Friday, May 22, 2009

Your Blog Patience at Work

Please forgive the lack of posting and visiting, but I am finally getting a chance to work on the Dee episodes of The Golden Ganesh. The actress recording them has only one episode left to do, so I'm hoping we can get to the fun of listening to it soon.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

For Paper Mountain’s Majesty: Frère Jacques Not Caught Sleeping

In his book Alien Contact, Timothy Good told the story of documentary filmmakers Alan Sandler and Robert Emenegger. In 1972, they received an invitation to the Pentagon where Col. William Coleman and Col. George Weinbrenner showed them photographs and movies of what appeared to be humans interacting with gray aliens, one of them a supposed survivor of an earlier flying saucer.*

The following year (1973), they received another invitation, this time to Norton AFB (San Bernardino, CA), where they met with the head of that base’s AFOSI, and Paul Shartle, former head of security. The two airmen showed the filmmakers footage of an apparent landing of a “bathtub” shaped UFO that took place at Holloman AFB (Alamogordo, NM) in 1971.** Air Force officials allowed them use of the footage, at first. Suddenly, however, Col. Coleman withdrew the offer, explaining that the burgeoning Watergate scandal made the release of such sensitive material “politically inappropriate.” Col. Coleman (who appears in the film) nevertheless allowed them to report on the Holloman incident if the pair presented the case as a hypothetical scenario. They did. And in 1979, they finished their documentary, UFOs: It Has Begun, hosted by everyone’s favorite chain-smoking sophisticate, Rod Serling.

Figure 1. UFOs: It Has Begun (90 Minutes—The Holloman AFB segment begins at 1:23:12)

UFOs: It Has Begun also featured narration by actors Burgess Meredith and José Ferrer in addition to interviews of witnesses and of such serious ufologists as Dr. Jacques Vallee (PhD in Computer Science, Northwestern) and Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who taught astrophysics at Ohio State, Northwestern and Harvard, and did his research at the Smithsonian. In his 1991 book Revelations, Vallee wrote that Col. Coleman met again with Emenegger in 1985. Coleman promised to release the footage he withheld from UFOs: It Has Begun on the condition that he create a new project that directly involved Drs. Hynek and Vallee.

Figure 2. J. Allen Hynek (left) and Jacques Vallee (right)

Hynek and Vallee later met separately with Generals Robert Scott and Glenn Miller, the Director and Deputy Director (respectively) of the Defense Audiovisual Agency (DAVA) at Norton AFB. Both scientists puzzled over the purpose of the meetings, for the officers divulged no new information. Instead, the generals seemed more like unabashed UFO freaks who wanted to establish a rapport (or street cred, as the kids would say). This left Vallee to wonder what Scott and Miller really wanted. Maybe they wanted to attach Vallee and Hynek, two of the most respected (and respectable) names in ufology, to a dubious project in order to discredit them later. Maybe the Air Force Intelligence wanted them to pump them for info on new ufologists or new research trends in the subject. Worse yet, maybe the officers wanted to use Hynek and Vallee as conduits of disinformation/misinformation.

Whatever the motivations of General Scott and General Miller might have been, one thing becomes clear. The disclosure of the MJ-12 documents, the intrusion by the military into the life of Paul Bennewitz, the propagation of secret films to filmmakers for public discussion (if not disclosure) during a period of time that encompassed almost two decades extends the scope of these activities beyond the abilities of a single non-commissioned counterintelligence officer named Sgt. Richard Doty. In other words, were this misdirection merely Doty’s prank, then we would have to marvel at how he could have pulled this off. After all, that would require him to have manipulated at least one Captain (Collins), one security officer (Shartle), a Colonel (Coleman) and two generals (Scott and Miller). One would have to wonder what kind of power this sergeant wielded over superior officers to make them jeopardize their careers, just to pull a prank on UFO buffs. One would have to ask how he could get the use of the Pentagon for filming.

