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Politics, News, Polls, Economy, Wellbeing, and World http://alwayspolitics.com Politics, News, Polls, Economy, Wellbeing, and World Mon, 21 Aug 2017 06:03:00 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 https://i0.wp.com/alwayspolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/cropped-ap_logo.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Politics, News, Polls, Economy, Wellbeing, and World http://alwayspolitics.com 32 32 106613406 Barcelona attack: What the trees say http://alwayspolitics.com/barcelona-attack-what-the-trees-say/ http://alwayspolitics.com/barcelona-attack-what-the-trees-say/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 06:03:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/barcelona-attack-what-the-trees-say/

People from all over the world have been moved to write messages on the plane trees of Las Ramblas. …read more

Read more here: Barcelona attack: What the trees say

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Eclipse spectacle set to grip US public http://alwayspolitics.com/eclipse-spectacle-set-to-grip-us-public/ http://alwayspolitics.com/eclipse-spectacle-set-to-grip-us-public/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 05:47:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/eclipse-spectacle-set-to-grip-us-public/

Skywatchers in the US prepare for an event that is without precedent in the country’s 241-year history. …read more

Read more here: Eclipse spectacle set to grip US public

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Qantas chief to campaign for Australia same-sex marriage http://alwayspolitics.com/qantas-chief-to-campaign-for-australia-same-sex-marriage/ http://alwayspolitics.com/qantas-chief-to-campaign-for-australia-same-sex-marriage/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 04:43:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/qantas-chief-to-campaign-for-australia-same-sex-marriage/

Alan Joyce, who was once struck with a pie over his support, will “be active” in Australia’s debate. …read more

Read more here: Qantas chief to campaign for Australia same-sex marriage

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Killer robots: Experts warn of ‘third revolution in warfare’ http://alwayspolitics.com/killer-robots-experts-warn-of-third-revolution-in-warfare/ http://alwayspolitics.com/killer-robots-experts-warn-of-third-revolution-in-warfare/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 04:25:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/killer-robots-experts-warn-of-third-revolution-in-warfare/

A letter to the UN warns the world is getting closer to a dangerous “third revolution in warfare”. …read more

Read more here: Killer robots: Experts warn of ‘third revolution in warfare’

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Twin Peaks episode 15: the show bids farewell to one of its most iconic characters http://alwayspolitics.com/twin-peaks-episode-15-the-show-bids-farewell-to-one-of-its-most-iconic-characters/ http://alwayspolitics.com/twin-peaks-episode-15-the-show-bids-farewell-to-one-of-its-most-iconic-characters/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 03:31:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/twin-peaks-episode-15-the-show-bids-farewell-to-one-of-its-most-iconic-characters/ By Constance Grady

One of the things that makes Twin Peaks so difficult to talk about is that even when a lot happens, it doesn’t feel like all that much has changed.

There were multiple deaths this week — Mr. Todd and his lackey, shot by a breezy Chantal; probably Chuck, punched by Freddie and his mighty garden glove; Steven Burnett, shot by himself — but the only one that feels likely to make a deep mark on the show is the deeply poignant offscreen death of the Log Lady, whose log has turned gold.

The endless Nadine/Ed/Norma/Norma’s-horrible-guy-of-the-year love polygon has finally resolved itself with Ed and Norma’s engagement, and so has the franchise plot that Norma has mostly been pursuing off camera.

We got confirmation that Richard Horne is definitely Audrey’s son, and he finally came face to face with Dark Cooper, the man who is probably his father.

The Las Vegas FBI headquarters are slowly making their way through every Douglas Jones in the city in their quest to find a connection to Major Briggs.

Dougie, prompted by a clip of Sunset Boulevard that mentions Gordon Cole, electrocuted himself (look, even if all he did was knock himself out, it’s more forward motion than the Dougie plot gets some weeks).

By Twin Peaks: The Return standards, this is a lot to happen in a single episode. It’s the kind of momentum that could take you to a finale.

