Links 10/24/10

Winning the World Series with math ScienceNews

Warming ‘destabilises aquatic ecosystems’ BBC

End Of An Era: Sony Stops Manufacturing Cassette Walkmans CrunchGear (hat tip reader bob)

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science Atlantic

Jim Puplava interviews Stoneleigh, Part 2 The Automatic Earth (hat tip reader May S)

G20 vows to avoid currency war Telegraph. Geithner’s little trade surplus cap idea went nowhere. The Guardian sees it as a ploy: US intensifies trade row with China

Chris Hedges “Death of the Liberal Class” The Sanctuary for Independent Media (hat tip reader May S)

Clint Webb for Senate Lambert Strether. Funny.

Fox News wonders if school dinners will ‘destroy American families’ Raw Story

Iraq war logs: British blunder may have let al-Qaida kingpin Zarqawi go free Guardian

Wikileaks: UN calls for US to investigate torture claims revealed in leaked reports Telegraph. So much for the New York Times’ “nothing much to see here” assessment.

WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety New York Times. This verges on being a hit piece. It includes the rape accusation, which was later withdrawn by Swedish prosecutors. But get this: The Times itself reported that the warrant was withdrawn (see Glenn Greenwald, the second link in the piece, to the AP story, was via the Times). Try the link via Greenwald, it’s dead. This does not appear to be a bad link at Salon, but a deletion of the old article by the Times. But they appear to have neglected to flush their cache. When I searched their site for the first phrase in the AP article Greenwald excerpted, “Swedish prosecutors have withdrawn an arrest warrant”, I got this:

Picture 23

Clicking on that link takes you not to the old article, but the current front page.

But the Times is not yet beyond redemption, it does have Frank Rich: What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?

Antidote du jour:

Picture 24

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  1. dearieme

    The “Lies” article in the Atlantic is a rather verbose version of my own dictum:

    “All medical research is rubbish” is a better approximation to the truth than almost all medical research.

    1. nowhereman

      But to have this Warming ‘destabilises aquatic ecosystems’ and this Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science in the same Links is rather telling. Science, like Government is corrupt.
      Now I know you think I can’t mean “all science” and you might be right, but the exception is only the science that does not have Corporate sponsorship.

      1. eric anderson

        What leads you to believe that government does not have an agenda that is reflected in the research it funds? Why single out corporations. I don’t deny that bias is everywhere. That’s exactly the point.

        Of course, warming will disturb the equilibrium of ocean life. So will cooling. Another ice age is overdue — we should be on the way to one already, which is one of the reasons for the alarmism in the mid-1970s after the globe had been cooling for 30 years. So when the next ice age comes, we can reasonably assume the balance of ocean life will yet again change.

        Climate change. It’s a constant.

        1. Chris

          Except according to that chart on Nasa’s climate website, the temperature fluctuations are off the charts, and are abnormal. The reasonable conclusion for this (based on observable evidence) is that human activity is the culprit. Measurable CO2 is rising with no end in sight.

          1. DownSouth

            But you have to understand, eric anderson doesn’t really believe it when he says “I don’t deny that bias is everywhere.” Bias is only where he says it is. His skepticism ends where his right-wing ideology begins.

            For instance, he’s been known to cite studies like this one from the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition as testaments of sure truth.

            Here’s a rebuttal in short form.

            And for a more elaborate rebuttal of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition’s blathering nonsense there’s this.

  2. Kevin de Bruxelles

    The rape and assault accusations against Julian Assange were indeed temporarily dropped when one prosecutor overruled her subordinate who had brought the charges in the first place. But the accusing women’s lawyers went up the chain of command and convinced the chief of prosecutors to in turn overrule her subordinate a few days later to bring the charges back.

    Long story short, Julian Assange is still under investigation in Sweden for rape and assault.

    1. Richard Kline

      The NYT is the mouthpiece for the US intel community, and has shilled tirelessly for our present foreign adventures even if some of its commentators stand against them. And of course those huge edifices of blowhardism and self-regard quite careless with the lives of other people are brick-faced at being caught out by a ring of radical code geeks and a Private First Class with a conscience. So yes, of course this was a hit piece. Just one more nail for the coffin within which the liquifying corpse of the credibility of the New York Times lies stinking . . . .

