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Soualiga Newsday Top Stories (2979)

Clock Ticking Down to Increase in Hurricane Season Activity

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – It’s now two and half months into the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, and only two named storms have formed this year, and Meteorologist at the Colorado State University says that this is making the season the slowest year since 1999.

The first system was a sub-tropical storm named Andrea that formed in May (20th) before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season of June 1st (ending November 30th) east of the U.S. East Coast and south of Bermuda. Andrea marked the record fifth year in a row where a tropical storm (sub) developed before the official start of the season.

No storms formed in the month of June.

The second storm Barry formed on July 11 in the Gulf of Mexico and later strengthened into the first hurricane of the season (Category 1).    

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is now the second latest-starting season of the 21st century.

Weather watchers are saying that the window for increased hurricane activity is slowly nearing as wind shear, dry air and Sahara dust – inhibitors of tropical storm development – diminish opening the door for tropical development after August 18/20.

Weather watchers added that a big change in the pattern over the Atlantic will go from a quiet weather pattern to a much more active one, pointing out that the season could be an extended one up to the end of October.

Last year there were 15 named storms and the National Hurricane Center forecast up to 17 named storms for 2019.



32-Year Old Suspect in Alleged Attempted Rape of 15-Year Old Found Dead

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Detectives at the Juvenile and Morals Department are presently investigating a case of attempted rape which according to the report was filed on Saturday August 17th at approximately 11.00 a.m. by the victim identified with initials M.D.C.H. (15), police said on Sunday evening.

The victim stated that her brother-in-law identified with initials M.E.V.H. (32) attempted to rape her shortly before at their residence in Cay Hill however did not succeed.

On Saturday August 17th at approximately 12.00 p.m. the Police Department received a phone call from a member of the suspect living abroad who stated that he was worried about his brother who told him that he, the suspect, was going to commit suicide.

Officers immediately started a search in order to locate the suspect but were not successful.

On Sunday August 18th at approximately 8.50 a.m. the Emergency Central Dispatch received a call from two persons walking in the area of La Belle Creole that they had found the lifeless body of a man hanging at an abandoned building.

The French Gendarmes were immediately contacted who later stated that the victim of this hanging who probably took his own life was identified as the suspect in the alleged attempted rape case being investigated by the Police Department on the Dutch side.

The body of the victim was confiscated by the Gendarmes for further investigation.

The investigation is ongoing and more details regarding this investigation are unavailable at this time. As soon as more details become available the media will be informed. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


UNICEF reminds community to involve your children during hurricane season

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “It is important to involve your kids during hurricane season,” is the main message that UNICEF Netherlands (NL) has been sharing on Sint Maarten during this hurricane season. The children’s rights organisation has been conducting an awareness campaign with the support of the Netherlands Red Cross since May 1st.

The campaign so far has included presentations by UNICEF NL at various government-hosted community evenings, the hurricane expo, a video-workshop and competition, dissemination of hurricane preparedness information brochures, as well as wider media outreach.

“Parents often think that kids can’t or shouldn’t be involved with hurricane preparations, however it’s actually very important as it helps kids be prepared and feel safer,” says Suzette Moses-Burton, UNICEF’s community mobiliser.

“Involving your kids can be as simple as talking to them about hurricane season, taking them shopping for hurricane supplies, helping prepare the house, such as taking the plants inside in case of a storm, and discussing the plan of action in case of emergency,” she adds.

In addition, over the last year, UNICEF Netherlands has worked closely with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) to take much-needed steps towards improving the safety of children in case of emergencies with an emphasis on hurricane season preparedness.

School Safety Plans

23 primary and secondary schools on Sint Maarten have completed their School Safety Plans ahead of the 2019 hurricane season. UNICEF Netherlands provided technical support and guidance to the schools in close cooperation with The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (MECYS) and Student Support Services Division (SSSD). The School Safety Plans identify potential emergencies that could happen in the school and outline preparedness and response actions to be taken within the school.

