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Should Lying About Military Service Be A Crime?
Business Insider: Law Review ^ | February 8, 2010 | Lauren Streib

Posted on 02/08/2010 8:46:03 AM PST by lbryce

When does bragging become illegal?

Federal courts in California and Colorado will soon hear two cases that struggle with the question of whether lying about military service is a criminal offense.

In California, Xavier Alvarez said during a public meeting that he received the Medal of Honor for his time in the Marines. Alvarez never served in the military and pleaded guilty to misrepresenting himself on the condition that he could appeal on the basis of the First Amendment.

In Colorado, Rick Strandlof said he was a former Marine with a Purple Heart and Silver Star, claims which he used when establishing a non-profit organization to help homeless veterans (he was posing as "Rick Duncan," according to The Denver Post). He was charged with five misdemeanors.

The crimes of both men are punishable via the the Stolen Valor Act, which established in 2006 that lying about earning an American military medal is a crime and could carry a punishment of up to a year in jail. The law forbids anyone to wear a military medal that was not earned.

AP via Washington Post: Dozens of people have been arrested under the law at a time when troops coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been embraced as heroes. Almost all of the impostors were ordered to perform community service.,

While the First Amendment does not protect lewd, libelous or imminently dangerous speech, does this mean it protects lies about military service as long as those lies do not hurt another person?

(Excerpt) Read more at businessinsider.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crime; fraud; lyingliars; mythmaking; phonysoldiers; stolenvalor; stolenvaloract; untruthers; waronerror
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Wikipedia:Stolen Valor Act of 2005
The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 (the Act), signed into law by President George W. Bush on Dec. 20, 2006,[1] is a U.S. law that broadens the provisions of previous U.S. law addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, sale or claim (either written or oral) of any military decorations and medals. It is a federal misdemeanor offense, which carries a punishment of imprisonment for not more than 1 year and/or a fine; the scope previously covered only the Medal of Honor.

The Act was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 19, 2005, by Representative John Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, as H.R. 3352.[2][3] It was introduced into the Senate by Senator Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, on Nov. 10, 2005, as S. 1998.[4][5] The Senate version was passed unanimously on September 7, 2006.[5][6] The Senate version then went to the same House Judiciary Committee that held the House version. The Act briefly stalled, but the House subsequently passed the Senate version, S. 1998, on Dec. 6, 2006.[7]

The purpose of the Act is to strengthen the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 704 by broadening its scope and strengthening penalties. Specific new provisions in the Act include: granting more authority to Federal law enforcement officers, extending scope beyond the Medal of Honor; broadening the law to cover false claims whereas previously an overt act had to be committed; covering, mailing, and shipping of medals; and protecting the reputation and meaning of military heroism medals.[3][5] Under the act, it is illegal for unauthorized persons to wear, buy, sell, barter, trade or manufacture "any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces." In the 18 months after the act was enacted, the Chicago Tribune estimates 20 prosecutions. The number is increasing as awareness about the law spreads. [8]

The Act was likely passed to address the issue of persons claiming to have been awarded military awards for which they were not entitled, and exploiting their deception for personal gain. For example, as of June 2, 2006, there were only 120 living Medal of Honor recipients, but there were far more known imposters.[9][10][11] There are also large numbers of fake Navy SEALS[12][13] and Army Special Forces,[14] among others.

1 posted on 02/08/2010 8:46:05 AM PST by lbryce
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To: lbryce
"Should lying about Military service be a crime?"

As the law is written, Hell Yes, is the simple answer.

2 posted on 02/08/2010 8:48:27 AM PST by gitmogrunt
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To: lbryce

Law seems superfluous. Just charge them with fraud...


3 posted on 02/08/2010 8:48:36 AM PST by Se˝or Zorro ("The ability to speak does not make you intelligent"--Qui-Gon Jinn)
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To: lbryce
Should Lying About Military Service Be A Crime?

During World War II (the big one), I was Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe. And I say not just no, but HELL NO.
4 posted on 02/08/2010 8:50:38 AM PST by Question Liberal Authority ("My...health care plan is a Bolshevik plot... which will destroy America." - Barack Obama)
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To: lbryce
John Kerry: Hunter, Dreamer, Realist (Washington Post June 1, 2003)

...And who is [John Kerry], A close associate hints: There's a secret compartment in Kerry's briefcase. He carries the black attaché everywhere. Asked about it on several occasions, Kerry brushed it aside. Finally, trapped in an interview, he exhaled and clicked open his case.

"Who told you?" he demanded as he reached inside. "My friends don't know about this."

The hat was a little mildewy. The green camouflage was fading, the seams fraying.

"My good luck hat," Kerry said, happy to see it. "Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia."

