The Pumpkin – Issue 41: Shitholegate… Should Trump be invited to the wedding?… What is that thing Trump has about Sweden?… What a whopper!… F U-2? No(r)way!… GW: throwing snowballs at the sun… Goodnight, Irene.

My security blanket and I will make the Shithole great again!

“…yet he already knows the answer: they’re shitholes.”

Shitholegate

It never ceases to amaze me, how puritanical many Americans still are. Or, are perceived to be by their moral guardians. Little old ladies in lace, fanning themselves on the porch: “Why, ah do declare, Mistah Butler! Hortense, please fetch ahr guest some julep tea…”

After decades of hearing words like ‘motherfucker’ in films starring, mainly, foulmouthed black Americans, ABC News, for instance, is still totally unable to stomach even the word ‘ bullshit’, despite the fact that ABC News, its editors and journalists, many of its viewers and their political masters need to use the word daily. Oh, they’re so COARSE!

“Did you just grab my ass, motherfucker?” The cast of the West Wing portray the reality of life in Burbank.

Dialogue on the West Wing consists almost entirely of profanities, as we have known since the release of the Nixon tapes. Your political and moral masters have mouths like the gazunder beneath your bed when it needs emptying. You probably do too, in private. Yet the quaint old mainstream media cannot bring itself even to quote in reported speech, the salty language of everyday parlance.

The word “fuck” is never heard on the BBC’s Radio 4 documentary and drama channel, for instance, other than under strictly medical circumstances. In drama productions, with due caution, only after-hours; in case we offend the tender sensibilities of our potty-mouthed children, who aren’t listening anyway. But never on news shows.

And it is just about acceptable in BBC TV dramas, provided the show is preceded by a man with a red flag warning about “strong language”. Who the hell cares? Well, it seems there are still these sensitive souls in old folks’ homes, ear trumpets glued to the BBC for any signs of moral slippage, who probably take a secret delight in linguistic indiscretion but still feel the need to take umbrage. What else have they got to live for?

The Guardian newspaper decided a few years ago that even the word “cunt”,  elsewhere known as “the C-word”, was acceptable to print, provided somebody else had said it, and it was context-specific. Where is there left for our moral guardians to go, when a coarse term for the female mons veneris goes public? Especially when it has been borrowed as a pretty harmless loanword to describe someone as a bit of a thoughtless idiot?

The benefit of these words, often incorrectly described as Anglo-Saxon, is that they are short, pithy, plosive – to the point. That’s all.

One could imagine that a new word might be invented: “squip”, for instance, that would be given some blasphemous or sexually explicit meaning: I don’t know, it could technically mean buggering choirboys on the altar, or something, so that a ‘squip’ would be an unholy person willing to take risks…. “Squip” would be banned everywhere, on radio, on TV. Imams, rabbis and vicars would denounce the Sq*** word from the pulpit, Pakistani politicians demand execution for bloggers emitting the word.

But it’s just a sound! It has no meaning other than the one we ascribe to it. We have those other words for what we mean to say. We know them already. We don’t need new ones.

When you print “F***” we already know what it means. We know it means “Fuck”. So where’s the point in printing “F***”? We already fucking know what it means! What, are our eyes to be blinded by the redacted letters of a word we thoughtlessly use a hundred times a day, and probably at the moment of our death?

THIS IS ABSURD!

Across the pond, things are no different. It’s as if some corporation has cornered the market in asterisks.

And here we have a President, for want of a better word, describing certain countries from which, after a few centuries of east-west traffic, re-exported slaves keep turning up with their damned PhDs, asking for a better life, as “shitholes”, and the majority of the US media dare not, are terrified of what will happen if they, repeat even the word so sanctified by their precious panjandrum; while the nellies of the United Nations rise as one country to protest his racism over a word the BBC will describe only as: “a foul-mouthed Oval Office outburst”.

Face it, Haiti, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Congo, South Sudan, Libya, Syria, Chechnya, Somalia, Uzbekistan – those countries ARE mostly shitholes. They’re fucking horrible!

Do they pass the “Would you live there?” test?

Let us not beat about the bush, there are dozens of barren, underdeveloped countries around the world run by gruesome, brutal kleptocrats in the pockets of giant global corporations, most of them US-based, remitting their bribes to Swiss banks while the people go hungry, where life expectancy is less than 40 years, where child mortality rates are horrific, where the water is foul, sanitation non-existent, hospitals just UN-funded shacks, kids are starving, they don’t go to school, women don’t exist (especially when they’re menstruating) and militias go about raping and slaughtering people – where all the money goes to the army and the ruling elite, where there are no trees and grass and lakes and birdsong – only dust and potholes and shit everywhere; where opponents of the government and honest journalists go missing on a daily basis… .

Trump is absolutely right about that.

In fact, he could quiz his soon-to-be former Secretary of State, the smarmy Tex-Rex Tillexxon, about why countries producing billions of dollars’ worth of oil from holes in the ground, much of it extracted by Tillerson’s former employees, are still – after decades of exploitation – among the poorest countries on earth?

But he already knows the answer: they’re just shitholes. That’s why he does bidness with so many of them.

Trump refuses to acknowledge the responsibility of his own country, home to over 40 million people struggling below the poverty line, to do a damned thing about it. And you know what, he’s doing exactly the same as their leaders, lining his pockets and those of his rich friends at the expense of the poor and needy, turning the US into one giant shithole, and he’s cutting the overseas aid budget to pay for it. He just doesn’t see the connection between US corporate hegemony and third-world debt. He’s an asshole, from which the shithole is filled.

Pardon me for saying so. Here’s an asterisk kit, little furry balls of print. Stick them wherever the f*** you like. ************************

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Should Trump be invited to the wedding?

I’m not sure he should, no.

Not to punish him, or because he might start grabbing the bridesmaids’ pussies, or launch cruise missiles over the chocolate cake.

Harry is only what they call a “minor royal”, in other words after Kate has stopped throwing up and they’ve christened another Windsor he’ll be only sixth in line to the throne. Is that senior enough to warrant automatic invitations to heads of state?

“Did you just grab my royal ass?” When Meghan met Harry. (Photo: Dianalegacy.com)

It’s a small, relatively discreet affair, in St George’s Chapel rather than Westminster Abbey, as Markle is a divorcée, a foreigner – and the Church of England still doesn’t fully approve of divorce and remarriage, although they’ll go through the motions, especially for a royal. Windsor is a bit of a shithole, I’m afraid, Donald.

Harry has no personal relationship with Trump as he might have bonded, say, with the Obamas over their mutual philanthropy. Trump is from a different era and culture. He claims to have handed out millions to charity, though no-one has ever been able to trace the amounts claimed, while the supposed recipients all agree, they’ve never seen a cent. Besides, we’ve seen him dancing. The Saudis made damned sure to humiliate him with that.

If any Trumps are to attend it ought perhaps to be the Kushners. I have no idea if they know one another, but they are of the same age and Jared sees himself very much as a player among the rising generation of global leaders; while, according to Michael Wolff, Ivanka has plans to inherit the Presidency someday. And they’re quite shiny.

Besides, it’ll be great to see if Jared gets slapped with any legal injunctions while he’s out in the open.  He’ll be good with the homeless of Windsor town, too, his family firm likes to make people homeless.

And, of course, Markle has the tainted Creole blood Trump so despises. He might start cracking jokes with Philip about their kids turning out chocolate ginger cookies….

So maybe, all in all, it’s better he should sit it out at Mar-a-Lago.

I plan to.

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‘Sweden’s economy has surged over the past years, helped by a record inflow of migrants, all-time low interest rates and a recovering global economy,’ Bloomberg reports.(Thepaneuropean.eu)

What is that thing Trump has about Sweden?

Sweden now has a budgetary surplus running at twice the size of the country’s debts. US debt at $19 trillion is slightly larger than its GDP of $18.5 trillion, but Mr Trump’s tax bill will increase the debt to $21 trillion. He is gambling on the super-rich beneficiaries of tax cuts to push up GDP through added investment and spending leading to higher taxable employment.

Good luck with that.

Sweden. Not a vegetable.

He does not recognize the contribution migrants make to his or any economy, especially with an ageing and underskilled native population. Except when he brings in Polish workers on his building projects and fails to pay them, threatening them instead with deportation when they’ve finished their contracts. That’s the kind of shit he is: a liar, a fraudster, a bunco artist. He has frequently alluded to a high crime rate among refugees and southern migrants to Sweden – a statistic the Swedish government and police say is just not borne out by the facts.

We feel sure he will not be alluding to Swedish migrants as an asset to the economy, whatever Bloomberg reports. His ideas about other countries and races are as fixed as the moon and stars in their orbits.

The “fucking idiot” (as Rupert Murdoch calls him), Trump has just announced, anyone hailing from El Salvador who is not a naturalized citizen (many were allowed to settle as refugees under the Bush regime after a series of devastating earthquakes) has 18 months to leave the USA, as part of his campaign to rid the country of 11 million ‘undocumented’ migrants, many of whom have settled, got families with US-born children and started businesses employing Americans.

That’s 200 thousand people he’s talking about. But Mr Trump’s stated view is they are all drug gangsters, rapists and benefit fraudsters, so the spics have to go.

Then, as we have said time and again, Mr Trump is a witless, cruel oaf; a bombastic troll with no understanding of economics, socio-politics, geopolitics or industrial management. And certainly  no understanding of human beings, other than as resources to be exploited. He is just a monstrous, self-promoting creature of appetite and instinct: a manifestation of all that’s worst in humanity.

A genius ‘TV star’.

 

What a whopper!

Glenn Kessler and his Fact Checker team at The Washington Post report as of 11 January that Trump has made 1,950 false or misleading claims while in office.

Most recently, he observed that he had been “very tough” on commercial aviation safety, and as a result there had been no fatal crashes involving a civil airliner in 2017: the “best and safest year on record!”

Actually, there have been no fatal crashes in the US commercuial aviation sector since 2009. Like, eight years before he became President. A timeline curiously coincident with his hated predecessor’s term of office.

Not only was he being prolix with the facts, he also appears to be delusional. As far as anyone knows, he has nothing to do with commercial airline safety.

He has also boasted on no fewer than 85 separate occasions that he is personally responsible for the continuing boom in the Stock Market – disregarding the resultant collapse in the value of the dollar (Stg £1.22 in January 2017, £1.35 in January 2018, despite the weakness of Sterling post-Brexit.) In fact Trump was on record many times as claiming that the long bull market that began in Obama’s final two years was “artificial” and just “a bubble”. Clearly, he can’t have it both ways. (Does he still imagine it has “halved” the national debt – with which it has no actual connection?)

Both the above examples are referenced from Washington Post opinion writer, Dana Millbank, in an article criticizing President Trump’s “Fake News awards” he proposed to make last week, to add to a year of assiduously undermining the credibility of the mainstream media, accusing all journalists of being liars.

Awards that were in themselves ‘fake news’ – he has not made any awards. There aren’t any.

And today (12 Jan) it’s reported, he’s stamped his foot and is refusing to go to London to cut the ribbon on the new US embassy, relocated from swanky Grosvenor Square to a gigantic £750m barn in darkest Nine Elms, appositely the site of an old fruit market and on the wrong side of the river. An American on a high horse, US correspondent Charles Wolffe complained about British ingratitude, yadda yadda, treacherous disrespect for the great office of the Leader of the Free World, slurp slurp, on the Today programme, but Trump’s tweet makes it fairly plain: it’s not because he wouldn’t get to see the Queen, it’s because of the O-word: Obama, who of course cut another lousy deal over the lease.

Except it wasn’t Obama who did the deal, it was W Bush.

Verdict: it’s not impossible for a person to be a) stupid, b) insane, c) criminal d) a habitual liar, e)  vindictive-obsessive, f) pig-ignorant and g) senile, all at the same time.

(Image: Zeltzer.com)

If The Pumpkin has a criticism of his critics, it is that they all try to isolate some one defining characteristic of Donald Trump and then debate the merits and demerits of the theory, generally concluding that obtaining more expert testimony is advisable before leaping to conclusions on the basis of what most of us would consider to be ample evidence, without ever once considering him in the round: the possibility that this utterly bewildering individual could have many character flaws and imbalances, all seemingly bad. (The Pumpkin will award a prize to any Reader who can point to even one redeeming quality in this President.)

You need to judge him by his horrible deeds, not by his mental state. What man would deliberately rollback an order protecting she-bears with cubs from being hunted from helicopters, who is not profoundly mentally damaged?

The Pumpkin has tried arguing that anyone as sick as this demented old sack of rotting fishburgers must be in pain and in need of humanitarian aid. But the more he slashes the US’s contributions to UN programs, the less he does for hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, now in its fourth month without substantial infrastructure rebuilding, electricity and food aid, the more he continues to support the genocidal scumbag regime in Saudi Arabia (does Bin-bag Salman seriously imagine humanity is impressed with his ordinance permitting segregated women to watch football is going to make up for the millions of Yemenis starving, repeatedly bombed and infected with cholera?), the more folk he bullies and demeans, the more pleased I am that he continues to burn in a hellfire of his own making and hope that the heat only intensifies until he cries out to his money-God to save his fat ass.

Sadly, there are no more pejoratives. I have run out.

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F U-2? No(r)way!

“In November we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets,” Trump said. “We have a total of 52 and they’ve delivered a number of them already a little ahead of schedule.” Trump was reading from a statement, and it appears he combined the figure of 52 planes with the “F” designation assigned to fighter jets in the U.S. inventory, such as the F-35 Lightning II.” – from a Washington Post report, 12 Jan.

No sooner has the laughter died down over Mr Trump’s idiotic bragging in December about the USAF possessing “invisible planes” – F-35s with so-called Stealth paint jobs – that are very hard for the enemy (ISIS?) to combat because “you literally can’t see them”, but that will “make their souls tremble when they hear them overhead”, than he has done it again, inventing – or rather, referencing – a non-existent aircraft he called the “F-52”.

The invisible F-35.

The trillion-dollar F-35 program is the most expensive aircraft the Pentagon has ever ordered and its development has been dogged with design problems. The F-52 on the other hand is a fully-functional, fictional aircraft featured in the computer game, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It doesn’t exist anywhere else, except in Donald Trump’s World of Clusterfuck.

According to a report in the Washington Post, he simply got his numbers muddled up. It was 52 planes they had sold, not “F-52″s. Another senior moment to add to all the rest; and was there a shlight shlurr as he shaid it?

A different theory proposed by The Pumpkin is that he confused them with the B-52, the so-called Flying Fortress used in the saturation bombing of North Korea between 1950 and 1953, when the USAF killed over three million civilians to no very useful end. It was perhaps a case of wistful thinking…

But he still took the credit for having delivered them “a little ahead of schedule”, as if he had personal responsibility for the contract and probably also for actually designing, building and flying the planes. He’s a very strange individual, it must be said.

Furthermore, the speech marked a turning-point. The planes were being delivered, not to Sweden, but to Norway, for defense against his friends, the Russians.

The Pumpkin suspects he’s gone off the boil as regards Sweden, because they told him he was being stupid over a thing he said about refugees and crime; although an incident two nights later involving some migrants in Stockholm throwing stones at police cars does seem to have been manufactured to make his crass and inaccurate remarks look a bit more prescient.

No, it’s Sweden’s neighbour and rival, Norway that is now Mr Trump’s favourite Scandinavian country: pure, white and free. The land of fjords, Grieg and Anders Behring Breivik.

Where the trollfolk come from…

After meeting Erna Solberg, the jolly-looking Norwegian Prime Minister earlier this week, overlooking the 200-year-history of slavery, Trump reportedly made some pretty scathing off-the-record remarks about immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti and Africa, complaining that he would much rather people immigrated from… Norway!

Why would they want to do that, one wonders? Despite the cold and perpetual darkness, the famed taciturnity of its alcoholic fisherfolk and reindeer herders struggling to survive in the face of the climate change Mr Trump so assiduously promotes on behalf of his funders, Norway is one of the best, the wealthiest per-capita, cleanest and most egalitarian countries in the world to live in, according to numerous polls.

Why, it even has socialized medicine, advanced education and cares for its poor. It’d be like importing Communism!

Nothing to see there, Donald. Move on.

Finland?

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GW: throwing snowballs at the sun

USA:  At least 17 people have died in mudslides and flooding in California after a powerful coastal storm followed weeks of unseasonal Santa Ana wind-driven heat and wildfires to drench hillsides scarred by the huge Thomas fire and denuded of tree cover. More than 30 miles (48km) of the main coastal road have been closed and police said the scene “looked like a World War One battlefield”. A group of 300 people are reportedly trapped in Romero Canyon neighbourhood east of Santa Barbara. 163 people have been hospitalized. The death toll is expected to rise.

Africa: 48 people have died in floods and landslides around the capital of the DR of Congo, Kinshasa. Powerful storms with hail have pounded South Africa after several days of 40 deg C (104F-plus) temperatures. Namibia is basking in 100F-plus temperatures. For the second year running, it has snowed in the Sahara. Cat 2 cyclone Ava killed 49 in Madagascar, now threatened by strengthening Tropical Storm Six.

A child arrives at school in China after walking three miles to class. (BBC)

China: at least 21 people have died in heavy early winter snowfall in the eastern part of the country. Up to 30cm fell in Henan province.

Australia: the Weather Network reports roads melting in the Canberra region of Western Australia as temperatures exceeded 40C for the fifth day. Sydney hit 47.3C, almost but not quite the record (1939). Fires broke out around Melbourne on 6 and 7 Jan. Now the northwest is experiencing Tropical Cyclone Joyce, a cat 1 storm with 95 mph gusts.

S America: wildfires around Mendoza, Argentina consumed more than 200 thousand hectares (490 thousand acres) in the space of three days. Santa Cruz in Bolivia and Colon in Panama were underwater on 2 Jan after torrential rainstorms

Europe: Avalanches have blocked the railway line out of Zermatt, where 13,000 tourists have been stranded for several days by 7ft deep snow. A British snowboarder is feared dead. “Switzerland’s WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research said Tuesday afternoon that at least 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) of snow had dropped on the Zermatt area over the last 24 hours, raising the avalanche risk to a maximum level of (‘almost unheard-of’) five on an avalanche-warning scale.” There’s been heavy snowfall too in northern Italy. New wildfires have broken out on Corsica, while Poland and Hungary have been experiencing a record warm ‘early spring’ – here in my part of the UK, daffodils are flowering a month early. In France, the river Seine flooded parts of Paris, in Germany the Rhine was closed to shipping.

