The Pumpkin – Issue 37 (under construction – bear with): A profoundly American phenomenon

“I say, I say, I say. My wife’s gone to the West Indies.” “Jamaica?” “No, mate, not for ages… Boom, boom!”


A profoundly American phenomenon

“…a majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.” – Adam Serwer, The Atlantic.

The bewildering contradiction in American politics right now is why on earth 37% of the voters (and 80% of Republican voters) still believe fervently in the presidency of Donald J Trump, after nearly a year of unremitting, humiliating chaos in the White House.

A year of edgy farce, entirely the fault of the President’s un-Presidential ineptitude and the evident behavior of a spoilt, vindictive, thuggish brat in the first stages of senility. A year of daily leaks and childish tweets, bringing the office of President and by extension, an entire nation into the deepest disrepute; yet with seemingly no comebacks.

A year, during which the Golden One has failed to deliver most of his election promises, pushed the nation’s friends away and brought its enemies right inside the camp, promoting many unstable, not to say corrupt and incompetent, cronies from the depths of the Washington sewer and the corporate lobbies to positions of destructive power in his Administration, in flagrant disregard of his oft-repeated pledge to ‘drain the Swamp’.

When Trump boasted in his customary fashion, a man apparently disconnected from the rest of humanity, that he could shoot somebody dead in Times Square and his core supporters would still vote for him, he defined something about the country that many modern Americans and non-Americans alike find deeply disturbing; apart from revealing, along with his frequent references to women bleeding from the eyes, that he is an irredeemable psychopath.

That ‘something’ is carefully and logically explored at length in a new essay timed to coincide with the annual Thanksgiving day celebration by the chief political correspondent of The Atlantic magazine, Adam Serwer.

It doesn’t make easy reading.

For, the contradiction is identified as a persisting strand of radical Puritanism in American society; a nativist instinct more redolent of colonialism than of unionism.

And not just among the supposedly disaffected, economically disadvantaged rural white working class, that hotbed of sub-violent neo-Nazi posturing underpinned by the Second Amendment ‘right to bear arms’ – though not to massacre schoolchildren. Serwer finds a disturbing bias in the attitudes of the middle-class towards people unlike themselves, that has found resonance in the Bannon-inspired, rambling rhetoric of a man most of the rest of the world believes to be temperamentally unfit to hold office; and they don’t care. He writes:

“Trumpism emerged from a haze of delusion, denial, pride, and cruelty—not as a historical anomaly, but as a profoundly American phenomenon. This explains both how tens of millions of white Americans could pull the lever for a candidate running on a racist platform and justify doing so, and why a predominantly white political class would search so desperately for an alternative explanation for what it had just seen. To acknowledge the centrality of racial inequality to American democracy is to question its legitimacy—so it must be denied.”

Serwer carefully demolishes the self-excoriating, liberal-media-generated myth that ‘Trumpism’ is based on inequality, economic stagnation and a groundswell of anti-Establishment, anti-globalist feeling. Few people are worse off than urban blacks and hispanics, yet they didn’t vote for Trump in numbers. Instead, he points to something white voters will hotly deny: that their deep-seated antipathy towards religious and ethnic minorities and their desire to exclude ‘foreigners’ from the life of the nation is evidence of generations of racial bias. Regardless of the obvious fact that the USA is an immigrant society from the outset, those instincts were mostly imported along with the Europeans, encouraged by the lowly position of forcibly indentured Africans.

In many ways, Serwer argues, far from being victories for moderation and tolerance, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement and the Obama era have only served to sharpen, rather than smooth away, the racial and religious divisions in America; and to heighten fear, suspicion and prejudice.

But, he argues, that is exactly the gallery that Trump is playing to.

Little else matters to the dumbfucks (as The Pumpkin affectionately calls them). Not…

  • his contemptuous efforts at demolishing healthcare for the masses, destroying what shreds of a social safety net still remain for the poorest in the most unequal economy in the world, where the dice are fully loaded in favour of the wealthiest;
  • his huge tax cuts for the top 1%, three of whom already own half of the national wealth between them;
  • his draining of the economy to further glut the already bloated military-industrial complex; his crude militarism and ‘bomb the shit out of them’ diplomacy;
  • his vainglorious threats of unleashing nuclear holocaust against impoverished and demonized nations outside the ambit of US corporate interests;
  • his hollowing-out of the key departments of governance and global strategy in favour of simplistic formulae;
  • his scientifically illiterate attempts at removing consumer and endangered wildlife rights and environmental protections, undermining the global scientific consensus on climate change and censoring research;
  • his permitting of dinosaur industries to ravage national parks, monuments and protected lands and pollute the air and waterways ad libitum;
  • his economic illiteracy, evidenced in his instinct for futile and damaging protectionism and threats against foreign manufacturers;
  • his blatant promotion of his family’s business interests and self-enrichment from his office; his nepotistic appointments;
  • his lack of concentration and temper tantrums – his desperate need for constant flattery – evidence of seriously arrested emotional development;
  • his heavy threats against the women who accuse him of inappropriate conduct; his childish inability to resist retaliating to every perceived slight;
  • his compulsive lying on every subject; his appalling record of appointments and firings; his constantly blaming the Democrats for his victory and inflating his terrible approval ratings;
  • even the suspicion – more than a suspicion – of collusion with Russia in rigging the election; his criminal attempts to defeat independent investigation of his campaign staff and his family’s business interests;

…those are seen in Trump’s heartland community as negligible failings compared with the one policy thread that he has pursued with vigor: namely the further marginalization of those considered not properly deserving of their place in American society: which is to say, not white, virtuous and Christian.

“Overall, poor and working-class Americans did not support Trump; it was white Americans on all levels of the income spectrum who secured his victory.”

The Pumpkin has always been fascinated by the white American belief in the black man as somehow inferior, since the black man has played more than his part in lifting America to what the rest of the world would consider its greatness. We regard ‘Great’ America as being its eclectic culture, its vibrant musical heritage, its industry, its sporting supremacy in many fields, its willingness to sacrifice in the cause of justice (when it is not creating injustice) – not its abusive domestic policies, its appalling record on foreign relations or, indeed, its ‘whiteness’. It must really rankle when world-heroes like Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King are celebrated in the polls as ‘the greatest human being who ever lived’.

Yet the whites who vote time and again against their own economic interest for men like Trump and the swivel-eyed lunatics on the fringe of the Republican party will, Serwer points out, hotly deny to a man and woman that they are ‘racist’. The very suggestion empowers their feelings of alienation.

And I think herein lies a distinction I have often tried making, which Serwer really fails to make, that we need to separate racism from ‘racialism’ – the first implying some active and unprovoked animus towards people of a different caste; the latter being a bogus, pseudo-scientific belief in a hierarchy of ‘races’ – in which the white man naturally stands at the apex of Creation, and (perhaps) owes a duty of tolerant care and even fatherly kindness to the lesser of the species, as long as they remember their place.

The Pumpkin further observes that American Christianity has little or nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings, since its fundamentals are those of the Old Testament, not the later Gospels. While American Christians will hold their callused hands up to heaven and proclaim Jesus as their lord and saviour, if not also their best friend and cheap substitute for Obamacare, absolutely nothing he is alleged to have said or done in his short lifetime with regard to love of one’s neighbour (regardless of origin), forgiveness of error or compassion for the poor seems to have registered; except perhaps with the black community, an irony, since Christianity was first fed to them as a means of oppression.

A certain threadbare meanness seems built-in to the white nativist mindset that is hardly cause for prideful celebration; let alone elevation to national office.

Another fundamental contradiction is therefore that American Christianity has more resonance with Biblical Hebraism – belief in an intolerant, autocratic and vengeful sun-God. But you may not find many American Christians willing to acknowledge that Christ was himself a Jew, the end-product they acknowledge and revere having been created from a purely Jewish myth, and non-white. (Nor will they ever acknowledge that Islam is only a very minor variant of Hebraism and was not invented in 2001 by terrorists! Belief in Jesus as the Son of God, whatever that means, is essential, even if belief in his teachings isn’t.)

Antisemitism is another core component of middle-American attitudes, a carry-over from the post-medieval religion of the supposed ‘Founding Fathers’: a rather unpleasant, bigoted minority sect and a disorganized, pox-laden bunch of misfits whose hardscrabble survival on the very margin of the world Americans celebrate at this time of year as a vindication of hardy individualism over softheaded and dangerous collectivist tendencies: celebrate by collectively slaughtering and sitting down to consume millions of hapless turkeys, followed by flavorless pumpkin pie, all on the same day – together.

There is thus something repugnantly hypocritical and self-centered about American Christianity, which seems to have a great deal more to do with the vast enrichment of its more egregious snake-oil salesmen and the exploitation of the poor, the selling of indulgences (your pass to Heaven), the maintenance of inbred ignorance and fear of the Other, that sits uneasily alongside the more open-minded, generous, tolerant and outward-looking traditions of the rest of American society.

That this oppressive and distrustful minority should have seized power through a corrupt avatar and be celebrating the triumph of narrow-minded selfishness and crass anti-intellectualism today is faintly depressing to the rest of us since, unlike them, we cannot just ignore the rather obvious downsides to the Trump regime.

The truth is that Trump, the self-inflating ‘Reality TV’ blimp beyond satire, who exploits solemn occasions to get back at his enemies or extol his ratings, who tweets out incoherent abuse of his own citizens and foreign leaders at four in the morning, does not himself believe in anything he says or tries to do. He lacks the mental capacity, knowledge and experience beyond his own narrow interests, and has a teenager’s disinterest in listening to advice.

It’s a further cause for concern, since the manner in which his brutal campaign speeches aroused the monsters lurking in the hearts of middle America was so clearly dictated by other, even darker interests, of which the voters would have known – and still care to know – nothing. Fake news.

The question is, where does America go next? After a year in which ‘alternative truths’ became the currency of political discourse, a year in which politicians have shown well-remunerated disregard for the deep pit into which Trump is dragging their country – a year of political cowardice in which the ugly spectre of a European-style fascism has received unchallenged endorsement from the Oval Office – The Pumpkin senses the setting-in of a hopeless neurasthenia among the bien-pensant class.

Insults and ridicule have not worked to extract him; neither have forensic research and critical analysis, informed debate in a media dismissed as ‘fake news’ by the likes of Steve Bannon and Fox News’ Sean Hannity, cynical purveyors of the new nihilism. Rational argument is banished with easy scoffing and threats of imprisonment or worse, while Trump’s continuing election rallies reinforce the message of hate and American native exceptionalism. Not for nothing have parallels been drawn with early 1930s Germany.

Frankly, at the moment there seems to be nowhere to go but down – possibly for another seven years, maybe with worse to come after.

Americans as they gather today to give thanks for all this are not a happy bunch of bunnies; those, that is, who still retain a measure of goodwill to all men. The others, still thankfully only a minority, will be firing their AR-15s in the air, filled with the turkey-cock sense of pride in their newfound supremacy, feeling power swell within their grasp.

Worryingly, The Pumpkin concludes, we may not know exactly how far this innate racialism has penetrated the wider American psyche; when it might emerge from the national hypothalamus, the ‘reptile brain’, to become the new normal.

Like (postscriptum)

Within one minute of concluding the first draft of this piece, wrapping up against the gale and heading out of the office to walk Hunzi, my phone buzzed to say I had an email. It was from WordPress, relaying a ‘Like’ from a speed-reader calling himself Godinterest (but in capitals).

I’ve commented before on how strange I find it that whenever I mention anything to do with religion, Christian bloggers are queuing up to congratulate me, as I’m frequently not very complimentary about the nature of their beliefs.

Perhaps they’re just grateful someone is talking about Jesus. Whatever the reason, thank you, welcome to The BogPo/The Pumpkin (two websites for the price of one!). Kindly know that anything Posted here is subject to frequent additions, editorial revisions and corrections, as this one is already being, sometimes over a period of days or months. I revisit regularly – so you can too!


The Game Set: Matching the Face to the Project

Maria Sharapova, the brilliant tennis champion suspended a while ago for a drugs violation – well, she’s Russian – and charismatic Ivanka Trump lookey-likey, is in hot water again.

Not an after-match shower, but over a property deal she lent her name to in India, whose developers have run off with the deposit money paid by investors, without a brick being laid.

Real estate firm Homestead Infrastructure is accused of taking tens of millions of rupees – millions of dollars – from home buyers for a project named Ballet by Maria Sharapova, a luxury apartment complex with its own helipad, tennis academy and other amenities. – BBC News

Working up a sweat: Indian police would like to talk to her, and who wouldn’t? (

Five-times Grand Slam champion, Sharapova is ‘under investigation’, although there is no suggestion at this stage that she had any closer relationship with Homestead than just a coup for her PR people, and a bit of fee income when she wasn’t earning on the circuit, that’s gone horribly wrong. But a lawyer for one of the indignant investors, who has lost $86 thousand, has put his finger on the problem:

Singh said the police investigation based on his client’s complaint was testing relatively new legal ground – that celebrities endorsing projects that draw vast sums of money from investors had a responsibility “to do some due diligence” on the project before lending their name and credibility to it.

So, guess who else we’re thinking about now? That’s right!


The BogPo: Even the politicians are looking younger nowadays… And this second’s price is… GW: Sloshing through the puddles in me brand new Wellies… End of… OCD Notes.



Reports, pp. 2,3,5, 11,12, 13, 14 (that’s enough celebrity content. Ed.)


“… Mr Trump now feels able to put his own distasteful sexual history behind him.”

Even the politicians are looking younger nowadays

I am now roughly twice the average age of many leaders newly emerging onto the world stage. It is not an encouraging thought that they are all young enough to have been my children. I do not yet consider myself mature enough to grasp the reins of power, although my groping days are long behind me. Yet these fresh-faced kiddies are setting themselves up to rule my world. And I don’t like the cut of many of their gibs, frankly.

The Washington Post today points at several of the new-generation tyros:

“…if the seemingly improbable occurs and (Luigi) Di Maio’s once-renegade Five Star Movement emerges victorious in Italy’s general election in March, the 31-year-old may join the growing list of youthful European statesmen as Italy’s next prime minister. In France, 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron shook up the political system by siphoning votes from both the left and right into a new centrist political juggernaut. In Austria, 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz is poised to form a conservative coalition under his rule.”

In New Zealand, the toothsome Jacinda Ardern, 37, recently scrambled over the electoral line to become Prime Minister and has already set out her stall by retorting to a Trump overture at the summit in Vietnam last week, that at least nobody turned out to protest her election. She was referring, of course, to the million-women march. Trump appears not to have gotten the reference, as he seemed quite pleased at the thought of so many people turning out to hail his ascension to the White House, the demented old thug (71).

Amazingly, he does not seem to have made a senile lurch in the direction of her Prime Ministerial pussy; perhaps he doesn’t yet take her sufficiently seriously; but following the exhumation of a very old photograph showing one of his congressional nemeses, the Democratic senator and former comedian Al Franken (66), taking part in a comedy sketch, appearing (without actually making contact) to fondle the armored breasts of a pretend-sleeping co-performer as a gag, in front of an audience, Mr Trump now feels able to put his own distasteful sexual history behind him.

Other than for Christopher Steele’s Russian ‘pee-pee tape’ allegation, of course. That’s not going away in a hurry.

And then you have a new junior axis of evil revolving around the young American Emperor-in-Waiting, Jared Kushner, 37, and his young ‘friends’ in the Middle East.

His ‘friend’, the newly installed (on Kushner’s suggestion, via Orange Dad-in-Law) Crown Prince bin-Salman of Saudi Arabia, 32, and his other ‘friend’, bin-Hamad al-Thani, the 37-year-old Emir of Qatar, don’t seem to be getting along at the moment, but at least war hasn’t broken out between them, bin-Salman being far too busy supervising the genocide in Yemen.

Strangely, Mr Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, is also best budz with Israeli PM Netanyahu – at 68, and a fellow Libran precisely my age – and various dubious old billionaires in that part of the world. It betrays a certain ecumenism that could actually bode well for world peace. (That’s a joke, by the way. He just needs money.)

For, not every global leader was born yesterday. Putin is 65, almost as old as Bini and me, although bare-chest riding through mountain streams and wrestling bears keeps him looking younger (is that a little adjustment I seem to see around the eyes?). Mrs May is 61, Mrs Merkel 63, and neither of them appears to be trailing any more youthful Crown Princes behind them. The nearest thing we have in Britain to a juvenile Pretender, Jacob Rees-Mogg is 48, which hardly counts. (That’s just his birth age. His political age is more like 148.)

Thank God for soup kitchens. Is this Mock Turtle, or the real thing? It’s jolly good… is there more?

Prince Charles, the increasingly depressed and moth-eaten Heir Apparent to the English throne, is 69. His mother refuses to give up the day-job and at only 91 has at least nine more years before she reaches the age her mother managed, on a daily diet of gin. A case of genes and tonic? (Ouch, sorry.) At 32, Charles’ heir presumptive, William, Duke of Cambridge, is right in the groove of modern leadership, but does not appear to be one of Jushner’s charmed circle, having neither the brains nor the necessary wealth.

The kleptocrat and managerial incompetent, Mugabe of Zimbabwe is 94. He’s currently resisting all persuasive attempts to get him to fuck off the world stage, even under house arrest ordered by the military, whose tanks are on the streets of Harare. We’re pretending that the unpronounceable gentleman known as The Crocodile who is bidding to succeed him represents a generational change within the eternal Zanu-PF party, but he too is a veteran of the wars of independence and an instigator of the mass slaughter of opposing tribespeople that followed.

Although a youthful continent, relatively speaking, Africa seems unlikely just yet to abandon its inexplicable loyalty to these monstrously corrupt, self-aggrandizing old ‘liberation’ tyrannosaurs, who have done nothing with their hands steeped in blood and blood-money to liberate any of the continent they rule over, but merely assumed for themselves the mantle of rapacious and brutal colonialism. And yes, there’s old Jacob Zuma, 74…. And the female Prime Minister of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 80 next year…

While the puppet ruler of Burma, the fragrant racist and genocide-denier Aung San Suu Kyi, is 72. And the Iranian President Rouhani, 69.

These senior citizens are all maintained in the rudest of health by the medical services of other, more advanced nations. So it may be a while yet before the world rids itself of my generation. And thank heaven, for along with the soothing sound of nails scraping down blackboards, with age comes wisdom, so they tell me.

