Sorry, mate, you’re talkin’ foreign. Ph what?… There, their, they’re: some pointers for trolls… Sunk like a Stone… Germination of this week’s BogPo. No peeking now!

“12 people have died in the Essex area after contracting invasive group A streptococcus infection (iGAS). People whose immune systems are compromised by illness or old age are particularly at risk. Those infected are elderly people receiving treatment, according to the NHS.”

Looks like we’ve found a cure for Conservatism, then.

 

Sorry, mate, you’re talkin’ foreign. Ph what?

A leading UN organization, UNESCO has joined other international institutions in saying it will no longer support conferences in the UK because of the viciously racist policy of the Home Office to deny temporary visitor visas to so many academics from black and asian backgrounds, that it makes organizing them a financial risk.

At least, racism is the interpretation one has to put on the numbers of University-accredited and fully funded delegates, with families back at home, who are being told, with no appeal, and despite being able to show their invitations and name their sponsors – no, you can’t come in because we believe you intend not to return home and you do not have the resources to support yourself.

The quasi-fascist policy has led to some truly horrendous gaffes, such as the conference on International Development sponsored by members of the UK Parliament having to be cancelled because so many overseas delegates were refused visas.

Clearly, only the natives should be discussing International Development. It’s our money, after all.

Is it a deliberate act of self-sabotage, I wonder? Because if it weren’t so serious it would be a huge joke, wouldn’t it?

The no-visas approach has been adopted by a Home Office that is clearly out of control: dysfunctional, authoritarian, administratively incompetent, racially biased and certainly not fit for purpose. Its spokesmouth responded predictably to complaints from numerous serious quarters about the no-visas policy by saying, in its inimitable, tongue-in-cheek, “Yes, Minister” style: ““We welcome international academics and recognise their contribution to the UK’s world-leading education sector.”

Clearly, no, they don’t. Because they’re destroying it.

Alison Phipps, UNESCO lead on refugee integration, was quoted as saying:

“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money and given the irresponsibility and erratic nature of UKVI decision-making, it’s the number one item on my risk register and we cannot, with any integrity, allow that kind of finance risk to the projects.”

Phipps, reports The Guardian, is particularly frustrated by the refusal of the Home Office to issue visitor visas to academics taking part in the government’s own Global Challenges Research Fund – a five-year, £1.5bn fund that uses UK aid money for research on intractable global challenges.

“The fund’s purpose is to hire and pay overseas academics to work with the UK on a range of government-funded projects,” said Phipps. “But even though we’re using the government’s money for exactly the purpose we’ve been given it, academics we sponsor are being turned down with no appeal rights.”

The Home Office has obviously gone rogue when its abusive, nonsensical, Kafkaesque policies are working against the Government’s own intentions. But the Government itself is in total disarray and cannot be expected to sort out problems like this one. The Secretary of State has been far too busy with his failed bid to be selected to lead the party, to actually do his job. The actual Prime Minister is a ghost, haunting No. 10 until that fatuous Old Etonian nincompoop moves in with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend.

It is as if Sajid Javid, first-generation-born son of immigrants from Pakistan, son of a bus driver, is so ashamed of his lowly origins that he has been instructing his officials to go in hard on anyone black or brown since, obviously, they can’t be bona fide academics, living as they do in mud huts and up trees. Just more illegal immigrants, takin’ the piss.

What are the fans going to think, when global football stars are being denied visas to play for their beloved clubs, I wonder? Musicians from other countries, including America, are already refusing to tour in Britain because of difficulty with visas. And still nothing has been set in stone, as regards EU citizens’ residency rights post-Brexit.

It’s bad enough that the number one worry of UK universities is that Brexit will virtually end exchanges with European researchers and turn off the lucrative tap of foreign students, especially from China and the Indian subcontinent, already turning to the USA and Australia for their degrees, rather than suffer at the hands, both of the Home Office and our home-grown racist street-thugs. It’s getting harder to tell the difference.

But it’ll be great, won’t it, when the whole of Britain can finally dumb itself down to the level of the daytime TV morons who voted for this omnishambles and who still refuse to understand what it is they’ve done because, well, “we won’t be told”.

Great, when the feckless oaf, Boris Johnson, the domestic abuser and prime narcissist, a man who treats women like internet trolls use Kleenex – who apparently deigns to practise safe sex – and who couldn’t even manage the job of Foreign Secretary without constantly putting his size-12s in it, becomes Prime Minister next month, and the role model for every gormless prat in the country.

I’m 70 this year, I don’t have many years left on the rockpile. Why, dear God, do I have to spend them trapped in a rotting prison hulk moored off the continent with this bunch of useless bastards carousing on the bridge?

 

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

Tell me, what is wrong with this commercial announcement? (Yes, I’m looking for a large stone Buddha head for my little garden. I’ve actually found one, my local garden centre sells quite nice ones, only the staff are not allowed to lift them, which might explain why they don’t appear to have sold any.)

There, their, they’re: some pointers for trolls

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

But you seldom find a misplaced apostrophe.

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

It’s its! ITS!! That’s if the subject belongs or attaches to something neutral, an object, a statement, it’s its! If you wish to abbreviate “it is”, which is good practice in writing, then it’s it’s. Got it? If you wish to abbreviate can not, it’s can’t. Will not = won’t. Should not = shouldn’t. And if you’re trying to say something belongs to it, then it’s its.

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

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

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

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

It’s a useful little tick, a tiny bit of print punctuation (known as a diacritical) that helps to make sense of things.

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

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

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

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

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

To lose something is to accidentally mislay it, surreptitiously get rid of it, or in a personal sense, sacrifice it, so that it is no longer in your possession or anywhere to be found. It’s a verb. Loose is an adjective meaning free, unrestrained or untethered. They are not the same word. They’re not spelled the same way. They’re not even pronounced the same way. So why confuse them?

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

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

Too (with two os) is an adjective, meaning as well as; in addition (to), on top of; also (adverb: too = e.g. moreover). It’s not the same word as to, is it? Good, we’re getting somewhere.

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

Grammar does matter! It really does. (Not doe’s!)

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

Grammatical rules may be only longstanding literary conventions but they exist to clarify text, to unmuddle thought, to convey meaning – not as tiresome distractions to embarrass the semiliterate and show them up in front of their betters.

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

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

 

Donald Trump’s bill to the US taxpayer for his weekend golfing trips has now topped $106.9 million since he took office in January 2017. Much of that money comes back in profit to his golf resorts. In addition, there is the matter of the unpaid $millions owed to local authorities for closing roads, policing and in compensation to shopkeepers and local airfields forced to close up while his exalted fat ass is playing nearby. 21% of his time as president – 186 days – has been spent on the golf course. (Farron Cousins). It amounts to abuse of office, but tell that to the dumbfucks who believe him when he says he works harder than any president in history.

 

Sunk like a Stone

Collectors of gems should hie themselves to an obituary in The Guardian, 25 June, of the historian Norman Stone, who has – probably mercifully, by the account – died at the age of 78.

It does seem something of a miracle he lasted so long.

It’s not done to speak ill of the dead; except that nowadays it is, and all the more fun for that. Although I’m not sure what Stone’s three sons will make of Prof. Richard Evans’ cooler than cool appraisal of their wayward dad.

I wonder actually what my own kids might make of me? Not being in the slightest bit famous – or notorious – I guess I’ll just have to self-obituarize. I can be quite excoriating about myself, if it helps. I’m only intermittently a nice, kindly bloke with an optimistic outlook and a good word to say about anyone. I try to be unpleasant and kind on alternate days; balance being all, to a Libra. But – this bogl apart – I’m not the most communicative person you’ll never reach on the phone.

Stone, it must be said, was a fairly lousy, lazy historian who got by mostly on one good book, a ton of literary flair and flashes of personal charm. I can relate to that, I relentlessly sent up the A-level questions as I’d done no revision, let alone prior work, yet managed somehow to get an A in History, presumably A for Amusement. Marking is such a chore. My teachers were not amused, however and it took the precocious gift of a bottle of whisky to placate my form master, who had written me off entirely.

Glasgow-born Stone, however, educated on an airforce scholarship granted after the death of his father in a training accident, also Norman, managed to get into Cambridge. London-born me didn’t, so there we part ways. And from there, like the Duke of Wellington, when he was up, he was up… you know the rest.

Evans – regius professor of history at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of the British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences – starts as he means to go on:

“One of the specialities of the historian Norman Stone, who has died aged 78, was character assassination.”

And goes on brilliantly to assassinate Stone in almost every paragraph; although if the accounts are true, Stone didn’t need much assassinating; at least, not in the literary sense. His morose drinking habit was enough to kill most people off, but apparently not whatever he had come to detest in himself.

“At a time when malice and rudeness were highly prized by some rightwing Cambridge dons, Stone outdid them all in the abuse he hurled at anyone he disapproved of…”

One wonders, though, how seriously he took his habit of using his modest academic platform to hurl invective at real politicians? His blasting of Heath as “a flabby-faced coward” was, incidentally, plagiarism: Private Eye magazine had been successfully sued some years earlier for using the same flame-thrower on Tory Chancellor, Reginald Maudling.

Evans lovingly details how, following the publication of his well-received (if, in Evans’ opinion, somewhat fustian) magnum opus on “The Eastern Front, 1914-17”, Stone then subsided into a career marked by the publication of a succession of poorly researched potboilers. Having been an editor of history books, I am aware of the notion that infects publishers’ marketing departments that the mere mention of the name Hitler in a title will increase sales by 15 per cent.

Posted by a relieved Cambridge establishment over to Oxford where, with the help of a doubtless polished reference from Sir Geoffrey Elton, he became Professor of Modern History, it seems Stone hardly ever turned up to work, frequently expressing his total contempt for his colleagues, all of whom he dismissed as “Marxists”.

“As a teacher Stone could be inspiring, often winning over his pupils with his charm, which on occasion could be quite considerable, but he became increasingly undisciplined, neglecting his duties, and spending increasing amounts of time playing poker and drinking himself into oblivion in Soho. … On the occasions when he did appear in Oxford to do some teaching, Stone became notorious for groping his female students … and annoyed Worcester College by sub-letting his rooms to make a bit of extra money. “

You kind of warm to him.

Eventually sacked, his considerable language skills however came to his rescue, and having briefly been an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, who ignored his perfectly sensible view of the reunification of Germany – she saw it as a threat – but also generously ignored the occasion on which, pissed, he passed out in her presence, his career gently declined with a succession of middle-European academic postings, supported by increasingly rightwing views – he was a fan of the embryonic dictator, Viktor Orban.

There’s a little resonance there too. My father had been a “Soho rat” in the war years and after: an actor, director, globetrotting TV reporter and documentarist who self-exiled to France for the last 30 years of his life, where he posed as an intellectual supporter of the rank, anti-semitic ultranationalist, Jean-Marie le Pen; whom he found personally charming. I don’t think it meant anything, quite honestly, it was mostly for show: he had run unsuccessfully as Liberal candidate for Twickenham in 1964, inspired after interviewing Jo Grimond.

Evans’ obituary of Stone ends on an unnecessary note of rancour, with a Trumpian rejoinder from Heath:

“Many parents of Oxford students must be both horrified and disgusted that the higher education of our children should rest in the hands of such a man.”

Must they, Sir Edward? It must be a comfort, knowing what people nowadays think of your Prime Ministership. And now you two lovebirds can discuss it together.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/25/norman-stone-obituary

 

Building your new GW:

France: As heat starts to build from the so-called Spanish Plume (actually it’s coming up from North Africa), Météo-France is predicting peaks of 45C (113F) in the southern towns of Nîmes and Carpentras by Friday. That would be almost 4C hotter than the notorious 2003 heatwave, that killed 15,000 people across France. And that was in August, not June….

Columbia: 2 people have been killed and several are injured or missing after deadly landslides cut the highway between Florencia and Nueva, in Huila province Sunday. Again, heavy rainfall is to blame; orange alerts are out for rising river levels. (Floodlist)

Australia: It’s not unheard of for nighttime temperatures to drop below freezing in the desert, and this winter has generally seen high pressure bringing cold nights to Alice Springs, where residents’ lawn sprinklers have produced pretty shows of icicles. However, my earlier point about subeditors being an extinct species is born out by this fascinating sentence in the report of “Ice cold in Alex” on Sky news.au:

“In winter, this process is exacerbated by the sub bing far too the north and therefore less heat reaching the found.”

I think we can loosely translate that as “it’s colder where it isn’t sunny”. Vital science information… My friend Harry has just seen his granddaughter off to her new life as a lawyer in Australia… Doesn’t look like she’ll have too much trouble getting on there.

Tunnel approaching…

Brace for impact: The Taurid Resonant Swarm is an occasional encounter the Earth has with a cluster of meteors in orbit around Jupiter that arrives at the end of June along with the Taurid shower – a twice-yearly phenomenon that normally produces no more than a pretty display of shooting stars – not that we’ll see them here as the forecast this week is for cloud cover thick enough to reach 30 thousand feet, where the commercial jets fly.

Severe-weather.eu writes: “there are some seriously big space rocks in there. In 1975 seismographs on the Moon left by the Apollo mission astronauts, detected a flurry of seismic activity, most likely caused by large Taurid meteoroids impacting the Lunar surface. The last big encounter with the Taurid swarm was in 2015. In the last days of October and first two weeks of November, bright fireballs from the Taurid stream were noted across the world, many lighting up the sky brighter than the Moon!”

Typically, the Swarm produces rocks from 1 to 3m in diameter, but in 1908 one 50m across flattened a large part of Siberia and a few up to several hundreds of meters, big enough to have astonomical numbers and create an extinction event, are embedded with the swarm. As the bigger stuff is blackened with soot, astronomers may not see them approaching until it’s too late to send Bruce Willis up with a nuclear bomb. Happily, it’s only necessary to paint an asteroid white on one side to get it to change course.

Telling it like it is: “The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said. Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law.” (Guardian report)

 

 

Advertisements

Johnson’s Victorian values… Making a difference… Johnson: There’s more than one? God help us…. Seen paper… How many lives is your job worth?… GW: Every cloud has a shiny lining… This week’s BogPo assumes proportions.

World of Stupid:

“…Obama had somebody that kept the rates very low. I had somebody that raised the rates very rapidly. Too much. He made a mistake. That’s been proven. And yet my economy is phenomenal.”

– er… Donald Trump, of course, denying that he has several times talked about firing Jerome Powell, the head of the Federal Reserve bank, for mistakenly presiding over Trump’s phenomenal economy.

Missile batteries in Iran

Amazon displays its new Primed, next-minute delivery service.

 

“Is this Nick Cotton character from the BBC’s East Enders soap, the morally bankrupt, sexually incontinent, lying reprobate – an obvious security risk, incidentally – about to become our next Prime Minister? This fucking country should hang its head in shame.”

Johnson’s Victorian values

Police initially denied the story, but then admitted to journalists, they were called to the scene of a violent domestic “altercation” by alarmed neighbours in the early hours of 21 June but left after no complaint was made and assurances were given of the woman’s safety.

