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Sat Mar 17th, 2018 at 09:42:07 PM EST
Slowly the wheels are turning ....
For months I've stated the relevance of the work done by Cambridge Analytica .... but no, It's Putin Who Did It!
See my recent diary - Bigger than Putin.
LATEST NEWS: Facebook suspends Cambridge Analytica, the data analysis firm that worked on the Trump campaign
Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach | The Guardian - 8 hrs ago |
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump's election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant's biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.
A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica - a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump's key adviser Steve Bannon - used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.
More below the fold ...
Sat Mar 17th, 2018 at 06:26:29 AM EST
A race for dismissal before his retirement on Sunday. That's All Folks!
McCabe's Firing Chips Away at the Justice Department's Independence | The Atlantic |
Andrew McCabe, a former acting and deputy FBI director who had drawn the ire of President Trump, was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Friday evening, a decision that raises important questions about the independence of both the Justice Department and the FBI.
Trump and his associates are a focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and McCabe's firing could send the message to federal law-enforcement officials that they risk their jobs and reputations if they displease the president.
In his first public comments on the matter, just after midnight, Trump effusively praised McCabe's dismissal:
More below the fold ....
Late Friday, Sessions released a statement saying that the department's Office of the Inspector General, which has investigated the FBI's handling of the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails, found "that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor--including under oath--on multiple occasions."
Seems as if powers have shifted away from the might of the FBI as fully independent under J. Edgar Hoover. What has become of America? ;-)
Nothing to add really ...
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 12:24:33 AM EST
Oui has written an interesting account of the Novichok story here. I am always wary of encroaching onto a political story where there are so few disinterested actors, reliable sources, and so much scope for disinformation. You are either a specialist with inside information, or a potential dupe. The topic is ripe for every conspiracy theorist in town, and yet it is a troubling story with potentially grave political implications for us all.
To begin with, it seems a strange coincidence that the Salisbury attack took place only eight miles away from the UK Chemical weapons research institute at Porton Down. Presumably some workers there would have access to nerve agents. It raises the possibility of an accidental exposure, or perhaps an attempt to sell the material for private gain gone wrong, although it is surely not coincidental that the primary victims were a Russian double agent and his daughter.
In the absence of conclusive evidence, one also has to ask Cui Bono:"who benefits"? A Russian scare is always a good diversionary tactic for a Conservative government in trouble. Putin's ascendency appears to be maintained, in part, by a Russia against the West narrative, especially at election time.
Thu Mar 15th, 2018 at 07:58:44 PM EST
Not just any ordinary terror attack, but to destroy the chamber of "democracy" in Ukraine and "finish off" lawmakers with the intent of a military coup d'état. Yes, Europe needs to incorporate more of these crazies asap and get them inside NATO for their own protection. The Red Menace you know ...
Ukraine accuses war hero lawmaker of planning attack on parliament | DW |
Ukrainian General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko accused a lawmaker who became a national hero after being released from Russian jail of planning a terrorist attack targeting parliament.
"The investigation has irrefutable proof that Nadiya Savchenko ... personally planned, personally recruited, personally gave instructions about how to commit a terrorist act here, in this chamber," Lutsenko told parliamentarians.
More below the fold ...
Wed Mar 14th, 2018 at 09:17:55 PM EST
This one British expert is not with us to deter another devious UK cabinet to put blame elsewhere with no evidence ... Dr. David Kelly, chemical warfare expert on Soviet CBW program from Porton Down.
Russia's Dirty Chemical Secret | American Legion Magazine - Dec. 1996 |
Buried in last year's explosive report of Michigan Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr. concerning chemical and biological warfare agents was the assertion that Iraq may have acquired chemical agents from the former Soviet Union.
Reigle--who has since retired from the US Senate--and his staff said the agents were developed by the Soviet Union under the name, "NOVICHOK," meaning newcomer.
The Reigle report is just the latest piece of evidence pointing to the Development of a new class of poisons that may have been transferred to Iraq for use against American forces in the Gulf War.
This could explain why the DOD has engaged in what looks like a frantic effort since the war to dismantle the Russian chemical and biological warfare (CBW) program and develop effective defenses against the agents.
More below the fold ...
Fri Mar 9th, 2018 at 04:08:30 PM EST
Dutch politicians want EU anti-fake news watchdog scrapped
The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, wants to get rid of the European Commission's task force against spreading fake news, the so-called EUvsDisinfo. This follows the task force naming a number of Dutch news services as spreaders of fake news, Het Parool reports.
EUvsDisinfo "misses its target" and "meddles with the free press in the Netherlands."
