Special edition: Weird Stuff. Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera. Congratulations on the weather report, BBC. Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!Thar She Blows! Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera

The scene at Montevideo when the sea receded. Possibly.

On the 11th of August, according to several flaky looking websites such as SOTT.com (Signs of the Times) and JewWorldOrder, the sea rapidly and mysteriously retreated from around Montevideo in Uruguay, up to Porto del Este in neighbouring Brazil, when low tide was not expected.

Fearing a tsunami, people ran for high ground; however, none came, and the waters returned of their own accord some hours later. No large earthquakes were reported in the region at the time.

The phenomenon was matched, according to MBB333, one of those internet weather-watchers, unofficial meteorologists with access to satellite imagery, by correspondingly large waves on the other side of the Atlantic, in Africa. (He may be confusing it with a storm surge that flooded the seafront at Durban in March.)

At the same time, too, other sites were reporting 40-foot waves slamming into the west coast of South America, again apparently for no reason – although there were eight active cyclones in the Pacific region last week, and a couple of M6 subsea earthquakes. No other report of these occurrences can be found in the normal media, but there has been a suggestion that the world may be expanding.

The sea retreating story was also covered by Disclose.TV, an entertaining conspiracies and new world order website. So, given the provenance, and the degree of retweeting going on, and the fact that it didn’t make the mainstream media, you’d say it’s probably not a verifiable tale. Fake nooze.

Yet the BogPo has a curious feeling that there’s a truth to it; it has some explanation, and visual evidence. The conspiracy websites, as well as making stuff up completely, often report real-world events but with their own weird spin on them. They’re not all entirely ‘fakin’ unbelievable if you can just get at the core facts.

MBB333 goes on to discuss something called The South American Roll, a theory that the entire continent is moving as a result of almost all the live volcanoes and seismic activity in South America occurring, as they do, on the west coast.

There has indeed recently been a flurry of activity, volcanoes popping off and a swarm of mid-range earthquakes all down the coasts of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Indeed, it’s been observable right around the Pacific so-called ‘Ring of Fire’. Could that possibly create pressures that would cause the whole continental plate to rock, briefly lifting the seabed off the west coast? It’s a big place, South America. Heavy. And if the plate (known as a ‘craton’) tilted, you might notice the rivers on the east coast running slower, or even backward? Or could strong lunar pull just have created a supertide?

The Roll does in fact have its own web page, it turns out. South American Roll Watch posts to an incredibly weird site called Earth Changes and the Pole Shift, where strange people contribute cryptic comments in unusual forms of English to a forum on tectonic plate movement and the position of magnetic North.

Bona fide geologists describe tectonics as happening slower than your fingernails are growing, which may account for the general excitement level on the site, which looks not to have been touched since 2010, and ‘the impending pole shift’ – the belief that a periodic flipping of the poles every so many tens of thousands of years is due to create global mayhem any minute now.

However, analysis of the information provided by a mysterious couple, or maybe a group, known as the Zetas suggests that the South American Roll theory predicts a much more violent event. In a curious mixture of scientific-sounding analysis and apocalyptic visions it appears the roll will be more south to north rather than west to east, the continent breaking across the middle creating huge tsunamis in the Caribbean, wiping out whole islands; and inundating the whole of what is now Argentina north of Patagonia. At least, that’s what I think their somewhat crudely drawn maps are telling us.

A similar unusual tidal retreat of about 60 extra metres was observed in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in 2011:

“The sea began to ebb the arrival of Tuesday afternoon, after the rain left a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Many people took the opportunity to walk along the beach and observe the phenomenon, and collected some shells and snails.”

It sounds rather lovely; nicer than the Zeta’s description of the continent buckling and folding in half across the broken back of the Andes:

“In addition to what will happen to the land mass, we have mentioned exploding volcanoes very near at hand, and water rushing completely over such lowlands as the Yucatan and Panama. How have we failed to relay what is coming? If total destruction does not occur during the 7 of 10*, it will during the hour of the pole shift if not before that time.”

Indeed, to look at the predicted disasters due to result from gravitational effects on the movement of the continental plates, we are supposed to be about to witness as much geological change in a few hours as the earth has not experienced in the last 60 million years. Better buckle up and hang on.

It seems low tides are also getting lower at Acapulco, in Mexico.

Another reason being ‘floated’ for the unexpected tidal outsurge is there’s a massive storm out in the Atlantic that’s created a low-pressure bulge in the ocean surface, drawing water towards it from the coast. Only none has been reported. The sea can be a fickle mistress, and the BogPo’s advice is to admire it from a nearby clifftop or hotel balcony if you want to live a long and happy life.

Lots of heads and horns: the 7 of 10. Or something. (lightofthegentiles.com/Google)

Currently, there are five major weather systems that are threatening to become hurricanes. These ‘tropical waves’ are pulsing in a chain across the equator from West Africa where they have brought devastating rains, epecially in Sierra Leone where a thousand people may have died in the huge landslip that engulfed a village near Freetown at the weekend. Hurricane Gert is a weak Force 1 that developed out in the Atlantic but is heading northeast away from land. Tropical Storm Harvey is strengthening into a hurricane as it approaches the Leeward Islands. A special watch is being kept on the Freetown system as it barrels out to sea.

So the storm-sucking theory is not improbable, although Montevideo is quite far south of the tropics. One other suggestion being touted around is, of course, that a crack has opened up under the ocean. Mysterious cracks have indeed been reported in Peru, in Mexico, at Yellowstone….

Familysurvivalheadlines.com reported the bare-beaches story with an attribution of origin to another site, Weseekthetruth.com. There, other headline stories concern the pyramids discovered in Bosnia, and a government Paranormal Activity warning out for North Carolina.

The BogPo wonders if they’re seeking the truth quite hardenough.com?

We should possibly remind ourselves gently that the total solar eclipse due to track its way across the USA on Monday is creating inspired millennarian chaos all over the conspiracy community; while I see the Russians have realized, they only need to drop a small nuke on Yellowstone and it’s all over for the seven-horned Trump administration.

Watch that space!

 

*The 7 of 10. I’ve looked it up so you don’t have to. It’s either a geological probability, the number referring to the timing of the impending shift of the poles, a system devised by the Zetas, or it’s the 7 heads and 10 horns of the Beast in Revelations 13. Prophecy Ministers’ Focus on Jerusalem website explains it thus:

 “As previously mentioned, most students of prophecy are agreed that this beast represents the kingdom of Greece after it was divided into four parts following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. This agrees with the prophecy in Daniel 8 which also shows the four fold division of the Greek Empire in the form of 4 Horns on a goat, and specifically identifies Greece (vv. 21-22). In the case of chapter 7’s 4-Headed leopard, then, the Heads are kingdoms.”

Got that? Can we move on? Great.

 

“More than 16 million people have now been affected by seasonal flooding across a swathe of South Asia, say aid officials. The floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India are thought to have killed about 500 people and are expected to worsen. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it is becoming one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years. There are growing concerns about food shortages and disease.” – BBC News, 18 August.

Congratulations on the weather report, BBC.

The BBC finally catches up with the real weather news, reporting that 500 people have died and 16 million are affected by flooding in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The floods in the region have been going on for the best part of three months – see many previous Posts. Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), the south islands of Japan and New Zealand have all experienced severe flooding, as have the southern and southeastern United States, Mexico and Central America, West Africa and northern eastern Europe – with violent flash floods in many other parts of the world, from Switzerland and Russia to Nepal.

They’ll almost certainly discover next week to their amazement that large swathes of central and SE China have also been underwater for about the same length of time. Everywhere else is under a 100F-plus heatwave, droughted, on fire and/or experiencing violent storms, often of ice or snow. A wildfire can be seen from space – burning in Greenland. A 2,000-mile plume of smoke from Siberian wildfires is polluting the Arctic, where the temperature is 8C warmer than the 1981 to 2001 average.

But of course, climate change will have nothing to do with it. That would be taking sides in the debate between the entire world’s scientific community and Lord Lawson of Blaby, a senile old change-denying ghoul dug up from the Thatcher era, with no scientific credentials*, and the BBC can’t be seen to be doing that.

Preposterous bunch of half-arsed tossers.

NASA: has July 2017 tied with July 2016 as the hottest months on record. July 2017 was 2.25°C (4.05°F) warmer than the annual global mean 1980-2015 (seasonal cycle). Only in August 2016 was it warmer (2.29°C), but then again, August 2017 looks set to be warmer than that yet. Arctic sea ice extent tied with 2012 low but total volume less; expected gone by mid-September.

Arctic News: scientists calculate, a rise of 10°C (18°F) could occur by the year 2026, based on temperature anomalies from 1750 for February and on progressive growth of warming elements. “Crucial will be the decline of snow & sea ice and associated feedbacks.”

Crimea: violent storm, 3ft flash flooding in city of Sudak. Water turns blood-red from the tail-lights of parked cars as alarms are set off.

Side note: Watching endless cameraphone uploads of this kind of flooding from all over the world in the past few weeks, especially in provincial cities, the BogPo has been struck by the symbolism of hundreds upon hundreds of cars being – visibly – flushed away down streets become raging rivers, tossed aside by gales and dumped impotently atop one another, as if to underscore the nature of the problem. Yet it barely seems to stop people driving.

Ukraine: Large wildfires burning along the Russian border near Rostov.

Bangladesh: ‘35%’ of the country is underwater.

Nepal: 80% crop losses, stores ruined, food prices double.

Northern India: millions of acres of Assam still underwater. Death toll in Bihar rises to 202, 46 in Uttar Pradesh, 60 in West Bengal.

Congo (DRC): ‘at least’ 200 dead in landslide that buries fishing village following torrential rains.

Sierra Leone: death toll in Freetown landslip tops 400. ‘Hundreds’ still missing.

Thailand: Sai river bursts its banks. Chiang Rai underwater.

USA: Lolo Peak, Montana – fires burning for over a month flare up again after lightning strikes. 1,600 evacuated. Washington state: wildfires force evacuations. Multiple tornadoes in Midwest, storms in Minnesota, Texas cause widespread damage, power outages. Rivers flooding around Dallas, Texas.

Canada: wildfires in British Columbia and Northwest Territories break all official records, approaching 1m acres affected.

Portugal: Public ‘calamity’ declared as wildfires continue to rage in the central regions; 2,000 still ‘cut off’ in the town of Macão. No respite in hot, windy conditions.

Austria, Southern Germany: more severe storms disrupt festivals, cause local flooding.

Nicaragua: winds strengthening, 80% chance of developing tropical storm/hurricane – heavy rainfall for Belize, Yucatan.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #56/ France 24/ Al Jazeera/ Euronews/ Arctic News

*Out of curiosity, the BogPo Googled: ‘Who is funding Lord Lawson?’ (he refuses to say) and came up with an investigation into his ‘Global Warming Policy Foundation’ by the Left Foot Forward website from June 2010 that shows Lawson is highly sensitive about that question, indeed merely to ask it is, he says, ‘actionable’. Especially as there appear allegedly to be multiple third-party connections to Exxon Mobil and a number of East European energy companies.

leftfootforward.org/2010/06/lawson-still-wont-come-clean-about-sceptic-foundations-funding/

What a cancerous old arse.

Why does the BBC still insist on exhuming Lawson, dripping with soil and maggots, to ‘balance’ any story in which climate change is mentioned as a probable subject for discussion? They must surely realize it has gone way beyond that? Opposing an objective ‘expert’ truth against a manifest ‘non-expert’ lie is not ‘balance’, it is insanity.

Postscriptum:

For an interesting long read on the political debate over Climate Change policy, go to:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/07/climate-change-denial-scepticism-cynicism-politics

On the other hand, as you probably know, the BogPo is not of the opinion that there is any further debate to be had.

The merest suggestion that there is anything to be decided – or, increasingly, anything to be done – is to play into the hands of the Energy sector, their corrupted proxies in government, the yellow-bellied scum in the well-funded academic ‘denier’ community and the vile PR campaigners sowing rumour-mongered doubt to stave off what they knew decades ago should have been inevitable policy changes and restrictions on their shareholder greed.

The scientific principles behind warming have been known for over 100 years, the evidence is there for all to see, the Energy giants knew all this decades ago, they have admitted that they’ve been lying, there is no ‘debate’. The planet is not in fact ‘cooling’. Sea ice is not ‘expanding’. The sun is not ‘getting hotter’. Volcanoes are not ‘responsible for all the CO2’. Plants and plankton cannot ‘absorb all the CO2’. Wildfires are contributing as much to global warming as governments have been saving through their inadequate greener energy policies.

Climatologists are not weather forecasters, climate is not ‘the weather’. It is impossible to accurately forecast local outcomes: that is not what is required of them. You cannot use it to berate the scientific community: ‘Oh, but you said… nah ni nah’. It’s just childish. All the trendlines are converging on imminent catastrophe, irreversible tipping-points have already been reached or exceeded.

In combination with man-made environmental degradation and climate-induced crop failures food insecurity is already being seen, prices are rising and those who, it is claimed by the ‘New Optimists’, are being ‘lifted out of extreme poverty’ by the tens of thousands every day will soon find themselves back in it. Drastic action needs to be taken: Paris is not enough.

Get your facts straight and fucking WAKE UP.

x

Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!

Well folks, it’s the 21st, Total Apoceclypse, and the paranoid Trumpfucks are out in force on YouTube. Principal among weird theories abounding this morning:

  • NASA (an offshoot of the Illuminati founded under the Obama regime) is using the eclipse to smuggle climate-changing alien bacteria into the stratosphere.
  • The eclipse was predicted in an episode of The Simpsons.
  • They’re not telling us everythin’, we need to evacuate Wyoming now.
  • The 33rd degree eclipse splits the nation in half, causing civil war. (btw, Jesus was 33 when he died, so this is a very special occasion…)
  • “Native Americans are advising to stay indoors. It is a time for reflection. The energy levels will be very high. Do not go to the water and observe this eclipse.”
  • “The oldest most ancient truths called Nuwaubu reveals the truth of the cycles and luminaries of the sky.”

‘zac deshazo’ writes: “This is spot on about rahu causing eclipses…ive been banging my head against the wall trying to explain this to anyone who will listen…THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS VIDEO!” (narrator informs us the sun is moving, it’s not the earth!)

I’m sorry, people, American is not a race, so I don’t think I’m being especially racist when I have to say, you’re all fucking nuts. Is this what you get with Obamacare? How did the rest of us ever come to believe the crazy idea that America leads the world when you haven’t evolved since the Stone Age, when dinosaurs ruled the earth?

(Yes, there are whited-out letter ‘x’s between all the different stories on my Posts. It doesn’t mean anything, okay? It’s just to stop the stories colliding with fucking Planet X Nibiru. Jesus, get a grip.)

x

Thar She Blows!

Half of America seems to imagine that some magical cosmic effect of the total solar eclipse tomorrow will cause the Yellowstone supervolcano to erupt with terrifying, probably world-ending consequences.

Signs and portents of natural wonders. (Photo: National Geographic, I think.)

It’s been pretty lively lately, more than 60 straight days with up to 62 small earthquakes in a day and the three domes in the huge caldera all rising alarmingly as magma (estimated at 7 cubic kilometres) floods the chamber beneath at a depth of barely a mile.

The authorities, of course, especially the evil US Geological Survey, aren’t telling us the truth. They’re deliberately suppressing half the earthquake reports, the web cameras keep getting shut off, the info on gas releases is being doctored, and they’re still letting the public in and the bison roam to avoid scaring people. Just look at the colour of the steam, it’s obvious!

So you can forgive a certain increase in the panic level at a story attributed to our own, much loved Daily Mail, the rattiest garbage sink in the country, that NASA scientists are proposing to ‘cool the magma down’ by FRACKING in the caldera.

It would take quite a lot of water to cool 7 cubic kilometres of 1,000-degree hot magma, one suspects, while the instant any quantity of water is introduced, superheated steam is produced and the whole fucking thing is gonna blow, with an estimated death toll of 25 million.

It will certainly take the nation’s mind off the woes of the White House, but no-one we suspect has any faith in the ability of their inept and profoundly ignorant administration to handle a fart in a bubblebath.

Has anyone noticed, the volume of plots and alchemical potions ascribed to NASA since Trump and his friend Bannon seized power has increased exponentially? NASA is the new Empire of Evil, apparently.

x

Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

News comes that whacky science writer, the physical chemist David Jones, better known to science buffs as Daedalus, has died at the age of 79.

Bronze-age flyer: Daedalus casting off. (Google/Shelf3D.com)

His Daedalus column appeared weekly as the endpiece in New Scientist for many years, before transferring to The Guardian. Married unsuccessfully for only one year of his life, a poignant factoid, he also featured in front of, and behind, the cameras in a number of TV shows dedicated to quirky scientific ideas.

He was astonishingly prescient with many of his more way-out inventions, including chemical lasers that could shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (15 years later forming the basis of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars programme), and folding hexagonal carbon atoms into ‘football’-shaped molecules, an idea that three years later turned into the Nobel prizewinning (alas, not for him) ‘Buckyballs’, or Buckminsterfullerene.

He also seems to have accurately foreshadowed Brexit Britain, 29 years before the referendum. From The Guardian obituary:

“In 1987 he was the subject of a BBC QED programme, which realised one of his inventions: a bus on which each passenger was given a steering wheel, and which then proceeded in a “majority” direction.”

 

Footnote:

Readers may notice that I have ‘liked’ this piece myself. I have done so on behalf of ‘Unlimbited Tree Service’, who I was advised in an email from WordPress had Liked this piece, but whose Like has not appeared below as it should in theory have done.