It seems far more likely that Sgt. Doty was but one of a number of military personnel attempting to shape public discourse on the subject of UFOs. If someone were simply trying to punk the entire UFO community, it wouldn’t be someone like Doty, but someone with real power, real authority, more likely people like Generals Scott and Miller. One would still have to ask if these military commanders simply went out and did this on their own, or did they have the backing and blessing of civilian superiors—especially when one considers the fact that the Presidents during the time in question (1977-1988) were James Carter and Ronald Reagan: two men who believed in the existence of UFOs.

In short, we’d have to consider the possibility that this type of non-disclosure disclosure represented some sort of US policy on national air defense. Moreover, we would have to consider that such shenanigans weren't limited to the US, and extended far beyond the Carter and Reagan years.

*The United States Air Force would later claim that the film shown to Sandler and Emenegger was “theatrical” footage used only for training purposes, and not the recording of an actual event.

**Sgt. Richard Doty claimed that this incident occurred in April 24, 1964, the same night that Officer Lonnie Zamora of the Socorro, NM Police Department reported a now-famous sighting. Doty said that the aliens got lost in the desert, and appeared to Zamora by mistake. (Perhaps they should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.)

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

For Paper Mountain’s Majesty: FALCON and the Snow Job*

Because of his business, Paul Bennewitz had friends at Kirtland AFB, among them Col. Ernest Edwards, chief of security at the base’s Manzano Nuclear Weapons Storage Area. From 1980 on, he would receive attention from a few more folks at Kirtland. And through his connections at the base, he’d also find someone within ufology who would listen to him.

A number of Kirtland personnel met with Bennewitz in 1980. One, Sgt. Richard Doty, gave him a copy of a teletype dated November 17, 1980 which read in part:

The official US Government policy and results of Project Aquarius is [sic] still classified TOP SECRET with no dissemination outside channels and with access restricted to MJ-TWELVE.
So, almost four years to the day before Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera received their first batch of documents in the mail, and seven years before these papers had become known to most ufologists at 24th Annual UFO Conference in San Francisco, Sgt. Doty had in his possession a teletype mentioning the alleged secret cabal of government insiders known to lore as Majestic Twelve. Moore, in fact, helped Bennewitz develop his research activities and theories, which were rapidly expanding beyond the twilight zone.

Now, it’s one thing to feed someone a steady diet of tall tales. It’s quite another to do so in a way that jeopardizes the listener’s health. And that seems to have been the case here. For years after his initial report to Kirtland, Bennewitz felt increasingly threatened by shadowy government and alien forces. Moore’s counsel didn't seem to help his despair, which came to a head in 1985 when Bennewitz suffered an emotional breakdown requiring hospitalization. As a result, Bennewitz, for the most part, fell silent on the matter of UFOs and EBEs (save for a few recorded conversations and informal interviews, such as he gave to Brad Smith in 1988 and 1989), and remained so until his death in 2003.

At first glance, we might think of Bennewitz as someone who might have seen, filmed and photographed anomalous activity in New Mexico, misinterpreted this evidence, and subsequently went psycho. Nevertheless, many ufologist and parapolitical writers, among them Greg Bishop, saw this as a case where a researcher named Bennewitz confused “the authority of the messenger with the truth of the message” (as put by Dee Finney—see Anne Strieber link at the bottom of this post). Perhaps both suppositions are true. In either case, he didn’t act alone. He got a lot of help.

The entire Bennewitz affair reached a climax on the night of July 1, 1989, during the Mutual UFO Network’s (MUFON) annual convention in Las Vegas. William Moore, a scheduled speaker, had uncharacteristically kept his presentation under wraps, not sending an abstract/summary to organizers, or hinting at what he would say, and declaring that he would take no questions after his presentation. So it came as a surprise to attendees when he publicly admitted to having served as a conduit of misinformation/disinformation to Bennewitz. Moreover, Moore said that his “…role in the affair…was primarily that of a freelancer providing information on Paul’s current thinking and activities.”

In short, Moore said that he spied on Bennewitz for Sgt. Richard Doty and other military personnel. He said he did this to maintain his confidential intelligence sources in sort of a quid-pro-quo deal. In exchange for extremely sensitive information on government UFO activities (which presumably included MJ-12, Project AQUARIUS and other alleged government programs), he would provide information about Bennewitz. In turn, Moore would also give information to Bennewitz, who must have been eager to receive it from the then head of APRO, an organization that months earlier had given him the bum’s rush. He would receive this intelligence because of the restlessness of a number of spies who chafed under the long-standing policy of non-disclosure, and itched for a way to finally break the story to the public.

