Tuesday, February 28, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State professor recognized by national association
A Mississippi State University professor has been honored by the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education. According to an MSU news release, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Leonard D. Taylor Jr. has received the organization's dissertation of the year award. A native of Milwaukee, Taylor started at MSU after receiving a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on data utilization by higher education administrators to assure better consumption of knowledge. Taylor has been invited to share his research at the association's national convention in Raleigh March 23-25.
Impact Black Greek Lettered Organizations Have On Colleges And Universities
Predominantly African-American Greek letter organizations have been around for more than 100 years. Their impact today is still strong on college campuses and all over the world. Eight of the predominately black organizations are active on Mississippi State University's campus. Members tell WCBI Greek life has a significant impact on the university, like encouraging student involvement and also helping student stay focused on academic success. "Greek life here at Mississippi State plays a big role as far as giving back to the community," said Gregory Hubbard, member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
NWS: Deep South States at Risk for Strong Storms Wednesday
The National Weather Service says Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia are all at risk for severe weather on Wednesday. The Storm Prediction Center says a weather system moving eastward across the Deep South could spawn severe thunderstorms with high winds and isolated, brief tornadoes. The areas at greatest risk include northeastern Mississippi, northern Alabama, and the northwestern corner of Georgia. The chances of strong storms are lower near the coast.
Thousands Throng to New Orleans for Fat Tuesday Celebrations
The streets of New Orleans will be filled Tuesday with costumed revelers, dazzling floats featuring kings and queens, and people of all ages screaming for trinkets and beads. Lots of beads. Tuesday marks the culmination of the Carnival season, which started Jan. 6. The biggest parades take place along the St. Charles Avenue parade route, where the Krewe of Zulu kicks off the morning's parades and is followed by the Krewe of Rex. At the stroke of midnight, police on horseback do a ceremonial clearing of revelers on Bourbon Street to mark the formal end of the Carnival season before Lent begins Wednesday. The word "carnival" comes from the Latin words meaning "farewell to flesh," and was originally a time to revel and to use up all the fat and meat in the larder before the austerities of Lent.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves kills bill to collect internet tax, earmark for roads
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that the Mississippi Senate will reject House legislation that would force retailers to collect taxes on internet sales and earmark the money for road and bridge work. Reeves told reporters Monday that House Bill 480 will die in committee Tuesday, at the deadline for committees to act on bills originating in the opposite chamber. That means lawmakers are unlikely to offer any new earmarked stream of revenue for transportation spending this year, although they could still choose to borrow money as a one-year stopgap. A Republican, Reeves said he opposes the House bill because it defies decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent saying states can't force companies without an in-state presence to collect taxes. "We believe it's unconstitutional." Reeves said.
Internet tax bill to die today
Legislation designed to try to force internet companies to collect the 7 percent tax on items sold to Mississippians and remit that revenue to the state will die today when it is not taken up in the Senate Finance Committee. During an interview in his office Monday, Lt Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, said the legislation is unconstitutional and called the revenue that supporters of the legislation said would be generated by its passage "fake money." Finance Chair Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, who also was in Reeves' office for the interview, said definitively the bill would not pass his committee today -- a deadline day. The bill, as it passed the House, is the only vehicle alive designed to provide an additional stream of revenue to repair what has been described as a deteriorating infrastructure system in the state.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves: Senate killing online sales tax for roads bill
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves says the Senate will let a House bill to tax online sales in Mississippi die with Tuesday's deadline for committee passage, calling the proposal "unconstitutional." House Bill 480 would have required companies with $250,000 a year or more in online sales in Mississippi to collect and remit to the state a 7 percent "use tax" that has been on the books for decades. The bill surfaced as online sales giant Amazon agreed recently to begin voluntarily collecting the tax on its sales -- expected to generate between $15 million and $30 million a year. The House bill would direct the online sales collections to state and local road and bridge maintenance and repair. Rep. Trey Lamar III, R-Senatobia, author of HB 480, conceded the bill would likely be challenged in court -- and would give Mississippi a "seat at the table" in the litigation -- but said he disagrees that it is unconstitutional.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves: Internet sales tax bill is dead
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that the House bill that would have created an internet sales tax will die in committee on Tuesday's deadline for action. The bill, which passed in the House by a 76-41 margin on Feb. 1, would require out-of-state businesses with more than $250,000 in sales but no physical presence in Mississippi to collect state sales tax from Mississippi customers. "Frankly, we believe the bill is unconstitutional," Reeves said in a meeting with reporters Monday. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states did not have the right to tax inter-state sales, including internet sales. Reeves cited the case Monday, calling any revenue from the House bill "fake money" and "cannot be spent until the U.S. Supreme Court says it can be collected."