World: despite talk of a new mini ice-age, the latest global temperature anomalies map from the University of Maine’s climate change unit shows that while the north and east of Canada and the USA are looking like the arctic, the arctic is looking more like California… outside the USA the world is still warming up fast. It’s frankly chaos!

BBC News/ Wunderground/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #89, citing China’s the World Today, Euronews, et al/ The Sun/ Pattaya Mail/

x

Goodnight, Irene…

Spectrograms show the lines of ‘melt’ (molten rock) on the Yellowstone charts are continuing to rise as more and more magma is flooding into the chamber. The ground uplift charts for all areas are no longer reading normally, but thanks to some deft recalibration now appear almost completely flat where last week they were showing a chaotic pattern of continuous upward movement over the previous 30 days. You can no longer tell anything from them. Yesterday there were more than 20 small earthquakes in one hour. The seismographs are showing constant vibration and ‘drumbeats’ – regular pulses believed to indicate an imminent eruption. Despite an air temperature of only 24F, snow is melting on the ground. Local people have gotten so used to the deep rumblings under their feet that they no longer report quakes. The USGS is not reporting many quakes that are visible on the charts.

Thus on 12 Jan spake the Blessed Mary – Greeley, whose almost daily updates from her home in S Dakota on what the official monitors are saying and doing is about the only serious-sounding coverage this slightly worrying story is getting, although she’s not a qualified geologist and, frankly, her contributors are a bunch of prayerful religious nutters. Annoyingly, she is building up a kind of Fortean news service of strange happenings alongside her Yellowstone monitoring, that only serves to detract from the authority of her reporting on the main event. Plus, she’s been forecasting an imminent eruption for the last five years. But no-one else is really reporting the evidence with the same apparent objectivity and obvious affinity with the Beast, independently of the muted and scarily reassuring official sources – which is in itself strange, dontchathink?

And she’s worried now, so I’m quietly buying up cans of tuna and beans and dried pulses, assuming there will still be water. Given what hasn’t happened with the relatively small Puerto Rico hurricane disaster, like a proper relief effort, what use are Trump and the FEMA gang going to be when this monstrosity blows?

Delicious moment though it will be when he has to beg the Mexican president to allow millions of US refugees in through the wall….

 

 

 

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A Very Stable Genius… Dogged by their lies… Floaters… GW: warning – no surfing on ice floes, ya hear? Plus: Do not travel to Egypt without memorizing your catechism; Yellowstone update.

A Very Stable Genius

Unexpectedly, we shall start with That Book.

There is nothing at all surprising that has been quoted in the media this week, editors all a-tremble, as preselections of the juicier bits from That Book. Nothing that The Pumpkin has not seen, heard or read from many other sources since Trump was adopted as the Republican party’s fall-guy in July whenever, 2016 – a century and a half ago.

So no, it’s not fake nooze. I think it’s mostly pretty much real. Trump is really a culpable person: a monster, an incompetent administrator, a self-deluded fool and a liar, way off his pay-grade and  temperamentally unfit to have his finger on the Big Red Button.

A genius at managing his own PR, Trump brings relief to paper-towel-stricken Puerto Ricans.

The sources I have relied on for US news the past 18 months have been commenters like: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Joe Scarborough from MSNBC – and their regular panel guests, including David Korn of Mother Jones and David Frum from The Atlantic; Ari Melber of NBC’s The Beat; Wolf Blitzer, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper from CNN; Thom Hartmann, late of RT; Keith Olbermann, late of GQ (come back, Keith… please, you are needed now, he’s crazier than ever!); Cenk Uygur, Jon Iadorolo and Ana Kasparian of TYT; David Pakman, of his own channel; Farron Cousins of Ring of Fire; Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!; and the wonderful Mike Malloy, most definitely of Mike Malloy.

Plus, of course, comedians Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee; and public intellectuals like Robert Reich, Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges.

These in their own ways are all thoughtful, serious people, and I hail and recognize the journalism they do, which is often dependent on other reputable sources, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, and sometimes flies in the face of what appears to be growing internet censorship and ripoff defunding being practiced by the big platforms. To which I must add another source I rely on, the New Yorker magazine, together with Politico, Buzzfeed, BBC News and The Guardian.

All of these sources and more have consistently reported the views of White House insiders, Congressmen and women, foreign leaders and diplomats that Trump is an overgrown, spoilt child, unfit for office; thin-skinned, vain, ignorant, malicious and vindictive; a dangerous, reactive bully with minimal attention span, demanding simple cartoon explanations of not very complex briefings; a man of bizarre personal habits, a loose-mouthed, compulsive liar who defines national policy from minute-to-minute after watching “news” items on rightwing cable TV, who often incriminates himself with his own vicious Twitter spats and word-salad interviews accusing others of crimes and appalling misalignments in which he is the more probably guilty party.

Senator Corker’s description of the Oval Office as an ‘adult daycare center’ seems, by all accounts, spot-on: insiders frequently say Trump has to be nursed and fed on MacDonalds pap, guzzling diet Coke, kept entertained and happy 14 hours a day, which involves presenting him with only relentlessly approving and upbeat assessments of the many successes he has not in fact had today, pandering to his loony solipsistic view of a Trumpian Universe in which he is somehow transformed by the endless adulation of craven minions into Caesar Augustus; when he is, in real life, more like Caesar Nero: a demented, uncontrolled and uncontrollable demiurge; a thug with tyrannical tendencies (principally based on total ignorance of the constitutional powers and functions of the President) and an absolutely misplaced belief in his own omnicompetence.

On top of everything, and the much-investigated evidence of past criminality and misdeeds while in office, there is the mounting evidence of senile dementia: the rambling and repetitive narratives, the sudden losses of concentration, the forgetfulness of names and faces, the sudden outbursts of anger, the quirky off-topic comments, the obsessive rerunning of things that have upset him, the comical wanderings-off and changes of subject while in the middle of important business, often with important foreign leaders. (No-one is more important than Trump himself.) The brain-damage becomes clear from watching the interviews, the half-insane public speeches (those, that is, not written for him by staffers who can string two coherent sentences together), the press conferences – after which minions have to be sent out to cover for his many gaffes and lie about what in fact he said (or meant to say).

A stable genius, Trump demonstrates what he learned today in anger-management class.

His supporters, acolytes and sycophants have rushed to condemn That Book as a pack of outrageous lies, falsehoods and inventions. They have cast aspersions on the author, and on the star interviewee (out of 200, so the author claims), Steve Bannon. Trump himself has threatened to sue, as he always does, while rushing to deny, as he always does, that whoever has criticized him, such as his former chief policy advisor, ever really existed – and anyway “Sloppy Steve” is just an unimportant loser who has lost his mind, he “cried and begged for his job back” when he was fired.

That’s the essence of Trump: a vengeful liar who will say and do anything to distract attention from his own monstrousness: that “malignant narcissism” which psychiatrists worry could, if unchecked, one day trigger a global conflagration.

Reportedly, Chief of Staff Kelly has ordered all staffers even close to the Oval Office to hand in their cellphones while on the premises, although he knows full well that the source of most of the leaks Trump complains of is the demented orange fuckwit himself, calling-up billionaire “friends” like Murdoch and indiscreetly moaning about everything; then expressing bewilderment at how the stuff gets out into the ‘fake nooze’ media and blaming his advisors!

Either it’s a leak, or it’s fake – you can’t have it both ways. But he tries.

The Pumpkin (for this is he) will hold further fire until Amazon delivers That Book to his door. He ordered a copy immediately on hearing Trump’s lawyer was trying to injunct it, but it seems the great online retailer has already got an out-of-stock problem; although Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff (not the Guardian contributor of the same name, nor the economist) does seem to be available in (and fast selling out of) all good bookshops. Sad.

Believe me, there’s almost certainly nothing in it we haven’t heard before, it’s all bad, but it will be good to have a copy on my bedside table to remind me where I went wrong.

(PS In case you still don’t believe he’s crazy, while the book furore has been running, Trump has slipped-in the repeal of an Obama-era law forbidding anyone from micro-engineering new and deadly disease-causing agents, which with easily available gene-splicing technology you can now do in your garage. Among items specifically banned was, reportedly, an airborne version of the Ebola virus. He’s also closed down Obama’s HIV/Aids research council. Sick.)

 

“My name is, I imagine, now on a list down at the local nick…”

Dogged by their lies

Dear Readers, Spammers, Followers, Likers and Those No Longer, etc. will know, the BogPo’s Uncle Bogler has a burning, pathological hatred of injustice.

And not only on behalf of innocent victims everywhere.

I have written before about an incident which occurred unforgettably on 21 July, 2016. I was walking Hunzi through the exurban space that passes for our local park, a somewhat tame wilderness of cycle paths, railway lines, sports fields, river, heathland, marshland and dense plantations transected by muddy footpaths – also home to the town’s major sewage works – when I observed a group of people cavorting with their dog on the sacred turf of the Boglington Cricket Club’s first-team pitch, in defiance of signs requesting people politely not to do that.

A cretin in calf-length shorts and a baseball cap; a woman, a small child and a large brown dog.

Observing that the ineffectual gate to the ground was indeed locked, ironically I raised my cellphone and pointed it toward them – they were a good 150 yards away and a photograph would have been useless for identification purposes, so I did not take one. As we trudged on, with a sudden feeling of doom I heard a rough voice behind me shouting “Oi! Fuckin’ paedo!” I decided not to get involved.

The exurban space that passes for our local park. (See any children?)

On arriving home 40 minutes later, I was surprised to find two policemen on the doorstep, accusing me of going about ‘taking photographs of children’. What do you say? How did they know where I lived? Had I been followed? There had been a complaint, naturally therefore I must have been going about taking photographs of children, even though I hadn’t been. It’s not the sort of accusation you can deny, since where taking photographs of children is concerned – something the policeman who could articulate verbally (the smaller one was being paid by me just to stand there and glare accusingly) instinctively knew – denial is the clearest proof of guilt.

He reassured me, however, that it is not illegal to go about taking photographs of children. Were I a more robust individual and not a strange old man with a posh voice living alone with a spawny-eyed dog and a magic cat in a tiny cottage in the grimy backstreets of a Welsh seaside town, a social anomaly and so obviously someone on an offender-management scheme, I should at that point have told them, in that case, they could piss off. Instead, I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket and politely said, “see for yourself, I do not take photographs of children”.

At my age, policemen are supposed to be looking younger. Instead, they just seem to be getting smaller. I recognized my accuser as having been quite helpful once over a matter of neighbours plastering Do Not Park stickers illegally (and irremovably) on my windscreen.

“Hmmn”, he grunted disbelievingly, flicking through the folder and finding there no photographs of any class of human – I take pictures generally of unusual cloud formations and wildflowers, my guitars (for insurance purposes) and my half-finished DIY projects. ‘Well, you might have another camera somewhere’. Ignoring that it would be a very perverted person indeed who would take a photo of a small child, fully dressed for the outdoors, together with its parents and family dog, at a distance of 150 yards, and somehow find it titillating. And insisting without legal justification (while standing on my property) on knowing who I was and where and when I was born, like some common thief.

An interesting cloud formation. Not many children.

My name is, I imagine, now on a list down at the local nick of persons of interest, to be routinely hauled in for questioning the next time a child goes missing. That’s if I haven’t been dragged out into the front garden by my working-class neighbours, beaten to death and set on fire, as happened to a harmless immigrant in Bristol a while ago after a misunderstanding concerning broken windows, pleas for help ignored for months by the police, and a gang of lying, feral children.

I have still not recovered from the depression the incident brought about. It is so easy to turn someone’s life into a permanent horror-show with one stupid, malicious falsehood.

“I plead daily in vain for the Committee of Discarnate Entities, who guide my doings, to get me out of here…”

And now, I have learned that other neighbours of mine, nice, middle-class retirees with shiny cars and campervans living in the link-detached, manicured suburban homes across the road, have been conspiring together to lie to the police that my lovely Hunzi has attacked and bitten someone, in order to protect their own, similarly black-and-white, demented border collie. “No, it’s that man across the road!” they told the police. The owner lies to them that he does not even own a dog; his neighbour backs him up; the police loyally believe them, locals both, despite all the evidence.

I see them both out dog-walking most days and they wave and smile and nod and say good morning, terrible weather we’re having. And then they tell the police I own a dangerous dog that bites people and deny that they own a dog at all.

Hunzi: calm, gentle, obedient and loyal.

Collies are not considered to be vicious. Hunzi has never so much as growled at anyone in the seven years we have lived together. He has references. At least 20 people if asked would confirm tomorrow he is the loveliest, most gentle, loyal, calm, patient and obedient dog they have ever known. Several tell me they can’t wait for me to fall under a bus, so they can adopt him.

This is a monstrous injustice, that could lead to a terrible consequence for us because of poisonous, hateful, hypocritical, conniving locals and their lies.

An elderly, harmless, dumpy little man with a slightly scrambled brain who cycles about collecting bits of scrap machinery to “do up” and buttonholes passers-by to give us all the latest gossip about people of whom we haven’t the faintest idea who they are, Old Tommy tells me this is the fourth time the dog has attacked him, and he has had to go to the hospital. This time, there was a witness. He tells me, he knows it is not my dog that is responsible, my dog is a good dog, but that the two neighbours have now lied three times that it is Hunzi who goes about attacking people so he thought he ought to warn me about them.

Of course he doesn’t attack people, the dog is under my control at all times and never out of my sight. If I thought for one moment that he was dangerous, I would muzzle him and keep him on the lead. But he isn’t, so I don’t. That doesn’t stop half the people we encounter at a distance from nervously shouting and grabbing their dogs and putting them on the lead whenever they see us coming. It is incredibly annoying that they will not let their dogs socialize, as is the advice of the RSPCA to do for their mental wellbeing.

I have never known so many paranoid neurotics in any other place where I have lived or visited. They do not understand how by doing this, they are only training their dogs to be aggressive toward other dogs. People are not like this in parks in London, they know dogs are happiest running around together, and do not attack one another.

I never wanted to live here in the first place. I do not belong here, sandwiched between the decaying council estate and the trim suburban lawns across the road, among people with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. I belong in an agreeable West-country rectory built of honeyed brick, with three acres, a library, a wine cellar and chestnut trees along the driveway; or in a balconied, book-lined inner-London apartment on a Georgian square, of the kind nearby where I used to live many, many years ago until I began my futile anabasis westward to the sea.

I plead daily in vain for the Committee of Discarnate Entities, who guide my doings, to get me out of here. But they don’t. Not this time, our kid. Suck it up.

I am here now only through the accident of a business misfortune many years ago, compounded by a subsequent chain of events: losing the house, the uneconomic farm, foot-and-mouth disease, lack of employment, middle-age, divorce – the years living in accommodation tied to my job looking after a rotting country estate for absent owners, a job that became redundant when they turned it into a hotel. I bought the little house for quite another purpose, was obliged in extremis to move here myself, have been quite unable to sell it again, and shall have been stuck here for six years next month, despairing of ever escaping.

Were it not for Hunzi I would contemplate ending my life, being as I am totally surplus to anyone’s requirements but his; and a drain on the Exchequer. I live for him and he, seemingly, for me. For that reason alone, I consider the injustice being done to him, and by extension to me, of an order of seriousness that could justify a threat of violence, which would be stupid I know, as it is not the sort of thing I do. I prefer to keep relations with the neighbours at a distance, but on an even keel.

But, by God, it would give me satisfaction to make those smug little bastards eat their lies.

 

“Migraines don’t always produce headaches…”

Floaters

As I squint at the big TV screen attached to my frustrating little laptop, on which these words are magically appearing in 20 pt, a grubby-looking twist of gristle is hovering, just out of focus, in the centre of the field of vision of my shortsighted right eye. I cannot blink or rub it away. Whenever my eye moves, the thing moves the other way, then returns to rest in the middle.

It is but one of a number of unwanted objects that have arrived to interrupt my normally clear vision.

Others over the past few days have included: a small, round, grey patch with a tail, on the end of which is a black speck, drifting from right to left; other black specks, some of which appear in sharp focus, like when the titles at the start of a 3D movie spring out in mid-air, to be standing an arm’s length away, moving around like annoying small flies. I can follow them with my fingertip. There were the flashing lights in the periphery of my vision, thin streaks of light like small meteors flashing down the sky. And then when I am looking at any flat, white surface, with a bit of close focussing I can detect a faint, thin film moving gently downwards like a waterfall, made up of hundreds of tiny, circular dots with, among them, more of the little black flies.

Nothing two weeks on a sunny beach wouldn’t fix.

Have I been staring at this screen from too close-up, for too long? Next month will mark my sixth year of writing this daily drivel. Am I just exhausted, all sugared-out from Christmas wines and chocolates, and was my doctor’s warning nine months ago that I may be borderline Type-2 diabetic too unamusingly prescient? Or could the phenomena be connected with my terrible old teeth, that have been playing up over the holiday – with resultant persistent rhinitis and weeping eyes, and a borderline addiction to Panadol?

Observing this new waterfall effect while browsing in Waterstone’s bookstore on Wednesday, I finally broke and fled next door, which happens to be my opticians, where the very nice new lady optician seemed somewhat alarmed at my description, which I could not resist elaborating for her benefit, as I wanted to keep her laughing. She could not fit me in immediately, she explained, so I should go straight across the road to SpecSavers, where they are better equipped to diagnose the fault – but, she warned me, I should go as a matter of urgency, right now, and report back.

Dutifully, I accosted one of the senior-looking opticians in SpecSavers, and explained the situation. “I can’t examine you now either”, he said, “so you must go straight away to the Accident and Emergency department at the hospital, as your retina may be detaching and you will go blind in your right eye.”

Or soothing words to that effect.

