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Posted by Ukrap on

Корабель «Донбас» у «чутливі зони» не заходив і повертається на базу – штаб ООС

Раінше ФСБ Росії повідомила, нібито український військовий корабель «Донбас» перебуває в безпосередній близькості від Керченської протоки та створює загрозу безпеці мореплавства

Posted by Ukrap on

«Обговорили можливі формати врегулювання на Донбасі» – Зеленський про розмову з Байденом

8 грудня президент США Джо Байден заявив, що Сполучені Штати не надсилатимуть війська в Україну для захисту від будь-якого нового імовірного російського вторгнення

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Байден і Зеленський говорили півтори години – Єрмак

«Президенти почали з найважливішого – президент Байден розповів президенту Зеленському про його саміт із президентом Росії Путіним», – сказав Єрмак

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Pfizer Boosters Now Available to 16-, 17-Year-Olds

Vaccine regulators are weighing wider eligibility rules as the omicron and delta variants sicken more Americans, prompting many to seek out a third dose. Under a newly amended emergency use authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which has so far been administered 276 million times in the United States, 16- and 17-year-olds can now get booster shots.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that the vaccine’s effectiveness in protecting adults against COVID-19 supported its decision to offer younger people a third dose. Now, anyone in the United States age 16 or older with at least six months’ distance from a second shot is eligible for a booster.

“The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been available to individuals 16 years of age and older for nearly a year, and its benefits have been shown to clearly outweigh potential risks,” Peter Marks, FDA director for biologics evaluation and research, said in a statement. “Since we first authorized the vaccine, new evidence indicates that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 is waning after the second dose of the vaccine for all adults and for those in the 16- and 17-year-old age group.”

Findings published in October in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is only 47% effective at preventing COVID-19 five to six months after its second dose.

The FDA’s announcement came a day after Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was most effective against the omicron variant after a third dose. Blood tests on individuals who had received only two shots turned up fewer protective antibodies than did patients with three shots.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chief executive, said in a statement.

In another release following Thursday’s new emergency authorization for 16- and 17-year-olds, Bourla called the FDA’s decision a “critical milestone” in fighting the coronavirus. The companies plan to send the department data from phase 3 trials showing vaccinated patients in this age group and older were 95% less likely to catch COVID-19 after the third dose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday also recommended this age group get the Pfizer-BioNTech booster, according to The Associated Press. 

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Turkey Faces Tough Balancing Act in Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has until now been able to maintain good relations with his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts, but now analysts warn that escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine could mark the end of that balancing act. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

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Hundreds of Migrants Remain Trapped on the Belarus-Poland Border

More than one thousand people, many of them young children, are living in a makeshift refugee camp amid freezing temperatures in eastern Belarus, a humanitarian crisis that critics say is political. Europe nations accuse the disputed president Alexander Lukashenko of using migrants as a weapon against Poland. For VOA, Jamie Dettmer narrates this report from Ricardo Marquina in Belarus.

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Biden Acknowledges US Democratic Vulnerabilities at Summit Opening

U.S. President Joe Biden acknowledged his own country’s vulnerabilities as he hosted a virtual Summit for Democracy that brings together world leaders, civil society and the private sector to “set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.”

“In the face of sustained and alarming challenges to democracy, universal human rights and all around the world, democracy needs champions,” Biden said during his opening remarks at the start of the two-day event on Thursday. “And I wanted to host this summit because here in the United States, we know as well as anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort.”


For the first time, the U.S. was labeled a “backsliding democracy” in a 2021 report released in November by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, mainly due to a challenge to the 2020 elections results, which culminated in the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

Biden did not mention the former president nor the insurrection attempt but said that American democracy is an ongoing struggle “to live up to our highest ideals and to heal our divisions and recommit ourselves to the founding idea of our nation captured in our Declaration of Independence.”

The Biden team is approaching the summit with a “lot of humility”, recognizing that the U.S. has its own problems they need to work on, said Steven Feldstein, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I think that’s a really important tone they are setting.”

Initiative for Democratic Renewal

Biden announced the establishment of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, a series of foreign assistance initiatives of up to $424.4 million in the coming year, subject to Congressional approval.  