Mississippi's $88 million Medicaid problem: Legislators baffled
An air of frustration hung in room 216 on Thursday afternoon at the Capitol. After more than an hour of debate, the Senate Medicaid Committee had approved two bills. One revised the requirements for the agency's executive director. Another purported to root out beneficiary and provider fraud. But neither addressed the elephant in the room: the growing chasm between how much the state wants to spend on Medicaid and what running the program actually costs. After the meeting, the committee's chairman, Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, sighed and shook his head when asked if the Legislature knew how to address the problem. "I think they don't have a good handle because (Medicaid's) so complicated. And we're dealing with a group of people that's not a natural constituency for anybody here. But we have a duty to take care of the least fortunate," Wiggins said.
Will the House bring back a lottery bill?
A House Democrat asked his peers Monday to revive the possibility of a lottery bill. Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, announced on the floor Monday afternoon that he plans to file a suspension resolution to introduce a lottery bill to help the state's roads, bridges and education. "The deadlines have passed but we are recognizing as each day passes that we are in a more precarious financial situation as the budget goes," Hughes said. The resolution would allow the House to suspend the rules and introduce a new bill. The move comes after Gov. Phil Bryant told the Associated Press last week that he supports a renewed push for a lottery.
Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, pushes for lottery
Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, is urging colleagues to suspend the rules and take up a lottery bill outside the normal deadline. Hughes made the push on the House floor Monday. Two lottery bills in the House have already died. Last week, Gov. Phil Bryant said he would like to see a bill for the game introduced this session, amid lagging revenue. Hughes proposed having one-fourth of the proceeds designated for municipalities and 50 percent earmarked for education. The remaining funds would go toward counties. Municipalities and cities would have discretion on how to spend the revenue, but Hughes indicated most would apply the funds toward infrastructure. "Clearly the need right now is roads and bridges," he said. The legislation faces an uphill battle.
Tupelo taking it slow on 'to-go cup' law
One day, you might be able to stroll around parts of downtown Tupelo holding an open cup topped off with booze, but it's no certainty yet. Last year, the Mississippi state legislature approved a bill allowing Tupelo and some other cities around the state to create outdoor leisure and recreation districts where alcohol could be sold and consumed. That law officially went into force last July. Tupelo, however, has not yet established any such recreation districts. "We're taking baby steps," said Downtown Main Street Association Executive Director Debbie Brangenberg. "We want to get it right." Last year's law allowed any city in the Gulf Coast counties to create outdoor recreational districts, as well as other cities throughout the state, including Hattiesburg, Jackson, Starkville, Holly Springs and Corinth. During this session, legislation was introduced to expand the law to include the city of Natchez.
Mississippi ranks No. 19 in Roll Call newspaper's latest clout index
Mississippi is an overachiever. Roll Call, a Washington-based paper that covers legislative news and the machinations of Congress, has for years been ranking states based on their clout on the hill and Mississippi once again is doing pretty well by that measure. The state is No. 32 in population but No. 19 in clout, down slightly from 18 in the previous index. Most of the state's influence, according to Roll Call, derives from the Senate where Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker have a combined 66 years of experience, most of that on Cochran's part. Cochran also is chairman of the Appropriations Committee and that committee's Defense Subcommittee. Clout apparently pays handsomely. Experts say Mississippi gets about $3 for every $1 it sends to D.C. and federal spending makes up around 40 percent of the state's revenue.