But the aesthetic of this series is devoted to narrative frustration, so it’s difficult to really feel the episode as eventful or forward-moving. Most of the storylines that were wrapped up here are stories that the show has purposefully avoided spending time on, choosing instead to glance at them briefly in between long sequences of Dougie yearning for coffee and Gordon saying enigmatic things.

The result is that as Twin Peaks approaches its finale, only two sequences in “Part 15” felt like they really moved the story significantly forward in a way that matters: the Log Lady’s death, and Dark Cooper’s trip above the convenience store.

The convenience store segment gets mythology-heavy in a Fire Walk With Me callback

Twin Peaks: The ReturnSuzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME
No clue who this lady is, sorry. Hey, maybe she’s Judy!

The room above the convenience store is key to Twin Peaks lore. It’s the space we saw created after the nuclear blast in “Part 8,” and it’s where the spirits MIKE and BOB used to live, before MIKE left BOB behind. It seems to be connected to the Red Room and the Black Lodge, by the same strange, dreamlike logic that connected all the spaces Cooper traveled between in Parts 1 and 2 — and, as became clear this week as Dark Cooper and the Woodsman faded in and out between a hallway and a forest, it’s inextricably linked to the woods of Twin Peaks.

Dark Coop is traveling above the convenience store to visit Phillip Jeffries, the FBI agent of Fire Walk With Me, who since the 2016 death of David Bowie has begun to manifest himself as a giant steam-spewing … thing. (Why not.) During this conversation, Dark Cooper and Jeffries established the following:

  • Dark Cooper is still Cooper, according to Jeffries — which implies that he’s not just Cooper’s doppelgänger, but retains some of the real Cooper’s essential being.
  • Dark Cooper has already met Judy.
  • Jeffries doesn’t have Dark Cooper’s number — but he seems to have Judy’s. It’s 480551, according to the steam he puffs out. Go nuts, codebreakers.

So. Who’s Judy?

Judy has never appeared onscreen to our knowledge, but she is mentioned a few times in Fire Walk With Me: in the scene Dark Cooper sees in flashback, during which a ranting Jeffries declares that “we are not going to say anything about Judy;” in a scene set in a Buenos Aires hotel, during which Jeffries asks a hotel clerk about “Miss Judy” and receives a note “from the young woman;” and finally, when a monkey appears on screen and says, “Judy,” directly before the camera cuts to the dead body of Laura Palmer. (Again: Why not.)

John Thorne has written up a pretty comprehensive breakdown of all of the fan theories for what could possibly be going on with Judy, but here’s a summary: According to script notes and a few interviews, Judy was originally planned to be the sister of Josie Packard, who you will recall tragically died and got her spirit trapped in a desk drawer in season two of Twin Peaks‘ original run. That plan seems to have been scrapped (although you never know with David Lynch), and the most popular fan theory is that instead, Judy is another Blue Rose dead girl, like Laura and her predecessor Teresa.

Thorne himself, however, argues that “Judy” is a code word for Laura Palmer herself, “a symbolic representation of the idea of Laura Palmer.” And since we learned this season that “Laura is the One” and saw her essence sent to Earth, apparently to balance out the evil presence of BOB, and since now we know that Judy is someone we’ve already met, the idea that Judy is a codename for Laura’s ethereal mystic self actually seems pretty reasonable.

Twin Peaks deliberately lost its charm this time around. Does it have a chance of finding it again?

Everett McGill and Peggy Lipton in a still from Twin PeaksSHOWTIME
Aw, it’s a nice thing.

The whole convenience store sequence is fantastic at hitting that exact note of dreamlike horror at which Lynch excels: the way Cooper and the Woodsman fade in and out of sight as they walk up the stairs, the way the hallway gives way to the woods and then re-establishes itself, the light flickering over Cooper’s face as though at any moment he will somehow transform himself — it’s all the kind of nightmarish imagery that made the first Twin Peaks so unforgettable.

