Archive for January 30th, 2012

MLAs back BT landfill move

| 30/01/2012 | 99 Comments

_DSC2388.png(CNS): Despite mounting opposition in their constituency over government’s decision to move the country’s waste-management facilities to Bodden Town, Dwayne Seymour and Mark Scotland have made it clear they are backing the move. The two government representatives have stated that the George Town dump is not being relocated to their district but that “a state-of-the-art 21st century waste management facility is being developed there,” although not everyone in their district is convinced. Accusing the opposition, the independent member and “their cohorts” of trying “to pit the good people of Bodden Town against other Caymanians”, the UDP MLAs said their government was committed to putting in place an effective solution to address the "dump debacle" that the former administration “couldn’t solve.” (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

“The dump problem is not a George Town problem or a Bodden Town problem but a Cayman Islands problem,” Scotland and Seymour said in a statement released by AtWater Consulting.

The MLAs said that although the PPM was responsible for the failure to address the landfill problem, the opposition and the Independent member had “the audacity to use a serious issue related to the welfare of all Caymanians as a political football for political mileage.”

In the statement the MLAs failed to address the mounting and non-political opposition to the plan and failed to address the questions that have been raised by the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free, which is a single issue organisation formed by district residents to campaign against the landfill relocation.

While the MLAs said that the People of the Cayman Islands were entitled to answers to reasonable questions, neither offered answers to many of those asked by the coalition.

“We, in the government, are working to put in place the right solution for our waste management situation,” the district representatives stated. “We are carrying out a comprehensive review and design process to implement the correct solution for the waste management facility. The public is being intentionally misled to believe that the dump is being moved to Bodden Town and this would be very good reason for concern if it were happening – the facility to be developed in Bodden Town will bear no resemblance whatsoever to, nor will it be operated in a similar manner as the dump in George Town.”

Scotland and Seymour said it was a slap in the face to future generations of Caymanians in Bodden Town, George Town and throughout the Islands for both the PPM and the Coalition to make far-fetched assertions that the current location, in its current form, is acceptable.

However, at no time have any of those involved in the coalition or the opposition stated that the current situation is acceptable. The PPM, the independent member and the coalition all support government’s own original plans to address the land fill via a waste to energy solution. The cross-party group created under the last administration had agreed on that solution and the current administration had already selected a company to undertake the project, which had wide community support at the end of 2010.

Even though the solution government now proposes forms part of a major investment alliance with the islands’ biggest developer, which is a policy decision by the UDP, the BT MLAs said that they could “unequivocally” say they were not playing politics. They went on to add, however, that as elected members and part of the present government they had an obligation to uphold and direct policy that will be in the best interest of the Caymanian people.

“The direction that this Government has taken in relation to putting in place a solution for a proper waste management facility is the correct one, and subject to the proper protocols related to implementation of a waste management facility, we expect that the entire country will concur that we are doing the right thing at the right time for the people of the Cayman Islands,” they stated.

The MLAs further stated that they were "not prepared to face a staged performance of opposition and attack strategists who have no real interest in working with the government” but they did not say if that meant they would refuse to meet the coalition. 

They did say that in the coming days they would be addressing a myriad of issues specifically related to the Bodden Town district.

Meanwhile the coalition pointed to comments made by Dwayne Seymour on Cayman27 on Friday where he said he didn’t have all the information on the proposed move, querying how he and his colleague could support the relocation. It also pointed out that the coalition is not a political movement.

"The Coalition is completely non-political, unaffiliated with any political party, and open to support from members of any political party," said Vincent Frederick, one of the leaders of the coalition that stood as an independent candidate in the 2009 election. "We do not support either party and our only advice come the next elections is 'don't vote for any candidate who supports moving the dump to Bodden Town'. This is our only concern — and it should be Mr Seymour's and Mr Scotland's top priority if they were the least bit concerned with the interest and well-being of their constituents.”

The coalition again sent a message to both UDP members that they were elected to represent the interests of Bodden Town, not those of Dart.

Gregg Anderson challenged Seymour over the accusations that the people were being misled by those who oppose the moving of the dump.

