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The week in pictures: June 23- June 29, 2015

Jun 30, 2015

Weekly news in pictures

There was no shortage of big news stories last week so we review some of the most important to hit the headlines over the last seven days

A Tunisian beach resort was turned into a bloodbath last week as a 23 year old ISIS sympathizer, Seifeddine Rezgui, opened fire with a machine gun on unarmed tourists. Holiday makers ran for their lives as Rezgui gunned down 39 and injured a further 36. Tunisia has already seen a similar soft-target attack on its soil this year with 22 mostly foreign tourists killed in a central Tunis museum in March. Rezgui was killed at the scene by police.

In the US the Supreme Court had a busy week ruling on the contentious issues of the Affordable Healthcare Act and Same-Sex marriage within days of each other. In a victory for the Obama White House the act popularly named “Obamacare” passed 6-3 but even that paled when compared with the huge celebration of the courts upholding of the constitutional right of the LGBT community to marriage by 5 to 4 at the annual pride marches that coincided with the ruling.

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime Minister, responded to the deepening financial crisis in his country by calling for a referendum on the demands made upon the nation by its Eurozone creditors. This irked the creditors which resulted in a cutting off of the bailout funds the EU has provided over the last five years. This meant that banks would remain closed and ATM withdrawals would be limited to 60 Euros until the July 5th vote, the first of its kind since 1974 when the nation voted to remove the monarchy.

In sport Nelson Piquet Jr won the inaugural season of Formula E the single seat racing competition that pits cars powered only by electricity against each other. Despite a terrible qualification for the final race in London’s Battersea Park Piquet did just enough to take the championship. Will this herald a future of greener motorsport, you’ll have to read our daily news pages to find out, but in the meantime lets look back at some of the stories we covered last week.

1.Monday 22 June 2015, Nyon, Switzerland: The UEFA Champions League and Europa League draws took place; first round teams of the UEFA Europa League will have to start their campaign on July 2nd.

uefa draws 2015

Qualifying round draws for 2015-2016 (Photo: UEFA/Getty Images)

2.Rumours indicate Diego Maradona’s intention to replace Sepp Blatter as the president of the FIFA.

maradona fifa president

Why not? (Photo: Road TV Italia)

3.The Chile-Uruguay match was announced as one great first quarter-final of the 44th edition of the Copa America.

chile peru copa america 2015

Great game but Chile shined brighter (Photo: CopaAmerica2015.com)

4.Roberto Firmino was reputedly announced more than a replacement for Raheem Sterling at Liverpool.

roberto firmino liverpool

Thumb up and congrats; you’ll never walk alone (Photo: Liverpool Instagram)

5.Andy Murray, in the light of his great success in 2013, became one of the favourites to win Wimbledon in 2015.

andy murray wimblendon

Andy Murray, Wimblendon 2013 (Photo: bbc)

6.Manchester United and Manchester City made plans to get Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos.

sergio ramos manchester 2015

…so is it gonna be United? (Photo: AS magazine via ESPNFC)

7.Eduardo Vargas helped his team in a controversial game against Peru to get the final of the Copa America. Chile might win the trophy at home.

vargas chile peru copaamerica 2015

Eduardo Vargas brought “el gol chileno” (Photo: ESPNFC)

Meanwhile in the US two major broadcasters had moments of major stupidity as Fox News and CNN both broadcast pieces of silliness. Fox decided to air one of its anchors, a Martha MacCallum, asking if the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage paved the way for trios of people to wed, which was nearly as ridiculous as CNN broadcasting pictures of what it said was an ISIS flag at the London Gay Pride march only to find out it actually depicted a selection of butt-plugs and dildos.

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Modern Day Robin Hood Helps Families in Need With Blackjack Winnings

Jan 04, 2012
Blackjack Gambling Robin Hood

A modern-day Robin Hood has emerged on the Las Vegas scene and some families couldn’t be happier. This anonymous professional gambler, known only as Robin Hood 702, is a high-stakes blackjack player who puts his money to good use through personal charity. Here’s more on his story:

eCanadaNow: Modern Day Gambling Robin Hood

A modern day Robin Hood “702” has emerged in the gambling world and has already donated $35,000 to a needy family. The fortunate family, from Detroit, has a daughter with brain cancer and was in dire need of money.