But what really made Twin …read more

Read more here: Twin Peaks episode 15: the show bids farewell to one of its most iconic characters

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US Navy ship collides with oil tanker off Singapore http://alwayspolitics.com/us-navy-ship-collides-with-oil-tanker-off-singapore/ http://alwayspolitics.com/us-navy-ship-collides-with-oil-tanker-off-singapore/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:56:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/us-navy-ship-collides-with-oil-tanker-off-singapore/

Ten sailors are missing and five hurt after the warship hit an oil tanker off Singapore’s coast. …read more

Read more here: US Navy ship collides with oil tanker off Singapore

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Game of Thrones season 7, episode 6: 6 winners and 7 losers from “Beyond the Wall” http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-episode-6-6-winners-and-7-losers-from-beyond-the-wall/ http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-episode-6-6-winners-and-7-losers-from-beyond-the-wall/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:40:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-episode-6-6-winners-and-7-losers-from-beyond-the-wall/ By Caroline Framke

Jon’s mission to prove White Walkers exist leads to some unintended, game-changing consequences.

“Beyond the Wall” is basically a heist gone horribly awry.

After teasing the sight of Jon, Jorah, the Hound, Beric, Thoros, Tormund, and Gendry setting off into the frozen wilderness at the end of “Eastwatch,” season seven’s penultimate episode details their scrappy efforts to find, subdue, and transport a wight back to the Wall so they can convince Cersei that the army of the dead exists and is coming to kill them all. (Cersei — and everyone else involved in the King’s Landing plot — remains offscreen.) Like any good heist movie, each of the men has his own skill set, resentments, and reasons for being there; and like any good heist movie, shit goes seriously sideways once they’re caught in the act of stealing what they came for.

But let’s not forget that the chaos of “Beyond the Wall” stems from a plan that is, at its heart, truly stupid. When Jon and the rest sit stranded in the middle of a frozen lake waiting for Daenerys to swoop in and save them, it’s hard not think about how easily it could’ve been avoided if anyone had thought about it for another five minutes.

With just one episode left in the season, though, “Beyond the Wall” continues to push the plot full speed ahead — especially the ending, which sees Daenerys and Jon swearing loyalty to each other as they confront the undead threat they’ve now both stared in the blue-eyed face.

So, okay, “Beyond the Wall” falls apart the more you think about it. But it’s also an undeniable game changer — not least because it features one of the show’s most startling and devastating deaths to date.

Here are six winners and seven losers from a particularly chilly, tense hour of Game of Thrones.

Winner: the Night King

The only thing the Night King rules harder than his ice kingdom is this episode.

For the vast majority of “Beyond the Wall,” he doesn’t even do that much. He doesn’t have to; he just stands there, waiting to charge at Jon Snow and his merry band of thieves, until the Hound messes up and accidentally reveals that it’s safe for the wights to walk on the ice again. But when the Night King finally does get involved, whew, does he do some serious damage.

As my colleague Todd VanDerWerff has written, this season hasn’t been hinting at the possibility of one of Daenerys’s dragons dying so much as skywriting it in neon and setting it ablaze. (Note to Daenerys: The first lesson of having a supposedly unbeatable weapon is to not constantly talk about how unbeatable it is.) But as mere mortals like Cersei and Bronn started closing in on how to kill a dragon, the Night King beat everyone to it by whipping what appears to be an ice spear through Viserion’s side, bringing him crashing down to the frozen ground.

(Why he couldn’t do the same to the shivering men sitting in the middle of an open lake instead of patiently waiting for the ice to freeze harder is beyond me, but I digress.)

Viserion sinking through the ice and into the murky depths is a wrenching shot, made even more viscerally horrifying by his magnificent neck going limp, his enormous head lolling to the side as it slips underneath the surface. Adding insult to lethal injury is the fact that the Night King made sure Viserion’s mother saw the whole thing — and now there’s no mistaking how powerful he truly is.