“The coalition does have the facts, and opposes a dump in Bodden Town because of these facts. You claim that you don't have the facts, but you support putting a dump in your own district, in spite of not having the facts," Anderson added.

“Is it not a fact that the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) hasn't in its possession a single document relating to the relocation of the GT dump, or to the selection of Bodden Town as the preferred site? Was this Government decision taken behind the backs of the DEH as well? Is it not a fact that no Environmental Impact Assessment has ever been done, and that this would be the very first required step, in any country, before moving a dump and before choosing a new site? Is it not a fact that the Central Tenders Committee, following the due process of the law, rejected the Dart proposal to move the GT dump, because the environmental impact was of 'great concern' to its technical team?" he asked.

The coalition pointed to the recent revelations on CNS regarding the CTC's technical team’s considerations of the bids submitted in response to government’s request for tender and their concerns regarding the Dart proposal.

The coalition agrees, however, that there still is missing information, and Alain Beiner challenged the MLAs to reveal what it is that they are hiding from the people.

"We believe that you do have the facts, and we ask you how in the world did your government manage to dump the CTC's first choice to solve the problem of Mount Trashmore, and then run with the CTC's very last choice?" he asked. "Who did pick Bodden Town, why and when? These are the real missing facts, and we have to assume that your government has them,” he said to the district’s representatives.

See full statement from the Bodden Town MLAs plus the latest release from the Coalition below.

See CNS Viewpoint here

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Chefs and farmers to linger over slow food

| 30/01/2012 | 0 Comments

jm-food-table.jpg(CNS): As a pre curser to the agricultural show which takes place on Ash Wednesday a group of chefs and farmers will be getting together on Saturday morning for a Slow Food Day at Market at The Grounds at the Agriculture Pavilion in Lower Valley. Slow Food Day pairs local farmers with chefs who will give cooking demonstrations using the ingredients direct from the farms. A collaborative effort of the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society (CIAS), Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Slow Food Grand Cayman farmers the idea is to demonstrate the connections between the earth and the plate.

Chefs include Thomas Tennant,Michael’s Genuine; Nevin Patel, the Brasserie; Paul Carroll, Hemmingway’s Sara Mair Ortanique and Keith Griffin from the Culinary Society, Errol Watler, Patrick Panton, Joel Walton, Donna Connolly, Paul Bodden and Hamlin Stephenson.

The chefs will give cooking demonstrations between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., using ingredients from the farmer with whom they are paired.

“One of the main highlights of the Agriculture Show is to emphasise the ground-to-the-plate correlation between the food that is grown and what we eat,” explained Errol Watler, President of CIAS.

Chef Tennant will serve soft scrambled eggs, provided by Mrs. Connolly’s hens – over garlic toast and topped with mixed with local green onions and grated cheese. Other chefs will create dishes using local ingredients such as sweet potato, pumpkin, coconut, calalloo, tomatoes, Scotch Bonnet peppers, pork and chickens raised at Patrick Panton’s farm.

Admission is free. Patrons will be entertained by local bands and a bouncy castle and pony rides will provide fun for the kids.

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Youth organisation show off their strengths

| 30/01/2012 | 0 Comments

Youth Consortium Event 28 Jan 2012 (1Girls Brigade) (232x300).jpg(CNS): Over 40 youth organizations, sports associations and schools exhibited at the Cayman Islands Youth Development Consortium’s (CIYDC) Celebrate Our Youth Day on Saturday. Described as “a national celebration of partnerships and opportunities”  guests at the event included various government officials and dignitaries. “So many times we look at what is wrong with our students,” said CIYDC Director Sylvia Wilks but she said Saturday was to focus on their successes and strengths. The event, which included a youth expo and awards ceremony, focused on the positive contributions made by young people, while also highlighting the many ways youth can become involved in their community. 

It was initiated by CIYDC in January 2010 when the premier signed a proclamation to observe January as Support Our Youth Month.

