Summer 2011

    Issue: Summer 2011

    Table of Contents

    • The recent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northern Japan has made many people reevaluate their position on nuclear energy. One point, however, has been missing from most reports about the damage: the disaster’s effects on non-humans remain incalculable. Many procedures that save human lives during a nuclear disaster do not help animals. Humans can be told to evacuate; animals cannot. In the area surrounding Fukushima, animals might be dying off at an alarming rate; we will not know how severe the devastation on marine, air and land based life will be until proper surveys have been completed.

      Even so, nuclear power is currently the primary contender to coal when it comes to electricity generation capacity, and all good environmentalists know coal is a source to avoid. “Clean” coal, the newest myth perpetrated by the coal industry, is scary when scrutinized: in a method known as carbon capture and sequestration , coal power would be considered “clean” when the greenhouse gases are sent into the ground. The expensive technology to accomplish this on a large scale is still being tested; but even if fully realized, who knows what might ultimately occur when the pollution is pumped into the ground rather than the sky?

      It seems clear that while nuclear power might have certain advantages over coal, it is unsafe for the environment and the life within it. But if nuclear power is not the answer, then what is?

      Almost every alternative source of electrical grid power harms animals in some way, albeit less than coal does. As John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society, has remarked, “When you look at a wind turbine, you can find the bird carcasses and count them. With a coal-fired power plant, you can't count the carcasses, but it's going to kill a lot more birds.”1

      Wind energy has received especially negative attention when it comes to animal safety, mostly because of the poor design of the Altamont Pass Wind Farm right in the middle of a major raptor hunting ground outside of San Francisco. The fast-moving blades of these 30-year-old turbines posed a hazard for thousands of birds in the area. Many of the old turbines have since been replaced by slower blades; mistakes made at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm have helped to inform new wind farm installations on how to avoid unnecessary deaths. Nevertheless, bird conservationists must keep a constant watch on companies that propose wind farms in sensitive bird habitats.

      Solar power is often cited as the most environmentally friendly energy source available, and one that also limits negative effects upon animals. Yet even solar power has its drawbacks. BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating Station, currently being built in the Mojave Desert around Las Vegas, Nevada, as the largest solar thermal plant in the world, has received enormous criticism for its intrusion on desert tortoises—endangered animals who, like many animals, resist relocation.2 Although the resulting alterations to the solar plant plan have not addressed all of the issues regarding the desert tortoise’s habitat, they did shrink the project’s acreage by 12 percent. Some of the tortoise advocates pointed out that the solar plant, not the tortoises, needed to be moved.

      Other solar plants have been scaled back dramatically due to ecosystem concerns. AES Solar's Imperial Valley Solar Project in southeast California is under a temporary injunction due to the Quechan Tribe’s claim that flat-tailed horned lizards would be significantly harmed on ancestral land.3 They hope to win a permanent injunction this summer.4 Plans for Solar Millenium’s proposed Ridgecrest plant in south-central California were cancelled altogether due to the negative effects the solar plant may have had on Mojave ground squirrels.5

      While it would obviously be better to disturb only already disturbed land – by putting solar panels on rooftops instead of desert ecosystems, for example – many compromises have so far been reached. We do have viable options for ethically powering our world in the near future; but the only way to feasibly implement animal-friendly and environmentally responsible sources of power on a large scale is to reduce our power consumption dramatically.

      • 1. Quoted by Carl Levesque, communications editor for the American Wind Energy Association, in the AWEA article “For the Birds: Audubon Society Stands Up in Support of Wind Energy” (14 Dec. 2006).
      • 2. Green Blog, New York Times: “BrightSource Alters Solar Plant Plan to Address Concerns Over Desert Tortoise” (11 Feb. 2010).
      • 3. See EcoSeed : “K Road Now Owns Calico Solar Project but Will Use PV” (3 Jan. 2011).
      • 4. See Yuma Sun : “Quechan Tribe to Take Fight Against Solar Project to D.C. ” (31 Jan. 2011)
      • 5. See New York Times : “Concerns as Solar Installations Join a Desert Ecosyste m” (17 Nov. 2010), quoting Karen Douglas, the chair of the California Energy Commission, which licenses large solar thermal power plants: “If wildlife issues are not at the top of a developer’s list, they should be. The footprint of these solar projects is unprecedented, and obviously they can impact a range of species.”
    • Bees Try to Defend Themselves

      Animals have waited and waited for us to stop taking advantage of them, to stop poisoning their habitats, to stand up for the ecology that’s the only home they know. Now, they are making moves to protect themselves from us. Honeybees, environment correspondent Fiona Harvey reported in The Guardian,1 are taking emergency measures against   our use of pesticides.

