Yesterday’s BogPo tomorrow? Wankers’ corner… GW: Texas engulfed…

Hi. I’m now totally confused as to which Thursday’s BogPo this is, yesterday’s or next week’s? Does it matter, when there’s always a feast of great writing to be guzzled down with wine?

More is being added as we speak! But I’ve only got this far, sorry.

‘So tell me a bit more about how a dictatorship could work.’

“So tomorrow we invade Luxembourg!”

Wankers’ corner…

As millions of schoolchildren and others strike around the world on climate action day, tired Labour “leader” Jeremy Corbyn’s dimly illuminated brother Piers is leading a pathetic counter-march through London, a gaggle of climate-change deniers, most probably balding, retarded internet trolls released from their mothers’ basements, blinking in the unaccustomed sunlight.

From the press photographs it looks like only about nine humanoids have turned out in support, bearing a semi-literate banner reading “Climate policy controls you not climate”, which can be taken several ways but perhaps lacks a little punch in the old persuasion department?

Good on you, Piers, for drawing attention to how stupid, feeble and anachronistic your dying little movement is.

Is there a particular Corbyn gene, I wonder, that turns out crusty and annoying old contrarians?

(But when will climate protesters understand, global heating and plastics pollution are NOT THE SAME ISSUE! From a PR point of view you need to fixate on one or the other or you’ll just confuse people.)

As millions of people came out on the streets following the Dateline across the globe to protest inaction over the climate crisis, the story made the front page splash all day as a running commentary on the BBC News website.

But occupied only 10th place on the Most Read listing!

And unless you went to the Weather page, there was no mention of the terrible floods in Texas from Tropical Storm Imelda, on which Severe-weather.eu commented: “There are truly catastrophic scenes coming out from Houston and Galveston.”

Up to 4 feet of rain has fallen over the Beaumont and Port Arthur area in two days, that saw immense rainfall only two years ago from Hurricane Harvey. Disaster has been declared. Several people have been killed, much property damaged.

It seems the news media is just not interested in real life events anymore.

 

The threewheelin’ Bob Dylan

Whenever Hunzi decides to take me as far as the industrial estate that’s rapidly expanding on the other side of the exurban space that passes for our local park, a land of cycle paths and sports grounds and a particularly fetching sewage works, we have to pass a new industrial unit housing a retail store where the theme is electrically powered cycles.

Now, I’m a touch OCD and I tend to get hooked for months or years on impracticable enthusiasms. For instance, I’m desperate to own a campervan. Every time I see one in the carpark, which at this time of year is many, I will wander over and try to look in, to compare the interior fittings, the decor. Does it have a loo? A shower? Are the benches lined with hideous purple floral moquette? Would there be room for my jazz collection? Could I even lie down?

Two things prevent me from owning a campervan. One, unless I sell my little house I can’t afford one. They are insanely expensive, given that you can buy a secondhand Ford Transit, a mattress and a primus stove for a few hundred quid. DIY camping is not my style. I demand fittings. A satellite dish. Cutlery.

Added to which, there would be running costs. And secondly, I know deep down in my heart that I would almost never use it. I so rarely go anywhere nowadays. Where would I go? On my own?

But I would have a campervan! I could put up guests. And if the world ended, civilization collapsed, warlords roaming the urban canyons, rising sea level inundating the village, I could run for the hills in my second home. Even spend a weekend with Hunzi at the Brecon jazz festival!

Oh, I so want a campervan! I am practically in tears today because a beautiful VW Topaz Autosleeper in midnight blue that was for sale at my local car showroom has gone, and I didn’t win the lottery on Wednesday.

It’s like that with the electrically powered tricycle in black, outside the store. See, it’s got fat tyres!

Electric vehicles are the future. One day, everyone will have one. Why not me, now? I could sell the car, buy one and have change. Look, it has fat tyres and a large pannier on the back for all my shopping needs.

You don’t need to pay road tax or have to have insurance with one of these babes, although it might be wise to insure yourself. It can go for 70 miles at 15.5 mph without pedalling. That’s 35 trips to the supermarket and back, a whole month’s worth!

But. Where would Hunzi sit? There’s nowhere, unless I bought a bike trailer for him. Would he be happy on his own, shut up in a flimsy trailer pod? It sometimes rains here, and there’s no cover. It could get very wet. And would my elderly prostate, the size of an orange, let me sit comfortably on a bike saddle?

A probable clincher, my house is right on a main road. The electric tricycle wouldn’t pass through the front gate into the little garden. There’d be nowhere to securely park it, between trips to the supermarket.

I try to envision myself trundling about town on this somewhat eccentric machine. I can see how useful it will be in more dystopian times, when diesel cars are banned, but now? I’d be practically the only person on the road with one.

Am I sufficiently ready to become a truculent and elderly eccentric, like the safety-unconscious, obstreperous-looking Jeremy Corbyn fans who ride those two-wheelers where you lie on your back and pedal with your legs in the air? Flying a little flag on a stick to beg sleepy Polish lorry drivers please not to ignore your existence.

And then, unbidden, the image creeps into my mind, of me, on my electric tricycle, wearing a Pastafarian colander on my head instead of a safety helmet, and there the dream ends. For, how could you ride an electrically powered three-wheeler with fat tyres without a colander? The two just go naturally together.

Looking closer, I see that in fact, the face of the large man on the electrically powered three-wheeler with a colander on his head and a worried sheepdog in the trailer, trundling bitterly on squelchy fat tyres through the rain at 15.5 mph, shopping bags soggily perched in the pannier at the back, is not actually my face after all.

I’m more of a Bentley and good 3-star hotels with a Michelin-guide restaurant and a comfortable bed man, myself.

 

GW: Texas enGulfed

USA: National Weather Service (NWS) in Houston said unofficial rainfall totals for a 60-hour period to 19 September showed Fannet in Jefferson County, Texas received 43.15 inches (1,096mm) of rain, as Tropical Storm Imelda stalled over southern Texas and Louisiana, Thursday going into Friday, 20 Sept., “firehosing” warm water out of the Gulf in a mini-repeat of Hurricane Harvey, two years ago – from which the states are still recovering.

Rivers are overflowing, parts of the road network around Houston are completely inundated and people are being ordered to stay indoors wherever they are, or to seek higher ground.

3 people have been killed and states of “disaster” declared in 13 counties. It’s already the 7th wettest storm in US history and it’s still raining, Houston reporting rates of 3-4 in. per hour, prompting some weather forecasters to speculate that it could catch up to the wettest, Harvey, that dumped 60.3 inches near Beaumont and Port Arthur in 2017.

(The above from Floodlist/Accuweather.) Severe-weather.eu adds: “There are truly catastrophic scenes coming out from Houston and Galveston.”

Accuweather also reported another familiar story: “Damaging thunderstorms will track through the northern Plains ahead of a push of cooler air at the end of the week. The severe weather is likely to erupt during Friday afternoon (20 Sept.) across the Dakotas and Nebraska before the dangers spread eastward into western Minnesota during the overnight hours.” Tornadoes are expected too.

Oh, and I’m wondering why these horrendous events have gained no traction today in the centrist media? The Guardian website, updated hourly, for instance makes no mention of the real catastrophe unfolding in Texas, affecting real people, but features numerous speculative articles instead about Ms Thunberg’s strike and its political importance.

Atlantic: “The second major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic season, Humberto roared past Bermuda Wednesday night as a Cat. 3 storm with 120 mph winds. The powerful right-front eyewall battered (the island) with sustained winds well in excess of hurricane force as the eye passed 75 miles to the north, near 8 pm EDT.” (Wunderground)

Meanwhile, forecast weakening Cat 2 to Cat 1 Hurricane Jerry, battling wind shear, is just passing the Leeward Islands, where storm warnings have been issued, on a curving track heading northwestwards away from the US coast towards Bermuda. (Accuweather) Three more tropical depressions are threatening heavy rainfall events for Caribbean islands over the weekend into next week.

Forecasters are getting excited about a somehow “different from usual” tropical wave among several spotted coming out of Africa, that before it has even reached the Cape Verde islands where Atlantic hurricanes generally form, they have got tagged for development as a potential “major hurricane”. No tracking forecasts are as yet available. (Severe-weather.eu)

Singapore: Drivers preparing for the weekend’s F1 Grand Prix are having to contend with some of the worst air pollution the island has experienced, because of forest burning for palm oil in neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia. It happens every year now, that both visibility and air quality are being dangerously reduced. High nighttime temperatures, too, around 30C and reaching 50C in the cars’ cockpits have led to the race becoming known as the Singapore Sauna. (Guardian)

(Your Old Gran opines that, were she the Sultan of Singapore, she would immediately declare war on her neighbors and angrily bomb the bejasus out of them. This annual criminal destruction of habitat for so many threatened species surely can’t be tolerated?)

 

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The Pumpkin – Issue 99: Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times… Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing… Turning a blind eye to the sky… The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained… GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain.

The sum of $22 million offered by President Macron and other EU leaders at the G7 in Biarritz to help Brazil put out the fires that are still consuming the Amazon rainforest is, according to Jeremy Lent, writing in Open Democracy, the equivalent of what Americans spend on popcorn in a single day.

 

Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times.

Now, look. We have to begin with an apology. I did not mean to steal the above material, okay?

I’ve ineptly excerpted it (and I mean ineptly, I was only after a pull-quote but I drink far too much wine in these lengthening dark evenings and I got all the picture and headlines with it and couldn’t get rid of the bits I don’t want, the image is somehow all digitally glued together) from a very long New York Times report on Trump’s grunting pig efforts to rollback any environmental standards he associates with the black man’s previous regime, regardless of who actually signed them into law, even Reagan, in advance of this weekend’s New York conference on climate change that he has respectfully declined to attend.

It might rain, it might not, who knows.

So, Mr New York Times, please forgive me. You do ooopsie stuff too, from time to time, and it is said you are not very good at publishing stories about powerful men demanding extra favors from women. (Also, do get rid of that ridiculous medieval gothic masthead, you’re not the fucking Bible!)

The “Make Dishwashers Great Again” lobby is a pathetically transparent PR agency’s junior creative department’s act of desperation behind a falsely informed campaign to promote the white goods manufacturers, who are themselves perfectly at ease with Obama-era regulations on energy-saving; as without them, they won’t be able to export their products or compete with the output from Turkey.

Besides which, “energy-saving” translates to “cost-saving” efficiency for Mr and Ms Binary-Houseperson, so it’s a product-plus, something Trump can’t understand because when it comes to business he’s a defiant know-nothing.

Given the industry’s happiness with the global regulatory environment, just what has the orange lightbulb hater got against them? Personally, I could care less. I don’t have a dishwasher. I can wash dishes.

“The petition, titled “Make Dishwashers Great Again,” is just one part of a broad campaign coordinated by conservative organizations with ties to fossil-fuel companies.”

Them again. Disguised as humans, they induce people to consume more, not less, environmentally polluting energy in our kitchens, so they can poison our children and grandchildren and all go trooping merrily up to heaven in a Conga-line to meet their invisible Judaeo-Zoroastrian friend, who will allocate a schedule for having them kneel and praise his grumpy and unreliable old fascist Father with endless hosannas for all Eternity.

Their brand of Death is a deal that, frankly, sucks.

What is the matter with these sickos? Isn’t being the richest 1 per cent of sick fucking hemorrhoids on the planet enough for them, that they have to burn the place down to get even richer? You can’t take it with you, grrrlz! And you’re not taking me either, let me tell you. I’m staying right here, hoping to become extinct before I die.

I have suggested that if they have such an urgent need to meet their delusionary Jesus, they should just get on with it, poragy beards, sandals, AR-15s, fucking MAGA hats and whimpering hymns an’ all, and leave the rest of us alone to get on with our fights, pickling cabbages, marrying, and such.

Or maybe not. Jim Jones had the right idea, let’s see more of that Kool-Aid.

When will we find the courage to drag these life-denying Pharisees from their climate-change-proof bunkers and hang them out to rot in the public square?

 

Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing….

James Eadie

“My client, Johnson is a fundamentally honest man, M’Lud, who would no more lie to the Queen than abandon his sick wife for a younger bit of tottie. I introduce in evidence, Mr Iain Duncan Smith’s snot-covered finger.” (Mr James Eadie, QC, argues the case for overturning 800 years of democracy.)

 

“The Fed just dumped $75 Billion into the economy…. possibly to avert a massive financial crash. Monday morning, large short term loans became unavailable and rates for these gigantic loans shot up. High interest rates caused financial crashes in the past. The Fed panicked and flooded the market with lots of money! The question is why were short term loans unavailable, where did that money go and what shot up the interest rates?” – Economist, Prof. Richard Wolff, on Thom Hartmann. You have been warned! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTPHWtZlqT0

 

Turning a blind eye to the sky

“In 2008 a survey of American Meteorological Society members found that only 24% of weather forecasters agreed that warming was caused by humans. In 2010, a study found that 54% agreed that global warming is happening. But by 2017 a full 90% agreed that a climate crisis is happening, and 80% indicated it was human-caused.” (Edited from Guardian, 18 Sept.)

A “full” 100 per cent, I could understand. Ninety is far from full!

“And the outlook for tomorrow, there’ll be a razorwire fence controlling our borders….”

So, 20 per cent of US TV weather forecasters daily warning of drought, fire, pestilence and flood either still don’t believe, or are somehow being prevented from admitting, what 97 per cent of scientists around the world as a whole – we are told – believe, on the basis of evidence, which is that if you pump up to 37 billion tonnes of, specifically, carbon dioxide gas into our finite breathable atmosphere every year, for many years, increasing over time, through burning vast amounts of carboniferous material, the climate is bound to be affected sooner or later.

It’s a logical inference. What’s wrong with that?

Once you have learned what was shown to be the case 130 years ago, that carbon dioxide – a natural component of the atmosphere, about 2 per cent – has the special capacity to trap radiant solar heat, thus raising the background temperature over time, it really isn’t necessary to have a PhD to grasp that one simple, basic concept; the more you put in, the hotter it gets, any more than it would be necessary to have a Physics degree to boil a kettle.

