Take cover, it’s Boris! A new BogPo emerges from hiding, later than usual.

Take cover, it’s Boris!

So it looks like Boris Johnson’s tragic fantasy that he is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill could come true sooner than he was hoping.

Apart from his schoolboy biography of the great man, with whom he shares American citizenship, I first spotted Johnson’s personal homage on these pages when he descended from the notorious red Brexit “battlebus” wearing – instead of his normal, rumpled suit – a light canvas jacket of the type worn by Churchill on his watercolor painting expeditions to the South of France.

Yes, I’m that kind of a detail man.

In retaliation for the Royal Navy seizing an Iranian oil tanker two weeks ago at Gibraltar, at the request of Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo and the US State Department, claiming it was sanctions-busting and bound for Syria, Ayatollah Khameini’s demented Revolutionary Guard has pirated a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, with 23 crew on their way to Saudi Arabia, and is steering it towards Iran.

The US may very well extend its threat of protection for all its interests in the region against Iranian interference to its occasional closest “ally”, Golf Course 1. It’s a step nearer to the war for regime-change Pompeo is pushing for – even to the extent of repeating the same old preposterous lie the Bush administration concocted to justify its disastrous invasion, that Sunni Iraq was supporting Shiite Al Qaeda.

Not that many Amurikans would have known the difference.

Johnson is expected to move into No. 10 Downing Street with his fun-loving mistress, party-girl Carrie “get off me!” Symonds, by the end of next week as Britain’s least likely ever Prime Minister: a bumbling hoaxer, a domestic abuser, a shameless liar and an overentitled, shambolic, racist buffoon, funded and promoted by some of the nastiest, greediest and most ambitious men on the planet.

It’s almost as if they’ve realized the game is up and are rushing to have the best time before we go extinct.

Don’t expect a kind of Prince Hal (Henry V) Shakespearian moment, when the prodigal heir to the throne turns, on his promotion to king, into a statesman of gravitas and tells his licentious mentor, Falstaff, to fall to his prayers.

Johnson IS Falstaff.

Take cover!

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The Pumpkin – Issue 91: Warming warning:… The wages of sin… Completely unacceptable… Arrivederla, Dottore CamilleriGW: Rockin’ around the world… On shaky ground.

Warming warning:

Latest data from NASA shows, 2019 so far has bust the 1.5 deg. C. target set by the Paris accord (now at 1.85 C) and could be headed for the upper 2 deg. C. limit or even more by next year. See below….

 

“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” – Trump in The New Yorker magazine, 2002.

“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him .. I was not a fan.” – Trump last week. NBC has found video of him partying enthusiastically with Epstein and many women at Mar a Lago in 1992.

The wages of sin

“A $7.8 million 70-acre private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands (his primary residence owned by his Delaware-based LLC, L.S.J.), (a) Paris apartment on Avenue Foch (one of the most expensive addresses in the world), (a) $15.5 million Palm Beach estate, (a) $77 million New York City townhouse (a gift from Victoria’s Secret founder Leslie Wexner), and (a) $10 million castle/ranch in New Mexico.

“At the bottom of (the list) is another island in the Virgin Islands, Great St. James. He purchased it in 2016 for $18 million and was actively (and without permit) developing an even larger compound on its 165 acres—that is, until his arrest this past Saturday.”

“As far as vehicles, (the) entries list two Gulfstream jets (though his lawyers say he sold one of them in June), two helicopters, nine Mercedes-Benzes, nine Chevy Suburbans, three Cadillac Escalades, three Harley-Davidsons, one $375k Bentley Mulsanne, a jet-ski, and other assorted items. He has wined and dined American presidents, princes, elite academics, socialites, corporate CEOs and other VIPs.

“His alleged victims were little girls, often economically destitute or runaways or orphans—from sixth graders to high-school sophomores. Because his alleged crimes span multiple decades, his victims likely number in the hundreds—or more.” – The Daily Beast

Yes folks, that’s the extraordinary, obscene wealth a man who seemingly emerged from nowhere, with no university degree or social background, no inheritance; whose career as a predatory pedophile seems to have begun when he was given a job as a totally unqualified teacher who “charmed” parents at an exclusive private school in Manhattan*, has been able to amass before he is, hopefully, put away for the rest of his life.

How the hell?

The son of a New York Parks Department groundsman, Jeffrey Epstein reminds me – obviously on a Mount Rushmore scale – of Stephen Ward, the London society osteopath who, in the early 1960s, pimped a couple of young ladies of his acquaintance – Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies – around his wealthy and influential clients at weekend bunga-bunga parties organised at Cliveden, the stately Thameside home of Lord Astor.

Of course, Astor and his wealthy connections in government, business and the security services were never charged with procuring prostitutes or any offence. Letting their hair down is what those entitled people do. Ward, for whom many people had considerable sympathy, killed himself before his trial, fearing security charges. The story had come out when it was revealed that, in addition to the Defence Secretary, John Profumo, another of Keeler’s regulars was a Naval defense attaché at the Russian embassy.

Pillows talk.

But there was never any suggestion of activity on the scale and at the bottomless depth of Epstein’s, whose society clients for his “young love for sale” victims appear on all accounts to have included Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton; both of whom have been frantically scrabbling this past week to disassociate themselves from the talented (but unqualified) pianist and mathematician who seems to have exerted such a spellbinding effect on the wealthy and powerful.

Reportedly included among his circle of “friends” also is the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, somewhat nebulously employed by the UK as a “business ambassador”, said to have accepted private flights aboard one of Epstein’s Gulfstream jets and hospitality at his many homes; and former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.

It’s possible, I suppose, that some of the wealthy and powerful individuals who came into his orbit were cultivated merely as window-dressing, or to use their connections to enlarge his circle of clients.

What, one asks of the ladies’ underwear proprietor, can “Victoria’s Secret” really be, to earn Epstein a gift of a $77 million New York town house from its CEO, Wexner? How much of Epstein’s unexplained wealth, his pad in Palm Beach, his troubling-sounding private island compound on St James in the “Virgin Islands” (he owns two islands), was bought on his salary after only four years as a modest financial advisor, apparently with only one major client, at Bear Stearns – one of the early casualties of the 2008 banking crash. And how much more might have been “gifts”, teased somehow from his very private circle of extremely wealthy clients?

“Epstein is without doubt the wealthiest individual on any sex offender registry in the United States (and he is at Level 3—at greatest risk of abusing more children). … He has wined and dined American presidents, princes, elite academics, socialites, corporate CEOs and other VIPs. His alleged victims were little girls, often economically destitute or runaways or orphans—from sixth graders to high-school sophomores. Because his alleged crimes span multiple decades, his victims likely number in the hundreds—or more.” – The Daily Beast

Level 3 – at greatest risk of abusing more children, Epstein was sent to an open “weekend” prison for 13 months in 2008 as a result of a dubious plea bargain brokered by Alex Acosta, Trump’s most recent Secretary of Labor, at the time prosecuting for the Attorney General of Florida. The deal did not involve the co-operation of any of his victims. Acosta has now resigned, giving a televised press conference at which Trump postured, gazing Sphinxlike into the distance as though none of it affected him, looming immediately behind his right shoulder – like working a ventriloquist’s dummy.

Shortly afterwards, Trump vented his racist anger on the four women members of Congress.

Indeed, no-one seems much inclined to believe it was absolutely the best deal Acosta could get. When police battered down Epstein’s door at the New York townhouse last week and searched the premises, hundreds “if not thousands” of images of children and young teenagers were found; indicating that there had been no cessation of activities since his release.

And yet, Epstein’s lawyers, including his longtime “associate” and now Trump lawyer, Dershowitz, a repulsive, rheumy-eyed old roué who has owned up to receiving “massages” from Epstein’s young ladies – although he kept his underpants on and didn’t see anyone he thought was underage – are still arguing for bail, as if – instead of scuttling to their expensive island boltholes while “lawyering up” – his wealthy and influential and mostly disgusting, ugly old clients are going to rally round a second time.

A dozen new witnesses have come forward thanks to reporting in the Miami Herald, and although the cases predate his 2008 conviction, some going back to the 1990s, it seems clear that the girls he trafficked would have been pressured into silence. The FBI alleges that even since his arrest, large sums of money have been illegally wired to witnesses. Bizarrely – but perhaps indicatively – Epstein also runs an obscure charity foundation that gives money to schools and enterprises involving young people.

The latest charges could nevertheless be enough to see him put away for life – and not this time in a comfortable room to which he has a key.

What will happen to his team of “enablers” – a group of women (including Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced media mogul Robert, who recruited “sex slaves” as young as 14 to perform sex acts with Epstein and his clients), no-one seems to know; they were offered immunity during the 2008 trial. But in the meantime, many influential and even wealthier men than Epstein are said to be “shaking in their shoes” as to what might come out in court.

IF AG Barr allows it to get to court.

*There seems to be a difference of opinion over his appointment at the Dalton school, so posh you wouldn’t expect anyone to openly come forward with evidence about inappropriate behavior between a teacher and pupils all the way back in 1974.

Some commentators are claiming Epstein was hired by the father of Trump’s latest Attorney General, Bill Barr, who was then the headmaster of Dalton. Obviously they’re hinting at some kind of enablement story, perhaps between two pedophiles, although there is no evidence that Epstein or Barr predated on the pupils. Epstein seemed less certain when questioned in court, arguing that the “17 or 18” year-old girls in his class were too “old”, before pleading the 5th Amendment.

However, investigators at the Daily Beast say Barr left the school under his own cloud several months before Epstein started teaching there. AG Barr initially recused himself from the latest investigation on a faintly flimsy pretext*, but seems to have been persuaded to unrecuse himself the next day – possibly by the same man who notoriously fired the previous AG over an unpopular recusal he felt wasn’t protecting him from potential prosecution.

*In fact Barr has a connection with Acosta, in that they both worked for attorneys Kirkland Ellis back in the day, although at different times. And Kirkland Ellis, according to TYT, was the firm that defended Epstein in the 2008 trial.

The Pumpkin feels sure there is nothing coincidental in the following medical explanation found on Google:

“EpsteinBarr virus (EBV), also known as human herpes virus 4, is a member of the herpes virus family. It is one of the most common human viruses.”

Follow the story at this and other Daily Beast pages on the same theme: https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-jeffrey-epsteins-creepy-parties-with-prince-andrew. And: https://www.thedailybeast.com/jeffrey-epstein-dodged-questions-about-sex-with-his-dalton-prep-school-students?ref=scroll

(Only, turn off your ad blocker, they’re imagining you’re going to buy something.)

Oh, btw, we should say, Epstein has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Postscriptum: and now we’re being told, police at his NY pad have found a cache of diamonds, wads of notes, a false passport (long expired) – and a Saudi Barbarian address. His “bugout bag”.

 

“Oh, shut up! You never stop complaining. If anybody should leave this country, it should be you. And if you’re looking for a new home, I suggest you go to Hell.” – Stephen Colbert, The Late Show.

 

Completely unacceptable?

Outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May has condemned as “completely unacceptable”, a provocative tweet by President Trump, telling black and Latino Democratic congresswomen to “go back where they came from” and run their own “crime-ridden, shithole” countries before coming to America and telling Americans what to do.

Three of the four women named were actually born in America. The fourth, Ilhan Omar, is a naturalized Somali refugee who arrived at the age of 8. All of them, unlike Trump, are democratically elected; but Trump – grandson of undocumented immigrants, son of an immigrant, twice married to immigrants – has never managed to grasp the basic concept that, in a democracy, you have an opposition party whose job is to oppose.

It’s clearly a crude attempt to whip up more anti-immigrant feeling among his deluded dumbfuck base, who are always more than happy to be persuaded by wealthy men that it’s not wealthy men, but poor immigrants who are screwing them over, and “replacing” them. By doing this, he draws flak from the haters on the left, proving that four more years of Trump is all that stands between his support base and their imminent demise as a nation.

It should also serve, or so he imagines, to drive a wedge for his electoral advantage between the bickering conservative and progressive wings of the Democratic party, although the opposite seems to have happened, with Pelosi turning on a dime to condemn his blatant racism

Trump also needs some good diversionary smoke and mirrors right now, following his abusive tirades against May and her ambassador to Washington, and the Epstein case.

Which brings us back to May, and the complete unacceptability of divisive and racist immigration policies.

Who, I wonder, sent advertising trucks out to drive around immigrant areas, telling them to Go Home? Who instigated the Home Office’s racially aggravated policy of Hostile Environment, that has resulted in innumerable cases of injustice against people with longstanding rights of settlement, including hundreds of elderly West Indian inworkers from the 1950s improperly detained or deported?

Other EU citizens still have a legal right of free movement but are finding they have no voting rights and are battling a dysfunctional Home Office system supposedly enabling them to register automatically for permanent settlement. Families with one British partner and British-born children are being broken up on the basis that the main earner no longer meets raised income qualifications – salary levels that most UK natives do not attain in their lifetime.

So many visitor visas are being denied, specifically to those from African and Asian countries, that UNESCO is no longer able to host international conferences in Britain as their delegates – qualified academics – are turned away. Now we hear that “whistleblowers” inside the Home Office are reporting how officials are falsifying information to get round an EU rule preventing trafficked and modern slavery victims from applying for asylum. “Legal experts have said the practice is ‘unthinkable’ and “a disgraceful and illegal manipulation of the system”, according to a Guardian report.

How many costly, sloppy data breaches have there been, and compensation awards running into the £hundreds of millions, as a result of – yes, “completely unacceptable” – Theresa May’s disastrous six-year spell as our most racially intolerant and xenophobic Home Secretary, possibly ever?

Pot. Kettle. Black?

PS – an Opinion article in today’s Guardian argues that the one good thing May did do, was to quadruple the number of Conservative women MPs, and be most supportive of them in their parliamentary careers.

Whoopee. Amber Rudd. Liz Truss. Theresa Villiers…..

‘Nuff said.

 

Bargain travel!

According to German NGO, Atmosfair, a person flying return from London to New York is responsible for 986 Kg of emitted CO2, more than the entire annual output of another person living in Paraguay.

So you don’t have to, your Uncle Bogler has looked up the average annual income of a citizen in Asuncion, and finds that at $380 USD it broadly matches the cost of flying with Norwegian Air UK.

Book now!

