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Dec 212010
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I attempted to write a clever rhyming thing here, but am running out of time before today’s show!  Or, I should say, before the first of today’s two shows.

Since I wasn’t here yesterday, we’ll talk with Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars, for our weekly gab-fest “Fools on the Hill.”  Nicole watches the Sunday talking head shows so we don’t have to.  Here’s what she’s bringing us today:

This is always a very busy time of the year for Congress.  These last few days of the lame duck session of the 111th Congress are absolutely packed full of legislation that we progressives will be very happy to get passed, like DADT and some we wish we could have passed, like the DREAM act.  It was the lame duck session that was the big topic of the day.  A lot of the Republicans’ whining on it was fundamentally nonsense (hard to imagine, right?)

For example, Lindsey Graham has said that he will not support ratifying the START treaty, not because of its content, but because of DADT and the “poisoned” lame duck session.  (I used the CBS embed.  At :50 Graham says that the Russians view this as a way to control our missile defense, something that Obama unilaterally denied and at 1:30 he starts complaining about the lame duck session and at 2:10 he says that to pass START they should just start over in the new Congress).  Apparently, Graham didn’t get the memo that the Republicans said they wouldn’t consider anything until after they got their tax cut extension for the wealthiest 2%.  Now that they have that, suddenly, it’s too fast to pass START, despite the fact that the bill has been around for 8 months.   What is patently obvious is that the Republicans are simply looking to run out the clock and obstruct as much as they can.  It’s just sad when someone who used to be a fairly reasonable Republican (remember, Graham is the only GOP Senator who declined to vote for Clinton’s conviction during his impeachment hearing) toes the party line over what’s best for the country.

Likewise, Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl concern troll all over the START ratification on State of the Union, both saying they’ll oppose the passage.  These are the same people who deify Ronald Reagan and yet, they spit on his memory by opposing the continuation of his program.   Are there any good reasons for us to not have a nuclear disarmament agreement with Russia?  How many nuclear arms do we need to have?

If you’re not interested in having a second clip on START (because really, the comments are the same), we had Jon Kyl making pathetic excuses for killing the 9/11First Responders health care bill.  Why?  Because he doesn’t like to be hurried.  I guess the hearing they held six months ago in June conflicted with something else.     But that still doesn’t explain what he’s done in the last year that the bill has been written and available to be read.  What these first responders have had to deal with in the last 9 years is absolutely heartbreaking.  To have Republicans use them as political fodder to hurt the Democrats in the last few days of this year is inexcusable.

We also got a brand new “party” in the US last week, as the group “No Labels”, allegedly a centrist, post-partisan group who are dedicated “civility” in politics.  David Gregory asked founding member, Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, about a criticism of the group by Frank Rich, while glossing over completely the substance of the critique.

Yet what’s most disturbing about No Labels is that its centrist, no doubt well-intentioned leaders seem utterly clueless about why Americans of all labels are angry: the realization that both parties are bought off by special interests who game the system and stack it against the rest of us. Indeed, No Labels itself is another manifestation of this syndrome. Its two prime movers are a political consultant, Mark McKinnon, a veteran of the Bush and McCain campaigns known for slick salesmanship; and a fund-raiser, Nancy Jacobson, who, along with her husband, the pollster and corporate flack Mark Penn, helped brand the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign as a depository for special-interest contributions.

What bothers me the most about the bipartisan fetishization by No Labels is that without any candidate or any real stance, they grab the mantle of being the reasonable ones, the serious ones.  Therefore, anyone to the left of them, anyone willing to take a stand are then automatically unreasonable and unserious.  Really, do we need any more marginalization for liberals than we already get?

VP Joe Biden came on Meet the Press to assure everyone that “come hell or high water” we’re outta Afghanistan in 2014.  Now fully admitting that I have a bugaboo about David Gregory, but I do believe that Gregory asked more pointed questions of Biden than he ever did of anyone in the Bush administration.  (again, full MSNBC embed, because I was short two video staffers on Sunday.  The first minute is what our goal is in Afghanistan, actually better explained than I’ve heard by most.  The relevant part is from 2:58 to 3:28).