Our heroes may be screwed.

Okay, so Jon Snow improbably gets away from the Night King alive, and he royally pisses off the Dragon Queen to the point where she agrees to band together with the North to take on the army of the dead. But by the time “Beyond the Wall” fades to black, the Night King hasn’t just delivered a supposedly impenetrable dragon to its premature death, he’s also enlisted his foot soldiers to drag Viserion out of the frozen lake so he could have his very own dragon sidekick — cold, dead blue eyes and all.

After seeing the damage a single undead bear could do in this episode’s first chaotic fight scene, the idea of Viserion breathing fire (or ice?) at the Night King’s enemies is chilling (pun absolutely intended). There’s still an episode left and another season to go, but at this point, it’s difficult to see how anyone — even a vengeful Daenerys — stands much of a chance against the Night King and his undead army now. (Though we’ll get to the one new caveat to his potential domination in a minute.) If Jon Snow was panicking before, imagine what he’ll do when he sees the Night King riding a zombie dragon.

And again: Just imagine the Night King riding a zombie dragon and try to tell me that doesn’t rule.

Loser: “Dany”

Of all the losses Daenerys has suffered, losing one of her dragons might be the one that hurts the most.

As she reminds Jon at the end of the episode while fighting back tears, her dragons are the only children she’ll ever have. Losing Viserion means losing a vital weapon, but it also means losing a vital part of who she is. She’s now that much weaker — and that much more determined to wreak revenge on the White Walkers for bringing her dragon crashing down to earth.

So while Daenerys — or “Dany,” as Jon tries to call her, in a nod to the fans who already do — finally gets the King in the North to swear allegiance to her as his queen, that fealty has come at a terrible cost.

Adding insult to injury: Daenerys has been so fixated …read more

Read more here: Game of Thrones season 7, episode 6: 6 winners and 7 losers from “Beyond the Wall”

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Game of Thrones season 7: the dragon death made Dany compelling again http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-the-dragon-death-made-dany-compelling-again/ http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-the-dragon-death-made-dany-compelling-again/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:30:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-the-dragon-death-made-dany-compelling-again/ By Alex Abad-Santos

“Beyond the Wall” changed the game.

Spoilers follow for Game of Thrones season seven, episode six, “Beyond the Wall.”

This season on Game of Thrones, characters have been poisoned, left to rot in a dungeon while watching their daughters die, torched like the crispy top of a crème brûlée, and mauled by ice zombies. But the only death I really cared about was that of a CGI dragon.

Viserion’s death in “Beyond the Wall” is the only time so far this season that I’ve gotten legitimately emotional over Game of Thrones. It’s like the show reached into my mouth, down into my chest, and pulled out my heart. I screamed at my screen, shaking my fist, and cursed the Night King and his dragon-killing spears and bionic Peyton Manning arm. I grunted a manly negative grunt, then I screeched a screech at a frequency that would put Janet Leigh to shame.

Angry questions roiled in my brain as I tried to comprehend what I just saw. Shouldn’t dragons be able to melt ice spears? Since when has the Night King and his zombie ass been able to throw like that? What, he’s just carrying these dragon-piercing, probably super-heavy spears for fun? How could this have happened?

And then I realized the visceral, emotional reaction I was experiencing may actually the best thing to happen to the show in a long time.

Daenerys needed to become vulnerable to make her story interesting

For the last few weeks, and arguably the last couple of seasons, Game of Thrones has positioned Dany as not just a protagonist, but also an unbeatable one: Her dragons are the most powerful weapon, her army lead by Grey Worm is the most disciplined military, and her Dothraki cavalry are the most fearsome warriors.

Dany’s unstoppability combined with her ostensible position as one of the good guys has made her war with Cersei Lannister feel one-sided, even when she suffers a setback.