Thank you.

He must be removed from office, now. Long Essay: Is there sense in Trump’s nonsense? Words from the wise. Granny W update. Mr What did you say your name was?

He must be removed from office, now

It is as foolish for Americans to believe that their generals will save them from Trump as it was for liberal Germans to believe the military would protect the nation from Hitler’s excesses.” – 94-year-old

The principle that when one finds oneself at the bottom of a deep, dark hole one really ought to stop digging, has not occurred to the Golden Glow as he sinks ever lower in the mire of public opprobrium.

Can you tell the difference? Welcome to Trumpworld.

The Pumpkin has argued (below) that Trump’s crass attempts at ‘jury-out’ neutrality in the furious debate over neo-Nazis being confronted by radical protesters, in which he said some incredibly stupid things prompting defections from his advisory councils and excoriation from formerly supportive members of his Republican Congress, even from his friends at Fox News, were at least understandable, until they weren’t.

The basis for a wholesale historical revision and the removal of all evidential symbols of the losing Confederacy in the 1861 Civil War is profoundly flawed, as that war was NOT about racial division, except inasmuch as slavery underpinned the economic foundations of the southern states. The Jim Crow laws followed emancipation, they did not precede it.

Nevertheless the President’s refusal to condemn specifically the racist and anti-Semitic slogan-chanting white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched provocatively and with, in some instances, extreme violence through Charlottesville and the campus of the University of West Virginia last Friday and Saturday has been widely held as evidence of his racist sympathies.

It has been explained charitably in some quarters as being just ‘grandad racism’ – the idea that the senior generation was brought up with a disparaging view of the coloured minorities and therefore can’t help themselves. If that is the case, the President should have kept it within the family. Even his family have rounded on him.

Into this morass, egged on by Mr David Duke, Mr Richard Spencer and other not0rious racialists, in the wake of the latest Islamist terrorist outrage in Spain the idiot President has waded yet again, advocating the shooting of Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood as a salutary corrective.

Is he insane?

I don’t think the horrific implications of his latest deranged tweet have yet sunk in. The mainstream media is still obsessed with reaction to his pro-Nazi statements and are not focussing on the even more damaging later reference to a supposedly punitive action by General Pershing during the war the Americans prosecuted against the Spanish in the Philippines in 1899, a mass execution featuring a religious desecration that ended Islamist terrorism ‘for 35 years’.

There was no such incident. It never happened.

The media has not yet understood that even though Mr Trump only raised the Pershing myth (again – he referred to it during the campaign primaries) at this juncture as some kind of – what? What can we charitably offer, some kind of useful precedent? –  he was clearly amplifying a vilely racist agenda replete with historical falsehood and Islamophobic memes.

Not only that, but for a US President to, effectively, recommend the punitive executions of Muslims as a deterrent to further acts of terrorism on the streets of European cities is just astonishing. Does he not understand that the blather he tweets as the senior representative of US domestic and foreign policy has official status, with global repercussions?

Does he not understand that he is exhorting racists to ethnic violence in his own country?

Does he not know from history that such violence only leads to more acts of terror?

Does he not realize that the ‘pig libel’ has the same resonance for Muslims as the ‘blood libel’ for Jews?

He is a complete imbecile.

Even if – especially if – he is instead calculating that perpetuating this nonsense will deflect attention from the investigations into his and his son-in-law’s illegal money-laundering operations complicit with international organized crime, HE MUST BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE, NOW.

How many more times does it have to be said?

x

Long essay

“George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slaveowner? So will George Washington now lose his statues? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson, you like him? … Because he was a major slaveowner … you’re changing history.” – the Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Trump.

Is there sense in Trump’s nonsense?

There are no words with which one can excuse the President of the United States for having a knowledge of American history that would disgrace a third-grader.

However, it is a fact that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners.

The tie definitely adds something: Charlottesville 2017. (photo: splcentre.org)

Nor did the rest of his New York press conference on Tuesday make as much sense. He is clearly not right in the head, not ‘mentally ill’ or a man with ‘learning difficulties’ but a man with serious cognitive impairment, developed quite recently – he is 71 – and a profound ignorance of matters beyond his private obsessions, who cannot marshal facts and figures or add two and two to come up with four. He lives in his own reality, and that makes him unfit to be President with the nuclear codes constantly at his side.

He has perhaps rightly come under attack from all sides, the media, his own party, even his own daughter, for failing to rise with sufficient urgency to the occasion and outrightly condemning white racist violence and Nazi posturing on the streets of Charlottesville, West Virginia. Instead, he seemed to be protecting a part of his support base by condemning violence ‘on all sides’, thus outraging the anti-racist left and the triumphalist liberal media, who have branded him a ‘racist’ for not saying the right words. Unfair.

On Sunday, he read a prepared speech off an autocue making that grudging condemnation they were all demanding, averring that Nazis and racists had no place in American life; then on Tuesday in front of the assembled press, whom he had supposedly come to talk to about infrastructure, he seemed to row back in an improvised, incoherent riff on whatever he had said 48 hours earlier.

Among the scrambled ingredients of his word-salad, one could objectively pick out the following:

Both sides were to blame. The jury was out. He had not wanted to inflame the situation further by blaming one side or the other. The leftists had armed themselves provocatively with sticks. The rightists had a permit to march, the leftists didn’t. The killing of Heather Heyer was a terrible thing. She was a lovely girl. There were good people among the Nazis. The driver of the car must be punished.

Does that not sound like a reasonable, indeed Presidential, position? Even when you take in the breathtaking nonsense about Heyer’s mother praising his wonderful words, and the torrent of mind-bendingly awful rodomontade, there is a grain of truth in that Mrs Bro also called for an end to the violence and no recriminations, although she has said nothing to him.

The problem with Trump’s perceived attitude to the so-called alt-right starts way back. For this is far from the first time Trump has failed to condemn racist violence, white terrorism and expressions of anti-Semitism – despite his own son-in-law being an Orthodox Jew and his favourite daughter a convert – in the same bald terms with which he has condemned Islamist terrorism.

He just doesn’t seem to get the message that the President is EXPECTED to say the right things in response to any of the normal range of outrages and disasters that befall all countries from time to time, whatever his personal opinions are. It goes with the job.

Just as Trump was culpably never able to separate his personal finances from those of his businesses and his tax-exempt ‘charity’ foundation, so he has been unable to separate the role and office of President from the forty-five year-long performance that has been Donald J Trump Inc. He is bungling and bluffing and bullying and prevaricating his way through, as usual, and that’s not good enough for a President.

But now, look.

The wave of historical revisionism that is sweeping the south is, in the view of The Pumpkin, a Bad Thing.

William Tecumseh Sherman: Union General advocated the genocide of Native Americans

It’s bad because it’s providing a casus belli for the millions of white Southerners for whom the defeat in 1865 remains a raw wound. If you think that sounds silly, try living in Wales, as the Pumpkin does, where 800 years of history has never really wiped away the memory of conquest and the centuries of cultural oppression that followed.

In pursuit of their victory, the Union committed many atrocities, including the burning of Atlanta. Under Sherman they operated a scorched-earth policy to starve the South into submission. The victory was characterized by savage reprisals, rapes, repression and the ‘carpetbagging’ of the Southern agrarian economy by Northern businessmen; the utter humiliation of the South.

The removal and demolition of the tokens to their dead and the symbols of their identity looks today like nothing less than the North seeking to take further revenge for the act of sedition by the 11 states of the Confederacy; a deeper desecration of their culture and values. There are worse behaviours than racism.

The Civil War was NOT fought over the question of racial divisions. Black soldiers fought on both sides. It is more complex: the slavery issue was only one part of what were perceived as cultural and economic differences between the Confederate states and the industrializing North, and their foreign alliances. Slavery was a symbol of the conservatism of the South, but the agricultural productivity it made possible benefited the Old World too. It increasingly became a rallying point for the Union only as the war progressed.

There is a difference between racism and racialism. Racism is the negative perception of, and sometimes a willingness to act upon, perceived physiognomical or cultural differences as determined by place of origin. It is a form of tribalism. Racialism is the discredited C19th pseudo-scientific theory that there is a hierarchy of human intelligences and capabilities categorizing the ‘races’, in which white Europeans sit at the top and the black man at the bottom.

Southern racialism can be traced to the ‘Manifest Destiny’ programme of the Democrats, but it was the emancipation following the war that brought about the Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the south as poor white and freed black farmers competed for land and subsidies, both with one another and with Northern land-grabbers consolidating their spoils.

In other words, Civil War mementoes are only tangentially symbols of racism, but they are an important focus for Southern resentments and, yes, nationalist pride.

Now. In every country where these things are done, there are statues and plaques and other symbolic reminders of great and heroic deeds in the past. There is always moral ambiguity attached to them. My country, Britain, is bristling with statues to victorious Victorian politicians and valorous generals who won asymmetrical battles with overwhelming firepower against colonial subjects; as well as landed estates and grand country houses built on the proceeds of slavery.

The country has a profoundly ambiguous attitude to its imperial past, that is viewed with growing unease in our multicultural society. But should we tear the symbols of the past down, pretend it never happened? Or should we understand how important it is that we do see them in their proper context and try to learn from them? You cannot manage a country on the degree of offence incomers take at its history.

Many people here still have immense pride in what they perceive as the outstanding achievement of our small island nation in creating and defending the largest empire the world has ever seen. They are happy to remain in ignorance of how it was done, or they argue that, well, that’s just how you do these things. You cannot separate empire from conquest, all victories are glorious.

Others are ashamed of it, the way it was done – proceeding through first adventurous, then rapacious and increasingly repressive commercialism to outright military occupation and bloody reprisals against dissenters, in response to the growing commercial pressures of the home population, the demand for goods and commodities from the aspiring consumerist middle-class.

In this, the week of the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, we are reminded of the horrendous aftermath, the bloodbath that ensued. More than a million people died in a mass slaughter between neighbours as the Islamic and Hindu and Sikh populations were forced to give up their lands and homes and migrate to new territories delineated on religious lines by Congress at the behest of the British authorities. We recall the subsequent three wars between the new nations, the festering dispute that continues even now between the two nuclear-armed powers over Kashmir.

Looking at this history, who can possibly argue that colonialism and the racial and religious divisions it perpetuates has ever benefited anyone, other than capitalists and commodity brokers? Just as the business owners’ needs are met by ensuring the cheapest profitable supply of labour, so the capitalists supply the need of the greater population for cheaper goods. To those mutually beneficial ends, there are reckoned to be 37 million people labouring under conditions of actual and virtual slavery in the world today.

What ended transatlantic slavery was the argument, at first in Britain, where the trade in slaves was outlawed as early as 1808, that workers had both their own interests and essential humanity in common, regardless of colour, and were worthy of dignity in labour. The nascent British Trade Unions campaigned for an end to slavery itself. Ironically it was Socialism, more than Christianity, that brought the vile practice to an end.

So there is a case for saying, tear down the symbols of colonialism, the vainglorious statues to historical men (and a few women) of action, whose attitudes and times were so very different from our own. But were they?

If you are going to censor the tributes to slaver Confederate generals like Lee and Jackson, should you not also tear down the statues of the Union victors, Grant and Sherman, as a mark of distaste for their undoubted war crimes?  Because the name and likeness of anyone connected with the prosecution of the Civil War is going to remind us that racism was (and still is) the only crime endemic to the USA? Are you saying racism was (and still is) not also a Northern phenomenon?

And is it wrong that commemorations to the dead of all wars should remind us of the horror and futility, the sacrifice of the ordinary soldier? Those farm boys on both sides who were dragged into the conflict to die horrible deaths and undergo mutilation and mental disintegration as the war increasingly industrialized and the slaughter took on the now-familiar tropes of machine-guns, mines and massed artillery were not politicians and pundits. They were the victims.

Are we to disfigure their memory too, merely to combat expediently a racism that is probably ineradicable from the human condition?

I’m going to go even further out on a limb. Slavery was and is not about racism, or even racialism. There’s no connection.

It’s about power relations and the management of economies.

Not a single successful, progressive economy flourished between the time of the Egyptians and Babylonians until the Industrial Revolution and the machine age without one form of bonded or indentured labour and another.

Greece, Rome, the Vikings, the Maya and the Aztec, the Mongols, Arabia and the Benin empire of West Africa were all slave-raiding, owning and trading civilizations. The expansion of their empires was driven by the need for captive slaves to provide the service infrastructure to grow their economies. India and China, Russia and medieval Europe incorporated slavery instead into rigid hereditary caste and ‘feudal’ systems that condemned generations of men and women to serfdom, donating their labour compulsorily to their social superiors in exchange for ‘protection’.

It had nothing to do with race; merely with whomever you could most easily force into bondage.

An Arab slaver. (Image: kalamu.com/Google)

In 1805 and 1812, the American navy pursued interventions against the Berber sailors of North Africa, Muslim slavers known as Barbary Pirates, who had attacked shipping, kidnapped and sold into slavery perhaps one and a half million Europeans. The global slave trade was not confined to the Atlantic run, or to Africans.

The Atlantic slave trade was perhaps the first – certainly the best-organized – purely commercial, transactional venture of its kind, aimed at supplying millions of agricultural workers and household servants transhipped from slave-raids in West and Central Africa to the commodity-based plantations established by British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonists in the Americas, both north and south, and the Caribbean colonies.

The trade helped to make up the numbers of the aboriginal populations decimated by non-resistance to European diseases. As those European nations began to grow their own African domains, so the trade was able to cut out the local middlemen, African despots and Arab traders, to become more profitable.

Racialism gained traction, mainly as a moral response to the African slave trade. Its manifest unfairness and systematised brutalities could only be justified and maintained by the acceptance of a scientific, post-Enlightenment principle that black people were inferior to and less evolved than whites. Africans were not being enslaved because they were black, but because being black placed them in a permanently subservient condition fit for slavery.

The slave trade created racialism, it was not created by it.

The racism of the American South was created, at the very least encouraged, and eventually perpetuated, by the Civil War and its aftermath, that kept both Southern whites and blacks in an increasingly divisive condition of poverty and despair, that led to mutual rivalry, suspicion, antipathy and a culture of violence based on racist tropes – the hypersexualised negro being one –  that was almost entirely one-sided. Why?

For the Democrats and the pork-barrel politicians of the South, the lack of political sophistication and democratic heritage of the former slaves put the emancipated blacks at an immediate disadvantage, licensing a continuation of the brutalities inflicted on them by many, though not all, of their former ‘owners’. As the famous ‘Frost Report’ TV sketch observed, everyone needs someone they can look up to, and someone they can look down on. Racialism – like Trumpism – gave the poor white majority a cause to imagine their cultural superiority and to forget that their grinding economic disadvantage is required of them by the prevailing elites.

There’s a parallel in the treatment of women in Britain and Ireland, where rural ‘bride fairs’, the buying and selling of women for breeding and household management, went on right into the 1920s, despite increasing social and political equality in the metropolitan areas, and women’s suffrage being granted in the UK in 1918 (but not fully until 1926. In the USA there were various early attempts by states, a vote in Congress in 1920 – but full suffrage was not achieved until 1965!)

The assimilation of cultural ideas takes time, sometimes several generations, and if the worst excesses of poverty and inequality are politically licensed by local power structures in out-of-the-way places, unfairness and brutality will persist long after they have been suppressed or even eradicated elsewhere.

-UB

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Granny Weatherwax, update 11-16 Aug, 2017

North-west Iran: 11 dead (poleshift.ning.com/ Google)

Poland: Severe thunderstorms near Gdansk kill six, including two teenage campers, injure 36. Storm carves a wide swathe of Tunguska-like fallen trees across the Bialowieza forest, a Unesco world heritage site. 2,500 hectares flattened.

Greece: major wildfires burning north of Athens, and on the island of Zakynthos.

Corsica: Wildfires again raging over large areas in the north.

Portugal: major wildfires burning around Vila de Rej, Castelo Branco and in Leiria province. 2000 people are trapped by fire in the village of Macão, partly destroyed by a fire in July. Forecast: hotter.

India: Death toll in floods in northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh tops 175. Vast areas of Assam underwater again, flash floods in Nepal kill 75. 5 dead in Tipura. Millions affected.

China: More flooding again affecting Guanxi city, much damage to property; Hunan province; Jiangxi. Five killed and 50 injured when a tornado swept through Chifeng in Northern China/Mongolia..

Iran: 11 dead, two missing in severe flash floods in northeast Azerbaijan provinces..

Iraq: Temperatures in the heatwave affecting Baghdad reach 50C, 122F.

Kuwait: “Between 2010 and 2035, Kuwait’s annual average temperature will increase by 1.6% to 28.7C , according to the country’s Environmental Public Authority.” Noonday temperatures now regularly exceed 50C, 117F.

Canada: Half a million acres of British Columbia still ablaze.

Mexico: Powerful storm damages properties in Mazatlan. Extensive city flooding.

Wales UK: It has been bucketing down outside the house for the past several hours. Effect as yet unknown.

Avocadogate: Following an unusually poor summer in all the main producing countries – S Africa, Peru, Mexico – and a 50% hike in wholesale prices –  Tesco supermarkets are to market a ‘new range’ of undersized fruits. You get six in an eggbox.

Climate and Extreme Weather News, #54, 55/ BBC News/ The Guardian/ Al Jazeera.

 

Mr What did you say your name was?

