tv Consider This Al Jazeera September 21, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
>> welcome. here are tonight's top stories. an attack in kenya's capitol city nairobi. 39 are dead and 150 wounded. at this hour, the siege continues as security forces search for armed gunman. five hostages have been released, but it's unclear how many remain. >> the most powerful typhoon of the year swept through the luzanne strait, battling taiwan. two people are dead, two missing. it's beginning to slow down. by the time it makes landfall in honk con, it is expected to
downgrade to a category one hurricane. >> with nine days until the government runs out of fund i can, a government shutdown seems increasingly likely. in today's weekly radio address, president obama blamed republicans for threatening "economic pain" on millions of americans. >> those are the headlines, keep it right here. consider this is up next on aljazeera. remember, you can always get the latest news on line at aljazeera.com. i'll see you at 11:00 eastern for more news. for now, i'm thomas drayden in new york.
>> in john, 2011, tunisia led the arab spring. protests have begun anew after an islamic major city tried to establish its views at law. has the arab spring become the arab winter? >> an indian american woman is crowned the new miss america, the racist reaction began. >> is there a separate civil war raging within the ranks of asses opponents? how are al-qaeda and other extremists affecting the fight against syria's government? hello, welcome to consider this. we begin with the middle east and tunisia. as aljazeera reports, the country where the arab spring began is in the middle of a new political crisis, with opponents demanding as they did two and a half years ago that the new government step down.
>> the rapid overthrow of the president in january of 2011 acted as the spark to the tinder box of revolt in north carolina africa and the middle east that became known as the arab spring. protest and conflict reacted. tunisia's transition initially looked like it could be conflict free. a political party took the majority of seats in a peaceful election. the government was given one year to establish a new constitution, and hold elections. it didn't happen. the government called for imposition of sharia law and said women would be complementary to men, not equal, stoking fear among the middle class. after popular opposition leaders were killed in almost identical slayings in february and july,
protests swelled to the thousands again, demanding the islamic government resign. >> we are determined to bring down this government of corroborators, this failed government, this gough of bribes and deceit. >> with protests jamming the street, parliament has been suspended through you go and ate looming question is will the arab spring give way to the darker days of islamic radical winter. >> the terrorists and criminal plans include attempting to shake up the countries security and stability. >> poorer areas in tunisia remain loyal to the group due to its charity work. it posts warnings on line the government will draw the country into a blood bath. >> for more, joshua landis,
director of the center for middle east studies. chris, a few months after the arab spring began, you said it would be followed by summer, fall and winter. where are we now and are we getting to win ther faster than you thought? >> it's hell right now. we are in a period of enormous uncertainty. we may eventually come out of this. there's no way out and everything is a downward spiral, but what you've got is the very early beginnings of a political process building on top of a revolutionary process. we can hope that eventually, you'll have some kind of stability. >> we've got egypt, syria, yemen, it's all over the place right now where the issues have arisen. >> that's true.
each country has its own cashing san francisco. you've got politics. it was as if the arab population was asleep. you have a huge young population not employed and connected to each other and the way that arabs have never been before. >> tunisia, you see one woman in islamic garb, others in bikinis. if tunisia is to moderate and secular, how did this islamist party feel emboldened to push for elements of sharia law? >> well, i think what we see right across the middle east is a very polarized societies with
big hunk western leaning secularrish, and a majority that's still very islamic. to play the devil's advocate to chris's argument of hope, there is frightening things underlying this. to the west, the spring is about freedom and democracy. the middle east is one of economic misgovernment, and hardship, and what we're seeing, i think in the middle east and other places in africa is the rapid income gap that has been in a sense dividing the world into two camps, the haves and have notes. we know this in america and see it in europe. in america, we've seen a big yawning income gap with the very rich getting much richer, but the bottom 50% getting poorer. we're seeing that between
nations, as well, there are brick anywayses, i understand i can't, china and brazil screaming join the middle class, but the middle east economies have been growing at 3% and the population growth is outstripping, in some instances the economic growth. there's a big bulge as chris pointed two and commodity price have been driven by the success of some country. you get hutch meyer oil prize, food prices, bread and this is just hammering the bottom 50% in the middle east. it's causing this desire for dignity is driven as much by the poverty that's been growing in the middle east as it is. how do we turn that around? the more instability, the more poverty there's going to be. this could lead to a vicious cycle going in the wrong direction. >> it does seem it's started.