I suppose it might be plausible for some people to argue that natural variability in the Earth’s production of carbon dioxide from the great cycles trumps the volume of gas which humans cause to be emitted, and that it will all somehow be re-absorbed in the natural carbon sinks, but it wouldn’t really be a consolation, would it, given the sheer bloody obviousness that either way, it isn’t being, and thus we have a problem.

Not many scientists would go along with that idea anyway, since the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the air and dissolved in the oceans, and the mean global temperature, are now measurably greater by far, and increasing faster, than at any time for millions of years, as evidenced in the fossil record, the warming oceans and the increasing severity of extreme weather events. Other heat-retaining gases, too, are in play. There is no known natural source of chlorofluorocarbons, for instance.

You may pay attention, if you wish, to the various models projecting the consequences of carbon emission and the likely etiology of its continuing accumulation, the observable increase in temperature, based on observation over time. Some are more highly alarming than others, but all point to the same conclusion: ours.

In fact, the Guardian Green Light story is more concerned with interviewing a handful of local US TV forecasters who are struggling to put even these simple concepts across in various subtle ways, so as not to put off American audiences who, they admit with chagrin, have virtually zero attention span, in order to warn them gently that some things are going to have to change, whatever the president says.

For, in another GGL story this week, a selection of US government officials describe in horrifying detail, the extent to which Trump has inserted climate-change deniers, energy industry lobbyists and otherwise unemployable non-scientists into the management tiers of all the key departments of state responsible for maintaining a healthy environment.

Nowadays, any and all research even daring to mention the possibility that we humans are causing a problem is being ruthlessly excised, bulldozed, buried; and the expert researchers bullied, ignored, censored, shunted aside into non-jobs or browbeaten into early retirement; some finding their reputations being trashed on social media.

Because the president wills it.

Surely the question has to be, why?

The explanation that the energy industry is entirely responsible for this situation through exploiting the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to spend as much as they like on buying politicians and their votes goes only so far. While spending $millions on deflecting public attention away from it, most energy corporations will have privately admitted at some point in the past forty years that there is a problem, and they – or at least, their customers – are the cause of it.

(You’ll find a paragraph saying exactly that, even on Exxon-Mobil’s public website.)

Hurricane Dorian: the end of civilization looks very much like this.

There seems instead to be some underlying callousness motivating the Trump administration’s program of frantically cancelling all previous attempts by the legislature to mitigate the effects of carbon pollution and other environmental threats.

It’s as if born of one individual’s pathological hatred of the world, a profound resentment of its natural gifts, when almost their first act on taking office is to permit coal mining companies to discharge effluent untreated into open waterways.

Apart obviously from its being an act of gratitude to a coal baron who has just gifted your election campaign a million dollars, it seems like a brutal fist punching the face of Life; especially when it scarcely benefits the coal baron’s business interest to allow him to do something so bad that it can only ensure the opprobrium of the public and their local representatives; and even lead to the divestment of valuable shareholding institutions far from the coalface.

No-one likes drinking, brushing their teeth or bathing their children in filthy, black, carcinogenic water. Even coal barons know that. Less welcome too are the headlines.

Yet when it is presented as an act of kindness to local communities to allow their distant employers to cut corners and make extra profits from degrading their environment, that will be plowed back into more jobs and better wages – an entirely false premise, incidentally – you see a kind of moral deviousness at work, where total disdain for consequence translates into a pathological longing for limitless voter approval.

A  cynical confidence trick, yet it is one the poorly educated find comfortable to buy into, even as they watch their communities shrivel, starve, blow away, drown and die. It’s all the fault of the foreigners.

And if on the eve of another climate conference, another climate strike, a great heave of public concern, 20 per cent of TV weather forecasters are still vainly holding out against the tide of global consensus, that we have fucked the atmosphere, fucked the oceans and will, as a consequence, likely die out along with many species, unless very severe action is taken very soon now, what hope is there for the rest?

You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, as the poet sang. Especially one turning a blind eye to the sky.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/society-unravels-future-grabs/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=52a333101a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-52a333101a-408090269

A woman in Providence, Rhode Island, was admitted to hospital feeling faint, after her blood turned blue. The condition, doctors say, was brought on by overmedicating herself with a toothache remedy.

Your Uncle B. wonders idly, what then has been causing Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to turn black at frequent intervals?

 

The madness of King Donald…

Appointing former State Department lawyer Robert O’Brien to replace John Bolton as National Security Advisor, and mindful of O’Brien’s record in negotiating the release of US citizens held abroad, the Washington Post reminds us that: “the president claimed in April that O’Brien had called him the “greatest hostage negotiator in the history of the United States.”

The great negotiator, Mr Trump agreed to a payment for “medical expenses” of $2 million to get the terminally ill student, Otto Frederick Warmbier shipped home from prison in North Korea, where he’d been held for stealing a poster from his hotel room.

Posing in front of a pile of steel components for his border wall, on which some construction has now begun, Trump informed the assembled hacks that his wall contains special, “very powerful concrete”. (MSNBC)

 

The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained

It’s tempting to join some kind of faith group in my old age, as I have no settled religion and no belief in anything much, other than the right to a quiet life interrupted as frequently as possible by classic cuts of modern jazz.

I like the attitude of the Pastafarian church, which holds that genuine religious freedom should include freedom from religion. “Its only dogma is that there is no dogma”, says Mike Arthur, an American documentary filmmaker currently focussing on this growing cult of blissful irresponsibility.

I guess if L Ron Hubbard had been born as that much finer and more nuanced writer, the great humanist Kurt Vonnegut, Scientology would be a lot more relaxed, with its irony on show for all to worship, instead of keeping its brainwashed adherents in an iron vise of blinkered corporatism.

In spaghetti we trust….

Yet Scientology, with all its ludicrous beliefs in non-existent mental energies, is recognized in many places as a genuine religion; while Pastafarians everywhere are struggling to gain recognition; although it has been officially noted in four countries so far.

The exquisite symbolism of the kitchen strainer, or colander, worn symbolically on the head, has not passed my notice. For a start, unlike Christianity it’s genuinely holey. Being metal, it can receive signals remotely, while protecting against thrown objects. And worn on the head, too, as a device for rinsing the sludge off canned foodstuffs it suggests brainwashing – yet with the freedom for ideas to spew forth. It’s an item that brings forth solid nourishment, food for thought naturally, from a broth of hot, watery confusion; making sense of the Cosmos in a nonlinear way.

Just add sauce!

The “ten commandments” of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are reduced, helpfully, to only  eight: “I’d really rather you didn’ts”, which is exactly how I speak to people, in a kind of cringing, deferential, frightfully British way, often in heavily accented English, when they piss me off. I’m always afraid of being punched in the face, as my front upper set cost me £3 thousand and could never be replaced if broken.

But if one wants to reduce one’s carbonara footprint, this is perhaps not the way forward.

The church, according to a Guardian article (what else?), “was founded in 2005 by Bobby Henderson, at the time a 25-year-old US physics graduate, as a response to Christian fundamentalists demanding the teaching of creationism in Kansas school science classes.” His delicious logic being that belief in a universe created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster is no less rational a scientific approach to creation as belief in an Intelligent Designer who makes lots of mistakes.

There’s a case before the European Court of Human Rights currently, in which a Dutch member – it’s pretty much worldwide – Mienke de Wilde is arguing for the legal right under freedom of religion in her country to be photographed for her driver’s license wearing a plastic kitchen strainer on her head, the symbol of her belief in not having to believe anything.

To support her case, she’s kept it on in public for the past three years, which at the time of writing appears to be the main stumbling block. Recognition of a religion by the court depends on it being a serious belief. Which it is, only expressed through a haze of tolerant, not to say stoned, good humor and puckish lateral thinking. Which again, is very much me. No?

My only concern about joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be that its dress code offends the balancing right of trypophobes not to be suddenly confronted with the distressing sight of an object pierced with a regular pattern of tiny round holes, which can induce panic in a sufferer.

Rather than turning to dishwashers for salvation, then, maybe I’ll apply to San Francisco instead, for membership of the Church of the Blessed John Coltrane.

Anything for a quiet life.

 

GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain

USA: Flood watches remained in effect Wednesday morning (18 Sept.) across southeastern Texas as Tropical Depression Imelda’s heavy rain threatened to cause hazardous flooding and travel disruptions. As of early Wednesday morning, Imelda, which became a short-lived tropical storm on Tuesday before making landfall in Freeport, Texas, and heading for Houston, had produced over 22 inches of rain in places.

“Days of heavy rain fell in parts of South Dakota from 10 to 12 Sept., causing widespread flooding in the state. Meanwhile National Weather Service (NWS) is warning that the rain in South Dakota could result in another wave of flooding downstream along the Missouri River in Iowa and Nebraska.” Many all-time river flood-stage records are being broken. “Around 30 people had to be rescued from flood water in Madison, Wisconsin. Homes, roads and bridges were damaged and schools closed in affected areas.”(Floodlist)

India: “Over 4,500 people have been evacuated after flooding in the state of Rajasthan. The southern part of the state has experienced torrential rainfall since 13 Sept. Heavy rain in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, where 45,000 people have been displaced by flooding, has also increased levels of rivers in Rajasthan, in particular the Chambal river. Many homes have been without electricity for days. … Rainfall has been 42% higher than normal for the monsoon season.” (Floodlist) Monsoon flooding in India during late July and August killed at least 287 people. (Wunderground)

Spain:  Severe weather has continued since up to half a meter of rain fell over 11 and 12 Sept. Media reports say 6 people have now died and 3,500 evacuated, including 2,000 residents of the town of Santomera in Murcia as a precaution due to a controlled release from a local dam. Roads and schools have been closed as well as Murcia and Almeria airports. Fatalities were reported in Caudete in Albacete province, Almería, La Jámula in Granada and 2 people died in Orihuela. (Floodlist)

Algeria: “2 people have died after more flooding” caused by the same weather system as the floods in Spain. “Torrential rain on 12 Sept. also caused widespread damage in the capital Algiers and parts of Souk Ahras Province. 40 mm of rain reportedly fell in just 40 minutes. The mean total precipitation for September in Algiers is 28.3 mm. It’s the third flood event in the country this month.” (From Floodlist)

Atlantic: Approaching the Leeward Islands, Tropical Storm Jerry is forecast to intensify to hurricane strength over warmer waters. Hurricane Humberto is now at Cat 3, heading in the direction of Bermuda. In the East Pacific, Tropical Storm Lorena developed on Tuesday and will track dangerously close to Mexico’s western coastline by Thursday, 19 Sept. (Accuweather) Hurricane warnings are out.

Antarctic: Paul Beckwith writes: “Since the last week of August, the stratospheric polar vortex first became elongated and then completely destabilized, with some regions warming up abruptly from about -70C to an incredible +13C, causing the high altitude vortex to morph into two and then even three vortices. My understanding is that rapid loss of Antarctic sea ice in some regions and gain in others caused an asymmetry of sea ice around the continent, thus causing breakdown of the vortex.”

Earth: Despite the lack of an El Niño, and presumably under the dimming effect of many wildfires, “August 2019 was provisionally the second hottest globally since records began in 1880.” Only August 2016 was warmer, say the NOAA and NSA. Figures are not yet in for Japan. “Among global weather stations with a period of record of at least 40 years, 36 set new all-time heat records in August. There were no stations that set all-time cold records.” (Wunderground)

Global ocean temperatures during August were the warmest on record. In July, according to Arctic News, the oceans in the northern hemisophere exceeded 1 deg. C above the C20th average – at 1.07C a critical tipping point crossed. Oceans have absorbed over 90% of all global warming. Wunderground says: “It is virtually certain that 2019 will end among the top five warmest years in Earth’s history. This means that the six warmest years on record globally since 1880 will be the last six years—2014 through 2019.”

“Globally … on the afternoon of September 13, 2019, peak methane levels as high as 2605 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite at 586 mb.” (Arctic News) (Note: that’s nearly 400% of 1750 levels.)

The 2019 tally of billion-dollar weather disasters is 20 as of the end of August. Typhoon Lekima cost China $9.3bn; the Indian monsoon so far, $5.5bn. There have been two more billion dollar weather disasters thus far in September, including Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas, for which no figure is yet available (Source: Aon Insurance).

Arctic sea ice extent during August 2019 was the second lowest in the 40-year satellite record, not far behind 2012. (National Snow and Ice Data Center). Ice volume, depending on thickness, is a different matter – it’s the lowest ever recorded (Paul Beckwith).

Wales, UK: This is now, believe it or not, the fifth day of almost unbroken, if hazy, wall-to-wall sunshine; although the flowers had a little blessing during the night before last. The temperature in my shady front garden currently at 13.00 is 24 deg. C. (19 Sept.) The daytime high for September in the UK averages 18C. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles.

Update: Friday, 20 Sept. Climate strike day, the Autumn equinox and another cloudless sunny morning on the west coast. At 09.15, the thermo climbs past 17C. by 13.00 it is 25C. This is very pleasant but slightly unusual. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”? Keats’ famous poem is 200 years old this week.

Same again tomorrow, but the forecast is for rain arriving Sunday and even thunderstorms by Monday. Phew! Saved by the bell.

There are 2.9 billion fewer birds in the U.S. and Canada now than 50 years ago — reports the New York Times.

“While some species grew, the majority declined — often by huge numbers — including traditionally abundant birds like robins and sparrows. Habitat loss, pesticides and house cats are among the likely culprits, and experts say the declines are a dire warning about the planet’s well-being.”

The Madness of King Donald…. Depression news, #1,#2,#3… Schools for scandal… GW: under my umbrella, ella… “Tunnel approaching”… The sheer irrelevance of political journalism – a short essay.

 

“Come November you’ll all be eating my snot. Its fingerpickin’ good!” (with apologies to Getty Images for nicking their stuff. I don’t get paid for this.)

Details of Operation Yellowhammer, the full horror story of the UK Government’s own predictions, released under duress from the Johnson Dark House (except that they were leaked in The Times two weeks ago) predict that within 24 hours of a No-Deal Brexit, there’ll be a 1.5-day-long backlog for goods to clear customs at Calais; and within another 24 hours we’ll be waiting so long that all the goods will have perished, supermarket shelves will be emptying, prices rocketing, and people reliant on insulin will have died.

Things can only get better.

 

The Madness of King Donald….

“A lot of people want the job. It’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work for Donald Trump.”