 

Arrivederla, Dottore Camilleri

Andrea Camilleri, the Sicilian crime writer behind the popular Inspector Montalbano television series, of which your Uncle Bogler is a fan, although the BBC never seems able to buy a full series and soon reverts to repeating earlier episodes, has died aged 93.

The Pumpkin (“la Zucca”) comments, acidly: “So he was younger than most of the cast, then.”

 

GW: Rockin’ around the world

USA: A “dangerous” 100-degrees-plus heatwave is forecast across the entire midwest and east coast, with “heat index” (heat plus humidity) temperatures in Washington DC, New York and Chicago possibly rising to 112F (44C) over the weekend. In the meantime, flooding is spreading northwards from the Gulf coast as the remains of Hurricane Barry dump masses of rain on southern states. (The Weather Channel)

Cat 1 Hurricane Barry came ashore in Louisiana Saturday, 13 July, but west of New Orleans, and as a weakening Tropical Storm, sparing the city the catastrophic flooding forecasters were concerned about. Nevertheless, parts of the city and other communities along the coast all the way through Texas are dealing with widespread flooding from up to 12 inches of rain this curiously elongated storm, with its two cyclonic centers, has already dumped, with up to another foot or more possible as Barry stalls over the coast. 100 thousand homes are without power. (Wunderground, and various)

Up to a few days ago, however, deep snowpack was still blocking roads in Sonora County, California…. Meanwhile, in Canada “Flooding was reported in parts of southern Saskatchewan, Canada, including Regina after 34 mm of rain fell in a short period of time on 16 July. Several vehicles were trapped in flood water after streets in Regina were inundated.” (Floodlist) There’s also been flash-flooding in Toronto.

Nepal: 64 people have been confirmed dead and 30 more remain missing in widespread flooding. Rescue efforts have been hampered by continued bad weather, which has blocked key highways and destroyed phone lines. 17 July: “Dozens” of people are reported dead or missing after torrential rain caused flash flooding and landslides near the Kashmir border in Pakistan. Houses, roads and bridges were washed away.

Heavy monsoon rains have also caused devastation in north-east India. In Assam state, officials said at least 14 people were killed and more than a million people had been affected by rising flood waters. (Guardian) In an update, 15 July, authorities are saying dozens of people have drowned and more than 4 million are affected by flooding as rivers rise to record levels in four northeastern states. Some places recorded 15-in. of rain over 24 hours. (Floodlist)

Floodlist further reports, 19 July, more heavy rain is forecast over a wide area of northern India this weekend, as the death toll in the region exceeds 250.

Bangladesh: At least a dozen people, mostly farmers in rural areas, have reportedly been killed by lightning since Saturday, according to Associated Press. A Water Development Board official said about 40,000 people had been affected, with many of their homes submerged. Refugee camps on the Burmese border have been especially hard-hit. (Guardian) While over the border, the Irrawaddy river has burst its banks. “Flooding has displaced thousands of people in northern and western Myanmar after a period of heavy rain caused rivers to overflow.” (Floodlist)

Japan: an anticyclone stuck over the Sea of Okhotsk has meant parts of Japan have had almost no sun for the last three weeks – just 3 hours, the cloudiest June/July period ever measured. Prices of some agricultural produce have skyrocketed owing to crop failures. (Express)

Philippines: Tropical Storm Danas formed as an area of low pressure over the western Philippine Sea 15 to 16 July,  moving north of Luzon Island, as it strengthened. The storm brought heavy rain to some areas of Luzon, where flood warnings have been issued.

Europe: Dozens of people were rescued from vehicles or evacuated after flooding in Western Greece on 14 July. A storm bringing heavy rain swept through Achaia and Aetolia-Acarnania overnight, causing severe damage. The flooding follows storms last week when 7 people were killed and over 100 injured in the north of the country. The Halkidiki Region remains in a state of emergency, with many households and businesses still without power and water. (Floodlist)

A new heatwave is building from North Africa across southwest and central Europe, with a 10C temperature anomaly moving gradually northeastwards next week. France is likely to see temperatures back in the high 30s, low 40sC (100+F). (Severe-weather.eu)

 

Tunnel approaching….

Helter swelter: An emergency announcement arrives from the Arctic News team: “NASA data through June 2019 confirms … that it could be 1.85°C (or 3.33°F) hotter in 2019 than in 1750. When looking at how much hotter June 2019 was compared to the annual global mean 1980-2015, it was 2.08°C (or 3.74°F) hotter. … The 2°C guardrail could be crossed soon, i.e. in 2020 when looking at the long-term trend (based on 1880-June 2019 data), or in 2019 if the current El Niño strengthens (based on 2011-June 2019 data).

“Furthermore, while the long-term trend points at a 3°C (or 5.4°F) rise by 2026, a 3°C rise could eventuate as early as in 2020 in case of a persistently strengthening El Niño. (Arctic-news.blogspot.com) If the trends of the first half of this month continue, it will beat the previous record from July 2017 by about 0.025C (Guardian)

Another lovely sunny day, 26C, here in Boglington-on-Sea.

On shaky ground: Renegade earthquake forecaster, Dutchsinse (Michael Janitch, of St Louis) is reporting, there are two major heat plumes erupting under the sea, off the coasts of Oregon and California. The reports are confined to his Twitter feed so your Old Gran, who doesn’t get Twitter, can’t get into any greater detail. Suffice to say, his followers are all on their knees, gibbering and praying for everyone.

With some content blocked on YouTube, Janitch’s website is coming under increasing attack, he believes from the official US Geological Survey, that continues to plead equipment malfunctions, mask worrying data, downgrade magnitudes and insist that earthquakes cannot be predicted. They have even called for his arrest!

Janitch has an 80% record of successful forecasts both of magnitude and location, based on the apparently illegal belief that the force of one quake transfers around plate boundaries to cause others on known faultlines and at identifiable weak spots in the earth’s crust. USGS says that’s nonsense, while appearing to be taking it seriously. There’s also another busy round of big volcanoes popping off around the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, in case you weren’t worried.

If Janitch’s paranoia seems incredible (I’ve witnessed display screens on his YouTube videos suddenly being blacked-out), your Gran is just reading Graham Hancock’s latest book, “America Before”. Hancock – a “pseudo-scientist”, actually a journalist who has built a career out of trying and failing to find proof of a previous lost civilization – nevertheless has a point when he describes the vicious, career-destroying attacks US archaeologists launched for many years against any researcher daring to suggest humans could have lived in the Americas before 11 thousand BC.

That was until incontrovertible scientific evidence emerged of human settlement up to 120 thousand years earlier….

Postscriptum: Janitch is reporting now (14 July) on a 5 thousand-acre wildfire that has broken out in Washington State, next to the Hanford nuclear facility and the LYGO gravity-wave detector. USGS reported a number of earthquakes there yesterday, that could have emitted flammable methane.
It occurs to us that the authorities might be upset with Janitch more because he explores the terrain around the epicentres of volcanoes and more often than not, Google Earth allows him to zoom in on the astonishing extent of mining, quarrying, thermal bores, drilling and fracking going on, literally thousands of wells – and around former nuclear test sites, that he believes are operating dangerously in geological fracture zones, exacerbating microquakes and enabling larger movements..
And on the subject of nuclear threats, a Cold War-era Soviet submarine that has been sitting on the sea bed since it sank off the coast of Norway 30 years ago, with two nuclear missiles and two nuclear reactors onboard, has begun leaking mysterious “clouds” from its ducts, containing radioactive caesium registering 800 thousand times the normal background. (The Weather Channel) Experts assure us, it’s “not a risk” to people or wildlife.
Yellowstone: Steamboat Geyser #28. That’s as in 7 months…. last year’s all-time record was 32 the whole year. (Ben Ferraiuolo website) Disturbing activity – spasmodic tremors associated with magma injection – in Hawaii. Magma believed entering Long Valley ancient caldera in California – bigger than Yellowstone. (Various sources) Athens, Greece rocked by M5.4, 19 July.

Is Trump in fact God?… Melted cheese… About face… GW: It’s raining, Hamburgers… Bee minus..

“I do not know the ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the US.” No, Donald, and neither are you, so stop interfering in our domestic politics.

Trump reacts badly to British diplomatic cables hinting he’s totally unfit to be the President.

 

Is Trump in fact God?

It was while I was out walking Hunzi this morning along the cycle path through the exurban space that passes for our local park, that it suddenly struck me.

Trump might be God, after all.

The Biblical resemblances are striking. And many people think he is. Especially himself.

As the great Christopher Hitchens liked to point out, the God everyone is obliged to worship now, the one called, surprisingly, just “God”, which is not his real name, obviously, is only one of hundreds, if not thousands of claimants for the title of Supreme Being down the millennia.

There’s no reason to believe that just because He told everyone He was God, He (I use the male pronoun advisedly – there are two Gods in the OT and the God of Genesis in the garden is definitely female), the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has any more right to a claim for apotheosis than, say, Julius Caesar, who officially became a God by way of the cult that surrounded victorious Roman leaders, and whose son Augustus took on the mantle after him, but in a more cosmological way.

After all, if you really ARE God, you wouldn’t need to go around telling people, would you? Just like, if you were really a stable genius….

The Romans, of course, had lots of God-cults, many of them borrowed from the Greeks. The Greek word Zeus, meaning God, the Supreme Being, the top dog, is the same as the Roman word Deus, from which we derive the word deity; although he had a name, Apollo – the Sun God. Religious cults, to the Romans, were like the rap artists of their day, they had their fickle tribal followers. Some, more official than others, enjoyed State protection.

All the civilizations we know of have had their pantheon of Gods, starting with a Supreme Being at the top and working down through animistic ideas about the immanence of divinity – soul – in the very rocks, trees and rivers; many Gods taking on semi-human form shared identities with the celestial constellations. The Egyptian pharaoh, Akhenaton was the first ruler we know of, who decreed there was only the one true God. Like the Victorian-era’s star painter, JMW Turner, Akhenaton believed the sun was God. As the sun both gives and takes away life, it seemed a fair bet.

From that simple perception, the three Abrahamic desert religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – developed the idea of the sun-God as the unique creator, and anthropomorphised him into the personified, living being of the earthly ruler, The Lord of Hosts, the Lord most High, whose divine authority reflected in a coercive priesthood on earth was to be upheld on pain of death.

The Christian religion especially, which merely introduced some Zoroastrian elements into Judaism, operated – and still does, outside the Church of England – as a patriarchal, authoritarian death cult, with the judicial murder of the avatar and his inspirational but unlikely survival of death at its center.

Still today, the Eucharist is celebrated every sabbath, or seventh, day – the “body and blood” of the avatar are symbolically or transformatively consumed by the worshippers, in a cannibalistic ritual administered by the sacerdos, or high priest, beneath the sculpted, 3D image of the bleeding Christ nailed to a tree. It’s all pretty weird and horrible, to be honest, but conducted in an atmosphere of such reverent good taste it remains popular with all ages.

Essentially, the picture we have of The Lord High God sitting on a throne with his “son”, the semihuman Jesus thoughtfully inserted on his right hand, surrounded by angels descending in rank beneath him betrays a unique symbiosis of religion and state bureaucracy.  Simultaneously, Chinese emperors demanded unquestioning obeisance to their own godhead; Confucianism being a kind of secular religion, a self-help system combining civic responsibility and a duty of personal growth with obedience to courtly ritual as the way to “the right life”; while later, blood-soaked sun worshipping cults developed in South America, founded on copious human sacrifice, that were ended only by an egregious program of genocide by Christ-cult Spanish colonialists and their followers, who came less to spread the Word of God than to steal gold.

It’s all a bit rackety, to be honest.

To gain an insight into Trump’s claim to Godhood, especially in light of his 4th of July parade this year, the Wikipedia page on the Imperial cult of Rome makes interesting reading. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_cult_of_ancient_Rome

Various American TV preachers have closely aligned Trump with God, or with God’s son Jesus, arguing that, despite his well-known venality, hatred of his neighbor, twice-divorced adulterous status and self-confessed record of sexual abuse, he was divinely appointed – God forgives everything (unless you’re a Muslim or a faggot) – and is thus to be unquestioningly obeyed.

Of course, child-rape and murder are mandated in the Bible, so they’re forgiven too. But not the taking of the as-yet unborn clump of insentient cells. That’s an unpardonable sin.

The slimy Jim Bakker, a TV preacher of virtually zero intellect who promotes his contemptible business brands as integral to his religious authority; the far-right evangelical nutjob, Pat Robertson; and the son of Billy Graham, Franklin – the virulent homophobe who reputedly had a long-running and very expensive affair with a handsome young pool attendant – and others have commanded their followers to believe in Trump and his mission to “Make America Great Again”.

By that, they mean they believe they can more easily manipulate government policy through Trump to revoke the inconvenient First Amendment of the Constitution and institute a white, nominally Christian hegemonic state, antipathetic to women’s rights; and promote the more absurd notions of Biblical literalism in schools. Not only in the USA – more than $50 million is believed to have been channeled into subverting the 2019 European elections in support of Christian and alt-right parties.*

My sudden intuition however, that Trump might indeed BE God, was based on a recollection of a conversation I once had with my ex-wife, who impressively has a Master’s in Eastern Philosophy, concerning the curious individual in the Old Testament, known to us as Yahweh.

She pointed out a number of things the Bible records about him, that one might now reconsider in light of Trump’s known beliefs and behaviours. Here are three, plus one for luck:

First, he had an unusual diet. Like Trump and his overdone steaks, Yahweh needed a constant, high-carbon diet of burnt meat offerings to keep him going. Like Trump and his overdone steaks.

Secondly, like Trump, Yahweh demanded total obedience and loyalty from his acolytes. He liked to be waited on, hand and foot. “Be still, and know that I am God!” Yet, like Trump, he had a contemptuous attitude towards those who genuflected to him.

Thirdly, Yahweh insisted that Moses’ brother Aaron, whom he selected to be his Chief of Staff, should wear a covering made of gold in his presence. Gold, as my ex-wife pointed out, is better than lead as a shield against ionizing radiation. Like Trump, Yahweh was toxic to anyone who came near him.

And another point, Yahweh appears to have possessed something like a battlefield nuclear weapon, with which he could smite whole armies; evaporating them in a single strike. Mr Trump has lots of those at his disposal, especially now he has abrogated the Intermediate Weapons treaty with Russia.