      By sealing off cells full of pollen contaminated by pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals from the rest of the hive, bees are keeping tainted pollen out of the meals of their growing young members.

      Jeff Pettis, a beekeeper and an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicates that this new activity signals crisis: “Bees would not normally seal off pollen.”

      Bees also collect a substance known as propolis from plants. They use this resin, with its natural anti-bacterial qualities, to line their hives, and sometimes they will cover a small intruder with the resin. The housekeeper bees are now using propolis to seal the contaminated pollen cells. Notably, bees are also sealing off pollen that contains substances used by beekeepers to kill mites. Not just the mites but the chemicals also cause trouble for bees.

      But the bees’ last-ditch efforts to save themselves appear to be unsuccessful, according to Pettis. The activity foreshadows colony collapse.2

      Let it be a message to us. We’re discourteous, unwise and dangerous to ourselves and the ecology we too must live in when we torment insects and other invertebrates, assault them with chemicals, and dismiss them as pests. They themselves are the most effective controllers of insect numbers (some because they are predators; others because they are parasites). And they pollinate the plants on which all of Earth’s life ultimately depends.

      Bees living near intensive farming sites suffer poor nutrition; and the international bee trade, which forces bees to move, exposes them to new diseases. Some measures taken to prevent the sick bees’ deaths – such as putting large numbers of bees in huge super-hives – only makes them sicker, according to a recent study by the United Nations.

      May we recommend avoiding bee products completely? An excellent plant-based nectar is agave; and organic maple syrup is as versatile a sweetener as it is easy to find (especially in North America).

      After Horse Deaths, Advocate Renews Calls to End Race Betting

      Two horses, Dooneys Gate and Ornais, died in this year’s Grand National, held in April at Aintree, Scotland. T he winning horse, Ballabriggs, was too exhausted to be ridden into the winner’s enclosure.

      Soon after the horrors , an advocate named James Maxwell initiated an Internet-based petition.3 Seems there’s an online petition for everything these days, but this one has an interesting facet. It doesn’t call on a specific body to ban racing (it’s unlikely that such petitions result in bans); instead it shows an image of one of the horses taking a fatal fall, and asks visitors to the page whether they had ever bet on a horse, and whether they would do so in the future. It has thus become a pledge taken by hundreds of people never to pay to watch or bet on horse races. It advises visitors to w rite to their local newspapers to raise consciousness.

      Each year, some 18,000 foals are born into the British and Irish racing industries. Fewer than half of them will go on to race. The fate of those who don’t make the grade is rarely discussed on television or in betting rooms. Of those who race, about 420  each year will be raced to death, according to, which has been keeping a running list of horse deaths since March 2007. Not all die in plain sight. Some racers or show-jumpers die hours or days after an event, victims of leg injuries or bleeding lungs.

      Aimee Leopold from New York signed the petition, and commented, “ It is cruel and inhumane. Yes, as I child I bet on the Grand National. We all did. It was cultural and a national event.”

      W ho among us has not seen or bet on the Kentucky Derby or some other well-known horse race? Parties with mint juleps and family bets turn the event into a festive holiday in many households. Yet we’ve also have heard the shocking stories of Eight Belles or Barbaro dying in front of the crowds. After Eight Belles was raced to death in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, William C. Rhoden in the New York Times compared the custom of “thousand-pound horses racing at full throttle on spindly legs” to bullfighting, and went on to say, “Eight Belles was another victim of a brutal sport that is carried, literally, on the backs of horses. Horsemen like to talk about their thoroughbreds and how they were born to run and live to run. The reality is that they are made to run, forced to run for profits they never see.”4

      Speaking of profiting, Kentucky’s Republican Senator Mitch McConnell was able to get tax breaks for the thoroughbred racing industry inserted in the 2008 farm bill – breaks worth $126 million over ten years.5 The provision has all racehorses depreciated over three years for tax purposes, regardless of when the horses start training.

