | Common Dreams

Italian, Spanish Unions Mobilize Against 'Austerity' Plans | Common Dreams

The Greek Debt Crisis - and California's

The so called Greek debt crisis continues to grow.  The Sacramento Bee has an editorial on Sept.12 on the editorial board’s view that the nations of Europe will need some form of consolidation. Here.
This view illustrates how the corporate owned media takes austerity and budget cutting  for granted.  They are presented as normal and inevitable.
    The Bee editorial, along with one side of the  European economic establishment,  propose  the need for a consolidation of government power in Europe.  The editors compare the growing debt crisis in Europe  to the Articles of Confederation .
But,  to understand the situation, you need to first ask, unified for what purpose?  The proposed solution forms a new government power to protect the financiers in Germany and France.  They want a government that can enforce austerity to repay bank debts.  The Bankers and capitalists caused the crisis.  Now, the question, as in the U.S. is – who will pay for it.
Austerity programs, whether in Greece, Spain, Italy or California, cost someone.  In addition to the loss of wages and benefits,  austerity programs take capital out of the system and thus make the recession worse.  Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and California working people will suffer more.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Obama Jobs speech- $60 billion for schools.

 America's two largest teachers unions, which have often clashed with the Obama administration on education policies, praised the president for including $60 billion in relief for cash-strapped school districts in his jobs packageannounced Thursday evening.
"We have for months been talking about jobs jobs jobs jobs jobs," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Huffington Post. "We know that there needs to be a lifeline because the economy has not grown the way it should, and that is what this plan is about. It's about putting people back to work, growing the economy, making sure how families feel stabilized."
The speech follows a year of widespread teacher layoffs and education cuts that sparked concerns about sacrificing educational quality for short-term financial stability. The drying up of stimulus funds worsened the blow.
"You see, people taking furlough days, you see people taking modest raises or pay cuts, you see digging deeper in their pockets, you see higher class sizes, you see effects for families teachers and kids," Weingarten said.
Though Obama did not report a price tag for the plan, media outlets cited White House officials as saying it would cost $450 billion. The plan would set aside $60 billion for the repair of 35,000 schools and teachers' jobs.

Sen. Sanders Responds to Obama Jobs Plan

Cuts to K-12 education

Wisconsin has the dubious distinction of reducing state aid per student this school year the most of 24 states studied by an independent, Washington-based think tank, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
According to a preliminary study released Sept. 1 by the  nonprofit research organization, the dollar change in spending from the last fiscal year to this year dropped $635 per student under Gov. Scott Walker's budget that took effect July 1. New York was in second place, cutting state school aid $585 per student. California was third at $484.
The study only reports on the 24 states where current-year data is available. Those states educate about two-thirds of the nation's K-12 students.

Read more:

Gov.. Brown negotiates massive tax cuts for corporations- no job growth

Gov. Brown arranges last minute  tax cuts mostly for corporations.   Really ?  That is the budget problem? I thought the problems included cutting 4.5 billion from K-12 schools, laying off tens of thousands of teachers,  forcing cities and counties to lay off police, and firefighters.  Underfunding local services so that parks are closed and garbage not picked up.

One Response of the California Budget Project

Statement: Jean Ross on Tax Deal Announced by Governor Brown

"The California Budget Project strongly opposes the last-minute tax deal announced by the Governor today. This agreement not only makes major changes to the state's tax system in the final hours of the legislative session without an opportunity for public review and comment, but it also provides costly new tax breaks at a time when the Governor's Department of Finance projects budget deficits into the foreseeable future.

"The Governor's proposal suffers from what the California State Senate's Office of Oversight and Outcomes called the 'blank check effect,' in a report issued this morning. This report noted: 'Tax expenditures, unlike direct spending, can balloon far beyond initial expectations with little notice or control.' While recent corporate income tax collections suggest that the cost of elective single sales factor apportionment, also enacted as part of a last-minute deal, will far exceed the initial February 2009 estimates, the proposal announced today replaces one flawed policy with another. Although the proposed tax deal strives for revenue neutrality, last-minute drafting and the lack of public review could very well result in policies that will cost the state far more than initial estimates suggest.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Obama's Speech, His Banks, Our Jobs

