.

Friday, May 12, 2006

 

The Spies Who Shag Us

The Times and USA Today have Missed the Bigger Story -- Again

by Greg Palast

I know your shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that George Bush is listening in on all your phone calls. Without a warrant. That’s nothing. And it’s not news.

This is: the snooping into your phone bill is just the snout of the pig of a strange, lucrative link-up between the Administration’s Homeland Security spy network and private companies operating beyond the reach of the laws meant to protect us from our government. You can call it the privatization of the FBI -- though it is better described as the creation of a private KGB.

The leader in the field of what is called “data mining,” is a company, formed , called, “ChoicePoint, Inc,” which has sucked up over a billion dollars in national security contracts.

Worried about Dick Cheney listening in Sunday on your call to Mom? That ain’t nothing. You should be more concerned that they are linking this info to your medical records, your bill purchases and your entire personal profile including, not incidentally, your voting registration. Five years ago, I discovered that ChoicePoint had already gathered 16 billion data files on Americans -- and I know they’ve expanded their ops at an explosive rate.

They are paid to keep an eye on you -- because the FBI can’t. For the government to collect this stuff is against the law unless you’re suspected of a crime. (The law in question is the Constitution.) But ChoicePoint can collect if for “commercial” purchases -- and under the Bush Administration’s suspect reading of the Patriot Act -- our domestic spying apparatchiks can then BUY the info from ChoicePoint.

Who ARE these guys selling George Bush a piece of you?

ChoicePoint’s board has more Republicans than a Palm Beach country club. It was funded, and its board stocked, by such Republican sugar daddies as billionaires Bernie Marcus and Ken Langone -- even after Langone was charged by the Securities Exchange Commission with abuse of inside information.

HERE is the rest.

 

Cosmic Justice, Perhaps?

Stalker Rap vs. Bubba Prober

By JOE McGURK


May 12, 2006 -- The former prosecutor who negotiated the deal that kept President Bill Clinton from being indicted in the probe of his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky has been charged with stalking an ex-girlfriend, a law enforcement official said.

Robert Ray surrendered to cops last night after Manhattan resident Tracy Loughlin, 40, filed a complaint.
"She tried to end it four months ago, but he kept calling her, sending her e-mails and showing up at places he knew she would be," the official said.
Ray, 46, was charged with fourth-degree stalking, given a desk-appearance ticket and freed.
Loughlin, a shapely redhead who works in magazine promotions, was in the news in January 2005 when she jumped into the East River to save her dog, Cho.
A group of concerned strangers then pitched in to help haul both to safety.
Ray succeeded Independent Counsel Ken Starr in the probe of the Clintons' failed Whitewater real estate investment. President Clinton also had faced possible perjury and obstruction of justice charges over his affair with Lewinsky.
Ray is now in private practice and lives in Long Branch, N.J.


http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/63642.htm

Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

NSA Has Massive Database Of Americans’ Phone Calls

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.


“It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA’s activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency’s goal is “to create a database of every call ever made” within the nation’s borders, this person added.
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

Read it all HERE.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

DH: Dems elect Pettit new county chair Wednesday

Abilene, May 10 -- Taylor County Democrats were set to elect a new county chair at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at party headquarters at 453 Pine Street in Abilene, outgoing chair Dave Haigler said.
 
Taylor County Democratic Club President Roger Spier, M.D., announced an interview committee composed of Allen Glenn, Stan Treanor, Bill Dulin, John Pettit and Dr. Spier himself.
 
"I appreciate the work of the committee," Dr. Spier said.  "They have interviewed some quality candidates, and the candidate to emerge from the nominating process is John Pettit (shown below right helping with the party road cleanup project).  John is a dedicated, articulate Democrat who is well informed on events and issues."
 
John PettitThe Election Code and Democratic Party rules provide that the party County Executive Committee elect a new county chair and precinct chairs when there are vacancies. 
 
"John Pettit has been there for us," outgoing chair Dave Haigler said.  "He's been there when we did our road cleanup.  He has not let an injured back stop him.  He's been involved in the Book Club.  He's been there when we supported the peace protest with Cindy Sheehan in Crawford last summer.  He's served on committees.  He has been nominated to serve on the State Resolutions Committee at the party state convention in June.  I have every confidence in John," Haigler continued.
 