And finally, my favorite Republican pundit (only because he is always reliably 100% wrong) Bill Kristol made the rather hilarious claim that the DREAM act was a political ploy to make the GOP look anti-Hispanic. Actually, I really don’t think the GOP needs any help whatsoever in that.  They seem to be able to do it all on their own.

And if we have time (or maybe you’d like to do this as part of another segment on another day) 60 Minutes did a segment this Sunday on public employees, following NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s lead to basically attack them.  And no one from a union or a public employee group was asked to give their side of the story.  This is a growing Republican meme that I think progressives will have to fight mightily over the next two years.  In the ongoing discussion of budgets and cutting costs, once again, the burden falls on those who can least afford it.  I’m not saying there aren’t some people who are taking advantage of the system.  But these are exceptions, not the rule.  Most public employees could get more for a similar job in the private sector, but stay in the public sector typically for the benefits that aid them in the long run.  It also ignores the fact that most of the time the employee pays into their own pension fund, some times as much as 80%.  Meanwhile, private sector employees are getting laid off and there are dozens, sometimes hundreds of candidates for every job opening and CEOs are pocketing huge bonuses, some of which were taxpayer paid (as with Wall Street).

And, as we do on Tuesday mornings, I’ll be joined by The Political Carnival’s Gotta Laff to dish on the news of the week.  Here’s what she’s bringing us today:

VIDEO: Texas “Christians” Execute Santa Claus

A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m An Atheist

Harry Reid announces extended January recess (+ Obama to sign DADT repeal Wednesday)
with: VIDEO: Lindsay Graham whines about being tired

Sarah Palin disses Michelle Obama over ‘dessert’

Bush on Bush

Plus, news from TRNS, the Media Matters Minute, commentary from Jim Hightower and lots more…  10-noon ET at www.radioornot.com.

And don’t forget, I’ll be back this afternoon, once again filling in for Randi Rhodes!

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Dec 202010
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As much of America is taking off for the holidays, some of us are lucky to be working, filling in for the vacationers.  That’s the category I fall in to.

I’m thrilled that, once again, Randi Rhodes has given me the honor of talking with her listeners while she enjoys some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

In addition to being thankful for the work (and the paycheck!), I’m glad that I can continue my tradition of listening back to some of the highlights -and lowlights- of the year that’s ending… It’s our Rear End Year in Review (or something like that)…  For the next couple of weeks, we’ll recap some of the big news stories of the year, month by month.

Each day, I’ll be joined by guests who’ll fill us in on the progress made, or lack thereof, in their areas of expertise.

For example, today on the show, I’ll be joined by Leo Gerard, International President of United Steel Workers.  (What ever happened to the Employee Free Choice Act, you ask? So will I.)  Mr. Gerard is quite outspoken about the direction this country is headed.  He even penned new lyrics to an old Christmas class… but renamed it: “It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Oligarchy!”

We’ll find out what’s going on with Net Neutrality.  Believe it or not, tomorrow the FCC will meet to discuss the issue that Senator Al Franken today calls ” The Most Important Free Speech Issue of Our Time” in a piece on Huffington Post.  Tim Karr, campaign director of freepress.net and savetheinternet.com, will be with us both today, to tell us about tomorrow’s meeting, and tomorrow to let us know what happened!

By now, I hope you’ve realized that this lame duck session is not quite so lame!  FireDogLake’s David Dayen will join us near the top of the show to tell us what the Senate did this weekend, what they didn’t do this weekend, and what they still might do before the 111th Congress is one for the history books.

And we will begin our year-end look in the rear view mirror by listening back to some of the news from January of 2010.  Sorry, but it started off really badly, with the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v FEC, and the end of Air America radio.