tunisia isn't the danger that tunisia will lead the way again, there have been a series of protests recently over the past couple of months. young people in the middle class want the party out of power. an opposition leader said this about the government: >> syria is doing to pretty good job of that. there's a lot of discontent with this kind of a do nothing islamist regime. there's been talk about religious issues, a lot of talk about women's rights or taking
women's rights away. there hasn't been much talk about what joshua is talking about, the economy and how to get that going again. tunisia is essentially a tourist economy in many respects. on the other hand, tunisia doesn't have the kind of military establishment that egypt does. this is more likely this is going to play out in civilian context and that is probably good news. i think there's a risk that things will head south in tunisia, but there's again, i don't want to sound like pollyanna, it's such a desperate situation, but there is a chance that somehow. tunisia will muddle its way through and set the course back toward some kind of democratic process. >> the comparison between where tunisia is now, where egypt was before the morsi government was deposed, he told the washington post the first few weeks after
the coup in egypt. >> i agree with chris in the sense that tunisia is the best case scenario in the arab spring. it has a solid middle class, a small population, very educated and less poverty than most arab countries. the median age is 30 years old. if we take median age, the younger the population, the more revolutionary, less qualified, syria, 21 years old, the median age, iraq is the same thing. egypt is 24. gaza, yemen, 19 years old. so, it's very difficult to get
to a democratic transition with such a young population, and when you add that in with poverty levels, egypt, 40% before the revolution, below $2 a day, syria 32%. gaza, yemen, much higher rights. tunisia is the best case scenario and most optimistic, it's a country that might make it through a democratic transition throughout this arab spring, it's most likely to. here we are struggling against we'll see. it's in the balance right now. >> the problem is that symbolically, tunisia is important, but has 11,000 people. egypt is the cornerstone of the middle east, so really how goes egypt, so goes the middle east in many respects. >> there is a little tradition of democracy in that part of the world. egypt had a monarchy.
>> unlike the early days of egyptian monarchic democracy, good way of describing it. egypt was weirdly cut off from everything. tourists came, but basically it was cut off. now everybody in egypt, poor, rich, educated, uneducated, they're in touch with the rest of the world and know what they're missing. that's one of the revolutionary forces. >> what about the broader question. in the end, will we see the arab spring as bang good thing as everybody thought it was when it
happened, but now seeing chaos in libya, yemen is problematic, syria, you know, we have discussed ad nauseam over the past few weeks. >> i think your original question about the cultural and religious element here to the middle east, many people where the arab spring broke out thought this was going to be the fourth wave of democracy, europe, latin america, eastern europe and now the middle east was going to go in this sort of dominos toward democracy. that's certainly what george bush had hoped to drive forward with his invasion of iraq and so forth. there is, the middle east in many ways is in the middle of the enlightenment, this war for a religious pluralism, and we're seeing, when he saw at the beginning of the arab spring this lurch towards islam it parties and now the other direction, secular types are
pushing back. they are not democratic, they tend to be running into the arms of the military. that's not a good dynamic for a democratic transition. it's the beginning of the process. >> the extremists on the other side are certainly not democratic, either. >> that's the problem within is the liberals tend to be dictatorial as well as the islamists are in tolerant. in egypt, at least the islamists had elections and now are accused of moving to close down democratic procedures, but we don't have a surplus of democrats in the middle east. that does seem to be the case. >> chris, final word. >> well, that's certainly true, but we still do have a lot of hope in the middle east and sometimes you can build on that. again, don't want to sound like pollyanna, but they are feeling their way forward, it's going to
>> 100,000 government workers could lose their jobs next year thanks to the sequester according to new analysis. six months after the government's automatic spending cuts went into effect, economists found the reductions are starting to have real impact. ate $5.4 billion in cuts include $42.7 billion in defense spending, $28.7 billion in domestic discretionary spending, $9.9 billion in medicare cuts and $4 billion in other mandatory cuts.