The Dutch news services involved are NPO Radio 1, the Gelderlander, GeenStijl and The Post Online. According to the task force, pro-Russian propaganda gained the upper hand in a few reports from these organizations.
The VVD and SP call on the government to advocate disbanding this task force in Brussels. The PVV, GroenLinks and SGP also want the office scrapped.
More below the fold ...
Fri Mar 9th, 2018 at 02:51:38 AM EST
Great speech, well written but where's the beef PM Mark Rutte? Not a single word on foreign policy of the union and too few on military adventures in far away states. What was the true cause of the migration crisis of 2015? How to solve the influx of migrants by better border control and relocation camps on foreign soil? The wealth of the EU attracts economic migrants in ever increasing numbers, a root cause in climate change. So we set stiffer goals from the Paris agreement and we'll have a better future without those migrants? We'll avoid political attractiveness of far right populist political parties? Isn't the Dutch VVD with Mark Rutte a prime example of moving to the right to pick off the voters of Geert Wilders' PVV party. Geert Wilders was raised and formed within the VVD, just like the party attracting Hirsi Ali and other hardliners on immigration and putting blame on woes of the financial crisis of 2008!
The EU of the future, from the words of Mark Rute, is one of free trade and human rights. From recent history and performance by individual EU states these seem to be conflicting terms. See the arms race to supply the warring parties in the Middle East from Israel to Turkey, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Not once is the plight mentioned of people suffering at the hands of military conflicts. Not in Libya, Syria or in Yemen. Mark Rutte must be aware who delivers military supplies worth tens of billions Euros.
I do like one mention in his speech about the EU rebate policy. Now with Brexit and the exit of the UK as a stated fact, Margareth Thatcher`s inconsiderate rebate demands should be scrapped or at least overhauled in EU economic policy.
Nice speech, must have received a lot of applause in the auditorium, but it doesn't cut it with me for real solutions for EU's future without taking responsibility for recent mishaps. It does appear Mark Rutte fired one across the bow of the admiral's ship of the Franco-German alliance of Macron and Merkel. We'll see how the EU Summit later in March develops.
Just a small portion taken from his extended speech in Berlin.
by Frank Schnittger
Thu Mar 8th, 2018 at 09:53:07 PM EST
President McAleese opening the Muriel Boothman Centre.
The office of President of Ireland is a largely ceremonial one and not directly involved in day to day government decisions. Nevertheless, as the only directly elected national office, it carries with it considerable influence and prestige. The President is an embodiment of how Irish people see themselves and want to be seen abroad. The last three Presidents - Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese, and the current incumbent, Michael D. Higgins have performed their duties with considerable aplomb and have also been ardent feminists.
When my late wife, Muriel Boothman, was having considerable difficulties with her then employers, Wicklow County Council, because the information centre in the Community Education Centre she managed included leaflets from agencies which did not specifically rule out the possibility of abortion referrals abroad for women in crisis pregnancy, she heard that President Robinson was to visit our then small rural town to open a new Credit Union building. Muriel was at that time also the chair of the local women's group, which with 600 members was nearly as large as the town itself and perhaps the largest local women's community group in Ireland.
The women's network drumbeats started to roll and President Robinson was prevailed upon to also officially "open" the Community Education Centre information centre after she had been at the Credit Union. I still remember marching down the main street of our town with President Robinson and our children and several hundred supporters from the Credit Union to The Community Education Centre where Mary Robinson gave an inspirational address. Wicklow County Council was not best pleased. Some members wrote to the Attorney General asking him to prosecute my wife and information centre volunteers.
Some years later President McAleese presided at the opening of the Muriel Boothman Centre (Pictured above), named in honour of my late wife by the Clondalkin Addiction Support Programme where she had become manager following her constructive dismissal by Wicklow County Council. Her comments then on the scourge of hard drug addiction in Ireland were apt and well informed. I mention these occasions to illustrate how influential recent Presidents have been in the ongoing development of Irish society. Ireland is about to vote on the removal of the constitutional ban on abortion, a development which would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.
Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 05:21:46 AM EST
SCOTUS NEVER RULED THAT CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE
'Corporations Are People' Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie
How exactly did corporations come to be understood as "people" bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre--even farcical--series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day. That corporation was the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, owned by the robber baron Leland Stanford. In 1881, after California lawmakers imposed a special tax on railroad property, Southern Pacific pushed back, making the bold argument that the law was an act of unconstitutional discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 09:40:02 PM EST
US and diplomacy from the barrel of a gun with Trump in the White House. Blaming Russia again? Filling the void left by American disinterest, Trump bullying and threats, destroying trade agreements, what does one expect? It was candidate Trump who had no knowledge or interest maintaining the NATO alliance. Europe got the message and is working on its own defence cooperation, based on the EU of the 27. No more expansion into corrupt states like Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Poland. That's causing the failure of the EU to advance an united front.
