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Teens Accused of Letting Friend Drive in Fatal Drunken Crash Due in Court


Two Glastonbury, Conn., teens accused of allowing their friend to get behind the wheel drunk before a fatal crash are due in court today.

Police said the 17-year-old boys had been in the car with Jane Modlesky, 17, of Glastonbury, early on the morning of Sunday, July 14 and knew she was “highly intoxicated,” but allowed her to drive anyway.

The SUV, a 2008 Honda Pilot, belonged to the parents of one of Modlesky’s friends, police said.

She was one of four people to drive the car that night, but was alone in the SUV when she hit a tree on Woodhaven Road and was pronounced dead at the scene.

One teen, who was then 16 years old, was the first to get behind the wheel and dropped a friend off at him home, then proceeded to drive to his own home, where he got out of the car, police said. 

At that point, another then-16-year-old boy got behind the wheel and drove to his own house, where he and another boy got out.

That left Modlesky alone in the car. Her blood alcohol content was .27, police would later learn, which was more than 13 times the legal limit of .02 for someone under the age of 21.

She drove just half a mile before hitting a tree. Modlesky, who would have been a senior at Glastonbury High School this year, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The last two teens were were in the car with Modlesky that morning are due in court today.

Police have not released their names, but said the teen who drove before Modlesky was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, violation of passenger restrictions and operating a motor vehicle between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

The other teen was also charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.

"They very well knew that she was intoxicated and should not have been driving," said Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police Department.

The other teen to drive the car was charged with violation of passenger restrictions and operating a motor vehicle between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. He is due in court on Dec. 20.

The boy he dropped off was not charged.

In August, police charged the girl who they said threw a party hours before the crash and served alcohol to minors.



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Top Bizarre Border Busts of 2013


San Diego's proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border makes the city a hotbed for drug busts at border checkpoints, and 2013 was no exception. From pot stashed in produce to heroin inside a fire extinguisher, here's our round-up of the most bizarre border busts of the year.

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Donations Pay for Blind Man's Dog


A blind man who tumbled onto subway tracks in Manhattan with his guide dog declared "there's still good people in this world" after he was told anonymous donations will make it possible for him to keep the animal after it is retired next month.

Cecil Williams, 61, appeared with the black Labrador, Orlando, at the hospital Wednesday, after telling the AP in an interview a day earlier that the beloved pup would be forced to retire due to his age in January. His insurance wouldn't pay for a retired dog, Williams said.

The organization Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which provided the dog to Williams seven years ago, announced at the press conference that donations had covered the cost of the dog for life after his retirement.

An emotional Williams thanked strangers for their kindness.

"Orlando, he is my best buddy, he's my pal," Williams said. "The spirit of giving, Christmas ... it exists here and it's in New York."

"I feel that it's a blessing, I feel that it's a miracle," Williams added later. "All the people that contributed or donated, we should take our hat off to them. There's still good people in this world."

In the fall Tuesday, Williams said he passed out on the subway platform and fell onto the tracks with the dog, into the path of a train. 

The train wasn't able to stop in time, and it rolled over Williams, but he wasn't hit because he landed between the rails. His doctor said he would likely be released Thursday.

"My eyes are misty ... things like this here don't happen for everybody," Williams said.

Williams will get a new guide dog when Orlando turns 11 next month and retires.

"He's looking forward to enjoying life now," Williams said.

Williams said anyone still wanting to donate to him should direct their money to Guiding Eyes to support the training and care of other guide dogs.

Photo Credit: AP

Widower Re-Creates Wedding Photos W


Ben Nunery lost his wife Ali to cancer just two years after they got married. The Ohio man wanted to keep the memory of the day they became newlyweds and the home they shared alive, so he decided to re-create their wedding photos with his 3-year old daughter.

In the touching series, Olivia, wearing a pink dress, mimic’s her mom’s poses and, in one photo, curls her hair, just like her mom did on her wedding day. In another, she poses with her father in a doorway to mirror the photo Ben had once taken with her mother.