In connection to these plans, each school assigned a Safety and Emergency Team (SET). The team members support the implementation of the School Safety Plans and mobilise the students and staff in case of an emergency, as well as help get the school back on track in the aftermath of an emergency.

Return To Happiness
Recently UNICEF, in collaboration with SSSD facilitated a Return To Happiness (RTH) refresher course. The refresher was a follow-up to the extensive RTH trainings held last year involving hundreds of participants from various schools and organizations that work closely with children.

RTH is a method for psychosocial support to children aged 4 to 12 years. The method utilises multiple creative tools such as drawing, singing, puppetry and more, to provide children the opportunity to share their stories in order to express their thoughts and feelings. . In addition to the trainings, each school received a ‘RTH kit’, which contains all the needed supplies to properly implement RTH.

Too COOL To Loot
The anti-looting awareness campaign called ‘Too COOL To Loot’ (TCTL) has continued its efforts to address the issue of looting in a positive way within the community, especially in regards to youngsters. Some of the actions that have been ongoing are school-visits, an art-competition, debate and presentations.

Leading up to hurricane season the TCTL team collaborated with The Waste Factory to add an anti-littering message to the campaign through creative workshops geared towards adolescents. In the coming weeks a mural will be created inspired by designs that the students of various high schools created during the workshops.

Continued efforts
Other ongoing activities include community-based child protection mapping activities, strengthening the child protection system as well as an extensive situation analysis regarding the rights of children on Sint Maarten.

“We would like to congratulate the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport for their excellent achievements. We are proud to work together with the St. Maarten Government to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and see concrete results of our collaboration,” says Marieke Roelfsema of UNICEF Netherlands.

The UNICEF Netherlands and Sint Maarten team-members would also like to wish all students, educators and parents, a fruitful and safe school year. To follow UNICEF Netherlands activities on Sint Maarten: Facebook/unicefsxm

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UNICEF NL presented tips for parents on involving your kids at various government-hosted community evenings and the Hurricane Expo.








TEATT hire company to test fuel quality on St. Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication the honourable Stuart Johnson says his Ministry has solicited the assistant of a reputable organization that will provide clarity on the type of fuel being sold on St. Maarten amidst allegations that the petrol stations have been selling substandard product.

Johnson said on Wednesday this week that as far as TEATT, who is responsible for inspections, is aware, Octane 95 is the grade of fuel being sold at gas stations on St. Maarten.

Several inquiries have been received from consumers about if the grade of fuel being sold on St. Maarten is Octane 83, 92, or 95. One of the primary concerns relates to the grade of fuel received and its associated costs. Also, consumers have indicated that the fuel burners quicker sometimes, than at other times. These concerns have left consumers believing they have been deceived in some form or the other. 

“To address the concerns of consumers, the Inspection Department of Economic Affairs will be engaging a third-party organisation called Intertek, to carry out a study to test the grade of fuel being on St. Maarten,” said Johnson.

He said that the organization will perform routine testing based on the arrival of new fuel to the island, and also test the level of Octane (83, 92 or 95) in the field, as this forms the basis for what is charged to the customer. 

Johnsons said, “St. Maarten does not have the testing facilities to carry out this endeavour. As such, Intertek on St. Eustatius will be contacted to carry out the testing and report.” 

Intertek has been selected because of its reputable status and close proximity to St. Maarten. Intertek is a leading Total Quality Assurance provider to industries worldwide. Intertek’s network comprises of over 1,000 laboratories and office over 43,000 people in more than 100 countries. 

Intertek delivers innovative and Assurance, Testing, Inspection, and Certification solutions for consumers’ operations and supply chains. Intertek will evaluate products quality, safety, and sustainability and performance standards.   

In so doing, Intertek’s representative will fly to St. Maarten to collect the fuel samples and take them to St. Eustatius where the testing and report is to be conducted. Once completed, the finding will be sent to the Ministry in the form of a report.


