« January 2005 |
| March 2005 »
Russia mulls PA arms sale
Russia is considering selling ‘military equipment’ to the Palestinian Authority. Developing....
Responding to coverage
How’s this for a response to coverage? Al-Arabiya TV’s Beirut staff received death threats from Syrian intelligence officials after the network aired an interview with Kofi Annan calling on Syrian forces to withdraw from Lebanon.
In the National Review, Ilan Berman takes note of Moscow's recent assertiveness in the Mideast in a way that Israel and the US can no longer ignore. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been drawing up arms sales with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, selling nuclear technology to Iran, and is taking on a greater profile in the Palestinian conflict. Last month, Mahmoud Abbas (pictured with Putin) paid his first state visit outside the Mideast to Russia. What's Putin's agenda?
Moscow's renewed maneuvers in the Middle East have everything to do with ideology. Over the past year, Putin's increasingly authoritarian governing style has succeeded in eliminating any semblance of serious domestic opposition to the Kremlin, giving the Russian president virtual carte blanche to formulate foreign and defense policy. Worse still, this growing political mandate has been mirrored by the revival of unhealthy notions of Russian greatness and geopolitical opposition to the United States.
(Hat tip: Daily Alert)
Responses to the bombing
Four Israelis were killed and dozens injured when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to a Tel Aviv nightclub on Friday night.
At this point, Syrian-based Islamic Jihad seems the likely culprit, though the PA prefers to suggest Hizbollah is responsible. Sharon says:
The immediate test for the Palestinian Authority will be in vigorous action against Islamic Jihad members.
* Would someone please get The Observer's David Aaronovich an editor?
* 'White House urges 'immediate' Palestinian response to bombing' (AFP)
* If this is true, it signals some kind of advancement: 'Palestinians Angry Over Tel Aviv Attack'
In contrast to the dozens of previous suicide bombings, no celebrations were held in the West Bank on Saturday and militant groups didn't hang the customary posters of congratulations at the bomber's home.
Though YNet reported:
Fatah and Islamic Jihad members fired shots in the air in celebration following the attack.
* Don't miss this from AP:
Israeli military officials said Sunday they received information a month ago that the cell behind Friday’s bombing was planning an attack and passed it along to Palestinian officials, who did nothing.
Argentina's mea culpa
The JTA reports that the Argentinian government is going to admit mishandling the investigation into the July 1994 bombing of the Jewish community headquarters, and apologize for covering up and destroying critical evidence. The attack on the AMIA building killed 85 and wounded 300. In addition to an apology, secret files from the Argentinian intelligence service, SIDE, will also be turned over to prosecutors.
“This is unprecedented,” AMIA President Abraham Kaul told JTA on Friday. “This is the first time in history that any country will declare itself guilty for not having investigated a terrorist attack properly. They’re also going to blame the ex-president for covering up.”
The apology comes as Argentina revamps its security services and terror laws.
Beyond the Margins
The latest HonestReporting communique has just been released: 'Beyond the Margins'
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Today's recommended reading
* It’s Almost Supernatural features maps of final status borders Arafat rejected at Camp David. The maps — from a Dennis Ross' recent book — clearly disprove claims that the Palestinians were only offered disconnected 'cantons' at that crucial summit.
* LGF notes a controversy in the YWCA about an organizational statement comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
* The Times of London reports that 140 Syrian intellectuals and human rights activists have risked jail to sign an open letter urging the withdrawal of troops from Lebanon.
France bans Iranian TV
Memri reports that France banned Iran’s Shahar TV Network for broadcasting anti-Semitic programming. Two shows specifically cited were ‘Al-Shatat’ and ‘Zahra’s Blue Eyes.’ The former portrays a blood libel, while the latter claims Israelis kidnap Palestinian children to harvest their organs. The ban goes into effect in March. Iran reacted to the ban with displeasure.
Insist on a fair press
Evelyn Gordon has a very good article in the JPost on the question of journalistic accountibility. Recalling misrepresentations of Israel in the local and worldwide media, Gordon laments the fact that the Eason Jordan and Dan Rather resignations could only happen in the U.S., where the public truly demands integrity from its journalists:
The quality of information disseminated by the world's media would undoubtedly improve if more media outlets adopted American standards of accountability. But that will only happen when other countries' citizens start emulating their American counterparts -- by insisting on it.