We jointly concluded from these and other nuggets that the Biblical description of how this domineering – demanding – and thoroughly selfish, self-regarding, malignant narcissist imposed itself as The One True God on the unsophisticated and deeply superstitious tribes of Israel, just as Trump has imposed his divinity on the poor, deluded dumbfucks at his MAGA rallies, may well be the only historical record we have of an actual alien visitation.

Let me add one further observation of my own.

My ex-wife’s take on the “burning bush” out of which Yahweh first spoke to Moses was that any Sci-fi addict would recognize a portal surrounded by a glowing energy field; while any semi-savage, illiterate, desert-dwelling nomad would naturally allegorize it as a “burning bush”.

I can easily see too, however, that any Big Brother, Love Island or The Apprentice addict would immediately conclude that what to a primitive herdsman would have been allegorized as Yahweh’s “burning bush” could equally well have been a TV screen, or a projection.

Maybe the same one from which the Orange Godhead speaks to his deplorables through his Chosen Servants: disciples Hannity, Ingraham, Coulter, Pirro, Carlson and the rest of the Trumpsuckers of Fox and Friends, forerunners of the priestly caste of Apostles who will preside over the new deserts and ruins of the post-Trumpian era after the Orange One is taken aloft by Executive Order.

*http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/covering-european-parliamentary-elections-2019/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f3d0134cc1-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-f3d0134cc1-408090269

 

Dieu, ceci n’est pas un fromage… c’est du Cheddair Britannique! Ptah!

Melted cheese

When a French chef has a meltdown, it’s serious. M. Marc Veyron of La Maison des Bois in the Haute Savoie has demanded to be removed altogether from the Michelin guide after losing one of his coveted stars, which, he says, has left him in a state of depression for the past six months. Interviewed for Le Monde, M. Veyron went off on one, as they say:

“They dared to say that we put cheddar in our soufflé of réblochon, beaufort and tomme! They have insulted our region; my employees were furious. When we have eggs from our chickens, milk from our cows, and two botanists collect our plants every morning! They know absolutely nothing about cooking! … Let them put on an apron and get in the kitchen! We are waiting. Let them show us what they know how to do … they’re basically amateurs. They couldn’t cook a decent dish!” (and so on, for several paragraphs, in which M. Veyron expressed the opinion that the Michelin men hadn’t actually visited his premises at all.)

The Guide replied they were sorry he was upset, but they would continue to recommend his restaurant as long as their expert inspectors did so. (Guardian)

 

Fore! No, five!

Several children’s charities have pulled out of a fundraising event sponsored by a strip club, after discovering that the highlight of the evening was to be an auction of naked or nearly naked women to the male donors in the room.

The women were to act as “caddies” for the men. Oh yes, did we forget to mention, this was at Donald Trump’s southern Florida golf club, Doral? The event has been cancelled. (TYT/Slate)

 

About face

Federal authorities are fining Facebook $5 billion for their part in the Cambridge Analytica data mining scandal when, in advance of the 2016 US elections and of the Brexit referendum, over 90 million Facebook profiles were exploited for political purposes by the UK-based company run by Steve Bannon and funded by billionaire disruptor, Robert Mercer and his daughter.

Most people seem to regard the fine – less than one month’s revenue – as a mere slap on the wrist, given the enormity of the offence. The FCA committee voted 3-2 on a Republican majority against Democratic objections that the fine was meaningless. Other suits are pending against Facebook over the breach of confidentiality, so it might cost them more in the long run, and there are moves by the antiTrust committee in Congress to have the giant IT corporations broken up, but for now they seem free to carry on as normal.

Odd, then, that US authorities are threatening dire reciprocal action over new French moves to ensure that companies like Facebook pay taxes on their local sales, rather than on the tiny profits they declare in other, lower-tax regimes where they register shell companies.

Or maybe not so odd: America First!

 

GW: It’s raining, Hamburgers

Europe: Your granny finds it difficult to follow-up these Severe-weather.eu reports as they have cut right back on editorial content lately, but the forecast on 09 July for north central Italy, up through the Balkans, into western Russia and across to Georgia and northern Turkey, was for supercell storms bringing high winds, heavy rain – hailstones up to 3-in. in diameter; and it is far from the first of its kind this year. Among the consequences:

  • 6 tourists and a fisherman have been killed and dozens of people injured in a fierce storm in northern Greece, that ripped a caravan and a restaurant apart. Strong winds and hail hit the Halkidiki region near the city of Thessaloniki late on 10 July. Television footage showed overturned cars, fallen trees, torn roofs and mudslides. The freak storm lasted about 20 minutes. Temperatures had soared to 37C (98.6F) over the past two days. (Guardian)
  • An extremely severe thunderstorm hit Pescara (Abruzzo, central Italy) in the afternoon of 10 July. The thunderstorm produced very large to giant hail, with hailstones up to 15 cm (6-in.) in diameter, severe straight line winds and intense flash floods. (Severe-weather.eu)
  • Up to 160mm of rain fell in a few hours in NE Spain on 08 July, causing flash floods in the Navarre region. I person drowned, and “the regional government said the material damage was far-reaching. The N-121 road between Pamplona and Tudela was washed out. Rail transport was also interrupted, as was power supply to thousands of homes.” (Floodlist)
  • Accuweather reports: “A strong storm struck Venice, Italy, on 7 July, creating mayhem for cruise ships attempting to dock. 60 mph winds flung lounge mattresses and other furniture about aboard the cruise ship Azamara Pursuit and another ship, the Costa Deliziosa, had a close call with a dock in the high winds.”
  • While parts of Britain are facing almost a month’s worth of rain in the space of a couple of hours. The Met Office has issued a storm warning for much of Scotland and the north of England, with possibly life-threatening flooding on 11 and 12 July. (BBC)

China: In an Accuweather report on 03 July that we missed: A very rare tornado struck northeast China’s Liaoning Province on Wednesday, causing significant damage and killing at least 6 people. Almost 200 were injured as the powerful storm devastated an industrial zone of Kaiyuan, destroying buildings and throwing cars in the air. There were also reports of people trapped in the rubble of a collapsed factory.

Elsewhere, flooding continues as heavy rain persists over Shangxi province and a warning is out for the mighty Yangtse River to overflow. Evidence that rainfall is intensifying comes from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief. Since the start of the annual flood season this year, they report, a total of 279 rivers in 17 provinces were struck by floods above-warning level, 50 percent higher than that of the same period in any year since 1998. (UN ReliefWeb)

India: 3 people are now known to have died as rivers overflow and floodwaters continue to rise in Assam; almost a quarter of a million people are affected in over 500 villages, while 13 thousand Ha of agricultural land is underwater. Down south, a special train has been delivering drinking water to the city of Chennai, which has run out. Patchy monsoon rains have failed to recharge the city’s reservoirs.

Nepal: “Monsoon rain in Nepal has destroyed buildings and caused flooding and landslides, leaving dozens dead or missing and hundreds displaced in several districts of the country, including the capital Kathmandu. As of 13 July, at least 29 people have died, 14 are missing and 24 injured. Hundreds of people have been displaced after their homes were damaged or destroyed.” (Floodlist)

Pakistan: A “glacial lake outburst” occurred in the remote Golen valley in Chitral District on 07 July. No fatalities were reported but the flooding has wiped out roads and bridges, leaving communities cut off and tourists stranded. Relief supplies are being air-dropped. Flooding has also damaged homes, farmland and power infrastructure. (From Floodlist)

Bangladesh: tens of thousands of people including many Rohingya refugees in border camps have been affected by severe flooding. “Rivers in at least 9 locations are at or above danger level, and 2 rivers in the east and south-east are at severe level (more than 1 metre above flood stage).” (Floodlist)

Russia: The extensive floods around Irkutsk in Siberia are continuing, but the death toll previously reported as 170 seems to have been revised to 23 (various sources). 8 others remain missing.

Australia: Queensland in the subtropical north has seen snow again for the first time in 4 years, while in the east, Sydney has been battered by severe windstorms now moving towards Perth. Three “pulses” of polar air in quick succession are forecast to bring cold, high winds and heavy rain to the south of the country and Tasmania. (Accuweather/News.au)

Some irony for Mr Trump in the name… Hamburg, Iowa, seen on 18 March. Flood damage estimated since at $3billion.

USA: Dozens of people had to be rescued from vehicles and flooded homes after record rain – up to 6.5-in. – caused rivers to rise rapidly in areas around Washington DC on 08 July. Storm cells are persisting over the NE. To the south, New Orleans had almost 6-in. of rain in 3 hours, with flash floods on 10 July, as Tropical Storm Barry grows offshore in the Gulf.*

There’s little sign of historic floods abating across three states of the midwest. The year to the end of June was the wettest 12-month span in US records since 1895 (Wunderground). Mr Trump has issued a bizarre speech hailing himself as a champion of the environment.

Updates: “Parts of Pennsylvania saw over 4 inches (101.6mm) of rain on 11 July, triggering flash floods and mudslides. Two people reportedly died after their vehicle was swept away by flood waters.” (Floodlist) Tropical Storm Barry is expected to “achieve a Cat 1 hurricane status by the time it comes ashore at the mouth of the Mississippi, 13 July. A state of emergency is declared in New Orleans” as 10 to 15-in. of rain (with “pockets” of 20 to 25-in. – Wunderground) is anticipated on top of last week’s flooding. (CNN)

*Dr Masters at Wunderground points out: as Tropical Storm Barry intensifies, the storm surge pushing up into New Orleans could meet the flood stage of the Mississippi coming down and potentially overtop the levees protecting the city.

Mexico: 7 people died when a house was swept away in a mudslide during heavy rain over Pueblo province.

Boglington-on-Sea: Your Granny W. was delighted to observe an unusual “rainbow” event the other evening when, at about 8pm, with the sun thinking about setting, two small clouds on either side of it began glowing with colours. Above them, jet trails had mixed with thin stratus cloud to form a curious, regular criss-cross pattern. The larger of the two then parted to allow a laser-like beam of white light to strike through it, as the area immediately around the hole glowed brightly, red, blue and green. The effect lingered for about ten minutes while I cursed myself silently for having left my phone at home.

Hurricanes: Your Granny has been asking myself why there has not yet been any sign of a hurricane event in the west Atlantic/Caribbean theatre, five weeks into the season.

It appears that the bizarre antics of the jetstream have created so much upper-level wind “shear” that the right atmospheric circulation cannot form – proto-storms are simply shredded before they can start to organize. While the sea is easily warm enough, 4C above the 26C level at which hurricanes form, there is so much Saharan dust in the atmosphere that it’s not wet enough aloft to make rainclouds.

Unexpected benefits there from a warming Arctic.

Wildfires: In Alaska during just the month of June wildfires emitted 50 million tonnes of CO2, as much as Sweden emits in an entire year.

Sweden. Who knew? Sweden!

Bee minus: The US Environment Protection Agency is reportedly about to license the use of yet another pesticide banned in some countries, despite research showing it may prevent bees from breeding. Sulfoxaflor is produced by Dow AgroSciences and sold under the ominous brand names Closer and Transform. (Guardian)

It comes as no surprise that the EPA is favorable towards yet another environmentally damaging industrial product from this industrial giant. Notoriously, in 2017 then-Director, Scott Pruitt, pushed through a re-license for another Dow product, Chlorpyrifos – overturning an Obama-administration ban – despite its known dangers. Harvard University reported:

“The most disconcerting effect of chronic exposure to chlorpyrifos is its potential to impair children’s developing brains.

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/widely-used-pesticide-one-year-later/

Most Americans probably contain Chlorpyrifos, as it’s been widely used for years in household products too. Its effect on adults is to impair cognitive function, which might explain a lot. Oh, and in passing, the Harvard report mentions without a trace of irony: it “is also widely used in non-agricultural settings like golf courses”….

In case any evidence should emerge that Sulfoxaflor is a bee colony depletor, the Guardian reports, the agriculture department, which claims to protect pollinators, also recently suspended data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey. Commercial beekeepers reported a further 40 per cent collapse in colony numbers last year.

A 2018 report (among other sources) claimed:

“The Trump administration has had plenty of contact with Dow and DuPont. Last year, Dow Chemical bluntly asked the Trump administration to “set aside” research showing three of the organophosphate pesticides it manufactures pose threats to endangered species in letters obtained by the Associated Press.

“The request came after Dow donated $1 million to fund Trump’s inauguration ceremony.” (Sorry, reference source mislaid.)

Given that coal barons, the late Chris Cline (killed last month in a helicopter crash near his home in the Bahamas) and Robert E Murray both coincidentally donated $1 million to this mysterious Trump “inauguration fund”, and were the immediate beneficiaries of Executive Orders loosening restrictions on the mining industry, it would appear that the price of a favorable Government ruling on environmentally damaging activities and bee-killing products has been fixed.

Trump’s “inaugural fund” continued to attract industry cash long after the actual inauguration, and is being investigated by the Attorney General for the Southern District of New York as $50 million of it remains unaccounted for. It was certainly not spent on Mr Trump’s underwhelming inauguration celebrations.

Signs and Portents… How to get yourself elected leader #1: Piss your staff off… He’s a very naughty boy… Bunga-bunga: Boris exposes himself… GW: Baked Alaska #2

Crash out – cash in! Trebles all round…

Quote of the week

(Post a Johnson/Truss Brexit in the Autumn): “a terrifying future will open up: a few people creaming it in, while millions of ill, poor, eternally insecure people remain glued to their smartphones to either await their next casual shift in a fulfilment centre or spend whatever crumbs they are paid on the latest useless innovation. Such are the uplands of freedom offered by a party that seems to have lost what was left of its moral bearings, and resolved not to unchain us, but to imprison Britain in true-blue stupidity.” – John Harris, The Observer, 7 July.

 

Signs and Portents

So let’s be straight about this. Significant events are occurring.

The last weekend of June and first week of July 2019 have offered us the following encouragement:

Hottest ever June temperatures recorded in Germany (39.6C) and eastern Europe: Spain (43C), Cuba (39C) and Anchorage, Alaska (35C); June temperature anomalies in England (35C), Iceland (22C). 33C in Washington DC (along with heavy rain) for Independence Day. June declared “hottest ever” globally.

