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Odds & Ends: More Nukes, Multi-Culti and Hannibal’s Night on the Town

Chosun Ilbo Goes Nuclear

I celebrated the March 1 holiday by making a pilgrimage to March 1 Independence Movement-related sites. The Chosun Ilbo, meanwhile, celebrated much more properly by calling for a nuclear-armed South Korea:

We cannot sit idly by waving a denuclearization treaty that has now become null and void while North Korea stockpiles enough nuclear weapons to turn South Korea into a “sea of fire.” The time has come to present North Korea with a specific deadline to abide by the treaty or risk seeing a nuclear-armed South Korea. If the North makes palpable progress in denuclearization before the deadline, then South Korea will scrap its plans to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons, or once in place they can be pulled out again any time the North decides to scrap its nuclear arms.

OK, it’s a bit of a mistranslation — what the Chosun actually suggested was that the North be presented with a deadline to abide by the 1991 denuclearization deal or risk seeing US tactical nukes redeployed to South Korea. The JoongAng Ilbo said something similar recently, and it seems to be the default position of South Korean conservatives.

More interestingly, influential Chosun Ilbo columnist and conservative polemic Kim Dae-joong is calling for a discussion on whether Korea should develop its own nuclear deterrent, presenting some decent counterarguments to concerns expressed by those opposing a South Korean Force de Frappe. Namely, he argues:

  • The United States won’t oppose a South Korean nuclear program forever, and at any rate, it needs to answer if it’s really prepared to trade mushroom clouds with China to retaliate against a North Korean nuclear first strike against the South;
  • Sure, South Korean nukes could lead to Japan and Taiwan going nuclear, too, but a balance of terror might not be such a bad thing;
  • China is already surrounded by nuclear powers (India, Russia, Pakistan), so what’s one more?
  • Arguments that North Korea’s nukes are aimed at the United States, not the South, are rubbish, and when the shit hits the fan, nobody wants the only guy with his finger on the button to be Kim Jong-il. Even if South Korea unifies the peninsula in the end, if it has to suffer a North Korean nuclear strike in the process, what’s the point? The key is deterrence.

Mind you, even a proponent of a nuclear-armed South Korea like myself realizes these arguments aren’t airtight, but they’re a lot better than the current calls for a redeploying US tactical nukes at a time when South Korea needs to be working on becoming less dependent on Washington, not more. Moreover, not to make too fine a point of it, but I’m not particularly comfortable with South Korean politicians and journalists talking about what they’re going to do or not do with somebody else’s nuclear weapons, especially when the owner of said weapons is saying no and the Lee Myung-bak administration isn’t considering asking:

A high-ranking Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) official said Monday, however, “Redeployment is not at all being considered, and we have never even considered asking the United States.”

“South Korea made its position known regarding the issue of redeploying tactical nuclear weapons back in the early 1990s, and nothing has changed since then,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae in a regular briefing on Monday.

In fact, the majority view within and outside the government is critical of the utility of a redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons.

“South Korea is currently under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and while 5 to 10 minutes could be saved on a response if nuclear weapons were introduced into South Korea, this is militarily meaningless,” said a South Korean government official in response to whether a redeployment could deter a North Korean nuclear attack.

“South Korea’s lack of nuclear weapons gives South Korea a moral advantage over North Korea, and through this has been calling for North Korea to denuclearize,” said another official. However, the official also expressed concerns that if nuclear weapons are brought back into Korea, the nuclear issue would never be resolved.

I agree that redeploying American nukes to the South would be pointless, of course, but an independent South Korean arsenal changes the deterrence dynamic considerably.

Adventures in Multi-Culti

In the Korea Herald, John Power wonders if the government ministries are all playing according to the same playbook concerning multiculturalism, and more specifically, over a plan by the Ministry of Education to open a public high school for multi-ethnic by 2012 (a plan, I should add, that seems like a really, really bad idea):

According to the Division of Education and Welfare Policy of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the school, pending public and parliamentary hearings, will primarily cater for older children born outside of the country who have been brought to Korea with limited knowledge of the language and culture.

