EHT BIZARRO World of Trump in America (& a bit on China & Russia too)

Heads up, this is not short… TL;DR   and is meant to be read in chunks (for those wish to read some throttled and seriously restrained comments on the, alleged, deranged and imbecilic president of America)…

(Yes, the title – ‘THE‘ is reversed…)

Part I  A Strange America

So. What is happening to America and to democracy around the world? What happened to leadership that is democratic (not talking about the democratic party here)?  What happened to civility between individuals of American? What happened to respect and equality?

It should be pretty darn clear there is one clearly obvious nexus point for a great deal of this. All you need to do is look at who is sitting, undeservedly, in the White House… And many of us can guarantee that if the Electoral College had to do it again, they would not vote this person into the White House again (especially when the American people decidedly voted for someone else other than Trump – I believe it was Hillary Clinton, right…).

 

We live in Bizarro land. Yes, that is correct, we live in a world where the opposite of everything is taking place. If you have been choking on your own bile, every morning, ever since the 2016 Presidential election, there is a good reason for it – the ‘MOST’ wrong person is sitting in the White House.

As a result of who is sitting in the White House, here is a short list of what has been making you choke and gag, every day (likely all day):

  • Illegal insider trading taking place on the White House grounds (corruption, right?) – and no concern from the president…
  • We have an American ambassador Pete Hoekstra (Trump’s choice), to the Netherlands disputing his own words (this bullet is about a lack of integrity and honor). Hoekstra had stated in a 2015 conference on terrorism hosted by the right-wing David Horowitz Freedom Center – “The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burnt, there are politicians that are being burnt … and yes there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.” But in a later interview (Dec 2017) with the Dutch current affairs programme Nieuwsuur, Hoekstra stated that content was fake news – even though Nieuwsuur happily rolled the clip from the 2015 interview on air for Hoekstra. And no concern from the president as to how this looks for America, its people and its leaders…
  • Firing of Inspector Generals for no valid reason, other than they were doing their jobs to stop/prevent illegalities, fraud and other behind the scenes shenanigans – it seems, allegedly, this president has no regard for law and order and the watchdogs looking to remove current and potential corruption and illegalities…
  • Members of Congress and the Senate who, before this current president was voted in by the Electoral College, called the president to be by various monikers and endlessly mocked the large bodied and clownish person. But ever since this person got into the White House, these same Congressmen and Senators are kowtowing to this president, licking his boots (not literally BUT BLOODY WELL CLOSE) and allowing corruption of the law to take place (such as the emoluments clause where many believe this president is guilty of)
  • This current inhabitant of the White House relentlessly lambasted Obama for going golfing but look at what is taking place. This occupant of 1600 is going golfing at something like 22% of his time in office (he has reportedly been on the grounds of his golf courses or played golf elsewhere 266 times since becoming President, and that’s as of May 24, 2020), at tax payer expense and at his own country clubs (NOTE: there was no legal divestiture for his business investments/control) – remember how he famously stated in 2016 “I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”
  • Installing a new State Department secretary gutting the State Dept of most of the seasoned, experience, knowledgeable and respected bureaucrats – then not filling many of those positions. Do you remember that individual, that new secretary was Rex Tillerson… the oil CEO? Tillerson’s focus was not on diplomacy…
  • The current White House occupant plays down, disregards or ignores calamities that have struck America – remember him throwing toilet paper to people who needed it (in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria) and he believed it to be some sort of game.
  • What about ensconcing his unqualified children into very senior White House roles – what did they bring to the White House – or rather, what have they achieved that is worthy of talking about (no, not getting licenses in China to sell products) – many labeled these moves as nepotism but were unable to gain any traction on the violation of nepotism laws (we will need a future unbiased federal court to rule on this but that will be a long time out)
  • Can we talk about the 2018 elimination of the NSC directorate for global health and security and bio-defense that would have handled the CoViD-19 problem in 2020 with speed and efficiency (it was eliminated, allegedly, because it was an Obama creation)
  • Sheesh, this could continue on for page after page but you get the idea – we really hope so.