Kerry put on the hat, pulling the brim over his forehead. His blue button-down shirt and tie clashed with the camouflage. He pointed his finger and raised his thumb, creating an imaginary gun. He looked silly, yet suddenly his campaign message was clear: Citizen-soldier. Linking patriotism to public service. It wasn't complex after all; it was Kerry.

He smiled and aimed his finger: "Pow."


5 posted on 02/08/2010 8:51:30 AM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: Se├▒or Zorro

What about the phony soldiers who claim to have served, protest against our wars, and claim to have witnessed war crimes?


6 posted on 02/08/2010 8:52:31 AM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: a fool in paradise
What about the phony soldiers who claim to have served, protest against our wars, and claim to have witnessed war crimes?


7 posted on 02/08/2010 8:55:01 AM PST by airborne ("Peace, Love, Dope" has now become "Hope, Change, Obama" !!!)
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To: gitmogrunt

Whatever happened to beating them up? (Which they deserve).

My concern with a mere lie being a crime(as opposed to fraud, which is theft-by-lying) is “who gets to decide what is true?”

I see the harm these fake vets cause; but the same could be argued for “climate deniers” (gag) or “people who lied about Obama not being a citizen,” and the like.

Once mere speech is criminalized, even lies, a slippery slope is created.

I, for one, don’t want Obama’s Ministry of Truth decided what is, and what is not, a “socially harmful lie.”


8 posted on 02/08/2010 8:56:16 AM PST by Jewbacca (The residents of Iroquois territory may not determine whether Jews may live in Jerusalem.)
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To: a fool in paradise
Especially those. They are spreading enemy propaganda, and should be given the same treatment as we did Lord Haw-Haw.
9 posted on 02/08/2010 8:56:35 AM PST by jmcenanly
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To: lbryce

“Should Lying About Military Service Be A Crime?”
************************
********************************

uh, should lying about being an American be a crime...?????


10 posted on 02/08/2010 8:57:15 AM PST by gunnyg (Just An Old Gunny ~ And *Still* Not A F'n Commie Basterd!)
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To: a fool in paradise

What about the phony soldiers who claim to have served, protest against our wars, and claim to have witnessed war crimes?


Already covered under fraud laws and slander laws.

Making up fraudulant information to intentionally slander someone is already a crime.


11 posted on 02/08/2010 8:57:30 AM PST by Brookhaven
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To: jmcenanly

The British hanged Lord Haw Haw. He was US born but resided in England (before going to Germany to serve Hitler).


12 posted on 02/08/2010 8:57:51 AM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: lbryce
When I was in the Army (many moons ago), we used to call these guys PX commando's. They would go down to the post PX and buy a bunch of ribbons they had not earned to dress up their uniforms when they went home on leave.
Their BS was pretty obvious, making them easy to spot.
13 posted on 02/08/2010 8:57:59 AM PST by Malone LaVeigh
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To: Brookhaven

Impersonate a law enforcement officer, doctor, or judge and see what the charge is.


14 posted on 02/08/2010 8:58:26 AM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: lbryce

Xavier Alvarez: Lied about MOH

15 posted on 02/08/2010 8:58:31 AM PST by TokuMei
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To: lbryce

All,
I find it very curious that in many cases lawyers have made claims of clients suffering from bipolar personality disorder, other mental health issues as a defense.


16 posted on 02/08/2010 8:58:46 AM PST by lbryce (Obama Notwithstanding, America's Best Days Are Yet To Be .)
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To: Malone LaVeigh
...we used to call these guys PX commando's. They would go down to the post PX and buy a bunch of ribbons they had not earned to dress up their uniforms when they went home on leave. Their BS was pretty obvious, making them easy to spot.

Generalismo Ray Nagin (D-New Orleans):


17 posted on 02/08/2010 8:59:51 AM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: lbryce
I do believe this law will not hold up to 1st Amendment scrutiny. It would be the kind of deviation from free speech jurisprudence that the Keloncase was with private property rights and the “takings clause” of the 5th Amendment. Just my opinion.
18 posted on 02/08/2010 9:00:25 AM PST by Clump (the tree of liberty is withering like a stricken fig tree)
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To: lbryce

Should it be a crime?

Only if it invovles fraud.

Things like lying on your resume or lying to a woman to get her into bed are forms of fraud if it caused a person to take an action they otherwise would not have taken (and the person is damaged in someway). I don’t know why we need a special category for fraud about military service as opposed to anything else.

We’ve got too many laws already. We should be simplifiying things.


19 posted on 02/08/2010 9:00:58 AM PST by Brookhaven
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To: Jewbacca

>>My concern with a mere lie being a crime(as opposed to fraud, which is theft-by-lying) is “who gets to decide what is true?”<<

You either served honorably in the military or you weren’t. You either were awarded certain commendations or you weren’t. You either went on certain missions or you didn’t.