many initially down played the quester's effect. what's ahead for the country's spending as we head toward to new round of cuts? we will ask dan mitchell in washington, d.c., a senior fellow at the cato institute. thank you both for joining us tonight. josh, a few months into 2013, goldman sachs' head economist who wrote the new report said in april the sequester had "little impact so far"." with his new report running counter, what changed in five months? >> i think the story is still not so bad. it's a negative for the economy but it's not an especially large one. what the goldman report found is that instead of 0.2% in income growth in the month, we had many
federal workers furloughed. those are supposed to end at the end of the summer. that's a temporary effect. the main effect is these 10 years of budget caps that it creates. not only did we have spending cuts this year, fairly low levels of government spending on both defense and non-defense discretionary spending. that's a drag in the economy. state local governments had been cutting a lot over the previous three years. they're starting to see their tax receipts improved, they're hiring again. while the sequester is a negative, we're adding 2 million jobs a year. the economy is growing not as fast as it should, but not a disaster. i think we'll continue to see that story. >> dan, you mostly agree with josh that this is really not that big a deal and in many ways a good thing for the economy. >> first i have to say as a libertarian, i want there to be fewer government jobs.
i want to shrink the size and scope of the federal government. my problem with the goldman sachs report is maybe we'll see the gradual shrinking of the federal bureaucracy, but those resources are freed up, the government's not spending all this money, it's being left in the productive sector, what jobs are being created because the government's no longer diverting those resources. i view the report as as far as it goes is good, because i want a smaller federal government, but i think the report was incomplete, because they weren't looking at how those resources are going to be used now that the government wasn't diverting them. >> with all these workers being furloughed, it does mean a certain amount of money not going back into the economy. >> we're not seeing right now what dan is describing, not seeing the private sector picking up these resources and deploying them. business rates are low because business owners do not see good opportunities to invest and grow. the economic outlook is poor.
the effects dan is describing where the federal government crowds out private activity by spending too much money and borrowing too much money should show up in the form of rising interest rates, making i did too expensive for businesses to get the loans to make investments. we have extremely low interest rates. when the federal government can cut spending, we vice president seen that. the u.k., the private sector is not picking up the slack. >> on the other hand, sequestration has brought the deficit down. you think that if things continue on this road, we could see a balance the budget in the not too distant future? >> when you look at the numbers, we have had two years in a row where government spending was actually smaller than it was the year before. that hasn't happened in more than five decades and it's a big
reason why the deficit has gone from 1.3 trillion to 640 billion dollars. if we limit the growth of spending, in other words, let it grow faster than what has happened the last two years, if we limit the growth of spending, we'll have a balanced budget. it's not that difficult to right our fiscal ship with we restrain the growth of government. in regards to what josh just said, i don't have the conventional view to government crowds out private activity through rising interest rates. somebody rates can be low, if the government is consuming a share of our national income, those resources aren't available to be used someplace else. when you look at austerity in the united kingdom and elsewhere, it's very important to look at the difference between private sector austerity through higher taxes and that's what we've seen mostly in the u.k. so far versus public sector austerity where you do what the baltic nations have done and reduce the burden of government
spending. we've seen better results in countries that have done what they can to control, limit and cut government spending as opposed to spain and the u.k. that have been raising taxes hand over 50. >> wasn't austerity necessary in some way or another? the budget office this week talking about how our debt to g.d.p. ratio would get to 100% in a few years. >> austerity was necessary in some places. in smaller countries that don't have the captive market for the bond that the united states does, if the market was nervous the united states was extending itself, we would have seen rising interest rates. instead, we've seen the opposite. people are rushing to buy u.s. government bonds because they are safe securities. that gave us a luxury some governments didn't have where we could rely on fiscal policy. >> you have to be careful however you go with that debt.