I’ve been struck lately by how, on our rapidly globalizing globe, people’s names appear to be getting weirder, the stuff of science fiction; given that my own set of names and those of most people in my family and my minute circle of friends and acquaintances are pretty standard for Britain, are familiar, in some cases Biblical, and have been in use for centuries.

“I name this child Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel…”

I’ve just read an article based on a radio report by a paralympian athlete about the problems of finding working toilets for disabled people. Her name is Anna Wafula-Strike. The Wafula part comes, I’d guess, from her African ancestry; the oddness of the name-sound resonating from the monosyllabic, Germanic name ‘Strike’, or ‘Streich’, hyphenated-on perhaps by marriage.

But there are many odd-sounding combinations of first and surnames to be found everywhere nowadays as the habit of insisting on one’s patrimonial name combined with that of a husband or wife, plus any tributes to possible foreign relatives and ancestors, is resulting in many odd-sounding combinations. A favourite is the British heptathlete, Katerina Johnson-Thompson, a doubly Anglo-Saxon/Greek combination. But there are many more examples.

It’s getting like those innocent days of gentle comedy, perhaps in the 1930s, when characters in humorous novels and movies would be given mildly crazy names, often with obscure middle initials. Groucho Marx went in various films under the names of Rufus T Firefly, Otis B Driftwood and Wolf J Flywheel, among others. (Yes, you really can Google: ‘Characters played by Groucho Marx’ and land on a website dedicated to little else. Oh, Brave New World!)

The comedic middle-initial allusion was possibly in tribute to President Franklin D (for Delano) Roosevelt, but there were plenty of authors inserting their middle initials: Francis X Bushnell, Pearl S Buck, Ethel M Dell, Poppy Z Brite, Thomas M Disch, Philip K Dick (the habit seems particularly popular with Sci Fi writers) – Hunter S Thompson. Others initialized their first name and used their full second name: like the father of Scientology, the eccentric L Ron Hubbard; disaster movie maker M Night Shyamalan and, of course, F Scott Fitzgerald.

Hundreds too used and still use only initials rather than their given forename, often to disguise the fact that they were, are women writers believing they stand a better chance of having their work read by misogynist publishers who think women can only write Mills and Boon novels; otherwise, perhaps, to sound faintly distinguished. Richest among them all, of course, is JK Rowling – the K being added as an unregistered tribute to her grandmother Kathleen.

Then of course there is ‘Donald J Trump’….

I sign my own name with a middle initial, D, although I have not had the courage to adopt the full form in print. I’ve always found the name Desmond embarrassing, I don’t know why. According to Wikipedia it derives from the Gaelic name for the ancient Irish kingdom of South Munster, “Deas-Mhumhna”. That’s a pretty obscure derivation, but perhaps enough to gain me Irish citizenship so I can remain in the EU?

Famous Desmonds include the much-satirised family entertainer Des O’Connor – Archbishop Tutu – and the reggae artist, Desmond Dekker. Fathered by the randy Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Desmond Donnelly was a British politician, author and journalist who was a member of four different political parties during the course of his career, and switched parties on five occasions. You see why I have a problem with my flip-floppy middle name! I wish my parents had been a little more original, but it was better than being aborted.

Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American – ‘people of colour’, black people seem to be particularly creative when it comes to thinking of christian, or forenames for their children. Their surnames are often descended from slavery days, when they would be branded with the names of the European, mostly British plantation owners. So you’ll find plenty of Grants and Johnsons and Smiths and Williams, coupled with outlandish new spellings of their first names, or completely new names never before heard on earth.

Allyson Felix. Shaunae Miller-Uibo. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake. Shericka Jackson. Zharnel Hughes. Jazmin Saunders. Kendra Harrison. Sani Brown. Ristananna Tracey. Taryn Suttie. Jereem Richards. Shamier Little. Kori Carter. Semoy Hackett. Shanieka Ricketts. Jodean Williams. Kurtis Marschall. Wayde van Niekerk… To pluck a random selection just from among the 600 international athletes competing at the 2017 London World Championships.

It’s not as if the names are common even in their English-speaking countries of origin, mainly the West Indies, the UK and the southern US. (I have avoided obviously non-Anglophone competitors for the very reason that I have no idea whether their first names are native or pure inventions.) They are to all intents and purposes, until adopted by new parents eager for some magic-dust to brush off on their own unhappy offspring, unique.

Sadly, Glory Nathaniel managed to come only fourth in her event, while Sparkle McKnight finished last; showing that the adoption principle known as ‘nominative determinism’ doesn’t always work out.

For an amusing romp through a modern dictionary of babies’ names, visit nameberry.com.

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The Pumpkin – Issue 30. Nous sommes Charlots. One for the Kush. Groping in the Dark. A Bag for Life.

“We swear to tell the truth, the other truth, and nothing like the truth… So help us out?”

More of which later…

 

Republicans, eh?

“A bill sponsored by (North Dakota) state Rep. Keith Kempenich … would protect drivers from legal consequences if they inadvertently hit, injure or kill pedestrians who are obstructing traffic. The legislation is a direct response to the massive protests around the Standing Rock Indian Reservation … “If you stay off the roadway, this would never be an issue,” Kempenich said.” -The Daily Kos, 17 Jan. 2017.

“All liberals really have in the current climate of inequality is the argument that the fascist bully boys who adopt the role of militant spearhead of the social malcontent among poorer whites are attacking the wrong targets.”

Nous sommes Charlots

Events in Charlottesville, Va over the weekend have left a nasty taste in the media and a rumbling but short-lived controversy in American politics which, like the North Korea thing, has provided President Trump with yet another golden opportunity to divert attention from investigations into his and his family’s highly rackety financial structure and dealings.

There is something deeper, most commentators feel, that he doesn’t want to come out; something for which he is preparing to exercise the Presidential pardon on his own account if Mueller or the FBI gets too close. It is something potentially so serious that he has twice in the past week been prepared to say, or not say, dumb or reckless things that add to the growing tally of reasons to impeach him. He’s prepared to risk his position, to bet the presidency on it.

So you cannot take anything he says or does not say currently at face value.

Some are more serious about their fashion sense than others.

His stubborn refusal to condemn the white supremacist yobboes, AR-15 toting rednecks, millennarian bible-bashers and Antisemitic, Islamophobic dumbfucks parading their Nazi regalia on the streets of ‘America’s Happiest Town’ has courted criticism from leading Republicans who still cannot bring themselves to dethrone him despite the glaring obviousness of the need to do so, and fast.

The calculus is that if they don’t, his policy failures and embarrassing gaffes will result in a big defeat at the polls next year; but if they do, it will enrage the Republican base and result in a big defeat at the polls. Not to mention what the Kochs will do to their funding if Trump’s ‘make the rich richer’ Laffer-curve legislative programme continues to fail to pass. It could mean a big defeat.

They are paralysed, rabbits in the headlights. But we should not assume that Trump is merely defending ‘his base’ – the dumbfucks who would follow him through the gates of hell just to put one over on the Washington elite.

As we know, Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old civil rights campaigner, was killed and 19 injured when a suspect identified from earlier photos as a member of a neo-Nazi group drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators trying to corral a rally of ‘white supremacists’ protesting the removal from a local park of a prominent Confederate statue of General Robert E Lee.

It’s part of a drive across the southland to erase the memory of the Confederacy, that slave-owning group of states that went to war with the North in 1861 and lost, by removing the symbols of its vainglory: heroic statues and the flag.

Frankly, while not approving slavery, The Pumpkin has its reservations about this revisionist campaign. Its equivalent in the UK might be to order the removal of all village First World War memorials on the grounds that they perpetuate the evils of the patriarchal ‘squirearchy’ system that led to the trenches; even if by doing so you dishonor those who died in them.

And in fact, a statue to an unknown Confederate soldier was ripped off its plinth, an act of ritual desecration which The Pumpkin contends brings no credit to the leftist Antifa demonstrators. Was it that boy’s fault? Was he a racist, for being hauled off his parents’ farm and drafted into fighting for a lost cause? The attitude of the anti-racists can be just as thoughtless and bigoted as that of the alt-right.

Like all decent people, The Pumpkin is repelled on a cultural level by the narcissistic militaristic memes of the ‘white right’. We are supposed to be, that’s the point. Cenk Uygur’s online discussion forum The Young Turks at the weekend brilliantly dissected the ‘manifesto’ of one self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who (one has to discount the theory that he may be one of those alternative comedians who successfully infiltrates his target group by being more extreme than they are, highlighting their absurdities) blogged that dressing in a proper, well-fitted Nazi uniform is more likely to get you a girl ‘groupie’ than baggy fatigues and a baseball cap.

In the shadows behind the useful idiots, alternative fashionistas and girlfriend-less footsoldiers, however, there are nastier elements at work. There always are. But I have to say that they are only aided and abetted in their quest to establish a white Christians-only nation – a new Confederacy –  by the kneejerk reactions of the leftwing and centre-left liberal media and politicians, demanding (for instance) that the president be more specific in his condemnations.

It’s not enough merely to condemn violence, you have to change the underlying societal problems, the inequality. It would be, say, the position of an organization dedicated entirely self-protectively to ‘balance’, like BBC News, to cling tenaciously to the principle that it takes two rights to make a wrong.

Despite his daughter Ivanka’s outright condemnation of the fascist elements involved in the rioting, Trump has vaguely disparaged  the violence ‘on all sides’, refusing to blame any one specific group.

Given that legitimate protest in however rotten a cause is protected by the First Amendment, and given the need to encourage unity in the face of violent dissention that he himself has so often licensed, inclusive neutrality is not actually an unreasonable position, other than when seen through the lens of liberal outrage. We do not know who started the violence, clearly tempers were high on both sides. The mere fact of a protest march offering a provocation to the left does not automatically make the right-wingers guilty.

The main whinge of the so-called ‘alt-right’ – that feeble attempt to provide an intellectual mask for a wide assortment of disaffected and divisive nationalist elements – is that they are the class who suffer more from social discrimination and disadvantage than blacks and other ethnic and religious minorities.

They argue that they have benefited less from social safety nets and quotas, positive discrimination and ‘diversity’ policies; and that they are being deliberately disadvantaged by a conspiracy of multiculturalist tax-eaters.

I’m not convinced this is as absurd as it sounds, when we know in our own country from the reckless Brexit protest vote that people feel they are hurting and are thus more easily manipulated by the wealthy disruptors for whom social chaos and the breakdown of institutions represent opportunities to further enrich themselves. It’s how millions of ordinary Germans fell into the way of Nazism and the licence it offered to persecute and murder sections of society they blamed for their condition; and take whatever little they had for themselves.

Courting the predictable outrage of the media, the far-right happily plays the role of martyr, bringing on themselves publicly the very discrimination they are claiming has left them on the scrapheap while alien elements in ‘their’ country prosper at their expense. All liberals really have in the current climate of inequality is the argument that the fascist bully boys who adopt the role of militant spearhead of the genuine social malcontent among poorer whites are attacking the wrong targets.

The leftwing and centre-left liberal media and politicians – all ‘decent people’ – are playing into their hands. Just as gun sales always soar in the wake of well-publicised massacres, so the stock-in-trade of the far-right, social division and hatred of the Other, portrayed as victim of the liberal elite, is bound to swell their ranks.

A well-fitted uniform or a set of imposing military surplus-store fatigues and an AR-15 assault rifle can get you a ‘girl groupie’ quicker than any rational discussion of the fundamental economic problem – especially when that discussion, your protest, is closed down by the very people, the media and institutions they are protesting at:

Jason Kessler, the organiser of Saturday’s far-right rally in Charlottesville, was chased away by protesters in the city on Sunday afternoon after he tried to give a press conference. As soon as Kessler (who had already condemned the violence and regretted the death of Heyer) emerged in the forecourt of Charlottesville’s city hall, a crowd of more than 300 who had gathered along with the waiting media began shouting “murderer”, “terrorist” and “nazi”. (The Guardian, 14 Aug.)

It might be noted too that the left-leaning Guardian, while publishing on its website some half-dozen stories, an editorial and other comment features on Charlottesville, has not opened a single thread for discussion of the issue by its readers.

Perhaps they don’t trust us.

Postscriptum

‘PhiPhiGuru’ writes that the Charlottesville murder is a hoax:

“The car crash, because the site where that happened was cut off from the main public, nobody was allowed near that site — except, of course, the ”hire-a-crowd” paid actors. If you look at the footage from an eagle’s view, you’ll see that no one actually gets run over, they just roll along. The unnecessary shaky footage on the ground to make it look more action-packed is cringeworthy, not to mention the inconsistencies by the witnesses or how this story is presented in the MSM. Or even the false story of history that is reurgitated over and over with Robert E Lee and Abraham Lincoln and the whole civil war.”

There is more, I’m afraid.

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Hotter than July

Jessica McCarty, assistant professor of geography at Miami University, told NBC: “This is not usual”. (The Guardian)

Arctic News website reports, temperature in northern Canada (north of the Arctic circle) recorded on 13 August at 34.5C, 94F;  CO2 over British Columbia on 9 August at 625 ppm (pre-industrial background 285). Smoke from Siberian fires drifting over the Arctic. Thickest sea ice continuing to break up as windspeeds and wave heights increase. Paul Beckwith observes it to be raining in both polar regions with few areas below freezing – it’s supposedly wintertime in Antarctica.

Wildfire still burning in Greenland.

The death toll in the Sierra Leone mountainslip, following the heaviest rain in decades, could exceed a thousand. 270 bodies have been recovered so far but many more are missing.

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One for The Kush

“…after a certain point complication ceases to be my middle name.”

A story that surfaced quite bigly in March this year has shared the fate of many that seem to have vanished with nary a trace as the welter of bad news stories surrounding the Trumps has spurted out of the White House on a daily basis, like liquid shit from a 410m World Championship hurdler with norovirus.

Which is, the one about Jared Kushner and his long-held business association with the Israel-based Steinmetz brothers, the richer of whom, Beny, has been under investigation by federal authorities in the USA and Switzerland for paying huge bribes to secure iron-ore mining rights in the African nation of Guinea.

The Pumpkin was reminded of it just now while browsing on the back-button, and realized that not a lot has happened since. The Gulf Times is only one of a number of perfectly respectable publications that reported the story. To quote from them:

“Raz Steinmetz, whose family built its fortune as diamond traders, has been partnering with Kushner Cos. since at least 2012, and they now co-own about 15 buildings in downtown Manhattan worth more than $150 million. Since then, the Kushner and Steinmetz families have also become co-investors in the Trump Bay Street tower in Jersey City, which licensed the Trump brand from the president’s business organisation.”

Kushner, as we recall, has been given more jobs in the administration even than the former British Chancellor George Osborne has taken up since his resignation following the lost Brexit vote in June last year – and people laughed at him. Among them, is the minor responsibility for bringing about peace in the Middle East.

Who better? He has, after all, these complicated business relationships with Israeli corporate investors. Even more complicated, is the spat between the Steinmetzes and multi-billionaire speculator George Soros – a Hungarian-born Jew who has fallen out with many Israeli politicians and businessmen over his support for Palestinian rights, with the Hungarian government over his antipathy towards the rightwing Christian authoritarianism of Prime Minister Orban – and with the Trump presidency. He’s a Democrat.

Despite that, Soros is also an investor in Kushner properties, being named as a guarantor of $250 million-worth of Jared’s outstanding $1 billion loans from the money-laundering Deutsche Bank and many others.

Jared has also boasted in the past of his almost familial relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Israeli police confirm, they have been investigating allegations of bribery against him for months, although the accusations so far appear to involve only accepting gifts in exchange for helping an Israeli businessman to get US citizenship – another activity of which Kushner Co stands accused – and of attempting to bribe a newspaper proprietor to say nice things about him. Small potatoes, hotly denied.

I have no idea what any of this portends, as after a certain point complication ceases to be my middle name. However, were the billionaire diamond dealer Beny Steinmetz to be found guilty of bribery, in view of the relationship between them Kushner might very well be indicted as an accessory to that fact. It may possibly be why Kushner Co. no longer lists a Steinmetz investment vehicle, the ironically named Gaia Co*, as one of its partners, although it is. Gaia is owned by Raz Steinmetz, Beny’s brother.

Whether in view of his multitasking portfolio in the White House Jared has in fact recused himself from his many conflicting business interests and handed control to his brother, no-one seems quite sure. The Independent (28 April) commented:

“Although Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies, he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7bn in acquisitions during the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal.”

It seems that secrecy is written through the Kushners’ rotten empire as if through a sticky stick of Coney Island rock; while his actions appear to be those of a man desperate to deleverage his crushing debt.

From Gulf Times again:

“Asked about it, a spokesman for Kushner Cos said, “Kushner Companies has a long-standing relationship with Raz Steinmetz and Gaia, who have been terrific partners.”

“Gaia Investment lists Shlomo Meichor and Assi Arev as principals. Meichor previously served as chief financial officer of Ampal-American Israel Corp, a New York-traded investment firm that Raz Steinmetz and his father Daniel bought a controlling interest in from Bank Hapoalim in 1996. Bank Hapoalim is among Kushner’s lenders.”**

A number of arrests were made in the Steinmetz case. In July 2015 an associate of Steinmetz, Frederic Cilins was jailed for two years in America for attempting to obstruct the investigation into the bribery case, after an FBI wiretap recorded a conversation with the late Guinean president Sekou Touré’s widow. The Guardian reported: “According to the recordings, Cilins said that he was working on behalf of Steinmetz when he attempted to arrange to destroy evidence of the alleged bribes.”