Also home ownership.


And this second’s price is…

Until my mother died last year, I always had a reason to visit London.

True, it wasn’t the most vibrant or creative engagement with the city of my birth, chewing the fat for two days in her dilapidated kitchen over a couple of bottles of wine, in a lethal fug of smoke from the Chesterfield she consumed practically until the day they killed her, driven crazy by the sound-on-vision buzzing of her ancient, defective TV, that she no longer noticed; politely listening to the same old stories over again.

After she collapsed and was taken into a frantically busy inner-city hospital just a month before Christmas, a place more like a charity bazaar than an oasis of healing, I visited more frequently. And a fortnight later, I found myself traveling up twice a week to try to sort out her fifty-year mess of a flat before billions more in rent fell due.

She seemed never to have thrown away a single scrap of paper, and the evidence of her long financial entanglements with the landlords, with the crooked underwriters of Lloyds of London, with what seemed like half the financial services industry filled cardboard boxes and carrier bags and drawers and a massive old wooden filing cabinet someone was going to have to be paid to take away. If only we’d had a pound for every solicitor’s letter… but there was nothing left.

Getting to the flat involved what to me was quite an arduous journey, driving to the nearest station, finding long-stay parking (there isn’t any, officially, now they’ve put a Tesco on the old lot), changing trains and having to get across north London in the rush hour with poor Hunzi in tow. Who knew bus drivers no longer collected fares? What exactly was an Oyster card?

And, of course, you never knew how much the fare was going to be, depending on whether you booked it in advance, on the day, by post, at the ticket counter or using the machine on the platform – the time of travel, or the type of ‘saver return’, when you were travelling back….

And yet, curiously, what you were buying never seemed to change at all: the mileage, the rolling-stock, the service, the overpriced coffee always stayed the same.

Funny, that.

The London underground was so rammed with Christmas shoppers, tourists and commuters, exhaling germs to which I’d never been exposed (living where I do, I haven’t even had a cold for about twelve years), packed into steamy carriages tens of metres under the earth you’d never escape from if they decided to blow the train up, that I took to using taxis, and the hell with the expense.

But always a black cab.

It would never in a million years have occurred to me to download an app to my phone and summon an Uber driver.

Uber seemed to be a part of a world becoming increasingly alien to me.

After she died, the exigencies of removing what bits and pieces seemed worth salvaging from the clearance men meant making the six-hour drive to my mother’s flat by car, when I discovered that you could book a parking space (at £32 a day) online, just next door. The neighbours – a small business involved in some kind of obscure import/export activity probably involving espionage, arms dealing or offshore financial skulduggery, this being Knightsbridge – had monetized their precious forecourt, space for which I found myself having to compete. Websites now exist on which property owners can advertise, and you can bid to park your car there for the day.

What next? Could someone perhaps invent a marriage app? Book a wife by the hour?

From an article in today’s Guardian, I’ve learned that I would have had no way of knowing what an Uber driver would have charged for a fare from Euston to Knightsbridge, battling their way through the traffic snarl-ups created by contractors installing ex-Mayor Johnson’s demonic legacy, a cycle “motorway” carved against wisdom through the centre of town. Apparently, a computer in Los Angeles determines how much you will pay, depending on the time of day or night; the traffic, the degree of usage and how many Uber drivers are in circulation at any one time.

It’s called “dynamic pricing”, and it’s the most fucking annoying aspect of life in the 21st century anyone could possibly have invented.

But apparently it’s due shortly to come to a store near you.

The digital price tag has arrived.

It’s frankly incredible, knowing that the last bastion of certainty in life, the value of the goods and services you’re buying, enabling you to plan your expenditure, has become entirely transactional; a form of commercial triage. Okay, so if I lived in Morocco or somewhere I’d know the prices were purely notional and you’d pay whatever you could get away with, depending on the mood of the vendor.

But that was the whole point of supermarkets, wasn’t it, that the economics were relatively stable? The environment conformable. You’d know pretty much from week to week, what the cost of your shopping basket would be. You didn’t need language to use them anywhere in the world.

Okay, prices would rise and fall, depending on the seasonal exigencies of supply, depending on demand, depending on this week’s promotions. But it was a relatively slow-moving process, that averaged out pretty much over all the items you bought.

So now, you pick up a bunch of bananas priced at £2, but by the time you get to the till the computer’s decided to charge £2.23p because someone at the branch in the next town bought another bunch of bananas at the same time….

Actually, it can be gratifying when you choose a wine that’s tagged at £8 a bottle, the kid swipes the barcode and brightly announces that’ll be £5.95. But that doesn’t always happen. £5.95’s probably the most it was worth anyway.

Booking travel tickets has equally become a lottery. I’ve grimped and mired about that many times on this, muh bogl. Not only is the return journey differentially priced (they know perfectly well that you have to come back, so they can charge twice as much), but prices online vary from minute to minute, giving new wings to the old adage: “He/she who hesitates is lost”. Only NOT hesitating could mean paying £100 more than you need, as the minute after you book it, the price of your journey takes a sudden tumble when the computer detects that your flight isn’t full enough, or someone has cancelled….

You simply have no idea when is the best time to buy. It’s highly stressful.

In olden times, like when I was growing up, a business would calculate a range of fixed prices, based on an average cost of service, sales and overheads, and anticipated numbers of customers. The prices rarely altered. Now the blame for rising prices is thrown onto the customer: when you buy something, it automatically becomes more valuable and expensive for the next person.

On that basis, I’m sort of refusing to travel at all – I didn’t make my usual jazz pilgrimage to France this year on the grounds that I was too depressed already to bother struggling with the rival attractions of Ryanair, Eurostar or Brittany ferries – all of them rapacious bastards – trying to predict how much the additional travel costs of each were going to be – assuming also that I would probably lose my ticket, or sleep through the call for my flight – over and above the already generous payment for the accommodation, with the pound on the floor.

And then just as you’re about to push the Book it now! button, oops, some bloke in Dagenham presses it fractionally sooner, and back up goes the fare. Bidding on online auction channel YouTube, too, used to be a fairly comprehensible, straightforward process, until some slippery bastard invented a bit of software that bids a fraction higher than the winning bid automatically in the last nanosecond, enabling the user to destroy the momentary optimism of thousands.

But what if….?

What if employers, or the government, suddenly were to discover the possibilities, almost infinite, inherent in “Dynamic payment”?

Well, employers are already in that game. No-one on a zero-hours contract has any real idea how much or how little they are going to be earning from hour to hour, let alone in a month – although for the time being the actual hourly rate seems to remain fixed. No-one is saying you have to negotiate your own minimum wage. Not yet. I imagine, though, that with services like Uber, the driver’s hourly rate probably fluctuates with demand as well.

It’s hideous.

Under the new Universal Credit wheeze, a Tory conspiracy against the working-class, for instance, if you’re self-employed the benefits you’re entitled to change from month to month according to how much the Department of Work and Pensions predicts you’re going to be earning in the next month.

Any freelancer knows such predictions are almost impossible; most self-employment is just casual work for which your employer refuses to take responsibility, but the department has imagined in its lunacy that your self-employment is a business; and should be run at a profit. Consequently, after a year they cut your benefits off altogether.

As an editor, I gave up looking for freelance work when I found myself bidding online for the cheapest hourly rate against dozens of probably illiterate competitors in Hong Kong and Malaysia, who seem to be able to live on a dollar a day. And for crappy work that usually involved enabling Chinese undergraduates to cheat on their exams.

But what if your employer, or the government that pays your Universal Credit, your pension, also had access to your entire purchasing history? What if they were able to determine precisely how much money you spend getting through the month, to the nearest penny, and allow you just that amount and no more?

We’d then have that Holy Grail thing nobody ever quite wants to vote for, the “Minimum income” – only determined by your expenditure, on a flexible tariff. (Except that everyone’s expenditure would be averaged out across the whole country and a fixed amount arrived at. We can’t allow for extravagance)

Expenditure on luxury goods would, of course, be discounted: the calculation would be based on a basket of allowables. Savings and taxes having been abolished, perhaps an occasional bonus could be declared to counter the depressing effect of constantly having to meet your expenditure targets or lose out.

Thus you would have absolutely no uncertainty about anything.

Carry on.


GW: Sloshing through the puddles in me brand new Wellies

Greece: “At least 16 people died early Wednesday in Greece as major flash flooding tore through several towns on the northwest edge of the Athens metropolitan area. Mudslides poured through the region after torrential overnight rainfall, inundating roads with bright red-orange soil and tossing vehicles like toys. In the town of Nea Peramos, some 1000 homes were flooded, according to deputy major Stavros Fotiou.  All of those reported killed by the floods were between ages 45 and 70, according to Greece’s national TV network ERT (as reported by the Guardian).” A state of emergency was declared on the island of Symi.

“The website Severe Weather Europe warned early Thursday that 48-hour rainfall amounts of 200-400 mm (8 – 16”) were possible on Saturday in parts of central and northern Greece.” The storm has been named ‘Numa’ and was sufficiently violent to be classed as a rare “Medicane” – a hurricane-like weather system, that more usually affects the western Mediterranean – indeed, a similar storm hit Malta two weeks ago. (21 Nov: Greece death toll confirmed at 22.)

Turkey: Freak hailstorm batters the town of Mersin in the SE of the country. Streets turn to rivers of ice, etc.

France: warning of unstable glacier above the ski-resort town of Chamonix in the French Alps as basal temperature approaches melting point; many Alpine glaciers already gone.

Indonesia: “At least 2 people died in flash floods in West Nusa province of central Indonesia on 19 November… floods affected 2,280 people in 15 different villages … 367 homes and 14 bridges were damaged.”

Bolivia: Cochabamba province: town of Ivirgazama underwater after torrential rainstorm.

Paraguay: Powerful storm hits Ciudad del Este: cyclonic wind brings down trees, buildings.

Colombia: Extreme rainfall produces flash flooding and a giant mudslide in the city of Corinto (7 Nov.). People missing, streets left 6-in deep in mud. Raging torrent flows through Santa Marta, city centre, seafront inundated.

Haiti: Floods caused by several days of torrential rain have left five people dead and thousands of homes damaged. Haiti’s civil protection directorate said on Thursday that between 14 and 16 November at least 10,000 houses were flooded.

Australia: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, hit by sudden tropical storm. Wind gusting to 107 kph tears down trees and power lines. 12mm hail falls in 15 mins.

Vietnam: Yet another Tropical Storm, Kirogi, crosses Vietnam, bringing down trees and power lines and causing flash flooding in Saigon.

USA: Pacific ‘atmospheric river’ dubbed The Pineapple Express brings heavy rain and snowfall to western states. Three feet of snow dumped over northern California in 48 hours sets new November record. Tornado and 100 mph winds rip through midwest. To the east, ‘dangerously’ strong winds cause damage in New York; cold and snow cause commuter misery, 5 injured in scaffolding collapses. 100 million affected by storms.

Meanwhile the southwest and southern California enjoying record high late November temperatures up to 90F.

The sudden arrival of global cooling has set tongues wagging…

World: “October 2017 was tied for fourth warmest October for Earth since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA; NASA rated it the second warmest*. The January – October period was the third warmest such period on record, and 2017 is on pace to be Earth’s second or third warmest year on record, behind 2016.” In Dr Jeff Masters’ analysis, the fact that 2017 has been 0.18 deg. C behind 2016 is due to there having been no El Niño event this year, which normally results in higher temperatures still – and not to any intrinsic slowdown in the warming trend.

Wildfires in California last month that killed 40 people caused over $8 billion insured damage – it’s said, the costliest non-hurricane-(or war)-related event in US history.

*I love the US-centric nature of these reports… here in Europe, we’ve had temperature records since the late 1600s…

Climate & Extreme Weather News #80, #81/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/ Aljazeera


End of…

Meanwhile, few people seem to be taking much notice of the huge increase in seismic activity, volcanoes and multiple earthquakes – especially all around the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, central America and southern California, and the eastern Mediterranean basin. Unusual places have been hit: a M5.2 for instance struck last week, deep beneath the Isle of Man, UK – in the Irish Sea, a rare event that didn’t even appear on the USGS list. No damage was caused on land.

“Scientists have warned there could be a big increase in numbers of devastating earthquakes around the world next year. They believe variations in the speed of Earth’s rotation could trigger intense seismic activity, particularly in heavily populated tropical regions.”  – Guardian, 19 Nov.

Proving that scientists (Universities of Montana and Colorado joint paper noting a correlation between 5-year cycles of slowing by 1 thousandth of a second a year and numbers of larger earthquakes) are probably just as batty as the rest of the online community of paranoiacs, Jeremiahs and revelationist Christian millennarians.

Let’s see, shall we?

(Another M7.2 in the Pacific yesterday caused a 1m tsunami to come ashore on Vanuatu. The media should be told, the wave height is not the point, it’s the wavelength of a tsunami that creates the danger.)


OCD Notes: checking on things so you don’t have to

  • Facebook CEO, 33 year-old Mark Zuckerberg’s personal fortune is estimated at 74 billion dollars.
  • At only 5’7″ in height, that makes him worth 9.05 billion dollars an inch.

The BogPo: One more heave… The stuff of legend… GW: Raindrops are fallin’ on muh ‘ead… Global cooling… End Times News/Fake News News… In Trumpworld, ignorance is power.

Where’s the crackers? Oh, right, that’s us. (Photo? via TYT)

“Where he appears to have miscalculated is in failing to realize the intense scrutiny he would come under as the ‘leader of the free world’, and just how bad he looks in the full glare of the lights.”

One more heave…

I’m delighted to say that my latest purchase of a £11.95 (plus £1.64 postage) jazz CD, The World According to Andy Bey – by the eponymous, strangely unsung bass-baritone vocalist and self-accompanying piano player (you have to be nowadays), of whose impressive talent I became aware only last Monday – has temporarily elevated Mr Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and hence its UK offshoot,, to the coveted position of Firstmost Wealthiest American.

Following a 10% rise in Amazon stock this week, occasioned no doubt by my recklessly self-indulgent purchasing habits, Mr Bezos’ personal fortune has been swollen to $95 billion, meaning he has almost caught up with the part-owner of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, the non-American President Vladimir Putin, believed to be secretly the world’s richest man; as, of course, he owns Russia.

If we keep buying stuff online, we can get Jeff there, guys! One more heave!

The top three wealthiest men in America have profited mightily from very different business models.

Mr Bezos invented nothing, but started Amazon as an online bookstore, to the ultimate detriment of the trade. He has merely applied IT in a farsighted way, combining rapid distribution systems and algorithmic demand-drivers, to what used to be known as “mail order” retailing. Soon, your orders will arrive before you have thought of ordering them. His global emporium has since expanded to cover almost anything you can buy; however, to put it in perspective, despite my best efforts it ships four times fewer packages daily than its upstart competitor, the Chinese-owned Alibaba.

Bill Gates invented or encouraged the invention and development of the Windows operating system, which with clever marketing and ruthless business tactics he successfully turned into a giant Silicon Valley software monopoly known and pretty much universally loathed as Microsoft.

The third of the triumvirate, Mr Warren Buffet of the Hathaway Group used other people’s money and a certain flair for predicting the movements of stocks and shares to make lots of money out of nothing more substantial than money itself. Where other businessmen breed sheep, or cattle, Mr Buffet breeds hundred dollar bills by the cartload.

Galloping up on the rails behind these three is the youthful social media entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebookistan, constructor of a highly leveraged online chatroom for students meeting students, that (thanks to a $million investment from Mr Putin) has burgeoned in a few years into a multi-billion-dollar global information exchange with over 2 billion subscribers of all ages (your Uncle Bogler is not one of them).

The key to his vast wealth being that the Zuck has successfully monetized the personal data volunteered in cosmic quantities by Facebook’s unsuspecting and enthusiastic uptakers, selling it on without moral question to just about anyone who can pay for it and employ it in whatever cause, commerce, sex, politics – even that of bringing down the Western democracies that produced Facebook in the first place.

This jostling for position among the richest men in America, though not the world, makes no difference, however, to the disturbing statistic that just those three top white men alone now command as much money between them as the entire populations of Canada and Mexico together; or, to put it another way, the poorest 160 MILLION Americans; many of whom despite being in employment are trapped in negative wealth and falling ever further behind, unable to maintain even the most basic standard of living.

Those are the people whom Trump despises as ‘losers’, whose already inadequate wages and healthcare and environmental protections he has plotted to take away and give to his wealthy backers; yet for whom he retains immense appeal as someone who seemingly flipped the finger at the political establishment. He has successfully played on their fears of ‘Others’ seeming to do better than themselves, despite or perhaps because of their imagined inferiority defined by skin colour as members of one or other sub-species of human; President Obama being the epitome of the principle Trump espouses, that n-words belong below-stairs, or out in the stable; while Muslims and Mexicans don’t belong at all.

Despite his bullish manner and florid tastes, Mr Trump certainly is not one of the richest men in America, or anything like. A six-times bankrupt, owing possibly as much as $2 billion dollars to foreign banks (US banks have downgraded his creditworthiness to zero after learning painful lessons) it is probable that he too is a net debtor,  but with assets of a few hundred million dollars only (only!). How much is liquid and how much tied up in volatile property leases we have no idea as he refuses to publish his tax returns.

(People who naturally find that suspicious should consider it may only be because they prove he doesn’t really have the ten billion dollars he boasts of.)

Mr Trump’s business model, his ‘recipe for success’ has, it seems, simply been to muddle his business income up inextricably with his personal affairs; he has gotten where he is today, wherever that is, on other people’s backs, by constantly lying, prevaricating, boasting, forging, fantasizing, fiddling, fudging and muddling – and when those fail, threatening and bullying.

He clearly knows very little about business: he just told a meeting of Japanese business leaders that Japan should stop exporting more cars to the USA than US manufacturers export to Japan, build its cars in the USA and create jobs for Americans.

They already do:

“According to the 2013 report of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), which represents Japan’s major automakers worldwide, 70% of all Japanese cars and trucks sold in the US in 2012 were made at US plants. In that year, these Japanese-owned “transplants” produced 3.3 million vehicles, over a third of total US auto production.” –

In fact, Japan imports more American-made cars than native US auto manufacturers export. That’s possibly because they make better cars. The leading Japanese makers also have productive manufacturing plant in the UK and Europe.