A website was set up for those who want to be considered for a donation again this year. Families in dire financial need must submit videos explaining why they need the money. He will pick the family that touches his heart most. Those looking for publicity should leave Robin Hood 702 alone.

The blackjack gambler will fly the chosen family to Las Vegas. They will watch him play and, whether he wins or loses, he will pay at least half of their bills. Robin Hood’s good friend will match the final cash donation. He will not be gambling to earn the money.

Thaindian News: Blackjack Robin Hood to help two deserving families this year

Last year, a modern Robin Hood helped a family out of debt and to begin life anew. This year, he has roped in more benefactors, and plans to help not 1, but 2 families who face a financial crisis and need immediate help.

He is as a “self-made man and expert blackjack player” and will help a family based on their video submission. He will fly them to Vegas and provide an all-expense paid weekend, including a true high-roller suite, show tickets, spa appointments, and meals. His website claims, “You will live like the high roller Robin Hood 702 is, then watch him win the money you need to become debt-free.” He guarantees that if you’re selected, at least half of your bills will get paid no matter what happens at the table. Last years family got this special treatment and $35,000.

“I’m looking for anyone that’s in debt … that needs some help” says the anonymous gambler, who will be working the tables to raise money for another family in need. “I’m going to look for the story that’s really going to touch my heart. That’s it.”

Fox News: Modern-Day Robin Hood

Robin Hood 702 is a high stakes blackjack player known in Vegas casinos for wagering thousands of dollars a hand, sometimes winning and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single day.

Now he’s offering his skills, and his own money, to help a family in need. He wants to remain anonymous to keep the focus on the good deed he’s ready to do.

“I’m looking for a well deserving family up against hard times. People $25,000 to $50,000 in debt who did right by family or neighbors in the past. Now it’s their time to be helped and I want to be the one to help them.”

He’s created a website, Robinhood702.com, where he’ll collect submissions now through Sept. 15 before choosing a winner. Anyone can nominate a friend, relative, neighbor or themselves, by sending a video explaining their hardships, contributions or other reasons they should be chosen. He’ll choose a winner after confirming the details of their story and financial crisis.

The chosen family is promised “an unforgettable experience” in Las Vegas or a similar gaming venue. He’ll fly them in, put them up in a high-roller suite and cover meals, spa treatments and show tickets. He’ll go into the casino’s VIP high-limit room and win the money necessary to pay off their debt.

“What if you lose?” I ask him. “I won’t” he insists.

He doesn’t recommend that others try this and says he knows some perceive gambling as “the dark side,” but he believes he can use it to do good and says he hopes to start a national movement, with people using their skills or expertise in other fields to help families in crisis.

“My goal,” he says, “is to save someone’s house, pay their debts and win back their American dream.”

Robin Hood 702 is a pro blackjack player who will choose a needy family and pay off at least half of their debts while they live like high-rollers.

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Obama’s Home State: The Next to Consider Gambling’s Liberalization

Apr 26, 2010
Illinois Slots

As a result of the economic downturn that the United States recently went through, many of the nation’s states have considered what was not a high-priority issue before the crisis; the liberalization of gambling laws. Illinois seems to be next state that’s waking up to the bountiful benefits of the industry.

Daily Herald: Lawmakers, chamber receptive to slots at track

Arlington Heights trustees aren’t interested in a video casino even though some suburban lawmakers think video gambling at the local horse track is worth pursuing.

When she heard about a possible deal that would put video slot and poker machines at Arlington Park and other tracks, state Rep. Suzie Bassi said she supported the idea because the slots would be put in areas already under the microscope of gambling regulators.

Under the measure, local governments hosting the machines would get a 5% cut of the slot profits. However, local governments wouldn’t get a say in whether they want the machines at all, a main point of contention for some trustee’s.