More than 180 wildfires are burning in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency. It’s the first state of emergency declared by the province in 14 years. (BBC)

Massive rainfall events in India (Maharashtra, Assam); Kyushu island, Japan (over 1.5 metres); Haiti; China and Vietnam, with many casualties. 170 dead*, 400 injured in “1 in a century” Siberia floods. 1 July, a freak hailstorm buries Guadalajara in Mexico under 1.5 meters of ice.

*later reports scale back to 23, with 8 missing.

In mid-Pacific, an ordinary tropical storm, Barbara intensifies from 65mph to a huge, 155 mph Cat 4/5 hurricane literally overnight, heading for Hawaii. A report on Antarctica reveals, sea ice is melting many times faster than in the Arctic – from record high winter extent to record low in five years.

A Chinese report says that partly thanks to Brazilian fertiliser runoff from Amazon clearances, the Sargasso Sea in summer now extends 5,500 miles across the Atlantic, creating a great stinking mass and ruining coastal fisheries and tourist beaches.

Huge seismic disturbances around the Pacific rim – volcanoes in the Kuril islands and the Aleutians; M6.2 and 7.1 earthquakes in Canada and California; now a 7.1 in the North Molucca sea. Worrying magma intrusion at Yellowstone supervolcano. Stromboli, Sicily major eruption. Mauna Loa (world’s largest), Hawaii is placed on alert.

Trump decides to defy a Supreme Court ruling on the inclusion of a citizenship question on next year’s census form, threatens to delay the census; upholds detentions of children and migrants in illegal “concentration camps” and stages an unprecedented, $multi-million military parade for the 4th of July, with himself as the centerpiece, putting tanks on the streets in Washington. Fascist? Surely not.

Satellite data released during the week showed that an area of the Amazon rainforest the size of a football field is once again being cleared for short-term cattle grazing and soybean production – one hectare is lost every minute.

The former head of MI6 confirms, the security establishment thinks neither of the two Conservative candidates for UK PM, nor Labour leader Corbyn, is fit for office. Sir John Sawers describes Britain as going through “a political nervous breakdown.”

Boris Johnson has had to deny reports that MI6 witheld information from him at a security briefing because he is vulnerable to blackmail. OpenDemocracy reports on the bunga-bunga parties where “nothing is off the table”, that he attends unsupervised at the Umbrian palazzo of his friend, newspaper proprietor, Putin crony and son of a KGB officer, mini-oligarch Evgeny Lebedev.

Germany reports factory orders nosediving, down 8.6% year on year, amid a global slowdown. Turkey’s economy is in recession. UK’s already poor productivity shrank for the third consecutive quarter: UK technically in recession. It’s the first anniversary of Trump’s globally damaging trade war against China, with no outcome to talks, thanks to the president’s “volatility”.

Giant Deutsche Bank has begun laying off 18,000 staff globally, claiming (without reference to the probably illegal Trump loans and defaults and the $billions in fines for money-laundering and interest rate manipulation) that it has overextended itself since the crash of 2008. Its shares rise on the news that shareholders will not be asked to pay for the restructuring. That’s capitalism in a nutshell.

15-year-old American qualifier, Cori “Coco” Gauff knocks out five-times Grand-Slam champion Venus Williams and then progresses to the 4th round, 2nd week at Wimbledon.

So what happens next week, I wonder?

A warning has been issued for virtually the whole of continental Europe and across the Mediterranean into Morocco with threat for severe supercell storms, capable of producing severe winds, torrential/excessive rainfall, large to very large hail and some tornado threat.” (Severe-weather.eu) Meanwhile, Accuweather has yet more heavy rainstorms moving into the northeast corner of the US, posing a threat to the Daytona “Indy” meeting, and the possibility of storm cells now crossing the Gulf toward Texas merging into something more serious.

Will do, for a start. More warnings about Boris de-fucking Johnson might also help.

 

How to get yourself elected leader #1: Piss your staff off

“Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt said he could cancel civil servants’ summer holidays to prepare for no deal. ‘All government departments will be expected to act on the basis that we are leaving without a deal on 31 October,’ said Mr Hunt. ‘All August leave will be cancelled unless I receive a signed letter from the relevant permanent secretary saying that preparations in his or her department are on time and on track.'”

Don’t he just remind you of your old form master? “Unless the boy who put superglue on my chair owns up, I shall keep the whole class in for detention!”

You may remember, the Department for Exciting the EU hired or transferred about five thousand extra civil servants in January to put Britain on a wartime footing, at a cost of £1.4 billion, and then stood them all down again when the EU helpfully extended the 30 March deadline for leaving to 31 October.

Now they’re all being hired again and a panicked Foreign Secretary Hunt is issuing ultimatums like the headless chicken he is, just to reassure the Tory dumbfucks we’re really leaving, and to hell with the economy and the Union.

This is our money, yours and mine, that is being pissed down the drain, again, by these dismal incompetents.

A modest proposal: I suggest we impose double taxes on anyone who voted Leave.

 

(2 earlier articles have been removed for length.)

He’s a very naughty boy

The Foreign Office has described as “mischievous behavior”, a set of confidential memos leaked to the Mail on Sunday, in which Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, has evaluated the Trump administration as dysfunctional and diplomatically inept, and expects it could “end in disgrace”.

Needless to add, Trump has tweeted that he has no idea who Darroch is, and has never liked him anyway. And from now on he is refusing to allow the State Department to speak to him. So there!

This infantile overreaction is, of course, quite deliberate and, indeed, collusive. Just as Trump refuses to accept his election was compromised by the Russian activity he privately endorsed, he is quite happy to interfere in British politics to bring about regime change. He has thrown crude and inaccurate nonsense at Prime Minister May over her handling of the EU negotiations – in his infinite stupidity the Great Deal Maker thinks she should have “sued” the EU! – and has blatantly supported the candidacy of minority interest, Boris Johnson.

Why we don’t complain about his interference, and tell him to piss off and mind his own business, I don’t know. Especially when just one sensible remark by his predecessor, Mr Obama, about post-Brexit trade created a huge rightwing media shitstorm and invoked a racist tirade from that nice Mr Farage. Trump only understands people who stand up to him; he constantly demands, but privately despises, fawning obedience. It shows weakness.

The memos were leaked to a journalist, Isobel Oakshott, who has staked her dubious reputation on propagandising for the UK’s version of the alt-right and the extreme Brexit tendency, and has long been photographed in the company of “bad boys” Arron Banks, the millionaire-ish funder of law-breaking Leave campaigns who refuses to say where his money comes from, although it is Russia; and Farage, Trump’s elevator boy, whom Trump has decided to reward with Darroch’s ambassadorship.

Unfair, perhaps, as Darroch is only doing what ambassadors are supposed to do, reporting back to his masters what everyone on the planet other than Trump himself and his inarticulate dumbfucks has been publicly saying, over and again, since long before the inauguration. God alone knows what mistaken twaddle ambassador “Woody” Johnson is sending back to the echoing vaults of the deserted State Department about us.

Laughing off his seemingly perfectly accurate and dutiful assessments, given that he is so far not wrong as to be accused of bias towards the Shite House, an FO spokesmouth assured us, our “special relationship” with the fact-bending malignant narcissist and his ever-revolving team of feral clowns and one-legged lion tamers will undoubtedly survive.

Under Johnson, a funded climate-change denier and domestic abuser endorsed by President Trump in person, it probably will. But it looks like the end of Darroch’s diplomatic career.

Nothing, however, seems likely to derail “Sir” Lynton Crosby’s masterly plan to get Johnson over the line by preventing him from saying or doing anything in public – anything at all. Not even when OpenDemocracy dot Net claims to have evidence that Johnson is funded by the same dark-money channel that in 2016 gave £435 thousand to the Leave.EU campaign via the DUP, who still refuse to say where the money came from.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/revealed-boris-russian-oligarch-and-page-3-model/

In a Guardian editorial, however, it seems there’s speculation as to who might have compiled this lengthy series of reports and released them now, in an apparent attempt to discredit Europhile civil servants, boost Boris Johnson’s chances and revive Nigel Farage’s campaign to have himself nominated as ambassador to the USA – a mad idea Trump has previously encouraged.

After all, Nige is going to have to find a new job after 31 October, when to his delight we crash out of the EU, his crass LBC jaw-in ceases to have a willing audience and he can cash in his markers from all those Washington lobbyists.

“Crash out – Cash in!” is a T-shirt I’m planning to send him. Brexit – kerching!

 

Bunga-bunga: Boris exposes himself

“Boris declined the offer of the private jet, and flew to Pisa airport in Italy on Easyjet. He also opted to leave his close-protection officers from the Metropolitan Police behind in the UK. “… (Model, well-lashed Katie Price flashes Boris her tired old tits* over dinner…) “Britain’s foreign secretary had just put himself in an extremely embarrassing situation, and had put at risk the one asset the Foreign and Commonwealth Office values above all else: control. ‘This is a hand grenade too far,’ (another guest) Joan Collins reportedly said.”

When Joan Collins, who, incidentally, is lovely – I interviewed her once and she couldn’t have been kinder – shows that she has a better sense of decorous British diplomacy than Alexander Boris fucking absolutely dePfeffel Bunga-bunga Watermelon Picanninnies Fuckbusiness Johnson, 54 and in crisis, we are surely screwed.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/revealed-boris-russian-oligarch-and-page-3-model/

*A cinematic quote: “Here come those tired old tits again” – Peter Finch, in John Schlesinger’s Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

 

GW: Baked Alaska #2

More evidence that where the patchy Indian monsoon has arrived, rainfall is exceptional. Heavy rainfall in south-eastern Bangladesh has caused landslides and flooding affecting Rohingya refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar. UNHCR has temporarily relocated 2,137 people. More heavy downpours are expected through next week. Teknaf Upazila, the southernmost point in mainland Bangladesh close to the Myanmar border, recorded 753.60 mm of rain from 01 to 08 July; double the average for the whole of July. (From Floodlist)

Heavy rain has also triggered floods in parts of eastern China. Disaster authorities report that 6,351 people have been relocated and a total of 228,000 affected in Jiangxi Province since last week. According to China’s National Meteorological Center, 225.6mm of rain fell in Guangchang in 24 hours to 07 July.

Europe: “More showers and strong winds will batter Denmark and Germany bringing temperatures below average levels for this time of the year. But a completely different picture will be painted for the south of Europe this weekend when Italy, France and Spain could reach temperatures of up to 41C.” (Express) That was on Friday 5 July. Euronews reports, water temperatures in the Mediterranean are excessively hot, threatening marine life.

USA: In the wake of Trump’s triumphal parade and his bizarre history lesson to the assembled multitude (also quite inaccurate, apparently), Washington DC has been deluged, with a month’s worth of rain falling in just a few hours on 07 July at a rate of 3-in. per hour and flash flood warnings out. A storm cell had got stalled over the city by a hiccup in the jetstream. The White House basement was flooded.

Heavy rain continues too over the flood-hit Great Plains, while a Tropical Storm (Barry) is brewing in the Gulf. Unusually, it started over land in Georgia and moved out to sea, where water temperatures are over 31C, but will come ashore again in Texas, with up to 5-in. of rain expected – possibly even as a Cat 1 hurricane.

Baked Alaska #2

The US’s largest and least populated state, spanning the Arctic circle, Alaska is in trouble. “Sam Carana” – Arctic-news.blogspot.com – writes:

“Fires are raging over Alaska. … Nullschool images show carbon monoxide (as high as 43,443 ppb) and carbon dioxide (as high as 561 ppm) at the same spot on July 8. The situation looks set to further deteriorate as high temperatures are forecast. For July 10, temperatures as high as 35.5°C or 95.8°F are forecast. One image shows very high sea surface temperature anomalies off the coast … (warmer river waters entering the Arctic ocean) … while a further image shows a deformed jet stream. … Changes to the jet stream are caused by the rapid heating of the Arctic.”

In other words, ‘splains GW, there’s a feedback loop: as the Arctic warms, the jetstream deforms, bringing even warmer air and water up into the Arctic. In a further feedback, rapidly thawing permafrost is releasing more warming CO2 and the more potent greenhouse gas, methane, to the air.

It’s not a good outlook. The following item, however, beats all bounds for the most breathtaking lie yet uttered by the psycho in the White House, virtually whose first act on obtaining the Presidency was to cancel an Obama-era prohibition on coal companies dumping slurry in the rivers, and who has since removed the cap on emissions from fracking and lowered standards for vehicle exhausts:

The New York Times’ “Monday Briefing” reports:

President Trump listed his environmental accomplishments in a speech from the White House that seemed aimed at voters dismayed by his record.
He said his priorities were “being a good steward of public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.
But Mr. Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the international Paris climate change accord, sought to roll back or weaken more than 80 environmental regulations and ceded global environmental leadership, so critics were outspoken.
David Victor, director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, called the speech “a true 1984 moment.”

Do we not have laws? A BogPo supplement. Breaking things… Nature Notes… GW: Not yet the last of the Phew!… Get planting!

Do we not have laws?

An American author claims to have had two speaking engagements in Britain cancelled because his “Jewishness” might incite protests. Your cynical Uncle Bogler suspects some publicist’s dark hand in this, but we’ll respond anyway.

Dear Richard Zimler

I was sorry to read a report in The Guardian that you have been no-platformed as a visiting writer by two unnamed cultural organizations in my country, apparently because you are too provocatively Jewish; although your fiction is not specifically connected with Judaism.

I see too that you have been nominated for many literary prizes but never won. Hmmn.

But, like Salman Rushdie, you have apparently been a little controversial in your latest work, imagining a dialog between Jesus and Lazarus, which is sure to offend anyone who wants to find a target for their bigotry. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned they are both fictional characters and fair game.

It seems not only ludicrous to discriminate against you on religious grounds, but surely also illegal. We do have laws against this sort of thing, I think, somewhere. It must have been something you said! But seriously, which are these organizations? It’s normal to out them. Do they exist? Please, this is too serious to be something your publisher’s publicist has cooked up.

I’m sure there are many Jewish writers and intellectuals who have not been no-platformed here – except for Marika Sherwood, a holocaust survivor who was no-platformed at Manchester University in 2017 entirely at the insistence of Israel’s ambassador Regev, an insufferable little shit who objected to her likening the Likud party to Nazis.

As if she wouldn’t know.

Generally speaking, it is still the antisemites who cop for the most criticism here, so please don’t abandon us entirely. Of course, they exist. But we are undergoing a dark night of the soul, hanging on the definition of the word antisemite. The Israel lobby has been extremely successful in sowing division where little existed.