Nunery, 34, wrote on his blog that his story isn’t "about grief and loss and hurt." "Yes, I’ve gone through those emotions and still do, but that's not what I want people to see in these photos."

Nunery and his wife bought the Cincinnati house in 2009, a day before their wedding. Ali’s sister, Melanie Pace, a professional photographer, took photos of the couple on their wedding day in the empty house.

In 2011, the 31-year-old schoolteacher passed away from a rare form of lung cancer, leaving behind Ben and Olivia.

The home was empty again this year because the Nunerys were moving, so Pace was able to re-create the images of the father and daughter. Nunery, who's also a photographer, thought the photos would help them remember the joyous times they'd shared in the house.

"It immediately brought up memories of being there the first time," Nunery told Today.com. "They were really good memories I cherish and want to remember. In a lot of ways, it felt like Ali was there, and doing that with Olivia I felt a closeness with both of them."

Pace wrote on her blog that she felt her sister’s presence during the photo shoot.

"It's almost like she was nudging me along as I was shooting, telling me which places to go and what to use as props," she told Today.com "It was a very overwhelming feeling to have her so close even if she was not physically there."

Nunery said he hopes the photos would help others who have lost a loved one to heal and move on with their life.

"It doesn't mean that we forget our loved ones, but find ways to remember them and keep that memory going."

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF

Off-Road Race Crash Suit Settles


A lawyer says an agreement has been reached to pay $5.8 million to the families of eight people killed and 12 injured in a California desert off-road race crash.

Attorney Katherine Harvey-Lee said Wednesday an agreement was reached in mediation with federal government lawyers.

Harvey-Lee says the agreement still must be approved by the Department of Justice and signed off by a judge. She says she represents three injured spectators and the father of one of those killed.

Under the agreement, she says the Bureau of Land Management would pay $4.825 million and race organizers and promoters would pay their $1 million insurance policy limit.

A message was left for the BLLM seeking comment.

The deadly racing crash occurred in August 2010 in the Mojave Desert when a modified Ford Ranger truck crashed through spectators at the California 200 desert race. The truck hurled over a jump and struck a group of fans, pinning some underneath the vehicle, while sending others flying into a cloud of dust.

Of the eight spectators killed, four victims were from San Diego: Michael Dickinson, 34, of Spring Valley; Escondido resident Brian Wolfin, 27; Escondido resident Anthony Sanchez; 23; and Escondido resident Aaron Farkas, 25.

Several more spectators were injured in the horrific crash.

The crowd, which included children, was standing within 10 feet of the track with no guardrails separating them from the speeding vehicles, an investigation revealed.

In the wake of the deadly accident, California’s U.S. senators pressed the Bureau of Land Management to provide data on off-road racing on public lands, including safety violations in past races.

In November 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management determined that its staff had failed to follow established procedures for permitting and monitoring the off-road race in the Mojave Desert.

An internal review found BLM Staff in Barstow, Calif., did not hold a pre-race consultation with race promoters. Additionally, a ranger assigned to patrol the area did not monitor the event, the investigation revealed.

NBC 7 San Diego/ Associated Press

Photo Credit: AP

Chair Attack on LA Boardwalk


Police are searching for two men, one of whom was armed with a folding chair, in an attack caught on video at the Venice Beach boardwalk.

James Karhu shot the video Friday from his apartment, located above the street, as neighbors called 911. The video shows two men punching and kicking the victim on a sidewalk.

"My heart was beating out of my chest," said Karhu.

After one of the attackers ran away, the second man continued to strike the man with a folding chair. The beating continued for about two minutes as the attacker yelled at the man, who tried to cover his head to protect himself as he rolled on the ground.

"All I heard was the main guy in white saying, 'Get out of here, get out of Venice Beach. You don't belong in Venice Beach,'" said Karhu. "I was hoping with my filming we'd be able to catch this guy."