More arrests followed last December, notably Beny himself, his mine company boss Avidor and a former Guinean minister of mines, all of whom were bailed pending further investigations – since when, apparently, a veil has descended. A spokesmouth for the mining company dismissed the case, saying: “The allegations remain baseless. This heavy handed approach by the Israeli authorities is clearly a publicity stunt.” Publicity for whom was not made clear.

Another investor in Kushner Co’s extensive New York properties portfolio, according to the Gulf Times report, is a secretive investment management firm called Stonehage-Fleming, which claims to represent 250 wealthy investors in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It might be interesting to know who they are, where their wealth comes from (and where it goes) but you can’t find out.

As with the property market in London, where some 10,000 ‘investment’ properties now lie empty, having been snapped up for vastly inflated prices by international ‘investors’, many of them suspected of laundering money obtained from anything from drugs to people-trafficking to bribery and arms dealing, there is no proof, no audit trail in the USA either.

Foreign ownership of properties is not required to be registered on either side of the pond and so there is no direct way of knowing who owns what or where the surplus money in the laundromat ultimately goes, if not to the thousands of virtually untraceable companies set up by middlemen like the Mossack-Fonseca partnership in Panama – or to folks like Ike Kaveladze, a Russian, now a naturalized American, said to have been the eighth attender at the controversial 9 June meeting between Donald Trump Jr and lawyer Natalia Veselnetskaya, at which Kushner was present, apparently for no reason.

Was Jared there possibly to talk to Kaveladze, accused some years ago of laundering $1.4 billion of embarrassing cash through the more-than 2,000 shell companies he helped to set up in offshore tax havens on behalf of Russian oligarchs? Manafort, too, was at the meeting, and he is said to have devoted his energies to the cause of investing money wisely on behalf of Russian and Ukrainian clients while offering ‘election advice’ for a $12 million fee to the absconded kleptocrat, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovitch.

Veselnitskaya too had laundry to discuss, having recently represented Denis Katsyv, the president of Prevezon Holdings, in a New York trial over the laundering of $230 million funds embezzled in Russia, which resulted in a tiny $6 million slap on the wrist from Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department.

How did that happen, we wonder?

Added to Kushner’s illegally undeclared meetings with Russians, including the chair of Putin’s Vnesheconombank, Sergei Gorkov, the mist clears a little.

We may possibly see an impressionable and inexperienced young man up to his neck in debt after catching a bad cold during the 2007/08 crash, whose father is in gaol for fraud – having attempted to interfere with a witness (he sexually blackmailed his own brother-in-law); something Trump Sr – who once said he knew all about cameras in hotel rooms – has been accused, but never convicted, of.

Indeed, the Kush’s behavior so closely mirrors that of orange dad-in-law down the years it’s uncannily like he’s been getting advice from him:

Never admit to anything, son. Pay no bills. Sue anyone ten times over who says you owe them money. There are plenty more banks than just the ones in the high street and they’re so stupid. Keep two sets of books at all times. Lose important pieces of paper in floods. Never sign anything unless you’re the President. Delay investigations until they go away. Keep people guessing. Crush your enemies, fire anyone who’s disloyal to you, dig dirt and compromise witnesses. Nurse those grudges. If you’ve run out of cash and there’s nothing down the back of the settee, call these friendly oligarchs whose numbers I have. Okay, they’re Putin cronies, intelligence agents, mafia, whatever, but they’ll see you right….

It’s quite like that, isn’t it. The Art of the Deal?

At the end of the day, there’s a problem. The owners of these trillions of freshly laundered dollars are running out of anything more exciting they can spend them on, apart from burrowing underground in vast climate-controlled bunkers to escape from the global warming and the wars they’re promoting.

The Pumpkin wonders if such tangled interrelationships will be forming part of the FBI’s and Special Counsel Mueller’s protracted and wide-ranging investigations into the Trump family finances, or whether they will simply sink into the ocean of virtually legalized corruption and chaos that surrounds the activities of all these tacky plutocrats – men (invariably) operating with impunity, who prefer to accumulate, rather than create, vast wealth they can boast to one another about?

At least I haven’t mentioned Russia. Oh no, I have! Damn.

http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/palestine/kushner-s-ties-with-israeli-companies-run-deep-1.2017466

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/jared-kushner-real-estate-empire-conflicts-of-interest-steinmetz-a7705956.html

*In case you don’t recognise the allusion, the ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ as proposed by the British biophysicist James Lovelock holds that the Earth is a self-regulating biological mechanism for sustaining life: a living planet. Steinmetz’s extractive operations essentially involve gouging-out huge open-cast mines in the planet’s surface and removing whole mountaintops. No wonder Israel is such a shithole full of pushy people. As it happens, the iron-ore business has collapsed owing to falling world prices and the mine he’s been accused of greasing the wheels to obtain has closed. Too bad.

**A little more digging in cases involving the Briss Family Trump usually unearths something faintly distasteful. According to The New York Times, Kushner has ‘multiple loans’ out from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, which was founded in part by the Zionist movement and has controversially been involved in financing illegal settlement projects in the West Bank. What’s more:

“The bank is currently under investigation by the US Justice Department for allegations that it helped wealthy Americans hide assets and evade taxes.” (NYT, in the Jerusalem Post, 9 Jan 2017)

Whoever could they mean?

Postscriptum

Meanwhile, the excellent Adam Davidson of The New Yorker magazine, who in January exposed Trump’s Azerbaijan hotel deal with a corrupt oligarch having connections to the proscribed terrorist-organization, the Iranian National Guard, has done it again with a detailed analysis of Trump’s business links to the two owners of numerous companies corruptly funded by a Georgian bank (they also owned the bank!). Pointing out in passing that the Trump Organization lawyer who greenlighted both projects has been given a job in the White House… It’s a long and complex but worthwhile read:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine /2017/08/21/trumps-business-of-corruption?mbid=nl_170814_Daily&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=11694539&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1221264415&spReportId=MTIyMTI2NDQxNQS2

As we’ve been saying since last year: follow the money!

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Groping in the dark

“It seems clear to The Pumpkin at least that there’s a part of the American psyche that’s remained unchanged since the pioneering days of the 17th century.”

The Creator has apparently arranged a solar eclipse for Monday, 21st August.

Amazing how, considering scientists are always wrong about everything else, you believe this. But it’s probably true.

At its most complete extent, totality, the eclipse is going to track right across the continental United States from sort of northeast Pacific coast to southwest-ish Atlantic. No, actually, it’ll be the other way, TV graphics guys please take note. The sun moves from east to west. Only the sun doesn’t move, it’s us that’s moving from west to east! Who knew?

As you can imagine, everyone is getting quite excited about it.

Especially the dumbfucks.

Trump’s fanbase have been posting all sorts of wild conspiracy theories on YouTube for weeks. The expectation is that the eclipse plus D Trump’s failing presidency that was foretold in Revelations prefigures the End Times.

An eclipse. Spoiler alert.

Due to the combined gravitational influence of the sun AND the moon together, Facebook will crash and planes fall from the sky. There will be massive earthquakes and tsunamis. Rivers will run backwards and lakes empty themselves. Rains of frogs and plagues of boils will erupt. Long-dormant supervolcanoes will spring into life, ancient calderas spewing out trillions of tonnes of deadly white-hot ash, creating nuclear winter right around the globe. Trump will ascend to Heaven in a golden motorcade. Jesus will come to judge us. There’ll be a new series of Knightrider in the fall.

Seriously, we heard an item on the radio this morning – well, only the trailer for the item, I was too busy getting dressed – about some university in the USA that is using the occasion to measure the effect of the total eclipse on solar panels. Duh, dude, what do you think happens to solar panels in the dark? Right, and then twenty minutes later the sun comes out again, and… oh yeah, right! Heavily subsidised electricity!

It seems clear to The Pumpkin at least that there’s a part of the American psyche that’s remained unchanged since the pioneering days of the 17th century. It must have been pretty scary out there alone in the woods, on the great plains, in the mountains. Bears, wolves, bobcats, eagles, beavers – all gone now – marauding injuns, poison ivy, quaking bogs, country singers – such terrors merely added to the normal superstitions of the times: the devil stalking the land with his gleaming red eyes; corpses, witches and boogeymen comin’ ta gitcha in the howling darkness of the pristine savage wilderness; typhus, smallpox, ten-foot snowdrifts, post-partum haemorrhage, floods and droughts, huge storms, fiery comets and portentous veilings of the sun and moon…  just a thin wall of rough-hewn logs separating you from the unimaginable fate that awaits all sinners.

Who, after all, invented Halloween? Asks The Pumpkin.

Americans still appear to be terrified of almost everything even now. Which is odd, as they like to pretend they’re real tough hombres who can handle a screwdriver. They’re terrified of communists, of black people, of medical science, of anyone whose religion diverges marginally from their own profoundly held superstitions, of intellectuals, of women, of rationality and logic, of strangers, of AIDS, of banks and loans, of their own government, of Chinese imports, of geography, of doctors, of gunslingers riding into town on pale horses, of media journalists, of impotence and constipation, of secondhand car salesmen called Big Bob – of change in any form.

We’ve been through all this before. A tick of the clock at midnight on 31st December, 1999 was supposed to destroy technology as we knew it, cancelling hospital operations, causing power outages and messing with the traffic.

There’ve been so many poorly timed prophesies of the end of the world, so many crazy rumours about massive asteroids and invisible extra planets aiming straight for us, about global conspiracies (usually code for Jews, Freemasons or the Illuminati), a new ice-age, ancient civilizations with technology we ain’t discovered yet, the sun going crazy and blowing up, of the moon falling out of the sky, alien abductions, North Koreans invading… The internet and the video upload service of YouTube have taken this national paranoia to a new level.

Get this, guys. Every once in a while the normal orbiting of the moon interposes it between us and the sun. At 239,000 miles distance the circumference of the moon seen at the right angle from a narrow track across part of the earth just exactly covers the disc of the sun, making it weirdly not entirely dark for a few minutes – mind y’all don’t stare right at that ol’ sun, you’ll go blind. No, it’s not God’s wrath, it’s just that your eyes can’t cope with the bright? They’ll burn out. Just don’t you do it.

But the sum of gravity remains the same, okay? Just because they’re in alignment doesn’t increase their mass. It’s happened lots of times before, eclipses happen somewhere every few months and stuff doesn’t get sucked into the sky. Honest.

And then the little sparkly bit appears in the corner – that’s just the sun shining through a gap between some mountain peaks on the moon, not a Special Sign that Jesus loves you, or the Moonfolks launching their nukes, and it’s over, it’s good old daylight again and you shake your head with relief and say to yourself, was that all it was?, the electricity comes back on (only joking!!!) and everything is sadly normal again until the next time.

We hope.

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“…the chances of Harry inheriting the crown are pretty slim; although of course in the event of World War Three hotting up, almost anything could happen.”

Angela Merkle

A Bag for Life

I had hoped British people were less absurdly inclined than Americans to imagine C-list TV celebrities can do just as good a job of running the country as any trained civil servant, career politician or mad tubby dictator with weird hair.

Unfortunately it appears I was wrong.

One shouldn’t give too much credence to the clickbait headlines in the tabloid press, especially on a Sunday in August when World War Three is the only other story doing the rounds, but my eye was caught by one in The Sunday Express, which started out with a banner howling down the perfectly acceptable Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – née Parker-Bowles, Charles’ wife – and went on in 58-pt bullet-points to inform us that more than half of Britons polled would prefer to see Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s current Yanquee-doodle hot off a US TV series called Suits, take over from the Queen.

It’s astonishing, how cretinous the press think we are. And sad that they’re often right.

Now, there are several reasons why it won’t happen. Firstly, Markle’s an American, not a British citizen. That would have to be fixed. Secondly, even if Harry were to become King, there is no automatic presumption that his girlfriend would accede to the position of Queen. That would take an Act of Parliament, and it’s a stretch to imagine that Prime Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg would stand for it, as he hasn’t stood for anything since the time of Disraeli.

Thirdly, it takes a few years of training. It’s a serious job with constitutional responsibilities, not a part for an actress posing as royal icing. People have been doing it for well over a thousand years, and they haven’t always been successful. But there’s genuine meaning and cultural tradition involved, there are no scriptwriters, and only naval ratings (ha ha).

Harry is, as anyone knows, fifth in line to the throne. He has a father, my old school chum the increasingly morose Charles, who is the heir apparent; and an elder brother to follow him who is more than competent, has inherited the Windsor bald-spot, can fly a helicopter and seems not averse to taking the job in due course.

William has thus far fathered two offspring, George (third in line) and Charlotte (fourth in line). It is not necessarily the case even that his wife, Kate, will automatically be Queen when he inherits, although (a commoner) she is furiously boning-up on the ins-and-outs of monarchy.

So the chances of Harry inheriting the crown are pretty slim; although of course in the event of World War Three hotting up, almost anything could happen.

That the British public are completely ignorant of constitutional affairs and royal protocol is not really surprising. They will almost certainly be only vaguely aware – perhaps they saw the TV show – of the unhappy precedent of King Edward V111, who in 1936 was forced to give up the throne after only 11 months in the job when he wanted to marry the American socialite and divorcée, Wallis Simpson. They toddled off to the south of France and lived together for 50 years as the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward’s brother George V1 took over, had a good war, and that was that.

On his death in 1952 his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, became the dowager Queen Mother and lived to 100; while her elder daughter Elizabeth 11 ascended to the actual throne. Had all four of Elizabeth’s children perished in a drone strike, her younger sister Margaret would have been next in line – but post- her divorce from Tony Armstrong-Jones – Lord Snowdon – her gardener/boyfriend, Roddy Llewellyn, another old school chum, would not have become king.

So you see, it’s not that simple.

There are also obvious reasons why Ms Markle should not become Queen, sweet girl though I have no doubt she is.

The incumbent Queen is now 91. She was born into The Firm and brought up to do the job, which is horrid and interminably boring, requiring immense patience and stamina; not to mention, absolute loyalty to her often frustrating people and the willingness to put up with endless govelling deference.

It’s a 24/7/365 gig, from which the only reliefs are gin, horses and death from emphysema.

You get to travel sultry parts of the world known as the Commonwealth, pretending we have common interests and a heritage that didn’t consist of ruthless commercial exploitation and bloody acts of repression, trailing around with a bunch of stuffed-shirt colonials with ostrich feathers on their hats, gesturing hopefully from behind bullet-proof glass at hordes of gurning dimwits waving little flags. Heading for the beach and sunbathing topless are strictly no-nos: duty calls.

Half a dozen times a year you are obliged as a governmental necessity whenever £billion arms contracts are in the balance to throw your house open to kleptocratic, murderous foreign dictators and make small-talk over dreadful food with their many obese wives. Finding reliable servants, too, is a constant headache.

Supported by her now 96-year-old husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (NOT ‘King Philip’, you’ll note), ‘Brenda’ as the palace staff used to call her behind her back, has been doing it all brilliantly since 1952 without a break and is unable to retire on a pension like you and me. Out of the not particularly outrageous sums of money we pay her she has to upkeep five royal residences, that are open at least in part to the public.

It’s not an act.

Not reality TV.

It’s a bag for life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BogPo asks: How doomed exactly are we? Grind them into dust! Law and Disorder. Granny Weatherwax: Bi-polar Disorder. Important message to the BBC Board.

“Someone needs to tell Trump to ‘calm down, dear’ – but I suspect he probably knows that.”

How doomed exactly are we?

Trump has only one ideological position, which is: the Don + money + unconditional regard = good. Everything else = sad. Fake nooze.

‘Their knees are probably shot…’ Kim’s toy army on parade. (The Telegraph)

It’s no use appealing to the view that Trump has any political position other than clinging on to a job he must realize he is not physically or mentally fit to do (he has never had a job before, in the sense that the only employer he has known is Donald J Trump). He used to be a socially liberal Democrat, his rightwing posturing is purely expedient.

He has had to resort to consorting with some very dubious people and adopting some very crude methods to battle his way past his own severe limitations and gross appetites, yet at 71 he remains deeply in debt and under several potentially criminal investigations from which only his position and ability to divert party funds to pay a legal team are protecting him, to an extent he perhaps has not realized is quite limited.

The people around him are the danger, half of them are corrupt, cynical and/or merely incompetent and the other half are well-funded white supremacist Christian ideologues looking forward to the End Times. Bizarrely they’re being kept in check by a triad of military ‘hawks’ who nevertheless appear to be the only rational people in the building.

He also appears from his random actions, incoherent utterances (when off-script) and apparently self-delusory beliefs to be suffering in the early stages of dementia and really needs help.

Constant hammering by his critics may be making his behavior more, not less extreme: his latter protestations of huge success in office and great popular approval fly in the face of the facts and are indicative of a profound and growing insecurity against which he may react by doing something really stupid. That, or he has a ghostly sense of humor.

Observe his self-protecting body language as he spoke of ‘fire and fury’, arms tightly folded, shoulders hunched, eye movements indicative of growing desperation, seeking out an autocue device with some Bannonite text that wasn’t there to help bim.

That said, North Korea does not possess an invasion fleet, only a toy army that looks impressively drilled on the parade ground but appears to be equipped with old Russian technology and AK-47 rifles; that exaggerated marching style means their knees are probably shot; nor enough nuclear capacity to sustain a war beyond one brief and probably ineffectual exchange.

There have been intel reports before that they’ve succeeded in weaponizing their rockets, which turned out to be fake news.