DH rebuts Bush SOTU speechHaigler (shown at left at an Everman Park rally) has served as county chair since March 15, 2004, when former chair Bobby Clark resigned early, and into the 2008 term, which began May 1, 2006.  He is resigning to become a federal administrative law judge, effective May 14, assigned to the Dallas Region of the Social Security Office of Hearings & Appeals.  He will be attending 3 weeks of training in Shreveport beginning May 15, then 4 weeks of training in Baltimore. 
 
"Becky & I will miss our good friends in Abilene," Haigler said.  "And it's been fun being county chair.  But being an ALJ is something I've wanted for 12 years and this is an opportunity not to be missed.  As we leave Abilene tomorrow, it's good to know that the party is in good hands,"  Haigler continued. 
 
"I am excited about becoming county chair," Pettit said.  "My wife Kaye wants me to do it, and my friends have encouraged me to do it."
 
Current members of the Democratic County Executive Committee are Haigler as county chair, and precinct chairs Lara Carlin, Stan Treanor, Carroll Chapman, Peggy McConnell, Sharon Norman (secretary), Allen Glenn, Maria Velasquez, Alice M. Spier, Robin Burrow, David Dillman, David Crymes, Lois Rockefeller, and Royse L. Kerr.  In addition, Anna Vedro serves as the party treasurer. 
 
Contact:  Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
email through 5/10:
LawMed@Haigler.Clearwire.net
after May 10: Dave@Haigler.Info
325 677-4343 - office
325 829-5959 - cell

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

NYT: Frist postures over losing vote to cap malpractice awards at $250K

WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Monday once again rebuffed a Republican effort to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases, taking the issue -- a high priority for both President Bush and the Majority Leader, Senator Bill Frist, below right, -- off the agenda for this year.

Sen. Bill FristIn back-to-back votes, Republicans fell far short of the 60 senators necessary to proceed on two malpractice-related measures. The first would have capped jury awards in all lawsuits against doctors and health care institutions; the second would have applied caps only to cases involving obstetricians, who have been especially hard-hit by malpractice rates.

Three Republicans -- Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Michael D. Crapo of Wyoming and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama -- joined with Democrats in blocking the measures from consideration. It was the fourth time in the past three years that Republicans had tried, and failed, to bring medical malpractice legislation to a vote in the Senate.

"Health care dollars should be spent on patients, and not on lawyers who are abusing the system," Mr. Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, said in introducing the bills.

Minority Leader, Sen. Harry ReidMr. Frist's Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, left, branded the effort "a waste of the Senate's time."

Mr. Frist and other supporters of revamping malpractice law, including the American Medical Association, have argued for years that rising insurance rates, fueled by skyrocketing jury awards, are driving doctors out of business and compromising patient care.

The Senate gallery was filled with white-coated health professionals who joined Republicans at an afternoon news conference and then watched Monday's votes.

The bills would have limited payments by individual doctors to $250,000 in malpractice cases and capped payments by health care institutions at $250,000. In cases that involved more than one institution, the total maximum jury award would have been $750,000.

Opponents of the measures, including Democrats and the association representing plaintiff's lawyers, said the bills would strip patients of their right to seek redress in court. They cited studies attributing the increase in malpractice rates to insurance company practices, not lawsuits.

"The explanation for these premium spikes can be found not in legislative halls or courtrooms, but in the boardrooms," said one Democratic opponent, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, below right, of Massachusetts.

Sen. Ted KennedyIn a sense, the votes had more to do with politics than policy. Mr. Frist knew going into the debate that the measures were likely to be blocked but wanted to put Democrats on record before the midterm elections in November. After the votes, he issued a news release headlined "Frist Denounces Democrat Obstruction of Medical Liability Reform."

Source: NY Times.


 

USN&WR: Local intelligence officials spy on citizens

U.S. News & World Report has identified nearly a dozen cases in which city and county police, in the name of homeland security, have surveilled or harassed animal-rights and antiwar protesters, union activists, and even library patrons surfing the Web. Unlike with Washington's warrantless domestic surveillance program, little attention has been focused on the role of state and local authorities in the war on terrorism. A U.S. News inquiry found that federal officials have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into once discredited state and local police intelligence operations. Millions more have gone into building up regional law enforcement databases to unprecedented levels. In dozens of interviews, officials across the nation have stressed that the enhanced intelligence work is vital to the nation's security, but even its biggest boosters worry about a lack of training and standards. "This is going to be the challenge," says Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, "to ensure that while getting bin Laden we don't transgress over the law. We've been burned so badly in the past--we can't do that again."