New wind blowing at PJIAE, Phase II of Reconstruction works being planned

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - There’s a new wind blowing at the Princess Juliana International Airport N.V. (PJIAE) with news this week of a major boost in the company’s plans to return the facility to one of the busiest air transit hubs in the Northeastern Caribbean. The "shot in the arm" is coming from this week’s ruling of an arbitration panel awarding the airport a more than USD$71 million insurance claim following the passage of Hurricane Irma, almost two years ago. 

And while much of the awarded sum have already been received as an advance payment and made use of, the remaining settlement amount now seems likely to provide the wiggle room that PJIAE Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Brian Mingo, has been seeking to put additional things in place to speed up the progress of restoration works. Also, the funding of some critical project works that were sitting on the shelves as recently as last week - before the deal-changing arbitration ruling was officially announced.

“Momentum, Momentum, Momentum – that is the one word our partners have been escalating to us during these past months,” said the PJIAE CEO, Mr. Brian Mingo, reflecting on the real significance of the arbitration ruling and his own contention that without the availability of additional funds, other than those already negotiated as loans, the prospect of returning PJIAE to its glory days was still very bleak indeed.

“You can build a lot of momentum with USD$ 71 million, the insurance settlement PJIAE was awarded, if the balance will be received within the next few weeks,” said Mingo. 

One major challenge has been the significant increase in demand for travel to the island during the first half of the year causing cramped conditions, long queues for passengers and flight delays as an unfortunate result.

“Passengers using the terminal building and other PJIAE facilities have every right to get inpatient and frustrated at times with the seemingly lack of progress in getting back to normal, but I can assure them that the hold-ups are beyond our control and that the management team and I are personally ready to step up our pace of restoration and renovation,” said the PJIAE CEO.

He added that with additional funds to call upon, some of the overcrowding issues at the terminal building can be immediately dealt with to create a better passenger experience and to also open up newly renovated areas of the facilities, for both the passenger and management to further utilize.

The airport's chief says PJIAE will be celebrating a major milestone in terms of its reconstruction efforts at month's end, when the contractor, Ballast Nedam, completes all three (3) reconstruction phases of the terminal building's roof. This includes the installation of roof profiles and panels, bull-noses and soffits along with major reinforcement and waterproofing to withstand hurricane-forced winds and rain.

No sooner than Ballast Nedam packs up its' equipment and withdraws from the job site, will the management team and our contracting partners, should be putting the finishing touches to the planning of the tendering process for Phase II of the airport's reconstruction,  which should be under way at least by October 2019.  The CEO, Mr. Mingo, cautions however, that the meeting of this new milestone will depend on all funding arrangements being in place within the coming weeks, including receipt of the remaining settlement from Nagico.

“We have creatively dealt with the financing part of the airport's restoration with the support of the Government of St. Maarten, the Kingdom Government, Schiphol aviation specialists, the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, notwithstanding the support of the bondholders. Furthermore, this could not have been done without the support of our valued staff, Supervisory Board of Directors and executives of Princess Juliana International Airport Holding Company (PJIAH)," said Mingo. 

He says his task at this point of time is to build the momentum required to see the following put into place without delay:
• Complete the formation of the Management Team.
• Making the terminal hurricane ready.
• Implement PJIAE Project Team and support teams.
• Engagement with all stakeholders and ensure technical project support.
• Increasing capacity for passengers in the terminal building.
• Rebuilding of the Rescue and Fire-fighting building.

The management team will also be working on a new business model,which will be formally introduce in 2020 with a focus on the PJIAE re-enforcing its position as a major economic driver for the St. Maarten economy.

“Once the bidding process for the reconstruction is completed (January – April 2020) and Phase II of the reconstruction works get underway, and we maintain a momentum with regular phased exposure of completed projects and stages, I anticipate a major shift in investor confidence locally and internationally toward our island. I see a new climate of investments being created for the economy that I am personally very excited about and so is the executive team. We are continuing to put all our efforts into delivering a new PJIAE product - by building the state of the art "airport of the future". With a new wind blowing, our new airport will once again be the regional leader, with a focus on pride for the entire St. Maarten community,” said the PJIAE CEO, Mr. Mingo.