They are not talking about a strike on Guam, only a display of unarmed synchronized rocketry promising splashdown  ‘near’ Guam. Kim is neither mad nor stupid enough to attack America for real, his bellicosity is mainly for domestic consumption, that has not changed. Someone needs to tell Trump to ‘calm down, dear’ – but I suspect he probably knows that.

We must believe that he is hoping, however riskily, that Kim will recognise the game he is playing, that two predictably ‘unpredictable’ leaders with authoritarian tendencies can play at it, and calm down himself.

Let’s hope, anyway.

x

Grind them into dust!

A former aide to Brexit negotiations supremo David Davis has finally cracked and blown the gaff on the whole sorry saga, calling it ‘a catastrophe’ and urging that Boris Johnson and the other plotters should be gaoled for lying to the British people.

Is he looking at charges?

James Chapman went deliciously crazy today, firing off a seemingly endless series of tweets aimed at hapless ministers who have tried to express some collective optimism in the unfolding disaster, demanding to know if, for instance, UK airlines are going to be able to fly next year without a new Open Skies agreement in place – negotiations haven’t yet started – and claiming thousands of Brexit supporters will be badly hit by new customs regulations and port infrastructure that could cost them their homes, and by any delay for cancer patients in negotiating continuing arrangements with Euratom over the importation of radiotherapy isotopes.

According to The Guardian:

“The rush of tweets over the course of many hours infuriated a number of Brexit supporters, including Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, who asked which side Chapman was ‘really working for in the Brexit department’. As the row played out on Twitter, Michael Heaver, a former aide to Farage, said Chapman’s words were ‘lots of tweeting and not much action’ and suggested it was a sign remainers are ‘losing it’.

In response, Chapman replied to Farage and Heaver saying he intended to “grind you and your appalling party into the dust”.

Reports that Chapman plans next to invade the White House have been denied….

Loving it! LOL

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Law and Disorder

“We live in the information age. Anonymity is almost impossible to maintain.”

Probation officers have found a juvenile offender on parole to have been ‘in possession’ of a knife at his home. Although there was ‘no suggestion’ he had used it for any criminal purpose, the ‘disturbed’ 18-year-old is now back in custody, from which he had only recently been released after serving six years of an indefinite youth custody sentence, undergoing reassessment.

He and his older brother were originally convicted in 2010 of kidnapping and torturing two 10-year-olds in a ravine near their estate home in an impoverished former mining village in Yorkshire, where they were in the foster care of an elderly couple who couldn’t cope with them. The details of the abuse were pretty horrific, so the boys, then only 10 and 12, were granted exceptional immunity and given new identities on release, in an echo of the James Bulger murder case in the 1980s.

These orders have a way of rebounding on the courts. The supposedly protected 10- and 11 year-old kidnappers, torturers and killers of two year-old James were eventually outed as Robert Thompson and John Venables, the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history. After serving a fairly long sentence in juvenile custody, Venables – the more biddable of the two – was later returned to prison in 2011 after being found with child pornography on his computer. Both are now out, Thompson for many years, and have again been given new identities.

That sequence of events did not please the tabloid press.

Known universally as ‘Devil Boy’, the younger of the two Yorkshire torturers is now the subject of a barrage of insane outrage online from the usual baying mob whipped up by the tabloid press about the £1/2 million cost and politically correct madness of the judge granting the two children anonymity in the first place, although it is exceptional to identify defendants in juvenile cases.

Their unhappiness with the justice system is to miss the obvious point that if the court allows the younger brother to be named, because he is now an adult and supposedly a reoffender, on however minor a parole violation, the older brother who has a right to anonymity will also be ‘outed’ and both their lives made a permanent hell, because they have THE SAME NAME.

There are those who will argue they deserve it, there always are; although damaged young children from abusive backgrounds of deprivation and poverty, who had already been in trouble with the police, can equally be said to have a diminished sense of responsibility and lack of empathy and deserve the chance of rehabilitation, given the right psychological and social support.

Of course, that’s never good enough for the enthusiastic hangers and floggers who can’t find it in their hearts to pity anyone but themselves, even children.

In some countries, the age of criminal responsibility is as young as 7, in others it may range up to 18 or more. Britain follows most in setting the age at 10, which in the opinion of the BogPo is barbaric enough, given that we used to hang children of that age for stealing more than five shillings.

A website calling itself ‘Bizarrepedia’ however raises a serious point about the granting of anonymity to child convicts on their  eventual release from custody.

We live in the information age. Anonymity is almost impossible to maintain. The rebarbative armchair vigilante brigade that immediately sets out to try to unmask and persecute even supposedly rehabilitated child offenders has more than once identified the wrong target:

“Scott Bradley was regularly verbally abused after a hate mob falsely identified him as Robert Thompson. He took his own life. In his suicide letter, he wrote: ‘They called me all sorts – a paedophile, a follower of young girls, walking around bullying old people. The list is endless’.”

So pernicious is the bloodthirsty British instinct for revenge to be exacted in all cases, that the website goes on to blame Thompson and Venables themselves for ‘killing’ Bradley, by accepting court protection and thus rousing the finest instincts of the existentially disappointed thugs, bullies and prurient, self-righteous authoritarians who make up the hate community. One suspects many of them are probably child abusers themselves.

All editorial caution goes out of the window in these cases. According to The Sun, the boy ‘tricked’ his way out of prison by conning the parole board into imagining that he was on the path of rehabilitation. They know that for a fact, do they? But of course, because he has reoffended, sort of. He owns a knife, that he hasn’t committed a crime with – no smoke without fire, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, eh? I don’t know, these Devil Boys. Gotta keep roasting ’em for all Eternity.

It is still possible to imagine that the young man has not been receiving the full support of the probation service and feels threatened and vulnerable. Possible for those, that is, who have a different sort of imagination not rooted in the fifteenth century, when devils, ghosts, witches and boggarts roamed the land, putting the evil eye on people’s prize marrows, hunted by gangs of credulous village baboons armed with pitchforks and torches, urged on by the Witchfinder General, Mr Murdoch.

Ref: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/sep/03/doncaster-torture-case-brothers

10% – The amount by which the Government has secretly increased the fixed annual payments to private, mostly US companies involved in running Britain’s failing probation service (£277 million) in order to try to get them to fulfil the terms of their contracts. (Story: Private Eye #1450)

 

Granny Weatherwax: Bi-polar Disorder

Ottawa University climatologist, Prof Paul Beckwith reports, satellite images show there’s a wildfire burning in Greenland; it’s raining in both polar regions where it’s only supposed to snow. Arctic temperature anomaly is up to 8C and while the extent is broadly similar to the lowest ever recorded, in 2012, there’s almost no sea ice left anywhere more than 2 metres thick, otherwise it’s mostly thin stuff breaking up and floating away.

The jetstreams he reported for July 20th as having broken in pieces and crossed over the equator into both northern and southern hemispheres for the first time, mixing together. Sections are dragging contra-rotating air masses around, the southern parts have been broadening out in the hemisphere, weakening, and now fill 95% of the southern sky when at this time in winter it ought to be tightly focussed in a narrow high-speed band around the pole.

Unfortunately the video terminated abruptly at that point so I have no idea what it portends. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.

Sierra Leone: Hundreds of people are feared dead and others trapped in their homes after a mudslide near the capital, Freetown. A hillside in the Regent area collapsed early on Monday following heavy rains, leaving many houses completely covered in mud. (14 Aug.)

Arctic: Sea ice ‘gone’ by mid-September? “On average, surface temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have been more than 2.5°C (or 4.5°F) warmer than in 1981-2010. The warmer air is now also melting the sea ice from above, as temperatures over the Arctic have risen to well above the freezing point.”

Greenland: ‘unprecedented’ wildfire burning since 31 July, 3000 acres destroyed (no firefighting available). Australian firefighters arriving in Canada to help with 28 new wildfires in British Columbia adding to the 100 already burning – some rain may arrive shortly to help, but not enough.

Russia: powerful storm brings flash flooding to Vladivostock, most easterly city in Europe and home of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Roads and bridges washed away. A 2000 km-long plume of smoke from wildfires over Siberia centred around the city of Krasnoyarsk can be seen from space.

Mexico: city of Campeche, Yucatan hit by Tropical Storm Franklin, with widespread flash flooding. Other parts flooded; Moncova, Cloahuila, Nuevo Leon. Heatwave affecting Hermosillo, NW Mexico, expected to peak at 44C, 111F on Friday.

24 hours in Tulsa. Tornado damage. (D. Mail)

USA: unseasonal ‘freak’ tornado injures 30, damages houses, shops and cars in Tulsa, Oklahoma. City pounded by powerful storm, 130 mph wind, localized flooding. Power out. Weather service taken completely by surprise.

USA: Kansas City: 8 inches of rain overnight brings more flooding to the city. 6in rain falls on Houston, Texas in 6 hours. Dallas, Texas on flood alert. New Orleans floods starting to abate. Tornado in Maryland blows cars away – again no warning.

Italy: Alpine ski resorts melting out under a layer of soot from fires, glaciers vanishing rapidly. Five dead in violent storms following 130F heatwave. More amazing scenes as rivers of ice flow through Cortina’s streets from massive hailstones the size of hens’ eggs. Temperatures locally in south achieve 55C, 131F.

Austria: clearing up after flash floods in the mountains. Flash floods in Switzerland.

Spain: Drought. Towns in Andalucia and rural villages running out of drinking water, reservoirs at historic lows, intermittent mains water interruptions reported. A powerful storm with many lightning strikes floods the town of Denia, on the Costa Blanca. Violent storm over Ibiza brings torrential rain, property damage. New fires are raging through central Portugal.

UK: heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire as the Met Office warns of further rainfall. A huge bulk grain carrier has departed for Spain with 70,000 tons of barley on board to feed cattle starved of grazing by the drought.

Japan: Typhoon Noru hits mainland, dumps 500mm rain, flooding, ‘tens of thousands’ evacuated. Storm reported to be weakening over land as it approaches Tokyo.

China: As if the earthquake in Sichuan was not enough (death toll 25 and counting, 45 seriously injured, 85,000 evacuated) a flash flood and landslide carries away part of a village in Puge county. 25 people are missing, 71 homes destroyed. Heilongjian province, northeast China, the city of Harbin floods after torrential rain.

S Korea: deaths from heatstroke reported among the elderly. 37C – plus (100F) heatwave continues into fourth week. 2.7 million chickens and other livestock have died due to the extreme conditions. Korean TV reports, annual average temperature has increased 1.8C in the past 100 years, 0.8C in the past 30 years – and accelerating fast. Hospital admissions with heatstroke have doubled in the past five years.

India: new flooding in Assam, 65,000 evacuated.

“Dozens of elephants and rafts have been deployed to rescue nearly 500 people trapped by floods in a popular resort in southern Nepal, officials say. Several hotels in Sauraha, in Chitwan district, have been inundated, trapping the tourists, many of them foreigners. The floods and landslides caused by torrential rains have killed at least 49 people across the country. … Meanwhile, in neighbouring India, 45 people were killed when a massive landslide swept two packed passenger buses off a hillside into a deep gorge.” – BBC News, 13 Aug.

Iraq: building workers given the day off owing to extreme heat.

Commenting to Climate and Extreme Weather News, ‘CA Lund’ makes all the points the BogPo has been trying to make these past few months: it’s real, it’s ongoing and it’s very likely unstoppable.

“All the evidence a rational person needs is right in front of us, and it’s not even that the climate is changing, it’s that the climate has changed. It’s flipping into chaos.”

Thank you, CA. Where are the ‘rational’ people, I wonder?

Climate and Extreme Weather News #52, 53/ BBC Weather/ Arctic News/ Il Globo

  • Yellowstone update: 53 earthquakes up to M2.9  recorded in the bubbly 60 km-wide caldera on Wednesday 9 August. New magma is thought to be flooding the upper chamber.

 

The BogPo writes, on the subject of context:

One of the problems of researching these extreme weather reports is the lack of date information on many websites. We name The Telegraph as one egregious offender. Years-old reports come up on search even when you key-in 2017 and it takes time to verify the dates. But WE DO TRY!

Local media around the world seem reluctant to put off tourists by admitting to extreme weather events on their patch. Weather bureaux seem not to want to acknowledge that there is a wider problem than just forecasting tomorrow’s weather. US TV stations in particular seem taken by surprise that there may have been an extreme weather event locally, when similar outrages are happening everywhere across the USA and the world!

News media almost invariably report stories without reference to any extreme weather that may be going on behind the camera, while news analysis seldom makes mention of extreme weather events as part of the geopolitical strategic context: for instance, the crisis in Korea is playing out against the background of an extreme and tenacious heatwave in the south, while there have been floods in the north. It is hard to see, too, how the weather events we are reporting on weekly are not having an effect on national economies.

You can rely on the BogPo to do it for them.

Grrr.

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An important message to the BBC Executive Board

Let’s say you have an individual, a tenured professor of cosmology with two PhDs from a venerable Russell Group university, who has spent nine years in fulltime higher education specializing in his field and twenty years doing field research, teaching, reading and publishing peer-reviewed papers, a well-respected knight of the realm and director of a cosmological institute who has worldwide access to research teams and all the latest scientific equipment.

He is invited onto a national flagship morning news programme to give his ‘scientific opinion’ that the moon is a lump of rock whizzing around the earth; a fact that was verified fifty years earlier after some other scientists actually went there to look.

In the interests of fairness, which is mandated in the charter under which you operate as an independent corporation with tax-raising powers, an hour later you introduce an elderly former politician and discredited Chicago school economist, a professional controversialist in the pay of a moon-mining corporation, to give a ‘balancing opinion’ that the moon is in fact made of green cheese. It is hollow, he solemnly assures the audience, and flying saucers live inside it.

He has no knowledge whatsoever of practical cosmology, other than to maintain that the sun revolves around the earth – but that doesn’t matter, because it’s what we observe every day when it comes up over the rim of the flat disc we live on and is obvious, innit?

As the interlocutor, given that your guests refuse to debate one another head to head, you have to present a set of questions to each interviewee as if coming from the opposite camp. That’s what is known as editorial impartiality. You are not supposed to favour either point of view, and must treat both impartially as a matter of conjecture, fit for debate; even though one thesis is patently, utterly absurd and the other is fully and firmly established, although it is true that scientists have not yet physically travelled inside the moon to ascertain who might be living there, and cannot therefore be certain whether the Selenites’ scales are red or green, or whether they might instead be covered with feathers and speak Mayan.

And just as it’s getting interesting, sorry, okay, that’s enough, we need to go to the weather… Your audience is left in a state of mental paralysis. The two opposing points of view cannot both be true, yet the hallowed broadcaster, famed for its impartiality, has given precisely calibrated equal weight to both as if they are true. Job done.

Only it’s not. Former Director-Geeral, John Birt and journalist Peter Jay spoke of the ‘bias against understanding’, that results from the pursuit such arbitrary fairy-stories as ‘balance’. In this case, two-plus-two equals zero.

Judging by President Trump’s polling figures, it seems to be a general principle that 66% – two-thirds of the people – will always be inclined to accept that there is at least a 51% probability that the experts might be right; and one-third, 34%, who distrust experts. profoundly.

Experts who talk down to us ordinary people, who’ve been deprived by economic disadvantage of the opportunity to learn even to spell our own names, who have never read an actual book; so that we CHOOSE to believe any old bollocks that makes us feel better, as we cheerfully slice the tops off our boiled eggs poisoned with pesticide, knowing more about real life than some posh elite (ignoring that the proponent of the hollow moon theory is even more of a posh git from the Establishment than the professor, who hails from a modest lower-middle-class estate in Dundee).

What we think is more important than what you know.

That, unfortunately, is the situation we have with ‘climate change’ – an over-polite phrase meaning all-hell is being let loose over much of the planet even as you read this, thanks in large measure to our childlike habit of expecting lights to come on at our bidding.

So here’s a message for the politicians and industrialists who like to scream blue murder whenever the BBC shows the slightest sign of accepting a consensus view about anything; and a message for BBC editors trapped in the dangerous quicksands of ‘impartial balance’:

  1. THAT THE EARTH'S CLIMATE IS WARMING DANGEROUSLY IS NO LONGER A MATTER FOR DEBATE.
  2. IT HAS NOT BEEN A MATTER OF DEBATE FOR AT LEAST THE PAST FORTY YEARS DURING WHICH GOVERNMENTS COULD HAVE ACTED TO SLOW OR STOP IT BUT DID NOTHING UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE.
  3. THE TARGETS SET BY THE KYOTO PROTOCOL AND PARIS ACCORD ARE INADEQUATE. THEY DO NOT CONSTITUTE SUFFICIENT ACTION TO PREVENT IMMINENT DISASTER WITHIN A GENERATION.
  4. THEY DO HOWEVER SUGGEST THAT WORLD GOVERNMENTS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAVE ACCEPTED, HOWEVER RELUCTANTLY, THAT THERE IS NO LONGER A DEBATE TO BE HAD. (YOU SHOULD TOO.)
  5. IT HAS NOW BECOME AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS FACING ALL OF HUMANITY AND INDEED MOST OTHER LIFE ON EARTH. OUR FAILURE TO ACT IS THE ULTIMATE CRIME, THAT OF PLANETARY ECOCIDE.
  6. THE SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING TODAY'S INCREASINGLY EXTREME AND ECONOMICALLY DEVASTATING HEATWAVES, STORMS, FLOODS, DROUGHTS AND WILDFIRES HAVE BEEN KNOWN FOR MORE THAN A HUNDRED YEARS.
  7. THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LYING TO US ABOUT THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION AND ITS CAUSE, WHICH HAS BEEN IN THEIR POWER FOR DECADES TO AMELIORATE, THE BURNING OF ANCIENT FOSSIL FUEL DEPOSITS AS A SOURCE OF ENERGY, KNOW PERFECTLY WELL THERE IS A PROBLEM.
  8. AS CORPORATIONS IN THE BUSINESS OF EXTRACTING AND BURNING FOSSIL FUELS, THEY HAVE A MISPLACED LEGAL DUTY TO MAXIMISE PROFITS FOR THEIR SHAREHOLDERS.
  9.  THEY ARE THEREFORE UNABLE TO ACT IN ANYONE'S BEST INTERESTS, OTHER THAN TO KEEP LYING; A POLICY ON WHICH THEY HAVE SPENT OVER A BILLION DOLLARS IN THE PAST 30 YEARS PAYING AGENTS TO SOW DOUBT AND CONFUSION IN THE PUBLIC MIND.
  10. THE CONTINUED UNINFORMED PRESENTATION IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA OF THE ISSUE STILL AS A MATTER FOR 'BALANCED' DEBATE - CREATING RESISTANCE TO AMELIORATIVE ACTION - IS CRIMINALLY AIDING AND ABETTING THE COMMISSION OF A PLANETARY ECOCIDE.