There will always be dimwits who desecrate cemeteries and places of worship, Jewish, Muslim, Christian. The point is the desecration, not the religion. The dimwits know nothing of religions, they merely delight in transgression; just as many so-called pitchside soccer racists use racist tropes as a weapon to unsettle opposing black players, but do not (probably) share the ideology. Of course, that’s no excuse. While the British can be bullish, even at times heartily cynical, we are seldom to be taken at face value.

(In a new survey, 90.3 per cent of those polled agreed that Britishness is no longer a matter of color.)

And there will be people like myself who are justifiably concerned by the emerging apartheid state in Israel, a formerly progressive, technically secular nation now seemingly ruled by gangster capitalists and backward-looking religious extremists. We have a right to be heard and we do not wish our dismay to be howled down by paid apologists for a corrupt regime; nor do we wish to be branded somehow as haters of Jews because of it.

If we hated you, why would we care? We oppose apartheid and support human rights and justice everywhere. It’s a salutary exercise to revisit David ben Gurion’s foundation address to the UN in 1948 and compare it with today.

Unfashionably, Richard, I would still draw a distinction between the race-baiters and the race-haters.

The former category may weaponise difference for their own advantage, but when the chips are down, will put community before difference and side with those of whatever creed or colour are considered community against outsiders.

The latter will regard all and any persons of difference as outsiders to be refused admission to the community, even to be ejected, and focus their hatred and whatever violence they believe is licensed to them specifically on target groups. They are a very small, sociopathic minority who sometimes gain disproportionate notice by breaking things.

Some will argue, what’s the difference? It’s all discrimination and to be decried. Others might prefer benevolent discrimination and communautarianism, to ideological, racially-based violence, hatred and exclusion. All people discriminate, it’s in our nature. You’re never going to end it. It’s the intent that matters.

I was frankly unaware that we have many cultural organizations left, now that Mark Rylance has severed connections with the Royal Shakespeare Company over their sponsorship arrangements – being indebted to an oil company is attracting fashionable liberal opprobrium here – and now the Sacklers have been withdrawing their opioid-funded sponsorships – but it appears from what you say that the last two may have gone. No-platforming is a negation of culture, once it’s practised you replace it with barbarism. Institutions should remain neutral and not adopt the prejudices and weakness of their officers.

So, I’m sorry for what has happened – I’m trusting your word that it has genuinely happened – and hope that it won’t totally colour your opinion of us, but frankly I’m not too hopeful about the future of Europe, let alone Britain, certainly the English part of which I washed my hands long ago. Although there are some encouraging signs that populism isn’t everywhere rampant.

I had hoped in retirement to emigrate to Portugal myself, but I’m grateful now that I wasn’t able to. I expect you’re getting used to the extreme summer heat and the wildfires, but up here on the balmy west coast of Britain it’s still hard to believe that the most important issue we face is biting us in the ass, and it’s not cultural, or religious.

Shalom, Richard, take it easy.

 

Breaking things

“China has accused protesters who vandalised Hong Kong’s parliament on Monday of ‘serious illegal actions’ that ‘trample on the rule of law’.” (BBC News)

I’m sure they have!

Why does it not occur to the media and the Hong Kong authorities that the most obvious way to discredit the tens of thousands of peaceful protesters marching daily against a controversial extradition agreement with mainland China is to infiltrate their ranks with 5th columnists and ratchet up the level of vandalism and violence?

Maybe to the point where a direct intervention by Beijing is justifiable?

 

Taking us all for a ride

Variety magazine reports that Garrett Camp, a co-founder of the Uber “ride sharing” dial-up cheap taxi business, and his parter, Elizabeth Nguyen, have bought a $72.5 million, 4.7-acre mansion estate in Los Angeles.

That’s despite the strange fact that Uber, whose drivers – not a few of them homeless people who sleep in their cars – are locked in a dispute with the company over low-pay and abusive terms of employment, has yet to make a profit.

Mr Camp (net worth $4.2 billion – Forbes) owns a “portfolio” of other substantial properties in California and New York.

In a parallel Guardian article today, social justice campaigner and environmentalist, George Monbiot reports, the billionaire press in the UK has launched a savage campaign of lies and vituperation against him and five others, for putting forward a plan to mitigate the astonishing inequality growing between the ultra-high net worth individuals – the 1%, who “own” more than half the wealth of the world – and the rest, through a process of land reform.

And from a further report, we learn that the top 10 per cent of working people enjoy a median income of $7,000 a month; the bottom one percent, just 22 dollars.

The billionaires are fighting back hard against any suggestion that they might like to give up some of their ridiculous wealth, that many of them have gained for almost no effort by cannily monetizing the growing size and data content of mass consumer markets, or by employing armies of zombie workers on skeletal wages to perform menial services for the marginally better-off.

It’s estimated that owing to high housing costs and uncertain employment in the low-wage economy from which vulgar, parasitic creatures like Camp have profited mightily, more than ten thousand Angelenos are homeless and living on the streets. Not far from camp Camp, are the camps of the underclass, many of them women with chldren, whom the authorities are continually harrassing. It’s a less contentious strategy than housing them.

Mr Camp’s mansion purchase seems to be a sign that the new billionairism is turning conventional economics on its head, since this individual’s obscene wealth – and he is not alone, there are more billionaires than ever – is based on nothing more than a stock market bubble that grew from a brilliant business “idea” that people could use their cellphones to call for an unlicensed taxi whose sleep-deprived driver would get 40% of the fare and hand the rest over to Mr Camp and his mates.

I suppose the brilliant flash of inspiration that led to all these poor people hiring out their borrowed or shared cars and precious time to Mr Camp and his ilk at varying rates set by an algorithm designed to benefit only themselves had to be worth something. Despite putting many licensed drivers out of a job.

It’s known as hire and reward, after all – but the wrong people are getting the rewards.

 

Nature notes

Again today in Boglington-on-Sea we have wall-to-wall blue sky all day, although don’t be fooled: there’s a fine haze of traffic pollution. Nevertheless, it’s an agreeable 19.5 degrees C in the shade, with a barely perceptible breeze, and it’s half-past ten in the morning. Global warming? Fie! (Oops – 11.15 and it’s gone over 20.4C.)

Yesterday on our walk I did a bee count, and the news was still not good. At one point there’s a stretch along the path by the river where half a dozen large Buddleia bushes splurged into spectacular flower a couple of weeks ago. The cloying scent of the panicles of purple flowers filled the air, even to my feeble human olfactory senses detectable from fifty yards away. Your average bee couldn’t help but detect them at half a mile. Yet I counted only one honeybee grazing among the lot, possibly two but it might have been a wasp or one of those false-bee hoverflies, of which there seem to be quite a few this year. My eyesight isn’t improving, but even extrapolating by a factor of ten that I must have missed, it didn’t seem like there are many bees around.

Buddleia is also attractive to butterflies. I spotted none anywhere among the bushes, although later crossing a small meadow where the ripening grass is approaching shoulder-high (I’m six feet tall) there were three browns, and later a solitary tortoiseshell. Nevertheless, it has been such an amazing spring, mild and with just the right balance of rain and sunshine, masses of tumbling vegetation and wildflowers flowering early, that it does seem the insect population is recovering somewhat from last year’s disastrous start. There’s never a shortage of gnats here.

Who is it who keeps smashing down the two teasels growing beside the path? These amazing, self-sown annuals can grow to seven feet in a few weeks, their pale-green, serrated leaves on furry stems pointing upwards to the light, before putting out their multiple seed-heads, the familiar large burrs rustic weavers allegedly used in olden times to “full”, or comb the skeins of wool. Once ripened, they make interesting cut-flower ornaments for the vase. People spray them gold and silver for free Xmas decs. That’s if they’re allowed to flower. Every year, these two companions get to about four feet in height and some whistling moron comes along with a stick and bashes them down. If I ever catch them I will take a stick and bash them down.

The bee picture improved slightly when I took a glass of well-chilled Czech lager up onto the patio to contemplate my projects*. The tiny garden is bordered on one side by a magnificent privet hedge, whose top I cannot reach to trim even with the bloody awkward folding ladder thing, that gives your fingers blood blisters just looking at its stiff and snappy hinges. The privet is in copious flower and I counted half a dozen hive workers brunching on the nectar, their little legs stuck all over with pollen.

Another stripy hoverfly comes and stares at me for a while, wings going nineteen thousand to the dozen. It must take a lot of energy to perform that astonishing manoeuvre, of staying absolutely still like a hawk poised in mid-air for minutes at a time. You wonder why they bother? What are they waiting for? They rarely seem to land anywhere. I fancied it might be one of those new nano-sized military drones and that at any moment it would fire a tiny missile at my head.

 

*Huzzah! After all this time, the bricks to finish my half-built wall have arrived. The ones the yard sold on by mistake a year ago after I’d paid for them, and couldn’t get any more of. Until now. (Actually they’d had them in for months but it didn’t occur to them to phone me and say.)

Dimly sensing the throbbing of a heavy engine outside, I managed to changeover to my urine day bag and sprinted downstairs at a quarter to 8.00 this morning, just in time to stop the men delivering an enormous pallet smack in the middle of the path I share with the neighboring house, blocking it completely.

I’d spent half an hour yesterday clearing a space for them inside the garden wall, but they didn’t think the pallet would fit there and were nervous about parking on a bend. We could have been trapped for weeks! It merely required me to shift three bags of compost six inches to the right and they were able to guide the pallet into position for a perfect fit.

It’s no wonder the working people voted to Leave the EU. They all seem to be quite bereft of common sense.

 

GW: Not yet the last of the Phew!

Europe: Heat records at the weekend tumbled acoss a swathe of central Europe from Denmark in the north, to Switzerland in the south, as it was officially declared the hottest June month ever across the continent. In Germany, 34 all-time heat records were broken on Sunday, 1 July. At the river Saale in Bernburg, a scorching high of 39.6°C (103.3°F) was not only that station’s hottest temperature on any date in records going back to 1898, but the hottest June temperature ever observed anywhere in Germany. The previous record? 2018. (BBC Weather/The Weather Channel)

Northern Spain continues very hot, recording temperatures in the low 40s C, 102F-plus. Firefighters are still battling two large blazes, one moving at 7km/h has burned 3,300Ha and is in the outskirts of the capital, Madrid. England recorded its hottest day of the year on 29 June, the temperature reaching 34C (93.2F) at Heathrow airport. In Scotland, people found their power sockets had turned black after a series of lightning strikes on their houses. Hundreds of homes were without power for almost 24 hours following the storm on Saturday.

Iceland too has been experiencing an “unbearable” heatwave, with temperatures in places rising to 22C (72F). Residents are more used to the average June temperature of 7C. (Euronews)

USA: “Alaska, part of which lies inside the Arctic Circle, is sweltering under a heatwave, with record temperatures recorded in several areas, including its largest city. Temperatures reached 90F (32C) in Anchorage on Thursday (4 July), shattering the city’s previous record of 85F.” (BBC News, et al

Russia: 18 people have died – 17 drowned and 1 as a result of hypothermia, in record floods in Siberia. 8 people are still missing. Emergency teams have evacuated 2,200 people from the disaster area. Almost 1,500 people have sought medical help, with 221 hospitalised. Flooding first began around 25 June after a period of heavy rain that caused rivers and lakes to overflow, including Lake Baikal. Over 6,600 homes have been flooded, affecting over 30,000 residents. 12 bridges have been destroyed, dozens of roads damaged, as well as around 40 public buildings, including schools and medical centres. (Floodlist)

India: “Dozens” of people are reported to have died in flooding and landslides in Maharashtra province. 18 people have died and 6 others are missing after heavy rainfall caused a dam breach which flooded a village. Houses were swept away as flood waters engulfed Tiware Bhendwadi village. Mumbai has had its heaviest rain for over a decade, with localized flooding, and there’s more to come. Usual transport chaos – road, rail and air – as 375mm (15-in) falls in 24 hours. 18 labourers died when a wall weakened by 2 days of continuous rain fell on them.

Japan: At least 20 people have died and more than a million have been advised to leave their homes as monstrous rains once again lash the south island of Kyushu. 1,000mm (39in) of rain has fallen since 28 June, and Japan’s Meteorological Agency forecasts the rains will continue into next week. A further 350mm of rain is expected in the southern part of the island and 300mm in the northern part by 04 July, with some areas predicted to get more than 80mm of rain every hour. The agency said a month’s rainfall could hit parts of Kyushu in just 24 hours. (BBC News)

Vietnam: 2 people were killed and 3 injured on 04 July after a bridge in Thanh Hoá Province collapsed due to the heavy rain. After passing over Hainan Island in southern China, Tropical Depression ‘Mun’ dumped 366mm (14-in.) of rain in 24 hours. Further heavy rain could affected northern and central areas, including the capital Hanoi. (Floodlist)

Pacific: Plain vanilla Tropical Storm Barbara metamorphosed overnight into a huge, 130mph, Category 4 hurricane. The Weather Channel reports, it’s just sitting out in mid-ocean, not going anywhere – but Hawaii is potentially in its path next week. Happily, cooler water should take a lot of the force out of it by then, but high surf and severe weather warnings have been issued for Oahu. This increasingly common rapid intensification of storms is a clear sign of adverse effects of a warming world.

Cuba: Sunday 1 July was the hottest day in recorded history for the Caribbean nation, which recorded an all-time heat mark of 39.1°C (102.4°F) at Veguitas. (Weather Underground). 2 people have died and 3 are missing in floods in nearby Haiti. It’s the second spate of deadly flash floods in the space of 4 weeks. (Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching…

Fracking hell: Following a meta-analytical study of over 1,300 peer-reviewed research papers, Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL, of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, said, “Substantial scientific evidence now leaves no question that drilling and fracking cause serious harms to public health. Further studies will continue to illuminate the full extent of those ill effects and to define causal pathways in further detail, but it is abundantly clear that the practice is not safe and that no set of regulations can make it safe.” (PSR – Physicians for Social Responsibility – website, 9 June)

California: A M6.2 earthquake off the coast at Vancouver last night (03 July) translated 12 hours later along a known fault into a M6.4 in a remote area of southern California, that was felt in Los Angeles, where buildings swayed. At a depth of only 8 km, it was the largest earthquake in California for many years and happened in an ancient volcano field next to a deep-well geothermal pumping station. As we reported recently, the laBrea tar pits in the LA basin have been bubbling over, and steam eruptions have been reported, pushing up manhole covers. There have been swarms of smaller earthquakes north and south along the coast, linked to major volcanic activity in the Aleutians. Dutchsinse reports too, there have been now 27 magnitude 6 or higher quakes around the Pacific basin in the past month, many more than usual.