Despite Trump's pledge, governors expect little federal spending on infrastructure
President Trump said again Monday that he was preparing to spend big on infrastructure. But even as he spoke, administration officials and congressional leaders were telling governors to expect little new federal investment in roads, bridges, transit systems, dam repairs and other water works. Instead, the administration and congressional leaders plan to take a more incremental approach of spurring public-private partnerships -- such as toll roads -- by loosening environmental reviews, removing other red tape and possibly approving new tax credits. While some governors say private projects will provide little help in repairing their aging infrastructure, others say they will be forced to embrace the fiscal reality. Trump appears to have little GOP support for a big-money federal jobs program.
Aerospace firm to open Clinton factory, employ 70
Precision Machining Services of Chattanooga, Tenn., will create 70 jobs and invest $5 million in a manufacturing facility in the Clinton Industrial Park. Precision will move into the 60,000-square-foot former Akzo-Nobel facility, according to a news release. The 14-acre site will house machining and painting services for the aerospace and defense industry. "We are looking forward to expanding our company in Clinton and we appreciate the support we have received from the city in creating this opportunity," said Precision President Wayne Oettinger. "With the current expansion of McNeely Plastics, Taylor Power locating operations in Clinton and a future announcement of nearly 60 jobs, the Clinton Industrial Park has seen the creation of over 275 jobs since 2013," Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher said.
USM delivers books to rebuild Petal Upper Elementary's library after tornado
There's knowledge, power, and even magic between the pages of a book, but the January 21st tornado destroyed many of those for students at Petal Upper Elementary. Here's good news to start your day with. Petal Upper Elementary school got a special delivery from students and faculty of USM's Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education. They had a book drive to stack the books back up and rebuild the library for those students affected by the tornado. Co-organizer, Tracey Hodges, said she's overwhelmed at the 1,700 plus books the department was able to gather. "We had regional libraries come and bring us books. We had Boise State University send us books, and then we had our students just come and say I have 20 bucks can you buy books with this," Hodges said.
Several students at U. of Alabama have mumps
Several students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa have been diagnosed with the mumps. The Alabama Department of Public Health, in a news release Friday, said it's investigating those cases and working with the school to contact potentially exposed people. Mumps is a virus that spreads through saliva and mucus from the mouth, nose or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, talking, sharing items, and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands. Mumps is best known for the appearance of puffy cheeks and swollen jaws, but these symptoms only occur in up to two-thirds of infected persons.
U. of Tennessee forum discusses free speech on campus
A free speech forum at the University of Tennessee on Monday touched on First Amendment issues as they have affected the university over the past year, including a controversial tweet made last fall by a professor of law. "Free speech is one of the most important topics in America today," said Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center and the moderator of Monday's forum at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The forum also comes as Tennessee lawmakers earlier this month proposed a bill to ensure free speech on Tennessee campuses after the controversial speeches of a former Breitbart News editor spurred protests at colleges around the country. Two students, two faculty members and an administrator made up a panel that weighed in Monday on various issues related to free speech as they have appeared on the University of Tennessee campus.
UGA scientists testing remedy for Gulf War illness
University of Georgia researchers are testing a possible treatment for a disease that's affected as many as a fourth of the 700,000 troops who served in Operation Desert Storm and other Gulf War combat a quarter-century ago in 1990 and 1991. "Substantial cognitive, learning and motor deficits are among the most profound and debilitating effects of Gulf War illness," said Nick Filipov, associate professor in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine's physiology and pharmacology department. Other members of the research team include John Wagner, a professor in the department of physiology and pharmacology, and Don Harn, professor in the department of infectious diseases. The research is funded by a $750,000 U.S. Department of Defense grant.