SINT MAARTEN (CAY BAY) - SOL ANTILLES N.V. presented 270 school bags filled with school supplies to the students of the Leonard Conner Primary School in association with the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise. 

This is the seventh consecutive year that Sol has made this donation to the students of this school which is located in the Cay Bay area, where Sol St. Maarten’s main office and distribution depot is situated. 

The handover of backpacks - which included a wide range of classroom supplies - took place at the school today August 14, 2019. 

Attending the ceremony from SOL ANTILLES N.V was David Antrobus, General Manager, and Marisca Peterson, Retail Sales Representative. In attendance from the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise were Marcellia Henry, Assistant District Governor, Dolly Sadarangani-Ahuja, Secretary, Amanda Wever, Member and Louis Wever, District Governor Nominee. 

“We know that the new school year is an exciting time for students and Sol is more than happy once again to help ensure that each and every child is equipped with the tools, they need to have an enjoyable and successful academic year. We hope that these supplies will assist each child in achieving their goals and contribute to their long-term success” explained Antrobus. 

“Sol remains committed to helping our young people reach their full potential. We wish all the students of the Leonard Conner Primary School the very best as they continue to strive for excellence.” 

Sol’s donation to the school is part of a back-to-school project being run by the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise. 

“As good citizens and neighbors, Sol is always proud to champion the education and development of St. Maarten’s youth, and we will continue to support the community of Cay Bay wherever and whenever we can. Community is one of the four values of our principals, Parkland, and we strive to give back to the Communities in which we operate,” added Antrobus.  

The children and their teachers were happy to be back at school and very appreciative of Sol’s and Rotary’s gesture 

The Sol Group of companies operates in 23 countries across the Eastern Caribbean, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Bahamas, Cayman, Belize, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe. Sol supplies fuels, lubricants, bitumen and LPG through an extensive service station network, with marine, aviation and commercial operations in the Caribbean.


MP Rolando Brison submits proposal for Parliamentary inquiry into Mullet Bay

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Faction Leader of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) MP Rolando Brison on Tuesday submitted to Parliament his faction’s proposal document for the initiation of a Parliamentary inquiry into Mullet Bay. In submitting the document Brison repeated what he stated during his campaign: a Parliamentary Inquiry is the strongest tool the legislative body has at its disposal to address the many current issues related to Mullet Bay.

Entitled “Proposal for Parliamentary Inquiry: Giving Mullet Bay Back to the People”, the document which took a year to prepare, is the first-ever legislative paper for a Parliamentary inquiry in St. Maarten. MP Brison has already posted the full document on Facebook.

“It is time to stop talking, looking and dreaming of solutions. We have to act. Mullet Bay is the most valuable piece of property in the Caribbean and it’s our property, it can positively affect our future. The time has long past where we can sit idly by and simply do nothing. The time to act on Mullet Bay is now,” MP Brison said.

Specifically, the proposal calls for an inquiry into the ownership of the Mullet Bay area, the current volatile situation that exists between its current owner, government and citizens, and the need for Parliament and Government to intervene in every feasible way possible to protect one of its most precious coastal and inland waterways in the national interest of the country.

The document outlines four research objectives:

  1. Legislative shortcomings allowing for this problem to exist, and the effects of jurisprudence that may have resulted through litigation, particularly in regard to the ownership of conflict zones such as the beach and the pond, and how these short comings should be addressed (New legislation, amended legislation, budgetary amendments, instructions to government by means of an amendment in the governing program).
  2. What actions government can and should take to ensure the property is used in the best interest of the people of the country, being proactive ahead of potential irrevocable actions, such as auctions and/or settlements by the Central Bank, which may or may not be in the best interest of St. Maarten.
  3. Finding a fully sustainable, environmentally friendly solution to the development of Mullet Bay, and continued protection of its natural resources – zoning, expropriation, assigning monument status.
  4. The lack of economic activity for the area over 22+ years and what this has cost the country, and what economic benefits could be derived from the country if it were developed in a sustainable manner.