The initiatives include funds to support independent media, anti-corruption efforts, empowering reformers, labor unions and marginalized groups, advancing technology that supports democracy, and defending free and fair elections.

“Labor rights is one area where the administration has begun to translate its strong domestic position in support of worker organizing to increased support for labor rights around the world,” said Marti Flacks, director and senior fellow of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The summit is part of Biden’s campaign pledge to strengthen democracy around the world at a time when autocratic governments are on the rise – a point the president made in his speech.

“They seek to advance their own power, export and expand their influence around the world and justify the repressive policies and practices as a more efficient way to address today’s challenges,” Biden said.

2020 marks the 15th consecutive year of global freedom and retreat, according to a recent report by the policy research group Freedom House.

“As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world in 2020, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny,” the report said.

Christopher Walker, vice president for studies and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy, said now is the time to bolster global democratic renewal. “It’s more important than ever under tougher conditions to fortify and defend democracy when it’s under such clear duress.”

Not everyone invited came

More than 100 countries are attending the summit, including liberal democracies, weaker democracies and even several states with authoritarian characteristics.



On Wednesday, a day before the summit, a senior Pakistani official, who declined to speak on the record, confirmed to VOA that Islamabad will not be attending. The official said Pakistan “firmly” supports a “One-China Policy” and Taiwan’s participation at the democracy summit is not in line with Islamabad’s long-standing stance.  

Islamabad’s decision to back out is unsurprising, and motivated by its own political calculations, said Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center. With the backdrop of an economic crisis and other domestic woes, the decision to snub the event would play well in a county with high anti-American sentiments.  

“There’s unhappiness in Islamabad that Biden has not been willing to have a phone call with Prime Minister Khan,” Kugelman said. “By backing out of this Democracy summit, the Pakistani government can derive some political benefits and conclude that it has nothing to lose by not participating.”

While the summit does not specifically mention China or Russia, it is widely seen as the Biden administration’s effort to mobilize support against what it sees as increasing authoritarian influence from both leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

Beijing has countered with its own hastily arranged summit called the “International Forum on Democracy: The Shared Human Values” in early December, with topics including “pluralistic origins of democracy” and “China’s view of democracy.”

This week the U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing China’s human rights “atrocities.” Australia, Canada, and the UK have joined the boycott, which Beijing calls a “smear campaign” and “political posturing.”

VOA’s Ayaz Gul and Lin Yang contributed to this story.

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США запровадили санкції проти Андрія Портнова

Санкції передбачають заборону на в’їзд до США та блокування всіх фінансових активів підсанкційної особи в банках США

Posted by Worldkrap on

US Unemployment Claims Drop to 184,000, Lowest Since 1969

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in 52 years, more evidence that the U.S. job market is recovering from last year’s coronavirus recession.

Unemployment claims dropped by 43,000 to 184,000 last week, the lowest since September 1969, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, fell to below 219,000, lowest since the pandemic hit the United States hard in March 2020.

Overall, just under 2 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits the week that ended Nov. 27.

Weekly claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have fallen steadily most of the year since topping 900,000 one week in early January. They are now below to the 220,000-a-week level typical before the coronavirus pandemic slammed the U.S. economy in March 2020; COVID-19 forced consumers to stay home as health precaution and businesses to close or reduce hours and to lay off staff. In March and April last year, employers shed a staggering 22.4 million jobs.

Massive government aid and the rollout of vaccines helped revive the economy and the job market by giving Americans the confidence and financial wherewithal to go on a shopping spree, often online, for goods such as lawn furniture and coffee makers. Since April last year, the United States has regained nearly 18.5 million jobs. But the economy is still 3.9 million jobs short of where it stood in February 2020 and the prospects for the economy remain vulnerable to COVID variants such as omicron.

The Labor Department reported last week that employers added a disappointing 210,000 jobs last month. But the report also showed that the unemployment rate dropped to a pandemic low of 4.2% from 4.6% in October.  

And the department reported Wednesday that employers posted a near-record 11 million job openings in October. It also said that 4.2 million people quit their jobs — just off the September record of 4.4 million — a sign that they are confident enough in their prospects to look for something better.