Of course, there’s plenty of time for your calls too… 866-87-RANDI.  And I’ll be doing the regular ustream thing, and hanging in the chat room too…

Listen live here, or on the air at any of Randi’s affiliates, or on XM channel 165 from 3-6pm ET.

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Dec 192010
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It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the end of 2010. The older we get, the shorter the years… or so it seems.

2010 was a year for the history books. This was a year of political frustration, economic distress and ecological disaster. We witnessed the rise of the Tea Party, and division among the Democrats.
The first big shot against (small d) democracy came on January 21, when the Supreme Court upended 100 years of law to give corporations the right to buy elections. To add insult to injury, Air America radio (my employer at the time) ceased operations on that very same day.

2010 gave us the biggest environmental disaster in US history, thanks to BP. As if designed to rub salt (or oil) in the wound, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and started millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico on Earth Day!

Wikileaks became widely known – and either lionized or vilified, depending who’s doing the pontificating, all starting with the release of the video known as “collateral murder,” and escalating with hundreds of thousands of documents, giving a new meaning to the word “dump.”

The year is ending with a mixed-bag of news. After taking a “shellacking” in the midterms, President Obama cut a deal with Republican leaders on tax cuts, unemployment insurance extension, and stimulus, angering many in his own party!

The Senate, just this weekend, killed the DREAM Act, but finally repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
That’s just scratching the surface on the year that I’ll be happy to put in the rear view mirror.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll embark on an audio journey back through the year in news, both on The Randi Rhodes Show, which I’ll be guest-hosting, and on my show at RadioOrNot.com.

RADIO OR NOT

When Air America filed Chapter 7 and ceased broadcast operations on January 21, I decided to keep my show going online, giving even more meaning to the name of my site – Radio or Not. After a few months, I moved to my current time – 10-noon ET, Monday through Thursday, streaming live at RadioOrNot.com.

I’m thrilled with the growth we’ve experienced in the past 11 months, and truly appreciate your support.

I plan to continue moving forward with new projects in the coming year.

Hopefully Net Neutrality will become a reality, allowing my show and others like it to continue speaking truth to power in the last bastion of free speech.

RANDI RHODES

I can’t let this year come to an end without thanking Randi. She invited me to guest host her show the first time on my 50th birthday – Nov 4, 2009 – and has invited me back many times since. (We certainly can’t forget 2010′s Snowpocalypse, can we?) I can’t thank Randi Rhodes enough for the opportunity!

Over the next two weeks, our guests will weigh in on the progress made (or lack thereof) in their areas of expertise. I’ll be joined by Senator Bernie Sanders, Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald, Congressman Raul Grijalva, The Nation’s John Nichols, AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka, and many others.

NEW YEARS WISHES

While many Americans are enjoying holiday-time vacations, there are some, like me, who are truly thankful to be doing the fill-in thing and work!

My wishes for 2011:

That I’m proven wrong about this year-end tax cut deal!

I wish for jobs, jobs and more jobs for everyone who’s been fired, laid off, downsized and unable to find work!

That the Senate takes action on the much-abused filibuster rule to insure that majority does indeed rule.

That no more blood is shed and no more money spent on these endless wars, and that our young men and women overseas are finally allowed to come home.

That Republicans find their compassion genes and begin caring about the less fortunate among us instead of just the wealthiest of their donors.

Happy Chrismakwanzaakuh and a my best wishes for a very happy and healthy new year.

I’ll talk to you this week and next on The Randi Rhodes Show and my show too… Radio or Not!

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Dec 182010
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If you weren’t watching c-span this morning, you missed a mixed bag of history.

First, the Senate showed that 100 mostly white men have no business deciding the fate of millions of young people in this country.  With the help of so-called Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Senators John Tester and Max Baucus of Wyoming, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas (and the chickenshit absence of WV’s Joe Manchin), the DREAM Act was killed with a cloture vote of 55-41.