With Italy no longer in US focus, Russia swoops to fill the void | Irish Times - May 30, 2017 |
President Donald Trump made the most of his short time in Italy. He was treated to a private audience with the pope, met both the country's president and its prime minister in Rome, flew to Sicily for a summit of world leaders and visited US troops at a nearby naval air station.
But as the sudden burst of diplomatic activity subsided with his departure, European and US officials fear a return to the new normal of American inattention as the administration struggles with political turmoil and Russia-related scandals back home.
In Rome Trump left behind an embassy without an
ambassador and forfeited a geopolitical playing field
that Moscow's ambassador in Rome is exploiting
More below the fold ...
Sat Mar 3rd, 2018 at 09:52:24 AM EST
How the Democrats changed under Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to a union of Lieberman Democrats and McCain Republicans. The result led to a people's journey in the blighted desert of thinking waiting for the prophet to lead the chosen people to the promised land. Unfortunely, not even a common goal has been defined. There is infighting and a possy mentality to throw out the bums, or worse.
First of all, in politics there is no room for ethics and morals, so one abuses the DNC to throw the election of candidates in the primaries to a favorite. The damage done cannot easily be corrected and flowed into the last months of the presidential campaign. Never before in modern times has there been two candidates polling such high ratings of impopularity. Because the GOP managed to unravel under pressure of the Tea Party candidates, its candidate Trump was a complete farce. Nothing good could come forth out of his campaign, his methods, his rhetoric ... yet he represented 47% of the electorate who bothered to cast a vote. The Supreme Court gave us George Bush II and the Electoral College gave the American people Donald Trump.
What Happens to the Democratic Party After Obama? | The Atlantic |
Obama lost fewer governorships than presidents' parties surrendered under Kennedy and Johnson (15) and the Nixon and Ford administrations (13)--and lost more than under Eisenhower, Clinton, and Bush (nine each). Only in lost state legislative seats (850) did Obama significantly exceed any of these predecessors, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Ronald Reagan was the great exception to all this: During his two terms, Republicans gained 18 House seats, four senators, four governors, and 237 state legislators. Reagan was also the only two-term president since World War II whose party held the White House when he left.
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 05:09:38 PM EST
Fintan O'Toole has an interesting take on why the Brexiteers think they can ultimately force the EU to give the UK what it wants in the Brexit deal:
Marxism is alive and well in British politics. The irony, though, is that its strongest influence is not in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party. It is on the Tory right. Perhaps the oddest thing about the Brexit zealots - though there is a great deal of competition for this title - is that they cling to a particularly crude form of Marxist economic determinism.
Their whole project is predicated on the belief that a cabal of capitalist bosses can issue orders that the entire European Union would rush to obey. The all-powerful clique in question is made up of the principal shareholders of Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Opel, Porsche and Mercedes.
It would be hard to overstate just how large these German industrialists have loomed in the consciousness of the Brexiteers and their media cheerleaders. They were to be Britain's saviours. It was they who would ensure that the EU would be forced to give Britain all the benefits of the single market and the customs union even after it departed from both. It was they who would provide the lubrication for the zipless, frictionless Brexit of the Leavers' dreams.
Sat Feb 24th, 2018 at 06:05:50 PM EST
Frank has posted a diary on the triumph of Trumpism across the Atlantic. But Trump and his tactics have inspired a number of politicians, or even entire parties, in Europe as well.
Since DJT's election, many European politicians have been nicknamed "the <insert country name> Trump". One such example is Laurent Wauquiez, aka "the French Trump", who has succeeded Nicolas Sarkozy at the helm of the LR (Les Républicains) mainstream right wing party in the wake of humiliating defeats for Sarkozy (in the primary) and Fillon (in the general election). Wauquiez's "strategy" is one that others have tried before him: emulating the Front National's themes, especially the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, while keeping a plutocrat-friendly "pro-business" agenda, despite some vague (pre-election, obviously) protectionist noises.
Fri Feb 23rd, 2018 at 06:55:03 PM EST
Leaders break ground on TAPI gas pipeline's Afghan section | DW |
Regional politicians have launched construction work on the Afghan section of a natural gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Even the Taliban are now approving the project.
« click for more info
TAPI and IPI - Pipelines for Good
Regional leaders on Friday launched construction work on the Afghan section of an $8-billion (6.5-billion) natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and Pakistan to India.
