Yesterday afternoon I watched the third episode of the “summer season” of Doomsday Preppers, “Whatever It Takes.” From the National Geographic Channel website:
Could an explosion on the surface of the sun cause mayhem on Earth? Jason and Jacob are a father-son team from Alabama who are prepping for exactly that: a global solar flare with the potential to wipe out power grids around the world. Jason was almost stranded for good in the wilderness when he was 19, but that will not stop him from prepping in those very same woods by molding his own ammunition and preparing his 20-piece bug-out pack.
The show also introduced Brian and Sheila Moffatt and their seven kids out in Arizona who are prepping for an economic collapse, and Grayson Smith and Mike Umberger out in Maryland who are prepping for the next world war.
Here’s what went on in “Whatever It Takes,” along with some of my thoughts about the episode:
Part 1: Prepper “rite of passage”
Season 3, episode 3 of Doomsday Preppers opened with a segment about Jason, who grew up and still lives in a charming wooded area of Alabama. He told viewers:
We’re preparing for a solar flare, and the civil unrest that follows.
While the part of Alabama where Jason lives is quite scenic, the nearby forest is also where he almost died from exposure when he was 19.
Jason is a family man now, and lives with his wife and 18-year-old son Jacob.
He fears the nation’s electrical grid is going to get fried from a coronal mass ejection (CME) along the lines of the 1859 Carrington event, which the show called the “biggest geomagnetic storm in history.”
(Editor’s note: Back on August 1 I noted that reports had surfaced about the Earth just missing getting clobbered by a “Carrington-class” CME in July, with some experts saying it could have led to an electromagnetic pulse “catastrophe” on the planet)
As a result, Jason has been doing some serious prepping. From the show:
To get ready for the life without grocery stores, running water, and electricity he fears, Jason stocks more than twice as much food as he thinks he needs, and at least two of every survival item he owns. He believes having backups is essential to survival.
It’s revealed the Alabama prepper has 1,000 meals and 300 gallons of water socked away.
And on the topic of redundancy, Jason hammered home to viewers the oft-heard prepper saying:
Two is one and one is none.
Meaning, always try to have two of an important item, because when one breaks or goes missing, without a replacement you’re left with nothing.
Son Jacob has joined his dad in ramping up the family’s preparedness, taking time off from school to do so.
In this segment, the 18-year-old underwent a prepper “rite of passage,” participating in a scenario concocted by Jason where the family’s 6-month food supply had been exhausted, and they had no choice but to leave the house and bug-out to the woods, taking only the gear and supplies they could manage to carry on their backs (or Jacob’s back if you bought that “old man” comment of his). From the show:
Tonight, Jacob will be expected to complete all the tasks he’d need to survive in the woods on his own.
About their bug-out bags and their contents? According to the show:
Each pack holds 20 items, 2 of each basic tool Jason believes is necessary for wilderness survival. He calls them his 10 “Cs.”
Those 10 “Cs” are:
-”Candleing” device (headlamp)
-Cargo (duct) tape
-Combustion device (fire starter)
-Container (steel water bottle)
Jacob performed a number of survival tasks using a variety of the above “Cs.” He fabricated animal traps (choking snare, “twitch up” trap), built a tree branch hut, started a fire out of rope match, flint, and steel. He successfully completed his rite of passage, making dad real proud.
Two things stood out for me in this segment:
First, at the conclusion of the “rite,” Jason gave his son Jacob a lead bullet the two of them fabricated earlier in the episode. I don’t know about you, but I thought that casting process was pretty cool.
And black powder guns as an alternative to semi-automatic firearms WTSHTF? That’s an idea I first came across when Frank Belcastro of Independence USA-fame demonstrated their worth (acquiring ingredients for and making black powder and bullets may be quite feasible during TEOTWAWKI, as opposed to getting ammo for more “modern” guns) when the show was still Apocalypse PA.
Man, I miss that TV series. I sure hope it’s reincarnated soon.
Second, Jason and his family received the following assessment concerning water from Practical Preppers:
Water: Your stores and proximity to fresh sources are excellent. 19 out of 20 points.