The school was agreed upon in conjunction with The Presidential Commission on Social Cohesion. According to the ministry, it will help children of multicultural families adapt to Korean society and further their future job prospects.
[...]
Reaction to the school from the Gender Ministry has also been negative. Despite the Education Ministry education and welfare division’s insistence that the decision to open the school was taken with the endorsement of the Gender Equality Ministry, the latter denied this and said it did not support the principle of separating multi-ethnic students from the general school population.

Yikes.

On the other side of the really big pond, multi-culti in the workplace is apparently being tested in Philly:

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that workers at a factory that manufactures railcars for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) have filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) related to the treatment they face from their managers – who are South Korean.

The manufacturer is Hyundai-Rotem USA Corp., a subsidiary of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, which received a contract to build the railcars in South Philadelphia.
[...]
The facility is scheduled to manufacture 117 railcars, but it has fallen far behind, allegedly due to shortages of materials, design flaws and inadequate equipment. However, a unique feature of this labor dispute has to do with what is being perceived as a “culture clash” between the Korean bosses and their American labor force.

Black, Hispanic and female members of the factory were particularly aggrieved by the disparaging treatment they received, including alleged acts of physical abuse.

A lack of communication between the Koreans and Americans, as well as a lack of respect for Americans, are also huge problems, the complaint alleges.

Huh, delays at an American factory and alleged racial and gender insensitivity on the part of Korean bosses. Go figure.

On a somewhat related note, check out Robert Fouser’s column on international understanding in the Korean workplace in the Korea Times — it’s a good one. Here’s just a sample:

By contrast, intercultural understanding is rarely discussed and rarely taught in Korea. The assumption is that things will work themselves out because people will understand and forgive each other when a misunderstanding occurs. When discussed, language and intercultural understanding are oddly framed as an English problem, implying that Koreans bear the burden of intercultural understanding by improving their English ability. Over time, this causes Koreans to ignore foreign professionals because involving them takes time and patience amid busy schedules.

A Night on the Town with Hannibal Gaddafi

According to the Hankyoreh Shinmun, Hannibal Gaddafi secretly visited Seoul last year on a business trip and was, according to the report, a total prick, which I understand is very much in character. He reportedly demanded to change hotels in the at 10 at night, bitched that the restaurants were beneath him and complained about his seating at NANTA.

While Hannibal was in town, he also sampled Seoul’s nightlife, going to a nightclub in Gangnam were he enjoyed the “booking” experience: the clothing company official he was with complained that he spent the night going from table to table looking for girls who could speak English.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • seouldout

    Sweet mullet, Hannibal. Seems you misunderstood the rhythm of a booking club – the waiters drag the tarts to your your table.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    ^ Not (or very few) if you don’t tip, though.

  • Granfalloon

    Re: nukes and North Korea

    Here’s a thought experiment I’ve been developing, partially on another thread. The year is, say, 2017. For this experiment, I am assuming:

    1. Kim Jong Un is in power, and faces unrest bordering on open defiance from a population who are skeptical of his legitimacy, and hungry. I believe this part of my scenario is not only possible, but probable.

    2. North Korean possesses about a dozen functional nuclear warheads. Again, not only possible but probable.

    3. North Korea has refined their warhead delivery system to the point where they can effectively launch a nuclear missile at any target on the peninsula. I freely confess to not knowing how far-fetched or likely this would be in 2017.

    4. South Korea has no nukes, and the years between now and 2017 have passed much as 2010 did: provocations, drills, fiery rhetoric, calls for restraint, etc.

    Under these conditions, I see the possibility of a DPRK nuclear strike as plausible. It’s a desperate, all-or-nothing move. But if the regime sees it’s own collapse as imminent, why wouldn’t they?

  • http://throughwhiteyseyes.blogspot.com whitey

    Nanta is a piece of garbage, and I am glad that the evil Mr. G had to sit through it. No use complaing about one’s seat, as no seat in the theater could redeem that piece of pablum.

    Nanta is theater for people who don’t like theater. The pandering to the audience is terrible.