Well. What to do? I explored my reluctance, as a) I imagined the A&E department would be facing its busiest time of year, what with post-New Year’s traffic casualties and the swelling number of victims of the Australian ‘flu pandemic; judging by reports, the waiting time would be considerable; and that b) they wouldn’t have an opthalmologist on duty. How, I asked, would my retina be detaching, as I had suffered no trauma to the head? Kindly, he explained that it was sometimes an age-related thing that could be propelled by something as simple as a sneeze. I’ve not been looking too good lately, lined, pouchy and gray – and I’ve sneezed at least once this week, thanks to the sinusitis.

Anyway, it seemed the hospital would prioritize my case on his say-so and summon the duty opthalmologist from wherever they spend their evenings, whereupon I would be sent on to the eye clinic as an emergency, but would not be allowed to drive for four hours afterwards owing to the pupil-dilator they would need to apply to examine my eyes.

I calculated in that case I could be in town until two a.m. What to do about Hunzi, and the food shopping?

The eye clinic. Where, two years ago, I was sent after reporting symptoms involving large, fuzzy grey patches fringed with sparkly colours, and the locum doctor didn’t know how to operate the new computerized photo-the-backs-of-your-eyeballs tomography camera and the technician couldn’t be found and the nurse couldn’t anyway find the printout paper rolls so I had to come back a month later, by which time the symptoms had long gone and it had already been explained to me that migraines don’t always produce headaches – just fuzzy patches with glittery fringes.

And so, gentle reader, I decided to risk the blindness and drove home to feed and walk Hunzi, rather than spend five or ten hours amid the unpredictable drama of the local health service, anxiously perusing months-old copies of My Home! magazine. And here we are, two days later, and my old eyes feel so strained and tired, and this fucking blob keeps floating around – the fly-specks have gone for now, they come and go – but they’re both still just about working.

It’s funny how neither of them on their own produces much of an image, but with both eyes working together I could shoot a person off a hillside two miles away, and often think about who I’d most like it to be.

And so we soldier on.

Stupid? Typical male. But you know, after years of messing about with doctors investigating my enormous prostate, I stopped taking the pills, the hospital has seemingly forgotten about me, there’s anyway an 18-month waiting list in urology for six-monthly follow-up appointments – does it not occur to anyone that our civilization is genuinely broken? – and it’s not perfect, but it’s at least settled down and I’m getting the bad nights and embarrassing days less and less often and it seems my urinary tract is learning how to behave itself despite the many free tests and the impressive medicalization of my condition, MRI scans, peeing in a funnel and all.

With a group of friends last night, I raised the issue of floaters in the eyes and several people said, cheerily, oh yes, we have those too, all the time, annoying isn’t it.

I figure it’s nothing two weeks on a sunny beach wouldn’t fix.

Like, that’s going to happen.

 

GW: warning – no surfing on ice floes, ya hear?

Is anyone detecting a pattern?

The last week in October, there were still a dozen locations in the northern hemisphere where temperatures were exceeding 100F during the day. Within a week there were none. Temperatures fell steadily, until in the week before Christmas we started getting reports of record cold, where a few months earlier there had been record heat; and record snowfall, where previously there had been record flooding. And not just in the USA.

2017 was a year with no Autumn; straight from high summer to deepest winter.

It’s tempting to ask, what is going on?

USA: Storm Grayson – ‘The Cyclone Bomb’. Grayson’s central pressure dropped 59 mb in 24 hrs to just 950 mb off Cape Cod Thursday – a record.  “Heavy snow and high winds are beginning to pound the US East Coast along a front stretching from Maine in the north to North Carolina in the south, knocking out power, icing over roadways and closing hundreds of schools. The storm moved governors of multiple states – including New York and New Jersey – to declare states of emergency, a step already taken by governors of southern states.” Thousands of flights have been cancelled. The snow is falling on top of last weekend’s record snow.  Spring tides and a storm surge have brought coastal flooding to many areas, including Boston.

Frozen: a somewhat suspect image of an iguana by an unfrozen Florida pool… (Telegraph)

Temperatures all along the eastern seaboard haven’t risen above 20F (-6C) all week and a further plunge is forecast from Friday night. Niagara Falls is a spectacular ice-palace, Cape Cod Bay is a jumbled mass of ice floes while, down in Florida, deep-frozen iguanas have been photographed, supposedly falling from trees.

(Looking at prior news coverage, the BogPo notices that the eastern USA had winters not dissimilar to this in 2013, ’14, ’15 and ’16… It’s just that this one starts further south and features a rare winter hurricane that will no doubt spin over to the British Isles in the next week. Also, he has learned with fascination that green tree-dwelling iguanas occupy the same niche, being pestilential non-native immigrants to Florida, as green ring-necked parrots do in London.)

Canada: “The storm plowed directly into Canada’s Maritime Provinces, where the New Brunswick capital of St. John recorded a surface pressure of 951.1 mb—its lowest reading at any point in records going back to 1953.”

China: Possibly 10 dead after sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfalls froze water features, cut power to millions and disrupted travel. 16-in snow fell on Shangxi, Shenan and Hubei provinces. Another 12-in of snow is forecast in parts of the country over the weekend.

India: “New Delhi – Cold wave continues to sweep North and East India. Dense fog at several places in the region has affected normal life. In Uttar Pradesh, four people died of cold in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. The mercury in Muzaffarnagar plunged to 3.4 degrees yesterday, while Sultanpur and Fursatganj recorded minimum temperatures of 2.8 degrees Celsius. … In Bihar, normal life has been paralysed due to intense cold. Gaya remained the coldest place in the state where 3.8 degree celcius. 24 people have died due to severe cold in the state this season.”

“Reports say seven people died in two separate incidents in Delhi and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state on Sunday after inhaling carbon monoxide from coal fires in their rooms to keep themselves warm. The dead included four children in a family in Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh. Kashmir: Srinagar city recorded a minimum temperature of minus 1.8C on Sunday.”

Malaysia: the “annual northeast monsoon brought further heavy rain (and flooding) over the last 2 days. Malaysia news agency Bernama reports that 2 people have died in the floods, one in Kuantan and another in Sungai Lembing, Pahang state.” More than 12 thousand people have been displaced.

Vietnam: Tropical Storm Balavan is arriving with more heavy rain, the third TS to cross the Philippines in a month, killing 2.

Madagascar: Up to 20-in of rain expected, as “Tropical Cyclone Ava was on track to produce what could be the planet’s first hurricane-strength landfall of 2018.” Friday: Ava hits Madagascar with 110 mph wind, killing 6, but is forecast to dissip[ate and wander back out into the Indian Ocean. Capital Antananarivo flooded, rivers on red alert.

New Zealand: “Winds were over 90 mph in some parts, with at least 274 lightning strikes and nearly 9 inches of rain in areas around Mount Taranaki. (Parts of Auckland flooded out.) The massive rain storm followed an unusually dry summer. 1 woman died after a tree fell on a car.” Campbelltown, Sydney, Australia, (06 Jan) the mercury hits 47.3C, 117F, 0.5C off the city’s hottest ever. Hundreds of ‘Flying Fox’ bats die from dehydration; koalas rescued.

Eleanor froths up a storm (ibtimes.co.uk)

British Isles: Heavy rain, strong winds and a tidal surge from Storm Eleanor brought flooding to the west of Ireland. Galway and Cork cities were partly underwater. In England, “winds of 100 mph (160km/h) were recorded at Great Dun Fell in Cumbria. At least four people were injured by fallen trees.” Masses of frothy sea-foam whipped-up by the huge storm were reported along the entire western seaboard of Europe, from Portugal to Northern Ireland. The Thames barrier was closed to protect London from the storm surge.

France: “Storm Eleanor brought down trees and left thousands of homes without power. Winds of up to 147km/h recorded in the Nord department.” A skier in Haute-Savoie was killed by a falling tree; 2 other deaths were reported, and 2 more earlier in Spain. 2 -ft of snow at the ski resort of Chamonix was greeted with delight by operators until it turned to rain and the avalanche warning indicator reached 5/5, curtailing sport. At one point over 200,000 homes in France were without power.

Known in Germany as Burglind, Eleanor led to a falling tree derailing a train near Luenen, while flooding was forecast for Cologne and other cities along the swollen Rhine.

Thousands of tourists have been left stranded after heavy snow in the Alps cut off towns and villages across Switzerland, France and Italy. 13,000 tourists are trapped in Zermatt. More than a metre (39in) of snow fell in parts on Monday alone. On Tuesday, a metre more is forecast. In the Simplon region of Valais, where Zermatt is located, two metres (6.6ft) of snow fell in a 24-hour period, the Swiss ATS news agency said.

Wunderground/ Independent/ Floodlist/ Newsweek, quoting ABC News, South China Morning Post/ India Newsroom Post/ BBC News.

(PS Where is Climate & Extreme Weather News #89? 7 days overdue… Frozen up? )

 

End of civilization as we knew it

WARNING: Do not travel to Egypt without memorizing your catechism (or redacting your bogl Posts…)

Image: Fanpop.com

Deity of the Jackal: an Egyptian god you can have fun choosing to believe in (and stay out of gaol).

“The Egyptian parliament has commenced processes to criminalize atheism in the predominantly Muslim north African country. A legislation proposed on the eve of 2017 Christmas was given consideration by the parliament on the eve of New Year’s Day, the USA Today website reported.

“Under existing Egyptian laws, it is illegal to insult or defame any religion. Blasphemy arrests carry a conviction of up to five years. The new development if approved means just refusing to believe in God could be punishable by law.” (Africa News, 04 Jan)

For a list of Egyptian gods in which you may safely choose to believe, visit wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Egyptian_gods_and_goddesses

Boom time

In Yellowstone news, the unusually intense earthquake swarms that began on 12 June last year are continuing, inside and outside the caldera, with pronounced tremors, outgassing, indications of rising melt and magma movement, water and ground heating, ‘dead fish’ events and strong ground uplift. USGS says “condition green, all normal”.

The Express reports: “UFO hunters have now added more fuel to the fire by claiming to have spotted alien spacecrafts hovering over the Yellowstone volcano, claiming they are monitoring it before its imminent massive eruption.” (The story then goes on to deny itself. We’ll see.)

 

 

The Pumpkin – New Year Edition: Happy New Year from Granny Weatherwax (fuckin’ moron)… The BogPo InHuman Awards, 2018.

Donald J. TrumpVerified account @realDonaldTrump

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

“For President Trump to be the principal spokesman for a now totally discredited campaign to deny these facts and to refuse to take action to mitigate them for the safety and security of the American public is, or should be, a criminal act for which he most certainly ought to be impeached.”

Happy New Year, fuckin’ moron (From your old Granny)

President Troll proved himself to be the ultimate internet Chump with a teatime tweet, 28 Dec., boasting that the record cold spell that’s seen parts of Minnesota buried under five feet of snow and temperatures plunge as low as minus 37C in International Falls, Mn. (“America’s Coldest Town”) proves that global warming is a hoax, as he has frequently said, and that by pulling out of the Paris accord he has successfully saved America from having to pay “trillions of dollars” to combat something that doesn’t exist.

“And if you think these hugest ever hands are small, you should see the size of my intelligence!”

I honestly don’t know where to start unpicking the lies, dangerous ignorance and confusion of this demented old sack of composting fishburgers. Especially as there seemed to be some sly tongue-in-cheek humor in back of his tweet. Does he really ever fully tweet with conviction, or are his tweets just little hoaxes he likes to perpetrate, little teasers to annoy decent, liberal-minded internationalists like the staff at The Pumpkin; to keep himself in the nooze?

He must know, surely, that global climate is not the same as local weather. And according to NOAA, the US weather bureau, despite the big freeze this has still been the third warmest year across the US since their records began in 1895 – the top two being 2016 and 2015. Parts have seen their hottest temperatures ever. (And by the way, fish-breath, this is already costing you hundreds of billions in damage.)

I’m only a visual arts graduate, I failed Physics-with-Chemistry, my only O-level flunk, although I got 100% in Geometry! Nevertheless by reading what scientists write and watching their podcasts over the past year I feel I’ve gained quite a useful impression of what meteorology has discovered, and must thank my Committee of Discarnate Entities for not engineering a life for me in which I need to make uncomfortable field trips to measure things for myself. It’s bad enough out today just walking the dog.

It makes you wonder why Trump cannot be bothered to do the same? He doesn’t need to read, there’s a lot on YouTube.

America (will go) First

Temperature, pressure, windspeed and precipitation are recorded at frequent intervals at thousands of points all around the globe, not only in the USA, simultaneously at the equator and the poles and all points inbetween, on mountaintops and in the oceans, and monitored by internationally accredited scientific bodies from satellites with instruments so sensitive they can register a 1 mm change in sea-level. These data are not simply conjecture.

Heading for Florida – Hurricane Irma. Rising sea temperatures are making hurricanes more violent.

All the data are then plugged-in to big computers – machines – that apply them to various models that are insistently telling us things are going haywire, although there are hairs’ breadth differences in the trends and trajectories. That’s the point of computer models, unlike politicians they don’t conspire against the US economy. And they show the planet is warming, without any doubt. They don’t explain why, but that it is mostly caused by human activity, as we shall see, is really no longer a matter for debate.

(It’s completely illogical to believe we’re not having an effect.)

Any increase in global average temperature naturally perturbs cold regions as well as hot. But the knock-on effects are not evenly distributed: global climate is the overall condition, local climate variations are sets of lesser conditions, and “the weather” is a product of local climate when acted on by other variables: wind, ocean currents, solar energy, the rotation of the globe – air and sea temperature, and barometric (air) pressure.

When the delusionary old man in the White House calls for ‘America First’, a slogan he borrowed from the good old-timey brownshirts in the 1930s, and thereby imagines that the only things that have any meaning are American things, like the weather in Minnesota, he imagines there is no rest of the world to bother knowing about! But the area of the US and Canada currently affected by the Arctic plume is just 1% of the world’s land mass.

1.7 degrees of industrial-era warming, where we roughly are now, is interfering with the seasons and creating many problems, but it does not yet mean there can be no winter and that we shall all bask forevermore in eternal summer. Of course there are still winters. When it is winter in the northern hemisphere, it is summer in the southern – and Australia, which is in the southern hemisphere, Donald, has already set new records for heatwaves this summer. It’s a matter of balance, and the marginal 1.7 degree tipping of the scale over the whole globe has more complex effects than just causing the fundamental differences between summer and winter in Minnesota.

Your primary-school way of looking at the science is not how it works, Chump.

The sudden arrival of global cooling in the US set tongues wagging…

Climate change is visible mostly at the extremes of normal weather events. Without 1.7 deg. of warming, a minus 37C winter’s night in Minnesota could have been a chilly minus-38.7C. We don’t know! Next year, perhaps, the record 56C (133F) experienced in Iran last summer will be 57.7C, who knows? Generally, like boiling frogs we mostly experience more gradual effects somewhere in the middle, where it’s easier not to notice.

The cold air mass has penetrated so far south this winter because warming oceans are weakening the jetstreams, which are broken and loopy and no longer function to keep cold air penned up in the Arctic. This winter in the northern hemisphere too we have a strengthening La Niña effect, for the second year running, moving the warmer waters northwards, prolonging the ice melt season and displacing the colder, fresher water.

At the same time as the cold has penetrated far southwards, Alaska, to the far north of both America and Canada, is experiencing record warmth, with temperatures up to 20C above normal for the time of year. Unusual dry heat and wind are continuing to create a risk of wildfires in California, long beyond the usual season. The Arctic ocean, too, is showing around 8 deg. C of warming.

These anomalies are a cause for alarm, rather than for lamebrained internet trolling about snow in December.

The fatuous oaf, Trump does not mention that; or that it is unusually hot in parts of Australia – again. Nor does he understand that his well-funded lies have an effect on gullible Americans and will undoubtedly lead them to catastrophe if he doesn’t stop.

(Of course, many Americans are fervently praying for the end of the world, as they are longing to meet Jesus. The Rapture can’t come soon enough for them. The Pumpkin however doesn’t see why my children should suffer to encourage the suicidal delusions of credulous backwoods baboons. I’ll back my Enlightenment over theirs anyday.)

They already know the truth so why are you lying?

There is ample evidence that the earth’s temperature is warming faster than any effect of natural background heating can explain. Even the powerful oil and gas conglomerate, Exxon-Mobil, accepts this and urges – unenthusiastically – governments to take action.

Exxon has known for over forty years that there was a problem with continuing to burn its products, but tried to keep a lid on it, as an academic research project paid for by the Los Angeles Times comparing Exxon’s internal and external communications revealed back in July.

Here is what Exxon now say on their own corporate website:

“The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken…” – Exxon-Mobil website

Suck on that, Trump.

And if you want further reassurance:

“Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000, and these could bring about climatic changes. […] there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe. […] pollutants which we generally ignore because they have little local effect, CO2 and submicron particles, may be the cause of serious world-wide environmental changes.”

That’s from an American Petroleum Institute report, commissioned in 1968. While astonishingly, physicist Edward Teller, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, had lectured the Institute 9 years earlier on the problem with CO2, saying presciently:

“At present the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 2 per cent over normal. By 1970, it will be perhaps 4 per cent, by 1980, 8 per cent, by 1990, 16 per cent [about 360 parts per million by his reckoning). …if we keep on with our exponential rise in the use of purely conventional fuels … our planet will get a little warmer. It is hard to say whether it will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit or only one or 5”

That, he calculated, would be enough to start melting the polar ice caps, with the ultimate effect of drowning New York. Read the full story of the release of papers:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jan/01/on-its-hundredth-birthday-in-1959-edward-teller-warned-the-oil-industry-about-global-warming

For President Trump to be the principal spokesman for a now totally discredited campaign to deny these facts and to refuse to take action to mitigate them for the safety and security of the American public is, or should be, a criminal act for which he most certainly ought to be impeached.

Is persistently lying to the American people about a major threat facing the country not sufficient of an impeachable ‘Misdemeanour’ at least?

A Chinese hoax? Don’t think so!

The risk of global warming as a result of human industry releasing excess carbon dioxide (CO2) and other ‘greenhouse’ gases was known about even before the API report, certainly in the 1890s. Much of the CO2 released from burning billions of tonnes of coal each year during the early C20th is still in the atmosphere. It can persist for a thousand years, transferring heat to land and sea. Does Trump really see sense in putting out more, while lying that to do so is creating “millions of jobs”?