HAVE YOU UNDERSTOOD THAT, BBC?

Perhaps you would therefore explain to that tendentious old humbug, Humphrys, that the stupid and uneducated point he put to Al Gore about natural fluctuations in the global climatic average over time has already been discounted in calculating human impact, is a typical red herring promoted by the denial lobby and has no material relevance in the argument about the causes and consequences of a runaway warming earth.

When will you start taking this issue seriously and stop pussyfooting around it?

Thank you.

 

The BogPo says: Let’s boo the whole rotten sport! Just another woman, making a go of it. Keepin’ it cool with Granny Weatherwax. Van News Weekly.

Could have been among the greats: Justin Gatlin.

“…no commentator dares to mention his name without prefacing it with ‘drugs cheat’.”

Let’s boo the whole rotten sport

If Justin Gatlin was roundly booed by the near-capacity crowd at the World Athletics championships in London last Saturday, most people think he has only himself to blame.

The 35-year-old sprinter is a controversial character who has twice served penalty bans for drug offences. Most people if asked would say they favour a lifetime ban on athletes caught cheating even once, but then people are an unforgiving lot until they get into trouble themselves, or their children and best mates do, and then it’s always somebody else’s fault.

Few, one suspects, are capable of unpacking the words ‘drugs cheat’ to understand the differences between substances that might in other circumstances be considered perfectly innocuous, and those that genuinely enhance performance. Perhaps they even take medication themselves that would fail a WADA test. The rules for athletes are pretty harsh, as is the testing regime.

One infringement might have been forgiven but two has made Gatlin the Mephistopheles of athletics. A shame, because without this monkey on his back, the powerful Floridan could well have been among the greats of the 100 and 200 metre sprints. Instead, he’s in a sinkhole.

So detested is Gatlin, so toxic the climate within athletics over the doping issue that no commentator dares to mention his name without prefacing it with ‘drugs cheat’. That he was being booed more possibly because he had the bad manners to beat the hugely popular Usain Bolt in his farewell 100 metres final , running what was actually a clever tactical race against an under-par champion –  is a secondary consideration.

British athletics is furious that the 2012 London Olympics produced some 23 subsequent revisions of drug test results leading to the withdrawal of medals and the cancelling of record times, weights and throws. A hundred and seventeen more athletes were disqualified before the games had even begun. It’s been claimed by insiders that one in ten athletes are probably cheating.

Those results and the hideous sham that was Vladimir Putin’s personally sponsored cheating programme at the Sochi Winter Olympics have led to a two-year (so far) ban on official Russian teams and a major upheaval in the International Athletics Federation.

Gatlin’s first ban resulted from a trace of an amphetamine he claimed must have been in a prescription drug he’d been taking since childhood for ADHD. His appeal against a two-year ban was successful. The second offence was for testosterone, a muscle-building hormone detected six years later, which he could not explain.

My own view is that it takes more than one person to cheat in athletics. According to Wikipedia:

“Gatlin was coached by Trevor Graham. Among athletes Graham has coached, eight have tested positive or received bans for performance-enhancing drugs. After Gatlin’s failed test, Graham stated in an interview that Gatlin had been sabotaged. He blamed massage therapist Christopher Whetstine for rubbing a creme with testosterone onto Gatlin’s buttocks without his knowledge. The therapist denied the claim, saying: “Trevor Graham is not speaking on behalf of Justin Gatlin and the story about me is not true.”

“On August 22, 2006, Gatlin accepted an eight-year ban from track and field, avoiding a lifetime ban in exchange for his cooperation with the doping authorities, and because of the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding his first positive drug test. Gatlin appealed against the ban; an arbitration panel reduced it to four years at a hearing in December 2007.”

How easy is it for sport-addicted youngsters to challenge what their coaches tell them to do, or have the knowledge to question the legality of substances they are being administered by physiotherapists and team doctors?

While lesser rival athletes continue to twist the knife, raising eyebrows publicly whenever Gatlin runs, there is no denying his prowess and there have been no further testing problems since his return to the track seven years ago. He is undoubtedly a great athlete. He beat Bolt by one-hundredth of a second to win the 100 metres at the Golden Gala meet in Rome in June 2013, and lost to the taller, younger man by just 0.1 of a second at both the Beijing and Rio Olympics. The rivalry was similarly close over 200 metres.

One could describe the booing as unsportsmanlike and unfair. The British press has manifested its usual revolting partisanship. It has been harder to know whether they disapprove of his past cheating or of a ‘gatecrasher’ (as The Telegraph called Gatlin, who holds many records in a long if interrupted career) having the gall to beat their people’s hero. Which is to ignore the fact that Bolt was also beaten into third place by another American, the promising youngster Chris Coleman – who barely rates a mention in any of the press coverage.

It was almost as if the other runners were expected to throw the race to let the hero Bolt go out on one last high. Wouldn’t that have been as bad as cheating? Typical was The Sunday Sun:

Usain Bolt sunk as drugs cheat Justin Gatlin ruins golden goodbye by storming to 100m gold

Bolt showed characteristic sportsmanship, hugging his tearful rival as the boos rang out.

Gatlin is probably no more a ‘drugs cheat’ than hundreds of other athletes, and in a different time would have been regarded even on his reduced record as a great sprinter. The minefield of anti-doping regulations makes conforming to an absolute ideal virtually impossible for most ‘human’ beings, who are subject to illness, injuries, wear and tear.

Testosterone taken over time builds the kind of fast muscle that enables a sprinter to explode out of the blocks and is therefore an obvious candidate to be banned, although it occurs naturally in the body. Amphetamines can stimulate performance and stamina, but don’t persist.

So there are grounds for questioning Gatlin’s right to run. But he ran within the rules, apparently clean for the past six years. Despite that, 24 hours later the BBC Sports unit is still discussing what they are calling his ‘controversial win’. It seems he has a right to run, but not to win.

The sneers and jeers and evident distrust of a man who came from a deprived background in rural Florida to become the oldest man ever to win an individual Olympic sprint medal and one of the five fastest men in Olympic history do little credit to the armchair athletes.

Nor to veteran miler Lord Coe, the IAAF president, whose own position as regards ‘who knew – and how much was in the envelope?’ over the doping scandal in the past has previously been questioned, along with his well-funded years as a global ambassador for Nike sportswear.

Coe made clear at the trackside his distaste that Gatlin was allowed to run. But doping violations are just the tip of an iceberg of corruption in international sport, that goes all the way up to national federation officials motivated by easy money and the desire for medals and national glory at any cost.

If we’re going to boo Justin Gatland, let’s boo the whole rotten sport.

 

Just another woman, making a go of it

Worse if anything than the media hoopla over Bolt’s ruined Last Run, Gatlin’s disgraceful victory, Sir Mo Farah’s amazingly predictable third World Championship win in his last-ever 10,ooo metres on Friday night, is the curious fact that the media has barely acknowledged the arrival of an athlete who seems destined to become one of the great female distance runners of all time.

Almaz destroyed a top-class field to win the 10,000 metres.

The tiny Almaz Ayana, 25, running in only her first race of the 2017 season owing to injuries, set off after ten laps and over the next twenty minutes totally demolished a field of 30 supposedly top  athletes to win the women’s 10,000 metres by a distance of 330 metres – more than half a lap. In the process she lapped the entire field apart from the small following pack, some of them twice.

After a few admiring words, no fuss at all has been made of the dominant young Ethiopian. Not our idea of a celebrity, perhaps.

And the amazing thing is, her London performance – though not another world record – repeated her incredible run in Rio last year, when she trashed another world-class field to break the existing 23-years-old record by an incredible 14 seconds, and still appeared to be accelerating effortlessly at the finish. It left your Uncle Bogler in tears, again. Oh dear. As the Mail on Sunday reported:

“Olympic champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia produced an extraordinary display in her first race of the season winning the world 10,000 metres title by almost a minute on Saturday. The 25-year-old, who smashed the world record when winning in Rio last year, finished over 46 seconds clear of her legendary compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba, the three-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion.”

Why wasn’t this THE story from the weekend? Maybe the clue was in the Mail story that greeted her win at Rio 2016: “Disbelief at amazing 10,000m. world record: a hefty dose of scepticism accompanied Almaz Ayana’s gobsmacking victory…” Or maybe it was just that it wasn’t the men’s 100 metres, a 9.8-seconds thriller in an era when attention spans are getting shorter by the hour?

The story went on to quote Sarah Lahti, who finished 12th and set a Swedish record of 31:28.43: ‘I do not really believe she is 100 per cent. It is too easy for her. We see no facial expressions.’ So that’s proof then. Although I don’t think Botox is on the banned substances list? Doubt was further cast when an Ethiopian squad coach was found with drugs in his hotel room. And even the previous women’s world record, set by China’s Wang Jungxia in 1993, was suspected at the time to have been drug-assisted.

Oh, well, I guess she’s just another woman.

But Lahti’s kind of reaction has become typical, any ebullience over a possibly unlikely sporting success now being tempered with a heavy dose of cynicism. Gatlin may not be entirely responsible – we’re sceptical enough about our own national cycling hero Sir Bradley Wiggins and his mystery Deliveroo pharmaceuticals – but his story is symptomatic of how money and greed have poisoned the well for the entire sporting sphere.

x

“…we don’t have an automatic right to win everything.”

As if our moral outrage over other sprinters being allowed to beat a below-par Usain Bolt into third place weren’t enough, we’re now being enjoined to hate the South African Caster Semenya, who pipped Britain’s sweetheart Laura Muir into fourth place in the women’s 1500 metres heats last night.

Caster Semenya: let her run.

Never mind that after taking on the role of pacemaker right from the start, Muir made the tactical error of slowing the race from a 64-seconds first lap to a 71-seconds second lap, thus failing to break the field, and left herself too little in reserve for a final sprint to the tape after she was swallowed up by the chasing pack.

Ho no, the fact that she did well to hang on for fourth place and qualify for the final in which she managed sixth was entirely eclipsed by Semenya’s hyperandrogenism, a hormonal condition that makes her look all big and muscly and flat-chested, and run like a bloke.

No matter that the race was actually won by the distinctly female-looking world champion, the Kenyan Kipyegon, over whose gender there can surely be no quibble; and that America’s experienced 30-year-old Simpson ran a near-perfect race, darting through in the final split-second to take silver.

No, as far as some sections of the British media and partisan crowd were concerned Muir’s failure to medal was entirely down to the cheating of Semenya, who should be taken away and force-fed with oestrogen until she grows a pair. Worse, this response has become a regular feature of the coverage whenever she runs: ‘is she or isn’t she?’, despite the IAAF clearing her after successive medical examinatiuons.

Remarkably, the Daily Mail leapt to her defence, arguing: “The treatment of Caster Semenya has been shameful… show her some respect and let her run.”

Will we ever grow up and understand that just because we’re British, or in this case Scottish, we don’t necessarily have an automatic God-given right to win everything all the time?

x

Keepin’ it cool with Granny Weatherwax

(Photo: Thepetshow.com/Google Images)

The Lancet reports, excess heat could kill up to 150,000 more people a year by the end of the century – very possibly within your children’s lifetime. That’s just in Europe. Though it  rather presupposes the Sixth Great Extinction won’t have run its course long before then.

Europe: still in the grip of a 40 deg+ heatwave, expected to relent gradually after Wednesday.

Italy: Extreme heat, storms in north. More fires across south. Drought persists in Italy’s grainbelt, 60% + crop losses across all outputs. Deliveries to northern markets failing. Water shortages looming.

Greece: extreme heat. Island of Kythira ablaze. The entire Aegean area has been plagued by earthquake swarms in recent weeks.

Austria: powerful thunderstorms trigger flash floods affecting mountain communities.

Russia: noonday temperature currently (7 Aug) in Norilsk, northernmost city in Siberia, 21C, 72.6F. Recklessly, desperate authorities have started chemically seeding clouds to combat wildfires consuming the Taiga.

Japan: Typhoon Noru claims two lives in Kyushu, moves on over Honshu main island, bringing 60cm rain in 48 hours. Flash floods in Osaka area. More heavy rain following on behind.

China: Heavy rain affecting the northeast up into Mongolia. Flash flooding, 100 thousand people affected, 25,000 acres of crops damaged. Liaoning – 1,000 flood refugees trapped on higher ground by rising water, being rescued again. Two dead, 350,000 affected in Jiling province. Damage estimated at $700 million.

India: Ten dead, new widespread flooding in Uttarakhand. ‘Huge loss’ of property. More heavy rain forecast.

Pakistan: “At least 5 killed and others injured after floods and landslides in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Meteorological Department issued warnings for glacial lake outburst floods after heavy rain and temperatures up to 5 degrees higher than normal (caused) ice to melt.” 116 people have died as a result of flooding or landslides in Pakistan since the start of this year’s monsoon.

Korea: extreme heatwave continues.

USA: again, New Orleans experiences flooding with up to 3ft of water as a tropical storm brings up to 10 inches of rain in 4 hrs to the city. “The rate of rainfall in many neighborhoods of the city was one of the highest recorded in recent history.” New York State is on flash flood alert, as is Manhattan, with more heavy rain also forecast across Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware. A ‘rare’, out-of-season tornado causes casualties and damage in Toledo, Ohio.

USA: Las Vegas, Nevada – one victim died and 7 others were rescued after flash floods in two areas of the city. Flash flooding submerged parts of Kansas City, shutting down parts of highway I-35 and flooding other streets across the city. Vehicles were submerged and drivers left stranded by flood water.

USA: Staff at the US Department of Agriculture have been told to avoid using the term “climate change” in their work, with officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead. The primary cause of human-driven climate change is also targeted, with the term “reduce greenhouse gases” blacklisted in favor of “build soil organic matter”.* Sound policy indeed. Dig more shit in, the BogPo says. (The Guardian, 7 Aug.)

Mexico: Tropical storm Franklin now building over the Caribbean is expected to head across the Yucatan Peninsula towards the capital, Mexico City, bringing up to 300mm of rain.

Venezuela: as if the country doesn’t have enough to worry about, severe flooding after days of torrential rain has caused several major rivers including the Orinoco to burst their banks, with about ten thousand people affected. Well done Floodlist for reporting this four days after the event.

Arabian peninsula: It’s currently 43C, 117F in Baghdad and Kuwait, a little cooler in Riyadh – only 40C. Across North Africa temperatures are in the high 30s to mid 40s currently: 95 – 100F. Not as bad as July and August the last two years when searing 50C + heat killed hundreds. The forecast is for temperatures ‘building across the week’. Satellite map shows virtually no cloud cover across the region. Long drought is causing severe crop losses in Egypt.

Africa: heavy rains persisting across mid-western and central Africa, eg. Nigeria. Bad news for elusive anteaters:

On the way out: the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

“Hotter temperatures are taking their toll on the aardvark, whose diet of ants and termites is becoming scarcer in some areas because of reduced rainfall, according to a study released Monday. Drought in the Kalahari desert killed five out of six aardvarks that were being monitored for a year, as well as 11 others in the area…”

World: despite the record heatwaves in Europe, Asia and the US west and midwest, provisional global weather data give July as only the second hottest on record, after 2016; it seems Antarctica has been letting the side down. The US NOAA report for June states:

“June 2017 was characterized by warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions across much of the world’s land and ocean surface. The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across much of central Asia, western and central Europe, and the southwestern contiguous U.S. where temperature departures from average were 2.0°C (3.6°F) or greater. … Overall, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature for June 2017 was 0.82°C (1.48°F) above the 20th century average of 15.5°C (59.9°F) and the third highest June temperature in the 138-year record, behind 2016 (+0.92°C / +1.66°F) and 2015 (+0.89°C / +1.60). June 2017 marks the 41st consecutive June and the 390th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.”

The good news for climate-change deniers is that the mysterious North Atlantic Cold Spot is persisting; hence our indifferent summer here in the west of Britain. Scientists imagine it’s caused by the Gulf Stream losing energy and sinking, allowing colder water from the Arctic to move south. The bad news is, the cold water is being replaced by warmer water flooding from the Pacific up through the Bering Strait, leading to further loss of ice cover.