  • http://bensmatrix.info ElCanguro

    I think if your name’s Hannibal you’re pre-destined to be an arsehole, goes with the territory.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    #3, scary to think about indeed, but they may be able to do as much or more damage with the B-C and conventional weapons they already have.

    #4, too bad he didn’t get hit with a stray knife.

  • silver surfer

    Re a South Korean nuclear capability:

    I’m against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. South Korea’s gotten along without nukes so far, and it can just keep getting along without them. The U.S. nuclear umbrella is enough.

  • pawikirogii

    sk needs nuclear weapons just in case japan or china tries to take any part of korea.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15989904676345463195 Craash

    sk DOESN’T needs nuclear weapons just in case japan or china tries to take any part of korea.

    sk needs nuclear weapons because their “crazy” and “brainwashed” brothers to the North are desperate.

    Japan is not a threat to South Korea. China is, however, thats because they control North Korea.

  • http://forum.koreansentry.com Koreansentry

    S.Korea with Nuke doesn’t change the geopolitics because Russia, China and U.S still have more Nukes than two Koreas combined. Countries like China doesn’t need nuke to dominate Korea, China’s rising economic power is enough for two Koreas to obey China and probably will join China as ally as Korea always did. This is because there’s no reason for Korea to fight China. Why fight, when Korea can virtually become one of highest GDP per capita and stay neutral. This whole nuclear crisis was brought by U.S. so major problem is actually U.S and Russia. Korea will not go war with China or even Japan, Koreans doesn’t need to dominate other countries. Within next few decades, U.S will eventually collapse and Chinese and Koreans will buy out Russia, and Russia will be influence by Chinese and Koreans. When U.S is out of picture, there’s no need for North Korea, and Pyongyang will eventually will collapse anyway, it’s already showing the sign of cracks.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Two things regarding Philly and Rotem. Either the Rotem managers at Philly are rank amateurs or Rotem were given the employees by the city and not allowed to choose them.

  • DLBarch

    For all the recent talk about SoKo development of its a home grown nuclear arsenal (add Rep. Song Young-sun to the list of those calling for more than just a return of U.S. nukes to South Korea), I don’t see any serious discussion taking place in policy circles of just what implications Seoul’s abandonment of the non-proliferation regime in NE Asia would have for the country.

    There are certainly a lot of journalist and political types calling for nuclearization, but where are the think tank white papers that spell out whether, you know, this would actually enhance South Korean security? I understand the impulse behind science nationalism, but national security needs to be the actual metric for measuring whether this is a good idea.

    As for reintroduction of U.S. nukes into SoKo, forget it. As the old (inside) joke goes, if the U.S. ever needs to drop the big one on North Korea, it will have a 65305 zip code.

    DLB

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “Within next few decades, U.S will eventually collapse and Chinese and Koreans will buy out Russia, and Russia will be influence by Chinese and Koreans. When U.S is out of picture, there’s no need for North Korea, and Pyongyang will eventually will collapse anyway…”

    Looks like someone needs to find a new fortune-teller.

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    As a Canadian, I am very much in favour of gun control at the level of the individual within society. I do very much believe, though, that countries need the ability to defend themselves–and this is particularly when countries have enemies, as South Korea does. In East Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan all need a nuclear deterrent–and I hope they get one quickly.

    As for the US, it won’t be able to guarantee the world’s security indefinitely, nor is it fair for others to expect it to do so. Changing dynamics in the US will likely make it so that the will of the people will turn against being the global heavyweight, and I think Obama is merely the first-fruits of this change, even if he is ousted in the next election. Furthermore, even if the US desire to live up to its obligations never wavers, it will eventually collapse under its own weight as so many empires do. From a financial perspective alone, I doubt its military spending is sustainable as large projects require ever-skyrocketing funding from Congress. This makes it imperative for small, threatened westernized countries to create their own deterrents.

  • Granfalloon

    I thought it might have been a neat idea a couple of years ago for the US to institute a policy like this: for every confirmed nuke and/or field test in North Korea, the US gives two nukes each to South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. I’d be curious to see how much diplomatic leverage China could exert under those conditions.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    15, that would be brill.