Moore’s commentary during this 1989 presentation is quite fascinating, in terms of what might have possibly motivated members of the intelligence community to put forth outlandish stories about extraterrestrial visitation, and what led him to help government officials take down Bennewitz.

In early September, 1980, I was approached by a well-placed individual within the intelligence community who claimed to be directly connected to a high-level project dealing with UFOs. This individual told me that he spoke for a small group of similar indiivuals who were uncomfortable with the government's continuing cover-up of the truth and indicated that he and his group would like to help me with my research into the subject in the hope and expectation that I might be able to help them find a way to change the prevailing policy and get the facts to the public without breaking any laws in the process. The man who acted as liaison between this group and myself was an Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent named Richard Doty. I knew I was being recruited, but at that point I had no idea for what.
Moore made clear that he knew of, and understood the process of disinforming Bennewitz, for he had a ringside seat. Moore also detailed the effect that this alleged individualized PSYOPS campaign had on the physicist:

I know that this whole body of information if false, because I was in a position to observe much of the disinformation process as it unfolded. And I can tell you it was effective, because I watched Paul become systematically more paranoid and more emotionally unstable as he tried to assimilate what was happening to him. He had guns and knives all over his house, had installed extra locks on his doors, and he swore that `they' (meaning the aliens) were coming through his walls at night and injecting him with hideous chemicals, which would knock him out for long periods of time. He began to suffer increasing bouts of insomnia. I knew at that time that he was not far from an inevitable nervous collapse. His health had deteriorated, he had lost considerable weight, his hands shook as if from palsy, and he looked terrible. I tried to counsel him to drop the entire UFO thing before his health was completely destroyed. Not long afterward I heard he had been hospitalized and was under psychiatric care.
On the one hand, we might surmise that Sgt. Doty might have been nothing more than a prankster, a troll who masterminded a grand hoax of UFO information simply to see how much he could influence an outré movement. The fact that someone mailed a mystery document claiming to report on a November 1977 alien encounter at Ellsworth AFB (Rapid City, SD) to The National Enquirer, while Doty was stationed there, supports this belief.**

Moore claimed he didn’t know the reason behind discrediting Bennewitz. He could only say that he and Doty were “pawns” acting under the orders of others. And considering the participation of such players as Col. Edwards and Captain Robert Collins, it seems far more likely that whatever occurred extended well beyond Doty, at least to within a circle stationed at Kirtland AFB.

More important, there were even earlier attempts to communicate alleged disclosure material to other ufologists.

*This title unintentionally ripped-off from a subsection of Anne Strieber’s fascinating essay “How Disinformation Experts Spread Fear about UFOs.”

**Moore told ufologist Jacques Vallee that Doty admitted to forging the document.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For Paper Mountain’s Majesty: Amazing Stories of the Sweet Meat Space

Pilot, physicist* and respected businessman Paul Bennewitz (left), founded the Thunder Scientific Corporation in 1966. Located in Albuquerque, TSC’s defense contracts often required dealing with nearby Kirtland AFB.

Bennewitz developed a keen interest in the cattle mutilations occurring in New Mexico during the mid-1970s, and with a friend, State Trooper Gabe Valdez, began to investigate them. He developed a communications device that could tap into select frequencies, and with this gizmo collected evidence of what appeared to be a working relationship between extraterrestrials and US government employees. He augmented this information with numerous photographs and approximately 6,000 feet of 8mm film of apparent UFO activity in and around the town of Dulce, NM. After speaking with abductee claimant Myrna Hansen, who had recalled details of her UFO experiences with the help of psychology professor (University of Wyoming) Dr. Leo Sprinkle, Bennewitz became convinced of a long-term program that involved alien-human cooperation and cattle mutilation.