According to FDL’s David Dayen on twitter, Republicans Murkowski, Bennet and Lugar all voted AYE.  So, if Harry Reid had done his job as Majority Leader and kept his caucus together, we might have seen a different outcome.

Unfortunately, the Dream is dead for millions of young people who now face the risk of being deported to countries they don’t know and, in many cases, don’t even speak the language.

There was some good news to counter the bad news today.  It’s not a done deal yet, but we witnessed a successful cloture vote this morning, allowing the repeal of DADT to come up for a final vote.

The final cloture vote was 63-33, making John McCain’s head explode.  (Not really, but I would have loved to see that!)

Republicans who voted for cloture included Lisa Murkowski (2 for 2 today!), Scott Brown, Collins, Conrad, Kirk, Snowe and Voinovich.

Now it’s just a case of the actual vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which only needs 51 votes to pass.  That should happen later today or tomorrow.

By the way, it looks like Senators Manchin, Bunning, Gregg, and Hatch all did not vote on either issue.  A sitting senator should be required to cast their vote on every vote brought to the floor. Do your fucking jobs and take a stand.

One thing this whole charade underscores is the need for real filibuster reform.  According to the Constitution, majority rules in the Senate.  This nonsense that the Republicans have foisted upon us for the past two years of needed 60 votes to invoke cloture on every single bill is political games, and must be changed.

We’ll certainly talk about that when I guest host the Randi Rhodes Show for the next two weeks, beginning Monday…

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Dec 092010
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One of the biggest problems Democrats has faced during the past two years has been their lack of messaging skills. Making it more difficult is the mighty megaphone of the Republican party — their propaganda arm that calls itself a News organization.  The fact is that “Fox News” is actually a fake news channel.  As they’re a cable channel, they’re not regulated by the FCC, and there are no consequences for Making Shit Up®.

Unfortunately, the relatively small number of people who watch their fabricated facts® don’t understand that their only source for “news” is most definitely NOT NEWS.

Enter Media Matters for America!

Kudos to David Brock and the fine folks at Media Matters who’ve hired Angelo Carusone (aka @StopBeck) to lead their new “Drop Fox” initiative.

Angelo has worked tirelessly for the last couple of years to get advertisers to stop sponsoring Glenn Beck’s hate-fest on the Faux News channel, with great success.  As today’s HuffPost piece by Amanda Terkel that broke the news points out,

“Today, Helzberg Diamonds became the 302nd advertiser to drop Glenn Beck,” he wrote on Dec. 1, a day after he and others repeatedly sent messages to the company. His first victory came in August 2009, when Kraft Foods responded to him and said it did not want to be associated with Beck’s brand.

Angelo joins me on the show today for his first interview after the story broke to talk about what he’ll be doing!

There’s also so much going on in the lame duck session.  Last night, the House passed the DREAM Act. Eight Republicans voted for it:  Cao, Castle, Mario & Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Djou, Ehlers, Inglis, and Ros-Lehtinen.

For some strange reason, 37 Democrats voted against it: Boccieri, Boren, Boucher, Bright, Carney, Chandler, Childers, Costello, Critz, Dahlkemper, Donnelly (IN), Ellsworth, Higgins, Holden, Kanjorski, Kaptur, Kissell, Kratovil, Lipinski,  Matheson,McIntyre, Murphy (Patrick), Nye, Owens, Peterson, Rahall, Ross, Schrader, Space, Stupak, Taylor, Visclosky, Wilson (OH).

Joe Lieberman keeps saying he has the 60 votes to pass the repeal of DADT, but the question is whether or not it’ll ever come to a vote. Susan Collins of Maine seems to be holding it hostage.  And then there’s that question of whether the Senate will allow anything to come to a vote before the tax deal is passed, as McConnell has threatened.

David Dayen who does a great job of reporting on all of this at FireDogLake will join me in hour two to help us sort it all out.