  • seouldout

    I quite liked Nathan’s comment #14 and then I read Granfalloon’s #15. Me likey.

  • Acropolis7

    In response to NathanB. Canada is protected by the United States for tactical Western Hemisphere reasons issued by the U.S. whether you like it or not, and you can thank your Canadian Bacon stars that you sit above the United States and not below it. Hmm, Canadian bacon…..

    Back on topic and serious now. Do you really think NathanB that the United States of America would ever allow Human beings to survive if it were ever threatened?

    Other countries say the will kill us. We actually are actually not afraid to kill us and them. They know we have the capability. They also know that we control Space.

  • Acropolis7

    That should have read “Other countries say they will kill us.”

    Remember Natahn, the United States of America is not an Empire. we just happened to gain that status as a young Republic within the past 75 years. Trust me, you do not want to see us as an Empire. We are just now training our robots literally on the fields of Mars.

  • seouldout

    Who you fighting on Mars?

  • seouldout

    Two things regarding Philly and Rotem. Either the Rotem managers at Philly are rank amateurs or Rotem were given the employees by the city and not allowed to choose them.

    Lemme understand this, winky. Rotem, a subsidiary of Hyundai-Kia, was given employees by the city gov’t of Philadelphia. Source(s) please.

    Re the alleged problems. The plant is a screw driver shop. The workers receive the kits from Korea and bolt the parts together. Issues re supply of parts, design, and inadequate equipment would more likely be the responsibility of the Korean management. But if you have source that blames the design flaws on black fella holding a socket wrench I’d love to read it.

    Here’s a press release from Hyunda Rotem.
    Reveals Korean-made railcars to the Public in the US
    – The test drive has been implemented since February successfully
    – The safety standards of FRA(Federal Railway Administration) and the
    convenience standards of ADA(Americans with Disabilities Act) were
    satisfied

    Hyundai Rotem Company, an affiliated heavy industry company of the Hyundai Motor Group, has revealed its electric multiple units (EMU) railcars for the SEPTA (South East Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) to the public at Suburban station on the 13th. This unit was the first Korean railcar which was exported to the US. It was showed that the first 3 cars which had been inspected by test drive in Wayne station since last February. Especially, the units were highly evaluated concerning the feeling of riding and convenience because it was satisfied with the safety standards of FRA and the convenience standards of ADA. Hyundai Rotem Company substituted the latest high quality 120 railcars for over 40 year-old railcars. In the new units, there are 2-seat and 3-seat in two rows to improve passenger’s convenience. And there are more railcars in rush hour to get more passengers. Joe Kacey who is the president of SEPTA said “I was impressed that I looked over all the process from the beginning of this project to coming out the railcars. We can give passengers much better service and experience.” with expressing the satisfaction of Hyundai Rotem EMU railcars. Min-Ho Lee who is the president of Hyundai Rotem Company said “Starting from this SEPTA railcar, we will make all our effort to make LA and Boston project success and try to make Korean railcars run all over the US.” This event which was held at Suburban station in Philadelphia will be opened until 15th for 3days. SEPTA EMU railcars will be produced in Hyundai Rotem USA located in south Philadelphia after the first production of railcar and it will operate for business in the second half year.

    Who writes this garbage?

  • Hamel

    Eh? I thought I’d see 21 comments here, but I see none.

  • seouldout

    From this point forward all comments have an expiration time/date. After 30 minutes they’re gone. Forever. Teach the lot of you to not respond to wjk in a timely manner.

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    Acropolis7, I don’t usually read or respond to your comments, but I probably should here.

    In my comment, I was discussing the situation in East Asia, which I might remind you is a location that does not not include Canada. Do I think Canada should have a nuclear deterrent? Absolutely! So should Israel, Georgia, Columbia, and several other countries. I’m curious why you assumed that I would think otherwise.

    Furthermore, I quite agree that Canadian safety has been guaranteed by the US–but do not think the US will have either the strength nor the will to keep this up indefinitely. This is why countries should no longer relay on the US to guarantee their security.