 

We, America, have someone who is supposed to be a world leader, sitting in the White House. Yet, instead of being that leader this individual has instead usurped: leadership, decency, democracy, a global role model status for anyone who wants to grow and be respected and become a leader themselves. (Note: the United States is not used in this paper because we are not a united country – we are more divided than ever before.)

We have people who want to flaunt the old 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms. The 2nd amendment was completely relevant for the militia at the time when the British were prevented from taking over the American colonies in the 1700’s.

Yet today, we have many contemporary individuals today who have gun stashes of upwards of 20, 30 and 50 different weapons (with thousands of rounds) and these folks are not weapons’ collectors. As a former Marine, I actually like weapons as well but I have no need to collect weapons for fear of an invasion. Although, in case our government ever turns dictatorial, arms collection here will become a different endeavor…

But. Who is going to invade America?

  • Has Russian been building up a secret army just off the coast of our country, but are so well camouflaged that we cannot locate or detect them?
  • Maybe it is the Chinese with their Communistic world view?
  • Or even worse, is it the poor hungry desperate immigrants without legal documentation invading America with their unseen deadly weapons?

Today, in 2020, we have a military, along with the National Guard. Neither of these entities were present back in the days of yore.

Do not get me wrong, as a former Marine, if this region I live in allowed weapons, I would buy a few as well – just not 20 – 50 of them or go storming some local state capital flaunting the weapons…

 

Part II             Logic, Strategy and Diplomacy

If decent, logical, serious individuals “STILL” have to continue to convince the American public of the wrong doings or ill-conceived ideas and just bad thought processes of the current president and it is not sinking in – something is wrong with a large percentage of Americans.

We have a president who is, allegedly, illiterate, indecent, corrupt, discriminatory (okay – racist) and who’s IQ, also allegedly, is not in a very decent range of intelligence. Besides lacking leadership skills, this individual also severely lacks any real degree of communication and diplomacy skill sets. If he did, America would not be seen in the light it is across the globe.

This individual cannot string together a sentence that makes any sense.  Well, hang on a moment. It may make sense if ‘you’ went to the same high school and college with this person and ‘you’ had the same classes with this person. We have no idea how well this individual did in school at any point.

So, you did not do so great in high school or college or grad school (wait, this person did not go beyond undergrad status) – so what? Grades reflect what one learns up to that point, with or without good teachers or a good educational system. What matters is if you continue to grow and do better after not doing so well at any level. What matters is if you continue to be better in your life.

Forbes magazine put out a story, as well as others, in Feb 28, 2019 where:

  • Michael Cohen testified to Congress that, under directions from Trump, he sent letters to Trump’s high schools, colleges and the College Board (creator of the SAT),threatening them with legal action and jail time if they ever released Trump’s academic records. Cohen provided a record of one such letter sent to the president of Fordham University, which Trump attended for two years before transferring to complete his undergraduate degree at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Trump’s high school has confirmed receiving an identical letter, while the University of Pennsylvania and the College Board declined to comment.

What is wrong is wrong…  That is not hard to see or to fathom.  If someone who is supposed to be a role model states: “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” – that is not someone you are supposed to look up to or follow.  That is, unless you yourself are amongst the callous, gross, indecent minded imbecilic Cretin of the gutters. There is supposed to be something called, respect for others, no matter who they are. Wait a moment – there’s more. There is also:

  • decency,
  • equality,
  • honesty,
  • compassion,
  • empathy,
  • integrity,
  • ethics and
  • non-discrimination and
  • diversity

Where has all of the above disappeared to from this current administration. It is as if the mass majority of individuals the current president selects and installs into a senior office turns out to be a dishonest, greedy, corrupt individual.

  • Who in their right mind, in the top role position of the EPA builds a SCIF (a secure office) in their own office, when there is already an existing one, one floor away? Or has him/her chauffeured around in an armored vehicle when the position does not rate such a vehicle. Scott Pruitt wanted a ‘secure’ ‘sound-proof’ phone booth… That position does not require that kind of security.
  • What about taking private jet rides around the country, at tax payer expense…
  • What about going shopping on a federal jet, at tax payer expense (this was, allegedly, Mnuchin and his wife back in 2017 – recall Louise Linton’s extravagant and glorious exit and pose from the plane with the bags of purchased goods).
  • There is so much more that could go here as well and if you did not live and breathe solely in a filter bubble, then you will know that there is more. But if you isolated yourself to a safe zone of like-minded individuals, none of whom dared to grow and venture forth to look at other possibilities, at other avenues – then it is likely you only know one silo or one tunnel vision cone of information. What you believe may be completely wrong. But due to being in that filter bubble, it is difficult to convince you to expand and do better.