Full US News & World Report feature.

 

AP: Iran president blasts US policy in letter to Bush - May 9

By NICK WADHAMS and ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writers -- Monday, 27 minutes ago

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, visits press fair, as he is accompanied by his Culture Minister Mohammad Hosein Saffar Harandi, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 8, 2006. The Iranian president wrote to President Bush proposing 'new solutions' to turn around Tehran's plummeting relationship with the United States and other Western powers  a move announced Monday and apparently timed to blunt U.S. determination for a U.N. Security Council vote this week that could lead to punishing sanctions against the Islamic regime. (AP Photo/Rouzbeh Jadidoleslam, Mehr News)NEW YORK - Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, declared in a letter to President Bush that democracy had failed worldwide and lamented "an ever-increasing global hatred" of the U.S. government. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice swiftly rejected the letter, saying it made no progress toward resolving questions about Tehran's suspect nuclear program.

"This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort," Rice said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."

Rice's comments were the most detailed response from the United States to the letter, the first from an Iranian head of state to an American president since the 1979 hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made only an oblique reference to Iran's nuclear intentions. It asked why "any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime."

Otherwise, it lambasted Bush for his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, accused the media of spreading lies about the Iraq war and railed against the United States for its support of Israel. It questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty.

"Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger?" the letter said. "And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever-increasing global hatred of the American government?

Iran's top nuclear negotiator called the surprise letter a new "diplomatic opening" between the two countries, but Rice said it failed to resolve the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program -- the focus of intense U.N. Security Council debate this week. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush had been briefed on the letter, which the White House received Monday through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

"There's nothing in here that would suggest that we're on any different course than we were before we got the letter," Rice said.

Even though the letter hardly touched on nuclear issues, officials said it appeared timed with a push by the United States, Britain, France and Germany for a Security Council vote to restrain the Islamic regime's nuclear ambitions. Both China and Russia are opposed to leveling sanctions against Iran and the letter could provide them support.

The United States is concerned that Iran's program is a cover for making nuclear weapons, while Iran contends it has the right to process uranium as fuel in nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

In the letter, Ahmadinejad says that people around the world have lost faith in international institutions and questions whether the Bush administration has covered up some evidence surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks.

Liberalism and Western-style democracy "have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity," said the letter, obtained late Monday by The Associated Press. "Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems."

The Iranian government spokesman who disclosed the communication did not mention the nuclear standoff and said the missive spoke to the larger U.S.-Iranian conflict. Gholam-Hossein Elham said the letter proposed "new solutions for getting out of international problems and the current fragile situation of the world."

Yet the document makes no concrete proposals and does not suggest new talks. Instead, Ahmadinejad suggests that Bush should look inward, saying there was an increasing hatred worldwide of the United States, and that history shows how "repressive and cruel governments do not survive."

"How much longer will the blood of the innocent men, women and children be spilled on the streets, and people's houses destroyed over their heads? Are you pleased with the current condition of the world? Do you think present policies can continue?"

In Turkey, Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, said the Iranians were looking for a positive response but would be patient.

"Perhaps it could lead to a new diplomatic opening. It needs to be given some time," Larijani said in a television interview.

Ahmadinejad travels Tuesday to Indonesia, which has expressed support for nuclear energy development but opposition to nuclear weapons.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Posted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas. Note from Dave: This may well be my last post here, as I am becoming a judge on May 14 and judges are not permitted to participate in political organizations. Best wishes to you all. You may write me at 3575 Beltline Rd. #343, Irving, Tx 75062, or fax 888 221-0362.
email through 5/10: LawMed@Haigler.Clearwire.net.
after May 10:
Judge@Haigler.Info.


http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Monday, May 08, 2006

 

AP: US Claims to Bars Use of Torture in Interrogations - May 8

By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer -- Monday, May 8, 9:58 PM ET

GENEVA - The U.S. government told a U.N. watchdog Monday that all American officials — including intelligence agents — are barred from using torture in interrogating terror suspects and other prisoners, according to John Bellinger III, right, head of the US-Delegation and Legal Adviser of the U.S. State Department.