      According to the Department of Agriculture, horses are Kentucky's largest agricultural product. The industry represents $3.5 billion to the state economy and directly employs more than 50,000 state residents. According to the American Horse Council, an association that represents the industry, “ The horse industry has a direct economic effect on the U.S. of $39 billion annually.”

      Clearly the vested interests are significant. But if the New York Times can have a discussion that interrogates this industry, surely animal advocates ought to be presenting one. And not just about points such as disallowing whips, or changing breeding rules. The focus should be on stopping the use of horses, whether that involves thoroughbred racing, jumping and showing, fox hunting, barrel racing, tourist carriages or polo. Let us take the pledge not to use horses, bet on them, or watch events that perpetuate this industry. Let us w rite to our local newspapers to raise consciousness. When – and only when – we stop treating horses as our things, tragedies such as the deaths of Dooneys Gate and Ornais will stop.

      The Humane-Egg Bandwagon

      It’s come to Washington State. T he November 2011 ballot measure promoted by Washingtonians for Humane Farms would increase the size of confinement areas for laying hens seven years from now, in 2018. The birds will still be expected to lay eggs and, when worn out, go to slaughter; male chicks (who will never lay eggs) will still be ground up by the industry.

      Washingtonians for Humane Farms is a project of a couple of wealthy groups; but smaller, local groups have supported these campaigns in every state they’ve occurred. Washington activist Kate Sharadin points out that the very same local groups who are suggesting to the public that this ballot measure will “prevent cruelty” to birds are also running a campaign against animal research at the University of Washington: “They are very black-and-white about ending it.” But in the case of birds used in animal agribusiness, the standard is different.

      The groups behind the Washington ballot measure tout it as a public health protection as well. They further state: “And major food manufacturers and retailers—including   Kraft,   Sara Lee,   Wal-Mart,   Safeway,   Unilever,   Burger King,   Wendy’s,   Denny’s, Subway,   Sonic,   Quiznos,   Red Robin,   Hardee’s and Carl's Jr.—have started to use cage-free eggs.” It could not be more obvious, then, that these eggs are really mass-produced and the term “cage-free” means very little in terms of quality of life for birds. Sharadin says, “Personally, I'm not against a farmer telling me he will give a chicken and inch. Okay, fine, thanks a bunch. ” But approaching groups who have long been dedicated to ending forms of animal use, and recruiting them into promoting a state ballot measure that does little for birds and a lot for the name recognition of a couple of wealthy humane groups? That, says Sharadin, is “ downright dirty.”  

      The Real Vegetarian Butchers Have Arrived

      Europe’s first vegetarian butcher has opened in the Netherlands. With a traditional, attractive storefront, De Vegetarische Slager – the Vegetarian Butcher – in The Hague (see serves meat-replacement products.

      Lupin beans were used in ancient Egyptian and Roman kitchens. Now, eighth-generation lupin farmer Jaap Korteweg hopes to restore the protein-rich food to dinner plates in Europe, offering a sustainable alternative to meat while also reducing the environmental impact of rampant soy farming in South America.   Korteweg, who applies organic growing methods, points out that lupin is a robust plant that can be easily grown without the use of fertilizers and chemicals.

      Korteweg believes that the tradition of European butcher shops can’t be ignored; they must be understood and replaced. “Our dream was a store dedicated to meat substitutes in the same way a butcher is dedicated to meat.”

      Thus, Korteweg partnered with chef Marco Westmaas and Niko Koffeman, a Dutch politician for Party for the Animals, to sell unique lupin croquettes and other personally designed products alongside various meat alternatives already on the market. The group intends to make the shop a model of excellence for others to follow.

      [Photo source:]


    • My high-school mascot was a turkey. This unlikely talisman was chosen because my town was once “the poultry capital of the United States.” Our community’s claim to fame was having raised and killed more chickens and turkeys than any other, and almost everyone I knew had some connection to the industry. Whenever our football players (“the Gobblers”) were on a winning streak, someone would show up with a live turkey painted with our school’s signature green and gold.