U. of Kentucky to open regional medical campus in Northern Kentucky
The University of Kentucky College of Medicine will develop a regional medical school campus in partnership with Northern Kentucky University and St. Elizabeth Healthcare for four-year medical education. It's the third such regional partnership that UK has announced. UK's Lexington campus is at capacity, and regional campuses will help bolster the number of much-needed doctors throughout the state, said Robert DiPaola, dean of UK's College of Medicine. Details have to be worked out, but officials have signed a memorandum of understanding. "In Kentucky we have a shortage of physicians, especially primary care physicians, throughout the state," UK President Eli Capilouto said. "As the university for Kentucky, we are working in close partnership with leading universities in our state and regional medical centers to directly respond to this need."
Should South Carolina allow more guns on college campuses?
The week he turned 21, Patrick McGregor applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. But when the Charleston native goes to class at the University of South Carolina, the criminal justice major has to leave his Ruger LC9 -- and, he adds, his peace of mind -- at home. "As students, we're sitting ducks." McGregor is president of Students for Concealed Carry at USC, a group that backs an S.C. House proposal that would allow South Carolinians with permits to carry concealed weapons to take their guns on public college campuses. State Rep. Steven Long, R-Spartanburg, says his "campus carry" bill would deter shootings, sexual assaults and other crimes on college campuses and at sporting events. But the proposal faces sharp resistance from the state's two largest universities, and from Democrats -- in the S.C. House and in USC's student population -- who say guns only threaten campus safety.
Warm weather crimps flow of sap -- and syrup -- at U. of Missouri's maple grove
It's nicknamed the "sugar bush." The grove of about 130 maple trees on a knoll east of Ashland bears the marks of maple syrup production: plastic buckets and bags for collecting the thin sap that's boiled down to make the familiar sweetener. Some of the bigger trees have two buckets on either side. A couple inches of sap lined the bottoms of a few on Feb. 18, but most were empty. Unseasonably warm temperatures have put a dent in syrup production this winter at the University of Missouri's Baskett Wildlife Research and Education Center. The 100 gallons of sap that became almost two gallons of syrup earlier this month was the second batch of the season, and probably the last. This year, only around 200 gallons of sap was collected -- about half of the yearly average. The research center usually collects 400 to 500 gallons of sap over the course of the season that runs from the end of January through early to mid-March, when temperatures are below freezing at night and above freezing during the day.
Betsy DeVos criticized for calling black colleges 'pioneers of school choice'
Monday evening, the Education Department issued a statement from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that has infuriated many advocates for historically black colleges. The statement comes when many leaders of black colleges are in Washington for meetings at the White House and with Republican Congressional leaders, who have been wooing black colleges and pledging to help them. Most of the statement is innocuous. But DeVos goes on to link black colleges to the issue of school choice -- a cause for which she is an advocate. "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice," she said. "They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish." While that summarizes the school choice argument, social media lit up late Monday with supporters of black colleges noting that the institutions were founded because black students had, in many respects, no choice.
Proposed UNC policy would keep academic centers from taking part in lawsuits
The Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill does not disguise its advocacy for minority and low-income people in the state. Since the late Julius L. Chambers -- the civil rights lawyer noted for winning cases before the Supreme Court and for pursuing lawsuits on school desegregation and job discrimination, even though he was the target of bombings -- founded the center in 2001, it has taken part in federal and state lawsuits on school segregation and finance, housing discrimination, compensation for victims of forced sterilization, and community displacement. Now the center's supporters say it is the target of a proposed UNC system policy change that would prevent academic centers and their employees from filing legal claims, acting as legal counsel or representing others in complaints, motions, lawsuits and other legal actions. Such a policy change would have a devastating impact on academic freedom, as well as on the privately funded center's work and its ability to prepare students for careers as lawyers, those supporters argue.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State agree to four-year contract extension
Mississippi State has come to terms with Dan Mullen on a four-year contract extension that runs through February 2021. Mullen will be paid $4.5 million for the upcoming season, a $500,000 raise from his 2016 salary. "I am very thankful to the university and athletic administration for their belief in me," Mullen said in a statement. "We have built a special program over the last eight years, creating a culture where winning is expected while achieving that in the toughest division in college football. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I am truly excited about the direction we are heading as a program. This extension allows my family a long-term future here in Starkville, a place we are proud to call home."
