Beyond the Cusp

November 24, 2017

Who Starts the Next War?

 

Oh, the possibilities we have. Will it be Trump or Kim Jong-un, Saudi Royal Prince Mohammed bin Salman or the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, the new Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar or Hezballah’s Leader Hassan Nasrallah or will it come out of the blue from an unexpected source responding to a terror attack or assassination as happened to start World War I? Will it perhaps be China moving on Taiwan or Russia finishing off the Ukraine or Georgia? It could simply be a severe escalation of Turkey’s private war against the Kurds in Syria and Iran spreading into a Kurdish rebellion within Turkey with the entirety of the Kurdish People finally demanding their own homeland refusing to be picked apart individually by Iran, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and any terror forces sent by the same or even Saudi Arabia or the Muslim Brotherhood. It might be the Basques or Catalan People of Catalonia declaring themselves independent from Spain with Spain having the obvious reaction and moving to end such as that might cause others to have similar thoughts causing the Balkanization of Spain. There are such movements within virtually every nation of Europe and likely the world. There are numerous other peoples in Northern Africa which currently are ruled over by foreign peoples who came along with the Islamic conquests of the Caliphate. One such are the Berbers, one of the tribes which converted to Islam only to be subsumed by Arab culture and rulers. The possibilities are endless but the real contenders come down to the first few listed as those are the least stable places with the most to gain or lose as the world moves forward.

 

The possibility that President Trump will start a war are, contrary to the wild accusations of some detractors, somewhere around nil. First, he would need a declaration from Congress for any actual war or even military actions. The Congress appears barely capable of passing the budget for a single year. Trump also has no taste for any conflict despite all of his bluster and even Kim Jong-un is aware that Trump was all talk and no teeth. This was part of why Kim Jong-un and Trump both have all but ended their contest of words, both realized the other was not about to start a war at this time, so tempting one was simply a waste of effort. So, North Korea and United States are not about to go to war, which should be a relief. If such a conflict were to come to fruition, we would predict that the North Koreans would attempt to make the initial strike forcing President Trump and the Congress to respond in kind. Thus, should a war ever come between the United States and North Korea, it would be at the insistence of North Korea.

 

The next pairing was between Saudi Royal Prince Mohammed bin Salman or the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the next directly in line to the crown of Saudi Arabia and has been assuming more and more power taking over responsibilities from his father, the aging and ailing King Salman. The Prince was the mastermind behind the Sunni forces which were routed in Syria and has mismanaged the Yemen-Saudi conflict allowing Iranian missiles and Hezballah and IRGC fighters to enter Yemen. Just last week an Iranian provided missile was launched from Yemen towards Riyadh. This was declared to have been an act of war by Iran against Saudi Arabia and there were rumors of an imminent war on the horizon. Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also moved to secure his own position by arresting for criminal corruption close to a dozen of his closest relatives, cousins, leader of the National Guard, governor of Riyadh, and the internationally renowned Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

 

Further, Prince Salman has promised, or threatened, to westernize, or modernize, Saudi Arabia in an attempt to improve the economy such that it is not entirely dependent upon their oil wealth. The religious class, the clerics and heads of the Wahabbists, are very much opposed to such a plan seeing it as a direct threat to their power and influences on Saudi politics and direction. They have lived off the Royal Family paying them, rewarding them richly from the oil wealth such that they would back the Royal Family permitting them to remain in power. This arrangement left out one very important group, the people of Saudi Arabia who were sentenced to a life of moderations and poverty in far too many instances with lacking education and little chance for improvement.