Obama’s Speech, His Banks, Our Jobs

By Nomi Prins
Before tomorrow's 2012 pre-election speech in which President Obama's vocal elocution will be earnest, and results - to put it mildly - tepid, about how he could create jobs dammit, if only the Republicans would behave, it's interesting to note who's supporting Obama keep his job.
A cursory look at the early stages of his campaign fundraising reveals that the same group of people that benefitted from policies (bi-partisan) that lavished them with cheap money, secret loans, debt guarantees and other forms of perks not available to the average citizen, are backing him for President. Big Time.
And whereas it's true, Obama's most recent poll numbers look as abysmal as any President (save FDR who he will never, ever be) facing a depressed economy and a near double-digit 'official' unemployment rate (worse if you get beneath its massaged surface), this isn't effecting his most important support, the financial kind. To date, Obama's Presidential bid dosh comes largely from - wait for it - the financial sector.
Yes, the same sector that screwed the country over, and that, despite some unpleasant lawsuits they will likely settle,  remains as powerful, unrepentant, unaccountable, selfish and Main-Street-destabilizing as before Obama took office. No wonder he's been able to keep Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner by his side - someone has to allay Wall Street concerns that true retribution or meaningful regulatory repercussion will befall them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Why I oppose the "Free Trade" agreement with Columbia

by Duane Campbell 
The production of unemployment, instability, and poverty around the world is produced by  the economic policy known as neo-liberalism.  Neo liberalism is the current stage of capitalism. Trade agreements, like NAFTA ( North American Free Trade Agreement)  and the proposed trade agreements with Columbia and an important part of neo-liberalism and  actually increased poverty for many.  "Free Trade" agreements do not bring jobs. 
         So called “Free Trade” agreements, like those presently proposed for Columbia, Panama, and South Korea produce economic winners as well as losers.  The winners are the transnational corporations.  The losers are the workers on both sides of the border.
Free trade is the elimination and/or lowering of taxes and other trade regulations between countries with the purpose of increasing exports .   The Administrations argues   that the FTA will create jobs and economic stability for Colombians, yet experience with prior free trade treaties, such as NAFTA,  has shown that free-market agreements lead to more poverty for the majority and increased wealth for a few multinational corporations.
Colombia’s labor laws undermine the free exercise of fundamental labor rights and there are no policies aimed at job creation and social protection. As a result, fewer than 5 percent of Colombian workers today are in a union and fewer than 2 percent of workers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.  
Anti-union violence still remains at alarming levels. In 2010, 52 trade unionists were murdered and 21 were the objects of unsuccessful attempts on their lives. In 2011, another seven trade unionists have been killed.

Blog | Economic Policy Institute

Blog | Economic Policy Institute
Schools confront poverty, why don't education policy makers?

Text books ignore Labor

Report: Textbooks Ignore Union Contributions
Posted By James Parks On September 6, 2011 @ 1:37 pm In Other | 3 Comments
Most American children never receive any education about the union movement’s proper place in our country’s history and its many contributions to the nation’s development, according to a new report [1].
American Labor and U.S. History Textbooks: How Labor’s Story Is Distorted in High School History Textbooks [1],” sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute [2] in cooperation with the American Labor Studies Center [3], surveys four major textbooks that together account for most of the market in U.S. history textbooks. The report found that these textbooks often present labor history in a biased, negative way, focusing on strikes and strike violence while giving little or no attention to the employer abuse and violence that caused the strikes.
In addition, it notes that the textbooks virtually ignore:

  • The role of unions in passing protections and reforms such as the eight-hour work day, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, occupational safety and health, the end of abusive child labor, and environmental protection;
  • Unions’ strong support for the civil rights movement; and
  • The role unions played in the 1960s in particular, when the rise of public sector unions brought many more Americans into the middle class and gave new rights to public employees.
AFT [4] President Randi Weingarten said the report “explains why so few Americans know much about labor’s history and contributions.”
It paints a devastating picture of distortion and omission. Too often, labor’s role in U.S. history is misrepresented, downplayed, or ignored. The result is that most American students have little sense of how the labor movement changed the lives of Americans for the better. A vital piece of U.S. history is disappearing before our eyes.
Weingarten also is president of the Albert Shanker Institute.
BTW. California textbooks also ignore Latinos. 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tell Wall Street Bankers - No

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is pushing a settlement with the big banks and Wall Street firms that caused the mortgage crisis—letting them get away with a slap on the wrist.1
Wall Street bankers have not faced any serious punishment for the widespread fraud that crashed our whole economy—pushing bad loans, lying to investors, forging foreclosure documents—and banks are making profits again while homeowners continue to suffer.2
Unbelievably, Geithner wants state attorneys general to agree to a sweetheart deal where these banks would pay only $20 billion—a fraction of what they could owe if fully prosecuted—and would get immunity from investigation and prosecution of the criminal greed, negligence, and fraud that caused this crisis. This would eliminate any leverage regulators have to pressure banks to help out the homeowners they've hurt.3
This settlement is only possible because it's flying under the radar. So we're joining with Rebuild the Dream to send a strong message. If we can shame Geithner and the Obama administration with a massive public petition, we can stop Wall Street from getting a get-out-of-jail-free card. 

Grading the Education Reformers | Economic Policy Institute

Grading the Education Reformers | Economic Policy Institute

California Progress Report

California Progress Report
UFW rally in Sacramento on Sunday.

Labor Day Picnic

A post. Just in case you missed it.  You wouldn't know this if you relied upon the Sacramento Bee for your news.