“The neighbours said they recorded the altercation from inside their flat out of concern for (his much younger girlfriend, Carrie) Symonds. On the recording, heard by the Guardian, Johnson can be heard refusing to leave the flat and telling Symonds to “get off my fucking laptop” before there is a loud crashing noise.

“Symonds is heard saying Johnson had ruined a sofa with red wine: “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything.” The neighbour said: “There was a smashing sound of what sounded like plates. There were a couple of very loud screams that I’m certain were Carrie and she was shouting to ‘get out’ a lot. She was saying ‘get (off me…) get out of my flat’ and he was saying no.* And then there was silence….”

(*A criminal offence.)

Johnson, 54, who earns over a quarter of a million pounds a year from writing a crapulous weekly column in The Telegraph, did the dirty once too often on Marina, his long-suffering barrister wife and mother of at least four of his kids, after a turbulent marriage, rendering himself temporarily homeless, and moved in on Carrie Symonds, 31, a vivacious Tory party spin doctor. In recent weeks, reported The Guardian, the “couple” have been sharing a flat in a converted Victorian house in Camberwell. “It has been reported that they intend to move into Downing Street together if he is elected leader.”

I’ll bet. Will he have paid his numerous unpaid parking tickets by then?

I have been unable to find a single report this morning that does not refer to Ms Symonds’ flat, where Johnson has been sofa-surfing since being booted out by his wife, as “Boris Johnson’s home”. If that were true, refusing to desist from a violent assault and leaving when requested would probably not amount to the criminal offence Johnson would have committed if Ms Symonds had decided – or felt free – to press charges.

But it is not true. It is, legally, her home. She has a right to evict him. This was not “a row”, I know what rows are like, my parents indulged in enough of them when I was very young, plates and all. It was not an “altercation”, a “barney”, a “bundle” or a “tiff”. “Get off me… get out, get out of my flat” is not a fucking tiff, not at 2 a.m.

And to this hour, not one of The Guardian‘s formidable battery of feminist columnistas has seen fit – or been allowed – to comment.* Thus are drunken and feckless domestic abusers enabled.

The Guardian‘s Marina Hyde commented wryly – before the news that the superficially charming, overentitled, slightly disgraced ex-Foreign Minister is a domestic abuser came out – that no-one actually knows how many children our next Prime Minister has sired.

Why will no-one call this out for what it is?

Is this Nick Cotton character from the BBC’s East Enders soap, the morally bankrupt, sexually incontinent, lying reprobate – an obvious security risk, incidentally – about to become our next Prime Minister? This fucking country should hang its head in shame.

But there will be those who go on defending him. Oh, they will say, he’s just being Boris.

Yes, quite.

Tory men, eh? The incident follows another in which bulging-eyed, puce-faced patrician MP, Mark Field, also 54, was filmed grabbing a young woman by the neck, slamming her into a pillar and then hustling her out of the dining hall at the Mansion House, after she had taken part in a peaceful protest organised by Greenpeace to alert the country’s hogswilling financial elite to the climate crisis.

Gammon and go… Mark Field MP takes charge.

His excuse? He feared she might be armed! No suggestion he was awash with Treasury claret. Quite rightly, he has been suspended from his minor Foreign Office ministerial job while police investigate. Nothing whatever will come of it, of course. These squirearchical public-school bullies are the masters of the universe whom empire-fantasizing Leave dimwits and Tory wives crave to put in authority.

They are the ugly, abusive, patronizing, autocratic, self-serving elites – the gammon-faced men of power – who rule the country as they rule the home and the little woman, and are planning to profit from dragging us out of the EU without a deal, breaking up our remaining public institutions to enable themselves and their pals to derive “value” from them; just as they will benefit from deregulation and the ultimate rape of the environment.

But not just in this country.

“When they reached the dressing rooms, she said Trump shoved her against the wall, pulled down her tights and “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.” New York magazine confirmed that Carroll told two friends about the incident after it happened.”

Journalist and Elle advice columnist E Jean Carroll recounts an incident more than two decades ago in which Donald Trump, then a failing playboy real-estate executive living on Daddy’s money, allegedly assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store. The White House’s predictable reaction? “She’s making it up to discredit the president. Why did she not report it at the time? And look, she’s got a book out!”

A familiar theme taken up by dozens of useless little Trump-enabling scrotes and other illiterate, piss-stained-sofa-dwelling mouth-breathers in comments on the magazine’s website.

Do you know what Trump does to women who report his attempted rapes, little trolls? Of course you don’t. Carroll is one of around 20 women who have confirmed what Trump once boasted, that he just grabs any woman he wants, whenever he wants, and starts in on them because he’s famous and they love it.

You see, he has ADMITTED on tape that he does this. There have been actual witnesses to his behind-the-scenes behavior on his tacky TV show, at his rigged “beauty” contests. His verified lie count while in office is even now as I write passing 10,800, but still, no, it’s the women who are lying, always.

And all of them coming forward to report the assaults have been threatened by his thuggish fixers with multi-million-dollar life- and career-wrecking lawsuits and worse, beatings, death threats, threats to their families – meeting a barrage of vile abuse from his worshipful dumbfucks. Just look what he did to Dr Blasey Ford, to get his pet dog Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

Enough with the lies. His atrocious presidency has to end, now. He is not a figure of fun, but of slimy menace. He is not innocent of the dozens of crimes he is accused of committing, not any of them. He even boasts like a 1920s Chicago mobster about his inviolability: one of the Untouchables; the law in his pocket.

He needs to join his pal Manafort in Ryker’s Island. Get him on a charge of wearing absurdly long ties. Anything.

*Sunday brings a matronly rebuke and some concern from Polly Toynbee. “A loose cannon” is not, in my view, a domestic abuser, or a threat to the security of the nation – as domestic abusers fired from the Trump regime are regarded, hence the firings. But she’s right in saying, the Brexit fanatics on the right of the disintegrating Tory party don’t care what pile of human dog-crap they elect as long as he restores the British empire and the Voice of the Thatcher is once again heard in the land.

 

“The government went to federal court this week to argue that it shouldn’t be required to give detained migrant children toothbrushes, soap, towels, showers or even half a night’s sleep inside Border Patrol detention facilities.” – US judges, appalled by descriptions of children made to sleep in cages on concrete floors, under only an aluminum sheet, rejected the argument. (TYT)

 

Making a difference

20 June: The Bank of England has warned that economic growth in Britain could grind to a halt during the second quarter amid mounting risks to the economy from a no-deal Brexit. Sounding the alarm as its nine-member monetary policy committee (MPC) voted unanimously to leave interest rates on hold at 0.75%, the central bank said the lack of resolution was weighing on growth.

11 June: Deputy governor, Ben Broadbent, … backed comments made by the Bank’s chief economist, Andy Haldane … (that) the time was nearing for a rate rise to nip inflation pressure in the bud, while (another MPC member) Saunders said Brexit uncertainty was not a reason to delay rate rises. (Guardian)

Does anyone in authority know what the fuck they are talking about any longer? Or must we assume that the difference between 11 and 20 June, is called Boris Watermelon Piccaninny, etc. Johnson?

 

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

(This item will be moved shortly to the next issue of The Pumpkin. Thank you.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Seen paper

“The rules governing exam security are detailed and rigorous. Papers are kept in sealed packets and delivered by courier to exam centres where they have to be signed for, with the date and time of receipt recorded. They then have to be immediately locked in a secure room solely assigned to exams, ideally without windows and on an upper floor.”

So says the Observer today, reporting on how police are looking into the leak online of a page of this year’s GCSE Religious Studies paper; following last week’s story about the leak of Edexcel’s A-Level Statistics math paper.

Ha ha ha! As I bogled just the other day, I work from time to time in a university. We frequently find the wrong exam papers among those we hand out – not in any way sealed or locked in windowless upstairs rooms. Papers not due for distribution until the next day, even the next week.

I’m obviously missing a potential revenue stream.

 

How many lives is your job worth?

How many people would you be willing to kill, if it meant you had a job? Given, that is, that it might not be the only job you can get or know how to do, but it’s the only one you’ve got?

Five? 10? 50? 298? What’s the price of your job, measured in human lives?

It seems these tradeoffs are increasingly a part of the realpolitik of our global economy.

You might say, well, my family has to eat. True, but so do the families of the people you would happily rather see die, than you get on your bike and look for another job. Never mind, you don’t actually have to care about them, they’re strangers. Quite a few were foreigners. Anyway, they’re already dead. And you’re not.

There’s the 93-year-old Prime Minister of Malaysia. He’s almost dead, but sadly not quite. A pretty rackety old character, always was, he’s just got his old job back because his predecessor is up on charges related to the embezzlement of a $4.5 billion dollar sovereign wealth fund. These politicians, eh? What are they like.

And when confronted after two years with the painstakingly investigated evidence of Russian collusion in the shooting down of one of your country’s commercial passenger aircraft with a Russian ground-to-air missile fired by a loose combatant in a local insurgency on the ground, Mr Racketeer – sorry, Makateer – given the rock-solid evidence, what is your response?

Stuff and nonsense! There’s no evidence our plane was shot down by a reckless Ukrainian idiot using a Russian missile, it’s just made up. Typical of the UN to blame Russia for everything.

298 corpses, including many children and some Newcastle United fans, groan and turn over in their eternal sleep.

Meanwhile, it’s being suggested that Mr Racket… sorry, Makateer, might be anxious about a trade deal. You see, his country has invested lots in cutting down all its pristine forests to plant more palms for their oil, but the UN doesn’t like that on environmental grounds and wants to ban at least some of the trade, so you did a deal with Russia, didn’t you.

So much death and devastation. Humans, trees – which in turn means more dead humans. But it keeps the money rolling in. And what’s your cut of that, Mr Rac… sorry, Makateer, you decrepit old fuck?

But why stop there?

“Donald Trump has dismissed a United Nations request for the FBI to investigate the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting it would jeopardise American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.”

Well, let’s discount my colleague, The Pumpkin’s theory that Trump is defending Mohammed bin-Salman because it was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who leaked top-security CIA files on dissidents to his Saudi pal in exchange for his co-operation in shaking down the Qatari government to bail out a failed property deal. It’s just too… well, out there.

Let’s take him at face value.

Somehow, Trump has got it into whatever organic matter still sits like a blob of melted icecream in a tragically small puddle at the bottom of that pouting orange cranium that he has done $400 million worth of arms deals with Saudi Barbaria, that will be at risk if he dares to criticize the Crown Prince, who has presided over a devastating war against neighbouring Yemen.

Of course it won’t, but that’s what he says he thinks.

The true figure is actually $14 billion, and that’s not contracts, it’s just letters of intent. But as long as American jobs possibly might depend on doing bidness with one of the most foul, corrupt and repressive families on the planet, and it’s coming up election year, let the slaughter begin.

And here we are in Britain, also depending for the sake of the entire nation on selling training jets (who are they kidding? Ed.) and first-aid kits or whatever to the Barbarians, who have shown that despite all these beautiful, shiny weapons we sell them, they’re not actually all that good at defeating a few rebel tribesmen trying to overthrow a corrupt regime, and find it easier to target civilian women and children, schools and hospitals instead.

Trade deals are more vital than ever, now the government is so completely committed to destroying tens of thousands of jobs by leaving the most successful trading alliance since – I don’t know, the Hanseatic League? and doing dozens of ad hoc deals under less favorable WTO rules with rapacious countries who can see us coming a mile away.

So no, say many mutton-faced Tories, many gammon-faces, many bloviating blowhards from the hang-em, flog-em shires, many throttlers and abusers of women, no, we’re not going to take the slightest notice of this pansy High Court ruling that we’re breaking many laws by flogging this stuff to our murderous little oil-rich pals in the desert kingdom we created, our pet sponsors of terrorism.

Not as long as they keep spending.

A hundred thousand Yemenis, 298 Dutch, Australian, British, Malaysian airline passengers, who gives a fuck? They’re expendable. I’ve got my cosy job making things that can kill even more people than that, fuck ’em.

Pink mist.

 

GW: Every cloud has a shiny lining

USA: And on and on it goes…  Gusty winds downed trees and power lines in parts of Georgia and South Carolina overnight into early Saturday (22 June). Heavy rainfall of up to 4-in. prompted mandatory evacuation of some residences in Peabody, Kansas. Severe storms and locally heavy rain will be a threat on multiple days this week, including flooding in areas where the ground is already saturated from recent heavy rain. (Weather Channel) The Mississippi river is likely to return to its 40-foot major flood stage, alerts for the Missouri and Arkansas rivers remain in place. A woman was found dead amid flooding in eastern Oklahoma , Sunday. A flash flood emergency was declared in southwestern Missouri.

There’s been fresh snowfall in the Rockies, with up to 10 inches forecast. (Accuweather)

India: Pre-monsoon thunderstorms have killed 14 people in Rajasthan, when a tent collapsed at a fair. Temperatures over the weekend remaind in the 40sC, 104F, and after a slightly cooler few days are expected to rise again later in the week. The belated arrival of a weaker than usual monsoon in the south has brought some relief to Chennai, the city that has run out of water.

Hungary: Thunderstorms caused wind damage and flash floods from 19 June, with several people rescued and city streets inundated. National Meteorological Service reported record rainfall in some areas. 117.8 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Fonyód on the shore of Lake Balaton in western Hungary. More severe storms are forecast as the North African heat plume begins to build across central Europe.

Switzerland: “Flash flooding caused major damage in Val-de-Ruz district of Neuchâtel Canton on 22 June. The villages of Villiers and Dombresson were the worst hit, with some areas under flood water 1 metre deep. Photos of the floods showed cars dragged along roads that had been ripped up by flood water. Roads have been closed and some homes evacuated.” (Floodlist)

France: And as the North African heat plume edges northwards, “Health minister, Agnès Buzyn, warned local authorities, hospitals and retirement homes to be on high alert, noting that last summer’s heatwave resulted in 1,500 more deaths than normal in July and August. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, activated a level-three (out of 4) heatwave action plan on Sunday.” (France24) Expectations have been rowed back a little since last week’s alarming forecasts of 45C-plus reminiscent of 2003, when 15 thousand people died, but the high 30s – low 40s are still possible in places by Thursday.

Paris’ action plan is not without humor. Among the recommendations for staying cool at 35C: “Find a seat in a library or a museum with good air conditioning. Bring a book and stay as long as you can until they kick you out. … Go to your local supermarket and spend a couple of hours near the freezers deciding what frozen peas are best.”

Noctilucent cloud over Denmark, June 2017. Almost bright enough to read by. (Photo: Ruslan Merzlyakov / RMS Photography.)

Sky: Evenings around an hour after sunset and mornings before sunrise, look out for shiny lights in the sky. No, not the aurora…. Aparently we’re in for a rare summer of “noctilucent” clouds that form at very high altitude, typically 70 kilometers, where they catch the sunlight from the day side of the planet and glow intriguingly. Some witnesses say they’re bright enough to read by. Severe-weather.eu reports, the clouds are being seen over a wider area of the northern hemisphere and cover more of the sky than ever previously recorded. Don’t ask me why, it’s dull and raining outside.

(Actually I have a theory and it’s to do with stratospheric warming holding more water vapor. I say “to do with”, that’s as far as I’ve got, sorry.)