Turkmenistan holds the world's fourth-largest gas reserves, but has been heavily dependent on exports to China after Russia cut back imports considerably.
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 21st, 2018 at 11:22:35 AM EST
Ever since the election of Donald Trump (which like many others, I didn't see coming) I have kind of lost interest in US politics. It's not as if I condemn all Americans as dumb-ass stupid. I have been to the States a couple of times in the distant past and know it is a very varied country. It has it's very conservative backwards parts, and some very progressive forward looking districts. It has lots of very poorly educated people, but also many of the most brilliant minds and innovators in the world.
Since the end of World War II, the USA has gloried in the title of "Leader of the Free World", although allying with Stalin against Hitler is a distinction without much difference. It's subsequent alliance with every nasty dictator on the planet against "communism" didn't do it much credit either. But my dispute is not so much with what the USA was, as with what it has become under Trump. Basically a country without hope. Without almost any major saving graces.
Sure, if you are lucky or smart, with the right racial/linguistic profile, you can still make your fortune there. But don't get sick. Don't "drive while black". And it helps if you are a white supremacist racist bigot. Believing in Zionism, creationism and denying climate change also helps. In general, besides McDonald's, Microsoft and Google, what positive contribution does the USA make to the world now? Dylan and Springsteen belong to a prior age. Hollywood hasn't produced an original or inspirational movie in years. Since MLK, has any US political leader provided much inspiration to the world?
Sun Feb 18th, 2018 at 07:12:04 AM EST
Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment by grand jury of Internet Research Agency (IRA), incorporated in Russia, its subsidiaries and thirteen named employees of the firms. Full text of the indictment is here or there.
The list of charges are:
1. Conspiracy to defraud the United States
"by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the US Department of State (State) in administering federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities."
2. Conspiracy to commit Wire Fraud and Bank Fraud
3-8. Aggravated identity Theft
It's here for cross-reference to observations last year that memorialized civic disorientation and disbelief following the DNC "hack" incident and Mr Trump's election. These were a wave of moral panic to proscribe "offensive" opinions, "fake news", "hate speech", and "Russian" propaganda and interrogation by US senators of "social media" publishers' business practices LQD: Censorship and A Trip to the Woodshed, respectively. Accordingly, the indictment of the Internet Research Agency ("IRA"), incorporated in Russia, relates broadcast speech (internet publication) soliciting political activity (thought or performance) of any "real" US person to illegal "foreign involvement in certain domestic activities."
A sophisticated but no less atavistic redoubt of red-baiting tactics
Count 1 is an array of criminal activities designed to "defraud" the US. Each US agency is the key relating IRA activities to its table of possible criminal charges relating to disclosure. Thus, the Special Counsel advances IRA's purported illegal "political activity" in the USA ("electioneering") under FARA, across FEC purview.
The indictment's token for an instance of IRA non-disclosure is "persona". Never mind that aliases, pseudonyms, brands, and atavars are recognizable "terms of art", that anonymity for public internet exchange is customary and protected by common law. "False persona" and "US persona" and "online persona": Repetition of the token dramatizes IRA "use of stolen US identities", as if possessed by a patent intent to conceal the foreign origin of the firm's work product (speech). This spiritual offense is more odious to um persons or ah entities who Mr Mueller represents than the sorcery marshaled to contract or stimulate political activity from "real" US ahm persons present in the USA. This offense evidently obstructs, impairs, and defeats US federal regulation of commerce everywhere and ultimately administration of electoral requirements within the USA.
That's not all: "others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the United States." (p 5) These persons are named "co-conspirators" in the indictment. Their origins are not disclosed as in "Another co-conspirator who worked for the ORGANIZATION traveled to Atlanta, Georgia from approximately November 26, 2014 through November 30, 2014." The IRA reimbursed the co-conspirator's travel expenses. The indictment is larded with trivial incidents like this, one may suppose, to demonstrate at least productive tax-payer dollars.
From this premise flow the remaining criminal charges against foreign defendants and commentary lifted from Democratic Party senators' testimonies in the Judiciary Committee, Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee hearings.
Sat Feb 17th, 2018 at 07:30:03 AM EST
Craziness! A Russian troll farm destroying American democracy? The Americans have been doing an excellent job themselves over the last few decades. The crumbling Empire of Pax Americana. Navel staring by US bloggers has led to stalemate and depression. America has so much to give, it's Washington DC that's not functioning as it should in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
○ Meet Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian Oligarch Indicted in U.S. Election Interference | NY Times |
Putting blame on outside forces will bring another great war so much closer. Thinking of the Doomsday Clock!