>> you have to be careful, but we're not in the danger zone. we have a long way to go. we're actually in a position where the debt to g.d.p. ratio is likely to be 70% to 75% over the next decade. the crisis we have right now is we continue to have extremely high unemployment especially when people have left the labor force, giving up trying to find jobs. they should be focussen r.ing on finding ways to stimulate the economy to people will get back to work, that will cause the economy to grow, and that will improve the long term budget picture. >> aren't you concerned about cuts come in all different ways, indiscriminate cuts. let's talk about the defense department. last year, leon panetta said sequestration is allowed to go into effect, it will be a disaster for national defense
and disaster for defense communities, as well, because of all the cutbacks and furloughs and people making less money. aren't you concerned that in this global environment we find ourselves in with the u.s. having to be involved in so many different places around the world that the defense department being cut so indiscriminately is a problem? >> well, i guess first, i would say maybe we shouldn't be involved in so many places around the world. that's one luxury i have working at a libertarian think tank. my republican friends on capitol hill explained defense is only 25% of the budget and has to take 50% of the sequester. they think it's unfair. certainly i would agree more across the board cuts would be better or fairer, but better would be to actually craft a budget and figure out ways to phase out programs that no longer of justifiable and do it in a more intelligent way. here's the reality. we had three choices, going into
the 2011 debt limit fight that gave us the budget control act which gave us sequester. the three choices were raise taxing, that's what obama wanted, do nothing, that's what people in washington wanted or take the quester. out of those three choices to me, it was a no-brainer, the quester is not a big, severe, giant cut out of a $3.5 trillion budget. it's more like clipping your fingernails. that was a good first step to getting fiscal control over washington. >> there has been a lot of argument that the poor have been impacted unproportion anotherly. >> who does sequestration hurt the most? >> well, i mean, so i think if you look at it in an economy wide view, the biggest impact is the defense sector, because the defendants democratic takes the -- >> biggest numbers.
>> right people working for military democratic are getting furloughed. if you're in a federal government related industry in washington, d.c., there's less demand for office spate to retail stores as a result of sequestration. that's a region where the economy is doing pretty well. >> almost better than anywhere else. >> right. >> i don't think the effects have been outsized. the effects have not fallen principlely on the poor. >> you have programs being cut that is an impact on poor people. >> the women's and infants program, things like medicaid, food stamps, earned income tax
credit are not affected. >> dan, after spending the day on capitol hill, we have a president who when he was in the senate argued against raisedding the debt ceiling and voting against it. we had republicans who had no problem raising it when george bush was president, won't raise it now. are they going to come together with an intelligent plan. >> intelligent plan? washington? both parties of filled with hip credits. they raise the debt ceiling when they're in charge, argue against it when they're not. we're going to have drama and theater. at the end of the day, they'll come to agreement. there's no threat of default. there's more than enough revenue to come in. drama, but at the end of the day, probably status quo, because we have divided government. >> josh is nodding agreement, so i thank you both for being with us. i hope you'll be back, because
rival rebels in a multi-dimensional civil war. there are at least 1,000 factions and many linked to al-qaeda. senator john mccain has long assaults more support for the syrian army. >> the overwhelming majority of the syrian people wand bashar al assad gone. by the way, they are not extremists and jihadists, the syrian people reject extremists and jihadists. >> how right is senator mccain? joining me to discuss that are.
i thank you all for joining us. we saw a car bomb go off near the headquarters of the coalition formed by the army. no group has taken cyd. there is increased fighting between the al-qaeda groups and moderate forces lately. as assad forces have increased their military movements. ambassador, what are you seeing inside syria now that u.s. policy has evolved as it has and intervention pulled back? >> well, i think there's two things i would point out. one of them is that the u.s. is seen to be weak and uncommitted, that we are not committed about engaging in syria. that's the lesson out of the last couple weeks of activity with the u.s. pulling back on strikes and the russians taking
it's place in the conflict. you see assad using all means at his disposal, including chemical weapon to say try to impose his will on the syrian people and killing as many as necessary in the process. you see the al-qaeda supported and extremist supported groups trying to advance their agenda. what you see are the once feeling buffeted by the drift away from international engagement that we've seen in the past calm weeks. >> on the al-qaeda front, the head of al-qaeda issued a warning last week about anyone who worked with the west. >> the united states and its allies tried the best to support the secular parties but failed. they started to form new awakenings in syria and they will fail. i warn not to form any relationships with these
parties. what happened is egypt is a perfect lesson on this. >> he's talking about the people you represent. he's basically talking about al-qaeda fighting against the free syrian army. what does this mean for you and the situation in syria? >> his statement was nothing short of a declaration of war against a moderate free syrian army. you also had a decree issued byes islamic state of iraq further declaring war specifically against two moderate free syrian army simply because they stood in the way of al-qaeda's attempts to expand influence in the north. you're seeing as result of this tension heightened fighting between the free syrian army and al-qaeda fighters. al-qaeda has assassinated at least free free syrian army
commanders in this past month alone. you're seeing car bombs targeting free syrian army headquarters in the east. the rhetoric has significantly heated up between al-qaeda and the moderate free syrian early. you're seeing clashes simply coming to a head that are boiling over, because quite frankly, al-qaeda views the free syrian army as one of its biggest threats. >> let's look at the latest study on the rebels. it's sobering. less than one third of the opposition forces are seen as acceptable partners for the nato allies and that's something american officials have acknowledged. if we look at the actual numbers, 1,000 rebel fighters, but 1,000 different factions. al-qaeda controls 10,000 fighters, but as many as 35,000 jihadists may be allied with al-qaeda and another 30,000
referred to as more moderate is lackic factions. do you agree? that doesn't leave too many people that the u.s. would want to help. >> i think we've been looking at a very large spectrum that makes up the syrian opposition. 100,000 fighters and as the report points out, there is not an incredibly large portion that are traditional secular mod receipts that we would traditionally want to partner with. they put the number at 10,000 extremists, al-qaeda affiliated groups. there's also this kind of larger -- there's also the majority of the group there that is particularly focused on national amps.