La terra trema… the M6.2 Ridgecrest quake was followed two days later by a M7.1 in the same location. Casualties, damage. A statewide state of emergency has been declared. The epicentre is not far from the Long Valley supervolcano caldera. Dutchsinse (Michael Janitch) points to human activity – deep drilling, fracking, pumping – in the fracture zones as a contributor. He forecasts that if the force pushing down from the north Pacific doesn’t transfer to the east along the edge of the North American craton, a third major quake is likely. He had warned his viewers of the quakes days in advance – the USGS is saying they had only 48 seconds’ warning of the M7.2!

Yellowstone: In the wake of the 6.2 Ridgefield quake, Greeley reports the seismographs are showing a huge intrusion of magma under the park. The meltline is the highest anyone has ever seen.

Three days ago: Steamboat geyser has gone off 25 times this year, 7 times in June alone, set to smash last year’s record of 32 eruptions. The biggest geyser in the park, the Steamboat normally records two or three eruptions in a year, but has recently become hyperactive. USGS say they don’t know why. Old Faithful’s regular blasts are getting bigger too… new geysers, mudpools forming – more earthquakes, rising temperatures, ground uplift reported. (Mary Greeley)

 

Get planting!

Possibly the most futile piece of research this year has come from Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who has been looking into how planting trees removes carbon dioxide from the air. (Guardian report, 03 July)

Prof Crowther calculates that there is room to squeeze a trillion more trees onto uncultivated surfaces of the planet, that would remove two thirds of the CO2 – provided, of course, that we stop cutting down trees and burning more fossil fuels.

Both propositions seem something of a stretch. A trillion is a thousand times a thousand million. The energy required for nurseries to produce and for foresters to plant that many saplings – the survival rate of heel transplants is quite low, so perhaps two or even three trillion, pick a number – would be enormous.

Mr Gove, the Environment secretary, recently proposed planting 130 thousand more trees in British cities. There is no likelihood whatever of reaching even that modest target.

There would then be the obvious requirement to wait while the little trees grow into trees large enough to make a difference, perhaps ten to fifteen years – time we don’t really have. Meanwhile, Mr Bolsonaro’s friends in the Brazilian parliament are busy removing a hectare of the rain forest every minute of the day to graze cattle to make beefburgers for fast-food chains.

I don’t think, either, that Prof Crowther has taken into account that trees don’t absorb CFCs, methane or nitrous oxide, that are also increasing in the atmosphere and causing it to overheat; and that at least 1.5 degrees of warming is already baked into the system, mainly in the oceans.

But it’s a nice idea, well worth the grant.

 

Breaking bad… There, their dear: some pointers for internet trolls… Generation Campervan… GW: Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…

Quote of the week

“For me England is the model country in the western world when it comes to the triumph of neoliberalism and digital surveillance. You can find poverty in every one of the collapsing countries of the western world, but the unsentimental removal from sight of an entire part of the population because it is no longer of use in the value appreciation chain – that is unique to England.” – German dystopian SciFi author, Sybille Berg, interviewed in The Guardian, 30 June.

 

“While it was too soon to definitely attribute Europe’s blistering heatwave… to climate change…” – The Guardian, 29 June

“Come on, give me a break!” – Prof. Paul Beckwith, climate warrior.

Breaking bad

Of course, he’s right. I’ve been moaning about the BBC doing this, but it all comes from our ultra-cautious Meteorological Office, who like to measure summer daytime temperatures scientifically, in the dark. It’s regularly four degrees hotter in the shade where I am near the coast than the “official” temperatures they publish from a box just four miles up the road from here. I measure, not in direct sunlight, but at least in the light of day. It seems somehow more – you know, how people actually experience the world?

The logical position ought to be that as it’s getting hotter every year, and the increase is speeding up year on year, with effects that are self-evident, then there’s definitely a problem. (But you’re a frog, you can just lie back in your lovely warm water and ignore it.) That the problem might not demonstrably produce any given outcome is really a rather isolationist position to take. The current heatwave has shattered records. It is one of a rapidly warming recent series. Why would it not have been exacerbated by a warming world? We know the world is warming.

According to National Geographic magazine, Beckwith points out in a new video, Europe has had 5 (five) “1 in 500-year” summers in the last 15 years. Tens of thousands of additional deaths have accompanied the hottest – 56 thousand died in Russia in 2010 alone. Russia – in common with most of the rest of Europe – has an extremely low uptake of domestic air conditioning systems. It’s a problem!

These extreme heat events are all connected to a slower jet stream that locks weather systems into place, says Michael Mann of Penn State University. Mann co-authored a study last year that linked the slowdown in the jet stream—the band of high-altitude winds that sweep around the globe from west to east—to last summer’s unprecedented droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and flooding events across the entire Northern Hemisphere. And it is likely behind India’s weak monsoon rains and the widespread flooding in the U.S. Midwest this year.” (National Geographic)

And why is the jetstream slowing? You guessed it. Too soon to tell….

 

“All our Buddha’s are made by us using the best materials available.”

Tell me, what’s wrong with this commercial announcement? (I was looking for a large stone Buddha head for my little garden. I’ve actually found one, the garden centre sells quite nice ones, only the staff aren’t allowed to lift them, for reasons of Health & Safety, because they’re heavy, and thus cannot deliver them even to your car, which might explain why they don’t appear to have sold any.)

Yes, the plural “Buddhas” does not require the addition of a fucking apostrophe, okay?

“Grammar does not stultify, it enhances language.” – Me.

There, their dear: some pointers for trolls

I’m rapidly going bald, reading too many readers’ comments beneath articles written by journalists who, if not always right about things, and lacking the professional eye of a subeditor, that extinct species, so that mistakes often of omission or addition of entire words words are becoming increasingly common, are nevertheless qualified to set down coherent thoughts in writing.

But you seldom find a misplaced apostrophe in the Washington Post, or the New York Times.

For fuck’s sake, morons, what makes you think your crapulous opinions can possibly carry any weight if you can’t even put an apostrophe in the right place? I’m tearing my goddam hair out. It just goes on getting worse.

It’s its! ITS!! That’s if the subject belongs or attaches to something neutral, an object, a statement, it’s its! The possessive pronoun! If you plan to abbreviate “it is”, which is good practice in writing, then it’s it’s. Got it? If you wish to abbreviate can not, it’s can’t. Will not > won’t. Should not > shouldn’t. If you’re trying to say something belongs to Mr Dimwit, then it’s Mr Dimwit’s. Short for Mr Dimwit, his…

Christ on a BMX, it’s not that difficult, surely?

Oh, and you don’t apostrophize plurals. Got that too? It’s plurals, not plural’s, or plurals’. That’s known as the grocer’s apostrophe, because of so many misspelled handwritten signs you see outside grocers’ stores and on market stalls, reading “tomatoe’s $1” If there’s more than one tomato, it’s fucking “tomatos”, no apostrophe, no e either. Got that too?

To indicate possession, when the subject is singular, or when it ends with the letter s, the apostrophe goes before the possessive s (The s suffix is, in its turn, an abbreviation of hi(s), her(s), it(s), etc. As per: “Plato, his Republic” shortens to “Plato’s Republic”) So too: “Howard’s End”; “His mistress’s favors”; “Season’s greetings”; “Mr Dimwit’s latest Post”.

If the subject is plural, i.e. there’s more than one, then the apostrophe goes after the s. “Womens’ liberation”; “Readers’ comments”; “idiots’ grammatical delusions”.

The apostrophe is a long, Greek word for a useful little tick, a tiny bit of print punctuation (known as a diacritical) that helps to make sense of things.

But you should never (shouldn’t ever) use the apostrophe with possessive pronouns his, hers, its, yours, ours, theirs. Got it? Just leave them as they are, they’re fine.

And then there’s there. It’s not fucking “their”, unless it belongs to them!

  • There = prepositional adverb: there is an object. Not their. OR…
  • There = preposition: the object is there. Not their.
  • Their, or theirs = belonging to them. Not there.
  • There’s = there is. Not theirs.
  • They’re = they are. Not there, or their.

Just because there and their share a similar pronunciation, doesn’t mean they are the same, flexibly interchangeable word. Okay with that?

And while we’re about it, consider the difference between lose and loose, commonly confused. Not that you ever do. Consider it, I mean.

To lose something is to accidentally mislay it, surreptitiously get rid of it, or in a personal sense, sacrifice it, so that it is no longer in your possession or anywhere to be found. It’s a verb. (Not to be confused with the French city of Toulouse.) The related noun is loss. Loess is a type of volcanic soil; less means… er, less.

Loose is an adjective meaning free, unconstrained or untethered.

Lose and loose are not the same word. They’re not spelled the same way. They’re not even pronounced the same way. So why confuse them?

Nor are to and too the same, interchangeable word. Yet comment posters are more than inclined to too frequently interchange them!

I am going to… I am going too… these phrases have completely different meanings, because the words to and too do too. To (with one o) is a preposition, meaning in the direction of; toward. To is also an auxiliary adverb, when used in conjunction with the infinitive form of a verb: to go, to read, to think. It still suggests forward intent.

Too (with two os) is an adjective, meaning as well as; in addition (to), on top of; it’s a comparator, e.g “too much”, “too many”, “too stupid”. It’s not the same word as to, is it? Good, we may be getting somewhere.

And with the third person singular of the irregular verbs to go and to do, where an e is inserted for ease of pronunciation, it’s s/he goes and s/he does, not s/he goe’s and s/he doe’s, okay? For pity’s sake! Why make work for yourself?

Grammar does matter! It really does. (Not doe’s, as in belonging to a doe!)

Confusing words like there and their, to and too, misplacing apostrophes, cannot simply be dismissed as casual lapses, typos, carelessness under pressure of time. They are basic errors; evidence of ignorance.

Grammatical rules may be only longstanding literary conventions (note careful positioning of adverb only) but they exist to clarify text, to unmuddle thought, to convey meaning – not as tiresome distractions to embarrass the semiliterate and show them up in front of their betters. Grammar does not stultify, it enhances language.

If written language didn’t have rules – which include consistent spellings, albeit sometimes varied by dialect or editorial school but always consistent within them – we might just as well junk written texts altogether and communicate – as many around where I live do – by a system of grunts and clumsy gestures, or clubbing one another indicatively over the head.

Why let yourselves down? Do you imagine I care what you think about more difficult and complicated matters, about politics and philosophy and climate change, if you haven’t been bothered to educate yourself beyond the fourth grade to the simplest rules of English grammar?

 

Generation Campervan

As I was born sort of on the cusp of 1950, I wonder if the now faintly dismissive social designator “baby boomer” really applies to my personal demographic?

Although it sounds pretty much like the circumstances of my conception.

I think of myself more as Campervan Man.

Happy campers! (Pinterest)

When I was a kid, or child, as they used to be known, I used to watch the colorful cinema commercials (TV was still black and white, and there was only one channel with no ads, the one I still watch exclusively, despite its annually unexciting summer schedule) and badger my poor single mother endlessly to take me to Butlin’s for my summer holiday. (She wasn’t really single, it’s just that my father was being a glamorous globetrotting TV reporter, never home.)

It looked such fun! Compared with an only childhood in a small flat above a garage in Kensington, you had your own little chalet, and there were happy smiling people with bad teeth, not like the hoity-toity miserable wealthy kids I’d been sent to a posh pre-prep school in London with. It was always sunny! There was a big swimming pool with a chute! And you could line up and help yourself to food!

There were those ever-helpful, smiling, singing comedians in red jackets, the “Redcoats” (sad wannabe actors), and organized games, and a playroom for we (us) kids with a swing and a slide, while the adults held nobbly-knees and biggest-boobs competitions, ballroom dancing where they did the jive, and… and… everything! It was surely a Heaven on Earth!

My mother, however, had the sagacity to recognize these cut-price Communist workers’ paradises for what they were: indoctrination camps for the easily pleased. And took me instead to the more agreeable Ship Hotel in Brighton every year she could, because that’s coincidentally where her boyfriends also stayed.

Now, what seems like a lifetime later – oh, look, it is – I have an equally deluded fantasy, created I expect by clever admen to appeal to elderly romantics and supported by the endless stream of evocative little self-propelled white boxes trundling past my house in summer, to holiday for a week in the back of Morrison’s carpark, just a stone’s throw from McDonald’s. Some impressively not so little!

I can ignore the obvious lifestyle pull of joining the hordes of grey ponytailed, leatherclad, bitterly divorced men in their 60s, thumping in long lines past my house on their oversized, twin-pot 1200 cc Harley-Davidson motorbikes on a weekend away, after the long journey on challenging roads from Nuneaton and Daventry. After all, I already live here….

As the ad says, “There’s never been a better time to grab life by the handlebars and jump on a Sportster® Iron 883™.” Quite so (™, ®). Especially when you’ve got maybe ten years to live.

But I can resist the lure of two wheels, recollecting the desperate commuting days of my youth, when rain would pool soggily in your crotch as your little machine struggled up hills, impelled by willpower, and your visor would steam up and big 16-wheelers would thunder by in a cloud of spray, unaware of your existence. Besides, I’m not sure my prostate would allow it now.

I spent 15 years as an advertising agency copywriter, so I can happily stick two fingers up – and then down my throat – when I learn from their webthing of the ubiquitous Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic, that “If Bonnie and Clyde rode a Harley (™) motorcycle, this would be the one!”

But they didn’t. They rode – and died – in a Ford V8. A car. There’s no evidence whatever that they ever rode a motorcycle, unlike Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who in the movie at least had a go on something in Bolivia but it wasn’t a Harley (TM). Now I think of it, it may even have been a bicycle. Some copywriters deserve the eternal fires of hell, others are just pathetically unimaginative. This kid sucks.

Sorry, got a bit sidetracked there. But I desperately want to own a campervan!

Why? They’re so totally declassé! And besides.

We should first of all make a distinction between the campervan and the mobile home. Neither, let us first say, is a caravan. Caravans are shit. Everyone hates you, you park them in a field, and. That’s if they haven’t been blown across the road on the way. Or you can pay for an expensive pitch and live in it on license for 90 days a year. It’s up to you, but I’d rather own a house, which I do. Mostly.