 

Saudi Arabia and Iran War

Saudi Arabia and Iran War

 

All but needless to say, but a war is actually the last thing Saudi Arabia needs, now or at any time. Should such a war with Iran become inevitable, the winner, if there actually would be a winner, would not gain much and the loser would lose everything. It is for this reason such a war would be devastating to the Middle East and would also have a great possibility to spread and involve other countries. With the Iranians, one could expect Yemen, Iraq, Qatar, what is left of Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, while with Saudi Arabia, one would expect the Gulf States of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council which includes Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman), Jordan and eventually Egypt. There are some wildcards in the equation which include Pakistan, India, Israel and the United States. Pakistan actually could be thought to assist either side as they trade with Iran but they also owe Saudi Arabia for providing the necessary cash required to finance their drive for nuclear weapons. India does have a fair number of trade deals with Iran and they do have a common neighbor in Pakistan plus share the waterway, the Arabian Sea. Israel and the United States are the real game-changers which could completely alter the outcome of the conflict but are also the least likely to enter such a conflict, especially should the Saudi Arabians be the initiator of the conflict. Should Iran start such a conflict, then the probability that Israel or the United States would be greater, especially if the Saudis appeared to be on the losing end.

 

Estimating who would win such a war would need to weigh far too many variables. The basic equation places the newer and superior equipment and technology having bought $350 billion arms deal this year alone. But the Iranians have the population numbers and their military has been tested in Syria and thus experienced, especially the IRGC and Hezballah, the core fighters Iran would use for the tip of their spear. The Saudi Arabian military are known to march very nicely and have little to no actual experience in actual combat. The best equipment cannot make up for lack of experience and experience only mitigates lesser weaponry partially, so the question is which would be the greater equalizer and how long would this difference provide superior fighting ability. In the end, the real question comes down to whether Russia would assist Iran and do so at sufficient a level before the United States decided they needed to assist the Saudi Arabian side of the conflict. The final wildcards bring a nuclear answer to this conflict should nobody use such earlier as Iran is suspected of having nuclear weapons and Saudi Arabia is rumored to have an agreement with Pakistan to provide as many as a dozen such weapons on demand. These wildcards are North Korea and their eight-hundred-pound gorilla which often accompanies them in endeavors, China. One could trace how a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran could draw in other nations until it would become the next World War, World War III. Such a war, according to Albert Einstein, would guarantee that the following World War, World War IV, would be fought with sticks and stones. We are thinking of going and picking up some stones tomorrow.

 

The real question we should be answering is, who might be planning to spread their influence and do so successfully enough that they become a threat to the peace of the entire planet? North Korea has talked of conquest but it has mostly been about the Korean peninsula and occasionally of the United States, and that second is simply bluster for domestic consumption. China appears readying to become the Pacific hegemon sharing that title with the United States and have raised expectations that they will be the first to build a Moon base. Japan has also talked of plans to place a base on the Moon in the near future. The United States and Russia have talked of Moon bases as well. Hopefully, the next war that threatens humanity will not be a Moon War where Moon bases start shooting at each other. The Moon race will hopefully be used to initiate cooperation instead of conflict. So, fortunately, the Moon is unlikely to spark the next World War. There have been accusations that Israel desires to conquer much of the lands surrounding them forcefully displacing the Muslim populations. That is pure propaganda which is provably false, as Israel has given up claims to land such as the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza in efforts to reach peace with varying amounts of success. Then there is Iran which has spread their control since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Iran has made claims that they intend to destroy Israel and the United States, establish a Shiite Crescent across the heart of the Middle East (see map below). The truth is Iran is in the stage of cementing their Shiite Crescent and may be looking further starting with Yemen.

 

Shiite Crescent including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran

Shiite Crescent including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran

 