Er…. yes. That was – Donald Trump speaking, in what’s become known as a “chopper talk” press gaggle on the WH lawn, posing in front of his airforce helicopter (that doesn’t work in the rain), explaining that he will have no trouble finding a replacement for John Bolton, the mad neocon armchair warmonger he hired last year as his third National Security advisor, and fired the other night as they appeared to agree on absolutely nothing and besides, he always hated that yellowing signature soup-strainer Bolton sports on his horsey upper lip, as it got him so much publicity.

Defending his attempt to rollback the phazing-out of energy-intensive tungsten lightbulbs, something we did in Europe about 20 years ago, Trump told a gathering it was because eco-friendlier low-energy bulbs “Always make me look orange”. This, in a speech to the Congressional Institute?

The guy has absolutely no self-awareness. The world is just an invention of his own diseased brain. A world through which he walks alone, troubled only by the shadows of the rest of us.

And then – this is the President who told another gathering this week that his wife Melania has a son – in wrapping up a rambling, delusionary and disorienting impromptu speech, he called Vice President Mike Pence: “Mike Pounds”, and then looked momentarily confused.

For God’s sake, Republican party, what the hell is wrong with you? You’re headed for oblivion with this demented old fraud in charge.

(Based on actual news clips satirized on The Late Show, 13 Sept.)

Thompson said: ‘I mean, I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.’

Double mammy: Al Johnson, as the PM might look in the age of color.

Depression news

Despite warnings from medical professionals and a number of deaths associated with the trials, Donald Trump has told his Health Department to order a vast quantity of a new, expensive, ketamine-based drug to be supplied to the Veterans Administration, for treating cases of PTSD in the military; where doctors have already advised, antidepressants can do more harm than good.

Are we to assume then that Trump “knows more about medicine than many doctors”, as he once met a doctor, or perhaps is it a case of another anonymous million-dollar donation quietly appearing in his re-election campaign war chest?

And make no mistake. Muh good friend, The Pumpkin is betting his jazz collection on Trump getting re-elected next year, if he has not been carted off with his arms folded in the meantime.

Just as, after ten years of vicious “austerity” warfare against the poorer two-thirds of the country, and as we head into a recession, the mendacious and incompetent Conservative government led by a bumbling and entitled unelected oaf, a careerist dilettante, a serial shagger and amateur racist who proposes to destroy the economy by dragging us in chaos out of the EU with nothing settled, and who has been branded a liar and a chancer by no less than former PM, David Cameron; the party selling places in the lifeboats for the rich while the rest of us drown in a sea of bubbling-hot shit, has a 12 per cent lead in the public opinion polls.

On both sides of the Atlantic, populist lunacy reigns.

 

“More than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals” – Guardian report. The International Labor Organization estimates about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s unregulated crystal mines, for the benefit of cretins like Gwyneth Paltrow and her tribe of emaciated airheads.

Depression News #2

It’s an ill-wind… “Shares in oil companies have jumped this morning, following the jump in crude prices.” (Guardian, jumping twice). Oil companies and armaments manufacturers are giving off the only signs that we’re not heading into a global recession, accompanied by a mooted US-led retaliatory strike on Iranian refineries, as all other market indices were showing red this morning.

If you were hoping to avoid a 5p rise in the unleaded price at the pumps today, you’re probably too late – althugh Trump is pumping ever harder. Aramco is now predicting it may take months to get back to full production after the drone strikes on the Abqaiq processing facility, which have interdicted half of Saudi Barbaria’s refinery output – 5% of the world’s oil supply.

Strikes for which the US has now managed to cobble together enough “intel” to suggest must have come from Iran or its proxies in Iraq, rather than from the Yemeni rebels who have claimed them.

Pundits now fear rising oil prices could be just the thing to kick off a global recession; while US banks – free once again to trade in dodgy debt-swaps with shareholder immunity risking only their depositors’ savings – could be even more just the thing to trigger another 2007-style lending crisis and a consequent depression, from which there might be no escape this time. The ECB and the Fed have already got the printing presses smoking hot and interest rates set below zero, but will it be enough?

Buckle up.

I keep saying that, don’t I? Yawn.

 

Depression News #3: “We can’t be sure…” etc.

“…if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC”.

In an online story today, the good ole BBC carries a series of interviews with climate scientists including former UK chief scientist, David King.

All of them admit straight away, they’re scared. It’s all getting out of hand. Extreme weather events are coming thick and fast. They’re becoming more extreme, at an unpredicted rate.

But… we can’t be sure that any one event is linked to climate change!

Why does the BBC keep on parroting this sanitizing mantra? What actual relevance does making individual connections have, when joining the dots is scaring the pants off the people who know?

“Dr Friederike Otto from Oxford University is an expert in the attribution of extreme events to climate change. (So’s your Old Gran. It just comes natural, like…) She told us that in a pre-climate change world, a heatwave like this (France, June and July 2019, 46 and 43 deg. C) might strike once in 1,000 years. ‘In a post-warming world, the heatwave was a one-in-a-100 year phenomenon.’ (I know, that’s twice in one year! and they had Lucifer in 2017, and another one last year, 15 thousand heat deaths in 2003. But carry on, Dr Expert.) ‘In other words, natural variability is amplifying human-induced climate heating. (No, it’s the other way around!) With European heatwaves, we have realised that climate change is a total game-changer,’ she said.” Indeed. Good experting there, Dr Otto. I’m sure you know, it’s not a game.

But…  “it was impossible to be sure that the slow progress of Dorian was caused by climate change”. Oh, really? We know what the meteorological mechanisms are for the slowing forward progress, the more rapid intensification and increasing moisture-content of hurricanes. And it’s not just Dorian, it’s pretty well all of them now. Harvey? Florence? Michael? Idai? Kenneth? The Terrible Twins, Lekima and Krosa?

The Terrible Twins: Lekima and Krosa.

We know the climate is warming. And we know that all weather events are (and were always) the product of Earth’s climate.

Where’s the difficulty then in assuming that events that are more unusual and more extreme and more frequent than the norm are the obvious products of a changing climate – an overheating world?

Oh, but, says the top UN climate science guy, we don’t want to frighten the children!

Why the fuck do you think the children are striking and marching and demonstrating? It’s because they’re trying to frighten you! Why not listen to them?

And do stop telling us the world has warmed by “1 degree”! When you start from pre-industrial 1750 rather than 1880 you’re looking at 1.85 degrees already. Adjusting other variables as the scientists at Arctic News have been doing (admittedly controversially) brings us to nearer 3 degrees, but masked by the aerosol effect known as “global dimming” we can go on pretending if you like.

Your Old Gran has made the point many times before: if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC.

 

“Two climate crisis protesters who removed Emmanuel Macron’s portrait from an official building were justified in doing so because of the severity of the environmental emergency, a judge has said. ​The ​judge in Lyon acquitted the pair of theft in a ruling hailed as historic by campaigners.” (Guardian)

And we want to leave the European Union?

Schools for scandal

“Each time a school becomes an academy the council must hand over the title deeds for the school if it has them (avg value £5m per school). As over 2,000 schools have been forced to become academies that is £10 billion (min) state assets (of which) Michael Gove has demanded the title deeds be handed to him.”

Legal fees involved in this incredible scam, uncovered five years ago by Michael Rosen, the “Childrens’ Laureate” at the time, amounted to another £50 million – all funded by the taxpayer.

Rosen’s attempts in 2014 to discover who now owned the title deeds make for even more shocking reading: a FOI request backed, in the face of unlawful prevarication, by a court order eventually revealed, there were no paper records or any form of traceable audit of the transfers of £10 billion in titles to formerly public buildings and land to the governors of the new schools, many of them Conservative party notables.

Gove, he adds, secretly set up a private company to process the deeds. But the money itself could not be traced. He later changed the law so that academies – unlike every other charity in the land – don’t have to publish accounts. Anyone “associated with the school” can now own the deeds, and even trade or sell them on; while the Government funds the payment of extortionate rents on the school properties to the new private “owners”.

The deeds have, in effect, been converted to a traded bond currency with no IFA oversight: “dark money”. While the “shareholders” of these new private school companies are indemnified at the public expense. THese are valuable public assets that have in effect been stolen by the state, and the money redistributed to private individuals.

Thus much of the money has ended up invested in offshore tax shelters and has been denied to the rest of our crumbling education system. As indeed, the schools were formerly in local authority ownership; while, as we know, local services – libraries, social care, housing, children’s services, “meals-on-wheels”, policing – pothole filling – have all been slashed to the marrow, thanks to the austerity measures imposed on us by this sickening bunch of rentier prostitutes, the Conservative party and its successive, failed governments.

Why this scandal is not better known, why the public has not burned down Parliament, I do not know. It is exactly the same system as was exploited by Vladimir Putin to vastly enrich his coterie of thuggish “oligarchs” in the new Russia, through the supra-legal disposals of holdings in formerly public companies; making himself probably the richest man in the world in the process. (He is believed to be worth twice as much as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.)

I learned about the scandal only today, from a link provided in a Comment on a Guardian piece reminding us how terrible Gove was as Education Secretary: principally, as evidenced by his cynical removal of classes covering civics, politics, contemporary history – and any mention of the EU – from the national curriculum, thus possibly explaining why there is so little resistance to Tory propaganda; so little interest in politics, or the EU, that the people can be easily bullied and manipulated into voting 180 degrees against their own interest.

It turns out, therefore, that in addition to being a duplicitous little shit, Gove is also very probably a criminal.

Would somebody please move for the arrest and trial of this mendacious little pox-doctor, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the public purse, and of misconduct while in office? Throw open the windows and let a little light and air in on his furtive activities? Whatever else by way of treacherous deception he might have engineered while nobody was looking?

And please Sir, can we have our education system back? No Tory government should be allowed within a mile of the school gates, they’re nothing but a bunch of economic perverts and ignorance pushers.

Thanks.

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html

 

GW: under my umbrella, ella

Parts of eastern Spain received what in some places was their heaviest rainfall on record on Thursday, 12 Sept., with severe flash-flooding, as storms wreaked (wrought?) widespread destruction and killed at least 4 people. The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother had been found dead in an overturned car in Caudete. 2 other motorists drowned in Almeria and Granada. The town of Ontinyent in Valencia had recorded more than 400mm (16-in.) rainfall by Thursday afternoon. The Clariano river rose 9 meters (30ft) in 2 hours. Regional airports were closed. (Guardian)

Bahamas: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama Island. Disturbance 95L became Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 on Thursday afternoon and follows Cat. 5 Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas last week (1,300 still recorded as missing.) If this system were to become a tropical storm, it would be called Humberto. As of 2 a.m. EDT Friday (13 Sept.), the center of the system was about 210 miles southeast of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. and potential to bring 300mm (15-in.) of rain (Accuweather) Behind it, a second disturbance has formed a disorganized system moving westwards out of the Cape Verde islands towards the Lesser Antilles, and stands a good chance of developing, monitors report.

Monday update: Strengthening hurricane, Humberto brushed by the Bahamas and then took a huge swing northeastwards, away from the Americas and out into the Atlantic. Bermuda is on standby. Watch out Portugal, or us, next week.

Brazil: Coffee lovers should consider stocking up on beans. Accuweather reports on market jitters, as: “the key coffee-growing region of Minas Gerais in Brazil has not had significant rain in three months. Average temperatures have been a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and average precipitation has been 57% below normal since June 1.” No rain is in the forecast for the next three weeks.

USA: As powerful storms continue to batter the Midwest, September 2018 to August 2019 was again the wettest 12-month stretch on record for the contiguous United States as a whole. March and July were the only months that were slightly drier than average, but still maintained the year-on-year record. The top five wettest Jan-Aug periods have all occurred since 1979. (Wunderground, from where the NOAA graph below, showing rapid intensification, is also taken.)

Precipitation totals for 12-month spans from September to the following August, going back to 1895

The floppy jetstream is once again plunging southwards, as far as southern California – 100F degree temperatures around Sacramento are likely to be in the 60s by early this week, a new storm system is moving in and there’s a snow forecast for higher elevations. Tropical Storm Humberto has triggered storm warnings for Florida’s east coast. (Accuweather) Behind Humberto, “Imelda” (as yet only an unnamed depression) is forming off the Cape Verde islands.

Accuweather reports, Monday 16th: “Residents (in South Dakota) are facing record-breaking flooding as the Big Sioux River continues to rise. The National Weather Service said recently, that almost a foot of rain fell near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over the course of two days. Multiple rivers and creeks surpassed previous water level records.”

Arctic: Prof. Beckwith’s latest podcast causes some puzzlement. While it’s clear from satellite scans that practically all the multi-year thick ice north of 60 deg. is gone, and there are still millions of square km of clear water around the outer edges of the ocean that weren’t there in Augusts past, it appears that the overall extent of sea ice that had been falling all summer in line with 2012’s record collapse had begun by mid-August to level off; although it’s thin and mushy. Despite record air temperatures, as the sun’s obliquity grows with the onset of winter, surface melting appeared to slow down early, although sub-surface melting continues for some weeks after, as the water beneath remains warm. No-one is quite sure why: aerosol masking from fires is one theory, fresh meltwater from Greenland another. So it looks like we won’t be getting the dreaded “blue water” event this year; but we’re still skating on thin ice.

UK – Wales: A Google search reveals the factoid that the average daily September temperature in the UK is 16.8C, with an average high of 18C. Happily then, in the shade of the enormous Photinia in my front garden, we hit 23.2 degrees at about 2 p.m. this fine, sunny – if still somewhat hazy – afternoon (13 Sept.); and 23.5 the next day. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles!

World’s largest permafrost river, the Lena at Yakutsk dries to a record low, preventing winter supplies reaching outlying settlements. (Siberian Times)

Tunnel approaching….

“40% of the UK’s food is imported,” notes a parliamentary report. In the very near future, the Environmental Audit Committee says, “people would be at risk from sudden lurches in food prices if a no-deal Brexit resulted in trouble with imports, including higher costs, delays and shortages. Beyond the immediate effects of Brexit, the climate emergency and changing trade relationships may put the British diet in jeopardy.” The committee has called for urgent action to improve resilience, including water rationing, greater diversity in farming and a campaign against food waste.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the committee, said: “We are facing a food security crisis.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/uk-fresh-food-imports-areas-at-risk-climate-crisis-mps-warn

Meanwhile, the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has confirmed we are expecting the first case of African Swine Fever in Britain “within 12 months”. It’s already prevalent in eastern Europe. China has had to slaughter over a million pigs already and has dropped its tariffs against US pork producers to guarantee supply. China consumes half the world’s production, but the country expects to have to cull another 250 million pigs to try to contain the outbreak of what is being described as potentially the world’s worst ever animal disease pandemic. World prices are rising.