For more information on CIYDC and Support Our Youth Month, visit http://www.supportingcaymanyouth.com/support_our_youth_month_2012.html
 

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Sea swimmers raise cash for Carifta 2012

| 30/01/2012 | 0 Comments

CARIFTA Fundraising Start (240x265).jpg(CIASA): A group of Cayman Islands swimmers took to the seas this past weekend to raise funds for the team’s trip to the CARIFTA Swimming 2012 in Nassau, Bahamas between 12 and 15 April. The swim has been completed but members of the community can still sponsor the team up until 4 February. Although focused and training hard for upcoming qualifying Swim Meets, the swimmers come together for this fundraiser to achieve a common goal – raise funds for the trip; but also to begin the bonding process which will see them leave club affiliations behind as they become the Cayman Islands CARIFTA Team in April.

At 8am the beach just north of The Wharf was abuzz with excitement as swimmers prepped, put on sun screen, greased up and made sure their goggles and caps were in good order. The group of 30 plus swimmers made their way to the old Pageant Beach Sea Pool and the first leg of the 5-1/2 mile relay began.

Coach Dominic Ross joked that, “this is an easy swim … after all … we all know that Seven Mile Beach is really only 5-1/2 miles long!”

However, when all was said and done the swimmers, some of whom are only 11 years old – put in a mammoth effort and swam the entire length in relay teams; while a couple of the older, more seasoned swimmers such as Geoffrey Butler and Andrew Smiley* swam the whole 5-1/2 miles solo.

Dr. Sook Yin, a longstanding CIASA Director and a “permanent” part of the swim team’s professional care commented:  “On behalf of CIASA I want to thank all of the potential CARIFTA swimmers for being such good sports and swimming the long open water course from George Town to West Bay. There were some grumbles along the way, but they all pitched in and did it – and the kids were all smiles at the end.

“I want to thank the parents too who walked the course, loaded down with water, Gatorade, towels suntan lotion  and hats – while walking barefoot on the mostly white sand but also negotiating iron shore and slippery rocks for 3.5 hours!”

While the swimmers are, of course, instrumental in an event such as this, it could not happen without the volunteer support team. Open Water Safety veteran Dagmar Wojcicki organized and managed the water safety team; NAME, marshaled the course via jet ski and Coach Dom, NAME and mother – son team, Michelle and Jake Bailey kayaked – keeping the pod of swimmers safely together and pulling out the younger ones when they couldn't keep up or the swells became a little too much.

CIASA also extends thanks to Red Sails Sports for the kayaks and jet ski; swim parents and club executives who organized the sandwiches; baked the goodies and made sure there was water and Gatorade along the way for swimmers, parents and the safety team.

CARIFTA Fundraising Start (400x241).jpgAnd last but not least CIASA thanks Coach Dom, Coach Katie and Coach Paula who, between them organized the event, and organized and motivated the swimmers both while they were swimming and walking the beach.

Swimmers are reminded to hand in all outstanding sponsorship money by the 3rd of February, along with their sponsorship form, to their coach; and members of the community are reminded to find a swimmer and sponsor them!

Next on the swim calendar is the Stingray Swim Club trip to Jamaica for the Water Rodgers Age Group Swimming National Championships, February 16-19th.

*An accomplished open water swimmer, Andrew Smiley is too old to compete at CARIFTA but used this swim as a great training opportunity.

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Swim coach dives into beginners swim programme

| 30/01/2012 | 4 Comments

Coach Chester (1) (226x300).jpg(CNS): Government’s learn-to-swim programme is now back on track with a newly-appointed coach, officials said Monday.  Chester Hurlston has taken up the job at government’s swim school and said while he will be helping young swimmers improve the goal is to focus on teaching all kids in the government system who cannot swim at all. Registration for the after-school swim programme is now open on a first-come, first-served basis for the weekday classes due to start next week. “It would be great if we could teach every child to swim. The Swim School gives everyone access to swim instruction,” Coach Hurlston said.

Sports minister Mark Scotland said the learn-to-swim programme is very important to his ministry. “Every young child should have the opportunity to learn to swim,” he said “I am very pleased that we are able to revitalize it and extremely pleased that a young Caymanian has been hired to get the programme back on track.”