The Mideast thaw has another nice side-effect. American colleges may begin to allow their students to study in Israel and continue receive credit. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is resuming a program with Hebrew U. Hopefully, this Badger Herald editorial indicates a positive trend in academia.
Disproving the 'cycle theory'
In today's LA Times, Jonathan Chait recognizes that Israel's tough tactics over the past few years simply worked -- to bring a state of calm and the potential for peacemaking:
Three years ago, Israel faced near-daily suicide bombings. Prime Minister Sharon responded by hastening construction of a security fence and launching a military crackdown in the West Bank and Gaza. Sharon also refused to negotiate with Arafat. The idea that harsh Israeli counter-terrorist measures must inevitably backfire is rooted in the view that the Middle East conflict is a "cycle of violence." According to this theory, Palestinians attack Israelis because Israeli repression makes them desperate and angry. Yet the last Palestinian uprising began as a response not to excessive Israeli strength but to a perception of Israeli weakness.
Bell episode takes 'surreal turn'
After Scottish cleric John Bell (pictured) and the BBC both apologized for a BBC Radio 'Thought for the Day' session in which Bell accused the IDF of deliberately shooting at 'unarmed [Palestinian] schoolchildren', we thought the issue was closed. But one of Bell's colleagues won't let it die.
In a letter to the editor published in The (Scotland) Herald, Church of Scotland official Sandy Gemmill compares Bell to none other than... Jesus! Writes Gemmill:
‘Two thousand years ago there was a man in Israel who used such uncorroborated tales of Samaritans, servants, agricultural workers, sheep, weddings and the like to illustrate various controversial points. Clearly the passage of time has not dampened the enthusiasm of the Israeli authorities to speak out against such tales and take action to suppress apparent lies …Unfortunately, any criticism of the Israeli government is now taken as being anti-Semitic…The term should not be used to deflect unfavourable comments about the way that governments abuse their powers. The Israeli government is no different from those in authority in, for example, Great Britain and the United States. Governments are like monoliths in exercising power on behalf of the people and from time to time must be reminded of the need to see beyond their own self-centred interests to those of the human race. If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army, real or imaginary, can aid that process then that should be applauded.’
Melanie Phillips responds to what she calls this 'surreal and sinister turn' in this story:
So faced with a libel perpetrated against the Jews, Gemmill concludes that the Jews who are protesting are trying to suppress the truth and crucify the perpetrator, just like he thinks they did to Jesus! One is aghast at this calumny piled upon calumny, at the anti-Jewish prejudice that is here revealed and at the brazen revelation of the ancient theological underpinning of this prejudice. Gemmill assumes that what Bell said was true, even though there is not a shred of evidence for it and even though his account contained two demonstrable errors of fact which should surely give any rational person grounds for suspecting that the whole thing was a farrago of nonsense.
Israeli popularity in US
A new Gallup poll shows most Americans view Israel quite favorably, and the Palestinian Authority most unfavorably. Michael Freund comments:
What is truly extraordinary about the results is the fact that despite the widespread bias of the mainstream media, the overwhelming majority of Americans still side with Israel. It is almost as if the steady diet of anti-Israel propaganda being fed to the American public by various media outlets has little, if any, real impact on their world-view.
New Dura video questions raised
When France 2 invited two independent journalists to view previously unreleased, raw footage of the death of Mohammed al-Dura, the network sought to bolster the credibility of the controversial video. Instead, the veracity of the original France 2 report -- blaming the IDF for al Dura's death -- continues to crumble.
Continue reading "New Dura video questions raised"
Freed prisoner returned to terror
The Jerusalem Post reports that one of the terrorists killed in last week’s attempted infiltration of the Bracha settlement was Atsem Mansour, released by Israel in last year’s Hezbollah prisoner swap.
YNet in English
It's here... well, in Beta version at least: YNet in English
Here's an introduction to the news site from editor Alan Abbey.