…a short essay

“Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.”

The sheer irrelevance of political journalism

I keep abandoning halfway through, long, thoughtful, worried articles in the kind of liberal press I tend to read, giving tendentious political analysis – Brexit, the Farage party, Johnson, Cummings, shutting down Parliament, whither democracy and the political system?, civil discourse, globalism, Orban, Salvini, street violence, treason, hedge funds, Nazis, Twitter rants, Trump’s chaotic foreign policy, left, right – the rule of law.

Not one of them betrays the slightest awareness of the parallel climate crisis that is hurling itself upon us with ever-increasing velocity, violence – and expense. Not one appears to be aware that an extinction event is already far advanced, of mammalian species, that unfortunately now includes the human race; and that this is a political, as well as a scientific and geophysical conundrum: not, can we now prevent?, but how are we going to manage our own extinction?

Not one journalist seems to understand the connection: that, whatever political systems are in place five years from now, our “leaders” will have to grapple with issues humanity has not had to face in the last 13 thousand years, at least since the cosmic collision event that extincted the northern megafauna – and nearly us too; nor are the “leaders” seemingly capable of factoring those issues into their self-obsessed, narrow-minded, anachronistic ideologies.

It is as if politics and the environment are entirely separate issues proceeding on parallel tracks, with a high wall between.

The author and New York Times contributor, Jonathan Franzen – an expert amateur ornithologist, by the way, who travels the world in search of rare birds, has written a polemic in which he concludes, there is no way out of the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

And a silly little girl claiming to be a “climate scientist”, Kate Marvel writes a reply in the Scientific American, telling Franzen to “shut up”.

After several paragraphs describing the situation exactly as it is: fossil fuel overdependency, feedbacks kicking in, non-linear warming, ice vanishing, levels of CO2 in the amosphere unknown during the 2 million years humans have existed, environmental degradation, etcetera, etcetera, she writes – believe it or not: “I am a scientist, which means I believe in miracles.”

It is gobsmacking stuff. Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.

That’s the childish, panic-stricken, self-censoring level to which – I won’t call it a debate – scientific discourse has sunk. Franzen’s view is soundly supported by numerous serious scientists, many of whom are being “shut up” by the vested interests for whom truth is an elastic polymer. None, so far as I know, is offering us a “miracle”.

Even where mainstream media journalists do crossover from their political navel-gazing into quasi-scientific environmentalism, not one seems fully apprised of the depth of the hot shit we are now swimming in, or prepared to peer into the abyss. Twelve years, according to the IPCC? Don’t be so fucking naive, we were given 12 years by the UN in 1989!

I could name you all, you sober and sensible political journalists with your furrowed concern for the future of democracy, but why bother? You know who you are. Just wake up and look around, you self-absorbed, incurious boobies.

The totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism you see rising all around us are the direct consequence of a universal but unspoken consciousness that we are fast approaching the end time. We face a fascist-style, dictatorial future, only because kleptocratic authoritarianism is the natural political response to looming dystopian chaos, the collapse of the civilized postwar consensus in which some – for a time – will win, and the rest of us will unfortunately be left to perish.

Populist totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism are – literally – the zeitgeist.

Is it the answer you want?

Then try asking the question. Earn your money.

And now I’ll shut up.

The Pumpkin – Issue 98: Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy…When will they ever learn?… Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?…GW: Still thinning on the top…

 

Quote of the week:

twitter.com/IamHappyToast/status/1171050051860422657

 

Boris Johnson (right) opening the guestbook at the page signed by Donald Trump and his wife Melania before holding talks with Leo Varadkar (centre) at Government buildings in Dublin

“Oh look, it’s Sharpie and Harpie!”

Johnson finds the Trumps got to Ireland before him (and complained about the bedbugs).

 

Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy

Bolton has, he says, quit his position as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, after a row with the thin-skinned, permatanned one over being sidelined over talks with the Taliban.

His account doesn’t quite square with the White House’s, that Trump fired him, but the effect is the same. Many people are joyfully hailing the possibility that Trump’s next pick might be a less irascibly Irish, more peaceable fellow with fewer instincts for regime change and imposing US-style democracy on the world by force of arms.

(US media count eight wars prosecuted with Bolton’s involvement.)

Trump announced just days ago that he had cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, due to be held at Camp David, following another onslaught by Taliban forces that killed lots of Afghan civilians. Bolton’s astonished response indicated that Trump had kept him out of the loop.

But in addition to not wanting a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, the mustachioed one also opposed Trump’s famous nuclear deal with North Korea (that hasn’t quite yet happened) and attempts to renegotiate the perfectly sound Obama-signed deal Trump abrogated with Iran, where Bolton made no secret of wanting to invade.* Trump is also concerned that Bolton is advocating replacing Venezuela’s President Maduro by force.

As usual, he learned of his fate by tweet. Trump is a terrible coward when it comes to firing people face-to-face. Especially that face.

For some reason, oil prices fell on the news.

*Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo is today trying to spin an attack by drones flown by Yemeni rebels on a key Saudi Barbarian oilfield as having been perpetrated directly by Iran. These people will never give up their insane ambition for US business to conquer the planet.

 

When will they ever learn?

This is the story roughly as told by a US online news comment show, TYT Nation, which has an inaudibly adenoidal and slow-minded presenter. I hope the details are correct.

So. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump convinced the voters of key swing-state Wisconsin and its controversial Republican governor, Scott Walker, that he’d done a $4.5 billion sweetheart tax deal with Chinese electronics giant, Foxconn, to build a huge plant that would, by 2022, employ 13 thousand of the state’s great workers.

Everyone took him at his word.

Foxconn is known principally for manufacturing iPhones on contract to Apple – and for its notorious addition of anti-suicide netting to its factory rooftops in China after a spate of migrant workers reportedly threw themselves off while suffering depression after being made to work many illegal extra hours for no extra pay, often sleeping at their workstations, inhaling toxic chemicals, while far from home and warehoused on-site in vast, impersonal dormitories.

Things seemed to be moving ahead when demands to purchase land (including residential homes) went out from the state authorities, residents being threatened with compulsory removal without compensation if they refused to sell (known in the US as “eminent domain”, where the government deems there to be a strategic necessity and is empowered to seize property). 75 homes were thus bulldozed, families forced out, and a large site cleared for buildings and an access road, that have yet to be built.

Indeed, construction has not yet started, and very probably never will be.

Because Trump’s deal never existed. It was a scam, so it appears.

In the meantime, Foxconn had opened a small plant employing just 60 people, of whom 15 – unpaid interns – were almost immediately let go because there was no work for them to do. (That was my first “work experience” too, being fired for no reason, age 16! UB.) $7 million had been spent on a campaign to recruit workers from out of state, as the necessary skills didn’t exist locally among the “great” workers of Wisconsin.

Since when, Trump has imposed swingeing trade tariffs on China, sanctioned the equally giant Huawei electronics company (bullying Google to stop supporting its Android apps on Huawei cellphones and attempting to prevent foreign countries from incorporating Huawei-supplied components in 5G networks), imprisoned one of its senior executives on possibly Trumped-up copyright theft charges, and the Foxconn deal has apparently gone sour – if it ever properly existed, there seemingly being no signed contract committing them to deliver anything.

So much for the Great Deal Maker. So much for “America First!” – the deal benefitted only the Chinese, but does he care? He got the votes.

Maybe not next time.

And maybe Congress, desperately running to catch up to Trump’s astonishing record of emoluments violations which he continues to indulge (and deny!) while in office, visibly enriching himself and his family at public expense, could start looking into his and Kushner’s relationships with Chinese banks, to see how such sweetheart deals might improve their position of chronic indebtedness with these state-owned entities.

“When will they ever learn?” As Marlene Dietrich so poignantly sang.

(Report: TYT Nation, citing Bloomberg and others)

 

A French company has been found liable for the death of an employee who had a cardiac arrest while having sex with a stranger on a business trip. A Paris court ruled that his death was an industrial accident and that the family was entitled to compensation. (BBC)

And we want to leave the EU?

 

Time to end it, #11,947

Late of RT-USA, Thom Hartmann is one of the more sober, centre-left, articulate and extremely well-informed of the many independent online podcasters – forgive me, I’m uncertain of the terminology. Vloggers? – found in 15-minute clips on YouTube.

In a thoughtful piece, he reminds us that the increasing public acceptance of corruption in high places is destroying the country – and Trump didn’t invent it. Nixon, Reagan and George HW Bush all had their own corruption scandals hushed-up, that nobody talks about. As of course did Clinton, although he got impeached for lying.

However, unless the Congress is willing to call Trump out for what he is, and importantly also make an example of his many corrupt officials and enablers, future presidents will think themselves at liberty to behave even more irresponsibly.

It’s worth a watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTUcvDy625U

While over on CNN even Anthony Scaramucci, the excitable, cocky, potty-mouthed little New York “investment manager” who lasted ten days as Trump’s Head of Communications during which he appeared to go crazy with power, is now quietly and soberly and articulately proposing that the Republican party has to overcome its fear of the office, put up some credible opposition in the primaries, and quietly remove Trump on medical/psychiatric grounds, as the President is clearly unwell and lying insanely through his ill-fitting teeth about absolutely everything.

Surely to God, when the President of the United States becomes so completely obsessed with proving he didn’t make a silly mistake over a goddam weather forecast that he crudely (and illegally) fakes an official map, and when even his Commerce Secretary and his Head of Staff get dragged into the row, when threats are made of senior meteorological heads rolling for failing to protect him, the “Is it time to question his mental competence?” headline must now gain some traction, finally, after three years of this seemingly never-ending lunacy?

 

Global laundromat

According to US historian Lamar Waldron, President Nixon would receive money from foreign potentates to influence US policy, for his “re-election fund”, and would put the money on deposit with a crooked bank run by his friend, Bebe Rebozo.

At one stage, says Waldron, as a means of turning the capital into completely untraceable cash income, the two men actually bought a coin-operated laundry business in Florida.

 

Where are they now? #147

“Business dealings between US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wealthy Malaysian developer Tiah Joo Kim, are being investigated by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, CNN reported. Quoting a former and a current US official, CNN reported that the FBI is scrutinising the negotiations and financing surrounding the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The US$360 million Trump tower was developed by the 37-year-old Tiah, the son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian.” (Straits Times, 4 Mar., 2018.)

And…..?

Well, there was a hint of an insinuation in US media at the time that Trump may have been looking for reasons to move his beloved daughter and Plastic Ken out of the White House, where he found them an irritating distraction from his autocratic project. He really doesn’t like being told what to do. And sundry reports of the business model followed by Trump Org. might suggest a possibility of money laundering, although a cursory check shows Kim seems sound enough, for a Malaysian businessman.

Still, as with so many other matters Trumpian under investigation that the national blanket of amnesia seems to have gently fallen over since 2017, it would be nice to know what happened, after 18 months.

Indeed, what has happened to that other FBI inquiry, also floated by the Straits Times, into allegations that money from the £4.5 billion MDB1 sovereign wealth fund scam ended up in Trump’s SuperPAC, while his buddy, Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy, was allegedly trying to shakedown one of the prime suspects for $73 million, to make the investigation go away?

Could we not be told before the Orange One gets re-elected, maybe?

 

Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?

Despite:

  • losing his first six votes in the Commons as Prime Minister,
  • abandoning his wife to face surgeries for cervical cancer* and running off with a much younger woman,
  • being outed as a drunken domestic abuser,
  • making increasingly incoherent and rambling speeches,
  • insulting other European leaders, women and minorities,
  • firing 21 members of his own party for ‘disloyalty’,
  • making even Corbyn look good at Prime Minister’s Questions,
  • having no plan to exit the EU by 31 October despite pretending he has,
  • being under the malign control of a monstrous egomaniacal psychopath,
  • having shut down Parliament for 5 weeks to avoid having to ask for an extension to Article 50,
  • refusing to allow staff and aides to surrender evidence of collusion over his No-Deal strategy,
  • threatening to ignore the law that says he can’t leave the EU without a deal or an election, putting himself at risk of imprisonment,
  • conning the Queen into conspiring in an illegal prorogation of Parliament,

…and after even his own brother has resigned the Tory whip – along with other serving ministers who can no longer stomach his lies, laziness, incompetence and grand delusions –

Boris Johnson still has a lead in the polls.

“Still, ‘e’s jolly entertaining. Remember ‘im on TV? Cor blimey, ‘e were funny! ‘e’ll teach them garlic-munchin’ sausage eaters a fing or two abart good old British spunk!”

Yes, it’s the 80th anniversary of the start of the years when plucky little Britain stood alone against the ravening might of the European Nazi horde. And by God, if Brussels wants to rule the waves, we’ll do it again! Winston Johnson is the man for our times! (Even if he has sacked @realWinston’s grandson.)

Heil Boris!

*Any woman who has had unprotected sex with Johnson should go for screening immediately, as male partners may carry the Human Papilloma virus, believed to be a common cause of cervical cancer.

 

GW: Still thinning on the top

France: According to the Ministry of Health, 567 people died from proximate causes during France’s first heatwave this year, from 24 June to 7 July. A further 868 died during the second from 21 to 27 July. France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 46C (114.8F) in June. (BBC) Extra precautions this time prevented the much greater loss of life – 15 thousand – experienced in the heatwave of 2003. Over half this year’s victims were 75+; 10 died while at work.

Japan: “A powerful typhoon in Japan has left more than 100 flights canceled, thousands of travelers stranded at the airport, and nearly 1 million households without power. Typhoon Faxai, which made landfall early Monday morning in the coastal city of Chiba, brought heavy rain and winds of 128 miles per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.” The storm then moved over Tokyo where it paralyzed public transport, stranding thousands of commuters. (CNN). 3 people are known to have died. More storms are forecast, with 30+ degrees C. and 80 per cent humidity for Rugby teams to contend with, as they gather in training camps in advance of the World Cup.