Some 700 union members and their families  enjoyed a great Labor Day Picnic in William Land Park  on Sept.5.  There were jumping games for children, music, literature tables and lots of politics.  Each of dozens of important political issues were discussed and advocated.  Congressman John Garamendi, candidate Ami Bera, and Governor Jerry Brown, among others talked and met with folks.  Voters were registered.
Here is a button which I got at the picnic.  Those who can Teach.  Those who can't, pass laws about teaching. 

Monday, September 05, 2011

UFW march on Sacramento - Labor Day Weekend

     Over 3000  UFW farm workers and their supporters marched on the California Capitol in Sacramento on Sept. 4 insisting on Fair Treatment for Farm workers Now.   The march began August 23 in Madera. The march was organized by the United Farm Workers to reach Sacramento on Labor Day weekend.  Marchers  are pushing for the enactment of the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act and the right to be paid overtime after eight hours. 
    As the farm workers reached the capitol an apparent agreement was reached among legislators  to pass improvements of the existing Agricultural Labor Relations Act.  Gov. Jerry Brown and pro farm worker legislators  have struck a deal to give state regulators new powers that could help agriculture workers unionize.
The new  measures, introduced in the Legislature on Friday, would allow the state's Agriculture Labor Relations Board to certify a union if it finds that a grower has acted illegally to affect the outcome of a labor election. Currently the ALRB makes 5-10 decisions per year and few of the decisions  result in elections. The legislation would also accelerate the mediation process for workers in disputes with their employers.
   The Governor would not agree to the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers legislation already passed by the legislature  which would have permitted card check verification to hold a union election.  Governor Brown  and Republicans argue that the ALRB, passed in 1976, needs more time to be developed before changing a fundamental issue such as elections.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Thank you teachers.

Thank you. To all of you who work, who have worked, or who look every day for work, thank you. Our country, and the dream generations have built their lives and their hopes for their children upon, exist because of your labor and the labor of your parents and their parents before them.
Over time, Labor Day has become part of an extended weekend, a well-deserved respite from the daily grind, a chance to spend time with family and friends and to mark the end of another summer. For educators it often signals the start of another school year, and for all of us in the labor movement, it’s an opportunity to reflect on and honor the work we have done collectively to create opportunity, security and fulfillment. 

But this Labor Day falls under the shadow of deep and broad joblessness, the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression, insecurity about the future and, sadly, attacks upon the very workers whose labor we honor on this day. 

The economic crisis was not caused by these people, who every day work hard and play by the rules. The tragic irony is that those who did cause it—the people who presided over the unchecked greed on Wall Street and the recklessness in the housing market—have recovered, while ordinary workers and their families are struggling to survive.
 Adding insult to injury, as many of you have witnessed in the last eight months, ideologues have made an art of giving short shrift to the workers who protect us; teach our children; care for our sick; and work the day shift, the night shift or the all-around-the-clock shift when—as happened last weekend—Mother Nature threatens. To these ideologues, teachers, police officers, firefighters, janitors and other public employees are convenient fall guys for their own greed, selfishness and irresponsibility. 

We’ve heard plenty about America’s budget deficit, but not nearly enough about our jobs deficit and how our leaders plan to put our people back to work. If allowed to continue, our deficit of jobs will become a deficit of hope. Americans are determined to get back to work, and we can’t allow a dysfunctional political system to threaten the American dream. At its core, America’s trajectory—both as an economic powerhouse and as a great democracy—has been driven by our investment in human capital, most notably through education.

The AFT occupies a unique position at the nexus between public education as the equalizer of individual opportunity, and the labor movement as the leading advocate for economic dignity. We know that a strong public education system is central to achieving individual goals and restoring our nation’s economic strength.

Good jobs this century and beyond require an unprecedented level of education and training. The industrial model of education marked by rote memorization will no longer suffice.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Nurses demand -Tax Wall Street

Some 80 Nurses and their union supporters boldly marched into the offices of Congressman Dan Lungren ( R. Sacramento) asking that he sign a pledge to support a Wall Street Transaction Tax on Sept.1, at his Gold River, California offices.  Speakers from California Nurses Association, from Retired RNs, and from the Sacramento Central Labor council asserted that they were united by the harm being done to our society by the Great Recession, and demanded a response from the Congressman who was not in his office and could not be located.

On Sept 1, 10,000 nurses and community participants  joined   actions in 21 states Thursday demanding action on the economic crisis to heal America. They called  on senators and Congress members in their local district offices  around the nation on Thursday  to pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.” National Nurses United, the largest U.S. union of nurses,  sponsored  the actions.  Unions, labor councils, DSA, Jobs with Justice and other groups joined in solidarity with the nurses union.
American families are hurting, and they need jobs, healthcare, housing, quality education, nutrition, and a secure retirement.
The RNs and their allies called on Congress members to sign a pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.” The visits follow a letter sent by certified mail to all 535 members of the House and Senate last week asking them to back the pledge and help “make the promise of the American dream… a reality.”
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