After returning from college in Knoxville, Tennessee which he attended on an athletic scholarship, with a bachelor’s degree in child psychology, Hurlston taught physical education at Grace Christian Academy and coached in government’s after-school sports programme.  He was drafted for the Cayman Islands Swim School late last year, taking up his position this January. “Sports have always been my thing plus I love working with kids. This new position allows me to pursue both passions and I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

The school will continue to help young swimmers improve but  kids who can’t swim will be the focus of attention for the programme.

“It would be great if we could teach every child to swim. The Swim School gives everyone access to swim instruction. Growing up, I did not have the privilege of learning to swim in a pool. For most of us, the ocean was our training ground. This is such a great opportunity, I hope parents will take advantage of it,” he noted.

Registration for the after-school swim programme is now open and  a nominal registration fee is payable. This term will only feature weekday classes which are scheduled to start on Monday, 6 February. For more information call the Department of Sports at 949-7082.

 

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Cash4Titles spin off suit settled out of court

| 30/01/2012 | 0 Comments

court good.jpg(CNS): A legal dispute between one of the acquitted defendants in the fraud case Cash4Titles and three local auditors has been settled outside of thecourtroom, according to a statement released by Pinnacle Publishing on Friday. Lewis Rowe, who had been charged in connection with the famous fraud case and was acquitted at the end of the trial in 2005, had filed a law suit in February 2011 against government, Dan Scott, James Cleaver and Richard Fogerty, who acted as the original liquidators in the case. Although it is unclear on whose behalf the statement was officially issued, it said that none of the parties had accepted fault but the dispute was over.

No settlement figure was revealed but whatever payment was made to Lowe, it was indicated that Scott had made no contribution to it.

Rowe was arrested in connection with the case in September 2000 but claimed the case against him was based on suspicions from one report written by auditors that were never properly investigated or ever amounted to a real case against him. In his suit he had stated that he had lost millions of dollars as a result of the case based almost entirely on a report accusing him of misconduct that he said was based on no material evidence but merely the suspicions of the auditors.

Lowe had also claimed that Scott, Cleaver and Fogerty owed a fiduciary duty to keep the promissory notes and other assets seized from him as a result of the case safe until he was in a position to get them back, but he had claimed in his writ that they did not do so.

“The defendants acted recklessly and irresponsibly in surrendering the said promissory notes,” he said, stating that his assets were never returned to him.

The Cash4Titles fraud case, which related to a US-based business that gave small short term loans based on the security of their car titles, was revealed to be a Ponzi scheme after the investors were found guilty in the US of diverting funds.

Rowe, who was an investor in the company, was originally charged in connection with the case with assisting another to retain the benefit of the proceeds of criminal conduct.
This settlement applies only to the auditors and CNS understands that Rowe’s dispute with the Cayman Islands Government has not yet been resolved.

Full statement re the settlement as follows:

"Lewis Rowe, Dan Scott, G. James Cleaver, and Richard Fogerty have reached a settlement ending all legal disputes between the parties. The settlement provides for no admission of fault by any party, the dismissal of Mr. Rowe’s claim filed in February 2011 against Messrs. Scott, Cleaver and Fogerty, the dismissal of the claim filed by Messrs. Cleaver and Fogerty against Mr. Rowe in 2005, the dismissal of Mr. Rowe’s counter-claim filed in response to the 2005 claim, and the mutual release of all other claims which may otherwise arise in future. Mr. Scott did not contribute to the settlement."

Read related story here

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Land owner has no knowledge of 3rd port proposal

| 30/01/2012 | 9 Comments

cruise ship beautiful.jpg(CNS): According to representatives of the local company that owns the land at Pageant Beach, the owner was very surprised to read the CNS article on 12 January about a proposal from a local consortium to develop a port on its property. CNS has learnt from the representatives of the owner that, until it read the article, it was unaware of any proposal to develop a port on its property and that since the article was published, it has not been approached by anyone regarding the development of a port on its property.  Representatives of the owner also stated that the property is not currently for sale.     