The verdict: “Cat 4, weakening to 3, Faxai was the strongest typhoon to hit Tokyo in recorded history. “Though the storm is now heading out to sea, strong winds and heavy rainfall are still affecting the west coast of the country. The Foreign Office has put out some official travel advice for rugby fans looking to head to Japan. ‘Strong winds and heavy rainfall are expected,’ they say, ‘with potential disruption to transport and other essential services.'” (The i)

Korea: “Typhoon Lingling passed over the Korean peninsula 8 Sept., leaving 5 dead and 460 houses damaged or destroyed in North Korea, according to state media. The storm flooded 460 sq km (178 sq miles) of farmland, the official KCNA news agency said, in a country already suffering food shortages.” Lingling earlier killed 3 people in South Korea, including an elderly woman picked up by the wind and slammed headfirst into a wall. (BBC)

Cambodia: 7 people have died in recent floods, which have displaced 7 thousand families and inundated thousands of homes. Flooding has also caused severe damage to crops and livestock. Rivers continue to rise. Further heavy rain is expected. (Floodlist)

Australia: More than 80 fires have been burning for days on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Guardian Australia reports, some 20 properties have been destroyed and another 27 have been damaged since the bushfire crisis began on Thursday, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge. The ruins of the lodge, one of the oldest nature-based resorts in Australia, are surrounded by blackened remnants of what used to be lush Gondwana (primeval) rainforest in the UN heritage Lamington National Park.

The minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said he “doesn’t know” if climate change is man-made, and it’s not important – as long as Australia continues to produce “high quality” energy from coal. The Environment minister, a woman of some kind, equally pig-ignorant, has rallied to his support.

Granny Weatherwax comments bitterly: The world has more than its share of tenth-rate, moronic, venal or corrupt liars, ecocidal criminals careless of the now unavoidable fate of humankind and the truncated lives of their own children, greedy for money and a little transient power. Why do so many of them have to end up working as politicians? And in Australia?

New Zealand: Heavy rain on 10 Sept. prompted evacuations and caused flooding and landslips in the Coromandel Peninsula. 260mm fell in 24 hours. A local civil defense manager commented: “Although we saw the rain coming, it was twice as intense as we were advised.” (Floodlist)

West Africa: Floods continue to spread across Nigeria. In Niger, the death toll from last week’s flooding has risen to 57. Flooding in Chad and Mali has displaced hundreds of families. Several other countries are affected. The UN is talking of a humanitarian crisis. At least 7 people have died in a landslide in southern Ethiopia. The disaster occurred after heavy rain during the afternoon of 07 Sept. (Floodlist)

USA: Accuweather reports: There are dozens of active wildfires in the western U.S. from California to Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The Walker Fire, burning in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California has consumed more than 44,000 acres and was only 10% contained as of Tuesday morning. Temperatures are forecast to climb back to and above seasonable levels later this week and into this weekend.

Yes, it’s been a bit cooler in the West the last few days. So much so, that several inches of snow have fallen in Utah….

Meanwhile for a swathe of the Midwest from Kansas through to Minnesota, guess what? That’s right! Hail, torrential rain, flash flooding, tornadoes, damaging winds…. No such thing as climate change. Not happening. 3x T-2 tornadoes that touched down in Sioux Falls, S. Dakota on 11 Sept. left a shopping district in shambles, downed power lines and caused severe damage to a hospital. (Accuweather)

Mid-Pacific, Hawaii posted its hottest summer on record. Data for a handful of specific sites—Honolulu, Hilo, Lihue, and Kahului—reports Weather Underground, make a strong case that this summer’s heat across Hawaii has been unprecedented, setting many new records both high and highest low.

Oh, and don’t tell Trump – “A tropical wave festering near the Southeast Bahamas may gradually organize as it heads toward Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

Turkey: For some reason, we missed – oh, I remember, your Gran was away – torrential rain and severe flash flooding in Istanbul on 17 Aug. Some parts had 100mm rain in a few hours. Anyway, back in the Mediterranean, more torrential rainfall with potential for widespread flash flooding is the forecast for the rest of the week for Spain and the western Med. 11 Sept. And we’re talking up to half a meter of rain in places. (Severe-weather.eu)

Arctic: Watching the BBC Weather forecast for the week, I suppose it’s no surprise forecaster Darren Betts concentrates on remnant Dorian and remnant TS Gabrielle bringing wind and rain – and then warming temperatures, followed by high pressure – to the Fortunate Isles by the weekend. As your Gran has often observed, however, it’s what’s going on over his left shoulder that’s of more interest.

A massive wave of warm, tropical air preceding what look like two more cyclones is shoving up past Iceland into the Arctic, where 17 September is the annual peak day for summer ice loss – already at a record low volume. Arctic News reports, 9 Sept., current air temperatures across the polar region at 4.41C over the 1880-1920 (?) global average and sea surface temperatures off Svalbard at 15.2C above the 1981-2011 average.

Mean global methane levels (720 ppb in 1750) were as high as 1911 ppb on the morning of 3 Sept. Methane is increasing faster than CO2 and up to 150 times more damaging. The “Sam Carana” editorial team is still betting on an extinction-level 5C global rise by 2026 and fretting that it will include enough methane to trigger the loss of reflective marine stratocumulus cloud, leading to an additional 8C of warming. (Arctic News)

Antarctic: A possibly unprecedented, sudden warming of the stratosphere over Antarctica, with temperatures an alarming 40C above normal, reveals just how complex climate science can get. Because, the effect is to push cold air at lower altitudes out sideways: thus large parts of Australia will see its already record-hot Spring temperatures plummet to a wintery 10C below-normal anomaly next week, lowering the risk of more wildfires – while the heat in the stratosphere will also have the effect of preventing the chemical reactions that cause the annual widening of the as-yet unrepaired hole in the ozone layer, actually helping to shrink it (and thus reduce damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the ground). (extreme-weather.eu)

It’s an ill-wind, as they say.

Tunnel approaching….

Fukushima: The Tokyo Electric Power company responsible for cleaning up the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility where three reactors melted down after the 2011 tsunami, has said it is running out of storage space for over a million tonnes of radioactive coolant it has been only partly successful in decontaminating, and will need to start emptying it untreated into the Pacific by 2022. Local fishermen are protesting.

Bahamas: While government figures are still claiming the death toll from Hurricane Dorian is just 45, local media are speculating that 3 thousand or more may have died. Officially, 2,500 are missing (12 Sept.) Geographer and climate change activist, Prof. Paul Beckwith has looked at the numbers and estimates on the basis of local eyewitness accounts, population distribution, figures for missing, how many people may have left the island in time and the impact of the storm seen in photographs, that the final toll could be as high as 40 thousand.

Iceland: volcano watchers are monitoring a build-up of pressure in the Grimsvoten volcanic field under the huge Vanajökull glacier in anticipation of a major eruption. “The trend has increased lately, and with stronger earthquakes and more pressure in the volcano, it is possible for Grimsvotn to erupt within the next 4-12 months.” say the experts. They don’t know which volcano might blow, but bets are on Hekla, the most frequent eruptor. (Severe-weather.eu)

Human extinction: John Doyle is the EU’s director of Policy Outreach and International Affairs. He gives a scary presentation in a video recorded at a recent symposium for UN aid agencies, available for now on the Arctic News website, in which he confirms the little publicized diagnosis of climate scientists that we are looking down the barrel of a planet-killing 10 deg. C of warming within the next “20 to 30 years”.

To get there, he notes, we have to pass 4 degrees, and that’s curtains for most of the human race. Food yields, he points out, are already plummeting due to climate change; parts of the world have already become almost uninhabitable due to excessive “wetbulb” temperatures. Vertebrate species and insect populations have collapsed. Forests are burning. And there is no “unless…” – no technological solution is on the horizon and one becomes even less likely as we try to retreat from fossil fuels, effectively ending global action. We have done this to ourselves.

“Most of you will be here at the end”, he concludes.

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

A new BogPo emerging: Trapped in the work ethic… “Appointments Co-Ordinator”: The Angel of Death… Trump’s weird weather balloon continues to inflate… GW: It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall

Revolting Quote of the Week (Look away now…)

“Perhaps Iain Duncan Smith would be caught scraping wax out of his own ears and spreading it on a Jacob’s Cracker; or licking his own belly-button fluff off a stick as if it were fairground candyfloss; or sprinkling dried smegma flakes from beneath his foreskin on to a strawberry ice cream and saying: ‘Yum! Yum! I love eating smegma!’ Everyone will have the food they need.” – Stewart Lee in The Observer, 8 Sept., after former Tory leader and chief architect of the New Poverty, Smarmy Duncan Cunt was caught on camera in the Commons, picking his nose and eating the bogeys.

 

Trapped in the work ethic

There’s an excellent dissection of modern-day society on Open Democracy today (pub. 5 Sept.). Phil Jones writes on Millennials’ obsession with “Brand You” – the neurotic pursuit of “employability” that occupies so much of people’s leisure time – and, indeed, of their working time, as they concentrate on finding the next job, and the next.

“If work/life balance feels like a bad joke, the need to market oneself is even worse – a joke that goes on forever, never to deliver. Needless to say, the joke is on us as we spend our lives working ever-more to receive ever less.”

Jones regards it as a mental health crisis.

Actually, I’ve always thought that the universal activity of looking around for better opportunities is one of the more agreeable diversions from work, and probably one of the primary causes of our woeful lack of productivity in Britain: an economy shivering through an unending winter of employee discontent.

Your Uncle Bogler is no millennial, except in the sense that sometimes he feels like a thousand years old. But he regards himself as having often been years ahead of the game. He thinks back to his last job, and the one before that, and the ones even before those, as times of obsessively reinventing himself through successive redraftings of his CV – this was mostly before lInkedIn and Instagram and all the rest of it. “Brand You” was always “Brand Me”.

So maybe it’s not such a new thing. Because 30, even 40 years ago I always felt the need to move on was the ideal form of progress. And, having milked every employer I ever had of more and more responsibility, always working silly hours way beyond my job description, never feeling sufficiently rewarded for it, it wasn’t long before I would start looking around for something more interesting to do.

Every so often I would go off for a while and employ myself, although I was my own worst manager and employer, always hopeless at structuring my time, doing accounts, finding business, networking and the social politics of being preferred for jobs I could do standing on my head, over reassuring Yes-men. It was always a great relief to get off that merry-go-round horse and hop onto a passing ride; a dodgem car, or the ghost train.

Indeed, after what? seven years! of retirement, I still wake up every day wondering where my next career move is going to come from.

Seventy, as they say, is the new 50, and finding work at 50 was hard enough. Nobody wants to hire someone afresh at the peak of their powers, there’s always a suspicion, isn’t there, that if you’re looking to get hired at 50 there must be something wrong with you; and, if hired, you’re probably thinking you can run the place a lot better than the insecure twenty-somethings blundering about in charge, which of course they won’t appreciate.

I didn’t. But having been given my own department to run, a budget and a free hand with hiring and scheduling, even at the callow age of 24 I didn’t make the mistake of not hiring more experienced people than myself to deputize, more than to do the actual nuts and bolts work; making up for the gaps in my knowledge and providing reassurance to the directors.

I made sure some of them got paid more than I did. Some of them were even women! And yet there was never any question who was running the show: it ran on my probably lunatic ideas (it’s called “innovation”), my energy, my hours, my creative imagination, my (well-regarded) precocious, professional input. I endeavored to induce a sense of co-operation – collegialism, rather than the tired cliche of “teamwork”, that absurd militaristic or sporting trope, the fallback of too many workplaces run by managers trained, rather than educated.

It’s an attitude I can pride myself on, and with me free to concentrate on my own contributions to the end-product, rather than constantly having to keep an eye on the personnel (except in one egregious case, of one serial responsibility-evader – he was the annoying baby of the team), we rapidly earned the envy and hatred of our competitors, as well as higher ratings, which I regarded then as the mark of success.

Few people, I imagine, get the chance to do that sort of thing nowadays. I won’t go shelf-stacking in Morrison’s because of it. Five minutes into the job and I’d almost certainly be thinking of the Manager much as one might contemplate the promising intellect of a primate in a zoo, adept at winkling its earwax out with a stick, wondering why Head Office was so willing to put up with the glaring inefficiencies and sheer gutlessness of its regional systems, its risk-aversion, and – privately seething with discontent at the massive discrepancy in our relative rewards – itching to move on.

It’s not a good look, as we corporatists say nowadays.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/brand-you-how-employability-came-dominate-our-lives/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=92c44be1e6-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-92c44be1e6-408090269

 

Trump’s weird weather balloon continues to inflate

The bizarre story of how Trump has been defending, like an oversexed terrier clamped to your leg, his mistaken warning that Alabama was going to be hit by Hurricane Dorian, took an even weirder turn tonight when someone at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration, issued a statement confirming that Trump had been correct, and that Alabama had been on the track list – albeit briefly – for 12 hours.

The Trump-affirming statement appeared to contradict the opinions of NOAA’s own scientists.

Trump called the press to the Oval Office on Wenesday and showed them a map that had obviously been doctored by someone, a person widely believed to be the 4-year-old child calling itself the 45th President of the United States of America, Commander-in-Chief of US forces and Leader of the Free World, by drawing an erratic extra bulge on a very early Hurricane Center track forecast with a black marker pen, to include Alabama, after the National Weather Service had tried to correct him.

Hurricane Dorian was going, they said, nowhere near Alabama. His claim, defended in a series of vindictive tweets savaging the media for trying to make him look bad, led to some panic buying in the state, while critics have argued that it may also have led to potentially lethal complacency in the Carolinas, far to the east, where the Category 3 storm did in fact track after killing hundreds of people in the Bahamas.

Certainly, there’s a law against promulgating false weather forecasts.

The point being, that Trump’s mental condition is now under serious scrutiny, as he had clearly made a simple mistake and it wasn’t, to begin with, of any importance; nobody would have cared, and he could just have brushed it off with a disarming apology, if he had an ounce of charm or good manners. Instead he is still doubling and tripling down on it with a series of increasingly disturbing lies, and what appear to be increasingly intimidatory tactics.