American officials acknowledged, however, that there had been past mistreatment of detainees, and members of the U.N. panel expressed concern about how the United States defines torture as well as the U.S. delegation's refusal to give details about interrogation techniques used by the CIA.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

 

MMfA: Krauthammer likens CIA officers, who tell the truth about administration policy, to Islamic terrorists

Says Goss was "trying to deal with the jihadists inside" the CIA

During the "All-Star Panel" segment of the May 5 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, nationally syndicated [rightwing] columnist Charles Krauthammer, left, said that former CIA director Porter Goss, who had resigned earlier that day, had been "trying to deal with the jihadists inside the agency." Krauthammer explained that the CIA "jihadists" are "the people who consider themselves the loyal opposition, which really is the role of Congress, but who oppose administration policy, had been leaking, and had been trying to undermine and obstruct administration initiatives."

Full Media Matters for America story.

 

AP: Blair says nuking Iran absurd

Associated Press, Monday, 1 hour, 1 minute ago

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Blair visit the polling station in Westminster, London, to vote in the local council elections, Thursday May, 4, 2006. Voting has begun for over 4,000 English council seats in the local elections.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair, at right with his wife Cherie, says that any consideration of a nuclear attack against Iran would be "absolutely absurd," and said the issue had no bearing on his decision to demote his foreign secretary.

Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, had described alleged U.S. contingency plans for a tactical nuclear strike against Iran as "completely nuts."

Blair previously had avoided any condemnation of the idea and defended the right of President Bush to hold all options in reserve in the showdown over Iran's nuclear program.

Some analysts believed that differences over Iran led to Blair's decision on Friday to move Straw to the less-exalted position of leader of the House of Commons.

Asked at a news conference whether he shared Straw's view of any thought of a nuclear strike, Blair said: "I don't know anybody who has even talked or contemplated the prospect of a nuclear strike in Iran and that would be absolutely absurd, which may be a different way of saying what you have just quoted to me.

"But it (Straw's reassignment) has got nothing to do with that. Look, in the end I'm afraid as prime minister you do reshuffle your Cabinet from time to time."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP: Bush ignores objections, bulls ahead on general's nomination for CIA

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer -- Monday, 7 minutes ago

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, gestures during an address at the National Press Club in Washington, in this Monday, Jan. 23, 2006 file photo. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)WASHINGTON - Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, left, will be named as the next chief of the CIA, President Bush's national security adviser said Monday, and the White House began battling back against criticism that a military officer would lead the civilian spy agency.

"Mike Hayden is the president's nominee to be the director of the CIA," national security adviser Stephen Hadley said on NBC's "Today" show. "The president believes he is the right person at the right time in the right job, when the Senate confirms him, and we certainly hope it will and will do so promptly."

Recognizing concerns about military leadership of the CIA, a civilian agency, the White House plans to move aside the agency's No. 2 official, Vice Admiral Albert Calland III, who took over as deputy director less than a year ago. Other personnel changes also are likely, a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the changes are not ready to announce.

Hadley made the rounds of morning television shows to defend Hayden's selection. "This is a man who has broad experience in the intelligence business," he said.

He said flatly on NBC that Hayden was the choice, although for the most part Hadley talked in terms of defending Hayden as if the nomination already had been announced.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett said it was not unprecedented for a military officer to run the CIA and that Hayden would be the fifth CIA chief in uniform. "He has been viewed as a non-comformist and an independent thinker," Bartlett said.

"This is really nothing new ... so there's precedent for it," Hadley said on CBS's "The Early Show." "We don't see any reason to break the precedent. ... The question is not military versus civilian. The question is the best person to do the job."

Asked to what extent a Hayden nomination would get caught up in the controversy over domestic spying by the National Security Agency, Hadley replied, that "any nominee to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency would be asked to answer these questions, and who better to answer these questions than Michael Hayden, who has been overseeing this process and is very conversant with it."

Nevertheless, Hayden's elevation to the CIA helm was running into criticism from members of Congress who voiced concern that a military officer would lead the civilian spy agency.

"I do believe he's the wrong person, the wrong place, at the wrong time," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said on "Fox News Sunday." "We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time."

Hoekstra said having a general in charge of the CIA could create the impression among agents around the world that the agency is under Pentagon control, at a time when the Defense Department and CIA have "ongoing tensions."