Government has not made any comment regarding the third alternative cruise port proposal, which it received from the local consortium last month.

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Cohen link in GAB sale plan

| 30/01/2012 | 42 Comments

government building.JPG(CNS): During efforts to sell the Government Office Accommodation Building in 2010, the Central Tenders Committee refused to act outside of the law following a request by the premier to enter into a deal with a Texas based firm. According to leaked letters between the premier and the committee as well as the release of minutes from a CTC meeting, at least three firms were in the running to buy government’s new office block. Expressions of interest, which were opened on 26 February 2010, revealed that McAlpine and local property brokers IRG in conjunction with Banque Havilland had responded to government’s offer to sell. But a week before the deadline the premier had asked the CTC to dispose of the process and agree to selling the building to an affiliate of Cohen and Co.

Strategos Realty Capital LLC, a real estate investment firm, is, according to its main website, an affiliate of Cohen and Co, the New York financing company that the premier selected later that year to provide government with a loan for the 2010/11 financial year.

The controversial deal eventually fell through, however, as the firm was not able to supply the rates as originally stated, but not before it had arranged two short term loans, one of which came through Banque Havilland, which, according to minutes from the CTC, had also made a bid on the Government Office Accommodation Project (GOAP) in partnership with IRG.

Strategos appears to have made an offer directly to Premier McKeeva Bush, who wrote in a letter to the CTC that they provided the best possibility for completing the sale in the timeframe needed by government.

At the time government was facing a major cash flow problem and was anticipating a deficit of some $25 million. Bush told the CTC that he had to act quickly and going with Strategos would present not only the best value for money but that they would be able to execute what he describes as a complex transaction within the timeframe. “We are very much pressed for time and we have grave concerns that if we do not act immediately to secure a purchaser for the GOAP we will not meet our budget deadlines,” the premier wrote to the CTC as he asked them to recommend the company.

The letter was sent to CTC on 18 February 2010, just one week before the CTC met to open the expressions of interest (EOI) that had been received in response to a request for proposals, which had been advertised in the local press a few weeks before.

Asking for the CTC’s blessing to circumvent the process, Bush said there was a genuine risk that if the GOAP sale did not occur by 30 April 2010, there would not be enough money in government to pay its bills, “… a consequence of which could be massive ‘lay-offs’ of Civil Servants. I also need to make it abundantly clear that the solution to this situation does not involve introducing income tax and property tax in the Cayman Islands,” the premier wrote.

Emphasising his point in bold capital letters, he added, “The Government that I led (sic) WILL NOT INTRODUCE PROPERTY TAX NOR WILL IT INTRODUCE INCOME TAX, in the Cayman Islands.”

He admitted that the disadvantages of the CTC recommending government appoint Strategos to sell the GOAP was that the transaction would not follow the normal protocol and would require special approval by Cabinet as well as an upfront cost to government of 3% on the sale price.

“However we feel this is justifiable because at this late stage CIG need to hire the best that will bring the quality and depth of expertise needed to complete the project in the timeline required and the Strategos’ structure will more than pay for itself given the significant savings it would yield over the lease term,” Bush wrote, as he implored the CTC to make the recommendation.

However, in a short response to the premier the CTC chair informed Bush that the committee had no legal authority to do what he asked.  He said the committee had met and discussed the premier’s letter and while they understood the importance and potential ramifications, it could not find any legal authority on which the CTC could approve the Bush’s proposal.

“The CTC stands ready to assist the government in anyway it can. However, in doing so the committee cannot exercise powers not conferred to it by law and must preserve the integrity and spirit of the process for which it is charged,” Chairman Ronnie Dunn wrote.

The CTC went on to hold a meeting at which it opened the expressions of interest that had been received through the proper channels after government had announced its intention to sell and lease back its new building.

According to the minutes released by the Ministry of Finance in response to a freedom of information request submitted by CNS, at 1pm on 26 February McAlpine, the contractor on the building, expressed an interest in buying the building, as did IRG in partnership with the bank which the firm said it owns and operates. Although the minutes reveal this to be “Bank Aviland”, CNS understands that this is a spelling error and it should have read “Banque Havilland”, the same bank that had supplied one of the short term loans via the Cohen deal.