Now there’s a major rift between the nation’s various weather bureaux, with a spokesman for the National Weather Service’s employees calling the NOAA statement “disgusting and disingenuous” and accusing the NOAA of “managerial malpractise”, perpetrated for political reasons.

A quick call to Granny Weatherwax confirms, after delaying an appointment for many months, late in 2017 Trump nominated for the head of the NOAA, the former CEO of a private forecasting service, Accuweather, one Barry Lee Myers, a non-scientist.

Myers had previusly made a substantial donation to the campaign fund of a leading Republican senatorial candidate, the ghastly Rick Santorum, in an attempt to get Congress to sideline the National Weather Service and benefit Accuweather’s commercial interests by effectively outlawing free public weather forecasts.

He was not confirmed in post. So, according to Wikipedia, “since February 2019, NOAA has been headed by Neil Jacobs, as acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA interim administrator. NOAA has not had a confirmed leader since January of 2017.”

Neil has a somewhat more impressive CV than Barry:

“Previously as the Chief Atmospheric Scientist at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, he directed the research and development of both the aviation weather observing platform and weather forecast model programs. He was previously the Chair of the American Meteorological Society’s Forecast Improvement Group, and also served on the World Meteorological Organization’s aircraft-based observing systems expert team. Dr. Jacobs holds a bachelor degree in mathematics and physics from the University of South Carolina and masters and doctoral degrees in atmospheric science from North Carolina State University.” (NOAA website)

Now all he needed to do was to tell Mad King Donald to just drop it, but sadly being only yet another “acting” head of department among many, he can’t. Because his position is unconfirmed by the Senate and still in the gift of the President, he just has to do what the demented orange infant – whose uncle, let us remember, lectured in electrical engineering at MIT, qualifying Trump as a scientist summa cum laude – tells him to do.

Just get him out. Forget who he is, concentrate on what he is, which is certifiably bonkers. It’s cruel to keep him there. Just send in the men in white coats, stick an anti-spit bag on his head in case it’s catching, the megalomania – and cart him off with his arms folded.

How hard can it be?

 

“Appointments Co-Ordinator”: The Angel of Death

The NHS over in England is instructing area health trusts to write to London’s GPs, telling them not to refer patients to specialist consultants unless it’s a matter of life or death. “A spokeswoman” is quoted as saying:

“Some ideas will affect clinical services and in putting forward our plans we want to emphasise that the safety of our patients and the quality of our services will always come first.”

The spokeswoman added that they would ensure no patient waited more than 52 weeks for treatment.” (Guardian)

52 weeks is, as my Likers, Spammers, etc. all kno, a year.  No patient will wait MORE THAN A YEAR for treatment. Some idea… Some quality, first. Is this a health service or a national extermination program? Statisticians have been reporting for some time now that life expectancy in Britain is no longer increasing. This looks like one possible reason, you might agree.

Commented Health Secretary, Matt Hancock: “zzzzzzz. Wake me up when we’ve Brexited”.

My own local health board in Wales has adverted instead to a different method of imposing the death penalty on patients. Someone naming but not signing themselves “Appointments Co-Ordinator” will write to you, telling you you need to make an appointment – whether you do or not.

Failure to respond by telephone within 14 days will result in them assuming you no longer want or need treatment, or you are no longer living in the area, or you’ve died, and unpersoning you. Telephoning will produce a recorded message, telling you there is a half-hour wait to speak to someone.

Last March, for instance, I ignored – well, I tried phoning first, and then I ignored the letter because I already had a consultant appointment, made directly through his office. But you can no longer do that. And in early May I had another letter, informing me that, as I had obviously died or gone away, I no longer had a consultant. Although I had been to see him, and had various procedures in the meantime.

So, I was forced to waste the time of my GP and my consultant getting myself put back on the list. I’ve since had another letter, demanding I make an appointment – for what sounds very much like a preliminary assessment to begin receiving the consultant support I’ve already been getting for my prostate condition for the past five years.

And, of course, if I don’t phone within 14 days, I’ll be struck off again. Which rather makes a nonsense of the huge expense of the various scans, tests, surgical investigations and clinical procedures I’ve already had, since they’ll need to be repeated.

“Appointments Co-Ordinator” is not, obvious to say, a clinician, but a bureaucrat. (That’s if they really exist and are not simply an algorithm.) “Appointments Co-Ordinator” has no idea if my condition requires treatment or not; or what treatment it requires. But it certainly requires treatment.

And in writing to people in late August, “Appointments Co-Ordinator” clearly runs the risk of encountering recipients who are away on holiday, as I was when the letter arrived.

I replied immediately by letter – it’s written evidence – asking “Appointments Co-Ordinator” to check with my consultant to see if the appointment was relevant or not, before wasting everyone’s time making it.

Needless to say, after 14 days I’ve had no reply. “Appointments Co-Ordinator” can dish it out, but she can’t take it.

Which you might understand fills me with anger. Striking patients off consultants’ lists while they are receiving treatment (I have never missed an appointment) without reference to the consultant or further investigation of the circumstances in which a patient has failed to respond in time – a follow-up letter, perhaps – is a gross breach of medical ethics and saves no money at all.

All it does is close cases on open files, when they may need to remain open – thus artificially and, in many cases, one suspects temporarily – shortening overburdened consultants’ waiting lists (and the lives of the patients) to comply with official quotas.

 

GW: It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall

Bahamas: “Health minister Duane Sands has warned of the probability of a very high death toll in Abaco and Grand Bahama as the catastrophe continues to unfold. He told people to brace for a ‘staggering’ final count, when speaking to local radio late Thursday. ‘The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,’ he said.” Grand Abaco is said to be virtually uninhabitable. The UN has called for aid for up to 70 thousand homeless survivors. (Guardian and others)

Chuntering up the coast, Dorian has been bumping into the Carolinas, back at Cat 3, bringing severe flooding to coastal regions, and is set to make landfall in a third country, Canada, over the weekend before spinning out across the Atlantic in pursuit of weakening Tropical Storm Gabrielle, heading for the British Isles later next week. Several other Tropical disturbances are reported in the Atlantic, although none is as yet favored to intensify – Dorian will have churned up a lot of cold water in its wake and left a turbulent atmosphere that should discourage more hurricanes for a while at least. One meteorologist is suggesting remnant Dorian could trigger a UK heatwave. (Express)

Vietnam: Tropical Depression Kajiki, which closely followed Tropical Cyclone Podul, has brought heavy rain to parts of Vietnam and Laos, causing further flooding and landslides. Authorities report at least 2 people have died and 2 are missing in Laos, while 5 fatalities were reported in Vietnam with 3 people still missing. Heavy rain in catchment areas has also increased levels of the Mekong River, which has reached flood stage in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.” (Floodlist)

Africa: Over 40 people have died and 70 thousand are affected by flooding in Niger, West Africa, where rivers have far exceeded Red level flood stage. Other countries of the region have also seen major flooding and casualties over the last few weeks, including Nigeria and Mauritania, along with Central African Republic and further north, Algeria and Morocco. (Floodlist)

India: Flooding caused major disruption to road and rail transport in Mumbai and areas of the surrounding state of Maharashtra. 214.4 mm (8.5-in.) of rainfall was recorded in 12 hours on 4 Sept. India’s public service broadcaster, said that out of 150 weather stations in Mumbai and Maharashtra, 100 weather stations received 200mm of rainfall within 24 hours. The rain cause massive urban flooding, clogging streets, damaging homes and causing transport disruption including bus, train and flight cancellations. (Floodlist)

Japan: Tropical Storm Faxai intensified rapidly Saturday (7 Sept.) to become, now, a Cat 3 supertyphoon, with 130 mph winds, heading straight for the main island. “Destructive winds are likely across southeastern Honshu, and destructive waves are possible on Japan’s southern and eastern shores. In addition, 3 to 8 inches of rain is likely in southeastern Honshu, with isolated amounts up to a foot possible. Flooding is possible in the Tokyo metropolitan area.” (The Weather Channel) The storm has delayed the arrival of teams for the Rugby World Cup.

Previously: Supertyphoon Lingling “skyrocketed from a CAT2-equivalent to CAT4-equivalent system in only 6 hours late on September 5th. Indeed, satellite imagery showed impressive structure, with a well-developed, extensive central dense overcast and an impressive, well-defined eye. Peak sustained winds increased from 105 mph (169 km/h) to 130 mph (209 km/h). It tracked directly across Japan’s Miyakojima island”, and will “track north over the East China Sea into the Yellow Sea in the next two days, likely retaining significant strength. Possible landfall in North Korea early on Saturday, although track is somewhat uncertain.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Update, 7 Sept.: 3 killed as 155mph Typhoon Lingling bumps first along the South’s coast, then smashes into North Korea. 8 injured. Flights grounded, and thousands without power. (London Evening Standard)

USA: “Record-challenging heat will make it feel like the middle of summer across the southern United States through the weekend. Dry conditions and plenty of sunshine will stretch from eastern Texas to Georgia on Friday as an area of high pressure settles over the region. Temperatures across much of this area will climb into the middle to upper 90s F, while farther west in Louisiana and eastern Texas, highs are expected to peak near 100 F.” (Accuweather)

“A raging wildfire near Quincy in Plumas County erupted to 24,000 acres on Saturday, forcing evacuations in the area, the U.S. Forest Service reported. The Walker Fire broke out Wednesday inside the Plumas National Forest about 11 miles east of Taylorsville. The blaze was at 2,000 acres on Friday morning, before strong winds in the area rapidly caused the fire to grow, burning over 17,000 acres by Friday night. As of Saturday morning, the fire had covered 24,040 acres and was zero percent containment (sic). (Sacramento Bee)

After the storm… Just where do you start?

Mexico: The Weather Channel reports “Tropical Storm Fernand is closing in on landfall in northeast Mexico where it will bring a threat of heavy rain and flooding. Tropical Storm Gabrielle has also formed in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean”, and is on a track that may see it spin nor’eastwards towards the northern British Isles later in the week, where remnant Dorian is also heading after passing over Nova Scotia with 75mph sustained winds… “But that’s not all: The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is watching two other areas in the Atlantic for possible tropical development as well.”

 

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, there’s been another swarm of more than 40 small ‘quakes up to M2.7 in the Mammoth Mountain volcanic area, to the north of the Long Valley supervolcano caldera in SE California, near where there was a series of major quakes 2 months ago, including a huge M7.1. The last “small” eruption, which created Mono Lake, was only 250 years ago; but the USGS says there’s only a one percent chance one of the volcanoes could erupt again in any one year. Which is to say, a one in a hundred years chance…. and it’s been 250 years since the last eruption? Ooops.

It’s believed the magma chamber – estimated at 240 cubic miles! – could be contiguous with that of the not far-away Yellowstone volcano in Montana (11.5 Grand Canyons’ worth), where there have also been swarms of quakes recently.

Australia: The government of New South Wales is evacuating fish from the lower Darling river – part of the country’s major Murray-Darling irrigation basin – ahead of predictions of another scorching, dry summer. Last year, millions of fish died and other river-dwellers were almost wiped out as the Lower Darling fell to record low levels, partly due to overextraction. Agriculture Minister, Adam Murray said: “We’re staring down the barrel of a potential fish Armageddon.” (Guardian Green Light)

The Pumpkin – Issue 97: Dementia news… A Big Lie… Another Big Lie… Not on the fairway… GW: Blow the wind northerly.

Quote of, er, one or two days…

Americans Shocked by Spectacle of Legislators Taking Action

“Across the U.S., television viewers watched with mouths agape at startling images of elected officials seemingly intent on performing their constitutional duties.” – US humorist, Andy Borowitz on the Commons vote to debate the no No-Deal bill.

Boris Johnson greets the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, outside No 10

“Hang on tight, my friend, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Dementia news

(This item appeared previously in The Boglington Post, 31 Aug.)

“Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, told ABC’s This Week the president would lead ‘really a whole lot of government effort, and the president is going to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we’re tracking this, and that we’re going to be ready.’”

“Trump sowed confusion earlier when he said incorrectly that Alabama would be hit by the storm, forcing the National Weather Service to issue an update. He later repeated the mistake at a press conference. He also repeated his claim that he was not sure he had “ever even heard of a category 5” hurricane.

“The increasing strength of the storm makes this the fourth consecutive year that at least one Atlantic cyclone has reached category 5, according to the NHC.” And Trump’s leadership strategy?

“Americans should ‘pray for the people in the Bahamas’, Donald Trump announced from Washington” as south-eastern US states looked on nervously. That should help, although everyone is already busy praying for the victims of the latest mass-slaughter in Texas, over which the regime dares take no action whatever, with an election looming.

To be really ready for natural disasters, the Trump administration recently ordered another transfer of funds out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) budget, an easy target, to pay for increased border security.

(Quotes pulled from a Guardian report, 02 Sept., as Dorian rips into the Bahamas at 200 mph.)

Postscriptum

Mad King Donald has appeared at a presser in the Oval Office, waving a thoroughly unconvincing map of the southeastern US, on which “someone” had used a black marker pen – known to Americans as a Sharpie – to add a big, wavery, extra bulge on the western side of the official National Hurricane Center’s forecast track of Dorian from last week, to include Alabama – where there was no prior indication the hurricane was headed.

This was in order to “prove” that he had been right all along when he twice said the storm was heading for Alabama, a claim that has been much derided in the media after the NHC said it was incorrect. Dorian would go nowhere near Alabama. The additional drawing altering the forecast – “fake news” that set off panic buying in the Sweet Home state – was in a different color.

Utterly unable to accept, ever, that he has made a simple mistake, the man is beyond mockery. He is completely insane and must be removed from office as a danger, both to himself and the country.

 

A Big Lie

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow draws our attention to another tweet frae the tiny thumbs of the liar-in-chief.

It seems that it has now sunk in that, instead of trashing Alabama, Hurricane Dorian has trundled northwards up the east coast and is spinning about 50 miles off North Carolina, picking up energy from the warm waters, dumping vast amounts of rain and looks likely to sit there as a devastating Cat 3, with 115 mph winds until the weekend.

It’s a bad situation. So N. Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, has fulfilled his statutory duty and made a request for FEMA emergency aid as a million people are ordered to evacuate coastal areas. It’s the governor’s job to do that. People are puzzling, then, as to why Mr Trump has tweeted out that he is considering a request for FEMA aid put in by Senator Thom Tillis of N. Carolina. It’s not his job to do that.