It was revealed that the family of three had 300 gallons stored, or 100 gallons of water per person, in addition to those “fresh sources” somewhere nearby. 19 out of 20 is one of highest scores in this department I’ve ever seen on Doomsday Preppers. Nice job, especially as water often plays second fiddle to more “sexy” preps like firearms.
Part 2: Doomsday academy
In the second part of “Whatever It Takes,” viewers were introduced to Brian and Sheila Moffatt, both self-defense instructors, along with their seven kids. This family lives on a 15-acre Arizona homestead.
The Moffatt family revealed they were prepping because of their concerns over run-away inflation and an eventual U.S. economic collapse.
My kids, my wife, are the best preparation that a guy could have.
He wasn’t kidding. In addition to homeschooling their children in reading, writing, and arithmetic (arithmetic- now there’s a word I hardly hear anymore), as episode 3 said:
Their curriculum is customized for doomsday.
A day in the Moffatt’s “doomsday academy” looked like this:
-1st period: Self-defense (children practiced Krav Maga hand-to-hand combat)
-2nd period: Camouflage and Evasion (kids played hide-and-go-seek in ghille suits)
-Field Trip: The family fired handguns at the local range
According to the show:
Brian said he educates all his children in firearm awareness. But only allows those 10 or older to fire handguns.
And boy could his two oldest girls shoot. 13-year-old Gabriela and 11-year-old Mariah practiced handgun quick draw drills for speed and accuracy. From the show:
Brian teaches his kids a technique that’s been called the modified Israeli Mossad draw in which weapons are carried without a round in the chamber until the gun leaves the holster, creating an opportunity to assess a threat before deciding to destroy it.
The segment ended with a practice home invasion drill to test a perceived lack of perimeter defense skills among the children, and in which Brian was the home invader. The Moffatt kids, putting into practice what they’ve been taught, excelled in the exercise.
From the episode:
All the different skills and tactics the Moffatt children have been taught are meant to be brought together for one purpose- the defense of the family home against desperate people following an economic collapse.
Brian Moffatt confided:
My greatest fear is having to actually put to use what we practiced. I hope that we all have plenty to eat. I hope that we all have plenty of water. That we’re all happy. And have more children.
Wild yet impressive stuff, and considering the ages of the children involved, a segment I’m sure the National Geographic Channel will be hearing about from certain viewers for quite some time. But consider what Steve H., the leader of that Washington prepper group which includes his young son Steven James, said in the prior week’s episode:
My mother says that our prepping is a negative influence on our 8-year-old son. But I say it’s a positive influence on my son. Reality is what reality is. And the sooner that we face reality, the sooner that we’re going to be able to do something about it. I don’t want to lose anybody in our family. I don’t want people in my family to be hungry. I don’t want people in my family to be discomforted or in pain. And so I’m taking these steps beforehand, to see to it that that doesn’t happen to us.
Part 3: The “Odd Couple” preppers
In the last part of season 3, episode 3, of Doomsday Preppers, Grayson Smith and Mike Umberger, skateboarders from Maryland-turned-preppers were introduced. They told viewers:
We are preparing for World War 3.
These two guys predict China will replace the United States as the world’s next superpower, which will eventually culminate in a blockade of America’s coasts and another World War. Therefore:
Fearing a global war over oil and other natural resources, Mike and Grayson packed up their city apartment, and moved to 100 acres of land owned by Mike’s father, Larry. They plan to turn this traditional farm into a self-sustainable ecosystem providing 100 percent of their survival needs…
50 percent of the fresh fruit, and 20 percent of the vegetables eaten in the U.S. come from other countries. Mike and Grayson fear a global war could cut off all these imports, leaving it up to every American to grow their own food.
The funny thing about Grayson and Mike is, they are very much polar opposites when it comes to a number of things. Grayson is a pacifist who spent time in a Zen Buddhist monastery. Mike, on the other hand, served in the U.S. Navy in the Shore Patrol.
Yet, both are preppers and each brings something different yet valuable to the table. At the farm, Grayson spends a number of hours every day building self-sustaining agriculture preps. Mike works on security and provides weapons instruction to Grayson.
Still, the two young men are newbies at preparedness. From the show:
But after 6 months of prepping, all these two have to show for it is 20 jars of preserved vegetables, and only 1/16 of an acre of productive farmland.