The one item which Iran has claimed to desire is represented on the map above by the big green star, that covers Mecca and Medina, which along with the oil fields in the northeast of Saudi Arabia make up the targets upon which Iran has set their eyes. Iran has also made constant references to the Persian Empire and reestablishing exactly such hegemony over the Middle East and reaching all the way into Greece and Egypt which was once the extent of the Persian Empire. Both the founder, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini, and his successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, have both made references to spreading Shia Islam over the entire planet fulfilling the promises given by Allah in the Quran for Islam to rule the planet. There have been Sunni Muslims who also claimed they would fulfill the same promises such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Hamas. Al-Qaeda and Islamic State do not appear to have had much success in this effort and Hamas appears to be currently stymied by Israel and if they were to spread any form of Islam, it would probably be Shia since, just like Hezballah, Hamas is now in the service of Iran. For all intents and purposes, the only groups or nations with any current abilities which have also expressed the desire for word conquest all appear to be serving or are Iran. Additionally, Iran has spoken of their intention to erase the nation of Israel from the map commenting that Israel would be a one-bomb nation once they have sufficient nuclear weapons. They have also shared research with North Korea and shared tactics for a southern approach for using an orbital nuclear weapon to deliver and EMP to the United States destroying much of the electrical infrastructure. The real question that the world needs to address is who is going to stop Iran, when do they plan on starting and what it will take for people to take the concept of Iranian world conquest seriously. Ask almost anyone other than a minority of military leadership about Iran declaration of intent for world conquest; they will laugh at you as if you are insane if not actually trying to get you some medical assistance for your obvious problems. We all may as well face the fact that nobody believes in world conquest by any nation any more now, than anyone had in 1933 when Germany talked of world conquest. The world did finally respond to Germany but had they worked to prevent Germany from building up their military the world would have been saved the horrors of World War II. Iran has spread its influence across the Middle East, has all but surrounded Saudi Arabia, had closed in on Israel on three borders and has control over the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el Mandeb Strait giving them control over oil shipments to the world and the southern exit from the Red Sea blocking any use of the Suez Canal. How far does Iran need to go to prove they intend to try to conquer the world for Allah and Shiite Islam? This is a question which may get more important as time passes, or we may get fortunate and their efforts fail from reaching any critical point where preventing them becomes an absolute necessity, which would mean they have reached military capabilities making world conquest a possibility.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

July 31, 2017

Our Worlds Are in a Mess and Clashing

 

Part I

 

Link to Part II

 

The Western World is seemingly in a death spiral while the Eastern Worlds are struggling with ideas the West cast off at the end of colonialism and Israel is caught in the middle. The Eastern World and Developing World are easily assessed as they are at the beginning point the West has already progressed past. Africa, central and much of southern, are still living largely off resources and selling such on the world market and subsistence farming with small amounts of true agricultural farming. The greatest of harms has been done to Africa as they have received massive shipments of food in the forms of wheat and other crops which would have been more productive had they grown the crops themselves. As their economy was basically agrarian, shipping them food was starving their economy thus making investments impossible as there was no venture capital with which to develop further. Basically, the Western World, whether through neglect, ignorance or an actual attempt to impede development, took away the one industry which Africa was suited to utilize for their own development. This left them with their farmers starving having to farm for their own families’ existence instead of farming to feed their own cities and thus form a solid backbone from which their economies could base growth. This has left Africa as a vastly underdeveloped continent surviving by selling off their natural resources instead of developing their own infrastructure to ready themselves to introduce industrial economic development. So while they sell their ore, their gems, their precious metals and every other item they can mine or find, they are actually stealing their own future to pay for the society today and that is a recipe for ruin.

 

The area known as MENA (Middle East and North Africa) is not in much better shape economically. Their economies are based on oil and drugs depending on the country. The few which are not able or willing to rely on either of those resources are living off base level industry, tourism, the good graces of an oil rich sponsor or some combination thereof. Egypt is such an example, as are many of the North African nations, has meager industrial base, a natural tourist industry with the Pyramids of Giza and other ancient wonders and a small oil market which also provides sufficient energy for the country to operate. Egypt could develop an industrial fishing economy and does receive funds from passage of commerce through the Suez Canal but still relies largely on the United States and Saudi Arabia to keep her solvent. The rest of the North African nations are at some level of poverty or worse, in complete melt-down as is Libya where tribal forces compete for the right to claim they rule the country when in reality it is nothing more than tribal influences vying for land and terrorist training areas taking advantage of the lack of governmental military force to prevent such. Along the entirety of the border with Central Africa there is a low level warfare going on with the most notable area being split between the war by proxy the Sudan is waging against the separative South Sudan and the regions being torn apart by terrorist violence by Boko Haram centered upon Nigeria where a little over a week ago at least twelve people were killed following two suicide blasts in the Maiduguri area of northeastern Nigeria and at the start of this month Boko Haram militants killed nine and abducted dozens more in southern Niger where attackers rode camels into the village of Ngalewa, about fifty kilometers north of the border with Nigeria. Such violence goes all but unreported in Western news as if this area of extreme and brutal violence is not important when the nations fighting these struggles cannot develop properly in such an atmosphere. This zone is known euphemistically as the African Transition Zone (pictured below). This zone also is the demarcation line between the Islamic World and that of Christian and African Traditional Religion. This is a war which deserves recognition beyond that of the Coptic Christians though they are an important segment of this struggle of non-Islamic faiths which are bordering the Islamic World.