Tunnel approaching…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, erupted on cue, 21 June, for the 23rd time this year, on course for another record. Frequency has shortened to three days. Normally 2 or 3 times a year. Otherwise more quakes, ground uplift, hamonic tremors – rising water temperature – gas escapes have killed a number of squirrels. (Mary Greeley)

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 89: Swamping the drains… Sorry seems to be the hardest word… The code of Omerta… Lock them out!… GW: Boom bang-a-boom!… What’s gone wrong with the weather, then?

Swamping the drains

I’ve just been enjoying the 18 June roundup of press stories compiled and adroitly cross-referenced by the indefatigable Rachel “Madcow” Maddow of MSNBC, concerning Trump’s noted ability to pick “the very best people”.

It seems that after two years of disastrous picks for Secretary of the Army, starting with the crooked bank manager who lent Paul Manafort $16 billion he hasn’t paid back, who is now himself up on a felony corruption indictment, and having insulted his way through a platoon of Defense Secretaries, Trump has had to let Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan go, over “lurid” allegations of domestic violence (he told the Washington Post there was “no justification” for defending his son beating his mother unconscious with a baseball bat, and not in a fun way), and has now promoted Pick No. 4 for Secretary of the Army after only weeks in the job, across to being his new Acting Defense Secretary.

The gentleman in question, Mr Mark Esper, who will be responsible for running the bigliest defense establishment the world has ever known, with a budget the size of an emerging nation and a mission that looks like it’s any day about to become a shooting war over Iran, is the former principal lobbyist – a PR consultant – for one of the world’s largest advanced weapons systems manufacturers and a key US defense contractor, Raytheon.

In which President Trump was reported in 2017 to hold stock.* No conflicts of interest there, then. Let’s hope his family life is a little less turbulent than his predecessor’s.

This sorry trail of recruitment blunders Trump always denies has infected the White House since his election is only one among many that have characterized the administrative chaos everyone else observes. Starting with National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, an extraordinary number of senior officials have been appointed, only to be obliged to resign or be fired, often after offences related to domestic violence have emerged from their past. Trump, too has been accused – but never convicted – of violence, including rape – against previous wives.

It looks like no-one is ever vetted for a post in this administration, which appears to offer a wife-beaters’ charter to candidates for office, although I’m sure that’s just inadvertent. Who doesn’t go after the little woman with a baseball bat from time to time? Their security clearances are just railroaded through over the objections of those whose job it is to make sure criminals and lunatics are kept out, while repellent enabler McConnell squeezes the nominations like perfectly formed turds through the bowels of the Senate.

Drain that swamp!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LdIBdqTJ84

*I’ve just read the full Wikipedia account of the night over chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago with Premier Xi, when Trump ordered allied forces into action to bomb the al-Shayrat airbase after deciding Syria had dropped chemical weapons on Douma, a suburb of Damascus, killing civilians. It’s a terrifyingly detailed account listing previously unreported instances of aggression by Russian units against British Royal Navy submarines – a majorly complex sea-and-air action also involving the French. Amid the general mockery of Trump wasting 103 cruise missiles (many made by Raytheon) at $900 thousand a pop on rocketing an abandoned airbase, not one of the mainstream media as I recall reported how close we came to an actual war with Russia that night.

 

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Trump today launched his official bid to gain a second term as president, although while not on the golf course he hasn’t stopped campaigning for a minute since 2015 (60 Nuremburg-style rallies and counting) and is still bitching about how “Crooked Hillary” rigged the election he won. At a presser on the White House lawn he was asked by April Ryan, the veteran White House correspondent, if he would now apologize for his notorious campaign to secure the death penalty for the Central Park 5. An opportunity to heal division, bring unity?

Not a bit of it.

The case involved five young black and Hispanic men who confessed to the rape of a jogger in Central Park in 1990, on a night in which some 30 criminal assaults took place in the vicinity. The woman was beaten and left in a coma. To boost his credibility as a prominent citizen of New York, Trump took out full-page press ads demanding their execution. Four defendants served 6-7 years each; one, tried and sentenced as an adult, served 13 years in adult prison.

In 2001, however, DNA evidence and a confession proved beyond doubt that the five had not committed the offence for which they were tried and found guilty, also on appeal; and they were eventually released. “Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer and serial rapist who was serving life in prison, confessed to officials that he had raped the female jogger. His DNA matched the two samples found on and near the rape victim, and there was other confirmatory evidence. He said he committed the rape alone.” (Wikipedia)

The original confessions had been obtained without witnesses – four of the five were minors and should legally have had a responsible adult or legal counsel present – and all five claimed they had been beaten by police.

Trump has never apologized or admitted any error over the miscarriage, and today was no exception. In an unpleasant echo of his take on the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally, that there were “good people on both sides”, he pompously turned away from Ryan, a black woman, to explain to no-one in particular that there were “views on both sides” and that the prosecution (who formally withdrew the case against the men) were still convinced of their guilt. He then shut down a follow-up question.

This is the appalling, self-justifying, incompetent old sack of rotting shitburgers who desperately wants, and may very probably somehow engineer, another four years in the White House. (Even if he loses, he says, he might not go!) His poll ratings are currently disastrous, so much so that last week he fired the White House pollsters for telling him that. Following which he told ABC TV interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, that he would welcome more Russian help; an admission of treasonous intent publicly available on video that he has since denied making.

A good war should set him right.

 

Lock them out!

President Trump’s first policy announcement on launching his campaign has been to order ICE, the immigration police, to begin deporting all undocumented migrants from the US next week – literally, that is, millions of people – as he says Mexico is doing such a “very good job” of keeping unwanted migrants out.

Shome contradiction, shurely? Why, only two weeks ago he was threatening Mexico with tariffs if they didn’t do more to seal off the border with Guatemala. Now they’re very fine people. What does go on under that terrifying wisp of golden keratin?

He really is a shameless, bigoted old fraud. Gammon personified. A real gammonburger. His policies are aimed purely at pleasing his minority voter base and have nothing whatever to do with his key platform of national revival; quite the opposite, his divisive economic and social policies are having disastrous effects and only his rambling, bombastic, delusional speeches to aircraft hangars full of screaming, hate-filled lunatic dumbfucks are keeping his atrocious presidency alive.

 

The code of Omerta

“Trump faces at least 15 criminal or civil inquiries by nine federal, local or state agencies into his business, his charity, his campaign, his inaugural committee and his personal finances.” (Politico). MSNBC reports, the FBI is also drilling into his transaction history with Deutsche Bank on behalf of the House Finance and Oversight committees, following bank whistleblower Tammy McFadden’s claim that managers shut her down when she flagged possible instances of fraud and money laundering involving both Trump and Kushner accounts.

Might explain why the latest former White House staffer, Trump’s – ahem – rather attractive press counsel Hope Hicks, accompanied by a Trump lawyer, clammed up totally under questioning by the House Intelligence commitee, even on questions she’d answered for the Mueller inquiry. The committee is considering having to hold her in contempt, along with Mueller himself, former WH counsel Don McGahn and Attorney-General Barr, all of whom are refusing for whatever reason to co-operate with inquiries into Trump’s criminal conduct.

The Shite House meanwhile is claiming that anyone summoned by congressional committees who is or has ever been connected with the president is covered by a non-existent “special Presidential immunity” Trump’s lawyers have invented, that prevents them from testifying.

How does he get away with it? It amounts to a massive obstruction of justice, a cover-up of what looks more and more like a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy. But it seems that unless the doubtful Democratic duo of Pelosi and Schumer move to start impeachment proceedings – which in any case he is likely to ignore – there’s no-one who can prosecute the case as all the judicial power rests with the prime suspect himself, a president who claims that by virtue of having been elected he must be above the law.

Welcome to your new dictatorship.

 

He’s got a little list #2: Count your fingers

A UN special rapporteur has delivered “an excoriating” indictment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman in respect of the murder of Saudi dissident, Jamal al-Khashoggi; demanding that the prince – who has denied responsibility – be criminally investigated by the International Court.

“It is the conclusion of the special rapporteur that Mr Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law,”, quotes The Guardian.

An aspect of the story that is unlikely to have been considered, and for which no indictment is anticipated, concerns Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; often described, in the peculiar phrase commonly adopted by journalists instead of the more accurate “confederate”, or “co-conspirator”, as “a friend” of the equally callow and carefree Prince bin-Salman.

Mr Kushner is, as we know, despite his lack of experience in any field that doesn’t involve throwing poverty-stricken tenants out on the street, wearing a bewildering assortment of hats as a “senior advisor” to the strangely tinted president.

One of them is as his Middle East peace envoy. For instance, he is about to be involved in a conference in freedom-loving Bahrain, to obtain support from “the international business community” for more private investment in the shrinking Palestinian sectors of Israel, from which Trump has withdrawn federal aid; and on which (at the urging of his billionaire friend and political funder, decrepit casino magnate Sheldon Adelson) he has piled numerous insults, such as the highly controversial recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

It’s been a bit of a mystery as to why Trump rushed so soon and so ardently to exonerate “MBS”, as the ruthless Crown Prince is disarmingly known, of any responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder, even before the full horrible details of his dismemberment in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul had emerged; and to continue to argue in the face of much intelligence community reporting that the jury is still out, “it may have been him, it may not”, right to the present day.

Trump has long had a peripheral involvement in the story. Back in the 1990s he bought (and then had to sell at a loss) a modest-sized superyacht from Khashoggi’s billionaire arms-dealer cousin Adnan, an international playboy who was involved in a major 1980s bribery scandal known as the al-Yamamah deal, in which the Thatcher government appears to have bunged him $60 million to swing a fighter jet contract for British Aerospace over a decision to go with the French Dassault.

Yet in his classic defense of ignorance, Trump denied knowing any Khashoggis.

Jamal sought sanctuary in the United States in 2017, having found himself on the wrong side of the Saudi royal family – a unique governmental entity consisting of hundreds of unpleasant and interrelated desert princelings all jockeying for power. There, he wrote a monthly column for the Washington Post, critical of the bin-Salman faction; earning for himself the accusation that he was an agent of the hated political Islamists, the relatively non-violent Muslim Brotherhood.

MBS, who is responsible for prosecuting the failing war to prop up the corrupt Saleh regime in Yemen against rebellious northern tribals, in which 100 thousand civilian victims are believed to have died pointlessly so far, came to power and prominence just a couple of weeks after Trump had made his first foray into international diplomacy, not something he had ever been noted for, with a state visit to Riyadh that culminated in an esoteric-looking ceremony where the gathered leaders all weirdly placed their hands together on a mysterious glowing ball, or “Illuminatus” as some call it.

Your friendly Pumpkin has previously suggested a purely coincidental link between the deposing of MBS’s cousin, the former Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Nayef, and Trump’s visit. The business seemed in some ill-fated way to be based on the plot of Syriana, a 2005 George Clooney movie in which a US-compliant despot is installed in an oil-rich state by its senile king over the incumbent modernizing Crown Prince, who ends up being vaporized with his whole family in a drone strike by a rogue CIA unit secretly masterminded by Christopher Plummer.

One of MBS’s first actions in his new position of acting head of state – bin-Nayef’s father, King Salman bin-Abdulaziz al-Saud, has Alzheimer’s – was to have 200 of his princely family and prominent members of the Saudi business community arrested on vague charges of corruption and locked in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, until they agreed to pay him huge sums in ransom. Some were tortured, and one died.

Shortly after that, began the strange campaign by Saudi Arabia (Barbaria, as we call it) and MBS’s friend MBZ, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, to blockade the tiny, but spectacularly oil-rich gulf state of Qatar, interdicting its food supplies and oil exports and threatening war unless the emir agreed to shutdown the well-regarded Al Jazeera global news operation and make other helpful concessions on their bucket list.

Back home, Trump gave his full-throated support to the Saudis, accusing Qatar publicly of sponsoring international terrorism (ha! Ed.) and being in league with Iran. Which was odd, considering a) he had met with the emir of Qatar, Mohammed bin-Thani (MBT) during his brief tour of the Middle East and said what a great ally he was and how much money he was going to spend buying “beautiful” American weapons, and b) the biggest US airbase and forward command in the entire Middle East is located at al-Udeid, in Qatar. Although some have suggested Trump may not have realized it was there, being the Commander-in-Chief who doesn’t take briefings from anyone other than Sean Hannity.

A few weeks later, however, MBS and MBZ quietly lifted the blockade, and Trump once again began praising Qatar as a good friend of the USA. What had changed? Certainly not Al Jazeera, which is still very much operational.

Well, the only thing anyone could think of, especially after it came out that Kushner’s father Charlie had been to Qatar some months previously on a cash-raising mission for his business and been turned away, concerned the welcome news that a Canadian investment company, Brookfield, had agreed to buy out the 999-year lease on a loss-making Kushner Companies-owned office-cum-retail property, 666 Fifth Avenue.

Jared had been nominally left in charge of Kushner Companies while his father, Charlie, was serving time for fraud and witness tampering, and in 2007 – just before the banks imploded – had paid way over the odds for a New York tower block, in his puppyish excitement to impress his dad, only to fall foul of the 2008 global crash. The hideous “signature” building, which is in urgent need of expensive refurbishment, was half-empty and hemorrhaging money. Now, looming up in 2019 a loan instalment of $1.8 billion was due, and KushCo didn’t have the liquidity to meet it.

Major crisis!

So Kushner, seeing that American banks won’t touch either the Kushners or the Trumps, known serial defaulters, with the proverbial footage of pole, arranged a very large loan with the giant Chinese insurance company Anbang that seemed to include a hefty cash emolument for himself. And on that basis, after the Chinese got cold feet over the possible allegation of bribing an influence-peddlar, his “friend” MBT, bin-Thani of Qatar, who had agreed a further half-billion investment, hastily withdraw the offer. This apparently enraged Jared, with consequences that are fairly not unclear.

Happily, Brookfield agreed, for no apparent reason, they would pay the entire future rental of the building up-front, and carry out the full refurb. With one bound, the Kushners were free. But who was this previously not much known Canadian company with a cash-splashing habit? Well, as Bloomberg reported, it turns out it’s a funnel operation for investing into global opportunities, a hefty proportion of the embarrassment of oil riches owned by the sovereign wealth fund of… Qatar.

Tiny, oil-rich Qatar, in essence, or so the implication of the story would seem to run, had been strongarmed into bailing out the piddling little Kushner family’s struggling real estate firm in a shakedown operation run under the auspices of the Trump administration – US foreign policy – by the Orthodox Jewish “Peace envoy” Jared’s Middle Eastern Arab “friends”, MBS and MBZ; risking a regional conflagration.

Result!

And then began the faint background accusations that it could have been Kushner who, purely as a favor, might have possibly helpfully supplied his “friend”, the newly installed MBS, with the list of names and locations and whatever dark crimes those 200 wealthy princes and businessmen he “arrested” in The Princes in the Hotel affair, may have been suspected of having committed: all the muck US intelligence could rake up on their known movements, contacts, holdings, investments, current assets and possibly hostile affiliations.

This was a top-secret CIA file, so the story goes, that Jared was only able to access because his father-in-law had overridden the strong warning of the official security analysts that his son-in-law – in view of his many dubious connections and unpaid debts to foreign banks – did not deserve a high-level security clearance; let alone a White House Sunday garden pass.