The owners of the bank are also the owners of a jet on which the premier returned to the Cayman Islands on New Year’s Eve 2010 aftera trip to the Bahamas. Bush revealed during a Public Accounts Committee hearing last year that the trip had not cost the public purse anything, but more than one year after the flight the premier has not recorded it in the Register of Interests.

CNS has made a full freedom of information request regarding correspondence and documents surrounding the proposed sale of the GOAB, which was originally made in October but has encountered some difficulties in getting a response from the office. So far, the only documents that have been released are the redacted minutes as posted below.

However, CNS is continuing to pursue the FOI request.

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Food poisoning outbreak at Taste of Cayman

| 30/01/2012 | 105 Comments

278093-10118-4 (227x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Updated 2pm —  Government officials have confirmed that at least 20 people may have been brought down with food poisoning just hours after attending this year’s Taste of Cayman event at Camana Bay on Saturday evening. Patients began arriving at the Cayman Islands hospital after attending the food festival complaining of diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps from around midnight on Saturday night. Dr Kiran Kumar said the food poisoning symptoms came 4 to 6 hours after consumption of food at the event. Based on the symptoms, the public health boss said this pointed to staphylococcal, an organism that is widely prevalent, which multiplies and produces toxin.

Officials have not yet been able to trace the source of the bug but Dr Kumar said tests could be done on leftover suspected food. "The suspected food or foods involved will be based on a common thread of usage by the patients," he said.  "It is difficult to pinpoint due to many persons who ate specific food and did not get sick and people who have eaten at many vendors."

It is understood that most of the patients recovered quickly and were released from hospital without any further adverse consequences.

Public health officials said several more people are understood to have taken ill but they did not seek treatment or attended private surgeries. One confirmed case was also reported at the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital.

Anyone who believes they were sick on Saturday night-Sunday morning as a result of food eaten at the event but who has not sought medical attention is asked to contact  the Public Health Department's Surveillance Officer at timothy.mclaughlin@hsa.ky or call on 244-2651 or 244-221 to help the department get full picture of the symptoms and foods eaten.

CNS has also contacted the Department of Environmental Health to ascertain how food safety and hygiene standards are managed at the event and is awaiting a response.

The annual food extravaganza organized by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association attracted more than 5,000 people this year and was the biggest in the event's history.

CITA Executive Director, Jane van der Bol, said over 43 food and beverage vendors attended and it was unfortunate to hear that people were reported with food poison symptoms.

"The CITA is actively working with the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) and the Health Services Authority (HSA) to investigate further the cause of the food poisoning. The CITA is also pro-actively working with the DEH and HSA on creating improved food handling procedures for all future outdoor events in Cayman that offer food and beverage services," she added.

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Pancakes recalled over possible soy contamination

| 30/01/2012 | 2 Comments

DSC_0098.jpg(CNS): Pinnacle Foods Group which manufactures Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes has issued a voluntary recall after the firm discovered the possibility of a potential cross-contact with product that contained soy protein. Although there have been no reports of illness as a result in consultation with the US Food and Drug administration the products have been called back. The recall applies to 'Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes' packaged in cardboard cartons (UPC codes below) which were sold and distributed nationally, with a ‘recommended use by date’ between 1 November last year up to and including 16 October of this.

The date can be found in the white box on the end of the carton.

Retail UPC Code  and descriptions of pulled product

19600-05100 AUNT JEMIMA PANCAKES BUTTERMILK LOW FAT 12/14.5oz
19600-05490 AUNT JEMIMA OATMEAL PANCAKES 12/14.8oz
19600-05820 AUNT JEMIMA PANCAKES BUTTERMILK 12/14.8oz
19600-05910 AUNT JEMIMA PANCAKES HOMESTYLE 12/14.8oz
19600-05955 AUNT JEMIMA CONFETTI PANCAKES 12/14.8oz
19600-06040 AUNT JEMIMA WHOLE GRAIN PANCAKES 12/14.5oz

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