 

African Transition Zone

African Transition Zone

 

The Middle East has its share of difficulties starting with the focal point of Syria. Syria, along with Yemen, defines the main struggle in the area, Sunni Islam against Shiite Islam. This battle has raged off and on since the death of Muhammad and is once again coming to the foreground. The main impetus behind Shiite Islam is Iran which currently includes much of southern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This area can be referred to as the Shiite Crescent (pictured below) and connects the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea granting an overland route which circumvents the Suez Canal. Such is important as should Iran take full control of Yemen they will control both choke points, the Straights of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, the main oil route from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and the Bab el Mandeb which controls the exit from the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aden into the Indian Ocean which also cuts off the Suez Canal and the Israeli southern port of Eilat. Blocking these two choke points is what makes a land route to the Mediterranean Sea so important. Saudi Arabia could benefit from an oil pipeline across her width to the Red Sea but they would need to build a port capable of handling tankers or they could use the Israeli ports which have such capabilities if only they recognized that such an entity existed. The Saudi Port of Jeddah would also suffice but such would be susceptible to Egyptian control of the Suez Canal where using Israel would likely cost recognition and Saudi pressure to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and end the Arab Palestinian war to eliminate Israel through all means usable. For the meantime, Saudi Arabia is more than happy to keep the pressures on Israel preventing her from developing even faster. All the while, we have the heart of the Islamic World across MENA which saw itself go from the leaders in the world to the losers in the world with the Industrial Revolution in the Western World. What is most interesting is the Islamic World refuses to believe that they fell behind and hold the West as responsible for their lost primacy and have sworn to bring the Western World down, and are making great headway as the West does little or actually aid the Islamic World in this endeavor.

 

Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

 

The Far East has one eight-ton gorilla and some interesting, in a warped way, other actors. The main force emerging from the Far East is China. What is mostly ignored is right behind China we have India. India is simply working quietly in harmony with all around her with the exception of Pakistan (border with Islam) and a conflict over border claims around the region of Doklam, where Chinese and Indian forces remain locked in a stand-off sparked by a road construction project in a disputed border area shared with Bhutan. This is an old rivalry going back long before modern history with these two being the central powers in this region for much of human history. What will make this more interesting is that India is expected to surpass China as the most populous nation sometime this century. Also in this area is our favorite nut-job, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un who, as we have reported over the past two weeks, is developing missiles and well on his way to ICBM’s capable of striking anywhere on the planet and the nuclear warheads to place atop these missiles. North Korea is a menace which China appears unwilling or unable of reining in which could lead to open warfare if one side blinks at the wrong time or is caught winking when they should have been eyes front. Any misreading by either side, and especially the mentally less than stable Kim Jong-un, could result in a nuclear war whose expanse will be determined by that which the North Korean dictator can reach with his missiles. North Korea is suspected of working with Iran which means that Kim Jong-un could have a fleet of ballistic missile carrying freighters ready to launch at coastal cities leaving them mere minutes if not seconds to react before being struck by a nuclear warhead. And, of course, both South Korea and Japan, two of North Korea’s main enemies after the United States, are both within striking distance already and are obviously nervous.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 2, 2017

Where Will the Spiraling End?