And even more faintly in the background, can just be heard the faint, squeaky whisperings of a nuance of a hint of a susurrus of a suggestion from some quarters that among the names exposed on that CIA target list, together possibly with some reference to his suspected dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood, may have been that of Jamal Khashoggi.

But we should draw a veil now over the proceedings for, as your Pumpkin concurs, it is highly unlikely and, indeed, wrong to believe that the name Kushner would ever appear anywhere in the 100 pages of the UN’s “excoriating” report, as being in any way complicit with a brutal execution his father-in-law has doubted really happened.

The Pumpkin would rather keep his fingers attached to his hands, if you don’t mind.

 

“A YouGov poll this week found that (by two-thirds to one-third) Tory party members would rather Brexit took place even if it meant significant damage to the economy, even if it meant Scotland leaving the United Kingdom, and even if it meant the loss of Northern Ireland, too. A large majority of Tories even think Brexit is more important than the survival of their party. Half of them would be happy for Nigel Farage to be their new leader.” (Guardian)

Eastbourne hasn’t been this exciting since Debussy wrote La Mer here! (BBC Weatherwatchers)

GW: Boom bang-a-boom!

Turkey: “At least 3 people have died in the north east of Turkey after heavy rain caused flash floods and landslides in Arakli district in Trabzon Province on 18 June. A further 7 people are still missing and 3 others were injured.” Rescuers “are carrying out search and rescue operations with helicopter support. Around 70 people were evacuated from the area.” (Floodlist)

Poland: A heavy downpour caused severe flooding around Lublin on 19 June, 2019, leaving communities cut off. Local authorities said 100 homes suffered damage, along with several roads. Electricity and drinking water supplies have been interrupted. Dozens of fire service and military personnel are working in the area. (Floodlist)

Philippines: over 45,000 people have been displaced by flooding on Mindanao Island. (Floodlist)

Uruguay: Many areas have seen over 30 cm of rain in the past week and over 5,000 people have been displaced by floods. 3000 of those “are in the city of Durazno, where the overflowing Yi River has caused severe flooding. Flooding has blocked vital roads in at least 12 locations across affected areas. Neighbouring parts of Argentina have also seen heavy rain over the last few days.” (Floodlist)

Europe: “Models are in good agreement for the development of an intense heatwave across a large part of west-central Europe, starting on Monday next week and likely extending until the weekend. Both global models GFS and ECMWF are hinting at peak afternoon temperatures around 36-41°C in France next week – up to 20C above average – and even 32C in southern England.” French meteorologists are not ruling out 45C, 4C over the previous highest-ever (The Weather Channel). More thunderstorms bringing heavy rain, high winds and large hail are the forecast for the Balkans up into eastern Europe until then. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Accuweather is predicting a high chance of more tornadoes in northeastern states Friday (21 June) as the seemingly unending chain of storms continues across the country. 100 deg. F-plus temperatures (103 yesterday, 20 June) this week are in fact slightly lower than normal for Phoenix, Az. Last week’s unseasonal 100F-plus heatwave in California has eased off the throttle, with temps back in the high 80s.

Bhutan, etc.: The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades, scientists have revealed. The accelerating losses indicate a “devastating” future for the region, upon which a billion people depend for regular water. Temperature data from the region also show an average rise of 1C from 2000-16 compared with 1975-2000. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

Kaboom: “The Pentagon believes using nuclear weapons could ‘create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability’, according to a new nuclear doctrine adopted by the US joint chiefs of staff last week. The document, entitled Nuclear Operations, was published on 11 June, and was the first such doctrine paper for 14 years. Arms control experts say it marks a shift in US military thinking towards the idea of fighting and winning a nuclear war.” Guardian. The paper was taken down after the Pentagon realized people reading it might be scared.

No sweat: “Wetbulb” temperature is a calculation based on both temperature and humidity. At 35C and 100% humidity the limit of survivability in the open is 6 hours. Higher temperatures require less humidity to kill, largely through the inability of the body to cool itself by sweating, leading to cell breakdown and organ failure. In other words, you cook. Parts of northern India and Pakistan have seen temperature over 50C, 123F. Paul Beckwith reports, “Present extremely hot temperatures combined with high humidities exceed the 35 C (95F) wetbulb temperature threshold. It doesn’t matter how healthy, fit, and strong you are; the physics is fatal. Luckily, the worst conditions seen on the Pakistan-India border (mostly in Pakistan) are for a few hours, and not the full day, but death rates in this region must be huge.”

 

“It’s hard to believe we’re looking down the barrel of a loaded climate gun when it’s so consistently damned embarrassingly weirdly normal outside.”

What’s gone wrong with the weather, then?

Okay, well, look, here we are, three weeks into the official Atlantic Hurricane season, and the only storm there’s been was Andrea, back on 20 May, that only made 1006 mb and a 40mph sustained windspeed, which we get pretty much every 2-3 weeks here on the west coast of Britain – and it didn’t make landfall either.

Other than that, nothing.

Outside as I write, 21 June, it’s sunny and 21C, 70F. Not that the official Met Office weather station 4 miles up the road will admit to that, hidden away as their thermometer is in a dark box where it’s probably 4C cooler. But nor is my digital thermometer in full sunlight either, it’s been swallowed up by a forever-expanding Photinia bush that’s grown just this year to rival the size of the house and has sparrows nesting inside it.

Okay, it’s been mild – a “green winter”. We had a long dry spell in March, and a long wet spell just the last three weeks. Inbetween, 80mph Storm Hannah ripped the opening buds off the westerly-facing trees and burned the leaves brown with salt spray. They’re happily recovering, and apart from that it’s a bucolic spring, with birds and bees and verdant, vibrant countryside – just about everything you could wish for.

So as far as anything goes we’ve had nothing but normal since the end of February, when there was that big heat anomaly over one weekend and record temps. It’s hard to believe we’re looking down the barrel of a loaded climate gun when it’s so consistently damned embarrassingly weirdly normal outside.

Luckily, we have Dr Andrew Glikson writing in Arctic News today to set us straight.

“The term ‘climate change’ is no longer appropriate since, what is happening in the atmosphere-ocean system, accelerating over the last 70 years or so, is an abrupt calamity on a geological dimension, threatening nature and human civilization. Ignoring what the science says, the powers that be are presiding over the sixth mass extinction of species, including humans.

“As conveyed by leading scientists: “Climate change is now reaching the end-game…”

Glikson goes on to elaborate that the current 560 ppm-plus carbon equivalent, which takes into account the carbon content of all the other greenhouse gases we’re struggling to breathe along with the CO2, is as high as it’s been since the Oligocene (33.9 to 23 million years ago). The current rate of increase is as alarming as it’s been since the extinction of the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago; while the warming oceans are reaching the limit of their ability to absorb more CO2, that we’re pumping out in record amounts again.

“The current rise of total GHG to about 560 ppm CO₂-equivalent implies that, for a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees Celsius per doubling of atmospheric CO₂, global warming has potentially reached 3°C. This level is almost 3 times the 2018 global land-ocean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels as reported by NASA.” (And twice the so-called Paris target, of 1.5C by 2030.)

Oh dear. Well, that’s told us. Anyway, the UK is virtuously on course this year for almost 50% of its electricity to be generated from renewables.

I guess we deserve our normal weather. We’ve earned it.

(Dr Glikson is an Earth and Paleo-climate Scientist, Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Research School of Earth Science, the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Planetary Science Institute, and a member of the ANU Climate Change Institute.)

You can sing for your water… And you can sing for your money… Nature Notes… My legacy… GW: Wet, wet, wettest… Thursday’s BogPo bubbling up

Khyber Puss

Former minister and adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister, Mr Shaukat Yousafzai was giving a briefing to reporters in Peshawar when a member of his social media team inadvertently switched on the cat filter. The event was streamed live on Facebook.

“It was several minutes before organisers realised that the minister had acquired pointy ears.” (Guardian)

Absolute Idiocy (AI)

Prof Adrian Cheok, who advocates sex with robots and makes ferocious ad hominem Twitter attacks on fellow academics for querying his ethics, has been made a member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours for “significant service to international education”.

Prof Cheok is also campaigning for a new college to be set up to teach “Trumpism”. (Guardian Australia)

 

GW special:

You can sing for your water

Every year by this time, members of a world-music choir I used to sing with have been rehearsing earnestly for weeks before heading off somewhere – usually to one of our capital cities – to perform at a mini-festival called “Sing for Water”, in aid of charities helping to bring fresh drinking water to remote communities in Africa and other places unreached as yet by civic amenities.

It’s all jolly worthwhile, although I never went along, as I no longer travel – at least, I have become psychologically unable to travel to any place I haven’t been before and feel secure in knowing I can find my way both there and back. Plumbed-in – intubated – catheterized as my bladder is to a leaky reservoir strapped to my leg, I no longer feel comfortable in cities or among friends.

Also I’m somewhat hampered by having as my constant companions in pensionhood, two dependent, fur-bearing, quadrupedal mammalian associates who aren’t always welcome everywhere as they should be, creating logistical problems.

Nor any drop to drink. While outside my window, again… (Google images)

We often read, don’t we, that the world is running out of fresh drinking water. It’s an odd complaint, in my singularly unfashionable view. There are places where the climate produces long, deep droughts, I acknowledge, that are getting longer and deeper. Glaciers that used to feed streams are vanishing. And over-extraction from underground aquifers is a real problem in areas of intensive water use, such as mining, certain manufacturing processes and in fruit-exporting communities.

But, standing next to our local river, a broad, shallow affair spring-fed by many tributaries from the hills upstream, I am often struck by the thought that millions upon millions of gallons of water – fresh and drinkable up to the point opposite, where the town sewage works discharges its load of e-coli – are just pouring day and night into the oceans, totally wasted.

As we read, too, of global heating, and the fearful feedback loops it may produce, runaway emissions cycles feeding on themselves, I gaze heavenward and see only huge, solid-looking castles and towers and mountains and general lumps of dark-grey cumulus cloud (it’s been like this for the past three weeks, raining on and off with only rare glimpses of the sun), and am reminded that a warming atmosphere holds more water vapor, and a warming ocean transpires more water vapor; that water vapor causes more heating, and that reports of floods around the world indeed speak of heavier rainfall than of yore.

Rain is fresh, drinkable water.

Global heating for now at least is producing more, not less, drinkable water; a vast natural desalination plant. A free resource, like Shakespeare’s Mercy, it droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath. Very often now, that appears to be formerly hot desert regions like Arizona, Namibia, north Africa, Yemen, Iran – even Saudi Barbaria has had its share of flooding this year.

Where we feebly watch it gurgling down the drain; bearing away Hunzi’s tennis balls to the beach; or we crouch by helplessly in evacuation shelters while our neighbors drown, diseases breed, food crops perish and water snakes swim about venomously. For of course, occasional floods are of little use in relieving drought.

There’s something wrong with the human spirit, I feel, when it cannot and will not resolve the problem of people suffering from want of the stuff in one part of the world, while the rest of us wander around in another, moaning about a supersufficiency falling unforgivingly from the sky at inconvenient times and flowing down to the salty sea.

Even the Romans had a solution to move water to where it was needed. But water-aid charities and their boreholes are just a drop in the bucket, while many cities around the globe are approaching Point Zero – evermore severe rationing, followed by dry faucets, riots and death.

I envisage instead, trains of huge drogues, towed sausage-like across the ocean by tugs, and networks of pipelines no-one could possibly object to, connecting carefully designed reservoirs. An end to muddy boreholes, bilharzia and the drudgery of the standpipe.

That would only be if the brutal, self-aggrandizing, pockmarked little kleptocrats of the drought-stricken “shithole” regions were to stop stuffing their Swiss bank accounts with US oil money and cease buying more weapons with which to oppress their people.

Stupidly when, if only they would provide safe drinking water, so easy and cheap to do, the people would surely love them to bits.

 

And you can sing for your money…

“Hello P….”, reads the email that just popped into my tray.

“As part of our regular review of savings rates and the market, we’ve made the decision to reduce the interest rates on our variable savings accounts by 0.15%….”

Oh, goody.

0.15% is fuck-all of basically fuck-all to begin with, on my balance the earnings are already literally pennies a year, a rate of glacial progress no longer seen in nature, but what the hell, we’re a bank, it’s what we do.

Screw borrowers, ripoff savers. Make decisions, toddle off to lunch.

I can honestly put hand to heart and swear, I have never, ever received an email from a bank informing me brightly that they’ve “made a decision” to increase the interest rate on a savings account.

Just never happens.

But apparently, says the email, there are other accounts available with better rates (only probably longer extraction times) and I’m free to move my money into one of those if I like, and why wouldn’t I, so what’s the point? Why don’t they either just move it for me, or just, er, not reduce the rate on the one I’m in in the first place?

Yes, well, we’re a bank…

 

Nature Notes...

The aforesaid weeks of June monsoon, coming on top of a promising sunny start to May, early spring budburst (much of it frazzled by Storm Hannah in March but now happily recovering from auxiliary buds), a mild winter and just slightly above normal temperatures by day and night, have combined to create yet another astonishing outburst of greenery in the valley, new growth reaching already above my head.

Amid the profusive tumble of vegetation competing for space and light along the track are many wildflowers I have never seen before, and am struggling to identify. It’s partly because the council has no money to pay someone to strim it, and all the better for that. I’m enjoying the word ‘vetch’, which seems to apply in many cases. Where in places the trees overhang the path along by the river and the undergrowth crowds in, the air hangs heavy, still and damp, and it’s almost like walking through a tropical, or at least subtropical rainforest.

Soon, as the questing pale-green tendrils of the briars reach out across the paths to snag us, we shall need to be swinging pangas to get through, wearing puttees to ward off ticks, keeping a wary eye out for snakes and Welsh jaguars.

Our walks these late spring days are enlivened by an audible increase in cheerful-sounding birdsong, while the insect population does seem marginally recovered – although still very few bees, nevertheless they are here in appreciably more numbers than last year, when the “Beast from the East” interrupted everything. Some small, specialized caterpillar infestation has reduced much of the young hogweed foliage to skeletal shreds. Three orange-tailed bumblebees came browsing on my tiny, mauve-flowering patch of chives during a rare appearance of the sun one day last week.

Perhaps all is not lost quite yet.

I have wondered if the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is playing its part in the extraordinary efflorescence of our little river valley. In which case, this is the place to come for a draft of bracing oxygen to help propel us along, leaping nimbly out of the way of cyclists, who all seem to have adopted a fashion this year for big, fat, squishy tyres on their bikes.

It hasn’t stopped their reckless speeding and seeming inability to fit a bell with which to blast you out of their way as they approach silently from behind. I have trained Hunzi to the word “Bicycle!”, whereon hearing it he knows to get off the path and wait. But if we don’t see them coming until too late, much cross swearing goes on. The sense of entitlement is extraordinary.

I would take to two wheels myself, indulge in a bit of virtue signalling, but my GP tells me my recent MRI scan showed my prostate is now enormous. Even sitting square on a chair, let alone a bicycle saddle, with a rubber tube running through it is agony. He also tells me there is an accompanying “nodule”, which the specialist, off whose list I was struck three weeks ago for the new NHS list-reducing crime of failing to reply to a routine letter in time, chose not to tell me about.