i think probably more conservative than western officials would like to work with. there's a free syrian army, mort traditional moderate. they are not trying create some sort of transnational. >> the director of the carnegie middle east center recently said that the rise of the islamist extremist groups just mentioned by ken that it's a far bigger threat to the region than assad staying on for a few more years in damascus. that's a pretty extreme statement. this is a guy that just killed hundreds of children with
chemical weapons and displaced people in his country. >> certainly, these groups are a serious threat. let's not treatise as an either or. if assad stays in power, these forces still going to be there fighting against assad and still getting external support. it's not as if assad stays in power and these forces go away. it's perhaps assad stays in power and they keep fighting or perhaps they take power and that's bad, too. the thing you have to remember is that the reason these forces seem to be strong right now is because for the past year, the moderate forces have been starved of support from international community, the west, the united states, has been reticent about getting involved while the more extreme elements have been garnering support from countries around the region and extreme elements. what we need to do is figure out exactly what that carnegie
report is talking about, where does the future go. we need to support a future that is not feeling extremist groups or retaining assad in power. >> the free syrian army is very angry about the u.s. not intervening. here's what the head of the free syrian army said about the russian sponsored agreement on chemical weapons. >> the russians and syrian regime are playing games to waste time and win time for the criminal regime in damascus. we think that our friends in the western countries, and the united states know exactly the main goal of the russian administration. they are trying to find a solution for the regime in
damascus. >> the general wants some support from the other rebel factions. who dan he work with? >> there is a moderate -- there are moderate rebels that one can work with. we are seeing this dynamic play out on the ground. assad that ha attempted to present himself as the only alternative. many have forgotten that al-qaeda's presence in syria is not a product of the syrian revolution, but it's been a result of a long-standing policy by the assad regime to have it jihad defighters to leverage them against the west. we are finding that the free syrian army is at the forefront of pushing back against al-qaeda's attempts to expand influence throughout the country. if you do not empower the moderate opposition, usual left
with a vacuum that al-qaeda will be able to expand. the assad regime is part of that problem. >> ken, do you agree, a final word here, that american policy should focus on helping the mod receipts? >> i think it has been focused on helping the mod receipts. it's important to understand that the potential deal with russia is not trying topple the assad regime. at the end of the day, u.s. goals and the goals of free syrian army differ. the free syrian army and most of the rebels are determined to end the assad regime, topple it. u.s. goals are not necessarily aligned with that. other focus has been on chemical weapons, preventing the creation of a new afghanistan, some sort of base of operations for a transnational terrorist group to operate. i think that's why we've seen contributions in u.s. policy. we have a variety of different goals, but a lot of conflict.