These are not subject to interpretation. They are wither true or false. All your other examples are opinions.


20 posted on 02/08/2010 9:01:23 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: lbryce

when are they going to charge Kerry?


21 posted on 02/08/2010 9:01:46 AM PST by TexasFreeper2009 (November is coming.)
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To: a fool in paradise
He smiled and aimed his finger: "Pow."

Kerry, demonstrating how he executed by shooting in the back a wounded enemy soldier.

22 posted on 02/08/2010 9:02:54 AM PST by bayliving (1 if by land, 2 if by sea and 3 if by our own government.)
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To: lbryce
We need more laws like we need more holes in El Presidente's head.

If they commit fraud prosecute them, if they're caught lying about be a vet shame them.

23 posted on 02/08/2010 9:03:15 AM PST by jwalsh07
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To: freedumb2003

“All your other examples are opinions.”

According to Obama, the science is “settled” about Global Warming. It’s a fact.

The line between face and opinion is a difficult line sometimes.

Criminalizing speech because of preening morons is an insult to the Constitution I swore to protect.

Just beat them up. Not everything has to have a law.


24 posted on 02/08/2010 9:04:02 AM PST by Jewbacca (The residents of Iroquois territory may not determine whether Jews may live in Jerusalem.)
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To: lbryce

The leftists resent how the Stolen Valor Act cramps the style of the phony vets and liars who tell all those wonderful stories about US “war crimes.”


25 posted on 02/08/2010 9:04:04 AM PST by Interesting Times (For the truth about "swift boating" see ToSetTheRecordStraight.com)
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To: lbryce

The act forbids fraudulently claiming to have been awarded a decoration of the United States. These decorations are established by law and constitute the honors system of the United States. Having created these decorations, the United States is entitled, on behalf of itself and the true recepients, to protect that honor. I believe that the United States also has an obligation to do so.

This is not a matter of free speech, it is fraud. I don’t believe that the law says anything about military service, just the fraudulent claim to decorations or medals. The prosecutions that I have seen have been quite blatant. Persons who have never seen military service wearing multiple decorations including the highest valor awards, or politicians who stand to gain claiming that they are decorated veterans. If someone knows of some blowhard who claimed he was SEAL during some pubfest, and was subsequently prosecuted, let me know.


26 posted on 02/08/2010 9:04:05 AM PST by centurion316
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To: a fool in paradise
ROFLMAO! Thanks, I rest my case.
Of course, with Nagin it's all BS all the time!
27 posted on 02/08/2010 9:04:52 AM PST by Malone LaVeigh
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To: Clump

Make that Kelo case.


28 posted on 02/08/2010 9:05:06 AM PST by Clump (the tree of liberty is withering like a stricken fig tree)
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To: Se├▒or Zorro
There are a few folks out there who are willing to invent war stories to impress others. Real men don't need to fabricate anything because they have been there and done that.
29 posted on 02/08/2010 9:05:30 AM PST by ANGGAPO (Leyte Gulf Beach Club)
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To: a fool in paradise

“What about the phony soldiers who claim to have served, protest against our wars, and claim to have witnessed war crimes?”

They are called Senators in Massachusetts.


30 posted on 02/08/2010 9:05:37 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: centurion316

I agree with you completely...it’s tantamount to counterfeiting currency.


31 posted on 02/08/2010 9:06:57 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: lbryce

We used to throw people in jail because they were a danger to society. Now we throw people in jail because they make us mad. That is why we have the world’s largest prison population.


32 posted on 02/08/2010 9:07:30 AM PST by microgood
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To: a fool in paradise

Impersonate a law enforcement officer, doctor, or judge and see what the charge is.


Because impersonating one of those professions causes chaos in society. These are postions of authority and deal with life/death situations.

You could make the same case that IMPERSONATING an ACTIVE soldier also causes chaos in society, so I would favor outlawing that. But impersonating an active soldier is different that lying about the medals you received (or if you were ever in the military).

It isn’t that I favor of people lying about their military experience, I just worry about outlawing speech (even bad speech). Where will it go? Now that the precedent is set, who decides where it will go?


33 posted on 02/08/2010 9:08:03 AM PST by Brookhaven
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To: a fool in paradise
One picture that is indeed worth a thousand words.
what a buffoon!
34 posted on 02/08/2010 9:08:33 AM PST by lbryce (Obama Notwithstanding, America's Best Days Are Yet To Be .)
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To: Question Liberal Authority

Best post of day, nice!


35 posted on 02/08/2010 9:08:38 AM PST by agere_contra
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To: Jewbacca

I’m with you. Unless they cause real damage with their lie, we should go back to the way we used to handle this. Ass kicking and derision.