Under the proposal, Arlington Park and other tracks in Cook County would get as many as 1,200 video gambling positions. Downstate tracks would get up to 900. The new video casinos would have to be based within 300 yards of the track.

The proposal would help support financing for the state’s massive $31 billion construction project. The massive public works program was supposed to be financed partially through video gambling, but that funding source has started to buckle as local governments refused to allow the controversial gambling machines in their taverns.

Fox News: Video Poker May Be On Way to Horse Tracks

State lawmakers in Chicago are apparently negotiating a proposal that would permit the introduction of video slots and poker machines to horse tracks across Illinois, including Arlington Park.

It’s been reported that the state would regulate how profits and taxes made through the machines would be distributed. One proposal would require race tracks to pay up to $25,000 per machine.

The Communities that would end up with the machines would get 5% of the tax revenue from the machines. Taxes on that revenue would go toward helping pay for construction projects around the state.

ABC News: Gambling machines may be allowed at Ill. horse tracks

An apparent deal being pondered by Illinois state legislators would put hundreds of video slot and poker machines at Arlington Park among other horse tracks located within the state.

Taxes from the games would go toward construction spending. Lawmakers have allegedly agreed on a proposal, after weeks of discussions behind the scenes.

Proponents say the move would give the tracks and local governments a financial boost. Arlington Park and other Cook County tracks would get up to 1,200 gambling positions. Downstate tracks would get up to 900.

These new video casinos would have to be within 300 yards of the track.

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New York City: $178m online sportsbook ring busted

Apr 13, 2010
Arrested

A massive online sports betting operation operating illegally out of New York, with ties as far afield as Costa Rica, has been taken down. A two-year investigation culminated last week in 38 arrests cross the US. Those involved are ring charged with money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy.

Fox News: Dozens Arrested in Sweep of Alleged $178M Online Gambling Ring

Bookmakers running a pair of online sportsbooks in the US accepted nearly $178 million in bets during the past three years said prosecutors on Wednesday after arresting 38 on corruption charges.

Those arrested are suspected money collectors, agents and bookies from Nevada, Louisiana, Florida, New York and Arizona. The arrests were the culmination of a three-year investigation led by the organized crime division of the New York Police Department.

Among those arrested are three New York City employees: a firefighter, a sanitation worker and a highway repairman. Charges include money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy.

The suspects operated two nationwide gambling rings that utilized sports betting websites filtered through Costa Rica. Millions of dollars in cash and property were seized after more than a dozen search warrants were executed five US states. All suspects are currently awaiting arraignment.

United Press International: NYC fireman nabbed in $178M gambling ring

A New York City firefighter is among three city workers being charged with operating an illegal sports-betting ring that made $178 million in three years.

Firefighter Matthew Fopeano and highway repairman Michael Labetti allegedly paid out winnings, collected gambling losses, and solicited new customers. Robert Ackrish, a NYC sanitation worker, allegedly ran a separate sports betting operation that handled $24 million in wagers.

These men are among 38 people being charged with operating two “highly sophisticated illegal sports gambling enterprises” in New York City, Nevada and Costa Rica. The rings took nearly $178 million in wagers over 32 months basketball, football, baseball and hockey events, the district attorney said.

A spokesman for the New York Fire Department says that Fopeano, an 8-year veteran who allegedly made used a marked fire department vehicle for collecting sportsbook monies, was suspended without pay and faces termination.

Boston Herald: 38 indicted in NYC in sports gambling rings

New York prosecutors have indicted 38 people in connection with two illegal sports betting rings that allegedly spanned from Arizona to New York and Costa Rica and made $178 million.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said that the bookies used websites to collect wagers on professional and college events including basketball, football, baseball and hockey.

Lead by the New York Police Department’s organized crime division, investigators arrested the accused on charges enterprise corruption. Three of the men arrested are New York City employees: a sanitation worker, a firefighter, and a highway repairman.