      1. attempter

        Last time round Bill Keller made an ass of himself journalistically collaborating with Wikileaks but then denying it was really a collaboration, although no one could understand his argument.

        I guess he’s doubling down this time, collaborating and simultaneously smearing. Again, how the NYT sees fit to work so closely with such a dubious character according to its own reportage will have to remain a mystery.(Maybe a “journalism professor” at a corporate media assembly line in academia can explain it all to us.)

        I just posted a piece on transparency and Wikileaks:

    2. BondsOfSteel

      In general, I approve of what WikiLeaks is trying to do. I don’t always like their methods, but I think the world is a better place [or will be better] for their actions.

      That said, I find the details of the rape accusations really icky. It isn’t about consensual sex… but about condom use. (He’s alleged to have tricked 2 women into not using condoms.)

      I don’t see what advantage the Powers That Be would have in making this accusation. I’ve never heard of a case in the US or anywhere would call that behavior ‘rape’. Also, as a woman, I’ve experenced similar behavor myself… I believe that it’s not that uncommon.

      It’s icky… and just like the value that wikileaks brings to discussing the war, I think there is value in discussing the rape allegations.

  3. Ina Deaver

    I was going to say bravo to the Atlantic for an excellent article on the flaws of the medical research establishment in this country. Of course, there is some fantastic basic research going on out there – and no one seems to report on it. Oh no, it’s the complete crap you can see is biased, ill-conceived tripe from miles away that gets widely reported.

    But then I saw the Clint Webb piece. OMG, that was entirely, entirely too accurate. Truly good.

  4. jbmoore

    (Apologies for the lenght.) The Atlantic article appears to support Sturgeon’s Revelation ( that 90% of everything humans produce is crud. I once had a discussion with my thesis advisor about scientific results due to a scientific misconduct case occurring in the early 1990’s. His belief was that in that particular Nobel Prize winner’s lab, that the pressure to produce was so great that at least 30% of results emanating from that lab were either flawed or fabricated. The problem is that if caught fabricating evidence, the researcher’s career is effectively over. In biomedical literature it is easier to fabricate evidence in obscure fields or areas where one’s results are not likely to be checked. The more prestigious the result, the less likely false or misleading evidence will go unnoticed because others will try to reproduce the results and fail. This is how cheaters are caught.

    Even then some studies are flawed due to environmental factors. Scientists who work with mice found out that different treatment results with different strains could be minimized if they limited food intake shortly before the study began. Recently, they discovered that having mice in different cages affected study results.

    With medical papers, it’s more difficult to catch frauds. Add in the uncertainty of mice studies and multiply the effect with humans. Every person is unique in genotype and phenotype. We are not at all like inbred mouse strains. Add in insufficient statistical sample sizes, bad statistical analysis, sloppy methodology, and it’s difficult to tell if the author incompetent or a fraud. Generally, with frauds, the results are too good to be true, and the methodology is sound, but the results are unreproducible. But, the poor quality of clinical medical articles seems to have been a given for some time.

    What the Atlantic article didn’t discuss is the difference in publications between researchers in fields with dedicated funding such as Germany versus America. German researchers generally don’t have to worry about publishing to obtain funding. Their funding is dedicated, so the publish or perish linkage is broken. Therefore, there is less pressure to be “right” or prove others wrong for career or professional advancement. Since the US publishes more research than any other nation, the results will be skewed by our publish or perish system. It would be informative to know who is getting correct results rather than who is getting it wrong for prestige or profit. Until the incentives are fixed and proper methodologies followed, nothing will change in medicine, economics, or any other field of human endeavor.

    1. Pelle Schultz

      Re: John Ioannidis

      I was one of the Nature Genetics editors who published Ioannidis’s 2001 paper, and one of my-then colleagues later published his 2005 paper as editor of PLoS Medicine. Both of those were watershed events, although that was not generally realized at the time. In particular, the 2001 NG paper–which codified strongly held but minority views (at that time) in the human genetics/genomics community–has turned out to be prophetic, albeit for reasons no one imagined at the time.