Caught on Video: Top Surveillance Videos of 2013

The victim's injuries are non-life threatening, according to Los Angeles police. Both men left the location before police arrived.

Call the Pacific Community Police Station at 310-482-6334 to provide information about the attack.


Photo Credit: James Kahru

Fund Set Up for Homeless Good Samaritan


The woman who alerted authorities about a man with a gun near the University of New Haven earlier this month wants to remain anonymous, but the university is determined to do something to help her. They have learned that she is homeless and have set up a fund to help with her personal needs.

“The holiday season is always an appropriate time to take a few minutes to pause and reflect on the gifts of the season — our families, our friends, and now our good Samaritan,” Steve Kaplan, president of the university, said in a letter to the university community.

The mysterious woman contacted police on Dec. 3 to report seeing man with a long gun walking toward campus.

She told police the man fumbled with something near the back of his car, then ran toward Ruden Street, police said. Something was "slung" over his shoulder, she said, but couldn't tell if it was a rifle or a backpack.

Twenty minutes later, police took William Dong, 22, of Fairfield, into custody on the West Haven campus. They found two loaded handguns on him, police said.

They also found the rifle in his car, which was parked in a lot on Campbell Avenue, police said.

Authorities also searched Dong’s Fairfield home and found his bedroom padlocked. Inside it, they located newspaper clippings of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater mass shooting and 2,700 rounds of ammunition, police said.

Many people have wondered who the woman is and asked the university to publicly recognize her, Kaplan said.

“This person was at the right place at the right time and did the right thing. We’d like to do the right thing in return. We have a wonderful opportunity to create something good from what was a difficult time for all of us,” Kaplan said.

The university plans to help through the UNH - Good Samaritan fund and they are inviting people to make donations in whatever amount they feel is appropriate. Kaplan said 100 percent of the funds collected will go directly to serving this woman’s needs.

To help, you can send donations, payable to “UNH – Good Samaritan Fund.” to the attention of the VP for Finance, University of New Haven, 300 Boston Post Road, West Haven, CT 06516.

Or, you can make a donation online. http://www.newhaven.edu/goodsamaritan/make-a-donation.

Dong has been charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon, breach of peace and other counts and is being held on a $500,000 bond. His case has been continued.

Vets Sue to Keep Mt. Soledad Cross


Less than a week after a judge ordered the removal of the large cross erected atop public land in San Diego, a veterans group has filed an appeal.

The Mt. Soledad cross has been part of the city’s landscape for 59 years and has been incorporated into a memorial for U.S. military veterans.

On Thursday, a federal judge declared that the cross violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and unlawfully endorses one religion over others.

The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association (MSMA) filed notice Wednesday appealing that decision.

The legal fight over the Mt. Soledad cross began in 1989 when atheist Philip Paulson sued the city of San Diego. Paulson, a Vietnam War veteran, contended that the cross excludes veterans who aren't Christian.

A Jewish war veterans group has also been a plaintiff in the case along with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The cross is part of the oldest memorial to Korean War veterans in the U.S. If the cross is removed from this memorial, the MSMA argues that other war memorials could soon be ordered to do the same.

The veterans group feels the issue should be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, justices declined to hear the case last year, sending it back to federal court in San Diego, where Thursday’s order was issued.

Photo Credit: James Ballard

Snowmobile Accident Reported in Ellington


A 19-year-old was taken by LifeStar to the hospital following a snowmobile crash at Soapstone Mountain in Ellington Wednesday night, according to police.

According to a Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman, State EnCon Police and Ellington firefighters responded to the scene at the Shenipsit State Forest.

The victim was flown to the hospital by LifeStar for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, police said.

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Photo Credit: BPN

Route 67 Reopens in Oxford After Crash


Route 67 has reopened in Oxford following a two-car crash.

The road was shut down in the area of Old State Road earlier this evening.

The crash was reported around 8:30 p.m. It's not clear if anyone was injured.