The only possibly interesting thing about caravans is the word “hoburn”. I have no idea where it comes from, America I expect, but it apparently refers to a gathering of caravans. Shit squared.

A campervan is a vehicle you can drive anywhere, park-up (even reverse!) and spend the odd night in, maybe at a festival or on a weekend fishing trip, but you wouldn’t want to live in it. It’s basically just a day van with extra windows and a folding bed and a Primus stove, and often you can’t stand up in it to do the washing-up, but it gives you a degree of freedom you never thought possible with your head on.

A mobile home, on the other hand, is a swanky palace on wheels, often with several rooms, a pool and a garage for a VW Up!. No, I kid you not, I’ve seen ads for touring homes in the wide-open spaces of the USA that are as commodious as any million-dollar Malibu beachfront house, and twice as expensive. At 8 mpg you’ll need unlimited money for gas, and also to pass a bus driver’s test. But you can move around for ever and never hit land. Bliss!

As with everything in life, there are, I feel sure, solutions inbetween, better suited to narrow, winding roads laid out according to the topography of the medieval strip-field system.

Aside from the likelihood that I’d never go anywhere – I have thought of it in terms of surviving the coming apocalypse, but then would you? – there are, of course, about a dozen good reasons not to buy a campervan.

First on the list is the knowledge that you would probably almost never use it. Try this test: if there’s nowhere you’d particularly want to go by car, train, plane or boat more than once in your life, then why imagine it would be helpful to go there in your campervan?

For the price of a campervan, you could probably enjoy several hundred nights in relatively comfortable, three-star hotels. But consider, there may not be one locally!

There you’d be, risking to be murdered by the local psycho in revenge for Algeria, while parked in a French layby, for how long before you discovered the auberge down the road? That there, tucked away in back of the nondescript café with the signed, blown-up photo of Eddie Merckz and the flyspecked Tour de France cycling posters, was the three-star Michelin restaurant gastronomique: something of an improvement on hot-soup primus-chic; and overhead, a comfortable bed for the night?

Then, there’s the price. You could probably acquire a 1993 Fiat Ducato van for about nothing, maybe fifty quid. Stick a Z-bed, a chair, a handbasin and some cupboards in the back, cover everything in purple floral moquette, and you’re talking £6,000. Just don’t look underneath.

Also in a range of hideous colors. The VW Transporter: not for swinging cats.

The popular VW Transporter format is an enclosed space: not one in which you would easily practise your cat-swinging skills. Yet my local car showroom, where I bought my trusty Citroen Berlingo – not that I’d planned to go to Berlin – has outside, this week, a relatively new, pre-loved, hi-top Transporter camper conversion, priced at only £34,500….

My eyes begin to water. For an equivalent sum, you could buy 34,500 entire medieval villages in rural France, including VAT, or a passionate night for two necking champagne on Richard Branson’s Necker Island.

Campervan lust is a form of insanity, I grant you. I think vaguely of the annual weekend I might spend at the Brecon jazz festival, which I have never been to, although it is not far away. A campervan would offer a free home-from-home, not only for me but for li’l Hunzi too.

And those music workshops we go to once or twice a year, how much might we save by not having to include the accommodation in the price? (Answer: not much, and no maidservice.)

I think too, of visiting my lovely daughter at her new home on the other side of the country. They could put me up, there’s a spare room, but wouldn’t you know, there’s also a demented, dog-hating cat, carelessly adopted from a shelter. Having a ‘van would allow us the extra, separate space we’d need to avoid a savage clawing spat and the embarrassment of having to continually apologize to my own daughter, “It’s alright, darling, I’m sure she’ll come home soon”, while secretly hoping the furry little termagent has been run over.

I keep reading that baby boomers have eaten all the pies, and because of my selfishness, Generation X or whatever can’t afford a life. Well, my lovely daughter married her university beau, they both have good jobs and have bought a house together, no help from me. I refuse to feel guilty, in my tiny cottage on a thundering main road in the fringes of a seaside town seasonally overpopulated by campervan dwellers and traversed by tragically sociopathic monster-bikers.

I look at them all, gray haired, lumpy 63-somethings, miserable couples with decrepit spaniels, and wonder: how the hell does anyone of the sort afford these amazing multicellular units, that cost from £60,000 to £120,000 apiece. Did they win the lottery? Did they cash in their bloated pension pots, sell their houses?

Probably, like me, they’ve got “pay nothing ’til you die” retirement mortgages. I should have used mine to buy a campervan, I was so desperate to, but there were other priorities and I drew back from the edge. Now it’s beyond me.

Could I really have envisaged myself taking the ferry to Calais, mooching around Europe with nobody to talk to, when I can just Google a virtual adventure at home? Campervanning is really more for couples who are past the age of speaking to one another.

But that’s me! Only single. A man and his dog.

Across the street, my neighbor Mr Hughes parks a vehicle called Monty. It’s to die for, a 1996 Autosleeper conversion of a long-wheelbase Peugeot Boxer, in delicately pale Nile green. They seldom go anywhere in it. I’d go to the eds of the Earth! I gibber lovingly everytime we pass it, and dream of the wide open spaces.

Stuck in a jam on the M4.

Have I really matured since those lonesome childhood days when I was transfixed by the fleeting promise of a different kind of life in the sun? Where I should probably have had seven kinds of shit kicked out of me by working-class lads with red knees and headlice, for being the posh kid who read books?

Is this just me wanting to go round again?

Butlins on wheels?

 

GW: Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

Newshound

Many reports emerge today, 1 July, of a freak hailstorm that has buried Guadalajara in northern Mexico overnight under five feet of ice, after a day when the temperature had been over 30C. Two people were treated for hypothermia, cars were slowly borne away in the tide and 200 buildings were damaged. A precisely similar event happened two years ago at Cordoba in Argentina that was barely noticed in the press, but now we are all climate change enthusiasts.

“The vast expanse of sea ice around Antarctica has suffered a ‘precipitous’ fall since 2014, satellite data shows, and fell at a faster rate than seen in the Arctic”, records the Guardian. “The plunge in the average annual extent means Antarctica lost as much sea ice in four years as the Arctic lost in 34 years. Researchers said it showed ice could disappear much more rapidly than previously thought.”

“An area of Amazon rainforest roughly the size of a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, according to satellite data. The rate of losses has accelerated as Brazil’s new right-wing president favours development over conservation.” (BBC News) More depressing still, Japan has resumed unfettered commercial whaling.

And as Europe swelters (satellite forecasts show the African heat returning next week with some potential for a 49C record in Spain on 11 July):

  • More flooding has affected parts of Ecuador, this time in the northern province of Sucumbíos. Around 600 people have been affected in the province in total, with 150 evacuated and 150 homes or buildings damaged. Landslides have blocked roads, stranding motorists.
  • Recent heavy rains in the Mopti region of Mali have caused floods, aggravating the already precarious situation of the 50,254 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region.
  • Over 700 people have been moved to relief camps in the state of Assam, north eastern India, after annual flooding caused by the overflowing Brahmaputra, Barak and Jia Bhoreli rivers. Monsoon flooding has affected around 5,000 people in 12 villages. Rail services have been disrupted.
  • Houses and infrastructure have been damaged in floods affecting large parts of northern Vietnam. Disaster authorities in the country reported that 1 person died after being swept away. 3 people are still missing in the floods. Another person died as a result of lightning strike in Dien Bien province. (Floodlist)

Dr Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground, comments that what makes last week’s heatwave over France so unusual is the extreme difference between the new records set and the old ones. He can find only one other incidence in weather history, of an old heat record being beaten by a margin as great as 5.9C, 10.4F, as at Montpellier last week. It happened in the US, in 1936, during the dustbowl drought emergency.

A new report expresses concern over increasing fluctuations in the level of the US’s Great Lakes, which contain a fifth of the world’s fresh water. Climate change is responsible for more damaging flooding around the shoreline, as both 2C of warming since the 1990s and the recent polar vortices, combined with storms and increased rainfall have been causing big surges in the water level. (Floodlist, citing University of Michigan)

Despite predictions of an above-average season for Eastern Pacific storms, not a lot has happened in the month since the season started. Storm Alvin has blown itself out, but Tropical Storm Barbara has a chance of reaching Hawaii next week as a hurricane. To the West, Tropical Depression 4 may strengthen before reaching Taiwan.

There’s still no sign of anything untoward in the West Atlantic and Caribbean, although of course the unusual chain of supercell thunderstorms breezing out of the Gulf of Mexico into Texas and up through the flooded Midwest into the Great Lakes region has not stopped since March.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 90 underway: STOP PRESS: Democracy dead – official… All the President’s (Best) Men… “Omarosa, Omarosa, men have shamed you…” Johnson: There’s more than one? God help us… GW: And the heat goes on. Essay: Where no heads roll…

Quote of the week

“The warning signs of this emergency are clear and inescapable and we have been told what the treatment is … now, in a medical situation a patient would not ignore that and neither can we ignore the environmental emergency and its dire consequences for human life” – Retired specialist, Dr Bing Jones, who has organized a petition signed by 1,000 UK doctors calling on the government to take more urgent action on climate change.

 

STOP PRESS: Democracy dead – official

News is breaking of another landmark decision in the US Supreme Court that will finally bury democracy and the rule of civil law.

In the notorious Citizens United case, in 2010 the court essentially removed restrictions on corporations buying elections, ruling perversely that corporations had the same rights as people and could therefore spend as much as they liked on supporting political candidates. Thus, Koch Industries alone was able to spend close to a billion dollars getting Trump elected in 2016.

Now they’ve gone one further and ruled that the constitution does not anywhere forbid gerrymandering – that is, redrawing constituency boundaries to favour one party over another, and the artificial rigging of local voting rolls – determining, essentially, who can and cannot vote. These decisions are in the power of sitting administrations, who may therefore now feel free to engineer the re-election of their own candidates in perpetuity. With a general election coming up.

The court, with its two conservative Trump appointees making the more liberal wing a minority, has not said it’s good, only that the courts don’t have legal powers to stop it. In theory, it could help either party, but in practice it massively loads the dice in favor of the Republican party.

Prepare for another four years of insanity and chaos.

 

All the President’s (Best) Men

Two more high-profile (“I don’t think I ever spoke to them, they say they’re good people”) Trump admin departures cropped up on Wednesday (26 June), bringing the total fired or quit during his presidency to God-knows how many – his attrition rate among senior staff – those whose positions he has yet managed to fill – is about 50 per cent.

There’s been very little coverage here in Britain of the child abuse scandal that’s rocking America, in relation to the conditions in which the children of migrants, forcibly separated from their families, are being held in detention, in what the progressive Democrat, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, controversially described last week as “concentration camps”. (She was photographed weeping copiously outside one, as the Texas sun beat mercilessly down.)

Recently, 300 children were moved from a “temporary” facility outside El Paso following widespread outrage, after a lawyer who visited reported that the children were forced to sleep on concrete floors with only thermal aluminum blankets for warmth at night, when the lights were kept blazing all night – as at Guantanamo Bay. Children as young as two were being cared for by older children not even related to them, as there appeared to be no qualified childrens’ nursing staff, only guards. The children had no washing facilities – toothbrushes, soap – no showers. Younger children had no nappies – diapers, whatever and were forced to soil themselves. Several had lice, or were covered in mucus – medical care for those going down with colds and ‘flu was slow to non-existent. Food and water were also in short supply.

The sociopath in chief, on whose emotionally deprived childhood this sickening policy is based, has of course denied that this is happening – anyway, it was much worse under the Obama administration – another Big Fat Lie, running counter to the narrative of despairing border patrol people who say that at least under Obama there was a policy, order, administration – not this total shambles. Asked if he was concerned about conditions, Trump made it clear in his oblique, allusive way that no, the abuse was a deliberate policy to force the Democrats to cough up more money for border security.

Anyway, it’s reported, 100 of the children have been moved back in again, apparently because they like it there so much, they are free to come and go and are well cared-for – so claimed local Republican congressman, Michael Burgess, in an NBC interview that caused much retching and hand-wringing among the onscreen pundits.

And in the meantime, the guy in charge of the shitshow, “Acting” Border Control Commissioner  – Trump has found he doesn’t have to get these problematic people confirmed in post if they’re only “Acting” – John Sanders, has resigned after only two months in the job. His expected replacement is another insane man from inside the wire of the administration who says he only has to look into a migrant teenager’s eyes to know that he will become an MS-13 gang member.

Ahead of the G20 summit in Japan, Ambassador Sean Lawlor has been neatly whisked out of office. Ambassador Lawlor – he’s not the ambassador to Japan, that’s John Hagerty (Google writes, helpfully: “The Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan is the ambassador from the United States of America to Japan”) – Ambassador Lawlor has a roving brief as Trump’s “Chief of Protocol”, a job which sounds like one of those nightmares you wake up screaming from. Trump has no regard whatever for protocol! He probably thinks it’s an indigestion remedy.

In fact, it looks like he’s been fired – they’re calling it an indefinite suspension, pending investigations. Lawlor, the man in charge of diplomatic etiquette, has been the subject of numerous complaints of harrassment and bullying from his staff, many of whom have quit, claiming that he carries a bullwhip with him in the office just to remind them who’s the boss.

I hire only the best people, Trump once said.

Actually, more than once.

And most of them have been unqualified idiots, domestic abusers, fantastically corrupt, or just barking mad. Sometimes all four.

STOP PRESS AGAIN

The Disunited Democrats have caved-in and approved an appropriations budget of $4.6 billion for additional border security measures “In order to get resources to the children fastest”, on a faint promise by Vice President Pence that children won’t have to spend more than 90 days in detention camps.

Of course, all that has to happen is they can be temporarily re-camped after 90 days before being sent back. It’s a victory for Trump’s bullying and appalling child abuse, and another step towards his insane wall. How does Ms Pusillanimous Pelosi imagine her party is going to win the election on this pathetic showing?

Impeach the fucker!

 

Alabama: Marshae Jones, a young black woman who lost her baby after being shot in the stomach during a row with her partner, has been charged with manslaughter, as the police have determined she started the argument.

Is there any evidence anywhere that America has yet left the 17th century behind? I mean, why not just burn her as a witch?