Until Sept. 6, the federal government had supplemented state unemployment insurance programs by paying an extra payment of $300 a week and extending benefits to gig workers and to those who were out of work for six months or more. Including the federal programs, the number of Americans receiving some form of jobless aid peaked at more than 33 million in June 2020.

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«Похмурий рік»: майже 300 журналістів у світі за ґратами через свою роботу – CPJ

Китай третій рік поспіль залишається лідером за кількістю ув’язнених журналістів – 50. У першій п’ятірці також М’янма, Єгипет, В’єтнам та Білорусь

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ДТП з маршруткою на Тернопільщині: двоє з дев’яти постраждалих померли у лікарні

ДТП сталася близько 17-ї години середи поблизу села Лозова Тернопільського району

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США відкриють Саміт за демократію: Росії і Китаю немає серед 110 запрошених

Дводенний захід буде проходити у режимі відеоконференції через коронавірусну пандемію

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5 Western Nations Join Together in Diplomatic Boycott of China’s Winter Olympics

A small but influential group of Western nations has announced diplomatic boycotts of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, citing its record of human rights abuses.

The boycott allows the nations to send athletic delegations to the Games while refusing to send any high-ranking officials or dignitaries as an official delegation.

The nations involved in the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games include:

United States: White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the U.S. “will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games, but said the nation will be behind the members of Team USA “100% as we cheer them on from home.”

Australia: Relations between Canberra and Beijing have deteriorated in recent years over several issues, especially Australia’s push for an independent probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first detected in late 2019 in central China.China has retaliated by imposing heavy tariffs on Australian commodities.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday “there has been no obstacle” on Australia’s side to hold talks with China to resolve the issues, but said his country “will not step back from the strong position we’ve had standing up for Australia’s interests.”

Britain: Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement Wednesday during a session in Parliament, adding that athletes would still participate as he did not believe “sporting boycotts are sensible.”

Canada: “We are extremely concerned about the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday in announcing his country’s diplomatic boycott.

Lithuania: Education, Science and Sport Minister Jurgita Šiugždinienė said in a press release last Thursday — days before the United States officially announced its diplomatic boycott — that she and other senior ministry officials will not travel to the Beijing Games. Relations between Vilnius and Beijing have worsened since Taiwan opened an unofficial embassy in Lithuanian capital last month.

Human rights groups have called on nations to fully boycott the Beijing Winter Games over China’s human rights abuses, including the detention of millions of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and the crackdown on pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong.

Beijing has denounced the boycotts as “posturing” and has vowed to retaliate with unspecified “countermeasures” against the United States over its decision to stage a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which run Feb. 4-20.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.


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US House Passes Measure Clamping Down on Products From China’s Xinjiang Region

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about forced labor, one of three measures backed overwhelmingly as Washington continues its pushback against Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

The House backed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act by an overwhelming 428-1. To become law, it must also pass the Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden.

The Uyghur measure would create a “rebuttable presumption” that all goods from Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has set up a vast network of detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups, were made with forced labor.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang, but the U.S. government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.

Republicans have accused Biden’s White House and his fellow Democrats in Congress of slow-walking the legislation because it would complicate the president’s renewable energy agenda.

Xinjiang supplies much of the world’s materials for solar panels.

The White House — and congressional Democrats — deny delaying the bills.

Citing China’s human rights “atrocities,” the Biden administration on Monday announced that U.S. government officials would boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The Democratic-led House also passed two other measures related to China and rights by huge margins Wednesday. The House voted 428-0 for a resolution saying that the International Olympic Committee violated its own human rights commitments by cooperating with China’s government.

It voted 427-1 for a resolution condemning the “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” committed against Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups by China and calling for action at the United Nations. 

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US Authorizes AstraZeneca COVID Drug for a Few Who Can’t be Vaccinated

U.S. health authorities on Wednesday authorized the use of synthetic antibodies developed by AstraZeneca to prevent COVID-19 infections in people who react badly to vaccines.

It was the first time the Food and Drug Administration has given emergency authorization for such a purely preventative treatment.

The FDA warned the drug Evusheld is “not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended” and can only be authorized for people with weakened immune systems or those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, such a strong allergic reaction.