You see what an insulting asshole your president is, how embarrassing, how utterly foolish and ignorant of the business world and how he will say absolutely anything, any lie he thinks will endear him to the dumbfucks back in Plainsville who will vote for him ’til the day they die – which shouldn’t be long now?

Despite speculation that he stands to make a lot of money from his tenure of the White House, considered at least in small part to have been his motivation in running for office (the others being his irrepressibly selfish ego, his neurotic craving for approbation and the useful power the President has of self-pardon) and despite his disdain for the emoluments rules, the constitution and the rule of law, it appears that his obnoxious business tactics and sinking global reputation have knocked about $600 million off the value of his and his daughter’s ‘Trump Brands’ businesses; while his Russian-funded golf courses continue to haemorrhage money.

Incoherence is not a good quality in a CEO.

Where he appears to have miscalculated is in failing to realize the intense scrutiny he would come under as the ‘leader of the free world’, and just how bad he looks in the full glare of the lights. The media over which he had some control as a TV performer and the Federal law agency he insulted are now fully in control of his life, he has ‘advisors’ who naturally like to advise, rules of good conduct, and he doesn’t like that a bit. He blames the media for his failing condition, but some of us have noticed that whenever he succeeds in reading out a coherent speech and sticking to Steve Miller’s script, the lying press and the fake news cable shows rush to treat his words with deference, imagining that he has at last become flesh.

It illustrates perhaps that screwing the banks and investing Russian mob money in failed casinos and grandiose speculative property developments while maintaining mid-20th-century business methods and a certain lazy thuggishness in a very different 21st-century climate of stringent oversight of corporate governance coupled with demands for fiscal responsibility and personal and environmental sensitivity, attributes he does not and never will possess, are not the way to gain untold riches, however much you might scream and shout and blame everyone around you for your failings.

This sad old sack of shit is trapped in the past. Unfortunately, it’s a fantasy past based on his failing memory of how great America was, in days when it was exporting megadeath to little yellow people, turning battleships back into domestic appliances – chains for housewives – sticking fins on huge wallowy gas-guzzlers, lynching n-words and hoovering up the remains of the British empire.

Add Parker and Dizz to the list, add Miles and ‘Trane and Monk, and he might have a point….


The stuff of legend…

“Amancio Ortega, the founder and director of the Inditex Group which owns high street shop Zara, has been named the third richest man in the world by Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index with an estimated fortune of £29.8 billion ($46.6 billion).”

We all do it. At least, almost all of us.

We buy stuff.

And because we are easily seduced, because we like to feel we belong to some invisible community without necessarily bearing any of the duties and responsibilities of membership, we become suckers for certain brands of stuff with which in our loneliness we identify through the advertising they put out.

All right, use the word ‘ambassadors’ if you like.

Personally, your Uncle Bogler is past the age of excited adherence to brands. He may have stuck with the same banking group for fifty years, he may be too lazy to keep ‘switching’ suppliers of this or that, “it’s only money”, but it’s not out of loyalty, it’s out of cynicism: better the Devil you know – they’re all the same.

He was never much one for consumer goods. He does wear trousers, he does wear shirts, socks and pants and sweaters, and once in a blue moon he needs to go out and buy new ones as he tends not to bother changing out of his day clothes to do painting or gardening jobs; odd socks vanish, sweaters pill and shred, shirts shrink, until eventually he starts to feel he might be looking a bit, well, terrible, and he knows where in town stuff is to be got that might look okay and fit in the right places, stuff he can just about afford, so he grits his teeth and goes there to buy.

Which is not to say he bothers with labels, but in the process he knows he is inadvertently buying branded goods, and those affordable shirts and trousers and occasionally even shoes (he buys red or blue tennis loafers, they’re comfortable, they fit and only £10 a pair, how do they do it?) are all made abroad, in Dickensian sweatshops, by anonymous brown people working twelve hours a day, six days a week for bare subsistence wages, in perpetual danger of losing their living by going sick or having to give up time to care for their kids, their prematurely aged parents.

Modern-day coolies feed the lazy person’s desire for more stuff. (

He knows it, but what can you do? It happens here too, with rapacious corporates like Deliveroo, the nadir of the ‘gig economy’, the absolute pits in terms of employing “self-employed” (according to the stupid UK courts) kids to ride around on bikes, strapped to monstrous boxes, kids on minimum wage with no rights, no sick pay; kids who can be fined or fired for taking time off or missing something.

Who in God’s name needs a shitty business like Deliveroo? What the hell kind of sick society in the 21st century makes coolies of its brightest and best young people, just to deliver more cheap fucking stuff to lazy arses who think themselves too “time-poor” to cook, or to go out for dinner?

“Unto him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away”, so said Jesus of Nazareth. Nice guy.

And when an individual sets up some kind of entrepreneurial business that hits the spot in terms of timing, very important, and the look, when they get lucky – of course, there’s a hard slog to begin with, some know-how involved, a few years’ apprenticeship, but the timing and the look and the luck really are everything – then they hook into us, and we hook into them, and off takes the brand and up go the sales, and…

They get rich.

And richer.

And third richest.

Thanks to us, the ambassadors, the suckers, the seduced – the time-poor. Thanks, inadvertently, to me.

And we all turn a blind eye to how the magic is performed.

Now, you don’t get to be the third richest person in the world by paying people to make your money. At the bottom of your organization are the myriad anonymous brown schmucks who actually do the work for a dollar an hour, while you swan around in a suit it would take a brown schmuck a year to pay for, provided their kids don’t eat, making lapidary statements and casting a professional eye over everything, the stitching, the balance sheet, the estimates for this and that, the order book and the delivery schedules, the stock levels, the design artwork, the market cap.; firing the odd guy for luck, fingers-crossed hoping to God you’re making the right judgements because you just laid out a hundred million dollars on a new superyacht to ferry you and your ghastly hangers-on, your ex-model wife, her bling and your valet, your fucking team of Sushi chefs, from your ethnically cleansed Caribbean island home to Monte Carlo and back.

We make those people.

Do you understand? If you have a problem with billionaires in the world, and let’s not forget, you could win a million on the lottery every year for a thousand years and still not be a billionaire, understand. We make them.

“The company said it had set up, along with Mango and Next, a hardship fund of 210,000 euros ($246,000; £188,000) to help the most vulnerable workers in need. “There is an unjust suffering here and we’re very sorry that these workers have to endure this,” said Murat Akkun, Inditex’s manager of sustainability in Turkey. “But it’s not us but the local firm and its boss that has caused this suffering. He has escaped justice. Turkish courts need to find this man and make him pay all that is due.” – BBC News

In the wake of the bankruptcy 15 months ago of Bravo Tekstil, an Istanbul company contracted to make branded clothing at rock-bottom prices for the high street brands you love, because you don’t love yourself, the brown schmucks have been paid not a penny. In desperation, they have had the swing-tags on the clothes they continue to make for nothing reprinted with a message, asking for help because they can’t afford to send their kids to school.

So the world’s third richest man (that’s personal wealth, not stock wealth – money in the bank), the wealthiest retailer in the world (Forbes) has put aside one 250 thousandth part of his fortune to help them?

The fortune they made him?

The fortune we bestow upon him, because we like the name Zara? Because we like the logo? It looks just how we feel about ourselves. Amazing.

Well not exactly. His business has done that, set aside some tiny fraction of its annual turnover, along with two other businesses with brands you love so much they’re probably owned by billionaires too, to provide a tiny fraction of the wages the people who make the money for them are losing, as a derisory concession to the workers abandoned by a bankrupt contractor for whom they bear no responsibility whatever.

Mr Ortega himself remains out of the loop, we suppose. That’s capitalism in a globalized world.

We’ve not come far since the 19th century.

Is Mr Ortega a bad man? Probably not, he probably doesn’t even know about the Turkish situation as he retired five years ago. The son of a railway worker, brought up in a Spain torn by civil war, he came from humble beginnings himself, starting off in a shirt factory:

“One day [he and] his mother went to pick up some groceries,” according to Covadonga O’Shea, author of a biography of the Zara founder. “From below the counter, he heard someone tell his mother, ‘Señora… we can’t give you any more credit.'” Ortega still felt shame at the family’s inability to pay. “When Amancio was telling me this, he was terribly emotional. And he said to me: ‘I was deeply hurt and humiliated.'”

“He vowed never to let his family suffer poverty again…” (BBC report, Sept 2016)

So he just inflicted it on everybody else.

It’s the stuff of legend, really.


GW: Raindrops are fallin’ on muh ‘ead…

(Note: Granny W is experiencing formatting problems with the WordPress words machine. Apologies, etc.)
Colombia: “…at least 4 people were killed and 28 injured after a mudslide and flooding from the overflowing La Paila river inundated the town of Corinto, Cauca Department, on 07 November, 2017. Over 30 people have been injured and 18 are still missing, according to local government reports. Thirty-seven houses have been destroyed and 17 buildings severely damaged, including a local school. … Images from disaster agencies showed streets covered with mud and flood debris.”
Panama: torrential rain brings flooding to the city of Colon. (Sort of Colonic irrigation… not funny.)
Kenya: “Periods of heavy rain have affected parts of Kenya since late October, causing flooding in central and northern parts of the country. The flooding has damaged or destroyed homes and displaced dozens of families. Local media report that at least 4 people have died.” – It’s impossible to overstate the importance of roads for food distribution in Africa. The Kenya floods have made many impassable.
Malaysia: death toll from floods and mudslides put at 7 as remnant Typhoon Damrey dumps up to half a metre of rain over Penang in 24 hours. Parts of the island under 2-3 metres. A lot of buildings and infrastructure damage.

Indonesia: Five people killed in a landslide in South Sumatra yesterday. “Heavy rainfall since 03 November 2017 has caused flooding and landslides in several  provinces, according to the country’s Disaster Prevention Agency (BNPB). At least 9 deaths have been attributed to the heavy rain. Over 3,000 people have been affected by flooding.” Town of Banjarnegara hit by violent cyclonic storm on 8 Nov., people flee in panic as trees and power lines brought down. 1 dead, 3 injured.

Aljazeera reports on ever-rising sea levels forcing villagers in northern Java to permanently evacuate their homes and move inland.

India: late monsoon rains have killed 12 people in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu in the past week and a further 8 have died in floods in northern Sri Lanka, bringing the GW reports full-circle as we first reported on floods and landslides there back in April. 300 ml of rain fell on the city of Chennai in 24 hours.

Atlantic: Tropical Storm Rina is dying out, caught in a cold front and not expected to make landfall anywhere, other than Ireland and the UK as a normal Atlantic depression over the weekend. Rina was the 17th named Atlantic TS of the season: busy, but not a record. Hurricane Irma was by a long way the most powerful storm of the year to make landfall.

Greece: “Flash floods caused by heavy overnight rain (15 Nov.) have killed at least 14 people and caused destruction in central Greece. The industrial towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara, west of the capital Athens, were the most affected.” Roads were flooded to a depth of a metre. “Many of the dead were elderly people whose bodies were found inside their homes, reports say. Fast-flowing torrents of red mud flooded roads.”

“…heavy rain and strong winds affected parts of north-western Greece from 11 November. The worst hit locations were Corfu and Igoumenitsa, where some areas recorded more than 100 mm of rain in a 24 hour period. The Fire Service reported that one man died in Corfu after his car was swept away by flood waters.”

Turkey: a terrifying storm erupts over the mountain town of Kumluca. Contained within it and visible only by the flashes of lightning is a huge tornado. Daylight brings scenes of devastation. This footage from CEWN #80 at 33.26 is not for children.

Violent storms in the Mediterranean have also struck the islands of Malta, and Sicily – where streets turned to the now-familiar ‘rivers of ice’ as a huge amount of hail fell – and into the Balkans. At least a hundred migrants are known to have drowned crossing from Libya, including 23 teenage Kenyan girls when their boat capsized, their bodies washed up on Italian beaches.

Harvey: the stats are all in and, yes, at roughly 1 trillion gallons and 5 ft deep in some areas the hurricane in August produced the bigliest rain ever recorded to fall on any part of the USA, probably in 2 thousand years. Insurers are putting the damage at between $90 and $200 billion. Far from it’s being a 1 in 2000 year flooding event, new forecast modelling for the Houston area suggests that by 2100 it’s going to be a 1 in 6 years event. Luckily we won’t be around by then.

One more heave? Bearing in mind devastating Cat 3 Hurricane Otto, which formed as late as 20 November last year, Dr Jeff Masters of Wunderground speculates:

“one possible area of tropical cyclone formation early next week: the waters of the east-central Atlantic … south of the Azores. A non-tropical area of low pressure is expected to form in this region, where waters of about 24°C (75°F) … may be warm enough to allow the storm (to) transition to a named subtropical storm. (‘Sean’ is the next name on the list.) We also need to watch the waters of the Western Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua in the coming weeks, as well. Sea surface temperatures there are close to 30°C (86°F) – more than 1°C above average for this time of year, and plenty warm enough to support a hurricane.”

Global cooling: A weak La Niña has been detected, anticipating a colder-than-average winter over the northern USA. The northeastern states (New England) had their warmest October in 153 years of record-keeping. However… things change, and within a few days of record highs, record lows are being set everywhere, with International Falls, Minnesota plunging over Friday night to minus 14 deg. F (minus 25.5 C). “For sheer misery, it would be hard to top the conditions that accompanied the cold blast at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, where winds topped out at 105 mph on Friday with a temperature of –2°F and a wind chill of around -40°F.”x

Despite the myth of global warming, obviously, the website eenews reports that last summer a child was stung by a wasp in Utqiagvik, one of the northernmost communities in northern Alaska. No-one there had ever seen a wasp before. Dragonflies and otters have also been seen; bowhead whales vanishing from off the coast of California are plentiful further north; while freshwater fish unused to 60 F water temperature were reported to be falling asleep, and crawling with lice.
Climate & Extreme Weather News #80/ Aljazeera/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ eenews/ BBC News

End Times News:

The US delegation to the climate change conference in Bonn contains no climate scientists. Instead they have sent executives from the coal industry to argue in favour of burning more coal. “Clean coal”, they call it – the filthiest, most polluting energy source yet discovered. The title of their presentation: “Coal is Great!” We feel sure the pun is intended, but will not fool the real climatologists.

Mr Trump recently revealed his astonishing ignorance when it became clear from an interview he was giving that he thought “clean coal” meant you wash it before burning it. Thus, the dumb asshole remains in charge of a government of climate-change deniers, lobbyists from the depths of the swamp and gluttonous proxies of the energy bidness, whose lies he is incapable of discriminating against.

The idea of “clean coal” relates to an as-yet unproven, horrifically expensive and theoretically virtually impossible technology for capturing carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations and sequestering them deep underground in the very shale deposits from which industry has extracted… more oil and gas, for burning.

With fuckwits like these leading the charge, it seems likely we shall indeed meet the doomsday scenario of gloomy prognosticators like Professor Guy McPherson, who argues that we have possibly eight more years – perhaps as few as three – before the human extinction event begins in earnest; and that so many feedback loops are now active, no remedial measures can save us.

Coinciding with the Bonn talks is the news that CO2 emissions from industry, which had flatlined over the previous three years, rose by 2 percent in 2016/17, thanks to resurgent demand for Chinese goods. China is fast switching to renewables but cannot go fast enough; general drought conditions are making their hydropower schemes uneconomical.

Protestors are also at pains to point out that since Fukushima and the rash political abandonment of Germany’s nuclear power program, the host nation and its filthy opencast “brown coal” industry has become one of the worst polluters in Europe, despite also being a leading uptaker of renewables.

Your Uncle Bogler is just old enough to remember the 5-day brown-coal sulphur smog that killed 12 thousand people in London in December 1953. Subsequent to which the UK became the first country in the world to ban the filthy stuff under the 1956 Clean Air Act.

This mess is never going to get cleaned up, any more than Britain will leave the EU with a beneficial trade and customs agreement. No-one is seemingly capable of acting intelligently – and independently, on the basis of the scientific evidence, from vested interests of all kinds.

We’re totally fucked.


Fake News News:

Reports that a ‘supervolcano’ in Antarctica, larger than Yellowstone, is erupting under the ice, thus causing climate change and ice-melt, are fake news.

There is only a theory that a supervolcano may exist, to account for a localized melting anomaly. That does not mean one is erupting, or about to erupt. The ground temperature above the magma chamber at Yellowstone is higher by a factor of 40 than the surrounding lands, hence the melting of the early snows around the lake.

Geologists entertain a theory that something similar ‘might’ be the case in Antarctica – although the report is published in the Daily Express alongside other scientific theories concerning the imminent approach of Planet X Nibiru, and “Russian ‘genius child’ says Egyptian Sphinx holds life changing key to Life beyond Earth”.

Despite the recent discovery of a chain of apparently extinct volcanoes in the north of the continent, there are considered to be only two active volcanoes in Antarctica, one stuck right out in the South Atlantic on an island off the northern peninsula, and the perpetually erupting Mount Erebos, one of only a few volcanoes in the world with a permanent lava lake.

Antarctica is a very big place, so the thought that one volcano can be responsible for displacing huge ice sheets the size of Cyprus and changing the climate ought perhaps to be discounted as yet another story promulgated by those who desperately want you to NOT believe that burning billions of tonnes of fossil fuel every year for 100 years, fuel they make a handsome profit from selling you, is going to affect the atmosphere adversely in any way.


In Trumpworld, ignorance is power

“The Flat Earth International Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, attracted hundreds of attendees who believe the shape of the Earth is a disc instead of a sphere” – BBC News report

Whether they really believe it, or are merely happy to belong to a mildly loony cult, like Star Trek or Harry Potter fans, is open to conjecture. They have perhaps consumed too many of Dr Terry Pratchett’s entertaining and satirical – dare one say Swiftian –  ‘Discworld’ books.

Circular argument (

I am currently reading physicist Carlo Rovelli’s book, Nothing is What it Seems. Prof. Rovelli makes it clear that not only is the earth a sphere, something that was perfectly obvious to the ancient Greeks, the Indians and the Arab mathematicians until the Christians introduced the Dark Ages, an anti-intellectual era brutally inimical to scientific inquiry in which many Americans remain perfectly comfortable today, but it is in fact part of a ‘3-sphere’ universal construct.