Strangest of all: U. of Ottawa’s much-Followed climatologist and vlogger, Prof Paul Beckwith reports that on July 20, for the first time he believes in history, the weakening and fragmenting northern and southern jetstreams both crossed the equator at various points all around the globe into one another’s hemispheres, pulling hot and cold air masses with them and creating a huge vortex over the Pacific. This chaotic mixing is attributable to rapidly warming water in the Arctic and has no predictable weather outcomes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJYWvnuA9w8&t=563s

Climate and Extreme Weather News #51/ D Mail/  NW Global temperature report/ Floodwatch/ NOAA/ Paul Beckwith/ the Guardian/ local weather reports.

*Footnote: actually the BogPo finds the phrase ‘climate change’ to be far too wishy-washy and unthreatening a concept. What does it mean? It is itself the politically correct solution to the problem of what to call this existential threat to humanity. ‘Climate chaos’ or ‘weird weather’ would be a better description.

Scientists are far too cautious and media unsavvy. Precisely because they are not ‘a community’, have no organization or finance, they have as yet found no means of countering the slick PR messages, myth-making and outright lies of the denial conspiracy. Who cares about the ‘truth’ anymore? Let ’em have it with both barrels. We’re fucked, okay? Suck it up, people of Earth.

 x

Go on, give it a go! BogPo’s Project of the Week. (Google Images)

“I’m beginning to wonder if this is not some sort of metatextual situation comedy…”

Van News Weekly

An unmistakeable waft of cannabis hangs in the air of the busy street.

So he’s out there again today, my neighbour, fitting a green carpet into the back of his little white van, parked illegally as usual on the pavement, right on the corner of the main road.

(That’s the vehicle he sometimes advertises  – though not today, your friendly ‘man and van’ – that he will use to cart your garbage off to the recycling centre a mile down the road. In palatial comfort, obviously.)

There are half a dozen bolts of carpeting piled on the pavement next to the van, that they’ve been trying out. The carpets presumably came from the same source as the motorbike they loaded into the back last week, i.e. very possibly off another van.

My neighbour and two younger ‘helpers’ in shorts, vests and baseball caps have been at it all morning, fitting that little piece of carpet in the back, flexing their tattoos in the sunny intervals, enjoying the bantz, assisted by loud music. After a break for lunch they’re back at it again.

Fitting 1.5 sq yd of carpet in the back of a van, were I moved to do such a thing, is a job that might take me an hour at the most to do really nicely. It would probably take my hi-to mate from over the estate, Gareth Carpets, about ten minutes. And I’m not even working-class.

I’m beginning to wonder if this is not some sort of metatextual situation comedy, like The Office, whose point I am clearly missing.

Postscriptum

It’s twenty to ten at night, Day 4 of their holiday, and they’re still out in the garden having another fitful conversation I can hear through the wall. What do they find to argue about? Occasionally an angry young man can be heard going off the rails. Happily an entire day of rain is forecast for tomorrow.

A BogPo Special: Food Security – Shall We Have Enough To Eat?

‘Sea and Sky, South Beach.’ ©The Boglington Post, 2011*

“I honestly would like to punch the silly idiots in the head, who instantly leap online to troll anyone daring to suggest we have a problem. They are so wrong.”

Some like it hot. Some like it wet. And we’ve got both.

Readers of this, muh bogl, may be aware that we have taken to publishing weekly reports from around the world of extreme climate events. I’d like to look now at the trendlines and what they mean for our chances of maintaining social stability in the coming years, principally through the continuing reliability or otherwise of our food suppliy.

2017 looks to be a vintage year for floods, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires and violent storms (see just my last Post for an exciting list of extreme weather porn). Pacific typhoons have been especially pernicious, with (at the beginning of August) eight reportedly on the go at the same time.

The Atlantic hurricane season has yet to kick-in, with just a few tropical storms counted so far – which is not to be complacent as they have caused widespread flooding and wind damage in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Gulf states, Florida and Louisiana.

Yet how poor are our memories! 2016 was also a devastating year around the globe. Remember these from last August alone: ?

USA: The devastating floods that hit Louisiana in August 2016 are expected to cost the US economy between US$10 billion and US$15 billion. Days of extreme rainfall across parts of the United States Gulf Coast and Midwest caused catastrophic flood damage in several communities during the month, killing at least 13 people.

Belize and Mexico: Hurricane Earl made separate landfalls in Belize and Mexico after first tracking through the Caribbean Sea, killing at least 67 people. Total economic losses were estimated at USD250 million, including in Mexico (USD132 million) and Belize (USD110 million)

India: Floods have affected wide areas of India, the death toll for the season is at least 600, with more than 100,000 homes and other structures destroyed. Total economic losses were estimated at USD462 million.

China, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Macedonia: all cited major flood events during the month. The floods in Macedonia caused at least $100 million losses and left 3,500 structures damaged.

In Bangladesh, flooding in August damaged 253,413 structures.

China: Severe weather and flooding affected wide areas of China which overall cost around $600 million in economic losses.

(NB the financial figures are insurance claims (Insurance Journal). It’s reckoned 80% of properties, livestock and crops in the regions named would not have been insured.)

“August 2016 was an active month for tropical cyclone activity with several landfalls in the Atlantic and Pacific basins, including Typhoon Nida (Philippines, China, Vietnam), Tropical Storm Dianmu (China, Vietnam), Tropical Storm Mindulle (Japan), and Typhoon Lionrock (Japan, China, Korean Peninsula). Typhoon Lionrock proved the most costly, causing the deaths of 77 people, damaging at least 20,781 structures, causing economic losses of more than $245 million.

“Other costly disasters for August include wildfires burning in southern France, mainland Portugal, and on the islands of Madeira (Portugal) and La Palma (Spain) which claimed at least five lives. In Portugal alone, the fires charred 115,000 hectares (284,000 acres) of land as total economic damage was listed at EUR200 million (USD226 million).

“Major California wildfires prompted evacuations and destroyed hundreds of homes. Economic losses were forecast at above USD100 million; the cost to fight the fires was more than USD50 million alone.”

As if that were not enough, this year’s record-breaking heatwave in the western USA was equally matched only a year ago, when extreme heat advisories were issued across 14 states. From USA Today, 18 July 2016:

“Temperatures over 100 degrees and brutally high humidity will combine to deliver a potentially dangerous heat wave to much of the central and southern U.S. this week. “This may be one of the worst heat waves in the last few decades,” the National Weather Service warned. Some 130 million Americans will endure heat indexes of at least 100 degrees, according to the Weather Channel.”

We note, of course, that temperatures as high as 120F, 46C were recorded several times this year in places like Phoenix and Palm Springs; while even north of the Arctic circle Siberia achieved long-term temperatures above 24C, 75F; including in northern Canada one reading of 32C, 90F on the Mackenzie River in July.

And as more southerly areas of Europe around the Mediterranean sizzle for the second time this year in 40C + temperatures over the weekend, we forget, don’t we, as Al Jazeera news reminds us, that only last year the UK basked in 30C + temperatures (reaching 34C, 93F) – and:

“A large slice of Western Europe looks set to experience heatwave conditions in the coming days. Temperatures from Portugal to Poland are expected to reach the 30C mark. The warmer air is coming from the south or southeast, meaning that very warm air from the Mediterranean and Africa is making northward progress. Many areas are expected to see a steady increase in temperatures towards the weekend. Temperatures in London and Paris are expected to reach 32 and 35C respectively, by Friday.

“Across the Iberian Peninsula, there will be little change to the persistent warm weather that has been ongoing since early July. The Spanish capital, Madrid, has only failed to record a maximum temperature of at least 30C on one occasion this month. Temperatures have generally reached 34 to 35C on most days. Throughout July and August, temperatures in southern parts of both Spain and Portugal have exceeded 40C, prompting the issue of heatwave warnings.

“Further east, Berlin is expected to see weekend temperatures reach 31C. Warsaw, Poland will come close to 30C by Sunday, and Kiev, Ukraine will also feel the 30C heat, although people here may have to wait until Sunday or Monday for that to happen.” – Al Jazeera, 22 Aug 2016.

Yet a glance back at the European heatwave of 2015 reveals even higher temperatures, with a UK record 36.7C, 98F set at Heathrow airport on 1 July, players dropping like flies at Wimbledon and records broken all over Europe. While in the 2003 European heatwave, 70,000 people are estimated to have died – mortuaries were overflowing – and temperature records were set going all the way back to the 16th century.

Fourteen of the 15 hottest years in the history of record-keeping have been recorded in the last 15 years!

I honestly would like to punch the gullible idiots in the head, who instantly leap online to troll anyone daring to suggest we have a problem. They are so wrong.

The myths and lies climate-change deniers peddle about sunspots and volcanoes and natural cycles and the evidently cretinous  ‘global cooling’ myth are all traceable back to PR agencies, false-front ‘research institutes’ and corrupt politicians who have been paid $100s of millions by the fossil-fuel industry for decades to campaign to undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that, basically, we’re fucked.

*Whenever I show this photograph at the top I have to explain that it is a completely unretouched colour shot looking directly out to sea from my local beach on a stormy day where the storm front terminated in a completely straight line from horizon to horizon, revealing the cumulus cloud behind; not a Mark Rothko abstract, and not a camera fault!

 

(Photo: BBC)

“It has been estimated that we need to produce more food in the next 35 years than we have ever produced in human history…”

Pre-cooked meals

So as the UK attempts to negotiate its way out of the Common Agricultural Policy like a bad actor emerging from a paper bag, with so many areas of the world affected by drought and floods and likely increasingly to be, are we going to have enough to eat?

British foodies may remember the Great Iceberg Lettuce Disaster of January, 2017, when the price trebled and shelves were laid bare as a result of record rainfall and flooding in Almeria province, southern Spain. That was closely followed by the Courgette Calamity, and the Avocado Unavailability, both attributable to extreme climatic events.

There is only so much to go around. And whoever is willing to pay the highest prices, eats.

Our own agriculture is facing a number of threats. Water shortages in the south of England; seasonal labour shortages (as a result of Brexit) already developing in the east. Changes in seasonal variability. Heavier rainfall. Plus of course the probable loss of EU subsidies to farmers.

Italian and Spanish producers are reporting this year up to 60% crop failures as a result of the hot, dry conditions. But both countries are net importers of, especially, wheat from France – and the UK. Can we afford to feed them as well as ourselves?

While any shortages of the special hard Durum wheat used in pasta-making, and the short-grain rice from the Po valley used in risottos, may well end up pushing up prices, both in the shops and in restaurants.

The following report comes from the Insurance Journal, and is current:

“Drought in southern Europe threatens to reduce cereal production in Italy and parts of Spain to its lowest level in at least 20 years, and hit other regional crops including olives and almonds. Castile and Leon, the largest cereal growing region in Spain, has been particularly badly affected, with crop losses estimated at around 60 to 70 percent.

“’This year was not bad, it was catastrophic. I can’t remember a year like this since 1992 when I was a little child,’ said Joaquin Antonio Pino, a cereal farmer in Sinlabajos, Avila. Pino said many of his fields had not even been harvested, because crop revenues would not cover the wages of laborers who gathered them.

“While the EU is collectively a major wheat exporter, Spain and Italy both rely on imports from countries including France, Britain and Ukraine. Spanish soft wheat imports are expected to rise by more than 40 percent to 5.6 million tonnes in the 2017-2018 marketing year, according to Agroinfomarket. The prospect of a larger harvest in France this year should ensure adequate overall supplies in the trading bloc.”

“Scorched olives

“Spain and Italy are also among the world’s top producers of olive oil. Production in both countries is expected to fall, but the decline is likely to be particularly steep in Italy, where drought is the latest headache for olive growers already plagued by insects and a bacterial disease in recent years. A 60 percent drop in Italian output is forecast by the International Olive Council.” – Insurance Journal.

So the commodities speculators are doing well, but it looks like inflationary pressures on food prices in UK supermarkets are only likely to increase as we head into an uncertain 2018. The Guardian reported in April, 2015:

“More than half of the UK’s food will come from overseas within a generation, as a rising population and stalling farm productivity combine to erode what remains of the UK’s self-sufficiency, according to farming leaders. The UK’s failure to produce more food will leave households more vulnerable to volatile prices and potential shortages, the National Farmers’ Union will say at its annual conference on Tuesday.”

And they’re still saying it, only with Brexit knobs on. So in the light of the Insurance Journal and other reports indicating that some traditional areas for food production in Europe are failing, owing to climate disruption, which other areas can we turn to for food aid to feed our 65 million mouths?

Over in the USA, from where we import our Californian avocadoes, wine, dates and almonds, they’re in trouble – and not just because the pollinating bee population has collapsed.

“Drought conditions are getting worse in several states, and extreme heat and weeks with little rain have begun to stress corn, soybeans, wheat and livestock in some areas.

“The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor recently released by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says nearly 11 percent of the continental United States is in moderate drought or worse. The conditions are ravaging pastures, hay land and crops. The federal government has declared numerous North Dakota counties to be disaster areas, paving the way for federal aid.

“The United States Department of Agriculture has designated several counties in those states as areas of natural disaster, paving the way for emergency loans for producers. Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas also are seeing stressed crops and farm animals. About half of U.S. spring wheat, 15 percent of corn and 14 percent of soybeans are in drought.” – Floodlist, 22 June

A 2015 report published on the Pacific Institute website suggests that, while California’s food producers are keeping up with demand, there’s a problem: they’re doing it by extracting water that’s needed for other uses.

“California’s agriculture sector has exceeded expectations during the most severe drought in recorded history at the cost of massive but unsustainable groundwater pumping. Continued groundwater overdraft, while reducing the economic impacts of the drought for the agricultural sector now, has shifted the burden to others, including current and future generations forced to dig deeper wells, find alternative drinking water sources, and repair infrastructure damaged by subsidence.”

Plus, of course, we need to consider that maxim propounded on the campaign trail by America’s greatest ever President: “America First!” Not only will the supply of cheap farm labour dry up as a result of his absurd and divisive immigration policies, but it is easy to imagine food exports being constrained in a time of severe drought.

So where else can we go? How about the Indian subcontinent? Floodlist reports:

“Sri Lanka was hit by the worst drought in four decades last year, with poor rains continuing into 2017, causing many farmers to lose their crops and income, the agencies said. In May, the situation was exacerbated by the worst torrential rains in 14 years, which triggered floods and landslides in the country’s southwest, killing some 200 people and forcing many from their homes.

“But in drought-affected areas in the north, rains were not sufficient to replenish reservoirs, and the second 2017 rice paddy harvest is expected to be at least 24 percent lower than last year’s, said FAO official Cristina Coslet. “The level of water in irrigation reservoirs is still well below the average,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“Some 225,000 households – or 900,000 people – face food insecurity, and have been forced to eat less and lower quality food, the report said.”

So with drought in the south and unprecedented floods in the north, it looks like India is already hurting, as indeed are 20 million Africans not only in food poverty, but on the brink of starvation.

And then if we see a major hurricane season develop in the Caribbean – sea temperatures are high enough, and there’s been no significant El Niño effect yet – we’ll be looking at damage to the sugar crop, bananas, plantain, cocoa and coffee, all of which are under pressure owing to rising demand and limitations of supply. It sounds overly pessimistic, but as windspeeds and precipitation are undoubtedly rising, there is a potential problem looming (we should not exclude non-climate factors: fertilizer and agrichemical prices are rising, plant diseases such as Panama virus, which is killing off the ubiquitous Carrington banana, on the increase).

Britain imports a lot of food and flowers from Africa; for instance Kenya, where the Ministry of Agriculture is attempting to build climate resilience through a ten-year program. The omens are not good. Kenya has experienced severe drought in 2017 as well as widespread  flooding. From the ‘Smart Agriculture Strategy’:

“The sector is however the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. Enhanced temperatures and change in precipitation regimes have led to reduced suitability of agro-based enterprises; reduced productivity of crops, livestock and fisheries due to temperature and water stresses; and rising production costs. The increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and strong winds have led to loss of investments, incomes and livelihoods, destruction of agro-based infrastructure as well as increased frequency of weather related disasters.”

The world outlook can be bleak. GM crops can be designed to withstand drought, but possibly not CO2 ‘poisoning’. Enhanced atmospheric CO2 does produce additional growth, but only up to a point. From the UK’s Inter-agency Report on Global Food Security: The Challenge:

“Around 795 million people face hunger on a daily basis and more than two billion people lack vital micronutrients. Nearly a quarter of all children aged under five today are stunted, with diminished physical and mental capacities, and less than a third of all young infants in 60 low- and middle-income countries meet the minimum dietary diversity standards needed for growth.

“Climate change will only make things worse as elevated levels of CO2 reduce the nutritional content of grains, tubers and legumes, affecting key nutrients such as zinc and iron (ref 4). The estimated impact of undernutrition on gross domestic product (GDP) is 11% every year – more than the annual economic downturn caused by the global financial crisis.

“It has been estimated that we need to produce more food in the next 35 years than we have ever produced in human history, given the projected increases in world population, and on the basis that rising incomes will continue to change diets. However, there is by good approximation no new land for agriculture…”. (My italics)

How bad is bad?

Try as I might, I can find little more information on how this year’s crop of heatwaves, extreme floods and wildfires covering over two million acres of forest and scrubland is already affecting food production around the world. I see the wheat harvest in Ukraine is a few % down, prices a little up; similar to Russia’s. But those forecasts predate any summaries taking into account current weather events.

Somehow once the figures for crop losses are calculated, probably next year, they will have been turned into financial statistics and we shall be little the wiser. It may be that the most significant effect of crop loss will be felt in local markets and by small subsistence farmers – as in India, where 60,000 have committed suicide in the past thirty years, many driven to bankruptcy by poor harvests.