In those cases, the drug can be administered to people 12 and older.

Evusheld combines two types of synthetic antibodies (tixagevimab and cilgavimab), and is given as two intramuscular injections, one right after the other. These antibodies help the immune system fight off the virus by targeting its spike protein, which allows it to enter cells and infect them.

The FDA said that the treatment “may be effective for pre-exposure prevention for six months.”

It cannot be administered to someone who is already infected with the virus, the FDA said, although AstraZeneca is testing it for such treatment.

Side effects may include an allergic reaction, bleeding from the injection site, headache, and fatigue.

The FDA authorization was based on a clinical trial carried out on unvaccinated people older than 59, or with a chronic disease, or at high risk of infection.

The drug was given to 3,500 people while 1,700 received a placebo. The trial showed that the treatment cut the risk of developing COVID-19 by 77%.

Two cocktails of antibodies, made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, are currently authorized for prevention of infection in the United States, but only in people who have been exposed to the virus shortly before, or who have a strong chance of being exposed, such as employees of retirement homes or prisons.

In addition to being immunocompromised or unvaccinated, these people must also be at high risk of developing a severe case of the disease. 

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California Plans to Be Abortion Sanctuary if Roe Overturned 

With more than two dozen states poised to ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court gives them the OK next year, California clinics and their allies in the state legislature on Wednesday revealed a plan to make the state a safe place for those seeking reproductive care, including possibly paying for travel, lodging and procedures for people from other states. 

The California Future of Abortion Council, made up of more than 40 abortion providers and advocacy groups, released a list of 45 recommendations for the state to consider if the high court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 48-year-old decision that forbids states from outlawing abortion. 

The recommendations are not just a liberal fantasy. Some of the state’s most important policymakers helped write them, including Toni Atkins, the San Diego Democrat who leads the state Senate and attended multiple meetings.

Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom started the group himself. In an interview last week with The Associated Press he said some of the report’s details would be included in his budget proposal in January. 

“We’ll be a sanctuary,” Newsom said, adding he’s aware patients will likely travel to California from other states to seek abortions. “We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections.” 

California already pays for abortions for many low-income residents through the state’s Medicaid program. And California is one of six states that require private insurance companies to cover abortions, although many patients still end up paying deductibles and co-payments. 

Enough money

But money won’t be a problem for state-funded abortion services for patients from other states. California’s coffers have soared throughout the pandemic, fueling a record budget surplus this year. Next year, the state’s independent Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts California will have a surplus of about $31 billion. 

California’s affiliates of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, got a preview of how people might seek abortions outside their home states this year when a Texas law that outlawed abortion after six weeks of pregnancy was allowed to take effect. California clinics reported a slight increase in patients from Texas.

Now, California abortion providers are asking California to make it easier for those people to get to the state.

The report recommends funding — including public spending — to support patients seeking abortion for travel expenses such as gas, lodging, transportation and child care. It asks lawmakers to reimburse abortion providers for services to those who can’t afford to pay — including those who travel to California from other states whose income is low enough that they would qualify for state-funded abortions under Medicaid if they lived there.

It’s unclear how many people would come to California for abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned. California does not collect or report abortion statistics. The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, said 132,680 abortions were performed in California in 2017, or about 15% of all abortions nationally. That number includes people from out of state as well as teenagers, who are not required to have their parents’ permission for an abortion in California. 

Planned Parenthood, which accounts for about half of California’s abortion clinics, said it served 7,000 people from other states last year. 

A huge influx of people from other states “will definitely destabilize the abortion provider network,” said Fabiola Carrion, interim director for reproductive and sexual health at the national Health Law Program. She said out-of-state abortions would also likely be later-term procedures, which are more complicated and expensive.

More workers

The report asks lawmakers to help clinics increase their workforce to prepare for more patients by giving scholarships to medical students who pledge to offer abortion services in rural areas, help them pay off their student loans and assist with their monthly liability insurance premiums.

“We’re looking at how to build capacity and build workforce,” said Jodi Hicks, CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “It will take a partnership and investment with the state.” 

Abortion opponents in California, meanwhile, are also preparing for a potential surge of patients from other states seeking the procedure — only they hope to persuade them not to do it. 