 

“Omarosa, Omarosa, men have shamed you…”

And meanwhile, the Justice Department has perhaps rashly decided to prosecute feisty former White House aide and reality TV-show person, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, for an ethics violation.

That’s right, I know. The White House! Who’d a’ thunk it?

Although she was fired months ago by Gen. Kelly, it seems Omarosa had failed to complete her vetting form while in office, which for some reason is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $50 thousand. She says it was because she handed in paperwork that was never returned to her.

Anyone familiar with tales of the administration will know only too well, it took Jared Kushner 70 (yes, seven-zero) attempts to get his vetting form accepted, as he had “forgotten” about so many meetings with Russian and Saudi diplomats, spies and bankers that the national security agency couldn’t approve him for high-level clearance, and had to be overruled by Trump personally.

Most people at the time seemed to think Jared’s chronic – possibly even cynical – abuse of the vetting procedure should have exposed him to the statutory criminal charge carrying a maximum five years in jail. But, hey, he’s family. Besides, it’s nothing compared with his abuse of his security clearance.

Omarosa is well known for claiming to have secretly recorded conversations with Trump that she says are potentially damaging, and has released only a fraction of them to date. She hastily wrote a not very well-reviewed book about her experiences in the White House that got pretty quickly buried by events, but she’s gone quiet lately.

A public trial could provide a useful platform for her to revive her vendetta against the men who unjustly fired her, and with her testimony given in court, under oath – not quite so subject to the President’s customary tweety slanders.

Space… watch.

 

Johnson: There’s more than one? God help us.

“Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, is suing Johnson & Johnson for billions of dollars for its alleged part in driving addiction and overdoses in his state in the first full trial of a drug maker over the opioid epidemic.

“…the company has struggled to explain marketing strategies its accusers say dangerously misrepresented the risk of opioid addiction to doctors, manipulated medical research, and helped drive an epidemic that has claimed 400,000 lives over the past two decades.” (Observer, 23 June)

Spammers, Likers etc. of this, muh bogl will recall that we have been somewhat critical recently of remarks made by the US ambassador to the Court of St James in London, Mr Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson 1V.*

Mr Johnson, a billionaire scion of the New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson baby-powder dynasty, there’s always money to be made in bare bottoms, is on record as saying he expects the UK to accept inferior US regulatory standards, such as any still exist after two and a half years of Trump’s well-funded rollbacks, should we need to do an emergency trade deal in the wake of a not very workable Brexit.

In addition to its alleged role in the lethal epidemic of addiction to powerful painkillers, Johnson & Johnson also faces some 12 THOUSAND individual lawsuits throughout the USA, alleging that their famous baby powder has caused childhood cancers owing to talc ( a crushed volcanic rock) being a suspected carcinogen; and to the product’s being possibly cut with asbestos dust. J&J has already been ordered to pay out billions of dollars in compensation.

The company, which has denied all the accusations, claiming it has only a very small market share in Oklahoma (and therefore caused not very many deaths? Ed.), has been accused by doctors and expert witnesses of instituting a campaign of false-front “research” organizations and hiring PR agencies to gloss over the addictive properties and side-effects of opioid painkillers – Johnson owns several poppy-cultivating farms in Australia – of tampering with or selectively understating research results and using high-pressure sales tactics on GPs, providing them with false safety assurances to increase prescribing.

It should be mentioned here perhaps that Johnson & Johnson is not the only huge US Pharma corporation engaged in this filthy business. Other, similar entities are available, coming soon to a pharmacy near you.

Another report last week described how desperate Americans are travelling in convoy across the Canadian border to buy vital medication such as insulin for diabetics at prices up to ten times lower than those charged in the USA, despite Trump’s evil lies, endlessly repeated to his Nuremburg-style dumbfuck rallies, that he has already brought pharma prices down and will shortly be introducing a beautiful healthcare plan for all to replace the terrible Obamacare – something he falsely promised to do on his first day in office, what seems like a century ago.

Welcome to the NHS three years from now, Brexit dolts.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/22/johnson-and-johnson-opioids-crisis-lawsuit-latest-trial

*The words “woody” and “Johnson” are American slang for, respectively, an erection and a penis. Nevertheless they are genuinely this bloke’s names.

 

GW: And the heat goes on

27 June, and the heat is building over much of continental Europe, with temperatures already over 40C, 106F in parts of Spain and southern France, hitting 39C in Germany – June records are already tumbling and there’s another three days to go before it peaks. Most municipalities have triggered emergency measures for people to cool off. In Spain, where temperatures over 42C have been recorded, 600 soldiers and firefighters are battling a 6 thousand Ha fire near Tarragona in northern Catalonia, started by an overheating pile of shit on a chicken farm, that threatens to spread to a huge area. Homeowners have been evacuated. Update: Gallargues-le-Montueux in the Gard département hit 45.9C Friday.

Meanwhile, your Granny is trying to remain calm as the BBC puts yet another weaselly disclaimer in their news reporting, that it’s “complicated” to say if any weather event is due to global warming. Actually, we have techniques for doing that now. They go on to report that the Potsdam Institute says the last 5 years have all been the hottest in the past 500 years (which DOESN’T mean it was hotter before, it’s just they don’t have reliable records earlier, okay?). And the current European heatwave is 2C hotter and a month earlier than the last one… and the one before that. No connection, obviously. Too soon to say.

It hit 29C in my front garden this afternoon, only 85F, but I’d already taken to my bed for the duration. I may be a quarter Greek, but this new Mediterranean climate is too much for me on a liquid lunch. The secret is to keep doors and windows closed on the sunny side of your house or flat, and open them on the shady side. Update: Saturday, it’s trying to rain.

USA: A violent storm hit border areas between Tamaulipas State, Mexico and Texas, USA, from 24 June, bringing lightning strikes, strong winds and torrential rain. More than 12 inches (300mm) of rain fell in 4 hours in parts of Texas. In Mexico, the worst affected areas are in the municipality of Reynosa, where authorities say over 50 neighbourhoods were affected. Flooding damaged roads, homes and medical centres. Local media reported that at least 1 person died in the floods. (Floodlist)

Seen from a NASA satellite, Mt Raikoke erupted for the first time since 1924.

With current temperatures in northern Alaska in the mid-60s/70F, the US state up on the Arctic circle is having a problem with wildfires. A bigger problem maybe was the sudden eruption on 22 June of Mt Raikoke, a volcano in the Kuril islands, that sent an ash plume 43 thousand feet up into the stratosphere. The ash has been spreading eastwards toward Alaska and could affect flights.

In California, it’s been hot enough at the beach to cook mussels in their shells. A mass die-off is reported.

India: By contrast, the late arriving monsoon rains are reportedly weak and patchy, with the bulk of the cloud cover stuck over the Bay of Bengal. Hot, dry air is continuing to build across the north, and temperatures in sweltering Delhi have once again hit 41C, 106F. (India Today/Accuweather)

Tunnel approaching….

Fracking hell: Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York have issued results of a major meta-study, finding that “90.3 percent of all (c.1,500) original research studies published from 2016-2018 on the health impacts of fracking found a positive association with harm or potential harm.”

“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends,” the Compendium states. Pregnant women and children living in fracking zones are especially at risk. The report goes on to argue that there is absolutely no merit in industry claims that fracked gas is a transition fuel, safer than oil and coal. – Common Dreams website.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/06/19/we-need-ban-fracking-new-analysis-1500-scientific-studies-details-threat-health

Phase 4

“As the world keeps increasing its carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, rising in 2018 to a record 33.1 billion tons of CO₂ per year (GW writes: I have seen higher figures), the atmospheric greenhouse gas level has now exceeded 560 ppm (parts per million) CO₂-equivalent, namely when methane and nitrous oxide are included. This level surpasses the stability threshold of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The term “climate change” is thus no longer appropriate, since what is happening in the atmosphere-ocean system, accelerating over the last 70 years or so, is an abrupt calamity on a geological dimension…” – Dr Andrew Glikson

Addressing the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection, Dr Guy McPherson, the leading proponent of the imminent human extinction theory, informed stunned delegates that while he supports the Extinction Rebellion protests, there is in reality nothing that can now be done to prevent runaway heating to a terminal degree within a matter of years and we should consider ourselves to be in “the hospice, phase 4”.

 

Essay: Where no heads roll

A long article in ProPublica this week looks at Trump’s bluster over Iran, and his frequent claims that the Obama administration had shown weakness when two boatloads of US sailors on a supposedly secret spying mission in 2016 were captured in Iranian waters, without putting up a fight.

The Navy ordered a strike force to go rescue the men (and one woman), but the White House ordered them to hold fire.

Within 48 hours Secretary Kerry had negotiated their release, unharmed, and the famous Iran nuclear deal Trump has ridiculously torn up, which would most probably have fallen through if there had been an armed response to the incident, was able to be signed a few days later. That’s showing weakness in the Trump universe.

In fact, the mission leader had decided not to put up any resistance, partly because they had forgotten to load any ammunition for the main machine-guns, but also because he had been reading about the nuclear deal in The Economist and realized that if he had resisted it would have dragged the military into a larger conflict and probably scuppered the deal.

He got no credit for initiative, naturally. It was lucky, though, because the officers and crew had had no political briefing, and hadn’t the faintest idea what the navy’s mission in the Gulf actually was. Also they were outnumbered and outgunned, and one of the boats had broken down… Resistance would have been pretty futile.

The real background to the story, say ProPublica writers Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller, was the unpreparedness of the US Navy, the lack of training and basic maintenance, coupled with a culture of senior officers not wanting to be told there were problems. It could take three months just to order vital spare parts.

Three totally unsuitable shallow-draft river patrol boats were ordered on a pointless reconnaissance mission to sail over 260 miles through the Gulf and back, far outside their operating range and in 8-ft seas. The crewmens’ reservations were passed up the chain of command until they were ignored.

The journey involved a hazardous refuelling at sea, although it seems everyone was using different maps and nobody had any idea whereabouts the supply tug was supposed to meet them, where they were, or what that odd-looking island over there was. (It was Farsi Island, a forward Iranian Revolutionary Guard outpost.)

So, fearing they might run out of fuel, the mission commander decided to change course without telling anyone, so the mother ship lost track of them, and his straight-line rule unwittingly took them across Iranian territorial waters; in much the same way, it’s widely believed, the expensive drone shot down by the Iranians last weekend had in fact strayed into Iranian airspace, despite what Secretary “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo says.

Iranians are very logical, very punctilious people. They don’t make mistakes like that.

The boats were in such poor condition that the sailors had had to cannibalise one boat to get the other two working, just to get the mission started only a few hours late, and eventually the borrowed fuel pump fell off the engine of the second boat, which lost way. So they were unable to outrun the much smaller, more lightly armed Iranian inflatables.

On receiving news they were to be released, one of the American boys began crying. The perfect propaganda image went around the world. The subsequent inquiry produced a 170-page report lambasting the terrible state of preparedness of the US Navy, the lack of training, funding, and the poor leadership, so a second report was commissioned, exonerating anyone of senior rank – especially Admiral Philip Davidson, who was in overall charge of training and preparedness – and blamed the sailors and their hapless commanders instead for the shameful debacle.

And the result of that report was both entirely predictable and deeply concerning, revealing as it did a culture of management incompetence, laziness and cronyism at the highest levels. Because nothing much has been done to improve things since. So despite Trump’s $69 billion dollar gift in 2017 to the military budget, now heading for a trillion dollars a year, the mighty US Navy is a lame duck fighting force.

The authors write:

“In 2017, the year following the Farsi Island incident, there were four major collisions in the western Pacific. The worst involved the USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain, which each collided with cargo ships, leaving 17 sailors dead.

“Davidson, still in charge of manning and training, was tapped to help assess the significance of the collisions. He found that manning shortages and poor training factored in both. Admirals, officers and sailors were held to account.

“Davidson, though, was soon promoted and now holds one of the most coveted positions in the American military as head of the Indo-Pacific Command, in charge of all military branches in the region.”

We had an expression for it at my school: a “useless shag”. This overpromoted, useless shag – or so he seems – would be in charge of the coming war with China.

Norman Dixon’s brilliant book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, recounted the dreadful sagas of men let down in combat by self-serving idiots, most of whom were eventually promoted out of harm’s way, if they had not managed to get themselves and everybody else killed.

We recently celebrated Colonel Dyer’s great 1919 victory over a protest rally by unarmed Sikh women and children, unable to escape from a walled enclosure in Amritsar; turning his machine-guns on them, slaughtering close to a thousand, a heroic action for which he received promotion to General.

And we’re reminded by a new TV series of that great anti-war book by Joseph Heller, Catch-22, which brutally satirised the venality and incompetence of the officer class in the US Airforce. It got a lot of young men killed unnecessarily. Sure, they can’t all be like that.

My own experience was briefly as a civilian contractor to the Royal Air Force’s veterans’ charity.

Briefed to create an appeal to raise £5 million, my agency were stymied at every turn by one particular officer, a man incidentally who bore an uncanny facial resemblance to Admiral Davidson, which is why I recall the story. He’d been promoted, literally on “Buggins’ Turn”, to manage the charity fundraiser, despite having no relevant experience.

This guy, lazy, dishonest and incompetent, who had only ever previously run a military stores, and we can imagine how that went, threw every possible objection and obstacle in our path – it turned out, as one by one we ominously achieved the silly targets he was setting us on the way – to avoid making extra work for the people in his department and, by extension, himself.

Eventually, without a leg to stand on, we were doing so well he simply ordered us to stop what we were doing, shutdown the project on his own authority, and that was that.

As a result the appeal fell way short, and the charity went bust a year later.

But he was protected by the code – even his superiors, with whom we had been liaising throughout, could not or would not intervene to get him out of our way. Protocol, old man. The service would rather its veterans had no support, than that they should break ranks with a fellow officer to side with a civilian contractor.

You wonder how in the hell we beat the Germans. But Hitler, of course, had the solution to the problem: unsuccessful or disloyal generals were just shot. (It saved on the pensions….)

The prospects for a new war in the Gulf look somewhat bleak. Once the buildup starts, it’s going to be difficult to stop. Sheer weight and expense of US arms will no doubt prevail, the popguns are bigger, but the blunders and shirking of responsibility for them will inevitably go on, the ships will be sunk, the marines will go left when they should have gone right, the civilians will be massacred, history will later be rewritten, and no heads will roll.