    As for the US as an empire, this is not unique to me; no less a distinguished commentator than Niall Ferguson has been arguing this for years. And frankly, when you have military bases in dozens of countries around the world, and when the very existence of various regimes is owed to US support, that does start to look like an empire to me. I’d say that overall it’s been a benevolent empire, but it’s still an empire, and not one without its problems or injustices.

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    Correction: “…but I do not think the US will have either the strength or the will…”–apologies.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Lemme understand this, winky. Rotem, a subsidiary of Hyundai-Kia, was given employees by the city gov’t of Philadelphia. Source(s) please.

    Please reread what I wrote. I didn’t say that Rotem was definitely given the employees by a third party (not necessarily by the city of Philly). I indicated that it might have been a possibility.

    We have Rotem rail cars in California. No significant problems. However, they are usually made 90% in Korea, shipped here, with some finishing work at Metrolink’s Colton, CA facility. I believe (not sure if this is accurate, but I believe) that in order to win the Philly SEPTA contract Rotem had to do more finishing work in Philly. Rotem sells these cars in other places besides Philly. If it was a design problem, wouldn’t we hear more about it here in California (or India or Turkey or Korea any other place that has Rotem rail cars)?

    I’m guessing the odds are that it’s a local problem. Either crappy management, local workforce or both.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    From the Philly Inquirer:

    [Jun-Yeon Jeong, manager of the SEPTA project for Hyundai-Rotem]… acknowledged cultural differences. He said he… believed the crotch-grabbing incidents represented “a difference of way of expression, maybe.”

    Perhaps this is a dong chim attempt gone awry?

    http://articles.philly.com/2011-02-28/news/28637701_1_hyundai-rotem-railcars-septa-project

  • WeikuBoy

    “Do I think Canada should have a nuclear deterrent? Absolutely! So should Israel, Georgia, Columbia . . .”

    Columbia University needs a nuclear deterrent? Have things in Harlem gotten that bad?

    “I’d say that overall [the U.S. has] been a benevolent empire, but it’s still an empire, and not one without its problems or injustices.”

    A million dead Vietnamese and many hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and Afghanis would thank you for your benevolence, if only they could.

  • CactusMcHarris

    In #12′s comment – 65305 is where Whiteman Air Force Base is.

    And a question to the group – have there been any children of despots who weren’t brats when they were kids and flaming assholes as adults?

    And #27 – that didn’t take long, but name another superpower which has not had tremendous crimes to go with its many good deeds?

  • CactusMcHarris

    And Whiteman AFB is also where the 509th Bomb Wing is – they have a mushroom cloud on their unit patch, so you don’t wanna see those guys around.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    And a question to the group – have there been any children of despots who weren’t brats when they were kids and flaming assholes as adults?

    Well, King Jeongjo comes to mind:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeongjo_of_Joseon

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    Columbia University needs a nuclear deterrent? Have things in Harlem gotten that bad?

    Good heavens! Thank you for correcting that error. I’ve been reading in the news about Colombia for years, and my first friend in elementary school was half-Colombian, so I’m not quite sure how that happened–except to say that my ability to spell in general is declining rather precipitously, even for common words.

    As for the rest, there are obvious retorts: the US did not single-handedly create the Vietnam War. Saddam Hussein probably killed more of his people than the US did, and there would be many more dead Kuwaitis if he had remained in the country. Forces based in Afghanistan took out the twin towers of NYC long before the US shed any blood there.

    Finally, there is an important question you have overlooked: how many millions of lives have been spared because of US intervention? The US guaranteed the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Those two countries have not gone to war in decades. During the Asian tsunami crisis of some years ago, it was the US military, and not the various NGO’s and charities, that was on the ground first delivering aid. US governmental agencies also assist in humanitarian missions in many parts of the world. One should also remember how much more aggressive the old USSR would have been without the US as an agent of containment; the same is true of China today, and it is the Americans that guarantee the freedom and prosperity of Taiwan. Finally, it was the US that facilitated the rebuilding of Japan and Germany after WWII, and South Korea itself owes a significant measure of its present prosperity to the protection of US forces. Indeed, the situation in many parts of the world would be far more dire without US benevolence. It’s very easy to point fingers at the US (and sometimes this will be the correct thing to do), but who has accurately quantified how many lives have been saved because of America, or weighed in the balance what percentage of blame should be apportioned to others than the US for the deaths of the Vietnamese and other countries who have seen violent conflict?