2017 wildfires in the US destroyed entire communities and burned 10 million acres. 44 people died. Trump has yet to visit the devastated areas: California did not vote for him.

It would have to be some hoax to have run on this long without apparent purpose or outcome, and to have convinced so many tens of thousands of unsuspecting scientists with PhDs over all that time of something that cannot be demonstrated experimentally to be true, namely that greenhouse gas emissions are not warming the planet.

(It is not logical to believe you can fill a bath and then piss in it without the water turning yellow, even if some does go down the overflow pipe.)

Founded only in 1947, modern China did not begin to industrialize until the 1970s, so the idea that Chinese “scientists” created a hoax at the height of the Boxer rebellions for the purpose of gaining global economic dominance is clearly absurd. Trump fails to explain how pretending the world is warming dangerously would help to achieve China’s foreign policy objectives in the 1890s?

In any case, being so dependent on coal for so long, China has suffered more than most from the problems of global warming and is doing more than most at greater cost and speed than most to try to mitigate the effects.

Mr Chump conveniently ignores that the credit for discovering in 1889 that CO2 is a greenhouse gas – i.e. it stores heat over and above the background temperature of the other atmospheric gases, oxygen and nitrogen – has already gone to a Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius.

So it’s a Swedish hoax to rule the world?

Saving you $trillions? No, but costing you $billions

“2017 has been the joint-costliest year for extreme weather events in US history”

No-one is asking the USA to pay anything!

  • The Paris Accord does not place financial targets or obligations on signatory nations, who following the accession of Syria to the treaty last July now include every country in the world – except Trump’s laughably isolated America.
  • The evidence is that the move to renewables can be equally profitable for the energy industry, employment and the economy.

“They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round…” It appears the moron-in-chief couldn’t be bothered to read or understand the Paris document, which is only 30-odd pages, before making a pariah state of his country.

Alternative energy sources to coal, oil and gas – wind and solar power generation – are now demonstrably cheaper even than nuclear, and require much smaller federal subsidies. To promote fossil fuels as Trump does is unnecessarily costing the nation, if not trillions of dollars, certainly billions. But it does inflate the profits of global corporations to whom he is beholden for the coup that brought him to power. Nor does Trump appear to understand that going hell-for-leather to pump American energy into the world market is depressing the price and hence, causing jobs in the energy sector to vanish like leaves in the Fall. He’s an idiot, but you voted for him! (Well, probably not you personally.)

As for the price of mitigating their environmental and climatic impacts, 2017 has been the joint-costliest year for extreme weather events in US history (the tie being 2011 – Katrina). It has been the third hottest year in the record-book, according to NASA, by about one-twelfth of a degree behind 2016, but the hottest ever to occur in a year without an El Niño event (they’re warmer) – and despite the cold weather this week in the eastern US may still catch up to it. Fifteen of the hottest years in recorded history have occurred in the last 17 years. It’s not coincidence.

And every degree increase in temperature increases the energy of storm systems, the height clouds reach (precipitating hail) and the amount of water they can hold (by about 7%). Stalled by rogue jetstream winds over Texas, Hurricane Harvey dumped more than five feet of rain on Nederland, near Port Arthur, in 72 hours last August. Later in October, five feet of hail fell on the city of Cordoba, in Argentina, reportedly in just 15 minutes…

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, the death toll in the US territory of Puerto Rico may have risen to more than 1,000. The authorities admit they don’t know how properly to count the victims. Three months after, despite Chump crowing about his great success tackling the aftermath: notoriously chucking paper towels at the survivors, blaming the victims for being lazy and praising the turnout on his arrival, 36% of homes were still without power at Christmas and many survivors still homeless. Several Caribbean islands were devastated in 2017, Barbuda being rendered possibly permanently uninhabitable.

This scene in Jamaica in November was repeated endlessly around the world in 2017.

Many new records were set in 2017 for rainfall, snowfall, floods, heat, drought and wildfires. Even Greenland suffered a wildfire in August that burned for two weeks over 3 thousand acres. Prolonged dry, hot conditions promoted record wildfires over millions of acres in Canada and Siberia, and in West Africa. In September, 1,050 people died in a landslide in Sierra Leone after torrential rain fell over several days. Up until December, 187 records had been broken in the USA for hottest cities, while only 17 had been set for the coldest.

The UK’s Meteorological Office survey recorded that the six winter months of 2016-17 had been 2 deg C above the 1981-2011 winter average. Disappointingly, however, 2017 was only Britain’s 5th hottest year since 1910; possibly owing to the weakening of the Gulf Stream current. The Boglington Post reported in April on a visible CO2-induced increase in biomass in the local area. The Arctic News survey announced that daily surface temperatures off the coast of Svalbard island, the northernmost settlement in the world, measured during the month of October/November 2017 had continuously exceeded the October/November average for all the years between 1981 and 2011 by 13.9 deg. C.

These changes have consequences, not least that they promote through what are known as positive feedback loops, greater and faster warming. Just one example, it was explained this year that warmer soils create a more conducive environment for bacteria to speed up their breeding cycles. The increase in bacterial population produces a greater quantity of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, further warming the soil.

Dozens of these feedbacks are known about, and many are already irreversible; such as the increase of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas with up to 100-times more latency than CO2, from warming Arctic permafrost; the lowered albedo (hence increased heat absorption) of Arctic and Antarctic melt-ponds; the release of CO2 and the inhibition of further uptake caused by wildfires – not to mention the depositing of heat-absorbing soot particles from fires on distant sea-ice and glaciers.

Ottawa University’s Paul Beckwith identified the fragmentation, and the unprecedented crossing of the equator by broken segments of the northern jetstreams (upper-atmospheric winds) last July, merging with the broader southern jetstreams, bringing unpredictable chaos to the world’s weather systems. Abnormal was becoming the new normal. A kick in the tail, a fairly normal SW Pacific typhoon season ended unexpectedly with a blow that killed 25o people in the Philippines. “A-68”, a trillion-tonne iceberg the size of Cyprus, tantalizingly broke off from the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antarctica and floated away, spawning “small bergy bits” – some up to 10 sq km in area.

Take a breather

“Your bogus, braggadocious and bought opinions are not worth a fart in a candle-flame.”

After a recession-induced pause, CO2 emissions started to climb again in 2017, showing a 2% increase over 2016. Global CO2 is now concentrated at 405-410 parts per million – pre-industrial (mid-C18th) CO2 has been estimated as 285 ppm. Regions affected by wildfires such as Southern California in December registered as high as 922 ppm. At about 570 ppm, we can expect a geopolitically destabilizing and potentially unsurvivable 5 deg. of warming not seen in the fossil record. While most predictions push the extinction event away to 2050 and beyond, ‘the turn of the century’, some climate scientists are predicting we could be there in as little as eight years from now.

In 2017, the Trump administration made strenuous attempts to censor the science, removing advice on climate change from their websites. All of the federal agencies responsible for environmental research and management, parks and agriculture were headed by climate-change deniers without scientific qualifications. Around 700 government scientists left their posts and were not replaced. Protections capping emissions and protecting waterways were removed. In June, Trump announced the US’s intention to pull out of the Paris accord, the only country now not signed up to it. The US delegation to the Bonn climate conference consisted entirely of executives from the energy industries, who gave a presentation on the benefits of “clean coal”.

In a speech in West Virginia, Trump made it evident that he thinks “clean coal” is coal that has been washed before burning.

Fanned by unseasonal Santa Ana desert winds, the flames of the Thomas fire in Ventura County, the biggest in California’s history, were visible mid-December from the international space station. 1800 homes were destroyed, tens of thousands driven from their homes. Tragically, many horses did not survive. A month earlier, the vineyards of the Napa Valley were decimated and over 40 people killed as wildfires swept through parts of northern California, destroying whole suburbs of the city of Santa Rosa. Cities all up and down the west coast became smokelogged. Rainy Seattle enjoyed a record drought, chilly Portland posted record heat, while over the border fires destroyed over 2 million acres of British Columbia.

Fox59’s graphic explaining what Trump doesn’t know. Climatologist Paul Beckwith identified the unusual turbulence of the northern jetstreams last summer.

Cereal production in the US was down 15% in 2017. 25% of the country is officially in drought conditions. Agricultural production is failing all over the globe – crops in Southern Europe were reduced by drought and record heat this year by around 60%, winter floods led to a Europe-wide shortage of Spanish salad vegetables; while millions of acres of crops were destroyed by excessive monsoon flooding in India and China. Hundreds of people drowned or were buried in mudslides; millions displaced.

While other areas may be brought into cultivation, the amount of new land available for growing crops is shrinking fast, in competition with non-food agricultural production imposed by multinational corporations. The onward march of deforestation in the Amazon was resumed. Meanwhile, overexploited and undernourished, soils around the world are rapidly degrading and becoming less productive. Several papers reported finding that key food crops have a limit to their tolerance of CO2, after which their nutritional content rapidly declines.

There is a growing threat to the food security of all of us as a result of a warming climate changing weather patterns and intensities.

In October, 14 elderly people were drowned in the suburbs of Athens as a ‘Med-icane’ hit Greece. Most of southern Europe endured a gruelling, 110 deg. F. heatwave that even earned a name: Lucifer. Temperatures in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan regularly topped 120 deg. F. By November, the Arabian peninsula was hit by widespread flooding. Massive ice storms bombarded Spain, Turkey, Russia, South Africa, central America, Australia. The Iberian peninsula was ravaged by drought and wildfires; in June, 64 people burned to death in central Portugal; in September, another 49 died in the north. By November, it was snowing. Lingering high-pressure systems allowed vast smogs to build up, over China in January, in India in November. Thousands died from respiratory complaints: the World Bank estimates as many as 2 million extra deaths worldwide. In New Delhi, toxic particulates exceeded WHO limits by a factor of 18.

But you carry on, O Great Orange Asshole. Carry on lying to yourself, deceiving your people, encouraging a climate of blissful ignorance and brute stupidity for the enrichment of your party’s corrupt and greedy corporate backers. It won’t last.

Your bogus, braggadocious and bought opinions are not worth a fart in a candle-flame, Trump. At 32% approval (AP, Qinnipiac) you’re already considered by Americans to be the worst President in polling history: 52% think your embarrassingly inept first year in office has been bad for the nation, making it less great. Your staff turnover rate is running at 34%… even the people who work for you, hate you; your former confidant, Mr Bannon, whom you now lie (as your former Chief Strategy Adviser) had nothing whatever to do with your government or your election ‘success’, has turned against you.

Unofficially, it’s been said, even your Secretary of State thinks you’re a “fuckin’ moron”; while your friend, Rupert Murdoch thinks you’re a “fuckin’ idiot”. Which is it?

Happy New Year, fuckin’ moron.

For a disturbing analysis of his foreign policy, such as it is (“a wrecking ball”) I can offer no better opinion than that of Susan Glasser, senior foreign policy analysis at Politico. Read it and be slightly more afraid:

@www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/02/donald-trump-foreign-policy-analysis-dangerous-216202?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

Happy New Year, everyone. (Photo: Gideon Mendel)

USA/Canada: Storm Jonas brings even worse wintery conditions to east-coast states on New Year’s Eve, stretching from Florida (and even the Bahamas) to Labrador, with up to another 2 ft of snow on top of already record falls and a ‘brutally cold’ storm-force wind. 2018 is shaping up to be the worst winter experienced in the east for more than 50 years; maybe in 100. A ‘cyclone-bomb’ followed – Storm Grayson was one of the fastest-intensifying cyclones ever measured. ? 20 dead (5 Jan). Ireland and Britain are hit by 85 mph Storm Eleanor, gusting up to 100 mph, disrupting transport, closing bridges and bringing power outages across the country and on into northern Europe, where 3 people have been killed.  The video has probably gone viral, but in Newfoundland an exhausted wild moose had to be dug out of the snow, buried up to its head.

Material drawn from various sources of weather news previously credited. For a more credible scientific overview of 2017 visit:

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/new-years-freeze-out-it-can-still-get-cold-even-warming-climate

 

Prof Simon Bell, Professor of Innovation and Methodology:

“The end of Project Fear. 2017 has seen a wave of populist responses to threat and anxiety – often promulgated and reinforced by social media manipulation. In 2018 there will be a push back against this … with empowering messages of holism and rational response to unstructured worry.”

Prof Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences:

“Maybe a big meteorite will fall and rock civilisation to its foundations? Maybe the interstellar comet will come back and we’ll find that it is a spaceship full of aliens.”

From: BBC – Tomorrow’s World scientific predictions for 2018.

Good to see scientists in agreement for once…

 

May God strike them down and all their works

The BogPo InHuman Awards, 2018:

 

5 Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to Britain

At the risk of being branded an antisemite, which if he reads this I shall be, since he does it to everyone who criticizes his paymasters, Regev has been the chief apologist for the worst crimes of the apartheid Likud regime in Tel Aviv (now renamed Jerusalem) and after threatening and bullying the BBC for years was rewarded in 2016 with the ambassadorship. Whereupon this Aussie migrant, who changed his name from Freiberg, abused his position in 2017 to bully the authorities into, essentially, no-platforming a Holocaust survivor invited to speak at Manchester university, on the grounds that she supports the rights of Palestinians to equal treatment and likens Likud to the Nazis; while demanding total editorial control of the conference. Ratty little fascist, basically.

4 Nigel Farage, architect of Brexit ( a wobbly edifice)

Late in 2017, Farage confirmed he would be accepting his £70 thousand a year pension from the European Parliament, where he has been a UK MEP for a number of years, whilst sworn to destroy the very institution that employs him on a handsome salary and glamorous expenses. Employed too as a gobby rightwing talkshow host on a local radio station mainly for elderly London cabbies, Farage is for some reason almost a permanent BBC panellist who continues through sheer force of his obnoxious personality to dominate the fractious debate over how Britain is to leave the EU, a problem the combined forces of the government and the civil service have no solution to, other than to walk away and destroy the British economy for a generation. Yarp, yarp, yarp, could he shut the fuck up for once?

3 Global capitalism, a cancer on the face of the earth

Global capitalism has delivered unparallelled, not to say obscene wealth for the few, short-term relief from absolute poverty for the many, nothing for the hated middle-class and an iPhone or Google Android spy device in every pocket. It has taken political power through subverting democracy and the primacy of the individual. It is about to deliver the unprecedented miracle of universal redundancy conferred on people by AI, 3D printing and robotics, but has no answers to the socio-economic implications of its technological developments. One interesting example of the operation of global capitalism: we have known for two decades that antibiotic resistance will soon be killing millions, yet the pharmaceutical companies obeying the dictates of shareholder greed see no financial benefit in researching new drugs to combat infectious disease ahead of diet pills and antidepressants, so none exist. Amoral genocide.

2 Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America

No human being in the history of the world has been so criticized, analyzed, abused, insulted and dismissed, with good reason – yet Trump is so thick-skinned, it’s all been water off a duck’s back… Seriously, he doesn’t know it! There he sits, putting on his Mussolini face for the cameras, guzzling Diet Coke and MacDonalds’ fishburgers, the least popular President in the history of polling, under investigation by the FBI for multiple crimes, glued to admiring cable news reports and screaming abuse at his acolytes, having to be fed predigested cartoon security briefings, firing off childishly vindictive tweets at 4 a.m., golfing in Florida three days a week; believing he is the greatest US President in history because he orders his kow-towing minions constantly to tell him so… What a dick!

A senile tyrant with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder, a spoilt and profoundly ignorant, narcissistic old thug to whom no-one has ever dared to say no – a climate-change-denying threat to the planet, armed with nuclear weapons, that he has publicly wondered why we don’t use more often? Where to start? By voting him only second worst InHuman of the year!

1 Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Chief Counsellor of Myanmar

BogPo InHuman Award, 2018 WINNER

Suu Kyi – British-educated, Nobel peace prizewinning daughter of the great liberator of Burma (from British rule) – was once the darling of the Oxford set. How we libtards all wept when, a prisoner of the military regime, after years of house arrest, smuggling out messages of hope, laden with honors, her British husband Michael Aris was dying of cancer and she wasn’t allowed to visit him or go to his funeral. Known as ‘The Lady’, this fragrant, aristocratic midget has presided in 2017 without a qualm over the ‘final solution’ genocide of her country’s persecuted and disinstated Muslim minority: mass rape, child murder, arbitrary executions, village-burnings, mass expulsions (through minefields) and more; nothing the military is doing has been too awful to touch her hardened little Buddhist soul – added to which, she refuses to acknowledge that it is happening, or that those poor bastards ever existed.

Wizened, hypocritical, lying old racist cunt, the BogPo says she goes down in ’18. Lock her up (again)!

The BogPo: Back in your box please, Norman. Now… This Revengers’ tragedy has gone far enough… Assholes is as assholes does… GW: skating on thin ice.

“Hmm. Can’t have the party leader telling me which way to vote…”

“I know, I’ll abstain…”

Back in your box please, Norman. Now.

Another distressing old ghoul from the 1980s-era Thatcher cabinet, a zombie dripping with soil and maggots, ‘Lord’ Norman Tebbit of BALPA has risen untimely from the snow-covered earth and raised his sightless skull to howl at the moon.

His former cabinet colleague, ‘Lord’ Heseltine (they’re all Lords, Time-lords presumably since they all ought by rights to be dead by now, along with their unholy mistress) went on record the other day as saying it might be preferable to have a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn, than to endure the kind of nonsensical, damaging, divisive Brexit Mrs May might be proposing – if anyone, even she, knew what she is proposing.

While it is almost certainly preferable that Hezza is in opposition to the tight-knit cabal of power-hungry pantomime villains in the Tory party, the Bakers and the Patersons, the Redwoods and the Bones, the Duncan Cunts lobbying tirelessly (the Undead never sleep) for the hardest kind of Brexit, i.e. no deal with the remaining EU states, a new British Empire rising from the sea, free from the garlic-munching constraints of one of the most profitable open-border trade deals we have ever had, his remark kind of damns the future with faint praise.