Such a concept would be mind bogglingly earth shattering (to mix our metaphors) to the flat-earthers in Raleigh; who have perhaps not thought their ideas through. For, if the Earth is flat, then so must be the moon, the other planets in our system – and the Sun. All flat discs, spinning like coins in a fountain, or wherever. But when do we ever see them ‘edge-on’?

The scientific explanation of a sphere is that it is essentially two discs back to back, that are contiguous entirely around their circumference. Such a geometric shape would be impossible unless each disc were to be distorted into a curved hemisphere.

Any attempt to draw a straight line at the earth’s surface results either in the line appearing at a distance to rise into the sky – or if the line is drawn ON the surface, such as our imaginary equator, if drawn straight enough it eventually reappears and meets its point of origin. Either scenario is possible only if the earth is in fact a sphere. Sophists in the Flat Earth Society will try to argue that the line has merely followed the circumference of the disc; but then, they have probably never attempted to send a long-wave radio signal to a colleague in Australia without bouncing it off the ionosphere. In any case, the line would then no longer be a straight line, by definition, but would describe a circle.

Following in the footsteps of Aristotle and, 18 hundred years later, Dante Aleghieri, pupil of Brunetto, Einstein wrestled with the problem of how the universe could be both infinite in space, yet also have a boundary in time; until he realized that it was in fact two spheres contiguous at every point of their surface; creating the ‘3-sphere’. (He refused for many years until eventually convinced otherwise, to believe in his own equations, that clearly showed the universe was continuously expanding from a single point of origin.)

While there is a boundary, you can never reach it as the internal geometry of the 3-sphere will always bring you back to your starting point. It is a 4-dimensional Möbius strip. There is, paradoxically therefore, no centre. All starting points are the centre; while there is no ‘outside’ to ask about – the outside is also the inside.

Culminating in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the medieval mind, Rovelli argues, had instinctively understood this and attempted to represent the universe in stone through church architecture as a series of nine (3×3) self-enfolding, transparent spheres: the orders of angels. He quotes the C15th Italian poet:

“This other part of the universe surrounds the first in a circle, like the first surrounds the others … appearing to be enclosed by those that it encloses. … the two balls surround and are surrounded by each other “

Even liberal thinkers such as your Uncle Bogler have to consult their friend The Pumpkin at such a moment. The Pumpkin nods approval. Einstein has not been shown to be wrong about much.

Ultimately, Flat Earthers are just contrarians who will assent to any madcap theory that allows them to feel superior to others who have spent their lives painstakingly studying and thinking in organized ways about the world and how it works; intellectuals who have achieved thereby, some perceived degree of unfair social advantage.

Thanks to the transforming power of social media we live increasingly dangerously in a society in which untutored opinion “Trumps” knowledge. In Trumpworld, ignorance is power.

For, we can look to the example of earlier, priest-ridden societies, such as the Maya, for the lesson:

When the privileged experts’ mumbo-jumbo fails to deliver a reliable harvest, people go hungry, mayhem ensues and the social order is turned topsy-turvy.

The Pumpkin – Issue 36; The Paradise Papers: maintaining the finest traditions … The sickest individual ever to shitstain the White House? … What a bunch of dismal, anally retentive suck-ups …GW, promoting mobility scooters for all …

The Paradise Papers: maintaining the finest traditions

If HM Queen has a spare £10m invested in an offshore Cayman Islands fund through a secretive private money management company for posh people, Appleby, based in Bermuda, so what? She deserves to be allowed to minimise her tax liability at the expense of her poorer subjects. She can afford it. The Paradise Papers, 13.6 million documents leaked to a global consortium of 95 media companies as a sequel to last year’s Panama Papers, reveal too that she is invested – probably without her detailed knowledge – in a retailing company that’s been accused of exploiting the poor:

“BrightHouse has … been accused of overcharging customers, and using hard sell tactics on people with mental health problems and learning disabilities. Last month, it was ordered to pay £14.8m in compensation to 249,000 customers. – Guardian, 6 Nov.

Well, what’s a monarch for, other than maintaining the finest traditions of the monarchy?

Thanks to these huge leaks, it’s been calculated that the total amount of money invested in these opaque offshore financial vehicles is around $10 trillion.

If the billionaire* Wilbur Ross, a man with a debauched old ‘wise monkey’ face that makes him look like the portrait in his attic, an ‘advisor’ to the Trump family and the former vice-chair of a Russian money-laundering bank in Cyprus whose chairman once lent Donald Trump $700 million, half of which he’s never paid back, is alleged to be a secret shareholder in a Russian shipping line, the rest of whose board is apparently made up of heavily sanctioned oligarchs, we cannot simply assume his post as US Commerce Secretary must be in question.

Indeed, he seems admirably qualified.

If Theresa May’s Deputy Prime Minister Damian ‘The Exorcist’ Green is alleged to have held pornography on his office computer dating from a police search seven years ago, which he denies, as one would, well, it’s not illegal (probably – depending on content), it’s in the finest traditions of Tory hypocrisy and sleaze. But there appears to be a concerted campaign coming from somewhere to ‘get’ Tory ministers unfriendly to the bungling Brexit negotiating triumvirate and to stir up a hornettes’ nest of ancient drunken knee-grabbing allegations to lure our attention away from the growing controversy surrounding Britain’s most astonishing national decline since the early 1960s….

And if, as The Guardian claims,

“Two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal. The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser….”

The story goes on to explain why, perhaps, the major US technology and media companies have been so coy about admitting to the sources and extent of the Russia-originated political content that may have helped to swing the election to Donald Trump last year:

“The files show that in 2011, VTB funded a $191m investment in Twitter. About the same time, Gazprom Investholding financed an opaque offshore company, which in turn funded a vehicle that held $1bn-worth of Facebook shares.”

VTB is, of course, one of the larger banks controlled by the Russian State, in the person of Vladimir Putin.

And Gazprom is the giant Russian state gas company, out of which numerous Putin cronies have made $billion fortunes, which presumably has an interest in exploiting, controlling or otherwise competitively shutting down the huge natural gas reserves of Iran and now, Israel – where a company called Noble Energy, from Houston, in which Trump is said to be a shareholder and of which his erstwhile ‘foreign affairs advisor’ (of whom he has not really heard) George Papadopoulos is or was a director, is battling in a Jerusalem court to be allowed to exploit a major field off the coast of Palestinian-held ghetto, Gaza, routing the gas either to Egypt or more likely Ukraine through a new pipeline under the sea, via Cyprus and Turkey – avoiding Syria, where the huge gas field may be thought to extend; and, once an end has been brought to the civil war, in favour of Assad’s Russian allies….

Still, surely closer ties between two old Cold War enemies are preferable to a nuclear… er.

If Western civilization appears to be crumbling before our eyes, it’s no use blaming the Russians.

It is.

*OMG, Wilbur the Monkey Man is screaming! Forbes Magazine just downgraded his net wealth to only $900 million, based on what he declared when he was appointed! Now he’s trying to say, no, really he is a billionaire because, look, here’s the $2 billion he didn’t tell them about… How shaming is that, not a billionaire after all. tsk. What will The Don say?


“That’s the subculture he is cynically and ruthlessly mining, to the detriment of an entire nation. Guns and God. Slaughter and superstition.The medieval mindset.”

The sickest individual ever to shitstain the White House?


You may have heard that a lone gunman shot dead 26 people in and around a Baptist church in the tiny Texas town of Sutherland Springs (pop. 400) before dying himself, either by suicide or having been shot by armed local citizens who pursued him?

There were children among the dead, one as young as 18 months.

So what did President Trump have to say, on his triumphal procession to Japan, where PM Shinzo Abe has been licking his furry old balls the past few days? Did he rail against guns, terrorists, Muslims, Fate?

Well, sadly the perpetrator had immediately turned out to be a white, ex-airforce flyer named as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, a good old Irish name for a guy who looks impressively like a Trump dumbfuck. So there was nothing to see here, folks. No muslims, no blacks, no Mexicans or mayors to blame. Move along.

“President Donald Trump, on a tour of Asia, said (without benefit of actual evidence) the gunman was “a very deranged individual” and denied that guns were to blame for the shooting. “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, but this isn’t a guns situation,” he said.” – not without instantly correcting himself to mention that they have mental health in other countries too.

Ruger: special “mental health” issue.

No, well, it took only one gun, a Ruger assault rifle, repeatedly reloaded and firing 500 rounds to blow away 26 small-townsfolk praying in a Baptist church; the fount, backbone and epitome of stiflingly conservative mid-American culture. Dressed in his best Clint Eastwood black outfit, and wearing a bullet-proof vest, Kelley had left the other guns in the car.

So not a “guns situation” then.

Except of course that a man known to be mentally disturbed – he’d been court-martialled in 2014, served a year in choki and was chucked out of the USAF with a dishonourable discharge for a violent attack on his wife and child, whose skull he fractured* – seemingly had no trouble in Texas obtaining any number of advanced weapons.

A semi-automatic rifle is not a hunting weapon or generally used to control vermin. It is designed purely to kill people**.

Oh, and by the way, hard luck on the injured, the survivors, the families? Not even ‘warm condolences’ on the death of your dog – sorry, your daughter, your mom?

No, apparently Trump had nothing to say on that score until later, when he promised he would ‘never, ever leave’ the people of Sutherland Springs, God help them.

Meanwhile, his friends over on Fox News were mulling over the special merits of being massacred in church, where God would immediately take care of you; while Sen. Paul Ryan – yes, you do have mental health problems, America, you elected this cut-price gurning fuckwit too – is of the belief that prayer will lessen the chances of there being another mass shooting within the next fortnight.

That’s the subculture Trump is cynically and ruthlessly mining, to the detriment of an entire nation. Guns and God. Slaughter and superstition. The American medieval mindset.

This autistic orange oaf must be mentally the sickest individual ever to stain the chair of the office of President.

Get him out!

*It’s been observed that the majority of shooters involved in these ‘expanded suicide’ attacks have a history of domestic violence.

**A fascinating investigation in the New York Times into a whole slew of academic research papers on gun deaths shows conclusively that the NRA’s persistent assertion that ‘it’s people that kill people, guns don’t kill people’ is sheer sophistry: all around the world, it is axiomatic that the countries with the highest rates of gun OWNERSHIP per head of population experience the highest rates of mass shootings, gun crime and accidental shootings.

Take just the comparison with Britain, where gun licences are issued only on the strictest conditions, illegal possession is greeted with life-changing sentences and absolutely no semi-automatic assault weapons or handguns other than for sport are permitted; and certainly no carry permits. Britain’s rate of gun deaths is zero point 7 per million; the USA’s, where there are few controls, lax oversight and over 300 million guns in private ownership, is 33 per million. Police deaths in shooting incidents in Britain average fewer than two per year. In the USA, it’s 50.

So no, guns don’t kill people: owning guns – and the power people believe it confers on them to play God – does.


A wiser man

“When we look at the lessons from a century ago, we see how ambiguous the results were, and how there were both negative and positive consequences of those events,” he said last month. “We have to ask the question: Was it really not possible to develop not through revolution but through evolution, without destroying statehood and mercilessly ruining the fate of millions, but through gradual, step-by-step progress?”

  • Vladimir Putin, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. (Washington Post).

D Trump, please note.


What a bunch of dismal, anally retentive suck-ups

A woman pictured raising her middle finger toward US President Donald Trump’s motorcade has reportedly been fired from her job over the photograph. The image went viral after it was taken on 28 October in Virginia, close to a Trump golf resort.

Juli Briskman, who was identified as the cyclist in the image, alleges she was fired by employers Akima LLC after she posted it to her online profiles.

You see, if she’d been working for me, I’d have promoted her. That deranged old windbag of fermenting junkfood you elected should take the finger every time he ventures out, from all patriotic Americans, the crooked sack of shit.

Oh, but… Google Akima LLC and you’ll be impressed how fucking self-important these nobodies are:

“Enabling superior mission outcomes. Akima, LLC’s Business Groups and their operating companies represent an uncommonly broad array of specialized talents…”

What a load of corporate horseshit. What does it even mean? Did you really pay your agency for writing that? What a bunch of jumped-up, self-regarding nobodies. And as Juli, who is a thoroughly decent single mom of two and an active marathon runner, points out, senior management of Akima appear to be entirely free to post disparaging remarks online about Black Lives Matter.

You’re better off out, sweetheart, whatever they did to your CV. Everybody, go crowdfund her.

(PS: Apparently they have, raising over $12 thousand in a day.)


(photo: unknown, from CEWN)

GW: your old gal promoting mobility scooters for all


Canada: Ottawa experienced ‘extreme’ flooding on 01 Nov, washing out streets and bridges and causing power cuts, after 100 mm rain fell in a day – a record. At over 1200 mm (4 ft) of rain so far this year, Ottawa has had a record year for rainfall.

Peru: 5 dead as severe storms bring flooding to the San Martin region. Several mountain villages suffer mud- and rock-slide miseries. New rainfall records are set.

Colombia: city of Magdalena underwater. Powerful storm brings flooding to the capital, Bogota. Large amount of hail brought with it creates two feet of iceflows in the streets, a precipitation which then freezes solid, despite the 60 deg. F-plus temperature, trapping vehicles.

India #1: city of Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu (southern India) again hit by flooding after only one day of rain and what looks like a big tidal surge inundating the foreshore.  14 dead. Residents are already comparing it to the historic floods of… 2015. At the same time, daytime temperatures are expected to hit a humid 30C (86F) this week.

India #2: “A public health emergency has been declared in Delhi as a choking blanket of smog descended on the world’s most polluted capital city. …the US embassy website said levels of the fine pollutants known as PM2.5 that are most harmful to health reached 703 micrograms per cubic metre – well over double the threshold of 300 that authorities class as hazardous.”

Vietnam: “Typhoon Damrey is reported to have killed 69 people in central and south-central localities, 20 more than reported on Monday. Most of those killed – 27 – were from Khánh Hòa Province. The storm has also reportedly left 30 people missing. The typhoon wrecked 1,484 houses, blew away the roofs of 119,222 houses and destroyed about 22,000ha of crops in the provinces” – mostly sugar cane, rice and rubber plantations. Reuters news puts the crop damage higher, at 40k ha. A tidal surge caused coastal damage. Many transport barges also sank. This, on top of the 70 killed in last month’s floods.

Thailand: also affected by TS Damrey, large areas of Thailand – over 17 provinces – have experienced a resurgence of October’s flooding, with at least 10 dead and tens of thousands displaced. Tropical Depression 29W is now forming out in the Gulf of Thailand.

Malaysia: powerful storm causes flash flooding in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Provincially, 7 dead. “A weather station near Kepala Batas in Penang recorded 946 mm of rain between 03 and 06 November, with 458 mm of that total falling in 24 hours to 06 November.” Some areas of Penang Island were under 3 or 4 metres of water. The storm, described as the worst in Penang’s history, was part of a weather system brought by Typhoon Damrey. TD29W is expected over the peninsula by Wednesday.

Indonesia, Sumatra: city of Medan underwater. Up to 2 metres in parts.

Australia: sudden massive hailstorm batters Kurri Kurri, Sydney, NSW, bringing down trees and power lines, ripping of roofs, taking weather forecasters totally by surprise.

USA: Profoundly corrupt Koch Brothers’ shill and Trump appointee, EPA director Scott Pruitt, the Butcher of Arkansas, has ordered that no more actual scientists shall serve on the Environment agency’s scientific advisory panel. The current members are to be replaced by ‘experts’ from the environmental industries: coal, oil, gas, energy distribution, power generation, to avoid scientific ‘bias’. He’s also issued a ban on EPA staff receiving briefings on environmental issues from external scientific research organizations, marking the start of an all-out US-led offensive on Humanity and the natural world. Speaking purely in a private capacity, the Pumpkin would like to see sales of piano-wire doubled in the Washington area.

Numerous tornado warnings are out for states like Oklahoma and Indiana. Haha. You voted for him, fuck you. As the hurricane season isn’t officially over until the end of the month, Tropical Depression 19L is forming cyclonically out in mid-Atlantic and has become the 17th named storm of the season (Rina). Not expected to make landfall anywhere until maybe possibly Ireland (again!).

Europe: meanwhile, arctic conditions have descended somewhat prematurely over Scandinavia, Russia and northern Europe. Indeed, globally the searing temperatures experienced all around the globe during the last summer and right on through October appear to have fizzled out almost everywhere with just a few little hotspots slowly dying down.

Italy: Reggio Calabria, in the far south, underwater after a severe storm dumps two feet of flooding in just three hours.

World: “On Tuesday, Syria announced its intention to join the global Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This leaves the United States as the only nation in the world planning to opt out of the agreement.” 

“I never knew there were so many countries” – the Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Asshole.

Science: A new report from the US Congressionally mandated Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) based on information obtained from a comprehensive range of scientific and industry sources, including the public, says CO2 levels are rising at a faster rate than has ever been observed in the history of the planet. An internal Trump Administration report on the report has thrown up its hands and concluded that man-made climate change is the only possible explanation for 93 per cent of global warming – the lowest estimate available. The largely fossil-fuel-industry bought Trump Administration is said to be furious. The NCA report concludes:

“The likely range of the human contribution to the global mean temperature increase over the period 1951–2010 is 1.1° to 1.4°F (0.6° to 0.8°C), and the central estimate of the observed warming of 1.2°F (0.65°C) lies within this range (high confidence). This translates to a likely human contribution of 93%–123% of the observed 1951–2010 change.”

In other words, says Wunderground, Earth might well have cooled slightly during this period if it were not for human activity; this makes Earth’s recent record-high temperatures even more startling. The report adds:

“For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”



Climate & Extreme Weather News #78, #79/ Floodlist/ Vietnam News/ CNN Indonesia/ Ring of Fire/ Ruptly/ RPP Noticias/ Times of India/ Guardian/ Weather Underground

The Pumpkin – Issue 35: Tweety-pie Strikes Back … Mid-East: US energy policy on the back-burner? … GW: Your old granny with the inside-out umbrella (etc. – under construction)

“George who? No, I just sent him to Guantanamo.” Trump sees no Papadopouloses at his table.