It is safe therefore to assume that extreme weather events don’t help farmers, while if Indian and Chinese producers don’t send much food to Europe, nevertheless if their domestic markets are affected by shortages it can’t be good for our long-term outlook. Finding out information is difficult as national food ministries like to post dazzlingly optimistic forecasts.

Going back to the great European heatwave of 2003, which compares in intensity with the current one, Wikipedia has the following fairly crude statistics for loss of food production. “Shortfalls in the wheat harvest occurred as a result of the long drought:

  • France – 20%
  • Italy – 13%
  • United Kingdom – 12%
  • Ukraine – 75% (unknown if affected by heatwave or an early freeze that year)
  • Moldova – 80%

“Many other countries had shortfalls of 5–10%, and EU total production was down by 10 million tonnes, or 10%.” The good news was at least that: “The wines from 2003, although in scarce quantity, are predicted to have exceptional quality.”

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_European_heat_wave

Given the unpredictability of risk there is a real need to harden our food defences, to become more resilient to climate disruption and less dependent on imports. And that’s not going to happen until the Government gets its stupid head out of the Brexit barrel and takes a walk in the countryside.

 Ed. note: All the above extracts have been compressed.

The Boglington Post. The BogPo says: “Put a Sock in It, Desmond!!” News from Next Door. Granny Weatherwax: not heatwaving, but drowning. RIP Jim Marrs – or is it?

 

The BogPo says: “Put a Sock in It, Desmond!!”

(Photo: ihlondon/Google images)

“NOW EU SPOILS OUR HOLIDAYS” – Daily Express headline, 02 August

The British tabloid press is famed for its cretinous hypocrisies.

Millionaire pornographer, Mr Richard Desmond has campaigned assiduously to drag Britain out of the European Union through his Daily Express and Daily Star titles, aimed at elderly working-class readers with no education – core ‘Brexit’ voters – abusing his position as proprietor to interfere constantly in – and even set – editorial policy.

He donated £millions in profits taken from readers to the Leave campaign, and to the now utterly failed UKIP party experiment. And even after the vote was won he continues to use his failing media to ensure the Government sticks to its holy task of removing the scourge of Europeanism and other foreignisms from the ravaged face of the nation.

Thus, on 23 June, 2016 he had his wicked way with Britain’s dominant position in Europe, and now we are an object of pity and regret as the European economy roars away and Britain is left stuttering in its wake.

Our totally unprepared and frankly useless Brexit negotiating team is hopelessly divided and unable to plot a way out of the mess that abrogating 43 years of closely argued treaties has created, that offers any hope of a smooth transition to futile independence, leaving a once proud nation adrift and friendless without influence on the rising waters of potential global catastrophe.

Why did he do it? Well, to make more money, obviously. But how was it sold to the disillusioned public, after six years of austerity measures that have left the primary and secondary healthcare systems, our social welfare net and our schools in rags?

To “regain control of our borders” – among other false illusions.

But what does that mean, in practice?

At the weekend, some British holidaymakers were delayed (along with everyone else) by enhanced security checks at a number of continental airports, introduced as a result of the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. (Let’s forget that British Airways had another ‘computer malfunction’ yesterday, causing delays and cancellations. They’re British.)

Note the word ‘security’. Something we are all, are we not, nowadays signed up to? The BBC reported:

Rule changes brought in after recent terror attacks mean people entering and leaving the Schengen area, which allows passport-free movement across much of the EU, face more security checks.

…and quoted a spokesperson for the European Commission:

“We understand that there are concerns about EU rules leading to longer waiting periods, but let us be very clear – this is about the security of our citizens. All EU member states wanted to have the current rules. We cannot have on the one hand, a joint request from member states to have more checks and controls, to increase security, and at the same time have complaints about longer waiting periods.”

Britain is, of course – as we are so exceptional – not in the Schengen area. Unlike the krauts, the frogs and the eyeties we control our bor… er, oh, no, sorry, we will regain control of our borders.

The additional security involves actually checking passengers’ ID against computer records and takes ‘up to two minutes’ extra per person. This on Day One of the big end-of-July school-holidays push created a backlog of up to four hours at some terminals, and some late-arriving passengers missed their flights.

The British tabloid press has whinged endlessly on about us ‘losing control’ of people coming into the country because their details are not being checked properly. But it seems that when the Europeans tighten their own border controls, it’s being done deliberately to ruin the lives of British holidaymakers.

The most sickening aspect of tabloid press hypocrisy has long been this lunatic belief in British ‘exceptionalism’, that somehow being born on an island off the coast of Europe that once had an empire makes us so special, we have to be set above everyone else.

And what do the grossly overpaid intellectual molluscs who edit those dreadful rags imagine is going to happen when the departure gates from Britain finally clang shut on the Continent in March, 2019?

Just as Donald Trump’s entire domestic policy has been obsessively focussed on shredding any sensible legislation with the detested word ‘Obama’ on the label, so the European Court of Justice has become the bête noir, the absolute ‘red line’ for our millionaire newspaper proprietors and their underpaid hacks, who fear and loathe its power to decide over corporate policy and who want to bring rule-making back to the more pliable Supreme Court in London.

This hardline approach has created the bulk of the problems negotiators are facing in separating us from supervisory commissions like Euratom, the European Medicines Agency, the Arrest Warrant and the ‘Open Skies’ aviation agreements, the financial ‘passporting’ arrangements and citizenship issues whereby continuing co-operation with the 27 is essential but where in those cases the ECJ would be expected to remain the court of final appeal.

Under intense lobbying, Mrs May and her cabinet simply cannot find a compromise solution – which means it will come down to the wire with an all-or-nothing agreement at the end of it. To escape the malign influence of the ECJ, which has stolen our vital bodily fluids, our ‘sovereignty’ (there are British judges in the court) we shall almost certainly exit both the Free Trade Agreement and the Customs Union.

What do the intensely self-interested Desmond of the Express and Harmsworth of the Mail think is going to happen to ‘British holidaymakers’ at Schengen borders then? That we shall just be waved through as soon as Security sees we’re wearing Union Jack underpants and bearing small pots of Marmite?

The answer is, they don’t give a fuck. They’ve both got private jets.

 

News from next door

Oh great, the neighbours have gone on holiday.

In the back garden.

Ever since yesterday it’s sounded like they might have visitors, including possibly a child. They moved out into the garden at about four in the afternoon and have been there ever since, although it’s not that warm.

Their increasingly noisy, increasingly incoherent conversations and loudly shouted phone calls went on until two a.m. and seem to have resumed, or maybe went on all night, I don’t know, sleep eventually came, over breakfast; which they appear to be having in the garden.

I had the dilemma at about midnight of having to close the bathroom window in order to keep out the distracting sounds of lively social chat turning to rancorous argument under the effect of alcohol, thus locking out Katz the cat for the night; or leaving the downstairs back door open for her to go in and out, as I have yet to think of a way to introduce a catflap in a double-glazed unit.

To my embarrassment the window, that has been open for years, had become stiff with moisture and creaked loudly when I closed it. Would they have heard, and thought I was being rude? I am rude, of course, I hate having neighbours, although when I saw them struggling to load a motorcycle into the back of their van the other day, I rushed guiltily to help.

It occurs to me now, I may have been attempting to assist in the commission of a felony.

Waking at about 2 am, encouraged by silence next door I thought, thank God, they’ve gone back in, and furtively opened the window a crack – creak – only for a phone to ring in the garden and the woman answered it, and off they started again, and I had to shut the window – creak. Would they think I was spying on them?

Now the man is trying to start his latest dysfunctional machine, a petrol-driven strimmer or some such. I imagine he is showing it to his visitors. It fires up and runs for a few seconds before sputtering to a halt. He has been trying to make it go for weeks, inbetween doing weird things to the small white Astra van parked in the street, across the main road, half on the sidewalk, within an illegal distance from the corner.

After fixing an amber flashing light and two spotlights to the roof, he’s painted the back doors and the new alloy wheels he fitted charcoal matt-black, so it now looks like a post-conflagratory van version of the Grenfell Tower. Sometimes he fixes a sign to the side, offering his friendly services to anyone who wants stuff taking to the recycling centre.

And next day he’s taken it off again.

x

This is not the sea, or a Hokusai painting, it’s a river in China. (Photo: The Guardian)

“The Great Flood of Gun-Yu (traditional Chinese: 鯀禹治水), also known as the Gun-Yu myth, was a major flood event in ancient China that allegedly continued for at least two generations, which resulted in great population displacements among other disasters, such as storms and famine. People left their homes to live on the high hills and mountains, or nest in the trees.” – Wikipedia

Granny Weatherwax: Not heatwaving, but drowning

So, where to begin this report of the latest extreme weather conditions across the world (see previous episodes)? These reports I’ve been able to source cover just the week 30 July – 4 Aug.

Japan: Typhoon Noru is expected to make landfall on Saturday, 5 Aug. in Kyushu island. Windspeeds estimated at 133 mph, wave heights at 16m (53 ft), up to a foot of rain forecast. South Korea also on alert for Noru’s plotted trajectory in the coming days.

Taiwan: Typhoon Nesat dumps 60 cm of rain overnight, 30 July. Flooding causes 10 thousand people to be evacuated, 130 injured. That was Saturday, on Monday Typhoon Haitang brought 100-mph winds and flooding to the north of the country. Half a million people were without electricity.

Myanmar (Burma): “Four western regions have been declared disaster zones after heavy floods, caused by monsoon rains, left at least 27 people dead. But rescue teams have not yet reached many areas and are still awaiting reports on the worst-hit regions. In the neighbouring eastern Indian state of Manipur, a landslide buried a village, killing at least 21 people.”

Vietnam: More than 30 people dead/missing in flash flooding in Mu Cang Chai, North Vietnam.

Thailand: Flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Sonca last week has claimed 23 lives in Sakon Nakhon and is affecting two-thirds of the country with up to 2 metres of standing water in some places.

Indonesia: Jayapura city under three feet of water.

China: Fujian, SE China, 70 thousand people evacuated in advance of Typhoon Nesat and bracing for Haitang. Another of those violent ‘freak’ hailstorms hits Sichuan, causing damage and flash flooding. Chongquing city hit by severe storm.

China: “Shanghai, the most populous municipality in the world, is in the midst of a brutal heat wave, with the region topping 100 degrees for eight consecutive days and counting.”

India: Gujarat flooding – death toll exceeds 215 as more bodies recovered from receding waters. West Bengal, “At least 48 people died this week in the western part of the country. In the desert state of Rajasthan, about 24,000 people fled to higher ground” – AP. Unknown number of casualties – min. 3 – in flash flooding in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Villages cut off.

USA: ‘Historical flood’ inundates Kansas City after 7-in of water dumped overnight, with river levels up to two feet above previous records. A ‘rare’ tornado (only the third ever recorded) causes extensive damage in Maryland, where two people were drowned in flash flooding in Ellicott City on Monday. A sudden violent storm hits Phoenix, Arizona after weeks of 100F + heat.

USA: Tropical Storm Emily suddenly appears out of the Gulf, taking forecasters by surprise, flooding parts of Florida. While from Seattle, Washington State, comes news that it hasn’t rained for 47 days – approaching the record interval between showers. Las Vegas, Nevada, records its 55th day of 100F + heat.

USA: Just south of Seattle, Portland, Oregon is basking unusually in record 42C, 108F sunshine – local readings topping 120 in parts of the city. Corona, Southern California is hit by a sudden violent storm causing damage and localized flooding.

USA: “Hot and dry conditions in the West continue to influence large fire activity. Currently 36 large fires have burned nearly 580,000 acres. More than 11,500 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the nation.” (1 Aug )

Canada: 150 wildfires are reportedly still burning in British Columbia, affecting over a million acres. People still being evacuated. Coastal cities smoke-ridden, 35C + heatwave warnings as far north as Vancouver.

Mexico: Violent storm, flash flooding washes away cars, buildings in the city of Ocampo.

Turkey: Another of those ‘freak’ hailstorms breaks car windows, causing extensive flash flooding in Istanbul for the second time in three weeks. An airliner is forced to make an emergency landing after sustaining damage from large hailstones.

Albania: “Armed forces joined hundreds of firefighters on Friday to battle dozens of forest fires as temperatures reached 40C. Albania has asked the European Union for emergency assistance to help prevent the wildfires spreading near the capital, Tirana.”

Russia: “‘By 2080 Siberia (will) become ‘the go-to place to live due to climate change. Vineyards will flourish as winters become almost 10C milder’, says new scientific prediction.” Meanwhile: “In Yamalo-Nenets officials reported 47 wildfires across 2,097 hectares after a blast of hot weather … Local governor Dmitry Kobylkin said: ‘The temperature in the region is extreme. The situation will remain the same for some time'”.

The Arctic: Arctic sea surface temperature anomalies are well above 8°C (14.4°F) in several parts of the Arctic Ocean. Global sea ice extent is at a record low for the time of the year. “There is basically NO thick ice left on the Arctic Ocean surface.” (Paul Beckwith). Sea temperature average is 2.5C, 4.4F above 1981-2010. Sea surface temperature in the Bering Strait on 22 July recorded at 19C, 62F.

Atmospheric methane is currently at 3.7 times pre-industrial level. High levels recorded at both poles.

Mediterranean: A heatwave with a name! Lucifer…. “A surge of hot air will lift temperatures close to or above 40°C, 104°F across popular holiday destinations in the Med through to next week. Eastern Spain, Ibiza, Majorca, Italy, southern France, Croatia and Alpine regions will roast over the next (ten) days as temperatures climb to as high as 10-15C above average.” Severe thunderstorms are forecast for the whole of Europe.

Croatia: The temperature in fire-ravaged Split hit a record 42.3C (105F) on Friday. A lethal 46C (114.8F) is the forecast for northern Italy over the weekend. The heatwave is not expected to relent before Wednesday. Mysteriously, though Croatia Week carries a heat warning there is not one mention of the wildfires that have ravaged the country over the past two weeks. Tourism must go on.

Poland, Bulgaria, Romania all sweltering at 35C +, peak demand for electricity exceeded.

Spain: 300 evacuated from wildfire covering 2,500 acres of pine forest at Castilla-la-Mancha; firefighters have been battling a large fire 30 km south of Athens, Greece.

UK: The winter of 2016 was the warmest for England and Wales in records that stretch back to 1910, the Met Office’s annual State of the UK Climate report revealed on Thursday. The average temperature from December 2015 to February 2016 was more than 2C above the long-term average across the southern half of the UK.

 

Climate and Extreme Weather News #49, 50/ Extremeweather.co.uk/ US National Interagency Fire Center/ New York Times/ Washington Post/ Siberia Times/ Science Daily/ the Guardian/ BBC News/ Arctic News/ Croatia Week.

Paul Beckwith at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4L41UtGH7c

 

Apocalypse shortly…

Just a quick update: The Yellowstone swarm continues, 58 earthquakes incl a M2.9 reported by USGS on one day alone, Thursday 3 Aug. M3.1 and around 17 smaller earthquakes reported yesterday, 2 Aug. (Day 53).

x

RIP Jim Marrs – Or is it?

The conspiracy theory community is today mourning the death, age 73, of Jim Marrs, investigative reporter extraordinaire, who dedicated his life to proving JFK was killed by aliens and 9/11 was a neocon plot. Or something.

Stolen by aliens… Jim Marrs

I have stolen the following excerpts from a lead article introducing a YouTube clip of a Whitly Streiber radio show, Jim Marrs on Secret Government Knowledge | The secret revealed – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7MWsyXtTM0&t=105s

Plausibility warning: none of the folks on that show sounds remotely bonkers. To begin with.

“Jim Marrs (born December 5, 1943) is an American former newspaper journalist and New York Times’ best-selling author of books and articles on a wide range of alleged cover ups and conspiracies.

“Marrs is a prominent figure in the JFK conspiracy press and his book ‘Crossfire’ was a source for Oliver Stone’s film JFK. He has written books asserting the existence of government conspiracies regarding aliens, 9/11, telepathy, and secret societies. He … has taught a class on the assassination of John F. Kennedy at University of Texas at Arlington for 30 years. Marrs is a member of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth.

“Beginning in 1992, Marrs spent three years researching … a non-fiction book on a top-secret government program called the Stargate Project involving the psychic phenomenon known as remote viewing. … Within two months, the story of military-developed remote viewing broke nationally in the Washington Post after the CIA revealed the program.

(Ed note: this story later formed the basis of Jon Ronson’s book and subsequent George Clooney film ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats.’)

“In May 1997, Marrs’ investigation of UFOs, ‘Alien Agenda’, was published by HarperCollins Publishers. Publishers Weekly described Alien Agenda as “the most entertaining and complete overview of flying saucers and their crew in years.”

“In early 2000, HarperCollins published ‘Rule by Secrecy’, which claimed to trace a hidden history connecting modern secret societies to ancient and medieval times. This book also reached the New York Times Best Seller list. In 2003, his book ‘The War on Freedom’ probed the alleged conspiracies of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. (It was Dick Cheney all along. Ed.) It was released in 2006 under the title ‘The Terror Conspiracy’.”

He will be sorely missed.

But I’m never sure what to make of American researchers who, like Indiana Jones, insist on wearing hats all the time, especially indoors. It can overcook your brain, I find.

For a documentary encapsulating Marrs’ pretty plausible forensic exploration of the evidential inconsistencies pointing to a high-level conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYtjg7VezpU