 

Part III           The World

What happened to America’s global role of leadership and statesmanship? Again, a certain specific individual is what happened. America has become a laughing stock of and to the world. Our allies are alienated because of this individual. Our leadership on the world stage has eroded horridly to lower levels. It is only through the guts and leadership of certain state governors and mayors and some business leaders and numerous American citizens doing all they can to keep our head and chin up in the world.

As we can see, there are numerous leaders in other countries who want to emulate Trump and the fake news hoopla. And they have been as well as gaining incredible autocratic and dictatorial powers where the citizens of those countries (Philippines, China, Russia, Hungary, Brazil, etc.) are simply screwed and cannot seem to get out of the rut they find themselves in because those leaders have the military to back up any areas that the dictators/autocrats desire.

 

Look at China

There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of choice there. China forcibly removes freedom at every avenue it can, in order to “preserve the safety of people within its borders and preventing threats to a stable society” in their country from other sources.  This is a complete sham and the Chinese citizens are not all aware of it – because of the Chinese leadership’s control of all media and avenues of travel.

You also have to take into consideration that the Chinese leader made himself, ahh, sorry, the Chinese National People’s Congress voted that there be no term limits on the current leader of China. How nice is that – Dictator for Life, sorry – what was meant was, President for life of a country with 1.3+ billion people. This outcome was determined as follows: Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes. Nice, eh…? Almost a clean sweep.

Remember the Hong Kong citizenry acting to retain its freedom in late 2019 and the Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image that read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” (By the by – EVERYONE should stand with Hong Kong as they lose their right to total freedom; loss of a free press, free speech, free movement, facial recognition surveillance {even more than what we have in America} and become a more communistic country – for those that choose to stay in Hong Kong – many will find some way out of that island country over the next several years – an exodus.) Before he deleted due to comments and stress from various avenues of contention. But – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver finally came around and supports Morey’s right to free speech. Of course, in return, China was appalled and had the gall to come back with:

  • The Chinese-run television network said it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Silver’s remarks.
  • “We oppose Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its statement in Chinese, which was translated by CNBC.

In reality, how in the heck can China, a Communistic society (but they really want to be Capitalistic, don’t they…) DARE to say that free expression that challenges ‘anything’ is not within the scope of freedom of speech???!!!!  Not when the Chinese government does not allow its own citizenry to any of it. China controls the media. China controls the countries internet access and continues to tweak their ‘Chinese Firewall’ in order to censor everything that travels over the air or via cables.

  • People are not allowed to talk about leaders in a bad light, as other countries do.
  • Any word that the Chinese government deems to worthy of censorship is blocked from the internet and not allowed on any media. Here is a fairly good article on “68 Things You Cannot Say on China’s Internethttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/world/asia/china-internet-censorship.html or this other article “In China, you can’t say these wordshttps://share.america.gov/in-china-you-cant-say-these-words/
  • Take the Uighur (or Uyghur) situation in the XinJiang region. The Chinese government deems them to be dangerous and has razed many of the Uighur towns to the ground and put the people who once lived there, into camps (imagine something, kind of like a concentration camp – just not as horrific). Yet the Chinese calls them re-education camps where the Uighurs are required to shave their beards, removing that identity aspect. All movement is controlled by surveillance cameras (everywhere in Uighur inhabited areas, not just the camps) and identities. Uighurs are not even allowed to have certain tools because they could be construed as weapons. The Chinese have even gone so far as to engrave certain cutting tools with the owner’s identities on the tool AND then are required to check it out and return it like a library book (complete control of those tools) – controlled by the police.
  • People of China face public shaming for spitting in the streets (it can be caught on camera and put up on a large billboard – live video) – but wait, it does not end there. The citizens can be assessed points in the Chinese “Social Point System”, which started in 2014. It is about regulating individual and group behavior for activities such as: bad driving, smoking in non-smoking areas, not paying bills on time, spending too much on video games. Now, if you acquire too many points, you can be: banned from flying or catching a train; banned from luxury options (like 1st class seats); throttling internet speeds; being banned from the best schools (including your children). Think about that kind of restriction in the western world.
  • China wants to own the SCS (South China Seas) instead of sharing, stating that territorial waters belongs to China and not shared amongst, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and says, basically that
    • there is no ‘freedom of navigation’ in that area to foreign military/navies
    • and going as far as building man-made islands and militarizing them to support the Chinese claim, even though the Hague is on the side of the Philippines as to the waterways is not owned by China