Tweety-pie strikes back

According to The Guardian: Mr Trump – perhaps we need to start calling him Old Yellowstone, for his tweetswarms, his unusual color and his imminent threat of extinction – issued a series of four angry tweets on Sunday morning (29 Oct.):

  • “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),….
  • “…the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,….
  • “…’collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s…
  • “…are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

About an hour later he tweeted (loudly): “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”

Is it possible?

Does Tweety-pie actually believe in his own fantasies?

There is no “UNITY” in the Republican party. They all hate him, of course, but the party is split between those who are terrified of what will happen to their majorities if they do dump him and those who don’t plan on carrying on this farce anyway as it’s all got too seriously awful and they’re leaving.

Clinton did not make the “Fake Dossier”, most of which has been verified independently by US security services. It was commissioned originally by the Republican party. The fact of its commissioning does not prove collaboration between Clinton and the Kremlin: it was commissioned from a British security consultant who was briefed to find out what information the Russians had on Trump. It did not result from contact between Clinton and the Kremlin. It is absurd to suggest the Russians paid for it.

The Pumpkin does not understand the reference to $12 million dollars, unless it is the $12.7 million paid to Paul Manafort for ‘political consultancy’ to the departed Ukrainian kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovitch, said to have looted the State coffers of $37 billion.

There has never been any evidence that Clinton secretly conspired to sell a Canadian company mining uranium in the US, Uranium One, to Russia in exchange for campaign donations. The allegation surfaced in a 2010 book by a Breitbart News contributor and was aired by Trump supporter, Sean Hannity of Fox News; a notorious fabricator of questionable truths. Even if she had facilitated a deal under US rules, there would have been nothing illegal about such a deal had it gone through the proper channels. Which as far as anyone can tell, it did.

The question is, was she aware (as head of the State Department, overseeing nine government agencies required to approve the deal) that the FBI was investigating corrupt practices in the Russian nuclear industry at the time? Did she even have a decision in the matter? Probably not, says the Washington Post. Trump’s claim has been exhaustively investigated by journalists and found to be without any basis, but there’s a Congressional investigation going on anyway.

The FBI’s “Russia” investigation began long before Trump proposed his disgraceful so-called budget corruptly offering $trillions in tax cuts to his donor billionaires and corporations and ramping up the national debt at the expense of public health and the environment, illogic based on the discredited garbage ‘trickle-down’ economics of Arthur Laffer. The Mueller investigation has nothing whatever to do with tax reform, that is just a typically Trumpian red herring.

The FBI investigated the 33,000 ‘deleted emails’ (you can’t delete emails other than from your own files) and found nothing to prove any breach of security, criminal activity or intent. Trump may have learned of the emails for the first time in the immediate aftermath of a secret meeting at Trump Tower between his son, Don Moron Jr, together with Kushner and Manafort, and the Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, who had with her three current or former members of the Russian intelligence community, on 9 June, 2016. But it appears they may have been known about in April, from a meeting Papadopoulos says he had with a mysterious Russian ‘professor’ in London. Whatever.

Thousands more emails hacked by the Russians that somehow found their way into the possession of Julian Assange’s poisonous Wikileaks entity came from the server, not of Clinton but of her campaign manager, John Podesta, a former White House Chief of Staff. While they show that various possibly controversial policy options were being bandied about, some of which experts agree might have been inserted by the Russians to discredit Clinton, there was absolutely nothing incriminating in them; unless, along with Crazy Alex Jones, you are happy to believe they contained secret code for paedophile activities worldwide.

Subsequent to which several attempts were made by the Trump gang, first to deny the 9 June meeting ever took place, then to present it as a non-starter or about something completely trivial and irrelevant, adoption policy, to conceal its true purpose, which is still unclear; although it is the view of The Pumpkin that so many of the invited attenders having so much experience of moving large sums of dirty money through offshore shell companies must indicate that a pipeline was almost certainly being discussed to fund an illicit campaign support operation by the Russians (it’s illegal to accept foreign funding for elections in the USA), possibly including the buying of social media advertising.

The president himself was implicated by witnesses in drafting a false account of the meeting while aboard Airforce 1, ostensibly to protect his drooling offspring. That didn’t work. While, in the immediate aftermath of the meeting, a known Republican bag-man, Peter Smith, reporting to General Mike Flynn, began to recruit computer specialists (including a Russian speaker) with the apparent aim of tracing the Clinton email tranche to obtain “dirt” on her. Really? with the entire resources of the GRU and Wikileaks to call on?

The following December, Jared Kushner held an illegally undeclared meeting in New York with the head of Vnesheconombank, former FSB-man and Putin crony Sergey Gorkov; after the revelation emerged, Kushner claimed to have been opening a “back-channel” to Russia, with a sanctioned bank. This was interpreted as meaning a diplomatic back-channel, however it seems probable that Kushner had two items on the agenda: one, paying for Russian support in the election with ‘dark money’, and two, patching up his own finances following massive losses in the New York property market. It was a financial “back-channel” – what you might term a “black-channel”.

Mr Trump has now turned on his son-in-law, claiming he gave him bad advice to fire Comey, without which Mueller would never have been appointed. We don’t think so.

The only “facts” that are “pouring out” then are that, whether known or unknown to him, Trump’s campaign team contained a number of figures – Flynn, Page, Manafort – potentially indictable in separate conspiracies to treat with foreign powers in breach of the Logan Act; that the scale and scope of Russian interference to rig Trump’s election – he did say the election was rigged – has become a noteworthy aim of the Mueller investigations, and that there are suspicions of money-laundering and sanctions-busting on a grand scale.

These desperate tweets of his, with their bizarre flurry of excited capitals are conclusive proof that Trump is a) terrified, b) mentally incapacitated and c) profoundly compromised, and must be removed from office immediately (along with his cronies) for the sake of national security.

But the hope that Mueller’s first Grand Jury indictments in the case will include the Orange Orb himself need not detain us



(Spoiler: It’s Manafort and Rick Gates, his “business partner”. Manafort faces 12 counts of money laundering, totalling $75 million; failure to declare his consultancy work for a foreign government, described as anti-American activity, and tax fraud: his starters. Meanwhile, former Trump advisor, George Papadopoulos (see below, also Pumpkins passim, re Noble Energy and an Israeli gas pipeline contract) has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia. The stated aim was to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin: this seems highly implausible, for about 103 reasons.

“George Papadopoulos admitted the talks happened while he worked for Mr Trump, not before, court papers show. He said he had been told the Russians possessed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.” – USA Today.

This “digging the dirt on Clinton” excuse used by all of Trump’s guilty transition team people for all their dealings with the Russians is beginning to wear thin, no? After all, they could just make dirt up, they’re good at that.

And did, seemingly.


Mid-East: US energy policy on the back-burner?

Media coverage of the Mueller Grand Jury indictments curiously fails to answer one key question. In June 2016, the Trump campaign was poised on the verge of having its boy adopted as the candidate of the Republican right. Was it just a case of ‘one more heave’ when Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and put Manafort in the job? Why did he do that?

It seems Manafort was proposed by the reptilian ‘fixer’, Roger Stone – an old Trump ally and former business partner. Manafort and Stone had expertise with helping foreign political parties to win elections, specializing in “difficult clients” – brutal dictators – although he doesn’t seem to have been too successful with the deposed Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovitch, who fled to Moscow via the Crimea in a convoy hastily organized by his friend President Putin at the height of the Maidan Square revolution in Kiev.

However, ’twas not always thus, as Fusion TV reported in April 2016:

“Manafort’s efforts paid off: Over the next several years, the Party of Regions gained power in the legislative and judicial branches. By 2010, Yanukovych had made a stunning comeback, again winning the presidency, and overseeing a regime that held on to power by funneling government money to his “Family” of oligarchs and party apparatchiks. As a 2007 US embassy cable describing the Party of Regions inner circle put it: “Ukraine’s history is marred with non-transparent privatizations that have benefited a few well-connected insiders.”

Yanukovitch was said by the Ukrainian opposition to have looted the State coffers of $37 billion. The figure is probably an exaggeration, although his grandiose palace with its underground boxing arena and zoo, his gold toilets and personalized whisky bottles speak of an extravagant lifestyle. At the same time, account ledgers have turned up showing huge payments to Manafort: he seems to have been paid $600 thousand a month for undisclosed “services” – in total around $28 million – a figure he denies. The deposed leader’s fortune must have gone somewhere: Swiss banks can no longer be relied on to maintain confidentiality in such delicate matters.

So was he just this improbably successful, street-smart PR man? Lynton Crosby on steroids? Something else that turned up were references to Manafort in the Panama Papers. It seems that in addition to spending huge sums undeclared to the IRS, he may have set up a number of tax-exempt offshore companies that are now the subject of the Grand Jury indictments against him. Was he helping Yanukovitch to squirrel away his ill-gotten gains? The names of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs associated with this bewildering network of exchange relationships read like a Who’s Who of Putin’s cronies: the Akhmetovs, Firtasz, Kolesnikov, Deripaska… some of them associated with organized crime or the embezzlement of huge sums acquired from Putin’s privatizations.

Clearly, Manafort’s connections and expertise at offshore “investments” must have counted for as much in the minds of the inexperienced brigands in the Trump campaign as his undoubted ability to manipulate voters, even in a foreign country where he did not speak the language. Trump’s – and subsequently the Republicans’ – rapid about-turn on personalized sanctions against many of these oligarchs and their business associates, and the abandonment of policies critical of the Russian annexation of Crimea, the shooting-down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and the military intervention in the civil unrest in east Ukraine, were directly linked to Manafort’s arrival on the team.

And here too was a reason for him to have been present at the 9 June meeting with the Kremlin lawyer, Veselnitskaya, who was accompanied to Trump Tower by three Russians, or naturalized Americans, with past FSB or GRU (Russian intelligence) connections – including Ike Khaveladze, a financier said to have set up over 2,000 offshore shell companies for Russian and Ukrainian “investors”.

This meeting was clearly not about getting the “Magnitsky Act” banning US adoptions of Russian children, or other sanctions lifted, as the Trump team insisted at first. Nor, The Pumpkin suspects, was it about getting hold of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton (the charmingly self-incriminating excuse de nos jours for all those undeclared meetings); nor would it have been about “setting up back-channels” to the Kremlin – unless the channels were a financial pipeline to the Trump campaign, to fund a clandestine program of disinformation using paid-for media to blacken Clinton, Podesta, Bernie Sanders and the Democratic party – to hack the voting machines, to glean private information on millions of voters, to support the Republican party campaign of “voter suppression” and to pay data analytics companies to target personalized messages via social media and Google at millions of wavering voters: the Brexit referendum in the UK being the dry run.

For it appears increasingly likely that Russian money was also behind the Brexit “Leave” campaign in the UK. Recent reporting in The Guardian and Observer newspapers has called into question, the origin of the large sums invested by supposedly wealthy disruptors like Arron Banks in setting up Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party, Leave.EU and the Vote Leave! campaigns; given that Mr Banks, who is married to a Russian, was not, prior to those very large donations, a sufficiently wealthy individual; yet who managed to create an impression of wealth by juggling funds between his raft of company registrations, mostly in the no-longer lucrative motorcycle insurance business.

In March of this year, sacked FBI director, James Comey admitted in a completely unreported exchange with Congressman Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, that yes, he suspected the Russians had interfered with the EU referendum as well as with the US election. This startling admission has never been investigated.

Links are being explored, too, between the US and British campaigns and Wikileaks, the influential but disruptive anti-Establishment website created by the self-imposed internal political and criminal exile, Julian Assange, that appeared to be – if not working directly for the Russians, at least providing useful services to the “Get Hillary!” and the Brexit Leave campaigns.

So who is Papa Dop?

And then there is this other figure, George Papadopoulos – said to have made a number of unsuccessful attempts on his own initiative to set up a face-to-face meeting between candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin, as if he was some kind of pathetic figure or useful idiot – the “Carter Page” defense.

Alongside “We were just trying to dig some dirt on Hillary”, the other favoured get-out-of-gaol card that is so frequently played by members of the Trump administration when an individual looks like being caught with their fingers in the Samovar is: “Yes, but he was only a very minor unpaid intern on the fringe of the campaign, more a sort of worm really, and of course he never met Trump, who would not know him from the grime under his fingernails”. It’s the line the sweaty woman, Huckabee “I’m a Christian” Sanders is peddling to the depressingly lame White House press corps.

The same excuse has been used to fend off press interest in characters like Felix Sater, the long-term Trump associate reportedly connecting him with property investment funds funnelled from the Russian criminal underworld – who, despite being photographed with his arm around him, and renting an office suite in Trump Tower (Manafort also has an office in the Gilded Phallus), Trump says he would not recognize if he saw him across the room (Trump has obvious issues with his eyesight) – and General Flynn’s son Michael Jr, from whose enthusiastic support for the ludicrous “Pizzagate” allegations against Clinton even the Trump campaign tried to distance itself. (You can always tell when Fuckabee’s lying, her top lip curls to the left and she sweats more heavily.)

Papadopoulos, who has confessed to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts – a federal offense – is now being widely described as a former Trump campaign advisor on foreign policy and a purely peripheral figure on the team, an unpaid intern whom Trump met only once – although a photograph in circulation of a campaign committee meeting with Trump at the helm suggests otherwise. However, only a few months back he was said to be advising on energy policy, as he is or was on the board of a Houston, Texas-based company called Noble Energy, in which Trump is or was a shareholder – and is an alumnus of the climate-change-denying, orl-bidness-funded Hudson Institute. He was also director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Center of International Law Practice.

According to DeSmog, an environmental campaigning website, “The story of who Papadoupolous is begins and ends with the Hudson Institute, a think-tank with a long history of climate change denial and anti-science advocacy.”

“A DeSmog investigation has revealed that the Hudson Institute, via industry funding its advocacy efforts, has proven instrumental in opening up Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves for drilling in the Mediterranean Sea for Noble Energy. Likewise, the efforts of Papadoupolous have helped pave the way for Noble to tap into the Mediterranean.”

And as one of his Wikipedia entries reports:

“In 2014, Papadopoulos authored op-ed pieces in Israeli publications. In one, published in the right-wing Arutz Sheva, Papadopoulos argued that the U.S. should focus on its “stalwart allies” Israel, Greece, and Cyprus to “contain the newly emergent Russian fleet”; in another, published in Ha’aretz, he contended that Israel should exploit its natural gas resources in partnership with Cyprus and Greece rather than Turkey.”

Papadopoulos’ co-author, Seth Cropsey is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Papa Dop is no lightweight.

Now, the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Turkey’ should cause lights to flash, as they are closely related to the interests, both of Trump’s Orthodox son-in-law Jared Kushner with his profoundly dodgy Israeli business connections, and of Gen. Flynn and his previously undeclared $500 thousand Turkey PR consultancy work. Far from being this no-account junior intern, the youthful-looking Papadopoulos was clearly key to a major element of the Trump team’s foreign policy in respect of both Israel and its energy interests in the Middle East; which may include containing Iran, a Russian ally, with its vast and underexploited field of natural gas; as well as the schmoozing of the Turks and their erratic dictator, Recep Erdogan.

Another aspect to these relationships involves the possibility of constructing an undersea pipeline to convey Noble gas from the Israeli coast via Cyprus and  Turkey to Ukraine, bypassing problematic Syria and freeing Ukraine from dependence on the contentious Russian supply line. Was that Flynn’s bag?

As the DeSmog blog put it:

“Though Trump has pledged not to be bought off by special interests due to his self-financed campaign, like most other U.S. politicians who want to hold office, he has a vested interest in not taking on the powerful Israel lobby. The same apparently goes for taking on its partner-in-action, Noble Energy, both lobbies of which are embodied in the person of George Papadopoulos.”


GW: Your old granny with the inside-out umbrella

The fish market in Hamburg yesterday (

Europe: “Powerful storms have wreaked havoc in parts of central and northern Europe (30 Oct), killing at least five people in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. A 63-year-old camper drowned on the German coast as the result of a storm surge while the other four were killed by falling trees in strong winds. Winds reached 180km/h (112mph) on the Czech Republic’s highest mountain. Thousands of Poles and Czechs are still without power. The centre of the German city of Hamburg has been flooded.” (The storm was named Herwart, which might be German for Harvey…)

USA #1: After forming in the Caribbean and passing over Cuba, bringing two powerful tornados and more flooding to Florida, “Tropical Storm Philippe is no more, done in on Sunday afternoon by over 50 knots of wind-shear and merger with a cold front near the North Carolina coast. But much of the moisture and energy from the season’s 16th named storm will feed into a powerful non-tropical coastal storm gathering strength off the coast of North Carolina, and this new “Franken-Philippe” storm is poised to bring damaging high winds and flooding rains to the Northeast U.S. Sunday night though Monday.” Winds in excess of 100 mph were forecast for New Brunswick: this unusual ‘land-hurricane’ threatened to become the most powerful storm to hit New York since Sandy in 2012. Over 1 million were left without power; a 133 mph gust was recorded on Mt Washington..

USA #2: The fatuous moron, Trump has nominated to head the influential White House policy committee on the Environment, a notorious shill for the Koch Brothers and other huge polluters, a rich bitch called Kathleen Hartnett White. A former Rick Perry (ex-Gov. of Texas, now climate-change-denying Energy Secretary and postnatal cretin) appointee with no scientific qualifications, she claims that carbon dioxide is a Good Thing because it is an essential nutrient, which it was until her paymasters virtually doubled the amount in the atmosphere and fucked-up the weather.

This contrarian, lying old cunt with a history of “revising” environmental data prior to publication, author of a book “You Can Happily Breathe Gasoline!” or something like that, claims without a shred of evidence that fracking is creating ‘millions’ of jobs. She claims: “CO2 represents only 5 percent of global greenhouse gas.” In fact, as a greenhouse gas it is 80 per cent. The 5 per cent figure may refer to the volume of CO2 in the atmosphere, although we hope not, it needs to be around 2%, not to the additional burden of industrial gases that is the major cause of the greenhouse effect and has produced at least 1.2 deg C. (more probably 1.8 deg. C.) of warming since the fossil fuel burning began in earnest in the late C18th; more and faster warming than in the past 800 thousand years.

You see how these disingenuous liars twist things to enrich themselves and their friends at your expense?