In an independent study titled “The Dulce Report: Investigating Alleged Human Rights Abuses at a Joint US Government-Extraterrestrial Base at Dulce New, Mexico,” ufologist Dr. Michael Salla (PhD in Government, Queensland University) cited the evidence Bennewitz listed in a his report, ”Project Beta”:

1. Two years continuous recorded electronic surveillance and tracking with d.F. 24 hr/day data of alien ships plus 6,000 feet motion picture of same.
2. Detection and disassembly of alien communication and video channels - both.
3. Constant reception of video from alien ship and underground base view-screen; typical alien, humanoid and at times apparent homo sapien.
4. A case history of an encounter victim in New Mexico which lead to the communications link and discovery that apparently all encounter victims have deliberate alien implants along with obvious accompanying scars. The victims cat scan. Five other cases were verified.
5. Established constant direct communication with the alien using a computer and a form of hex decimal code communication was instigated apparently.
6. Through the alien communication loop, the true underground base location.
Hansen told Bennewitz that gray aliens took her to a base located near Archuletta Mesa in Dulce. The aliens pretty much ran the place, barter-leasing the land and equipment for exotic technology. Apparently, the ET’s kept a number of humans there in captivity. He also believed that an armed conflict between humans and aliens happened there in 1979 over a misunderstanding. Most disturbing, the aliens allegedly used the humans and cow remains to create little green men. As Bennewitz explained in a 1985 letter to ufologist Timothy Good:

Research and computer communication would indicate that humanoids are made from the specific cattle parts….The humanoid is apparently green….A deal was made between the government and the aliens. I can only surmise what it was, but based upon my evidence, we helped build the base—gave them the land—in trade for the atomic ship and technology….We agreed to the cattle mutilations and lately are or were apparently helping in unmarked helicopters....
In 1980, Bennewitz approached the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), a group largely comprised of serious academics interested in UFOs. APRO reacted by treating Bennewitz with all the respect and interest one usually gives to raving lunatics. The organization dismissed Bennewitz as a crank at best, a psychotic paranoid at worst.

Bennewitz still felt compelled to share his findings with someone, so he contacted the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) at nearby Kirtland AFB, where he came into contact with Sgt. Richard Doty. Unlike the heady ufologists at APRO, the Air Force took Bennewitz and his claims quite seriously.

*Most sources say that Bennewitz had a PhD in Physics. Others say he was an ABD. All sources agree that he completed his doctoral coursework and comprehensive exams.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

For Paper Mountain’s Majesty: For the Birds

Several weeks before Sgt. Richard Doty met with reporter Linda Moulton Howe, ufologist Bill Moore got a telephone call from one of his confidential military/intelligence sources, who offered a leak of classified material on UFOs. Per the caller’s instructions, Moore rented a motel room in upstate New York, where he met a mystery man bearing a sealed brown envelope.

Opening the envelope, Moore took out eleven pages of what appeared to be an uncensored TOP-SECRET Executive Briefing dated June 14, 1977 for then-President Jimmy Carter (click here to read Moore’s transcription in its entirety). The mystery man told Moore that he had exactly nineteen minutes to examine the document, and that he could photograph or read portions of it into a tape recorder. The first part dealt with a project codenamed AQUARIUS, something he had heard of the previous year from another anonymous intelligence source he referred to as SEAGULL. The first page read in part:

(TS/ORCON) (PROWORD: DANCE). Contains 16 volumes of documented information collected from the beginning of the United States Investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and Identified Alien Crafts (IAC). The project was originally established in 1953, by order of President Eisenhower, under control of NSC and MJ12. In 1966, the Project’s name was changed from Project Gleem to Project Aquarius.
Throughout the 1980s, people representing some faction of the military and/or intelligence establishment made similar contacts with other UFO researchers. The number of people approached during this period is too large to go into detail here (see previous link). Nevertheless, the list of military contactees included Whitley Strieber, Dr. Bruce Maccabee, and veteran New York Times journalist Howard Blum.