      Mascots, by definition, are thought to bring good luck. They are human, animal or object — and mascots can be used to represent a school sports team or a military or other organization. Most often, at least in North America, mascots are associated with teams. While most have humans dress up as their respective mascot, some parade their live animal mascots at games.

      The tradition of using real animals as mascots lives on at Baylor University, a private, Baptist school in Waco, Texas. Since 1914, the college has kept live bears on campus. They’ve had more than 50.1 Currently, two bears live in an outdoor enclosure on campus. In a bizarre defense of this cruel custom, Baylor claims it’s providing an education about bears.

      To imprison or display such a being, who is now forced to relate to humans and depend on us for survival, is not education; it’s wanton disregard for a fellow animal.

      Baylor University hires a professional trainer to break the bears’ spirits. Then, the bears will spend their lives placating our desire to play voyeur to an animal who, in nature, we’d want to avoid. Their situations contradict the university’s claim that “the bears enjoy what they do here at Baylor, and we in turn respect and love them.”2 They are prisoners, performers, playthings.

      Bears in nature roam and forage in large, forested areas. They swim for pleasure and for food. They climb trees. They hibernate for three to five months of the year, protecting their young. Only in their natural habitat can they exist as bears — autonomous and free.

      Baylor University , of course, is not the only school to use animal mascots. Some schools bring the animals to parades; others keep live animals in cages on campus, where fans and students can gawk at them. The Colorado Buffaloes keep a live buffalo on campus; Texas State University has a Texas longhorn steer. The University of Memphis uses a live tiger; the University of North Alabama keeps a lion on campus; Southern University and A&M College have had jaguars. USA Today has called mascots “key symbols of multimillion-dollar college sports enterprises.”3 Any money you give to an athletic team with a live animal directly supports the captivity.

      No animal deserves the fate of a mascot on parade or in a cage. The only way to put an end to this abysmal tradition is to hold the offending institutions accountable. If a college or university in your area keeps a live mascot, voice your disapproval. Write letters to the president of the school; send letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Make people aware. Educate.

      As a staffer here at Friends of Animals, I’ve had the unique experience of visiting Primarily Primates, our refuge in San Antonio, Texas, through which we care for more than 400 animals who’ve been made dependent by humans. The best-case scenario for mascots such as captive birds or big cats is a transfer to a sanctuary that can provide life-long care; a place where they live their remaining days in the most naturalistic setting possible.

      Listed below are the educational institutions discussed in this article. Please let them know that their keeping and showcasing of live animals is demeaning, unnatural and inhumane — regardless of the length of a school’s tradition or the conditions in which these animals are kept.

      Baylor University
      Ken Starr, President
      One Bear Place #97096
      Waco , TX 76798-7096
      Phone: (254) 710-3555

      The Chamber of Commerce is also responsible for administering the bear program at Baylor; you can phone them at (254) 710-3322.

      The University of Memphis
      Houses a live Bengal tiger on campus, named Tom III. The tiger is brought to all home football games.
      Shirley C. Raines, President
      The University of Memphis
      341 Administration Building
      Memphis , TN 38152
      Phone: (901) 678-2234

      University of North Alabama
      Houses two lions on campus: Leo III and Una. The college has housed a live lion on campus since 1974.
      Dr. William G. Cale Jr., President
      UNA Box 5004
      110 Bibb Graves Hall
      Florence, AL 35632-0001
      Phone: (256) 765-4211

      Southern University and A&M College

       Traditionally houses a live jaguar on campus. Since the passing of the last jaguar, they are currently raising funds to both renovate the enclosure and also to purchase a new jaguar. Please encourage Southern University to abandon this dreadful custom:
      Dr. Ronald Mason Jr., President
      Southern University System
      Baton Rouge , Louisiana 70813
      Phone: (225) 771-4680

    • Cheers

      A enthusiastic cheer for New York State Senator Tony Avella's bill S5013, that “[p]rohibits the operation of horse drawn cabs in the city of New York.” This proposal to amend New York City's administrative code reads: “It shall be unlawful to offer rides to the public on a vehicle drawn or pulled by a carriage horse.” View it online:

      Let's support this so it becomes law. Wherever you are, please thank Senator Avella:

      Senator Tony Avella, Albany Office
      Room 504, LOB
      Albany, NY 12247
      United States
      Phone: 518-455-2210
      Fax: 518-426-6736
      Email address:

      And if you are in New York, please write to your Senators and ask them to sign on to the bill. Find them here:

      What happens in New York City will affect so many places. Please use the power of your keyboard to write letters and op-eds on this wonderful bill wherever you are. And please support Friends of Animals so we can continue our outreach on this issue throughout the United States and Canada.