Blame game redux
Until now, accusations that Israel assassinated Rafik Hariri only came from Syrian officials. Now, the first example of the Western media echoing the insinuation comes from Toronto Sun columnist Eric Margolis (pictured).
Israel is determined to get revenge on Hezbollah, which defeated its attempts to turn Lebanon into an Israeli protectorate and drove Israeli occupation forces from Lebanon -- a small but vicious war this writer saw firsthand.
Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's rightist Likud Party may be renewing previous efforts to bring Lebanon back into Israel's sphere of influence. For the past quarter century, Syria and Israel have waged a dirty war of bombings and assassinations to dominate Lebanon and Jordan.
Just last week, Margolis suggested that Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat too.
Media platform for hate?
When the relatives of suicide bombers lament that more Jews weren’t killed, are the reporters quoting them involved in incitement? Turkish authorities think so. After Al-Qaeda attacks on Istanbul synagogues in 2003, reporter Elif Korap interviewed one bomber’s family.
“We were more sorry than we were pleased about the attacks because Muslims died," Nurullah Kuncak was quoted as saying. "If only Jews, not Muslims, had been killed, I would have been happy."…
For his statement, Kuncak, then 17, was charged with inciting ethnic hatred. It was the first time anti-Semitism was the basis for such a case in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country where Jews generally have been welcome for five centuries.
But the reporter who interviewed Kuncak and wrote the article, Elif Korap of mainstream newspaper Milliyet, also was charged under the same law for quoting him. Both face trial in two months.
(Hat tip: Journalism.org)
Following up on Easongate
Great followup analysis in the Daily Standard examing how major news services bungled Easongate by ignoring the CNN executive's comments until it was too late:
The controversy seemed about to fade off the media's radar screens altogether--until Jordan suddenly resigned his position at CNN around 6:00 p.m. on Friday, February 11.
The announcement sent the national media into a scramble. Excepting the Washington Post and the New York Times, almost no national news outlet had ever covered the story, which put them in the uncomfortable position of announcing the resignation of a major news executive over a two-week-old scandal about which they had not bothered to report.
(Hat tip: Journalism.org)
The BBC apologizes
BBC Radio apologized on air for a recent edition of its program 'Thought of the Day'. HR critiqued the program in Wednesday's communique.
Under new management?
London’s notorious Finsbury Park mosque reopened under new management. The mosque, which was closed after its former leader, Abu Hamza al-Masri was jailed under UK anti-terror laws, is now led by five trustees.
The Times of London identifies Mohammed Kassem Sawalha (pictured), one of the trustees, as a former Hamas military commander also linked to US legal proceedings against three Hamas figures charged with conspiracy and racketeering. Sawalha says he supports Hamas’ “legitimate struggle,” but denies the accusations.
(Hat tip: Melanie Phillips)
BBC's 'Inspiring' Thought
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Same old blame game
After the US recalled its ambassador to Syria to protest the assassination of Rafik Hariri, it didn’t take long for the Syrians to try shifting the blame to... where else?
Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam pointed the finger of blame at Israel….
Asked about Syria's alleged role in Hariri's death, Khaddam said, "The Israelis have assassinated an entire people [the Palestinians] and an entire region. So we should expect the worst from them."
Syrian media echoed the charges.
Wanted: Security personnel
The newest additions to PA security personnel include 350 gunmen, many of whom are wanted members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Jerusalem Post quotes a PA cabinet minister who admits, "The move is designed to protect them against Israeli assassination attempts."
For more on the PA's problematic security establishment, see BackSpin entries here and here.
Bloggers at the gate
From Cox & Forkum:
AFP's missing context
Yesterday, a Palestinian in Hebron was shot and killed after trying to stab an IDF soldier.
This AFP photo caption of the scene neglects to mention that essential context. The effect is to suggest the IDF killed him for no reason.
The Guardian finds terror
For years, The Guardian has refused to describe Palestinian suicide attacks as “terrorism.” Now the UK paper has finally discovered “terror" -- “Jewish terror,” which The Guardian trumpets in this headline:
Israel fears Jewish terror
While Israel is debating the possibility of using administrative detention against certain government opponents, no Israelis have resorted to terrorism to fight the disengagement plan. Like its fellow British daily, The Independent, The Guardian shows its hand -- it never actually objected to the term “terrorism” per se — only the use of it when the victims are American or Israeli. Why only now does The Guardian employ the “t-word?”