      Without addressing specifics (which would take forever), it is important to note that Ioannidis’s conclusions pertain largely to research involving human subjects–which does not represent the majority of biological research. (Sorry anthropomorphysicians.)

      As a MD first (and only later a PhD), Ioannidis’s own frame of reference is that of a clinician. It is eye-opening for me to learn that Ioannidis himself was surprised that his work didn’t generate a backlash among his peers. Nearly any model system researcher would have predicted that response. Why? We don’t expect to be completely correct. It simply isn’t possible because there is no way to know–or predict with any accuracy–the unknowable. When any researcher looks back at their published works of 10 years ago, the reaction is invariably “how could I be so naive” or “how could I overlook something so obvious.”

      When you’re working on Arabidopsis, that’s not such a big deal. When you’re basing life-or-death clinical decisions on it–or building skewed data pyramids to try and sell a product–it’s a different story

      1. jbmoore

        I don’t disagree with the gist of your reply. Yes, the problem clinicians have is that there are too many variables and people are not identical clones living in identical environments eating identical diets. I haven’t read the PloS paper yet, but it doesn’t surprise me that meta-statistical studies with a clinical bent are flawed. What surprised me was that some of the genetic linkage studies were flawed which would indicate that the methodology for those studies was never sound in the first place. In hindsight I shouldn’t have been surprised. Human genetics studies still have to rely on pedigree charts and SNPs until the costs of genome sequencing or transcriptome analysis comes down. (Leaving out the whole mess of epigenetics.) But clinical medicine also has the complication of conflicts of interest by the drug manufacturers (and insurance companies). Since any statistical analysis of clinical trials will suffer from noisy data, that gives the drug companies more wiggle room to skew results.

        I think your last paragraph is flawed. The problem isn’t between studying a model biological system versus humans, it’s how you observe the biological system whether it’s human or not, and what questions you ask, which echoes the physician’s viewpoint in the Atlantic article. These clinicians got it right ( even though their results were disbelieved for a time due possibly to the Planck Effect.

        All physicians do is help prolong lives that would otherwise be cut short without intervention. If you are extremely lucky, you also improve quality of life as well. Clearly, there is a need in medicine to discover what works and what does not and codify it properly as standards. The impetus will be driven in this country by economics. The question of who is driving the economic changes will arise. It would be better for doctors to figure out what works rather than insurance companies.

  5. T. Rex Bean

    Thank you, Ms. Smith, for the link to the excellent, thought-provoking talk by Christopher Hedges. Stuff like that is why I visit this site.

  6. attempter

    More of the same whitewashing from Rich. It always boils down to “Obama means well but (insert excuse du jour here) is thwarting him”. That’s his specialty.

    “Obama’s just looks like he’s fronting for the banks, but really isn’t.”

    I’d love for Rich to provide just one example of where Obama’s not fronting for the banks, conveying billions in stolen taxpayer money to them, serving as their bagman, carrying their water, licking their boots.

    And this is a flat out lie:

    The Obama administration seems not to have a prosecutorial gene.

    Obama can be as prosecutorial as McCarthy when he wants to be, against the right target.

    Just ask whistleblowers, anti-war protestors, or small, non-system food producers and distributors.

    1. craazyman

      It also might be that these administration officials, prosecutors and staffers are instead looking for big bucks jobs with the same perps and their constellation of flunkies after they do their govermint stint.

      The country and fellow citizens be damned.

      I don’t know. It’s just a theory.

      What the hell is a citizen anyway?
      Maybe it’s just somebody who has as much money and so-called power as they do?
      Or is it an old word from Shakespeare or ancient Latin. I can’t remember anymore.

      No, we’re all “consumers” now, sort of like a bacteria colony.

  7. LeeAnne

    Thank you again Yves for all that you do; particularly, in this case, filling the vacuum of news and debate created by the corporate press:

    Chris Hedges video “Death of the Liberal Class” is a brilliant political analysis and passionate appeal to reform.

    He quotes Father Daniel Barrigan recently quoting his brother Phil:

    If voting were effective, it would be illegal.

    Referring to the US political coup, Hedges points out that the solution isn’t top down, but bottom-up. That those who seek power are mediocre at best, and makes his point for reform tactics with a question.