No additional information was immediately available.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

$370K Stolen From Girl Scouts: Feds


A Marina Del Rey man was arrested on federal charges of embezzling $370,000 from the Girl Scouts, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Channing Smack, 51, a senior property manager of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, was arrested Tuesday without incident.

Caught on Camera: Top Surveillance Videos of 2013

Smack is named in a criminal complaint charging him with money laundering, a federal offense that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison, the United States Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Read: Driver in Fiery Crash Had Alcohol Level Twice Legal Limit: Coroner

Smack was arrested after being interviewed by FBI agents about the alleged embezzlement and one day after he withdrew $64,500 from accounts believed to contain proceeds of the scheme, officials said.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Smack was responsible for managing the Girl Scouts' 22 properties in the Los Angeles area.

Over the past year and a half, Smack approved invoices for services purportedly provided by a firm called ZB Land Maintenance & Engineering, which is registered under the name of Smack’s dead brother.

Between August 2012 and October 2013, allegedly at Smack’s direction, Girls Scouts issued 23 checks to ZB that totaled $368,278.

The evidence uncovered by the FBI shows that most of the checks to ZB were then deposited into one of two bank accounts opened under the names of the company and Smack’s dead brother.

According to the affidavit, bank surveillance photographs show an individual who looks like Smack either depositing or withdrawing funds into or from these bank accounts.

In a statement, Carol Dedrich, a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, said that when officials discovered monetary irregularities, they contacted authorities and terminated Smack.

"We are shocked and disappointed by this news and are cooperating completely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the statement read. "The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles has very high standards and expectations of our employees and our volunteers. We understand clearly that we all serve as role models for our girls and we take that responsibility very seriously."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bridgeport Welcomes New Firefighters


The Bridgeport Fire Department welcomed 11 new firefighters on Wednesday, and two more were promoted to captain and lieutenant.

Daniel R. Brelsford, Stephen M. Bueda, Sean G. Canfield, Thomas J. Coolidge, Alex R. Gomez, Ryan Kane, James D. Kozlowski, Patrick E. Krompinger, Michael M. Lupa, Myles S. Rich and Derek M. Villani were sworn in Wednesday evening. The new firefighters graduated this month from the Connecticut Fire Academy, according to public information officer Bill Kaempffer.

Salvatore Emanuel was promoted to captain and Michael Donovan was promoted to lieutenant.

“I am always reassured knowing that brave men and women of the Bridgeport Fire Department protect me, my wife and my children while we sleep,” said Mayor Bill Finch, in a statement on Wednesday. “This is a profession where people risk their lives to save strangers and for that you have my gratitude. You have joined a noble profession and an outstanding department here in Bridgeport.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Woman Robbed of Purse at Gunpoint


New London police are investigating after an armed robber stole a woman’s purse in the area of Bank Street and Blinman Street on Wednesday evening.

According to police, the female victim was approached by a man armed with a handgun around 7 p.m. Dec. 18. He grabbed her purse and ran. Police said the victim was not injured during the encounter.

The suspect is described as a black man wearing a ski mask, gray sweat pants and a gray hooded sweatshirt. He stands about 5-feet-7-inches tall and fled in the direction of Red Street, police said.

Authorities are actively investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Named Noel Arrested After Climbing New Haven’s Holiday Tree


A New Haven man, whose first name happens to be Noel, has been arrested after climbing the holiday tree in New Haven this afternoon and yelling to the crowd below.

Police said Noel Delgado, 42, was yelling in English and Spanish. Some of what he said was gibberish, according to police, but he also said he cannot support his family. 

The city parks department cut electricity to the tree as Delgado was in it so that he would not get electrocuted, and the New Haven Police Department talked him down. 

Delgado refused medical treatment and is being charged with second-degree breach of peace.