 

The United States new President, Donald Trump, apparently is not reacting to the threats from North Korea in the routine and usual manner, giving in and sending money, food and meet whatever demands are made by the current psychotic leader of that Communist death trap claims must be met or else he will destroy the world starting with South Korea and moving on to Japan and finally the United States. The past administrations have all responded with the goods every time the North Korean leader has rattle sabers making foul sounding threats if his little realm had used all the treasure from the previous confrontation has reached its end. This was the routine which wound itself repeatedly over time. Apparently, this time may end differently. First, China has called an end to their calling their attack-dog to heel and desist or even make an effort which also was a change in the normal routine. Everything appears as if the forces who might make a difference and avoid the most horrific of results has decided that they prefer to stand aside and see what the mettle of the new President is made of. The Chinese are preparing to sit this little game out and watch from the sidelines after making the feeblest of attempts to calm their friend to their south and instead allowed him to continue bellowing his threats. It appears that China is not receiving the reaction they expected as it was likely their impression that President Trump was not versed in the game of brinkmanship and would simply fold and give in to the threats from Kim Jong-un and provide North Korea with a renewed treasury, feed their starving masses and walk away simply licking his wounds and broken ego, tarnished reputation.

 

Apparently President Trump does not respond well to threats from a proven madman, a leader who has murdered a general for contradicting him, executed his uncle simply because he thought him a threat to his leadership and ordered the assassination of his half-brother in a foreign country so there could be no successor to his leadership other than whomever he should designate. President Trump initially sent the aircraft carrier fleet with the USS Carl Vinson and Kim Jong-un simply continued his ranting and threats. Then President Trump sent the aircraft carrier fleet with the USS Ronald Reagan and Kim Jong-un simply continued his ranting and threats. Now President Trump has further upped the anti and sent the aircraft carrier fleet with the USS Nimitz. We are willing to bet that Kim Jong-un could not care less and might even react unkindly or he might respond with more missile tests and possibly even a full-blown nuclear test. This situation, to put it mildly, is rapidly spiraling and where it might end is simply terrifying to imagine.

 

Kin Jong-un (김정은) is the grandson of Kim Il-Sung (김일성), the founder of North Korea; the son of Kim Jong-il (김정일), the second leader of North Korea, and is the current leader of North Korea, obviously. His threats are not to be taken so lightly as to make it appear that he is being taken lightly, something this ever-escalating response could impart. Seoul, South Korea, the national capital city is the first place threatened to be destroyed by Kim Jong-un, a threat he could carry out in under fifteen minutes from making the decision. North Korea has approximately 13,000 artillery pieces positioned along the border which could be fired striking Seoul leveling most of the capital city. Making matters even more troubling is the report by the Federation of American Scientists telling of the North Korean known quantities of anthrax, mustard gas, sarin, botulism and phosgene. Such weapons placed in artillery shells designed to release poison gas would not only permit Kim Jong-un to all but flatten Seoul, but to guarantee his artillery fire murdered most of the over ten-million people living within the city. That would be the opening scenario of Kin Jong-un deciding to raise President Trump’s move of positioning three aircraft carrier groups within striking distance of North Korea.

 

The Kim Family

 

The problem in this situation is that President Trump may have stated that all options are on the table, but this does not mean, as some in the media have claimed, that he is out looking for a fight, that he wants a war to prove something. The hope has to be on settling this problem, this saber rattling, with the least amount of violence and a lowering of the threat options. Unfortunately, this is apparently not going to be an option which either side is wishing to utilize, opting instead to raise the stakes, or at least the consequences, should the other side opt to initiate violence first. This is the idea behind placing so much power within the theater surrounding North Korea. This hopefully is the idea behind President Trump placing sufficient firepower within range of North Korea thus making any threats for use of force by Kim Jong-un suicidal at best and foolhardy at the least. The problem is that Kim Jong-un has all the classical signs of numerous psychological disorders one of which is obviously paranoia. A preliminary analysis of Kim Jong-un’s personality by Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics reveals him to apparently be agreeable, acquiescent, charming, placing a high premium on external approval, sympathetic to others’ needs and socially gregarious on the plus side along with a few other lesser traits resulting in an assessment that he is relinquishing too much authority, failing to assert himself sufficiently, delegating too much responsibility, as well as showing hesitation in taking the initiative when circumstances demand boldness or daring. As they say next, just who is really in charge and pulling the strings presumably controlling Kim Jong-un from the background.