    How do we make the powerful afraid of us?

    And points out that the last liberal president was Nixon because

    Nixon was afraid of movements.

    In addition to Nixon liberal programs listed by Hedges, I would add crime reduction efforts through drug rehabilitation orchestrated by Nixon WH staff member Egil Krogh who is interviewed on his career in the Nixon White House on PBS

    Egil Krogh, White House Deputy for Domestic Affairs from 1970 to 1972. President Nixon gave Krogh the task of trying to lower crime in Washington DC, which led him to support the idea that treating heroin addicts with methadone could potentially lower crime rates.

    1. Ted K

      She’s not Mother Teresa you know. She’s making her own voice heard in the process and increasing her influence and selling a premium priced book. Is most of what she’s doing positive?? probably, but she’s not a damned Saint.

  8. i on the ball patriot

    Those who read the rich man’s news,
    Shall always wear the poor man’s shoes …

    How about rating links by asset wealth and income of the individual media and have links separated into; “What the rich are saying …”, and, “What the people are saying …”

    There are a lot of good blogs out there and I for one now rarely read the NY Slimes, FT, etc. It might give readers a better feel for how Free Speech has been usurped by wealth and better help them tune out the rich man’s far more powerful voice of bullshit.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  9. eric anderson

    Re Lies… and Medical Science

    It is the season to point out what I would call a landmark article in the same magazine last year about the effectiveness (questionable) of flu vaccinations.

    Of course, the feds are insisting virtually everyone should be vaccinated. It will reduce deaths 50%. Yada yada yada.

    Does the data back it up? Curious facts that do not fit the party line:

    “In 2004… vaccine production fell behind, causing a 40 percent drop in immunization rates. Yet mortality did not rise.

    “…vaccine “mismatches” occurred in 1968 and 1997: in both years, the vaccine that had been produced in the summer protected against one set of viruses, but come winter, a different set was circulating. In effect, nobody was vaccinated. Yet death rates from all causes, including flu and the various illnesses it can exacerbate, did not budge.

    “…In 1989, only 15 percent of people over age 65 in the U.S. and Canada were vaccinated against flu. Today, more than 65 percent are immunized. Yet death rates among the elderly during flu season have increased rather than decreased.”

    But we don’t need no steeenking facts, do we, Señor? Salute the Dear Leader and get your shots, everybody.

  10. LeeAnne

    I would never accept another flu shot and recommend you do the same. The Fall of 2008 after a routine flue shot, that Spring I got H1N1 (untreated, undiagnosed, and unacknowledged by the health care system) that left my respiratory system mysteriously (nothing on tests or x-rays) affected and 5 full months of fatigue that seriously limited my ability to do routine housekeeping, food shopping and cooking.

    Normal energy returned after seeing an internist with a primary care practice (3 month wait for the first appointment) who treated me with antibiotics. Other symptoms lingered and have recently for the most part cleared up.

    This year, a few weeks ago, having had no flu shot, I came down with the flu with more intense symptoms than previous normal flue symptoms. I cleared up within 5 days.

    I’ll take my chances with the flu, and pass on the vaccine -thank you..

    With professional killers like Rumsfeld a big investor in flu manufacturers I wouldn’t touch it.

    1. Eclaire

      LeeAnne, I am sorry that you have been having health problems.

      However, please do not extrapolate your singular experience into a recommendation for others not to have flu shots, or to avoid other vaccines for themselves or their children.

      If my facts are correct, H1N1 first appeared in the USA in the spring of 2009, which, I think, is when you contracted your illness. The flu vaccines produced for the Fall/Winter of 2008/09, did not include the H1N1 strain, and so would have offered no protection to anyone against that particular virus.

      You do not mention your age. If you are a young adult, you would probably have no natural immunity from earlier bouts with the H1N1, so would have been hit hard by that virus.

      Also, how do you know that your illness was caused by the H1N1 virus, if it was not, as you write, diagnosed. My understanding is that a culture, difficult to take and grow, is necessary for a definitive diagnosis. You may have been suffering from a virus of another strain, complicated by subsequent bacterial infections. Especially since, as you write, some symptoms appeared to have cleared up after taking an antibiotic. Antibiotics are, as you must be well aware, totally ineffective against viruses.