  • robert neff
  • Acropolis7

    To #23, NathanB. I don’t give flying fuck whether you read my posts or not. As a 4 year veteran of this site, im glad you are here. Wlecome.

  • Acropolis7

    misspelled greetings and all.

  • Hamilton

    Empire, the word doesn’t mean what you wish it to mean. If you see two wheels on a contraption that people ride can I declare them all segways or are there bicycles, motorcyles and probably a few conveyances I haven’t seen. For all these countries we supposedly control it is suprising how often they don’t do what the US asks of them even sometimes when it is in their best interest just because they can’t be seen caving to the evil US.

    Just for the record the 2 million or so hill people who the Vietnamese exterminated along with many South Vietnamese probably wanted us to win. Just sayin’

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    #33, it’s I who should welcome you; four years here ain’t nuthin’. Cheers, N.

  • seouldout

    Please reread what I wrote.

    Ok, let’s read it together, shall we?

    Two things regarding Philly and (Hyundai) Rotem. Either the (Hyundai) Rotem managers at Philly are rank amateurs or (Hyundai) Rotem were given the employees by the city and not allowed to choose them.

    Appears to be an either-or construct. Either A or B. One or the other. Ok, got it.

    So, let’s examine the A.

    Either the (Hyundai) Rotem managers at Philly are rank amateurs….

    This is entirely possible. Managers can be rank amateurs. And there have been plenty of news reports across the world about piss poor Korean management. Abusive acts. Beatings. Sexual assault. And other complaints. Forced overtime. Unsafe work environment. Et cetera.

    Now, let’s examine the B.

    …or (Hyundai) Rotem were given the employees by the city and not allowed to choose them.

    Given the employees by the city. Really? I know Obama has made some changes to the American free enterprise system, but now US local governments are assigning workers to the workplace and the employer just has to suck it up? Is this how you got your job in the taco trunk? I was thinking you had some passion for fusion food and the great outdoors. Boy, is my face red.

    Yes, I’m being facetious.

    I’m also making a point. How common is it for a city gov’t to assign workers to a private employer and the employer has no say? (“Not allowed”… your words… right?) Certainly it’s possible. Say… a 50% chance? Not really, eh? 25%? 12.5%? I’m thinking this is remotely possible. At best… 2%.

    So, looking again at the either-or construct we now know the “or” is 2%. Which means the “either” has to be 98%. One or the other, right?

    Two things regarding Philly and (Hyundai) Rotem. There’s the 98% chance the (Hyundai) Rotem managers at Philly are rank amateurs or there’s the 2% chance (Hyundai) Rotem were given the employees by the city and not allowed to choose them.

    Does that work for ya?

    Wha wha what’s that? Hyundai Rotem is advertising for employees. Balderdash! How can that be?! The city forces ‘em on Hyundai (Rotem).

    BTW, I’m curious why you dropped “Hyundai” from the name Hyundai-Rotem. The company isn’t known as Rotem. Hyundai is the first word, so this likely indicates the management considers the Hyundai brand and its association to Rotem pretty important. The news report doesn’t call it Rotem. Even the help wanted ad names the unwitting employer as Hyundai-Rotem. Only you. Could it be that that you wanted to separate this story from the known-to-be-Korean Hyundai? Possible, eh?

    On second thought did I completely bugger this? Either or. Doesn’t this mean the two acts are mutually exclusive? If it’s A, then I can’t be B. And if it’s not A, then it must be B.

    So, we know there is a remote possibility the city is forcing these workers on Hyundai Rotem, but then we saw Hyundai-Rotem advertising for workers, so now this remote possibility seems even more remote.

    Looks like you’re stuck with “the Hyundai Rotem managers at Philly are rank amateurs.”

    Glad I reread it. Thanks.