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen gets four-year contract extension
Dan Mullen and Mississippi State finalized a four-year contract extension through February 2021, athletic director John Cohen announced Monday. Mullen is set to make $4.5 million this season. Other details regarding the contract were not made public. This is the first contract for Mullen with new agent Jimmy Sexton. Mississippi state law does not allow for a contract to be longer than four years, so Mullen's new deal gets him back to the maximum length allowed. Mullen is currently the second-longest tenured head coach in the SEC. He has produced more bowl game victories (five) and bowl appearances (seven straight) than any coach in school history. The announcement of Mullen's extension comes just in time for MSU's spring football practices, which begin Thursday.
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen has contract extended through '20
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has received a contract extension through the 2020 season. The school announced on Monday that Mullen, who is entering his ninth year with the Bulldogs, will make a base salary of $4.5 million in 2017. Terms for the next three seasons were not disclosed. A four-year contract is the longest allowed by state law. Mullen, 44, has a 61-42 record through eight seasons at Mississippi State. He's just four wins from tying Allyn McKeen for second place in school history and 12 shy of school leader Jackie Sherrill.
Mississippi State awards Dan Mullen 4-year extension
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has received a four-year contract extension worth $4.5 million a year, the school announced on Monday. Mullen is entering his ninth season at MSU and has the program's best winning percentage since Allyn McKeen had a .764 mark from 1939-49. Mullen is 61-42 as the MSU head coach. Mullen is the second-longest tenured head coach in the SEC and has produced more bowl victories (five) and bowl appearances (seven straight) than any coach in school history. Mullen's extension will last through the 2021 campaign. Mullen was named the 2014 National and SEC Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the team to a 10-3 mark and an Orange Bowl bid.
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen gets raise, contract extension through 2021 season
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has agreed to a raise and a contract extension through 2021, the school announced Monday. Mullen, 44, is 61-44 in eight seasons in Starkville. He is 5-2 in bowl games, including a 17-16 victory over Miami of Ohio in the St. Petersburg Bowl this past season. "Dan has brought unprecedented success to Bulldog football and is one of the elite coaches in the country," MSU athletics director John Cohen said. "From a school-record seven straight bowl games to our performance in the classroom, he continues to raise the standard of excellence." Mississippi State opens spring practice on Thursday.
5 spring football questions for Mississippi State
Unlike around this time last year, Mississippi State enters its spring Thursday knowing who its starting quarterback is. It's Nick Fitzgerald, who returns as one of the best at his position in the SEC. While that's reassuring for the Bulldogs, there still are a few other pieces to the puzzle that need to be figured out. Here are five questions for Mississippi State as it heads into spring practice this week.
Tough month will end tonight for Bulldogs
The month of February has not been kind to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have won just once this month, losing their last six games. To make matters worse, MSU may be without its leading scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon tonight as visits South Carolina at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. Weatherspoon, who averages 16.5 points per game, sprained his ankle late in the 77-48 loss at Vanderbilt on Saturday and was listed as doubtful by coach Ben Howland. An X-ray on the sophomore guard came back negative on Monday and his minutes will go to freshmen Tyson Carter and Eli Wright if he is unable to play. Despite the Bulldogs' recent struggles, Howland still fills like there is still fight left in his team as it closes out the season.