So, for a leader of one country to put their Big Brother restrictions on citizens of another country and expect other nations to kowtow “their own” draconian methods of “lack of freedom of speech” or “lack of freedom of action” – what does that does mean, hmmm…? 

How can the leader of a country with all these restrictions say they have a stable society when the society is controlled by the government and military?

The people:

  • do not have any true freedom
  • cannot congregate
  • cannot vote bad leaders out either (so it seems)

What do you believe, does China have a ‘stable society’ or that free speech threatens another country’s national sovereignty?

            Chinese citizens will never see this paper within the borders of China because of the content of this paper.

 

Russian president – Putin. What can you make of this other president for life? He basically owns Russia and the people are somewhat locked into a state of hopelessness and are unable to do anything. It is somewhat hard to figure out how the people just do not create a national up-rising force Putin out, so we will not see that happen.

But how does a country’s President become a billionaire? It has been reported by several sources, one of which is the CIA that Putin has anywhere from $70 – $200 billion stashed away – yes, BILLION. Reportedly, he is at the $22 Billion mark. How does that happen, legally?

And do not get your hopes up to run against Putin because competition against him appear to have bad josh, bad luck. They die. They get poisoned. They gain criminal charges and if you have criminal charges in Russia, you cannot run for top offices, so they say. And let’s not forget the military and the underworld henchmen who just might, out of their love for Putin (yeah, right) take out the competition and it then becomes complete deniability for Putin and his party.

 

There is just so much more to be said about Putin, Xi, Maduro (Venezuela), János Áder (Hungary), Duterte (Philippines) and even more about Trump.

But where do we go from here? How do we do it? Well, education is one of the first steps – educating everyone and allowing everyone to vote is a second step. Ensuring EQUALITY is flat out the foundation and cornerstone of EVERYTHING from henceforth!  We all have to do better, not just in America but around the globe.

At the same time, we have to prevent other countries from interfering our countries elections. We have to prevent fake news from gaining ground (yes, the real fake news where there is no basis in reality and notalternate facts’ as Kellyanne Conway stated it), while at the same time barring harmful and dangerous conspiracy individuals/groups.

 

All we can do is – TRY.

Be better than others and lift them up in turn. Stop stepping on the backs of others just so you can put your face in the spotlight. Just do the right thing. Most of all, it takes courage – courage to stand up and be counted and help make everyone accountable. Take U, she is a child and look at what she has accomplished and it was not out of wanting to be in the spotlight, it was due to making people aware that the world has to change regarding climate change.

But, individuals like the one in the White House, he has no courage whatsoever. He does not stand up for inequality. He does not stand up with empathy for those going through disastrous changes in their lives. He for sure does not have the courage to stand up and face America’s lack of true justice.

The American president does even have the backbone and courage to stand up and fight, internationally and collaboratively on CoViD-19 instead of finger-pointing. What individual in their right mind cuts out the World Health Organization and throttles the CDC…?

And not least, where is the courage to stand up against Police injustice in America, specifically against Brown, Yellow and Black people of this country…

But he does have an affinity, allegedly, for reneging on promises, greed and alleged corruption (*Ask the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York back back in 1979-1980 about Trump’s promise to give them the Bonwit Teller’s sculpture.)

We have to ensure respect, diversity, non-discrimination and equality are the bedrock of this country – maybe then we will actually be a United States.