The proposal calls for the inquiry to be executed in four phases: The preliminary information gathering

Phase, Verification and Hearing Phase – the phase where the commission will be able to verify information, hear witnesses and seek advice from external entities for possible solutions, the Reporting Phase – The information is placed by the commission into a report and Conclusions and Actions - the conclusions from the report are delivered and debated by parliament, actions agreed, and the commission continues to follow up to ensure action is taken after the report is debated by Parliament.

The Mullet Bay Parliamentary inquiry Commission will consist of the Commission Chairman (MP Brison), one member of the Presidium, two members from the UD Faction, two members from the NA Faction, one other member of the USP Faction (MP Frans Richardson), one member of the SMCP faction (MP Claude Peterson)

From beginning to end, MP Brison estimates the inquiry to take 32 weeks (8 months) at a rough estimate of Naf 519,000 which includes commission staff, legal consul, financial expertise, travel, communication, ect. MP Brison is of the opinion that the estimate cost of the inquiry (which could turn out to be less), is “well worth the effort of giving Mullet Bay back to the people.”

USP’s inquiry document has also been modeled based on the two more recent Parliamentary inquiries that were filed within the kingdom, namely the 2011-2012 Parlementaire enquête naar het Financieel Stelsel in the Netherlands5 and the 2013-2015 Fyra Parlementaire enquête also in the Netherlands.


45-Year old pedestrian falls into the road and is struck by a motor vehicle

SINT MAARTEN (SUCKER GARDEN) - The police traffic department is presently investigation a traffic accident which took place on Monday August 12th at approximately 7.25 p.m. on the Sucker garden road in the vicinity of Golden Barrel cactus drive also known as Becky Hill, police said on Tuesday.

This traffic accident involved a motor vehicle with license plate P-7524 and a pedestrian identified with initials C.Y. (45).

According to the report, the victim was walking down the hill toward Philipsburg while the motor vehicle was coming up the hill from the opposite direction. The victim suddenly lost his step and stumbled onto the street at which time he was struck by the vehicle that was passing by.

The victim fell to the ground and suffered numerous scratches and bruising to his body and face, a laceration to his right hand and a broken right shoulder.

The victim was treated on the scene by paramedics and then taken to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment.

At the medical center the victim was treated and admitted to the hospital for observation and further treatment. The excessive use of alcohol also attributed to the cause of the accident. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


Who is out of touch?

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY – By Michael Ferrier) - According to MP Emmanuel, as reported in the Daily Herald of August 9, 2019, the Minister of Justice of St. Maarten, De Weever, is out of touch, CFATF laws biased.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, one of the top results Google provided to my search, the term “out of touch” refers to someone who is not informed or not having the same ideas as most people.

Next, a little background on “CFATF laws bias” is in order.  For that, it is helpful to understand who or what is the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). It is an organization of states and territories of the Caribbean Basin, of which we form part, that have agreed to implement common counter-measures against money laundering. CFATF has associate status within the Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering).

And what are these common measures against money laundering?

During the 1989 G7 Summit in Paris, the FATF was formed to combat the growing problem of money laundering. At that time, FATF had 16 members, which by 2016 had grown to 37.

One of the first actions of the FATF was development of a report containing forty recommendations to more effectively fight money laundering. After the September 11 terror attacks in 2001, the FATF included terrorist financing as part of the recommendations.

Practically all major financial centers around the world, not the least of which is the USA, are represented by the 37 members of FATF.  Money makes the world go around and no country, big or small, can exist without doing business with other countries.

Without banking relationships with these major financial powerhouses, a country is basically not a part of the international community/economy.

Back to the headline: The Minister of Justice is in my opinion, not at all out of touch. It is MP Emmanuel who seems to be uninformed. Most people understand that St. Maarten is a part of the global economy and therefore part of the international financial system. As such and as part of the Caribbean Basin, it needs to do its share to (want to) combat money laundering and terrorist financing. In fact, the Minister has correctly made Parliament aware of the fact that Country Sint Maarten, and by extension all of us, are out of time regarding becoming compliant!