      Cheers to Animal Planet, a subsidiary of the Discovery Channel, for launching a vegan cooking show. Currently scheduled to start this summer under the title “Sweet Avenger,” it will feature Vegan Treats vegan bakery of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This is the first all-vegan cooking show to air on a major network, so it’s important to offer support and feedback. To find out more about the show, see:

      To thank Animal Planet, and request more vegan programming:

      Discovery Communications
      Viewer Relations
      One Discovery Place , 5th Floor
      Silver Spring, MD 20910
      E-mail: via online form at the website

      Cheers to Bolivia, for being the first nation on earth to propose rights for the natural world. Bolivia will radically alter its perspective on natural resources in order to conserve and protect the environment. Bolivian Vice President Alvaro García Linera said in an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all.” Bolivia’s express concern for the natural world is the first of its kind but should be a global ethic.

      The new law will not, however, give animals rights; nor will it deter animal agribusiness. Let’s continue to advocate for veganism and autonomy for free-living animals, for real rights for all.

      Cheers to Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings, a website featuring all things wedding-related, including how and where to find vegan wedding dresses, suits and other accoutrements. The website also features wedding stories, information about photographers and every possible detail related to planning your very own vegan nuptials:

      Cheers to Seventh Generation, the environmentally conscious company that has launched a laundry detergent in a 100% recycled (and recyclable) package. The detergent, according to the company, uses 66% less plastic (there’s still a plastic lid and liner) in addition to being super-concentrated. The icing on the vegan cake? There are no animal products in the detergent either!

      We mentioned some time ago in Cheers and Jeers that Seventh Generation used whey in the production process for its paper products. We can happily report that this is no longer the case. A double cheer to Seventh Generation! You can visit Seventh Generation online at ( in Canada) and the products are available at most large grocery and retail stores throughout the North America.


      Jeers to Academy Award-winning actor Reese Witherspoon, who posed with live elephants for the May U.S. edition of Vogue to promote her new film Water for Elephants. Witherspoon’s new film (about a circus) also exploits live animals. Elephants are not props or consenting actors. Let Reese Witherspoon know that you don’t spend money on films that exploit animals.

      Reese Witherspoon
      Management 360
      (Talent Management Company)
      9111 Wilshire Blvd.
      Beverly Hills , CA 90210
      Phone: 310-272-7000
      Fax: 310-272-0070

      Jeers to Lupita Lopez, a bullfighter recently featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” radio show. Lopez said, “I come from a family of bullfighters, from my great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and cousins…And so coming from this family, obviously from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, we talk about bulls.”

      That’s not exactly a history to be proud of. Empathy for other animals is more heroic than taunting them to exhaustion and then stabbing them with a sword in front of frenzied gawkers.

      Let NPR know: stories that exalt animal cruelty aren’t welcome or entertaining. The only things worth mentioning where bull-riding or bullfighting is concerned are the wrongs suffered by animals forced to participate.

      To contact “All Things Considered” directly, you can use the online form:

      Mailing Address:
      NPR – All Things Considered
      635 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
      Washington , DC 20001

      Jeers to Terri Silacci, owner of Nail Lounge (which is part of Euphoria Lounge Salon and Spa), who invented a brand new way of exploiting animals: turning snakes into nail polish. The “Pedicure with Snake Skin” goes for $300, and involves applying a layer of actual snake-skin to the toe-nail — a procedure that is not only stupefying and gross, but horrific for snakes.

      Kindly tell Silacci to cease this cold-blooded fashion atrocity immediately.