Jonathan Keller, president and CEO of the California Family Council, said California has about 160 pregnancy resource centers whose aim is to persuade women not to get abortions. He said about half of those centers are medical clinics, while the rest are faith-based counseling centers. 

Many of the centers are located near abortion clinics in an attempt to entice people to seek their counseling before opting to end pregnancies. Keller said many are already planning on increasing their staffing if California gets more patients. 

“Even if we are not facing any immediate legislative opportunities or legislative victories, it’s a reminder that the work of changing hearts and minds and also providing real support and resources to women facing unplanned pregnancies — that work will always continue,” Keller said.

He added: “In many ways, that work is going to be even more important, both in light of [the] Supreme Court’s decision and in light of whatever Sacramento decides they are going to do in response.” 

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Effort to Save Local Journalism in US Inches Toward Enactment

As the Biden administration prepares to convene a virtual summit of the world’s democracies this week, lawmakers in Washington are pushing a plan to fight what they perceive as a threat to democracy at home: the sharp decline of local news coverage. 

Between 2004 and 2020, the United States lost more than 25% of its local newspapers, according to data gathered by the University of North Carolina Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media. Those that remain are operating with far fewer reporters than they used to, as more than half of total journalism jobs in the United States have disappeared over the same period. 

A section of the Build Back Better Act, the giant social and environmental spending package currently working its way through Congress, is aimed at helping repair some of that damage. The proposal would support the hiring of journalists by local news outlets through $1.67 billion in payroll tax credits to be delivered over the next five years. 

Transformative investment 

Advocates for local journalism said that the $1.67 billion investment in local newsrooms could be enormously beneficial to local news outlets across the country, many of which have been forced to shut down because much local advertising, historically a major source of revenue, has migrated to the internet. 

“It could be profound. It could help save local news, and it’s a very big deal,” Steve Waldman, the president and co-founder of Report for America, told VOA. “There are 1,800 communities that have no local newspapers at all, and there are thousands more that barely have anything. Sixty percent of reporting positions have gone away since 2000.” 

The proposal would subsidize reporters’ salaries, providing a tax credit equal to 50% of the first $50,000, in the first year. In the following years, the subsidy would drop to 30%. If not renewed by Congress, the program would end after five years. 

‘News deserts’ 

The U.S. communities without local sources of news are increasingly known as “news deserts.” Many experts warn that their existence is damaging not just to the communities that have no local source of information, but to the growing partisan divide in the United States.

Karen Rundlet, director of journalism at the Knight Foundation, told VOA that local news sources in the United States have typically served as agents of social cohesion, reporting on issues that affect everyone in a community. 

In areas with no local news coverage, public officials have no reliable means of communicating with the general public about the issues facing local government. As a result, the public becomes disengaged at a local level, and civic participation suffers. 

“Local news informs people of basic public services, education, local government, city government, things like that,” said Rundlet. “When people aren’t aware of those issues, they don’t vote as much.” 

Filling the gap 

Waldman and Rundlet both said that the decline of local journalism has contributed to higher levels of partisanship in the United States, because in its absence, people tend to consume more national news, which is frequently reported as a battle between Democrats and Republicans. They also turn to social media, which tends to amplify conflict between the country’s two main political parties. 

“When something disappears, something else fills in the gap,” Rundlet said. “If local news disappears, it’s not only national news that fills the gap, it’s also, frankly, misinformation and disinformation.” 

“The collapse of local news is a deep crisis for democracy, especially on the local level because it gets increasingly hard for communities to solve their own problems when there’s no good source of local news, or information,” Waldman added. “Saving local news should be part of any serious effort to save and strengthen democracy.” 

Ironically partisan 

In an ironic twist, this effort to combat growing partisanship in the United States, if it becomes law, will almost certainly do so on a purely partisan basis. That is despite its having bipartisan origins. 

The first version of the proposal was introduced in 2020 as the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, sponsored by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat from Arizona, and Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican from Washington. The bill had dozens of co-sponsors, including 20 Republicans. 

However, because the proposal has been rolled into President Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better Act, it received no votes from Republicans when it passed the House of Representatives, and is not expected to garner any Republican support in the Senate, either.