It’s also a tad off-kilter, because Corbyn is just as much of a Brexiter as any cretinous empire-loyalist throwback and neo-Thatcherite, ultra-liberal plotter on the Tory benches. If he wasn’t, he’d be in Downing Street by now, the woolly-pated old clodpuddle who just can’t resist rebelling against the party leadership, even when he IS the party leadership.

And we wouldn’t be headed for a life of servitude under the restrictive domination of the World Trade Organization and its secret court of arbitration; recast as a cut-price offshore tax shelter under the control of US corporations, owned by billionaire fund managers, hanging our fiscal arse out for anyone who wants to come by and pay tuppence to fuck it; proudly waving our second-class blue passports as we queue at the Aliens’ counter of once welcoming vacation destinations (there being some corner of a foreign airfield that is forever England…)

Tebbit’s spectral threat, however, is chilling. He asks of Heseltine: “It must call into question whether his loyalty is to the UK or a foreign power.”

Wow, that’s vintage Trump. Our dead white politicians are clearly learning.

Which “foreign power” would that be, Norman, you loathsome, rotting corpse, you? You always were a bit of a Goebbels figure. Not possibly the “foreign power” that bankrolled this clusterfuck in the first place? If anyone’s loyalty is to the Kremlin, it must surely be yours.

Back in your box please, Norman.

Now.

x

This Revengers’ tragedy has gone far enough

Well-known throughout the English-speaking world, the American writer/broadcaster and “feuilletoniste” par excellence, Garrison Keillor has been fired by the obscure local radio station he put and has kept on the map for the past four decades, Minnesota Public Radio, for putting his hand on a female colleague’s back, as he admits, finding bare skin – and as both originally described it, to console her over some unhappiness she was sharing with him. He would, he avers, have done the same for anyone, female or male.

How to destroy a popular franchise with a few well-chosen weasel words. (Photo: futureperfectpublishing.com)

But she seemed a little leery about it at the time, so, as far as both of them were concerned, she settled for his apology, verbally and in writing, and Keillor thought no more of it until the woman’s lawyer weighed in a few days ago, on (literally) the back of a lot of other, seemingly trivial, vexatious and opportunistic complaints that have followed, among them admittedly more serious allegations, many affecting the broadcasting industry, since the “outing” by more than 20 women two months ago of predatory Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein.

Since when, it has turned into a blamefest that is playing into the increasingly unseemly political “debate” on both sides of the channel, proving so easy to get rid of opponents with a well-judged swipe of a lipstick.

“On Wednesday he (Keillor) wrote a column saying there was no reason for Senator Al Franken, who is accused of sexual misconduct and was photographed groping a sleeping broadcaster, to resign.” – BBC report.

And five minutes later, wham! He’s toast.

There’s nothing like guilt by association to improve a news item, is there. Even if it is libellously inaccurate. So now it’s not acceptable to offer any kind of a defense of someone you think has been pushed to the brink over allegations of minor misconduct you believe have been blown out of proportion, at a time when past flirty behavior is all of a sudden being treated as a serious category error of which all men are automatically guilty without due process? Great.

So here’s my defense of Mr Keillor, and Sen. Franken, for what it’s worth:

The additional reporting on this story perpetuates the allegation that Franken “groped a sleeping broadcaster”. But Franken himself was part of the broadcast! The woman wasn’t “a broadcaster”. “Broadcasters” aren’t generally found “sleeping” on the job! Nor did he actually “grope” her. The story is bullshit.

Before he ran for Congress, the senator was a TV comedian. Such is the American Dream.

The old photograph of him “groping” the woman depicted what was obvious horseplay, apparently on-set during a rehearsal for a skit in a TV show. The woman was not a “broadcaster”, she was another comedic actor taking part in the skit. A BBC journalist should know the difference.

Franken was fully aware of what he was doing, it seems, as he was mugging at the time into the lens of a camera which, if you have genuinely sinister intent, you certainly would not do. His hands do not appear to touch the actor, but hover suggestively over her breasts, which were covered for whatever dramatic purpose with a ridiculous, pointy, armored metal brassiere! She was not “sleeping”, she was pretending to sleep: ACTING a part. Franken was not “groping”, he was simulating “groping”, for comedic effect.

But she has since recalled that he later tried to kiss her…

Whatever else he may have been accused of, however tedious or infantile the joke, Franken was not “groping” the woman. He was pretending to. Comedy was clearly the intent. If he later tried to kiss her, well, silly him. Is it that serious? Actors kiss everyone, all the time. People kiss actors. Kissing is a social thing, it isn’t rape.

Politicians too: I seem to recall Tony Blair disgracefully snogging Col Muammar Gadaffi, a serial rapist and pedophile whose supply of Semtex to the IRA had killed hundreds of British citizens. I was on a course recently, we all hugged goodbye at the end and a woman I was not physically attracted to and had shown no sign of interest in, someone I barely knew, kissed me full on the lips. Should I call my lawyer?

We don’t know the precise circumstances; only that a woman many years later says she was so outraged, so humiliated, so… sexually assaulted by a fumbled kiss from a colleague? that the man has to end his political career on her say-so. Why? Well, because she’s a woman. Surely enough evidence for anyone: women can’t possibly be expected to cope with a little flirtatious attention. And if Franken was a bit flirty, a bit gropy, a bit louche, so what? Millions of men are, always were, it’s what makes the world go around. Ask Simone de Beauvoir. Ask Collette, Anaïs Nin… (Strangely, French women seem to get it… Americans derive their matriarchal power from not getting it.)

There was a time when flirtatiousness between men and women was an expression of human sexuality rather than a patriarchal power-fantasy. It cut two ways – women had their stratagems – and was not just tolerated: it was a game of two halves, as someone once said about soccer.

What is really disturbing is that it is no longer a defense to point it out. It’s okay for a woman to put on 3-inch denim hotpants, 6-inch heels and a boob tube, drink a pint of vodka and stagger out into the nighttime streets to get sex off any drunken guy they fancy. No, it really is. But why is it now a retroactive, career-destroying offence for a man to flirtatiously put his hand on a woman’s knee in a bar at a political convention? Is it a crime to want human contact? We’re programmed to. Is it a crime to point that out?

Because “inappropriate sexual conduct” such as wolf whistling or propositioning or casual touching in a non-threatening manner are not criminal offences: they were bad manners; now they’re a political policy.

We should perhaps remind ourselves from time to time that whoever resurrected this “evidence” of past misconduct that – among later accusations of similarly flirty masculinist behaviour –  drove Sen. Franken to resign would have been well aware that he is a Democratic senator, that the Republicans have only a slender majority in the Senate, they have difficult and frankly lousy bills to get passed and they know too that their irascible President has been accused of, and is self-confessed to, far worse predatory sexual behavior, from which some distraction is required.

Of course they are going to make the most of it; especially in the light of accusations against their equally appalling candidate in Alabama, the unspeakable Roy Moore. (Unfortunately, his sexual peccadilloes have occluded his vile racial and religious bigotry.)

Oh, and did I mention that when the ‘Golden Showergate’ dossier came out, Trump joked that he knew all about the form of blackmail known in Russia as “Kompromat” because he too owned hotels; hotels perhaps not dissimilar to the one in which his son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s dad compromised his own brother-in-law, filming him secretly with a prostitute and sending the tape to his wife, his own sister, to get him to drop his testimony in a fraud trial? And that the President is now accused of having sex with porn actresses after only one year married to Melania, women he’s bought off? And nothing is going to happen as a result, because it’s not illegal?

There are surely degrees of offense, some of which seemingly require that the supposed offender should be blackmailed into a course of action favorable to the blackmailer. There will however be voices raised in support of Charlie Kushner, disapproving of prostitution, or hotels, or something.

Did Keillor masturbate, like Weinstein, allegedly ejaculating into a plant pot in front of this woman? Did he emerge naked from the hotel shower and ask for a “massage”? Did he threaten to destroy her career if she didn’t have sex with him? Did he call her up like Bill O’Reilly of Fox News used to, and tell her he was playing with himself while they talked? Did he make gratuitous remarks about how she had great tits, push her up against a wall and kiss her, or try to “grab her by the pussy”? Did he exonerate himself by claiming she was too ugly to have bothered with, or impose a legal gagging order threatening her with financial ruin? (All allegations have been denied by the men concerned.)

No, according to Keillor he touched her on, as he thought, a “safe” place (as we men have been taught to regard various supposedly non-erogenous zones of a woman – given that it is impossible and psychologically inadvisable to go through life without sometime touching at least one other person) on the small of her back, in what he claims was, and she accepted at the time was, a sympathetic gesture of solidarity. But of course, he’s a middle-aged white man, so we can’t possibly believe his version of events.

And now she’s gone and terminated his career, one imagines through her lawyer demanding the not-for-profit station pays them both off handsomely over this singular incident, which – according to the report – did not involve any actual impropriety, other than a hand patting or rubbing or pressing on her back, which can often be misinterpreted as a perfectly innocent, decent human gesture. Nice person.

Nor is Keillor yet being painted as a serial rapist – give it time:

“The station said it did not know of any allegations involving any other staff.” – BBC report. (That’s after 42 years with the station.)

Nevertheless, in stark terror MPR said it would:

  • end its contracts with Mr Keillor and his companies
  • stop broadcasting his syndicated show The Writer’s Almanac
  • stop rebroadcasting highlights from A Prairie Home Companion
  • change that programme’s name
  • separate from an online catalogue and website associated with him.

Over this one incident that allegedly took place, its propriety in retrospective dispute, we know not how long ago.

From all that we do know, this grotesque, Stalinist un-personning of Keillor, this cowardly airbrushing of their star performer and his folksy shows that millions have listened to with pleasure for over 40 years, would seem so egregiously over-the-top and so unnecessary, so unfair on the listeners, so hedged about and justified with weasel words, that it surely now behoves every male on the planet, even the gay ones, especially the gray ones, to come forward dressed in chains and kneeling in contrition, to renounce their jobs and dismantle their families, who ever engaged in any physical contact whatsoever beyond air-kissing and cooing ‘Hugs, babe!’ from a safe distance with a female of the species.

I’m sorry, I may be entirely wrong, I’m not an advocate of harrassment, but we seem to be gripped by a collective insanity involving a vituperative historical revisionism, in this case of what formerly passed for normal interpersonal behavior until the rules were arbitrarily changed last November. I sense a feeling of triumphalism about the #metoo movement.

We might as well die out. We deserve it in so many ways.

 

Assholes is as assholes does

Trump… Weinstein… Kim Jong-un… Rodrigo Duterte… Boris Johnson.

Stuart Jeffries has an entertaining piece in the post-Boxing Day Guardian, about how 2017 was the Year of the Asshole, according to a book: The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal With People Who Treat You Like Dirt, by Robert Sutton (Penguin Books).

Generally, assholes (in the American spelling) are people who abuse their authority to diminish others, while themselves acting like complete dicks.

Whaddaya mean, my tie is in your tea? (photo: forfreepsychology.com)

Like the MD of an ad agency I briefly worked for, who would give you a hazing, snarling at you with his stale breath and fishy, pale-blue eyes magnified tenfold by pebble lenses, from a distance of two inches, seriously questioning your loyalty and why you needed to go home before eight p.m. after working a 14-hour day.

As the most profitable creative in the building, I once asked for a raise and he snapped back with: “So who would you like me to fire, so they can pay for you to have more?” And then pocketed the entire staff bonus pool for the year, lying to us that we had made a loss, to buy himself a yacht.

And the time he sent his most cowed and creepy fellow board director illegally round to my house, to check that I really did have a horrific sweating virus with a temperature of 108 and wasn’t just malingering.

Or the MD of another company I briefly worked for, who was so organizationally conflicted he needed three PAs just to even try to keep his appointments and his over-generous promises to clients on-track.

This asshole would order the most junior person in the office to phone a supplier to negotiate a discount after the supplier had already delivered and invoiced the job, standing behind them screaming: “Tell ‘im ‘e’s a fuckin’ cunt an’ if ‘e’ doesn’t give us 30 per cent I’ll fuckin’ destroy ‘im…” And once on the way to a meeting, realizing he’d double-booked his appointments, he asked me in a panic to take over with one of the clients, promising me a bonus if I screwed the guy for a £5 thousand budget for a project. I came out with £10 thousand, but of course I never saw the bonus.

A man seemingly without qualifications or any redeeming features, he eventually achieved the Holy Grail of assholery – 100 per cent staff turnover in one year.

And then there was the editor of a terrible freesheet newspaper I freelanced on out of desperation as a subeditor one day a week. This baboon had been a printer, or ‘stone-hand’ as the troglodytes called themselves, on The Sun and had no journalistic background. He would sit brooding in his glass fishtank, from where he could monitor all our screens, before erupting four times a day like a Pixar octopus to scream at some unfortunate, occasionally me (my limited typesetting expertise had been gained in book publishing): “Oi pays you fuckin’ Fleet Street rates (he didn’t) an’ Oi ‘as to do all the fuckin’ work meself!” before correcting some tiny discrepancy in the alignment of the text across the gutter of the pages and slithering back to his dark and watery domain.

I once observed him brutally firing a raw recruit, a young trainee who had foolishly given up his tenancy to travel 250 miles to a new town and a new job. On his first morning the “editor” had told this kid to go and interview a publican who had ejected a drunk from his bar the previous night, having called the police – and to take a photographer and come back with 20 usable shots. Of course there was nothing to see but a self-satisfied bloke and a building and not a lot to say, the story having already been widely reported, so he instantly and loudly fired the kid, who left in tears.

I decided at that point that the only way to treat this “bosshole” was with serene detachment, because he was really a comic character, the perfect caricature of a ruthlessly efficient boss presiding tyrannically over the world’s most dysfunctional weekly: a disgusting piggery of a newsroom filled with broken equipment, burnt-out screens, unsorted piles of paper, old food cartons everywhere and pervaded by the sweaty smell of fear. The day I quit, he looked at me with horror and asked, piteously, “Why, was it something I said?”

Ironic, then, that a thread of quite witty and profound Comments inspired by Jeffries’s piece should be summarily terminated after only 134 entries by an asshole on the Guardian Comment staff posting imperiously:

“Comments here were opened in error and will be closing shortly. Thank you.”

Thus denying your Uncle Bogler the opportunity to get in early with a merry quip. “Opened in error”. Why, was it not considered a prize piece of assholery to censor Comments on a popular and amusing subject? Was there something political, did people suddenly start attacking immigrants or Brexit remoaners? What “error” caused a supposedly grownup, independent, liberally-minded national newspaper to flee from its responsibility to allow a reasonable opportunity for public comment? Fuck you!

I don’t respond to 20-something Guardian editor Kath Viner’s tragic daily pleas for money to keep going. I did once, about a year ago; sending her a grateful blogging pensioner’s tenner, before I read in Private Eye that the Scott Trust, the holy body that owns the Guardian, was sitting on a cashpile of around £600 million. What’s more, the sanctimonious pricks at The Guardian act like an institutional asshole toward their own journalists, operating with a minimal staff, imposing on them low-paid, zero-hours contracts that include provisions like a compulsory annual month off, which thereby excludes them from pension rights, and so on.

And what are the Grauniad hacks minimally paid to do? Why, to offer a reasoned daily post-feminist critique of über-capitalism and the gig economy!

This could just be the year I wean myself off an adult lifetime’s dependency on all such assholes.

Thank you.

x

GW: skating on thin ice

UK: “…findings from power research group MyGridGB show that renewable energy sources provided more power than coal for 90% of 2017, figures up to 12 December show. British wind farms produced more electricity than coal plants on more than 75% of days this year. … In April, the UK had its first 24-hour period without using any coal power since the Industrial Revolution.” Snow has closed roads and airports, ahead of Storm Dylan (30 Dec.)

Malta: a private jet belonging to Britain/Belize’s tax-dodger-general, Tory donor Lord Michael Ashcroft, was picked up and blown through an airport fence, crashing into an office building Thursday, by a powerful gust of wind. Struck back in August by a ‘Med-icane’, the island has again been hit by a powerful storm system, with 5-meter waves, thunderstorms, hail, torrential rain and a single-digit cold snap all in the forecast.

Australia: SE Queensland swelters through a Christmas heatwave, until powerful storm cells bring strong winds, heavy rain and hail, smashing up homes, breaking car windshields and causing power blackouts. “Cricket-ball sized” hail batters the small town of Athol, near Twoowoomba (just as England’s Cook was battering cricket-ball sized, er, cricket balls for his 244 in Melbourne). More storms are forecast for the New Year’s weekend.

Philippines: the death toll from Typhoon Tembim (TS Vinta) stands at 240, with 107 still unaccounted for. Whole villages were washed away or buried. The remnant typhoon, downgraded to a TD, is now battering Vietnam.

USA: Much of the eastern mid- and NE US is experiencing record cold and snowfall in a huge swath from the Arctic circle down to Florida. Erie, Pennsylvania is under five feet of snow, that fell in a day and a night. “3 to 4 more feet” is the forecast. 50th State, Hawaii has had near-record rainfall and flash floods; 6-in fell on Maui airport in 24 hours. Meanwhile, heatwave conditions persist in the far SW and California, where the Thomas fire is 80% controlled.

And as for Alaska… temperatures this December have been “20 to 30 degrees above average”. 2017 is likely to be the costliest year ever for the US in terms of weather disruption. 700 scientific staff posts are reportedly vacant after a wave of resignations at the US Environment Protection Agency.

Oceans: “…on December 21, sea surface temperatures were as high as 31.7°C or 89°F north of Australia. In line with rising temperatures caused by global warming, sea surface temperature anomalies are high across the oceans. … temperature anomalies over the Arctic Ocean could be as high as 30°C, 54°F.” (Shome confusion here… 30°C is 86°F, not 54°F, which is 12°C. Ed.)

BBC News/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #88, citing CBS News, RUPTLY, Maui Now, et al./ Wunderground/ Arctic News

 

Final word

There’s a cat outside our house…

West Yorkshire police report that they took a hundred thousand completely trivial “emergency” 999 calls in 2017, ranging from: “There’s a cat outside our house and it won’t move, what should we do?” to: “My mum’s at the hairdresser’s and they’ve tinted her hair the wrong colour”. (BBC report, 28 Dec.)

Well, really, if the police don’t have the manpower or the time to send someone to sort out these very real humanitarian crises, where is the country coming to, after eight years of Tory rule?