One suspects she might be so controversial, insane and corrupted by the Texas carbon-vomiters that Trump has named her deliberately to draw more media fire from the Russia Thing. But no, it seems she has been a stain on the White House carpet since 2016 and this is merely a promotion to make the senescent orange moron feel better about the liquid shit that dribbles daily from his horrible lamprey-mouth.

Has she not even noticed that her paymasters at Exxon-Mobil admitted a while ago that the jig was up? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Kathleen Hartnett White: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Japan: Just a week after Typhoon Lan killed 5 people in Japan, the country is bracing for  Tropical Storm Saola. It may track up the east coast of the islands as a Cat 1 typhoon but not make landfall.

World #1: “Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years. (Despite a slowdown in industrial output…) 2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million, up from 400 ppm in 2015.” This is apparently the highest since Homo “sapiens” emerged out of Africa. (Localised readings this year have hit 870 ppm.)

Methane concentrations are giving even more cause for concern, but the WMO is reportedly “mystified” as to why they are rising so fast, putting the Paris targets at risk. The Pumpkin offers various inexpert theories: record heat anomalies in the Arctic again this year thawing the tundra, maybe? – record wildfires and forest clearance releasing methane to the atmosphere (and leaving less greenery to absorb the CO2)? – warmer, wetter conditions causing dead tropical vegetation to rot down faster? Increase in messy fracking operations? Increasing meat-eating in the developing world?

Focussed entirely as they appear to be on climate, the WMO scientists appear to be unaware of reports, eg that CO2 emissions are rapidly increasing from wildfires and from bacteria multiplying in warming soils; or that the higher the concentration, the less able the biota are to absorb it; tropical rainforests are now said to be becoming net emitters of greenhouse gases.

World #2: An offshoot of leading medical journal, The Lancet, the specially created Countdown Initiative “reveals … that hundreds of millions of people are already suffering the health impacts of climate change. Its insidious creep is being felt in multiple ways: rising temperatures are hastening the spread of infectious diseases; crop yields are becoming uneven and unpredictable, worsening the hunger and malnourishment for some of the most vulnerable people on the planet; allergy seasons are getting longer; and at times it is simply too hot for farmers to work in the fields.”

The Lancet report’s analysis – there has been a 46% increase in extreme weather disasters since 2000.

World #3:

“Tens of millions of people will be forced from their homes by climate change in the next decade, creating the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, according to a new report. Senior US military and security experts have told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) study that the number of climate refugees will dwarf those that have fled the Syrian conflict, bringing huge challenges to Europe.”

BBC News/ Weather Underground/ The Real News/ Guardian – Christina Figueres/ Guardian


End Times: a weekly or sometimes more report

Pneumonic plague: “A plague outbreak in Madagascar has infected 1,192 people since August, with 124 deaths, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster reported on Monday. The majority of cases, 67%, were the pneumonic form of the disease.” – CNN 26 Oct. warning travellers to watch for signs like their fingers turning black.

“…the deadly disease has spread into more African countries after taking root in Madagascar. Countries affected include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Comoros, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion. The World Health Organisation, which has been working with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, has warned the risk of the epidemic spreading (globally) is “high”.” – UK Daily Star, 30 Oct.

Influenza: “The NHS is braced for the worst flu season in its history amid fears that overcrowded hospitals will be unable to cope” (due to the Brisbane H3N2 virus that has infected 100 thousand Australians and killed “hundreds” following the large-scale failure of last winter’s vaccination programme.) “The head of the UK health service has warned that “pressures are going to be real”, as … influenza levels are expected to be high.” – Telegraph and others.

(The last serious outbreak of ‘flu in 1998 killed 30 thousand people in Britain. Or did it? The Full Facts statistical review website argues that annual ‘flu death statistics are grossly inflated by normal respiratory complaints. “… in fact all we can say for certain is that flu causes a few tens of deaths a year, and is associated with a few thousand.” )

Yellowstone: Seismograph data shows more and more magma filling the chamber beneath the caldera, with associated harmonic tremors and rising ground that’s pulsing alarmingly. Steam rising from the Old Faithful geyser is almost black – a sign that the rocks beneath are heating up. USGS is failing to report numerous earthquakes in and around the park and says it plans to shut down the monitors for winter ‘repairs’.

Seriously, guys, the seismographic charts for the key Maple Creek and Norris Junction areas are almost solid BLACK with activity, you can’t tell the quakes from the intruding magma. Either the monitors’re seriously defective, or we’re stuffed.

Philosophical observation: Monitoring these websites on a more or less daily basis, GW has observed that extreme weather events are happening so fast and so frequently, piling atop one another – such as the Tropical Storms that formed almost symmetrically last week over the east and west coasts of the narrow central American isthmus so there was confusion in reporting which exactly was causing what. Some of this year’s worst storms have materialised seemingly out of nowhere, catching forecasters by surprise.

It is leading to a strange situation where different weather bureaux are reporting or not reporting different events, sometimes getting them jumbled up, and news services are failing to report, for instance as with the German/Polish/Czech storms noted here, that a storm in the same region killed the same number of people in early August. While details vary from report to report, and not all forecasts turn out to be accurate. Weather Underground, for instance, has storm-tracking global maps that frequently fail to show the formation of new storms, particularly in the western Pacific.

So it’s not the events themselves that are necessarily so concerning, although nearly 5 feet of hailstones falling in 15 minutes over an Argentine city might be a cause for concern – it’s the information services that are being overwhelmed by the often unreported frequency and unusual patterns that are giving the impression of global weather increasingly in chaos.

Belmarsh, here I come … Britain late for World War Three … So much for the Special Relationship … He still doesn’t have a clue …GW: Keeping an eye on the world’s weird weather, so you don’t have to … The End: A Weekly Update


“…speaking to human rights group Justice on Tuesday, Max Hill QC (HM Independent Inspector of Terrorist Legislation) warned against a “knee-jerk” reaction and said there was a distinct difference between extremism and terrorism. “Whilst we can all agree that there should be nowhere for real terrorists to hide, we should also agree that legislating in the name of terrorism when the targeted activity is not actually terrorism would be quite wrong,” he said*

“We do not, and should not criminalise thought without action or preparation for action.”

“That contrasted significantly with remarks from Foreign Office minister Rory Stewart, who said that “in almost every case” British IS fighters should be killed” – BBC News report, 25 Oct.

Belmarsh, here I come

Aberystwyth University in Wales runs a well respected International Politics department, offering a variety of courses in political and military history and strategy. I know that, because my son went there to do war-gaming and situation-room exercises, emerging with a BSc Econ. and going on to do his Master’s in Strategy, ensuring that if we require someone to mastermind the next World War, apart that is from the murderous Colonel Stewart, a youthful-seeming High Tory from the Borders with a curiously shaped head, there is a suitably qualified candidate with his hand in the air. (He’s a bit of an expert on the equipment, disposition and tactics of the Russian army, actually.)

Our son has been fascinated with all things military and strategic since he was about three years old. Sadly, much to our relief he failed to make it into Sandhurst owing to being asthmatic. At the age of five, he designed and made himself out of shirt-stiffening card and sticky tape, a complete and well-fitting suit of Roman armor. I am still throwing out plastic soldiers, jam-jars full of 0.22 bullet cases (empty) from the rifle club, Dorling Kindersley encyclopedias of Medieval Weaponry, Ladybird histories of King Alfred, no longer playable shoot ’em ‘up games, videos about Stalingrad and a small but eclectic collection of Nepalese Kukris that have cluttered up the house for years. Hands up, there’s an air rifle on top of the wardrobe (legally… we hope).

I’ve often joked that if the police ever found the cache under my bed, several large boxes of his student books on military history, organization, weaponry – the derring-do and fitness methods of the SAS – The Sniper’s Manual – and researched my browsing history, finding that on the basis of books I ordered on request while the lad was still too young to have his own account, for months Amazon subsequently flagged-up various recommendations for me, including The Anarchists’ Cookbook (full publication) – a book I hasten to assert neither of us has ever ordered – I might as well turn myself in now.

Yes, I am a dangerous revolutionary, armed with many books I can throw at the authorities. (Only joking. Bit of bantz there….)

But it always seemed to me that were I to be accused of plotting the overthrow of the State on the basis of the ample evidence cluttering my little house, my son’s academic standing and requirement to plough through reams of research for his essays and dissertations would be my fallback defense.

Besides, the Anarchists’ Cookbook was just a merry prank, wasn’t it? A ’60s hippy lark, to go with Oz Magazine, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, On The Road, Rolling Stone Magazine and Trout Fishing in America as publications reflective of the zeitgeist, as we used to say.

Apparently, you can’t look at it like that anymore, as the authorities have entirely lost both their sense of proportion and their sense of humour. Also their knowledge of literary history, by the looks of it. Terrorism is as terrorism does, as they say. My tiny voice pointing out that you can find all kinds of shit online without the need to purchase the book is unlikely to make a dent in the implacable face of State security. Books is evidence.

See, I’ve just had one of those Omigod! moments, when I read on the BBC News website that:

“Birmingham Crown Court heard Joshua Walker, 27, from Bristol, told police he had “forgotten” about the partial copy of The Anarchist Cookbook (found under his bed during a search). He claimed he had printed it off for a strategy war-gaming session while at the University of Aberystwyth.

“Mr Walker denies a charge relating to possessing terrorist information. The jury was told the manual contained instructions on making plastic explosives, hand grenades, pipe bombs and detonators.”

Ha ha, silly jury. The Cookbook is not a real terror manual, lolz, it was published as a joke by some bored students in a squat, four decades before 9/11. And it’s in general publication – it’s not illegal yet to own a book. Don’t you see?

You do surely see?

Oh, shit.

Now we’re in trouble.

Better burn your copy of War and Peace.

*Mr Hill is quite sensibly in favour of scrapping anti-terror laws, on the grounds that perfectly adequate legislation already exists for dealing with the problem. The BogPo has indeed commented before on the dangers of intelligent and rational experts making sensible recommendations that send politicians screaming to their selection committees.


A report in today’s Daily Express reflects on Britain’s unpreparedness for World War Three breaking out at short notice.

To the Editor


I read that the Royal United Services Institute fears that the UK would have only 5 hours – the time difference between London and Washington – to prepare for World War Three in the event of a nuclear attack by North Korea. This seems unlikely as the UK’s main nuclear strike force, Trident is actually under US control, in realtime communication. Retaliation would be instantaneous.

In any case, North Korea does not have the capacity to wage war against the USA, let alone Britain. It has at best 30 nuclear devices still at testing stage, and probably a smaller number of workable delivery ICBMs: the US has over 4 thousand operational nukes ‘locked and loaded’, and President Trump has called for the arsenal to be increased by 1,000%; while injecting another $64 billion dollars a year into his already bloated military.

North Korea has roughly the same number of men under arms, a million. They are well-drilled for fancy parades but poorly equipped and underfed, owing to years of drought and sanctions, while the officer corps is corrupt and lacks combat experience. They have no navy, or long-distance air-cover – hence no means of invading any country by sea, let alone one 3,000 miles across the Pacific. The main worry is the line of thousands of artillery pieces along the DMZ, that could obliterate the South Korean capital, Seoul, just 30 miles away, within hours.

North Korea does not yet have a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead as far as New York, as your report suggests. Their main capability therefore is probably in cyber warfare.

Kim Jong-Il is not a ‘crackpot’, he is a western-educated man, extremely calculating and rational in his strategy – which is, essentially, for his family to hang on to power and for himself not to go the way of a Saddam or Gadaffi through regime change by the West. He also needs a negotiating bargain-chip if he is going to get sanctions eased. He has no intention of nuking America first, he knows it would be suicide. His alarming threats are for domestic consumption; while he clearly enjoys winding-up Donald Trump.

It is all ‘willy-waggling’.

By your definition Mr Trump is also a ‘crackpot’, probably more so*; indeed, many of his fanatical supporters are religious crazies longing for him to bring about the ‘End of Days’ and the Second Coming of Christ; as well as ‘chaos capitalists’ – billionaire businessmen who believe they will thrive in a less secure world.

Mr Trump has already threatened to ‘destroy’ a nation of 40 million impoverished peasants because he is too thin-skinned to survive being ridiculed by Kim for much longer. He forgets (if he ever knew) that the US killed up to 3 million North Korean civilians in a brutal saturation bombing campaign during the Korean War (1950-53) and that such talk is not taken lightly in Pyongyang.

The worry is that many American psychiatrists and now a handful of Congressmen publicly agree, Trump is not calculating and rational, he is impulsive and lacks self-control and could do something stupid at any moment; starting a war which the UK might happily blunder into as a relief from the agonizing Brexit negotiations, but which could rapidly turn nuclear if the Chinese and the Russians decided to intervene on behalf of their old proxy in the peninsula.

Perhaps that should have been the basis of your story?

*I am enjoying reading ‘Trump is F*ing Crazy’, the new book by the veteran journalist, Keith Olbermann.


A  BBC report says the Foreign Office in London was extremely concerned that because of the time difference, Downing Street would have no advance warning of any of Trump’s decisions that could impact Britain and recommended the setting-up of a special department to monitor the Executive Orders that poured out of the Oval Office in his early days (when Steve Bannon was the de facto president), at times of the night here when people were asleep.

Of particular concern was the travel ban on citizens of seven named Muslim countries, as it was feared it would affect business travellers and families with dual-citizenship. FO officials had tried to contact the State Department to get clarification, but no-one was available to speak to us… that was shortly after Theresa May had rushed to Washington to be sure to be the first ‘world leader’ to pay court to the deranged old monster, who offered us a great big trade deal (and then without warning slapped a 300% tariff on US sales of Bombardier C-Series commercial aircraft, whose wings are made in Britain, to protect Boeing), so you’d think they would have known who we were….

So much for the Special Relationship.


He still doesn’t have a clue

Tomorrow (28 Oct) is the 60th anniversary of the BBC’s flagship radio news programme, Today. In the lead-up to the celebration, Today presenters have been interviewing lots of people and asking what has changed in Britain over the past 60 years.

One of the things that has changed about the Today programme in recent times is, to my mind, the almost complete lack of actual news reporting. The show is now drizzled with author interviews – Sarah Montague had a go at John Grisham yesterday and almost completely failed to ask him anything about the book, concentrating instead on his views about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally – he’s from there – news from two months ago, and his views about Trump, which he was naturally somewhat reticent about.

Ther are also many more ‘soft’ items on music and the arts to fill the spaces, and science stuff no-one on the show seems qualified to talk about;  while political interviews continue to flatter the Brexit diehards and run on for 20 minutes. This morning’s show carried a number of items that I seem to have heard yesterday, while stories about, for instance, the perils of antibiotics resistance have been knocking around for years and I don’t suppose people still really need lengthy explainers.

They’re particularly pisspoor, as Private Eye would put it, on US politics. Scales from my eyes were rattling on the breakfast table catching up with last night’s Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC as just the first two stories she covered were totally contradictory to the BBC’s floppy take on them.

Firstly, the Beeb had interviewed two old Americans excitedly about the much-trumpeted release of the Kennedy papers, without once mentioning that the papers weren’t released – Trump had announced that they would be, as if it was his prerogative, in fact the release date was set by law 25 years ago and the White House forgot to order it done, so that they’ve had to push the date forward to next April, pretending it’s to allow the CIA time to work out which are the least embarrassing bits (they’ve only had 25 years)  and late yesterday evening a small quantity of the archive with heavy (and illegal) redactions was rushed out. None of that would have been apparent to Today’s ageing listeners.

Then, Today reported that Trump had declared a national emergency to combat the crisis of opioid drug addiction in the USA, resulting from the overprescription of painkillers, that is killing thousands of people every year. Maddow however probed the story a little more journalistically, recalling that Trump had in fact declared a ‘national emergency’ back in August, but was merely indulging in rodomontade – he simply does not get that the words ‘state of emergency’ when uttered by a real President actually have legal force, as he is so ignorant of his administrative duties, responsibilities and powers. In the event, nothing was done because no orders were given to do anything.

Yesterday, Trump re-declared it a ‘medical emergency’, thus obviating the necessity to allocate any funding to whatever program his officials are scampering to cobble together as a result of this latest example of his impromptu bullshit.

Both stories, and the mediaballs around Trump actually going to Dallas and doing a bit of carefully controlled glad-handing for the cameras to celebrate the last-minute ‘release’ of a few papers with heavy redactions concerning the investigations into the Kennedy shooting, are clearly being driven by his PR people to try to create some kind of positive coverage around the President being decisive and rational, to counter the recent criticisms by Congressmen Flake and Corker that he is completely doolalli and should be carted off with his arms folded before he kills us all.

In fact they have simply revealed that after nine months in office, he still doesn’t have a clue.


GW: Keeping an eye on the world’s weird weather, so you don’t have to

Hawaii: 24 Oct. a severe storm generated by the Pacific 5,000-mile ‘atmospheric river’ event causes local flooding and knocks out power across the whole of the main island of Maui. More storms forecast.

Japan: is counting the cost after Typhoon Lan made landfall on the 23rd at Shizuoka, south of Tokyo as a Cat 2 storm. Three dead, floods and landslides destroyed up to 500 homes. “A man died when his home was hit by a landslide, while two people were in comas due to their injuries while about 90 people had lighter injuries, Japanese media said.”

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Saola is strengthening to Cat 1 over the Japanese islands but is forecast to swing back out to sea, sparing the mainland. And up in the Aleutian Islands, the remnant low pressure area of Typhoon Lan moving northwards is reported from satellite data to be raising waves of up to 58 feet in height across a 1,000-mile-wide front.

India: more than 200 villages flooded out in Odisha province. Three days of intense rainfall causes rivers to overflow. Thousands of acres of crops destroyed.

Thailand: overflowing dams cause more flooding around Bangkok as months of heavy rains continue without respite. Floodwater said to be turning ‘putrid’.

USA: Michigan, a low-pressure ‘weather bomb’ emerges from a passing storm (‘bombogenesis’) to whip up 25-ft waves on Lake Superior, causing coastal damage. Boone, North Carolina was underwater on the 23rd as over 6-in of rain fell. Duluth, Minnesota experiences record October snowfall.