 

*Bonwit Teller and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bonwit Teller closed its flagship store in 1979 and sold the property for $15 million to a Long Island real estate developer. Despite his plans to demolish the old Bonwit Teller building, the buyer promised to preserve the Deco grillwork and bas reliefs at the request of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The buyer was none other than Donald Trump. In 1980, Trump demolished Warren & Westmore’s elegant Art Deco emporium to make way for his $100 million Trump Tower. In what became a sadly typical turn of events, Trump cut corners everywhere he could and bullied those who stood in his way. To pour the foundations, Trump enlisted S&A Concrete, a known mob front for Paul Castellano and “Fat Tony” Salerno. He paid 200 illegal Polish immigrants as little as $4 an hour to work 12-hour days, 7 days a week. The so-called “Polish Brigade” worked without benefits, hard hats, and sometimes even homes – during the 1980 transit strike, many were forced to sleep at the construction site. Then there were the lawsuits. He sued the city for a tax abatement on the property. He sued one contractor for “total incompetence” and threatened to sue a labor lawyer for $100 million.

The reasoning:

John Baron, a spokesman for the Trump Organization—who, the New York Daily News discovered, turned out to be Donald Trump himself in disguisetold the Times that “the merit of these stones was not great enough to justify the effort to save them.” He said it would have cost $32,000 to remove the sculptures and cited appraisals by three independent appraisers that found them to be “without artistic merit” and worth less than $9,000. Their removal, he said, would also have delayed demolition work by at least a week and a half. (Trump, as himself, later estimated the cost of preserving the panels at $500,000.)

 

U.S. Naval Ship Collisions & Hearing Loss at U.S. Embassies in Cuba – Coincidences…?

Hmmm, a quick take on our U.S. Navy ships involved in collisions with fatalities as well as auditory damage (hearing loss) of U.S. and Canadian Embassy personnel from some kind of sonic sources.

We need more brain power on this because there may be something here.  Maybe.

Are both of these spheres of damage, covert intentional attacks, with intelligence and/or military aspects, on U.S. personnel and property? SpecOps…. Because if either of the following are occuring:

  • manipulating a naval ship’s computer systems or
  • aiming some kind of sonic weapon at someone from another country – well, these approaches are a definite attack.

Are all the naval collisions in that region, in this year, all coincidental due to “incompetence” and “poor leadership”?  I’m finding that rather difficult to swallow.  Who in the world aboard any ship is not able to spot large tankers at a distance and not be able to avoid contact in time…?

Are these growing instances of U.S. and Canadian embassy personnel losing their hearing stemming from some kind of natural phenomena that no one has seen or heard of (no pun) prior to now?  I also find this very hard to believe.

Are the sources possible Russian or Chinese covert agents?

Agents from Russia in order to cause destabilizing effects on U.S. personnel? To get back at the U.S. because of the:

  • U.S. and U.N. sanctions placed on Russia? 
  • U.S. Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian activities related to the current individual in the White House?

Are the sources from China to cause destabilization of U.S. forces in the South China Sea and to grow Chinese naval influence in that hemisphere?

More to follow as I chew on this more to produce somewhat more analytical thoughts.

 

The bit about the coincidence of naval ship incidents, I gleaned that from Medium where Omaid F. has posited that possibly the Chinese are testing their capabilities.  Because of my background, it also struck a nerve as a high possibility.  It seems highly plausible that the Chinese OR Russians could be doing just that.

(Omaid’s article on Medium: https://medium.com/@omaidfaizyar/did-china-hack-the-seventh-fleet-483f3f03d51b points to another article: https://rntfnd.org/2016/09/26/china-jamming-us-forces-gps/)

 

Ukraine, Putin, Russia, UN, NATO, Diplomacy & Military, Supreme Dictator = Impending Disaster?

 

Ukraine and bad, BAD boy Putin

So what do we have at this point in time in regards to the state of mind of Putin – psychotic break with reality? Yearnings of one man to be the Supreme (Dictatorial) leader of a country, to return to a time past that is long gone?

What the heck is going on in that man’s head, does anyone really know?