Who? What?

Well, it seems Sen. Tillis is a Republican and up for re-election next year; while the pathetic and incompetent booby, Governor Cooper can’t be trusted to put in his own request for aid.

Because he’s a Democrat.

You see, it’s only a minor thing, but we have to understand that this shit-for-brains in the White House is prepared to make political capital out of anything, sink to any depths, tell any lie, trash any opposition to get himself re-elected, and that nothing he says, tweets or does from now on, if it ever was, can be trusted not to be “fake news”, in his own argot.

The alternative to re-election could be a very long spell in gaol.

 

Another Big Lie

Trump is not the only wannabe despot living in a complete fantasy world of his own making, where the economy is rip-roaring away, China is on its knees gagging to do a trade deal, non-existent hurricanes are trashing Alabama and thousands of illegal immigrants are roaming around Texas looking for women to rape and kids to sell marijuana to. Oh, and by the way, he’s The Chosen One.

Or, to put it another way, lying through his unreliable old teeth.

“Brussels has responded with bafflement to Boris Johnson’s claims that progress is being made in the Brexit talks, with EU officials saying discussions are going nowhere. The prime minister and his cabinet have insisted that the outlines of a deal are in the making and that attempts by MPs to rule out a no-deal departure will kill that momentum. However, EU officials said that nearly two weeks after Johnson met the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, no alternatives to the Northern Irish backstop had been tabled.” (Guardian, 3 Sept.)

Nor are EU apparatchiks entirely sure where these British negotiators have got to, that Johnson says are popping over to Brussels twice a week to hammer out a deal. They’ve seen few signs of them.

“’Where have these people been for the last two years?’ asked one EU official.”

Suspicion is growing in Brussels that the negotiations, such as there have been any, are a complete sham and that Johnson and his ERG cabinet have no intention of doing a deal; certainly as they have not put forward any constructive ideas, especially in relation to the Irish border “backstop” arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market for two more years, which Johnson has repudiated in favour of a vague customs arrangement, an “invisible border” based on some still non-existent “technology”.

Meanwhile the pound this morning hit $1.19, as low as it’s been since 24 June, 2016 – the day after the referendum. And a handwritten note from Johnson has been produced at a court hearing in Edinburgh, where MPs are bringing a case that his prorogation of Parliament is unlawful, showing that he had already taken the decision to shutdown Parliament without telling the public, two weeks before he sent sloucher Mogg to browbeat HM Queen into agreeing it. Something he has denied.

Wake up Britain! We’re being conned.

Postscriptum: Defeated in the Commons on a procedural motion to allow a further vote on a bill to make leaving the EU without a deal illegal – losing his first Commons vote as Prime Minister – Johnson lashed out at rebel members of the Conservative party, ordering that 21 of them should forfeit the party whip – among them, Winston Churchill’s grandson, a tearful Sir Nicholas Soames, who has been a Tory MP for 37 years.

The action has reduced Johnson’s Commons majority to minus 22 – not including the increasingly irrelevant 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Forcing so many men and women of principle out of your party just ahead of what may be a snap General Election next month and when you need to win several crucial votes in the meantime does not seem like the best idea, unless you want Nigel Farage’s Brexit party to win.

But that is the next parallel we find between Johnson and Trump: their tendency to overentitled, childish petulance and tantrums in the face of what they perceive to be personal disloyalty; “traitors” putting country first, ahead of their crazed ambition.

Post-postscriptum:

For the record, the very next day Johnson lost three more votes in the Commons, while in the face of ERG attempts to filibuster, the House of Lords voted to send the Benn bill making No-Deal illegal back for its second reading. Pro-Brexit propagandists have launched a series of vicious attacks in the rightwing media, accusing the 21 holdout Tory MPs and poor Mr Corbyn, who has declined to fall for Johnson’s call for an early election, of cowardice and treason.

History is being stood on its head, as Brexiters inflamed by the insane rightwing media blame “Remainers” in the Commons for undermining democracy and defying the referendum result, when it was Johnson, Sloucher Mogg, Duncan Cunt, Ugly Patel, Dominic the Serial Killer Raaaab and the other members of the rabidly Europhobic ERG who were the holdouts against a deal that would have seen us out of the EU by now, and who are trying to shutdown debate in Parliament.

Regardless of those abusive descriptors, or perhaps because of them, Boris’ more sensible younger MP brother Jo has resigned his ministerial post, citing “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest”. Brexit is creating toxic, internecine warfare across the country and must be abandoned now, for all our sakes.

Your Uncle B. has Commented: “The last time I felt like this was when watching the planes flying into the World Trade Center on TV, knowing that nothing would ever be the same again.”

The rate of suicides in Britain is now higher than it was 17 years ago, especially among middle-aged men.

Not on the fairway….

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee has been investigating for several months, internal messages that suggest regular US military flights between the USA and destinations in Europe and the Middle East have been ordered to stopover in Scotland, where crews have been forced to put up at Donald Trump’s loss-making Turnberry golf resort; thus diverting many hundreds of thousands of dollars of US taxpayers’ money – the sacred military budget – into Trump’s personal pocket. (Politico/MSNBC report)

Meanwhile…. the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is defunding anti-Russian influence programs in Europe to divert money to his ludicrous border wall; and witholding military aid to the Ukrainian government until they supply him with “dirt” undermining the candidacy of former Democratic Vice President, Joe Biden. I’d offer more on this, but I can’t afford the $90 to get over Mr Bezos’ paywall.

 

GW: Blow the wind northerly

Hurricane Dorian is slowly churning up the east coast of the USA towards the Carolinas, after battering the Bahamas with record winds and a massive 23-ft storm surge on 1 and 2 Sept. At least 20 people are now known to have died on the Abaco islands, which have seen “unprecedented devastation” according to the Bahamas Prime Minister. The reconstruction bill will mount into many $billions.

Update 5 Sept.: Hurricane Dorian continues tracking north/northeast and is approaching the coast of South Carolina this morning, Sept 5th. It has re-strengthened back to Category 3 and will be tracking just about 30 miles offshore the coast of the South Carolina and likely make landfall across the outer banks of eastern North Carolina. Central pressure is down to 957 mbar with sustained winds of 115 mph. (Severe-weather.eu)

Severe-weather.eu adds that Dorian seemed hell-bent on erasing Grand Bahama from the face of the earth: “Some areas of the island were exposed to maximum winds for over 12 hours, far longer than typical for hurricane landfalls. (In the event, the hurricane took 36 hours to traverse 5 miles of territory.) Additionally, major storm surge inundated large parts of the island. Reports (confirmed by aerial footage Wednesday) indicate total devastation, with buildings in some areas levelled to the ground” and boats tossed far inland.

SE Asia: “Disaster management agencies in Thailand and Vietnam report that 6 people have died as a result of wind damage and flooding from Tropical Cyclone ‘Podul’. Podul made landfall over Quang Bình Province in central Vietnam on 29 August, 2019, with maximum sustained winds of 55-65 km/h. The next day the centre of the storm had moved to Thailand, where the storm was forecast to weaken and eventually dissipate.”

Africa: At least 1 person died and almost 300 homes were severely damaged or destroyed as a result of flooding in the Central African Republic in late August. “Flooding affected areas in the north west of the country, close to the border with Chad, from 19 to 20 August. Water and sanitation infrastructures have also been destroyed.” 5 bridges connecting to flooded localities have been washed out, hindering rescue efforts (Floodlist). Parts of northern Nigeria are also continuing to experience widespread flooding after several weeks of rain.

North Africa: “More flooding has affected areas of Morocco. 2 people died after a storm, heavy rain and floods in the province of Khenifra, Béni Mellal-Khénifra region, on 2 Sept. Flooding was also reported elsewhere in the country. On 1 Sept. heavy rain in the Atlas Mountains caused a massive debris flow, resulting in widespread damage. Earlier this week at least 7 people died after flash floods swept through a small village in Taroudant province. 39 people have been rescued from flood waters in northern Algeria after torrential rain. In a 24 hour period, 127.3mm of rain fell in the city of Skikda, around 4 times the monthly average for September.” (from Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching….

Microplastics: A paper by researchers at the Scripps Institute published in Science Advances (I know, sounds a bit like Mars Attacks…) found that “since the 1940s the amount of microscopic plastics in the sediments has doubled about every 15 years. In 2010, the most recent year analysed, the pollution had reached almost 40 particles per 10cm by 10cm patch of ocean floor every year. … Humans are believed to consume at least 50,000 microplastic particles a year through food and water. The health impact is unknown.” (Guardian Green Light)

Brexit – a family tragedy… Let’s get away from it all… No it can’t be… I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)… GW: Deep breath, everyone.

Quote of the Week

“If we still read philosophy, literature, history, poetry and theology we would not be surprised that greed, hedonism and hubris have easily defeated empathy and reason. But because we do not, because we spend hours each day getting little bursts of dopamine from electronic screens, we think we are unique in human existence. … The only existential question left is how we will choose to wait out the finale.” – Chris Hedges, writing on Truthdig.

And in his bleak article, Hedges quotes the philosopher John Gray: “Whatever they become, tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed.”

http://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-last-act-of-the-human-comedy/

While for a sobering reminder of how whole populations can be sucked into the maelstrom and drawn to destruction by the actions of a few ambitious men, please watch the 3-part BBC docudrama series The Rise of the Nazis, if you possibly can.

The BogPo’s only hopeful comment is that instead of hubristic militarism, the 21st-century version merely requires that we enslave ourselves as consumers to the corporate ethos until the order collapses in the face of global climate catastrophe.

 

Brexit – a family tragedy

If any more evidence is needed of the divisive, corrosive effects of Brexit, the subversion of democratic process by unelected “dei ex-machina” and the strong echoes, both of the English Civil War and the rise of the Nazis, it must surely be the tragic letter published in today’s Guardian from historian Paddy Docherty to his Tory MP and government whip brother, Leo.

Reminding him that their family were once Communist shipyard workers in Glasgow, he writes:

“How important is your own job when something as priceless as parliamentary democracy is under threat?

“I was once proud and impressed as you entered parliament – that was just two years ago. Now I am simply appalled that this government, of which you are sadly a part, has become the principal threat to the lives and liberties of the people. Please do the decent thing, and resign.”

This is unbearably sad. But it is probably a devastating rift that is being repeated across hundreds of breakfast tables and at fissiparous family celebrations the length and breadth of this divided land.

Your Uncle B. is perhaps fortunate to know no Leavers; at least, none who will openly admit to their private vice. And to have such a very tiny family – at least, those whose identities I actually know. When in working groups, such as my extended jazz family of musicians both amazingly proficient and amateurishly exuberant, there is an unstated vow of omerta.

Personally, having argued forcefully for years – since 2013, in fact, when an intention to hold a referendum was first announced, and The BogPo predicted just this outcome – that leaving the EU is a dangerous idea that plays into the hands of a few very selfish and greedy people, such a blindingly clear fact that a slender majority of the minority who could be bothered to vote seemingly failed (and continue now to stubbornly refuse) to appreciate – I fear I have become numbed to the inevitability of it all. As when your flight is delayed, the only recourse is to surrender to the process.

Thus Brexit can also create its rifts within the individual heart.

And that’s the worst part of it, that I am looking forward more to the arrival at around midday of my new guitar, a (ridiculously cheap Indonesian copy of the expensive instrument I can no longer afford) birthday present to myself; and am busying myself with thoughts of possibly replacing its low-end pickups and strings and tuning pegs and tremolo bridge with sturdier versions, putting lipstick on a pig, as Sarah Palin once said about something or other.

Although I like pigs, we used to breed them in the wholesome air of freedom and sell delicious sausages at market. I’m no stranger to slaughter, when it comes to the sticking point.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/03/open-letter-brother-resign-government-no-deal-brexit

 

Let’s get away from it all

Fifty-four people, mostly Americans, have paid up to £194,390 each to spend 245 days on a cruise liner, circumnavigating the globe on what is being billed as something or other, cruise of a lifetime, luxury escape from Donald Trump, whatever.

It sounds like a recipe for another Poseidon adventure.

At the top of the range, you get your own 12-man boardroom, chef, kitchen and wine cellar. For the steerage passengers (only £66,950), eight restaurants have worked out 245 menus, one for each day. “There is more food than you can ever imagine.” promises Viking’s Head of Sales, lasciviously (many people can only imagine that much food, actually. Principally because they don’t get that much to eat.) There are of course other passengers, it’s just that they’re getting off at Los Angeles, where more get on.

“It won’t be something that is exclusive to millionaires,” says Alex Loizou, director of sales and marketing at Mundy Cruising. “It will be ordinary people.” Yeah, right. That’s what I’d be afraid of, actually. Smug retired couples with unfeasibly large pension-pots. Tragic lottery winners. Refugees from Downton Abbey.

Eat your heart out, Agatha Christie… we’re laying bets on who the murderer will be.

40 years ago, your Uncle B. spent two weeks on a guided cruise around the sites of classical antiquity in the eastern Mediterranean as the guest of the organizers, with the aim of producing a short piece for radio promoting their business.

It was quite a small boat with just the one restaurant serving a sadly imaginable quantity of food, and I honestly thought I would go mad with boredom. Apart from my wife, who was unwell most of the time (it later turned out to be hepatitis C), there was only one other passenger aged under about 60 onboard, a teenager, so with little else to do but traipse around ruins, I managed to run up the biggest bar bill of anyone.

They rejected my piece.

 

No, it can’t be!

As any fule ‘kno, a coincidence is just when you happen to notice two different things happening at the same time that appear to be related to one another, when they’re probably not. Most psychologists will tell you, there’s no such thing: it’s just that you’re in a particularly receptive frame of mind. (Actually, the Father of Modern Psychology, Dr Jung believed in them, so he gave them a scientific name: synchronicities.)

So, a few days ago I told you about The Lucky Jew – a somewhat dubious tourist souvenir a friend brought back for me from Poland three weeks ago – and how, the very next day, I won £30 on the lottery, something I’d never done before – I don’t usually do the lottery, it’s just an occasional whim when I’m feeling unloved.