  • The California heatwave continued into Tuesday bringing 100 deg. F.-plus temperatures, 2 deg. F. above any previous records for the time of year. “Santa Ana winds kept the temperatures amazingly warm throughout Monday night. In Orange County, the city of Fullerton soared to 107°F on Monday” – hotter even than Death Valley has ever been this late in October. Ventura County sweltered in 90 deg. overnight. Unusually warm temperatures are being recorded over most of the USA. New England had a +6 deg. C. temperature anomaly throughout October and the famous ‘fall’ when the “Autumn leaves turn to red and gold” hasn’t happened.
  • Until today, when a rapid drop in temperature from the 70s F. to the 40s F. is forecast across most of the northeast US as the jetstream plunges loopily southwards. However , a weather system forming off the coast is threatening Maine and New Hampshire with up to 6″ of rain on Sunday: “Some locations in the Northeast may well set all-time records for their heaviest calendar-day rainfall total during any October. There’s also a chance that barometric pressure will dip to all-time lows for October at one or more points across New England…” With 100 mph-plus winds up into New Brunswick.
  • Meanwhile, a report on New York city’s response to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy reveals that some 500 people are still not back in their homes five years later.

Greenland: high temperature anomalies reported in the past few days; although temperatures have plunged to as low as 14 deg. F. (18 deg. below freezing) in the north, in the south temperatures have been up to 20 deg. C. above normal for the time of year.

  • CryoSat-2 may have been overestimating the thickness of Arctic ice by up to 25%, according to new research by the University of Calgary, owing to growing surface salinity. 2017 sea ice extent was only the eighth lowest recorded so sceptics may sneer but extent is not the same as volume…

Caribbean: “Showers and thunderstorms continue to bubble around a large area of disturbed weather in the Western Caribbean. Designated as Invest 93L, the system had a broad center located on Tuesday morning just off the east coast of Nicaragua.” Some models are predicting a hurricane could form as sea temperature is 30 deg. C. “A much more likely scenario than classic hurricane development is that moisture and energy from 93L will shoot north-northeastward and help contribute to very heavy rains in Florida on Saturday and in the Northeast U.S. from Sunday into Monday.”

Puerto Rico: a month after Hurricane Maria, 80% of the island is still without power. It’s being reported that the contract to restore power to three million householders on the island has been awarded to a major donor to the Trump re-election campaign. Whitefish Energy has only two fulltime employees and is having to hire subcontractors. Of course there is no hint of corruption. The death toll from and since the h:urricane is believed to be around 450.

Nicaragua: ‘Invest 92-L’, a large potential tropical storm is lurking off the eastern Pacific coast, bearing a lot of rain. Sandwiched between tropical lows 92-L and 93-L off either coast, Central America has experienced severe weather effects, with 5 known dead (including 4 miners drowned in a mine) and 2 missing. Many thousands have been flooded out or evacuated.

Ecuador: centre of the capital, Quito, brought to a standstill on 26 Oct. by an icefall that creates flash flooding and rivers of ice flowing through the streets.

Colombia: city of Timbiqui inundated.

El Salvador: city of Usulutan hit by flash flooding after powerful storm. Another on the way: “Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are a distinct threat from slow-moving TS Selma, despite its weakness and small size. As it approaches the higher terrain of El Salvador and Guatemala, widespread rains of 3 – 6” are expected, with local totals of 10” or more possible.”

Honduras: Atlantic coastal communities and capital Tegucigalpa flood after heavy rain. Major flooding too in neighbouring Guatemala.

Brazil: News emerges of a massive red dust storm that engulfed the city of Campo Verde on the 16th.

Argentina: community of Formosa pounded on the 26th with a violent storm and hailstones the size of tennis balls. Thousands of cars and buldings damaged. But… parts of Cordoba city experienced a horrifying 1.5 m (4’9″)-deep accumulation of hailstones in only 15 minutes.

Australia: as US Environment Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt declares ‘the war on coal is over!’ and scraps Obama’s Clean Air Plan, a new University of Melbourne study reports that the present contribution mostly from burning coal will bring about 1.3 metres of sea-level rise by 2050 as the Antarctic is melting faster than anyone thought.

A violent storm brought surface flooding to parts of Queensland state on Thursday, with lots of lightning and hailstones ‘the size of golfballs’, as they say, causing damage to properties. “About 15,000 homes lost power and 70,000 lightning strikes were recorded across the state’s south-east region.”

Italy: more big wildfires break out in the north around Bussoleno between 21 and 25 October.

Bulgaria: “At least” 3 people died after a storm dumped 60mm of rain in an hour, triggering flooding (Oct 24/25) in the province of Burgas, south east Bulgaria. The provincial government announced a state of emergency.

Greece: Mediterranean island of Crete experiences flash flooding after Storm Daedalus brings torrential rain – big storm surge.

Corsica: more wildfires break out on the island. 2,000 acres burned around Balagne. Strong winds fan the flames. While October has been a record warm month in Europe, it is likely to go out in a blast of cold weather descending from the Arctic. BBC News/ ‘Mary Greeley’/ Weather Underground/ TYT/ The Guardian/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #76./ ABC News/ Reuters/ Euronews/ Floodlist/ MrMBB333


The End: A Weekly Update

Bali: 180 thousand people are still sitting out an evacuation a month after experts predicted the sacred Mount Agung volcano was about to blow at any moment. The volcano experienced 209 earthquakes on Tuesday and a deep M6.7 60 miles away resulted today in a shallower M5.2 that shook the island. The quake was predicted accurately three days ago by ‘Dutchsinse’ – Michael Janich – a US-based earthquake forecaster. The US Geological Service says predicting the location and size of earthquakes is impossible, and despite his 80% or better record, continues to try to muzzle him.

USA: “The length of the US winter is shortening, with the first frost of the year arriving more than one month later than it did 100 years ago, according to more than a century of measurements from weather stations nationwide. The trend of ever later first freezes appears to have started around 1980, according to data from 700 weather stations across the US going back to 1895″ (NOAA)

Korea: “US defence secretary Jim Mattis has said the threat of nuclear missile attack by North Korea is accelerating. In remarks in Seoul with South Korean defence minister Song Young-moo at his side, Mattis accused the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programs – and vowed to defeat any attack. America, he said, ‘would never accept a nuclear North Korea’.”

World: The Royal United Services Institute says Britain would have five hours to prepare if the US goes to war against North Korea, which would, in their view, likely start a global conflict.

Dutchsinse/ Daily Express/ Guardian

The Pumpkin – Issue 34: Clinton: the Dark Lady of Russian Fiction … Oh Come, All Ye Faithful … What hope is there for humanity? … Granny W., hunkering down for the duration … Belmarsh, here I come



“I somehow doubt, too, that she would ever confuse the stock market with the Treasury”

Clinton, the Dark Lady of Russian Fiction

A Guardian Opinion piece (21 Oct) by senior journalist Zoe Williams, asks “Why does nobody mention that Hillary Clinton is perfectly nice?”

She bases her report on an appearance by Clinton on BBC 1’s The Graham Norton Show, plugging her new book, What Happened? It seems a fair question. Actually they both do.

Because in The Pumpkin’s view, this lady has been seriously traduced; while the sheer insouciant hypocrisy of Trump’s continuing attacks on her is something that surely needs to be countered by an objective analysis of his own record.

The stories about Clinton spread on social media by Russian bots through ‘false-front’ pressure groups and fake social media accounts, and by advertising paid for by ‘dark money’ sources ran to ‘hundreds of millions’ of micro-targeted views, according to recent research, almost certainly with inside help from US data analytics companies in the pay of the Republican party, and must have gone a long way to create the overall impression of the Democrat candidate as some kind of malevolent ‘dark lady’ that chimes with the absurd ‘demon eyes’ campaign the Tories ran against Blair in 1997, taking personalized politics to a new level of trashy. (and see others)

Where was the substance to them?

The Whitewater property scandal* was never proven; the emails – well, it’s perfectly clear, all politicians (especially Trump’s closest ‘advisors’ and nepotistic appointments) use public networks, they’re probably safer than the official servers.

Clinton did not murder the Ambassador to Benghazi, her acceptance of responsibility was as the Secretary of State, the head of the diplomatic department – not as an admission of personal error or guilt. Trump however has accepted no responsibility for military and civilian casualties in his secret wars.

Whitewater rafting (

Several million Americans who can’t think for themselves actually believed, and many still believe, the ludicrous Pizzagate allegations; and despite Trump’s appalling history of Weinsteinian abuse many apparently intelligent members of the sorority were persuaded to vote for him because Clinton stood by her husband and she so shouldn’t have done that – bad optic; while ethnic minorities seem to have been persuaded against her in sufficient numbers by blatantly obvious commercials shot in Nigeria, using Nigerian actors pretending to be Black Lives Matter advocates, claiming Clinton was the racist bitch candidate and Trump, who in real life refused to rent properties to blacks and Puerto Ricans, the champion of the oppressed.

I somehow doubt, too, that she would ever confuse the stock market with the Treasury (Chump has claimed credit for wiping out half the national debt through

Whitewater grafting? (Washington Post)

bringing about, somehow, record levels of speculative investment in the market, which most economists agree is a seriously dangerous state of affairs. Figures published this week show the deficit to be increasing faster than at any time in the last five years, while unemployment is again rising); or that she might seek to reward her corporate sponsors in quite the same spectacular way as Trump’s ‘beautiful’ $4 trillion Christmas tax cuts that will bear hardest on the poor and aspirant middle-class, while making repeated, futile attempts by diktat at destroying ‘Obamacare’, to the detriment of the health and security of 32 million voters; or that she would seek to multiply the US nuclear arsenal tenfold, having first told the Russians in a phone call what she was planning to do.

It also seems unlikely that she would by now have fired the director of the FBI for refusing to suspend an investigation into her collusion with Russia and swear personal fealty to her; or bitterly attacked her own officials and party for failing to support her crazier policy initiatives; or appointed incompetent and venial placemen to all the key offices of State. Virtually all senior politicians are invited to speak at corporate get-togethers, and well paid for their insights. But would Clinton have appointed five former Goldman Sachs executives to her cabinet?

Would she have complained that the official Opposition keeps unfairly opposing her and thus failed to achieve any significant legislation in ten months, apart from rolling back all the environmental and consumer protections of her predecessor; pissed-off America’s allies by seeking to tear down a raft of painstakingly negotiated security treaties; demanded NATO pay the USA billions of dollars of protection money; schmoozed the world’s worst dictatorships; advocated torture and police violence; raised trade barriers 300% to “protect” already successful US global corporations, and proposed to destroy the current status quo on world trade to the detriment of her own economy?

Would she have threatened to deport 11 million useful and mostly peaceable family people, lied about the intentions of the Muslim community to create fear and division, banned children from entering the USA in case they were terrorists, and imagined building a 20-foot-high, 2,000-mile-long, $25 billion wall to stop Mexicans from flying over it, tunnelling under it or going around it by sea – a pointless wall to divide even white American communities along the border, to stop billions of dollars in cross-border trade, all at the expense of the US taxpayer and consumer – when illegal Mexican immigration has already slowed to a trickle?

Would she be banning transsexuals from serving in the military, and rolling-back protections for gay people against discrimination by rabid Christians? Would she have managed to lose an entire carrier squadron in the southern Indian Ocean, imagining it was in the southwestern Pacific? Would she have had her Attorney General let rip on users of cannabis, even for medical purposes, in States where Federal law outranks local legislative freedoms only recently gained? Would she have threatened the starving and hagridden peasants of North Korea with nuclear annihilation, or told lies deliberately to justify war with Iran?

Would she have told the grieving 22-year-old pregnant widow and mother-of-two of a Green Beret soldier killed on a dubious secret op she can’t talk about in some flyblown oil-rich African desert that ‘he knew what he was getting into’ – even if she knew his name, and that he was a black man whose service she could traduce? And then lied about it, and attacked the reputations of the five witnesses, just simple folk? Would she have betrayed the confidence of her Chief-of-Staff and forced him to dishonor the memory of his own fallen son in order to pursue her own vengeful, dishonest attacks on the widow and her Congresswoman? Would she ever have appointed that sweaty sack of lies, Sarah Huckabee ‘I’m a Christian’ Sanders, as chief press spokesthing to bully and browbeat the pathetic gaggle of White House press correspondents?

Is there any suggestion that Clinton is a disgusting orange pig with no moral boundaries; an egomaniacal, vindictive, uneducated, sociopathic sex-pest in an expensive suit bought with money stolen from Russian banks? That she learned her business methods at the knee of a notorious member of the Mafia? That she takes from money-launderers and racketeers, or that she uses money from her own tax-exempt charity foundation to buy-off investigations and diverts funds donated for her re-election campaign to pay lawyers to defend herself aggressively against potential charges of money-laundering and obstruction of justice or worse? Has anyone suggested that she ever ran a dubious ‘modelling agency’ importing, as is claimed, underage girls from eastern Europe and pimped her own daughter at the age of 14 to another agency owned by a notorious pedophile, just to get more party invitations? Or that she perhaps ripped-off Chelsea’s annual charity fundraisers for children with cancer, to the tune of half-a-million dollars?

Nor, one suspects, would she be aligning herself with the malign machinations of the pro-Life campaign, its Christianized violence against the medical profession, its doxing and other abusive attempts to harass health employees and marginalize and deny women’s rights over their own lives and bodies in the 21st century (see following story). Or imagining that the lie she was told to put out, that her predecessor in the White House was bugging her calls, has somehow become true?

Oh, but she took bribes from a Canadian businessman to approve the sale of Canadian uranium under NAFTA rules to a Russian power company…! Except that Business Insider investigated the allegation made by an author plugging an anti-Clinton diatribe in the New York Times, a book plug, and found: “we have no evidence of a quid pro quo, and we don’t have evidence that Hillary Clinton took any action at all with regard to this sale, in favor of the interests of the donors or otherwise.”

And now, oh! But she colluded with the Russians to get intel on Trump! No, she didn’t do that, American conspiracy dimwits. She – or her party – colluded, if anything, with a former BRITISH MI6 spook, Christopher Steele, to get the Russian intel on Trump AFTER the Republicans first commissioned Steele to find out what the Russians had on Trump BEFORE adopting him as their candidate.

Just as we have no evidence that Trump had a business association with a convicted Russian mobster, Felix Sater, whose company Bayrock (based in Trump Tower but he “wouldn’t know what he looked like” (except there are photos of them with arms around shoulders) was a front for a major investment in Trump SoHo by the man believed to be the ‘capo di capi’ of the Russian mafia, Semion Mogilevich. No evidence that he sold a Florida mansion to Dmitry Rybolovlev, an oligarch associated through Bank of Cyprus – a known money-laundering conduit – with his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, for $56 million more than he’d paid for it two years earlier. A mansion that was subsequently demolished as unfit for habitation. Nor that he defaulted on $340 million of a 2007 loan from Deutsche Bank; a marker that some foolish journalists suspect may have been picked up by Russian banks linked with the Kremlin.

Preposterous. Just more of those fake news things.

While Clinton’s failure to run an ominous series of quasi-fascist Orwellian hate-speech rallies, tell the most enormous porky-pies (around 1,400 of Trump’s public utterances and tweets have to date been verified as out-and-out falsehoods by the Washington Post), refuse to condemn white supremacist terrorists and neo-Nazis, disparage Gold Star parents, send critics and perceived enemies and the Mayor of London vicious bullying tweets at 4 am, declare the press to be ‘Enemies of the People’, obsess endlessly over her turnouts and poll ratings, fire anyone who won’t agree to lie about them and encourage her supporters to beat-up protestors – these omissions may have left the impression Hillary is a bit – well, dull for the modern presidential era.

Wouldn’t you think?

“…a surprisingly large contingent of fully qualified American psychiatrists and psychologists actually held a rally in Washington last week to try to bring to the attention of senior Republicans on the Hill, their firm belief that Trump is genuinely crazy…”

It seems somewhat unfair that Trump is allowed to brood darkly for months over his election victory and spend public money on trying to prove that he won because the opposition cheated, while when Clinton complains about him stealing the election from her she’s accused of being hysterical. Misogyny – back to the kitchen, anti-feminism – indeed seems to have played a large part in her downfall, just as race-hatred plays a part in Trump’s Obama-obsessed policy-making – and, judging by the online commentariat – probably continues to do so. We need to consider that Clinton did get 2.8 million more votes nationally than Trump; and that new analysis is showing how voter suppression in key marginal states – a form of electronic gerrymandering favoured mainly by Republican administrations – was largely responsible for him winning the decisive Electoral College votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – natural Democrat constituencies – against the polling numbers.

This process has been continuing with the help of data analytics companies and Russian hacking of voter rolls to determine who is to be disenfranchised on spurious grounds (such as not having an expensive new photo driver’s licence, or having a similar name to someone else) before the mid-term elections next year under the aegis of Trump’s special commission on the so-far unproven ‘voter fraud’ involving millions of invisible aliens, which he believes in his madness was responsible for his lack of a numerical majority at the last election. It’s a strategy designed to keep the Republican boot stamping on a human face foreever.

At least there is no sign that Clinton demands the unconditional love of the people. She’s not a diagnosable psychopath.

For we should next consider that a surprisingly large contingent of fully qualified American psychiatrists and psychologists actually held a rally in Washington last week to try to bring to the attention of senior Republicans on the Hill, their firm conviction that Trump is genuinely crazy – mentally unfit to be left anywhere near the guy with the nuclear football. Senator Bob Corker has also made the same point quite openly – beyond all of which, it should be obvious to anyone that the President is a nasty piece of work: not only a vindictive and malignant narcissist, but a lazy and incompetent administrator and disastrous person-manager with an unheard-of turnover of key staff, highly dubious business history and a habit of spending vast sums of other people’s money on securing his own comforts and position, to allay his fundamental insecurities.