Oh dear. Never mind, I’m sure it’s nothing. As my GP says, 80 percent of the dissected cadavers of men over 90 show that they have lived perfectly happily with undetected prostate cancer for years and it has not ultimately killed them. Or was it the other way around?

The latest thinking apparently is, it’s better not to know. Treatment may only make things worse. Just get on with it, is their motto. No-one lives for ever, not under a Tory government.

 

My legacy

I really do mean to get on with recording that album of 12 acapella jazz songs I’d planned. I’d love to have it done and packaged in time to take a few copies to France, amaze my tutors. I don’t think anyone has done it before. In this case it’s not vanity, but a total dearth of willing and competent jazz pianists in the area that is impelling this seeming indulgence in a possibly mad venture.

But I’ve discovered that my expensive virgin French tape reels don’t fit tightly on the spindles of the analog recorder I acquired last October, that I have not yet even dared switch to Record. They have a tendency to wobble and fly off. The spindles themselves have no clasps to keep the reels firmly in place.

And I had forgotten that in summer, my voice becomes husky and reedy and I get a cough and watering eyes and run out of puff from breathing pollen and enhanced traffic pollution from the street outside; while the extra holiday traffic sets up a constant, invasive din.

It’s never going to happen, is it.

 

Within hours of reports in US media that the coach of NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors, had demurred over an invitation to the White House, headlined as “Trump snubbed”, four people have been injured in a shooting at a Raptors’ victory parade in Toronto. The Pumpkin telegraphs that he hopes there’s no connection.

 

GW: Wet, wet, wettest

Some new areas feature in this Thursday’s extreme weather events calendar, compiled with thanks as ever to the diligent folks at Copernicus’ “Floodlist” website, and others:

Mongolia: “As many as 12 people have lost their lives in recent flooding. Mongolia Red Cross said that heavy rain began on 15 June, causing flooding in parts of the capital, Ulaanbaatar and nearby areas. Many roads have been blocked and drivers left stranded. Some flights from Ulaanbaatar were cancelled or delayed. The heavy rain was accompanied by strong winds. Several buildings suffered severe damage and 2 buildings were completely destroyed in Bayantsogt.” (Floodlist) The weather follows a month of wildfires.

Azores: “Raging flash floods swept through streets on the islands of Terceira and São Jorge, 16 June, damaging homes and vehicles. The worst hit area was the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira Island, where 30 of 36 incidents occurred. Nine people were evacuated from their homes. Angra do Heroísmo recorded 108.1mm of rain in 24 hours to 17 June. Mean total rainfall for June is normally 48.5mm.” (from Floodlist)

Greenland: Temperatures in the north of Greenland peaked last week at a provisional 17.3C, 63F, making it warmer than parts of the UK. On 15 June, the Washington Post reported, temperatures over parts of Greenland were 22C above normal. Above-average temperatures over nearly all of the Arctic during May have led to early ice retreat, with the second-lowest extent in the 40-year satellite record being registered. A sudden rise in Greenland ice-melt at the beginning of June exceeded the 1981-2010 median by over 30%. About a million sq m of sea ice has been lost six weeks early. (From: Guardian Green Light)

Brazil: “A heavy downpour lasting around 6 hours hit parts of Pernambuco state on 13 June, causing over 100 incidents of flooding and landslides in several areas”, including the cities of Goiana and Recife. 7 people are reported killed, including 5 people in a landslide in Camaragibe. “Goiana recorded 198mm of rain on 13 June.” (Floodlist)

China: “88 people have now died as a result of heavy rain, floods and landslides in southern and central provinces over the last few weeks. The rain has spread to more areas including Hunan and Guangdong. Over 6 million people have been affected, with 388,000 displaced. As many as 17,000 houses have collapsed and a further 82,000 damaged. 17 people are thought to be still missing. Emergency services have rescued a total of 5,060 people and assisted with the emergency evacuation of 14,542 people. Vast areas of crops have also suffered damage.” (Edited from Floodlist)

India: A state of emergency has been imposed in Bihar after the heatwave that’s been tormenting the subcontinent for weeks left 184 people dead and several hospitalised. Gaya and Patna recorded temperatures above 45C, 113F on Saturday. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have witnessed temperatures over 46 degrees on a regular basis and occasionally in excess of 50C. At one point during the last 30 days, over 10 places across India witnessed the hottest temperatures on the planet. (India Today) The city of Chennai has cut water supplies by 40% as drought has emptied four main reservoirs. 21 Indian cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020. Poor management is principally to blame, says a govt. thinktank. (Guardian)

USA: “Heavy rain could cause localized flash flooding across an expansive area this week, from the southern and central Plains to the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic. Scattered severe storms are possible each day, posing mainly a risk of damaging wind gusts and large hail. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are ongoing from Texas into the mid-Atlantic. Flash flooding has been reported south of Cleveland, Ohio, 17 June.” The Mississippi river has crested again in Louisiana, just short of the level that would force the army to open a key spillway and flood potentially $2 billion of crops. (The Weather Channel) Accuweather is warning of more tornadoes in the midwest on Wednesday (19 June), while its meteorologists are monitoring an area in the West Pacific for a possible typhoon forming on a potential track from Guam to the Philippines.

Europe: Heavy thunderstorms and hail have been continuing over the weekend across large areas of eastern Europe and the Balkans. Zagreb, capital of Croatia was “hit by a thunderstorm and gale-force winds that ripped off rooftops and left one person dead and 22 injured. Cyclone Teodor was created by bad weather in northern Europe and formed overnight as a secondary storm over the northern Adriatic, bringing damaging waves and high winds, reaching 200 km (124 mph) per hour along the Adriatic coast and causing traffic suspensions on land and sea. Hundreds of trees were ripped out, Croatian Radio said.” (From: Earth Changes Media)

UK: Torrential rain and thunderstorms have hit parts of the UK overnight as unsettled weather continued to cause disruption across the country. Homes were left without power and roads were flooded in parts of the south-east, while Lenham in Kent had 42mm of rain between 11 pm and midnight. Eastbourne in East Sussex is said to have had about 1,000 lightning strikes in an hour. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

The Munch Bunch

Italy: Against a background of reports of the decimation of global insect populations, “A swarm of locusts enveloped Sardinia off the coast of Italy last week. Local farmers reported it was the worst infestation they had seen since the end of World War II. The Italian agricultural association Coldiretti released a statement on Tuesday saying ‘We are walking on a locust carpet.'” (breakingisraelnews) France24 reports, over 2,000 Ha of crops were damaged. The phenomenon has affected several parts of the Mediterranean this year and is reportedly due to a wet year last year, following a drought in 2017.

Brexit: behind the curtain… Polluted waters run deep… Corbyn, eh? Pathetic. Predictable… Counting on chaos… Pot, kettle, smack… GW: Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain… Climate of concern.

Brexit: behind the curtain

“It’s perhaps no surprise … to find that those pushing for a hard or no-deal Brexit also have strong ties to a trans-Atlantic climate science denial network.”

“Three current cabinet ministers have denied the scientific consensus on climate change and several of those standing in the Tory leadership contest have close links with organisations and individuals promoting climate denial.”

– Thus, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow Environment secretary, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, quoted in Open Democracy: “The tangled web of Tory leadership candidates and climate science denial”, 14 June.

Are we seeing the final clues emerging, to the dark-money influences behind the Brexit vote? The bones of the coup?

According to Open Democracy’s Matt Hope, the DeSmog environmental campaign has traced an astonishing two thousand connections between Brexit-voting MPs and known denier groups, false-front climate “research” organizations, corrupted academics and politicians, many founded and funded by energy industry science deniers such as the Kochs, “pushing for environmental regulations to be rolled back”, as they are being by the corrupt Trump junta in America.

(Trump has recently said he is minded to allow uranium mining in the iconic Grand Canyon national park. He really hates America.)

Since the IPCC report came out last year, GW has noticed, and despite fulsome acknowledgments that the energy corporations have known about the problem perfectly well for decades, there have been renewed attempts to undermine the consensus on global heating caused by man-made climate change, almost on the heroic scale of a Chernobyl fire; principally, by undermining faith not only in climate science, but in all science: it’s all too uncertain! All just conjecture, compared with the Biblical certainty that God created the world in 6 days; starting, as Bishop Usher calculated, on 22 October, 4004 BC.

So let’s sit on it while the jury is still out. (The jury that grew old and died years ago.)

These revelations come on top of the clear, loud and obvious threats coming from across the Atlantic, supported by treacherous cunts like Trump-shill Nigel Farage, to breakup the NHS and sell it off to US health insurers; to foist lower food hygiene and animal welfare standards on us; to introduce brutal, high-pressure corporate farming methods, and to breakup the BBC and sell its TV divisions off to US media corporations.

On top of that again, are the well-funded efforts of US Christian evangelical foundations to bring about an end to women’s rights to family planning, promoting a patriarchal, anti-Islamic, white-nativist agenda, with a direct money-pipeline to Farage’s Brexit and other rightwing groups in Europe.

It’s not me saying it: all of this shit has been publicly exposed and expressly endorsed by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. But you’re just not fucking widey-woke enough to get it. (No, okay, you are but they’re not.)

Listening, any Leavers? You’ve been had. Again. When are you going to wake up from your pugnacious, self-satisfied dreams of empire and understand, this is NOT what you persist in shouting-down as “Project Fear”. The vested interests behind your fatal vote are going to eat-up this country for profit. They don’t want the world you want.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/tangled-web-tory-leadership-candidates-and-climate-science-denial/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=95dea4d99b-

“That it is even possible to find and prove and convict for actual treason in peacetime is a legal nicety.”

Polluted waters run deep

While, your old Granny Weatherwax (see GW columns below and passim) prompts the Bogler to conjecture that the defenestration by the Tory party of poor Mrs May might certainly, in the light of the above, have followed a deliberate and sustained campaign of vituperation in the press, on social media and in Comment threads, leading to her downfall.

Was The Guardian’s editorial board “had” by these seething, ambitious traitors too?

That it is even possible to find and prove and convict for actual treason in peacetime is a legal nicety.

But the removal of a Prime Minister, her elected authority undermined and destroyed by secretive actors funded by global corporations and alt-right ultras, her actions thwarted at every turn by a vicious little cabal within her own party, whose influence sadly extends beyond itself, might certainly amount to a coup d’état, given that one of Mrs May’s last vain attempts to maintain the status quo ante while in office has been to announce a commitment to speedier and deeper decarbonization.

Can’t let that happen.

Clearly, as revelations emerge of their clandestine connections via the Tufton Street nest of vipers, the tobacco industry-founded IER and its feral children, with Big Oil and Coal, as well as with the evangelical right in America and its allied Orthodox Christian-empiricists in Russia, not “Fatberg” Johnson nor any of his shitheaded enablers and opponents, except possibly “Snowy” Gove, is planning to honor her dying efforts to spare the planet.

Their rank corruption pollutes everything it touches. Literally, it seems.

 

Corbyn, eh? Pathetic. Predictable.

“A source close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who went to Tehran last week and tried to initiate an unsuccessful mediation between Trump and the Iranian regime, told Kyodo News Agency that what the Americans had presented as evidence did not amount to “definite proof” that Iran was to blame.” – The Washington Post, Monday 17 June.

Oh, but I thought politicians demanding more conclusive proof of an Iranian attack on tankers in the Gulf using mines were “pathetic”? At least, that’s what Tory leadership challenger, Jeremy Hunt told us was wrong with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said he wanted more proof the attack was carried out by Iran, and was:

“Pathetic and predictable. From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”

Oh, but I thought that British general in charge of our forces in the Gulf told the defense chiefs there was no evidence of Iranian escalation? And the Americans and their asscreeper, Hunt told him to shut up and mind his own business? And now the Japanese Prime Minister is “pathetic and predictable” too, is he?

So how about our “allies”, the Germans?

“’The video is not enough,’ German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters. ‘We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me.’”

God, how pathetic. How predictable.

Something disgusting is being cooked up and our pathetic and predictable Tory foreign secretary wants us to be up to our bloodied elbows in it, his head firmly rammed between Trump’s fat asscheeks, caressing his furry little orange balls with his forked tongue like an ass-snake, an assp, just to prove Britain is still a world power that can talk a tough game while having fuck-all to back it up and a failed minority government in total disarray, a nation betrayed by a bunch of alt-right-funded Brexit ultras, that this failed ex-health minister is desperate to lead for all of four months, until hopefully we kick them into the long grass for a generation.

Pathetic. Predictable.

 

Counting on chaos

“As Edexcel is the only privately owned examination board in the UK, questions have been raised on whether the examination board is acting in the best interest of students, or solely as a profit making business, due to the wide range of officially endorsed text books published by Pearson, the international multi-billion company who owns the exam board Edexcel.” – Wikipedia entry, failing on grammar but otherwise instructive, as ever.

A-level Maths students in the UK have been devastated to learn that for the third year in a row, “someone” had leaked part of the Maths, Stats and Mechanics exam paper in advance, and after two years of hard studying and late-nights revising, their marks will suffer as a result.

A tweet published by BBC News showing the questions being hawked around for £70 a go contained the misspelled word “tommorrow”, which ought to be a strong clue that a teacher is behind the leak.

Students are bitterly criticizing the outsourced contractor, Edexcel, for the sheer incompetence they continue to show, year after year. It seems the leak was discovered in advance, and a secure substitute paper exists to be handed out in just such an emergency, but the company either couldn’t get its act together in time or couldn’t be bothered.

Edexcel have denied all responsibility, claiming it’s a minor breach and all down to the schools. No surprise, surely, as there seems to be not one outsourced contractor in Government service in the entire country in any sector, from education to health to security, that isn’t employing a groaning heap of baboons who have been at the fermented fruit again.

They are all, without exception, thoroughly rotten at their jobs. But they have the advantage of being cheap, which is all the Treasury cares about.

The whole principle of outsourcing is based on offering a lowest common denominator service supplied by foreign-owned companies and/or overdiversified hard-hat building and engineering operations desperate for “wet-weather” revenue-earners, of which there can be no reasonable expectation of quality outcomes, concern for users, competence and dedication to service. Yet another such, Keir Group, is battling liquidation as I write, and has announced many job losses.

Your Uncle Bogler pays for his annual week in France through twice a year, for two-and-a-half weeks, taking on the role of an exam invigilator at his local University of Boglington-on-Sea. (Okay, I’m an outsourcer too!) The job is kind of a cross between a butler and a nanny, a policeman and a purveyor of fine stationery to the terminally penless.

He has to mention that this year, he was aware of at least three occasions when batches of papers were sent out by the various departments to be distributed that day, that contained – clearly in error – copies of the wrong papers, that were not due to go out until the following day or week. He understands this to be a possible criminal offence. Add to which, the rising number of proofreading errors in questions having to be back-checked in the middle of exams.

The point was raised, with some concern, and the explanation given that the University has been in the habit of writing to departmental admin staff recently, demanding that they re-apply for their contracts on lower grades and zero-hours contracts; while dozens of take-back redundancy notices have been issued, and the lucky survivors reallocated ad hoc to departments often where they have had no previous experience.