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$1 Million in Illegal Gambling Cash Found Buried in Pennsylvania Yard

Apr 02, 2010
Dig

Joe Mastronardo, the son-in-law of the late mayor of Philadelphia has been arrested together with his brother John and charged with conspiracy, gambling and running a corrupt organization, due to an illegal bookkeeping operation that they ran. Over $1 million was dug up by law enforcement in Mastronardo’s lawn in a recent raid.

Fox News: Over $1 Million Found In PVC Pipes

More than $1 million cash was recently found buried in the yard of Joe Mastronardo, son-in-law of late Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo. County investigators and the FBI spent all Wednesday digging up Mastronardo’s the backyard in Abington looking for the hidden cash. Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman and the FBI moved to freeze bank accounts in Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Mastronardo and his brother were arrested in a federal bookmaking scheme in 2006. At that point, the brothers agreed to forfeit about $2.7 million dollars as part of a plea agreement.

John and Joseph Mastronardo are being held on $1 million bail each. They’ve been charged with conspiracy, gambling and running a corrupt organization. Preliminary hearings and bail hearings are set for next week.

ABC News: Pa. brothers charged with running gambling ring

This is the second time in 4 years that Montgomery County authorities have arrested the Mastronardo brothers for running a sports betting operation.

Court documents indicate that most of the evidence that lead to the arrests was gathered on wiretaps, including a conversation in which Joseph Mastronardo discussed NCAA March Madness tournament. Looking for cash taken in from sports bets, and they found more than a million dollars.

In Mastronado’s backyard and shrubbery, 4 PVC pipe tubes full of cash and capped at both ends were unearthed. Investigators executed over 46 search warrants yesterday at other homes owned by the Mastronardos. They also seized bank accounts in Florida, Tennessee and offshore.

This is the fourth time the Mastronardo brothers have been arrested on gambling charges since 1983. They forfeited close to $3-million and received probation 4 years ago. Now, they are being held without bail for violating the terms of their probation and are looking at long jail terms.

CBS News: Abington Yard Searched In Money Laundering Probe

The FBI, along with county investigators, dug up the yard of a Montgomery County mansion Wednesday as part of an alleged money laundering investigation. Eyewitnesses in the neighborhood of million dollar homes claim that they saw the FBI uncover what appeared to be bags of cash.

Sources also told Eyewitness News that the home belongs to Joe Mastronardo, who is the son-in-law of the late Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo. Mastronardo is currently in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility for violating probation. He was convicted of bookmaking in 2006. He is being held on $1 million bail.

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Lots of activity regarding the gambling industry in Indiana Legislature

Mar 10, 2010
Money Kids

Brick and Mortar gambling has become a hot issue in the state of Indiana and a few different bills are currently in writing or have recently been voted on. Most notable was a proposal to allow floating casinos to move inland, but there’s also been legislation indicating that parents must give gambling profits to their kids.

Fox News: Staying wet: Casinos not allowed to move inland

An amendment in the Indiana House that would have allowed the area’s floating casinos to move inland was defeated, and the issue appears dead. Representatives voted 57-42 Tuesday and shot down the amendment to a broader Senate casino bill. The bill was pulled from further consideration in the House.

The deadline for Senate bills to be amended in the House is Wednesday and the bill could be reconsidered by then, but the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Bill Crawford has no such intentions for it.

Rep. Crawford was angered that amendments to boost Indiana’s “racinos” won support but not the inland casino language that was aimed primarily at helping riverboats in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.

WBIC News 93.1 FM: Inland Casino Bill Rejected

Indiana’s House has voted against amending a gaming bill to allow existing riverboat casinos to convert to land-based operations. The gambling industry and individual casinos struggling to compete with growing operations in neighboring states were split by the issue.

Rep. Matt Bell argued that the amendment would protect an established industry in Indiana from outside competition. He said, “It can be an important part of making our properties competitive, so they can attract individual investment into the state.”

Rep. Mike Murphy, on the other hand, countered that casinos are asking for special treatment, saying: “They don’t want to be treated like a business. They want to be treated like a monopoly.” The point that the gambling industry contributes millions of dollars to the state economy while creating thousands of jobs was argued by Rep. Charlie Brown.