And since Mike is still unsure about Grayson’s weapons skills, he decided to utilize “booby traps” as part of the farm’s security features. Grayson and Mike were shown constructing a “mace trap” (swinging log with spikes) in the episode.
That’s not all the two fabricated in last week’s show. In their efforts to achieve a self-sustainable ecosystem at the farm, the preppers built a cold frame ( a transparent-roofed enclosure built low to the ground used to protect plants) and a chicken tractor (portable chicken coop for fertilizing the soil). Neat stuff.
The segment ended with Grayson and Mike throwing a party at the farm for the purpose of meeting local people and possibly building a prepper network from these folk.
Bust out the botas, crank up the music, and assess partygoers for prepping potential. Check, check, and check.
A really good episode- one that focused on preppers from different areas of the country and in different life situations.
For more information about Doomsday Preppers, visit the show’s web page on the National Geographic Channel site here.
By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)
Yesterday I mentioned Glenn Beck’s The Blaze TV. The more I watch the channel on satellite TV (DISH Network ch. 212 in Chicago), the more I’m impressed with it. As a matter of fact, a terrific prepper/survivalist-themed “reality” TV show on The Blaze is Independence USA. I discussed what this successor to Apocalypse PA is about back in a September 14 post. I also noted at that time:
Starting Sunday, September 16, new episodes of Independence USA will be airing on TheBlazeTV.
And I intend to be watching.
As for those episodes I missed? Here’s hoping there will be an Independence USA marathon sometime soon.
Well, I have been watching, and it appears season 2 has ended after 10 episodes (season 1 comprised 8 installments).
Here are some thoughts about Independence USA after their sophomore season:
• Regular readers of the blog know I watch a good deal of “doomsday” TV. The Blaze TV’s Independence USA is “reality” TV, not unlike National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers and Discovery Channel’s Doomsday Bunkers. And like the other two television series, it’s good. Real good in my opinion.
• I like to watch Doomsday Preppers because I’m curious to see what Americans across the country are doing to prepare for TEOTWAWKI. I like watching Doomsday Bunkers because I’ve always been fascinated by underground shelters ever since I was a kid, and I like the technical aspect of the show. As for Independence USA? Frank Belcastro and his family are “preparing for the worst, one unbelievable project at a time.” While the family is very likeable, it’s the projects that really draw me in. I find myself eagerly anticipating Sunday night to see what projects (old and new) Frank, wife Kim, son Adam, and daughter Emma are working on to bring them closer to achieving self-sufficiency.
• Regarding the projects- discussion and information provided about them isn’t really too in-depth. Just enough to give viewers an idea of why they’re needed and what’s entailed in making them happen. If I’m really interested in finding out more about something I saw in an episode, I just jump on the Internet and start digging around. My favorite Belcastro project from the episodes I’ve seen has to be the underground shelter made from a shipping container. Very cool.
• It was obvious from watching the episode that featured their remote campsite and “new” cabin cruiser that the Belcastro family and Independence USA plan on sticking around for a while. That would be nice. Make it happen Glenn.
• The Blaze could really run with this TV series. Doomsday Preppers has a tremendous presence on the Nat Geo Channel portion of the National Geographic website (which comes to no surprise as it’s their highest-rated television series). The same could be done with Independence USA on The Blaze TV area of TheBlaze.com. At the very least, the “Episodes” area of the show’s webpage could use more detail. The Blaze TV wasn’t picked up by the DISH Network until recently. As such, DISH customers missed season 1 of Independence USA. I’ve seen a bunch of episodes now, but I’m not too sure which season they belonged to. I also know I didn’t see all of them in order. I saw a greenhouse being built on top of the buried Belcastro bunker in one episode, and the bunker being installed in a “later” one. Yep- more info on the show’s webpage would be real nice to help viewers keep track of things. Also, how about an Independence USA marathon for DISH Network customers, or replaying all 18 episodes of season 1 and 2 before the next season premieres? Like I said, The Blaze could really run with this show.
In my opinion, The Blaze has a real gem here with Independence USA. I think it could rival Doomsday Preppers in popularity if Glenn Beck’s crew play their cards right.
You can find out more information about the show on TheBlaze.com here.