      Terri Silacci
      Nail Lounge, Euphoria Lounge Salon and Spa
      499 Pacific Street
      Monterey , CA 93940
      Phone: 831-717-4375

    • LETTER 1 – Animal Advocates Must Act as One

           After reading the NRA article in the spring issue of Action Line, it once again brings to mind how horribly inadequate the voice of animal advocacy is on Capitol Hill. The NRA, hunting lobby, the breeders, etc. exert power through their numbers AS ONE. Animal advocacy is so fragmented and divided into so many different groups that our voice is trivialized and even ridiculed by state and national legislators. We have made some progress in the legislative process, but it is a drop in the ocean compared to what could be accomplished if we united together under one umbrella. Never has the truism “A house divided against itself cannot stand” been more applicable than in this case. What will it take for those who lead these organizations to stop competing for donations, engaging in petty jealousies, rival one another for publicity, etc.? For as this trifling continues, who really pays the price? I'll tell you who – the animals who suffer and die.

           Food for thought – the United States is a world power, if not the most powerful nation on earth. How effective would this country be if all 50 states acted completely independent of one another? What if each state would not unify with the other 49 and actually competed with each other? How much of a world power would we be then? Apply this analogy to the animal-advocacy community and think how pathetic the realization actually is. When will common sense prevail and this idiocy actually stop? The answer lies within us IF we dig deep enough to find the epiphany that what comes first is the welfare of the animals.

      Steven Hoover
      Political Administrator
      Animal Law Coalition

      LETTER 2 – No “Its” When Speaking of Animals

      In her letter to Johnny Weir (Spring 2011, ActionLine) Priscilla Feral wrote, “The beautiful fox was likely anally electrocuted, or may have had its head bashed in, only to serve as decoration for someone’s performance.” She should have said his or her head. No animal is an it. All animals are a he or she, including the ones who are spayed or neutered. If we don’t know which they are, we should just pick one. We could always change later if we find out they are the opposite. Or just say him/her, etc. Language is very important. If we can refer to animals as it, then it’s easier to abuse or exploit and neglect them. Referring to animals as “it” is an insult to them. Maybe Priscilla didn’t realize she said it. Otherwise, it was a great letter and your magazine is great.

      Brenda Sauer
      North Brunswick, NJ

      Editor’s note: We appreciate the kind comment about the content of this magazine; thanks to all of our readers who keep the bar high. We understand and agree with the point of language connects with respect. Perhaps we need an all-inclusive word for all persons (and “their” is one such option). No disrespect intended; thanks for keeping us all thinking!

      LETTER 3 – An Obsession With Guns

      Some thoughts about guns, the NRA and “sportsmen.”

      This country’s obsession with guns is in diametric contradiction to our claim to be a devoutly Christian nation. (What weapons did Jesus carry? Would he pack a gat if he were here today?) The mention of God’s name in the same breath as guns (“God, guns and guts made this country great”) is sacrilegious and blasphemous.

      If guns don’t kill people then neither do hand grenades, flame throwers or IED’s and, therefore, there should be no restrictions on the sale or possession of these weapons.

      The NRA’s solution to gun violence – Punish the criminal. In other words, let the crime occur: a Columbine or Virginia Tech for example. Then apprehend and punish the criminal. Of course, in those particular cases, punishing the criminal would have been a good trick since the perpetrators committed suicide. The NRA does not think that preventing such crimes in the first place is a good idea.

      Hunters prefer to be the “original conservationists,” but they helped elect George W. Bush twice, probably our worst president in terms of conservation and environment – proving that their guns are more precious than creation.

      The NRA is one of the most vile, despicable, depraved, degenerate collection of individuals on this planet.

      New Jersey

      LETTER 4 – Addressing Phobia of Wolves in “The Grey”

      Thank you for providing your readers information in 'Cheers and Jeers' to take action on behalf of animals. Regarding the film 'The Grey,' I did not send my letter of criticism to Liam Neeson since he is one of many actors in the film.  Instead, I went higher up the 'chain of accountability' and sent it to Scott Free Productions, the company that produced the film. I highly recommend you print this address in the next ActionLine so readers can address the team that put the film together.

      Scott Free Productions
      Mr. Ridley Scott
      614 N La Peer Drive
      Los Angeles, California 90069

      Thank you for all you do for animals,

      Joyce Phillips

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