Just look at what happened in the fourth episode of the season, when her army crushed the Lannisters. Her plan to take Casterly Rock was a dud and her allies were captured, but she managed to swing the war immediately back in her favor by swooping in on a dragon and incinerating the Lannister forces. Dany’s massive firepower can sometimes make watching this show feel like watching a kid play with his or her favorite action figures.

And though that made for fun television, the story being told, especially on Dany’s side, wasn’t very compelling.

What good are Tyrion’s speeches and advice if Dany doesn’t listen to him and still comes out on top? How are we supposed to make a connection with Dany if all she does is win? How are we supposed to develop a connection with a character who’s invulnerable? What’s there for Dany to learn in her quest for the Iron Throne if everyone she faces folds so easily? And perhaps the ultimate question: Why keep watching if we know Dany is the most powerful being on the show?

But watching Viserion take that hit and then plummet from the sky completely changes our relationship with Dany and the power she wields.

The whole Viserion sequence — the cut to Dany’s horrified face, Drogon’s screech, Viserion going perpendicular and crumpling onto the icy, blood-stained lake — is terrifying, beautiful, and heartbreaking all it once. There’s visceral pain in watching Viserion die. In that instant, Dany and her dragons become mortal.

After the battle, when she’s reunited with Jon Snow, she talks about how much these dragons mean to her and how much the loss affects her. Dany’s reaction makes crystal clear that her dragons aren’t just the world-ending weapons she’s used them as — they’re her children. After the Night King showed us how easily he could kill and zombify Viserion, she’s probably far less inclined to risk riding another one of her children into battle. And as for the over-arching story, with one dragon out the equation and Dany being less willing to use them in the future, Cersei is at slightly less of a disadvantage against the Dragon Queen.

To be clear: there are a lot of conveniences in “Beyond the Wall” that extend and reinforce the weaknesses of this season, like Dany teleporting from Dragonstone in record time to bail everyone out, or the Night King suddenly taking up javelin as a hobby. Viserion’s death in no way absolves Game of Thrones of those kind of narrative shortcuts. But the dragon death was the most emotionally painful thing that’s happened this season, and it makes Dany’s story and this series finally feel like they have some actual stakes.

…read more

Read more here: Game of Thrones season 7: the dragon death made Dany compelling again

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Game of Thrones season 7: the White Walker twists of “Beyond the Wall,” explained http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-the-white-walker-twists-of-beyond-the-wall-explained/ http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-the-white-walker-twists-of-beyond-the-wall-explained/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:18:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/game-of-thrones-season-7-the-white-walker-twists-of-beyond-the-wall-explained/ By Andrew Prokop

Yes, that happened. But we also learned something else very important.

Spoilers follow for Game of Thrones season seven, episode six, “Beyond the Wall.”

It’s clearer than ever that Game of Thrones is hurtling toward its endgame, as this week’s episode, “Beyond the Wall,” showed fans something they’ve been waiting years to see: Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons battling the White Walkers.

But due to a thoroughly impressive spear toss from the Night King, the White Walkers have taken round one. That spear killed one of Dany’s three dragons — Viserion — which forced the rest of her party to retreat.

To make matters even worse, the undead army dragged Viserion out of the ice lake into which he sank, so the Night King could reanimate him, turning his eyes bright blue in an episode-ending twist.

Yes, the Night King has control of a dragon now, which will surely mean nothing good for the people of Westeros. The development is also a welcome heightening of the White Walker threat at a point in Game of Thrones‘ run when our heroes have escaped the army of the dead unscathed a few too many times.

But Jon Snow and company also came to an important realization in “Beyond the Wall” that could well be setup for the eventual climax of the series: They noticed that if a White Walker dies, all of the corpses it reanimated collapse as well.

And through a leap of logic that wasn’t entirely explained, Beric Dondarrion suggested that all it would take to stop the entire undead army would be to kill the Night King. “Kill him. He turned them all,” Beric said. For now, that remains an untested theory (Jon’s party didn’t get close enough to the Night King this week), but it sure seems to be a way that Game of Thrones could wrap up this final conflict very neatly.