This morning I opened a letter from the bank – something I don’t often do either – to find a deposit in my account that precisely to the pound matched the amount I’d had to remove two weeks ago to cover the cost of my annual pilgrimage to sing jazz in the Loire. So I was no worse off!

While in France last week, during the course of a conversation over breakfast one day, I recounted an apposite story of how I’d been shopping at the local supermarket a while back, and was surprised to hear quite a young man, a student, wandering by while humming a tune called “Fly Me to the Moon”, a 1960s Sinatra hit and now a tiresomely overdone jazz standard on courses and on bad karaoke nights.

Shopping at the same supermarket just an hour ago, a man wandered past, humming “Fly Me to the Moon”….

 

I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)

Okay, so the plan is to plant a trillion trees and save the world from overheating.

First, let’s establish that a trillion is a thousand billions, and a billion is a thousand millions, and a million is a thousand thousands, and a thousand is ten hundreds, and a hundred is ten tens, and ten is your fingers and thumbs – or your toes.

Imagine a football stadium holding fifty thousand people. See their eager faces? 20 stadiums is a million people. 200 thousand stadiums is a trillion people. Aren’t you sick of seeing their faces?

Put another way, a trillion is 1 followed by 12 noughts; each nought being the increasing power of x10.

It’s quite a lot of trees, too. Growing and distributing and planting out that many saplings – baby trees – is going to take energy, lots of it – human and otherwise. And where is your source stock of seeds and whips (live cuttings) for that many trees? How many nurseries, with how much space?

And who will pay them to do it?

Roughly 15 per cent of saplings survive transplantation, so we’ll need 6 trillion to start with. Who is going to grow 6 trillion saplings, and where?

Trees need water. They don’t like salt. Is there enough fresh water on the planet to keep a trillion trees alive to maturity, say at a gallon a day? Increasing to maybe ten gallons a day as they grow? Ten trillion gallons a day? (Don’t ask how many Olympic swimming pools is that… it’s 10,000,000,000,000 divided by 660,400, okay?)

And us? Does that leave enough fresh water to keep us alive too? And the other animals and plants? And all those industrial processes and agriculture – in Chile, where the soil is dry, it takes 100 US gallons of water to produce one avocado.

Yes, transpiration will put fresh water back into the amosphere. To add to the increased rainfall and flooding we’re already experiencing.

The trees will need to grow rapidly and well if they are going to suck all that carbon dioxide out of the air to make themselves bigger and more useful at removing carbon, which will take many years.

And when they die, they’re going to put it all back out again.

Right now, millions upon millions of trees are dying. Many in wildfires that are eating up areas of southern tropical, temperate and northern boreal forests the size of small countries every year.

Now, burning trees are putting up soot particles high in the atmosphere, reflecting sunlight back into space. Burning the forests rather than planting them may be the best way for now of countering the effect of warming from their and our carbon emissions.

On our walk yesterday, 31 August, I stood in full, blazing sunshine, felt its warmth, and thought no, this isn’t right, there’s not enough warmth. It ought to have been 2 or 3 degrees hotter. The sky looked blue, but it isn’t. The hemisphere is wreathed in a fine layer of smoke.

The “global dimming” (aka “aerosol masking”) effect of the sooty particles from 36 million burned acres of Siberian forest this year, more tens of millions of acres from Alaska and British Columbia, South America, Central Africa, Indonesia and now Australia again must be pretty substantial.

Millions of trees are also being cut down just to burn for “bio” energy and to make products – houses, sheds, shelf units, kebab skewers, paper. Many to clear land to grow cows for burgers and soybeans for soy sauce and tofu, and biogas and palm oil for just about anything.

Can we just stop cutting down trees, maybe? Can we stop eating cows and tofu with soy sauce and margarine, driving cars on ethanol? Can we stop trees from burning, in a warmer world?

Because otherwise we’ll be killing them as fast as we can grow them. Net neutrality can have two distinct meanings!

Trees have their limits to growth. Altitude imposes one such limit. You’ve heard of “the tree line”. Above it, trees do not grow quickly or fast enough to help with the climate problem. Land is not unlimited, there are places you can’t grow trees.

Will we be growing the right species of trees for their environment? In deserts and on salt flats? In tidal estuaries? On flood plains and hilltops? And will the tree planters not come up against vested agricultural and commercial interests and city growers in competition for the space? You can’t eat trees! You can’t drive a combine harvester in a forest.

Trees also have their limits when it comes to surviving extreme heat or cold. Will the world be cooling quickly enough to allow them to survive when half the year, in half the world the temperature is 40 degrees*? How well will they grow in Scotland, when the Gulf Stream fails, the “overturning circulation”, and all that Arctic meltwater is streaming south?

Doubtless there are good arguments for planting more trees strategically. On tropical coastlines, for instance, to try to defeat salination from rising sea levels, planting banyan is maybe a good idea. In cities and along roads. On eroded hillsides. And, of course, there are companies cutting down trees for industry that piously affect to replace the ones they cut down.

So we are planting trees – the Ethiopian government recently trumpeted that villagers had replanted 350 million (let’s see how many survive). We’d only need to duplicate that effort 3,000 times and…

Reforesting the world with unimaginable numbers of trees that have no other purpose than to breathe is a lovely dream, but it requires global management deploying vast resources, and who is going to provide that, when supposedly civilized, established democracies can no longer even manage ourselves?

*The story of a city already suffering intolerable heat and water stress is told at:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/31/tucson-heat-inequality-summer

 

GW: Deep breath, everyone

The Amazon rainforest produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The UN should immediately invade Brazil and remove Bolsonaro from office to save the world!!!

Actually not, say the experts.

“…the world’s oxygen levels are quite stable and are not dependent on rain forests, which use up as much of the gas as they produce in the long run, according to Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, quoted in Newsweek:

“Amazonia is not a big source of oxygen because trees respire, just like animals. Trees use up most of the oxygen that they produce through photosynthesis. … There is a net release of oxygen while the tree is growing and storing carbon in its wood, but when the tree dies the wood rots, removing the same amount of oxygen from the air to form carbon dioxide (CO2) from the carbon in the wood,” he said.

“Twenty per cent” is the total proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere, not what the rainforest produces.

More environmental news:

Checking on CO2, then, it’s incredibly difficult to give figures when the concentration measured at the Scripps observatory at 9,000 ft on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the internationally recognised “official” monitoring station, varies not just from year to year and month to month, but from hour to hour across the day.

Despite the vast area of the planet’s forest cover that’s currently burning, and the increase this year in volcanic activity – and, of course, the ever-increasing output from industry, farming and transportation – the daily average load is currently 409.69 parts per million. The record for the year was set on 15 May when it was as high as 415.70 (Peaks were being detected over 417 ppm, while over parts of Siberia it’s been 1,020 ppm.) The previous record high daily average of 412.60 was set last year, on 14 May. It’s inexorably increasing.

“Pre-industrial” CO2, ie back in the C18th, was about 280 ppm.

France’s wine output is expected to fall 12% this year, after spring frosts followed by summer heatwaves took a heavy toll on vineyards across the country.

On 27 Aug. the temperature in my front garden in Boglington-on-Sea barely made it to 16C. On the other side of the country, in parts of Southeast England it reached 32C. I’m wondering if that 100% east-west vertical gradient might be some kind of record?

NASA and others made July the hottest month ever globally, although Europe only made 2nd hottest July owing to a big cold blob stuck over the northeast. France had its hottest ever July, while the UK broke several temperature records. June was Europe’s hottest ever June. The Met office reported, 10 of the UK’s hottest years have occurred since 2002. There were major temperature anomalies – up to 8C – in Antarctica, Greenland and eastern Siberia. (Severe-weather.eu).

North America has not missed having its wettest past 12 months ever (since 1894, anyway) in any month since May. Sluggish Hurricane Dorian will help keep that record up going into September.

Writing on Arctic News, 1 Sept., Prof. Andrew Glikson of Australian National University has the following good news:

For a climate sensitivity of 3±1.5°C per doubling of atmospheric CO₂, global warming has potentially reached between +2°C to +3°C above mean pre-industrial temperatures at a rate exceeding the fastest growth rate over the last 55 million years.

Global temperature, he writes, has been accelerating faster in the past 270 years than at any time in the planetary record. Even the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when the planet warmed by 5-8 degrees took a thousand years. The 2 to 3C rise is being masked by aerosol dispersals (pollution).

Glikson’s case supports the idea that feedbacks make a nonsense of linear projections. He cites a 2002 paper by Berger and Loutre: “The climate system may take 50,000 years to assimilate the impacts of human activities during the early third millennium. In this case, an “irreversible greenhouse effect” could become the most likely future climate.”

A Munich Re Insurance graph shows a tripling of extreme global climatic and seismic events of all kinds since 1970. (Arctic News)

The Indonesian government is planning to move its capital to a purpose-built new city. Built on a bog and now sinking fast owing to sea-level rise, Jakarta is to be abandoned to the waves. Environmentalists have protested at the choice of a virgin forest site in Borneo (Kalimantan).

 

USA: Hurricane Dorian intensified Sunday to a monster 180-mph top-end Category 5 storm, gusting to 220 mph, as it approached the Bahamas – the strongest hurricane to hit the region in modern times. Moving at only 1 mph, it’s carrying up to 30-in. of rain and pushing a 20-foot storm surge on top of this month’s king tides. Reporters said hundreds of residents of lower-lying islands, including Grand Cay and Sweeting Cay, ignored mandatory evacuation orders. Early video images show houses half-submerged, their roofs ripped away. Over 13,000 properties are said to have been destroyed.

Floridans are hunkering down as Hurricane Dorian approaches the eastern US coastline. The NHC however expects the storm to turn northward instead of crossing the coast, sparing Mar-a-Lago, andto  head up the coast past Georgia, slamming instead into the Carolinas. If it follows the same track as Matthew in 2016 it could still cause $billions in damage – and fatalities. Matthew killed 47 people.

According to an investigation by The Intercept, two Brazilian firms standing to make millions from the removal of the Amazon rainforest have been among the heavier donors to the re-election campaign funds of both Donald Trump and profoundly corrupt Senate leader, “Moscow Mitch” – should that now be “Manaus Mitch”? – McConnell. Both firms are owned largely or in part by Stephen Schwartzman, billionaire CEO of $300 bn US fund manager, Blackstone Corp.

Hang him. No, I’m serious. Unfathomably stupid and greedy “entrepreneurs” like him have forfeited any right to life. They need to be put on trial for ecocidal crimes and gaoled for life, or summarily executed. The future cannot afford their continued existence.

(If a corporation or a river can be declared to have legal rights as a person, as has been adjudicated, then why does the Future not have equivalent legal rights to exist unthreatened by special interests bent on adversely altering or preventing it from eventuating? Could this concept not be tried in court?)

Russia: Days of heavy rain and flooding have prompted authorities to declare an emergency in Russia‘s Far East. The declaration covers 15 municipalities including the city of Vladivostok which is among the worst affected. The Primorsky Krai administration said more than 150mm of rain has fallen in Vladivostok over the last few days (a normal month’s worth). (Floodlist)

Mauritania: At least 5 people have died in recent flooding in southern Mauritania according to media reports. News agency AMI said that dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed following storms and heavy rains that began around 25 Aug. Fatalities were reported in the capital, Sélibaby City. Media reported that 200mm of rain fell in the area. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure were also damaged. (Floodlist)

Uganda: landslides and flooding have affected several areas of Bulambuli district since 27 August. Local media reported that 5 people were missing, feared dead, after landslides buried houses and flooding from the River Kajere. “Above normal” rains are forecast through until the end of October. (Floodlist)

Kenya: 6 bodies have been recovered after a tour group was swept away by a flash flood in a Kenyan national park. The incident at Hell’s Gate National Park on Sunday involved five Kenyan nationals, a local tour guide and a “foreigner”, officials said. 1 tourist is still missing and a search and rescue operation is continuing. (BBC)

Morocco: At least 7 people died in flash floods in Morocco on 28 August, after heavy rain in the south of the country. A wave of water slammed into a crowd of spectators at a football match, as a building many had taken refuge on collapsed. More people are feared missing and search and rescue teams are working in the area to find survivors. (Floodlist)

Australia: Your Gran fears the media is going mad. A huge floating island of volcanic pumice in the Pacific has been hailed everywhere as a potential saviour of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as corals and other microflora will cling to its underside and repopulate the dying reef.

Well, no, it won’t – not if the same conditions that are killing the reef – oceanic heatwaves and acidification – are going to persist. How could it?

Instead, “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s outlook report, published every five years, finds coral reefs have declined to a ‘very poor’ condition and there is widespread habitat loss and degradation affecting fish, turtles and seabirds.”

As well as the warming, acidifying ocean, agricultural pollution, ecological imbalances, cyclones and illegal fishing are among reasons to doubt that anything can now save the reef, once listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World and now in its northern sector 2/3rds dead. The Authority’s almost pathetic optimism concludes that all is not lost, provided the world “tackles global warming” if the reef is to be saved. (Guardian Green Light, et al.) As if.

Tunnel approaching….

Ebola: The world’s forgotten Ebola epidemic, mainly in the DRC, has claimed its 2,000th victim. There have been 3,000 cases in total of the disease, which has an unusually high mortality rate of 67%. There’ve been a number of cases and fatalities in neighboring Uganda as the border is porous and villagers are refusing to take warnings seriously not to travel. Hostility toward medical teams and a refusal to believe the disease exists are given as reasons the outbreak is so far from controlled.

 

Trump Org. a grovelling apology

In The Pumpkin – Issue 96, we commented that US cable news network MSNBC and presenter Lawrence O’Donnell were reporting that signatures of Russian oligarchs may have been found in court papers among Trump loan applications to Deutsche Bank, the only remaining bank that would lend to him. The normally serious and reliable O’Donnell has since reported that he shouldn’t have let the cat out of the… no, sorry, he’s tweeted that it was inappropriate to quote his one anonymous source for that claim at this time without supporting testimony and he was wrong to do so. I expect the Southern District court has given him a walloping.

Trump’s dimmest little sprog, Eric, has threatened to sue everyone who repeats the story.

Sorry. No, really, Eric. Really, really sorry. I know you only told a golfing magazine you get all your money from Russia, but later, maybe, yeah?

But please, MSNBC, you can’t afford to give the Trumps these hostages to fortune. Calm down, okay?