Comments to the Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor taunts reporter, faces inquiry
Having compared a Jewish reporter to a “German war criminal” and a “concentration camp guard,” London Lord Mayor Ken Livingstone (pictured) now faces an inquiry that could potentially suspend or disqualify him from office. The remarks were made to Oliver Finegold of the Evening Standard.
Is this media intimidation?
Here’s an example of Palestinian media intimidation with an unusual twist. Gunmen beat three 'journalists' who work for Voice of Jerusalem, a Gaza-based radio station affiliated with Islamic Jihad. Now, other Palestinian journalists are protesting the beating of their colleagues. Colleagues? Of Islamic Jihad?
Abbas' keystone cops
In a remarkably frank report, AP acknowledges that Palestinian security personnel are reluctant to fight terrorists — because of fear or outright sympathy for the terrorists' mission. Meanwhile, other bad cops with stronger clan loyalties account for much of the PA’s lawlessness:
The shortcomings of Palestinian police were evident last week when officers stood by as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets and mortar rounds at Jewish settlements in Gaza. Officers also did nothing when gunmen broke into Gaza's central jail, killing two inmates and abducting a third who was later slain….
One top security official estimated 80 percent of all killings in Gaza in recent years were committed by members of the security forces, but said they are rarely brought to justice.
The SF Chronicle looks at what happened to Palestinian security personnel who enrolled in a 1998 CIA counter-terror and firearms course. The class of 98's ignoble alumni include Raafat Bajali (a member of Al-Aqsa Brigades--killed when a bomb he was working on blew up), Nedal Zedok (an Al-Aqsa Brigade colleague of Bajali--killed in the same “work accident”), and Khaled Abu Nijmeh (a Church of the Nativity fugitive given asylum in Italy--the PA is negotiating repatriation). The new PA security services will likely get US training again.
Schoolyard death revisited
St. Petersburg Times columnist Susan Taylor-Martin investigates the death of Nuran Deab and subsequent media coverage. She concludes that Deab's tragic death was murkier than originally reported, while acknowledging the dearth of media followup. Martin also notes that the PA never responded to an IDF offer to help investigate the matter further.
(Hat tip: Primer)
Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl argues that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak only jumped on the peace process bandwagon to “neuter President Bush's campaign for democracy in the Middle East.” Last week's Sharm el-Sheikh summit may be linked to the fact that Mubarak’s top two envoys are visiting Washington this week:
Mubarak is betting that Gheit and Suleiman will be greeted at the State Department and White House as close collaborators in a budding Israeli-Palestinian detente, not as representatives of a government engaged in an expanding crackdown on its secular and democratic opposition. If so, the 76-year-old president will feel secure in continuing a campaign aimed at crushing what has been mounting opposition among the Egyptian political and business elite to his plan to extend his quarter-century in office by six years through a rigged referendum this fall.
BBC's deep thoughts
What prompted BBC Radio to remove its February 10 edition of “Thought for the Day?” If you want evidence that presenter John Bell talked about an Israeli-Arab allegedly "conscripted" by the IDF and later “imprisoned for refusing to shoot unarmed schoolchildren,” all that’s left are the comments it generated from angry listeners.
The IDF does not in fact conscript Arab-Israelis (though some serve voluntarily), and Bell's claim that IDF officers are ordered -- under penalty of imprisonment -- to 'shoot unarmed schoolchildren' is simply outrageous and libelous.
Comments to BBC: click here
[UPDATE 2/15: BBC has issued an apology.]
Here's a transcript of Bell's session:
Continue reading "BBC's deep thoughts"
Ray Hanania responds
Following up on a recent blog entry about Ray Hanania, the Daily Herald columnist responds:
My father's family owned a home on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. My mother's family owns 10 acres of land between Gilo and Sharafat which are BOTH located south of Jerusalem.