36 posted on 02/08/2010 9:09:30 AM PST by Republic of Texas (Socialism Always Fails)
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To: a fool in paradise
"What about the phony soldiers who claim to have served, protest against our wars, and claim to have witnessed war crimes?"

What about John Fin Kerry's friends?

37 posted on 02/08/2010 9:10:24 AM PST by wmileo
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To: a fool in paradise

“What about the phony soldiers who claim to have served, protest against our wars, and claim to have witnessed war crimes?”

I’d say yes to that one... sounds like slander to me.


38 posted on 02/08/2010 9:10:56 AM PST by ScottinVA (Glad to see Demonic Unhinged (DU) highlights and attacks my FR comments!)
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To: gitmogrunt

I don’t like the law as written, as it seems to make illegal some valid reasons for purchasing military decorations (e.g. creating a shadowbox as a gift to a military member, museum displays, etc...)

If the intent is to prevent the fraudulent use of military decorations for personal gain, it should state so clearly and limit the scope of the law.


39 posted on 02/08/2010 9:11:22 AM PST by jz638
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To: a fool in paradise
"Generalismo Ray Nagin (D-New Orleans)"

You are not suggesting that this POS served in our military?

40 posted on 02/08/2010 9:12:50 AM PST by wmileo
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To: a fool in paradise

Nice mushroom Nagin’s noggin is sportin’ .


41 posted on 02/08/2010 9:13:16 AM PST by brushcop (SFC Sallie, CPL Long, LTHarris, SSG Brown, PVT Simmons KIA OIF lll&V, they died for you, honor them)
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To: microgood
"We used to throw people in jail because they were a danger to society. Now we throw people in jail because they make us mad. "

You are wrong!

Now we skip the jail part and elect them to the U.S. Congress.

42 posted on 02/08/2010 9:15:45 AM PST by wmileo
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To: Brookhaven
Already covered under fraud laws and slander laws.

No, it's not. That's why this law was passed.

In the case of the Colorado guy he was standing on platforms across the state with political candidates using his alleged war hero status to influence voters and elections. No other crime was committed, however.

You think somebody should be allowed to lie about military decorations that are strictly regulated by law and military regulations to influence elections, not to mention all the schools and public gatherings these POS's infilitrate?

43 posted on 02/08/2010 9:16:35 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: wmileo

The use of the word ‘Generalismo’ is a clever use of language. I don’t think anybody is suggesting Nagin has ever even had a proper job, let alone been any kind of soldier.


44 posted on 02/08/2010 9:17:24 AM PST by agere_contra
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To: Clump

“I do believe this law will not hold up to 1st Amendment scrutiny.”

Really? Based on what. In most cases the people lying about their military service are doing so in order to get something in return.

I think they should be strung up.


45 posted on 02/08/2010 9:21:20 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Brookhaven

“It isn’t that I favor of people lying about their military experience, I just worry about outlawing speech (even bad speech). Where will it go? Now that the precedent is set, who decides where it will go?”

Where will it go? Reasonable people will decide.

Ruling based on precedent is the problem, not a law prohibiting people from misrepresenting their military background.


46 posted on 02/08/2010 9:24:57 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: TokuMei

He claimed to be a retired Marine and sported a US Army uniform. Dumbass!


47 posted on 02/08/2010 9:26:20 AM PST by TankerKC (No government employees were harmed in the slashing of this budget.)
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To: lbryce

I believe anything that undermines the morale of our service-people should be tried, so that includes lying about having served.

However, most of those I know who DID serve say that it doesn’t matter if they get recognized or not.....it remains in their heart and their character.

Its crass, immoral, indecent, and just plain wrong.


48 posted on 02/08/2010 9:27:16 AM PST by Badabing Badablonde (New to the internet? CLICK HERE)
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To: a fool in paradise

Well, there went my breakfast,


49 posted on 02/08/2010 9:27:53 AM PST by T Minus Four (Donate to Haiti now and sponsor a Haitian child for the long term - Worldvision.com)
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To: Brookhaven

“Because impersonating one of those professions causes chaos in society. These are postions of authority and deal with life/death situations.”

I would argue that a surviving Medal of Honor recipient has a position of authority higher than these people. They are frequesntly asked to speak and represent the armed forces.

My father-in-law, William Charette, is a MOH recepient. He receives hundreds of letters a mon th from people requesting info or just wantimng to honor him. He is opffered hundreds of speaking engagements a year. He receives invitations to almost every important government function. Not only was he a hero, he has an honor and duty to represent the other MOH recepients everywhere he goes.

It says a lot about a country that will not allow people to desecrate the honor amd memories of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. That is what the imposters due. Steal the honor that needs to be placed elsewhere.


50 posted on 02/08/2010 9:33:27 AM PST by lynn4303
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