No wonder people are voting for Brexit.

The BogPo: List Management for Dummies… Songs of Praise: #1 the BBC, Amen. #2 The Madman in the White House… GW: warming her butt on the kitchen stove…

He’s got ’em on the list
he’s got ’em on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed
they’ll none of ’em be missed. (G&S, The Mikado)

List Management for Dummies

The US’s Dark Ambassadress, Nikki Haley, threatens UN Security Council members who voted 14-1 against Trumpy-Poo’s insistence on moving the Israeli capital to Jerusalem, that: ‘The US will be taking names’, and ‘The President takes this very personally’.

What is this, the US a mafia state? Or first-grade primary? In a speech, Trump hits out:

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” he said. “Well, we’re watching those votes,” he added. “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Is there perhaps a certain hypocrisy here, or merely forgetfulness? January 2017: “The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would cut U.S. payments to the United Nations by as much as 40 per cent.” (Politifact.com). Any reason to love the evil empire?

US subscriptions agreed and owed to the UN for peacekeeping operations were around $2 billion underfunded last year (UN Tribune). For balance, the Cato Institute argues that the US has no financial obligations to the UN. Oh, right, the Cato Institute – funded to the tune of $13.9 million annually by Koch Industries. That now stands to benefit from billions of dollars in tax cuts. Fair exchange is no robbery, someone once said.

Subsequent threats against several countries to cut off aid unless they agree to operate in America’s interests appear to confirm: Trump doesn’t need a State Department, he has a simpler foreign policy solution: just stop their pocket money.

Pay up, Trump. Then lock him up.

 

 

“Our institutions are increasingly in the anti-democratic grip of rabid fundamentalists of all kinds, from radical Imams to Trumpian fascists to power-hungry Brexiters.”

Songs of Praise: #1 The BBC, Amen

… (more) religious themes in the broadcaster’s popular dramas and soaps on both TV and radio, more documentaries covering religious and ethical issues being commissioned and for popular programmes such as The One Show to celebrate Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish holy days. The BBC newsroom’s global religious affairs team will be expanded and the Thought for the Day slot on Radio 4 will be more closely linked to news items with women and young people. Figures from a wider range of religions will be invited to contribute. – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42412869

This is awful. Repulsive. Disgusting. Unconstitutional: a victory for the forces of superstition and childish, lying, pernicious nonsense. Editorializing of the worst kind, certainly in breach of the Charter; for how can whoever has issued this tendentious edict justify ordering programme editors to slant their content towards special interest pressure groups? This is the Talibanization of public discourse.

At the same time, the hard, grownup, factual departments – news and current affairs – are being slashed back. The newly appointed Head of News, Fran Unsworth, will be expected to hack £80 million out of her budget in her first year. Why? Because any teenage baboon armed with a Facebook account is now a respected gatherer of ‘news’ and an informed interpreter of world events. Why? Because it is not in the interests of our politicians to let facts get in the way of ambition.

Thus there is to be unlimited funding, it appears, for religious dogma and maundering, soppy bullshit sing-song programming. Who would have thought Philip Pullman’s fictional world of the Magisterium would come to pass, and so soon?

Mention any supposedly contentious issue – climate change springs to mind – and the BBC self-obliges to put an immediate contrarian opinion on, in the holy name of ‘balance’. Some well-rewarded and totally unqualified corporate-energy shill like ‘Lord’ Nigel Lawson or that reptilian PR hack, the Washington swamp-dweller Myron Ebell, will be disinterred, dripping with soil and maggots, swimming in oil, to refute scientifically determined observations with bogus armchair arguments long discredited as lies put about and funded by the Koch Brothers, Hamm Industries or Exxon-Mobil to protect their shareholders’ interests.

But the BBC will shrug and say, well, it’s still a matter of opinion, the jury is still out, our sacred Charter obliges us to tell comforting lies as well as paper over uncomfortable truths.

Put someone on burbling vacuously about witnessing the daily miracle of an imaginary avatar in our lives, however; an immutable archetype of improbable divine origin, zero historical veracity, endless secular usefulness and positively miraculous expiration; an invisible 2,000-year-old friend who can raise the dead, walk on water, cure cancer, feed five thousand people on one sardine sandwich, give us all sound dietary advice and fly up to heaven on a horse from the roof of a mosque;

…expounding some totally hideous, barbaric philosophy of bloody repression, a demand for total conformity to the will of mere men inspired by two thousand years of patriarchal dominance, ignorance and ideological fervour derived from a literal interpretation of an anthology of collected short stories and boring genealogical data supposedly written and revealed uniquely to a bunch of illiterate, semi-savage tribals by the imaginary ‘Creator’ of a universe of compressed dust, responsible in every minute detail for the fate of a septillion star systems;

…and we’re all now expected to take the knee, nod sagely and say, yep, that’s how it is, so let it be, praise God in the highest – amen.

Equal airtime for fundamentalist death-cult worshippers?

How long will it be before the BBC is obliged to give equal time to Creationists, to credulous village baboons who say God has told them to ban music and dancing, to stone women and rape children – to the insane “Christian” death-cult fanatics offering redemption only to their donors in a putative future life?

In matters of faith, the question of balance does not seemingly arise. Our institutions are increasingly in the anti-democratic grip of rabid fundamentalists of all kinds, from radical Imams to Trumpian fascists, to snowflake students demanding rewrites of history, to power-hungry Brexiters waving their little blue, second-class passports. The worry is that an upsurge in this slippery religious nonsense is only going to play into the political agenda of some really very nasty billioneire disruptors, rich white “Christian” men already exploiting widespread naivety, fear and confusion to divide us and rule.

Matters of belief, it appears, are once again taking precedence over well-established, empirical authority based on tried-and-trusted methods of investigation, reason and logic. A new medievalism has come to reign. We are moving into the virtual age increasingly divorced from reality, each cushioned in our own little corporate-funded cocoon, permanently plugged-in to our little electronic votaries, immersed in our choice of dreamworld, ‘identifying’ as this or that fantasy hybrid human who exists only in our heads and demanding of unconditional respect for our personal ‘choices’.

It’s infantilism gone mad.

A sad loss, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to resurrect the late Christopher Hitchens and put him on automatically for three minutes after every holier-than-thou religious boo-bag has been outgassing on the Today programme, or – God help us – The One Show, already the very definition of vacuous, time-filling trivia, peddling their noxious, irrational beliefs, to offer his characteristically robust and detailed refutation of their childish nostrums.

Maybe a bit of balance wouldn’t go amiss in the Department of Religious Affairs?

Or maybe it could be pointed out to the God-botherers in their resurgent triumph, that religion is merely the cheapest form of programming at a time of financial austerity for the national broadcaster?

 

“…the madman sat once more, his sternest Mussolini face on, arms stoically folded as, one by one, those disgusting minions crawled to slather him with vile and empty words of praise and adulation…”

Songs of Praise: #2 the Madman in the White House

Just as Trump was blurting out in a meeting at the White House an admission that he lied bigly to the American people about his tax ‘reform’ bill, lying about it being a boost for the economy, a great Christmas present for the middle-class and moaning that it would personally cost him a fortune (which is it, Trump, do you pay tax or are you “too smart” to?), there’s been another of those bizarre, inexplicable sessions at which his grovelling, assfucked cabinet of all the millionaires have lavished insane praise on the Orange Emperor for his many triumphs and thanked their god for the blessings of his Great Leadership.

Furthermore, Trump let slip an astonishing admission, that he knew the tax bill contains clauses that effectively shred public healthcare, but had told Republicans to lie about it:

“Apparently eager to argue that this constituted his having cut taxes and slain Obamacare in one fell swoop (after Congress came up short on Obamacare this year), he argued that repealing the individual mandate was basically the same as repealing Obamacare. But, he said, he told Republicans not to talk about that. Trump said he told allies to “be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it. … Now that it’s approved, I can say that,” he said.” – Washington Post, 20 Dec.

In other words, the madman didn’t want the ‘fake news media’ telling the truth about his lies. Oh well.

Overall, the bill has met with solid public disapproval. Yet 60 per cent of Republican voters still believe the lies he and others told to get it passed, that it was purely for their benefit, when in reality it busts the national debt by a further $1.4 trillion, and amounts over 10 years to a giveaway to the richest 1 per cent of individuals and corporations of some $4 trillion, while freeing Congress to INCREASE taxes on the middle-income family over time, and insurers to TREBLE their healthcare premiums. Clauses inserted without debate at the last minute provide further tax breaks especially for property developers, that will benefit the Trump crime family specifically by at least half a billion dollars.

The lie that this misuse of public finances will trickle down in the form of jobs and wage increases is given by several surveys of corporate executives who have confirmed that they have no intention of using the windfall to hire more Americans or raise wages, but will continue to offshore their profits and pay bigger dividends to shareholders.

Passing this hamfisted piece of largely secretive and undebated legislation was an act of theft, pure and simple, by a Republican Congress preparing to take to the lifeboats.

Yet Trump is still claiming it as a triumph for the American way of life. Do you think maybe he really believes it?

“Oops, I lied again. My Bad!”

It is in fact the one and only substantial piece of legislation that has been passed under his Presidency – he didn’t write the bill, he knows next-to nothing about the technical aspects of the tax structure in America – since he took office on 20 January.

Writing in the Washington Post, Aaron Blake summarises in bullet point form, the astonishing address Vice-President Pence gave at the cabinet meeting after the Senate passed the bill. I’ll give you just a flavour of what he said, and you can ask yourself the question, is America now a democracy, or a fledgling dictatorship?:

“Mr President…

  • “You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage.”
  • “You’ve signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any president in American history.”
  • “You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.” (In fact his approval rating is down to 32%. A record!)
  • “You promised the American people a year ago that you would deliver historic tax cuts, and it would be a ‘middle-class miracle.’ And in just a short period of time, that promise will be fulfilled.”
  • “I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here.”

“Pence offered plaudit after plaudit after plaudit, praising Trump’s vision, his words, his strategy and his results in light of the passage of tax cuts. By the end, Pence offered 14 separate commendations for Trump in less than three minutes — math that works out to one every 12.5 seconds. And each bit of praise was addressed directly to Trump, who was seated directly across the table.” – Washington Post, 20 Dec.

As if that did not satisfy the monstrous ego of the madman, The New Yorker reported this from the father of the House:

“Orrin Hatch, of Utah, who has been in the Senate for forty years, predicted that the Trump Presidency will be ‘the greatest Presidency we have seen not only in generations but maybe ever.'”

Any American reading a report of this terrifying meeting at which the madman sat once more, his sternest Mussolini face on, arms stoically folded as, one by one, those disgusting minions crawled out to slather him with vile and empty words of praise and adulation, ought to throw up in their Cheerios.

When will someone have the guts to tell him to his face that he’s mentally ill and in urgent need of psychiatric evaluation, and must stand down for the good of the country?

Heil Trump. Hail Caesar.

x

A Merry Christmas, Mr Trump, from all the victims of climate-change-related extreme weather events, and best wishes for 2018.

GW: warming her butt on the kitchen stove, your old gran peers myopically back at 2017

At this time of year it’s customary to look back on the main events of the year – despite the lack of a warming El Niño, the second hottest on record (after last year). So your Granny Weatherwax makes no apology for reprinting the following Post from 02 August, 2017, itemising world weather events from just one week at the end of July.

It seems to sum up a year of floods, fires, droughts and violent storms that have made life a misery for so many people, not just for the first year – 2016 was if anything WORSE – and look set to continue in 2018, while – unique among nations – the lame-brained, lying ‘President’ continues to pour scorn on the notion that anything might be wrong, in case it affects the already vast profits of his donors in the energy sector.

For now, though, I’ll just mention a couple of current things: (A summary of Trump’s achievements on this front will be Posted early in the New Year.)

Philippines: “230 people are reported to have been killed (22 Dec.) as (another) tropical storm swept through the southern Philippines, with dozens more missing. Storm Tembin brought flash flooding and mudslides to parts of Mindanao island. Two towns badly hit were Tubod and Piagapo, where a number of homes were buried by boulders.” The toll from last week’s TS Kai-Tak (Urduja) in the Visayas region of Biliran is 31, with 49 missing.

Australia: heatwave in SE Australia around the capital, Canberra, hits 46C (115 F). In Melbourne, Victoria state on the 19th, a powerful storm caused a sudden 12C drop in temperature, with giant hailstones, cyclonic winds, etc. In Esteio, Brazil, a sudden violent storm erupts, trashing a rock festival. The DJ was killed. Malaysia, 1 person is killed when their car is swept away in flooding in Sarawak, after 170 mm of rain (TS Kai-Tak) falls in 24 hours. Chile: 5 dead, 13 missing after torrential rain causes landslides and flash flooding (15 Dec.) in Villa Santa Lucia.

USA: “The Thomas Fire became California’s largest officially recorded fire on Dec. 22, 2017, when it surpassed the 273,000-plus acre Cedar Fire.” It’s now 70% contained, however. The town of Erie, Pennsylvania was buried under 53 inches of snow Christmas Day, totalling over 90 inches for December – another record. The mercury in Chicago fell to minus 10F (-23C). In Ireland, two men drowned on Christmas Day when their 4×4 was swept away in a flash-flood during a storm.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #87/ BBC News/ Ventura County News

This is not the sea, or a Hokusai painting, it’s a river in China, in 2017. (Photo: The Guardian)

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

Granny Weatherwax: Not heatwaving, but drowning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indonesia: Jayapura city under three feet of water.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albania: “Armed forces joined hundreds of firefighters on Friday to battle dozens of forest fires as temperatures reached 40C (102F). Albania has asked the European Union for emergency assistance to help prevent the wildfires spreading near the capital, Tirana.”

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

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

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

A tourist filmed this Renault car gently melting in the 39C heat of the town of Caorle, northern Italy, in August.

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

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

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

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

UK: The winter of 2016 was the warmest for England and Wales in records that stretch back to 1910 (shurely we’ve had weather records since the 1700s? Ed.), the Met Office’s annual State of the UK Climate report revealed Thursday. The average temperature from December 2015 to February 2016 was more than 2C above the long-term average across the southern half of the UK.

*NB some reports were added during editing after the original publication date of 02 Aug. Sources incl.:

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

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

Britain finally floats free from the shackles of Europe! And northern Ireland. Oh, and the Isle of Wight… (BBC Weatherwatcher)

The Pumpkin – Issue 41: Are all US politicians just lying, thieving scumbags?… What have the following words got in common?… If Carter…? GW: packing her trunk into the Oldsmobile and heading on down the smoky road… “Fuck off”.

Thief armed with golf clubs robs country: elderly billionaire wearing blond wig and Brioni suit Most Wanted by FBI. May act confused. Approach with caution. DO NOT LEND MONEY!

 

Are all US politicians just lying, thieving scumbags?

Today I became more profoundly depressed than I think I have ever been.

And I’m not even an American.

Today, Friday – always a good day for putting up smokescreens while burying astonishingly lousy news – the lying, self-interested, criminal sonofabitch got up in front of a room full of suits and admiring nodding-dogs in uniforms to warn the world that America is coming for us. Naming Russia and China as competitors, aggressors, blaming – as ever – his predecessors for their weakness, he vowed that America would come first in any global trade deal.

And while he was spouting his autocue shit, a predictably bombastic and empty campaign speech that even made the number one spot on the supine BBC news, the Republican Congress was running off with the money, while at the same time some little bought and paid-for shill, Ajit Pai, on a Trump-packed committee was handing control of the entire Internet to three huge US corporations, on some phony, lying pretext or other, despite the protests of the entire rest of the industry.

I make no apology for drawing quite so extensively on the New Yorker magazine for the following extracts from an article billed as “The GOP’s Corrupt, Cruel, Budget-Busting Tax Bill”. Just call it a retweet:

Almost eleven hundred pages long, the final bill is just as regressive and fiscally irresponsible as either of the two earlier bills, and arguably more so. At its center is a huge tax cut for corporations and unincorporated business partnerships—such as the ones that Donald Trump owns—while arrayed around the edges are all sorts of carve-outs and giveaways to favored industries and interest groups.

Another provision, which wasn’t in the House or Senate bills, allows real-estate developers who own buildings through L.L.C.s, as Trump does (and his little plastic boy, Kushner – Ed.), to deduct twenty per cent of the income that these properties generate. To qualify for the break, the properties have to be newish ones that haven’t been fully depreciated. “This helps people who have held property for a while, like Donald Trump,” David Kamin, a law professor at New York University, told … the International Business Times.

Corker had been the only Republican to vote against the Senate version of the tax bill, but on Friday he announced that he’d changed his mind, and that “after great thought and consideration, I believe this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive is one we should not miss.” Corker didn’t mention his personal interests, but …: “Federal records … show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate-related LLCs that could also benefit” from the final bill.

So Bob Corker, scourge of the President just a few weeks ago, the man who made news around the world by referring disparagingly to the Oval Office as an ‘adult daycare centre’, has been bought off – possibly as he planned. Stand up as a holdout on an important finance bill in Congress, where everyone else hopes to make a killing, and wait for the bribes to roll in.

What a repulsive, rutting little bitch this greedy, hypocritical smalltown whore is. Spread ’em, Bob.

Five trillion dollars, looted from the State and taxpayers by these disgusting, lying, cheating, God-bothering cretins. And where’s it coming from? Why, your healthcare programs, Americans! Your schools! Your roads! Your social security. Your future taxes.

Serves you right for voting for these pond-scum, time and again. You have to be among the most pig-ignorant, self-deluding baboons on the planet. What the hell did you think, that they would somehow make your lives better? That by taking all the money they’d make you richer? That they’d make America great again?

Idiots. You’ve been royally screwed.

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What have the following words got in common?

  • Vulnerable
  • Entitlement
  • Diversity
  • Transgender
  • Foetus
  • Evidence-based
  • Science-based

That’s right! They’ve all been BANNED in use by the Trump administration!

(Postscriptum: no, it appears the story is wrong in that respect: it is not the administration banning the use of the words, further reporting reveals that it is the CDC administration suggesting they need to avoid those words for fear of confusing or upsetting individuals within the Trump administration: self-censorship, in other words. Of course, says Ed., when organizations start to censor themselves it’s come to a pretty pass and might as well be the government doing it.)