Although no one on this site wants to deal with accuracy, I feel you should.
We appreciate Hanania clarifying our confusion about his family property. Left unaddressed was the issue of “Jewish Arabs” and Hanania’s characterization that Israel merely “urged” them to leave Arab lands. A closer look at the historical record indicates that Jews from Arab lands who emigrated to Israel in the state’s early years were fleeing persecution or were actively chased out.
We're also wondering about Hanania's stated references to land ownership in northern and eastern Jerusalem.
We respectfully look forward to Hanania's response.
Eason Jordan resigns
Another victory for those who hold big media accountable for irresponsible behavior in Mideast coverage: Admitting that his controversial remarks in Davos weren’t so clear, CNN news executive Eason Jordan quit.
But Easongate editors aren't entirely satisfied yet.
Glenn Reynolds provides a helpful roundup of responses, as always.
Guardians of the Anti-Israel Line
The latest HR communique has just been published: 'Guardians of the Anti-Israel Line'
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Arab Bank notes
In response to a lawsuit by victims of Palestinian terror and a government investigation, the New York branch of the Amman-based Arab Bank is closing down. The bank is accused of funneling cash to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and money laundering. Some of the cash that was handled came from a Saudi telethon.
Do they goose-step too?
Hey, where did the new PA policemen learn to salute like that?
Review of Muravchik book
On Victor David Hanson's Private Papers, Bruce Thornton reviews Joshua Muravchik's book Covering the Intifada: How the Media Reported the Palestinian Uprising.
How a beleaguered, tiny Israel has been turned into a pariah state is a fascinating historical question...the Western electronic and print media have been the most destructive, shaping as they do the perceptions of the everyday voters who ultimately determine their countries' policies. The ideological bias, sloppiness, and often the sheer ignorance of the reporters, editors, and news anchors who fashion the news for Americans have created a distorted view of Israel and her predicament, one that frequently compromises American foreign policy in the Middle East.
A very good review of a book HR's been recommending for some time -- see it on our Essential Reading page.
Hanania's 'Jewish Arabs' and family plot
'Moderate Palestinian' syndicated columnist Ray Hanania writes today:
Israel's defenders assert Palestinians expelled by Israel in 1948 and in 1967 were replaced by Jews fleeing Arab countries.
But that's not true. Most Jewish Arabs were urged by Israel to leave in a highly publicized and ongoing program to settle them in Israel. For example, Israel also urges Jews to leave America and settle in Israel. But, is Israel saying that America is forcing Jewish residents to flee as they claim Arab countries are forcing Jews to flee?
'Jewish Arabs'? A non-existent social category. And what about the decades of Arab persecution of Jews? Not exactly aliya from Long Island.
Then, after accusing Israel of 'a policy of stealing Palestinian land', Hanania gets personal:
My family owns 10 acres in East Jerusalem that has 160 ancient olive trees. We are not allowed to build on it or to develop it. We are discouraged from visiting it. To visit the land, I must travel through several Israeli military checkpoints, at gunpoint, and submit to humiliating treatment from the soldiers and settlers who live in Gilo, the Jewish settlement that overlooks my property.
The thing is, Gilo is nowhere near 'East Jerusalem.' Gilo is located in southern Jerusalem (see map) -- more accurately even, southwestern Jerusalem. So where exactly is that family plot, Mr. Hanania?
UPDATE: Hanania's been talking about this family plot for quite awhile. Here and here he locates it near Gilo, but here it's 'near Jaffa Road' (that's in central Jerusalem), and here it's 'on the northern border of Jerusalem.'
UPDATE: Mr. Hanania has personally reponded in the comments section below.
While Steve Bell of the Guardian reveals that paper's biases, Gary Varvel of the Indianapolis Star is decidedly more balanced.
Syria bucks boycott
Syria announced that it will import thousands of tons of apples from the Golan Heights (tariff free). Will the Arab League follow suit?
The New York Times reprints an International Herald Tribune article on recent challenges to the Mohammed al-Dura video footage:
Since the start of the second Palestinian uprising more than four years ago, many children have died in the gunfire. But it is the harrowing image of a terrified 12-year-old boy, shielded in vain by his father, that carries the iconic power of a battle flag...