Back on December 15, 2010, I mentioned I had come across a History Channel pilot about a family from “somewhere in Pennsylvania who were striving to achieve self-sufficiency in anticipation of a catastrophic event.
That TV pilot was called Apocalypse PA.
In subsequent communications with one of the family members, Emma, I learned that the History Channel decided against picking it up as a TV series.
Them, some time ago I learned that Apocalypse PA had been reincarnated as Independence USA on Glenn Beck’s GBTV.
I had already planned on reviewing the show when it was announced that TheBlazeTV (formerly GBTV) had launched on DISH Network, and being a subscriber to the satellite TV network, I now have the ability to watch the successor to Apocalypse PA on Sunday nights at 8 PM Eastern Time. From their page on TheBlazeTV website:
The show follows Frank Belcastro and his family as they try and become completely independent and prepare for life “off the grid.”
Concerned that the economy could collapse? Or that a natural disaster could wipe out our infrastructure? So is Frank, and he is doing something about it! Believing that America has become too reliant on a crumbling foundation, Frank is preparing for the worst, one unbelievable project at a time. Follow Frank as he attempts to motivate a family that neither shares his fervor nor wishes to sacrifice the comforts and conveniences of 21st century life as they prepare for a life “off the grid.”
“Grow Your Own”
Starting Sunday, September 16, new episodes of Independence USA will be airing on TheBlazeTV.
And I intend to be watching.
As for those episodes I missed? Here’s hoping there will be an Independence USA marathon sometime soon.
You can read more about the television series here on TheBlazeTV website.
Back on August 3, 2011, I wrote about a show called Doomsday Preppers that appeared on the National Geographic Channel that prior Sunday. Little did I know at that time that the one-hour special was really a pilot for a new series that goes by the same name and which debuted on Nat Geo last night. From their website:
About the Show
Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties. And with our expert’s assessment, they will find out their chances of survival if their worst fears become a reality.
The first two episodes of the new series were broadcast Tuesday night, and a total of seven “prepper” individuals/groups were assessed, including (in order of appearance):
Paul and Gloria Range, the “Retiree Preppers,” outside of Floresville, Texas
“We’re preparing for a polar shift that will cause a sudden climate change and change life as we know it forever.”
Christopher Nyerges, the “Street Survivor,” Los Angeles, California
“I’m prepping for a killer earthquake that could completely flatten the city of L.A.”
Megan Hurwitt, the “Young Urban Prepper,” Houston, Texas
“I’m prepping to survive a catastrophic oil crisis.”
David Sarti, the “Hillbilly Prepper,” outside of Nashville, Tennessee
“I’m prepping to survive an EMP detonation that will wipe out our nation’s transportation system.”
Kellene (and Scott) Bishop, the “Gourmet Prepper,” Orem, Utah
“I’m prepping for a collapse of our financial system that will mean the end of the world as we know it.”
Kathy (and Bruce) Harrison, the “Doris Day of Doom,” somewhere in New England
“I’m preparing for a black swan event like a catastrophic New Madrid earthquake.”
Dennis Evers, the “Godfather Prepper,” rural Colorado
“I’m prepping to protect my family against global chaos caused by hyperinflation.”
Watching these first two episodes of the new television series, I thought back to something I wrote last year regarding the 2011 pilot:
Watching Doomsday Preppers, one soon realizes that the use of the term “doomsday preppers” is somewhat misleading. None of these families indicated they believe the end of the word is at hand. Instead, they plan and prepare for anticipated large-scale, near-term disasters, natural (CME) and man-made (EMP strike, financial crash). This use of “doomsday” reminds me of the situation with Apocalypse PA, in which I suspected having “apocalypse” in the title was merely a marketing ploy.
And which worked, in my case.
That same situation applies here. None of these seven prepper individuals/groups believes the actual end of the world is at hand- or at least it wasn’t said on camera. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of prepping? Their reasons for preparing are best illustrated in quotes attributed to them on the Nat Geo Channel website and which I listed above.
I also picked-on something else from the pilot. I wrote back on August 3 last year:
My only beef with the National Geographic Channel in Doomsday Preppers was their not identifying who their prepper “expert” was. I run across a lot of “experts” in my research, and it’s highly-debatable whether a good number of these individuals are deserving of such a title.