If Hayden were nominated and confirmed, military officers would run all the major spy agencies, from the ultra-secret National Security Agency to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Hoekstra's sentiment was echoed by Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who said Hayden's military background would be a "major problem," and several Democrats who made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), D-Del., said Hayden could leave agents with the impression that the CIA has been "just gobbled up by the Defense Department."

Some lawmakers, like Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record) of California, suggested that he might think about resigning his military post if he were going to head the CIA. But Hoekstra and Chambliss were among those who said that wouldn't solve the problem.

"Just resigning commission and moving on, putting on a striped suit, a pinstriped suit versus an Air Force uniform, I don't think makes much difference," Chambliss said on ABC's "This Week."

Talk of Hayden's possible nomination has reignited the debate over the Bush's administration's domestic surveillance program, which Hayden used to oversee as the former head of the National Security Agency.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would use a Hayden nomination to raise questions about the legality of the program and did not rule out holding it up until he gets answers. "I'm not going to draw any lines in the sand until I see how the facts evolve," Specter said on Fox.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

RNZ: Iraq arrests general over death squads - minister

08 May 2006 -- Reuters, New Zealand
BAGHDAD: Iraq's interior minister said his police had arrested a general in the ministry on suspicion of involvement in kidnaps and death squads.

Bayan Jabor, left, who is fighting to keep his job in a new government in the face of criticism that he has tolerated Shi'ite militias inside his ministry, made the announcement in an interview on Al Jazeera television.

"We have arrested an officer, a major general . . . along with 17 people who kidnapped citizens and in some cases killed them. He is now in jail and under investigation," he said.

"We also found a terror group in the 16th brigade that carries out killings of citizens," he added.

It was not clear when the arrest was made or whether the case was related to arrests of army and police officers announced previously in the last few weeks.

Jabor's Shi'ite Islamist Alliance bloc is pushing for him to keep his post in a new national unity government being formed under Alliance Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki, negotiators say.

But minority Sunni Arabs enraged by sectarian killings, some conducted by men in uniform, are demanding Jabor's resignation.

The US ambassador, a key player in the negotiations, has made no secret of the fact that Washington would prefer a new face to lead the ministry.

Source: Reuters, New Zealand.  Second source:  Toronto Globe & Mail


Sunday, May 07, 2006

 

AP: Iran Threatens to Quit Nuclear Treaty - May 7

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer -- Sunday, 1 hour, 36 minutes ago

TEHRAN, Iran - The Iranian parliament threatened Sunday to force the government to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if the United States continues pressuring Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.

John Bolton, United States Ambassador to the U.N., talks to the media after an informal meeting of the members of U.N. Security Council at the offices of the British Mission to United Nations in New York to discuss the Iranian nuclear program Saturday, May 6, 2006.  (AP Photo/David Karp)John Bolton, United States Ambassador to the U.N., right, talks to the media after an informal meeting of the members of U.N. Security Council at the offices of the British Mission to United Nations in New York to discuss the Iranian nuclear program Saturday. (AP Photo/David Karp)

In a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan read on state-run radio, the lawmakers said they would consider forcing the withdrawal if "the U.N. Secretary General and other members of the U.N. Security Council fail in their crucial responsibility to resolve differences peacefully."

The legislators said they would have no choice but to "review Article 10 of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty." The article allows signatories to pull out of the treaty if they decide that extraordinary events have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. A withdrawing nation must give fellow treaty signers and the U.N. three months notice and detail the events that have forced the decision to pullout of the agreement.

North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003 on that basis.

Ambassador Bolton dismissed the threat and said it would not deter Western nations trying to push through a new U.N. Security Council resolution to demand Iran stop uranium enrichment.

"This is a typical Iranian threat. It shows they remain desperate to conceal that their nuclear program is in fact a weapons program," he said. "I'm confident that these statements from Iran will not deter the sponsors of the draft resolution from proceeding in the Security Council."

Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also said the country might reconsider its membership in the NPT if pressure continues.

"If a signature on an international treaty causes the rights of a nation be violated, that nation will reconsider its decision and that treaty will be invalid," Ahmadinejad said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

"If they (the U.S. and its allies) want to make incorrect decisions against Iran and issue statements and resolutions, they have to know that the Iranian nation will smash their illegitimate resolutions against a wall," he added.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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