In 1985, ufologist Len Stringfield met his military/intelligence/UFO contact, codenamed CONDOR, several times at Wright Patterson AFB (Dayton, OH). In an essay titled “UFO Crash/Retrievals: Is the Cover-Up Lid Lifting?” he described the content of these meetings:

Expressing interest in my research and sources, he [the intelligence contact] claimed to know a colonel with sensitive information relative to my work, but his proposal for me to meet with this source fell through and I heard no more. Later I learned that he confided with a member of the Fund for UFO Research and after that with Bill Moore.
A number of ufologists, among them Timothy Good and Robert Hastings, identified CONDOR as USAF Captain Robert Collins, a retired officer formerly assigned to the Sandia National Laboratories located at Sgt. Doty’s former stomping grounds, Kirtland AFB. CONDOR/Collins told other researchers that he broke off contact with Stringfield because he “found him too unreliable.”

We can only guess what that means. Maybe the Captain saw Stringfield as the kind of person who wouldn’t uncritically swallow classified leaks. Perhaps frustrated by Stringfield’s cynicism, CONDOR went in search of what seemed to him more cooperative researchers, hoping to could sow the seeds of a new UFO orthodoxy through them.

One thing is certain: FALCON and CONDOR helped formulate a certain brand of ufological dogma, either through proxies or on their own. In the 1988 television special UFO Cover-Up? Live, both men appeared in shadow (with voices altered) to state their bona fides and declare a cover-up.

Figure 1. UFO Cover-UP? Live segment with CONDOR and FALCON

A 2000 essay on Gunther Smith’s AlienZoo website reported on a chance encounter between the writer and UFO Cover-UP? Live host Mike Farrell. The author claimed that Farrell told him about the actor’s regrets concerning the special, in particular the cheesy telepromptered dialogue written for him. Although he felt that many of the witnesses impressed him as forthright and compelling, and that a government cover-up of UFO activities was a real possibility, Farrell apparently had severe misgivings about the CONDOR/FALCOLN segment:
However, when we got to the subject of Falcon and Condor, Mike Farrell stated what I already heard on the rumor mill -- that at least one of them was later shown up to be ‘not who he claimed to be’ and something of a fraud. Rumor has it that one of these two Aviary members was Richard Doty of Kirtland Air Force Base, who gained a reputation in the early 1990s as notorious for putting out false information about UFOs, as well as some bogus documents.
Sgt. Doty definitely fits Farrell’s description. If he in fact masqueraded as FALCON, then Doty misrepresented his identity, function and military status. Much of what he says seems not only untrue but humorous (do grey aliens really like strawberry ice cream?), and thus smacks of misinformation. And, of course, many of these documents seem to be beyond verification, and frankly beyond belief.

Of course what’s truly beyond belief is the alleged harassment of one UFO researcher who happened to cross the Kirtland Konnection.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

For Paper Mountains Majesty: Mooning the Seventh House

When the moon is in the seventh house,
And Jupiter aligns with Mars,
Then peace will guide the planets,
And love will steer the stars.

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

—James Rado & Gerome Ragni, Hair

In 1983, a year before Jaime Shandera received MJ-12 documents in the mail, Sgt. Richard Doty, a counterintelligence non-commissioned officer (CIC NCO) working with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), met with Linda Mouton Howe (left) in his office at Kirtland AFB (Albuquerque, NM). Unlike some retired beauty queens, Howe (Miss Idaho 1963) could boast of some rather impressive achievements, among them a Master’s Degree in communications from Stanford University and an Emmy for environmental reporting. As a journalist, her beat included coverage of the real-life carnage of animal mutilation in the US Southwest, and from there on she became interested in the subject of UFOs.

Although obviously a clever woman, Howe has the reputation both inside and outside of ufology of being (how can I say this?) quirky, and somewhat gullible. I’ve never met the woman personally. I know of her only from her writing and interviews, so I cannot comment on whether she deserves the reputation or not. If the depiction is accurate, one would normally regard her investigations with a pillar of salt. But with respect to this meeting with Doty, gullibility might ironically add credibility to her account of these events.

Howe originally contacted USAF officials to do research for a planned HBO documentary about a purported UFO landing and ET meeting at Holloman AFB in 1971. These officials put her in touch with Doty, who surprised her by flatly stating that the landing and meeting actually took place, but in 1964, not 1971. He then told her that his “superiors” wanted him to show her a stack of documents, although he forbid her to photograph, copy or take notes on them. Said Howe, “I took the papers and read the top page. It was entitled ‘Briefing for the President of the United States of America’ on the subject of unidentified and identified aerial craft or vehicles.”