      Vaccines, while they have had their problems, have eradicated much suffering and death, especially among infants and children. Read the death records of any northeastern industrial city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: diphtheria and whooping cough killed many infants. Earlier, small pox epidemics killed entire families.

      My best wishes for your continued good health.

      1. LeeAnne

        it was politically incorrect for the health care profession to diagnose H1N1 after the initial symptoms were not present.

        The involvement of killer Rumsfeld in the promotion of the idea of a pandemic at that time and preparation of martial law for the outbreak is undeniable.

        The flu vaccine has caused flu in many cases, and can’t be relied upon other than for pharmaceutical profits.

      2. LeeAnne

        Lest your corporate opinions be taken seriously.

        In fatal cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza, the virus can damage cells throughout the respiratory airway, much like the viruses that caused the 1918 and 1957 influenza pandemics, report researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. The scientists reviewed autopsy reports, hospital records and other clinical data from 34 people who died of 2009 H1N1 influenza infection between May 15 and July 9, 2009. All but two of the deaths occurred in New York City. A microscopic examination of tissues throughout the airways revealed that the virus caused damage primarily to the upper airway — the trachea and bronchial tubes — but tissue damage in the lower airway, including deep in the lungs, was present as well. Evidence of secondary bacterial infection was seen in more than half of the victims.

        Your dependence on propaganda, otherwise known as pharmaceutical statistics, is not a legitimate basis for your corporate opinions.

        Furthermore, it was found that, at a certain age, those who had gotten the Fall 2008 ‘flu’ vaccine were more likely to come down with Spring H1N1flue.

        Those seeking relief and treatment for H1N1 were not treated, and many died for lack of treatment.

  11. fresno dan

    Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science Atlantic

    “Indeed, given the breadth of the potential problems raised at the meeting, can any medical-research studies be trusted?”

    When one considers how remarkably complex the path of genetics, epigenetics, gene and protein regulation, which you than have to multiple by 2 to account for both your father and mother, and than throw a dice a few times for the random variation of how many copies of certain alleles you will have, and it is quite amazing that any drug has any positive affect at all.

    Look at the obituary page and note the numbers of people dying in their 50ties and 60ties. Almost none of the increases in longevity can be attributed to treatment – the vast majority is public health (clean water, mosquito abatement, vaccines) and a high enough standard of living to feed everyone, and institute worker safety measures.

    1. liberal

      “Almost none of the increases in longevity can be attributed to treatment…”

      Not _quite_ true. I think that maybe two or three years can be attributed to treatment. But overall you’re right, the vast majority is due to public health measures.

  12. LeeAnne

    While I’m on the subject of killer Donald Rumsfeld’s involvement with the drug industry, see this for his role in the approval of the sweetener poison Aspartame and the Monsanto connection here.

    The military/pharmaceutical/medical experiment/torture connection is peculiarly reminiscent of the Nazi Germany so reviled in US propaganda that, in light of current US practices, could credibly be attributed to envy of that system.

  13. Ted K

    Only FOX and the Republicans could demonize school lunch programs for poor children. Let’s be honest for once here, it’s mostly for blacks, hispanics, and people who come from shitty families. It’s not the kids’ fault the family they come from or the neighborhood they live in. I was a white kid growing up in a poor section of a suburban area and my parents had me on the school lunch program. We would have the end of our ticket cut off each day by the little machine (I think that was common at that time, like late ’80s???). Of course there was some way you could tell by looking at the ticket that you were getting your lunches free or on discount, so all the rich kids knew you were on the program. Flash that little ticket in middle school and junior high was a great way to “win friends and influence people”. I had a jolly old time.

    But getting back to the topic I don’t see how making sure poor kids have the proper nutrition can be demonized by people. I guarantee if Sharron Angle or Roger Ailes had grown up feeling hungry they would feel differently about it.

  14. EmilianoZ

    Great harvest of links today, thanks! Chris Hedges outstanding as usual. The Corrente video is hilarious.

    I know Chris Hedges is completely disillusioned with the electoral process, but how about Naked Capitalism, Corrente and other truly independent blogs uniting behind Ralph Nader for 2012?