A legislative summer study on gambling indicated that the state could lose over $100 million in gambling tax revenue if it disregards Ohio casinos, which were authorized by voters in November.

The Assosciated Press: Indiana House Backs Taking Deadbeat Parents’ Winnings

The Indiana House recently passed a bill that would require gambling parents who hit big slot machine jackpots at casinos to give winnings to their children.

The bill was approved unanimously and would withhold gambling winnings from parents who are behind on child support payments. It all makes sense in a state where just 58% of child support payments are collected.

Over 165,000 non-custodial parents owe more than $2,000 for back child support in more than $2 billion of delinquencies. The withholdings would generally kick in on slot machine winnings of $1,200 or more. The bill must return to the Senate for consideration of changes the House made.

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Troop Leader Steals Girl Scout Cookies to Gamble

Mar 04, 2010
Girl Scout

A former Girl Scouts troop leader from Minnesota has been charged for stealing the money that little girls worked hard to earn in the annual cookie sale. In total, Joleen Marie Hopkins admitted to stealing a total of $5,000 dollars in order to gamble among other things. Records, however, indicate that she stole upwards of $8,214.22.

Minneapolis – St. Paul Star Tribune: Charges: Ex-Girl Scout leader’s hand in cookie jar

A Mendota Heights woman, Joleen M. Hopkins, was charged with stealing about $8,200 from local Girl Scouts while she was a Scout leader. She was charged in Dakota County with 2 felony counts of theft by swindle and 4 counts of theft (one felony, one gross misdemeanor and two misdemeanors).

Hopkins wrote checks on Scout bank accounts in 2008 and 2009 and spent money at casinos, restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. Nearly $4,000 was stolen from the Mendota Heights troop’s cookie sales. Hopkins 3 daughters belong to the troop from which she stole.

The chapter now requires criminal background checks on volunteers, which was not the case when Hopkins became leader. Last week in Washington County, someone entered the garage of a Lakeland home and made off with 407 boxes of cookies. No arrests have been made.

Fox News: Girl Scouts Troop Leader Admits Stealing Cookie Money

A former Girls Scouts troop leader from Mendota Heights, Minnesota; Joleen Marie Hopkins, was charged for swindling money from the troop’s annual cookie sale to pay bills, gamble and buy sports equipment.

Hopkins was charged with 2 felony counts of theft-by-swindle and 4 counts of theft, including 1 felony theft charge. The charges stem from the alleged theft of proceeds from Girl Scouts cookie sales in March 2009.

Hopkins’ husband was the troop cookie manager. The Hopkins were responsible for collecting cash from troop cookie sales and depositing the cash and checks into a troop bank account. Chapter documents show the troop collected $8,515.50 in 2009 cookie sales. A total of $1,459.80 should’ve been deposited into the troop checking account and $7,055.70 should have been deposited to the chapter account. Records show $781.20 was deposited into the troop account and $6,271 was deposited into the chapter account.

Of the $6,271 deposited to the chapter account, Hopkins wrote 6 personal and business checks totaling $2,150.50, which were returned unpaid to the chapter as “unable to locate account.” The police traced those checks to accounts that were closed in 2006 and 2007 due to large dollar overdrafts made by Hopkins.

Hopkins eventually depleted the account to a balance of $15. Investigation revealed that Hopkins had spent more than $3,000 at casinos, auto part stores, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and businesses in Wisconsin.

ABC News: Troop leader accused of stealing scouts’ dough

A Twin Cities Girl Scout leader was charged with theft for allegedly stealing thousands in proceeds from her troop’s cookie sales. Joleen Hopkins, 54, of Mendota Heights, took over $8,000 between 2008 and 2009.

The criminal complaint states that Hopkins’ husband was the cookie manager for her girl scout troop. He has not been charged. Hopkins was charged with six theft charges, including three felonies. Hopkins, who also used the name Joleen Tillman, pleaded guilty in 2009 to stealing food stamps back in 2007.

She was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay more than $700 in restitution.