Are these laws that St. Maarten has to change and adopt to meet the (C)FATF recommendations biased? Do they favor one group over the other? Is St. Maarten being bullied? I am no lawyer or scholar but believe I HAVE been blessed with common sense and therefore I try to be practical.

Whether the MP wants to suggest otherwise or not, St. Maarten has no choice. Since the 911 attack on the USA, that country, St. Maarten and the rest of the world have had to implement levels of screening at airports to a magnitude never before even dreamt of. None of us like it, but none of us had a choice. Our harbor and international mega-yacht marinas had to introduce stricter security measures as well. We simply had no choice!

What happens to St. Maarten if we fail to meet the FATF-recommendations? According to the FATF’s website, jurisdictions that are seen as non-compliant are a risk to the integrity of the international financial system. Those non-compliant jurisdictions receive a public warning “to address their deficiencies in order to maintain their position in the global economy”. That’s a nice way of saying, either comply, or you are no longer welcome; you are ‘blacklisted’.  North Korea and Iran are on that list. As a small half-of-an-island Caribbean nation, dependent on mostly North American and European tourism, St. Maarten cannot afford to be on that list. But that’s a worst-case scenario.

A more likely result of being on the wrong side of (C)FATF recommendations is de-risking by financial institutions and loss of correspondent banking relationships. In plain English, the banks will not take on customers they feel are a risk for money laundering and financing of terrorism. The financial system is global. Local banks that fail to take measures will lose relationships with the big banks in the USA and Europe. Try conducting business on St. Maarten when you can’t send or receive money from overseas. (Here’s a hint: Google “Belize and correspondent banks”).

(C)FATF has been a reality from since before 10-10-10.  But that’s water under the bridge. St. Maarten is out of time and we had better deal with that fact, rather than believe (like MP Emmanuel obviously does) that the international community will be intimidated by him, or for that matter ALL of our Parliamentarians together. Legislation is being pushed through to meet deadlines. Debate and fine-tuning of these laws to find a bi-partisan, mutually acceptable way of meeting international requirements and not hurting our community is now difficult, if not impossible.

That failure is on all MP’s and Ministers, past and present (including me)! And yes, IRMA did not help. But to the rest of the world IRMA was NEVER the problem and sure as heck cannot be used any longer as an excuse to kick this can down the road.

If MP Emmanuel wants to take his marbles and go home because he feels the game is rigged and unfair, that’s his prerogative. Good luck with that! The rest of St. Maarten HAS to meet the reality head on, because like it or not, we need the rest of the world. The rest of the world does not need us. So, either we play ball and meet the internationally set standard or become totally self-sufficient (?!) in a big hurry! And just in case the MP decides to respond to this commentary the way I expect him to, my response to him remains the same.

Michael J. Ferrier

St. Maarten, August 11, 2019


Message for School Bus Drivers and School Children

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Section School Bussing of the Inspectorate of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication, would like to remind all school bus drivers and school children riding on public school busses for the school year 2019-2020 that is to get underway on August 12, that it is not allowed for school children to stand in the bus while it is in motion.

The new school year will open on Monday, and the Section School Bussing would like to avoid any mishaps or incidents throughout the new school year and hence is offering the following advice.

All students must remain seated and facing forward at all times. Secondly, school bus drivers are prohibited from transporting persons other than school children during school hours and while school children are onboard.

School bus drivers must also be properly and fully dressed while operating the school bus and exhibit good personal hygiene at all times.

Closed shoes must be worn at all times and electronic distractions like headphones, hands-free headsets should not be operated while driving the bus with school children onboard.

School bus drivers are strongly advised to obey the rules of the road and in particular the established speed limit as violators will be dealt with from a criminal as well as administrative standpoint.

Both school children and school bus drivers are expected to cooperate fully and immediately with the instructions of the School Bus Controller and any other law enforcement officer.

As always, the safety of everyone especially the school children are paramount and are the goal of the department.

Section School Bussing would like for the new school year 2019-2020 to be a safe one for all students who use this form of transportation to go and return home from school.

The Section School Bussing wishes all students and bus drivers a safe and healthy new school year.

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