Deeper down, she read papers detailing an extraterrestrial plan to genetically manipulate Earth’s primates and other intelligent species during specific points in our development: approximately 25,000, 15,000 and 2,500 years ago. Most spectacularly, the documents claimed that the space visitors created a human/alien hybrid around the year 4 B.C., who seems very Christ-like from the description.

Moreover, these documents said that the US government had considerable knowledge about ET activities around Earth, and had already begun surveillance on the visitors. British ufologist Timothy Good described the meeting in his 1993 book Alien Contact: Top-Secret UFO Files Revealed:

The briefing paper also listed a number of United States Government projects that had been established in order to study the alien question. These included Project Garnet, which had studied (and apparently resolved) all questions relating to the evolution of mankind; Project Sigma, an ongoing project, initiated in 1964 (presumably following the Holloman landing), dealing with alien communication; Project Snowbird, a continuing research effort into the development and implementation of alien spacecraft technology; and Project Aquarius, an overall project devoted to the accumulation of all available information about ‘Alien Life forms.’
In a subsequent letter to ufologist Barry Greenwood, Doty stipulated that the meeting took place (under the direct monitoring of his supervisor, a man he referred to as ‘FALCON,’) but denied that he allowed Howe to peruse secret documents:

I can tell you, without a doubt, that I never showed her any such document. First of all, I was not in a position to obtain any presidential briefing documents. Secondly, I would not allow a person without a security clearance to see any such document.... Finally, I know of no secret Government investigation of UFOs....
Howe responded to Doty’s denial by signing a notarized (but unsworn) statement reasserting her earlier characterization of the meetings.

In this particular he-said-she-said argument, I would tend to give the nod of credibility to Howe, for several reasons. First off, I’m more inclined to believe gullible people because of the old-fashioned Freudian/Horneyan concept known as ‘externalization.’ Many people develop a neurotic tendency to project their motives, beliefs, MOs onto mankind in general. A liar figures that everyone else must be dishonest too (which in a weird way, bolsters his belief that he is more honest than everyone else, for he acknowledges his deceit). Likewise, a person who is basically honest could neurotically believe that most people are honest, just like him. So, if Howe says that Doty showed her documents while at Kirtland, I’m inclined to believe that he showed her documents while at Kirtland.

Of course, I would be a piss poor researcher if I believed her based only on that reason. I would have to also point out that later incidents would underscore Sgt. Doty’s deceptiveness, most notably in his handling of Howe and another UFO researcher, Paul Bennewitz. And if you’re assuming that ufologists were the only ones questioning Doty’s credibility, then assume something else. Although he believed that there were no secret government investigations of UFOs, a very prominent UFO debunker (specifically Phil Klass) had trouble buying into Doty’s entire story (although Klass’ opinion of Howe wasn’t very good either).

Second, the statements that Doty makes here and elsewhere strike me as doublespeak stemming from plausible deniability. The language he uses in the above letter doesn’t really address Howe’s account. For example, when he says he never showed her the document, we have to wonder how he defines the word “show.” Did he shove a manila folder into her face and screech, “LOOK AT THIS!” or did he simply leave it on his desk, whereupon Howe asked what it was, and asked permission to go through it. In the latter example, did he really show the document to Howe? And even if he didn’t have permission to obtain such a document, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that someone gave it to him. After all, while I’m in DC, my sister can check out a library book for me because I don’t have a card. I’m not authorized to obtain the book, but there it is in my possession. If he wouldn’t allow her to see “such a [presumably sensitive] document,” could that mean the papers Howe reports seeing in his office might not be classified at all—especially useful if the paperwork is propaganda? And he could very well be telling the truth that he knows of no secret investigations into UFOs. After all, that would imply that these papers were formally classified, as opposed to simply government-generated documents.

Third, Doty had reached out to UFO researchers before, either as a representative of a superior officer codenamed FALCON, or as FALCON himself.

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