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Dec 062010
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That’s the question about what the Dems will do today. Or more accurately, how deep down into the cave they’ll go.  Why is it always the Democrats who give in, and never the Republicans?

One of my first stops this morning was to Greg Sargent’s Morning Plum, where he told me not to get my hopes up…

Deal takes shape on Bush tax cuts: The President is privately signaling that he will agree to a temporary extension of all the tax cuts, but only if the GOP agrees to extend unemployment benefits.GOP leaders appear willing to agree. At this point it’s only a matter of “when” Dems agree to a temporary extension of all the cuts.

And then he gives us some of the very sad details…

Obama will publicly suggest outlines of deal today: Check this out, from an email that a White House official sent to reporters this morning, outlining what he will say today in North Carolina:

The President will also renew his opposition to even a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts if it does not include an extension of benefits for the unemployed and extensions of the other tax cuts that benefit middle class families. Without them, taxes would still rise for 95 percent of Americans.

Emphasis mine. So there you have it: Obama will suggest publicly that his opposition to extending the cuts temporarily depends on whether unemployment benefits (and various tax cuts associated with the stimulus) are also extended.

Thanks Greg, I think.  So the big question is whether or not it worth extending these tax cuts for incomes of over 250k or 1 million annually (which the majority of Americans DON’T want) in exchange for the possibility of extending unemployment benefits to millions in need, passing the DREAM Act, repealing DADT and a few other things that might –and I empasize — might, as there are no guarantees on any of them, pass.  Ugh.

I’ll talk about that issue and others facing us today when the awesome Bob Cesca joins me in the first hour of today’s show.

It’s Monday, that means talking about the Fools on the Hill with Crooks and LiarsNicole Belle in hour two.  Here’s what she has for us today:

Groucho Marx famously quipped “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”  I think Groucho actually outlined the entire conservative mindset.  No matter what evidence, what facts, what incontrovertible new evidence you provide, the conservative mindset will insist theirs is the only correct one.  And almost every time, it’s 180° from the correct one.

Need proof?  Look at Newt Gingrich.  His brilliant idea for deciding whether to extend the Bush tax cuts?  Ask the wealthy how long they would like the extension to last.  No, seriously.  But listen to him almost in the next breath suggest completely overhauling the unemployment program so we don’t give “anybody money for doing nothing.”  Now Newt Gingrich, who is rumored to be one of the great brains of the GOP (a rumor he must have started himself), is asserting that what’s best for the economy is to have Paris Hilton pay less taxes but to stop paying the poor people in the lower 95 percentile in an economy with record unemployment.  Not surprisingly, this is the exact opposite of what every reputable economist says will help the economy.

And then there’s the matter of repealing DADT.  This Week held a round table discussion of it, which at first glance seemed like a rational, balanced one.  But This Week booked Bob Maginnis, Senior Fellow of James Dobson’s Family Research Council, which has been classified by the SPLC as a “hate group” to discuss whether gays should be allowed to serve openly and Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness who warned before a House Armed Services subcommittee that if gays served openly, lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower and gays would spread HIV through the ranks.  When the more open-minded, less hysteric members of the panel point out that other countries have managed to allow gays to serve openly and none of the predicted doom and gloom occurred, the conservatives stuck with their talking points undeterred, leaving Tammy Schultz of the National Security and Joint Warfare at the Marine Corps War College to say:

Nothing will be good enough for the opponents who do not want to repeal “don’t ask/don’t tell.” It’s not about the evidence; it’s about the ideology. They’re saying, oh, you can’t compare the U.S. military to other militaries. We’re bigger, we’re in war, et cetera, et cetera. But then they simultaneously want to say we have the most professional forces in the world, which we do.

And that’s completely on point.  Nothing will be good enough.  We can see that with John McCain too.  Because it’s not based in facts or logic, but fear and ideology.