This time around, Nat Geo did identify those conducting the assessments of the preppers. Who are they? In the original pilot, one of the groups assessed were the Kobler and Hunt families out of South Carolina, who formed a prepper community in anticipation of a global economic collapse. I wrote last year:
And David Kobler and Scott Hunt not only have their own YouTube channels, southernprepper1 and engineer775 respectively, but are also prepping consultants, heading up Practical Preppers LLC, “Providing tactical and technical solutions for all your prepping needs.”
The experts assessing the preppers in the new series? Practical Preppers. From their website:
National Geographic Project
Practical Prepper’s Scott Hunt and David Kobler were featured on the pilot episode of “Doomsday Preppers”, on the National Geographic Channel.
Then, they were asked to be the experts for 10 episodes of that series on prepping.
Four to six families are profiled on each show. After each family’s segment, the experts — Practical Preppers — evaluate the family’s level of preparedness, on several different scales. They also suggest approaches for improving their plan.
Congratulations Practical Preppers LLC on the sweet gig.
Some other thoughts about the new Doomsday Preppers TV series include:
Operational Security, or OPSEC- Obviously, I wasn’t the only individual contacted about casting for the new series. Others blogged about it last year, and one of the concerns brought up was the violation of operational security, or OPSEC, by appearing in such a production. The thought being, once the show airs, the “world” now knows you are sitting on valuable equipment and supplies, and should the poop hit the fan, you will find plenty of people, both good and bad, at your doorstep. Even without a major crisis, you may have unwillingly set yourself up as an attractive target for thieves. I was surprised that one prepper went so far as to reveal that the cost of her and her husband’s preps amounted to six-figures. Shhhh!
Firearms- Which brings me to my next thought, which is about guns. One prepper said in episode 2:
It’s easy to feel a little left out of the prepper community if you live in New England and if you’re not fairly right-wing and conservative politically. But I just don’t spend my time worrying about storing guns and ammunition. Because our security comes not from stockpiling weapons but from having a community that respects each other, supports each other, and we have each other’s backs.
While the right of the law-abiding individual to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the Second Amendment, I understand that owning a gun may not be right for everyone. However, keep in mind that in a SHTF situation, there are individuals/groups this prepper and her community could very well come into contact with who have come out and said (future post) they don’t bother stockpiling food, water, and other supplies because they intend to take these items away from others under threat of force (guns). Firearms are without a doubt one of the most effective tools for self-defense, and with the proper training and tactics, our prepper and her beloved community might actually have a chance of keeping their preps safe against these roving bands of human parasites.
“The Odds”- At the end of episode 1 and each section of episode 2 (refinement is often a good thing), there’s a part of the show called “The Odds” in which the likelihood of a particular prepper’s overriding concern (earthquake flattening Los Angeles, for example) is addressed. At the end of Kellene and Scott Bishop’s segment, viewers are told:
What are the odds of a financial collapse actually occurring? While hyperinflation and severe depressions have occurred in major economies in the past, most economists do not believe the United States is currently at risk.
At the end of Dennis Evers’ segment? We’re informed, once again:
What are the odds of hyperinflation actually occurring? While hyperinflation and severe depressions have occurred in major economies in the past, most economists do not believe the United States is currently at risk.
Then again, most economists didn’t see the 2008 global financial crisis coming. And the housing bubble. And the the dot-com bubble. The list goes on. And on.
In fact, quite a few economists and other financial-types who correctly-called the 2008 event now warn of a coming hyperinflation, severe depression, and a financial collapse. Not too surprisingly, those who didn’t spot the crisis three-and-a-half years ago are the ones claiming the U.S. economy is on a sustainable path to recovery. Who’s got the street cred here?
So does all this mean I didn’t like the first two episodes of the new Doomsday Preppers TV series? Actually, I’m rather kind of impressed. The production company could have taken the easy way out and cast some of the more eccentric members of the prepping community to attract an audience through shock value. Instead, the preppers introduced in these episodes didn’t seem much different than people I’d run into on the street in 2012. Then again, I’m from Chicago, soooo… All kidding aside, I do like the show. I especially liked how a number of themes emphasized in the prepper community- skill development, innovation, redundancy- made it into the first two installments. At times I found myself jotting down ideas gleaned from the show. Overall, I found the new Doomsday Preppers TV series interesting, informative, and even humorous at times. The production company succeeded in taking what is a scary subject for many and making it more palatable for the masses- without diluting the more serious aspects of the show.