Mississippi State's Quinndary Weatherspoon doubtful for Tuesday vs. South Carolina
The way Ben Howland sees it, Quinndary Weatherspoon is talented enough to record a triple-double on any given night. The sophomore guard has yet to do that, but from Howland's perspective, that's the kind of player Weatherspoon can become. Howland said that after Mississippi State's win against Missouri on Jan. 25. Weatherspoon racked up 29 points, eight rebounds and four assists in that game. It was the kind of performance that helped make him a finalist Sunday for the C Spire Howell Trophy, which is awarded annually to the best men's basketball player in the state. Before that game, Howland said Weatherspoon has positioned himself to finish the rest of the season playing his best basketball. Has he? In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. He has shined in some games. In others, he hasn't. Now time is running out on this season for Weatherspoon, especially, who Howland said was doubtful for MSU's game Tuesday at South Carolina (6 p.m., ESPNU) because of a sprained ankle.
Three Bulldogs named finalists for Howell, Gillom trophies
Three Mississippi State players are up for the state's top basketball honors. Victoria Vivians and Morgan William were named finalists for the Gillom Trophy, which goes annually to the top collegiate women's basketball player, while Quinndary Weatherspoon is a finalist for the top men's award, the Howell Trophy. Vivians is a two-time winner of the Gillom Trophy and could be the first three-time recipient in the award's 10 years. The junior guard from Carthage leads the Bulldogs averaging 17.2 points per game. The winner will be announced March 6 at 11:30 a.m. at a banquet at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum with Bailey Howell and Peggie Gillom-Granderson in attendance.
Mississippi State's Brent Rooker earns player of the week honors
Mississippi State's Brent Rooker was named one of Collegiate Baseball's National Players of the Week and also the SEC Player of the Week on Monday. Rooker went 9-for-23 last week with four doubles, three home runs, 14 RBIs, five runs scored and five stolen bases. The junior right fielder currently leads the conference with 17 RBIs, 27 total bases and eight steals, ranks second with five doubles and is third with three homers and seven walks. Rooker earned SEC Player of the Week once last season along with former teammate Nathaniel Lowe.
Honors roll in for Mississippi State's Brent Rooker following huge offensive weekend
Following a three home run, 14 RBI week, Mississippi State outfielder Brent Rooker has been named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week and a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball. The SEC honor marks the first for a Diamond Dawg in 2017 and the second for Rooker, as he was named Player of the Week on March 14, 2016. Rooker is one of 18 Bulldogs to have combined for 29 SEC Player of the Week honors dating back to 1985. The week reached a highlight when the Preseason All-American went 8-for-8 with three home runs, three doubles and 14 RBIs over a two-game stretch vs. Indiana State (Feb. 24) and Marist (Feb. 25). Rooker and the rest of the Diamond Dawgs will return to action this weekend with a three-game series at Oregon, which opens Friday, March 3 at 8 p.m. CT.
Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy says Sugar Bowl vs. Ole Miss was 'uneven playing field'
One of Ole Miss' signature wins in recent years was a 48-20 victory over Oklahoma State in the Jan. 1, 2016 Sugar Bowl. But after the Rebels were accused of major NCAA violations last week, the coach on the receiving end of that loss is openly wondering if Ole Miss should continue to receive credit for the victory. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy told the Tulsa World for a story published Sunday that the Rebels and Cowboys "didn't all play by the same rules" in the months leading up to that game. "We'll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field," Gundy said. "That is the truth. I'm not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we'll never know. ...If everybody is playing by the rules and you get your butt kicked, that's OK. I can live with that. But when it's an uneven playing field, that's not fair."
Why Ole Miss can't play in the SEC title game either
For those wondering, Ole Miss' self-imposed one-year postseason ban does include the SEC Championship Game along with a bowl, a school spokesman confirmed. So no matter their record, the Rebels' season will end against Mississippi State on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) in Starkville. Ole Miss announced the postseason ban last week when it received a notice of allegations from the NCAA's enforcement staff. There are 21 allegations against the Rebels' football program. The Rebels were kept out of a bowl game after a 55-20 loss in the Egg Bowl to end the season, which put them at 5-7.

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