Administrators overseeing budgets at the world-leading Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta have warned staff not to use the words in official communications, apparently on the orders of the government.

Analysis of the banned words suggests that a mix of Trump policies requires censoring terms that might be used by medical researchers relating to activities that are either offensive to rightwing pro-life Christians, such as ‘foetus’ and ‘vulnerable’; upsetting to racists and homophobes (‘diversity’, ‘transgender’, ) or inimical to the vast profits made by pharmaceutical corporations, such as ‘science-based’ and ‘evidence-based’ medicine.

The only people with an ‘entitlement’ are the fucking Republican millionaires, entitled to screw the country.

When you add this to earlier bans on federal government scientists publishing, promoting or receiving research on climate change, please understand, we are living in perilous times.

The last time this happened we ended up in a near-global war with possibly 50 million people dead. Brute authoritarianism and the promotion of lies and ignorance in the interests of a state aligned with corporatist and religious goals have to be resisted, by force if need be.

If that means the rest of the world has to go to war to restore freedom and democracy in America, then that’s what we should do.

Let’s not tolerate fascism.

(Thanks to TYT for the list)

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If Carter…?

Oh, dear Lord.

You may recall an iconic 1970 British gangster film called ‘Get Carter!’, starring Michael Caine – I do, because my mum was in it.

This, however, is not about that.

Trump’s security of the nation speech yesterday, as you would expect, perpetuates the tedious myth of ‘Axis of Evil’ Iranian mischief in the Middle East  – Iran, that is, that’s the puppet of the Russians, that’s spent over a decade fruitlessly pursuing the nuclear option North Korea seems to have perfected in five minutes just to obliterate Israel, which they wouldn’t be stupid enough to do.

But, so long as the Saudis want to buy his beautiful weapons, Trump is happy to threaten to obliterate Iran.

The Pumpkin has just stumbled across a June 2013 podcast by the independent commenter and sometime RT presenter, Thom Hartmann, no Kremlin puppet he, asking where America might be if Jimmy Carter – probably the best president of modern times – had won a second term in office?

Those of you who were conscious in the late 70s might recall that a crisis erupted during the Iranian revolution, when a bunch of hotheads invaded the US embassy in Tehran and took lots of diplomatic staff hostage.

Let’s remember that the revolution was against the corrupt and authoritarian monarchy of the Pahlavis, originally imposed in the 1950s through a coup orchestrated by the CIA and the British mainly to secure Britain’s oil supplies.

The seige went on for months, and Carter was foolishly persuaded to let US special forces go in and free the hostages and it was a complete clusterfuck, and Carter lost the election to Reagan, whom everyone thought was a crazy anti-Communist warmonger who would start WW3 but at least he wasn’t WEAK!

So, as Hartmann reports, while the seige was ongoing there was a change of government in Tehran and Mustafa Bani-Sadr was elected President by a big majority on a campaign to release the hostages and stop embarrassing the country. So he goes to the Ayatollah Khomeini to ask if the ruling clerical committee will let him go ahead and send the Americans home, and Khomeini says no, because…

He’s done a deal with the Republicans in the US to keep the seige going so as to ensure Reagan gets elected, as Ronnie has offered to supply arms and military spares to the Revolutionary Guard in exchange for a bit of help….

Bani-Sadr then apparently wrote an article confirming all of this, that was published – in, of all places – the Christian Science Monitor, and never otherwise saw the light of day.

And then the increasingly feeble-minded Reagan is persuaded to promote the neoliberal agenda proposed by Friedrich Hayek and the Chicago school of economists, egged-on by his dear friend, the Blessed Margaret Thatcher, and now you see the apotheosis of that rightwing Austrian fascist bullshit in the Trump administration – not that Trumbo has ever read Hayek, or anything at all, he just does what he thinks will please the dumbfucks.

America, you keep getting screwed.

Why?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdkU6LHMq8g

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GW: packing her trunk into the Oldsmobile and heading on down the smoky road

Trucial States (UAE): Oman’s Civil Defence Department said (16 Dec.) that 3 people have died in flooding after heavy rain (111 mm in 24 hours is more than five times the norm for the whole of December). According to local media, one victim died after being struck by lightning in Saham and two others lost their lives after their vehicle was swept away in a flooded wadi in Fariq (Al Batinah).

USA: “After the Thomas fire surged to record levels this past weekend (275k acres to date), winds have lessened in Southern California. However, an uptick in dry, windy weather is in store starting during the middle of the week. A storm system digging into the western United States at midweek will stir up gusty (‘Santa Ana’) winds in the Los Angeles Basin and (up to 60 mph) in the San Gabriel Mountains.” The Thomas fire is expected to go on burning well into January.

CO2 levels over parts of southern California while the wildfires were burning at their peak on 7 Dec. reached in excess of 920 parts per million.

Indonesia: The archipelago, recently hit by deadly flooding from Tropical Storm Kai-Tak, is experiencing something of a heatwave, with temperatures into the high 90s F.

World: “This year is almost certain to be the planet’s warmest year on record that lacks any influence from El Niño, and will likely be the second or third warmest year in recorded history. As of December 17, 2017, 182 major weather stations have beaten (not just tied) their all-time highest temperature records, and 17 have beaten records for their all-time lowest temperature. Earth’s four warmest years of the last century-plus are virtually certain to be the four years from 2014 through 2017.”

 

Floodlist/ Wunderground (citing Maximiliano Herrera)/ Accuweather/ Arctic News

 

Fuck off.

My uncle was for many years the editor of a well-known satirical magazine, that was always being sued by aggrieved politicians and businessmen whose nefarious proclivities had been exposed in the previous fortnight’s edition.

One such case, Arkell vs Pressdram, was resolved in in 1964 when my uncle boldly advised his lawyers to enter the response to the litigant. It went down as a defence in legal history:

“Fuck off” was all it said.

The Pumpkin has been distressed to learn of a case in Canada where a couple married for 70 years, Herbert and Audrey Goodine, are being split up before Christmas because the husband is being moved to a more advanced care home, leaving his devastated wife behind.

A representative for the long-term care home responded on Facebook.

“Once a resident is beyond our level and social development has reassessed to determine their level, I have to follow the rules and regulations set by the government. In fact, it’s against the law for me to not follow the rules and I could lose my licence. At this point the decision has been made and it is out of my hands.”

No, Sir, it isn’t.

Just tell whoever you think in your pathetic cowardice is going to fire you:

“Fuck off.”

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Wacky definitions #27

“A spokeswoman from Counter Terrorism Policing North East said: “The public may have heard a loud bang at the time as police entered one of the properties, but it was not an explosion.

“[We] would like to reassure them that it was part of the method to gain entry to the property.” – BBC News report

 

 

The BogPo: No magic money tree – unless you’re a Grenfell survivor… Rather than ‘austerity’, I prefer the words ‘national sacrifice’… V for Vainglorious… GW: basting the Xmas turkey in her wellies… PLUS BogPo Extra: Long Essay – They just don’t care who they kill.

“I hear Disney just bought Fox News…”

“Yeah, they’re planning on remaking Fantasia…”

Walt Disney has agreed to buy the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets (but not Fux Knows, sadly) for a total of $52.4bn (£39bn).

See what Britain could have got for £39bn, if we weren’t paying it over to the EU for the next eight years!

x

“121,360 children are living in temporary accommodation – a rise of 70% since the (Conservative) party took power in 2010. Soaring private rental costs, wages freezes and benefits cuts are being blamed for the shocking increase. The children are among 79,190 households living a fragile existence in dingy rooms and B&Bs.” – Daily Mirror, 15 Dec.

…the media has made them victims thrice over: victims of the fire, victims of society’s ills – victims of the divisive politics of the media.”

No magic money tree – unless you’re a Grenfell survivor

Please, Sir, may I have some?

That’s 79 thousand households, not numbers of people, including many children. And only the ones who were lucky enough to be housed by local authorities. Nor does it include nine thousand rough sleepers and many more ‘sofa-surfers’, or generational families in overcrowding who don’t bother applying for housing because they know they won’t get it.

 About half as many households again are routinely refused accommodation on grounds disqualifying them from rising through the lengthening waiting lists. Though without a home, they are not classed as homeless, often – it is ruled – because they have moved out voluntarily, come from out of or have temporarily left the area; even if they were forced to leave. The high proportion of children in temporary accommodation is of course due to their families receiving priority.

The reasons for the homelessness of these people range from summary evictions by rent-raising landlords to mental illness and addictions, domestic violence, having been raised in care, been in prison, or discharged from the military. Let’s not leave out the ones whose benefits have been capped by the present government at a level where they can no longer pay the rent; the ones waiting vainly for weeks to get their first ‘Universal Credit’ payment; the ones waiting months and years for asylum.

Many are profoundly damaged, traumatized. Only yesterday, we were reading of a family burned out of their home, apparently in a vendetta with the neighbours, or as a result of some domestic dispute – four children died.

That’s the reality of life in Britain for so many today.

Sometimes crammed four to a room in grotty bed and breakfast hostels across the nation, these near-destitute people, many who may just have lost their insecure, low-paid jobs owing to austerity cuts imposed through no fault of their own, must all be getting pretty fed up with the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Some with TV sets might have been escorted last night around the brand-new, spacious, three-bedroomed show-flat featured on BBC 2’s Newsnight, lovely fitted kitchen and all (not just an elderly microwave and a can-opener) that has been acquired for £8oo thousand for one lucky Grenfell household.

Theirs seems to be a position of unique privilege, the special entitlement of a grief that was shamelessly taken up by The Guardian newspaper and others, even while the tower block was still ablaze, and exploited for political reasons, as exemplars of shameful inequality – as if the rich can’t burn to death. The BogPo has seen few people interviewed on TV having survived the Grenfell Tower fire who appear genuinely to be of the migrant underclass the media immediately assigned them to, merely because of their address (posh people owning big houses just down the road, etc.).

They became immediately symbolic of the widening gap (actually – apart from the top 1% – it’s starting to narrow) between ‘rich and poor’, the propertied and the unpropertied, of west London. Grenfell housed a generous mix of income-brackets, occupations and ethnicities, some were even buying their flats and had jobs and food. Yet the media has made them victims thrice over: victims of the fire, victims of society’s ills – victims of the divisive politics of the media.

True, there’s a problem confined mostly to our top three cities: wealthy foreign investors, many anonymously laundering ill-gotten gains, have been buying up properties, leaving them empty and pushing prices to fantastical heights.

True, too, that this and other problems on the housing front, including the extra pressures caused by immigration, regional economic disparities, low wages and divorce, are simply not being tackled by a government obsessed with delivering Brexit at any cost.

And then, while only about six per cent of the land area is built-over, many of those mostly unplanned, nineteenth-century urbanizing industrial developments still concentrate too many people in too small a space, with inadequate facilities and opportunities for employment, making for overcrowding and creating transportation bottlenecks. Housing policy in Britain has been a disaster.

But most people, I imagine, are happy not to live in the Stalinist utopia apparently advocated by well-heeled newspaper pundits wringing their manicured hands over the plight of this one, apparently uniquely deserving group of homeless people who could, like the rest of us, take at least some responsibility for their own salvation, were they not constantly being assured by the leftwing press, politicians, agitators and grandstanding lawyers that they’re entitled to demand a level of support which no-one else is.

Guilt-tripped by the media and politicians, Kensington and Chelsea council is spending £135 million acquiring many such £800 thousand properties; London is a fabulously expensive city. Yet still the survivors are complaining that the council is failing to meet their needs, not listening attentively enough to their stories, moving too slowly and showing too little empathy, while they’re still turning down the accommodation being offered to them; while the number of properties required to house them all has almost doubled as the families atomize, making the Council’s task of finding them anywhere permanent to live even more difficult.

There is just no precedent for forcing a whittled-down housing department to operate in this way. (The BogPo’s Uncle Bogler has previously written of his difficulty in getting his aged, disabled mother, stranded on the top floor of her building, rehoused in Kensington and can vouch for the inadequacy of the system he had to deal with.)

Normally when a family becomes homeless, they have no choice as to where they are put. Just anywhere there’s a space for them. How many Grenfell survivors tragically spending Christmas in a warm hotel room have already said no to a flat that’s not in a convenient part of town, or is on a higher floor than they feel safe with? How many have complained that their council-taxpayer funded hotel rooms are too far apart along the corridor?

A homeless family in Rotherham might have choked on their one-meal-a-day, food-bank dinner to hear one Grenfell survivor yesterday (it’s the sixth monthly-versary of the fire, there was a memorial service, hence the flare-up of media interest) earnestly explain that he had been living in the block with his grownup son, but they each now required separate housing and why’s the council taking so long about finding it?

The BogPo would not wish it to be thought that he is in any way minimising the trauma and grief of those former residents who lost friends and relatives, the injured for whom the incident has left an open wound, or who barely escaped the flames in time and lost everything.

He does not ignore the dispossession and the sheer inconvenience, the loss of work and school time – suffered by the denizens of the tower and their low-rise neighbours, forced to leave their homes as the common heating system was put out of action by the fire, and who don’t now wish to return because of the awful thing that happened next door and the charred stump reminding them daily of the 71 who died.

But anywhere else in Britain, refusing an offer of accommodation would count as voluntary homelessness and immediately send the applicant to the back of the queue for rehousing, whether in a brand-new £800-thousand flat in Kensington or a B&B in Oldham with a shared bathroom, mould on the walls, Spice abusers roaming the corridors and a broken lock on the door.

There is a desperate shortage of both affordable private and social housing in Britain, a crisis of thousands of families needing whatever shelter there is to be found. Why are these Grenfell people so special, when almost 80 thousand other families, many equally traumatized, are having to take whatever they are given – and it won’t be much – while as many others get nothing at all?

Perhaps it’s because of the media attention? The ‘disaster porn’ of those horrifying images?

A reminder to the authorities to get a move on

We wonder, too, why it seems to be taking forever to put up scaffolding and clad the tower in plastic; although such a powerful metaphor suggesting cover-up might not be so appropriate. The persistence on the skyline of that blackened memorial to the 71 (including 18 children) should act as a spur to the authorities to get on and heed the many warnings they’ve been given about other, similar properties in their charge, and not wait years for the inquiry findings to come out, or for another tower block to go up like a Roman candle.

Most of those senior people presumed responsible for allowing the Grenfell Tower fire to happen on their watch through cost-cutting official indifference have already quit their jobs, disappeared into the scenery. They know what they should have done, but didn’t do it.

As the public inquiry grinds ponderously into action – even that has been delayed by the endless mistrust, complaints and demands of the survivors, egged on by lawyers and local politicians – we can be sure “lessons will be learned”, and conveniently forgotten. The next Grenfell Tower fire will bring its own unique set of circumstances to be investigated all over again.

If the Grenfell Tower story is to have any meaning, any effect at all, it must surely be to force the government to improve the lot of ALL homeless families in Britain.

Sadly, that ain’t happening either.

There’s no magic money tree, other than for the already wealthy.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/homelessness-report-working-families-stable-jobs-local-government-ombudsman

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“Rather than ‘austerity’, I prefer the words ‘national sacrifice’.”

Boarded-up Britain.

On the subject of society’s ills, the BogPo is reading Robert Peston’s somewhat anodyne and hastily compiled new book, “WTF”. He’s too nice!

I’m struck by his analysis that sometimes the richer a country gets, the worse-off the majority of people seem to be. And that the deterioration in our social economy is precisely parallelled by that in the USA. As if to bear this out, The Guardian carries a report today on one of the contracted-in canteen assistants at Facebook, who can barely pay the rent and feed her kids and is slipping further into debt, while feeding the well-paid workers directly employed by one of the richest companies in one of the richest regions of the richest nation in the world.

“One in four people in Silicon Valley are at risk of hunger, researchers have found. Using hundreds of community interviews and data modeling, a new study suggests that 26.8% of the population – almost 720,000 people – qualify as “food insecure” based on risk factors such as missing meals, relying on food banks or food stamps, borrowing money for food, or neglecting bills and rent in order to buy groceries. Nearly a quarter are families with children.”

Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who may well have appropriated the idea for his business model in the first place, he’s been accused of it, has just deposited his 74 billionth dollar in the bank and hints at his ambition to run for President (at 33!) because he wants to spread social equality and happiness around the globe.

Thanks to entrepreneurs like him, and their airy new business models, the West has become a slave society, a coolie culture; college graduates cycling hither and yon, strapped to monstrous blue boxes, paid bare minimum wage and no sick-pay or guaranteed hours to schlepp stuff out to lazy “time-poor” arses with marginally higher disposable income.

So, Zuck, you could start by forcing your contractor agencies to pay their employees properly, or even take them on as direct labor? What’s that going to cost, compared with the billions you make from purloining unsuspecting dimwits’ personal data and selling it on to the Russians? Would you even notice if you sacrificed just 5 per cent more of your profits to investing in people?

Part of the problem is, the richer the executives of the burgeoning tech corps get, the higher the local prices climb.

“…this study is putting light on the non-traditional homeless: people living in their car or a garage, working people who have to choose between rent and food, people without access to a kitchen.” – Steve Brennan, Second Harvest Food Bank

And, sickest of all, the article is part of a series on “Outside in America”, sponsored by…. Silicon Valley originals, Bill & Melinda Gates.

 

“…it’s not going to get better”

One book I’m not reading (but have read about) is Peter Dench’s “Britain on the Verge”.

The photographer took a car journey up Britain’s longest, and in parts oldest, highway, the A1: Roman ‘Watling Street’, but a far older Brythonic trade route connecting with prehistoric trans-European networks, capturing mundane scenes of life in the nation today.

Boarded-up Britain. (Photo: Daily Mirror)

The one thing that strikes you constantly looking at these photographs is how threadbare so much of this wealthy country seems to be, shabby people doing not very much in shabby surroundings, struggling to make the best of it. Possibly renewable housing, whole streets abandoned to the times.