A propos, it’s hard to imagine workaholic Clinton spending three days a week out of the office at any of her many private resorts, funded by Russian investment, playing golf and promoting membership at a cost to the taxpayer of over $50 million in her first six months in – or rather, out – of office; finding the task of understanding healthcare, immigration rules, the history of the Korean War or the constitution of the United States intellectually too exhausting; or blowing $1 billion on additional security for 42 members of her family and their business properties. It’s hard to imagine her mistaking impoverished, hurricane-battered Puerto Rico for a separate country that owes the US Treasury $74 billion and must pay it back before qualifying for emergency aid; or that she is not also the president of the US Virgin Islands – the clue is in the name. Hard to see her imperiously throwing paper towels at hurricane survivors…

…or defunding important executive offices, or banning scientists from reporting on environmental dangers, failing to appoint managers to key positions and ambassadors to key allies, hysterically abusing the courts and firing judges for obstructing her illegal orders and poking around in her affairs, sacking staff she perceives as opposing her merely for offering the experienced advice they’re paid to offer, claiming that they were underperforming, or disloyal, or that they resigned – there’s always a lie attached…

…or praising Putin’s policy of eliminating opponents and inconvenient journalists; or blaming a traffic accident in London on Muslim refugees while continuing to claim without any justification that the (Muslim) Mayor of London is soft on terrorism; or approving the policy of the dictator of the Philippines of exterminating drug users through extrajudicial murders, or rolling-back limits specifically on coal-fired power stations whose emissions are thought to add another 4 thousand American deaths a year to the toll of over 30 thousand gun deaths she refuses to do anything about, or removing protections for endangered wildlife and treasured monument lands and removing controls on polluting emissions from coal-fired power stations and oil and gas fracking operations….

…or needing to be shown cartoon versions of policy documents and half-page briefings with lots of simple bullet points and her name mentioned in every other line, to be constantly praised for nonexistent triumphs, at the same time having to be ‘kept calm’ and distracted by White House staff 24-hours a day, in what Sen. Corker describes as a ‘day-care center’, lest she starts World War Three in one of her constant rages – literally.

All in all, it’s not really surprising that the poor woman feels she was robbed: she was.

So was everyone else.

Ranting and raving for the benefit of his crazed followers, the man is clearly not in control. But who will act?

And now we have Bannon coaching egregiously from the sidelines, making open threats against Republicans who don’t toe the Breitbart line, and Putin pleading with the 67% of Americans who now understand the presidency is a historic train-wreck, amid a growing realization of the extent to which Russian interference played a part in electing the man, to give poor, traduced Mr Trump a chance, we can see all the more clearly the nature of the attempted coup, the treason; yet still nothing is done about it for fear the Republicans will be defunded by their shady corporate backers while incurring the electoral wrath of Trump’s only-slowly shrinking legion of deluded, screaming dumbfucks: his audience.

Because for him, it’s all about the ratings. It doesn’t matter who gets fired – hurt, insulted, sexually propositioned or even killed in the process. No-one and nothing outside Trump really exists. It’s all about the ratings; the living proof that the unlovable child who could never live up to his alcoholic, dead brother’s image in their father’s eyes, is truly loved and admired by the multitude. And any perceived slight sees him ranting and raving for the benefit of his crazed followers. The man is clearly not in control of himself: incoherent, forgetful, mendacious and undisciplined. But who will act?

Fortunately the plotters are so inept and unable to figure out where the levers of power really are, that it’s not been too successful – yet. Which is why Trump needs to be removed from office, now, before the squabbling bunch of criminals, neofascists, alt-right ‘Christians’, sycophants, useless and incompetent dimwits, the corruptly funded shills for the energy and chemicals and pharmaceutical industries, the swamp-dwellers and bottom-feeders, the financiers and corporate lawyers who know where his bodies are buried – the attack-dogs, the authoritarians, the racists and the crusaders; all the billionaire riff-raff with whom he has surrounded himself and his administration – private-jet-renters and tax-eaters whom, by and large, he has recently admitted he ‘hates’, the ones he screams abuse at on a daily basis but absolutely needs inside the tent pissing out; before they get the hang of things and really start going to town.

It surely can’t be long now.

*Whitewater was a 1980s property deal that went bad (Trump’s of course never did!) involving the Clintons when Bill was governor of Arkansas. David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against the Clintons, while himself facing arraignment, claimed in November 1993 that Bill Clinton had pressured him into providing an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the Clintons’ partner in the Whitewater land deal. Neither Bill Clinton nor Hillary were ever prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to the land deal, who were convicted; McDougal serving jail time. (Edited from Wikipedia entry)


My sperms have rights. Your eggs don’t.

Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

Yet again I have to thank Rachel Maddow for drawing the attention of The Pumpkin to a story far down the news agenda, concerning yet another federal agency director, a Trump appointee of staggering inappropriateness for the job. (I think ‘Trumpian’ ought to be the correct adjective for ‘staggeringly inappropriate’.)

This gentleman was nominated by Trump, in all his cartoonishly malevolent insanity, to run the national refugee resettlement program. Needless to say, he had no experience whatever of resettling refugees, overseas aid work or indeed of any sort of official bureaucratic duties before now. Actually, that’s not quite true: he was for a time on the board of a ‘charity’ devoted to supporting Christian refugees fleeing from ISIS. (The Muslim and Yazidi women and children were going to Hell anyway, so no need bothering with them.) This entity called itself The Knights of Columbus (after a well-known mass-murderer falsely stated to have ‘discovered’ America).

“Aw, c’mon honey…”

E Scott Lloyd is, it seems, a rabidly homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-abortion, anti-contraception, pro-spermatozoa, ‘Christian’ crusader; a sanctimonious-looking fellow with that perfectly varnished face, deviant smile and fanatical eyes only Americans of a certain religiose kind can present to the camera for posterity. The kind of male whose sperm have infinite rights to reproduce while your eggs have no rights to stop them under any circumstances.

The kind who believe women belong on their backs, probably in the kitchen. According to The Asylumist website:

“Mr. Lloyd has been an active volunteer in the pro-life movement. He is on the Board of Directors of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center, an organization that provides “counseling” related to unwanted pregnancies. He is also a founder of Witness Works, which aims to build a “culture of life.”

In addition, he contributes to various pro-life publications, including Human Life International (“Contraception: The Root of the Culture of Death”) and Veritatis Splendor, where he writes, “The Supreme Court, when it claimed to recognize for women the ‘right’ to abortion on demand, simultaneously stripped the fathers of these children of their right to be parents, and other associated rights”. (Presumably, that includes the rapists and the uncles?)

And he does have some experience of managing immigrants.

The agency he heads – practically a cult within Government, according to Maddow – is at this time holding 38 young immigrant teenage girls in a private facility, apparently to prevent them from continuing with their plans to abort unwanted pregnancies, although abortion is legal under the present regime in the State of Texas, where they are being illegally detained, up to 20 weeks.

It is reminiscent of the Irish concentration camps for unwed mothers, the baby farms whose mass graves are even now being exhumed after fifty years; the ‘laundries’ operated by the Catholic Sisters of this-or-that – Mercy, Charity, Piety – but never Compassion or Understanding.

According to the story, the girls are being forcibly indoctrinated and denied access to medical care and advice from any doctor who is not signed-up to the pro-Life movement. Lawyers are trying to get them out, but the clock is ticking. Mr Lloyd is also a lawyer, famous for having spun-out a case for seven years while a family tore itself apart (at vast cost), a husband warring with his “Christian” in-laws over whether or not an injured woman in a persistent vegetative state should have her feeding-tube removed. Lloyd prolonged the agony, he claimed, in order to best fulfil Christ’s teaching. (My own researches into the New Testament have failed to turn up any references to life-support machines.)

Given that there is no obvious record of the service in Government Mr Trump’s recommendation refers to in his CV, and given his complete lack of interest in or empathy with anyone who is not a fully signed-up and baptized Christian, which describes pretty much most refugees, The Asylumist (a website devoted to legal issues related to asylum-seekers) concludes of him: “All this begs the question, how is Mr. Lloyd qualified to direct the Office of Refugee Resettlement?”

Oh, but surely, he is qualified by virtue? I mean, sorry, by “virtue” of his being an utter slimeball?

What a shame the Romans failed to eradicate these sanctimonious, compassionless, hateful hypocrites at birth, in the most imaginative, entertaining and very painful ways possible – before their own empire collapsed amid division, corruption and administrative – should we say “Trumpian”? – chaos.

But even the lions, I fear, would gag on the likes of E Scott Lloyd: gristle through and through.


What hope is there for humanity?

More frightening even than Trump himself is the psyche of the people who support him.

The Pumpkin lazily visits a website called ‘Mary Greeley’ from time to time, to check on the progress of the impending Yellowstone supervolcano cataclysm, as she is the only person unconnected with the lyin’ US Geological Survey who sounds even remotely sane, podcasting regularly from wherever she lives, analysing the seismometer feeds from all the main sensors and webcams in and around the park, reporting gloomily on the many earthquakes that affect the region (this year since June has seen a record number, perhaps 15 thousand, ranging up to M5.2 but mostly much smaller – and, unusually, significantly, just outside the caldera in Montana and Idaho).

I say remotely sane, although she has been telling us the underground chambers are rapidly filling with dangerous quantities of magma – that’s lava before it bursts out – and the caldera is about to erupt at any moment, since at least 2013; all in all it’s been 40 years since the first signs of impending doom appeared. Whenever she tires of this theme, or of lecturing her many viewers on the interesting subject of borehole design, Mary likes to wander off in search of more incredible things, such as a recent sighting of Bigfoot (now with three “littlefeet” in tow and a pig on its back, as witnessed by a local farmer, Mr Gonzalez.)

The Bigfoot photo she shows us has been kicking around for years, and is a ‘simulacrum’ – ie, something that bears a slight resemblance to something it isn’t. In this case, it’s been shown to be just a shaded hollow on a sunlit earth bank beside a river. Even Mary is curious to know why photos of Bigfoot are always so indistinct, and I feel like replying, it’s because they make really strong moonshine liquor in the Ozarks, or wherever the thing is, which makes focussing a Kodak Box Brownie kinda tricky.

Mary has a tiresome habit of putting interesting web pages with unattributed articles up on screen and then reading them aloud to us. She’s not the most fluent or accurate reader, and we tend to get to the end long before she does. But despite this evidencing of some actual source for her reports, folks are more than inclined to just pick up the subject and twist it to their own crazed agendas, rather than Googling it and finding other, often more balanced – or nuanced – interpretations.

In the last coupla days, for instance, Mary has uncovered alarming news of an outbreak of Marburg virus (’caused by, er, the Marburg virus’… and closely related to pneumonic plague, spread by the Yersinia Pestis bacillus) which is (and has been known to be for many years) endemic in fruit bats on the Uganda/Kenya border. Both are a very long way from Plainsville and pose absolutely no threat to the American way of life, thousands of miles away.

Plague is not that uncommon, even in America. Travel Health reports: “Since 1970, 42 human cases of plague have been confirmed in California; nine were fatal.” So, the Kenyan Digest reports (20 Oct): “Two people have died from the Marburg virus in eastern Uganda, in the country’s first outbreak of the deadly Ebola-like pathogen in three years, the health ministry said. Blood samples were taken from two people who have since died and were found positive for Marburg …. A team of experts has been sent to Kween district, near the Kenyan border, to contain the virus. ‘At the moment we don’t know if there are other people apart from the dead who have contracted the disease because the experts are still investigating'” – Health Ministry spokeswoman.

Not a global pandemic yet, then. Just as well, as the World Health Organization is in a bit of disarray after its CEO appointed the 94-year-old Robert Mugabe as a public health ambassador and was then forced to change his mind after it was pointed out to him that Zimbabwe’s hospitals are in such terrible shape, Mugabe gets his personal treatment in South Africa.

But despite her strange little exaggerations and wide-eyed acceptance of daft conspiracies, as a supplier of feedstock for this curious thread of near-insane paranoia running through the American psyche; born, I suspect, out of their ancestors’ howling nights in rudimentary shacks out on the prairie a hundred miles from town, fearful of wolves, huge storms, travelling preachers and raiding parties of Sioux, Mary Greeley is clearly loved by a certain section of American society, who are forever sending her little messages of blessing, their constant thoughts and prayers and heartfelt thanks for her existence.

In a world of troubles, despite all her alarming prognostications, Mary somehow offers a reassuring presence. The devotion she inspires is heartfelt and really quite touching.

But the shocking ignorance of the world and the bizarre beliefs and prejudices of her, I should guess mainly rustic audience are a wonder to behold. In response to a report of the deaths from an unpleasant disease caught from bats of just two unfortunate people out on safari in the forests of Uganda, Lady Ali writes:

Its from the chemtrails. Theyre dropping viruses on us now. Stay positive, somehow God will fix this. Cuz Hes our FATHER and he loves us. He said He did lol, i dont think Hes a liar. He will take care of those who live and call on Him, and they will. Buckle up folks, frick this sucks. Dont these bad guys get it that GOD always wins. ALWAYS. Many blessings, much love and light. Nothing we can do now but pray and pick the winning team. Gods team.

Viewer Katherine Westover concludes in block capitals:


Gates comes in for a lot of criticism from Mary fans over the many foul plagues he has unleashed in the world through his bogus vaccination programs, that are making him so much money cheatin’ the poor folks. The Pumpkin might add that he too had a ‘flu shot last year and has no signs of Ebola, but we’ll carry on.
Curious Love82 contributes helpfully:

there is a site you can go to to monitor outbreakes that are happening but I can’t remember the name of it

Rica Bogdany theorises that Marburg virus was created in a laboratory in Germany in the 1970s as a precursor to Ebola, while James Dohalek disagrees:

These Old, and I mean Very Old diseases are surprisingly surfacing. They are extremely Very very DEADLY diseases much like Ebola. I believe biological warfare has begun by major governments to depopulate the population. I HAVE INTENSELY STUDIED THESE DISEASES SINCE I WAS IN MY THIRTIES BECAUSE OF QUEST OF KNOWDLEDGE. (sic)

And Hummingbird is sanguine about the whole thing:

It’s obvious they have unleashed the pandemics. Lord have mercy on us all. God bless

We could laugh at these ludicrous posts all night, but if you care to browse the podcasts on YouTube you will find thousands of people writing in with similar thoughts, feelings and prejudices on most subjects; any one of whom might immediately be diagnosed with a learning disorder or mental illness; extreme ignorance or just wishful thinking.

 Them zombie hordes are out there, and they’s comin’ to get you.
Thank God for Mary Greeley, then; but Thank God too for the internet, which keeps these obviously unemployable poor people occupied and off the streets. Most of them seemingly can’t wait to die inhaling granular rocky ash particulates from an erupting supervolcano like an angry God come to judgement, because it means they will meet their friend Jesus at last, and He will show the rest of us what bad people we truly were.
In the meanwhile, they’ll just vote for a disgusting old faker like Donald Trump, as he’s kinda different from horrible people like Bill Gates, who just wants your money and to make folks sick, for reasons best known to himself.
Trump tells it like it is.
He understands.
He’s one of us.
Granny W., hunkering down for the duration

Japan: General Election day, 22 Oct, Mr Abe gets back in and a powerful typhoon causes chaos across the country, with 4 deaths reported, injuries, evacuations, floods, landslides, power outages and transport links down. “While voting went ahead, more than 70,000 households were advised to evacuate – with 5,000 of those ordered to leave. Typhoon Lan – a category 4 storm – has also forced car manufacturer Toyota to suspend operations at several plants. … Heavy rain and flood warnings have been issued to the Pacific side of the country, with winds of over 140mph and 80mm (3 in.) of rain predicted per hour.” In fact in the Western Prefecture, 800mm (31 in.) of rain fell in 24 hours.

Pakistan: Extreme and almost unprecedented heatwave affects Karachi; tropical cyclone invades from Bay of Bengal.

Zimbabwe: has experienced record October heat with temperatures in excess of 40 deg. C.

USA: “A record-breaking heatwave will build over Southern California over the weekend (20-22 Oct) and peak on Tuesday, bringing triple-digit temperatures that could set marks for the hottest temperatures ever recorded so late in the year in the Los Angeles area. Accompanying the heat will be the notorious Santa Ana winds, which will bring a multi-day period of critical fire danger, Saturday through Tuesday.” Temperatures in and around the city have already exceeded 101 deg. F (38C).

“The October 2017 California wildfire event is likely to top $3 billion in damage, making it the most expensive wildfire event in world history.” But never mind, because….

Three dead after powerful storm hits Washington State causing flooding and mudslides. 70% of consumers without power in Spokane region. “Several highways also remained closed, including a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 84 in Oregon that authorities declared impassable into midday Wednesday.” Huge storm travelling at unheard-of 65 mph crosses Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri. Many tornado warnings out for southern and eastern states.

Environment: Three scientists working with the EPA have been banned from attending a conference at which a major research paper was to be delivered on the environmental damage done to an estuary in New England, in part due to climate change. “Scientists from a variety of agencies and institutions had been working for years on the 500-page technical document, which does not cover policy recommendations.”

EPA Director, Scott Pruitt is to announce tomorrow that he is scrapping Obama era limits on emissions from coal-fired power stations, declaring ‘The war on coal is over’. Mr Pruitt is, everyone suspects, a corrupt official in the pay of a number of large coal producers.

Caribbean: “An area of low pressure with the potential to develop into a tropical depression is expected to form in the Western Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua by mid-week and move slowly northward, bringing heavy rains to Cuba by the weekend. The system may also bring heavy rains to South Florida and the Bahamas by the weekend, but due to the uncertain nature of the formation location and track of the storm, it is uncertain which region might be at most risk.”

Trinidad: experiences severe flooding following heavy rain.

Pacific: Satellite imagery shows a weather phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river” – a belt of rain and storms stretching continuously 5,000 miles from China to the northeastern USA. Known as ‘The Big Dark’, it: “is poised to funnel gigantic amounts of rain and snow to the Northwest over the next few days. As much as 15 inches of rain is forecast … It could be Seattle’s wettest weather since February, the National Weather Service said. There is also a risk of flash flooding in western Washington and northwestern Oregon on Thursday as a result of the heavy rainfall.”

In mid-Pacific, Tropical Storm 27 is heading for Guam, strengthening to a Cat 2 typhoon.

Portugal: with many wildfires still burning in the north, “Portugal experienced unprecedented summer heat this year. In data going back to 1931, the period from April to September and the month of September were both the hottest on record, according to the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA). Severe drought extended across 81% of mainland Portugal at the end of September.”

UK: After battering Ireland, Storm Brian brought several inches of rain and high winds to the southwest and west of the country over a 48-hour period at the weekend, together with 50-ft waves and coastal flooding. Schools were closed and train services suspended, but damage was “not as great as expected”.

Sky News/ Weather Underground/ USA Today/ NBC News/ ABC News/ BBC News