See video of the incident here.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Greenwich Postal Worker Saves Babies from Burning NY Building


A father threw his twin baby boys from the third floor of a burning building in the Bronx early Wednesday and the person who safely caught the infants is a postal employee who works in Greenwich.
Everdean Codner told NBC 4 New York that he and his wife woke to the smell of smoke and heard noise in the hallway of the home on East 220th Street. He opened the window and saw "flames gushing out" below, he said.
The family tried to climb down the fire escape, but could not make it with the 11-month-old boys, Codner said.
"I start screaming, 'Somebody help me catch this baby,' because I wasn't going to try to, like, risk it," Codner said.
A neighbor and a relative scrambled to their aid from the ground, and caught the babies one by one, Codner said.
The neighbor is Jermaine Shirley, a Greenwich postal employee.
Codner called out to Shirley, who was on the fire escape on the second floor.
"No one was below and he didn't want to start climbing down the stairs with both kids, so he started screaming for help, so I ran back there and said, 'Drop them, drop them, I'm here,'" Shirley said.
Shirley caught the infants and Codner's nephew caught them again on the first floor.
Codner and his wife then made their way down, he said. The babies were taken to the hospital and were expected to be fine.
Codner said he was supposed to be at work Wednesday when the fire broke out, but was home instead. He wonders what would have happened if he wasn't there.
"Thank God for the neighbors, for the quick response," Codner said. "One thing I was thinking, 'I hope my family makes it through.'" 
Shirly is humble about his role in the rescue.
"I was just there at the right time. I just thank God that they're still alive and was able to make me think fast enough," Shirley said.

Waterbury Residents Worry About ATVs in Winter


Driving is dangerous enough during a snowstorm, but families in Waterbury said ATVs and dirt bikers were tearing through their neighborhood in treacherous conditions.

They’ve been going illegally through the historic Overlook Neighborhood. The tracks were highly visible on Columbia Boulevard.

“It was very dangerous… They can’t stop if a car is coming or someone’s in the street,” said Simcha Gold.

Gold said was walking home Saturday when he saw them racing across the icy area during the snowstorm. He was afraid of getting hit.

Neighbors claimed that group of ATVs and even dirt bike riders came back during Tuesday’s storm. They apparently sped along hilly streets in some tough conditions.

”We're worried these ATVs are going to come around the corner… knock somebody over maim them or hurt them… or god forbid kill them,” said Michael Salvio.

Salvio, a neighborhood leader said safety wasn’t the only issue. He said machines destroyed the grass on people’s property and the medians too.

“We all are very outraged,” Salvio added.

Neighbors said they called Waterbury Police as soon as they saw the riders. By law, officers could not chase them down, so they were nearly impossible to catch. “We're working very closely with police to solve this problem,” Salvio said.

He encouraged everyone in the Overlook Neighborhood to watch out for them during the next storm, and give police pictures or descriptive information. That way authorities could catch whoever was doing this, so they didn’t keep tearing this place up.

Prayer Vigil for Jahi McMath


The family of an Oakland 8th grader declared "brain dead" following a tonsillectomy held a prayer vigil for the teen on Wednesday, one day after two tests showed no signs of life.

Hundreds of family, friends and other supporters attended the service at Paradise Baptist Church in Oakland for 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who had her tonsils removed on Dec. 9 and was declared brain dead three days later.

After the emotional prayer service, Jahi's mother, Latasha "Naila" Winkfield, urged supporters to keep praying for a miracle.

"Please don't give up on my baby because she will wake up," Winkfield said. "I don't have any doubt she will wake up. Doctors don't know. God has the final say."

Jahi is on a ventalator at Children's Hospital Oakland.

Her family has been holding court outside Children's Hospital for the last several days, taking to the media to make their battle public to keep Jahi on life support. Her heart is still beating, though two EEG tests on Tuesday showed no signs of life, according to her family. They say she seemed fine after her initial surgery, but ended up coughing up blood about 30 minutes later and suffered a cardiac arrest. She has not been conscious since.

Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, called attorney Chris Dolan earlier this week, who sent a "cease and desist" letter to Children's Hospital, telling the top staff that they had an "irreconcilable conflict of interest" in determining whether Jahi should be taken off life support. On Tuesday, hospital officials agreed, at least temporarily, to heed the family's request. Dolan told NBC Bay Area that "there is no established time table now," but that doctors will monitor her condition and "reassess and reevaluate in several days."

MORE: "Urgent" Request to Keep 8th Grader Jahi McMath on Life Support After Tonsillectomy

Dolan also said the hospital is refusing to hand over medical records to the family.

In response, Consumer Watchdog on Wednesday called on the California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley and California Medical Board President Sharon Levine to take over the investigation into the case.

In a statement, the hospital said, "As a matter of policy, we do not release the entire medical record while the patient is in the hospital, since it is a document in continuous use. All families have the right to review the record while the patient is in the hospital, and have access to the entire record after the hospitalization has ended."

Furthermore, the hospital said it is prevented from commenting by federal laws that restrict doctors from speaking about their patients' medical history without consent. Dr. David Durand, chief of pediatrics, stated in an email that " unfortunately, we have not been authorized by the family to share information with the public about this matter.  Consequently, we are not able to correct misperceptions created about this sad situation."

Jahi had the tonsillectomy to help her with sleep apnea, the family has said, but has never disclosed more.

MORE: Brain Dead Oakland Teen's Family Seeking Mayor's Help

Jahi's family is hoping the prayers will help. Despite a "brain dead" diagnosis, the 8th grader's heart continues to beat. And that gives Jahi's God-fearing family something to hang onto.

"I can't wait to go back to the hospital and tell Jahi how many people prayed for her," Winkfield said. "And they believe she will get up."

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Hurd

Stamford Student Charged in Revenge Porn Case


A high school student in Stamford, Conn., has been arrested after posting a sexually explicit photo of his ex-girlfriend an Instagram in a local case of a growing nationwide problem referred to as “revenge porn.”

Police said the 17-year-old boy took a photo of the two engaged in a sex act, without the victim's consent, and posted it online in retaliation.

The victim notified police on Monday after friends told her about it, police said.

Authorities quickly had the photo removed and took the suspect into custody. His name has not been released because of his age, but police said he has been charged with voyeurism and disseminating voyeuristic materials,

He has since been released to the custody of his parents and he'll be in court next week.

Police want to be clear that the incident did not happen on school grounds.

Similar instances have made headlines across the country, prompting experts to urge parents to educate their children on the dangers of technology.

"At that age, couples are breaking up all the time and they don't have the maturity to handle the issue," Rich Hanley, an Internet expert and professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, said. "The first instinct, the first impulse is to post something negative about the person doing the breaking up."

Two states -- California and New Jersey -- recently added anti "revenge porn" laws to the books. Similar proposals are in the works in a handful of states. Local lawmakers say they are looking into legislation to stem the problem in Connecticut.

State Rep. Gerald Fox said last month that he plans to combat this problem in the next session.

"But I think everyone would agree it's the type of behavior that shouldn't be tolerated," said Fox.

Indictment of McDonnell Delayed


A decision to indict Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell by this week on felony charges has been delayed, according to a report from the Washington Post.

The report states U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente, told the governor and his wife, Maureen, that he planned to "ask a jury to return an indictment no later than this past Monday."

The couple would have been charged for promoting Jonnie Williams' Star Scientific Inc. in exchange for gifts and loans to the McDonnell family, totaling more than $150,000.

The Post reports McDonnell's lawyers argued McDonnell did nothing wrong, and questioned the "credibility of a key witness." The lawyers also wanted to delay the indictment for the governor to complete his four-year term to "allow for a smooth transition of power to Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D)."


Photo Credit: AP

Police Investigate Gas Station Robbery in Durham


Police are investigating a robbery early this morning at the Valero gas station on Main Street in Durham.

State Police said two men went into the store around 4:30 a.m. and implied a weapon, but never showed one.

They fled with cash. Police have not said how much.

No one was injured during the robbery.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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