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Russia’s First New Casino Opens, Death Sparks Concern

Feb 01, 2010
Oracle Casino opens in Azov City, Russia

A recent change to Russian gambling laws saw the closure of all casinos and gambling halls in the country, with the aim to relocate all legal gambling to four specified “gambling zones”. On Saturday, almost 7 months after the law took effect, the first new casino opened in the Azov City area. Tragically, the death of a prominent Lawmaker as he returned from the opening ceremony sparked concerns over the decision to locate the casino zones far from major metropolitan areas.

Fox News: Russia Casino Opens Under New Gambling Plan

Six months ago, Russian officials shut down all casinos and gambling halls across the country as part of a scheme to limit legalized gambling to four specific areas and relatively remote areas. On Saturday, the first new casino operating under the new plan opened its doors to the public.

About 500 people showed up for the opening of the Oracle Casino in Azov City in southern Russia. Only around 100 visitors seemed to be actually gambling – the rest where just there to check things out. The casino is housed in a large shed-like building situated in the middle of a snowy field, and houses about 200 slot machines and 10 table games.

Azov City is one of four new gambling zones in Russia. It is located about 60 miles from Rostov-on-Don, the nearest sizable city, and 120 miles from Krasnodar.

It is not yet clear how many Russian gamblers will be willing to travel such long distances to gamble, but the casino’s operators are convinced that there is a market. In fact, they plan to start building a four-star hotel this summer.

Casinos quickly spread across Russia’s cities after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, while slot machines found their way into shops, malls, and other public places. The law that brought about the new scheme was signed in 2006, but many people expected that it would never be enforced. The law limits all gambling to Azov City, the Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea, the Altai region of Siberia and the Primorsky region of Russia’s Far East.

RIA Novosti: First casino to open in Russian gambling zone

The first casino in one of Russia’s new gambling zone opened Saturday, more than six months after all existing casinos were forced to close or to relocate their services to one of four designated areas.

Under a law drafted in 2007, which didn’t come into force until July 2009, all casinos and other gaming establishments in Russia can operate only in four somewhat remote areas: the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, south Siberia’s Altai Territory, Primorye in the Far East, and in southern Russia.

The new casino is operated by a company called Royal Time, which based in Russia’s Volga Republic of Tatarstan. It offers a slot machine arcade, a full casino and a seperate VIP hall. A restaurant and a free bar is also available.

Royal Time also intends open a small 11-room hotel by mid-2010. A much larger four-star hotel is expected to be completed in 2017. Royal Time will also operate free busses between the casino and two southern Russian cities: Krasnodar and Rostov-on-Don.

The Azov City gambling zone, located on the Azov sea coast some 70 km (44 miles) from Rostov-on-Don, is now far ahead its three “rival” zones. Construction of its second casino is due to begin in March.

The Moscow Times: Lawmaker Killed in Car Crash after Opening of First Casino

A senior Russian lawmaker died this weekend in a car crash as he was traveling home from the grand opening of the first casino to open under Russia’s new “zone” system. The accident promises to strengthen concerns about government’s decision to limit all legal gambling to four remote areas of the country.

Nikolai Kotlyarov was speaker of the Krasnodar city legislature. He and his driver were killed when their Toyota Camry hit a car parked on the side of the Krasnodar-Eisk Highway at around 1 a.m. on.

Kotlyarov was one of about 500 people who showed up for the opening of the new Oracle Casino in Azov City, a gambling zone located about 200 kilometers from Krasnodar and 100 kilometers from Rostov-on-Don, the nearest sizable city.

Casinos and other gambling halls across the country were closed down on July 1 of last year, under a government plan to limit gambling to four specific regions: Azov City, the Kaliningrad exclave, the Altai region in Siberia and the Primorye region in the Far East.

Sunday’s car crash highlights the risks associated with the decision to locate all casinos in remote areas, and draws new attention to the country’s dangerous roads. President Dmitry Medvedev described Russia’s high road-accident rate as a problem, and has resolved to work on making roads safer.

Investigators have already announced that they believe the accident was caused by a violation of traffic safety rules, and an investigation has been opened into the matter.

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