 

North Korean Artillery Display

North Korean Artillery Display

 

Should this personality inventory be accurate, then there is an even greater danger in the threats emanating from North Korea, the person making them is hiding behind a figurehead which they are taking the precaution of making appear pompous and unpredictable. Hiding behind this figurehead making threats may make such a figure so assured of their safety from acting in the shadows that they might take chances believing that boldness would force President Trump to weaken and possibly fold or meet their demands with a simple promise from China that they have received assurances that if a basic set of demands were met by the west that North Korea would end their missile tests and enter negotiations over their nuclear program. Then it would be up to President Trump to react to such an offer. The main risk is that should they send a warning shot such as trading artillery fire as happened and reported in the New York Times on August 20, 2015 when the two nations still technically at war exchanged rocket and artillery fire in the first major armed clash across their border in five years. This was an exchange which reportedly resulted in no casualties and was a show of intent and test of wills and response. North Korea has taken an offensive stance with threatening with missile tests into the Pacific Ocean when testing potential ICBMs, shorter-range ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan to threaten Japan and claiming to be ready to test a new and more powerful nuclear weapon. The threat to Japan has been sufficient that the parliament has been deliberating to revise the Japanese stance since the end of World War II and enlarge their navy and other military strength beyond simple island protection in response to threats perceived from both North Korea and China.

 

China is another reason that President Trump may be placing so much naval and air power into the west Pacific Ocean near both China and North Korea. China has been extending claims challenging Islands claimed by Japan, Viet Nam, Taiwan and the Philippines. These challenges are in addition to their building islands in the South China Sea moving towards the East China Sea and militarizing many of these islands even to the point of placing airstrips on the larger of these water-bound embankments. This challenges one of the most heavily traversed sea-lanes in the world which handles close to one third of the sea trade making it as important as the Suez Canal, Strait of Hormuz which controls the world’s oil flow from the Middle East, and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait which controls the southern exit from the Red Sea into the Arabian Sea. Both the Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (see map below), through their control of Yemen using the Houthis Rebels, are currently under threat of control from Iran, an ally of North Korea, allowing the two to exchange information and technology regarding missiles and nuclear weapons as they share a common enemy, the United States and the Western world. Iran is also allied with Russia as well as China which makes for a real threat in response to the presumed former sole super-power, the United States. The power of the United States is formidable but would face a serious challenge from the combined strength and nuclear power of the combined forces of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The real question could at some point become are Iran and/or North Korea really worth facing down the United States for either China or Russia, especially with a presumed unknown in President Trump whose most powerful weapon might be his reputation of being a bit of a hot-head.

 

Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

 

Still, one can be assured that President Trump would be best served and likely prefer some assistance from China defusing the current situation with North Korea. What is troubling is if the situation is as the personality profile of Kin Jong-un is accurate and he really is just a puppet being worked by a rogue general or party official working from the presumed safety of anonymity, then President Trump and his advisers plus those in the Pentagon all actually are operating blind as they do not know who they are working against. It is difficult to find a solution if you have no real clue who is the operator on the other side. Kim Jong-un either completely baffled those trying to inventory his personality or is just as unstable as he appears or somebody finds it advantageous to make the ruler of North Korea appear unstable. All of this leads one to really feel that North Korea is, and will continue for the time being, one threat which is front and center. But if that does not frighten you, then keep in mind that standing right alongside them is Iran that has spread terror armies throughout the world and thought to have more operatives living under cover inside the United States simply waiting for the code for them to strike a predetermined target or even instructions of where to strike. They have a training center in South America in an area known as the Tri-Border Area which sits at the borders of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. And you thought that you could sleep comfortably tonight. Well, probably for tonight, but for how many more nights is the big question.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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