In other words, no-one has the slightest idea what the fuck they are doing anymore.

Taken together with, for instance, the disasters over the uncoordinated changes to the railway timetables last year, the utter shambles that has marked the Brexit negotiations and the demise of the Conservative party, it is not hyperbole to suggest that our familiar civilization is genuinely falling apart around our ears, and the process is rapidly accelerating.

 

US televangelist, Rick Wiles has warned his congregation that meatless vegeburgers contain Satan.

 

Pot, kettle, smack

The traitor, US President Trump, busy lying that he never said he would welcome illegal help from the Russians to get re-elected, like that other Trump did on ABC TV last week, has been tweeting his usual racist garbage against the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, following a mini-spate of knifings and a shooting in the city on Friday.

As if it is any of his filthy, goddam business. Does he run this country? Don’t answer that.

“US President Donald Trump, who has a long-running political feud with Mr Khan, took to Twitter to say London “needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse!”

No mention there of sympathy for the victims’ families; no acknowledgement of the exemplary speedy arrests by the Metropolitan Police. And no mention of the fact that the “feud” has been entirely one-way, since Khan originally made a disparaging remark about Trump’s attempt to ban Muslims from entering the USA – which would have included him.

Trump has not ceased since his inauguration to criticize the management of Britain and other countries – Sweden, who knew? – while praising Norway, oddly, at every possible occasion. Tall, blond Norway… reminds him of his daughter? Would he like to fuck Norway?

Just bile spewing from his fat gut and an overweening sense of his own importance, that he is putting before, even, his own country. To Britain’s eternal discredit, however, weird stary-eyed Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has endorsed his anti-Khan tweet, saying he “150 per cent” supports Trump’s quoting the insane bitch-harridan, Katie Hopkins’ racist ravings about “Londonistan”.

Deary me. And this pathetic shill wants to be Prime Minister. Under a second Trump presidency, no doubt. It’s a bad look.

The three deaths, says BBC News, take the total number of murders in London in 2019 to 56.

Oh, isn’t that fewer in 6 months than are murdered in one day, every day, by plain folks and their guns in Mr Trump’s festering, Wild West country? Thirty-three THOUSAND violent deaths a year? Some very good people, obviously.

Trump is the fucking disaster. Will only get worse – if the cowardly, pusillanimous Democrat leaders don’t start impeachment proceedings immediately. Needs a new President.

Trump has instructed his assfucked acolytes not to testify or submit documents to Congress, despite legal subpoenas and threats of lesser impeachments, and to ignore court orders at which he openly sneers. He’s accepting illegal foreign campaign donations in exchange for promises of access, and putting out fake videos to slander his opponents while claiming the media, the “Enemy of the people”, is “fake news”. He and his family members are openly and illegally profiting from office.

He has rejected a call from one of his own appointees, a judge on a special ethics committee, to sack “senior advisor” Kellyanne Conway for numerous, egregious breaches of the Hatch Act, which supposedly prevents civil servants from openly endorsing political candidates or promoting commercial interests, such as Ivanka Trump’s “fashion” brands. On TV last month Conway sneered at the Special Counsel: “Blah, blah, blah. Let me know when the jail sentence begins”.

These are the actions of outrageous criminals who believe they are untouchable because of the power of the President.

A career criminal himself, Trump has no respect whatever for the rule of law. Never has. Never will. Why he thinks that qualifies him to comment on law and order issues in other countries, no-one can say.

It’s just that he hates Muslims, I guess.

And that’s fine with Jeremy.

 

“Last year, the equivalent of 68,000 shipping containers of American plastic recycling were exported from the US to developing countries that mismanage more than 70% of their own plastic waste.” (Guardian “Toxic USA” investigation)

 

GW: Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

China: “At least 61 people have been killed and 356,000 evacuated from their homes as heavy rain and floods swept through large parts of southern and central China this week. … Local authorities say “9,300 homes have collapsed and 3.71 million hectares of farmland damaged during the floods, with direct economic losses now estimated at 13.35 billion yuan ($1.93bn).” (Al Jazeera)

Sudan: As if a murderous, apparently endless civil war is not enough, “at least 770 homes have been completely destroyed and hundreds more damaged by flash floods that swept through some of the most vulnerable areas of North Darfur on 10 June. At least 420 homes were reportedly destroyed by floods in camp Rwanda for the displaced in Tawilah locality”, and three children injured. Of concern to the authorities is the loss of most of the camp’s temporary sanitation. (from Floodlist)

Indonesia: Following floods last week in nearby Sulawesi, “flooding has affected over 35,000 people in Samarinda City in East Kalimantan Province, according to local disaster authorities.” No injuries have been reported. “The Mahakam river, in the east of the island of Borneo, overflowed after heavy rain on 09 June.” (from Floodlist)

Italy: “Homes, businesses and a campsite were evacuated in Lombardy on 12 June, due to flooding from the Varrone and Pioverna rivers. Heavy rain and severe weather in Europe since 09 June 2019 has caused flash floods in parts of the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Greece and Poland (from Floodlist). More storms, with high winds, big hail and intense rainfall are arriving over eastern areas of France and Germany, up into Denmark. (Severe-weather.eu, 14 June)

France: has declared a state of natural disaster, “after rain and hail storms lashed a swathe of the south-east on 15 June, devastating crops. The flash storms, which brought hailstones as big as pingpong balls to some areas, killed 2 people in France and Switzerland, and injured at least 10 others. The worst-hit area … is known as the ‘orchard of France’. The agriculture minister said the government would … introduce emergency measures to deal with what he described as a catastrophe for farmers.” (Guardian)

UK: After 2 months’ worth of rain fell in 48 hours, a local state of emergency was declared on 13 June and hundreds of residents evacuated from 580 properties in the town of Wainsfleet, Lincolnshire, as the local river burst its banks and temporary shoring threatened to give way. “Passengers on a London to Nottingham train were stranded for 8 hours following a landslide. Commuters were transferred to a second train which also became stuck due to flooding on the line. Food and water ran out onboard and 1 person collapsed.” (BBC News)

USA: And the wet goes on. “Locally heavy rain (and thunderstorms) are expected to return to the Arkansas and Mississippi River valleys by Father’s Day weekend, bringing another risk of flash flooding to rain-fatigued parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma that could last well into next week.” (The Weather Channel)

India: Has escaped the worst of Cat 2 Typhoon Vayu as the storm has turned northward parallel to the coast. The Typhoon Warning Center placed Vayu about 90 miles out, 14 June. “The storm had top winds of 110 mph and was headed north-northwest at 4 mph, with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 145 – 170 miles.” It’s still bringing damaging wind, waves and heavy rain to coastal regions. “About 300,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Gujarat, where a storm surge is forecast of 1.3 meters (4.3 feet). (The Weather Channel)

Unfortunately that means no relief yet from the brutal heatwave inland that has claimed 36 lives. With cities turning into “urban heat islands”, where temperatures in recent weeks have nudged 50C, 122F, a scarcity of water has led to fighting in the streets, with a number of stabbings, injuries and even deaths. (Deutsche Welt)

Australia: The quarterly update of Australia’s greenhouse gases, which span December 2018 to March 2019, showed a 0.7% hike in emissions. Save for agriculture and electricity, all sectors were up. Pollution from the manufacturing, construction and commercial sectors and domestic heating shot up by 6%. Emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, says Australia is still on course to meet its Paris commitment to a 28% reduction by 2030. Shadow energy minister Mark Butler says he’s a liar. (Guardian)

Climate of concern

CO2: Normally starts to reduce in May in the northern hemisphere as spring vegetation growth starts to absorb more. Of concern therefore must be a sudden spike in the weekly average over the past two days, putting concentrations back to the late May 414.5 ppm high. At its peak in mid-May it was over 415.7, up 10 ppm from March last year.

A glance at the weekly averages curve over the whole of 2018-9 is scary enough, but the long-term average in just the last 40 years shows a 50%-plus rise in CO2 concentration over the previous rate of increase from the pre-industrial background of 280 ppm. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

That’s a rather clumsy way of saying it’s been rising twice as fast as it was before 1980. And remember, CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas – the others are all increasing more rapidly than previously.

The Great Debate: You know how the media is constantly parroting the line that you can’t tell if “man made” global warming is responsible for any individual event? Well, now you can. New modeling by Oxford University has shown without doubt that there is absolutely zero probability of last year’s lethal heatwave in Japan having been caused by anything else. Oh, and it’s happened again already this year. (Climate change news)

Denierworld latest: As Trump calls for pipeline protestors to be jailed for 20 years, comes news from the Washington Post that EPA officials were ordered by the White House to shutdown a report compiled by two intelligence agencies for a Congressional committee, affirming previous Pentagon assessments that “climate change” is posing possibly the greatest threat to national security. I’d give you more on that but I can’t afford the $90 a year Jeff Bezos wants for me to be allowed to read articles in the WaPo.

Tunnel approaching…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser went off Saturday 15th for the 22nd time this year. Intervals have shortened from every 7 to every 5 to every 3 days…. “Normal” is two or three times a year. Earthquake swarms, ground uplift, magma “drumbeats”, rising “melt”, volcanic outgassing and harmonic tremors continuing in the caldera. USGS’ live webcams mysteriously freezing, data disappearing. (Mary Greeley)

Heating: The Canadian permafrost is already thawing at the rate previously anticipated to occur by 2090. Greenland shed 50% of its normal annual summer ice loss just last week. Coastal areas (higher humidity) in places like the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea are approaching the limits of human survivability. (Paul Beckwith)

While, “humans are already functionally extinct” may come as a shock to some people (Arctic News, 10 June).

Functional extinction describes a state where sufficient adverse factors exist to bring about imminent population collapse. The Australian koala, for instance, is said to be functionally extinct, after 30 million years on earth. Once shot in their millions for their fur, the cuddly marsupials are down to a population of about 80,000. In itself that might be enough to preserve the species, but habitat loss is scattering ever-smaller communities over ever-wider distances, leading to inbreeding and epidemic disease. Throw in more brutal heatwaves like this summer’s, and they’re gone in a matter of years.

Another indication of imminent human extinction is, of course, the bellicose policies being pursued by US Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo. An evangelical Christian of great fervor, he says the bible informs everything he does, and he’s a genuine believer in the Rapture – a millennarian, end-of-the-world prophesy in which crazy, fat assholes like him lose their clothes and fly up directly to meet Jesus in Heaven while the rest of us burn. God will then create a new Earth for the righteous. “Fight for it”, he has urged congregations. (New York Times 30 March, et al.)

I kid you not, this delusional, Koch brothers-funded lunatic is in charge of Trump’s foreign policy.

Take cover.

 

Long Essay: To hell with everyone!

 

Long Essay:

To hell with everyone!

 

One of the more popular themes floating around the informal and usually uninformed Commentariat beneath any climate-emergency-related article is the idea that there are simply too many people in the world.

In one sense that is a truism. A finite resource cannot logically be expected forever to sustain an infinitely expanding population of users; until the users themselves become the primary resource. Some stabilization of numbers would seem appropriate, given that we are, it’s said, using up the planet’s resources at the rate of 170% of their available quantity or volume every year – and heating the climate to a dangerous degree while doing so.

(I know, it seems crazy, doesn’t it! I mean, that anyone really knows how much resource is available, and what is meant by resource anyway, and how you can have or use more of a resource than 100%? Because if you use 100% of a resource, well, it’s gone, right? What if we could be genetically modified to eat sand and drink sea water, or if technology could turn sunlight into food, the way plants do? And I have calculated that with a quarter of a square meter of space each, the population of the world could double from now and still be able to stand on the landmass of the British Isles alone! We are not short of standing room. Thanks for that, let’s move on.)

On the other hand, there appears to be a subtext that we need therefore to cull the population by any means; and a meta-subtext hinting that those selected for sterilization or direct extermination ought to come from whichever other demographic, ethnic or religious group or country the writer despises the most, rather than from the writer’s own immediate circle.

It’s a rather trivial way of approaching the problem, requiring less thought than the writer is possibly gifted to bring to bear on a useful solution. (I have none, by the way.)

I’m going to pretend it’s next week, and the global population has reached eight billion, as the larger the number, I find, the easier the math is if you round it to the smallest integer followed by a discountable string of zeros.

What, then, would be our ideal population, what might be the consequences of arriving at that number of people; how would you prevent it from simply expanding again, and what method would you use to reduce it to the ideal number?

I have seen two billion mentioned as a possibly sustainable number. Taking us back in time, effectively, to the 15th century CE.

Well, that sounds good. It’s a number we shouldn’t rebound too quickly from, to make the pain of reduction not worth the while. It would be unlikely on the other hand to lead to a total collapse, ultimately to a few savage “Mad Max” tribal bands roaming the crumbling cities and deserts in search of the last can of Kool-aid.

But it would of course require a complete reset of the current economic model, which, for all its unsustainability, is geared towards satisfying the needs of most of a population of eight billion.

A reduction of 75% might give us a much lower standard of living, rather than the higher one envisioned by the enthusiastic proposer of such a number, since there would be many fewer people to do the work of production and distribution and extraction and allocation and counting and storing of the global wealth. The sparser distribution of populations about the globe would require greater, not less, co-ordination of trade policy and longer chains of supply.

On the one hand, resources are natural; on the other, process is required to consume them, and that process would be harder to maintain for the benefit of the population. People in most places would be concentrating more on survival than progress, and complaining that their supermarket shelves are empty. Civilization requires a concentration of humans and resources, not a thinning-out.

Scattered individuals and smaller communities would probably in the long term bring us back at least over wide areas away from a few centers of population to an economic system based on barter and self-sufficiency. Fewer technologists would of course result in a slower pace of advance; although I imagine we should be more heavily dependent on robots and AI systems, which in itself presents problems for the current, employment-dependent socio-economic paradigm. Geopolitics would need to evolve a fairer system of rewards and sharing; a flattening-out of society.

This might not all be so bad from the point of view of advocates for a Greener economics, but possibly not for the people advocating such a huge reduction in the population, few of whom I suspect have Green economics in mind when they demand more of the pie for themselves, and who are likely to be disappointed by what they wished for.

As to how you would prevent your ideal population of two billion from simply expanding again, well, there are several possibilities.

You could, for instance, impose quotas on live births, as the Chinese did under crazy Mao. As we know, this has created all sorts of problems, particularly of gender imbalance. In a largely rural society, when reduced by diktat to producing only one child per couple, the patriarchal system favors the survival of boys, leading to a higher instance of abortion and possibly outright murder of girl babies. The result, of course, is that 40 years down the line China has an embarrassing surplus of young men, the only solution to which is to draft them into the army and get them all killed off.

Forced sterilization is another option. We might throw our hands up in horror now, while we are eight billion. But reduced to two billion, different moralities might come into play. A kind form of birth control could be through public health initiatives, like putting chemicals in the drinking water, or quietly tying off the fallopian tubes of women undergoing a first cesarian section.