The Deficit Commission was also big news this week, although the recommendations failed to get the necessary 14 out of 18 member votes to approve their being sent to Congress.  It’s lucky that we did too, because far too much of the burden of eliminating the deficit was placed on those who could least afford it, and answers that would have asked for a fairer share being placed on the wealthy were not considered.  But don’t tell that to Reps. Kent Conrad, Blue Dog and Jeb Hensarling.  They didn’t think the Deficit Commissions’ recommendations went far enough.  I really don’t know how to respond to Conrad or Hensarling on this.  It simply reinforces for me that in DC, there are haves that matter and the rest of us, to be blunt, don’t.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also talked about the deficit commission.  Ironically, for as much as he spoke in glowing terms about the commission, there was nothing that he would or could point to specifically that he endorsed.  And can I just say that his voice is now as grating to me as Palin’s now?  Pretty much the minute he opens his mouth, I expect lies meant to hurt the Democrats and Obama as much as possible.

Candy Crowley stepped away from her position as host of State of the Union and appeared as a pundit on CNN’s Your Money show.  Crowley advocated that Congress should just go along with the deficit commission’s recommendations, even if they were unpopular with voters.  This is a really frustrating mindset of the Beltway class.  There are Very. Serious. People. whose credibility should never be questioned no matter how wrong or how in variance to historical precedence and facts they are.  Sadly, we liberals, who have been right over and over aren’t part of the Very. Serious. People. so the Beltway automatically dismisses everything we say as fringe.

And in our final installment of ‘me or your lyin’ eyes’, we have the spawn of Satan himself, Liz Cheney, on Fox News Sunday (naturally) criticizing Obama (naturally again) over his policy in Afghanistan, demanding that he say that withdrawal for Afghanistan would be “based on conditions on the ground”, ignoring the fact that he HAS said that multiple times.

I don’t think we’ll have time, but Fareed Zakaria tried to inject a little sanity into all the hysteria and vigilantism surrounding Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks latest data drop.  It’s worth hearing someone take a step back and look at this on a bigger picture basis, rather than as a reactionary and lawless blowhard like Newt Gingrich.

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Sep 222010
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How appropriate is it that Larry Summers’ departure is announced on the first day of fall? What other beautiful changes can we hope for as the Obama administration attempts to get voters excited before November 2?  How about making a list?

  1. Get Rahm the hell out of there too! The PCCC started a campaign to get Chicago voters to pledge never to vote for him… but I say “shhh.”  Let him think they’ll vote for him, and then don’t!
  2. In the wake of yesterday’s blockade in the Senate of opening debate on DADT (by way of the Defense Appropriations bill), President Spineless Obama should grow a pair and issue an executive order saying that the rules will no longer be enforced, pending the repeal of the discriminatory, shamefully law.
  3. Get us out of Afghanistan already. If the stories in Bob Woodward’s new book are true, President Obama wants to get us out of there.  Just do it.
  4. Get America back to work already.
  5. Make Congress vote on permanent middle and lower income tax cuts and, separately, more cuts for the wealthy.  Then state, unequivocally, that you’ll veto the cuts for the rich if it reaches your desk!
  6. Appoint Elizabeth Warren to actually head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  7. Go back to the table on health care reform and actually reform it this time with Medicare for All
  8. Be the change you promised us!

Please feel free to add to this list.  Just comment on the post and let’s get our list of demands going!

On today’s show, I’ll be joined by Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim for a recap of what happened during yesterday’s sad spectacle in the Senate.

Michael Hirsh of Newsweek (and soon to be of the National Journal), and author of the new book Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over To Wall Street will be with us.  I’ll get his thoughts on the end of Larry Summers tenure, the future of Elizabeth Warren, and what it’ll take to turn our economy around.

And GottaLaff of The Political Carnival returns for our weekly get together to dish on the news. Among the stories you definitely need to hear about is her latest BP Whistleblower report.

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