Boarded-up Britain. Nothing seems to have changed since the 1970s. And with inflation at 3.1 per cent, average savings of less than £100, ever-rising housing and energy costs and wages for most stagnant or falling, despite the burgeoning of employment, jobs that bring no economic benefit to those forced into them; with expensive post-Brexit trade agreements to look forward to on ripoff terms from the USA, China, India, subordinate to their court rulings, ruled by the WTO and no let-up in non-EU immigration to cool the natives, it’s not going to get better.

A journey through the lush Thames Valley from, say, Theresa May’s Maidenhead to David Cameron’s Witney constituency might give a very different impression, though.

Some people are doing okay at our expense. Like Mr Jeff Fairburn, CEO of publicly-quoted downmarket homebuilders Persimmon, who has successfully converted taxpayer-funded government loans for first-time buyers into a £110 million “bonus” for himself this Christmas.

Rather than ‘austerity’, I prefer the words ‘national sacrifice’.

x

Hell hath no fury…

The BBC has announced the first appointment of a woman, Fran Unsworth, as Head of News, on £350k a year, replacing the less than dynamic James Harding, who is going off to start some kind of online service of his own. Ms Unsworth formerly headed the World Service.

For a hugely amusing read, I recommend the news report on her appointment, penned by the BBC’s media editor, Amol Rajan, which just oozes acidic disappointment, enumerating all the incredibly difficult hoops Ms Unsworth, (“who turns 60 in a fortnight … It would have been hard for her to stick around had another candidate got the job…”) will have to jump through, in her “hellish” new role.

For among the shortlisted candidates, albeit an outsider, according to Private Eye magazine, was one Amol Rajan.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42365957

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“Would I give up my seat on the bus?”

They also serve…

To take everyone’s mind off the calamitous efforts of David Davis and his team of comic inadequates to battle their way out of the EU paper bag, and to defy reports that the Conservatives are still the ‘Nasty party’ (as Theresa May once dubbed them), in the wake of unspeakable cuts to working and disabled people’s welfare safety net, an array of suspiciously ‘nice’ initiatives is being dreamed up in the corridors of Whitehall and pushed out to a media and a voting public desperate for some Christmas cheer.

Not only has the ambitious Environment Secretary, the speccy little swot Michael Gove, announced half a dozen heartwarming new measures he wants to pass, obliging us all to be kinder to fish and other animals before we slaughter them; now, the brattish new Defence Secretary, the previously unheard-of Gavin Williamson, already being spoken of as our next Prime Minister, who fatuously proposes, Trump-like, casually to murder any British citizen thinking of returning from Syria rather than waste time on due process, knowing that true Brits care not a fig for the international laws we’re signed up to, has suggested adding the letter ‘V’ to the driving licenses of British forces veterans, as a mark of respect for their great sacrifice in the national interest.

Sorry ma’am, you’ll have to move – we’re v-veterans. (photo: Huffington Post)

The designation to come into effect, ooh, sometime possibly in the next decade, pick a year, after lengthy consultations with the licensing authority and 58 feasibility impact studies, should entitle the vets to special recognition: discounts on stuff, seats on public transport, cinema tickets, air miles – more considerate treatment than the rest of us expect from the police (regardless of color), immigration officials, JobCentres and the health services.

Anyone who imagines this is not just a PR stunt dreamed up in the cabinet office by Conservative interns desperate to re-engage with the disillusioned readership of the Daily Mail after the disaster of the last election and the unfolding horror of the failing hard Brexit elderly readers once dreamed of is living in another universe.

While no-one is disparaging the sterling work and the bravery and cameraderie of our soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, often in pointless and futile wars, nevertheless I should possibly mention that the laziest, most duplicitous, useless and cowardly man I ever met was serving out his cushy number until he claimed his officer’s pension at taxpayers’ expense as the fundraising director (appointed on Buggins’ Turn) of a services charity, after a career spent far from the frontline bravely managing a military stores unit.

I won’t go into why I developed this impression of him, I will merely pose the question: Does this royal asshole deserve a ‘V’ on his license, merely by ‘v’irtue of having spent 40 years probably selling stuff illicitly under the counter while pushing a bunch of badly-fitting uniforms, boots and other kit over it? And then funking the opportunity to raise a very large sum of money for the welfare of service veterans because as an outside agency we were being so successful (where he wasn’t) that to raise any more “would make too much work” for his volunteers?

I feel sure there must be many, many veterans of the services who have never done (perhaps never been given the opportunity to do) a single brave or difficult or self-sacrificing thing in their entire careers; never even got their boots wet. Fine, they joined up, did a bit, whatever. “They also serve, who only stand and wait” (Milton, on His Blindness). Would I give up my seat on the bus for them? Do you really want them passing themselves off as one of you?

I’m sure the stuff combat veterans are so clearly made of would see them through without this fawning treatment from politicians desperate to plaster themselves with the reflex public approval and Jingoistic tabloid newspaper cliches reserved for ‘our heroes’ in the military.

Maybe getting a grip on defense procurement and budgets so that our serving forces aren’t continually let down by malfunctioning equipment, inadequate back-up services and undermanning – a leaking £3 billion aircraft carrier with no aircraft – would be a better use of the minister’s time, rather than cheap gesture politics?

 

GW: basting the Xmas turkey in her wellies

“The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken…” – Exxon-Mobil website

Now fuck off, you deniers. It’s over. Okay?

Australia: monster hailstones, some 6-in. across, precipitate over Grafton, New South Wales, continuing a summer-long tendency towards extreme hailstorms seen from Turkey to South America. And a years-long tradition of hailstorms at Grafton, it seems, where in 2015 a racehorse at the local track had to be euthanased after being startled by hailstones and trying to negotiate a gate in panic. To reassure readers who may have feared global cooling had arrived, temperatures up in the top left corner of the big island – the northwest – are back up in the 100s F.

Severe thunderstorms, strong cyclonic winds, 100 mm rain per hour and “thousands” of lightning strikes batter SE Queensland around Brisbane (10 Dec), causing widespread damage.

Italy: “The River Enza in the town of Lentigione burst its banks on Tuesday 12 December, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. Severe weather including snow, rain and freezing temperatures has affected much of Italy since Monday. Schools have been closed and road, rail and air travel all adversely affected. … Local security assessor Paola Gazzolo said: ‘We are in the presence of floods of historical significance.'” The county of Emilia Romagna was severely affected by flooding. Further north, heavy snow (up to 3 ft in places) has caused major disruption.

Red storm warnings were out for SE France, in the Grenoble area as Storm Ana moved eastwards.

Thomas: by 15 Dec. the third largest fire in Cal. history.

USA: “As of Monday morning, CalFire reported that the Thomas fire had consumed 230,000 acres and at least 790 structures, making it the fifth largest and tenth most destructive wildfire in (California) state history. … none of the previous top 20 fires in terms of acreage occurred any later than October—much less in December, well beyond the typical tail end of wildfire season. It’s entirely possible this fire will burn till Christmas and beyond, and not out of the question it will roll past the Cedar Fire of 2003 (273,246 acres) to become California’s largest fire on record.”

Meanwhile the entire east coast of the US is locked-in from Florida to Maine with feet of snow and subzero temperatures.

Meanwhile… in Alaska, “The National Weather Service thermometer at Juneau International Airport on Friday hit 54 deg. F, tying the highest temperature recorded in December there, the Juneau Empire reported. It was warmer Friday in Juneau than it was in Houston Tx, Jacksonville, Fla or Monterrey, Mexico.”

Chile: “Heavy rain triggered a major landslide on 16 December leaving at least 5 dead, 18 missing and 12 injured. The landslide occurred in the town of Villa Santa Lucia in Chaitén commune, Los Lagos Region. Over 200 personnel from fire, police, military and civil defence are working in the area, searching for survivors.”

Philippines: 27 people have been killed as  “Remnant Tropical Cyclone Kai-Tek (Urduja) passed over the islands Friday (15/16 Dec) at 2 knots before dissipating over colder waters. Several towns, including Calbiga, Samar province were left underwater. As of 18 Dec., over 230,000 people had evacuated their homes with 190,247 housed in evacuation centres, and a further 46,081 displaced.” NASA satellite data showed rainfall of up to 5.6 inches PER HOUR. “Several of the powerful storms in the area were found by GPM’s radar to reach altitudes greater than 16 km (9.92 miles).”

Indonesia: capital Jakarta yet again underwater (11 Dec).

S Africa: 50 injured and many very expensive-looking homes destroyed when a huge tornado struck Vaal Marina, in Midvaal.

Malawi: “At least 6 people have died in flooding that struck areas of Lilongwe District in the Central Region late on 16 December, 2017. According to a statement by the Government of Malawi, over 1,000 people from 200 households were affected by the floods. Two people have been reported injured.”

Arctic: temperature anomalies persist well above the past 50-year mean to 2002. Ice extent, volume, thickness third/second lowest on record after 2012. Ahlstrom, Peterson et al (GEUS) report that a sudden and unprecedented acceleration in melt runoff from the SW Greenland ice sheet is affecting the atmospheric temperature gradient at the Arctic circle.

Independent/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ Accuweather/ EurekAlert/ US News/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #86, citing Metro TV News (Indonesia); credit Katrina Finnson/9 News

 

End of…

Veteran Yellowstone watcher, Mary Greeley broadcast a curious discovery yesterday (12 Dec.) about the official monitoring services. Not only were the usual small earthquakes and other grumblings being captured on some USGS seismographs but not on others nearby, and many quakes not being reported at all (you get this info from other international monitoring organizations), but the University of Utah monitors were apparently logging data on the seismograph sheets about 2 hours in advance of the actual time of day.

Are they faking the feeds, using old data sheets? Or, as Mary wonders, have they learned to predict earthquakes now? (blogger, ‘Dutchsinse’ – Michael Janitch of St Louis – has a better than 80 per cent record of doing just that, for both location and magnitude.) Or, as the BogPo suspects (and hopes), the paper rolls have slipped, the time-logging printer forgot it wasn’t summer time, or the pens have got somehow bent. All of them.

We should be told.

(PS – the earthquake swarm at Yellowstone and the much less usual swarms around Lincoln in neighbouring Montana and Soda Springs in Idaho have now been going on since 12th June, six months, with thousands of tremors and small quakes recorded up to M4.2.

Swarms are normal, but not over such a long period, over such a wide area and in such numbers. Greeley insists the data are clearly showing that the magma chamber is recharging from several sources over hundreds of miles. (NASA reported recently that the volume of magma would fill the Grand Canyon seven times over…) Many more conspiratorial bloggers are also reporting mysterious long-wave tremors, strange noises, volcanic gas escapes and huge bursts of energy showing up on ground and satellite monitors over a thousand-mile radius of the supervolcano. The fear is, it’s bigger than anyone thought.

If this thing blows on Christmas Day, I’ll eat my Atheists for Jesus T-shirt… principally because there may be nothing else to eat!)

x

Long Essay

“What day is this, boy? What day of the year is it?” (Scrooge: A Christmas Carol)

I just discovered the following, previously unPosted article saved as a Draft on 08 October last. Has anything changed since then? We seem to be living the same day over and over again.

“…if that results in sending the entire country and its millions of hapless civilians who want nothing to do with it back to the Stone Age, well, that’s freedom and democracy for you.”

They just don’t care who they kill, do they

This is a note to remind everyone who hasn’t already grasped it, that the USA is possibly the most malign force in history.

Not only is it now led by a career criminal, the very embodiment of the worst of its voracious greed, pig-ignorance, frontier violence, racism, bigotry and bogus high-minded patriotism, but it continues on its merry way, failing to distinguish friend from foe, simply hoping to bomb and blast its way to success with indiscriminate use of force as the hatred of the people around the world towards it grows.

If anyone over there thinks we are laughing over here at a USA reeling under the childishly inept, divisive, lying and vindictive Trump regime, its corrupt, pantomime-villain placemen and its out of control law enforcement, a bunch of gun-toting, flag-worshipping, militaristic boobies, I’m sorry to disillusion you. You’re not funny, you’re not yet pitiable, nor even deplorable. You’re lost somewhere between repugnant and morally bankrupt.

This week we have been reminded in several ways of your frontier justice, your instinctive, undiscriminating barbarity, your unremitting stupidity. The Republican voters of Alabama have chosen to run for Congress, a 70-year-old pork-barrel politician, a rabid Christian fundamentalist who pretends to be a cowboy, riding a horse to the polls and waving a pistol*.

It seems then that even Mr Trump and his shit-on-you philosophy is not enough for the voters of Alabama. No, they want someone even more loathsome, vicious, hogswill ignorant and moronic to represent them on the world stage. Someone supported, for instance, by Steve Bannon.

And then there is the conflict in the Middle East, into which your Commander-in-Chief has pitched US forces with no better policy in mind than simply to bomb a ‘terrorist’ organization out of existence, keeping Americans safe on the streets of Duluth, and if that results in sending an entire country and its millions of helpless serfs who want nothing to do with it back to the Stone Age, well, that’s freedom and democracy for you.

Two

Ken Burns’ documentary series, ‘Vietnam’ reminds us that America has never managed to do foreign policy very well.

There were two schools of thought in 1960: one, resist the onward march of Communistic nationalism at all costs by obliterating the entire population of the north, while supporting the murderous and corrupt Diem regime in Saigon; or two, support the people’s legitimate demands for freedom and independence from the notoriously reactive French colonials by assassinating Diem, his psychotic brother Dinh, and installing a puppet government friendly to the USA.

One of the many good reasons why someone like Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson might have wanted to bump off President Kennedy was his tentative support for the latter course: having opposed it, he was killed within days of the overthrow of Diem and his appalling wife, ‘Madame Nu’ – who was happily abroad on a shopping trip and thus survived the coup, and at the instigation of Henry Kissinger America massively ramped up its presence in Vietnam to ‘protect’ the good people against the bad guys, whichever side they were on.

Cowboy matinée diplomacy prevailed.

Between the two conflicting strategies, with a manic belief in success as measured by body-count/dollar and not (as might have been more sensible) in the growing hatred towards them of the ordinary people of both north and south, in intervening in support of the failing French instead of working with the local culture in seeking consensus, America managed to get trapped in a vicious postcolonial war against an implacable and largely invisible jungle enemy that ultimately cost it 58 thousand young servicemen and women’s lives; although not that of the unabashed draft-dodger, Trump, whose gung-ho militaristic patriotic pieties must surely stick in the craw of every veteran and decent human being watching this series.

Estimates of the civilian casualties of Macnamara’s and Kissinger’s failed policies in SE Asia between 1961 and 1974 run from two to three million human lives. Has no-one the slightest idea of the destructive power of the United States, its corrupt, murderous black heart?

As the last helicopters hauled the remaining US diplomats and military ‘advisors’ and corrupt local officials out of Saigon, the streets filling behind them with small but determined, Kalashnikov-toting men and women in black pajamas and flip-flop sandals cut from rubber tires, it must surely have occurred to someone, even the bullnosed, crop-headed, flag-salutin’ dinosaurs in the Pentagon, that you can’t win an asymmetrical war by turning your allies against yourself.

And yet here we are, still in Afghanistan, seemingly forever.

The lesson should have been, but wasn’t, learned 20 years earlier on the Korean peninsula, when it’s estimated the Americans killed one in five of the civilian population of the North, basically just peasants in wooden houses, women and children, under a massive aerial bombardment lasting for months, that used up 120 per cent of all the munitions expended on both the German and the Japanese in World War Two – except, of course, for the two A-bombs. And still they couldn’t win the war against Communism, which ground to a halt with an armistice that remains at the core of the problem today.

And now Mr Trump is threatening to complete the mission, to remedy the nuclear deficit and kill 100 per cent of the population of the North, and probably a very high percentage of the people of South Korea and Japan, southeast China, US allies, and US troops along with them, because his opposite number, the braggadocious and youthful but calculating and shrewd Kim Jong-un, has built his own A-bomb and taunts the US with insults the spoilt child Trump can’t rise above replying to with yet more (hopefully empty) threats to commit a genocidal war crime against a peasant population weakened by hunger and privations.

Anyone not an American can see, it is not an ideal situation but scarcely worth the kind of embarrassing exchange of playground ya-boos and threats we are witnessing between a 70-year-old bloviating ignoramus refusing to listen to wiser counsel, and a cunning little psychopath desperate to burnish his domestic image and reinforce his power base by reminding his people and the world of the genocidal depths America can sink to in pursuit of its muddled policy objectives.

Meanwhile in Raqqa, Syria, despairing survivors are watching on in horror as the American airforce daily reduces their city to uninhabitable rubble, in an ideologically motivated display of brutal and indiscriminate force against perhaps just 400 remaining ISIS fighters holding thousands of civilians hostage; heedless of the lives of the hostages: a kind of Waco on steroids. Casualties said to be in the ‘low hundreds’ (Britain has flown 1,500 sorties against ISIS positions and does not accept responsibility for even one civilian death, so precise are our precision-guided munitions) will in the course of time no doubt turn into thousands.

Mr Trump has reportedly again given US forces carte blanche to do whatever it takes; which means the deaths of many more ‘beautiful babies’ and others whose lives the shitocrat Trump sets at nought, as he pursues his amoral, selfish ‘America First’ policies (which essentially reduces to ‘my dumbfuck supporters and my bank balance first’, while – beyond their limited ability to know what is going on – he continues to machinate against them with his bestial tax breaks for the wealthiest because they are poor and losers) and to hell with the human race.

They just don’t care who they kill, these Americans, to impose freedom on the rest.

I hate to agree with Mr Kim, but they will surely one day answer to history.

*Roy Moore, a retired hanging judge. Mr Trump is now supporting Mr Moore in the Senate race, a senile Evangelical rectitudinarian as unhinged as he is, despite – or perhaps because of – numerous accusations of sexual impropriety, some with underage girls.

Birds of a feather, as they say.

Postscriptum

One internet news channel of fairly predictable reliability is carrying a story today, that Moore’s former army buddy gave a speech at which he let slip they’d visited a child brothel together in Saigon… but no matter, for the better news is that he’s lost the Alabama Senate race by a disputed but clear margin to an apparently normal man, a lawyer with a successful history of prosecuting race-hate crimes, despite securing a 53 per cent majority among white WOMEN.

Given that middle-class white women also voted pretty solidly for Trump, another alleged and entirely unproven rapist, wife-beater and self-confessed pussy-grabber, questions arise.

Do they not?