New episodes of Doomsday Preppers will be on the National Geographic Channel Tuesday nights at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific Time. From the Practical Preppers’ website, it looks like viewers can expect at least 10 episodes in this new series. For more information, go to the Nat Geo Channel site here.
I’m adding a new series of posts to Survival And Prosperity in which I’ll be discussing television shows and specials related to the blog’s focus (financial and personal safety and growth).
To start the series off, a couple of weeks ago I managed to catch a pilot on the History Channel called Apocalypse PA. The two episodes that comprise the pilot center on the Belcastro family (dad Frank, mom Kim, son Adam, and daughter Emma) from “somewhere in Pennsylvania,” and who strive for self-sufficiency in anticipation of a catastrophic event. Here’s how the patriarch of the family introduces each episode:
My name is Frank, and I’m not crazy. I know the world’s not ending anytime soon. But just in case, I want to be ready. Back in the day, our grandparents and great-grandparents- I mean, they knew how to take care of themselves. Now, it seems, everybody depends on somebody else. But my family is declaring a new independence day. We’re going to learn to fend for ourselves- whether we like it or not.
The family’s ultimate goal? In episode 2, Frank declares:
I want to get myself into a situation where me, and my family, could ride out any storm that comes our way.
Preparing for the Apocalypse? I guess. More like preparations for long-term societal breakdown originating from a number of potential catastrophes (economic collapse, natural/man-made EMP event, nuclear terrorism, take your pick).
Sure, the title is a little bit misleading. But I have to admit- it’s the main reason why I tuned into the show when I saw it on my satellite TV guide.
In episode 1 of Apocalypse PA, viewers are introduced to the Belcastro family and what the show is about. Frank explains:
You know, I can’t do too much about the way that our society has evolved. But I certainly can take care of my own family. So what we do is we get together and we work on preparing ourselves for whatever might be coming our way. We’ll do it one job at a time.
The family of four gather in the basement “classroom,” where Frank reveals what they’re trying to accomplish in this episode:
I want to build a vehicle that will run on nothing more than wood. If we can’t get gasoline- I mean, we live in Pennsylvania, the place used to be called “Penn’s woods”- that’s where it got its name. There’s wood everywhere around us… We’re not talking about having to do it because gas is too expensive. I’m talking about what happens if there is no gas.
In addition to building a wood-burning vehicle, the Belcastro family acquire goats as well for self-reliance purposes. For me, the funniest part of the entire pilot took place in this episode when Frank is telling his son about the numerous ways goats can be served up as a meal while at the very same time his daughter is shown doting on the new baby goat they’ve just acquired. She even goes so far as to have professional “baby” pictures taken of the goat at what looks to be a pet store.
Frank sets up episode 2 of Apocalypse PA right off the bat when he says:
If we have alcohol, if we have guns, we can get almost anything we need…
In the basement “classroom,” Frank explains what it is the Belcastro family will be trying to accomplish in this episode:
History doesn’t lie- societies do collapse. Look at Rome.
I think that’s where we’re at right now. I think we’re Rome.
If society were to collapse, the paper money is going to be absolutely useless. Look what happened during the Civil War. Confederate money at the end of the war was totally useless paper. About all that you could use it for was to light a fire.
We are going to need to be able to have stored our own barterable commodities. Or better yet, be able to make our own barterable goods.
At this point, Frank proposes that the family build a still to produce alcohol and that they should acquire firearms using ammunition they can manufacture themselves.
Overall, I really enjoyed the pilot. For the casual viewer, it was educational, humorous, and not too scary- despite the show’s name. For the survivalist, homesteader, prepper- there are some useful ideas that can be taken away from the material covered.
In my opinion, I think that the History Channel should leave Apocalypse PA “as is.”
The History Channel’s online TV guide shows “No episodes in the next 2 weeks.” It also displayed the same message about a week ago as well.
Here’s hoping it’s not being butchered or cancelled.
Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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