  15. Anonymous Jones

    Thank you for the Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Science link. I think that article brings up so many interesting questions about medical science (and the entire edifice dedicated to it, from educational institutions, journals, for-profit hospitals and pharmaceutical makers to everyday doctors).

    I hope everyone reads it and thinks about it.

    I don’t know what I’d do without you, Yves!!!

  16. Qafir Arnaut

    RE: Julian Assange

    The sexual crime tactic to shut up dangerous men is surfacing again. If I be not mistaken this was the strategy employed by the US Govt to shut up former UN inspector, and anti-Iraq war activist Scott Ritter in the days leading up to Iraq war II.

  17. Hugh

    I wrote on the Assange piece in NYT elsewhere. The thing about the Burns article is it is so badly written. It is like a parody of a smear.

    Nor is it just Burns. Michael Gordon co-wrote one of the articles on the Iran connection in Iraq. He was blasted by many of us back in 2007 when he wrote a series of easily debunkable articles trying to hype the case for military strikes against Iran. In his most recent article, he was still at it. But the thing here is that the military cherrypicked all the best evidence back in 2007 and they still came up laughably short. As I pointed out at the time, Saudi aid to the Sunni insurgents killed a lot more Americans than Iran ever did. Gordon also manages to gloss over how various political parties, were tied to Iran, the point being that most of our main “allies” had heavy ties to Iran. So the military’s attempts to portray Iran as a threat were always very schizophrenic.

    As for the Ioannidis’ article, anyone who has read much medical research knows of the methodological problems in most studies or the iffy nature of the claims. I think most physicians are not defensive about Ioannidis’ work because A) most of them are not researchers, B) most take a wait and see attitude on research, and C) they compare results to their own clinical experience and judgment. And I should add, from what little I know about the medical profession, while many of these studies burst upon the lay public, they often reflect questions and doubts that have been kicked around the medical community, often for years.

    Re the longitudinal studies, it’s very hard to run them for any length of time because both treatments and drugs change. So if you are comparing how say a beta-blocker affects hypertension, the problem is that the original beta-blocker may not be around a decade, or decades, later.

  18. Sundog

    Via Abu Muqawama (and others)….

    Bob Smietana, “Does anyone profit from spreading anti-Muslim fear? Some do”

    “Basically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit,” said Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group. “It’s wrong. This is off the charts.”
    Locker, a former USA TODAY national security editor now working for SAE Productions, said his organization does not discuss funding.

    The Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation’s application for tax-exempt status stated that all the money raised by the charity would go to a nonprofit subcontractor with no ties to Emerson or any board members. The application also said the charity would buy no services from board members. Emerson ended up being the only board member.
    In 2008, however, the charity paid $3,390,000 to SAE Productions for “management services.” Emerson is SAE’s sole officer.

    Because of its unusual arrangement with Emerson’s company, the Investigative Project’s tax returns show no details, such as salaries of staff.

    Locker said the approach was vetted by the group’s lawyers and is legal. He said that Emerson takes no profits from SAE Productions and therefore the Investigative Project is a nonprofit.

    That doesn’t fly, said Charity Navigator’s Berger. Berger said tax-exempt nonprofits must be transparent and disclose how they spend money and how much they pay their staff. Emerson’s group appears to be trying to skirt these rules, he said.

  19. Sundog

    Dat friggin’ Paul Kedrosky rauks so hard & don’t let up.

    via @pkedrosky “Note to self — stop using Internet.”

    Evelyn Rusli, “Firesheep In Wolves Clothing: Extension Lets You Hack Into Twitter, Facebook Accounts Easily”

    “As soon as anyone on the network visits an insecure website known to Firesheep, their name and photo will be displayed” in the window. All you have to do is double click on their name and open sesame, you will be able to log into that user’s site with their credentials.

  20. KFritz

    Re: Baseball Math

    The commenters @ the Science News website did a nice job eviscerating the idea. It was really appropriate to quote Doug Glanville (& his Penn engineering degree). A Phillies fan nailed him w/ possibly the wittiest heckling ever:

    “Hey Glanville, why don’t you design a stadium you can hit in?”

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