A primer on the White Walkers, wights, and what kills them

A White Walker on the left, the Night King on the right.

Let’s start off with a vocabulary reminder:

First, the White Walkers are the blue-skinned, otherworldly beings that have the power to reanimate the dead. It is not clear how many of them there are, but there don’t appear to be very many — we rarely see more than five or so together at one time, but we don’t know how many groups of them are roaming around. White Walkers are created from living humans through some sort of magical process. The Night King appears to be the first White Walker and their leader.

Game of Thrones has established that White Walkers can be killed with either Valyrian steel or dragonglass, and we’ve seen four killed in total (one by Samwell Tarly in season three, one by Jon Snow in season five, one by Meera Reed in season six, and another by Jon in “Beyond the Wall”). It is not clear if fire — even dragonfire — can kill them. Indeed, there are signs it can’t; we’ve seen White Walkers walk straight through fire, apparently extinguishing it by the power of their cold.

Second, wights are the zombie reanimated corpses that populate the the vast majority of the White Walkers’ army. They’re mainly humans, but we’ve also seen horses and giants among them — and, in this episode, a bear and a dragon. What they lack in intelligence they make up for in relentlessness and sheer numbers. They appear to take direction from the Walkers.

Fire can kill wights, as we saw in grand fashion this week when Dany unleashed her dragons, and they apparently won’t touch water, either. On the TV show, dragonglass also has a special power to destroy wights. (This isn’t true in George R.R. Martin’s books, but Game of Thrones writer Dave Hill confirmed in a recent interview that the show has deliberately changed this.) Finally, we also learned in “Beyond the Wall” that, if a White Walker is killed, all of the wights it has reanimated will collapse en masse.

The White Walkers now have a dragon. Uh-oh.

Game of Thrones has staged terrifying spectacles featuring attacks from the wights, most notably in season five’s “Hardhome” and season six’s “The Door.” In both instances, the apparently endless supply of wights simply kept coming. The best our heroes could do was fend them off for a while and then retreat.

In “Beyond the Wall,” the threat of the wights was less impressive. Except for a few redshirts (and Thoros, who wears a red cloak) our heroes hacked away at them relatively easily. And then Dany’s dragons came along and torched the wights in great numbers. It’s true that dragonfire may not be able to kill White Walkers, but if their ground troops could be so easily decimated, this final battle for humanity probably wouldn’t be all that difficult. So Game of Thrones‘ showrunners needed to raise the stakes.

Enter the wight dragon — Dany’s “child” Viserion, killed and reanimated.

Much of Game of Thrones‘ seventh season has been devoted to discussing — and, occasionally, showcasing — the immense destructive power of Dany’s dragons. She could have quickly and easily killed Cersei Lannister and taken over Westeros, but she and Tyrion feared that unleashing the dragons will kill too many innocent people.

The Night King will have no such scruples. The otherworldly invading army that wants to wipe out human life now has its ultimate weapon. And airpower!

There’s much we don’t yet know about the wight dragon. Can it breathe fire, and if so, will that fire have any special properties? Will someone ride it? Can it fly over the Wall? How can it be killed?

But the loss of Viserion — named for Dany’s late brother Viserys, who himself died back in season one — does a great deal to level the playing …read more

Read more here: Game of Thrones season 7: the White Walker twists of “Beyond the Wall,” explained

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US-South Korea set for divisive military drills http://alwayspolitics.com/us-south-korea-set-for-divisive-military-drills/ http://alwayspolitics.com/us-south-korea-set-for-divisive-military-drills/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:07:00 +0000 http://alwayspolitics.com/us-south-korea-set-for-divisive-military-drills/

Pyongyang has already lashed out at the annual drills, saying they were “adding fuel to the fire”. …read more

Read more here: US-South Korea set for divisive military drills

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