tweets surfaced on the web: yuha should have been a moment to celebrate our diversity would derailed by a racist reaction. joining us to discuss this: great to have you both here. before nina could barely even celebrate on this, she had to deal with this racist reaction i don't it's an unfortunate situation, but for every one negative tweet or comment, there were dozens of positives, words of encouragement and videos and that's what it's all about. i'm so honored to have this opportunity and really bring about a conversation to not
really open a discussion about race, but bring about cultural competency, because that's what it's about. >> she was extremely classy in her response. were you surprised as some amount of public bigotry? >> i was surprised to certain media organizations chose to focus on that on this collection of racist and hateful comments instead of talking about what she had accomplished and how it was significant that a person of indian origin had won. i think it's fair to be surprised. i guess my reaction was when i looked at facebook monday morning and saw so many people sharing an article that was a collection of these tweets and saying i feel so dismayed that this person has won and that this is a really great thing, but that so many people are reacting like this, i think that there's a choice that's made sometimes to focus on things that are more sensational rather
than talking about this person's accomplishments and many other things that could have been brought into the conversation. >> vanessa williams became the first black miss america. with he now, i think between her and now with nina, it's 10 women of color who have won miss america. why in the world are we still having this discussion no. >> i mean, we're also 50 years past, we just celebrated the march on washington 50 years ago. in some ways, we made this incredible progress around what we consider to be being equal, but still hold these bases that we thought were somewhat implicit and underground. now, i think with the realm of special media and technology, they are coming to the fore. >> and publicly. people's nails are on these tweets. >> there is a name about how
miss kansas should have won because she has tattoos and hunts and served in the army. >> a true american. >> the implicit thing is she's white around schwinn this as miss america. that's what that was about. it's true that social media gives people a platform to put these ideas forth and have it catch on in ways that wasn't possible 30 years ago when vanessa williams won or 20 years ago. >> here's this woman, beautiful, completely fantastic. the idea that we're just seeing the skin color in a way, that completely, like also challenges wean what we understand skin color to mean, right? we're projecting all these other things on to her. >> i read some of the names of people who put these tweets on. they're clearly the descendents of immigrants who themselves
were discriminated against. one said do you not have to be an american to be miss america. how does this happen? how are people like this young woman who has been so successful, parents are doctors with, wants to be a doctor herds, was born in the united states not be an american. >> the population of this country is increasingly becoming minority. >> more babies of minority parents are being born today. >> exactly. things are changing, this isn't the same competition, isn't the same country as 30 or 40 years ago. >> sebastian cruz performed the national anthem during last year's basketball playoffs.
i think that you're right to point out the changing demographics in this country, and at the same time, we have to set boundaries about what's appropriate and what's not, and how we understand. certain constituencies in this country have tried to say even noticing race is racist at this point, right? >> we have such a media reaction, let's go to hermela. >> is there a benefit to calling out the people who post-these racist comments? >> i think if it makes them realize that what they're saying is something that is racist and biased and that we have to think about who are these people posting these comments, they might be 13 years old, 14 years
old. >> a lot of them were not. it does raise the question of whether fear of the other and racism is something inherent. people everywhere in the world, sadly, there was a very interesting reaction in india, where people said that nina would never have won miss india, because she was too dark skinned to win. we looked into brazil where half the country is of color, there has never been a miss brazil and virtually no black woman gets to compete in miss brazil. >> our brains have completely been programmed, so globally, and you can look at 2-tiered studies. if you look an craig's list and see a black hand selling an ipod or white hand, and you say same neighborhood, same price point, the white hand is going to get
75 times more boys than the hand of collar. being of color is associated with being something to fear. >> these skin lightening screams that you see in other countries is a huge, huge business. i think it's great that you have a woman here who is clearly proud of who she is, proud of her skin, proud of her heritage and isn't making any apologies for what people in india or here are saying. >> let's listen to something else she had to say before we go. >> i'm your average girl next door and the way i've seen it is that miss america has always been known as the girl next door, but the girl is not who she was 10 years ago and won't be the same person come 10 years down the road. >> isn't she the girl we'd all like to have next door?
>> i want her to be my friend. >> pugh research center did a study, and only 10% of people of color said racism was a problem with them. >> i don't think it's the majority of the people. certainly it's a minority. they're ignorant to confuse her with being an arab, not that there's anything wrong with being an arab, either. thank you both. >> the show maybe over, but the conversation continues on our
website. we'll see you next time. >> hello and welcome to aljazeera. al-qaeda linked fighters are carrying out an attack on a shopping mall in kenyas capitol. dozens of dead. >> the most powerful typhoon of the year takes aim at hong kong after hitting the philippines. >> i will not allow anyone to harm this countries reputation or threaten to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people just to make an ideological point. >> president obama lashes out at republicans over the budget standoff. >> guilty on all cha
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