American democracy is doomed | Vox - Oct. 8, 2015 |
But voiced in another register, my outlandish thesis is actually the conventional wisdom in the United States. Back when George W. Bush was president and I [Matthew Iglesias] was working at a liberal magazine, there was a very serious discussion in an editorial meeting about the fact that the United States was now exhibiting 11 of the 13 telltale signs of a fascist dictatorship.
More below the fold ...
Thu Feb 8th, 2018 at 08:02:52 AM EST
Keeping Daesh safe in enclave near Deir Ezzor, east of the Euphrates ...
"The Coalition remains committed to focusing on the defeat-Daesh [ISIS] mission in the Middle Euphrates River Valley and asserts its non-negotiable right to act in self-defense."
CENTCOM said in its official statement.
○ Breaking: US-led Coalition Conducts Strikes Against Syrian Army In Deir Ezzor
Killing up to one hundred soldiers of the SAA.
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Jan 28th, 2018 at 01:02:26 PM EST
The 6 Nations rugby Championship starts next week-end is looking more open than ever this year, with England, the champions for the past two years and World no. 2 ranked side suffering a spate of injuries to key players. Do they have the strength in depth to cope? It could be some showdown against Ireland on St. Paddy's day!
France have been a disaster area in recent years but are never easy to beat in Paris and may get a "new coach bounce" under Brunel. They have some very exciting young players and are also very physical - they ruined Ireland's chances at the last World Cup by injuring so many of our top players.
Conor O'Shea's Italy may benefit from some glimpses of form from Treviso and Zebre and the evergreen Parisse, but do they really have the resources to be competitive? One upset win at best, would be my guess.
Wales have had their injury problems too but are never easy to beat. LLanelli Scarlets are the reigning Pro14 champions and have become the first Welsh side to qualify for the quarter finals of the European Cup in years. They seem to fancy their chances (as always!)
Gregor Townsend has Scotland playing some really attractive rugby and they beat Australia and gave the All Blacks a run for their money recently. But is their pack, depleted by injuries, strong enough to give them the front foot possession they need? Disregard them at your peril.
Ireland never seem to be comfortable in the role of favourites and it only takes one below par performance to ruin your chances. We look to have the strength in depth to cope with the loss of O'Brien, Heaslip, Jackson, Payne, and Ruddock, the exile of Donncha Ryan and Zebo, and the ageing Bowe and Trimble; but beating both France and England away is a big ask.
My prediction? Ireland to win the Championship, but perhaps not the grand slam. It's really hard to get it right all the time... but if anyone can do it, perhaps Joe Schmidt can.
Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 01:47:28 AM EST
The decision: New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)
Petitioners: The New York Times Company, a New York corporation which publishes the New York Times (NYT), a daily newspaper, and four individual petitioners who were officers of the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King (Ralph Abernathy, S.S. Seay, Sr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and Joseph Lowery) which purchased NYT publishing services
Respondent: L. B. Sullivan, one of the three elected Commissioners of the City of Montgomery, Alabama
Respondent, an elected official in Montgomery, Alabama, brought suit in a state court alleging that he had been libeled by an advertisement in corporate petitioner's newspaper, the text of which appeared over the names of the four individual petitioners and many others. The published advertisement
: "Heed Their Rising Voices"
The political activity
: Protest of MLK's arrest and solicitation of funds from anyone receiving the NYT to pay for MLK's legal defense against two counts of felony perjury
A jury in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County awarded him [SULLIVAN] damages of $500,000, the full amount claimed, against all the petitioners, and the Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed. The advertisement included statements, some of which were false, about police action allegedly directed against students who participated in a civil rights demonstration and against a leader of the civil rights movement; respondent claimed the statements referred to him because his duties included supervision of the police department. The trial judge instructed the jury that such statements were "libelous per se," legal injury being implied without proof of actual damages, and that, for the purpose of compensatory damages, malice was presumed, so that such damages could be awarded against petitioners if the statements were found to have been published by them and to have related to respondent.
Happy Black History Y3 D60
The US Supreme Court reversed the decisions of Alabama appellate courts. Who has benefited? Surely los negros
, the blacks, were vindicated. Who else benefited? The New York Time Company in defense of publishing that "black" advertisement, the Pentagon Papers
in 1971, and "investigative journalists" purporting to "shield" authoritative sources of true and false information [1
] from prosecution by US Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, 2004-2006 [2
]. Who else? Anyone to this day who expects model principles set forth to defend publishing, anyone who agitates for freedom to telecommunicate
political speech to known and unknown recipients.
by Oui - Mar 14
by Oui - Mar 9
by Oui - Mar 3