Here, debate seethes about whether the televised footage of Muhammad al-Dura was genuine, misinterpreted or — as an American academic put it — artfully staged "Pallywood" theater...
As questions were raised, some France 2 executives privately faulted the channel's communication. Last week, they showed The International Herald Tribune the original 27-minute tape of the incident, which also included separate scenes of rock-throwing youths.
The footage of the father and son under attack lasts several minutes, but does not clearly show the boy's death. There is a cut in the scene that France 2 executives attribute to the cameraman's efforts to preserve a low battery.
For more on this issue, see this HR communique.
* The Telegraph reports that Abbas finally ordered Palestinian TV to clean up its act:
On Palestinian television, eulogies to suicide bombers, or ''martyrs,'' have given way to ''feel-good'' nature programs and romantic films. Instead of referring to ''martyr operations,'' suicide bombings are described more neutrally as ''explosions."
* In a JPost op-ed, Gerald Steinberg is not so enthusiastic about the prisoner releases: 'We've seen this movie before'
* In The New Republic, Michael Oren says Sharon's moves shouldn't surprise anyone, as he's always been a 'pragmatic' Mapainik at heart.
* In a JCPA brief, Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi examines 'The Palestinian "Temporary Cease-Fire": Israel's Political Risks and Opportunities with the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit between Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen)'
Good cop, bad cop
A PA security official finally confirmed to the Jerusalem Post an open secret: the Palestinian security services were riddled with people affiliated with the very terror groups they were supposed to crack down on. Some even received training from American, European and Arab security experts before using their new skills against Israeli civilians and alleged collaborators:
The majority of the policemen chose to join Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, while only a few preferred Hamas and Islamic Jihad militias, he added.
"Most of these men doubled as security officers and members of armed groups," the official admitted. "The fact that they had received paramilitary training as policemen was an asset because they were able to implement the tactics they learned in the fighting with the Israeli army."
....At least two Fatah gunmen from the West Bank recently admitted that they had been trained for six weeks as bodyguards by American security experts near Washington, DC. The two were later involved in a number of armed attacks against Israel and suspected "collaborators."
Eason Jordan update
The pressure against CNN news executive Eason Jordan is building, after he accused the US military of deliberately targeting journalists in Iraq then attempted to backtrack on his words. (There's a whole blog devoted to 'Easongate'!)
Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters reminds us that Jordan made a similar claim against the Israeli military in October, 2002, which was later demonstrated to be completely unfounded. Jordan said then:
The Israelis say they're actually trying to restrict our access to these areas and they say it's too dangerous for you to be there and my response to that is that it wouldn't be nearly as dangerous if you didn't shoot at us when we're clearly labelled as CNN crews and journalists. And so this must stop, this targeting of the news media both literally and figuratively must come to an end immediately.
But Morrissey points out that:
The only CNN journalist wounded in that region was Ben Wedeman, who got shot when he wandered into a crossfire. [Jordan's] own producer, Bruce Conover, told CNN that no one could tell who shot him, as the bullets and mortars were flying in from all directions.
The Houston Chronicle reports that a think tank put together a “street map” for the “road map” which is at a “crossroads.”
(Hat tip: Daily Alert)
Making the correction
The National Conference of Editorial Writers created a task force to examine how to handle corrections to syndicated content. Here's the note NCEW President Kay Semion sent out to members (hat tip: RegretTheError):
I am pleased to announce that NCEW has set up a task force on syndicates to seek answers to our questions of ethics and corrections.
Continue reading "Making the correction"
Jews blamed for Al-Qaida
Memri notes that at a counter-terrorism conference (to which Israel was not invited), Saudi defense minister Sultan bin Abd Al-Aziz quoted a poet saying Osama Bin Laden was sent by the Jews.
Long live security - may its men hold their heads high on every corner. (Bin Laden), whose ideology is sick, who was sent by the Jews, who is the architect of theft, was treacherous and sent us the criminals.
A few years ago, the same prince blamed "congressmen wearing Jewish yarmulkes" for the oil kingdom's bad media relations.