Yes, Putin may be smart but he appears to be very far over the line as a leader of a modern large country. You will notice that the previous sentence did not state ‘super power’ and it was deliberately left that way.

Do we have a crazy man as head of a large country? Or one who is becoming unhinged…? 

Diplomacy and communication does not appear to be working with Putin.

It is time for the developed countries and developing countries to band together and show some very serious solidarity against what Putin and Russia are doing.

Aiding and abetting rebels in “ANOTHER” country is not alright and it should never be! Putin and Lavrov are not fooling anyone in the civilized world by playing stupid – “What, what are we doing? It is not us; it is the rebels in Ukrainia doing all the fighting.

 SANCTIONS

Firstly, the U.S., along with Germany and France must take the lead and insist on even more crippling sanctions because Putin thinks that the sanctions will let up soon and he can go about his business. Yes, it will harm the citizens of Russia but if they are affected, they will vociferously and adamantly act out against Putin – maybe physically remove him from office (and I’m sure some of the suffering military will join in).

Yes, this may affect Europe because of Russia cutting off the flow of oil/gas but some little sacrifice must be done now, while there is time. The rest of the world can help make up some of the oil shortfall to Europe.

United Nations

The leading countries of the world need to stand up NOW and band together and grant the UN some teeth, even if Russia vetoes any vote in the Security Council. The UN needs to join in on piling on more diplomatic sanctions against Russia – WITHIN the week via an emergency session.

Okay, now, if that does not work, then authorize UN Peace Keepers to go into harms’ way, into eastern Ukraine. This is what the UN Peace Keepers are for, to stop this kind of activity. And yes, they have been ineffectual in the past but it is time to change all that.

 European Union

Next, the EU (European Union) will need to accelerate the timetable and bring Ukraine into the fold. This will cause more turmoil and bring the rabid dog (Putin) to a full-fledged tantrum BUT IT NEEDS TO BE DONE! Unless we show Putin more solidarity, he will continue to do what he is doing.

   Yes, I did call Putin a rabid dog and I really did not want to but this is just getting out of hand as to what is happening to the INNOCENT civilians who are indiscriminately being killed in the various bombings and shootings.

 NATO

The next step, or in conjunction, NATO will also need to accelerate the timetable of brining Ukraine into the NATO umbrella. And yes again, this will cause no little consternation on Putin’s part. NATO troops will need to be expeditiously brought into Ukraine – IT CANNOT BE HALF-ASSED, there is too much to at stake to do a slow buildup, allowing for a simmering situation.

And yes, the U.S. and western allies will need to supply Ukraine with advanced weaponry and detection capabilities to find and destroy the weaponry of the “rebels” so the Ukrainian soldiers at least have a fighting chance.

 China???

You will also note that China was not mentioned in any of this. China, while they purport to be spending money around the world, to build up infrastructures and build mines and other industries – they are not willing to have democracy in the world. They are sure not making it known if they are. I mean, c’mon, the Chinese government controls the media and the Internet, trapping their people into a bubble of brainwashing content.

Scientists, Academicians, students, journalists and the curious are all becoming completely unable to search the ‘Net and learn new things or to see the truth of what is actually happening in other corners of the globe.

The Chinese government still wants to manipulate their citizens with, well, mind control as to what the average citizen can say, read and talk about. It is completely stifling.

China would not be of any assistance in joining efforts from democratic countries that want to prevent another country from performing land grabs (Crimea and really, eastern Ukraine). Why? Because China also wants to do their own land grab in the South/East China seas, stating “these disputed lands/islands have always historically belonged to China.”

How do you fight that? So no, China was not mentioned as joining in because they are not yet a democratic country – A FULLY DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY. Do not just listen to the ramblings of just one person (me), do your own research. DO A BROAD AND DEEP LEVEL OF RESEARCH! There is PLENTY of data out there in all kinds of medium (‘Net, magazines, YouTube, Netflix, newspapers, other blogs). Go to democratic, conservative and independent organizations, then cobble it all together and actually think on that content. Then, MAKE YOUR OWN INFORMED decision.

 

At any rate, the world has to come together and stop any country from annexing parts of other countries. That time is long gone, at least I hope it is and we not on the cusp of reverting to the dark ages.