Two billion people might imply that the normal “replacement” birthrate of 2.1 children per couple could be exceeded, as there would be a psychological desire both to increase the size of your own family for sound economic reasons, and just to “fill the place up”. At a rate of, say, 2.5 children per family, I am not actuarially equipped to calculate, but might guess that in about another 175 years with no increase in mortality we’d be back to eight billion – but starting from an already depleted resource base, that would be worse than the predicament we find ourselves in now.

So, what method do we favor for removing six billion people from the world? It’s not that easy!

It’s been estimated that about 80 million people died during the Second World War, anyway between September 1939 and August 1945 – wars aren’t quite that easy to define. How many were born during or immediately after that period, myself included, I have no idea. What therefore the net effect was, again, I can’t say. However it’s a well-established myth that populations rebound faster in the wake of such rapid attrition. Which is by and by.

Eighty million is only 1% of eight billion, so you can immediately see it would have to be a much bigger war to remove six billion people in the space of six years by violent means. World War Three is not the answer – unless, you say, it goes nuclear.

Now, a nuclear war on the scale of, say, America vs. China would probably kill directly, about 800 million people in the space of a few hours, which is still only ten per cent of the global population. Of course, without functioning hospital services more would die from their injuries and radiation poisoning in the years following, and given the nature of distribution of radioactive elements by air, rivers and sea, it would inevitably produce a random toll, vitiating the possibility of any kind of policy of selection, either on the basis of wealth, talent, skin color or eugenics. You’d have to take pot luck who survived, and where. You might not even be one of them, sadly.

Fallout from your war would have a quite helpful downside, which is the pall of radioactive dust thrown into the upper atmosphere, cutting off sunlight. While global warming would become a thing of the past, the predicted global winter would make cereal crop production impossible for at least the next three years, with reduced harvests for many years after – assuming any farmers still survived. Without grassland fodder, cattle would die out. Employment income would cease as economies crashed. Millions would starve, but as this isn’t the 15th century they’d be better equipped to fight and kill one another en masse for the available stocks of probably irradiated food, improving the casualty rate.

There’s a danger here of, literally, overkill. With so much of the planet rendered uninhabitable and uncultivable by extreme radiation, and so many dead, their rotting corpses polluting waterways, along with millions of dead sheep, pigs and cattle; diseases and sepsis spreading untreated, all utilities destroyed or defunct and 400 nuclear power stations melting down unattended, life might – would – in fact become impossible for anyone to survive, other perhaps than a few uncontacted tribespeople in the depths of the tropical rainforests.

A full-on nuclear exchange is not going to allow you to stop at two billion, and with vast swathes of the planet rendered uninhabitable, especially the cities, anyone who did survive would probably wish they hadn’t. With the servant class gone, how would the elite crawling out from their bunkers manage? It’s just not an option that bears considering.

Ditto, really, a good plague.

The so-called Spanish ‘flu outbreak of 1918, a pneumonic swine ‘flu (H1N1) that started on a military base in Kansas – I imagine no-one wants to be indelicate about the peccadilloes of Patient Zero – was carried on First World War troopships to Europe via Spain. In the miserable cities and teeming camps the neurasthenic demobbing soldiery and malnourished postwar populations were uniquely vulnerable; the plague spread thence, via returning Imperial soldiers, to India, where the very worst of the casualties were recorded, and onwards.

Before burning itself out, the ‘flu eventually killed between 80 and 100 million, which we have already established is not nearly enough for our needs. They would be replaced with a little determined flirtation in a couple of years.

The mortality rate from Spanish ‘flu was bad in terms of overall numbers, but was unhelpfully not all that high, between 10% and 20%, the same as the attrition rate of soldiers in the trenches, although the disease had its worst outcomes among apparently healthier younger people, which would remove an unhealthy slice of the breeding population were it to occur on that scale again. At even 20%, you couldn’t infect nearly enough patients to kill off six billion, you’d need many more to begin with.

The bubonic plague that arrived in Britain in 1347 killed about 30 million victims throughout Europe, certainly more efficient, but today we have more sophisticated responses to prevent the kind of diminishing waves of disease that kept viruses alive in successive populations from Roman times, that might limit survivor numbers and prevent too rapid a recovery from a modern plague.

The HN viruses are still very much with us and there have been numerous outbreaks of monkey, bird and pig-based viruses that have mutated and became transmissible to humans since 1918, but relatively few that can be spread human-to-human. Epidemiologists continue to obtain their funding by making alarmist claims that “it’s not a matter of if, but when”, etcetera, but outbreaks of quite virulent diseases like Ebola, Margrave and SARS have so far proved containable despite the jet age.

Paradoxically, despite everything that’s said about universal air travel making such outbreaks more deadly, it’s probably the wide range of immunities found in such a vast overpopulation of humans that have been preventing the spread of pandemic diseases on a similar scale; although with its 65% mortality rate you could entertain high hopes of the current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that has already claimed about 1,500 lives and is proving logistically difficult to stop.

No, what should be giving our sofa-dwelling Malthusians heart is, simply, that the birthrate is in fact slowing already, almost everywhere.

We should peak at about 11 billion by the mid-late century and then rapidly collapse, like a balloon with a pinprick puncture that is getting bigger by the second. In fact the collapse could happen faster than that (I’m assuming the scientists at the Arctic News website are exaggerating and we’re not actually heading for an extinction-level 18 deg. of global boiling by 2026). Already, I read, the average age of a BBC TV viewer is 62. While the fastest-growing demographic in Britain is the Over 80s, their previous hopes of living on into their 90s and even reaching 100 are fast disappearing as a result of Government policies and the visible deterioration in medical and social care supports. We oldies don’t breed.

The cause of the slowing birthrate is not entirely clear. Plastics pollution by nanoparticles is one avenue of research, as ingestion may be causing infertility in men, while the true extent of plastics pollution is only just becoming apparent: it’s everywhere, in the food we eat and even the beer we drink; at the tops of mountains and at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Sperm counts are reportedly collapsing across the globe, and nowhere seems immune. One reason is possibly the family of chemical compounds in plastics known as phthalates, that mimic the chemical effects of the female hormone, oestrogen, and may essentially be feminizing the male population.

A recent paper – only one, but it may be a worthwhile avenue of research – suggests that global warming may be having an effect. Experiments on invertebrates at least have shown that even short-lived exposure to “heatwave”-level temperatures above the upper norm causes a dramatic long-term drop in male fertility, with sperm counts reduced by over 95%. So it’s not just their tight underpants that are to blame. But it could point to one cause of the drastic collapse in insect populations.

And then, apart as yet from in parts of Africa, the spread of education in what used to be known as the Third World, or Developing Nations, especially among girls and young women; coupled with improved living conditions and prospects for a “middle-class” lifestyle of white-collar jobs in the cities, have led to couples being able for the first time to make it a choice to reduce the size of their families. Just becoming more time-poor is persuasion enough.

It’s not an exact analogy, but in what we know as the West, in Victorian times – the 19th century – large families, up to perhaps 14 or 15 children per family, were the norm. There were many reasons. Working-class and agricultural families were illiterate and poorly housed, opportunities for social advancement limited, birth-control unknown, sex about the only entertainment. A high child mortality rate – fewer than one in five survived into adulthood – required replacement labor, spares, for family income or farm production.

But even higher-class families with access to medical facilities and sanitation were large, it was a fashion set by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert themselves, a sign of “prosperity”. Until they also began to gain some economic parity, right through the 20th century, centrally-directed economies like Russia demanded high productivity from mothers, just as they did from factory workers, as a patriotic “duty”. But all countries now achieving a similar standard of living to industrialized nations in the C20th are seeing a corresponding drop in birthrates as social conditions change. China, indeed, is now trying to encourage families to have more children!

And then there’s the rising cost of children. Mine were raised on a shoestring, on a remote farmstead with no TV or internet, but I’ve read with incredulity that despite free medical care, the cost of producing and rearing one baby to adulthood in the UK is more than £200 thousand! That’s a lot of posh-looking buggies and “designer” nappies to afford, and school shoes, before a succession of Christmases sets in, marked by the acquisition of increasingly expensive digital distraction devices.

With people living longer, more productive lives large families are no longer seen as fashionable or an economic necessity, but as an expensive reminder of the past. Culling the population – and I don’t notice many of the proponents volunteering to start with themselves – could very well have the opposite effect, seeing a return to poorer conditions and bigger families.

Every species has an imperative to breed to the max, and while we’re victims of our own excess, we should remember that every species too has its own evolutionary niche, a boundary beyond which it cannot expand or adapt and eventually collapses under its internal stresses.

We may be reaching the limits of ours.

No, sorry, it’s turned into a Pumpkin! Issue 88: Middle East: Houthing up… The three lives of Gene Wilder… A load of guacamole… You scratch my back… And I’ll scratch yours… GW: It never rains but it burns… Essay: Us vs. Them: a draw?…

Middle East: Houthing up

“Hands up. Who in the class believes Iran or its proxy militias would be so stupid as to try to blow up two more oil tankers in the Gulf, right under the nose of the angry headmaster with his big, swishy cane, just while his friend the Japanese Prime Minister was in Tehran on a peace mission?

“Yes, Bolton?”

“Oooh, Miss, look, I’m in the fake news press! It says: ‘The US national security adviser, John Bolton, said Iran was almost certainly involved’.” (Guardian, 13 June)

“And why do you think, Bolton, that the entire class is so stupid as to believe your crazy, hotheaded Irish blarney? I mean, anyone in the school who doesn’t already know you and your friends from the Israeli special forces were smoking behind the bike shed last night. ‘Almost certainly’, what’s that?”

“Because, Miss, blowing up ships and pretending it was the other boys wot did it has always worked to start wars before.”

“And why would you want to start a war, Bolton? People might get hurt.”

“Well, Miss, wars are fun. Things go bang, your shares in Raytheon rocket up like July 4th and your oil export price doubles overnight while strong domestic output keeps consumer prices steady. The Commander-in-Chief gets to look like a leader instead of a leaky, one-winged, criminal mallard with no feathers. The country swings behind him and he’s a slam-dunk for a second term. While Netanyahu’s in for life.

“It’s a win-win-win-win situation we can’t lose. And besides, we haven’t had a good war since the last one I helped start on the basis of flawed intelligence. Mine, that is…. Look, here’s a meme of the Iranians removing a limpet mine from a tanker, so it must be them who put it there, mustn’t it.”

“Fair enough, Bolton, carry on. Class, let’s now turn to page a hundred and seventeen of your Farsi history primer, to where it says ‘And then the US 5th Fleet merrily began bombing, because the White House had been handsomely paid by the Dashing Young Prince of Barbaria'”….

Postscriptum:

In the interests of balance, we should mention that it is being suggested by highly paid experts that Iran might be minimally blowing up foreign tankers as a gesture to warn the Americans they could interdict Saudi oil traffic through the Straits if they wanted to.

I guess even the Americans probably knew that already?

 

A research project at Brown University has concluded that at 59m tonnes, the US military emits more greenhouse gases annually than Portugal.

 

The three lives of Gene Wilder

I see comic actor Gene Wilder just died again. So sad, I was a huge fan. Blazing Saddles… The Producers… if you needed a blond, curly-haired, blue-eyed, blanket-chewing Jewish neurotic with a wispy side, Gene was your man.

But there seems to be something rather odd about the sad news, a chronoclasm that might have interested the late Professor Stephen Hawking, with his theories about Time an’ all.

The BBC reported, today, 10 June 2019:

“US actor Gene Wilder, remembered by many for his lead role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died at the age of 83, his family has confirmed.”

This happened apparently yesterday, Sunday, and is very sad. Heartfelt tributes were pouring in, from his friend, Director Mel Brooks, actor Russell Crowe, Ricky Gervais and other claim-jumpers.

Cats have nine lives, it’s said, but it seems Willy Wonka had at least three. For, with great foresight BBC News actually published an obituary of Wilder by Arts supremo, Alan Yentob on 29 August, 2016. Clearly it was premature. Because then, they published a news report of his death the following day, on 1 September – which is completely spooky, right? I mean, how did they publish an obituary, not knowing the subject was going to die the very next day?

But then, for some unknown reason, they’ve repeated the story today, 10 June, 2019. Why, the man is a veritable Schrödinger’s Cat. Was he dead, or wasn’t he? Just how relativistic is Time, as a concept? We’re not being told, although we definitely should be.

At the bottom of the page is a link: “Why you can trust BBC News”. It takes you to another page, which begins:

“The BBC is recognised by audiences in the UK and around the world as a provider of news that you can trust. Our website, like our TV and radio services, strives for journalism that is accurate, impartial, independent and fair.”

But not necessarily much less than three years old.

The average age of a BBC TV viewer is said to be 62 and rising. Not all of us have Alzheimer’s, as Wilder did, but clearly the Editor of the BBC News website is in urgent need of nursing care.

 

Interviewed on ABC TV about Don Jr’s latest appearance before the House over his 9 June, 2016 meeting with Russians, that he lied was about adoptions, Don Sr said he’d certainly consider offers of foreign help to get elected in 2020, and probably not tell the FBI if he thought it wasn’t illegal.

Er…

 

A load of guacamole

“The president stakes out a maximalist position but never clearly defines his objectives. That way, after he backs himself into a corner, he can use a deal of any kind, even if it’s merely a fig leaf, to justify retreating from whatever misguided policy he’s threatened. Then he declares victory, having done little to nothing to solve the underlying problem.” – Senator Chuck Schumer, on Trump’s phoney triumphalist brinkmanship.

Before coming over to hobnob with his favorite gal, HM Queen, the only person on earth who, by virtue of her apolitical contract can never, ever mock or criticize him, Trump announced, as usual by tweet, yet another unexpected policy initiative he had apparently discussed with no-one other than the little yammering faces of Fox & Friends on the White House TV screens, his only connection with reality.

In lieu of funding for the Wall, he was imposing a tariff on all products coming over the border from Mexico, starting at 5% and rising monthly to 25%, until Mexico agrees to do more to stop refugees and other migrants from reaching the US border.

(The Editor writes: It is the policy of the BogPo to refer to “refugees and other migrants”, rather than just “animals”, “rapists”, “terrorists”, “M-13 gang members” or “drug lords” until someone tells us just what the hell is going on in his diseased brain.)

Returning days later from his successful European trip, while heading off to another of his golf courses for a few well-deserved days’ r&r, Trump tweeted that he might not after all be imposing the tariffs most economists agree would hurt American consumers and businesses more than they would hurt Mexico.

This was because he had done a Great Deal: Mexico had agreed to send the National Guard to the Guatemalan border and promised to buy billions of dollars’ worth of US agricultural goods, to please our “patriotic farmers” who have been royally screwed by Trump’s China tariff war and the endless rain and are committing suicide in droves.

This left Mexico’s government somewhat confused, as the National Guard has already been sent to the border, that happened during Obama’s presidency, and there was no agreement they knew of, to buy more US farm produce. So he resorted to the ancient art of bullshit and, like Chamberlain returning in triumph from Munich, peeled from his shoe a piece of paper he said was the new agreement.

Mexico is, in fact, we believe without fact-checking, a net exporter of agricultural produce to the US, while of course presumably importing as much corn and soybean back from the gringos as they can use; of avocados and beer and also of Tequila, that being the nature of the close trading relationship the now-dead NAFTA created between the neighboring countries.

He seems to have either dreamed it, or he made it all up.

Meanwhile, Trump’s violent posturing over immigration has caused a great panic, and vast numbers more South American refugees and migrants have reportedly been heading up through Mexico to the Arizona border, totry to beat any further extreme measures he might tell his worshipful dumbfucks he’s taking, that he might actually take.

It’s all a crisis of his own making.

Once again rave-tweeting and yelling in all-caps at the “failing” New York Times for pointing out these simple-to-check facts, totally fake nooze, waving a piece of paper he says proves him right, nevertheless Trump appears to have been caught out in his 10 thousand, seven-hundred and somethingth lie since assuming office.

But you can see this time it was for the good of the country. And the “patriotic” farmers he loves*.

*Why does he keep calling them that? Because he has had to invent an alternative reality in which the farmers support his crippling 25% tariffs on Chinese imports, even though retaliatory Chinese measures have essentially destroyed the hugely valuable US soybean and pork trades, that many analysts believe may never recover. Other sources say they don’t, not really.

 

You scratch my back…

“For his dubious role as the ‘godfather’ of Reaganomics, Slate dubbed him World’s Worst Economist. He’s been called a key part of the ‘Intellectual Rot of the Republican Party’. Esquire suggested that Laffer’s turn as the architect of the disastrous Brownback tax experiment in Kansas should hang ‘like a dead possum’ around his neck for the rest of his days.”Guardian

They say he who Laffs last, Laffs loudest, and Mr Arthur “Dead Possum” Laffer is certainly taking the piss out of the rest of us. He’s the author of a famous graph, the Laffer Curve, showing on a restaurant table napkin how, if you take all the money away from the poorest people at the bottom and hand it gratis to the people right at the top, everyone gets richer.

And having written a garbage hagiography about “Trumponomics” (basically, the art of extortion, debt default and bank fraud), he is Laffing all the way to the White House shortly, to receive a medal from the Golden Shower, Mr Very Stable Smarts himself.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the country’s highest civilian honor, awarded in this case to the man who has successfully persuaded the criminal kleptocracy in Congress that they can deny economic freedom to the maximum number of Americans while ordering up their fifth superyacht, from which everybody benefits.

The lunacy of Laffer has been well exposed, both theoretically and empirically, but still the very rich go on using his cretinous theory to justify their egregious acts of State-sanctioned theft. And why wouldn’t they?

But wait, what’s this? Why, step forward Boris “Watermelon Smiles, etc.” Johnson, kitchen-table racist front-runner for the worst job in British politics. With the beaming endorsement of his fellow narcissist, America’s stupidest-ever President, Johnson is bidding for the leadership of the Headless Chicken party against nine lesser dangerous lunatics on a platform of…. £9.6 billion-worth of Laffer-inspired tax cuts for the higher-rate taxpayer, combined with the expensivest of hard Brexits (paid for by a giant, crippling Trumponomic-style sovereign debt default, for which Messrs Standard and Poor’s will surely beat us into the ground).

After nine years of austerity and with the social fabric of Lesser Britain already ripped to shreds and lightly tossed away in a dumpster, or skip as we called them in the days of our independence, let’s see how that goes, shall we?

 

And I’ll scratch yours

Meanwhile, reports of astounding levels of corruption are swirling around Trump enabler and obstructionist Senate leader, “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell, who is married to Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.

Ms Chao has apparently been caught failing to obey an Ethics committee ruling that to avoid conflict of interest she should divest her substantial shareholding in a transportation-linked company, one of America’s biggest suppliers of road-building materials. With every mention of infrastructure projects, her shares get ratcheted up a notch.

Bad enough but, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports, citing extensive press coverage in the past fortnight, Chao has been abusing her cabinet status to promote business links and lucrative contracts between a Chinese state-owned shipping company run by her father and the Commerce department, while discouraging grants and contracts for US competitors; and has created a private back-channel through her office specifically to fast-track grants for infrastructure projects in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky to improve his re-election chances.

It being noted that McConnell oversaw the approvals process in the Senate by which his wife got the cabinet post in the first place. Welcome to Trumpworld.

According to reports, McConnell – who is the major roadblock for any possibility of getting a slam-dunk Trump impeachment from the House through the Senate – has benefitted from $78 million dollars’ worth of private contracts this way.

Odd this should have come out now, what with so much pressure on House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to get impeachment proceedings under way, her bein’ so shy, an’ all. It isn’t working.

 

GW: It never rains but it burns

China: At least 7 people have died after record heavy rain and flooding in southern China over the last few days. In Guangxi, “torrential rain from around 09 June caused flooding that left at least 1 dead and 4 missing. In Xinhua, a total of 514,000 people were affected and 45,000 displaced.” “In Guizhou province, an entire town was submerged under 2m (6ft 6in) of water”. There’s been infrastructure damage and thousands of Ha of crops ruined. (BBC News) “National Meteorological Center said that some areas recorded as much as 93mm (4-in.) of rain per hour and between 250 and 300mm in 24 hours on 09 June, 2019.” Continued heavy rain for southern areas is forecast. (from: Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “At least 3 people died and dozens of houses were destroyed after flash floods in Badakhshan province, 08 June. Wide areas of crops and farmland were also damaged. Over 100 people have died and thousands of homes destroyed in a spate of flood events in the country that began in March this year. In neighboring Tajikistan, 2 people died in a mudslide after heavy rain, 04 to 07 June. Homes were damaged or destroyed and about 80 people rescued. (from: Floodlist)

India: The death toll from the “unbearable” heatwave that’s persisting over northern India, said to be the worst ever, had risen by 02 June to more than 500*, as temperatures in places (and into Pakistan) have several times exceeded 50C, 123F. 4 people were reported to have died from heatstroke on a train journey in Kerala. Authorities were having to waste scarce water pouring it on roads to stop them melting. Ironically, only next month’s monsoon is expected to bring relief – and with record rainfall around the world, it’s only going to create a different kind of problem. (BBC News/NDTV)

*I don’t know where this figure came from, later reports say less than 40.

Update: the “rare” monsoon now arriving in the NW Indian state of Kerala is organizing in the Arabian sea as a fullblown cyclone, named Vayu. With 130km winds strengthening, and bearing up to 10-in. of rain, it’s due to make landfall 13 June as a Cat 3 in Gujarat state, north of Mumbai, heading on up across the border towards the populous city of Karachi in Pakistan by the weekend. A track the Wunderground people are calling “uncommon”.

These uncommon hurricane tracks are becoming quite common, in your old Gran’s opinion. The last Cat 3 to hit Gujarat in 1998 killed over a thousand people. (BBC/The Weather Channel)

Indonesia: Thousands of people have been affected by flooding in Sulawesi. The death of a baby was reported. Bridges, roads, health facilities, crops and fisheries have all been damaged.

Haiti: At least 3 people have died and an unknown number are dead or missing after flooding affected several provinces. “Roads, bridges and over 500 homes have been flooded or damaged and as many as 17 homes have been destroyed.” (from: Floodlist)

Maldive Islands: “Local media are reporting that heavy rain has caused flooding in the northern islands of the country over the last few days. The country has seen a spate of severe weather over the 10 days (to 10 June), and the latest flooding brings the total number of houses damaged to almost 600 since late May.” (from: Floodlist)

USA: At least 4 people have died after storms and heavy rainfall swept across southern and south eastern states in the USA from 05 June. Boone, North Carolina, recorded 13.57 inches (344.68 mm) of rain in 72 hours to 09 June, 2019. Other areas in the southeast also recorded high rainfall totals. NWS Atlanta said parts of Peachtree City recorded 7.81 inches of rain from 07 to 09 June. There was flooding too in New Orleans, after up to 8-in of rain fell in 72 hours. 1 person was killed when a helicopter crashed in heavy rain on the roof of a skyscraper in New York.

Meanwhile westerly states are expecting record temperatures. “Phoenix is likely to see its first 110-plus-degree temperatures of the year by Tuesday or Wednesday. Highs in mid-90s are forecast as far north as Portland, Oregon. Daily record highs could be threatened in a few locations through midweek. This includes Portland and Phoenix on Wednesday; the current daily records for June 12 are 93 degrees and 112 degrees, respectively. San Francisco tied its daily record high of 91 degrees on Sunday afternoon” – before hitting 96F on Monday. (The Weather Channel) (112F is 44C)

KTAR news reports, the Woodbury Fire in remote hills east of Phoenix jumped to 6,000 acres 12 June, and had more than doubled to 13,000 by the 13th, as 112 deg. temperatures and strong winds contributed to the spread. 600 firefighters are on the scene but the fire remains 0% contained.

Canada: More than a dozen fires still burning, 6 out of control, in Alberta province after more than a month are turning skies red over South Carolina USA, two thousand miles to the southeast, while their smoke has been detected by the UK Met Office. More than 10 thousand people are still unable to return to their homes. No new fires have broken out today, 11 June, but almost 700 thousand Ha of forest have been burned.

Reports of equivalent wildfires in southern Siberia have dried up somewhat, but the BogPo belatedly records a report from Greenpeace Russia that “catastrophic” fires at the end of April/early May destroyed homes, crops, forest and wildlife, causing many burn injuries, over a vast area. Siberian Times reported, forest roads around Irkutsk were closed, as residents reported increased asthma attacks and skies turning black. Smoke was detected as far away as Washington DC. The fires spread unchecked also across thousands of Ha of prairie in neighboring Mongolia.

Turkey: 5 people are reported to have died in flash flooding in the capital, Ankara, on 09 June. Emergency services attended over 370 calls for aid. The mayor says the city received 5 times the amount of rain predicted. (Floodlist) The provincial Governor’s offices were flooded out. It’s the 5th time Ankara has experienced severe flooding in the past 13 months. (Bianet)

Yemen: “Strong winds, heavy rain and flash floods have hit several parts from 08 June, causing major damage and at least 3 deaths. Aden saw 77mm of rain, most falling in a 3 hour period. Houses and roads were submerged. Satellite images showed rainfall rates of up to 35mm per hour in southern and western areas of the country. Further severe weather warnings have been issued as Typhoon Vayu intensifies in the Arabian Gulf, with outer rainbands stretching hundreds of miles around. (from Floodlist)

UK: Hours of steady downpours have brought much of the rail network to a halt in parts of the south of England, and many suburban roads around London are under water. The M25 London beltway has been closed as two sinkholes have opened up. The Met Office says the region has seen a month’s worth of summer rain in 24 hours, with another month’s worth to come over the next 3 days. Yellow warnings are out as the system is slowly moving northwards. (BBC Weather)

Floodlist reports similarly intense rainfall across Europe causing flash floods in Italy, Germany, Greece and Poland. Severe hailstorms have also been reported in Germany, Italy, Poland, Croatia and Slovenia, and landslides in northern Italy.

Approaching tunnel….

Mount Bolshy: Russian geophysicist Ivan Koulakov is warning that the 9,500 ft Mt Bolshaya Udine, a volcano in the Udine chain on the Kamchatka peninsula declared extinct in 2017, may not be. A M4.3 earthquake suggests it might be waking up, with possibly catastrophic consequences.

Road resurfacing? Some seismic activity seems possibly occurring in the downtown Los Angeles area as liquid tar has begun bubbling up across from the La Brea tar pits along the Miracle Mile, accompanied by much outgassing of methane. The Blessed Mary Grealey records that the media doesn’t seem very interested. CBS reports, residents say it’s not unusual, but it’s never been this bad before. Cooler weather is forecast from tomorrow, 11 June.

(Rainy Sunday afternoon TV viewers might recall a 1997 movie called Volcano!, starring Tommy Lee Jones, in which an eruption trashes Los Angeles {but he heroically stops the lava with a line of overturned buses… as if!})

Vicious cycle: “Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels. BP’s annual global energy report revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. … BP (plans) to drill new oil wells which could hold up to 30m barrels of oil.” (Guardian)

Your Granny assumes that’s a Grauniad error and they mean 30bn, as 30m barrels is only 8 hours’ worth, globally speaking. We’re basically fucked.

 

Essay: Us vs. Them: a draw?

Would some helpful statistician kindly reflect and possibly comment on the extraordinary and growing phenomenon of political polarization?

The more choice of parties there appears to be, the more freedom to vote for whatever you like, the more atomized politics has become in a world of mass personalization and “identitarianism”, the closer the results seem to get, between the same old left-right-split parties. It’s like we’re afraid to reach out, except to ever-more authoritarian, religio-racist groups on the right and anachronistic class-warfare dinosaurs on the left.

But you don’t have to be a weeping libtard snowflake Blairite centrist! Why would you not vote for the Green Party agenda, for instance? For a better life? Another way of doing business? From Schumacher to Herman Daly, Greenomics has a perfectly sound intellectual base.

The narrowness of electoral margins seems to be becoming endemic. Brexit (52%-48%) and Trump (50.5%-49.5% in favor of Clinton) being famous cases in point, there have been many others. The 2017 Austrian election, for instance, was too close to call and had to be rerun. The British election in the same year resulted in a hung Parliament; as had the 2010 election, with only a wafer-thin Conservative majority in 2015. The Australian election was daylight cobbery and resulted in a tiny squeaking upset for the favored Labour opposition party.

Many uneasy coalitions have had to be formed in other countries, too, in order to keep the wheels in motion.

Yesterday’s Israeli Parliamentary election resulted in a dead-heat at 37 Knesset seats apiece between the two main parties, victory being claimed for a fifth term by the deeply unpleasant and authoritarian religio-racist, Netanyahu only because his party panders unashamedly and often illegally to the demands of more of the smaller and loonier rightwing religious parties than his opponent’s could.

Is it a function of more proportional voting systems? Not in first-past-the-post Britain. Should we blame the media for encouraging a more adversarial climate in the name of entertainment, are politicians more inclined to use ‘divide and rule’ as a tactic, or is there some meta-statistical reason, perhaps connected with rising population numbers or changing class expectations, for these inconclusive outcomes?

It occurs to me on re-reading this that humans themselves may have become polarized – or, in a sense, paralysed. I’m currently – I confess – becoming quietly resigned on the subject of Brexit, that I have been frothing against since long before the referendum, when I could see perfectly clearly that it was a rightwing neocon coup attempt, nothing much to do with Europe, sponsored by disruptors in the USA and Russia, and nobody else seemed to have realised.

Now, I simply can’t decide, or any longer bring myself to care, about what ought to happen next. Whatever it is, we deserve it. I’ve bought my toilet paper, my canned sardines and a month’s supply of Pot Noodle, I’m set for a siege.

I literally “switch off” – my radio, when yet another Leave politician is trotted out, frothing and swivel-eyed, to repeat the same old bullshit mantras to the same old interviewers asking the same old questions, week after week, sucking all the air from the news agenda – and none of them with a single interesting or helpful idea to offer, as the planet fries.

If asked to vote, frankly I’d have to toss a coin – statistically resulting in a 49.5% to 50.5% split, obviously, if enough people were to do the same.

Psychologists always trot out the ‘Fight or Flight’ cliche when describing the survival strategies available to sentient organisms facing existential threats. They regularly ignore the third ‘F’, “Freeze”.

Politics is everywhere frozen. As are we all.